Friday, November 30, 2012

It's Almost December

GlowingPinkLines_5605, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Tomorrow is December 1st. So hard to believe. I've got a lot of things going on in December.

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.

December indeed.

Until next time...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Artist Statements - Tips and Tricks

I get asked a lot about artist statements. Actually, I take that back, I try to read artist statements and, more often than not, end up befuddled and confused. I thought it might be a good time to offer up some tips for photographers to use when writing artist statements.

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 Print As it is on the Web

BooksOnShelf, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
For somebody who has been doing a bunch of nothing lately, I sure still am (somehow) managing to keep busy. I'm currently in talks with about three or four different folks who want to use my work in print publications or on the web somehow. Phew! Stay tuned on this one, but expect to hear a bunch of announcements soon, once all of the paperwork is done. Ah, yes, the paperwork. You do remember that stuff, don't you? That's the kind of stuff that makes me grumpy. (Harumph!)

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

Lotto Fever - Part II

CigarsAndGifts_6020, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
They say the jackpot is up to something like 425 million dollars. That's a lot of money, really it is. You could buy a lot with that. That's a heck of a lot of little Compact Flash cards, really it is.

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

The Poetry of Quiet

IceFormStriped_2756, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
It's been very quiet lately. I almost hate to admit it, but I've really been enjoying it. I've enjoying curling up with a good book, taking a nap in the afternoon, and having tea on Monday. There's nothing quite wrong with tea on Monday, is there?

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

Swirls of Color and Stealing Light

TidalDance2854-2, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
This is one of those shots I had forgotten I'd taken. This was from on the beach in Kona back when I was there last, in May of last year.

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

She Took to Her Bed

Bed_7260, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
I'm having one of those days, you know the ones. It's one of those days where you just do not feel like doing anything, where you just can't seem to get it in gear, where even coffee of the highest caffeinated value does absolutely nothing for you. No, today I'm absolutely convinced that, should Brad Pitt happen to appear magically in my bedroom complete with a cattle prod, a bucket of paint, and the finest camera rig known to mankind, I would just simply roll over or, at the very least, sit up only long enough to complain about how I really do not want to get out of my sweats. Even though I'm not all that much of a Brad Pitt fan, I'd have to say, man, it's just one of those days.

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

Black Friday Joke

ShoppersNo2_4308, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Today is Black Friday, a day which marks the day in the calendar year many merchants go from being in the red to being in the black financially. It's also a day that many retailers have shoppers convinced they must outspend their neighbors and, in a futile attempt at doing just that, they have us convinced we must all run out at 4 o'clock in the morning, wait in long lines, and grab as many items as we can, dashing through stores faster than some of Santa's reindeer. The sales, they tell us, will not last long and so we all must hurry, act now, run quickly, mob the stores all day long, and overspend what's left of our money until we all drop from exhaustion.

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

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody

TwoBirdsStuckOnTheWall, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Today is Thanksgiving Day in the 'States. What this means is today is a day we take off from work, spend time with our families, and eat lots of turkey (usually.) I hope that your stuffed roasted turkey came out better looking than these birds!

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

From The Guardian Comes...

WilliamsHouse, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
This just in...from The Guardian over in the UK comes this great photography masterclass that is yours for the taking. It's free, easy to navigate, and provides a wonderful introduction to contemporary photography.

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

The Great Wolf Lodge - Fangs Optional

Tiki Temple After Rain , originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
The other day Julie, stopped in for a chat. When I asked her if she had any big plans for the weekend, she mumbled something about taking a few days off to go to the “Great Wolf Lodge.” When I asked what pray tell was this mysterious “Great Wolf Lodge,” she replied, “Oh, that’s right. You don’t have any kids.”

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

Call for Entry - Smile

TacoSauce_5408, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
I thought I would try something different for the blog today, so, instead of posting something about myself, I am going to pass along a recent call for entries that has come across my desk.

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.

Good luck!

Until next time...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Selling Your Work - No Really Selling Your Work

I've seen it happen, time and time again. There's a big show, there's a gallery walk. There's art up somewhere. Two artists, each with great work participate in such, and one? Why one sells some work. Maybe sells one or two pieces or maybe sells a bunch of work, while the other? Nope, not so much. So, this naturally begs the question, why does some work sell while other work does not? Is it magic? Is it just that somebody has something people want? Are some people better salesmen? Circumstance? The universe out to get one but maybe not the other?

