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Posts Tagged ‘lamb’

It’s worked, y’all!  I’ve been able to rest for several days in a row.  That’s pretty great for me.  Even if nothing external is pushing me to work, I have a strong internal drive to do so, which makes actually resting tedious and difficult for me.  But I’ve been doing it!

It’s helped that I’ve been very slowly and meticulously been working on and off on a HUGE, HUGE image.  I mean, it’s seriously 6-7 times as large as a regular photo I’d edit.  It’s SO big, in fact, that although I shot the (many) images which make up this composite, I had to wait until I upgraded my laptop earlier this year before I could really work on it.  It would crash not just Photoshop, but my entire computer after about 15 minutes worth of work before… usually as I was trying to save it.  So it’s a big ol’ project that’s going to take a long time, but it’s been strangely soothing to just dib and dab at it as the mood struck over the last few days.  Doesn’t matter how much I get done or not because I’m on vacation!  🙂

The farm was so BEAUTIFUL.  It felt absolutely idyllic.  I can't remember the breed of these dogs, so they might have been Maremmas.  Regardless, these are livestock guarding dogs.  They spend pretty much their whole lives with the flock they protect so that even the flightiest of animals are so used to them being there they can actually be useful.  These dogs were quite polite but I've seen other LGDs who will give you the stink eye as soon as they notice you and "suggest" that you move along.

This is one of the photos I took.  The farm was so BEAUTIFUL. It felt absolutely idyllic. I can’t remember the breed of these dogs, so they might have been Maremmas. Regardless, these are livestock guarding dogs. They spend pretty much their whole lives with the flock they protect so that even the flightiest of animals are so used to them being there they can actually be useful. These dogs were quite polite but I’ve seen other LGDs who will give you the stink eye as soon as they notice you and “suggest” that you move along.

Well.  The main part of this post is SERIOUSLY overdue.  Last June, I finally found (after months of searching) a farm with sheep on it, and a farmer who would allow me to come photograph his lambs.  Enter Terry of Task Farms, near Palmdale!  He was an exceptionally kind man and agreed to let me come hang out with his animals and take pictures of them. He had one lamb left from the lambing season, a black and white little girl named Too Cute (and she was).  We hurried to schedule the shoot before she grew any more!

Photo by Meredith Lynn.  I am trying to make soothing kissy noises, but Too Cute wasn't buying it.

Photo by Meredith Lynn. I am trying to make soothing kissy noises, but Too Cute wasn’t buying it.

Since it was going to be a bit of a drive and it had been so hard for me to find, I figured it might have been difficult for other people, so I emailed my friend Brooke Shaden and asked if she needed photos of sheep.  She happily joined the party, along with Katie Johnson to model for us both and Meredith Lynn, who bravely volunteered to meet us in Palmdale, take behind-the-scenes photos for us before driving back to Los Angeles and work a full day’s work at her job.  Have I mentioned that we were planning to be at the farm by dawn?  Everyone who came was a real trooper for getting up so early and not complaining, but my goodness, I didn’t envy poor Meredith that day!

Photo by Meredith Lynn

Photo by Meredith Lynn.  Laying in the dirt for a photo!  That’s not really too uncommon though.

It was decided that Katie would drive Brooke and myself since Brooke and I both have fibro and/or ME and Katie has… whatever the opposite of that is.  She’s pretty much always full of energy.

Photo by Meredith Lynn

Photo by Meredith Lynn.  This is my favorite hoodie ever because not only does it have a cool pattern and pretty colors, but I wore it on my first date with Geoff.

The BTS shots she got were so wonderful though and I’ve been eagerly waiting for me to finally get through editing all the images I shot at the farm so I could post her photos here!  I ended up shooting a bit more than I’d planned on shooting, which made the turn-around of all the images being done take much longer, especially as other things kept popping up which required more immediate attention.  But my images are finally all done!  Most of them you’ve seen already, but the most recent one will be new to you.

Photo by Meredith Lynn

Photo by Meredith Lynn

Terry emailed me a few days before we were going to be at the farm with a photo of a 30-minute-old baby goat and suggested we might want to include him in our shots.  YES.  YES WE DO, TERRY!  It was such an adorable, sweet, floppy little thing, we all had to take turns holding him.  He was still a little sleepy and he made the most precious little mewling noises that just melted your heart.  I had to remind myself very hard that I did NOT need to take him home and raise him like my own.  (But how CUTE would it be if he slept in the bed with Geoff and me??  Geoff would probably not think it was cute, but I would!!)

