Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ascent

Ascent
The moment we take off fog rushes over the wing;
As if we have somehow magically reached the clouds in an instant.

The dark landscape below is generously laden with gems of light;
Evoking memories of some glittering antique jewelry box.

The sparkling hills tilt and shift as we climb further into the mist.
The window across the isle is painted with soft blues and blazing oranges.

The sky ignites with morning as the sun races to catch us.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Liquid Light

This painting was made after the DRIP show we performed at the Fringe Festival in 2008 called WET. During the show we had dancers performing silhouetted against a screen projected with light and different colored liquids. It was an absolutely breathtaking show to watch as well as be a part of.


Months after the show I made this paining and I had a bit of a revelation. This painting reminded me of drawings that I made in 7th grade that were very similar. A figure silhouette against a green background with light radiating around their body. For some reason I never saved those drawings and I had almost forgotten about making them until I had finished this painting. 

That memory ended up being a huge affirmation for me. Something I am currently involved with is reminiscent of sketches I made years ago. I felt very in tune with my sub-conscious and my inner child. It reminded me that trusting yourself is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Most people view leaps of faith as dangerous, I believe they can save you. 

I'm on the right track. I know I was made for this. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Matthew

I will never forget the first time I saw Matt. I was working at Starbucks and I was coming out from the back room. I was passing by the register and he was standing at the counter talking to one of my coworkers. Something about him made me stop dead in my tracks. His eyes gave me the immediate impression that he was kind and open-minded.

"What can I help you with?" I asked, a bit skeptical of my own intuition.
"I was wondering if you guys are hiring?"

At first he looked too young to work there, but as it turns out he was twenty and had already been employed at a Starbucks in Tampa for about a year. He was moving to Orlando to go back to school and he wanted to transfer. I wrote down his information and wished him luck. I walked to the back room with the note in my hand. I put the piece of blue paper on my managers desk but before I walked away I read over his name one more time. Matthew Dodenhoff. I couldn't explain it, but I had a good feeling about him.

The next day my manager told me that she had hired him, two days later was our first shift working together.

We became friends immediately. As we worked that day we always found ourselves running into each other, like there was some pull for us to interact. It was an oddly reassuring feeling; one that I still try to understand.

Less than a month later he invited me to a CocoaRosie concert. I've never been one for going out downtown, but I said yes without thinking. After we got there he started to feel dizzy. We were sitting on some stairs waiting for the show to start when he leaned towards me and put his head down across my lap. I put my arm around his shoulder to comfort him and we sat there quietly for a few minutes in a crowd full of rowdy people waiting for the show to start. Normally the bar scene makes me anxious, but in that moment I felt calm. We sat there in an unspoken trust and waited for the show to start.

CocoaRosie was wonderful and they put on a very unique show. I was glad for the experience but my favorite part was seeing Matt so excited over one of his favorite bands.

I short time after that I found out that I was going to be honored at Starbucks because it was my five year anniversary with the company. I had a lot of mixed feelings about that. On one hand I was glad I had been employed for so long at the same place, but on the other hand I felt like my employment at Starbucks was not a truly accurate representation of myself as a person. It felt strange to get an award for that.

Matt was working with me that day and he could tell I was upset. I told him about how proud I was of other things going on in my life, particularly my involvement with DRIP. He listened to me talk about the shows we had done in the past and he told me that he would love to see the next one. I remember the sincerity in his voice and expression standing out more to me than the actual words he used.

The next DRIP event that was held after that was the "Rock Out with your Cocktails Out" fundraiser. Matt helped with the set up for the show as well as perform some of his original music.

I was in charge of the fundraiser and it was a huge responsibility for me. I was so focused on the show that I had forgotten to request the next day off work at Starbucks so I could rest. Unfortunately I was scheduled to work an opening shift which starts at 4:30am. I was exhausted, making drinks for an endless line, trying to remain upbeat. Matt was at the register talking orders and marking cups. It was too busy for him to talk to me, but he managed to grab an extra cup and stick it in the queue:


In my haste I grabbed the cup looking for what to ingredients to put in it when I read "You are doing a great job. I would be dead if I were you". I was like a hug I need so badly. More encouragement to keep going. 

Matt loves to write notes. Most of them are just plain funny. Sometimes when I come in to open he leaves notes from the night before. They are taped to the register, the floor, inside the refrigerators, and sometimes hanging from the ceiling. None of our coworkers are spared from receiving these goofy little notes, but I think I treasure them more then anyone else. I have most of them saved in a envelope in my desk. 