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

Just a Photo For Today

SorchedEarth-2_3677, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
From the deep thoughts of my mind today comes...NOTHING! That's right. I've got nothing. It's the weekend, so I thought I might post this wild and whacky image for today and let you enjoy your Saturday.

Until next time...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Happy Friday - Odds and Ends

Bookends_2929, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
It's Friday today, so here's an iceberg for you. (Kidding, kidding. I hope you are having a great, and not a Titanic-style Friday.)

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

Making Mud Puddles and Fingerpainting for the Masses

I was talking with somebody the other day about making art. The subject of brushes came up, and I started talking about how I don't really prefer painting with a brush. (Of course, I like a can of spray paint even less, but that's a topic for another day.) I actually prefer to finger paint.

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

Top 10 - Driving Tips for Austin

Lamp, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
This weekend, Austin is going to host the big Formula 1 race. It's the first time the United States has had a Grand Prix style event in a while. It's going to bring a lot of folks into the Austin area, for racing, for visiting, for driving around, and so I thought it best if I would offer up some tips for driving around Austin. These are not the typical driving tips (stuff like "slower traffic please keep right") no, these are more like "how to survive on Austin's roadways without getting killed by a male pedestrian wearing a pink feather boa because, well, heck that would not look all that great on the insurance forms now, would it?" tips for the masses.

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

You're Never Too Old to Make New Tracks

PebbyTracks_7301, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
A lot of artists come to art latter on in life. There's this common fear out there that people have started "doing" art too late in life. That, because they were not born paintbrush (or camera) in hand, that they will never really "make it" in the art work.

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

I'm in an Encaustic Mood Today

RedMountainTop_5521, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Had a great meeting last night with Cari and Scott to talk about and plan some upcoming events for the Austin encaustic arts group. We've got plans, we've got big, big, big plans, let me tell you. We've plotted and schemed and put our heads together to come up with some of the best laid plans I've seen come out of an art group, really we have.

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...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

We Love it Crazy, We're Crazy in Love

Pizza_6065, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Just got back from a long day downtown at the EAST tour where I met probably close to 10,000 of you. *Waves* It's been a crazy day. It's been a busy day. It's been crazy busy. I met the folks, pet the dogs, made silly faces at the kids, talked to press, sold some artwork, and had an overall crazy busy kind of a day. I have to say our studio looks *great* thanks to Cari and Scott and a host of other people. The area down by Bay 6, Pigoata, and Big Medium is filled with fantastic artwork of all kinds. Everything from sculpture to ceramics to paintings to encaustics to photography-it's all there, even performance art.

It's great to see it all come together like this, really it is. It's great to meet the folks, see the kids, pet the dogs, dust off the artwork, and get the word out. It's crazy, yes, it's crazy busy, yes, but we love it that way. In fact, we would not have it any other way. We really love it crazy and we're crazy in love - passionate about art, about supporting the arts in Austin, about seeing art get supported in Austin, about making new connections, meeting new people, and the entire lot of it.

Sometime, after eight o'clock tonight, I ran into an artist friend of mine. She had stopped by the studio after spending an equally crazy day at her studio, just to see how we were holding up. She walked in and said to us, "you guys look like you were run over by a freight train!" We did too. We looked like 10,000 people had trampled across our foreheads, really we did. But, the fact is, we love it. We love what we do and we love meeting the masses and we love the craziness of it all. Truth be told, EAST just wouldn't be EAST without it. And, while there might be many of you, very many of you, in fact, and, yes, maybe some of you bring too many friends over to our studio all at once (quit blocking the aisles please!) we'd hate it if you weren't there. We want to see all of you-see you and talk to you and share our artwork. That's why we do this, that's why we are here, that's what we do, and, heck today of all days proved that, well, we do it quite well (if I might say so myself.)

So, yes, if you haven't come out yet to visit us at EAST, there's still time. The craziness continues next weekend, and we hope you'll join us. For two more days, there will be 10,000 more people (or more! EAST gets crowds of about 30,000 or so I'm told. Ahem: Please don't all try to fit into Pigoata Studios at once please. And, if you do, we ask that you please do not block the aisles. Too much. We thank you for your attention to this matter -- The Management)

EAST is a crazy time. We are crazy people. We love EAST and we love being crazy. We're crazy in love with what we do and, this time of year anyway, it's getting to meet and talk art with a crazy number of you folks out there. So, come on, be a part of our crazy little world. You know you want to. And we'd love to have you. Just please, well, try not to block too many of those aisles, OK?

Until next time...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Twenty Five Hundred, Really?

