Saturday, June 29, 2013

Getting Ready for the 4th of July


YellowHouseFront_1712, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

It's been horribly hot in Austin the past few days. Yesterday topped out at 106 and I think today might have been even hotter. Still not quite as bad as places out west, like Vegas, which, I'm told, topped out at a whopping 117 degrees today. Stay cool, snowflakes, stay cool out there!

In other news, everybody is getting ready for the big upcoming 4th of July celebrations. Lots of flags, hamburgers and wieners getting ready to be roasted, and the usual firework displays.

As luck would have it, we are expecting some storms tonight, along with a "cold" front moving in. I say "cold" in quotes because, well, it's supposed to top out at only about 93 a few days this week. On account of the change in the weather, I am probably going to try to head up to Georgetown this week to do some more shooting. I'll see when the clouds look good and if I can manage to sneak up that way for a bit of shooting around the square. (Watch this space for details.)

Other than that, it's just been trying to stay out of the heat. Oh, that and I'm working on some T-shirts and a few odds and ends, hoping to get some stuff wrapped up this week.

How is your weekend going? Hot enough for you yet?

Until next time...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Image for My Mother - The Great Adding Machine of Life


VictorMachine_0597, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Some of you out there might know my mother. She's retired now but back in her day (as she would say) she used to work one of these things. This beast is something called a "Victor adding machine" and was used as a precursor to the modern day calculator (and, I'd have to guess, computer too, since now we use those really instead of calculators.)

For those of you young enough out there to not know what an "adding machine" is (or was) and don't really have a frame of reference, it was a calculator-like device that they used in offices to do tasks like add items for payroll, add items for accountants, and the like. Almost any office that handled money (even if that money really boiled down to their very own payroll system) had one of these beasts.

Along with the adding machine came, of course, the machine's operator. Adding machine operators were sort of like primitive computer programmers of their day. They didn't do quite the calculations that a programmer would perform, but they worked with the machine. They sat at the machine churning out numbers and, quite literally "crunching numbers" on a device that looked much like this. It worked like this, "tap, tap, crunch" as the machines coils turned, the numbers registered, and the tape printed out yet another summation. The machine itself had numbers and allowed you to add, displaying the results on a paper tape that could then be attached to a legal form or included in a file. (When I say "file" here I mean an actual "file" not the items on our desktop computers, which are also "files" but aren't really any physical files. Think "things that fill up a file cabinet" here and you are in business.) These machines also had a crank on the side and were operated often by somebody who doubled as what they called (back then anyway) a "statistical typist." That's pretty much what my Mom did back in her day-she was a statistical typist who, more often than not, spent her days toiling away at one of these beastly machines, as a way of adding numbers for companies in downtown New York City.

Adding machines are now pretty much found only in the dark hovels of antique stores. I'm guessing here, but probably most folks don't even know what one is, or would recognize one if they happened upon one (although, I do think you could probably figure it out if you gazed at the thing long enough-it's not all that complex by today's standards.) Oddly enough (or maybe not!) they still do sell these Victor adding machines on eBay. (I guess maybe it isn't all that odd, since they sell basically everything on eBay these days, but there sitting quietly among the "everything else" are some of these beasts, now available for resale if you so desire.)

So, there you have it. My mother, the antique, used to use one of these antiques to do bookkeeping-like tasks at a desk in downtown New York City back before I was born. Strange world we have, strange how far we've come, in that this type of device really isn't even recognized anymore. It's all, as they say, been replaced by computers, and now maybe even tablets. Going now too are the days when people used keyboards to interface with computers (soon too that will be a thing of the past, just like this beast. Google glass, anyone?)

Oh, and in case it's not obvious from the photo, if they ever do drop an atomic bomb on New York, any adding machines that are possibly left in any dark, dank office storage caves will probably survive to add another day. These things, or so Mother tells me, "were quite built like tanks." She also tells me they were heavy as lead, so that ought to make you feel a bit happier about lugging around a now-what-seems-so heavy laptop (even if you don't have a solid state drive!) Try fitting this into a backpack, you hipsters! (Hint: it won't!)

