30 May 2010

Sketchbook, page 30

(Other pages)

The process of filling a 120 60 page sketchbook and posting it all by year's end continues:
"p.16 Learn to Draw with Commander Mark"

May seem goofy, but watching Commander Mark on PBS when I was in elementary school was fantastic for my drawing skills. The book you could send away for? Totally worth it.

Any of you watch him? I've yet to encounter anyone else who did.

Bonus points if you can name which past sketch in this series I learned from watching Commander Mark.


A year ago on TTaT: 20 self portraits from 1996, day 17

28 May 2010

Life of Art SitRep #16

A series to mark what I did to further my pursuit of a life sustained by my art each week. Committing to these posts is a commitment to action, because to have content for them, I have to do something. Every week. If you have any sort of goal you're pursuing, feel free to share your efforts of the past week in the comments. Or encouragement, that's good too.
*******
This week, I
  • Shot 303 photos.
  • Did 5 loads of Legos. I know it sounds wrong, but it's oh so right.
  • Tweeted, FB'd Memorial Weekend Sale info:
  • 50% off posters
    20% off postage
    at my shop until June 1, 11:59 pm PT with code MEMORIALSALE
    (Sale details)
  • Added bulk discount, promo code page info to shop page on TTaT.
  • Added bulk discount, promo code page to product info and card folders. Revised prints & posters folder a little.
  • Revised shop intro to include link to product info folders.
  • Continued to mull over my store URL, its name, possible site URLs and got some useful feedback.

    For simplicity and consistent branding, it makes sense to have my store's name and URL match. This potentially means setting up a new zazzle account because profile names (from which they create your URL) are unchangeable. It's still doable at this stage albeit inconvenient. Or I could change my store's name to "Claire Skinner Photos" which is my current URL sans spaces.

    I'm not entirely sold on making my name the brand. Thinking ahead, the dot com of my name is taken and I prefer not to add underscores or dashes to it. So there's also that. One thing I'm also conscious of from my blog is the benefit of keeping URL's short. I did not have that in mind when I named Taller Than Average Tales.

    Are you dissuaded from typing in URLs of sites with long names? How long is long? Any other thoughts on URLs, store names, branding, and the like?
*******

What did you do to pursue the life you want this week?


A year ago on TTaT: Once more into the fray, Done and done.

Abstracted flight

Well, going back for the moon with a better camera and tripod in tow was a bust for reasons I've yet to fathom. I take it back. Just looked at weather underground again and moon rise changes by 59 minutes each day, much more than I'd thought. So even though I was at the right place a bit after moonrise today, about the same time as yesterday, the moon still needed about another hour to clear the mountaintops. Even if I'd timed it correctly today, I wouldn't have been able to get the nice dusk sky.

Even now the moon refuses to clear the trees in my backyard, so I'll have to try that another day.

Despite my miscalculation, I did get a few cool shots of geese flying overhead.





A year ago on TTaT: 20 self portraits from 1996, day 16

26 May 2010

Moon over mountains, essentially full






Not too bad considering the junky old camera I took these with, but not as awe-inspiring as it felt in person I'm afraid. Ah well. Maybe I can go back Friday and get it with a better camera, weather permitting. However, perhaps not to the private housing complex one might allegedly enter thinking their no trespassing sign is merely a deluded attempt at warding people off a public road. Except apparently the road is private. Allegedly.

The boat ramp has its own perks. There was a snapping turtle hanging out in the parking lot. He was rather dark and I was just hoping to get a halfway decent shot of the moon so I didn't try to get his picture though.


A year ago on TTaT: Where are the bears when you need them?, I knew it was a possibility, I'll just say this

25 May 2010

The train's a'comin'






Shot these about a month ago. It'd been a warm day so I was wearing shorts, but the temperature dropped along with the sun and it was super windy by the tracks. Couldn't pass it up though.


A year ago on TTaT: 20 self portraits from 1996, day 14

23 May 2010

Sketchbook, page 29

(Other pages)

The process of filling a 120 60 page sketchbook and posting it all by year's end continues:

"Bulldozer"


Yes, I noticed the missing line in the drawing; I fixed it in the original but didn't feel like re-scanning it. Left off the shading in that area for now.


A year ago on TTaT: Reprieve

22 May 2010

A time for sorting

(Another batch of Legos out to dry.)

Turns out you really can put Legos in the washing machine.

Why would you want to? Well, mine have been living in the garage until last month.

