Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunset at Head of the Meadow Beach (Photo of the Day)

Sunset at Head of the Meadow Beach, Truro, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

More information about Head of the Meadow Beach.

Photo taken by ChristineMM, August 2007. Photo taken with existing light feature with flash shut off.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Night Photography Fun (Photo of the Day)

When bored in the car, when I'm a passenger, at night, I've been fooling around with existing light photography, with my digital camera. I put the camera on the existing light setting and shut the flash off. I aim the camera at lights, and move the camera around. It is fun to see what the result is.

Another fun thing is to try to hold the camera still while driving past lighted signs or stores lit with light at night. It makes a big smear of colored lines.

My seven year old then picked up on this. He asked, and I let him play with the camera in this way. We then laugh at the outcome of the photos. Good clean fun.

All photos taken by ChristineMM, August and September 2007, in Cape Cod and in Connecticut.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Composition and Line in Photography

Here is an example of the importance of line and composition in a photograph.

Look at these two photographs. Which one is more pleasing to your eye?

My thoughts:

My goal was to capture the rock wall, the ferns, and the trees behind that wall, and of course, the road leading to the pasture. I was limited in my ability to take many vantage points as there was a big ugly metal gate blocking the way. I could not shoot the photo from many angles or get any closer than I already was. I could not take it from further back as the ugly gate would have been in my way. I didn't think that the ugly gate would add beauty to the image at all. If it were an old, time-aged wooden gate, perhaps, but the gate was metal and shiny and industrial looking.

After I got home and viewed the images on a larger scale, I saw other things in the photo and these are my thoughts.

In the first photo that I took. In the first photo the focus is on the road. They eye meanders down the road which leads to a pasture. You see both sides of the farm road. Did you notice much about the rock wall and the ferns growing alongside the wall? Proabably not, instead you wonder where the road leads. I was standing up to take this photo. Although my goal was to capture the rock wall well, I felt the rock wall was a bit lost in this image.

So I took the second image by squatting down at the end of the gate, closer to the rock wall. At the time I took this what I wanted to capture was the rock wall itself and the ferns with the sunlight coming through the ferns. I wanted the road in the image. In this photo my eye is drawn to the rock wall, not the road, and my eye goes down the length of the rock wall. However the very tiny hint of the left border of the road is somehow bothersome to my eye, it is not balanced enough, so I don't love this image after all.

Now that I am home and viewing the larger images with scrutiny, my favorite is the first photo.

So much for the rock wall as focal point idea as being the goal and the 'better idea'.

Which is your favorite?

By the way this is also an example of squeezing art in where we can make it. While doing an errand I pulled into a side road to take a photo of a tree on the main road, and happened to notice this on the side road, about 30 feet from the main road I've driven on maybe 75 times, something I'd never known was there. It took just a couple of minutes to take these photos (and some others).

Photos taken by ChristineMM, New Fairfield, Connecticut, late September 2007.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Art is Everywhere (Photo of the Day)

I spotted this just before entering a movie theatre in a mall. It was late morning and the lunch diners had not yet flooded the Food Court.

I am sure the people who saw me taking this photo thought I was nuts, or weird, at least. I don't think they saw what I saw.

Photo taken by ChristineMM at the Westfield Mall, formerly known as the Connecticut Post Mall, Milford, Connecticut, USA.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Notre Dame Library and Touchdown Jesus (Photo of the Day)

Theodore M. Hesburgh Library, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, USA.

For more information about "Touchdown Jesus" see the Wikipedia entry for the University of Notre Dame's football stadium.

Photo taken in April 2007 by ChristineMM

ATC Making Day Today

Today when our plans fell through I declared today a day for me to do something for myself.

I decided to spend some time making ATCs. It has been 12 days since I last made ATCs.

I worked on ATCs for a swap with a technique from the book by Bernie Berlin "Artist Trading Card Workshop". The technique is called emboss resist. I had tried this technique back when I first purchased the book and it was interesting and fun (albeit a long process).

