28 June 2013

Life of Art SitRep #177 Topsy! Turvy!

Holy cow, I don't log into Zazzle for several days while I'm doing other things, and when I come back they've completed redesigned the entire site.

Overall this is for the good since it's optimized for mobile devices and looks much sleeker forcing everyone's stores to have a consistent look aside from their designs.

I'm very glad though that I never got super invested in customizing my store front's appearance with CSS as that's all been stripped out. I don't really miss the few alterations I'd made.

The no HTML thing may be troublesome. For the moment, it's OK in product descriptions, but the day it's not, I will have an epic amount of revisions to do.

I stripped the HTML from my store's intro, but it's not showing up for now. They are still working out some kinks.

Also revised my banner to the new size. I may redo it later but at least now it's clickable.

The new design will take me some getting used to. Take a look at the new Rocklawn Arts and tell me what you think.

I did manage to make a few new stickers for my Orange and White Gingham Pattern, Pink and White Gingham Pattern.

Before I got sucked into reading all about the new changes to Zazzle on Thursday, I edited the photographs from my shoot last week. It took longer than I hoped (doesn't it always?), but not as long as I feared it might.

Nothing like editing bulk images to show you what you do over and over. I made several actions and a preset to improve my Photoshop workflow.

When I delivered her photos, she was really happy with them. Huzzah!

This week, I also watched Photoshop Deep Dive: Filters with Lesa Snider, How to Make Money Shooting Microstock with Lesa Snider, and the first 2 hours of 28 Days: Critique with Sue Bryce.

The workshops by Lesa Snider plus another of hers on Photoshop Creative Cloud are replaying for free through the weekend if you're interested on creative LIVE. Lots of great info! I certainly applied a lot of things I've learned about Photoshop and Bridge this week from watching creative LIVE over the years.

How was your week?

Two years ago on TTaT: Goats in the wild

26 June 2013

Oh, Supreme Court

What to make of you?

I was feeling growly yesterday as you gutted our voting rights, ready to rail against your lifetime appointments.

But today you did something very right. You struck down Prop 8 and DOMA. Fuck yeah!

You know that proverb about living in exciting times? Yeah, feels like that.

ETA: Maybe it was interesting rather than exciting. You know what I mean.

A year ago on TTaT: 1% Better

21 June 2013

Life of Art SitRep #176 Pro, yo

This week, a close friend of my Mom's who I've known since I got my first library card in elementary school reached out to me to see if I'd take some photographs for her. She told me what she could afford, I asked a lot of questions, and we set up the shoot which I completed yesterday.

We were chatting as I packed up my gear and I said, "Thanks again for thinking of me."

"You're the only professional photographer I know."

You could interpret that as she didn't have any other options, but what I heard was the absolutely matter-of-fact way she called me a professional photographer. Felt good I must admit.

Naturally, I heard the reverse of that sentiment less than an hour later.

"You didn't charge her for that, did you?" Mom asked accusatorily.

"She offered. I did a job for her. She paid me what we agreed."

I didn't try to explain that our friend had initially contacted me with an offer of money or that one could get paid and still be doing someone a favor. Also, people pay for what they value and photography is a thing some people value. (I've heard so many instructors say this on creative LIVE, but I really saw the truth of it this week.)

Later I was talking to my Dad. He'd been present for the previous exchange, but now Mom was elsewhere. I made some snarky remark that referenced that conversation and he said, "Yeah, I could tell you didn't appreciate her comment."

"No. It's not like someone could appreciate my skill and expertise and be willing to pay for it. Apparently I didn't make it from the right people though."

"And she'd be the first to criticize you for not making enough."

"Yup," I said. "There's no way to win."

"Just let it go," Dad said, gently enough it didn't irritate me.

"I know." I started to head for the door.

"You've got it right though, you can't win."

My hope is that by writing, I will get it out of my system so I can focus on the person who treated me and my work with respect instead. Sigh.

During the week I also made new stickers for Green, White, Red Diamond Pattern; Light Blue and Dark Blue Rectangles, Light Blue and White Gingham Pattern, Navy and Grey Rectangles, Navy and White Diamond Pattern, Navy and White Gingham Pattern, and Navy and White Zigzag.

Also Rocklawn Arts blogged Purple and White Diamond Pattern.

I do actually feel a bit better now. Time to edit some photographs.

3 years ago on TTaT: Goddamn motherfrakking ants

14 June 2013

Life of Art SitRep #175 Windless seas

This week, I created a Purple and White Diamond Pattern design and added it to my shop.