Gone are the ways of the adding machine. Gone are the calculators. Soon to be gone are the keyboards. The more things change, the more they stay the same. (Or so Mother tells me.) Each and every day, the great adding machine of life "tap, tap, crunches" out a new piece of tape for us to digest. What slice of life will you feast upon tomorrow? Only the Victor knows for sure, I'd guess, only the Victor knows for sure. (Tap, tap, crunch.)

Until next time...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

An Evening at the Ponds

Last night I went over to the Hill Country Water Gardens to enjoy an evening at the ponds. Every once in a while (usually on the solstice, the equinox, or some other seasonally relevant date) they have the ponds open at night. This time the ponds were open until 9:30pm and the event featured live music, wine tasting, and free food from some of our local restaurants.

Now, the ponds are a wonderful place. I've visited many times before (and truth be told will probably go back time and time again) but I have to admit I was shocked at what happened last night. I was shocked at the number of people in attendance. I honestly didn't even know that many people knew the ponds were there. I honestly didn't think there were that many people in Cedar Park. It was CROWDED. I've never seen so many people hanging out by the ponds. It was amazing. I overheard somebody say, "This is the big social event in Cedar Park!" I didn't even think Cedar Park had any big social events but, in hindsight, he was totally correct. This was big and social and it was an event to behold.

We've had a kind of heat wave here recently. It hasn't been all that hot, but it has been quite muggy and humid lately. Last night was no relief from that type of weather either-it was muggy with temps in the high 90's even towards the twilight hours. The masses of people didn't help much in this regard. It was just plain too hot and crowded for me to take a lot of pictures, so I ended up just enjoying the show a bit. I had some food and managed to taste one dry white wine for good measure.

This weekend also marks the "super moon" as they have been calling it. The moon is closer to the earth's orbit than usual so it appears larger in the sky. I kept looking for the "super moon" but didn't manage to spot it until we were just about to leave. I did manage to sneak a peek at the "super moon" but didn't take any photographs. (Honestly, I much prefer having the gardens to myself to take pictures-it's a lot easier without masses of people walking in, out, and around clogging up the joint. It was nice though to be there at dusk and to try to spot the evening blooms coming up, instead of having to face the usual heat of the midday sun.)

Even with the crowds and the heat, I'd have to say it was a nice evening. I love the ponds and I love the fact that they open then up at night for us to walk through, enjoy some food, music, and the like. It makes for a nice, enchanting evening.

Until next time...

Monday, June 17, 2013

YAWN - Slow Day Today


Bed_9903, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
For some reason, I'm very tired today, so I've been resting up. There are a lot of things on my "to do" list these days. I've actually been quite busy, although today was no indication of what I've been up to. It's getting unseasonably hot in Austin again (summer tends to do that here) so I always look for interior things I can do to keep myself busy.

I've been meaning to clean out my studio and haven't really done that yet. I also want to work on the new computer, to start to setup the new RAID devices and all, and to start to move things over to the new setup. It's just that these things tend to take a lot of time, and I tend to procrastinate when it comes to working these kinds of things (rather than going out and taking pictures.) I'm much more inclined to be doing that kind of stuff if I'm being honest. (I tend to neglect routine things.)

I've been thinking about it a lot too and it seems that I really want to get a Fuji camera. I want one of those little walkabout cameras that shoots in square format. I've been thinking about all of the things I could do if I had one of those to play with a bit, so that's totally going on my list of things to get, once I start getting things again. (Might be a while for that, as I'm not in a hurry to run out and get a lot of new gear. At least not while it's been too hot to go out shooting a lot really.)

I need to start doing some copy work, so that you can see the wonderful pastels and encaustic paintings I've been working on over the course of the last year or so. I'm very behind in my copy work, so that's also on the list of things to do. I need to update my website. Man, there's a crap-load of stuff I could be doing instead of sitting here complaining about the heat.

When it doubt, there's always tomorrow, right?

Until next time...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Happy Father's Day


SmallFlowers2_7866, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Tomorrow is Father's Day. Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there-I hope you have a great day.

