Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween - Now Go Make Some Art Already


ComeToMyWindowOfHorror, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
I've always loved Halloween; it's one of my favorite holidays. I love it because it's associated with nighttime, it's edgy with a touch of darkness, not to mention my birthday is around this time of year. Of course, when I was younger, being a kid, I sort of hated it because it dictated that my birthday cake would be, once again, brown and orange. (When I was a kid, I always wanted for my birthday a white birthday cake simply because I could never get one-everything coming from the bakery around this time of year is orange and brown. Trust me. Orange and brown and brown and orange and, well, there just aren't all that many pretty white cupcakes this time of year. It is, after all, the season of the witch.)

Now that I'm an adult and a working artist, I love Halloween for different reasons. Sure, I still can't get that white cake (I've long since given up trying-chocolate, anyone! And, yes, I even love the candy corn, too sweet as it is.) The thing about Halloween now is that it's so *inspirational*. By that, I mean, there's a lot of art to be seen out there this time of year. Halloween is filled with all kinds of symbolism and substance. Sure, there's lots of candy (just no white cake!) but there are also witches, darkness, night, spiders, autumn, pumpkins, and even murders of crows walking about. I mean, come on, when do you otherwise get to walk around amid murders of crows? Talk about symbolism! Talk about substance! You could do entire art projects just based upon that alone. And, heck, don't even get me started on the ghosts. (Ah, ghosts. Isn't that what night photography is all about anyway? Did somebody say a ghost? Where?!?! Count me in!!!)

So, yes, the candy and the kids and the costumes and maybe a boring old pumpkin are out there but, while you're out and about today, look too at the deeper things. Try to think of some new art projects. Think about some of the symbolism and substance that's out in that cold, dark night tonight as well. It will do your art (body) good!

Happy Halloween! I hope you get to go out and enjoy yourself, yes, but I hope too that you'll think of things in a new light and come up with some really interesting projects thanks to the season of the witch.

BOO!

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Fine Art Of the Hunker


PaintedOcean-2_7545, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
The recent storm that hit the New York metropolitan area really demonstrated the power of new technology and new media. Many folks hunkered down with iPads fully charged, ready to watch movies once the lights went out. Many more folks ventured outside, sometimes putting themselves in the path of the storm, in order to get pictures with the iPhone. In some ways, the recent Hurricane Sandy became the latest tourist trap-with people stopping to take pictures of themselves, their family and friends in front of the giant swells of waves and paths of destruction. While it's great that people do that, and, yes, it's true we need to document our surroundings, it also puts an added strain on rescue workers and can also put some of the bystanders right into harm's way.

Even given this, I have little doubt that images will emerge in the coming days and weeks showcasing the storms power and destruction in new and novel ways. It's almost like the entire world now has an army of iPhone/iPad carrying reporters, all running around photographing everything that happens each and every day. I have no doubt that this is going to be one of the most documented storms in history, even if not found to be one of the strongest. And, that's a good thing, really it is. We, as humans, have an innate desire to document our surroundings. It's part of who we are and what we do-we like to communicate. I'm sure that, years from now, when future generations stop and think back to the days of "Hurricane Sandy" they will look at our primitive images of the day with wonder and share in our experiences in the days leading up to, and immediately following, the "big Frankenstorm" (as they are now calling it in the media.)

It's really interesting to sit back, from afar, ironically enough from the Gulf coast (an area highly prone to record-breaking hurricanes and tropical storms, though also oddly spared this time) and watch the events of the northeast unfold. Like many others, I hope and pray family, friends, and even the cities themselves recover from the storm as quickly as possible. All the better if they can shy away from the Hurricane's path before the havoc hits home. But, even given the circumstances, I also await seeing the artistic results. This hurricane, Hurricane Sandy, was truly a "Frankenstorm" of wild magnitude and duration. It was a large storm and potentially one for the record books so too, as I look forward to hearing about tales of survival and grace, I also look forward to seeing what the photographers, both amateur and professional, have done to document it. It was a bad storm, yes, but people will live through it and some of those people will have stories and pictures to share afterwards. I sit, along with many people across the rest of the country, eagerly awaiting to hear your stories and share in the wonder of your images. A great storm such as this one, at the end of the day, makes for one interesting subject.

