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Archive for August, 2014

Time for another DreamWorld character!

The Eye Of The Storm - detail

The Eye Of The Storm – detail

I like to think of the Storm-Bringer as the counterpoint to the Wind Goddess:

Where Earth Meets The Sky

Where Earth Meets The Sky

They have similar powers and both rule over the sky, but one brings the weather we like, while the other brings that which we don’t like.  Which is not to say that the Storm-Bringer is an evil character; not at all.  Storms are useful to the world in a variety of ways; bringing rain is just one of them.  While me might prefer one over the other, both are needed and they balance each other.

This image was actually not one I’d set out to create.  Katie and I were shooting something else entirely, which had nothing to do with DreamWord, but when I sorted through the raw images, one of them really caught my eye.  I was shooting about Katie (from the second story of my mom’s house) and an image where she was flipping her hair around sparked something in me.  I looked at the next few frames where her hair continued its circular flip and thought it would look cool if I blended them all together.

Just for the hell of it, I brought the images into Photoshop and started playing around… and I played some more… and some more, and then I had a finished piece which I really loved!  As I looked at the finished image, I realized I’d created a new DreamWorld character without having planned it, but her story quickly formed inside my head.

We cannot have a world where there are only beautiful, sunny days.  Even an imaginary world.  The dark needs the light and the light needs the shadow, otherwise it would be a flat, saccharine depthless place.  DreamWorld started initially as an escape, and more importantly, not something I expected to turn into such a long, rich, detailed place as it has.  It is still my escape, but I can now fill in some of the darker areas along with the joy and sunlight.  A story isn’t a story without a conflict, without a villain.  Using a religious metaphor pioneered by Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, a trinity (father, son, holy spirit) is inherently incomplete.  And one more facet to it, making it a quaternity (father, son, holy spirit and devil) and it becomes complete and self-sustaining.  The dark and the storms enhance the light, but the light will always defeat the dark.

Though, if we’re speaking purely of wish-fulfillment, I would never have a bright, sunny day.  I would fit in very well somewhere like Portland or Seattle, since my favorite days are the gray, overcast ones, a little on the cool side.  In my perfect world, every day would be like that, but even I realize the need for a storm now and then to shake things up 🙂

Check out the making-of gif below the main image!

The Eye Of The Storm

The Eye Of The Storm

The Eye Of The Storm gif

The Eye Of The Storm gif

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This will be a short post.  I wanted to share with you all a short video I made for the Microbe Discovery Project, a group using crowd-sourced funding to research myalgic encephalomyelitis, otherwise known as ME.  They asked for people to share their stories of ME with them by video or text, so I did just that.   I always wish I could help them in more concrete ways by giving them millions of dollars, but I’ll help with what I can; being open and honest about my experience with ME and making more people aware that they exist and could use some help.

Hope you all enjoyed the video, and please consider donating to the Project if you have the means!

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I was invited to join in something of an art-blog-chain-letter and it sounded fun, so here we are!  Thanks to Hand Andy Pandy for inviting me!  I’m very pleased to be able to call this very talented photographer and self portrait artist my friend.  You can find him on his site, Twitter, Flickr and Google +.  He’s nearing the end of a really wonderful, whimsical and humorous 365 project, which I would highly recommend you check out!  I have great admiration for people who not only can start and finish a 365, but especially for people like Andy who do a high-concept piece each and every day!  It’s draining for me to just think about; I have no idea how other people do it, but I admire it!  You can see Andy’s blog hop post here!

Chocolate and Vanilla, by Handy Andy Pandy

The blog hop requires everyone to answer these four questions:

1. Why do I do what I do?

The short answer is because I can’t not create.  It’s just a part of my soul.  Days when I’m very ill or in too much pain to work are incredibly miserable for me, not so much because I feel physically bad, but because my ability to create is stifled.  I’ve tried just about every visual artform there is and many non-visual ones (with varying degrees of success) but photography has been the best thing for me and resonated the most with me.  It also helps that I can do much of my editing while laying down in bed with my laptop; that gives me a MUCH greater ability to work on images than if I had to sit in a chair at a desk.

