Sunday, December 30, 2012
I would have to say that 2012, while not a bad year, was not my best. I did some good work in 2012, so I would have to wrap it up as a sort of "solid" year, but I do think things could be better. I'm going to work on changing around some things in 2013, in order to better move things along for the coming year. More on that tomorrow, for now, let's look at 2012 in review.
In January of 2012, I had a show out in Johnson City. It was a big show for me, because it was one of the first times I was juried into a show by a tough juror. Phew! Felt like I slayed a dragon with that one (even though, really, in hindsight, I didn't. There are no dragons here.)
I celebrated 10 years of blogging in 2012. Cheers to that, right? I wrote about 127 blog posts (well, OK, maybe make that one or two more, not counting this one and all just yet.) I completed National Blog Posting Month and participated in the annual Austin City Hall art exhibition again this year.
Got a little bit of travel in. I finally went down to the Texas Coast, to Port Aransas in the summertime and I went back to one of my favorite cities, New Orleans, just about the time of carnival. Fun stuff, and I've already started booking travel and thinking about booking travel for the coming year. This time around, I hope to get to a few places I've not been before, so here's hoping 2013 brings on some new inspiration in terms of locations. I'm really looking into some exotic locations for 2013 so maybe it's safe to say 2012 gave me the courage to finally look beyond my comfort zone in terms of travel locations.
I started teaching more in 2012, having workshops and speaking engagements. I spoke to three groups in 2012 and helped lead an iPhone photography workshop over at Flatbed Press with the wonderful Tina Weitz. I also lead a bunch of portfolio discussions and helped a few artists out in terms of getting portfolio presentations together. I'd have to say 2012 was a banner year for that and, though I expect to continue with some of this in the new year, I also have to stay focused on getting my personal work out more, as I have not been doing that enough.
I did a few commercial-type shoots in 2012, including one for a costume designer/seamstress friend and some of these holiday type boxes. I participated in the East Austin Studio Tour (EAST) and did some painting as well.
I refinanced my house which, though not really art-related, took up a lot of my time in the late summer months. It has really been great to get that behind me, as it was a real blocker and now I am more financially free to work on other things. That newly found financial freedom (of sorts) allowed me to order a new computer and finally a solution to my hard drive issues, which have been dogging me for the majority of 2012. Hopefully, this will all be put behind me in 2013 and I look forward to doing a lot more shooting in the coming year, with a new computer to process it all and lots of storage space to save everything.
I also started looking at lighting kits and got myself setup to do a few new things in 2013, most notably lining up a few new projects and also thinking about new ways to present my work to you. Look for some big news in the early part of 2013 regarding that.
I was approached and sold a few shots for print publications, so look for my work to appear soon in printed format. I always love that kind of work and expect to pursue it even more come 2013.
All in all, 2012 wasn't a bad year. It was solid. I did enough to keep busy, did things like re-finance the house, and got the hard drive issue worked out, getting myself setup for a big round of shooting come early 2013. I have lots of plans for the early part of the year, even though I took a bit of a break at the end of 2012 to rest up and relax some over the holiday season.
I hope your 2012 was all that you wanted it to be and more. Artists are busy people and, though it can feel like we never get anything done, sometimes, when you look at a list such as this one, you can see how much work we actually really do over the course of a year. It's a lot when you look at it this way, even if it didn't seem like we were always busy or even always moving forward with a lot of things. Eh, it's just like that sometimes, right?
Here's hoping you have a great 2013 and please stop back in for more news about what I have in store for the early part of the year.
Until next time...
Friday, December 28, 2012
For a long time now, I've wanted to do something about my lighting situation. I have enough space (if I clean it out!) to setup a small studio in my home. That sounds all well and easy enough, but then I start looking at lighting kits and I get all befuddled.
I used to have a nice little lighting kit that worked wonders for me. Still have it, in fact, it's packed somewhere in the garage. I had three hot lights, with the bulbs you had to buy at the local camera store, some bouncers and a backdrop thing-y. It all just, somehow worked, even though it was simple. I think I had cheap Smith-Victor lighting kits, but strong enough hot lights to light up a small studio for a portrait or even a product type shoot. It all just worked. Was a little hot to sit under but I made do with it and it just kind of worked for a long while. Even fit in the back of my car pretty easily, once I packed it up so, you know, so I could take it on the road, or at least over to somebody else's house should the need arise or the call for portraits come to my nearest telephone.
Fast forward to the modern era. I would love to get some LED style lighting or just some lighting that works and doesn't get too hot. No more oven mitts for me, OK? Maybe something, you know, something a bit more modern. All well and good. So I start doing research. Oh, the options! There are so many options.
For starters, there are these things called AlienBees that are great little mono-light style solutions. Then there is the entire process of going strobist, mono-light, or old school controller box + lighting kits. Yes, I know there are advantages and disadvantages of each. Radio control anybody? (Gosh, I've read so much about this now, I feel like I just ate one for breakfast or something. Burp! Hey look, there's a pocket wizard!) Some lights are more portable, some offer better looking light, some are more expensive, some are more easily modified/appended to do more when you need more, that sort of a thing. Oh, the headache. My head hurts just thinking about this. My kingdom for a simple softbox and a hot light once again! Geesh, can't they make these things easy? I guess, sadly to say, this is the price of progress. Technology is attacking me yet again and, loathe as I may, I must slay this dragon. Be gone, dragon, be gone, and let there be light! Or, at least, you know, a decent softbox so I can take a portrait or two. Maybe even shoot a bunch of fruit. You ain't got anything against fruit, do you great technology dragon? 'Cause, like I sure could eat an orange right about now and photograph one too.
In the end, you know I will probably opt for getting a good flash unit for my camera (heck, I really need one of those, as I have a pressing project to work on that requires it) and I might even spring for some of those AlienBees lights, since they are cheap enough and frankly I could use a decent light or two at home (not to mention they come with portable features, so I can bring them on the road too!) Still not spending too much money while solving the problem at hand. It's kind of a funny situation. You all know how this is going to end and we all know what I'm going to do about it, the one and only one question that remains is "Just how crazy will Carol go in getting *this* sorted out and will she drag us along for the ride too?" (The answers, unfortunately, appear to be "very" and, um, "yes, probably, but only if you tune into the blog on a semi-regular basis or, you know, bump into me at the grocery store frantically stocking up on oranges in the produce department, because that's probably where I'll be once I get a new lighting kit setup.")
I need better lights, really I do. Have to do something about this. Been meaning to do something about this for a while now and just have not gotten around to it yet. Will do in the new year. Note to self: get some freaking lights on in this place already, will ya? And don't go crazy already. (OK, I know, I know, I'm probably already too late on that last bit.)
Until next time...
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Today is Christmas for me, so I thought I would pop in and wish everybody a wonderful happy holiday season. As we like to say in Texas: Merry Christmas, Y'all!
As for myself, I have spent a quiet day at home, playing with the dogs, eating, enjoying friends and family. We had a roasted chicken with all of the trimmings and some great winter veggies, including yams. It was a great day, nice quiet, uneventful, just how I like them. I've been resting up this holiday season, really enjoying myself and relaxing a bit.
We had a cold front move in and, though we don't have the extreme weather everybody else is getting, we did have some sunshine and mild temps earlier in the day. It then got windier and the cold front blew in. Still not complaining, as the weather here is a lot better than what some folks are facing, especially for the travel home. It's a blizzard in some parts and bitter cold in others, with tornadoes still in other parts, so stay safe out there.
I hope everybody out in Internet lands had a great day with their family and friends this holiday season. I know the new year is already shaping up to be busy and bright so why not enjoy the quiet time at home until it all kicks up again. Just as the wind blew in the cold front today, I know too that winds are going to kick up a lot of new, exciting things in the coming year. So, get ready, hunker down, enjoy yourself a holiday and be prepared to kick it starting in the new year.