You paint the background, let it dry. You pick rubber stamps out and use UTEE to emboss on them and let that cool. You then paint acrylic paint on top and let that dry. Then using an iron you melt off the UTEE and the paint on top of the UTEE lifts off onto the scrap paper. Then after that is cool and dry you collage on top of that. So it is a long process. These directions are not detailed so don't use these as your base, please.

I made about 15 backgrounds for this.

After collaging, I finished 9 ATCs in this method, so I have enough for the swap I'm participating in.

I am also participating in a Yu-Gi-Oh! themed swap. Using old Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game boxes I colleged those on top of some of the other backgrounds, finishing 3 ATCs for that swap.

It was fun to make art again. I am going to see if I can eek some time out of tomorrow's schedule to make more art.

Actually first tonight while watching TV in bed I will do some doodling and drawing in my art journal.

It felt fantastic to get 'in the flow' again.

Oh and I'm back to reading "Trust the Process", as a before-bed book.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My Favorite Parts of a Tom Luckey Interview

Connecticut’s WNPR radio show did two interviews on their Where We Live show. The first part was about the nature of children’s play and the need for time outdoors and playing on playgrounds. That segued into a discussion of how playscapes are being built in Connecticut which are handicap accessible and that are made safe in many different ways for children with all kinds of different disabilities to play on them.

The second part of the show was an interview with a playscape designer named Tom Luckey who creates interesting and visually amazing playscapes. (Click on the link to find the interview page which has a photo of one of the playscapes, I just can’t describe it for you in words.)

You can listen to a podcast recording of the interview by linking from this page.

The two different parts of the show are recorded in two different podcasts. This blog post links to the Tom Luckey interview, Part Two. Tom Luckey works and resides in East Haven, Connecticut.

I especially appreciated these parts of the interview and I decided to quote my favorite parts here. Luckey was an artist and a playscape designer before he became wheelchair bound and paralyzed and he continues his work after the accident as well. What I liked was the discussion of how the accident and his resulting disability led him to ‘reinvent’ himself in his personal life. I also liked what he said about finding a way to make a living doing what you love.

Quote (5:43):

TL: About a year and a half ago, I fell and am now paralyzed from the neck down. So, there is a whole dimension to my life that is going on completely apart from my work, and that actually takes up more time than my work. There is a lot of profit in that because a lot of the things that I neglected because I was so busy, I now am sort of going back over and picking up pieces that I’d never known existed before that are now becoming a big part of my life. My wife and I are kind of re-inventing our marriage, and that is pretty exciting. And in lots of ways, it is much closer to the stuff that really means something in life, although my work is really important to me.

Interviewer: Do you think you would have been able to reinvent yourself in this way, if this accident had not happened, is this something that you woud have done on your own or does this have to be kind of forced upon you in some way.

TL: No, I would never have done this on my own. This was like full stop, re-start in a whole new direction. And for the most part, I think it has actually been a better direction. It sounds crazy, to be completely paralyzed and sort of thinking, array, it is not like that. I mean, in a sense, as we get older we get more paralyzed, as our joints give out and our muscles get weaker, and eventually we die. This has been a real shock and a true kind of awakening.

Interviewer: (paraphrased) As you move forward…how is it changing the work and the creativity that you bring to your work?

TL: He goes on to say that he now works with his son and his major work is creating and designing and he no longer works with the installation part of the projects and makes a comment that he gets to do the fun creating part and someone else has to worry about how to duplicate that in real life during the installation process.

At about 11:15 into the interview, he is asked about someone who has a vision about doing something creative but doesn’t think they can make a living at it.

Tom Luckey replies: I’ve got the exact answer. Don’t stop, work your way along the wall until you find the little crack in it that you can fit yourself through. There is a wall in the world around the sort of the secret garden that you need to get into to make a living and to have an audience and be fulfilled, and you have to work your way along that wall. There are really no shortcuts. Because I think you really need to learn the lessons of the garden that you are trying to get into, which is really just where you can do what you want to do and get paid for it. You learn it by working your way along that wall and you have to do that. And don’t stop. If you just get it in your head that you are nto going to stop, then eventually you will get there, and it takes a long time.