So, while I hope for the best, I also can't wait to see some of the pictures. It's only natural to want to communicate and this storm, if nothing else, has given us all a dynamic shared experience. Yes, I still hope you all remain safe but I also know some of you out there will have the pictures to prove it.

Until next time...

Monday, October 29, 2012

So You Got Sandy-ied, Now What?


Air, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
This is a sight that many of you will *not* be seeing today. You see, many airlines are grounded today (and early this week actually) on account of the hurricane in the North Atlantic. So, what to do if you are stuck? I thought I would offer up some tips, pointers, and the like in case you are stuck in the "wild blue yonder" without any hope of making it back home.

Photographers, you see, travel a lot. As frequent travelers, we're used to hitting snags in our travel plans. Sometimes the snags are small, like missing a flight or getting a last-minute gate change but other times? Not so small. I have been trapped by a hurricane before and, sadly, it will probably happen again. So, what can you do about it? What do you do if you are stuck out there, waiting on the weather to change or, even worse, waiting to get swept away from a random pier in New York City?

For starters, don't panic! Now, I know that's easier to say then to do but, really panic doesn't help anybody. There are over 650,000 travelers currently stranded. You are not alone. Yes, you are not home either (or, you know, where you need to be) but the world will go on without you for one more day (or two.) Don't panic! Remain calm and use your resources wisely. Stop. Think. Do the right thing. Use common sense. Don't get crazy, it won't help your situation any, really it won't.

My second piece of advice: travel personnel are not out to get you. By that, I mean, don't be mean to them. They are only trying to help. In fact, it's probably in everybody's best interest if you go out of your way to be extra nice to them today and in the coming days. They really don't want to give up their cigarette breaks or get stuck working through a storm only to help service a bunch of homeland terrorists. Really. An ounce of "nice" goes a long way here. It's not their fault. They didn't make it rain and, believe me, I'm sure they would rather not have your "smiling" face glaring at them from behind their counters anymore than you want to be there. So, be nice already! They don't like the hurricane any more than you do. Be as nice and as flexible as possible during this period of stress for everybody.

Next up, for good advice, you might not get home on time, and, no, you might not get to where you are going, but try to see to it that your basic needs are met. By basic needs here I really do mean basic. Think food, water, shelter. Try to find yourself someplace to sleep, something to eat, some clean drinking water. The rest? Trust me, you really don't need the wireless "n" speed connection device right now, honest you don't. Maybe this storm can help teach you a lesson: there is a difference between a need and a want and, right now anyway, concentrate on the needs not the wants. Food, water, shelter, clothing. Providing for your basic needs might just give you a new appreciation on things when you get back home. You will live to see another day, so what if your iPad charge runs out. Really? Have some priorities here already! No lights? Learn to sing in the dark. No TV set, listen to the radio. Adapt and go with the flow, it will make yourself a better person in the long run anyway and, once it all blows over, you just might find yourself with a new appreciation for the things you currently take for granted each and every day.

Additionally, this is the "fun" part of travel so make the most of it! By that, I mean, think of travel as an adventure. It's what life if all about. Meeting new people, seeing new places. Today, of all days, you are going to get to see some places the way the locals get to experience them. You are going to see stress and chaos and havoc, yes, but that's another side of life. If you can stay calm, provide for your (own) basic necessities, be nice to the people around you and treat this like an adventure, why just think of it. You'll probably come out the other side with quite an adventure, you might just meet some new friends, and you'll really get to experience a new place firsthand, as the locals do. This is a great opportunity for you to put the cloak of "tourist" behind you and embrace the moniker of "traveling citizen" so make the most of it. Help out if you can. If you're stuck in some strange town, why not volunteer at a shelter while you're there? It's a great way to get to see the heart of a city firsthand and you've got time to kill anyway. Try to make the most of your experience in the best way you possibly can.

My only other final piece of advice is that, while you might be stuck in a hotel bar, a strange restaurant, or whatever making new friends and enjoying a new side of the "locals" remember to keep all of your receipts. Many airlines and other travel sites offer up reimbursements for travel-related expenses dealing with the hurricane so do try to keep good records. Use sites like Kayak that offer downloads for mobile devices if (when?) the Internet is available to help book that flight back home. Be resourceful once things start to come back to "normal" so that you can make the most of your return.