Merry Christmas, Y'all!
Until next time...
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
This lady I know has a collection of enamel boxes. Actually, it's a wonderful collection of hand-painted bejeweled enamel boxes that's just totally incredible. I mean, I have to say, I love these kind of things. They are just so precious and fun to hold. So, a few weeks ago (maybe months now?) we had an auction, to raise money for charity...she wound up donating some of these little ornaments for the auction. I tried to purchase one, but I was shut out in the bidding war. No worries, as the money was going for a good cause and all. Shortly afterwards, she told me I could borrow the boxes, the pretty enamel boxes, if I wanted to photograph them. If I wanted? Oh, yes please!
So, this weekend, I finally got around to photographing them. I wanted to use my macro lens and do the shallow depth of field on them, because, to me anyway, my eyes and all, they looked a bit Dr. Seuss-like and I just wanted that shallow, feminine, dream-like state. Originally was going to do a red backdrop but then decided to go with white, as the red would have interfered with the hand-painted colors. Not the best lighting job on my part but, you know, good enough. You can see them and all, for the most part.
Interesting thing happened as I started to work with them though-I started to get really fascinated with the feet on these things. So now I have about four or five really good shots of odd feet, boots, hooves, and like. Strange, I know, but hey, who ever said I was normal, right? I guess it really was all about the shoes, at least for me. Well, that and I have one really very angry looking camel that I just absolutely adore. Oh, and a bird too.
I'll show you the faces later but, for now anyway, opt to start with the feet and we'll work our way up from there. I hope you enjoy them, even once you get to see the rest of them, that is.
Until next time...
Saturday, December 08, 2012
There's been a big trend in photography too recently. It's all about words, words, words. I've seen Scrabble words like this and even people writing on themselves, sending messages, lost in space, kind of words. Light painting with words. Writing words on prints. It's really all over the place nowadays. I'd have to say it's one of the latest trends going.
You would think that, with my fascination with words, why I'd be all over this trend. I hate to admit it, but sadly I haven't been. Maybe I need to be? I keep seeing it a lot, so it must be popular. All the cool kids are doing it and all. And, heck, some of them, why, they don't even like words, at least not the way I do. I keep reading about how kids today don't even learn how to write in school. When I say "write" I really mean cursive, not write as in bang out a novel using a computer. Most of them can do that, or so I've been told. But, no, they actually don't learn how to pick up a pen and scribble anymore these days. It's all done with thumbs (and maybe some smoke and mirrors too.) But, the words? The words are still really there, no? Just hiding behind all of the text messages, right?
Words, words, words. Yeah, there are a lot of words happening now in connection with photography and with art in general. There's a lot of homeless text running around unbridled. A lot of Tweets with words going down, don't you think? Hapless letters strewn about on a page. It's all just words to me really. Yeah, I really should do some kind of photography project. Heck, it's long overdo. Now I'd have to admit I can kind of feel that old itch starting to build-you know the one-the one where you want to start a new project (of sorts.)
Until next time...
Thursday, December 06, 2012
There's a connection between even using the word "artist" that some do not like. Some artists don't like to use the word "artist" because they fear they aren't "good enough" or up to the task of being an "artist" no matter what that might mean. Like there's a tape machine running through their heads, "Nope. Not me. I'm not an artist. I couldn't possibly be an artist." Yeah, right. Artists are those beret-wearing alcoholic French men who dab paint on canvases in the streets of Paris. Those men in those berets, why they make artwork that hangs in museums and I'm not like that. They aren't, they couldn't possibly be *you* or me or anybody you even know, right? Nobody I know could even look like an artist, right? Keep repeating it enough times...
Don't get me wrong, I'm guilty of this myself, many times over. Some days, I look at my own work and think, "who did that?" I feel like there's some kind of possession going on-like I really can't create anything at all. I'm just a mindless drone and the real artist is off hiding in the back room somewhere. It makes me sometimes even stop and think thoughts like, "OK. Who snuck into my house and left all these photographs?" Heck, somebody must have. They can't possibly be *mine* right? I think that I've never been to Venice nor stepped in front of an iceberg and, hey, who is hiring all these models? Sometimes, I would imagine, it feels almost like having an out-of-body experience on some level. Like there's some part of me that creates are and, the rest of me? It's busy doing day to day things. (I'm certain you can guess which half does the laundry and makes the coffee in the morning.)
I think there is a connection between art and religion in part because of these types of feelings. Many artists view being able to make and produce art some kind of gift and, in turn, they feel almost an obligation to produce art that celebrates their faith. It's the thinking that God (whatever Gog you might happen to believe in) gave me a gift and so I'm going to celebrate Him in the highest. I couldn't possibly be a great artist, no, this is coming from the "hand of God" (if you will) and it's not mine. Nope. Not me. Nothing to see here. Move right along, please.
I think many artists life with this fear - almost juggle it if you will. They fear what the world will think of them, that the world will reveal them, to be nothing but a giant fraud. Like they really can't paint, nor draw, nor take pictures, that this is, in fact, coming from somewhere else. What could I have possibly done to be able to do this? I'm really not very good at... and, someday, the world will see me for who I really am, not the way they want to see me. It's sort of like self-doubt combined with guilt coupled with inadequacy all rolled into one big ball of hesitation. I call it "The Fraud Effect". An artist thinks he or she is a fraud (on some level mind you) so they then, in turn, hold back or try to diminish their contributions to the artistic world. It can actually lead to, if you follow it through logically, a fear of success or an incredible guilt trip should one happen to start along the path of doing great work. It can be a big problem and lead to a lot of trouble for the artist in question. Crippling self-doubt, in the long run, will get you nowhere.
So, how to combat these feelings? How to fix this problem? How to work through, even past "The Fraud Effect?"
I think, on some level anyway, you have to accept "The Fraud Effect." Yes, you really *are* a fraud but, hey, guess what? So too was everybody else! Wasn't Monet human too? I'm sure he had flaws and, at the time, nobody thought much of his work either. Even today, why I bet you could find some art critic somewhere who absolutely *hates* his work. That doesn't mean you should stop painting. Many artists, most in fact, don't live to see their own success. That doesn't mean you should quit and that doesn't mean you're not an artist. You have value. You have talents. Use them already! Accept the fact that we all, each and every one of us, have talents and that, yes, Santa Claus, some people really can draw and paint and take pictures. That's just what it is they do. Just because you don't look exactly like the guy in the brochure, why it doesn't mean you are not one of those people too.
Now, I'm not a shrink, but I would suggest that the answer to this dilemma lies in learning to accept your role, you various roles in life. Yes, there are going to be some days you will do laundry. That's your job too. But, on a few of the magical days, sometime in-between doing the laundry and making the coffee and doing whatever it is that you do get to do, you're going to be an artist too. And, I would also suggest, be a great one. Go ahead. You have permission! You might be a fraud. You might not be that French man with that beret and that bottle of booze, but that doesn't mean you can't make great art. Go ahead and make art anyway. Make it on your terms. Be a fraud. Be a glorious fraud. Dance like nobody is watching. If you are a fraud, if you really were a fraud, what would it really matter? You'd just be wasting time, right? And, hey, it's your time to waste, so go ahead, be that fraud. Be that fraud, be all of that and more. Push yourself to be the best damn fraud you can possibly be because, guess what? You have just as much right to be there. Everybody else is just a fraud too.
I am but a glorious fraud. I can't draw, paint, nor take pictures. Nope, nothing to see here, just move along please. Sure, I can feel that way, but that's not going to stop me from doing it. Push on, push through, and make some great art in spite of being that "fraud" nobody really thinks you are. There's a song out there, I've forgotten the title, but it's a song with a line in it: "I'm going to take these lies and make them true." That's what you need to do here. Think of yourself an an artist, yes, you too can be that artist, and make it happen. Don't wait for that French dude to show up on your doorstep with his beret and his bottle of absinthe. He's not coming. You're the real artist now so, go ahead, make some art already. Be that glorious fraud. There are far worse things you can do with your life, believe me.
