October 2004 Archives

todays art: contemplating mary

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Today I am contemplating mary. Preparing for christmas I am working on a series of images that will include the praise that mary gives to god on greeting elizabeth (Luke 1:46-55). Bryan informed me last night that this "speech" is called the Magnificat. So I googled this to find out more and it is called that because of the Latin translation of the first phrase in the text ("Magnificat anima mea, Dominum", (My soul doth magnify the Lord). Anyway, it is also called the Canticle or Song of Mary. So I learned something.

The source photos I shot to create the series are of a friend, Heather Holt.

Heather is too beautiful for what I think mary would have looked like, but who knows. So what I have is a more romanticized, somewhat "american" version of mary which normally I would try to avoid, but I was still somehwat compelled to use this image of heather. My hope is that the mood is right and that the general message of mary's grace is conveyed through this image.

Luke 1:46-55
My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me--holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants for ever, even as he said to our fathers.

impulsive painting for impulsive obedience

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faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see…hebrews11:1

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artists life: a day in the zoo

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Plumbers tromping through my house with muddy boots (is that mud? after all they are working on the septic tank.) one of them stops at my desk (while I am working) and asks if I will be around friday because they are not done and need to come back.

Will I be home?

"Yes, I will be here. I am here most of the time. I work from home", I reply.

He is a frendly fellow with the stereo-typical plumber-like semi, unkempt appearance. Slightly overweight with a cheerful expression that includes brown eyes that focus in two different directions.

"I hear about people who work from home but have never actually met one," he says to me. It strikes me funny because suddenly I feel like a creature that belongs in a zoo. But I take the comment as intended, appreciating the interest.

He is standing next to my easle with the "seeds" painting still on it. He checks out the painting which primes him for his next question.

"Are you some kind a artist, or somethin?"

Interesting question. I often wonder when someone asks a question like this what they are imagining it to mean. Simply because hollywood has created a charicature of the artist over the years that is high on romance and drama. Typically these characters hang out in galleries or spacious lofts (which most artists would never be able to afford, trust me I know this). You never see them pouring over the bills, or doing the less glamorous things like laundry. If they are not the tormented, self-destructive, genuis type, then they are often the secondary character like the girlfriend who just got a "show" or is working on a "show" or is at the "show" right now with a glass of champagne in her hand. (I have done the show thing and had the champagne and it is highly overated).

"Yes", I am." I say with a tinge of discomfort because even though I am truly proud of my craft, I always think it sounds arrogant to say it (again thank you Hollywood).

He regards me with one of his eyes. "Hmmph. Isn't that somethin", how long ya been doin that?"

Still feeling a bit like a zoo animal, and trying to zero in on single point (and a single eye) that would keep the conversation brief I explain that I started when I was 15 freelancing for an agency that did ads for the yellow pages (real glamour there). I go on to explain that most of my work now involves digital media (whoops, lost him on that one) photography (light went on there) and working with other artists. He looks at my surroundings now like he is seeing it for the first time.

"Wow, that must be kinda hard, not having a boss or nothin."

I am pleasantly suprised by this interpretation because normally when engaged in these conversations the other person typically points out how lucky I am that I can sleep in everyday and do what I want. If they only knew.

But this guy is smart and I appreciate his interpretation. He goes on to ask me about the kind of hours I put in and whether I work late or take days off or whatever. These details somehow intrigue him and I am intrigued that he cares about such details not getting stuck on the hollywood version but really wanting to know how one works from home, as an artist. We continue to chat and I find out he has five kids from age 21 to 2 (gulp). His eighteen year old is pulling out my toilet as we speak. He is chatty, and we continue the chat finding more and more in common, until the time that lapsed weighs in on both of us. Stereotypes on both sides of the bars have been broken down. Time to get back to work.

