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Archive for December, 2013

It’s that time of year when everyone with a blog is required to take a look at the previous year and take stock.  I like this tradition.  It gives you a sense of accomplishment for the things you’ve done and also brings to mind what still needs attention.

So what happened in 2013?  So much!

I signed a contract with Conlan Press, Peter S. Beagle’s publisher.  This has already brought some very exciting things about, and there are many, many more to come!

In The Lilac Wood

In The Lilac Wood

I created what I consider the first “real” DreamWorld piece.  By “real” I mean a full-fledged character was brought to life with costumes and props which took months to create and inventing new ways to bring about my vision on a shoe-string budget.  The inclusion of birds would also prove to be a frequently occurring theme in DreamWorld.

The Court Of The Dryad Queen

The Court Of The Dryad Queen

I got to photograph Lauren Cohen, aka Maggie from AMC’s The Walking Dead.  The image also kicked off a sub-series of DreamWorld portraying the various steps along the Hero’s Journey.

Crossing The First Threshold

Crossing The First Threshold

I also got to photograph Paul Telfer, known for his roles in NCIS, The Vampire Diaries and other roles that require buff-and-handsome men.  He perfectly portrayed the angelic kind of being you would want watching over you while you sleep.

Prayer For The Frail

Prayer For The Frail

This year also brought about a new, ongoing collaboration and friendship with actor/model Katie Johnson.  I could write an entire post about how wonderful it’s been to have Katie in my life, both for artistic reasons and personal ones.  I will leave it at two main points; that she is a spectacular model, equally skilled at following specific, minute directions as well as being let loose while I just try and keep up with her.  Her friendship, strength and grace have been a great boon this year, especially during some notable rough patches.  Thank you, Katie 🙂

Perennial Parasol

Perennial Parasol

One of those notable rough patches was learning about the tragic deaths of the 19 Hotshot firemen in Yarnell, Arizona this summer, and that one of them had been a childhood friend of mine.

To The Lost

To The Lost

In a somewhat similar vein, I took my passion for animal rights to a new level after watching the documentary Blackfish.  This also meant that I finally tackled underwater photography, which I’d been quite nervous about trying.

Concrete Cell

Concrete Cell

I wrote an open letter to Jack Hanna criticizing his continued support of SeaWorld after the Blackfish allegations, which became quite successful and even garnered the attention of celebrities such as British actor Stephen Fry.

Stephen Fry Tweet

Stephen Fry Tweet

Like DreamWorld, the set of Blackfish photos has set in motion a more all-encompassing series addressing animal rights in other areas.  More of that will come in 2014!

A Drop Of Blood

A Drop Of Blood

In championing human causes, I got to be a part of the Kickstarter campaign for the documentary Canary In A Coal Mine, in production, about myalgic encephalomyelitis, aka ME, previously known in the United States as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/CFS.  The Kickstarter was an INCREDIBLE success, and we can look forward to seeing the film in late 2014 or early 2015!  I’m proud to have been a small part of the movement.  I also got to work a little more on my series on living with ME with the help of model/friend Aly Darling.

Martyrs To A Name

Martyrs To A Name

I visited a sheep farm to take photos of lambs and goats along with friends Katie and Brooke Shaden, to create a very personal portrait of my grandmother.  This particular lamb was appropriately named Too Cute 🙂

The Shepherdess

The Shepherdess

I had the pleasure of being interviewed on The Candid Frame, The Altadena Blog, and having some of my photos appear in the self-portrait how-to book, Shooting Yourself, by Haje Jan Kamps.

SP book all pages

I “celebrated” my 5-year anniversary with ME.  I’ve tried many new therapies this year to combat the ME, but with the exception of ART massage, it has gotten slowly worse and finally forced me to quit my day job.  In some ways this is a good thing, as my day job was doing my body no good at all, and it also means now I can concentrate fulltime on art.  But it’s also a bit frightening; will the ME get a little worse every year?  Will it level off now that I’m not pushing it trying to hold down a job?  There are many unknowns, which can be worse than knowing something bad will happen.  I try and keep a good attitude about things, but it’s also no good trying to simply ignore your fears.  They won’t go away, they’ll simply grow in the dark.