 

Where Earth Meets The Sky, model Katie Johnson

Where Earth Meets The Sky, model Katie Johnson

 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I suppose the biggest way my work differs is that I’m drawing from my own experience and inspiration, which is inherently different than anyone else’s.  Even if there’s another female, conceptual, fine art photographer and self portrait artist who has ME and really, really loves Peter S. Beagle and Robin McKinley, our work would still be different because of the forces which have shaped our souls.  I also think being self-taught helps you develop a unique style since you’re always traveling on the path toward creating the vision you had in your head and have to figure things out as you go.  There’s nothing wrong with formal education, and being self-taught can leave odd holes in your knowledge, but from my experience, it’s often helpful to artists maintaining their individuality.

 

The Court Of The Dryad Queen - model Dedeker Winston

The Court Of The Dryad Queen – model Dedeker Winston

 

3. How does my creative process work?

It depends somewhat on the image, but I’ll give you a couple examples.  There’s always some kernel of inspiration which explodes into a concept; I’ll often make rough sketches or make notes about how I want it to look, what fabric/location to use, colors, mood, etc.  Anything important that I’m afraid I’ll forget.  If I need to build costumes, props or sets, I do so.  I photograph my concept, and sometimes I stick exactly to my original vision while other times I discover as I’m creating that there are better ways to express whatever it is I’m wanting to express.

After the images have been shot, they move into my editing queue, where they could languish for anywhere from a few hours to many months.  Once it’s that image’s turn to be edited, that can take anywhere from a few days to months.  Then, after all that time, I finally declare the image done and release it onto the internet!

 

In The Lilac Wood - a self portrait

In The Lilac Wood – a self portrait

 

4. What am I working on now?

I’m always working on 50 different things at once, but I’ll give you the highlights.  DreamWorld is constantly in some state of creation; I have a number of images to edit as well as pre-production tasks on my to-do list.  What’s lined up next to edit are a few shots inspired by HBO’s True Detective, so I’ll be re-watching the series to soak up the flavor as I edit.  Oh darn 🙂

 

The Shadows Lengthen - the first True Detective-inspired image I created

The Shadows Lengthen – the first True Detective-inspired image I created (but not the last!)

 

Be sure and check out Robert Cornelius’s blog hop!

Eternity in an Hour, by Robert Cornelius

 

Also please see Angela Butler’s!

By Angela Butler

 

These very talented photographers are also putting blogs up today, and I’m happy to count them as friends as well as!

At this point, I’m supposed to link to the artists who will continue the blog hop next week, but for a variety of reasons, I wasn’t able to get in touch with all my artist friends and ask them.  So, if you’re reading this and would like to carry it on next Monday, feel free to!  Let me know and I’ll post a link to you 🙂

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I had originally planned on saying a little bit more in this post, but over the last couple days I’ve come down with a Serious Mega Cold with accompanying Ear Infection From Hell.  Having my reading/computer glass rest gently on top of my ear is quite painful right now, so I’ll be brief.

black dress 41Click on the poster above for more info.  You can see it sums up the project nicely; we wear black dresses on August 8th in memory of Sophia Mirza, who died from severe ME.  I cheated a little and took my photo a couple days ago (before the Hell Cold came on) but it’s an unusual photo for me.  It’s nearly straight-out-of-camera; all I did was adjust the curves a little.  And I took it while I and my “bed nest” look as much like they normally do as possible.   I did not put on makeup, brush my hair, or tidy up in any way.  I simply inserted myself into my usual surroundings with a black dress on instead of PJs.  I felt strongly that it should reflect actual daily life for me, which is also the daily life of countless others with moderate ME.

So enjoy, pass it around and if you feel so inclined, take your own photos of you in a black dress!

 

Little Black Dress - a nearly SOOC self poirtrait

Little Black Dress – a nearly SOOC self poirtrait

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***Spoilers ahead for anyone who hasn’t seen the first season of Boardwalk Empire!***

Keep reading to see an animated gif showing the whole editing process I used to create this image!  Many thanks to Handy Andy Pandy for imparting his knowledge of gifs upon me!

You guys all know I LOOOOVE me some Boardwalk Empire.  Or, at least, I did, up until last season’s finale.  I’m trying to work up to forgiving the show for its horrible end before the final season starts this fall, but I’ve got a ways to go.

I had to completely put the show out of my mind for a long time but I’ve started dipping my toe back into that intoxicating water.  As I was starting the whole series over again (for the manyth time) a new character caught my eye in a way she hadn’t before: Pearl.