If I am in a zoo, then he is there too, just in a different cage.

watching them go

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Well, I commit business suicide today. The only comfort I have is knowing that it was the right thing to do. A little over a week ago we found out that the company that we use to handle the financial transactions for avisualplanet had been bought out by a company that produces adult content. My little business facing a moral dilemma.

This is where faith in business is really put to the test.

It is really funny how the world works. And this would be funny too except it is my livelyhood. But what does a person of conviction do when that conviction is challenged?

You jump of a cliff.

So after much consideration we sent out a letter to all or our subscribers (200 plus) explaining that we would be switching companies and why. In order to do this they have to cancel their subscription and rejoin with the new processor. Of course I know full well that human nature being what it is, some will cancel and not rejoin, at least not right away.

So I sit here watching cancellation after cancellation, email after email. There they go, some taking as much content as they can download. It is what we asked for and what we wanted but it is still so scary to watch them go. Some are commending us on having integrity, some are offering prayers. I just hope when the time comes they offer their business too.

I have a headache. But I also have that feeling that you get when you know that God has given you a specific instruction and you follow it. I have been on this cliff before in different forms and I am always amazed at what happens after I jump. I have never been disappointed but the falling is still scary.

So now I fall. Hopefully a soft landing awaits and I don't get stuck in a tree on the way down.

a gift of sunflowers

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I start my monday with sunflowers on my doorstep. What a great gift from a friend that wanted to encourage and what a great testament to blogging being an unexpected way for god to create community. Thank you Jen!

spoils of the mall: black bandana

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at harper's ferry on sunday, Daniel sporting the new black bandana.

friday at the mall

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Thankfully my friday turned out ok, actually great. Driving to our destination, my son and I chat. He talks of plot lines and character development in the story he has been writing. This is one of my favorite topics of discussion with him because, as his mom, I think he is brilliant and could listen to this for hours. I navigate through my fear of getting lost while I listen. I hadn't driven to this mall before so it is an extra challange. But, thankfully we find our way to the most sensory intense place in the universe outside Disney and I manage to find a decent parking spot. Walking toward the entrance, Daniel puts his arm around me. This reminds me that he senses my tiredness. We are not a huggy-touchy-kissy family and so this gesture means alot.

The shopping fairy waved her wand because we actually found the stuff that Daniel needed. Even better, stuff he liked. I tend to regard shopping as a neccessary evil and so when you can't find what you want it seems like a colossal waste of time. But the fairy was kind and smiling today. We found boots that were black but not too "goth", a coat that fit and requires only minor modification to suit his "style", and a few other items both needed and just fun. Among the fun accessories was a black bandana.

We chatted and shopped, stopped at the food court for lunch. Him munching his healthy chinese food, me with my popeye chicken, I devulged my plan to include a stop in Ireland on our Europe itenerary that I am planning for next summer. This was news to him and loving all things Irish, he gave me a grin. But the stop would have two purposes. Sight seeing (of course) and checking out Trinity College in Dublin.

One might think "how extravagant" except that I have been hoping and planning this kind of trip for years. With Daniel a junior in high school, now is the time. One thing I have been intent on is our family trips, and they hold great memories. Planning this one makes me realize that time keeps ticking away. Grabbing those moments is so important.

Even moments in the mall.

dry and drained

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I approach my beloved friday "artist date" day with little left from a week that has drained me. It has been a hard business week with crisis that make things come to a screeching halt. It is weird though because it is my husband being the "tech guy" who has taken the brunt of the crisis working late into the night many nights to fix things. I unwisely, and I would like to say unvoluntarily have all the strength drained out of me by worry. That's all. So I stress over things without accomplishing much. Maybe it is the constant thinking and rethinking of a problem and all the possible solutions that has me worn out.

Now I just want to sleep.

