Monday, December 17, 2012

Art and Non-Art

The end of the year comes to a close. Personally, I've had a few distressing times - one a suicide of an old friend, some family dramas and tragedies, and a few lost friendships. Artistically, I have had a flubbering time coming up with something concrete in terms of a series. Seems, though, I've made a full circle going from what I thought was the end of the "Angels" series, to photographing myself in the actual cemeteries, then going back to pretty pictures or ones that looked "edgy" or "cool" but had zero meaning to going back to "Angels".  I believe I am still forming relationships with the various statuary and the melding of myself with them via digital technology is challenging and when I have it right, rewarding. I never thought that I would use it at this level, always sticking my nose in the air saying that the "truth" and integrity of the image should be in its purest form - the pure shot. Meaning, I did minimal digital work to my images except cleaning up, exposure corrections, cropping and maybe omitting the cable release.

Truth and integrity, my butt. The message I am attempting to say with the "Angels" is true. I feel sadness, empathy, love and even sensuality when I look at the faces carved from stone and marble, and spirituality? Well, yes.....I may not believe in the Christian God but angels and saints? I believe some are on this earth and not necessarily just in the Heavens and they are to help ease emotional pain and turmoil.

Pain and turmoil. We're seeing it more and more. In the last couple of years, there has been more environmental disasters worldwide and in the US, more mass shootings - one that took place only this past week at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Children and teachers killed by a 20 year old boy with obviously some mental illness whom killed his mother and himself in addition to the others.

What are we to do? Get angry, write our politicians, get the gun laws changed. Sure that will solve the problem in part but in a pessimistic but perhaps realistic view, within the human condition, the more you keep something from someone, the more they will try to get it (i.e banning guns? Where there's a will, there's a way). How about mandatory psychological evaluations for everyone past the age of 10? Not realistic in the least but as the "tree-hugger" that I sometimes am, I believe the most evil person performing the most heinous crime did it as a cry for help. No, this does not help those that have died nor their survivors at all and generally those evil persons destroy themselves in the end anyway.

I don't have concrete answers to this and I am scared at where things are going with our world. I wonder if even a small part of it is too much exposure on the Internet of what is going on with others that is also giving ideas to the ones in need of help.  As for the environment, I do as much as I am able and hope others are as well.

And as I end this post for the year 2012, I hope and pray that positive change is on its way for 2013. I hope there are solutions to our world problems and I hope that people lift their heads from their phones, iPads, computers, etc. long enough to acknowledge each other face to face and know that even through the muck, there are many kind, loving and wonderful people right in front of them.

And as for my art - I hope to get this body of work really out there for those wonderful people right in front of me to see and hope they see in the work something worthy of a nice white gallery wall or two.

I do want to end this post on a light note though - my baby girl was pooped after a 20-minute photo shoot with her and my kitty for this year's holiday card and made sure she let me know how pooped she was.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Inspiration, how I need thee!

I'm coming up with scraps of ideas. I shoot a few images and go "ooh" but then think of a why to create a series based on it. The past 2 years after the "Angels" series was resolved, I shoot, paint and think. And think. And think. My Romantic images have been done. Or have they? I keep shooting the comfort zone but then I do some spontaneously unromantic images that set off a tiny spark but what do they mean? Do they have to mean anything? Well, to me, they do. Whose idea was it for the artist to have to come up with a statement about that work anyway? Isn't that supposed to be up to the critic/curator?

Meh.....I have two weeks of free creative time starting next week. I HAVE to focus, literally.

Monday, September 17, 2012

What new is there to report? This past Summer was spent focused on lots of house renovations but I did manage to do a few creative things in between. I finished my second painting of a series I am thinking of, I've worked on my young adult fantasy book and I did shoot.

For awhile, though, I had no desire to pick up the camera. As many artists feel, I've felt discouraged with my photographs. I've been tired with the promoting aspect of things and really jaded by the art world itself. Many upcoming artists don't realize that it's a business like everything else and what is hip and popular at the moment, is what many galleries want to see. It also depends on the mood of the curator at the time he/she looks at the work and several other factors.

And then I think more about my photographs. Some people feel my work is too edgy. Some feel it isn't at all. I'm not looking for edgy. I'm looking for honesty. So, I send out my promo materials anyway when I can afford to do so (and find some promising places) and either don't hear from them at all, or get rejected.

So, the question on some people's minds would be "then why bother?" Well, it's what I need to do. I need to make art. If my materials - camera, paints, canvas, etc. were taken away from me, I would starve as much as having the need for food.