In the meantime, try not to stress, enjoy yourself, and try to provide for your basic needs as best as possible. This really will help you get through it all, honest it will. No matter how dark the night might seem, there's always a dawn that comes again the next day. Stay safe, provide (basics) for yourself, try to be nice and make new friends/mingle with the locals, and keep all your paperwork. This is good advice even on a good day, no? Wheels up or not, it's great to travel and today is just another day in the continuing saga of a life well lived so try to make the most of it and don't let one massive storm get you down.

Hurricane, "Frankenstorm," or not, I wish you all safe travels and good light.

Until next time...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Not Quite the End of the World


MissileReturnsHome, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
It's not quite the end of the world. What I mean by that is, well, if you look at Facebook Twitter, or heck even just the regular ole' Internet these days, you can spot all of these posts that go something like this, "Vote for XXX or the world is going to end!" This political season, things are especially heated. Everybody seems to feel, for whatever reason, that we are perched upon some kind of "cliff" or that women are going to cease to exist after election day or that we're all going to collectively burn in some kind of "fiscal Hell" if candidate so-and-so does not win the election.

*Sigh*

OK, maybe my entire purpose in life is to tell everybody to CALM DOWN. Come on, everybody, you know you can do it. "In through the nose, out through the mouth," as they say. Relax. It's going to be just fine. You survived Reagan, and Clinton, Bush number one and Bush number two...the world is not going to end, take a cup a tea and chill already.

For those of you thinking that this is not art-related, actually, it is (in a way.) Politics does not define you. In fact, thanks to a new more global economy, you can define your own little world. It used to be the case that arts were more relegated to those wealthy people or those who could write grants quite well. Those days are over. Like it or not, nowadays, artists are basically small business owners. Thanks to technology, we as people can define who we are and what we do. If you don't like your situation, don't blame Washington, get out and fix it. Take some initiative. Do something for yourself. Fix your own politics and the rest of the world will align with you. You don't need an election, a "fiscal cliff," a "woman's issue" or whatever to do what it is you want to do. Don't wait for the politicians, get off your duff and make your own life happen.

The reality of the situation is that, no matter who gets elected, the sun will rise on November 7th. The sun will rise, the birds with chirp, the world will go on and, if you were smart, you too would go on....go on about the business of making art. Sure, art doesn't exist in a vacuum, and, yes, we all have some kind of "skin in the game" politically but, don't let the election define or, heck, even distract you. No matter how hard they try to spin it, the world doesn't revolve around Washington DC. We make our own opportunities. You can opt to see that as a blessing or a curse. You are the person you make yourself out to be, nothing more, nothing less. To put it another way, are you really sitting there waiting for some politician to define you? I doubt it. And, if you are, why, should you really let that happen? Come on, man, aren't you better than that?

Maybe this is the ultimate Libertarian way of thinking but, the government doesn't own me. The government doesn't make me who I am. The government doesn't define me. At the end of the day, Washington is off, well, in Washington and I'll still be here, little ole' me, making the art I want to make, doing the things I want to do. I don't need a politician to tell me that. I don't need a government. Heck, all they really do is bobble their heads on my TV set and try to tell me that, unless I vote for them, the world is going to explode. They simply don't have much influence in my world. Maybe it sounds like I have a big "artists" ego but, I'm bigger than that. Yes, I pay my taxes and, yes, they provide some kind of police and fire protection (I thank them for that, by the way) but the reality of the situation is that Washington and government in general does little else for me. They simply aren't that important in the grand scheme of things or, to put it bluntly, as the old expression goes, "I've got bigger fish to fry!" I'm busy living my life and don't really care what the politicos have to do about it.

Frankly, I don't really care who gets in on election day. The world will go on, my artwork will continue, and I will strive to make the best work I possibly can. The government doesn't do that. The government doesn't do any of that. Yes, they take my taxes and, yes, they hopefully keep me safe (and out of war) but, apart from that, they don't make the sun shine, the birds chirp or the paint on my canvas dry any faster. Washington is filled with a bunch of bobble heads who talk on my TV set about all kinds of things, most of which have little to no impact in my world. That's the hard, cold truth. Time to face facts, this election, any election, doesn't mean very much now, does it?