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My Daredevil (Photo of the Day)

My younger son pushed the limits here, with his great sense of balance he felt capable.

Location: The pier in Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

(You can click to enlarge this if you want to see more detail.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Discussing Paintings (Photo of the Day)

In this photo my older son is explaining the beach scenes of these pieces of art. My younger son had thought they were just abstract lines.

Photo taken in August 2007 on Commercial Street, Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA

Monday, September 17, 2007

Haiku Monday

It’s disrespectful.
He needs to stop using that
Horrid tone of voice.

Don’t back talk to me!
It is highly unnerving.
Don’t you respect me?

He got a warning
Next time he loses TV
That’s the punishment.

I left my career
To raise and teach my children
Hard, yet rewarding.

Haikus written by ChristineMM as part of the CMP Circle challenge to write and share haikus on Mondays.

CMP = Creative Mom Podcast

Creative Mom Podcast blog with link to listen to free Creative Mom Podcast

CMP Circle Flickr Group

CMP Circle Yahoo Group

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Graffiti in New Haven 9/05/07 (photos of the day)

While driving in New Haven on 9/05/07 I saw this graffiti. Just two weeks prior there was completely different graffiti on these walls. I could not resist stopping to snap some pictures.

I'd like to know more about this graffiti. I see the names of two corporations in this graffiti and I am curious about why they are there. Could it be that the companies are using this as an advertisement or paying for the paint or something?

Also given that so much of these walls is covered I have a feeling that the owner of the building is allowing this graffiti on the walls.

Friday, September 14, 2007

“The Drawing Breakthrough Book” Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: The Drawing Breakthrough Book: A Shortcut to Artistic Excellence
Author: John Hastings
Format: Softcover Book
Full retail: $15.95
Publisher: Draw 3 Lines Publishing
Publication Date: June 2007
ISBN: 978-0-9749418-2-0

How this book came to rest in my hands: The author of this book found my Amazon Customer Reviewer profile and offered to send me a complimentary copy of this book for possible book review.

Artist John Hastings says that after taking drawing lessons and art classes, he was frustrated. Influenced by positive-reinforcement trainer Karen Pryor, he developed a simplified process to learning to draw. By breaking down the steps of drawing into small parts, he developed a system which he shares with readers in his new book “The Drawing Breakthrough Book: A Shortcut to Artistic Excellence”.

Rather than being large chunks of dry text, Hastings combines small photographs and illustrations accompanied with step-by-step written directions. The book is broken into three parts, and each part has lessons for the reader to read and practice.

The reader is guided through exercises which first, open our eyes to see things in real life with the eyes of an artist. We are given useful tips for drawing in proportion, using guidelines and reference points as tools. Later we practice drawing lines: straight, round, and curved lines. Lastly the book has a short primer on composition and a little bit about drawing more complex compositions.

All that is needed to begin drawing with Hastings’ method is paper, pencil and an eraser.

The book is easy to read and the small steps and short exercises are not intimidating. The reader is then able to practice drawing in the comfort of their own home, repeating lessons as needed and progressing at the pace that they desire.

The book is not overly full of repeated information. It is not too skimpy either. I have a feeling that if a person goes through the entire book and does all the lessons and repeats lessons to strengthen their weaknesses, they will be well on their way to drawing well.

I have never seen a book about the technical aspects of the learning to draw process that is so approachable, logical and non-intimidating. I have already begun using the lessons in this book and am excited to progress through the entire book.

This book is fine for use with adults. These same exercises could also be done with children.

