Friday, June 25, 2010


Here I am still awake while the others have long since called it a day.  I'm still packing, sorting, trying to think of just one more thing to make it special.  Tomorrow is a big day around here. We're leaving to take my two older boys to their first time at sleepaway camp.  gulp.

I am nervous for them.  I am biting my cheek sometimes, so they won't see me cry.  You might laugh at me, because it's only two weeks, but it seems like a very long time for them to be on their own.  We re-read some of the highlights on the camp web site together tonight and the boys faces lit up like fireflies.  Alex wants to take guitar lessons and try water skiiing.  Max wants to go wake boarding on day one and hit the rifelery range.  Their minds are full of the camp-wide scavenger hunts and hikes through the woods and jumps in the lake.  I admire their courage and confidence.  I told Max that I had printed out a bunch of pictures to tape inside of his trunk lid, and he told me not too, that it would make him miss us too much.

I bit my cheek.  Yeah, I know what you mean.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

she shoots, she scores!

I did it.

The casting call for pregnant women went out across the Internet and some NY print, with enticing prizes like a year of free diapers, three years of photo books and a modeling fee.    The main shot was a tight crop of the women cradling their bumps, but I practiced some others while I had them.

With such beautiful models, the images were lovely, but it wasn't perfect.   Here are some little things I learned:
- pregnant hands are super veiny (all that blood).  Have mom lift her hands just before the shot.
- need more photoshop experience (see above).
- music really helps (I did get this one right).
- the internet again, comes through. I found a tutorial on posing pregnant women and printed out many of the poses to demonstrate or show the women the pictures.  It really helped to have poses in mind.  Also, so great to get five chances on the same subject.
- when you have your camera and even the most makeshift studio, people really assume that you know what you're doing (ha!).
- need more lighting experience, though my speed light with a snap-on diffuser actually did a nice job.
- when you think you have enough pictures, take ten more.
- moisturizer would have helped.  Hands, bellies - it makes skin look better.  Manicures are good too.
- clips came in handy (I had packed those.) And I had my lint brush but didn't use it.  Should have.
- take a little extra time if you can.  A willing adult model will be much more patient than my usual subjects and I think I was rushing as if they were going to dash off to something else.
- pregnant women are so beautiful (knew that).  And wow, there are some gorgeous ones just wandering around.
- anything can happen in the world's best city:  NYC!

Email me if you want to see some pics.  I don't think I'm allowed to post them.  If I know you, I'll send you a few, just for personal use.

Here's my little studio set up though.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Paying Gig

That's right. You don't need glasses (Though I almost do.  Don't you just love when the doctor says, "well, you weren't imagining it." No shit, Sherlock.  That's why I'm here.)  Anyway, I got myself a paying gig.

Now, before you start virtually patting me on the back, keep in mind that my husband's in advertising, where they need all kinds of photog types, and they have all kinds of clients who would be happy to spend very little money for said photogs.  It was my husband's way of throwing me a bone.  Enter me.  It's really one to file under, "well, you gotta start somewhere" because I'm shooting a casting call for a pregnant belly they are using for an online ad campaign. Yes, pregnant ladies, but specifically, their bumps.  As the art director emailed my husband, "are we even going to use any of these shots?" in response to my request that they ask the ladies to make sure their nails were cleanly manicured and that they wore solid colored pants & shirts.  Ha.  Wouldn't he feel like a jackass if one of the women showed up in a dress?  Anyway, I have studied pregnant bellies all over the internet and I'm ready to capture the most beautiful orbs since Neil Armstrong's view from the moon.

Oh, and the pay?  Mark mentioned there might be a need for lighting.  Lighting?  I just know to turn off  my flash and shoot by the north window.  Well, I bought myself a speedlight, a little snap on diffuser and a how-to book.  Add my train fare and I think I'm only in the hole $10!

Wish me luck.  I am literally losing sleep over this.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Artist in Everyone

Our school has a fantastic new art teacher who has energized the art program to a new level.  Last night was the first annual art show, complete with red carpet and paparazzi (Yes, I volunteered for that one.  Too fun, though I was jostling with a dad for my position.  Just like the Oscars.)

