28 December 2012

Life of Art SitRep #151 Winter Interlude

If you've been celebrating holidays this week, I hope you've enjoyed them thoroughly.

This week, I created a new line of products for my shop from my new Checkered Rainbow design I teased last week.
Checkered Rainbow iPhone 5 Covers
Checkered Rainbow iPhone 5 Covers by RocklawnArts
Shop for additional iPhone 5 cases at zazzle.com

Updated LOA 2012 summary.

Rocklawn Arts blogged Checkered Rainbow design.

I also made a Yoda snowflake. You can download all sorts of Star Wars Snowflakes for free by the kindness of Anthony Herrera who designed the templates.

You'll notice mine is less fancy. I used regular copy paper which was kind of heavy for all the layers you have to cut through. The fine details were a challenge.

I plan to make a couple more snowflakes to send to the Sandy Hook PTA.
When school resumes for Sandy Hook, it will be in a new building. Parent-volunteers are working to ensure that the students are welcomed back by a winter wonderland with the entire school decorated with as many unique snowflakes as possible. We encourage senders to be as creative as possible, remembering that no two snowflakes are alike. Please make and send snowflakes by January 12, 2013 to the Connecticut PTSA address at the bottom of this page.
Hit this link for details.

I encourage you to send a couple snowflakes too.

Happy Holidays!

Two years ago on TTaT: 57. Bridgman's Book of 100 Hands

23 December 2012

66. Extraordinary Chickens

Extraordinary Chickens66. Extraordinary Chickens by Stephen Green-Armytage

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's probably fair to say there are a lot more types of chickens out there than you realize. I've been to county and state fairs, so I'd seen some of these, but there are so many more crazy varieties out there.

If you look at the "Legs, feet, and spurs" section on pages 64-65, you'll see the dinosaur connection. Also a Leghorn is a type of chicken (think Foghorn Leghorn).

I like the ones with patterned or frizzled feathers.

A fun book to flip through with more information about the breeds if you're interested.

A year ago on TTaT: Life of Art SitRep #98 Misperceptions

22 December 2012

64. Lost Worlds: Ruins Of The Americas

Lost Worlds: Ruins Of The Americas64.Lost Worlds: Ruins Of The Americas by Arthur Drooker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a fan of ruins, so I knew of some in Central and South America, but I didn't realize there were so many more cool ruins about in the Western hemisphere. There's quite a variety too, from Incan and Mayan to European influenced ruins.

Drooker's black and white infrared photography of the sites is very cool. A lot of the images really appeal to me because they feel like ones I would take, a certain interplay of geometry in the architecture. Of course, I wouldn't have thought to convert a digital camera so that it shoots solely infrared images, so as close as my view might be if I went, it'd still be different.

I also liked that he wrote a page of basic history about each site and the people who lived there. It's a nice bit of background without being overwhelming and is much easier than reading a slew of tiny captions. It gives a nicer flow for reading and viewing a book mainly of photography.

Well worth a look.

Two years ago on TTaT: A Holiday Treat: The Prom: Take Two (part 3)

21 December 2012

Life of Art SitRep #150 Still here it seems

Well NASA says there's no scientific basis for the end of the world today, so I reckon I best get back to work.

Again, I had a slow week. There were a number of distractions, but I'm done wrapping presents now so that should help.

I made a new design for my shop but it's not up yet, so I'll show it to you next week.

Read Popular Photography's Dec. 2012 issue.

Took care of a variety of administrative type things.

I also saw The Hobbit. Made a trek to a theater with larger screens and proper stadium seating. Perfectly happy to watch it in 2D. I find 3D glasses heavy, prone to glare, and more distracting than immersive.

Also could have done without the jerk (or 2) who's goddamn phone kept chirping, presumably to notify him of texts or messages? I wanted to snap his phone in half by the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th times. Grr. Wanted to say something but couldn't place where it was coming from exactly and didn't want to disturb everyone else even further.

But seriously, you couldn't put it on vibrate at least? I had ear plugs in (because theaters are really loud nowadays, as though that makes sound better) and the damn chirps were still loud. What the hell? (Made me think of you, Dave2.)