It was also a more extraverted week for me. I may let a whole week go by without seeing anybody but my family (true bliss) but this week I saw three friends (face to face), conversed with another on the phone, and to top it all off we had a party for Daniel last Saturday. Yes, a house full of teenagers. My little family also went out last night to see a concert of James Dashow this amazing electronic composer. Amazing, but not entertaining or restful. Intellectually stimulating, and sensory taxing. So I am at my limit today and yet I have promised to take Daniel shopping. I wouldn't even think of plunging myself into the most sensory overloaded place in the universe (the mall) except for the fact that he has the day off and maybe a friday will be less busy at the mall then a saturday. And I don't want to waste one of Bryan's days with the three of us at the mall.

I know I am ranting now, but somehow I have to gear up so that we can have a positive experience. I know that these have always been great times in the past, good bonding discussions, etc. But, having long since shunned the fashion selection dance and taken the path of least resistence I have concluded at this point in my life that jeans and a t shirt are the best clothes ever. This makes it challenging to shop with a teenager who is fashion sensitive. So much so he doesn't just want to shop and pick something trendy (which would be easy), but wants to design and make his own. Of course when he gets these ideas it always means some creative guidence and effort from me. Most of the time I am happy to oblige, but not today. I can't really blame him though, I instilled the pattern in him. Like the time we made a huge paper mache model of a mountain road complete with volcano, river and bridge for his toy dinosaurs. Or the claymation movie we did for a project in second grade. Teaching him how to sew. I could go on and on. Creativity is normally held in the highest regard in this house so typically the sky is the limit. Designing and making clothes fits right into that whole creative philosophy. But today I compromise it by replacing it with shopping. Ok, I know we can't make shoes, and he needs shoes.

Last night, over dinner, I offered to give Daniel "an obscene amount of money" and drop him off at Old Navy. We all had a good laugh with Daniel proclaiming that now he knows how to get money from mom.

All he has to do is say, "Mom, I have and idea".

crackeddry.jpg

this is how I feel this morning.

love

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Along with a lot of other things, I create a set of images each week for my subscribers to use on the planet. I was reminded of this simple truth from Jen Lemen's blog http://www.jenlemen.com/ and so this is the image for the week.

love.jpg

seeds

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Well, it was tons of fun and that was the point. But having opened the proverbial box I am now hooked. I have bought more paint and have already cut the wood for a second canvas. Woohoo!

it is called seeds. interpret how you like, but for me it was a visual way to depict the source of creativity (god) and those receiving that gift (or not) and then growing the gift and sharing it with the world. God and all things good are represented in the "swirlies". Although I did not set out to depict the parable of the talents, the symbolism fits. The source from above feeds those below and they, upon receiving the gift, bear fruit. The portals are the windows to the world in which the fruit is shared. Two of the souls drinking in the goodness join in the cycle, but the one poor soul, with teeth clenched in refusal, misses out. The contrast represents free will.

Or if you just can't stand contemporary art and need something representational to grab hold of, it is a picture of olive headed, infant eating, pod people holding weird red seeds.; )

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it is a virtue to be "mean"

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I ran into this while studying up on european travel. (yes I am planning a trip) The author of the travel guide applied this principle when planning a trip but it applies to everything.

mean:
The middle way between too much and too little of something.

Aristotle held that virtue is always a mean between vicious extremes of excess and deficiency.

It is interesting that I ran into this the same week that I am working on my painting. For some time I have been interested in the "golden mean" and I have incorporated it symbolically in my painting. The visual of this is something that my family has fondly deemed "swirlies". Swirlies have been with me a long time. When I was still metalsmithing, (creating silver jewelry) there were swirlies incorporated into the designs. My studio wall(which is painted black) has glossy black swirlies painted on it. The ceramic cups that we drink our capuccino from have swirlies on them.

Anyway, simplified, swirlies represent beauty, perfection, and all that is good. For me it is a symbolic reminder of god.

yea!

