A Parked Car – In Color and B&W

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This is my parked car. It’s been parked since 2011. Maybe it can get back on the road soon. I liked how the sun was shining on the seat and the steering wheel. I also liked how the trees were reflecting in the window.

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Snow Day

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ha, wrong camo for snow

This morning I stumbled into the kitchen to get my coffee going and out my window I saw snow flurries falling from the sky. Next thing I know there’s a flurry of excitement about this strange white stuff we rarely get to experience in East Texas. A few inches and you’d think we were in a blizzard. I braved the cold for a little bit to snap a few pictures.

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That red shed thingy in the middle of the picture really stood out.

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It’s hard to get close enough to shoot birds cuz they always fly away. I’ve only experienced a handful of snow days. Once as a child, it never snowed in the Mojave Desert and the one day it did I was sick and didn’t get to enjoy it with my friends.

I spent a New Years Eve with some friends when I was 13. We jumped on the snow covered trampoline and got soaked. Warmed up by the fireplace and went back out to go sledding. We didn’t have sleds so we made do with something that ended up tearing up our knees and shins. And once in college I had a test I wasn’t prepared for and I was hoping for a snow day but I didn’t get it.

 

Tell ‘Em That It’s Human Nature

My town has terrible radio stations that play the same old boring playlists. When I’m in my car I go ahead and torture myself by relying on the local stations to provide me with something good. And since I can control the radio on my steering wheel, I end up surfing non-stop. (I’m an annoying tv/radio surfer and proouud of it.)

Every once in a while on a cold night, I can pick up far away radio stations. As I get a little closer to Louisiana, I pick up cajun and jazz stations. As I get closer to Houston, I pick up really good rap and rock stations.

The other night I was going next door to visit my best friends. They’re only about 2 acres away but I decided to drive so I wouldn’t have to be in the cold for too long. Not sure where this station is from but I endured the static of 102.9 just to see what song they’d play next. That night, it was Michael Jackson.

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performance at Wembly, July 16, 1988

I find it interesting how certain events or details in our lives are impossible to forget. Most people remember where they were when they heard the news of his death. I was in college working at a call center. One morning I got to work and received the news that Michael AND Farrah had died. I felt so impacted by it then, and still am today. Michael sure did have an affect on human nature. Starting back when he was that cute kid singing, “Look over your shoulder honey.

Sadly, Michael always had all that controversy that went with him and somehow, I was always transfixed. I’m not really a star struck kind of person but I loved Michael and I always felt like he was just so wounded that he didn’t actually mean any harm to anyone. Was it just human nature that made everyone so curious about him?

Anyway, aside from all that, his talent was so amazing. The way he moved. They way he controlled his vocal range. His music videos set the standard for all music videos. Even that strange glove and screaming while grabbing his crotch. It was awesome.

If They Say Why, Why . . .

I’ve been enjoying this underplayed song of his from the 80’s, Human Nature. It’s so beautiful. His voice is so breathy through the whole thing and I think it really highlights his vocal range and control. I’ve been hooked memorizing the words and immersing myself in the music and dissecting every part of it. If you like doing that too, then I highly recommend that you treat your ears and your soul to this hit.

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I understand Lane Kim from Gilmore Girls when she says, “music is my life” 

This video from July 16, 1988 is a good one. I love towards the end when he lets the audience sing. His signature movements, his pelvic thrusts, his interaction with the audience, and his inflection of the word, “girl,” and everything else beautifully portrays the sentiment behind human nature. I’m reminded of what I heard in an interview that the woman in the short film, “The Way You Make me Feel,” was so nervous flirting with Michael and that he was nervous too.

I checked out wikipedia and learned that Human Nature was written by Steve Porcaro and on Michael’s Thriller album. Apparently inspired by his daughter and the weird way boys show they like girls. He ended up explaining to her that it’s human nature.

I hope you immerse yourself in this song and I hope that you also spend some time thinking about the nature of humans. Maybe you’re reminded like I was, of someone who made you feel the way this song feels.

 

 

Mad Magazine and a Flemish Artist Named Bruegel the Elder

What Me Worry

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One of my favorite things to read growing up was Mad Magazine. I loved it because it was sarcastic and every page was jam packed with so many things to look at. I’d do my first read through and then I’d go back and meticulously look at all the details. I managed to get years of enjoyment from those magazines.

In college I was in an art history class focusing on the Renaissance period. I loved classes taught by this particular professor. She loved art and she lived in Italy and various other places where she studied art up close. She gave the class an assignment where we were given a partner and an artist and we had to prepare a lecture to share with the class.