Until next time...
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
I've been fighting the IT/equipment battle for a bit now, and I have to say, it's really dragging me down. I hate fighting with IT equipment, especially something that's supposed to be so utilitarian, but, unfortunately, that's what a lot of photography boils down to these days. Rather than fight with older equipment, and try to wrestle things into a make it work situation, I opted to upgrade my older iMac and get a spiffy new one, complete with Thunderbolt.
As many of you know, I am also fighting the battle of hard drive storage and have decided that I am going to also purchase a new RAID device. My requirements here are that it must support a RAID level 1, to provide mirroring, and it must be something that can handle my big beefy image needs. I have narrowed it down to a few options. The good folks at Lacie make a 6TB RAID device that would give me 3 TB of storage (after the RAID 1 configuration.) This is a solid option, as the drive has really good reviews, but I'm afraid I will outgrow it quickly, as I'm already sitting at 2 TB of data and I have hard drives stacking up. Next up is the Promise Pegasus hard drive array. These are expensive, checking in at about $1600, but I can get an 8TB solution and also one that is expandable. I have heard mixed reviews about the Promise systems, and they are quite expensive, so I'm kind of opting for the Lacie at this point, but the jury is still out and I might change my mind yet again. Finally, the good folks at G-Tech have a few storage options. I'm most inclined to go with a new G-Tech device, as they provided me with the G-safe that I currently use, but I'm a bit torn here too. They don't really have a drive setup that offers the RAID 1 in combination with the hot swappable options of the Lacie drive, so I'm more inclined to switch over to the Lacie. Wish me luck in figuring out this solution before too long, as the new computer is now officially on its way.
I did also order a new router to upgrade my home network. Oh what joy this is going to bring me over the holiday season. This also means that I have to reconfigure the TiVo and my TV set is going to go out on me while that happens.
To summarize, there will be swearing. There will be fists pounding on desks. There will be more swearing. This will probably nearly kill me before it's over but, hopefully, one day real soon now (well, soon enough) I will upgrade everything to a new setup, with a new iMac, a new wireless router, and a larger RAID array, capable of storing my entire digital image catalog.
Wish me luck, for I am sure to need it sometime soon!
Until next time...
Friday, November 30, 2012
For starters, I anticipate spending some quality time in the studio this December. Yes, I'm gearing up for more painting.
Then there is the new gear. I'm going to try to order myself a spiffy new Mac computer, for my home, and finally (finally!) fix the hard drive business that is killing me. Oh, how I hate the hard drive issues I'm having. I can't wait to upgrade to some giant honkingly large RAID device and just put everything all in one place again.
If that were not enough, it's also the end of the year, so there's all the usual holiday party and end of the year type stuff to do.
Lastly, one thing about December that's always a favorite. As I post this today, I have actually won my little yearly competition. Yes, it's true, you read it here first (and, heh, probably last too) I have just won NaBloPoMo or National Blog Posting Month for the month of November. This year, I did it in "real time" meaning I didn't even schedule any posts, just did one a day for the month. And I wrote and wrote a lot too. OK, so maybe some days were not as good as others, but I honestly think there is some quality in there. And I honestly think I have the itch to write some more. Yes, as we face December, I do feel like I'm wanting to write a bit more, to maybe do more with my writing, to paint a lot more, and even to get out and take pictures of the beautiful autumn we are now experiencing here in Austin.
Until next time...
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Tip 1: Keep it short!
Your artist statement should be about 2-3 paragraphs. This is not War and Peace so write accordingly please.
Tip 2: Keep it focused!
The artist statement is used to convey information about the work (specific work here) in the show, catalog, book, or whatever. That sort of implies the artist statement is not the time to go on about how "blue" is your favorite color or what inspired you to first pick-up a camera. No, narrow yourself down and focus on the task (or images!) at hand. If it helps, lay out the work in front of you. What do the pieces have in common? What do they share? What dialogue do they start with the viewer? Why are they *not* about? Ask yourself these sorts of questions to help you focus in on the work in front of you and not about your career in general or the price of tea in China.
Tip 3: Keep it About the Work
An artist statement is *not* a bio. It's not about you, it's about your work. Keep on topic and specific to the work.
Tip 4: Keep it Professional!
For crying out loud, run spell checker on the thing. Make it look a bit polished, it's not too hard. Choose a typeface that is legible and use things like paragraphs, punctuation marks, and whatnot correctly. Your art is professional, why isn't your artist statement? Also, speak in a natural voice. This is not the time to go all Thesaurus on me, OK? If it's got 42 syllables, it might make a great Scrabble play but it probably should not get stuffed into the middle of your artist statement in a feeble attempt at making yourself sound "educated." You're not going to fool anybody and your natural voice is just fine, thank you very much.
Tip 5: Keep it Creative!
Yes, it has to be professional but that doesn't mean you can't write a Haiku. Or a sudoku. Or a two paragraph dissertation on why supply-side knitting is really good for one's soul. Seriously. Show me something different. Make it be about the work, yes, but make it fun. Make it sound like you. Keep it special and precious and relevant.
Tip 6: Keep the Reader in Mind!
Oh, now this is a *big* one with me. When you write something, when you write anything, it's always a good idea to keep the reader in mind. Who is going to be reading your artist statement and why would they want to know *this*? These sorts of questions are always good to ask. Most artist statements are read in gallery settings and often used to create marketing materials and the like to promote the show. If somebody is considering purchasing your work, they might first read your artist statement. Think about that as you write it. Do they really need to know why you love chicken soup and how that inspired you to paint? Consider the poor reader who has to endure your writing before you put pen to paper please.
Tip 7: When all Else Fails...
If these tips are not enough, or even if they are, consider having somebody else read your statement. Show it to a few artist friends. Read other statements on the web. Practice writing and learning how to articulate about your work. You don't need to go on and on about it, but learn how to do it. It's a skill that will serve you well over time, really it is. And, it goes without saying but, practice makes perfect here. Writing is re-writing. There's no harm in polishing an older artist statement so go ahead, take the cobwebs off, dust one off, update it, and use it again. If it was good enough the first time...recycling is cool now, isn't it?
Tip 8: Avoid Doing Laundry!
An artist statement is not a laundry list. Don't write it like it is. Don't write things like, "As a painter, my influences are...." and then list out 42 different names across 32 different genres of work. Nobody wants to read that. Please, please, please, I beg of you, lists are not good because: nobody wants to read them, nobody wants to write them, they look and sound too much like laundry and, did you see what I just did here? Yeah, gave you a list. I'm sure you didn't like it either (so there!) Seriously. Cut the lists, loose the fat, hone the statement.
Tip 9: The World Does Not Revolve Around YOU!
One tip I always share in my sessions about biographies is how a biography really isn't about you. Allow me to explain. Yes, the bio is all about you, you, and you but, in order to draw people in, in order to catch readers' interests, you can't make it be all just about YOU. I always tell my students "put something else in there! Show me something interesting. Catch my attention and then slip in the 'YOU' bits." That's good advice. So good, in fact, that I'm going to recommend you do it in your artist statements as well. Yes, you are the artist and the artist statement is about the artist, from the artist's voice, but don't make it be all about YOU. Draw me in. Have a hook. Write me a catchy jingle or seduce me with a few kind words before you clobber me with YOU.
Tip 10: If You Are Still Stuck
If you have gotten this far and nothing helps, there are a few other tips I can offer you. Lay the art out in front of you. Ask the questions...what does my art look like? Why did I make it? Where did it come from? What are my influences? Does nature inspire me? What about heroes? (Prior artists) Is it bigger than a breadbox? These sorts of questions can help. Also ask yourself, if this were a piece of music, what would it be? A classical piano concerto? A John Coltrane song? Maybe a blues number? Bring it to another media, even if only in your head and then try describing it. Look for your favorite quotes or check out some new art in order to inspire looking at your work in a new light and maybe getting that spiffy artist statement home. Try online forums and local art groups if you really need some help, there's no harm in asking.