We had some good light in Austin today. Not the best, but still kind of OK. We had some clouds but it was a bit flat. Still managed to go out and shoot some flowers. My crepe myrtle tree is starting to bloom, so I got some shots of that, as well as some of these little yellow flowers my neighbor planted right alongside our borderline. They are cute little flowers although, in hindsight, they do appear to be taking over the yard.

Note to self: even little flowers can grow massively big sometimes.

What's that they say, "from small things, big things one day come." Yes, well my poor neighbor is about to have a massive covering of these little yellow and white flowers if we don't get out there and yank them real soon now. It's not that they are big, no, not really. There are just lots and lots of these little yellow and white flowers and they appear to be creeping 'round the yard, making their way up to the front door.

Until next time...

Friday, June 14, 2013

I Told You It Was Coming


WhatisARacket_0735, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
OK, now you can't say I didn't warn you about this one. Back when I had just returned from location in Vegas, I mentioned that I had done some shooting of words. Words, words, words, I think I called it. Inside of the Mob Museum, I shot nothing but words. Well, OK, maybe almost nothing but words, but still a lot of words anyway. Words here, words there, words everywhere. Lots and lots of words. And, I told you I'd upload them at some point, right?

The point is now. It's time. Here are my words. Well, some of them. You'll just have to wait for the rest. But, they've started coming. Here they come, I can almost see all of them now. Can you guess what words tomorrow will bring? Corruption, greed. What is a Racket? Sports. Prostitutes. Laws. Crime, money, politics, sex, scandals, garbage, Hollywood, New York, Chicago, booze, drugs, gambling. It's all there, man. It's all out there in Vegas. It's all hidden in the words.

Sometimes, all you have to do is read the writing on the wall. And, why, that's what I've done, when I went out to visit with that mob museum. Words, lots and lots of words. Maybe some of them will make sense, some of them won't but they'll all be words. Words for you to read. Writing. Walls. Lots of little words, all adding up to one big puzzle. What do these words mean to you? What did these words mean to me? Why did I shoot so many of them? Ah, life is full of little riddles, isn't it? Lots of little riddles and more than a few words to go around, that's why we love it so much.

Frankly, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Until next time...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Perfecting Your Elevator Speech - Mmmm Tacos


InteriorView_0098, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
These days, being an artist, photographer, or virtually whatever else it is that you do, you are going to have to come up with some kind of elevator speech. In case you don't know what an elevator speech is, allow me to introduce you to one. From the Wiki,
"An elevator pitch, elevator speech, or elevator statement is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a person, profession, product, service, organization or event...The name 'Elevator Pitch' reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes. The term itself comes from a scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important in the elevator. If the conversation inside the elevator in those few seconds is interesting and value adding, the conversation will continue after the elevator ride or end in exchange of business card or a scheduled meeting."
So, there you have it. Picture yourself trapped for (slightly less than) two minutes in an elevator. By trapped I mean you are stuck in there with somebody important. Imagine what you might say to that oh-so-important person. "Hi, I'm (insert name here) and I..." Basically, your elevator pitch (speech, statement, whatever you want to call it) is the completion of that sentence.

"Hi, I'm Carol and I'm a fine art photographer and visual artist from the Austin, Texas area." That's a short one. It could be mine, in fact, it is often mine. (I'd say you can borrow it, but you probably don't want people calling you Carol unless that's you name, in which case, have at it, Carol.)
"Hi! My name is Melissa and I'm the lady who paints giant murals on the side of Taco Bell restaurants all around the country. I got started painting as a child when, coincidentally, I also started eating a lot of tacos. My love for tacos eventually grew into the founding of my own business-painting murals for small taco establishments along the Texas coast-until I eventually moved into the position of painting all of the murals for all of the Taco Bells around the world. Chihuahua be damned, if you've seen a Taco Bell, why I've painted the fake taco on the side of it." 
That's possibly a really good elevator pitch for somebody who's a really odd painter, but there you have another example of one. Probably a better example too. (Again, I would recommend against stealing this one unless you are really all that into tacos. Mmmm. Tacos.)