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Getting Mooned

A Great Flemish Artist

I was assigned Pieter Bruegel the Elder. My first thought was this guy could have painted for Mad Mag. His paintings are full of crazy behavior, everyday life, tons of details, and a large depth of field. In his painting below, Netherlandish Proverb, you can see all kinds of crazy behavior and someone sticking their butt out the window, just like on the Mad cover.

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Getting Mooned from the window at top right portion of painting

It’s 39 degrees outside and overcast and my dog is expressing her primal need to hunt. It’s definitely feeling like winter. So, I thought I’d take a look at a Bruegel painting that’s so cold it will have me reaching for another blanket.

Hunters in the Snow 1565 

A wealthy tax collector named Niclaes Jonghelinch commissioned Bruegel to paint a landscape series of seasons of the year. You can see up close details of this painting and watch a short video about it at this website.

 

1. First, I notice the broken sign. Not a problem at the moment, but that thing could fall and some unlucky person is gonna have a pretty bad headache. Better get that fixed.

2. Next I notice the warmth from the fire and the hunched over positions of the people. They look so cold. The hunters and dogs in the foreground are all hunched over too. It doesn’t even look like they got very much on their hunt.

3. Bruegel did a good job of creating a composition that slowly leads the viewer around the image. My eyes go from the hunters down the slope, past the plant, and down to the little scene at the bottom right corner. I can barely see the tiny birds underneath the bridge where that person is carrying something across it. You can see a few more people doing their daily things.

4. We’ve pretty much just seen peasants working so far which is very common in Bruegel’s artwork. Right here we’ve got funner activities of people skating and playing.

5. The mountain peaks are my favorite part. This scene isn’t an exact replication of any real Flemish landscape. Bruegel was inspired by the Alps. I’m personally reminded of the famous Vasquez Rocks in Southern California.

6. The sky is so overcast that you don’t actually see any shadows being cast. At first I thought that there was light shining on the tree limbs, but I guess that’s actually snow. The snow pops off of the tree limbs really well and makes me notice the birds again.

7 and 8. I spend some time looking at the distant background and noticing all of the details that I can see.

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A look without the numbers

Well, I’m tired of being cold and frankly, I’m tired of staring at the details in this painting. Pieter Bruegel the Elder was a great painter and we can learn a lot and be entertained from studying his work . I hope you enjoyed his winter themed painting as much as I did.

 

What Is The Ghost of Xmas Past?

I don’t have much time to live in the past when I’m living in the moment. Growing up, I hated to watch the older people in my life cry in their beer over the past and whine about how much today sucks. I didn’t understand . . . especially since I was standing right there.

Don’t get me wrong, I love remembering the past. I live in the house my grandpa built. I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know him since he died when I was almost 2, but I love hearing my parent’s memories of him. I’m living on his property in the house that he built when my mom was a teenager, so that his family would always have a home. It’s a great way to remember something we don’t have anymore.

Feeling Nostalgic

Most of my memories are vivid because I was living in the moment and actively storing them in my heart and in my memory banks. I wanted to fully experience it right then and always remember it. And I often go back in my mind and re-experience those moments and it’s awesome.

I’ve never actually longed to go back, or felt such a strong sense of loss that I desired a time machine. BUT these past couple of months I have been haunted by strange feelings of nostalgia. It’s not that awesome. Or is it? 

Nostalgia – a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition.

Like when a child becomes a teenager. It’s beautiful to watch and see who they’re becoming, but at the same time I experience loss because I’ll never be able to be with him as a little child anymore.

To be able to hold him and watch him experience everything for the first time. I can go back anytime and experience my vivid memories and photos/videos but now, in the moment that time is gone forever.

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I recently heard from a friend I haven’t seen in 9 years. We’ve known each other for 22 years and she sent me a picture of her wearing these xmas earrings I made for her in the 6th grade. I had completely forgotten about them until I saw them in that pic and they triggered so many memories that I haven’t thought of in a long time. 

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The earrings 

Photos and Memories

It made me wonder about these moments we experience and the effect photography has on them. Some people say that you’re not really living in the moment when you’re so concerned about taking a picture. It’s possible to do both. I’ve managed to photograph moments with my camera and my mind . . . and sometimes photos will trigger memories so strongly that it becomes easier to remember.

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Rd Trip through Louisiana

What about in psychology where studies show that memories aren’t really that accurate? Humans tend to remember the past better than it actually was. Or what about when memories have been tainted by time and discussion?