I hope these help awaken the artist statement writer within you. (Ha! Who am I kidding. OK, I'll say it bluntly. Don't walk off a cliff yet, there's still hope. You can do it! I know you can. Come on now!)
Until next time...
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
In other news, it's completely autumn in Austin nowadays. Driving down 360, crossing over the bridge at lunchtime, I looked out and saw the beautiful autumn trees lined up by the side of the lake. Gorgeous. Really a fall spectacle, even in a town that doesn't get much of an "autumn" in a good year. I'd have to say, it was a pure treat.
Oh, that and the Christmas tree bandit is out in full force this year. I promise, I shall try to take some pics of this before it is all over, but he's here, he's busy, he's no longer quite the bandit he used to be, but there are more trees decorated now, more than ever, so I look forward to shooting that at some point, really I do.
Until next time...
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Sometime, maybe sometime soon, sometime this week, somebody is going to walk into a store just like this one. They are going to walk in a banker or a lawyer or a nurse or maybe a school teacher. They will walk in, maybe get some gas, maybe hit up the ATM, maybe even stand in line to get themselves a lottery ticket. And then? Sometime on Wednesday of this week, their number is going to come up! Their number is going to come up, they are going to find out that they are "winners!" and not in the Charlie Sheen style of winning, no, they are going to suddenly become rich, really very gloriously rich.
425 million is a lot of money. You could buy a lot with that. You would never have to work again. You could buy all sorts of cars, houses, boats, heck, even a private plane. Like sports? You could buy an entire sports team! With that amount of money, you could buy yourself a sports team and even have money left over.
It's kind of nice to fantasize about what you might buy should you win. It's nice to go through your daily life, as you always do, except maybe, this week, just a little bit, to stop and think about that 425 million. Would you spend it? Help others in need? Feed the poor? Take a trip around the world? There are a lot of possibilities. I like to think that I know exactly what I would do should I happen to win. I picture myself hold up in a studio house somewhere, probably purchasing a house very near my own current home, with a sign on the lawn that reads "Send More Paint!" Seriously, I would set up a killer art studio, you know I would. That and maybe take a trip around the world.
National Geographic has a special "ATW" ("Around the World") trip. It involves a private jet, an on-board chef and a private primary care physician. They travel to a bunch of places with a noted photographer, a historian, and several other experts. One of this trips even has Alex Trebeck of Jeopardy! fame on-board. Yeah, I would *so* go all Alex on you, let me tell you. I would so hop on that next flight and be out of town! And you would come here, everyday, same as you always do, to find things like "Greetings from Madagascar!" plastered all over here. Yeah, I'd be traveling the globe if I won that kind of money. But then again, I stop and think about Chase and about how it might be kind of fun to stay at home and pet him more. His little head needs a pat too and he's always been my little buddy. Maybe a fancy mobile home would do better for me instead? Ah the possibilities. Just thinking about it is fun for me. Those people, the banker, the lawyer, the school teacher, who are walking into that shop maybe don't know what they are getting into this week. They don't know just yet, but they are sure to find out real soon.
They say the odds of winning are less than getting hit by lightning in an electrical storm. Really a lot less, actually. You are far more likely to do the "Benjamin Franklin" than you are to win the mega-bucks. But, electricity or not, man that doesn't stop us from dreaming now, does it?
Until next time...
Monday, November 26, 2012
Sometimes, I feel like living life is so hectic. It's crazy. It's fun at time, yes, and, for the most part, I would not have it any other way. But, every once in a while, I want to take a walk out in the rain. I want to wear my sweats all day. I want to enjoy the quiet solace of a good conversation in the corner of my space, free from the burden of pesky ears listening in, telephones ringing, and the like. I want to enjoy the sound the fog doesn't make as it curls around my back door. I want to hear the subtleties in those quiet sounds a gentle breeze makes as it ruffles through my backyard trees. There's something very poetic about quiet, really there is. I wish all the world could hear quiet every once in a while, even if it's just so we can collectively all remember what it sounds like, as we seem to forget these sorts of things.
I can recall one time talking with Sharon, an artist friend of mine. She was asking me if I would be willing to do something, to help her out with something. I agreed but also told her that I might have to schedule it and would she be willing to wait for it a bit. I told her I had been exceptionally busy and did not know why, didn't understand really what was going on at the time.
"You're an artist," she told me, "and why that's just how artists are."
Maybe so. And, frankly, I think I am. I think a lot of the times I am really that busy, running around with my ears chopped off, running around, trying to keep up, trying in vein to keep up the pace. That's all well and good too, I normally love the busy, busy, busy, go, go, go, I want it now carnival style atmosphere that being a working artist brings. It's a great life and I would not change a thing. I almost feel as if I should be booking travel and just shutting up about all of this already.
Every now and again though, I really enjoy that cup of tea on a Monday afternoon. I enjoy curling up with that book I've been meaning to read, or petting the dog just a little bit longer. Sure, I love the hectic crazy pace, but I've also come to love and appreciate the calm quiet that comes my way as well.
Life is a balancing act, I guess, and all the men and women merely acrobats.
Until next time...
Sunday, November 25, 2012
I was surfing the web the other day when I came across a website done by some poet who was uploading images to go with her poetry and writing. As I browsed her site, I noticed that she had used one of my images. The image in question had my name beneath it, but she had never asked permission to use my image, nor had I gotten any email or anything indicating she used my image. She also directly linked to the image on Flickr, which is a big no-no.
Then, I had gotten a link to somebody's portfolio. The artist in question made a nice portfolio, even setting it to music and posting it to YouTube, making it look like a video (it was, in actuality, a collection of stills set to music.) You probably recognize these, as I do these a lot myself. They look like movies but are actually just a series of stills set to music. The problem is, if you upload anything to YouTube, you cannot use music that is Copyright another artist. Even if you own (legally) the CD (or purchased the download from, say, the iTunes stores) you did not purchase legal rights to redistribute the copyrighted material. You have to get permission from the artist for doing that. You can upload movies (as I do) to YouTube using Copyright free music or you can ask (and obtain permission) from musical artists to include their music in your movie. You're not supposed to just take some music you own, like say Prince, and set your spiffy new images to the Prince music and then upload the entire thing to YouTube to show off your slide show for your friends and family. This is copyright infringement and the artist in question (in this case Prince) can legally sue you, not to mention it's a big no no if you want to be taken seriously as an artist.
Bottom line? Please be careful what you upload and download. Always give proper credit to the artist in question, even if that artist is a model, musician, photographer, writer, etc. and you are not. Stealing is stealing, even if it is just digital reproduction without one's knowledge.
In other news, I've gotten a comment or two about the "robot words" on this website. Since I get attacked by spammers a lot if I remove them, I'm forced to leave them in place. Comment moderation is not an option for me and so that leaves me with the choice of either disabling comments altogether or turning on the robot words. Since I don't get a heck of a lot of comments here regularly, I thought about disabling them but then thought I might leave comments here enabled with the robot words in case somebody really does want to leave me a note. Most of my readers leave me comments on Facebook or send me email directly and that's fine. I would like to make it as easy as possible to leave comments but I cannot be attacked with spam. Comment moderation is not an option for me, so that leaves either turning off comments on the blog itself or leaving on the "robot words." I'll try it for a few days with the "robot words" enabled to see how that goes. If I don't get much of a response either way, I'll disable the comments on this site and re-direct you to either Facebook or (direct) email, as most of you respond to me that way anyway. Sorry, but with about 1500 readers a month, most of you photographer or artist friends, students, and the like, who bump into me anyway, keeping up with deleting spam is not an optimal solution for me and the blog sites tend to attract a lot of spam. (I got over 20 spam style emails the other day, when I had turned off the "robot words" for just one day.) Likewise, comment moderation is not a potential solution for me either, so it's "robot words" or no comments at all for this site, at least for now anyway.