IceShelfWCave_2807, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
This week, I uploaded my 2500th photo to Flickr. Can you believe it? It seems like, just yesterday, I was signing up, wondering if Flickr was worth the twelve bucks they were charging at the time, wondering if I could, somehow, magically, get Flickr to talk to Blogger, to give you this blog...wondering if this "photo sharing" thing was worth anything or if anybody was going to just run off and steal my images without asking?

Turns out I was right about the stealing part. I've had images stolen and used without permission. But, that's part of the game. I've also had images appear in books, in ads, sold prints, gotten compliments, and shared wonderful stories with people afar. Yes, when I consider all of the factors, I'd have to say that photo sharing is indeed worth it, and Flickr (or a photo sharing site like Flickr) is worth it. At the end of the day, after all of the trials and tribulations, it's indeed worth it in the end.

I mean, how else could I travel to the top of the world, take shots like this, and bring them back to share them with you? I mean, sorry if you were holding out on me but, like, it's not going to work with smoke signals, OK?

*Pffffff* Now, Flickr? Yeah, that's magic. (I hope you don't choke on my next 2500, you magic donkey, you!)

Until next 2500...

Friday, November 09, 2012

East Austin Studio Tour AKA EAST

FaceAboveWater, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
I've been getting some questions about EAST - specifically, what is EAST? How much does it cost? How do I go there? etc. I thought it might be a good idea to answer some questions today, just before the big event kicks off.

The East Austin Studio Tour (aka EAST) is an annual event held in Austin to celebrate the arts and showcase artists working on the East side of Austin. The way it works is that it's a self-guided tour. It's a free event-it does not cost you anything to attend and you do not have to get dressed up or anything like that (it's not like a big "gallery opening" where it's a black tie affair. No, this is more like a "walk around the block" only with galleries, really art studios, involved.)

The way it works is that there's a central "hub" for the EAST tour-this is currently Bolm Road and the Big Medium location. You can go and get books (they have a large, full color catalog that is free, although first come first served) and maps showing you where the stops on the tour are. Basically, the way it works is you go and get a map, it's a free event, and it's a self-guided tour. You can follow the map (or not) and go around to look at all of the studios, meet all of the artists, and the like. It's a very relaxed and informal way to see artists and their work. It's great for kids, because they can see real, honest to God working artists, live and "in the flesh" as it were. You can also tour the studios and see the work areas the artists use to create their work.

You do not have to purchase anything as part of EAST, although there are food vendors, drink vendors, some live music and (obviously) artists selling art. Most artists are more than willing to chat with you and we welcome the opportunity to mingle with the folks who are just out for a stroll. A big part of EAST is just getting to talk with people, to meet people, to share our experiences with teachers and kids and all kind of folks, people we might not normally get to meet because they do not come into the traditional gallery settings.

Not everybody loves or even feels comfortable in an art gallery. That's fine. We're not forcing you into our world. The events that are part of EAST are more about connecting with everyday folks, the community, the neighborhoods, and the other artists. It's about coming together to celebrate, to highlight what is happening over on the EAST-side of town and also to talk with lots of folks (from all over town) who maybe have some interest in art but don't want to come and talk to us during some big gallery affair.

So, if you are in the Austin area either this weekend or next we welcome you into our studios. Come into our studio spaces, our homes (in some cases) our pop-up tents, our campers and whatnot and share that which is our artwork. You don't need money, you don't need a fancy car or a big bankroll. Come on our in your shorts and flip flops, talk with some artists, meet us, peek at some artwork, tell us what you like, what you don't, what you do and bring the dogs and kiddies along. It's that kind of an affair.

For those of you outside of the Austin area, the EAST tour is a great event. I honestly hope you have something like this, and maybe would even consider building something like this in the area, in the studio spaces in which you work (and live.) It's a great community focused event.

There is a great website for EAST, including a map, for you to browse: East Austin Studio Tour Dot Com

EAST: Over 200 artists. Lots of venues. Food. Live music. Tons of art. Lots of studios. Walk the tour, meet the artists. Have a good time. It's free and we welcome you this weekend and next.

I hope to see you there!

Until next time...

Thursday, November 08, 2012

From the Painted City Series Today

Apple Cart, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
This shot is from my "Painted City" series. The series is done in the form of "Street Photography" gone feminine-that is, how a girly girl would shoot the street. Gone are the hard edges, strong lines, stark contrast of the Street and instead, in their place, we have soft light, shades, and, of course, lots of blur (and curves.) A soft, feminine way of looking at the streets around us, don't you think?

Until next time...

