• Better Vs Perfect

    Better Vs Perfect

    By the time this posts, Matt will be back from a work trip up to Michigan. I'm not entirely sure if he got any fresh air between Sunday night and when he flew home, so trust me, it was all work related. Even his evenings were tied up with post-meeting work dinners. Lucky him. 

    I'm not a stranger to business trips. My dad went on them with some regularity while I was growing up. So I know that, deep down in my soul, you need to keep busy. My mom almost always seemed to repaint a room while my dad was gone. My jam seems to be cleaning.

    The problem, as I've realized, is that I'll get things looking really nice while Matt is gone, and then he comes home, and the house explodes. It's so disheartening, as if cleaning weren't disheartening enough at times. (It never ends...My soul hates tasks like that.) My slightly perfectionist tendencies feel that if it can't be perfect, why do it at all? I mean - not quite literally, but surely some of you can relate to that feeling. You've done the laundry for the thousandth time and then you turn around and the basket is full again. Whhhhhhhy?

    Anyway, this time I've taken a different approach. Still cleaning, but I'm not bending over backwards to try and get it perfect. I'm just getting it better. Because better is attainable, perfect isn't. Better means that when Matt comes home, we can keep working on things to improve them. Perfect leads to the house exploding and wailing and gnashing of teeth the first time the dishes aren't taken care of before bed. (Again, not hyper literal)

    If I take a better approach and not a perfect one, I'm not spending ALL my time cleaning while Matt's gone. It means that I can prove to myself that I can make a nice dent in a chunk of time and still have time for the things that I enjoy. That mentality I can carry over to "real" life, where I certainly don't have the time OR the will to deep clean all day. And because Matt seems to follow my lead, if I'm cleaning for a small chunk each day, he will too, and the better approach gets, well, better.

    This whole thing made me think of a quote by Gretchen Rubin. I made it into a simple phone wallpaper, if you want to grab it. I really need to pick up some new fonts. Another day, perhaps.

  • Victorian Post Mortem Art

    Victorian Post Mortem Art

    Earlier I wrote this nice, intelligent post about victorian post mortem photography. But the internet at Panera was really cruddy, so I snapped my laptop shut and when I opened it again just now, the post had gone buh-bye. I'm less than thrilled about that development. 

    I'm not sure I have the heart to type it all out again, but I'll try to sum it up a bit. 

    In the victorian era, photography was still a relatively new, relatively expensive thing. So while you didn't get a photo taken once in a lifetime, you didn't take selfies on a daily basis, either. Naturally, there were instances where someone would die without having had a family portrait done, or maybe the family wanted one more memento. That's where post mortem photography came in. It was a fairly popular thing in that era, and while it sounds kinda creepy, I find it fascinating. 

    Some of the PMP is really obvious. Casket, arms crossed, eyes shut, family flanking them looking like they would rather be doing anything than this. Other PMP is more subtle. As studying PMP has become more popular (relatively speaking, I guess. I've still spoken to a number of people who've never heard of it), there are more "examples" that are up for debate. It's an interesting study, in my opinion. If it piques your interest at all, do a quick google search and see what you come up with. 

    The above photo is an art piece I saw the other day. I'm not sure if it's a post mortem piece - it's not a photo, but it's not like a painting of a dying or deceased person has never been done. Something about the way the child is laying, and the scenery, just feel off to me. Plus, I did a little poking around, and apparently the whole one shoe thing is a symbol used in the post mortem stuff. Something to do with Jesus, though honestly, it was a little confusing. 

    It could also be that the family wanted a painting of their child all tuckered out after a long day. It's an interesting piece though, given the era. 

  • Crafts for Koo

    Crafts for Koo

    I'm trying to defray some of Koo's vet and medicine costs, and part of that is getting crafty. It's a two birds/one stone thing for me - it gives me a positive way to try and help out, and it gives me something to occupy my brain. 

    Since we're already a little over $1000 in on Koo's heart failure, I can assure you, that any little bit helps. I'll be posting cards, paintings, maybe other things on my facebook page here and there. If you want something, scoop it up. Most things I can make more of, so if you see something that you really want but has already been claimed, just let me know. 