I remember one day we had made plans to hang out. He was going to meet me at Publix when he got off work. It ended up pouring rain and I stood outside by the door trying to spot him. I finally saw him waving from his car and I decided to run for it. As I was running he got out of his car to open his umbrella. As soon as the umbrella was open we almost collided underneath it. "Hi" we both said to each other laughing. Looking back I think this image became the perfect metaphor for our friendship. We seem to fumble around sometimes, not sure what to do with ourselves, but when we are together the worst of circumstances never feel that bad. We can laugh at anything, huddled under our umbrella. 


Later that day we went to the Maitland Art Center, a little architectural gem tucked away between the train tracks and Lake Sybelia. We wandered around outside in the rain looking at all the buildings modeled after the Mayan culture. I can't think of many people who would want to be outside in the rain looking at architecture with me, but he enjoyed it, and I enjoyed having him with me. 


More than anything else I think it is the simple things that he does that leave the biggest impressions on me. The silly notes, bursting into song at work, a pomegranate and a chocolate bar on a bad day. His enjoyment in playing the harp, the nicknames that he bestows upon me, and the way that he makes Taco Bell fun on a rainy day. Sitting on the grass in a park talking about everything from pet peeves to the spiritually profound. No subject is too small or too taboo to discuss. The variety and depth of conversation is simply enlivening. Sometimes it's the way we can look at each other and laugh without having to say a word. His knowing smile says so much. 


Early on I was struggling to put this unique bond into words.

"How would you describe it?" I  asked him one day while we were sitting at the park. He stood up and brushed his hair away from his face. He thought for a brief moment.

"It feels like home" he said. "There have only been a few people I've meet in my life that I've felt a bond with right away, and you are one of them. It feels like home. Is that weird?"

I stared at him for a moment, stunned.

"There was one word that I was thinking of; it was home".

Looking back on that first day I met him, it's amazing to see how powerfully he has impacted my life. He can bring a sense of playful inventiveness to the most ordinary of days. That spirited magic and sense of humor can still catch me by surprise, but I enjoy the journey. Being around Matt is just good for my soul.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Reflected Sunset

This picture is such a rare one. I was outside looking at the sunset when I happened to turn around. There was a large, soft mass of cloud. It was dense enough to hold the creamy colors of the reflected sunlight yet translucent enough around the edges to reveal the moon.

It reminds me of the painting "Flaming June" by Lord Frederic Leighton. It resembles the color and feel of the fabric as it gently rests over her sleeping frame. To view the painting please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flaming_June


Everyone watches a sunset but how many people will turn around to see the sky behind them? It makes me wonder about what else I've been missing. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Photoshop World Boston

The first time I heard about Photoshop World was at a Graphic Design Student Association meeting at the University of Central Florida. It was a three day conference and expo centered around Photoshop, Photography, and Lighting (to name a few things) and it was going to be held in Boston. The Graphic Design Student Association was going to hold a drawing to see who would win one of the four spots available. As soon as I knew what it was I wanted to win the ticket. The day of the drawing came and I was the second person called. I could not believe it. I was going to Boston for Photoshop World.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I got there but I was blown away from day one. We were given an enormous book detailing every class and lesson. I was overwhelmed with all of the professional instructors and the variety of interesting classes to choose from. For three days I bounced from class to class soaking up knowledge like a sponge. I saw slide shows from wildlife photographers and people who had made arduous trips to Antarctica just to photograph the ice. I saw presentations of how make professional quality motion graphics and how to thrive when dealing with clients. I accidently found myself in a class being taught by Jay Maisel, a photographer who's work and philosophy forever changed the way I looked at photography. (See my previous blog post Boston Changed Everything)

After every beautifully exhausting day I found myself back in the hotel rereading notes and analyzing my photography. I'd fall asleep wondering what I was going to be lucky enough to learn the next day.

One thing I am eternally grateful for is Mariko's example. Mariko is the Creative Director and CEO of DRIP, the performance art company that I work for. A few years ago we ended up doing a show at the Create Chaos Conference in Orlando. After our show we would attend some of the conference classes together. What was surprising to me was that when ever a class was over Mariko would walk right up to the instructor, introduce herself, and begin to ask them questions and really try to pick their brains. I was so impressed with the way she saw an opportunity and was determined to make the most out of it. While other people had left the class and moved on, I was watching her make some meaningful connections and conversations. I never forgot that.

Months later when I ended up at Photoshop World, I found myself following her example. I stopped to ask instructors questions or what their opinions were. Sometimes I would simply introduce myself and thank them for everything I had learned. I was so blown away by how friendly and accessible everyone was. In most of my experience, when I would meet a professional they would be reticent or secretive about their work. Everyone I encountered was completely willing and excited to talk about what they did. I was always behind my group, staying to talk. I fell in love with the whole environment and experience. On the walk back to our hotel I was usually one of the last people, holding my Photoshop World book close to my chest, wondering how on earth I got so lucky.