Enjoyed the movie otherwise. Not as emotionally invested as I was after the 1st LOTR, but damn if New Zealand isn't beautiful. The hair, makeup, costumes, production design, sets were inspired accomplishments. Really beautiful craftsmanship.

A year ago on TTaT: Hoodie Holiday Song

20 December 2012

The Kindness of Strangers, part 4

To wrap up this week's Kindness of Strangers series, I look back to

The Screws of The Man: Part 3 redux

From the moment I found out there was actually a fee for a temporary No Parking sign permit, I knew that I'd hand over fifty bucks without blinking an eye. $112.75, on the other hand, was worth serious consideration: that's a good chunk of a day's travel expenses. I could stay in truly divey motels for 5 days to recoup, but five days? Not really what I had in mind. Besides, that might increase the odds of my car getting broken into while I travel.

I felt certain that if I committed to getting the permit, I would subsequently find a great spot on my block. A street cleaning ticket is only $35 after all. However ultimately, since I plan to load up and then leave, having a space directly in front of the studio is integral to a smooth start. I would pay the damn fine, I mean fee.

I called the station and got Officer McIntire again. He seemed to remember me. Since I didn't have access to a fax machine, I said I could stop by the station. I had to feed my friend Chala's fish anyway and the station is about halfway en route. He noted the time and asked how long it would take me to get there since it was the end of the day.

"Ten minutes."

"Ok, I'll wait for you."

"Or I can come tomorrow if that's easier."

"No, that's all right. If you can be here in ten minutes, I'll wait," he said.

I grabbed my checkbook and hoofed down the street. I knew I could make it just walking, but I ran a downhill block just to be safe.

When I walked into the station, I saw a woman and her daughter waiting by the window. It reminded me of the last time I'd been there, when my car had been broken into and I had to wait a long time before someone came up to the window. There was only one officer towards the back of the room and he was on the phone. I wondered how long they'd been waiting and checked my watch.

Another officer came up, opening the door to the little lobby. After explaining I wasn't with the others, I told him I was there to see Officer McIntire. The mother asked if her daughter could use the restroom since she was desperate, so he led the girl back and went to get my cop.

"We just got burglarized. I feel so violated," the mom said to me.

"Yeah, the last time I was here was because my car had been broken into." I didn't think to ask if they'd been mugged or what exactly, though it occurs to me now it'd be good to know what's going on in my neighborhood even if I am leaving soon. In fact, I acted just like most everyone did when I said my car had been broken into: preoccupied with my own errand, I responded with my victimization and little sympathy, just a commiseration that the police wouldn't be able to do much, if anything.

The door opened again, this time for me. Officer McIntire introduced himself and his 10 year old daughter, Caroline. His handshake was a notch or two below bone-crushing so I responded in kind as my best defense. As we walked back, he gave me the fifty cent tour pointing out the main office, the holding cell where they detain bad guys (there was one in there! I should've paid more attention to what he looked like), and other features of the station. What struck me most were the benches along the wall; for each bench, 4 handcuffs hung from a bar bolted to the wall above them. Otherwise, the main office just had a table surrounded by maroon vinyl chairs and some desks. His office was beyond that.

He and Caroline sat down, but then he asked her to get up so I could sit, so she moved to the chair beyond him. It was more of an alcove than an office since there was no door, but it was away from the main rooms with a hall separating it. Two desks sat across from each other, but the other occupant was out.

He started filling out the paperwork and telling me about his life. He's a widower which is why his daughter was with him at work. He has three kids: 10, 12, and 13; two boys, one girl. He showed me a recent photo on his desk located under a clear protective sheet with several others. Caroline retrieved the logbook and signs and started helping him with his old computer. When I told him I was moving to Massachusetts, he launched into tales of his wife who was from Attleboro, pushing aside papers to show me more pictures of people in areas of MA of which I was largely unfamiliar. I sputtered the occasional comment and nodded politely; he was gregarious and didn't mind that I was quiet.

The signs would have to go up Saturday. "If I print them out now, could you take them?" he asked.

"Yeah, I guess so," I replied somewhat half-heartedly as I considered having to lug them on to Chala's and then back, or going home first and then going to feed the fish.

"Are there trees or poles around you can hang them from?"

"Yeah, there's a couple poles."

"If you can put them up, then that'll save me coming in on Saturday."