Vanity's Murder

Vanity’s Murder

This TED Talk sums up my fears, hopes and trials beautifully, and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone, especially any who struggle with depression.

I am still mourning Richard Harrow’s death (this was my light-hearted way of dealing with it) and I’m working on a photo to help work through those feelings.

On a happier note, I got to save a litter of opossum babies and was deeply moved by a beautiful new book.

But perhaps very best of all was getting to photograph author Peter S. Beagle, of The Last Unicorn fame, and bring him into DreamWorld as its King.  It was such a tremendous amount of work, but that just makes the resulting photos that much more meaningful.

Beloved Of The Crown

Beloved Of The Crown

A year ago, I never would have thought I’d find myself not only merely talking to Peter, but actually interacting with him, making a costume for him, and casting him as one of the most important characters of DreamWorld.

Aerie

Aerie

If that all happened in 2013, what will 2014 bring?  I am very excited to find out!

Christmas Eve

Here’s to a great new year!

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Most who know me know that I love me some TED Talks.  My Netflix queue is FULL of them.  I love them all, but this is the best one I have ever, ever seen.  In fact, it’s pretty much the best thing I’ve ever seen, period.

Andrew Solomon speaks candidly about depression; his own experiences with it and others’ as well.  It is so eloquent, truthful, poignant and has just the right amount of humor sprinkled in.

This is an absolutely must-see video for anyone who has ever suffered from depression, anyone who’s ever known anyone who suffered with it, or anyone who just wants to understand it better.  You will come away with a much better understanding of what depression is, and why you aren’t completely doomed to fight it forever.

There’s not enough good I can say about this.  Just watch it.  I promise you will be very glad you did.  Spread this around to everyone who needs to hear it!

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Blackfish.  The documentary about captive whales that will break your heart and move you to action.

By now, you all have probably read my open letter to Jack Hanna.  You probably saw Concrete Cell, the first of a short series of underwater photos inspired by the film.  As I do, I turned to art to help me express my thoughts.  I’ve just completed the last two photos for the series, and I’d like to share them with you here.

I set up an underwater shoot with Katie, with the intention to create something inspired by Blackfish.  Something sad and cold, that touched on the tragedy of the film.  Something that would help me work through the troubling emotions the movie had brought up, and lessen my feeling of helplessness about the plight of the whales.

It was a great shoot.  We captured everything we wanted, my camera behaved itself, and even the sudden appearance of gardeners tending to the yard around the pool was just another story to laugh about.  As she often does, Katie seemed to instantly understand what it was I wanted to express and needed very little direction.  My new wetsuit worked wonders and even though I still hated being wet at all, at least this time I wasn’t a purple, shaking mess by the time the shoot was done.

Editing the photos was another matter.  Having to visit such an emotionally dark place whenever I worked on them was not easy.  I had to take breaks and work on lighter photos.  But I’m proud of myself for sticking it out; doing what I felt I needed to do despite the difficulty of it.

In the first photo, we wanted to recreate Tilikum’s misery in this iconic photo of him, taken by Colleen Gorman, languishing alone in his solitary confinement.

Photo by Colleen Gorman; click on the photo to be taken to her excellent article on her blog The Orca Project detailing his miserable existence.

The second photo is an impression of the anguish of all the captive dolphins and whales and a memorial to all their deaths.

As this year draws to an end, I can’t help but think of what a huge impact Blackfish has already had on society.  It was only shown on CNN in October of this year.  The backlash against SeaWorld and its supporters has been immense.  Sponsors have fled, popular bands have refused to perform there.  Petitions of every kind are circulating, making demands.  Change is coming.  But it cannot come fast enough.

