My earliest memories are of my mother reading to me. She loved reading. She was fast. She was versatile. She could read and cook, eat dinner, virtually anything she could do with a book in her hand. She got it from her mother. My Nana. Nana always had a book in her hand. Sometimes it was really hard to shake Nana from her stories. She liked biographies, historical fiction, and trashy romance novels. She liked everything really. She just read.
But my mother read to me. She read to all three of her children, which meant we all got to share in much reading together time. I think she enjoyed the children’s stories as much as we did. At least she made it look good for us. She was animated and read in characters. It was fun. We didn’t need TV. We caught on to reading, each of us in turn, very quickly. I don’t remember any of us actually learning to read. We just started; I don’t know. I don’t remember. We all just read.
Mom would take us to the two consignment stores in town to buy used books for a nickel. We could buy as many as we wanted. We donated them back when we were done with them. We went to the library every other Wednesday, because books were due back in two weeks back then. I always got as many as I could carry. I preferred the nickel books at the second hand stores because there was no pressure if I lost one, or bent a page. Reading was a family pastime.
Then one day my mother did a strange and wonderful thing. She brought home an electric typewriter. She, being a curious cat herself, encouraged curiosity in her three kids. She showed us all about it. And then she opened a window into a new world. She showed us how to load a page and just started typing. She started a story about a mamma bear. It was good. And she did it right off the cuff. She knew how; and her fingers were really fast. Imagine! I had witnessed the birth of a story, for the first time. Amazing! What a beautiful event for a child to witness.
She spoke her story out loud as she typed for a while. It was nice. She was good. Mom never finished that story. She bought the typewriter for work, and she did that mostly. But she encouraged us to ‘play’ with the typewriter when she wasn’t using it. She always said she dreamt of being an author of children’s books. She would write on a beach in the Florida Keys. She loved the Keys and spoke of them often. She moved to North Hollywood when I was born, so I’ve never been. I’d like to go. That is, if I could go with my mom and write stories on the beach.
I did something entirely for myself a few summers ago. I took an art class at Fort Mason, through my local community college. BASIC DRAWING 130A, at CCSF, to be specific. The drawing class was an amazing, life changing experience. Sure, it was a big commitment (from 10 am to 3:30 pm; Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday; for 6 intense summer weeks), but it improved my drawing immensely. See what you think:
Here is some of my artwork drawn before I took the drawing class.
Just a sketch
Another one not finished
You can see how I struggled with proper proportions, among other issues. Out of frustration, I resorted to purchasing a mini projector. This helped solve some problems. But I was bound to my mini projector – and the dark (can’t trace a projected image in bright lights). These works were started using a projector:
Now, upon completing the class, I was able to sketch free hand the following:
I used the techniques I learned in class. I try to practice a new face every day.
I can also site and measure much more effectively now.
Shading and tones are better now, don’t you think?
This homework assignment is a “replica” (I use that term loosely) of a Master’s Portrait (by Albrecht Durer).
Imagine, just 6 weeks, and I’m no longer bound to my projector. How did I learn all this? From a master teacher. Not everyone can teach. It is as much a gift and a talent as drawing. My teacher was Ms. Deirdre White. She’s one of those rare people who can do both. When you find a good teacher grab hold, and learn, learn, learn!! That’s just how I feel. This is the stack of drawings I completed in 6 weeks.
Some of these may not look like much, but if you’ve ever played an instrument, you can think of these as practicing your scales.
Practice, practice, practice! But not only that, I learned tricks and techniques I never knew existed. Like a few I used in this one.
And this one.
This was another class project, with a new technique.
Upon completing the class, in my home studio, I made this ballerina using the same technique, only on black paper. And I did it free hand, using the sighting and measuring techniques I learned in class. No more projectors for me! =)
Thanks for looking at my art. If you want to improve your skills too, Ms. Deirdre White is teaching again this summer. Register soon; her classes fill up!
“NIAD’s visual art program promotes meaningful independent living by artists with disabilities…While not all of NIAD’s artists receive wide-spread recognition for their practice, all gain a sense of pride from learning a craft and profession of their own. Our artists work hard at creating.”
It does my heart good to know that Ms. White is using her talents towards building a better community, by both teaching and by her involvement with NIAD. Tell me what you think in the comments section below. Do you think the class helped me? Do you think a class might help you? What did/does help you improve your skills? How will you use your art to help others?