The Photoshop World Conference was only Wednesday through Friday, but before I even booked my flight I had an epiphany. Why would I rush back to Orlando when I could just stay longer and have a weekend to myself in Boston? Opportunities like this don't come along very often and I decided to go for it. With the help of my best friend, Amber, I found another hotel in Boston to stay for the remainder of my trip. Of course my decision came along with ruffling some feathers. My group had some reservations about me staying by myself on what was essentially a university sponsored trip. And then there was my mother, who was terrified about her daughter being alone in a strange city. My mind was made up. I was spending the weekend in Boston. Alone.

When the conference was over I rode with my group on the subway until we were at the stop for my new hotel.

"Do you think you'll be okay without us?' someone asked me
"I hope so" I said with a laugh as I jumped off the subway.

The truth is I found being with a group somewhat oppressive. I like to wonder around and do my own thing. Having to wait for everyone all the time and "do what is best for the group" was exhausting and restrictive. I climbed up the stairs until I got to the street. The sunlight, the 30 degree weather, the uncertainty - It felt like freedom.

I found my hotel and settled in. I had my heart set on going back to the Boston Museum of Art so I headed back to the subway and got on the train.

I rode that subway about 20 minutes before I realized I was going in the wrong direction.

By the time I realized what had happened I knew that I wouldn't be able to make it to the Museum in time before they closed. I got on the train heading back to my hotel. Oh well, I thought as I looked out the window. I guess I'll just go back and have dinner.

I rode the subway until I got to the building where the Photoshop World Convention was held. I remembered that there were some nice restaurants in that area. I wondered around in some shops for while, bought a pair of earrings. I walked across the street to the plaza where the convention was held. I was walking past a sea food restaurant when I was spotted.

Robert Vanelli, a bear of a man who most people simply call Vanelli, waved at me. Vanelli is a crew member at Photoshop World. I remembered talking with him while our group was waiting to get into Midnight Madness, an after party for the Photoshop World attendees. Vanelli was very outgoing and full of energy which makes him hard to forget. I walked over to say hello. He was standing next to Rod Harlan, an instructor at Photoshop World.

I remember Rod already knowing me from my twitter account which blew me away since I was officially meeting him for the first time. I never thought that someone that professional would be interested in my twitter account, let alone recognize me. I remember hoping that the cold weather was hiding the fact that my cheeks were blushing. Vanelli asked me where the rest of my group was. I told him that they had left already and I had chosen to stay some extra days.

"So you are by yourself?"
"Yeah"
"Why don't you have dinner with us?"
"Oh my God, are you serious?"

I tried to pick my jaw up off the floor and not sound so much like a kid.

"I'd love to!"

Dinner was blur of great food and great conversation. Vanelli never sat in one spot for very long. He made sure to visit everyone at the table. I sat next to Rod and a woman who told me a story about how when she went to Photoshop World when it was in Las Vegas she had saved up enough money for the conference but she didn't have enough for a hotel. She ended up sleeping in her car. When some of the people working the event found out they insisted that she stay in one of their hotel rooms. I remember listening to that story and thinking how amazing she was for going and how kind and down to earth these people are for helping her. I talked to Rod about twitter and we exchanged information. When dinner was over one of the girls took this shot of us.

A wonderful dinner!
Vanelli is on my left in the black shirt, and Rod is to my right in the jacket with brown sleeves.

I remember beaming. I could not believe that just happened. I had dinner with eleven industry professionals because I got on the wrong subway. I got to meet so many interesting people over dinner by a complete stroke of luck. I felt like a rock star. I must have thanked them a thousand times.

I walked out onto the street. My face was already starting to hurt from smiling too much. I called my mother to share the good news. At first it was hard to control my excitement and my mother couldn't understand what I was saying. Once I slowed down, and she knew that I was okay, she just listened to me ramble excitedly until I got to my hotel. 

That night I got some boston creme pie and ate it in my hotel room.  I sat on the bed waiting for all this excitement to settle. I was in Boston, by myself, just got done with the Photoshop World Conference, got lost, and ended up having one of the most amazing things happen to me purely by luck. I don't think I've ever been so dizzy and so happy all at once. I couldn't have asked for a better experience.

That was years ago, I still can't believe how much that happy accident has impacted my life.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Buddha

This is another miniature wood block print. A 2"x2" Buddha based on a sculpture that I had seen in the Boston Museum of Art.


Peaceful gesture, simple lines, soft expression. Even the way the ink transfered on the paper is reminiscent of its inspiration made of stone. 

He sits in quiet composure; nestled in a carved white frame on my bookshelf. He reminds me to take deep breaths every once in a while.