Sunday, November 04, 2012

From Above

Though I'm not fond of flying, I opted to take a 1 hour 50 minute flight over an 11 hour train ride from New York, NY to Greensboro, NC to attend the Writer's Police Academy. I discovered that capturing the view outside the window helps take my mind away from my fear.

It took a bit of experimenting with the ISO and shutter speed before I was able to get a clear shot from a moving plane. I hope to try this from a helicopter one day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

I took a tour of my neighborhood the morning after Hurricane Sandy. I counted four trees down in this block. This is a reminder that we need to respect Mother Nature and the disaster she can create.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Welcome Mistakes

I wanted to make a candy dish, but I had not worked out a plan. When it came time to place my both hands in the mold, I realized that it would be extremely uncomfortable for me to place my hands side-by-side in the mold without support underneath my arms. Since the mold was about to cure, I laced my fingers together and dipped my hands in.

After removing the mold from the plaster, I reviewed the results and determined that the finished product was too beautiful to turn upside down.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Keep An Open Mind

Left Thumb
I try to keep an open mind when it comes to trying new things, because I never know what I'm going to discover. Even so, there are times when I approach a task with preconceived notions.

When I discovered the Sculptors Guild was sponsoring a life casting workshop at Governor's Island this summer, I decided to drag my son there to make models of our hands. The choices available were finger and face, however, I was reluctant to do the face for I wanted to see the process and I could have cared less about the finger because there is nothing interesting about a finger.

Unfortunately, after waiting several hours for our turn, there was only enough supplies and time to make one hand. Since I wanted the memento of my son's hand, I resigned myself to sticking my thumb in the mold.

Painted Nail - Right Thumb
After the workshop, my son and I had several stops to make before we headed home, therefore, we decided not to remove the castings from the mold until later. Once I had the time, I carefully peeled the mold from the casting and admired the model that I had created. In fact, I was so excited by the outcome, I have since made several more models so I could experiment with different finishings.

Lesson learned, keep an open mind with whatever project you attempt. You never know what the results could be.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Never Give Up

First Drawing

On June 26, 2010, I took a seat behind a drafting table in my first drawing class. I had wanted to learn how to draw, but it wasn’t until that summer that I got the courage to take a class.

For the next two hours I struggled to draw a box. I went through several pages, just trying to get my lines straight and my eraser was well used by the end of the session. However, in the end, I completed the drawing, though I wondered whether or not I should continue.

This feeling that I should quit continued to plague me over the next several weeks as I struggled in class. My sketches looked nothing like the other students and on more than one occasion I was tempted to pack my bag and walk out in the middle of class. Yet, despite my frustrations I stuck it out.

During the fourth class, we had to draw a model of a hand. As usual, I struggled to get every line just right, but at the end of the class I looked at what was on my paper and I could not believe that I had done that.

Since that first class, I have taken three more drawing classes and I recently started attending figure drawing meetups to practice. Each time I work on a drawing, I begin to understand what I need to do to improve my picture.

For example, last night I spent twenty minutes working on a portrait and in the end, I was disappointed with the results. As I stared at the finish piece, I heard my instructor remind me to concentrate on shadows. Deciding to listen to the voice in my head, I concentrated on part of the model (instead of the entire model) and worked with the shadows. When I finished, I saw improvement that had me sitting in the space with a huge grin on my face.

And, as I look through my pictures, I’m glad that I did not quit when things were tough.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012

First Sculpture

Nueva - Red Raspberry Alabaster
I stumbled upon stone carving in May 2010 when I attended an open house at the Educational Alliance to get a feel for the school before I signed up for a drawing class. While wandering from one classroom to the next, I stopped to watch a demonstration. The idea of working with stone was fascinating, but I wasn't sure if I had what it took to create art, therefore I continued on my way. Several months later, after watching another demonstration and speaking with another student, I decided to give it a try. It took fifteen months (one sore wrist and one sore elbow), to complete my first piece on red raspberry alabaster. I named it Nueva, to reflect the new challenges I am willing to face.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Who I Shouldn't Call...