Until next time...
Saturday, November 24, 2012
I tend to call these my "She Took to Her Bed" days. They are days you just don't feel like doing a thing. Days when even a small pile of laundry is a mountain of too much. Days when not only do you not feel like cooking, but the mere act of finding the take out menu, picking up the phone, and calling for delivery is too much of a bother. Yeah, it's been one of those days.
Somehow, I think we are all entitled to these kinds of days, at least every once in a while. I mean, sure you can't have too many but, one every now and again? Come on, can that really kill me? I start to rationalize these sorts of days like this, and this process of rationalization maybe makes me feel better about it, maybe just a little bit or maybe just for a while, but it's hard too being a working artist and not feeling guilty over wasting an entire day like this. Paint never dries and new ideas never sleep. We need to be in the studio to, well, to be in the studio. Not in our sweats. Not watching old John Wayne movies, not eating Bonbons waxing reminiscent about how things used to be or how they might have been or how you wish they were or, well, whatever. No, they don't call this art *work* for nothing-frankly, you need to work at it to make it, well, work. And, that's just what I should be doing, really. Working.
I had all kinds of big plans for today, really I did. This morning, I had this notion, this foolish notion, that I was going to spend all day today in the studio, painting some, making some new work, yes, but also cleaning up, "painting 'round the edges" of some of my existing work. I have a lot of existing work, you see, and frankly it's cluttering up my house. I can't really box it up, stack it, and be done with it, no, in part because I have not done all of that little "cleaning up 'round the edges" that needs to be done. I have a lot of paintings that are just sitting out, sitting around, waiting for me to frame them, really I do. So much so, that this is almost killing me. It's making me not want to paint anymore, but to really just watch this work, that work all just sort of stack up until I collapse underneath it all. And that, snowflakes, that is not a good thing, really it isn't. (I get visions in my head of me crushed beneath mountains of undone laundry and barely not-finished artwork, really I do.)
So, tomorrow? I have high hopes for tomorrow, yes I do. I'm hoping that, maybe after a good night's sleep I'll wake up early, have a nice meal, get all out in the studio, maybe even finish off some of the crap work that I need to do (stuff like framing and painting the edges of my work, plus maybe take some pictures of it too, so that I can share it with you.) Yes, maybe I'll do that, all that, and more because, well, frankly, I can't just keep taking to my bed. Can I? (Never mind, please don't answer that.) I mean, at some point, probably sometime soon even, why even I am going to run out of Bonbons. And, when that happens? Oh man, you are *so* going to be reading crap on Twitter again about me not going to the grocery store for XXX number of days. And that? Yeah, that really will kill me. (I don't want to eat dead/frozen raspberries for dinner again. Really I don't. Somebody, please, convince me that I don't. Do I?)
She Took to Her Bed. So lacking in character development, predictable plot, but, heck, at least it's a short-lived epic that the critics can really get behind. Well, except for the John Wayne's not really in it bits. And the frozen raspberries of a sequel. Bonbon, anyone?
Until next time...
Friday, November 23, 2012
Ok, so maybe I don't really believe that either, but this Black Friday I am going to share with you something I can believe. It's a joke. Here's my Black Friday joke, I hope you like it.
This morning, a bunch of shoppers were lined up in a mall parking lot, waiting anxiously for the stores to open. Some had even pitched tents and waited overnight for the big Black Friday sales event. As they were waiting, with sales brochures in tow, a man walked up to the front and was trying to bump the line. Many of the shoppers in the front of line pushed him back to the back of the line, loudly telling him how long they had been patiently waiting.
The man was not deterred. After being shoved to the back of the line, he marched right back up to the front of the line. This time, the shoppers were not so polite, screaming at him, kicking him, and literally shoving him to the back of the line, knocking him to the pavement at the end of the line.
The man was still not deterred by this however. After picking himself up, dusting himself off, he got up and started to make his way to the front of the line yet again. This time, as he set out, he turned to one of the people waiting near the end of the line and said, "That does it! If they do that to me one more time, I'm not going to open up the store!"
Happy Black Friday everybody! I hope you stayed home or at least purchased some camera or art supplies if you did somehow manage to battle the crowds in the malls today.
Until next time...
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Actually, we have a tradition in my family that we eat chicken, and today I did just that. I ate chicken. I didn't just eat chicken, no, instead somehow the big carving tray of chicken got placed right down in front of me at the table, and so I ate chicken and ate chicken and ate chicken. Sure, I had some mashed potatoes and stuffing too, plus some veggies, but I really somehow managed to eat a glorious amount of chicken. Really, just chicken, me, eat - it somehow just happened. All of the chicken just *poof* magically vanished. I'm still not quite sure how this happened. I usually just have a piece or two but, nope, not today. Today was a chicken feast!
I'm sure there will be more jokes about this chicken "stuff down" to follow, as there were many today we enjoyed while sitting around the dining room table. I guess that's part of the fun of the holiday season as well. Making lots of new jokes. We also got to watch the wonderful Thanksgiving Day parade from New York, so that was a treat too. I love the parade floats and balloons although (apparently) not as much as I love me some chicken!
Hopefully you got to enjoy a lot of turkey (or chicken, lots and lots of it!) and a lot of new jokes on the side today too, since making new memories is what's it's all about.
Until next time...
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
One of the great trends in education recently has been the spread of online style classes similar to this one. These things are absolutely fantastic. They provide a much-needed service, allowing folks from far away to take advantage of educational opportunities, allowing somebody like me to brush up on the best British photography has to offer. (The Brits have *always* been very good photographers and it's constantly been a challenge for us here in the 'States to try to keep up in some ways, with the gallery circuit being a bit fragmented and press coverage of a lot of the contemporary work spotty at best. I don't know why but, for a country with literally hundreds of tabloid-style papers, contemporary photography, and art in general, tends to get a sort of bum wrap. Now, Kate Middleton, on the other hand....) Jumping out of the bushes at Kate aside, this really is a great Internet find and I look forward to picking out and sharing with you additional photography-related websites as I find them.
There really is no longer any reason for the study of photography to be relegated to back rooms, stinky darkrooms, or small gallery hovels. Millions of people the world over literally have access to cameras now and it's high time we provide access to some of these sorts of educational materials as well. No, I'd have to say, this is not a time to keep things like this under wraps. Share it, show it off, bring it around and we can all benefit from this sort of educational material. It doesn't even have to follow a traditional format for education materials either-as photography morphs into a new media format, I'm sure too that the education materials soon will follow.
If you happen to come across any photography-related links and want to share them with me (so I can then, in turn, share them with the rest of my readers here) please do feel free to drop me a note and I will pass along the links as I get them. At some point, I might even gather up the web links and create a rambling post, to collect them all up in one place. Come to think of it, I'd really like to have that too. I'd really hate to see the study of contemporary photography die off or be reserved for the exclusive few, so I'd be more than happy to share something like this if at all possible.
Until next time...
