photographer. artist. author. singer. songwriter. musician. teacher. student. humanitarian. visionary.

Posts tagged “art

Dean’s List!

I’m in a ridiculously good mood: I just found out that I made the Dean’s List again this semester. SO stoked. In the past, I wanted to make the Dean’s List solely for bragging rights (I can admit to that), but now, I have to make the Dean’s List or there’s no going forward. When I begin working on my Master’s degree- just around the corner- there’ll be no such thing as “making a C”. If you receive a C in psychology at the Master’s level, you’re automatically expelled from the program. Yep; anything less than a B- and you’re considered a failure. So, I set the bar really high for myself every semester because I have to. But my semester’s finally over, and I have until July 7th to relax and enjoy my summer (and work on my photography & art). It’s OVER! 🙂

Digitally rendered watercolour on washi paper/ Bernheim Forest- Clermont, Kentucky
Bejeweledwashipaper


Pressure Cooker Squared

I’ve got until Sunday to cover 400 pages- midterms. [Insert scream here!]

Midterms (and finals) are always so much freaking pressure! I’m still at a B+ in Behavioral Neuroscience and a strong A in Cognitive Psychology, but any ole way you slice it- midterms are crazy. I find myself using straight up avoidance (which is actually worse than denial, because at least with denial, you’re not always aware that you’re in denial, but with avoidance, it’s sort of like knowing you’re in denial and choosing to do so anyway- and yes, I’m aware that I’m starting to sound like a psychologist!) and so it’s Friday night and I’m down to the wire.

What am I doing? Installing Still Life II. I actually get to be the detective and the abducted person who’s trapped in the psycho serial killer’s booby trap-laden house (think : “Saw”).

Avoidance. Utter, blatant avoidance.

But fun! 🙂

And this is for you, Gav. I know you’ve been down lately, and you’re not feeling much inspired, but I want you to know just how much you inspire me. I have so much respect for you because over the past 8 years or so that I’ve known you (originally from Redbubble) but here too these past few years, you go out – day after day- and shoot nothing but black and white/monochrome. Street scenes, people- life. And, you have a prominent talent with shadows and lighting- which I love. I’ve only shared this with one other person, but I’ve decided to devote an entire year- all of 2015- to solely black and white/monochromatic photography. No colour allowed! For an entire year. it’s going to be great. 🙂 So, while you feel “blah” lately, please know that your work and talent continues to inspire others. This is for you:

Semi-pano/old military factory in my town- Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.5 film- FRIGID COLD- love ya, buddy! x p.s. Congratz on your show/exhibition last month!
panoforGav


To All of You

…who are just finishing up your semesters- students and teachers alike- congratz to you!

And although I’m bowing out of the academic race to pursue my photography/art, I do hope that each of you continues to do well in your studies and teachings. All of my final grades are in and it’s going to be a close call, but I think I might’ve made the Dean’s List. More on that later.

Maggie, congratzs to you, and Y, you too. WE DID IT. 🙂

PortabellasMJ


Sabbatical

Imageself portrait-natural lighting/manual-Helios 44-2 film/taken today

I don’t know how much longer I can do this school thing. Many of my friends are now applying for residencies- Bell, a brilliant writer has just applied to a writer’s residency in a remote fishing village in the Arctic Circle and another friend just got back from her residency in a remote rural area in Southern Iceland. I could probably list 50 others (no, seriously) right off the top of my head who are flying here and there and working hard on their exhibitions. They’re truly amaaaaaazing people and I’m really getting to the point to where I miss the crap out of them! It’s more than that. When you form a bond with a tight group of artists- for years- you come to know each other so well. And, you become a cycle of flowing water, each watering the other and eventually, you’re not even “you” any more but hundreds of other people- all reflecting one another.

Because of the hardships that have smacked me down over the past few months, I’ve had to put off my schoolwork until the last minute. I simply couldn’t do anything about it. Now, I’m facing 30 assignments in two combined classes and my deadline is March 7th. Am I screwed, or what?!

I have the resources to take a year off. I won’t have any extra money, but I would be able to minimally pay my bills and rent, buy food, but not much more. I’m not ready to jump into a “career”, socially speaking, not until I finish school, and so I’ve been in this tailspin for quite some time. My complaints are still the same. I want to do so many things with my art and music: I simply can’t as long as I’m in school.

And school is choking the living daylight out of me. Sure, I’m accomplishing small goals, always. But my bigger ones are drying up, such as, making a music CD, doing more school readings with my book- guh. I just don’t know how much longer I can do this.

Tonight, I’m supposed to work on my assignments, but I have to hook up with my art peeps and reconnect.

I can’t believe it’s March and there’s this much snow on the ground.
My red wine awaits. I have to take a freaking break before I blow a gasket.

I’ll be back…

…eventually.


Bimonthly Selfie

ImageSelfie-Shot in kitchen window lighting/1.17.14- Helios 44-2 film lens/Digital Rebel/manual

Lighting is your friend, ladies!
Seeing how I’ve been getting all this extra attention lately, I thought it a good time to make a post about how to take a good selfie (technically speaking). Anybody that knows me truly knows that:

a.) I don’t take myself too seriously. Ever.
b.) I look 20 years younger than I actually am, thanks to Photoshop. (I’m 44.)
c.) I don’t shave my legs and I really don’t care. (But that’s beside the point.)