As I focused on this bee, my son casually mentioned, "Remember, I don't know First Aid."

Sunday, January 08, 2012


I will be the first to admit that I do not have much patience. When I want something, I want it now – not two days from now, tomorrow or even an hour from now.

I rarely order anything online or through a catalog, because I do not like to wait three to five days for a delivery. Even if I could be convinced to pay the extra ten to fifteen dollar for express shipping, I cannot stand waiting one night for the package to be delivered.

Because of my desire for instant results, art would seem like one of the few avenues I should pursue. However, my desire to pursue various artistic endeavors taught me the beauty of patience.

Having always wanted to capture that perfect shot, I decided in 2008 to purchase a Canon Rebel XT. After plopping down a little of over $500, I took my new toy home, set it up and began snapping away. What I learned after viewing the results was that a $500 camera can produce the same results as a $100 camera.

In order to get that perfect shot I had to read the manual and take a class to understand the how the shutter speed works, what an aperture was and how they can work together to produce the desired results. I then had to spend months experimenting – spending hours taking hundreds of shots then reviewing them to see what worked and what didn’t work.

During my photo expeditions I learned the difference between taking a picture (snapping away at the subject) and making a picture (waiting until the conditions are just right). At times, that meant waiting until the subject was free of any obstacles (unwanted people, cars, etc.) or until the natural elements (the clouds, the sun, etc.) were positioned in just the right way.

The lessons I have learned while pursuing various artistic endeavors have spilled into my writing career. As I am one of the few people who are able to sit down and type out the great American novel in one draft, I have had to exercise the patience. Besides writing my novels, I have to take the time to attend workshops to enhance my skills, edit, take critiques then edit some more in order to produce a manuscript that would not only attract an agent and/or editor, but an audience, who will be willing to return to read my future works.

As you face a challenge (losing weight, learning a new skill, etc.) remember, nine times out of ten you will not see instant results. Take the time to celebrate the small achievements (the loss of one pound or the comprehension of a new idea) and remember that with patience, you can achieve whatever you set out to do.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

I'm Glad I Did...

"I wish I had..."

On more than one occasion I had heard my grandmother utter those four words followed by regrets of dreams that had been unfulfilled. At times I had tried to offer her encouragement, telling her that it was not too late, but lack of motivation and the slow progression of dementia prevented her from pursuing her dreams.

Eventually, the dementia had progressed to the point that she was no longer able to take care of herself and she was admitted into a nursing facility. At that point, I realized it was too late for her to follow her dreams, but, at the same time, I began thinking about the accomplishments in my life that had not been achieved.

Every year, I rang in the new year with a list of resolutions that I would end up breaking within a month. That was not to say that I would not accomplish anything during the year. Not content  with staying in one place, I always worked to advance myself -- get my degree, learn more about my industry, and strive to be more efficient at my job -- but as I did, I placed the minor goals on the back burner, saying that I'll have time to do them later.

Unfortunately, with the daily demands of life, later never came, and, as one year moved towards the next, I found dreams were being left unfulfilled. If I had any hope of moving past the "I wish I had..." I had to find the time, the means, and the courage to achieve my goals.

I have since identified my dreams, creating a list of goals that I review throughout the year as I work towards achieving them. Some of the goals have led to new ventures that I had never considered (i.e. while attending an open house to register for drawing classes, I discovered the art of stone carving). And, after a year and a half, I can not only draw a portrait that actually looks like a human being, but I have a sculpture that I carved from a slab of alabaster. With each task I accomplish, I enjoy the feeling of being able to say, "I'm glad I tried it."

As we enter a new year, I challenge everyone to identify something they've always wanted to do, even if it is something as simply as baking the perfect birthday cake or as complex as sky diving. Identify what prevents you from achieving your goal, what steps you need to accomplish your goal, then, finally, start working towards achieving that dream.