Water alone isn't enough to get off the dust/grime. I washed a few batches in a dishpan filled with warm water and dish soap in the sink, jostling the whole concoction (scrubbing with a tooth brush when needed) and then rinsing off bits in a colander. Pretty time consuming.

Hence, washing machine.

I'm sorting out pieces with stickers, printing, metal or electric bits, and tires to do in the sink later. The rest I stick in a mesh lingerie bag for the machine.

My washing machine has a small load basket which sets inside of it so I'm using that. Warm wash/cold rinse, gentle cycle, laundry detergent. Surprisingly, it's not even loud. Might get more of a racket with no small load cylinder thing though. You could always try throwing in a few clothes to muffle the sound.

When the wash cycle is done, I shake out excess water from the Legos in the bag and then I lay them out to dry. I haven't noticed any color loss. There may be some scratching from the pieces hitting each other in the wash, but it's not like mine were mint pieces to begin with. One piece with printing on it that got past me also turned out fine.

Note the yellow and white pieces don't get as refreshed-looking as the other colors post-wash. The plastic doesn't age as well with the white, so sometimes there's yellowing that doesn't come off.

Not sure what I'm going to store them all in once I'm done, but for now, I'm sorting them into various containers I have around as I go. Keeps me out of trouble.

Anyone have any great Lego sorting techniques/methodologies?

And then there was sugar

Spending a couple weeks around someone with the wet hacking cough of bronchitis is enough to up anyone's inner hypochondriac/germophobe. Despite my obsessive hand-washing and distance-keeping, I started feeling tired and had a bit of a cough. But really, the weather was changing every day, so those symptoms aren't unusual considering my allergies and sinuses.

That's not even really the point.

In the past two weeks, I've tucked into many a snack-sized candy bar. Twix, Butterfingers, 100 grands bars. SUGAR.

I read enough blogs by people with food issues to know I'm not just chowing down on the sweets to boost my energy. Seems I'm feeling lonesome of late. The depressing thing is that knowing that isn't quite enough to improve my snack habits.

Kind of want to take a four-hour nap and then sleep for ten hours. That sounds like depression. Hmm. Bit more susceptible to self-criticism and taking things personally of late but still able to let things go, so I chalk that up to the price of spring.

On unrelated upsides: putting old Legos in the washing machine seems to work. Heaps easier than washing bunches of them in the sink.

Also, Valve is offering their very cool game PORTAL for download free on Mac or PC until May 24th: http://store.steampowered.com/freeportal/

It's a puzzle/first person shooter sort of game. Pretty darn cool. The graphics are sweet.


A year ago on TTaT: Scenes from Wild and Wonderful West Virginia; 20 self portraits from 1996, day 13

21 May 2010

Life of Art SitRep #15

A series to mark what I did to further my pursuit of a life sustained by my art each week. Committing to these posts is a commitment to action, because to have content for them, I have to do something. Every week. If you have any sort of goal you're pursuing, feel free to share your efforts of the past week in the comments. Or encouragement, that's good too.
*******
This week, I
  • Shot 23 photos.
  • Edited my store's intro, shortened it by another line.
  • Edited my store and some product tags.
  • Tracked down someone with an old category list on the forum, got it, and sent thank you email.
  • Drew 2 sketches.
  • Mulled over my store's title and whether I should rename it or recreate store with new username so URL matches store title.
  • Considered deleting Flooded Golf Course from store. Haven't yet but may soon as I'm not convinced it fits with my vision for my shop.
A pretty quiet week overall. Been feeling a bit rundown and engaged in more reckoning than action. Don't quite have answers, so we'll see where this week takes me.
*******

What did you do to pursue the life you want this week?


A year ago on TTaT: Irony

18 May 2010

I Know Where I'm Going: Katharine Hepburn, a personal biography

22. I Know Where I'm Going: Katharine Hepburn, a personal biography by Charlotte Chandler (4.5/5)

A friend at the library set this book aside for me, but I confess my first thought was Another Katharine Hepburn biography? I've read both books by Hepburn and several biographies of her over the years, so I wasn't convinced I Know Where I'm Going would contain anything new to me.

However, the cover is particularly awesome with its black & silver photos of Kate in her prime, and I felt obliged to at least give the book a cursory look before returning it. The book begins with Kate describing her brother's death when they were young teens, an event she almost always declined to discuss, and I was hooked.

The author, Charlotte Chandler, stayed with George Cukor when Kate was living in one of the cottages on his property. George trusted Charlotte, so Kate did too. Thus began a series of conversations beginning in the seventies and spanning many years.