Sure, it's great to be civic-minded and, yes, I do feel it's everybody's responsibility to go out and vote (your vote is your voice) but, really, can't we all bit a little bit less hot headed about it all? The world isn't going to end after the election, really it's not. No matter who wins, the world will go on, really it will. Can't we all just keep calm, let the politicians be politicians, just go vote and be done with it already? Frankly, I'm quite sure, if the situation were reversed, these politicians wouldn't give a damn about you so why are you getting so worked up about them already? Relax, folks. It's just an election. Yes, there will be winner and loser but, at the end of the day, a politician is going to come out ahead. A politician. You know those folks, right? Those are the empty suits who bobble on all over my TV set. They really don't do all that much no, do they? So, why get so worked up about it?

The mountain is still a mountain, the river is still a river or, to put it another way, life will go on after election day, just you wait and see.

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Some Blooming New Devices - The iPad Mini is Here


PurpleFlowersAdobeWall, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Just heard that Apple has announced the new iPad Mini and also a new round of iMac computers, complete with better display options, more hard drive storage, and Thunderbolt I/O options. I can hardly wait. The announcement today says that the new iMacs will be available starting in early December. I'm going to try to be first in line to get myself one, as I really want to upgrade my computer.

I might start by upgrading my router to the latest model (oh, that will be a chore! Let me tell you...) and also by adding a spiffy new iPad Mini into the mix. I don't know why but, for some reason, I really want an iPad and the new Mini seems just the ticket. It's smaller and easier to manage and I think it would be great to try out, not to mention they are not *that* expensive. Ok, I know I'm a total Apple fan but, please, sign me up!

So exciting as they have also announced the new line of Macbook Pro's with great retina displays and lots of other goodies. It's a Mac Heaven kind of a day, today is.

I hope you are enjoying the promise of new toys as much as I am. Wow! What goodness!

(This shot taken somewhere in New Mexico against an adobe wall somewhere long since forgotten except, of course, for the photo.)

Until next time...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Eat Pray Love


Shoreline_8945, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
I finally saw the movie "Eat Pray Love" with Julie Roberts today. While I can't say that it was the *best* movie I've ever seen, I can totally see why all of my friends kept telling me things like, "you *must* see this movie!" It's a movie that's *me* in so many ways, not to mention it made me want to visit Bali.

Everyone should visit Bali, shouldn't they? Everyone should go on some kind of spiritual journey, go off and visit the gardens of Bali, spend some time in the Ashrams of India, and get drunk in Rome. I mean, come on, let's take me out of this equation for a second...isn't that what life is all about? That kind of stuff? Who needs material possessions when you can have great world travel, shared experiences, and the like, right? Right? Am I right here? Or not?

So, yeah, Eat Pray Love...I finally saw it. Now I can say that I saw it and I really want to go to Bali. Really, really, really want to go to Bali.

"Bali High......."

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I Didn't Steal That, That's Not My Paint!

Lately, it seems like there has been quite the rash of art theft and art defacing going on. It's almost like the entire world has gone a bit lulu in the head as far as art is concerned. First the entire Rothko scandal at the Tate Museum in London happened. Some guys defaced a Rothko, claimed to have a manifesto and then turned the entire thing into a big legal battle, leaving some wondering how you could even tell the painting, which was very abstract to begin with, was defaced. (One also has to wonder if rogue artist-wannabe types, having a "manifesto" and all, could really be considered to have a "cause" but I'll leave that for the legal scholars to sort out.)

Then, more recently, there was a big, and by big I mean a massive "Holy Cannoli! They stole a what? and a what? and you mean there is more?!?" art theft that happened in the Netherlands. Picasso, Matisse, Monet, crap, they are all gone now, yes it really did happen this week too. Euf! What a heist. It's the kind of stuff nightmares are made of, really that is.

What's happening in the world today? Why all of this scandal, theft, defacing? (Did art school just let out for recess and the kids have nothing to do this week or something?)

In a way, I have to blame a combination of the "new" economy, along with the lack of art education in the public schools these days. Somebody who thinks they can just deface the work of another surely feels entitled in some way, probably feels they are owed at least *something* back from society, or some such thing. Combine that with a lack of education in the arts (hey, school funding has been cut for these type of activities around the globe) and you have combined somebody without any appreciation for the arts with somebody who feels entitled and so they can just go and "take that." This is not a good combination and it will not end well (especially not for the art.)