Photo by Meredith Lynn

Photo by Meredith Lynn

Photo by Meredith Lynn

Photo by Meredith Lynn

The initial spark of inspiration that led to the whole search for a lamb was a DreamWorld image I wanted to take with my grandmother in it.  At the farm, Katie posed with Too Cute in a similar costume and pose that I would later photograph my grandmother in (I was not going to make her drive to Palmdale before dawn) and it was a pretty easy job to merge the two images together in Photoshop later.

 

Photo by Meredith Lynn

Photo by Meredith Lynn

That was the main image I’d needed to get out of the day, so after that, we played around on the farm with the animals for a while.  Especially the baby goat.  I may need to drive back out to Terry’s farm again soon just to hold another baby goat.  It is impossible to put into words how wonderful it felt to hold the baby goat and hear the little grunty noises he made.

Photo by Meredith Lynn

Photo by Meredith Lynn.  Making Brooke and Katie look destitute.

Photo by Meredith Lynn

Photo by Meredith Lynn

I owe a great big THANK YOU to Meredith for coming along and getting such great BTS photos for us!  Despite how long it’s taken me to post them, I am so glad I have them!  What a beautiful way to remember a fun, adventurous morning  🙂  I’ll share a few of the BTS shots I grabbed between photos and then you can see the entire set of edited Task Farm Photos!

A friendly pony.

A friendly pony.

Geese who were somewhat alarmed by our presence.  I understood how they would have been able to be responsible for alerting the guards of early Rome that enemies were afoot and gave them just enough time to defend themselves.

Geese who were somewhat alarmed by our presence. I understood how they would have been able to be responsible for alerting the guards of early Rome that enemies were afoot and gave them just enough time to defend themselves.

There were cool things like this ALL OVER the place!  It was really a photographer's dream.

There were cool things like this ALL OVER the place! It was really a photographer’s dream.

Terry even provided an authentic shepherd's crook for the photo Katie is getting ready for!

Terry even provided an authentic shepherd’s crook for the photo Katie is getting ready for!

Lastly, one more photo by Meredith Lynn!  She very thoughtfully got a group shot of all of us together, including farmer Terry, the baby goat and his border collie!

Lastly, one more photo by Meredith Lynn! She very thoughtfully got a group shot of all of us together, including farmer Terry, the baby goat and his border collie!

Before we left, Terry let us watch a demonstration of how his border collie can herd the sheep, which is always an amazing sight to behold.  Single-word commands, whistles and other simple noises convey a whole range of communications to a well-trained dog (which Terry’s is).  Even though it took me a while to recover physically from the adventure, I hope I can go back some day and see more of this!  And hold more babies, of course 🙂

Promise

Promise

Of Milk and Honey

Of Milk and Honey

The Only Daughter

The Only Daughter

The Sheperdess

The Shepherdess

 

And finally, the very last image which I took forever to get to and which held up this post the most… a new addition to my Dustbowl series, featuring Katie Johnson, Brooke Shaden and the baby goat!

Last Possesions

Last Possessions

Thanks for reading!  If you are in the LA area and have any need for sheep, livestock which won’t end up on anyone’s plate, a farm, a very kind farmer, or a place to train your dog in the art of sheep herding, I can’t recommend Task Farms enough!  Thanks again to Terry, Katie, Brooke and Meredith for all helping to make the day possible and very fun!!

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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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To give credit where it’s due, I have to say that I originally got the idea to shoot my grandmother for DreamWorld from Ashley Lebedev’s beautiful portrait of her grandmother.  It immediately struck a chord with me, and I began brainstorming concepts for my grandmother right away.

My Gramma is a really cool lady. She’s led a fascinating life and has been a inspiration to me of being a strong, spiritual, independent, loving woman. She taught kindergarten for 30+ years (and is endlessly patient and cheerful, as you would expect), is well read and recently got her first Iphone. I have such fond memories growing up with her, and I am so glad to have her in my life! I wanted this photo to celebrate her, and all that she is to me… or at least all that I can cram into one photo 🙂

My grandfather tragically died quite suddenly of a heart attack when I was 17. He was the love of her life… and really, the love of everyone who he came into contact with. He was a truly remarkable man, and I will tell you more about him one day when I finally get the photo honoring his memory shot in a way that I’m satisfied with. But for now we can say that he was extraordinary, and everyone was shaken by his loss, most of all my grandmother. I can only imagine how incredibly difficult and painful that must have been.

