Rural East Texas – A Photographic Journey

Driving up and down the roads of rural East Texas is a very enjoyable and satisfying experience. At times, I am so enthralled by the beautiful landscape that I am shocked I haven’t flipped my car and truly become one with the land.

 

Barns always grab my attention, and we’ve got a lot of barns in East Texas. I love how the bright blanket of yellow flowers takes over the land. This rural landscape is located on US 259 in between Nacogdoches and a small town called Mt. Enterprise.

The Hardwood Barn is located on the left as you approach Mt. Enterprise. I think it’s used as an auction house. It’s fun to watch the surrounding landscape change throughout the seasons.

I found this rickety little barn on a quiet winding backroad.

I love how old rusty farm equipment looks . . . It’s soooo country. These old tractors are located near Mt. Enterprise on US 259.

Here’s the final image of our journey through rural East Texas. I like how the cacti in the foreground frame the blue tractor in the distance. A large vicious dog was barking at me the whole time, so I shot this picture from the safety of my car.

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These Are Not Clouds – pt. 2

It happened again. I looked up and saw a rainbow around the sun with some strange looking “clouds.” If you haven’t read part 1, check it out.

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Setting: Normal

Remember how to say, “these are not clouds,” in French?: ce ne sont pas des nuages. It’s soooo much fun to say.   

not clouds-2

Setting: Cross Process with a yellow tint.

I really like how it turned out in cross process. The colors look interesting.

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Setting: Impressive Art – This effect gives your photo a dramatic contrast look.

This setting shocked me when I saw it on my laptop, because it really helped bring out the effect the “clouds” were making. I couldn’t even see the details with my eyes . . . Mostly because it was way too bright to look at.

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I’ve heard a lot of people tell me, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” I don’t really run into that problem. Although, I guess this effect isn’t actually that new anymore, since these “clouds” are becoming more ubiquitous.

Not sure what I’m breathing in, but at least I can get some interesting pictures. How about you? Do you notice any cool “cloud” formations in your area?

The Swing – Tale of a Hidden Love Affair

I love The Rococo period because their witty paintings are fraught with frivolity and fantasy, often depicting scenes where lovers engage in amorous behaviour. The ornate garden scenes and the soft pastel colors are really pretty too.

So much is going on in this painting which makes it very entertaining for me to study.

Let’s Take a Look at The Swing

Fragonard The Swing

The Swing, Fragonard, Wallace Collection

The only man willing to do the job, Jean-Honore Fragonard, was commissioned by the Baron de Saint-Julien, who desired a painting of his mistress swinging while he, the sneaky Baron, observes in the bushes. What makes this painting even more illicit and exciting is the older man on the bottom right who is pushing the girl on the swing.

The Husband

Could this man in the shadows be her oblivious husband who is completely “in the dark” about his wife’s affair?

husband and dog and putti

detail of husband, dog, and putti

While he happily pushes his wife into the arms of another man, notice the yapping dog at his feet. I think this dog knows what’s up and is trying to spoil the fun. Luckily for the lovers, nobody is fluent in dog. This dog is probably also there as a cheeky poke at the husband, in that dogs in paintings often symbolize:

  • loyalty
  • faithfulness
  • fidelity
  • love

 

A Call To Secrecy

fragonard_cupid sshh

A cupid statue on the left with his finger covering his lips in the “ssshhh” position, does his part to keep the affair quiet. He must be trying to make that noisy dog join in on the mischievous behaviour. There goes her dainty shoe, which you can see being kicked off in the last detail . . .

The Swingers

Illuminated in the middle of the painting we have the lovers in question. “The Swingers.” Notice the mistress’s beautiful and frilly pink dress blowing in the wind as she playfully flies through the air. And check out that naughty Baron; he’s got the best seat in the house. I read on artble.com, that the Baron gave the painter the following instructions:

the baron

“Place me in a position where I can observe the legs of that charming girl.”

 

Wow, that rapscallion sure knew how to Woo the ladies, didn’t he?

A Love Triangle

detail of love triangle composition

Fragonard painted the scene in a triangular composition, which helps lead the viewers eyes all over the painting to highlight the important details of the scene: The Love Triangle. Aaaahh, now we can see her shoe being kicked off as she get’s lost in the frivolity.