Made new stickers for Dark Red and Blue Rectangles, Double Rainbow Barcode, Feisty, Green and White Diamond Pattern, Green and White Gingham Pattern, Green and White Zigzag, Green Polka Dots on White, and the rest of my rainbow designs as needed.
Green and White Zigzag Sticker
Green and White Zigzag Sticker by RocklawnArts
Look at more Green Stickers at zazzle

Changed my store's top picks to rainbow design items in honor of Pride. Rearranged my store a bit.

Watched Photoshop Mastery: Retouching and Collage with Ben Willmore.

I'm still feeling at loose ends this week. Need to shake myself out of it and plunge ahead.

How was your week?

Two years ago on TTaT: Working the Room

13 June 2013

A Decade of Movies and Outings

I finished filling out my little pocked sized notebook this week. A decade of movies watched; museums, galleries, gardens, and art fairs visited.

Another little notebook to add to my archive. Pretty sure the previous notebook spans 10 years too. (Ok, just checked and it begins in March 1994.)

I need a new notebook.

A year ago on TTaT: Full Set

09 June 2013

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking20. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"This book is about introversion as seen from a cultural point of view," Cain writes. It's a pretty fascinating read on the topic, at times disheartening as she describes the "extrovert ideal" and how it affects management, idea generation, and leadership in the US while at other times reassuring to introverts, highlighting their strengths and approaches to problems.

The book actually feels quite balanced when it comes to introversion and extroversion. Neither trait is better, each is suited to different tasks and approaches and Cain gives many examples.

Culturally in the US, introversion is seen as a flaw, something to overcome. It's not that easy for an introvert to do unless they are passionate about the subject. Even then they will need time to recharge. The book suggests a few strategies for that.

I think my favorite chapter was the one about raising introvert children. That contained a lot of useful suggestions and strategies for building their confidence in non-aggressive ways. I wish my parents had had this book when I was little.

This is a great book for extroverts to read to help them understand our fundamentally different experiences of our environments. Some of it is just genetics. At least 30% of us are introverts, some studies say 50%. Just because outgoing-ness is prized in the US does not make it so everywhere.

The book is well researched with thorough notes given at the end by page number.

Highly recommended for introverts and extroverts alike.

3 years ago on TTaT: Llamas, sheep, and sky

08 June 2013

Change will be thrust upon me soon enough

So, what feed readers are y'all using these days?

I tried The Old Reader but I don't like it as well, so I've been continuing with Google's Reader while I can.

Before that I tried Feedly but couldn't get it to work (I think I know where I went awry, maybe). In any case, I never heard back from their customer service which does not feel promising.

Anything you love out there?

The time she is a-ticking down on me.

A year ago on TTaT: Life of Art SitRep #122 Short and Sweet

07 June 2013

Life of Art SitRep #174 Fallow

When I have a week of great productivity, it tends to be followed by one greatly subdued as this one was.

Add to that very disheartening restructuring ahead at Zazzle that helps offset their costs by making it harder for sellers to earn money and you have a cap that has severely dampened my enthusiasm for next week. Argh.

Curious happenstance then that I spent some time working on Rocklawn Arts on Redbubble this week.

I added my Blue Water Abstract Photograph to Redbubble and removed another image.

Made Water photographs and Desert photographs collections and added photos to them.

Figured out how to make iPhone and iPad cases and stickers and downloaded the necessary templates.

Went to a botanical garden and took 356 photographs.

On Zazzle, I made new stickers for Checkered Black and White, Checkered Green and White, Checkered Navy and White, Checkered Rainbow, Checkered Red and White, Christmas Diamond Pattern.

Also made Green Water mustache, tree, wreath wall decals and Blue Abstract man in moon wall decal.
Blue Abstract Room Decals
Blue Abstract Room Decals by RocklawnArts
Browse other Wall Skins at zazzle.com

RA blogged White and Purple Diamond Pattern and Green Water photograph.

Did monthly backups.

How was your week?

Two years ago on TTaT: Venturing out...

03 June 2013

Longest haircut ever, part 2

(Part 1)

The two stylists continued to double-team cut the salt and pepper haired gentleman with a mustache.

"Good grief," Mom said, "Now she's doing his eyebrows."

I glanced over and shrugged. "Would you like to take my place? I'm not even sure they've registered that you want a cut since you didn't say anything when I signed us up."

"No, it's fine."

The young stylist disappeared into a back room and the middle-aged stylist finished the older man's cut.

When the young one emerged, she had a huge purse slung over her shoulder.

I turned to Mom and asked, "Is she leaving?"

"I don't know."