It’s the only art where the client gets to participate in the artistic expression with each wear. Imagine if you could wear your favorite painting to work – and accessorize?!? No matter how beautiful, it’s going to get uncomfortable very quickly. Don’t try it. Don’t try making it into those iron on decals either because they make you sweat terribly. Or so I’ve heard…
Consider fine art, like the painting we agree is unwearable, – all it has to do is sit on the wall. Nothing is demanded of it. It’s utterly pampered. The very fancy ones have guards and velvet ropes protecting them. But fashion, art you wear, has to move with you, go where you go, wear comfortably(ish), wash and dry (or dry clean) repeatedly, and still stay jaw dropping fabulous. Fashion interacts so purposefully with it’s subject. It can protect, reveal, …anything you need it to be, or make you anyone you need to be. 😉 Fashion is the highest level of art. It rises to the occasion daily, meeting practicality with glamour and functionality with fantasy. Fashion is functional art gone oh-so-friggin-fabulous! So take time to appreciate the art walking all around you today. Don’t be afraid to let people know you like it. 😉
Waiting is the hardest part. Keeping faith under pressure? It’s in the exhale. Your power is in a focused exhale. Try it. Deep breath in. Now exhale. Slowly. Slowly. See, brings clarity and peace doesn’t it?
What have I learned from practicing that exhale a whole bunch? Exhaling is like letting go. Let go. Whatever it is, let go. Exhale. Do you feel like you’re going to free-fall if you let go? Go ahead. In that free fall is faith. Rest in faith by letting go, by riding the free fall. Oh so easy. Just inch right up to the edge of your highest mountain, your darkest pit, stand nose to nose with your fiercest dragon, scariest monster, cruelest demon, and…let go.
This is not the cowering whimper of surrender. This is a brave, bold, intentional jump into free fall. Run unabashedly, like a puppy coming home, no brakes bold, leap into the grace of faith. Like Evel Knievel jumping through a burning hoop, leap right passed your fears, into faith. It’s a choice. It’s yours. Leap. It’s not about any religion. It’s about trusting in your Source, whatever that looks like to you.
Of course it isn’t easy. Really, this pep talk is for me. I’m the big chicken who stands on the edge of a ten foot step into safe 90º water for a good 30 minutes, every time. But I remind myself as I exhale, let go…. Because the silver lining, the gold at the end of the rainbow, the glimpse of heaven, it’s within your grasp in the free fall of faith. Heaven itself is in faith. And it’s within your grasp. Keep the faith. Let go.
Know that a Divine chord will be thrown. It will be bigger, softer, safer, more mystical and magical than you could have ever thought up. The reward of faith is to eyewitness the utter majesty of Divine mystery. Unspeakable treasure is yours. Exhale.
Our hike this morning took us through the Presidio and down to Baker beach. I snapped a few pictures as we made our way down the trail to the beach at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. Here’s how long it took for the fog to roll in.
Looks to be a bright sunny day, right?
It took 18 minutes for Karl the Fog to swallow the bridge. Well, there it is. Now we see how 20 minutes can change your whole day in San Francisco. What? That’s not fog? Happy 4.20 =)
This planter box was repurposed from a bigger entertainment piece. I only sanded enough off the finish to smooth and open the wood. I thought it would make an interesting mix. OK. My arm got tired. I have no idea what made this gold sheen. That’s why I love repurposing. It’s full of wonder!
For this dresser, called Blonde Waves, I mixed the wood dye with varnish to make my custom colors.
This is a bouquet that keeps on giving. This pretty little red plant is growing from a bouquet my love gave me. When I have cut flowers, I let them linger on past what some would call pretty and hope for seeds or sprouts. I change the water just as if they looked alive (because they are). I got really lucky with this species that I haven’t been able to identify. Hopefully I’ll get more from the bouquet in the background too.
Could perfectionism be any better an excuse? Use it to avoid completing….anything. I do. A quick browse through my “portfolio” would reveal mostly* unfinished works. Heck, I even use perfectionism to avoid starting anything. I was gonna be a rock star.
Awareness is the first step in change. Consider me aware. I want to share with you my experiment in accepting imperfection. It’s a small step. That’s a good way to start.
My April 18, 2015 blog, How Do You Get The Shot? was that first step. I uploaded a very rough version of my field trip to Mountain Lake Park, made only by using the slideshow feature in iPhotos. It was as painful as you would imagine. Thankfully, only the four of us viewed it. None the less, the experiment is a resounding success! I lived through imperfection. And there’s more!
Wait for it.
It catapulted me into action! Imperfection is actually a catalyst. Who knew? You see, the imperfections in the slideshow rolled around and around in my mind until I could stand it no more. I had to finish start the real video. And so I buckled down.
Heh-he. It only took about a day. Who knew? Who knew? So here it is. My lesson in combating perfectionism and procrastination: A completed video. A perfect video! OK, no. But a better one. I hope you like it.
Special thanks to James Gleason, musician extraordinaire!
This picture was taken on the drive back from Clearlake, CA on the 140, Saturday, September 5, 2015. The area was charred by fires earlier this summer, yet is still alive and beautiful despite the scars.
Seems like the sky remembers the fires vividly. There was no need to adjust the colors in post. The image captures the mood of the landscape perfectly. Thanks for looking! =)
I crashed another rehearsal for The Emperor Jones last week. Wow! It’s really coming together! I don’t want to give away the story so I’m only going to share a few pictures. But the acting is outstanding and the costumes are amazing. Look!!