I am glad that more books are coming on the market to simplify the learning to draw process. I applaud the fact that this book attempts to enlighten and empower more people to learn to draw. This book is down-to-earth and sincere in its tone. If you have always wanted to draw better or more but were afraid or intimidated, I encourage you to buy this book and give it a try.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thought About Opening a Soap Making Cottage Business

Two of my friends have been trying to talk me into opening a cottage business with the handmade soaps I make. Last week one of them really was persuasive.

I am a realist and immediately a bunch of questions and concerns came to my mind.

First, what would it cost to buy all the base product I needed. Where could I get it at a lower price so I could make a profit? How many different soaps should I have for sale at a farmer’s market, for example? (I can’t show up with one kind.) If I had to make a variety of soaps all at once I’d need to buy more molds, more equipment costs more money.

Then the packaging. How would I package it and have it look attractive? I had a few ideas using my handmade rubber stamps. What would I call my business? Would I need a logo? Could I design it or would I have to pay someone to make one? What has to be on the package—do laws require that I list the ingredients?

Does the business need a state license? How would I apply for that and what is the cost? Are there laws regarding selling items that will be used on another person’s body? What if a person has an allergic reaction or some other issue and wants to sue me? Do I need liability insurance?

How would I make contact with stores to sell my product? Would I have to spend every weekend at craft shows and farmer’s markets trying to sell the soap? Would an Internet site be better? I don’t know how to make a website or do business over the Internet, so that represents a big project.

Does anyone want to use natural soap or do they just want cheap soap? What would they be willing to pay for homemade natural soap?

How much prep work and research would I have to do and do I have time for all of this in between mothering and homeschooling?

Would I make any money in the end? Is it worth it?

To this end, all excited at what my friend was telling me, I did a little research on the Internet. Here is what I found.

First I found a bunch of websites that were selling expensive e-books to answer all the questions I was asking. That was not an option for me as I felt I should be able to access the questions about laws and insurance online for free. I wasn’t about to be ripped off by an e-book writer to give me information I could find for free online with a little more time and effort put in.

Even the smallest cottage business has to follow certain rules. I’d need to buy a business license, through the state and maybe also through my town. I’d need to check my town zoning ordinances to make sure they would allow for a home-based business to happen inside my house.

I also need a separate liability insurance policy—the homeowner’s insurance would not cover it (and I read that most people make an error and assume that their homeowner’s would cover it). The insurance is mostly in case someone was hurt from using the products I made or if I am sued for any reason.

Additionally to protect the business name I’d probably have to register it (trademark it) or something like that, get it on record with the state or something.

For the finances, I’d have to keep detailed financial records and maybe also file tax returns for the business (especially if I am using a tax id number to buy the materials exempt from taxes). I might even need a new checking account in the businesses name right away.

It makes sense that farmers who are also ‘businesses’ make soap and can sell it as all that stuff is already covered by their business. It appears for me, a non-farmer, to do the right/legal thing, it would mean some up front expenses.

I found a handmade soapmaker’s guild that if you buy a membership, they have a discount on insurance or you buy the insurance through them or something like that (I need to read more about that). It is called the Handcrafted Soap Makers Guild.

I’d not feel comfortable breaking the law and not doing those things listed above by ‘winging it’. I have since confirmed with my friend that her friend is indeed not following the laws nor does she carry liability insurance. My husband and I are just not comfortable doing things in an illegal manner.

So you see it sounds so cute and easy when someone says, “start a homemade soap making business” but in reality if you look at all the issues and all the work, combined with the risk (lawsuits) and if you comply with all the local and state laws, it is not so easy. The making of the soap part of the process is the easiest and most fun while the rest of it is more like ‘real work’ and/or a hassle.

For the time being I don’t think that my opening a cottage business to sell handmade soap is going to happen.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Made Time For Clay Play (photo of the day)

Apparently yesterday my boys were already feeling that I was pushing too hard on the typical homeschooling lessons, and they asked to play with air-drying clay. Hey, that is art class!

So instead of doing math as planned, in the morning we played with clay.

There is something very special about playing with this clay. This is the type that you add water with a sponge or your figertips to make it wetter and to work with it. My boys have always liked to play with it, it is a very different and fun tactile experience.