Quite a few of the kids "dressed" for the occasion.  Many of the girls wore lovely spring dresses and sparkly shoes;  there were a few bow ties, one tux, and my kids and their buddy did their version of French artists:  gelled hair, shades and pencil moustaches and goatees.  I coached them to say "je suis tres chic" but mostly they said they stuck to "croissant."  It was a fabulous night.  You could almost feel the school buzzing as the students led their parents through the "gallery."  I sent my mother-in-law some pics and she's warned me that there are artists in the family and starving is not a fun way to live.  Ok, ok. But can't every human be an artist?

I quote this inspiring book on my nightstand, "The Art Spirit" by Robert Henri:

"When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressing creature....Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, he opens it, shows there are still more pages possible."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Two in a series

I really have a thing for tea/coffee related images.  Probably the lovely associations, whether it's coffee on my own or tea with a friend.  One of my favorite quilts is Kaffe Fassett's rice bowls, which I think look like tea cups.   I started these as a way to practice achieving volume on a 2-D space, but I also loved the personality of the spot and the handles and I plan to paint my other two tea pots soon.   Both of these tea pots are actually white, but white is tricky, so I colored them in.  And now, to make some coffee...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tried to use some of the techniques I learned in my still life paintings to capture some figures.  Here are the boys on the beach collecting this funny little black snails.  I hope they still will want to do that this year.  Anyway, a quick attempt...

Funny thing is, I really didn't intend to make the figures look so giant.  Just a drawing mistake.  Anyway, practice, practice. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Late night dabbling

Aside from my classwork, I've practiced at home when I can.   One night, the big boys watched a movie upstairs, Jack went to bed and Mark was traveling.  I made an ultra easy dinner, put a movie on in the background, and set up this still life on the kitchen counter.  And then, painted until midnight.  I love doing that, even though I sometimes find it hard to sleep when I'm finished because I'm actually so keyed up.  It also gives me a deadline of sorts, so I don't overwork things.  On the down side, with the overhead lights kind of low and a little IKEA desk lamp aimed at my fruit, it makes it hard to see the colors sometimes, and I can be a bit surprised in the morning.  The red-violet on this one was a bit brighter than I thought, but I decided to keep it.  8X10 on a stretched canvas.

Kind of art show theme here lately, but this space is show & tell, now isn't it?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Aging. It really does happen to the best of us.

I'm 40. 

One thing that's been making me feel old lately is how many of my peers have either already lost a parent, like I have, or have parents who are ill.  I think part of this awareness comes from facebook, where I'm hearing from folks who wouldn't normally be on the radar.  But still, two of my high school classmates lost a parent this week.  One from emphysema; the other, a brain aneurysm.  And I can think of two other high school friends who've lost parents in the past few months.  Did I mention there were 38 kids in my graduating class?  Not great odds there for that generation of parents.  A college friend recently lost her mom to breast cancer -- oh, sadly, the list goes on.

Anyway, call your mom or dad today just to shoot the breeze.  My mom is having dental surgery today, but I'm pretty confident the biggest pain there is going to be the jumbo bill. I'm also taking some time today to exercise and plan our meals for the next week.  I want to be around to see my grandchildren grow up.  Well, sorry for the glum post.  Just thinking...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Knock, Knock. Who's there? Orange.

I didn't finish that top picture, but I like the way the peeled orange came out.  The bottom one was from week 2.  There is some teacher assistance in that one.  I love the color orange, so these were quite fun to paint.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons (and other cliches)

Without my camera for the past six weeks, I've been pouring my creative energies into other outlets.  I have spent more time painting (see, it's always something) and while I do love it, I am not a natural.  I took a class at the local arts center, which I loved, but really challenged my abilities. There were quite a few times when I wanted to quit because I just could not get what was in my head on that canvas.

Anyway, here are a few of my paintings.  We did them all within three hours on canvas panels.  It was quite freeing to do these studies, and be finished with them every class, ready for a blank canvas the next week.  There were so many things my teacher said that sounded like sayings you'd find on Yogi tea bag tags, i.e., "Once the freshness is gone, you can't get it back" or "challenge yourself to take something ordinary and make it beautiful."  I wanted to stop and write them down, but had to keep going.