But Gramma handled it with such grace and strength, I was deeply impressed, even at my young age. She delivered a celebratory and wonderful eulogy at his memorial which left everyone smiling through their tears. And since then, though we all miss him greatly, his memory has been kept alive in a spirit of appreciation and love.

After my grandfather’s death, Gramma became even more involved with her church and eventually became a deaconess! For many years she helped lead a support group for those who had lost loved ones, something she could draw on her own experiences of her path to healing and let others know that it was possible to get through, no matter how dark it looked at the time.

So when I sat down to figure out what I wanted her photo to be like, I tried to distill Gramma’s essence into a single image. I saw her as a gentle leader, always leading by example, indescribably warm and accepting, looking for the best in people, and of course someone who is quite spiritual as well. It seemed like a shepherdess would be the best way to portray all of these qualities. I especially wanted to play up her radiating light in a world that is often dark, so I began to think of ways I could show that as well. A crown of light, I eventually decided, would be just perfect.

So, now to build a crown of light. After Googling a lot, I discovered electroluminescent (EL) wire! It’s wire that comes in a wide range of sizes and colors and every bit of it glows. It’s not just a string of LEDs in a plastic tube, this stuff actually produces solid light all on its own with a handy little battery pack. Perfect! I ordered some and eagerly waited for it to arrive.

DSC_0487

I wanted to give it a little bit of an art nouveau flavor, since that’s one of my favorite visual styles.  I started building a light wire frame, enforcing it as I went.

DSC_0488

After I had the frame fairly sturdy, I started adding in nouveau-like swirls with the EL wire.  You can see one of my Mucha books under the crown for inspiration as I went along.

DSC_0493

Ok!  It was a little rough, but the general shape was there and it definitely glowed!

DSC_0495

At that point I strung along some very small, light, and also battery-powered LEDs, which I would encase in a small flower.  You can see one here covered with a flower while the rest are bare.

IMG_20130710_230331

The finished crown!  I knew I’d be doing some adjusting of it once I actually saw it on Gramma’s head, so I didn’t worry about making it 100% perfect right then, but the bones were all laid.  Now there was the problem of finding a lamb….

IMG_20130710_233542

Google again came to my rescue by connecting me with Terry from Task Farms.  Terry is just a sweetheart of a man.  He runs the farm just out of the pure pleasure of it and has lots of sheep and goats.  None of the animals end up on anyone’s dinner plate, which made it an even more perfect place to shoot!  I ended up getting several photos taken that day, but you’ll hear more about the farm in detail when I get the rest of the images worked up.  As it happened, he had an adorable and very silly little lamb named Too Cute who was just perfect.  Task Farms is out near Palmdale, which is a bit of a drive from here, so Katie, Brooke, Meredith (who wanted to take behind-the-scenes photos) and I all drove out together.   I had Katie put on the costume Gramma would be wearing, chose a neutral location and let Katie be Gramma’s stand-in.

Thanks to Meredith Lynn for coming along and taking great behind-the-scenes photos like these!

Thanks to Meredith for coming along and taking great behind-the-scenes photos like these!

Once I had the photos of Too Cute, I set up a shoot with Gramma, which was delightful.  She is a natural model, and I found out during this that she had been a live model for art classes while she was in college!  What a fun fact to know about her 🙂

So what do these photos convey to me?  They show my grandmother being the strong, gentle, and completely loving woman that she is.  She is a ray of light in darkness, someone who always lifts you up, cares for you and supports you.  She has been one of the most supportive people in my life when it comes to my art, always encouraging me and loving what I do… and I sincerely think it’s not just because she’s my grandmother and she has to like whatever I do, but because she genuinely believes in me and loves what I do.

So please meet my grandmother, Lucea, a truly wonderful and remarkable woman who I am so thankful to have in my life, and to have had the chance to photograph her!

The Shepherdess

The Shepherdess

The Shepherdess - detail

The Shepherdess – detail

The Shepherdess - detail

The Shepherdess – detail

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