Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rest and Rockets

I'm lucky to live in an apartment complex that has a charming little pond surrounded by lush greenery. Sometimes I go for a walk when I want to be inspired or need to clear my head. On one particular day I was out enjoying the fresh air. I decided to sit for a moment and just be still.

Across the pond the sun was settling behind the roofs of the apartments. The cloudless sky was an unbroken palette of soft pastels marked by the bold blacks of the silhouetted trees. The small patches of algae sit as still on the surface of the water as I sit on the grass. Only the insects that belong to the dust circulate lazy paths through the atmosphere. 

I take a deep breath and let myself plunge backwards into the grass. I feel every crunchy blade across my back as I keep my eyes set on the blended expanse of colors above me. 

I catch a rocket crossing the sky. A miniscule dash of texture on an otherwise pristine canvas. I lay in the grass and watch it fall gracefully back to earth. A lonely constellation. A shooting star for a sky still in light. 

My eyes follow its effortless descent and I make a wish. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Photoshop World Orlando 2010

In 2009 I was lucky enough to win a ticket to the Photoshop Conference in Boston through the Student Graphic Design Association at the University of Central Florida. I had nothing less than a fantastic time. I stayed involved with the Student Graphic Design Association for another year and I was able to go the the next Photoshop Conference which was held in conveniently in Orlando.

The conference was held in the Orange County Convention Center; a massive building full of geometric lines and arching windows.

Another view of the beautiful architecture from the outside.

This is a shot of the students from the Graphic Design Association with Robert Vanelli. He was one of the staff members at the Photoshop Conference who I was lucky enough to meet last year at the restaurant in Boston. I was thrilled that he remembered me from a year ago and happily posed for a group shot. 

I was also able to find Rod Harlan again! I've followed Rod on twitter since that fateful night at the restaurant in Boston. A one point I made a comment on my twitter account about a piece of art work I had finished. Out of the blue Rod contacted me and asked if he could see it. I nervously sent him a file of my artwork. 

Rod is the President of DriveDV, Inc. - a full service multimedia marketing firm, and SITEdriver - a web development company. He is also the Founder and Director of Education for the Digital Video Professionals Association (DVPA). And that's just the short list of things he does. At the time I was still a bit shy about showing people my artwork, especially someone of such high standing in the arts community. I sent him a file of one of my digital portraits. (To see more of this artwork please visit my previous post Digital Portaits) Rod wrote back shortly and told me that he thought it was great. I couldn't believe that someone in such a professional position took such an interest in what I was doing. 

When I found Rod again at this Photoshop Conference he greeted me with a smile and introduced me to one of his friends as "that girl who makes amazing illustrations". I was simply beaming. 

This is a photo of me with Scott Kelby. Scott is the Editor and Publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, Editor-in Chief of Layers Magazine, training director and instructor for the Adobe Photoshop Seminar Tour, President National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP), CEO of Kelby Media Group, and author of a string of bestselling technology books. 

After the first conference I attended in Boston I was browsing through books in the Apple store. I picked up a book called "The iPhone Book: How To Do the Most Important, Useful & Fun Stuff With Your iPhone." It was colorfully written and sprinkled with humor. I turned the book over and was blown away when I saw Scott Kelby's name. Unable to contain my excitement I turned to my friend and shouted "I know him! That's Scott! I met him at the Photoshop World Conference!" 

At Photoshop World they have an expo hall that sells books by all of the professionals who speak at the conference. Many of the books are written by Scott and all of them pertain to art and technology. Except one. While pouring over the book selection I stumbled upon a book titled "The Book for Guys Who Don't Want Kids: How to Get Past the Fear of Fatherhood." At first I assumed the book had been misplaced but upon closer inspection I saw that it was written by none other than Scott Kelby. Curious, I picked up the book and began to skim through the pages. 

It was written by Scott in response to one of his friends finding that his girlfriend was pregnant and wanted to keep the baby. Scott's conversations with this man turned into the advice and tips that were the basis for the book. I remember one story that stood out to me in particular. Scott talked about a promise that he and his wife made to both get up in the middle of the night and take care of their child together as a team. No fighting about your turn vs. my turn. They would both get up and sit as a team. 

He went on to describe how difficult it was at times and how exhausting it is to raise a child. But he also spoke fondly of the deeper connections he built with his wife and the powerful bonds he created with his children. In a sea of tech books I was completely taken with the one book that seemed so out of place. I found it so compelling that a man with so much prestige relating to technology would take the time to write a book helping other men to become better fathers. All of his books about how to use the technology are brilliant, but this book really gives you an idea about what this man is made of. I have nothing but the outmost respect for Scott.

As I was leaving the convention center I ran into Vanelli one last time. He posed for a picture with his son Alec. The enthusiasm and positive energy at the Photoshop World conference is delightfully overwhelming. It brings so much joy to my heart to be surrounded by so many industry professionals who take as much pride in connecting with others as they do in their jobs. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

DRIP rehearsal

In order to prepare for the upcoming DRIP show we hold rehearsals at the Harwood-Watson Dance Studio in Baldwin Park. These were some moments I was able to capture.

Kim and Devondra practicing lifts.

The girls running across the floor as Mariko and Elise, the choreographer, look on.