I guess I could go on about this but, in a way, I'm wrong too, as there have (historically) always been defacing going on, along with theft, in fact, historically speaking, there probably was way more theft back in the old days. Art, I guess, has never been without its share of scandals. Still, I mean, doesn't it seem like this is a lot to happen in a few short days (maybe even a week or two.) Doesn't it seem like the art world is, well, excuse the cliche, but "going to Hell in a hand basket" pretty quickly this week? (Sure seems a bit like that to me anyway.)

At least nobody has defaced or stolen a "Carol" original. Now *that* my friends, that would be a big scandal (for sure!) Eh, who am I kidding? I've love to be popular enough to get defaced one day, in fact, I should probably make that a goal of mine (note to self: add to goals list "become popular enough to get stolen in a grand heist or defaced while on display in noted museum." Yeah, I'll get right on that, really I will. And, if you believe that, why, I've got a lovely bridge to sell you....)

Until next time...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sitting on the Other Side of the Table


Ocean_7306, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Sometimes, as artists we get to sit on the other side of the table. By that, I mean, we get to jury or judge the work of other artists. Maybe we get asked to help out with a show in a more informal way or perhaps we get more formally asked to review work, to sit on a panel of jurors (or maybe even jury a show by ourselves!) where work is to be judged. It's a hard thing, doing this. It's a hard thing being a judge. It's not fun being the one to sit there and say, "No, I don't think this one is good enough." It's very difficult when you know you are looking at somebody's work, something, some piece of art that somebody put their all into.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love looking at artwork. I love, love, love it. I could do nothing more than sit around all day and look at artwork, seriously, I could. It's an honor to be asked, to be even considered to jury artwork, really it is. But it can be difficult too. I've heard of fist fights breaking out, yes, artists can really be that passionate. It's easy to see why. I mean, these are pieces that people worked really hard on. They struggled and they suffered and they tried, oh how they've tried. They've pulled it together, did a website, got the camera out, maybe took photos of their paintings. Worked hard to get the right light, to make the pieces look good. The work reflects their hand, their artistic vision, their taste. It's personal. It's hard to say, "No!" even if something maybe doesn't look so great, especially knowing how hard artists work.

I used to think that I always wanted to sit on the other side of the table, as it were, and do nothing but jury artwork all day long. I could do that, really I could. Right? Yeah, I was kidding myself! It's kind of like going out on an all-day bender. I might be able to survive, but I'd really hate myself in the morning afterwards. Phew! It's hard that.

Lately, I've been asked to do just this. I've gotten opportunity to sit on the other side of the table for a few different opportunities. I love doing this, especially since I know I grow as an artist by doing it. It's very enlightening to see how the entire process, especially how the other side of the table works, but *man* does it too kill me. I hate making decisions, I hate having choices, and I hate saying maybe or even "No!" to something I know somebody poured their all into making. It's just...well...it's just a hard thing. It's difficult for me to do and I always feel badly about doing it. I hate to say, "No!" really I do. And, I feel like I'm one of the artists who should be struggling right there, right alongside with you, not sitting on that other side of the table picking out the "winners" from the rest of the herd.

Some days, I think I am the most horrible of judges, as I simply cannot say, "No!" over and over again. I try to find the good in things. I try to be upbeat. I look at the care that went into something. I try to see the quality and look past the flaws. But, man, is that hard to do when you're expected to sit on the other side of the table. Sometimes, anyway, they are expecting you to be a hard ass and that's, why that's very hard to do. No matter how easy you think it might be, trust me on this one, it's harder to say, "No!" to somebody else then it is to get rejected.

I've been fortunate in that one of the opportunities I got to jury recently was a nice, large space and could take a lot of work. That's good, because that meant not having to say "No!" to too many people. Phew! Dodged the bullet on that one! Unfortunately, the other opportunity, well it was a smaller venue and jury I did (at least, I had to. Nothing else would fit!) I had to say "No!" to some. It was very difficult. I had to make a choice. Tough choices, actually, I had to make some hard choices in my selection.