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Looking EAST

IceAsCandy_2864, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Now that the election is behind us, I'm gearing up for the big East Austin Studio Tour. I'll be on the tour again this year, this time with some photography! Look for me over at Pigoata Studios as part of the EAST festivities there. This will probably be my last big show of the year too, so now is also a good time to purchase those holiday presents (if, you know, you are so-inclined.)

I'll be busy tonight in final preparations for my EAST setup and will hope to be ready by the "open" on Saturday morning.

If you're in Austin, I hope you can make the tour this year, and I hope to see you there.

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Today is a Day for Bread and Circuses

It's election day in the US. Did you get out and rock the vote? Most of the "talking heads" on my TV are saying that this is going to be a close race and that there will be a lot of counting going on this evening. Because of that, we might not get to know who wins the election until the wee hours of Wednesday morning. You already know my viewpoints on all of this, so I won't re-hash them here other than to say I'll be quite happy when the "circus" part of this "bread and circuses" bit is over with. Phew! I dislike politicians even more than rats (actually, come to think of it, I have nothing really against rats.)

Today has been quite the calamity day. So far, somebody almost dropped something on my head and nearly killed me and then, if that we not enough, the soda machine that I frequent served me a soda can with a hole in it, spewing fizzy beverage all over the place. This does not bode well for the evening hours so, I feel I must mention it here, if somebody should happen to kill me in the next few hours or if I should get into some horrible kind of accident, please do not take this as me being despondent over the election results. No, it would actually be that I'm just having that kind of a day today.

It's that kind of a day today, yes it is, why, it's that kind of a day today. (Look out below!)

Until next time (I hope!)...

Monday, November 05, 2012

Edward Curtis and the Manipulated Image

WarriorFrontViewNo2, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
I read a book review this weekend from a New York critic discussing the work of Edward Curtis. An interesting thing about Edward Curtis and his famous portraits of Native Americans is that he brought the conversation of the "manipulated image" to the forefront, long before we had tools like Photoshop to pollute the waters. Allow me to explain.

In the early 1900's, Edward Curtis traveled the Western territories photographing the Native American people. According to the Wiki, he shot "over 40,000 photographic images from over 80 tribes" becoming known as the "Shadow Catcher." Many of the native tribes did not want to be photographed (it is against their religious belief-they feel having a picture taken or having a sketch made is stealing a portion of their souls) but Curtis gained their trust over time and set out to document the Native peoples of the Western territories as best he could. He not only used a camera, but also used a wax drum to record sounds and transcribed writings from these people. It was a large (epic) photographic project on a grand scale, one which would cement Curtis in the history books as the photographer of Native Americans, yes, but one which would also drum up a lot of controversy.

Curtis, you see, had declared the Native Americans as a "vanishing race." He was of the belief that the Natives were going to be killed off and that, eventually, there would be no Natives left. Their language would be lost, their culture lost, their people lost. All killed by the advancement of the white man. Because of the riff between the native cultures and the westward expanse of the white man's territories, there are those who claim that Curtis manipulated, even staged, many of his images. They were not just "staged" in the typical sense of, say, staging a photographic image, but they were "staged" to elicit a specific response. (Picture the Native American tribal leader crying and you see what I am getting at here.) These sort of "manipulations" played well with the crowds and the funding for the projects and, perhaps, fed into the "white man's guilt" aspect of how the white folks were treating the Native Americans at that point in history.

This topic is interesting in a number of ways. For starers, is an image to be considered "manipulated" or even "staged" if, say, it's attempt is to circumvent the "normal" emotional response but instead fabricate a response? That is, if, say an image were designed to make you angry about something, is that to be considered a "manipulated" image (anymore than say a "Photoshopped" image is?) To pose it as a question, which image is more manipulated, one in which the subject is coaxed into crying and then shot (staged) to make it look like they are living in a sad situation/circumstance or one in which Photoshop "tears" are clone-stamped in? Ah, that's an interesting question and one that I can't really begin to answer here. All I can really do is pose the question and maybe think about this for a while (no?) Is there a "correct" answer to this? Is manipulation in any format to be tolerated by the media? How can it be avoided?