Maybe that’s why they cry in their beer and long for that old relationship or wish their children were young again. Maybe the changes or lack of changes a person has made, creates a rift in relationships and makes you feel an unreasonable longing for the past.

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Box of Photos

I guess a healthy dose of nostalgia isn’t so bad. The passage of time exists and we gotta embrace it and enjoy it. Like that Doris Day song says, Que Sera Sera, whatever will be will be.

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Disney Version

If we fully embrace the good, the bad, the neutral, the everyday we can experience life in it’s rawest and purest form. How about you . . . are you being haunted by the ghost of xmas past? Maybe it’s not a ghost at all . . . maybe it’s just a little bit of wisdom about life.

Can Snapshots be Art? Quick Pics 13-17

These are the last 5 quick pics that I took while hanging out with Speedy. I’ve had a lot of fun with this concept and I’m pretty sure I’ll keep shooting the Speedy way, even when he’s not around. A lot of my pics were crap and I’ll be deleting them, but I think it’s safe to say that snapshots can definitely be art.

Quick Pic 13: Guy with Untied Boots

We just stopped to eat and I saw this guy with his boots untied . . . he actually looked like he wasn’t completely finished getting dressed.Wow, and up hill too. 🙃

Quick Pic 14: Lady with Bright Orange Kicks

We were sitting at a very long red light when I noticed this lady’s bright orange shoes. I’m torn . . . I kinda like this pic but I also don’t. After I tried a few things, I finally decided to turn down the saturation on everything except their shoes and purses.

Quick Pic 15: Gnarly Tree 

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I like how gnarly the branches are so I included it.

Quick Pic 16: Her Piano Keys 

We stopped at someone’s house and I wandered into this dark room where I found a piano. I shined the light on my phone and snapped a couple of quick pics. I liked this one the best and I played with the split toning in Lightroom.

Quick Pic 17: Fish Tank Dragon

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We ran into this giant Pet Sense to get a new collar for my dog, Sunny. Their selection was pretty sorry for such a huge store, so I didn’t get a collar . . . I did grab this pic in the fish area though. And I played around with the split toning with this one too.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my quick pics and I’d love to know your thoughts about snapshots and their place in the art world.

Can Snapshots be Art? Quick Pics 7-12

A quick Google search says that a snapshot is an informal photograph taken quickly, typically with a small handheld camera. I enjoy shooting with my purple Panasonic DMC-SZ3 Lumix because it’s small and easy to carry anywhere I go. It’s got a Leica Lens and it allows for a wide range of control over the settings. It’s also pretty sturdy and has withstood my clumsy abuse.

Below are 6 more quick pics I took while hanging with my friend Speedy.

Quick Pic 7: View of East Texas Land +18 Vibrance

There’s really nothing spectacular about this picture but I like it. I like how blurry the foreground is and thought it would be fun to add a bunch of vibrancy and make that blue, green, and yellow really burst.

Quick Pic 8: 2 Old Cars

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I love shooting old cars. Speedy was driving fast as usual, but after staring at this pic for a while, I’m not sure I could have gotten a better shot if we stopped . . . I mean, I could have of course, but I probably would have made it too complicated.

Quick Pic 9: House with Slanty Roof, b&w

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This is one of my favorites. I’m so drawn to it. I love the lighting and the composition. It gives me a feeling of nostalgia and it triggers feelings associated with random memories that I can’t really fully remember. I also think of Miracle on 34th street . . . I guess I thought of that movie because she wanted a house. Hmm, I should watch that soon.

Quick Pic 10: Little White Sign

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Another favorite. I think Speedy was actually speeding because I barely remember taking this pic. I like odd things in odd places. Why is there a tiny little white sign all by itself out there? Maybe the words are on the other side of the sign. Oh, and those oil spots on the road add a bit of visual interest and balance. Not too bad for a quick pic. If it was hanging in a gallery it would get some attention. Sometimes it’s the simple things that spark lively conversation.

Quick Pic 11: The Surveillance

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Ahh feels good to photograph the surveillance. They’re everywhere, always watching, always focusing. I tried to create a sense of discomfort. Eh, it’s an ok quick pic. Not a fav. I had fun playing around in Lightroom though. 

Quick Pic 12: Untitled, b&w

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We had just pulled into a parking spot and we were sitting there for a minute waiting on the lady who parked right next to us. All of a sudden we heard a loud thud and slight movement. She actually hit his door with her door and left a tiny paint mark. I snapped this shot very quickly as I was walking by.