I want to also state that this was open-ended. I let them play with it as they wanted.

My older son made a bunch of different sculptures like rockets and shapes and pinch pots. In the end he balled those up and made a wishing well, including sides that look like rocks, and a little pail. When they are dry we will use fishing line to attach the pail to the wishing well.

My younger son made a bowl, pinch pot style, about eight inches across.

They did all the clean-up themselves, too.

They had a lot of fun with that!

As for me I liked the pattern left in the big clay block and snapped a photo of it.

I bought this block of clay in a 25 pound box at A.C. Moore for, I think, $20 retail. A worthwhile investment. And if you do buy it there, use their weekly 40% or 50% off coupon for even more savings.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Gearing Up For Metal Crafting Projects

With last month’s Amazon Associates earnings I purchased Michael deMeng’s book “Secrets of Rusty Things”. I am partially though it. You can see Michael deMeng’s website to get a gist for the assemblage work he does with metal.

I have been itching to do more metal crafting, on a smaller scale such as are shown in the O’Brien and Vollrath books.

Here is how I’ve been getting ready for metal crafting.

In August I bought a soldiering iron. They are $5 at Home Depot and later I found some at a dollar store for $1. I bought one from the dollar store, I am worried of the quality and if I will burn the house down or get electrocuted. You see, it was Made in China and two weeks ago, a lamp I own which was Made in China gave me an electrical shock when I went to turn the knob to turn it on! That thing was put right into the trash! Between my personal experience and the news reports, I am getting more and more leery of products Made in China.

On another day, my husband picked up the flux and the solder for the soldering iron, at Home Depot.

My mother said she will give me some of her copper tape which she has left over from her stained glass window making days.

I have aluminum metal tape on hand already and have been making ATCs with it so far, but I can use it in other ways also.

I picked up, on sale, some jump rings and fasteners (jewelry making parts). I also bought, on sale, a beginner’s jewelry making kit. These are so I can make necklaces.

I have on hand already, many resin plastic dominoes which I can alter and change into charms and pendants for necklaces.

I have been saving up various interesting metal food containers. I also have some old cookie tins and food tins with decorative designs on them. I plan to cut those apart to make some metal craft jewelry with.

I have some glass beads on hand from old art projects from the last two years.

With a 40% off coupon, the other day I bought a pair of fine detail shears for cutting metal, at Michael’s Craft store.

My husband already owns a Dremel and various power drills. He also has some metal files to smooth the edges with. We have steel wool here on hand also.

So basically I think I am all ready to dive in and to try my hand at metal crafting again.

The last step is to make sure I know the techniques. To that end, I am presently re-reading Metal Craft Discovery Workshop by Linda O’Brien and Opie O’Brien. Their website is Burnt Offerings and it will give you an idea of their style. I really want to make some metal craft jewelry similar to what they teach in this book.

I have also finished re-reading the book Metal Mania by Lisa Vollrath. The book is self-published and can be purchased on the Ten Two Studios site.

After I get that copper tape from my mother I’ll be ready to go with experimenting with metal crafting again.

I am really excited about it and hope that what I own already is enough to get the job done.

On the wish list for future purchases:
Two hole metal punch tool
Better metal files

Oh and I plan to also make some metal craft ATCs!

Wish me luck.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Cool Museum Art Internet Tool

Here is my art as seen in a museum!

If you want to play around with this Internet tool, you can find it here.

Hat Tip: Mental Multivitamin

Friday, September 07, 2007

When Too Busy, Still Can't Do Everything

I am so annoyed right now. Joseph Cornell is one of my favorite artists. Back in May I heard that there was a special exhibit up in Salem, Mass. of his artwork including 30 never-before-seen works. I made a mental note to go see the exhibit. In my mind I'd take a Saturday or Sunday and drive up there alone (or with a friend) to see the exhibit.

In my memory was an exhibit ending date of October 2007.

