Wednesday, January 25, 2017

:remix, recover:

I continued working on an "assignment" from the 20 day portfolio renovation project, this being reworking an old work with hopefully the better knowledge and skills of today. I chose one of first ever Photoshop pieces I did, and I think it shows. Mid-90s, version 5, I believe, not CS5. I cringe now. But I sometimes also cringe at last year's work.

This was pre-digital camera, so I had to dig up and re-scan the original photograph. As a result it was of a lot lower resolution than I'm used to.

I think I've learned a lot more restraint and subtlety with effects and retouching over the years, so I didn't go overboard this time. As far as concept, I came to see the the door as a gateway, and so she became a guardian or a greeter, to the universe beyond it. Again a major lesson I took away was the idea of trying to plan out concepts beforehand, so, a goal for the year.

In the closer future, I'm again offering up my Valentine's Day cards for sale up on Etsy, another goal for this year is to finally make that work somehow. This is an ancient image for me, so perhaps it's time for a new one, although I doubt one will be made in time for this year.

I'm also pondering selling the framed version of this image. It's non-digital, so it would be the true original.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Amongst the other creative projects that I've been setting into motion with the new year, I've been taking part in a 20 day portfolio renovation project being taught by another artist, Brooke Shaden. The first thing that I discovered when I dug out my battered old physical portfolio, other than the need to buy a new one, was that since I work in so many different media, it actually affects the cohesiveness of the whole collection. So I've decided that I now need separate portfolios for each one; illustration, photography and the Homunculus dolls. Of course this is also assuming that people will want to see physical examples rather than just go online these days.

Since Shaden works with photography, I decided to focus just on that for the challenge. Since I still have that day job problem, some days I haven't been able to complete assignments but I can go back to them at some point. I'll need to for the other media anyway. There's a private Facebork group set up for people to post their contributions and discuss the assignments.

One aspect brought up that I feel I need to work on is storytelling, or concepts and messages. Thus far most of my photoshoots have been collaborations with the models and generally improvising as we go on, and I try to interpret something from the shots later. I think I'm pretty successful in that, although it still is mostly "just" portraiture and no real "messages." Not necessarily a bad thing, but it would be interesting to have a concept to begin with before a shoot.

One day's assignment was to create an entirely new piece using the lessons of the previous days. I didn't have time to set up a new shoot, and self-portraiture isn't really my thing, so I went back into last year's shoots for some "outtake" to work on. I chose this one because even though it was a bit blurred it still looked good to me, and the mood was a bit different than many of the other shots from the same session. I worked on the color, lighting and background, and am personally quite pleased with it, especially with how quickly I created it. Sadly, as often seems to be the case with the pieces I like most, I didn't get much of a response when I shared it to the group.

Another assignment was to rework an old piece with the knowledge and skills that you have now. I chose this piece, and of course now I cringe at it. It's one of my first Photoshop pieces (using version 5, I believe), and doesn't it just scream that? This was pre-digital camera too, so to use the original I had to dig up and rescan a photograph. Consequentially it's quite lo-res. We'll see where I can go from here. But truth to tell, in the past I've had to stop reworking old pieces and learn to just move on to create new ones. Most final versions of what I do are really what I consider the "good enough" version.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Continuing with my recap of the past six months, when I stopped writing this weekly blog and intend to return to regular frequency again.

I'm not going to be that person to remind you of every celebrity death from last year on this year's anniversary of it, but I still have to admit that David Bowie's was a major one, and seemed to set the tone for the rest of the year. Yes, ultimately he was just a person, but part of my imagination wants to believe that he really just returned to his actual planet or state of existence. That thought led to the following illustration, and through deviantArt it actually led to a few sales, a first on that site for me. Still available here. Noting some people's best-of 2016 music lists, I can't help but realize that I don't buy full albums as much as I used to, but his final album, "Blackstar," still gets a lot of play for me, and of course we are still looking for new meanings behind the songs, was it meant as an epitaph, or did it just become one? Leonard Cohen seemed to go the same route by year's end.

I have been making slow progress on a new Homunculus doll, thus far dyeing her clothes and creating a new skin for her. As usual in this process so far, I'm not sure where it's going next yet, I'll be digging through all the collected odds, ends and bones to see what she'll become next. With this I'm finding that I need to work on several projects at once by doing a little bit on each of them. A little bit of doll work, then photo work, and maybe some further work on my novels, closer to their final drafts. I don't intend for them to languish in a box somewhere. I've had too many unfinished works as it is.