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
With visions of Chevy Chase traveling cross country National Lampoon-style in my head, I decided to do an Internet search to see just what kind of a clown poor Julie would wind up haplessly punching in the face after her inevitable cross country trip of doom to this modern-day “Wally World” come to life. As it turns out, there really is such a place called the “Great Wolf Lodge.” It’s one of those all-inclusive Disney-wannabe family style resorts only, instead of a mouse, this Hell hole features a “wolf” theme, complete with overpriced rooms containing pup tents or “cub houses.” That wasn’t all. No, the entire “resort” had features like an indoor water park (presumably featuring lots of kiddie pools filled with three year old “output” actually “pee pee”) highly priced (and presumably terribly tasting) pizza joints, and something called a “Wizard Lounge” because, as we all know, wizards go oh-so-well with wolves in the forest. I’m guessing here, seeing as Julie was spot on regarding my lack of children, that the wands somehow scare away the snarling wolves with fangs but, like, don’t hold me to that, OK? (Ahem, should you happen to find yourself alone in the forest some day, armed with only a wizard wand and facing off against a giant wolf with snarling fangs, I’m pretty sure you won’t stop long enough to remember this post and hold me to this “wizard” of the woods theory, but, just in case, I don’t really think the “magic” wands actually do anything magical at all. Well, nothing that is, except suck the money right out of your wallet as designed, but you probably knew that already. At least, I hope you did, if you were smart enough to figure out how to breed and all.)
Oh what fresh Hell this place was too. It was so ugly, it looked like a combination prison camp, horrible apartment in the worst part of town, and perhaps a really ugly cheap condominium gone terribly, terribly wrong. Imagine, if you will, all three of those mating and that’s about what said “Great Wolf Lodge” looked like in the shiny brochure of a flashing website. Sure, they had a few water slides and such, but this place was so ugly I’d have to admit that, if the pictures did it any justice at all, why, forget justice, I’d take my chances with high crimes and misdemeanors. Phew! (Instead of chanting “No Justice No Peace!” perhaps the occupants should instead cry out, “Let My People Go!” At least, that’s what I would find myself shouting, should I happen to get stuck in the likes of this dump. And they say brochures make things look nice, huh? Wow! There really is no hope left for this joint.)
I guess one of the better things about being an artist and not having children is that I’m not forced to succumb to the kinds of routine socially-acceptable torture tests these poor parents have to go through on a semi-regular basis. Having to put up with the “Wally Worlds” of the world, having to pay three hundred bucks a night (pup tent optional!) to sleep in some “Great Wolf Lodge” - a place where there aren't any real wolves and nothing in plain sight was anywhere near “great.” No, I’ve never had the great, ahem, “fortune” to have to go through something like this. Instead, I have a dog. (And what a wonderful dog he is!) That’s the closest I get to children, responsibility and all, and though I hate to admit it, sometimes even he gets annoying, asking to be put out into the yard more often than his required three or four times a day. No, I’d have to say, this “Great Wolf Lodge” is something I’m fairly certain I’m not missing out on. It’s something I’m so happy I never have to visit and it’s something I’m more than tickled about leaving up to the breeding kind.
This November, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday here in the ‘States, I’m reminded of these type of “adventures” and I’m eternally gratefully that this is a rite of passage in which I do not have to partake. I don’t have to gather up the rug rats and spend time at the in-laws, no. I don’t have to attend the semi-annual “clown fest” over at whatever passes for the currently popular “Wally Worlds” of the fruited plain. Nope, not me. Instead, I get to hunker down, lock myself in a studio, and paint some. And I can take solace in that, really I can for, even if it all goes wrong, should it all go horribly, horribly wrong and I wind up painting something that looks like I lost a great paint ball match-up, I can always rest comfortably knowing I’m not stuck in something called a “Great Wolf Lodge.” Really, I’m ecstatic about that, honestly I am. No “Great Wolf Lodge” in my future, nope, at least not anytime soon. Dodged a bullet on that one, yes I did.
I mean, don’t get me wrong. Should you be of the type who enjoys your rug rats, I honestly hope you have a great time at said “Wally World.” I hope you laugh and have fun and drain what’s left of your wallet and I hope you don’t spend too much time in the “wee wee” pool and maybe even get something semi-acceptable to eat in one of the over-priced “dining areas.” Different strokes for different folks, is what I have to say here. So, go on, gather up you and your spawn and head on over to the “Great Wolf Lodge” It’s calling your name and you know, you just know, that you’re nine year old wants to go, really you do. Don't forget your magic wands, your swim flippers and you're pup tents, go on now, go.
Just please don’t be looking for me down by the kiddie “wee wee” pool, OK? Sorry, but my pup tent is up and packed and, this Thanksgiving anyway, I’ll be in the studio should you happen to want to find me.
Until next time...
Monday, November 19, 2012
A photographer friend of mine, Amanda Smith, owns a gallery in Johnson City, Texas. It's really not too far from my house and it's a beautiful gallery out in the Hill Country of Texas. Anyway, she has an upcoming call for entries that I thought I would pass along.
The upcoming show will be called "Smile" and this is taken from her website:
smile : express friendliness, chuckle, roar, toothsome, happy, ridiculous, ducks, giggle, shocked, proud, snort, grin, candy, anxious, love, circus, wedding, crow, laugh, guffaw, charades, express tenderness, beer, tickle, smirk, babies, Elvis, feet, snicker, jubilate, cackle, fishing, ice cream.
The word “smile” originates from the Middle English word “smilen”, which was probably from an early Scandinavian dialect, which later migrated to Jamaica where it evolved into the phrase, “we be smilen.” Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer had two of the great smiles of all times. I attended a Bob Marley concert years ago and everyone was smiling. It gave me the same feeling I had watching my brother watch my nephew walk for the first time or watching my Dad watching Rodney Dangerfield or seeing the expressions of the loved ones of returning soldiers. I remember once when my friend’s brother, during the Disco era, got a plaid leisure suit -- we were all smiling.
Smiling is universal and can be triggered by anything, especially photographs.
Forty five to fifty images will be selected for exhibition and a Blurb full color catalogue of the exhibit with all the accepted entries will be available for purchase. Awards are $325 for Juror’s Award, $250 and an exhibition catalogue for Director’s Award, five Honorable Mentions each receiving an exhibition catalogue and $100 for Visitors’ Choice Award.
Creativity is encouraged.
Susan Barnett will be the juror for “Smile”. When George Harrison arrived in New York for the Beatles' historic visit he was carrying a Pentax Spotmatic as he descended the airplane's steps. Susan , then 15 years old, soon bought the same Pentax and began to photograph her everyday life such as it appeared to her.
With a formal education in Art History and Studio Art, she landed a job at Perls Galleries on Madison Avenue, where she worked for twelve years as Associate Director. She handled Picasso, Braque, Leger and Matisse as well as preparing exhibitions and catalogues for Alexander Calder.
Next door to Perls Galleries was Light Gallery, one of the earliest galleries to show Contemporary Photography. There Susan experienced first hand the work of Steven Shore and Lee Friedlandler.
In 1990 she went back to school to study graphic design and computer based photography at the School of Visual Arts, where she studied with Milton Glaser and Paul Davis.
Susan currently lives in Manhattan, where she maintains a working studio in Tribeca and sails in Hampton Bays. To view her work: Not In Your Face
The deadline for this call for entries is December 3rd.
Until next time...
Sunday, November 18, 2012
There are a lot of factors that go into selling artwork. There is how it looks, how it's priced, how it's talked about, what kind of venue it is in, where it is hanging within that venue, the mood of the person purchasing the work, the mood of the person selling the work, the time of day, the crowds (or lack of crowds) there looking at the work. It can be hard, if not impossible, to pin point what, exactly, makes some work sell and others not so much. There are a couple of universal factors though that come into play. Things like laws of supply and demand, but also things like good, old fashioned marketing.
Generally, it's true that the more "eyes" on work that's for sale, the more likely it is to be sold. So, this begs the question, are you doing everything you can to put your work in front of as many people as possible? Be honest here. I've heard a lot of artists answer, "Yes" to this question and then hedge when I ask them, "Oh really? So you do press releases for all of your shows? And invite 200 people to each and every one?" Yes, didn't think so.