The book gives you the feeling that during her conversations with the author, Hepburn said, "Just wait until I'm dead to write your book." Hepburn still sounds like the Hepburn I've read about all these years, but in more detail, with more insights to the person, not just the persona.

In addition to the conversations the author had with Kate, there are also many Chandler had with other people who worked with or knew Hepburn over the years. Though I tend to favor autobiographies, the interjections of third parties' perceptions give a sense of what it was like to know Hepburn.

A fascinating, well-written, and enlightening read with some cool photos.


A year ago on TTaT: 20 self portraits from 1996, day 10

17 May 2010

Quick fix for reducing camera shake in your videos

So I've been gradually watching my way through the myriad videos my brother shot of his family's Disney vacation, and oh my god, the camera shake–it's killing me. However, it did get me pondering how to improve his shooting without any additional equipment.

First, know that the more you zoom in without a tripod, the more shake will be apparent even if your camera has image stabilization. So it's better to get close to your subject if you can with a wide lens.

If you are shooting with your camera while looking at a view screen (as most people seem to these days) rather than looking through an eyepiece, here's my simple fix to improve your steadiness:
Adjust your neck strap so you keep tension on it while you're shooting.
It won't make you rock steady, but it will make any movements you do make more fluid. For example, with walking shots, keeping tension on the neck strap will provide a bit of a shock absorption.

To get even better results with this tip, pick an object in frame to use as a framing reference. If you're shooting a person, notice how much space is between the top of her head and the top of the frame and keep it as consistent as you can. If you're walking on a path, notice where the path meets the bottom of the frame and keep that consistent. If you and your subject are still, great, pay attention to the edges of frame. Maybe there's a tree, post, or an edge of a building near the edge: keep it as still as you can. Noticing vertical things will help you stay level as well.

Note you can use the neck strap technique with still cameras as well if you're shooting with a slow shutter speed and there's nothing you can prop your camera or yourself against.

Happy Shooting!


A year ago on TTaT: 20 self portraits from 1996, day 9

16 May 2010

Sketchbook, page 28

(Other pages)

The process of filling a 120 60 page sketchbook by year's end continues:

"Digger/claw"




A year ago on TTaT: 20 self portraits from 1996, day 8; Cassettes, people, cassettes

14 May 2010

Life of Art SitRep #14

A series to mark what I did to further my pursuit of a life sustained by my art each week. Committing to these posts is a commitment to action, because to have content for them, I have to do something. Every week. If you have any sort of goal you're pursuing, feel free to share your efforts of the past week in the comments. Or encouragement, that's good too.
*******
This week, I
*******

What did you do to pursue the life you want this week?


A year ago on TTaT: 20 self portraits from 1996, day 6

12 May 2010

A Moment in Time

NY Times' Moment in Time photo mosaic is up: it's very cool. It's comprised of thousands of shots taken May 2, 2010 at 15:00 UTC all around the world plus a shot on Mars.

If you give the link a few seconds to load, my photo will come up. If you like it, please click on "Recommend This Photo." Then check out some others ("return to globe" will take you back to the beginning so you can check out other parts of the world): Claire's shot within A Moment in Time.

You can also change the "sort by" drop-down menu to see other types of photos.


A year ago on TTaT: 20 self portraits from 1996, day 4

11 May 2010

When Star Wars and The Simpsons collide

(Inspired by Kapgar's Stormin' Norman's Adventures. Thanks, Kevin!)


Mr. Burns: Here to take over the universe for me, you say?

Imperial Guard: Yes, Emperor.

Mr. Burns: Excellent.


A year ago on TTaT: 20 self portraits from 1996, day 3

10 May 2010

Burning Matches




(Run time 0:26)



4 years ago on TTaT: Hallelujah!, The day I snap...

09 May 2010

Sketchbook, page 27

(Other pages)

The process of filling a 120 60* page sketchbook by year's end continues:

"Plane"


*So I noticed this week as I was catching up on sketches from last month that I was already halfway through my sketchbook. The label indicating it had 120 pages was referring to both sides of each page. D'oh. I considered continuing with the versos one I reach the end of the book, but I draw fairly hard and can see my sketches through the paper already. So... what to do?

I reckon I'll either pick up another "120 page" sketchbook to fill or just commit to completing another 60 sketches in moleskines, other sketchpads, or wherever. Sound good? Or are you even interested to see me go past 60?