Some say calling oneself an artist is snobbish and pretentious. I suppose I can understand that if it's coming from someone with a motive that is on the surface -i.e. to make money or to be looked at as important: a status symbol.

I call myself an artist simply because it's what I do, and I do use the term humbly. I've been trained in it and I think like one. It's a curse a lot of the time because I don't make money from it and I don't get a lot of attention from it. I'm not a "rock star" in the art world and my work isn't readily sought out. Maybe one day it will be.

In the meantime, though, I keep plodding along and doing what feeds me.

As for the desire to pick up the camera? It always comes in these waves. What brought me back was the decision to go back to my 35mm Nikon FM2. I've been shooting with Holga cameras for a long time now and being able to control the focus and exposure again, has felt so good. Holding a substantially heavy piece of equipment (I've attached an MD-12 motor drive to it) also feels good, even if I mount it onto my tripod.

So, yes, I do have new work up on my site. I think I may be on to something with one series so I have to reign my thoughts in a bit and focus on one, rather than various bodies of work in progress.

Or do I have to?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


It's been awhile, I know. Been dealing with some illness hat hasn't gone away. Doctors, tests and long waits and a diagnosis I am not convinced of so second opinion is in order.

In the meantime, I have updated my website with new work and a new-ish layout. I think the joy of making my own website is gone for now but I so wish I could take a semester's worth of a Dreamweaver class to get some more idea of what to do.

I have not been photographing as much as I would like, but I have been painting and did meet with my editor for 3 1/2 hours to discuss all of the work that needs to be done. Hope I can get it started this week.

Here is a recent photo that has not made its way to my site but will if I can find a place for it. Also a shot of my almost-completed new painting.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Details of a Suicide

I have to post about this. If some of his friends read it and get upset, so be it but I have to get it all out. I will not use names, though, to protect reputations but the details are specific enough for some that know him will know the names. The flow of this post may also be somewhat disjointed because my mind is racing, so forgive the rants and tangents.

My old friend took his own life Monday morning. He inhaled a tank full of helium (his job was an entertainer for children's parties so he had one of these). He was always needing to be the center of attention and he was always dramatic about things. He had already updated his website the night before to say he had passed away (in the third party) and left a message on Facebook that read:

Xanadu has been breached, my friends.

Cry "Havoc!" and let slip the vultures and jackals.

No more past. No more future. Both have been taken away.

If only those who knew less didn't always think they knew better.

It took just one year of Hell to undo a lifetime of hope.

I am too lost to be found and too broken to be fixed.

Let the Monday morning quarterbacking begin.

- His Name

PS: Kudos to my sister V, my niece K and my nephew G for orchestrating the above. Please pray for my mother M, for she is now in their care.

He also left a note on the garage door:

"Took my Mom, Took my Home, Took my Life"  and left his sister V's phone number

My friend was troubled his whole life. He was born to his mother when she was already 50 years old and his father wanted nothing to do with him. I imagine and assume abuse was involved and perhaps his mother turned a blind eye to it. He grew up demanding toward his mother. She gave him whatever she could and when he had tantrums (in his 20s) she relented. He walked all over her, taking over every space in the house to store his epic comic book/superhero collection. I experienced this first hand.

The P.S. of his Facebook message needs explaining. He has 3 half-sisters. His mother had them before she remarried (I can't remember if their father died or it was a divorce). They are quite a bit older than he, and resented him for their own personal reasons. Each of the sisters had families of their own so my friend was the one living with the mother in the house in New Jersey. As she got even older, she became frail and my friend was responsible for paying the house bills. He soon couldn't do it due to his inability to grow up. He actually became an emotional cripple. His sisters moved the mother down to Florida where she now resides in an assisted living facility and money is needed to keep her there. The house went up for sale a year ago and my friend tried to fight it. His idea of fighting was to try and get a lawyer. He started a KickStart campaign to gain funds for legal fees when so many of his friends told him to just use the money to put his stuff in storage and start to look for another place. He would not part with the house. Tried to somehow part with some of his epic comic collection but that was even more traumatizing so he decided that this was all his family's fault and make them feel responsible and guilty for his demise.

I am not saying his family is innocent by any means but he was an adult even if he didn't want to face it. He never wanted to face it. Whenever I would bring up anything that would lead to a philosophical conversation about our lives, he literally would flare up. Maybe he is best at peace now. There is nothing more for him to prove to himself. He raised the white flag. He needed therapy - intensive psychological counseling but even as I type that, I fear that it would never have worked anyway at his age and the enormous depth of his issues.