Normally, I stay oblivious to my “audience” and rarely write for others. Not that I have anything against that, I’m particularly too lazy to keep up with all of the hooplah and riffraff. But tonight, I decided to address selfies and lighting and that sort of thing, because, who doesn’t have a few bad selfies lying around? (I have hundreds.) Not that I’m a narcissist, I’m a photographer: there’s a difference. (Not really.) But if you have a guy-friend that pilfers through your hard drive like I used to do with my ex’s, then you can just tell him “you’re a photographer” and he won’t think twice about it.

I have a bit of a cheap wine hangunder at the moment, so I’ll keep this list short and sweet. I know there are all sorts of one-click filters out there to make you look all selfielicious and everything, but if you stick to these pointers, I promise you, you’ll cut a few corners, save time, and look a heck of a lot better.

  • Go into the light!
    Find a “window light” source. It doesn’t have to be fancy; everything I do is cheap and at a fraction of the cost that others spend. Natural window lighting is the best light in the world for selfies- I promise! Don’t use midday lighting: it’s harsh and will either blast your pupils, simulating an unflattering meth-addiction, or it’ll highlight your shadows and age you instead. (You don’t want that.) The best time for good-selfie lighting is early morning to midday (just before noon), and late afternoon to early evening. Also, apart from professional and expensive lighting, nothing puts beautiful catchlights in your eyes like a window. (See pic above.)
  • Embrace your flaws
    As you can see in my selfie, I’m make-up free and alright with showing a few lines and pores. It’s naturalGuys want to sleep with Barbie but they really don’t want to take her to lunch. Don’t be a Barbie.
  • Look like you’re going to kick somebody’s ass
    This is my go-to look that works for most pictures. It’s alright to smile! But this is always good to fall back on and believe me, you’re going to need to fall back on this at some point.
  • Stretch your face muscles before a shoot. Mimic the word “WOW” in excess, raising your eyebrows simultaneously; it’s a little weird at first, but it loosens up the expression and circulates the blood. Do this about 50 times, and really, it’s good do get in the habit of doing this daily because it tightens up the facial muscles. (I’ve done it for years.) After you’re finished, your face will relax into a “default” comfortable expression. If that doesn’t work, look like you’re going to kick somebody’s ass.
  • Keep the camera slightly above your head, point your chin down a hair, and lock your eyes into place.
    There’s nothing worse that enlarged nostrils, double chins, and bad angles. Keeping the camera above your head slightly (preferably at 3/4ths of an angle) will flatter your angles.

There you have it.
You’re welcome!


Rejected: Get Used to it, Kid!

So I just received my second rejection. The first was from the Beliot Poetry Journal  (which was really sweet of the editor to tell me that although they were going to pass on my “self-confessional PSYCH ward poetic experience” he’s glad I’ve survived all of the things I’ve been through- haha…love that) and the second was from The New Yorker- a different poem entirely.

I won’t lie. The first one stung. Like a bee. Right in the head. (Obviously, it hit the ego more than the heart, but at least I’m aware of this.) What, I have an ego? YES. I frikking have an ego! Guh…it gets old. I’m fairly certain any artist, musician, or writer knows damn well what I’m talking about. There’s a fine line between wanting to share your art and wanting to feed your ego: this is the truth and it’s how it is. As artists, we like to dress things up like that old beast just doesn’t exist and we simply “are driven to create!” but what drives us? If we’re honest, we’ll acknowledge that at least sometimes, it’s the ego. If we’re in denial, we’ll say, “it’s just something I feel I have to do!” (Etc.)

So, there’s always that battle: self vs. art vs. self and striving to be more than simply wanting to get that little stroke that pushes you to your next piece. This is what I’m always thinking of when I submit new art somewhere: what am I searching for? Simply sharing this piece? What is my message? Am I imparting enough of myself in this piece so that people can feel it? I need to be saying something. Yes, the “praise” and the feedback come with the territory- that does feel like a warm, squishy blanket of “acceptance”- sure it does, but I want to know that I’m making an impression on somebody and adding something- no matter how small- to their lives, or the way they think, see, and feel.

Which brings me back to rejection. As in, “rejected by editors”. Maybe I’m a bit of a sadist, but I’m celebrating being rejected. Yes, I’m serious! I was rejected from the New Yorker,-come on…it’s The New Yorker for crying out loud. Being rejected from The New Yorker is a rite of passage. While the first rejection stung (get over yourself, kid!) I was completely elated by the 2nd one. Tickled. Serious tickled, because although I’ve been writing since I was a teenager (poems, songs, short stories, etc.) and have never had any education there at all- even having dropped out of high school in the 10th grade- I’m still acutely aware of my own ignorance as a writer, and, a poet. By claiming total ignorance, I can open my eyes and mind and have the necessary depth to fill in with an education in Creative Writing. Because I’m going into this saying “I know nothing”, I can learn so much more. Ego deflated!

I’ve created a Poem folder on my laptop, and also, a “Rejection” folder. It’s the rejection folder that will drive me in my art and work far more than any other. It’s proof that I have tried and do try and will not stop trying. I’m copying and pasting every rejection into that folder (dated, filed away).

Failure is nothing more than proof that you have tried. 