Pearl

Pearl

Played expertly by Emily Meade (currently on The Leftovers, also on HBO), Pearl is a prostitute at The Four Deuces in Chicago, which is where Jimmy retreats into hiding until heat from a botched robbery he and Al Capone attempted dies down.  She and Jimmy hit it off right away and form a quick, if somewhat odd, couple, shyly getting to know each other.

Jimmy_pearl

Jimmy’s ear is hurt after Al fires a gun right next to his head as a joke (seriously, who doesn’t fire dangerous weapons at their friends heads now and then?)  Pearl tries to fix him up and suggests he take opium for the pain; “It’s divine, it really is, for whatever ails you.”  Jimmy turns the offer down and the begin talking about their pasts.

Pearl, it turns out, is from Star Prairie, Wisconsin, a very small town where “Grampa was the first white man born in town, Pa was the first man got sent to state prison and Ma was the first woman run over flat by a car.  So you could say I have a lot to live up to.”

She tells Jimmy of her plan to head west to Hollywood and become an actress as soon as she saves up enough money.  Half-jokingly, she tells Jimmy he can come with her if he wants to, which he agrees to, and you can see that there’s a real affection growing between them.

But we all know, no one on Boardwalk gets to be happy for long.

Shortly after, Pearl finds herself being used as a means of sending Jimmy a message.  She had nothing to do with any of the reasons these men want to hurt Jimmy, she’s just caught in the ugly crossfire… and it costs her her face.  Warning for the squeamish, this is a bit brutal.

 

You have to think that with what little we know of her past and the fact that she’s a prostitute, life hasn’t been especially kind to this poor girl.  Not only are her acting dreams shattered, but even prostitution is taken away from her.  Jimmy feels responsible for her condition and tries to take care of her.  The Four Deuces wants to kick her out as soon as she stops making money, but Jimmy delays them.  Her face is stitched and bandaged and Jimmy spends a lot of time squeezing oranges into juice for her to take her opium in.

Pearl scar

Despite her opium haze, Pearl realizes that her future has been erased.  At one point, she forlornly asks Jimmy who will love her now?  We wonder what this poor girl will do, but she’s quite calm and collected; she seems to have it figured out.  While Jimmy is caring for her, she asks him to tell her a story.

I can’t blame Pearl for feeling that was her only option.  Life had been quite unkind to her.  She deserved much more, but I’m glad that she at least had a few beautiful moments with Jimmy before she left.

But, much as no one on Boardwalk stays happy for long, no one stays unavenged for long either.

Unknown to Liam, the face slasher, Jimmy has just met Richard Harrow, the World War One sharp shooter.  At their first meeting, Richard tells Jimmy the story of how he once stayed three days in a blind, waiting for the single moment when he could kill a German shooter, finally taking him out with one shot below his right eye.  Jimmy has a soft spot for the lonely and lost and accepts Richard readily into his life.  And they concoct a plan.

While Pearl’s death is tragic, it is the catalyst for Jimmy and Richard’s friendship, which continues for the rest of the series.  If Jimmy hadn’t needed someone to help him extract revenge upon Liam, who knows what would have become of their relationship, and who knows how it would have changed Richard’s involvement in the show?  We might have never met the man who would become one of my favorite characters on all of television.

With a new appreciation for Pearl’s character, I felt like creating an image in her memory.  And I have to say, I was very proud of myself for how little time it took me to transform myself into a Pearl-like girl; maybe 15 minutes.  If I had more energy on a daily basis, I would certainly try and bring more of the 20’s style to my daily look!  As things stand, I will have to be content with just dressing myself and either putting my hair in a ponytail or hiding it under a hat.  But maybe some day…  🙂

Geoff was very kind and helped be my human shutter release for these self portraits.  Byron helped by photobombing as often as he could.  All said, this was a quick and easy shoot and editing it was quite a delight.  My friend Robert Cornelius helped me figure out how to add the tears to the photo later, which I’d forgotten to do at the time of the shoot.  Thanks, Robert!

Please enjoy the finished image and the detail shot where you can really see the tears!  Also, HUGE thanks to Andy for showing me how to create the animated gif below!  It’s a great way to show you guys the whole creation of the image in a fun way.  I’m hoping to do more of these now that I’ve got one under my belt!

Tell Me A Happy Story

Tell Me A Happy Story

 

Tell Me A Happy Story - detail

Tell Me A Happy Story – detail

 

Watch the creation of this image from start to finish!

Watch the creation of this image from start to finish!

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