A year ago on TTaT: 20 self portraits from 1996, day 2

08 May 2010

Airstrip



A year ago on TTaT: 20 self portraits from 1996, day 1

07 May 2010

Life of Art SitRep #13

A series to mark what I did to further my pursuit of a life sustained by my art each week. Committing to these posts is a commitment to action, because to have content for them, I have to do something. Every week. If you have any sort of goal you're pursuing, feel free to share your efforts of the past week in the comments. Or encouragement, that's good too.
*******
This week, I
  • Shot 193 photos.
  • Drew 5 sketches.
  • Scanned 9 drawings.
  • Submitted photo to NY Times "A Moment in Time" global photo project.
  • Got info from zazzle forum to encode + so I could remove final products not available in my shop. Look at me editing CSS. Woo!
  • Backed up all three advanced store code windows to text file.
  • Tweeted/FB'd zazzle 2-day shipping offer and Flooded Golf Course folder link.
  • Submitted my store link for promotion via 4 threads on zazzle forum.
  • Revised my store intro, tags, product tags. (May shoot self if I realize one more way I should revise product tags.)
  • Added statcounter to my store.
  • Made cards, postcards, prints, postage, magnets of Sunset over Onota Lake, horizontal & vertical:
  • Sunset on Onota Lake postcard Sunset on Onota Lake card
  • Made magnets of numerous photos:
  • Transamerica Pyramid magnet After Hockney magnet

*******

What did you do to pursue the life you want this week?


A year ago on TTaT: Mio fratello

06 May 2010

Petri dish of humanity

That time of year again, i.e. town meeting time.

Did some yoga this morning to bolster my inner calm though I depleted it some later by hitting the grocery store and fighting a bit with a gas pump.

I'm wearing my Spanish Inquisition t-shirt and jeans, and I'm not going to dress nicer for those people this time. (Though I do confess I used some hair product to cut down on the frizz today.) "Those people" in this case being parents and teachers from my youth since I'm back in my small hometown these days. Though I don't always know/recognize them (and even when I do), they have a way of always recognizing me and asking my least favorite questions.

Plan of attack: Attack is apt since my primary defense will be to play offense: ask how retirements, kids, etc. are doing. Get them to answer questions.

Be confident. You shall be known as Usul. Remember your pursuits are legit even if they are evolving.

Remember what's their stuff and what's my stuff and do not commingle the two.

In the past, my default strategy was: be invisible so no one will notice/talk to you. I'm tired of adopting a wallflower's cloak; it screws with my confidence. It will be tempting to replace it with a fuck-off vibe with some of these people, but my real aim is to stand my ground. Be seen, be noticed, or not. My choices may be unconventional or judgment-inspiring, but they are mine.

OK. Keep breathing, kiddo. And maybe take a book. And draw when people irritate you by wasting time and asking questions that are answered in the flyers available upon entry. Ah democracy.


A year ago on TTaT: I want to be awesome, Finesse optional

05 May 2010

Sketchbook, page 26

(Other pages)

The process of filling a 120 page sketchbook by year's end continues:

"Boxes"


A year ago on TTaT: A bondage pony and other adventures, Compelled to add

03 May 2010

A River in the Sky

21. A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters (4/5)

Another solid entry to Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series. Though it's her most recent book, the story is set in 1910 which places it between her books Guardian of the Horizon and The Falcon at the Portal.

If you know the series, A River in the Sky is the missing book which details events referenced in The Falcon at the Portal.

If you don't know the series, start at the beginning with one of my all-time favorite books: Crocodile on the Sandbank. Near the turn of the 20th century, Englishwoman Amelia Peabody travels to Egypt where she encounters archaeologists and a mystery she can't resist. Now stop reading this post, it gets spoiler-y ahead if you haven't read the later books.

*SPOILERS for those unfamiliar with the series*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

Amateur sleuth Amelia Peabody is back on the case with her family: Emerson, Nefret, Ramses and David. Selim and Daoud help out too. The main action takes place in Palestine rather than Egypt affording the family of archaeologists a variety of insights into the region.


A year ago on TTaT: It's still possible: an interlude; While I'm waiting...

02 May 2010

Sketchbook, page 25

(Previous pages)

The process of filling a 120 page sketchbook by year's end continues:

"The Taj Mahal"


Two years ago on TTaT: The cure for what ails ya

01 May 2010

Sketchbook, page 24

(Previous pages)

The process of filling a 120 page sketchbook by year's end continues:

"Waves"


A year ago on TTaT: Well, it's out of my hands now...