Wednesday, January 28, 2015

:driven like the snow:

The focal point for most everybody the past few days has been nature having its way with us, namely this being winter and getting a ton of snow dumped on us. The high point for me of course was two days away from the day job, but serious cabin fever by day two, so I did get out to at least walk around a bit. Looking for interesting things to photograph as usual.

I think the blizzard from two years back was more intense, but the media hype machine makes each one sound like the apocalypse now. I didn't want the usual shots of buried cars and such, though there were plenty of those.

Being snowbound strangely made me more leisurely than I expected; Netflixed and drank more than I would in a normal week. Perhaps it's true what some people say, if you had nothing but free time you'd get bored rather quickly, but I disagree in my case, I'm already back on track to my plans for 2015. Probably because I most likely have to return to the day job tomorrow.

Next month has That Holiday in it, often a scourge to those with and without significant others. I still have a card designed for the occasion, still available through Etsy. I tried seeing if a local shop would carry it, but crickets in reply so far. I can't seem to get arrested in this area regarding my artwork. I seemed to get luckiest in Salem, go figure. Well, I'm off to see if there's any upcoming gallery shows that I can participate in.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

:draft pick:

I spent most of the past week or so getting my NaNoWriMo novel, "Emotion Blur," out of first draft status. To be truthful I didn't really alter too much of the basic story. It was more correcting grammar or filling in missing words. As ever, I think faster than I write or type, and so may miss a few words along the way. I am still a bit ambivalent about the first few chapters after the initial one, as they involve characters that never show up again, but there are facts and such in those chapters that refer to later plot points. So I am torn. Any further edits will have to be in another person's hands.

All told, I think it's a decent story, for my first attempt, but I am unsure if it has any hope of actually getting published. I'll look into it but it's not a giant priority this year. Those of you out there who have my first draft, perhaps you'd rather read this one (so far only one person has given me feedback about it), so get back to me if you do.

Still on the lookout for photo ops in my monochrome winter. Now that I'm free from the writing for now I hope to find some more. I'm seeing a live concert this Saturday night, Zola Jesus, we'll see if I can get some good shots there, but I don't want to spend the whole night doing so. It's sad enough that there'll surely be a sea of phones being held up by people, recording instead of actually enjoying it while one is there.

Chinese New Year is approaching as well, and I'd like to go and photograph the lion dancers as I have for nearly every year for the past decade. I may even go to New York CIty this time. I'm not so sure black & white would be the best choice, though, as they're quite colorful. We'll see if I break out of monochrome for that at least.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

:into darkness:

I finished what I consider to be my first completed photo project, (not counting shots on Instagram) still continuing on in my black & white phase for this winter.

I find myself wanting to return to this sort of style in my photo work, the look of damaged or aged film, which I guess is kind of ironic in this age of crystal clear digital imagery. Actually I did this style more when I was first using Photoshop, before I had a digital camera. I even went out and specifically photographed textures to be used as overlays and such in my works. Nowadays, people can do the same with just a filter or a button, which annoyed me for some time, but hey, it makes my workflow quicker too.

I faded out of this style after seeing far too many others doing it as well, and I didn't want to be seen as a bandwagon jumper, or sometimes I was just trying different directions. It's still early in the year to see exactly where I'm headed.

I also returned to my NaNoWriMo novel for the first time since completing it in November, to hopefully get it out of first draft. So far it's mostly grammar corrections, and more exposition in the opening chapters, although I sometimes wonder if I shouldn't do away with some of them. It's difficult right now, I see it all as part of the whole puzzle, even if it's not obvious when first reading those chapters. I suppose I will need to get an outside editor to look at it at some point. So far none of my first draft readers have said anything about it, half the time I fear it's because it's a bad story after all, the other time I just assume people are busy. Technically it's a first novel so I mustn't get too attached to it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

:2014 rewind:

Time once again to look back before going forward. I had several goals for 2014, some were met, some only partially.

I wanted to have at least one finished art piece for each month, I figured that 12 new pieces in one year wasn't too much to ask, but there was the usual issue of the lack of time allowed to myself after the dayjob and other matters, and half way through the year I took more of that time to attempt to find a better dayjob, and that was unsuccessful, alas. So that's a major part of this year's plans, but I can't let it become my second job. I did get a few pieces done that I'm proud of, one done entirely on my Wacom tablet, something I need to practice on more.

I spent a great deal of time trying to better myself at photography, and going a little crazy using Instagram as well. I used a Holga camera for the first time, without a manual, so I need to track one of those down, but the accidental shots that resulted were actually pretty interesting. I had what I consider to be two successful photoshoots, both involving models with little or no clothing on. The first was outdoors, and that one had many challenges, like getting it done before the sun set and not getting caught by cops. The second was indoors, and I'm still learning about studio lighting, but I feel that I got many good shots out of that one, too. Both were a lot of fun.

I occasionally enter photos into contests on some of the sites that I'm on. I haven't won yet. I feel that I'm good, but I need to figure out how to be great. I also need to submit more art into gallery shows, I was in only one of them in 2014. I of course need to work with more models, but as usual getting it to happen is more difficult than I think it should be, especially when people seem interested in working with me, and then...nothing. I may just have to get a mannequin just so I can practice.

Another goal that I didn't really announce was the attempt to get better photographs of myself, as I am very rarely happy with ones that are taken. I pretty much instantly untag any unflattering (that is, all of them) shot that shows up on Facebook. So I tried to get at least one self-portrait a month, and did it primarily through Instagram. Often it would be done on or near the end of the month, right up until deadline. Unsurprisingly I prefer the shots without my glasses on. I got rid of them in high school and have been forced to wear them again since 2012. Hate 'em. I have my annual eye appointment this upcoming Saturday. Every year I now ask if contact lens technology has improved to the point where I can wear them again.

I took November off from pretty much everything except for writing a novel for NaNoWriMo, which I succeeded in doing from a very vague premise that I had at the beginning of the month. I'm going to revisit it again this month to get it out of first draft mode.

Goals thus far for 2015, which will get refined or added to I'm sure, are once again to produce more artwork, maybe not a new piece each month but hopefully very close. More photography, more work on the tablet. Need to get back to sketching daily again. I've started off the year by doing work only in black & white until springtime. Winter pretty much turns the world gray anyway. So I'm hoping to combat the soul-crushing winter by trying to see the beauty in it.