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I can't believe it. The main dude at Mayorga got back to me via email and is open to discussing my project. Now I just have to wait for his phone call!

location, location, location

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One of my more work related projects has bumped into a number of roadblocks. Today I am thumbing through my shiny green notebook. As I land in the section that outlines my longer project plans I am pestered by the fact that my deadline is looming and I am only on step two out of ten. This project is a photographic collection that I actually plan to publish. Unlike all my other work on the "planet" this one needs to be executed in stages rather than just happen. I have enough photographic content stored up from various shoots (puerto rico, cancun, boston, washington, calif....bla bla) all of which could keep me quite busy tweaking, designing, and uploading. This project is different. it is a collection that I have wanted to do with great intention

The really big roadblock now is that I need to secure a location outside of my little home studio. Beg, borrow, or rent, I need something that I can light and that has easy access for others.

Enter Mayorga Coffee Factory

After having struck out with three other locations I have high hopes that this one is it. It is this cool coffee shop with live music and leather couches, great food and of course, coffee. The other thing they have is a side room that looks to be rentable. So I just sent of an email to the main dude. Hopefully he will be open to my proposition.

And then I can move on to step three.

meager beginnings

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I intro into monday feeling very encouraged about my experiences over the weekend. The painting project that I began on friday took on a life of it's own. As I sit here the canvas is 90 percent finishied but I won't "unveil" it yet. If I can control myself and be "at work" this week then maybe I will paint again on friday and it will be done this weekend. If I can't control myself, it maybe sooner. I honestly didn't think it would go that quick. The "houston, we have paint" image makes one think of huge olives(at least it did for me which made me laugh). Further developed it looks a bit different now (thankfully).

Once I got past the intimidation of the canvas it was easy. And at this point I am pleased. Not because I think it is great, but I can say it is totally me. Aside from being influenced in style by a russian artist named Arbe, this project has no strings attached to it. No shoulds or what ifs have been assigned to this thing and so it is pure expression of a concept that I have wanted to put into paint. How good it feels!

houston, we have paint!

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seedspaint1.jpg

by 5:30 there was paint.

sketching

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by about 4:30 there was a sketch.

canvas is on the easel

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studiocanvas.jpg

at about 3:00.

Just for perspective sake… here is my studio with the new canvas assembled and staring blankly back at me. This easel has a history that I was reminded of as I dusted it off for today's activities. It is twenty years old. Bryan and I were dating when we ran accross it in a huge flea market in Azusa California. We were in college and my one room apartment was a few blocks away. I can remember Bryan and I walking down the street with this easel in tow after paying 20 bucks for it. I used it in college and it has moved from California, to Canada, to Florida, to Maryland with us but became more of a romantic ornament than a useful tool. That is about to change.

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by 2:30 the canvas was assembled

painting with paint, part one

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it's friday! Artist date day and I have big plans. Like so many others I should be blogging on the presidential debate last night, but what is there to say really? It has rolled around in my head for hours this morning and frankly my big challenge today is to not think about it and go on my artist date.

So, hopefully unhindered I begin something I haven't done in years, paint with real paint.

There have been several concepts that have chased me relentlessly this past year, a few of which I actually managed to sketch, but not made the time(or had the time) to put brush to canvas. The other issue that haunts me is the idea that I have become somewhat dependant on my digital medium that this new/old medium might not come so easy. I can picture myself getting intimidated by the idea, and maybe, in truth, that is why I haven't had the time. Maybe there is a hint of facing a fear in this activity. I mean, what if what I create actually stinks? Ok, now I hear all of the "wise" things that I would say to all my planet artists and realize how hard it is to take my own advice. Ha.

So today, part one, is the first step. Building the canvas. Yes, I believe that it is an important part of the process, so as I sit here, the glue is drying in the pine frame that I cut last night. The canvas is laid out to be stretched and as soon as I get off here I will do that and hopefully by this afternoon sometime there will actully be paint on my brush.

I feel a weird mix of hesitation with a sort of wild anticipation.

It is just a canvas.

I will keep you posted.

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