I captured this shot with the flash, which showed up in the mirror and hovers over Elise's shoulder. 

Friday, July 15, 2011


A while back I was hanging out with my friend Tyson and I happened to snap a photograph of him when he wasn't looking. Months later that photo would become the starting point for my most complex wood block print to date.

The reason that I loved this photo so much was because it captured Tyson in a rare state. Normally, Tyson is a just a pure force of chaotic energy. The air around him feels the way static sounds on a T.V. or radio. His mind and his body nervously jump from one stimulus to the next. But on his patio he is completely different. He sits still, his eyes focus into the distance, and if you listen carefully you can hear him exhale as he thinks about something he's not ready to talk about. He adjusts his weight, comfortable in this moment of quiet calm. 

Months later I came across the photo and decided to make it into a wood block print. 

Even though this piece is small it is very complex. Each color was carved on a separate board of wood, all the paint colors had to be mixed by hand, and each board had to be run through the press individually.  Each piece of paper had to be run through the press six times with the wood blocks in a particular order so the colors would layer properly forming the desired image. 

Although I love the photograph of Tyson I think the print represents him better. All the elements hold together loosely to create an image that is relaxed but holds enormous kinetic potential. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Believe It or Not

The past few weeks have been stimulating to say the least. Toward the end of May I found myself at the Orlando Fringe Festival watching the Poetry Slam due to a canceled show. That proved to be a fateful day to say the least.

Seeing poet and friend Tod Caviness work his Poetry Vending Machine had inspired me to write poems and perform in front of an audience at the open mic night at Will's Pub. At the time I had been on the stage only once but was itching for more. Being exposed to the professional artists at the Fringe Poetry Slam made me to hungry for what spoken word could truly be. One artist stood out in particular.

Curtis X Meyer got onstage and belted out a poem he had written about literacy titled "In Crypt". I hung on every fiery word that seemed to spark out of his mouth. It was well written and passionately performed. It was a far cry from my nervous recital at Will's Pub. I was completely in awe of Curtis's command over the audience and the art form. I wanted to be that good.

I was unable to meet Curtis that night but I had the good fortune of running into him the next day as I was leaving a show. I told him about how I wanted to improve my skills as a spoken word artist. He said that he was glad to offer his help and we exchanged information. He helped edit my first real spoken word poem through emails but when it came time to give tips on actual performance we agreed to meet in person. Our paths crossed again at Stardust Coffee.

He coincidentally showed up with an astrology book he was reading. I was immediately curious and began asking him questions. It's not everyday I get to meet someone who shares in the same quirky interests as myself. He was just as eager to talk to me and the conversation topics bounced off the walls like a room filled with swarming bees. That electricity you get when two tornados collide.

For our first date he took me to the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum. Why settle for dinner and a movie? There is far too much to explore.

A beautifully adorned cannibal skull photographed with an ironic halo of light.

This is a photograph of an intricately carved ostrich egg and a piece of alligator hide with an antique pitchfork still attached. 

I couldn't resist this shot: Curtis on the Throne of Passion.

Two skeletons on display. One representing the way they are found compressed in rock, the other a full scale replication. 

My fingers in relation to the worlds smallest printed book. (It's in that tiny black circle) 

Perhaps my favorite photograph taken that day. Curtis was waiting for me while I was taking a picture of the terra cotta figures on display. At the last minute I noticed his symmetrical reflection and I shifted my shot. He didn't think he was in the photo, but his presence is what makes the photo so striking. 

Interestingly enough, Curtis's father actually works for Ripley's and we met up with him at the corporate office/warehouse for a brief behind-the-scenes tour. It was a toss up between being a kid at Chuck-E-Cheese and feeling like that guy wheeling the crate into the cavernous warehouse at the end of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Gorgeously embellished Tibetan ram skulls.

A solitary mummy hand resting elegantly on a bed of bubble wrap. 

The head of a different female mummy. If you look to the lower half of her skull you can see parts of her hair still coifed in delicate spirals. 

After the hours of taking in all the colorful curiosities Curtis relaxes near the window at PomPom's Teahouse and Sandwicheria. An interesting day to say the least. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July Festivities

My adventures in Orlando led me to Austin's Coffee for their I-4 Fest.

Local musician Sarah Purser performing with her guitarist.

I took this photograph of a man watching an outdoor performance at Austin's Coffee. He had an old-fashioned jug in his lap labeled XXX. 

Some colorful hipster girls leaning against a marigold wall.

I stepped inside Austin's to bask in the AC when I noticed these two playing a game. I took a few candid shots before the girl happened to look over at me. That smile tells me that she is winning. This ended up being the best shot of the bunch. 

My roommate and I had bought food to eat in the park downtown but it ended up pouring rain. We decided to have a picnic in the car instead. I took this photograph of the trees beyond the dappled windshield.  

We were eventually able to walk downtown to get a spot for the fireworks. On our way through the old-fashioned neighborhoods of Thornton Park I happened to spot a lizard waiting patiently on the inside of an antique lamp. 

People started to gather in the park as the sun sank into a cloudy sky. You could begin to see lights illuminate throughout one of the cities high-rise apartment buildings.

I happened to catch this firework as it fizzled behind two flags in the park.