Knowing how much of a drag I'd consider that if it'd been me, I said, "Sure."

His computer wasn't responding. I waited patiently, unfazed, because it reminded me of the computer I'll return to once I get it out of storage, how slow and finicky it was, and how much more so it will be if it even still works.

"After you got here so fast, I can't believe how long this is taking."

"That's ok," I assured him; and it was as I was glad to be taking care of it once and for all.

"You know, because you're from Massachusetts, I'm not gonna charge you. You just have to hang the signs."

My relaxed attitude had left me present enough that there was no question about what he'd just said. "You totally rock," spilled out of my mouth in an unexpected wave of elation.

"What's that?"

"I said, 'You rock.'" It felt like an awkward age displacement within myself when repeated. Still, my very nice officer turned out to be a VERY nice officer. Inward leaps of joy; I started paying more attention to his tales and committed his daughter's name to memory the next time he said it.

He told me how he'd gotten a speeding ticket in MA years ago, and not thinking he'd ever marry someone from the state, he didn't pay it because the state trooper who'd issued it had been a real jerk. Years later it caught up with him-- even though he had eventually paid it-- as his license was suspended. Apparently when MA switched over to a new computer system, they'd added a $10 "administration fee" to tickets to help recoup the cost: this he hadn't paid. When he called, he got the person who'd suspended his license. She took it off for him. This was his example of humanity within bureaucracy.

The printer jammed. He pulled out a crumpled sheet and I laughed; no amount of waiting could diffuse my happiness. More stories followed, he offered me water, producing a bottle from a white mini-fridge behind him that I hadn't noticed because it was covered with a fax machine and printer. A post-it kept losing its stick on the hutch above his desk, so he finally set it down.

When we were finally done, the two of them walked me out. I had 4 signs rubberbanded together, with strings through their holes-- he'd made sure Caroline picked out signs with strings attached for me-- and an envelope with "Ms. TTaT" written on it, containing my copy of the

I thanked him again, and he said he'd remembered that I was hesitant to pay the fee when we spoke on the phone.

"Yeah, it was really tough for me to decide to pay it."

"Well," he smiled, "now you can have a really nice dinner when you get to Massachusetts."

"Thanks again." I ambled home, clutching the signs against the wind, hoping the guitar for his son's birthday-- he was turning 14 on Saturday-- would be ready for them to pick up on the way home.

Click here to see where the original posts go from here.

Two years ago on TTaT: A Holiday Treat: The Prom: Take Two (part 1)

19 December 2012

The Kindness of Strangers, part 3

Apparently I didn't write about it, but the tow truck driver who picked my car and I up in Cairo, Georgia did drive us both all the way back to Tallahassee, Florida. I'd only had my car worked on at one place, so I had him take me there. Midas maybe? It was after 5 PM on Friday by the time we go there.

He took my car off the flatbed, a mechanic looked at it and said it was something they didn't fix. My heart sank. I asked if he could recommend somewhere that could fix it and he did. I looked out the window and the tow truck guy was already putting my car back on his flatbed. That was way above and beyond.

I called the other garage and asked if I could drop off my car. "Can you get here by 6?" I wasn't sure if I could, but I said, "Yes, I'll be there."

The mechanic I'd been talking to pointed out a woman who worked there and said she'd be happy to give me a ride home. The woman reaffirmed the offer, but I declined so I could drop off my car.

There was a lot of traffic, but we managed to get to the other garage only 10 minutes or so late. The tow truck driver took my car off again as I filled out paperwork. He offered to give me a lift home, but I knew he had get back to Georgia, so I said I'd be all right. I didn't want to abuse his kindness, he'd clearly done me several favors already. As had a number of other people that day.

Two years ago on TTaT: Sketchbook, page 60

18 December 2012

The Kindness of Strangers, part 2

Ostensibly stories about my relationships with my cars, they are also stories of kindness from strangers.

(Part 1)

Three Breaks: Part 2 redux

A kid's face was plastered to the front passenger window, and from the open sliding side door, an old woman called out, “Would you like a lift?”

I surveyed the interior: two old people and two young kids, grandparents and grandchildren probably. None were the threat I’d envisioned, so I got in. The Whitmans explained that they have a daughter and wouldn't want her to be walking alone on the highway. Having just considered my lackluster options from that position, I could truly appreciate the sentiment.