It's not just a matter of eyes though. Every artist wants to drop work off at a gallery and then sort of "let the gallery deal with it." By that, I mean actually let the gallery deal with it. They maybe don't want to help promote the show. They maybe don't do as much as they can to invite people to the show. They don't drum up interest in the show. And, many times, they aren't capable of talking about the work. Can you stand there, next to your work, and talk about it to different people? Are you capable of greeting people, talking to them, and sort of "talking up" your work? If not, why not? Please don't give me the "I'm shy!" or even the, "I'm a tortured artist" routine. If you don't know how to do this, you had better learn, because other artists do learn how to do this and, surprise! That might be just the reason why they are selling more and your work maybe not so much.
There are many factors that go into selling work, yes, but there are also some small things you can do to help you work sell and to better promote your work. Things like use social media more efficiently. Learn how to talk to people, learn how to present your work in a crowd or even in a one on one situation. Come up with an "elevator talk" about yourself and your work. Work with gallery owners, directors, curators and the lot to get your work placed into better galleries and even into better places in the better galleries. (What good is being shown in the greatest gallery in the world if your work is stuffed into a drawer in the back room somewhere?) Learn how to hob-knob, learn how to promote yourself. Watch others who are good here and learn from what they are doing.
I hand out business cards and talk to people a lot. Some people have even, more recently, told me I was "very good at talking with people!" in the gallery setting. I wasn't always good. In fact, I'd go so far as to say I was always *horrible* at this. But, I watched. I watched and I learned and I worked at it and I learned some more. I watched other artists do this and learned what worked for them, what didn't, and what I need to do to maybe promote my work a little bit better. And, I didn't get good at this overnight, no, I worked at it. I like to think that, with each and every passing show, I get just a little bit better and better at it. I don't sell as much as I think I can, or potentially could, but I'm trying and I'm learning and growing in this area, and that's all that counts really. Art is really a lot, so much, about marketing-marketing yourself and your work and your style and sometimes even your media to people who might not otherwise know they want to share in it. Embrace that idea, for it will serve you well.
No, really selling your work comes down to a lot of little things. I would have to admit though, if you learn to sell, if you can get some of the basics down, it goes a long way to making your work more likely to sell. It just takes a little time, maybe some practice, and a bit of effort on your part to move things along in that direction.
You spend a lot of time crafting your work. Isn't it worth it to spend a wee bit of extra time learning how to market, how to sell it as well? It can seem like moving a mountain at times, but really selling your work will help you in the long run. You'll be a better artist for it once you learn even a little bit of how to do it. It can help give your work new focus and meaning and help pay those bills which is always a good thing, no?
Until next time...
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Until next time...
Friday, November 16, 2012
Poor Chase had to have minor surgery this week. Things went all well and good but now he's got his head stuck in one of those cone shaped collars. He's got to wear it for "between one and two weeks." Oh, the poor dear!
For starters, he's afraid of it. He just doesn't know what to do with his head. He can't get comfortable. Then, if that were not bad enough, if he sees it's shadow, he gets really very frightened. To top it off, it he happens to bump into something, like say a wall or a floor or whatever and it makes a noise? Oh does that scare him to bits! The poor, poor, dear. I can't wait for this collar to be off and him to be back to his usual self again.
This weekend marks the last weekend of EAST so, if you are in town and so-inclined, please come on out and come on over. There's also the big Formula 1 race going on in Austin. How exciting is that? So many things happening all at once.
Zoom zoom. It's Friday! Now, get out and have some fun.
Until next time...
Thursday, November 15, 2012
There's something about touching the paint. There's something about getting the feel of it in my hands. There's something about moving it around the canvas (board, paper, or whatever) that I really like. I guess I really like the control of the paint, and so that's why I really like using my fingers the most.
Somehow, as part of this conversation, we also started to talk about mud puddles. When I was a kid, I loved to play in mud puddles. They were fun for me. I think for a lot of the same reasons-I loved moving around the earth, feeling the earth move around in my hands. I liked getting my hands dirty and "digging into it" as it were. I feel much the same way about paint.
A brush, sometimes anyway, is a bit too tidy for me. It's clean, it's neat, it's control in a different way, maybe, but it's too removed for me. No, I have to say that I much prefer my mud puddles and getting paint on my hands, getting my hands dirty when I make art. I think that's why I loved playing with pastels so much. It's just like instant color, smudged around on paper, fingers in the mix all of the time. Smush, smudge, smear, spread, all with your fingers. Brush be damned!
Yeah, that's something I like about paint. I like to get my hands dirty about it. Do you like mud puddles too? Is art really supposed to be about getting our hands dirty? (Isn't it?)
Until next time...
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Leslie be damned, here are my top 10 tips for driving around Austin:
Number 10: Red lights are just a suggestion. When I first moved to Austin in August of 1992, the police had just taken out full-page ads in the local newspaper, proclaiming, "We're going to start enforcing red lights, starting October 1st. And THIS TIME we mean it!" Sounds really menacing and serious, I know, but read the ads carefully. For starters, the words "THIS TIME" indicated that they had tried this before and failed. Once more with feeling? Third time's a charm? What are the odds that it'll work this time? Ha! Then there was the entire date bit. "Starting October 1st..." It was August. Yippie! The police even said I could run all of the red lights I encounter for the month of September. How serious could they be about enforcing them the rest of the time? In case you think technology helps here, please do be advised that Austin had to remove a lot of red light cameras because they were causing too many accidents. (Red lights are just a suggestion. Really, they are. At least here in River City.)
Number 9: Texting while driving is not permitted so HONK YOUR HORN! A few years ago, they banned texting while driving everywhere around Austin. Almost everywhere. Everywhere except at red lights. So, more often then not, when you come up to a red light, you will see the driver in front of you start texting. This is all well and good-we don't like people texting while actually driving, mind you. The trouble happens when the light turns green. The driver, you see, is still busy texting. Telling all her friends about the *cutest* pair of shoes she just got on sale at Macy's or asking his buddies, "Where U At?" in proper text voice and all. The trouble here is that, well, the TRAFFIC LIGHT CHANGED FIVE MINUTES AGO. So, what to do, what to do? If you are sitting at a red light, the light turns green, and the car out in front has yet to master the old standby "red light stop green light GO" I recommend that you HONK YOUR HORN. Do this loudly, as loud as you can. Facebook, you see, is just *so* captivating when you're stuck at a stoplight.
Number 8: Buckle up before you go through the drive thru liquor store. In Texas, all passengers are required, by law, to be buckled up when the car is moving. ALL PASSENGERS. Yes, even your drunk friends, passed out in the back seat. Buckle then up before they pass out, for best results and all. Now, the good thing is that, while we are all required to have seat belts on all of the time, we still have that old Texas standby: the drive thru liquor store. If you happen to find yourself in one of those, be patient, as the drunk guy in front of you might be so busy doing the tango with his seat belt he can't count his change fast enough (or something like that.) The motto of Texas might as well be, "here, have another beer!" But, hey, we are all buckled up, and that's important, right?
Number 7: Pickup truck do not have built-in umbrella stands. Driving around Austin, it's almost impossible to avoid spotting a pick-up truck. Many of the locals, in fact, collect them. Many of these same locals also tend to drive on the slower side, although sometimes doing so in the fast lane. That's OK though, because they have these handy racks in the back of their trucks, racks designed to hold loooong sticks. If you're visiting from out of town, you might now be advised that, these slow-going pick-up driving locals do not have built-in umbrella stands in the back of their pick-up trucks. No, these racks actually hold really big guns, which explains why the rest of us let them drive slowly in the fast lane. Be advised, do not honk your horn at these people. They might want to suddenly take up a new target at target practice and, should you happen to honk, you just might find that this new target is, oh, I don't know, say your left headlight (and leave it at that, ok?) Oh, and should you happen to catch a pick-up truck driver, one with a loooong umbrella stand in the back of the truck texting? Might want to lay off that horn then too. Not a good idea, really, not all that good of an idea to honk at them.
