Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Further Reincarnations of Fish-Guy

The things we do to amuse ourselves is fascinating, to amuse some of us anyway, or a few of us, Fish-Guy is back. After trading diving stories (scuba not sky) with a friend recently, I now have fish, coral reefs, and Red Stripe in my dreams or on the brain or somewhere. I've also had a long snooze-worthy week of day-job technical drawings (something I'm not good at) which has left me with a desperate need for color, and paint, and a little silliness (something I'm very good at.) Fish-Guy has returned with a new look.  I'm grateful it's not February. Fish-Guy doesn't do Valentine's Day.

Fish-Guy made his inaugural appearance in a previous post, Designing Your Own Stuff. Yes, I did carry him on a plane from St. Thomas, but I do believe he came into my life closer to twenty-five years ago, not twenty, and it wasn't exactly 'walk on the plane and go home.'

I was on an island-hopping sailing vacation and I arrived with one duffle bag, bathing suits, t-shirts and snorkel gear. I don't even think I had a hair dryer. Consuming sailboat power with a hair dryer is generally not appreciated. Generators can be temperamental. Okay, I had packed light. It's amazing how one bag can expand to multiples filled with treasures, and I don't think I was anywhere near a duty-free shop. The best goodies are found on the side of a road or in a shack on an isolated beach. I'm digressing again, but sometime I'll have to write about how two beer coolers full of conch shells spent three weeks traveling from the Bahamas.

I had stuffed my duffle bag with everything that wouldn't break and all my clothes. I said goodbye to that bag at the St. Thomas airport check-in. I lugged a heavy carry-on filled with carvings and other pieces of art. Fish-Guy was under my arm, wrapped in layers of newspaper. He is about three feet long and has some sharp edges and would probably be a weapon on an airline today. A lot to schlep, but I'd be home in a few hours, right?

I don't quite understand how this works, but where does your luggage go when your flight is cancelled because the plane never left wherever it was coming from? St. Thomas is a very small airport. My duffle was probably hiding about fifty feet away from me. Courtesy of the airline, (they were quite generous at one time,) I spent another night on the island, with only the clothes I had on, Fish-Guy and his getting-heavier bag of friends. My foresighted travel partner had a carry-on with the usual useful things one should have in a carry-on. At this point, we both thought this was funny.

About twenty-four hours later, the substitute flight landed in Puerto Rico where the connecting flight to Philadelphia was waiting. Fish-Guy and friends were hanging in there. I looked like I'd been wearing the same clothes for way too long; then the bidding started.

As I mentioned earlier, airlines were very generous years ago. The flight to Philadelphia was overbooked and the increasing offers to give up seats kept coming. When the offer hit a four-figure travel voucher and a first-class seat on the next day's flight, that was it. Fish-Guy wanted to see Puerto Rico, and I went to buy a dress for dinner.

Fish-Guy fueling up before donning Mardi-Gras attire.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Painting Black on Black

The boots illustration in my previous post is about as frivolous as art can be, but it was both fun and more of a challenge than it appears. My day-job-art is somewhere between semi-serious and 'exactly what exciting shade of light gray is this building?' The drawings I'm doing for my blog are an outlet for amusement, somewhat empty-headed expression and color (I've used gray and beige as little as possible.) The challenge surfaced as I became more aware of how I should paint shades of black on black suede boots and black tights. It would have been easier if the boots were tan with shadows, or shiny leather with reflections.

Ad Reinhardt's series of black paintings came to mind. Recently, while at the Museum of Modern Art, 'Abstract Expressionist New York' exhibit, I entered a doorway and found a large, black Reinhardt piece positioned directly across from the entrance. At first, I thought about moving closer to look for the subtleties I have been told are there. I people-watched instead. There were about two dozen people gathered in front, taking turns moving closer, then back a few feet. Most had arms folded over their chests, heads tilted with wrinkled foreheads. Mixed in were the usual complement of smaller humans, texting, playing Nintendo, or whirling around while staring into space. This was an interesting piece of performance art. I imagined microphones dangling from the ceiling overhead, and an interactive playback device where one could hear the thoughts of those staring into the black hole. I imagined what they would say and what they thought they should say.

A wandering-mind is an interesting side effect of painting lighthearted subjects.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Suede or PVC?

I laced up my Sorel boots this morning, for about the fourteenth day in a row. I wasn’t thinking about work, finishing up two paintings staring back at me, the state of the economy, global warming, pre-ordering a Verizon iPhone, or even how fortunate I am to just be able to lace up my boots. I was thinking about boots. Okay, I’m not a morning person. I walk into things; and finding my reading glasses and favorite coffee mug is as close to serious thought as I get before 10 am.

This winter, and last, has been unusual for coastal New Jersey. In previous years, the snow would disappear faster than it arrived. Snow isn’t supposed to hang around here. I haven’t had a need for snow boots since grade school. Yes, I regularly walked to school in two feet of snow (Ohio), dressed like Ralphie in "A Christmas Story."

Shoe shopping doesn’t top my list of things to look forward to. Boots are a different story. I love boots. I love my Sorel boots. They are warm and dry but not even close to sexy. Boots I feel good in, the suede heels, in particular, won’t be seeing the outside of my house for quite awhile.

There is plenty of time left today to figure out how to make a concrete and steel warehouse look interesting (work.)  I’m creating boot art right now. Is it really procrastination if you are thinking about whatever it is you are putting off, while you are doing something fun?
“The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.” Albert Einstein.