Within the next five minutes, it started pouring. I had really lucked out. They even offered to take me all the way back to Tallahassee, but I said the next gas station would be fine. It was a few miles down the road, so the grandmother peppered me with questions for the duration.

“In school?”

“No, graduated.”

“What did you study?”



“What?” asked the grandfather, driving.

Louder, “Film.”

His wife contributed, “Movies, the-a-ter, acting.” Since it wasn’t worth the trouble to explain that my degree was for behind-the-camera efforts, I sat quietly, trying to take up as little space as possible. The interrogation resumed, “Have you got a young man in your life?”

Warily, I replied, “Um...no.”

“My nephew’s an insurance agent over in Drifton. You should give him a call if you ever need any help.”

“Hmm,” I murmured noncommittally. Fortunately, the gas station came into view. “Thank you very much for the lift.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to ride back to Tallahassee with us?”

“No, that’s ok. I need to take care of my car. Thank you, though.”

“Wilbur, go on in with her and make sure she can get some help,” Mrs. Whitman finished. It wasn't until we got out of the minivan that I noticed Mr. Whitman was missing an arm, his shirt sleeve neatly pinned up.

He held the mini-mart door open for me, and I smiled a little upon seeing the Georgia peach lottery symbol in the window: I would have my chance at the $220 million Big Game after all. Though most of the cashiers were crazed with lottery customers, the guy babysitting the Subway within the store wasn't, and he kindly offered me their phone. Once I'd called Triple A, I thanked Mr. Whitman again. I would've shaken his hand but his right was the one missing; he didn't offer his left, so I just let him leave.

The nearest service station was 20 miles north in Cairo (Kay-ro), Georgia. I bought ten tickets and waited. The storm dissipated leaving thick, warm droplets glistening in the sunlight. As promised, within 40 minutes, a large flatbed tow truck arrived from Royce's in Cairo. High off the ground, it took two large steps to reach the cab and though I kept looking for a handhold at the top, there wasn't one. The driver secured my faded red sedan to the flatbed and took us both back to Florida...

The original series of posts continues here.

Two years ago on TTaT: 52. The Art of Non-Conformity

17 December 2012

The Kindness of Strangers, part 1

Sometimes I need to remind myself that not all people suck. I was thinking of reblogging these posts early last week as a way to shake off some recalled disappointments.

Then the shootings in Connecticut on Friday reminded me there's a broad terrifying spectrum of ways people can let you down. My disappointments pale in comparison.

Still, I turn to the kindness of strangers. They allow for kindness that can be its purest, with no strings attached. Not all people suck.

Three Breaks: Part 1 redux

About 20 minutes from the outskirts of Tallahassee, my seat belt grabbed me as my car suddenly ground to a halt amidst an empty rural highway; I had been on my way to buy tickets for a huge multi-state lottery, one which did not include Florida but did include Georgia. At first, I thought a tire had blown, but the steering didn't pull as my sedan hiccuped to the side of the road. Upon inspection, all the tires were fine. Nothing seemed awry under the hood, but that didn't necessarily mean much. One of these days, I really am going to take a class in auto repair.

The divided highway stretched to the horizon with nothing in sight; it had been many miles since I'd passed anything. Somewhere ahead was the gas station where I'd planned to buy tickets, but I had no idea how much further it was.

I restarted my car and drove a few feet, but I could tell from the aggravated sputtering that driving was making Red worse. I parked and set out the orange traffic triangles I'd gotten for Christmas, assuming they'd blow away, put a sign on my dash, grabbed my water and sunglasses, and started walking north.

The sky darkened and the wind picked up. Rain had been forecast for the past several days but none had fallen yet. Cars and trucks whizzed past without pause. Even if someone did stop, I had no plans to hop in some stranger's car.

Lush green weeds and grasses tickled my calves as I walked along the pavement's edge. There were still no structures within view: not a single house, billboard, fence, nor road sign. On the southbound side of the highway, a tan minivan reduced speed as it drove past. I looked over my shoulder and saw it traverse a dirt path crossing the grass divider: the minivan would soon be upon me.