It's really important for artists and creative types to have a good elevator pitch. It's really a good idea to practice your elevator pitch before doing something like going to a portfolio review, going to a professional round-up, or even going to something as simple as a networking or art group meeting. If you're a photographer, it's a good idea to have some kind of elevator-like pitch, along with business cards, that you can use to get people to let you photograph them.

A lot of photographers, especially those who want to do more portrait work, ask me all the time, "how do you get the courage to go up and ask people to pose for you?" For some reason, photographers are shy. Now, I haven't discovered a magic bullet here, it's just that I've found over the years having a little bit of an elevator-like pitch, along with a business card, goes a long way. This is why I almost always carry my Moo cards and I almost always introduce myself to lots of people I bump into along the way. The little spiel, "Hi! I'm Carol and I'm a..." gets used a lot, especially as a travel or go on location. I'm also always handing out business cards, even to people I've never met. Here's my website, here's my card, "Hi! I'm Carol..." Yes, I do that lots.
"Hi, I'm Carol. I'm a fine art photographer and artist from Austin, Texas. I often take photos so that I can paint from them. Would you mind if I take your picture today? Can I take a few pictures of you?" 
That sort of an approach goes a long way in getting a "yes" response out of my subjects. If somebody says "No," why I respect that, but it's a good idea to have a bit of a pitch ready for these times. I've met photographers who are too shy to even call themselves "photographers" or "artists." They get hung up on the words. "Well, I'm not really a *photographer*" They will say to me, "I just like taking pictures." Mmmm. Right. Newsflash! People who like taking pictures are called: photographers. (Have another taco and try it again. Once more with feeling and all.)

The experts recommend that we all practice our elevator pitches. Practice, practice, practice. This is probably a good idea. I'm not the best at doing them, I too could use a lot more practice. I've got some friends who could work a room so good you'd be dizzy just watching them (it's like an indoor sport of some sorts, that is, really.) I'm guessing anyway, they would get a lot of free tacos. (Not me. No, I usually have to pay for my tacos but, hey, I sometimes too get a bit lucky and get some free salsa.) Other friends? They get hung up on the words, like "photographer" or "artist" and don't want to use them. My guess is that, if they'd practice a bit, they'd get over those hang-ups and just starting taking pictures or painting.

There is one thing all these folks have in common though. It's virtually impossible to become a successful photographer or artist these days unless you have a good elevator pitch. Unless you are comfortable, squeezing into that elevator with that oh-so-important person and jabbering off about "Hi! My name is..." You are probably not going to make it in the art world. It's just a sad fact of marketing reality, so probably best to deal with it early in your career and get yourself on over that hump. There are bigger problems you will grow to face, trust me on that one. You've got bigger fish to fry so, go on, man up and "Hi! I'm..." whoever you are. Fill in those blanks, practice it a bit, and move right along.

So, there you have it. Elevator pitch. You. Work. Go. Do. Best of luck with it too.

Until next time...

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Artist Statement Roundup


Chase_1673, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
For any and all of my artist friends, there is going to be an Artist Statement Roundup (meeting) this Thursday, June 13th at Cari's north studio location. It will be held from 6:30 - 8:30 pm at the Austin Art Lab, 13216 Pond Springs Rd. Bldg. D.

The "Roundup" as I'm calling it is going to be a working type session where we cull our artist statement's. It's going to be an informal gathering where anybody (any media) can gather and work out, work on, work up, or otherwise just "work" to get an artist statement that makes you proud.

You should plan to bring any artist statements you might already have plus some fresh ideas. Probably some paper, a notebook, or a laptop/tablet (if you prefer) as this is going to be a working session. We plan to go over our artist statements in detail and hash out things to say about our work. You do not need to bring you work, although you might find bringing a sample piece (or having a sample image of your work available on a tablet/laptop) might be helpful. If you do not (yet) have an artist statement, but feel that you will need one in the near future, don't be afraid to join in on the fun. The goal is that we hope everyone leaves with at least a working draft of some kind of artist statement regardless of what you came in carrying.