It’s easy to feel helpless to bring big change about.  We are all only one person after all; one drop amidst a great ocean of people.  But, as they say in Cloud Atlas, what is an ocean but a multitude of drops?

I want my drop to fall on the side of animal rights.  And I hope that 2014 brings about the ocean of change that has already begun.  I believe it can happen 🙂

Lifeless Life

Lifeless Life

A Drop Of Blood

A Drop Of Blood

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WARNING: this post contains major plot spoilers from the last season of Boardwalk Empire.  Turn back now if you haven’t seen it all!!

*******

My regular blog readers will know that Jack Huston’s “Richard Harrow” is my absolute favorite character on BOARDWALK EMPIRE.  And I was in disbelief when Richard died last week in the fourth season finale.

I recently read a quote from Huston that the writers killed off Richard because there was nowhere left to take the role.  I disagree. Did they for a moment even consider a Richard spin-off?  For example….

1. THE FACTS OF RICHARD

Richard becomes the house mother to a group of precocious boarding school girls.  Just imagine Richard guiding them through boy troubles or explaining the beauty of their first period.  “I’ve shot.  A lot of people.  But none of them ever took seven days.  To bleed out.” he would say in the stop-and-go cadence of his gravelly, yet reassuring, voice.

"Don't let those boys.  Pressure you into anything.  You don't want to do.  If they do.  I'll kill them."

Don’t let those boys. Pressure you into anything. You don’t want to do. If they do. I’ll kill their mother and sisters.  To draw them out.  Then I’ll kill them.

2. RICHARD AND SHIRLEY

Richard moves to Milwaukee to work at a beer bottling plant… even though it’s still Prohibition.  There he meets a spunky roommate and moves into a basement apartment where he sews a giant “R” on each of his shirts, when not working on his scrapbook.

Schlemiel!  Schlimazel!  Hasenpfeffer.  Incorporated!

richardR

RICHARD AND SHIRLEY

3. RICHARD

Radio is becoming a big thing in 1924 and Richard is leading the pack.  He moves to Seattle and uses his raspy, soothing voice to dispense homespun psychiatric advice to people contacting him through the equally on-the-rise technology of the telephone:  “Your husband doesn’t.  Understand you?  Have you ever considered.  Shooting him in the face?  I once waited three days.  To shoot a German sniper.

"I've been told that.  My voice is very.  Soothing."

I’ve been told that.  My voice is very.  Soothing.

4. RICH

Richard leaves his friends behind and moves to Hollywood to pursue his dream of being in silent pictures.  However, once they realize how limiting it is to only be able to film the right side of his face, the spin-off is cancelled after three episodes…which means it lasted just a little longer than JOEY.

"How you.  Doin'?"

How you. Doin’?

6. HARROW
Richard moves to a small New England town where he opens a bed and breakfast, surrounded by a colorful cast of characters.  In the last episode, he wakes up in bed next to Nucky Thompson and realizes it was all just a beautiful dream.
"Nucky, I had.  The strangest dream."

Nucky, I had. The strangest dream.”

7. RICHARD LOVES CHACHI

Is musical success in the cards for Richard when he and Chachi move to Chicago to start a band?  In spite of Richard’s angelic singing voice, the answer is, sadly, no.

It’s just as well.  Chicago is Al Capone’s territory anyway.

"Chachi, you're.  The love of my life."

Chachi, you’re. The love of my life.

Come on, BOARDWALK writers.  Surely you could think of more gold to mine from such a rich, complex and utterly unique character!  In a spirit of hopefulness, I’ll leave you with my photo Cote of Arms.  This particular photo was inspired by BOARDWALK; Katie and I dressed up in vintage lingerie and pretended to be poor, cold, soiled doves from the show’s era.  Despite the bad situation they seem to be in, I see hope in it, and that they will take care of each other.  So I’ll hope that the writers will come to their senses and we’ll find out next season that Richard wasn’t really dead.

Though I ran it back and looked really close…and he wasn’t breathing.
Cote of Arms

Cote of Arms

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