I also entered my first short story competition last night- the top prize is $3,000. That one is going to hurt. Ha. But, it’s being slapped down in life that I have turned into an art form, so, the more rejections I receive (and there will be plenty); the more food for more art. It’s a self-sustaining cycle but one that holds valuable lessons for me, and I cherish them dearly.

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Shadowing

I awoke yesterday morning to this beautiful sight: shadows on my tent wall. I can’t describe my semi-obsession with shadows, even still- after years of photographing and studying them. When I’m surrounded by them, or even in their presence, I feel as if I’m with friends. They move and change and shift and breathe and swell and grow; so many times I’ve been too full of words to say anything and I’ve sat silently among them- as still as a stone- and they moved for me.

They tell stories. They have seen thousands of years and they speak- but not with words. In pictures.

Imageshot in monochrome/manual

Lately, I’ve been battling this inner identity war: the artist vs. the academic. My mind tells me that I must finish my degree and then pursue a second one in Criminology and Law. It’s my destiny: I’m going to help people. I’m going to stack up a few more certificates along the way (perhaps) and continue to strive in my work so that I can be of some value to others. But the academic is murdering the artist. The artist is now anorexic and throwing fits and lashing out- and really, do I really want to wait until I’m in my 50’s before I do gallery showings and such? Probably 80% of my closest friends have had numerous juried-in showings, publishings, and commercial successes. I want to work on my “Habitat” series and future showing, probably in New York, but I won’t ever do that as long as I’m in school. I simply cannot do both. I’m the first person to go to college in my family- at least on this side of Texas- and then there is only one who has beside me. I come from a family of women who believe that their roles do not cannot extend further than the bedroom and the kitchen, and then those roles are still firmly instilled into them by a man, or, patriarch.

My free-thinking, wild, Bohemian daughter (Heidi) opened my eyes to exactly how medieval that all is, and she is my strongest influence and inspiration over the years. She’s had her brow and septum pierced, sports a rather large tattoo on her left shoulder, has died her hair pink, green, yellow and blue (was blue in there too?) and I couldn’t be more proud of her.

I know that I’ll probably be in school for another three years at least, and then what? Will I be fulfilled as a parole officer? A probation officer? My “artist self” is throwing a fit. I want to take pictures! I want to edit. I want to write poetry again- something I haven’t done in almost two decades. The artist isn’t dying, only sleeping, but I don’t know how much longer I can hang on. I want to record my songs and produce again- so many things I want to do that will simply have to wait.

And so I will.


Early Morning Speakeasy

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“Third Base” biker bar- early Sunday morning drive-by/50 MM natural lighting/manual

There’s something about typing late at night that’s so very gratifying. Maybe it’s the “me time”, I don’t know. Josh is sitting beside me and everything in life has fallen back into place. It’s funny how that goes; all of the “normal everyday things” that one simply expects to be there over time are there, and they’re very small things not even worth mentioning. But take those little “connectors” away- those small unmentionables and it shakes the very foundation of all that is solid in your life. This proves to me that it IS the little things that are most important to me. When they’re gone- everything changes down to the very way you perceive the world to be. When Josh and I are tight, as we are now- the world is “doable”. I’m careful to give him his space and am even suggesting he get a shed so he can have a bit of a man-cave going on. (Guys need a “safe place” to go where there are no women. It’s funny to think about, but it’s so very true. I support him in those endeavors fully.)

The construction trailer outside didn’t work out so well. The new management approached us and gave us a 2 hour warning to move it or lose it. They had already called the police and a tow truck. We were in a bit of a jam, but that’s when I’m at my best, not surprisingly. Maybe it’s all of those McGuyver episodes (or the hundreds of adventure games I’ve played over the years) but I like to get creative and resourceful with practically nothing. We called the Uhaul facility- they had no trucks with a hitch at the moment. After several other phone calls, we were able to find a guy that hauled it away to storage at the drop of a dime. Josh would have lost his trailer for good- it would have just been too expensive to try and retrieve it. Darn it. That means he’ll have to actually stay INSIDE here with me. (I’ll try to not be disappointed.)

I wonder what Josh thinks about me sitting here typing all of our business to the world. 🙂 He’s a good sport.

We have to be up at 8 in the morning- there just aren’t enough hours in the day! Josh is getting ready to start his semester also- I love it when we’re both in school at the same time. He’s working on General Studies for now but he’s considering moving in the direction of Physics. (He and his sister are both terribly smart.)

I have a Health Psychology assignment to do first thing when I get up and after that, a Public Speaking assignment + 25 more pre-calculus problems and that’s all before 10:00 a.m.! Life is a blur.

But at least I’m using exclamation points again so hey- it’s not all bad.

🙂

And smiley faces.

xo


My New Man

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Aka: Einstein

I adore Einstein. And so, I redecorated my living room wall. It’s my “happy place”. I drink tea there, watch “Chopped” there, (study there) and really, just stare off at the pretty colours and lament that Einstein is dead.

He was a good one.

I’ve decided that after I graduate (later this year, or perhaps as early as 2014) I’m interested in transferring over to a B.A. in Sociology. I entertained the notion of a B.A. in Criminal Justice, and I think I’d make an excellent parole officer, but my heart is in sociology. Plus, I’d like to travel extensively. We’ll see how that works out.