If this "Roundup" or Artist Statement Meeting sounds like a great idea to you but you cannot make the meeting this Thursday, please let either Cari or myself know. We may schedule additional meetings, depending upon interest, so it's important you let us know. (We're also going to schedule a follow-on or additional meetings if most folks feel they need more time to work on their artist statements.)

In other news, this is Chase in his pre-haircut days. I recently had him shaved for the summer and he's a lot perkier now that he's got a lot less hair. I believe you can maybe make out one of his eyes in this photo. He really was all that furry. (I do love the long curls but he won't let me brush him and it's getting to be 100 degrees this week, so I opted for the shaved look, at least for the summer months.)

Until next time...

Friday, June 07, 2013

Austin Encaustic Arts Meeting Tomorrow


GlowingPinkLines_5605, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Just a quick note for the Austin-based encaustic artists out there. Tomorrow, from noon - 2 pm we are going to have an Austin Encaustic Arts meeting at Cari's north location.

The details are:

Ok...it's official!
Next Austin Encaustic meeting this Saturday is on!

June 8
Noon-2pm
Austin Art Lab
13216 Pond Springs Rd. Bldg. D
(North Studio)

As you can probably well imagine, I have not been painting much recently. I did manage a bunch of shooting (photography) but it's been a bit too hot for me to get out into the studio with the blow torch. Still, I hope to do some painting come autumn and I have been shooting some things I plan to use with photo+encaustics, probably in the fall as well. I also hope to copy some additional paintings I have already completed and post them to the blog, website, and other Internet hovels. I'll try to get to those this week, so that I have something new to post on the encaustic front at least for now anyway.

It's really been hard for me to juggle painting, doing photography and the other stuff I do, so I'm looking at having more focus and narrowing down a bit what I'm doing. Unfortunately, my encaustics have suffered but I do hope to get back to them at some point (one point or another, right?) What's that they say about the best laid plans, good intentions and all? (Yeah right, please don't remind me!)

Hopefully, I will be able to catch up with everybody a bit anyway and see what other folks are doing.

Until next time...

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Take a Left at Abstraction Street


TreeLinedStreet_7831, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Towards abstraction, yes, I know I keep moving closer and closer towards abstraction. I just can't help myself. While it's true that I've been shooting a bit more "normal" these days (in what amounts to a possibly feeble attempt at landing more print/magazine type work) I just can't let go of my past. I can't let go of the abstraction. I'm abstract to the core and I just can't help myself. If you'll pardon me, my fine art roots are showing.

I've decided not to fight it anymore. These days, I'm just shooting two cameras. One with the "special" lens I've rigged up that allows me to do some of these abstract type images and one with a "normal" type of lens that allows me to, well, to shoot more "normally" (at least, kind of "normal looking" although I question if I can really do that anyway. I mean, have I ever been, now or ever, really a "normal" type of shooter?)

Current plans for these abstract images are to gather than and to print them larger, on watercolor paper (makes the colors really pop) and then do a one-person show of them. Somewhere. Sometime. You know, down the road a ways. Haven't finalized more plans for them than that, just keep shooting them really. I've always been a "take what the camera gives you" kind of a girl, and I'll probably keep on doing that with these abstract type images as well (I see no reason to change that up now.)

But, I'm not giving up shooting these abstract images, magazine work or not. In some ways, I feel that this is really my best work. It's all me anyway, no matter how you really come down and slice it. So, there you have it. Abstraction. Me. The tree-lined street. The lady waking with an umbrella. The painterly-like soft colors and folds of lines. The circles of confusion, visible for all to see. Yes, I'm doing more "normal" type stuff nowadays, but that doesn't mean I'm abandoning my various forms of abstraction. Sure, you might see me get all crispy sharp focused once in a while but, the "real" me? Yeah, it's under there too. It's under there, quietly waiting its turn. Waiting, watching, and lurking. Just around the bend, waiting quietly to come out and show its face. You know, you just know, at one point anyway, it will. (It's not like I can leave it behind for too long, now, can I?)