But then she hung her purse on a hook and walked the gentleman to the register.

There was some confusion then from the middle-aged stylist over who was next: the man sitting across from us or me.

In retrospect, I'm not sure why I was so certain, but I said, "We're next," gesturing to my mom and I.

The stylist said, "I'm usually good at remembering but you arrived pretty close to the same time."

"We're on the list," I said with finality. And it was true. There were no names above mine. When stylists tell me to go for a walk, I do not trust them to remember the order. I've been burned before.

There was nothing the guy could really say to that. Eventually he got up and left. Sorry, dude, but trust me, I did you a huge favor.

The over 40 stylist called me back but then the younger stylist came up to have a quiet confab. "I'd rather cut her hair if that's OK. I'm more comfortable with curls." She assured me that Mary, the older stylist, would check her cut and make sure it was good.

Foolishly I said it was fine.

The young stylist went back to checking out the older guy while Mary swept hair out of the way. She picked up a comb from the floor and set it on the young one's counter.

Mary called my Mom back and had her sit in the chair next to me. "Do you mind if I wash my hands?" Mary asked.

"Not at all," Mom replied.

Mary was back in a minute and began the usual stylist banter to find out what to do.

The young stylist couldn't get his card to go through. Mary explained they had a new system and it'd been acting up all day.

"Does anyone have a plastic bag?" the young one kept inquiring. Something about putting a credit card in a plastic bag and then swiping it to get it to register.

Another five minutes went buy and he finally ended up paying in cash. Mom told me later he pulled out wads of cash. I could only guess he wanted reward miles or something from his card.

After he paid, he asked the young stylist, "What's your name?"

"Billie Jean. Would you like my card?"

"Yes, please."

She bounded over to her counter and grabbed one for him.

At last it was my fucking turn.

Billie Jean put a cape around me and said, "I can't stand clutter." She grabbed the floor comb off her counter and dumped it in a jar of Barbisol which made me feel better.

Then with a sweep of her hand, she brushed a ton of hair off her counter (how had it even gotten there?) and then started touching mine which made me feel worse.

All I really wanted was a trim that took an inch off but I didn't phrase it that way because the last time I had, I got yelled at by a stylist, "More than half an inch isn't a trim, it's a cut! You can't call it a trim!"

I explained as I usually did which usually turned out fine.

Any hopes I'd had that she was more familiar with cutting curly hair were lost when she started combing it out and spraying it with water.

"I'm a perfectionist," Billie Jean said, "I like to get the back line perfect."

She started running a comb down my neck and making tentative snips. "Let me know if this bothers you."

I thought, OK, but didn't say anything. Over and over the comb ran down my neck just shy of too hard.

Mom and Mary were chatting next to us.

I guess they were talking about weird things kids do because my Mom told a story about my brother running his toes through her perm from the backseat when we were on a long drive.

Billie Jean said, "I used to chew my father's eyebrows."

Mom and I both let out a startled laugh. Ew!

As the conversation continued, I realized I'd misheard and she'd said "curl" or "twirl" rather than "chew" but it still seemed odd.

She was still cutting the base line along the back of my neck. Oh my god, this is going to take forever at this rate.

Then Billie Jean said, "You know, it's like when kids put their hands up your sleeves."

Mom and Mary both said No, they hadn't heard of anyone doing that. I certainly hadn't but I don't have kids, so what do I know? She tried to explain further but didn't make any headway with Mom or Mary.

"I guess I'm just weird. Weird is in now, right?"

"Weird is the new skinny," Mary said encouragingly.

"Just when I think I'm weird," Mom said, "there's always someone else." Weirder was the unspoken end of her sentence.

Billie Jean moved to cutting the right side of my hair and finally let me put my head back up.

Mary finished Mom's cut, blew her hair dry, and took her to the register. Mom paid and wondered off to find Dad.

"How's this coming along?" Mary asked, ruffling her fingers through my hair.

"I haven't done the left side yet."

"OK. How far are you taking these layers up?" Then to me, "Did you want the back stacked?"

Then there was a confusing conversation about stacked and layers. Finally I said, "I just want to take some of the weight off my curls with the layers."

"OK," Mary said, running her fingers through the back of my hair. "Don't cut it any shorter than this," she instructed.

Billie Jean continued oh so deliberately trimming my hair on the right side.

By now, I'd been in the chair for about 40 minutes. Usually it takes me 10-15 minutes to get a haircut.

Can we just finish this? started running through my head as my patience wore thin, but I didn't say anything.

When Billie Jean finally moved over to the left side, Mary came up with her scissors and went to town recutting the right side.