Number 6: Dead 'Dillos Rule, OK? It's probably no secret that we have armadillos in Texas. Armadillos are small animals with an armored shell. Think "furry woodland creature" here, only without the "furry" (come to think of it, without the "woodland" too.) They look like they are from outer space. But, that's OK, because you will never see one. Almost never see one. You might see a dead one while out driving. Armadillos are almost always spotted out in the wild dead, run over by the slow moving pick-up trucks, the fast moving cars with California plates, and everybody in-between. Yes, here in Texas, we love our 'Dillos, OK? 'Dillos rule! Just don't expect to actually see one alive and all, least ye be highly disappointed.
Number 5: When it Rains, It's Crazy. Should it happen to rain in Austin, while you are visiting, you will suddenly be able to spot the locals. All the people in Texas, you see, have moved here from other parts. The drivers from California? When it rains, they slow down. The drivers from Seattle? Why, they love the rain. Makes them feel right at home. The slow moving pick-up trucks with old style Texas plates? Yeah, they will be out and about squashed in-between the slow moving (but not as slow as the native Texans-the ones with the gun racks!) Californians and the uber-speedy Seattle drivers. In case you think this makes for a crazy commute, why, you'd be correct about that. The fast lane will become filled with frustrated Seattle drivers while the slow lane will get filled with Californians looking to escape back to the shore, each trying to dodge the gun-toting pick-up trucks who now become very happy (read: drunk) because they no longer have to pay to water their lawns (this month.) Buyer beware!
Number 3: We're a friendly lot. We have these great multi-lane roads all around Austin, really we do. There are a lot of highways with three lanes going in each direction, and two more service roads to boot. You would think that, with all of these lanes all around us, we've have enough room for folks to driver slower than traffic, faster than traffic, and right in the middle. You would think that, but you'd be wrong. The reality of the situation is that you often come up upon a line of traffic, driving under the speed limit mind you, driving three abreast. That's tree across, blocking our wonderful mult-lane road, blocking it so that *you* cannot get past. Frustrating, isn't it? Just think of it as the locals being friendly and it might just help. When that fails, there is always something we do called "speeding on the access road" but I shall save that for another number (see below.)
Number 2: We love our crazy U-turn lanes. Yes, we know you hate them or, at best, really don't understand them, but we love them, really we do. They are U-turn lanes. What's a U-turn lane, you might ask? Well, they are lanes in which you turn, and you turn, and then you don't. Allow me to explain. Say you get off an exit on one of our wonderful multi-lane highways (see #3) and you want to now turn around, to go north instead of south (for example) basically, make a left. Instead of going up to the light, waiting for the light to change, going under the overpass, waiting (again!) for the light to change, so that you can make a left turn (and reverse direction) you can actually go through the U-turn lane. It cuts off two stoplights, really it does. Of course, if you are from out of town and lost, it will completely confuse and befuddle you, but we love them, because they cut off two stoplights and they really confuse the wits out of people just like you. Please do try to keep in mind that, the more you say you hate them, the more that actually makes us love them. (In case you're wondering, yes, we really do laugh at you as you get stuck in that infinite loop, driving around in circles, trying to figure out how to get out. Why, here you go! Have another U-turn on me, baby! Enjoy! *Snicker snicker* Just remember, somewhere a pick-up driving local with a big gun is laughing and, better to be stuck in a U-turn lane than behind him honking your horn.)
Number 1: Speeding on the access roads is allowed. In most places, the access or service road is used when you get off the highway and are looking to either make a turn (to find your location) or when you are close to your destination and want to just pull off. Not here in Texas. Nope. Doesn't work that way. Should you happen to see a wreck, delay, cop, ticket, or any kind of a slow-down in front of you, you're more than likely to see lots of locals gunning it for the exit. They will then attempt to speed past the obstacle on the service road because nobody likes to slow down, not even for *that.* So, the race will begin. Sometimes, we even do this as traffic is running three lanes abreast and it is slow (see #3 above.) The services lanes, you see, often don't have traffic lights on them and, sometimes even travel less distance than the main road (the curves are cut. Doesn't make sense, so you might have to look at a map more closely, but it's really true. The service lanes can actually be shorter, here in Texas, than the main road. Sometimes. If, say, you're lucky.) Because of this, you will often find cars popping off and back on the same road and the access roads tend to travel faster (sometimes) than the highways. It's just a fact of life, get used to it.
Ah, driving in Texas, isn't it grand?
Until next time...
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
I say, forget that. Get over it! Everybody has their own path through life. Yes, it would be great if we were all to pop right out of the womb and know exactly what we were going to be when we grew up, in fact, I'd go so far as to say we should start feeding pregnant women old paintbrushes to, you know, to make sure the kids come out born with the proper supplies and all. I mean, you would not want little Johnny or Janie painting with the wrong brush until the ripe old age of two years old now, would you? Poor kid will be a has-been before getting out of diapers!
Of course, I'm kidding about that last bit but only partially so. There are cultures out there where you can't get into a good college if you don't get into a good high school and then you can't get into a good high school unless you get into a good grade school and then, before you know it, kids are fighting in diapers for a basic education and the toddler with the most brains wins. Is that really how we want to live our lives? Don't people grow? Isn't the entire idea of maturity to, well, to mature?
No, I say you're never too old to make new tracks. It's never too late to start and everybody has an artist inside. There's always been an artist in there, yes, and it's never too late to listen to that calling, to hear the words of the creative spirit break free. It doesn't matter if you're six or eighty six, there is an artist inside each and every one of us, a little "voice" that tells us we can try new things, put on a new hat, go for an adventure, paint our masterpiece. The only difference between some artists and others is that, well, some actually *listen* to that little voice. Some act upon it. Some get to do *that* while others maybe only dream and wonder "what if?"
Many people find themselves asking the question, "what's the worst that can happen?" but, sometimes, they forget the opposite of that question. "What's the best that can happen?" If I try something new, "what's the best that can happen?" If I start to paint when I'm sixty five, "what's the best that can happen?" If I finally get a good camera and take that trip to Paris I've always wanted to take, "what's the best that can happen?" Maybe you've got hidden talents and, even if you don't, trying something new often gives you new appreciation for what it is you do well. There's really no harm in trying, in experimenting, in asking these sorts of questions at any stage of our lives. And, who knows? You just might find you're good at something new and have all kinds of new talents to appreciate now that you're more mature and more able to focus on developing them.
It doesn't matter how old you are, the best might be waiting out there, just for you. You're never too old to make new tracks.
Until next time...
Monday, November 12, 2012
The studio space looks so wonderful this year, as part of EAST. It's been a great tour and the work looks fantastic. We've sold a lot of paintings so far and the buzz is just building and building. We were talking last night about how we're now trying to get the momentum to continue-how we're going to continue with this fantastic group and really grow what we have raised organically. We want to take encaustic art to the next level. We want to showcase Austin and the surrounding areas as a "hotbed" (please excuse the pun) of encaustic activity. We want to start to professionalize the artwork here and help put Austin on the map of the art world. We want (we're starting to actually!) the outside world to know more about what's going on in Austin and to share the fantastic artwork that's happening in Austin with the rest of the outside world. And, let me tell you, we've got plans to do that. Big plans. Big, big plans. Phew!
These two weekends in November bring 30,000 people to the art spaces over at Bolm Road. That's 30,000 fans, tons of family, lots of little kits and many pets. While we love that, we love all of that, we need to start talking about doing more. We need to go "big time" in a big way, and I can hardly wait to help make it all happen. I want to see Austin sprout up as an encaustic center. I want to see artwork from Austin being taken more seriously. I want to see some artists from Austin start to really "make it" in the art world. And it's going to happen, really it is, I just know it. You can almost feel it.
I feel now a bit like a mountain climber must feel at the start of a ascent. I've got the gear, I've got the goods, I've got the guts, now all I have to do is make the climb.
Until next time...