I’ve decided to learn Swahili. Why? Because I’ve been overwhelmed lately. When I’m overwhelmed, I don’t like to taper down. Rather, I jack it up. I study something new or hone my skills in a new craft, talent, or ambition (such as gourmet cooking, a musical instrument, or new medium in art) and I can’t think of anything that I want to do more right now than learn Swahili.

Ok. I can think of about nine other things. But Swahili is pretty high on the list. Besides, I have dreams of going to Africa one day and volunteering some time in an orphanage or two. I can choose to be lazy and let somebody interpret our communications, or actually learn Swahili. I choose the latter.

There are a few “eligible bachelors” who are doing very well for themselves who have let me know that they’re interested in me. But I would have to completely put my dreams and ambitions on the back burner, yet again, to foster my energies on somebody else and darn it- I’m just not going to do that.

Sorry, gentlemen. I am OFF the market.

I’m going to learn Swahili and travel and make a CD of my songs and do all sorts of things that I’ve never done before. Now I’m off to study for an exam in metamorphic rocks and make Swedish meatballs just for me.

Air kisses dahling


The New Blue Do

My son, and his new cotton candy do. 
I think it’s rad.

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50 MM/manual focus/manual exposure

 


Interval Notations and Honey Brandy

Good golly what have I gone and gotten myself into?

It’s 2:24 a.m. and typical as ever, the house is alive and buzzing as if it were 3 p.m. Brian and Brianna (sorry Brian…) -Brianna and “Bob” are in their room doing God knows what- I hear occasional screams, back and forth- I have no idea what they’re going on about in there…

[Enter Brian]

“Lotus Flower” (Radiohead) plays on my speakers and Brian…I mean, Bob is dancing around the kitchen-head poking in and out of the fridge. It’s possibly the coolest chill song ever. You really should give it a listen- it always puts me in a super good mood, no matter what:

I’m quite sure he’s higher than a kite- Mr. Yorke.
You know I love you, Tom. My kids think you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread.
(I do too.)

Bob puts his hand on his head, shakes his hips and tries to moonwalk.

“Dude, you did not just do that…” I say to him.

He smiles at me deviously, revealing more of his gnarley socks.

Tomorrow is a full day and I have no idea what I’m doing up at 2:30 a.m. I’m supposed to wake up at 7:00 a.m. and hit the prayer closet, then read a few chapters from the KJV. I have sadly slackened off lately.

Consider this. We take care of our bodies- we bathe, we try to eat good so we can live longer. But why do we want to live longer? Especially those that hate to live. I’m not one of them- I love life- and think there’s something to be gained from pain.

But we do what the television tells us to do. It says work out- we work out. It says “be pretty- feel sexy”- we are pretty and sexy. And so on.

But what do we do for our spirits? Our souls? I scratch my head and search for an answer. It’s been too long. I’m not uneducated in spiritual matters. I’ve just gotten lazy. So, I’ve decided that tomorrow I will wake up exceptionally early and pray. This clashes with my honey brandy tonight though, and I’m feeling particularly stressed out, so I’m having a few shots.

I just know this. Whenever I rise up early in the morning and pray, I feel directed. I feel stronger and my day has purpose. I need to get that back.

“Reckoner” rolls out of the speakers now…

“You are not to blame for bittersweet distractions…dedicated to all human beings…”

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Photo Therapy [part 2]

Things are incredibly stressful for me today. Right off the bat, I had to be at a business meeting first thing in the morning. I have an egotistical flea (who happens to be the owner of an art website) biting my &^% to appease his ego. I’ve never known anyone so full of him or herself, honestly. The guy blasted me publicly- which is defamation- and you better believe I’m gonna blast back. I don’t take slaps lightly.

When I reach a breaking point, and I just want to hang everything up- shut my door- and “retire from everything”, I go take pictures.

It gives me a great sense of control to be able to compose my environment; even master the very lighting around me.
I think every person wants to feel in control of his or her own life, down to their very eternal destination- if one believes in such.
To be able to “design my surroundings” by manually adjusting the controls- it’s far more rewarding than simply “pointing and shooting”.
I would have little joy as a photographer if I merely pointed and shot. Manually adjusting my exposure in-camera is an integral part of the bonding process with my equipment.
For me, it’s a must.

My head feels blasted in about five areas.
Pain everywhere.

Nevertheless, I can’t simply sit around the house in pain and be pissed off.
So, I’m going to go out and take pictures.
Of what, I haven’t a clue.

I know of an online photo challenge and the theme is colour.
Perhaps I’ll go out and induct a spash of colour into my day…


Drug Prevention- Executive Summary

If somebody were to have told me (twenty years ago) that I would be writing reports on drug prevention on a hot Friday night, I would have belted out a hearty laugh, followed by a shot of straight Tequila.

My typical Friday nights were spent in one of two ways:

a.) I was in church with my friends and family
b.) I was out running the streets, higher than a kite and no doubt on my way to becoming quite smashed.

Sometimes in that order.

If I didn’t puke, I generally wasn’t having a good time. This went on for a good twenty years. I suppose that my extensive experience on the subject fuels my passion for it. I know many people who think you can’t touch a drop to drink (or you’re a raging alkie) or that if you smoke a joint, you’re on your way to harder drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, seeing how pot is considered a “gateway drug”.