It was a bizarre flurry of cutting on either side. Though the cape on my neck was loose, I still felt trapped by it and my claustrophobia was starting to kick in.

With two people cutting my hair at once, I started to think about how horrible wrong things could so easily go.

It will be cooler [temperature-wise] and it will grow back, I kept reassuring myself.

When Mary finished with the right side, she moved around to do the left.

As Billie Jean moved out of the way, she said, "Oh my God, look at your neck!"

I did and it was covered with red streaks.

"Does that hurt or itch?" she asked in alarm.

"No," I said. It really didn't look good though.

"She's allergic to her own cut hair," Mary said. "My nephew has that."

Billie Jean grabbed the shaving-style brush from her counter and cleaned off my neck.

It sounded strange, an allergy to your own hair but only when it's cut and then touches your skin. I'd never noticed this before, but I'd never had a hair cut that took this long. Whatever caused it, it subsided after she brushed off my neck.

Billie Jean moved over to the right and pulled up a section of hair that was clearly from two different layers and asked if Mary had done that side already. She wanted to trim that line, but Mary said, "Yes, I did that side. Look, I know you want to help, but just let me do this."

Mary's exasperation made me feel better because it expressed my own. Billie Jean stepped aside and Mary took over my haircut.

She went a little too short on the front since I hadn't talked to her about it but I just wanted it to be done. I still felt imprisoned by the cape and time was ticking by. The mall was going to close soon and my parents were still killing time waiting for me.

Mary finished up and asked confidentially, "Is that too short?"

"No, it's fine. It's hard to tell until I can see the curls." They'd fairly straightened it through the course of the cut.

Billie Jean returned to ring me up. "You have the patience of a saint, really," she said. "I'm only going to charge you for a child's cut because it took so long."

Ultimately it took 50-55 minutes for what usually takes 10-15.

The verdict? It's possible to go awry cutting curly hair as though it's straight. It's a messy array of oddly chopped curls and flung out sections. I think it will grow into what I wanted.

Next time I need a cut, I will go back to the strip mall where they may be surly at times, but they're fast.

In the meantime, Mom's rendition of this experience to her sister and her best friend made them each laugh when they really needed it. Yay for that!

A year ago on TTaT: Wild Cats

02 June 2013

Longest haircut ever, part 1

I was having dinner with my parents and somehow we got to talking about how long all of our hair had gotten.

"Would you like to come to the mall with us?" Mom asked.

It seemed like a non sequitur. "Oh, when are you going?"

"After dinner."

"Ohhh," I said as I realized they were going to the mall to get hair cuts. "Let me think about it."

"The moll mulls the mall," Mom said.

"Hunh? Ah, like a gun moll," I said. "Moll and mall sound pretty much the same."

My hair had been growing unusually fast of late, it was hot out, and it was only going to be hotter the next few days. I didn't have much cash on me though, so I asked, "Would you treat me to a haircut?"

Mom said, "Sure."

Usually I go to a walk-in chain at a strip mall in another part of town, but the mall has two walk-in salons also. It's always a roll of the dice, so why not?

I'd gotten my haircut once at the place near the food court, but I'd had a bad experience so I didn't want to patronize them. I'd also been to the one across from Macy's before and it'd been fine. Nothing spectacular but acceptable.

There were two stylists working and the older woman said it'd be 20-25 minutes and to come back then.

"Do you have a list?" I asked.

"Yes," she pointed to the counter.

I wrote down all three of our names. Dad headed to the left and Mom and I headed to the right. We checked out the dollar store (not really a dollar anymore) and then walked to the end into Sears to look at their Lands' End stuff.

It'd been about 15 minutes, so I decided to head back. They were just cutting two men's hair, after all, and that always goes fast at these places.

Mom walked back with me, but they weren't done yet, so we sat down on the chairs at the entrance across from a man seated at the other side.

Dad walked up to us, his hair freshly cut and said, "You haven't even gotten in yet?"

"No. You better cross your name off the list."

He did and then continued to wander. If I could just tell people a couple of razor numbers, I wouldn't care where I got my hair cut either.

The middle-aged stylist finished her haircut and rung the man out. When she was done, I stood up but she said, "It'll just be a few minutes," so I sat back down.

She proceeded to check the younger stylist's progress and then both of them were cutting his hair at the same time.

I gave my mom a what-the-fuck? look and she said, "Well they're giving him the full treatment, aren't they?"

After a moment she said, "That wasn't nice, if I get her, I hope she gives my hair as much attention."

3 years ago on TTaT: Sketchbook, page 31