To say that Curtis "manipulated" his images is a bit of a stretch (IMHO.) In a way, *all* images are manipulated. We see what we want to see. As photographers, we do sort of "guide" an emotional response, even without tools like Photoshop. That's kind of what we're supposed to do, that's kind of why they pay us the big bucks (so to speak. OK, well, maybe "medium-sized bucks" but you get the idea.) Images are all about manipulation, it's just that now, in the modern era, we have a lot more tools that help us do this, so it naturally follows that there is now (in the modern era) a lot more talk about "manipulation" but it's something we know has been going on since the humble beginnings of the medium. Photographers, and to some extent, photography itself, has *always* been about manipulation-people smile for photos even when they aren't happy and we often look to shoot people in the best lighting conditions or even going out of our way to make them "look real" we try to frame the image based upon certain circumstances (those as guided by the hand of the photographer.) There really is no such thing as a non-manipulated image anymore than there is such a thing as a "real" drawing (in practical terms) although we do like to fool ourselves into thinking the great "truth" is really out there (somehow.) To put it another way, the "hand" of the photographer is always present in some way in each and every image we craft.

Maybe Curtis was off the mark in terms of a "vanishing race" but I would say not so fast there either. To come to his defense, the Indian culture *is* being erased, although, to also acknowledge the contrary point of view, maybe not as fast as Curtis initially suggested. That is to say, Indians *are* disappearing, their languages *are* being forgotten, they *have* been run off lands and swept aside by "White Man expansion" although, in all fairness, maybe not *quite* as fast as Curtis feared. Does that make him wrong? Does that invalidate his work in any way? Are his images now to be considered any more "manipulated" because he maybe got the timeline wrong? Again, more questions, few answers. (Isn't photography grand? It always seems to do this to us!)

Perhaps too I should not be commenting about this at all, as I have a (somewhat) vested interest in this. I'm part Native American, yes, but I also grew up in the "White Man's Culture" (as it were.) I have also considered Curtis to be one of my photographic heroes (I've always loved his work) and so it's harder (if not impossible!) for me to examine his work with a more critical eye. To not do that though, to *not* look at his work and see that obvious (well, maybe obvious to some) manipulation, am I really appreciating his work? Am I doing it a dis-service of any kind? Not seeing the forest for the trees, maybe? Or, perhaps turning a blind eye to history and content and just seeing what it is I really want to see (maybe because I have a sort of "emotional" investment in Curtis' work?) There is a tendency to do this as well-we tend to ignore flaws in images we basically enjoy, don't we? We all have a tendency to look at work and see what it is we want to see. That's just human nature, although it sort of "spills" over into photography as well.

These are really hard questions to ask and even harder, if not impossible to answer, but I thought it might be fitting to write about, at least in part, for today to maybe get the conversation started a bit. Perhaps this kind of critical thinking will help me find more depth in my own work and think more about what the future holds in terms of historic photographic work. Photography, as a medium, is really coming into its own now. We have more historical images than ever before, and we now have the "old guard" of photographers dying off, leaving behind troves of images that will continually "bubble up" these sorts of questions. Maybe more of us should start asking these kinds of questions now more than ever? I think it's important to ask such questions and, especially so if photography is to become a truly historical medium (which it has been and will continue to do over time.)

As somebody who has sort of "been in the shoes" (read: a working photographer) it's difficult, if not impossible to think about these sorts of things while you are shooting. When you go out shooting, at least for me, there's the world around me, the great big "bubble" of a universe, yes, but there's also the shot at hand. It's hard to make tradeoffs, to even think outside that "bubble" and consider the "big picture" when you're working, even a small project let alone one the size of the projects of Curtis' undertaking. I'm fairly certain that, as a photographer, he wasn't thinking about the "Big Picture" or any of this, he was just working in the field, trying to get the best images he could get at the time he got them. To put it another way, how could he possibly know that, say 100 years later, historians would be questioning the validity of his work when, back in that day, photography was simply not taken as a historical medium in any way at all? No, I think it's pretty safe to say he was working as best he could to document what he saw when he saw it and working too to try and save a culture he thought needed help.

The rest? Why, that's great fodder for historians and now even bloggers like me to question in the modern era. Photography as "history" is an interesting subject to me, although as a working photographer, it's not one I get to ponder each and every day, as there are always more images to make and we must continue to move the medium forward, especially given the latest in technology advances but, as we do so, it's sometimes good to look back at the historical context as well, as it can give new perspective to some of the current problems we now confront. It's good being part of a new media but it also poses new questions and problems and issues of a historical context every once in a while as well, don't you think?

Until next time...

Sunday, November 04, 2012

The Last Political Joke - Winds of Change?

BlowingLeavesNo1, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Since election season is almost over (thankfully!) I thought I would share my political happenings with you today. This is my funny story about this year's election season.