But I don’t think this is so. Many things change the brain’s chemistry and can cause addiction- not just drugs. I’ve had many Twinkie battles (when I had a chronic case of the munchies) and I was certain the Twinkie would win, but again, not so. Will power and a solid education go a long way. “Just Say No” simply doesn’t work, and the DARE program was an epic failure.

So what’s the answer?

I ponder these things. Drugs and alcohol littered my youth- they were my second skin.

Now, I haven’t smoked a joint in six years, and haven’t had hard liquor in six as well. I don’t care much for the taste of alcohol these days- that’s not to say I can’t have a beer or two, or a glass of wine with a salad. I just fell out of love with it, that’s all.

Photography has taken the place of drugs I believe. My art is satisfying enough for me.

When I’m excited- I take pics.
When I’m sad- I take pics.
When I’m stressed- I take pics.
When I’m angry- I take pics.

By doing so, I alleviate much of the stress associated with these intense emotions. I can add descriptions to my work so that the viewer can perhaps step into my shoes. It’s absolutely therapeutic. I remember the day I quit smoking cigarettes (six years ago also). I was wondering what in the world I would do when I was stressed. No weed- no whiskey- no smokes! Where’s the fun?!

Then I picked up a camera. 🙂

Maybe someday I’ll design a program for kids and teens, that incorporates “phototherapy” into their lives. It’s not too expensive- everybody has a camera these days, and they can express their pent up emotions through their art.

Good grief, am I really rambling on about drug prevention on a Friday night?!

Yes. I’m afraid I am…

And here’s the Executive Summary I turned in today:

 

*****************************************************************************************************************************************************
(Copying, “borrowing”, or outright stealing this work for the use of plagiarism is absolutely prohibited and any breach of this written warning could result in prosecution.)

Executive Summary

In 1983, Daryl F. Gates founded the Drug Abuse Resistance Program, or DARE. The program offered a ten week, in-school, interactive learning module taught by local law enforcement officers and others. Authorized workers and guest speakers were to undergo 80 hours of training in the areas of childhood development, communication skills, and other interpersonal tools. Funding for the organization was based on certain criteria being met: The information was to be research-based, and effective. In 1998, funding for the program was cut as a result of failing to meet the required regulations. The Department of Education (DOE) has withdrawn from the program completely and refuses to give DARE any future funding. Recent scientific studies have proven DARE to not only be ineffective, but counterproductive as well. It is difficult to say whether the law enforcement officers’ lack of therapeutic qualifications played a part in the failure of DARE’s program. Perhaps it was a combination of factors that simply weren’t cohesive. Some of the teenagers in the program may have viewed the police officers as a threat. It is a fair assessment to say that minorities and inner-city kids may have been preconditioned to fear police officers, especially if they might have been told the same division put a parent or family member behind bars. Perhaps too, the overexposure to a variety of drugs gave the young DARE members more temptations than they might have had without the program.

Attempts at primary prevention education have been challenging over the years as well. Targeting grade-schoolers, many programs have used catchy slogans, such as, “Just Say No,” without reaping necessary and expected benefits. A major problem with this technique that must be taken into consideration is the exposure to a host of new drugs that many children are not aware of beforehand. By announcing the dangers of these items, children are being tantalized and seduced by an idea, “the forbidden fruit”.

Scare tactics is another method that has been ineffective. When presenting exaggerated effects of drugs to children and teens, but especially teens, they will often discredit the material altogether. When teenagers are shown dramatic images of horrific drug-related events, the emotional connection and fear are more temporal than long lasting. Children lack the foresight to understand what 20 years of hard drinking may do to the body, even knowing, he or she may not care. Connecting with these kids on his or her level is crucial. Targeting a demographic is necessary, but so is having the precision and ability to actually reach these children.

Another aspect to consider when using scare tactics is the often romantic appeal of a thing when it is presented as “off limits”. That is not to say legalization of drugs or underage drinking should be an option, but perhaps emphasizing nausea as an effect, rather than euphoria, may tarnish its overall attraction. The effects of drug and alcohol use are tempting to children and teens because they like to feel good. Toddlers spin in circles to mimic euphoria, even before they are old enough to form sentences, much less understand the concept of drugs and alcohol and their effects on the body. No matter how well packaged or distributed antidrug campaigns may be, unless the parents or caregivers of the child are reinforcing, in the home, what he or she is learning in school, the whole of it will be counterproductive.

Programs like the Child Development Project (CDP) have been shown to significantly reduce drinking and drug use among adolescents and teens between the ages of 5-12. The CDP strives to promote closer bonds between students and their peers, teachers and students, and students and parents. Another useful prevention program is Class Action, which is a universal school-based alcohol-related learning module. Class Action targets children between the ages of 9-12. This program in particular has proven to reduce the onset of drinking among school kids, and has reduced binge drinking among high school students.

One reason for the success of Class Action is the interactive peer-led relationships between the students and their mentors, or speakers. The representatives focus on turning negative peer pressure into positive peer pressure; thereby changing the messages of alcohol uses and abuse altogether. Students who heed the warnings will perceive drinking as something that might be shunned by their peers, in turn, molding their choices into healthier actions. Unlike DARE, which is a tertiary prevention program, the CPD and Class Action are primary and secondary prevention programs.