Yes, I'd say it's safe to say it. The "real" me, the one you all know and love (or maybe don't!) is still there. Hiding in the shadows. Take a left up on this next street corner and you might find it again, popping out from the shadows, rearing up its head from quiet contemplation, jumping out at you. Although it speaks in soft whispers and doesn't say very much at all, not even when you are "tuned in" to its quiet harmony, it's still there. Waiting and watching. Softly reflecting city life in its own abstract kind of way. So, go ahead, take a left on the next corner, up on Abstraction Street and you just might see it too.

Abstraction Street. It's a wonderfully quiet place to settle down and enjoy a quiet slice of life these days, isn't it? Even if it is only a small piece of me these days, I have to say I rather like it there. Yes, I like it there.

Until next time...

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Show News


EmptyRoom_1680, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
These walls are empty now, but they won't be for long. Well, come to think of it, not *these* exact walls, but walls just like them. You see I'm doing a bunch of shows.

For starters, I have two pieces showing in Romania recently as part of an exhibition call "Urban Stereotypes." The show is in Cluj-Napoca, Romania as part of a cultural exhibition there. You can read more about the exhibition here if you are so inclined. The festival was well-attended and looked like a lot of fun and the work will be available for a little while longer.

Next up, on my list, is a show at the Corridor of Art in Austin. I will have three pieces on display as part of a show called "Communities Within" to be held there starting on Sunday. Look for details and opening reception to follow. This is going to be a photography show featuring work that highlights community involvement. It looks to be a promising show so I hope you can attend the opening reception if you are in the Austin area.

That's all my show news for now. I hope you're getting out and about as part of the early summer months, getting out to look at some artwork in a town near you.

Until next time...

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Hanging on the Telephone


Wrigleys_1538, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
At this point, one can only hope the Wrigley's Girls double as suitable telephone operators. You see, today was the day that Austin acquired a new area code. Because of the new area code goodness, the phone company has dictated that we now must all dial lots of numbers, even to make a local call. So, anybody in the 512, for example, now has to dial 512-xxx-xxxx to reach anybody on the telephone even, say, their next door neighbor. It's oh-so-confusing, especially for a bunch of people who are sort of like hippies, slackers, and the like. We can (collectively) barely remember to tie our shoelaces. I swear, just yesterday, I ran into a man who had forgotten to put his trousers on in the morning. It was mid-afternoon and he was still pant-less although, in his defense, he was thinking about putting something on. You expect somebody like that to remember to dial 512 when you only casually mentioned this to him sometime back in January? Right. Sure. That's so going to happen. (Not!)

Yes, now I know the phone company had warned us about this months ago. For months now, in fact, they have been putting those little pamphlets in our telephone bills alerting us to the fact that, "Dude, June 1st in coming and that means a new area code!" Right. I'll get right on that. Sure thing. Right after I clip my nostril hair and eat an entire pickle while standing on one leg reciting the Declaration of Independence in my kitchen. It's just one of those things, well, as you can imagine, we *didn't* get right around to doing. This is a town where men forget to get dressed in the morning or, if they do, they wind up looking like Leslie. You really expect Leslie to dial 512? I mean, he was always too busy matching his feather boa to his high heeled pumps, I'm sure he would not remember this pesky 512 business, nope, not at all. Ah, yes, 512 business indeed. My guess is the whole city is walking around a bit confused today. On a positive note, I'm sure there was a heck of a lot less "butt dialing" than usual, and that really should make somebody happy. No?

As for me, no, I have not yet gone through my phone contacts in the old iPhone and, ahem, "adjusted" them to have the new 512 area code. Not yet anyway. I plan to at some point, mind you, but not quite yet. I haven't butt dialed anybody in a while so maybe it's time I do that again just for the grins of it, but I'd have to say I'm just as confused as the next guy. Sure, I kept hearing this was coming down the pike on June 1st but who can remember when, exactly, June 1st is? Heck, I sure can't. To me, it's just another hot Saturday with some weird guy running around without pants on telling us all how he appears to have forgotten how to work a telephone.

It's not a lovely picture, that, so you'll just have to imagine it. I've spared you the gory details of that one (Phew!) Can we now all just agree that this 512 business took us all by surprise and can somebody, please, get that man some pants already.

We thank you for your support.

Until next time...