The neighborhood where I live is quite split politically. Yes, where I live in Texas is quite a "red" state but, the Austin area? Not so much. We have hovels of "blue" places as well as Libertarian enclaves that sprout up from time to time. The folks on my block are pretty politically split as well, with some leaning more blue vs. red. Anyway, you get the idea, I won't go into too much detail but we are kind of a mixed bunch of folks when it comes to the political spectrum.

So, as you walk out of my house, I have two neighbors right across the street. The one on the left, conveniently, is an Obama supporter. She's a single mom who lives there with her young children. The family on the right, on the other hand, are a very "red" family, with Dad being a financial adviser and Mom a stay at home mom. They have two young boys. As political season is upon us, each has put out a yard sign indicating their preference for a presidential candidate. The house on the left, as you would expect, put up an "Obama 2012" sign, while the house on the right has a "Romney/Ryan" sign on the front lawn. These are the typical yard signs you might expect and each house has no other political signs other than the routine yard sign. Both signs are about the same size as well. Nothing really out of the ordinary here, just typical yard signs indicating a political preference.

As I've posted here before, for some strange reason, I live in a very windy area. I'm always complaining about freak gusts of wind coming along and knocking things over or just taking things away. I don't own a dryer for my laundry but instead opt to use a folding rack to dry my clothing on the back porch and, I must confess, it's a constant battle to fight the local wind to keep it from blowing over (and my socks blowing down the yard.) Sometimes, even days that don't look too windy take my socks for a run down the back, I swear. Must be just a freakish thing about my locale, but it happens a lot.

As you might guess by my bringing up the wind, a few weeks ago, one of the yard signs blew over. The "Obama 2012" sign blew onto the "Romney/Ryan" yard area, thanks to a freak gust of wind. Since I'm friendly with both neighbors (and I really don't take sides politically) I happened to be out front when the "Romney/Ryan" Dad came home to find the "Obama 2012" sign blown down and strewn across his lawn. Being neighborly and recognizing that his neighbor was a busy single Mom (perhaps having a harder time hammering in a yard sign?) he stopped to put her sign back. I watched from my porch as he walked over and tried to locate the sign "holes" to right the sign back up again and grabbed a rock from her rock garden to sort of hammer the sign back into place. At one point, he even joked to an evening jogger who was passing by, saying something like, "Why, I ought to..." and waving the rock in front of the sign, but he did the neighborly thing and did the best he could to put her yard sign back up again.

Fast forward a few more days after that. Another gust of wind, again the sign falls down. Yes, the "Obama 2012" sign, perhaps thanks to the rock/hammer job (lack of a proper hammering?) didn't hold and the "Obama 2012" sign again blew into the "Romney/Ryan" family's yard. This time, the single Mom was out in the yard and actually talking to the "Romney/Ryan" family Dad. He joked to her about "of course, you sign was made by socialists, that's why it won't stay in the ground!" but then offered to help her put it back in again. This time, retreating to the garage to get a proper hammer. He also suggested that, since his yard sign had stayed put, maybe they move her "Obama 2012" sign closer to where he had his "Romney/Ryan" sign, since maybe that location had a bit less wind. They both agreed (!) and picked a spot a bit closer to the curb, and he gave the sign a good "whack!" beating it in with the big hammer until it looked like a tornado couldn't budge it.

Well, you can probably guess what happens next. Maybe it was remnants of Hurricane Sandy, maybe it was dumb luck, or maybe, as the "Romney/Ryan" Dad jokingly suggested, "Obama signs just aren't made as well as Romney/Ryan signs," but, somehow, the "Obama 2012" sign blew down again, this time also taking out the "Romney/Ryan" sign with it. Yes, it's true, as I was coming home the other day, I happened upon the two families out in the yard again, discussing how to keep the signs up until election day. Now, it was a nice warm day on Friday, so they were both mulling around up front and each waved at me as I pulled into the drive. Since it was so nice out, I decided I would pop over and see what was going on with the battle of the yard signs.

"Must be the front we just got," said the "Romney/Ryan" Dad, "it's just windy as all heck, although it has been nice out."

"Yes, it's very windy and all of our signs are now falling down!" declared the Obama Mom, "but we are enjoying the nice, warm weather."

"Let me get this straight," I said to both of them, "the only two people with political signs in their yards are now complaining that there's too much hot air blowing around? Riiiiigggggt. Now I *really* know we're getting to the end of this election season..."

They both reminded me to go out and vote this Tuesday, as I'm now doing to you. As for the signs? Well, I think they have both seen better days and will probably remain down (or keep falling that way!) until at least Tuesday.

Until next election season...