At this point, the only thing I would like to tell you is that, if you are one of those artists out there (and you know who I am talking about!) who struggles with the, "I never get into any shows!" business, STOP! Just STOP! OK? Don't take it personally. It's not your fault and it doesn't mean your artwork is "bad" or even "not up to snuff." Jurors have to make choices. It's as simple as that. Nobody out there hates you. Nobody wants to see you fail. Nobody doesn't like your hair or your dress or your whatever. They are simply sitting down at a table or at a computer, with hundreds of pieces of artwork in front of them and saying, "Hmmm. I think this one picks up the blue in that one" or some such thing. It's not personal. It's not about you. It's about trying to pull together a show that, well, fits (and, yes, sometimes that means your work might not "fit" that doesn't make it bad, or wrong, or evil. It doesn't mean you should be ashamed or scared of the juror or thinking that the world is out to get you.) Heck, a lot of these shows boil down to "we have room for XXX number of pieces. Let's pick so many that go together." Don't let any of this crap stop you from doing work, from doing the best work that you possibly can. (I can tell you from firsthand experience, the jurors don't want to reject you either.)

I hope that one day you get to sit on the other side of that table and see firsthand what it's like to have to make the selection process. If you ever get the chance to do it, I hope you'll take it. Yes, it's difficult, but it is a great way to grow as an artist too and it really will give you new insight into the entire process. I almost wish there were a way for all artists to see how the process works, to maybe sit it on a jury selection once, just once, so they can understand what the juror sees and how he (or she) sees it. It will give you fresh insight into the entire process and maybe, just maybe, give you new insight into your work. It's one of those things...if you get to do it once, perhaps you'll see how crazy you sound when you get visions in your head of a juror with fangs, long claws, looking somewhat like a dragon.

Enough about my "jury duty." I hope you are busy out enjoying a photographic fall. But, really, if you ever get the chance, do please try to sit yourself down on the other side of that table-even if it's only once, just once. It's good for the soul that, really it is.

Until next time...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Gateway Drug of Choice


RearViewInBlue, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
One of the things I love about photography is that photography is often a "Gateway Drug" for many of the arts. What I mean by that is that, for a lot of people, they maybe start doing some photography and then move onto explore other media and grow to express themselves many different ways artistically.

Photography is relatively easily accessible for most folks. There is common thinking out there that, "all you need is a camera!" While that may (or may not!) be true (you also probably need somewhat of a good "eye" for it) a lot of people are not afraid to pick-up a camera. Yes, there's an expense involved and, yes, some folks maybe cannot afford a camera but, for most of the lot of us, the price of a camera (even if only an older, used, beat-up one) is within reach. You can do a lot with an older beat-up camera even. As a photographer, we don't need the latest in camera gear to express ourselves and, heck, even a starter type camera can do the trick for most folks.

So, it's easy to get a camera, and it's easy for most folks to imagine themselves out taking pictures. Most people can easily "stretch" themselves to see things photographically. Flowers, for example, or old cars. Family relatives, pretty settings. Things like going out to the beach, sunsets and animals all make for easy subject matter. It's easy for the beginner to pick-up the camera and pretty quickly start to imagine taking all kinds of pictures. Some other arts, such as maybe printmaking or music almost put off beginners with the technique involved. Many would-be artists maybe tried their hand at something like music or dance and felt they couldn't "cut it" in the arts and then sort of go back into photography at a later time, as they mature. There are many photographers, in fact, who don't pick up a camera until later on in life. That's fine, that's one of the great things about the medium. You can join in the fun whenever you feel like it!

For many photographers though the fun does not stop there. I've seen many photographers who start with photography and then sort of dabble in other arts, like painting, music or whatever. It's certainly true that photography can teach you a lot about creativity, about vision, about voice (I'm talking photographic or artistic voice here, not pure singing voice, though it might even help with that too.) You can use that "starter" camera to learn a lot about composition. What makes a photograph interesting? What makes it worth looking at? Why did I take it? How could I have taken it differently? All of these questions help form an artistic vision that can transcend media should the artist happen to want to cross over and work with something else. There are a lot of photographers who one day wake up and realize they can draw or sing or write music or cook or....fill in the blank! The possibilities are endless when you have been living a creative life and fostering the kind of creative vision that comes with being an artist. (Yes, in case I have to spell it out for you, photographers are artists too.)

