Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
- Dawn is later in the morning -- I don't have to wake up so darned early if I want to be "out there" at sunrise for a shoot;
- Here in the northern hemisphere, the sun is as low in the sky as it's going to get, reducing the time wasted waiting for the sun NOT to be overhead with its boring lighting;
- The sun is as far south as it's going to get for the year.
This last point was important for creating the painting I've shown in this post. This view, south of Palm Desert, CA, has become one of my favorite scenes. If you were standing there seeing the landscape before you, you would be facing northeast.
During the other times of the year, the sun is further to the left (north), resulting in a backlit scene which can be dramatic, but in this case, I preferred sunlight to come from the side. That only happens in the morning in winter, and winter solstice is the best day of the year to find that lighting at this site.
The problem? It's winter. No flowers. But he-e-e-y-y ... I'm an artist! I can fix that!
So -- the lighting in the painting is from when the sun is furthest south -- on winter solstice. (I should know -- I was there a few years ago). The flowers, of course, are from spring. I've combined elements from two different times of the year in this painting. Plus, I added the bighorn sheep ram, which actually do live in this area.
This scene has been popular with the Palm Springs - Palm Desert crowd, especially with folks who visit from somewhere else in the country. In a sense, my paintings of this place show everything that is good about the desert: the flowers, the red-bloomed ocotillo, the overlapping hills that extend a great distance, and an example of the endangered peninsular bighorn sheep. And I was able to combine the best of two different seasons, including the magic lighting of winter solstice.
Wanna celebrate solstice, anyone?
Saturday, December 20, 2008
One of them is my graduate advisor from college. I earned (earned?? WORKED MY A*S OFF is more like it!!) a masters degree in microbiology at Cal Poly, Pomona, CA in the mid-1980's. By the time I finished, I realized it wasn't all just about science. The experience changed me as a person as well.
I came from a family where making mistakes was not a good thing, especially when it came to my father and second-oldest brother (I'm the youngest of three), MORE so when the mistake/accident cost us money that we didn't really have. Growing up in an environment like that turns you into an extremely cautious person, sometimes paralyzed with fear at trying something new because ... heavens ... YOU MIGHT FAIL! And if you failed, you didn't hear the end of it. Of course, the gloom-and-doom sayers in the family always knew you WOULD fail because that's just how it is. Don't even bother reaching for the stars, because they're out of reach, anyway. Always and forever.
My advisor, "Dr. J," has a different attitude towards life and towards science. Life is more exciting when you learn new stuff. If you do an experiment and it turns out exactly as you expected, what have you really learned? On the other hand, if an experiment has unexpected results or if it simply doesn't work: NOW you've learned something, even if it involves nothing more than tweaking a procedure or making adjustments so you can move forward. Sometimes experiments can help you realize a particular study isn't worth doing -- but you wouldn't learn that if you hadn't tried it first.
I've found that when you learn through mistakes and failures, the lessons tend to stay with you. There's something about doing things the hard way, or even failing miserably at something, that makes permanent changes in you that can last a lifetime. Hopefully, those changes are positive (although for people who believe failure is negative, failing can make that person even more cynical and bitter).
In my case, accepting this attitude was a necessary step before I could even dream of launching a career in art. If one goes into an art career (or any other profession) with an expectation that it will fail, it will. Changing that expectation MUST be done. I've already endured mistakes, and I certainly have times when I feel pretty discouraged, especially during this economy when sales appear to be as far away as those stars we reach for. Thankfully, "Dr. J" and grad school did much to alter my expectations of myself. Since then, I've learned to avoid discussing chance-taking with the gloom-and-doom sayers.
I hope I can continue and, eventually, prosper, in art. But if it doesn't work out, at least I will have known that I tried. Whatever regrets I might have, THAT won't be one of them. It's been a learning process, and from what I hear from other artists, it will always be a learning process.
So, "Dr. J," Happy Hanukkah, and thanks for turning me into a scientist as well as giving me the attitude to pursue my dreams.
"Sail forth - steer for the deep waters only, Reckless O soul, exploring, I with thee and thou with me, For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all." -- Walt Whitman
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I belong to four online forums for artists. Three of those have moderators who insist on keeping the topics related to art. The fourth is mostly that way, but it also features a sort of "let's chat about whatever" where one can start or participate in any subject that's on one's mind.
Prior to the November elections, some of the threads dealt with politics, led mostly by a few people who felt quite passionately about then-candidate Barrack Obama. The problem was: some of us, myself included, felt the pro-Obama folks weren't looking at Obama's claims with any degree of skepticism at all. If we asked for the Obama-ites to offer explanations or evidence that supported those claims, we were treated in an insulting manner and -- needless to say -- were not given explanations or evidence. The forum moderator, in fact, threatened one of the Obama-ites with banishment from the forum if she didn't restrain herself, so this person avoided outright flaming -- but the comments were still insulting.
Now -- I have a Masters degree in microbiology. I did research in college and in several jobs afterwards. A procedure exists for looking at evidence, asking questions and looking for the holes, and trying to find the answers to questions to whatever extent that is possible. The political "discussion" on the forum would not cut it in circles that are used to dealing with evidence -- certainly not science; I'm sure lawyers would have had a field day with it as well.
Mind you -- none of this has anything to do with where I or others stood regarding Obama or McCain. This was strictly about the lack of critical thinking on the part of adults who, I'm sure, are convinced they "won" the discussion.
And the result of all this? Many forum members have not appeared on the forum since the election -- not, I'm convinced -- because Obama won the election, but because we have hard feelings about the way the Obama-ites conducted themselves. The worst of the insulters is still there; in fact, after the election, she brought up the California Proposition 8 "anti-gay marriage" initiative -- but this time, nobody took her bait. A few of us, in fact, sent each other private messages, and we agree this person has a compulsive need (seriously bordering on mental illness) to be the center of attention and to win regardless of her methodology. I and one other forum member have worked with or around mentally ill people before, and what we were seeing was disturbing. Unfortunately, the pro-Obama extremist got away with it, and I don't know if I or the others will return to that forum.
We didn't discuss religion (although it has come up before in this forum), but we did get into politics. I guess we allowed ourselves to get sucked into an unreasonable situation with unreasonable people. And I fear we all lost continued opportunities for building an online community of other professional artists.
Religion and politics -- these are topics of conversation that are best avoided at parties. And online forums.