Now that our family's busy summer has ended, now that we've had one week of our 'fall'--new school year---with its lighter than ever 'outside events' load, there is time in the schedule to do more things, for myself, that is. I have more time to catch up on projects, just relax, read books and such.

A few days ago our family committed tomorrow to helping my in-laws do a project. Those plans were just cancelled by another relative. So now the day is empty. A perfect chance to go see the exhibit. So I logged back on the Internet to get the information. And I find out that the exhibit ended August 17th.


This is an example of how when a family (or a mother) is too busy, some of the things that a person wants to get done, don't actually end up happening in real life. This exhibit, without a firm appointment that I 'must' do, got pushed and pushed off until it was too late.

And now I resent it.

This is another reminder that a light schedule is best for everyone in the family. We all need room to breathe, to do things like see a museum exhibit of an artist whose work we love, to do special events like see a traveling exhibit.

In Episode #63, Creative Mom Amy talks of how we mothers must find the time in the margins of life, to carve little bits of time out to pursue the things we really want to do. Amy said she plans 15 minutes of sketching in her artist journal each day. Another important message in the Creative Mom Podcast Episode #63 is to be gentle on ourselves, set realistic goals and be happy when small steps are taken, not to criticize ourselves for not reaching goals which are too high.

I am looking forward to a fall with less appointments, time to catch up on fun stuff and important things. I actually want to file the important papers in file folders. I actually want to get that mammogram that I am now behind schedule in getting. I actually want to do serious exercise workouts. I want time to do what I think needs to be done as well as what I feel I want to do for personal enrichment and for plain old fun.

Note the Joseph Cornell exhibit is on its way to San Fran. So if you are out there and you like his work, please don't make the mistake I made--make the time to go see it.

Info on the exhibit, in case you were interested--

Joseph Cornell: Navigating the Imagination

APRIL 28, 2007 THROUGH AUGUST 19, 2007
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA

"Joseph Cornell is one of America’s most innovative modern artists, known for his distinctive box sculptures, collages and experimental films that continue to influence many artists, writers, poets, filmmakers and designers. Co-organized by PEM and The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) and curated by PEM chief curator, Lynda Hartigan, the exhibition represents the first major retrospective of this American master in 26 years. It features 180 of Cornell’s artworks—making PEM the largest venue for this touring exhibition, including 30 pieces on public view for the first time. Works in Navigating the Imagination were borrowed from an international array of public and private collections. The exhibition travels to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (Oct. 6, 2007--Jan. 6, 2008)."

Relaxing On Vacation (Photo of the Day)

Here are my two boys hanging out watching TV while on vacation in Cape Cod. I think you can tell in this photo how much my younger son loves our cat, and how happy and relaxed our cat is.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Line Study: Trees and Wires (Photo of the Day)

This scene caught my eye as we were driving on I-95 in Maine. I noticed the criss-crossing of wires with straight man-made lines contrasted with the craggy, dead trees.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Big Doodle Page I Finished Today

On two nights in August while watching TV with my family as our before-bedtime ritual, I doodled this with a fine point Sharpie marker onto watercolor paper.

I was not sure if I’d use watercolor paints to color it in or not.

Last night and today while listening to TV I colored in the doodle page with Prismacolor colored pencils.

After scanning it, I cut it into artist trading cards.

Tonight I’ll share the scan of the one page doodle. On another day when I have time I will prepare the individual scans of each ATC.

Sketch Crawl Didn’t Happen For Me

In the Creative Mom Podcast #60 and #61 I was inspired to take part in a Sketch Crawl on August 25th with other Creative Mom Podcast listeners. (There were no Sketch Crawl's in my local area.)

However I spent that day cleaning my house and re-organizing books. I culled books and listed books on I was productive with homeschool-mom stuff.

I never did do the sketch crawl.


In CMP #62, Amy shares what she did for the Sketch Crawl.

I love listening to the (free) Creative Mom Podcasts! If you have not listened yet, please consider it.