Photography can also be a great tool for those working in another medium. It can help them hone their artistic skills. I'm never surprised to find out that people like Graham Nash (from Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young) is an avoid photographer. So too is Kenny Rodgers (he not only "Knows when to hold 'em and knows when to fold 'em" but he knows how to expose 'em too, I guess!) Neko Case's photos look just like you'd expect them too-she's a quirky offbeat type of musical artistic, very creative, funky, and original, one of a kind in ever way with a haunting quality about her work. Her Polaroids? Surprise! They can be described with exactly the same words. David Burn from the Talking Heads? Yup, same deal. His artistic vision extends not only to his music but to his images. And looking at these images, images from people who you know already from another field, brings about a fresh new perspective into their artistry. You can see more of the "person" more of the hand in the art when you get to see an artist work in more than one media.

I sometimes even wish some of my favorite artists would take up photography. I could, for example, imagine Adam Levine from Maroon 5 taking images that looked a bit like Austin's own Leon Alesi with a slight twist. (Couldn't you?)

At the end of the day, art is a lot about taste. There's what you like, what you don't like, and everything else is pretty much in the middle. That's fine, that's what we expect with the arts but, using photography to explore that, to help refine that artistic taste, is really something special. It should not be reserved only for the few and it's great that we all can try it. I think it's great that photography can be used by beginners as a sort of stepping stone into discovering their own (personal) artistic vision, especially when the arts have been sort of "cut off" for so many people, either because of circumstance, financial reasons, or whatever. Many people simply feel they aren't "cut out" to be artists, that they just don't have talent to do it and photography can help bridge that gap. The photographer Craig Tanner talks a lot about what he calls "the myth of talent" and it's true-there's an artist inside each and every one of us. I'm always happy when I get to witness the camera help bring that artist out.

Photography can be an end game but it doesn't have to be. It can also be a gateway into self discovery and a reconnection with (or discovery of!) that inner artistic voice. It's true what they say, if you want to find your vision, find your voice, find yourself, then maybe find your camera first. (Remember: friends don't let friends run around *without* a camera!)

Until next time...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Odds and Ends


KoiOrange_2026, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Well, I thought it might be a good idea to play catch-up a bit, while my lunch is nuking away in the microwave. Let's see, what's been going on?

I attended a wonderful printmaking demo over at Jerry's on Saturday. It was great, and I learned a lot about how to make monoprints without using a full press. I guess I always knew you could do these things, but I was not fully up on everything that could be done. The demo showed us how to make monoprints with Matisse Flow paints, which are thin bodied acrylic paints, though you could also probably use watercolors to do the trick.

Now, I've never been much of a watercolor artist. When I say, "never" I sort of mean not now, not ever, and I don't mean that in a mean way. I love watercolors, really I do, but they are quite difficult and I have never had much luck with them, other than the heavy-bodied kind and, well, frankly, they just don't look a whole heck of a lot like watercolors now, do they? Having said that, I love, love, love the look of watercolors on that Amersand Aquaboard. And, by love, I mean "love" as in I stay awake at night and dream about that stuff. (Oh, sure, I'm sure some of you stay awake at night and dream about stuff...I'm also pretty sure it's "stuff" that's "stuff" like Brad Pitt, not "stuff" like how watercolors look on Aquaboard but, bear with me here, ok? It's the whole "artist" thing kicking in again.) So, anyway, just the idea that I could do something like this on an Aquaboard has me all in a tizzy (and you know how I get when I'm in a tizzy.)

In other, non art-related news, my home refinancing is moving along. I won't bore you with the details, but I have been doing more paperworks than an oragami house (and that's a lot!) I've also been really sick with some kind of flu bug (although I am feeling much better today, I have been stuck in bed for like two entire days. Oh, believe me! Days of Our Lives is not what it used to be, ok? But, enough of that.) I have not been watching TV but I will write about it enough to let you know (attention: raise the red flag! It's a TiVo alert!) my Tivo appears to be off murdering people again. At least it has drummed up a slew of detective shows (and the like.) It's good in a way, as I like to watch a good "WhoDoneIt?" but I have to remind myself here that, well, can another Jeffrey Dahmer biopic be too far behind? (Oh the horror!)

Speaking of horrors, it's October which means it's autumn, birthday month, and it's also Halloween. Seen any good decorations up yet? I'm hot on the lookout for a giant spider and I've spotted a few ghostly good cemeteries. (Pictures to follow, I'm sure.)