Darkness in the Age of Enlightenment

Rococo was a satirical response to the more serious advancements being made during the Age of Enlightenment, where people sought out rational thinking over the prevailing acceptance of divine powers. In The Swing, Fragonard successfully uses “light” to bring awareness to the underlying “dark” forces at play.

Whoever said that studying art is boring? If this was the plot of a tv show, people would be glued to their screens.

So, what do you think of this famous Rococo painting?

Fragonard painted some other playful scenes you should definitely check out. Some intriguing titles include, “The Stolen Kiss,” and “Rinaldo in the Enchanted Forest.”

 

Reference used: Adams, Laurie Schneider. Art Across Time. Third Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007.

 

 

Clash Royale Battle Video – Rascals + Mortar Siege Deck

Last September I downloaded a mobile video game called Clash Royale. I was hesitant at first because I was never a fan of card games. But my persistent friend finally convinced me to get the game and join his clan, and I thought, “Why not? It could be fun.”

Well, it is a lot of fun! I remember my first 4 battles, I just jumped in and got my butt kicked really good. I didn’t get discouraged though.

clash royale logo

Supercell

I gradually got the hang of things and I managed to win some battles and get some good rewards. I loved the strategy and all of the destruction . . . It didn’t take long before I was hooked.

One of my favorite parts of the game is the characters. Their design, their sound effects, and their unique personalities and abilities are so cool and creative.

My Favorite Cards

 

The Witch  She summons powerful little skeletons and shoots really cool looking Destructo beams. According to Wikia, The Witch has been “Buffed” more times than any other card, which has improved her stats. No wonder my decks feel incomplete without her.

dark prince

The Dark Prince – This beefy tank comes in second because he’s got a tough shield and he makes really fun sounds. He whistles when he charges, and his voice is all muffled because of his helmet. He’s so funny and he can take and deal out a lot of damage. His absence is noticed when I use a deck without this dark lad.

goblin gang

The Goblin Gang – These wild – eyed goblins are great. They can take out big troops like the Prince, and I love the way they use their knives to stab. I prefer the gang over the individual goblins because you also get the spear goblins. Even though this troop can be taken out pretty easily, they’re still a favorite.

My Most Coveted Card and My Enemy Card

The Magic Archer – I can’t get him until I reach Arena 11, and I am currently in Arena 10. He can be killed quickly but when used properly, he is a force to be reckoned with.

mega knight

The Mega Knight – This card is so cool. I love how he lands with a powerful BOOM dealing damage to every troop around him. I don’t have this card yet, which makes me sad. And when I see him drop down on my troops I cry a little because he is my arch enemy. Especially when my opponent ends up dropping multiple Mega Knights. I could punch a wall!

middle finger

Your Clan

Finding a good clan is important. When I was playing another Supercell game, Clash of Clans, I never was able to find a really good and active clan. I struggled to get enough gold and elixir and it was really hard to win wars.

I don’t have that problem with Clash Royale. I’m really happy with my clan because it’s active and has a lot of members who are really good.

The Battle Video – Rascals + Mortar Siege Deck

One of my clan members in particular, XEpicProdigy99X, excels at the game. He’s made a couple of videos, and I want to share the most recent one because he included a 2v2 Battle that features ME.

How cool is that? Check this out!

If you’re a fan of Royale you can benefit from watching his videos because not only is he funny and entertaining, but he also provides some really great tips, win conditions, and valuable information about cards.

Watching him battle (and battling with him) has helped me improve, and he has also helped deepen my gaming experience. My readers know how much I love living in the moment, and fully embracing and experiencing things. Which is exactly how XEpicProdigy99X plays Clash Royale.

emotes

So, if you’re looking for a fun and challenging mobile game, I suggest that you try out Clash Royale. If you do, go ahead and watch Orange Juice Gaming also. I learned so much from him when I was a beginner.

Cool Spider and Snake Pictures

First off, I’m freaked out by spiders and I imagine them scurrying up my arms . . . but, I think their webs are interesting. And when I see a snake my heart beats so fast, my adrenaline kicks into high gear, and I’m outa’ there.

I feel so alive in those moments.

And even though I imagine snakes slithering up my leg and eating me alive, I am completely fascinated by these age old beguilers.