    So if you're interested in some neato crafty stuff, check out my facebook page. I may put the stuff on etsy eventually, but putting them up on facebook is cheaper for all involved. :) 

  • Painting time!

    Painting time!

    My mom has been looking for something to put on her barn for a few weeks now, with no luck. I had an idea, and decided to run with it.

    I bought this chunk of palette-like-thing (I'm real up to date on my lumber terms, aren't I?) at AC Moore for $12.99. If you're extra handy, I'm sure you could get the lumber and assemble something yourself for cheaper. I just don't think it's in anyone's best interest for me to wield a hammer or saw.

    I painted it a base color and then added some speckles of color ... because I could.

    Okay, fine. I wanted to make it look a little older without having to actually distress it. I used three colors, technically, though I mostly got rid of the blue color. Each color was 99 cents, and I've got tons left over.

    I also bought stencils for this project, because trust me, it would have turned out even more lopsided if I hadn't. That was a bit costly, but I hope to reuse them. (Quick, someone give me ideas!) If you've got a steadier hand, you can skip that and save a few bucks.

    I painted them using a can of returned paint - marked down to $2.50 from $12 something. I have a lot of brown paint now. Whoops.

    You can see the end result at the top of the page. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I thought I'd gotten the stencils more even than I apparently did ... but we're going to call it "rustic".

    Not bad for the first time and ~3 hours (total, not counting drying times) work!

  • Ethical art

    This is a topic that, as a creative person and as someone who makes their art available, is near and dear to my heart.

    To cut right to the chase - when someone uses an image that isn't theirs and uses it without the creator's permission, it's illegal, it's unethical, and it's gross.

    There are various shades of grey on this topic, such as ganking random images for your website. Generally speaking, you're probably not hurting anyone. But while you may not be directly stealing from them, someone out there had to make that image, or take that picture, or pay for the license. You should too. If you really can't make your own images, there are various sites out there to buy art for fairly cheap, and other sites that use the creative commons license and will let you use their work for free (usually with attribution). If you're doing movie, game, or album reviews, it's not uncommon to see art on the official website designated for that purpose.

    Sure, it's not as easy as copying the first image you find in your search, but with just a little bit of work, you can find images for your websites or projects without being sketchy about it.

    However, what really rubs me the wrong way is when people take someone else's work and use it as their own - and worse yet, make a profit from it.

    Unfortunately, it's not unheard of for art that people draw for fun to wind up printed out and sold elsewhere without their permission - especially vulnerable is fanart.

    Let's make up a really crazy story, okay? Let's say Microsoft decides to get into the digital invitations game, and six months from now, we see that they've taken my designs and are selling them as theirs. They've given no money to me, and they're making money off of them. I'd be livid - and rightfully so! I might be able to rally a bunch of people to boycott them, and I would have cause to sue. I don't think anyone would doubt that they stole my work.

    However, when you buy those digital invitations from JoeBob's shop, and they have the Cars characters, or the Disney princesses, they are doing the same thing to disney. Just because they are "only" taking a character and sticking it on their own template does NOT make it okay. They are still taking someone else's art and making a profit from it as if it were their own. It'll illegal. It's theft. It's only because (generally speaking) these people are too small for big companies to notice that they get away with it.

    Taking someone's art is no different than stealing something physical. Theft is theft, even if it is digital. Theft is theft, even if it is a large company you are stealing from. True, Disney is probably not going to suffer because of these little transactions - that does not make it right.

    So, to sum it up - if you didn't make it, if you didn't get permission to use it, and you are using it, and especially if you are using it and making money from it, you are stealing. If you buy things from people who practice theft, you are part of the problem. Maybe you didn't know better, but now you do.

    Don't steal from artists, big or small.

  • Whatever is good...

    Whatever is good...

    Periodically, I re-think what surrounds me, what I take in. Lately, I've been feeling more sensitive to negative things.

    Not that we don't all need to vent once in a while. I do it, and it can be nice to find community and support when you're in the middle of anxiety or just a tough day. Sometimes we go through tough seasons in our lives, and even that is different.