This shot taken at the local koi breeders. I can also never get enough fish, as they are in season this time of year too and I love the autumn style colors the fish make as they glide though the waters.

So what's happening in your little world?

Until next time...

Thursday, October 04, 2012

You're Doing it Wrong


Jazz Funeral, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
When I was younger, I used to try to play music. I say "try to" because I never really succeeded. I never considered myself to be very good at music although I tried and tried I could never quite "click" with it. I even had some (albeit limited) success as a musician but I still don't consider myself a "real" musician, not by most standards. I can technically speaking, still read (and write!) music.

There is an interesting concept in what I just wrote, especially in that last sentence. I can, technically speaking, still read and write music. Notes on a page? Yup, I can figure those out. But notes on a page? Now that, my friends, that is not *playing* music.

Music, you see, is about playing. It's about feeling. It's not notes on a page, no, notes on a page are just, well notes on a page. Notes. Page. There they are. There's no life there. There's no there there. It's all just scribbles until you make a sound. Music, you see, for those who really know it is about sound. It's about sound and it's about feeling. And feeling? Yeah, that doesn't really come so much from notes on a page anymore than taking great photos comes from reading a camera manual or even, for that matter, making scribbles in the park. No art comes from feeling and feeling doesn't always come from technique.

The problem with being a technician is that you will never become an artist that way. To put it another way, life is not about technique. Art is not about technique, no, it's about something greater than technique. Miles Davis wasn't great at putting notes on a page, he put great notes on a great page. And what made those notes so great? He played them with a lot of feeling. (Maybe you could say he put a lot of great feelings into his notes on a page to make them great too.)

If you are trying to be a musician and you are trying to put notes on a page, that's fine, but you have to remember that music is about, well, music. It's how great you play that counts, not how great you put notes on a page. It's about feeling. If you play music in such a way that you will cause people to really feel it, if you play the right notes with the right amount of feeling and you craft the best sounds, then you will be making great music. The notes on a page? Why, they don't really matter. If you're a musician and you are so focused on reading notes on a page, you're doing it wrong. You're not really playing music, rather you're reading (or writing) notes on a page.

The same can be said for photography. If you're so busy setting camera knobs and dials, if you're so busy setting white balance and spending hours in Photoshop, you're not really taking pictures-you're doing it wrong. I had a conversation with a photographer friend the other day and she said to me, "you can make photos look more artistic by playing with the white balance."

I said, "Why, yes you can, but you can also make photos look more artistic by taking photos that look more artistic." She didn't understand (really) what I was talking about, because she was so intent on making something look artistic by playing with Photoshop. She was being a technician, not an artist. Sure, artists need technique too, but art is more than technique. It's bigger than technique, there's more to it then that. If you only focus on the notes on a page, why, I almost hate to be the one to tell you this, but you're doing it wrong.

So, today's free advice (and worth every penny!) is don't do it wrong. Don't put notes on a page. Put some feeling into it, use your vision, your creativity, your insight, your gut feelings, and technique, why that will fall into place. Make those notes come alive before you put them down on that page, for only when they are alive, only when they are truly alive, are you really playing music. The rest of the time, the rest of the stuff you might be doing, the rest of the notes on a page? Why, that's just noise, man.

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Cloudy with a Chance of Portfolios


CloudsBWSQ_9863, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Happy October, everybody!

Just a reminder, I'll be giving an artist presentation tomorrow evening with the Austin-area Creative Arts Society (CAS) group. You can see more about the CAS group on their website here.

Some details on the presentation:
Next Meeting
Wed. October 3rd
6-7pm Networking and Social Hour
7pm Meeting Starts

For our October 3, meeting Carol Schiraldi has agreed to give us a presentation on the "Evolution of a Portfolio"

She comes highly recommended for this presentation and any of us who would like to push our art further and possibly approach galleries will find this talk very helpful. Carol's hands-on presentation will deal with preparing a "gallery submission packet" She will also offer advise on preparing the artist statement and our art bios.
Come with questions. The meeting begins at 7:00 after a social time and the program begins after a short business meeting and is held at the ACC Pinnacle campus. I'm told the meeting will be held on the 10th floor faculty lounge.

For those in the Austin-area, I hope to see you there.

Until next time...