Spider

morning spider pic-1

I noticed this spider web glistening in the morning sunlight. The wind was really strong, so I used a faster shutter speed than metered, which resulted in a pretty dark picture.

morning spider pic-2

I used auto correct for this picture and I thought the background lost too much of the darkness that allowed the spider to pop. Also, The highlights and the green at the top were a little brighter than I liked.

morning spider pic-3

So, I tried again doing the work manually. I brightened up the exposure slightly around the edges which resulted in a more balanced contrast between the light and the dark. The differences between these pictures are small, but I wanted to include both.

I really like how the lens flares and the rainbow colors turned out.

Snake

Later in the afternoon, my dog Sunny was barking wildly. I checked it out but I didn’t see anything. When we got back from our walk she went right back to the same spot and that’s when I saw it.

The snake looked more brown when I was running away from it.

blue snake-2

He’s actually blue with a yellow belly. How cool is that? I can’t tell what kind it is though. I’ve narrowed it down to three possibilities:

  • Blue Indigo
  • Yellow Bellied Blue Racer
  • Yellow Bellied Water Snake

If anyone can identify this snake, I’m all ears.

Fight or Flight . . . Flight!

Even though she’s an amazing snake killer, I got Sunny in the house and I went back outside to try and get a picture. I like to think me and snakes have come to terms with each other. Because this one let me take his picture and then he was gone.

I love that I got the opportunity to photograph and to experience the snake, without being in any danger.  What’s cool about this picture is the tree limb right in front of the snake mimics the bend in his body. They’re amazing at camouflage.

I wonder if I was staring right at him before when I checked, but he was hiding . . .

 

How to be a Fearless Artist

I love the feeling I get when I’m ready to make some art. I gather all my colorful supplies and make sure I’ve got plenty of light. Then, I look down at my clean, stark white canvas and suddenly I go blank. Blanker than the empty canvas. Fear suddenly enters into my heart. Like a lil’ wimp, I let that fear take me away from the art to go snack, rake the leaves, or (seriously?) clean the toilet.

the-scream

The Scream, Edvard Munch

Creative Courage

 

Writers do it too. Staring at the blinking cursor against the bright white background of the empty document, has the power to traumatize more effectively than a terrorist in war. Before you know it you’ll be laying in a fetal position hugging your stuffed animal and wondering how you ever thought you could be an artist.

lucas scott i suck

Lucas Scott, from One Tree Hill, experiencing writer’s block and typing, “I Suck.”

How to Develop Artistic Bravery

Artists like Bob Ross make it look easy. He fearlessly slops some paint down and creates a beautiful work of art. Below are some helpful tips to overcome fear:

1. Sketch -Before you start the finished piece, grab some cheap scratch paper, do some sketches and work out your ideas. It’d be awesome to create the masterpiece on your first try but that’s also a lot of pressure, and not always realistic. (It’s not impossible though.)

Constantly sketching and drawing will help you improve, which will build your confidence and you’ll be saying, “Goodbye Fear.”

2. It’s NOT permanent – Some art supplies can’t be erased like graphite pencil. So it feels like your marks will be permanent and if you make a mistake, what do you do? First, relax. Start out with a lighter touch and build gradually. Oil takes forever to dry so if you make a mark you’re not happy with just wipe the paint away and cover it up with more paint. Remember that many art mediums are forgiving and workable.

Or, like Bob Ross, you might get a “happy accident.”

3. Act Brave – Being an artist requires bravery because you’re doing something that cost you. Your art comes from inside of you. And what if people don’t like it? What if they put it down? Just be brave. And if you don’t feel brave, then PRETEND.

Do the opinions of other people strike terror in your heart? If so, be inspired by the war hero. Look fear in the eye, be strong and stand up for your artwork. Allow the reactions from people to be constructive criticism to help you improve.

vincent_van_gogh_-_sp ear

Hide the Knives! Van Gogh Self Portrait with bandaged ear

The Tortured Artist

Artists are sensitive and have to develop a thick skin. It may seem like I’m being a drama queen but I think fear is a common problem for everyone . . . not just the creative souls. Remember . . . feeling these raw emotions is a big part of art. And for me, overcoming fear makes me feel like a BOSS, and gives me the power to overcome whatever obstacles I might face.

bob-ross

Bob Ross!