Recommended Changes:

Avoid using scare tactics in secondary and tertiary prevention programs. The fear-related material can be effective in creating a necessary protective boundary in grade-schoolers. The same fear may compound stress in teenagers, causing them to actually want to try drugs or alcohol, and the same could be said in tertiary programs. Scare tactics are best used during primary prevention, when children are most impressionable.

Avoid using law enforcement officers in secondary and tertiary prevention programs. They may induce rebellion in teens, and resentment among addicts. Again, law enforcement officers are presented and often perceived as “the good guys” to grade-schoolers. A two step interactive transitional program is recommended that would bridge the gap from grade-school over to middle school, and then middle school to high school, promoting the positive images of law enforcement officers. Telling children to “stay away from bad things” simply does not work. Law enforcement officers would be encouraged to engage in activities that children and teens participate in most: gaming, texting, and hanging out at their favorite hot spots.

Abstinence rewards in school is another recommendation.
Reward middle and high school students who abstain from alcohol and drugs.

Implementation:

Develop a program specifically for middle and high school students offering monthly voluntary drug testing. Rather than spend money on building more incarceration facilities, increase funding for voluntary drug testing in schools. Rewards include: Ipods, clothing cards from their local malls, and ITunes cards that allow unlimited downloading of songs. By associating positive material gain (rewards) with abstinence, the fear and anxiety associated with drug testing would be diminished, if not altogether diffused, and kids and teens would develop an appreciation for drug testing that could possibly carry over into adulthood. Just as word-of-mouth among peer groups is drugs and alcohol’s number one promoter, so too, the Abstinence Reward Program (ARP) could be widely spread and promoted by peers among peers.

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Catwalk/My daughter, Heidi./Lensbaby Composer pro-Double Glass Ops./Manual ex./RAW/GIMP

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Another Sale

 

Sales have been good to me lately.

I just received this email this morning:

Hi Ḃḭṙḡḭṫṫä,

You’ve just made a sale on Redbubble! Your work was so brilliant that someone showed their appreciation with their wallet. Unfortunately we have to mark this event with a very boring email but it is full of Useful Facts (TM) about the sale.

‘But when will I get this money?’ we hear you cry, and rightfully so. Well you can find out here: http://support.redbubble.com/faqs/top20/when-do-i-get-paid

Thanks for being who you are and doing what you do, we love having you around Redbubble.

Mr Baxter – Chief Officer of Sending You Good News

———————————————————————
1x Photographic Print of “”The Longest Dream”
Print Size: Large (610mm x 117mm)
Finish: Lustre

Your Margin: AU$14.22 (US$14.95)
———————————————————————

The sale details:

Retail Price: AU$39.17
Manufacturing fee: AU$24.95

Total Margin: AU$14.22 (US$14.95)

You’ll receive: US$14.95
———————————————————————

While $14.95 won’t buy me a new car, or even a full meal at a buffet, (ok, I think it would cover the buffet), I’m not complaining because when you’re as busted as I am, every penny counts.

Fine Art America is now telling me that they’re having “technical difficulties” with my print order. Here’s our problem: they want a crystal clear image (seeing how it’s a B&W landscape of trees in the rain) and fail to comprehend that the ADDED blur and grain they’re seeing on the image is very much intentional, as it is with many of my photos. I create mood with added film grain and gaussian blur- it’s present throughout many of my images. I create depth and mood with my textures. (This is why I’m fond of film cameras.) When shooting with a DSLR, I will purposefully jack up my ISO so that there is present grain in my photo- I also shoot only in monochrome, and RAW. (All manual.) Trying to explain this to somebody who is a “straight photographer/staff member” is beyond frustrating, because now I feel like she’s (“Dawn”) challenging my artistic merit.

The site is called “Fine ART America”, not Fine PHOTOGRAPHY America, and it pisses me off to no end that now, the staff can officially “interpret” what is and what is not- your art!

Would they tell a painter that he or she needs to resubmit a painting using “this or that” acrylic brand paint? Then why do so with a photographer? I intentionally muck up many of my images with blur and grain- that is my trademark style, and I’m known for that.

I wrote Dawn/Fine Art America back and told them all of this, to no avail, and she proceeded to tell me that I needed to reshoot the image (?!! “Are you for real, Dawn?!”) so that they can produce a higher quality photo without blurring or grain. GEH!!!

They. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

How unfair is it to the buyer, who’s paying $731 for that print- to assume that they’ll be getting what they ordered, all the while, behind the scenes, the staff is telling the artist to RESHOOT THE FRIKKING PHOTO and then- they’ll ship the buyer a completely different image than what the buyer ordered- without letting the buyer know!

I immediately lost respect for Fine Art America. Completely.

I told Dawn that I would not be reshooting or resubmitting a “new photo”, and challenging my artistic interpretation would not be tolerated, and that she had only two options:

1.) Print and ship the original, as the buyer intended, yes, I’m aware that it is 9 feet long. It IS supposed to be somewhat blurry if you’re looking at a 9 feet photo on your farging monitor, Dawn. You have to back up about 3 or 4 feet, Dawn!

2.) Release the buyer’s name and address so that I can deal with him or her directly.

I then gave Dawn my Redbubble link, that links her up with their # 1 competitor’s site, and showed her the 160 comments on that image, and how I’ve already been selling the same image there- with no complaints.