If an abduction was imminent, I could only hope to outrun my assailant. The fields by the highway were broad with deep grasses, and trees lined the far edges. Assuming I could reach the wood, it would only provide cover. On the road, other motorists might see me and try to help.

There was no time left to strategize: the minivan was rolling slowly beside me...

Can't wait until tomorrow? Read the original posts.

A year ago on TTaT: Georgia O'Keeffe: Nature and Abstraction

13 December 2012

Life of Art SitRep #149 Perception vs. progress

I feel like I did a lot this week because a lot of my time was tied up, but when I look at my list, it doesn't seem I have much to show for it. How do you measure the value of education? By what you're able to apply, I imagine.

Caught the rest of The Efficient Photoshoot with Jared Platt and then Crafting Today's Digital Workflow with Eddie Tapp (& Judy Host) and Color Management with Eddie Tapp.

A couple of quick things I picked up and implemented:
Set Bridge keywords to turn on all parent categories when you choose the bottom detail keyword. Also set it so labels can be applied without holding command key.

Sometimes it's the small things that increase your efficiency and improve your workflow.

I also added 5 reviews to Zazzle of products of mine I've bought.

Two years ago on TTaT: A Holiday Treat: Hamlet was my undoing, Part I

10 December 2012

60. Color Index

Color Index60. Color Index by Jim Krause

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

My main issue with this book is that it wasn't what I was looking for: color swatches with hex (or RGB) codes that I could use to gauge screen to print variations.

It has hex and RGB codes although the majority of colors are given only in CMYK and RGB values, but the swatches are so small, it's not the sort of reference I'd find useful.

The book is a bit wider than a mass market paperback. The swatches are presented in ~3/4" squares, but each swatch contains 2-4 colors.

The book has some simple information on color theory and focuses on combinations of colors. For what it's worth, I like the Quite Cool Hues best. (Ha! It should be Quiet not Quite.)

Color Index would be more useful to someone looking to see how various color combinations look together. Each mini-square palette is presented 3 ways: bars, pattern, design; so you can get a sense of their interplay.

Two years ago on TTaT: Life of Art SitRep #44 In spite of the wonky

07 December 2012

Life of Art SitRep #148 Milestones

This week has been full of xmas distractions, but I think as I get the time-sensitive tasks out of the way, I'll be able to focus more. Despite the wrapping, ordering, and writing, I did accomplish a few things.

I officially graduated from Basic to Bronze ProSeller on Zazzle. This comes with a couple new perks I hope will help me ramp up my business.

In a similar vein, I watched Launching an Online Business with Lewis Howes on creativeLIVE. Though I'm not prepared to start selling people webinars and info products, there were some useful takeaways.

For one, I rewrote my Rocklawn Arts store's intro description with a greater focus on potential customer's needs and concerns while simplifying and clarifying the design as possible. Take a look and let me know what you think.

I completed another stage of archival work for photographs from 2010. It didn't take all that long, but it felt major after doing it in bits and pieces for ages.

Had my Brown Suede With Strap And Buckle iPad Mini Cover featured on an iPad Mini Cases for Her lens in the Faux Leather Section.

Noticed this very blog's sidebar mention of my products on Zazzle needed updating so I did that.

How was your week?

A year ago on TTaT: It's another step, but...

06 December 2012

Hoodie Holiday Song redux

That's right, it's the return of the Hoodie Holiday Song. Figured I'd get it up a bit earlier this year so you can enjoy it while still in the throws of shopping and wrapping.

December 21, 2011:
You know how it is when you get the first line of a song in your head, so then you have to write the rest of it?

Um...me neither? Let's chalk it up to an illness-induced delusion. ... Wrote this little ditty and thought of you all.


Click to play.
(Runtime 1:01. You'll probably need to turn up your sound.)
For the record, I do still have one more gift to wrap. When I thought of wrapping it last night, I wrote this song instead, and then today I made this video. I should really stop procrastinating. S'all right though, I take it as a sign I'm feeling a little better, enough to have some fun.

I hope you all have lovely, fun, restorative, and refreshing holidays!

Two years ago on TTaT: Tulips, to the left!

01 December 2012


I wasn't expecting an advent calendar, but I love my day one treat!

Thanks, Mom!

Two years ago on TTaT: 43. Half Empty