Being Your Own “Worst” Critic

Do you like your art? Are you conveying your message? Are you giving it your all? Maybe bravery in art, is really in facing yourself.

Quick Pics 18-27 – A Fishing Trip

Welcome to my 4th installment of Quick Pics coming straight to you from the backroads of East Texas. I was headed to go fishing with my family friends, and what I like most about these pictures is how they show that we were truly just enjoying the moment. That feeling of letting the cool breeze hit your face while riding down the beautiful road with people you care about.

Quick Pic 18 – Juxtapose

quick pic -1

I love how the leaves take over the ground and the trees.

 

Camera Setting: Cross Process

I named this photo Juxtapose, because the lines created by the trees, fence, and the frame of the window are running perpendicular to each other, which creates an interesting and balanced image.

Juxtapose: to place (different things) side by side (as to compare them or contrast them or to create an interesting effect)

When I’m taking pictures from inside the car, I like to sometimes include the car to let the viewer know where I’m shooting from. In this case, the car helps :

  • to frame the image
  • to mimic the lines of the fence
  • and to add more horizontal lines, which juxtapose to the vertical lines

Quick Pic 19 – Down Country Roads

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Camera Setting: Normal

I was really wanting to take pictures but there wasn’t anything grabbing my interest. So, I was just playing around with the zoom and snapped this blurry view of the road winding in front of us.

Quick Pic 20 – Memories, Old and New

quick pic -3

Camera Setting: I don’t remember and I can’t tell . . . My guess is Cross Process.

Still playing with the zoom, I managed to capture a bright burst of sunlight over my friend’s shoulder. She was wearing a Blake Shelton concert shirt and telling a story about when she was a kid and her parent’s would take them down these backroads picking buckets and buckets of blackberries.

Quick Pic 21 – Which Way Should We Go?

quick pic -4

Camera Setting: Cross Process

We weren’t catching any fish at Lake Nac, so we got back in the truck and drove around looking for a better spot. When I snapped this pic, we were trying to decide if we should go left or right. I love the way the sun is shining on the ground in the distance.

Quick Pic 22 and 23 – Untitled

Camera Setting: Toy Camera

The wind was too strong here so we just circled the parking lot and left. I liked how the sun was glistening off the water and the ramp.

Quick Pic 24 – A Church

quick pic -7

Camera Setting: Cross Process

We have 100’s of historical churches in this area. We also have 100’s of historical cemeteries . . . many of them were the subjects of photo projects I did in college. At the time, I thought about doing a series on churches, but I guess I never got around to it.

I didn’t like how the image looked when my camera was horizontal so I tilted it quickly and snapped. I think it’s a pretty cool pic.

Quick Pic 25 – Ugh, Teenagers

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Camera Setting: Cross Process

I was mostly taking pictures on the right side, so I shoved my camera in front of my friend on my left, and he thought it’d be a good idea to try and block my lens with his hand.

Quick Pic 26 – Untitled

quick pic -9

Camera Setting: I can’t tell if this is Cross Process, or the Miniature Effect.

I took this while we were crossing a tiny bridge. I really like how the reflection of the trees look, and the blurriness around the edges. I love this picture. It’s my favorite quick pic of the day.

Quick Pic 27 – Fallen Tree

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Camera Setting: Normal

I noticed this scene when we went down this road the first time but the 70 mph speed limit was too fast for me. We headed back down this road, and this time I had my camera ready. I thought I missed it again until I was looking at the pics on my laptop.

I’ve seen a lot of fallen tree scenes like this all over, and I think it would look better if I used a DSLR and got out and got closer. Quick pic didn’t do this scene justice but I was happy that I did capture it, when I thought that I didn’t.

Sooo . . . Did We Catch Any Fish??

fish-1

Not a “quick Pic”

Camera Setting: Cross Process

We finally found a good looking spot under a bridge where we caught one large blue catfish and a couple of small fish that we threw back.We laughed so hard trying to walk on the slippery mud.

I had a couple of pictures that are left untitled . . . I just couldn’t think of a good name. Anyone out there good at naming photos? If anyone thinks of something, I’d love to hear your ideas.

I hope you enjoyed these quick pics as much as I enjoyed taking them.