(And, again, have made another sale this morning in fact.)

Dawn considers this a “high risk print” because it’s 9 feet long.

I reminded Dawn that while they consider it “high risk” to print, if they didn’t go through with the order, it would be an even greater risk to them, because I will post a journal entry at Redbubble- and within one day- at least 5 countries would know about it by the end of the day.

All of my friends, buddies, pals, and acquaintances are all artists, all over the world. I don’t know many who’re not.

Dawn decided that she would contact the buyer and “inform him” of their troubles. I am livid.

They’re used to seeing landscapes that are crystal clear (etc. etc.) but I inject my own mood and presence into my work with my lighting, exposure, film grain and blur. It adds a retro-vintage feeling to the image that isn’t done in one little mouseclick. It’s not a simple filter that’s applied. It’s various layers (sometimes 20-25) and very much like a patchwork quilt, I will errase bits and pieces from each layer, blending and merging and blending and merging- much like painting- until the final piece has a certain depth and mood.

I’m waiting to hear back from Dawn/Fine Art America.

Will update soon.                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                     Land and Sea

 

… 


Pain in Rainbows pt. # 2

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I decided to convert my collage (Pain in Rainbows) over into a digitally rendered fauvist styled painting on stone. I rather liked the way it came out. While I wasn’t planning on sharing my arachnoid cyst situation with all of Australia, I wanted to include my Aussie friends (all of whom are artists: sculptors, writers, and painters) as we’ve all been close for about six years now.

I feel pretty fortunate to have such a great group of friends. Many have solo exhibitions and are quite successful in the art world. And, a finer bunch of people I’ve never known.

The site I’m referring to is Redbubble. I’ve been there six years. Hmm…maybe seven.

 


Pain in Rainbows

I really don’t like pop art. Never cared for the Marylin coloured collage or the tomato soup cans (though I admit that I was thoroughly infatuated with the life of Warhol and have much respect for his talent). I decided to mingle the style of pop art with my love of B&W to examine and interpret my migraine pain. I suppose it could convey most any pain. After all, we all live with pain- whether emotional or physical- but none escape it. Like art, music, laughter, joy, and death- pain is a language that needs no interpreter.

I have recently found my Canon G3 battery charger. The camera is absolutely obslete on todays market, but I know that camera better than my own skin. I cut my teeth on that camera (manual exposure, shooting in monochrome, manipulating the lighting and shadows, and so on).

I think the problems many artists and photographers face today are due to the fact that the modern digital cameras are so “capable” that the user need only click one main button, “auto”, and the camera “does it all”. While it can mimic the accuracy to a degree, it cannot automatically shape and mold the light on a level that one can attain if he or she manually adjusts the settings. It’s like comparing a bologna sandwhich to foie gras. Or, Vienna Sausages to caviar. If a person doesn’t know how to shoot in manual, he or she may still be able to create an effective image, especially in Lightroom, GIMP (which is what I use), or Photoshop, but then it falls into digital artistry and not so much “photography”.

If you are curious to know what kind of a photographer you are, throw your DSLR (or P&S) in MANUAL, as well as MONOCHROME, and go out during the golden hour as well as high noon- then look at the stills. When you can take a batch of photos that aren’t blown out, hot- and bleeding here or there- you’re ready to move on to a more advanced camera.

There’s really no point in getting a fancy camera if you don’t know how to shoot in all manual! I can’t say this enough. And the truth is, about 80% of all of us photogs that have high end cameras are LAZY. (Notice I said “us”.) Very few actually shoot in manual mode, much less understand how to.

If I had a big rig, I’d be the laziest photog in the world.
Thank God for innovation and ghetto-rigging.

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And then the Doctor Said…

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[pics of my kids]  Lensbaby Composer Pro + Double Glass optics/4 & 2.8

“Well where is your pain?”

“In the back of my head, this time. At the top of my neck and the base of my head,” said I.
I suppose I could have just as easily said where my cerebellum and brain stem are.

“Well, that’s exactly where your cyst is,” said he.

“Cyst. Hmm. So…right. You know, I’m not a lightweight. Do I need surgery? Just…tell me what’s up with it.”

And so on and stuff.

So I’ve discovered the culprit of my raging three day migraines. And sometimes four. This arachnoid cyst. Hmm. Not a pretty sounding fella. Arachnoid means spider-like. Who knows what the heck I’m toting around up there. I do know one thing for certain: I refuse to go down without a fight.

Also, I’m not prepared to put my life in the hands of a man I don’t know. Degree notwithstanding. I’ve decided that I’ll take matters into my own hands and request an MRI every six months, measure it myself, and take the direction I think best. I’m going to call the shots.

I’ll continue my homeopathic regimen- ground cayenne and ginger, lots of water, tea, and exercise. Now I know this might seem strange because I’ve researched arachnoid cysts and many others who have them are quite inactive. If you’ve had monster migraines, you learn to not disturb the beast. But I want to unlearn this behavior. It can be a real challenge to simply “live” sometimes, without triggering a migraine. When it hits, it feels like my whole head is exploding, and somebody is stabbing me through my right eye socket with an ice pick.