Thanks Albert, I’ll be an adult later this afternoon. I'm going to truthfully pursue the art of my beautiful boots. If I can't wear them, I'll paint them.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I'm Officially Addicted to My iPad

My cell phone only makes phone calls and I rarely even turn it on, so it's only taken a few short months to become totally iPad addicted. The advantages of an iPad over a 'smartphone,' are many for those of us who now require reading glasses. The pinch-zoom feature is worth the price all by itself. It's a bit heavy to carry around everywhere. I'm still never without it even though it sometimes stays in my car if I'm shopping. If the iPhone ever becomes available on Verizon, I would seriously consider it. In my area, non-Verizon phones are out of service in most of the places that top my list of  “places I don’t want to be without a phone.” Although I would probably have to increase the magnification of my reading glasses, I do like the idea of being able to sync all the info on my iPad with a smaller, more portable device. I’ve been consciously trying to lighten my handbag load lately.

Although I've done my share of copywriting over the years, I’m an artist and I never imagined that article writing (for myself and others,) research, website updating and Internet communication would become dominant activities of my day. I now have seven email addresses, dozens of login names, passwords, keys and pin numbers. Keeping track and on top of these things was beginning to make me want to turn everything off and go live in the woods . . . just for a minute or two, I love my toys.

I started out adding apps slowly; Kindle, Netflix, NYTimes, Slate, Dropbox, a few games, more news feeds and some reference apps. Research the reference apps unless they are free; often, it's better to download the actual book to iBooks or Kindle. Many of these apps may be too simplified in their content. The AP Stylebook is one example. If you are constantly on the run, the AP app on your iPhone may come in handy, but for the same price you can subscribe to the internet service directly through AP. If you feel the need to analyze this article to determine whether I’ve actually referred to AP today, I’ll save you the trouble, no. 

As of today, there are 93 apps on my iPad. I will admit that I enjoy some mindless ‘Angry Birds’ launching and some challenging ‘Words with Friends’, so a third of them are games and puzzles. Thanks to the recent system update they are all in folders, which frees up screen space for the apps I use frequently. I have to blame AppAdvice for all the games. It’s a great source for almost-daily lists of ‘apps on sale’ (or free) for a short time. Why doesn’t the App Store have a reduced-price or sale category?

A Bluetooth keyboard was a welcome Christmas gift. I do some writing on my iPad, but I’m an old-school typist; first learned in high school when it was called typing, not keyboarding. You can’t ‘type’ on a virtual keyboard. According to Wikipedia, “Touch typing is typing without using the sense of sight to find the keys.” For those of you who don’t type, (two-thumb texting does not count,) there are two huge advantages: speed, and the ability to just concentrate on what you are saying without the interruption of looking down to find a key. I’m still adjusting to the new keyboard. I have noticed the iPad goes wonky after I turn off the keyboard. The touch-screen does not respond as it should. Restoring it to normal requires entering the settings, turning off Bluetooth, and shutting down the iPad. On restart, the iPad is fine, but these few more steps are inconvenient.

I haven’t discovered any joys of creating art on the iPad. I’m sure there are some to be found, I’m not there yet. I am organized. Well, no, I’m not exactly organized, but all my info is. My emails are all linked together, photos and images I need most often are in Dropbox, passwords and pins are all in one place and easily accessible. The most important and newly added app is ‘Find My iPhone.’ No one plans on losing their iPhone, iPad or all that information; but it is reassuring to know how to instantly wipe the info should the device go AWOL; which is something one cannot do with a wallet or notebook.

The App Store is an affiliate.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Designing Your Own Stuff

I finally have a redesigned homepage. The original was done quickly just to get something up. Now, four months later, I have replaced it with something I actually put some work into. The paint spatters (my first page) were fun for awhile, but the new one is more like me, since I have been into adding illustrations to my blog posts. The wall in the background really is similar to the walls in my room/studio/cave, faux-painted about ten years ago. I know, it’s time to change the paint. The fish also exists in real life. (I have a thing for fish.) It’s about three feet long and made of tin. I actually carried it on an airplane from St. Thomas about twenty years ago. Fish-guy does get whimsically repainted frequently. Right now he is copper.

As it is with much of my artwork, this drawing tended to grow into something else as time moved on. The work was spread out over three days.  The drawings that are completed in the same day as they were started are actually changed less than the longer term work. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is due to waking up as a slightly different character than I was the day before; a different day, a different point of view. I have no difficulty being objective and planning the work to meet deadlines when it is for someone else. It is so much harder to design for yourself.

There is a fuzzy line between adjusting imperfections and knowing when to stop. Nothing is ever going to be perfect enough. I will keep making changes for nearly everything up to the last moment, (assuming there is a deadline,) unless it is framed and under glass. Even then, if it’s a piece I’m going to post somewhere, I will still find things to alter after I’ve taken the photos.

I found an interesting post on Six Revisions, (Useful Information for Web Developers & Designers, as it says it their subhead, and I agree); “How to Design for Your Worst Client: You,” by Francisco Inchauste, 6/1/2009. For any artist (of any kind) who has been at it for awhile, this article will sound very familiar, and a good one to keep around when you feel you need a kick in the head, or somewhere. My favorite (bookmarked for the next time I’m beyond my personal timeline) is “Rule #7: Perfection is infinite; ‘time to get rid of the inner critic.”