How lucky am I? A Telegraph Hill parrot just came to my window! My curious friend was very interested in the sound of the shutter. What a great day for an impromptu photo shoot. Keep your windows open, you never know who might stop by!
Eventually each of us faces the loss of a loved one. Sometimes we lose our beloved pets. While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are some really fun (and funny) ways to let out all that pain. Here is a wonderful treat, for those grievers who feel inhibited by expressing their feelings. Watch and learn.
Click on the link and hit play to hear a lovable song for dearly departed, Pablow. It’s short. Promise.
For a novice photographer, learning the art of photography can seem a daunting task. But as an artist you are never alone. We have so many others who have gone before us and are willing to give a hand back to help us newbies. With a little initiative we can find the help we need to refine and sharpen our skills.
This photographer, Raymond Barlow, holds workshops to help other artists learn.
How fun to explore the finer nuances of photography, in the field, with a few good people. What a great way to go about it, right? I’m sure the teacher is – as always – learning from the student too.
And because the best things in life are free, some of the best ways to learn are free!
I love YouTube for free learning. You Tube has relatively quick how-to’s on anything and everything. Here’s a sample of a search result entitled “photography lessons.” Check it out; search a few of your own. Add the ones that interest you to your “watch later” list. And of course always share your favorites with us here, in the comments below!
For the more serious academic, iTunes U has free lectures from a plethora of universities on several topics in photography. Just go into iTunes (pc users can download iTunes as well), in the drop down menu select iTunes U, and then search for photography. You’ll find everything from Crime Scene Photography to a National Geographic Collection called Masters of Photography, where you can “step behind the camera with top-flight photographers.”
Whatever method you chose to expand your skill set and sharpen the skills you already have, nothing compares to good old practice. Try, play, explore, just have your camera ready to shoot at any moment. In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell suggests that it takes over 10,000 hours to become an expert at any one thing. Start logging in those hours. You’ll be amazed at the results perseverance can produce.
How do you learn and hone in your skills? Share in the comments section below. Thanks!
Sometimes my journals are pictures and drawings. This is another way to preserve precious memories and explore feelings. It’s therapeutic for you, and if you care to share, enjoyable for others too.
I journaled by creating a pastel of one of my favorite places. I drove down the Alaskan Highway in September of 2013, and Matanuska Glacier State Recreational Site was one of the amazing places I stopped along the way. Some days I just can’t stop thinking about the beautiful things I saw along that road trip. Looking at my old photos brings me back to the memories, but recreating the images from my mind or photos, brings me back in so much greater detail. The entire time I am creating, I feel like I am there in that picture. Recreating the images makes my favorite memories last longer and helps me retain more of the experience.
So I drew this to feel like I was there again:
Revisit your favorite places and memories by drawing them. They don’t have to be perfect (see mine!); just let what’s inside you come out. Then see how blessed you and those around you are by your shared memories.
I had the best plan to practice a cityscape at night. I woke up in the wee hours of the night. I diligently readied myself. Double checked that all three batteries were charged and packed. Not making that mistake again. I’m really ready for sure this time. Here I come, night sky!
Night sky?? I should have done this before Daylight Saving Time. Well, I missed the night sky entirely. But what I did get was a typical San Francisco morning. Wet, foggy, and vivid! Since I didn’t time this excursion properly, I just went home the ocean front way. Of course, I ended up back in Mountain Lake Park. It is a peaceful, healing place to be sure. Hopefully, I turned this lemon of a plan into lemonade for both of us!
Have you wondered how well the iPhone7P camera works? There are a few new features like “Portrait” that are pretty nice. Here are some California Blooms I captured with my iPhone7P. Check them out and compare the same image captured with different features. It’s not a bad little camera.
But whatever you do, make sure it isn’t a refurbished iPhone with ‘generic’ internal parts. 😉
This spontaneous photo shoot happened on a rainy day drive on May 21, 2015. From the passenger seat, I caught a glimpse of something moving in the meadow. Like any good co-pilot, I gave a full second and a half notice as I cried, “PULL OVER!!”
Yup. Just as I thought. Something was scurrying in the growth. I grabbed my camera and, with no thought for my safety, gave chase. Here is the fruit of my labor (click to enlarge them).
Sometimes our problems seem larger than they really are. Given a little time, or a shift in perspective, things can really change. Talk a walk. Do something you love. Give yourself grace and time. See if your fears and worries don’t shrink a bit.
This ship is not as big as Alcatraz, but it certainly seems like it could crash right through the island. Of course it’s just an illusion created from this point of view. So are most of our fears and worries. =)
I believe it is from the Amazon. You can see this flower in person at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Check to confirm, but they have a free day the first Thursday of the month.