    I'm talking about the people who seem to go out of their way to find something to complain about, or the people who add an undue amount of bitterness and snark to everything they say. The people who, well, don't really add anything positive to the world.

    There is already so much hurt and pain in the world. I don't find myself wanting to be surrounded by even more negativity. I'm trying to seek out things that make me happy, that give me energy, that inspire me.

    At the risk of sounding a little durpy, I think that there are things in the world that drain you, and things that sustain you. Being surrounded by too many draining things is, well, really depleting. I find myself jaded and cynical about life, and that's just not how I want to be. But when I find the things that make me happy, not only am I in a better mood, but I have the energy to help others who aren't feeling so great.

    I'm not in the business of telling you what to do ... but maybe take a look at what kind of streams you're letting in via your social media consumption. Are they adding anything positive or meaningful (and enjoyment itself can be counted as a positive thing!) to your day, or are they draining? Are they really worth your time?

  • Cookie?


    I've been trying to draw more just for fun, and right now, that's taking form in random doodles.

  • Art in 101 Dalmatians

    A few friends and I get together roughly once a week to grab lunch and watch a Disney movie or two. We've been slowly making our way through them in chronological order. (Except that sequels always immediately follow the original)

    We watched 101 Dalmatians recently, and I was fascinated by the art style, which I'd never really paid attention to before.

    I love the backgrounds. Note how the line art is pretty detailed, but there isn't a lot of detailed shading. It's this...blocky use of color, kind of watercolor-ish, and the colors don't necessarily stay within the lines, either. Pongo, of course, is nice and sharp, but everything is is kinda messy...and I really like it.

    One more.

    I particularly liked the 'nature' elements in this movie. Look at the bush behind Anita - some basic lines to give it some texture, and then patches of color. The tree has some more detail to it, but it's all very different ... very watercolor, whimsical, story book kind of look, I think.

    Contrast that with this, from Sleeping Beauty:

    Two very different styles.

    I want to try that kind of whimsical, Dalmatians approach sometime, just to see what comes of it.

  • Lightroom Magic!

    For a brief span of time, I had a bootleg copy of Lightroom, and it spoiled me rotten. I didn't use it for very long (because pirating software isn't really something I'm okay with), but the ability to quickly organize and adjust my photos was magical, and I've lamented not having the software ever since. I've been making do with an older (legit!) copy of photoshop which is by no means terrible ... but not necessarily ideal. There are things it does beautifully, and there are things it does, but not quite as well or efficiently. Backend photo touchup definitely falls into the latter category.

    My parents gave me a copy of Lightroom 5 for Christmas a week ago while we were visiting them, and I installed it right away when we got home. Here's a little bit of the fun I've had, otherwise known as an ode to Lightroom.

    This is from my most recent shoot, an engagement session over the summer. This is a photo that I liked, but couldn't really get the levels to where I was happy with them. A few quick adjustments in Lightroom however, and it's a bright, beautiful stroll in the park. I'd probably do a bit of cropping, but the picture as-is is so much more vibrant, warm, and engaging.

    This is a photo from my friend Stacy's wedding 4 years ago. This was the first time I shot in raw, and I was completely panicked. The room was dark, and not knowing any better, I cranked up the iso. The photos were dark and so, SO grainy! Again, the result isn't perfect - I think the luminosity is turned up a bit -too- much, and there are things I'd tweak if I exported to photoshop, but it looks so much better! If even a picture that dark can be rescued, I feel pretty good.

    This is another one of Stacy, but shot in jpeg. On this one, I just adjusted a few levels and slapped a filter over it, but look at it! The picture pops so much more.

    The main fix in this picture from my sister in law's wedding three years ago is the perspective. I feel like I'm the worst at taking 'level' pictures, which can be a little bit of a pain to fix and crop. Lightroom how has a one-click solution to fix that, and a sweet crop overlay.

    So, there you go. Lightroom won't fix a completely terrible picture, but it makes a lot of tedious editing a cinch. It also helps when your photos are in the RAW format, because there's so much more that can be 'extracted' there. Moving forward, I'm excited to see how Lightroom helps now that I have a much better mastery of my camera and technique. Now, I just need some subjects to practice on...