Speaking of bones, near the end of summer I found a pretty intact cormorant skull on a beach. Maybe a bit too intact, with some flesh and the eyes still attached. So per instructions I obtained from someone else who works with such things, I've been soaking it in a sealed container and emptying the disgusting results weekly, hopeful that I'll end up with just bone eventually.

In my travels I regularly kept all sorts of cameras with me, other than my large DSLR; a Holga, a Polaroid, and the smartphone has become a pretty regular one too, for the Instagram accounts, of course. Thus far I've not been very pleased with the Polaroids. The shots seem a bit too pale, I don't know if it's because of the film or camera settings, but truth to tell there's not much adjusting possible with the Polaroid camera that I have.

In one of my other lives, I DJ at a goth/industrial night called "Ceremony." In October, we celebrated 20(!) years of doing what we do, on Halloween as well, so we hit club capacity pretty quickly to say the least. To commemorate the occasion, I redesigned the logo a bit, and also made it available on t-shirts. I did a limited run of others in the past, but this being modern times, this one is available online through a website called Spreadshirt, so now I didn't have to print them myself, or lug around boxes of them, or run out of sizes. I also brought back the old design for one of our events called "Goths Gone Wild," the centerpiece of which was goths wrestling in black jell-o. No joke. I'm not sure how we got away with it.

I may use this site for other t-shirt designs as well, once they come to mind.

Since the start of this year I've been involved in an online course/group about improving one's portfolio. I still have a physical one, and going through it now what stuck out for me more than anything was that since I work in many different media, photo-based and otherwise, it's not very cohesive. So I feel that I need to create separate portfolios for each style. For now I'm focusing on the photo-based work, and so far there haven't been any new pieces. Definitely need to up production this year.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

:and so we return:

So. Did you miss this? Did you miss me? Is this mic on?

I had been faithfully writing this blog weekly for several years now, and I stopped in June, 2016 to hopefully finally finish my website redesign. And, uh, guess what? Still haven't done that. I have no good excuse other than having too many ideas in my brain concerning it and the actual chore of doing it. Tempted to just pay someone to do it, but I need to have as much control over it as possible.

I haven't been lax in other creative ventures, no. So I'll recap those over the next two weeks, making this a year in review. A year that had been dubbed a dumpster fire by others for various other reasons.

When last we met, I was finishing up with working on photos of Theresa from a shoot in May. I didn't do any weird Photoshoppery on these, I was quite pleased with the final results, particularly with the lighting. Unfortunately I don't really know how this model feels, I got no feedback and as far as I can see she hasn't used any of the shots herself. Which is her right, of course, but when I can see other shots used instead, and feel that they really aren't much better than mine, well, I struggle not to take it personally. I was just hoping that I was sought out more for my style rather than just for a paycheck.

I continued work on shots of Jayne that were from October 2015, and again those stood out fine on their own, but I wanted to get back to adding textures and other manipulations, and also try out some new ideas, so I got quite of few of them done, of which here are several. There are also still shots from a quickie shoot that we did after Theresa's, but I don't expect anything elaborate from those, it was more for fun while I still had the lights and backdrop still up.

I continued to try to get into art galleries, and managed to in several places, one was another toy camera show and I got another Holga shot in. I saw some examples of shots from a Diana camera that makes me want to try that. I also got a piece into the last Uforge Gallery show, and once again displayed artwork with two others in a library in Warwick, Rhode Island. Just trying many avenues. I approached a gallery on Newbury Street in Boston about a showing of my Homunculus dolls, and the owner seemed intrigued, but I have yet to get a follow up reply. I need to make more of them anyway.

One particularly unique thing that I participated in was an artist program through a newly-opened flotation therapy establishment. They offered three "floats" in exchange for artwork inspired by them. Well, I did the three floats, to varying results and nothing mystical happening, but I did meet my obligation and created artwork for them, with the final piece printed on metal, to make the colors stand out even more. The swirling colors were from many photographs taken of food coloring dripped into a tub of water and letting it swirl about. It's actually quite relaxing on its own, I recommend it. The piece was on display in the shop and is now currently part of a show in a cafe in Somerville.

More next week!