I’ve had worse pain.
Ok, that’s a complete lie. I haven’t.
It makes childbirth seem like a walk in the park.
And let it be known that I have an insanely high tolerance for pain.
I have a brand on my right arm from a coat hanger- fresh off the fire.
Gangrene set in and I had to cut it out with a knife.
Yup. Ohhhhh it’s a really good thing that I quit drinking whiskey five years ago.

Anyway, back to my tragedy.

In spite of all of this cyst stuff, I’ve decided to work on some of my music over the summer. Along with compiling a few photoshop tutorials for friends, and working on a song for a young girl named Kira. She’s the daughter of a friend (photographer, naturally), and she’s in her third week of radiation treatment. That little girl is one tough cookie. I found out her favourite colour, her favourite food, and have decided that I’ll write, record and produce a track for her as a token of friendship, and as an inspiration for her to keep on fighting.

I realize that God has given me a lot of talents. A lot of them.

Singing
Songwriting
Musician (piano/guitar)
photography and various mediums of art in general
Psychotherapy- yes. Psychotherapy. And I don’t even charge people.

Let’s see…there’s cooking and wait- I’ve published a children’s book too, called: “Peanut Butter Soup”.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/peanut-butter-soup-birgitta-lindsey/1006855000?ean=9781418482831

It’s a collection of witty, thought-provoking, inspirational, and motivating poems for children. I included some of my chicken-scratch drawings with them- nothing so complicated that a child can’t mimic them. But they’re loaded with messages that raise awareness for the obese, the aging, metally challenged (hey- and mentally too!), and so on, so that kids will learn how to not bully others. Yes. I was a bedwetter until I was fourteen. (Sigh.) I’m afraid this batch of blog-tags are going to be the freakiest collection of words that might ever be listed together yet.

Perhaps I’ll actually get around to promoting that book one day, but for now, I’ll sign personal copies and ship them to friends. Like Kira. 🙂

In time, I’ll post videos. And actually sing. And play. (And stuff.)

For now, I’m soooooooo enjoying my summer break- good grief I thought this past semester was going to kill me. Seventeen credit hours (5 classes) and twenty one credit hours last semester. Not an easy thing to accomplish with blistering migraines, I will tell you. It was nothing short of miraculous that I came through so strongly, and, made mostly A’s and B’s.

Six classes to go and I’ll have my degree in Behavioral Sciences and certification in Substance Abuse.

Go me.

p.s. Mr. Chris Alia, I’ve added you to my tags, so if you ever go ego-surfing, you can find me.

xo


Call a Fork a Fork

Most of my friends are artists, painters, and photographers who have solo exhibitions. Sometimes my artographer acquaintances will title their images with a super-long, melodramatic sequence of events (that should be written in volumes), such as:

Although the Winds Beckon Me to Run High Upon the Mountaintop Nevertheless I Will Walk Along this Broken Trail
(Yes, I just made that up.)

I say, call a fork a fork.

Natural window lighting/RAW/handheld/film grain/GIMP/Canon G3/study in lighting and shadows

***


Shooting in Black and White

I took this shot of my son earlier this evening. This is the look I want to achieve with my digital phtography: low-light film.
Exposure: 1/3 of a sec./ISO 100/F. 2.07/handheld/manual/RAW/Canon G3  (I snuck up on him while at the computer.) 
When I walked by him, I saw the glow of light on his face (my mind saw it in black and white) and I knew I had to get it. 

This was shot in black and white. I find that after shooting in black and white for a while, my eye becomes trained on shapes and lines, and where the light falls off and where it is introduced. I’m forced to see the many shades of blacks, whites, grays, and all of the beautiful tones within. The beauty of shooting in RAW is having it automatically converted into colour once it’s loaded in my editor. (I use GIMP.) So, I shoot in black and white, and the results are colour- but with far better lighting than if I had shot it in colour.  

You can find GIMP here.
Gimp is 100% free, and it enables RAW editing with UFRAW.
If you want to install an EXIF reader (and I strongly recommend it), you can do so by going here

                                                                                                                                                                      …


Gallery

2011: Rocking the Point and Shoot

This past year has been a hectic one. I sold my Canon Rebel XSI + Sigma 17-70 + 50 MM 1.8 + Canon EF 75-300 + Canon EF 18-55 for rent $ and bills when the recession hit. I was left only with my 4 MP Canon G3. I’ve been shooting with that thing for nine months straight now. (Yes, I have cried tears!) This forced me to become a more creative photographer and artist. I chose to shoot in only manual (RAW), adjusting my aperture and shutter speed (and ISO). Naturally, this is more work, but it bonds me to the creative process. We labour together, the camera and I. I want dynamic lighting and shadows and I want film grain. I want motion blur. I want to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. I have no resolutions for 2012. I only have the desire to be a good mother, an inspiration to others where my work is concerned, and the courage to continue shooting in manual when my new camera arrives in a few weeks. (I have chosen the Canon Rebel Xti. I really don’t need more than 10 MP for my particular style.)  Oh. And did I mention that I want to get into street photography? (I believe I’m tapped out in the “apartment photography” genre.)

 

I took these out in the field the other day. I found that black works well with long exposure photographs.  3 sec. exp’s./ISO100/ F.8

 

Chai  (and my love of film grain)

 

 My kitchen chair- 8 second exposure/handheld/Canon G3/abstract

A splash of colour: previous work

 

And some tree shots

 …