Our friendship was also a battle because whenever he was phasing out of reality (talking about and working on things other than real productivity that would lead to being responsible, getting a real job and/or his own place) he would dismiss me. He had a good heart, though and became known to many people in the heavy metal music industry as an entertainer and so he dies almost a legacy among that crowd. He was loved and though I loved him, too, many people do not understand how difficult he was to be friends with. He contacted me almost only if he needed something from me and I suspect he did that with many others. He collected friends the way he collected comics. They had to be what he wanted them to be. I learned that early on and made a conscious effort to keep our friendship at arm's length for self-preservation.

I am very sad. I am very angry but I am not shocked. He was self-centered and selfish and suicide is very much a selfish act. He left an ex-girlfriend who feels lost, and friends who feel he was like the messiah. I don't feel either of those but I do feel the loss. We did have some deep-ish talks at the beginning of our friendship over 20 years ago. He did care about and love me in his own way. We did have many understandings about how our families were and more importantly, he was the first man to ever say I was beautiful as a curvaceous fat woman. He made sure I knew that and because of him, my self-esteem was lifted a bit. I will miss him greatly, even though he was not in my life as an active friend - last seeing him in 2003 and speaking with him every other year thereafter -  but I always knew he was there in the peripheral and he did/does have a place in my heart.

I am going to the funeral tomorrow. The family arranged for only a 4 hour viewing. I don't know if there is a burial. His mother is not going to be told. I suppose that is for the best. This will be closure for me. I will do what I can to remember all the good stuff and in fairness, I have to say there was. He WAS a good guy and he was fun to be around when things were kept light.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Exciting photo stuff

(two photos with Hipstamatic app)

So, I've been in a photo slump for awhile and still sort of am. I have been concentrating on my "Angels" series, painting, drawing and working on my YA book. However, simultaneously, within weeks, I've been exposed (no pun intended, really) to new concepts with the Holga, Eugene Atget's Paris park images, and, believe it or not, the iPhone.

I tried being a luddite but it doesn't seem to work. Kicking, screaming and whining for a year, telling anyone who cared to listen that I refuse to become one among the masses to even consider owning a smartphone was a vain futile attempt at being a snobbish and stubborn purist - much in the way I was when digital imaging first came out. When I thought there was no way a beautiful photographic image could be made from a computer, I turned my nose up and declared, "I will only shoot film and I will only make darkroom prints." Here I am, still shooting film but, my oh my are my digital prints nice!

And so, the Hipstamatic app (short for application for those people that oddly still wouldn't know), which is a camera effect app has showed me, like the Holga, how I can lose some more control over the end result of the image. No complicated buttons (which has always been a philosophy I have lived by) but a number of lens and film options that create moods/compositions like nobody's business. Full resolution gives me a 2MB file and a wonderfully intimate 7 x 7 printed photograph that seems to fit my work perfectly. I have a real project in mind with this, not just with self-portraits but other images as well. The only downfall is a lack of tripod mount, self-timer or as the normal iPhone camera has, a reverse mirror to photograph myself. That means assistant standing in exact spot I do when composing the shot and then hope for the best. As long as I make all the settings and instruct my assistant from start to finish, it is still my image.

I still have my film and Holga. In fact, I shot 5 rolls of film with 3 modified bodies just the other day so, folks, do not look glum. Film will never leave my side until it dissolves by the manufacturers.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The new year comes in with a bang!

Wow, the year has barely started and some "exciting" things are looming about. One of my videos on YouTube has been blocked by Germany and another flagged inappropriate and removed off their site. YouTube does not have a contact email but I did find a phone number and will be calling tomorrow to make a complaint. According to their terms, artistic nudity is fine (the flagged video showed little nudity). Now, it showed me tying a rope around me - the second of two videos I've made of this nature and though I am sure some layman was the one to flag it, the TOS Committee reviewed it and removed it. They shall get an earful tomorrow.

In better news, I am on my way to promoting the "Angels" series.

I have also created a companion performance video

and am in the process of creating a book if the images (trying different POD companies) to send to galleries/sell.

This will also be the year I finally get my YA book edited and hopefully shopped around. I am anxious to get it published and am thinking positive about it.

Also finished my first abstract painting! Do I ever stop working? No and I refuse to, no matter what else is going on in my life.


Until next time - sending light and love to those that need it!