Never Bored with the Boards

Bridge Yellow

It was one hell of a busy summer. I finished a novel and gave up on another one (for now, anyway). I put together a game and marketing plan for the world’s first free daily serialized coffee break novel (seriously, Google it). The novel is currently running on my parallel blog, The Weekly Man.

I also, visited Fundy Park for the first time with my bestie, Stephanie, and will definitely be going back. I discovered a lake I’d been wanting to see for years along with my friend, Nanook of the Nashwaak.

I also put together my first solo exhibition featuring my macro photography and board drawings. I did 37 boards last winter and lost over 20 pounds. They were addicting to the point that I would start right in on them as soon as I got home from work and forget abut things like eating and making a lunch for the next day.

I did the actual drawing at home but took the boards into the studio to paint and varnish them.

This is what they looked like in the studio:

And this is what they look like hanging up:


I’ve visited the studios of many of my artist friends and it always fascinates me to see their works in progress and then see them on display with all the messiness of creation left behind. I think this is what many skeptics fail to see when they look at a painting and say something stupid like, “A few dollars for paper and a few dollars for paint…and you sell it for ten times what it’s worth.”


I hate these people with a passion. I’d like them all to work for me for free for one year. You know, doing whatever they’re good at and not being paid for it. Or being paid a couple of dollars an hour. On the other hand, these are most likely to be people who don’t do so well on their jobs because they’re not smart and they talk too much. Maybe I don’t want them working for me and just messing everything up.

So, with that aside put aside, seeing the work in progress gives you a true sense of the intense focus and commitment that goes into creating art. I’ve seen artists on the verge of collapsing from hunger and fatigue because they had a deadline for an exhibition and they’ve gone for days without sleep and they’ve survived on coffee and air.

And this isn’t always a matter of the artists not preparing properly. Often, it’s because the gallery or other venue has changed the rules, the dates, the physical venue or whatever. Or, preparing for the exhibit leads the artist into new areas and the temptation to add some of the new stuff to the exhibit. Fortunately, most galleries don’t allow this, or there’d be a lot more crazy artists jumping out of windows and off bridges.

For me, working on the boards was one of the most fulfilling and mystical experiences of my life. I believe that where there was life, there will always be life. Life is energy and wherever that energy has existed, there will always be some remnant of it…like when you cut down a tree, the tree’s life energy doesn’t just disappear…patches of it inundate the wood like shadows of the tree’s memories, and you can feel that energy in the boards even after they’re cut into useable sizes from the tree.

Before I start drawing on the board, I spend some time getting a feel for its life energy, and that’s what directs the tip of my gel pen to bring out the board’s story.

And the stories are never boring.


(BTW, the image at the top of the screen is one of the photos in the exhibit.)









Day 2 – Monkey Trees and a Battery Sale

So…it was a dark and spooky night. Even without a full moon…in which case I would have cried the whole time, being a big baby and all. But, it was only a half moon which makes it just half spooky, though, yes…darker. Before I left home, I set everything up…camera settings, flash power (Which I wish I’d known about that a couple of weeks ago while shooting at Killarney Lake. Why does everything have to be so damned complicated?) (And here endeth the rant.), tested the transceiver, put the camera on the tripod and a bunch of other shit.

Well, I got there and, as above, it was bloody dark, and I could hear things slithering and crawling and drooling and saying, “Mommy, can we eat the crazy bald guy?”

“Only if he falls and knocks himself out, dears.”

OK…maybe I cried a little bit.

I set my camera-loaded tripod up with just enough light from the half moon to make sure that it was level. Then I set up the flash and took a picture with the remote.

Nothing happened. No flash. I was counting on that flash to scare away the creepy crawly things that wanted to eat me. I suddenly felt very much alone. Very vulnerable. Very edible.

Through the panic, I thought. What’s wrong here? Maybe it’s the batteries in the transceivers…the ones that you left on since the last time you used them. So I packed up everything. Stopped for a bit to bang my head into a tree and put another wound right beside one I got the last time I was in the woods. Hey, night before last, I cut my little finger…the one that accidentally presses the Send key before you’re ready to send a message and FB. And right after that…I cut my thumb.

I get these things in pairs.

My mother used to say that things come in threes. No, Mom…they come in pairs.

So…where was I? Oh yeah…at the Stuperstore buying batteries. I stood in the entrance where there was lots of light so that I could see what I was doing as I opened the battery compartments on the transceivers. Which was about the time I noticed that the one on the flash was already opened. I closed it and tried the off-camera flash and it worked.


At least the batteries were on sale, so I saved some money at some time in the future.

I drove back to the monkey trees and set things up and got the picture you see here. It’s not entirely in focus, but it was the best shot I got (And yeah, I might take more than one image each day…but I will take a picture every day and post the best one here.)

I’m going to go back there and get this image right. But not as part of this project. And I will take mace for those little bastards that want to eat me.

Monkey Trees

Lesson learned: If you’re going to shoot in the dark…don’t leave your flashlight at home.

Using Another Computer to Post the Color Picture

Stupid Microsoft wouldn’t let me post the color picture last night because, apparently, I didn’t have administrator rights on my computer for that particular image.

So, now the two of you can compare the color and the B&W. Personally, I like the color. The lighting and contrast bring out the texture and feel of deep woods…a tad ominous, but still mesmerizing.

And did I mention that Microsoft is stupid?Forest Color

Day 1 – Into the Woods for Autumn Color, Almost

1I went out looking for some autumn pictures but there was something about the overcast light that didn’t do justice to the colors flaring at me from all sides. So I wandered around in the woods pouting and feeling sorry for myself when I came across this wind-felled tree and thought, “ Holy shit…this is cool. Screw the autumn leaves…I’m taking a picture of this.”

BTW, I reserve the right during this project to change my mind on the spur of the moment when I go out to get a specific pictures. But, since neither the two of you will know what I’m setting out to immortalize anyway there’s no point in mentioning this.

The first thing that caught my eye (and I just finished reading a book about photography, so I know what I’m talking about) was the vertical V rhythm created by the trees in the background broken by the skewed horizontals in the foreground.

In short, it looked interesting.

But a second thought occurred to me: would those rhythms be even more pronounced if these woods suddenly lost all their color and turned black and white? I believe there’s B&W preview mode somewhere on my Canon 5D2, but I think that might have just been a rumor in that book about photography I read. So I had to wait until I got home and stick this baby into Lightroom.

And so I did. And I really can’t make up my mind. I like them both. But, no, I think I like the B&W one better. It has more character. More texture. More allure. But, my dear two readers, I’ll let you have the final judgment. I’m just that kinda guy. But, then, Microsoft set in and won’t let me upload the color file because, suddenly , I don’t have administrator rights to post it. Do either of you hate MS more than I do?

A Picture a Day for a Month

This might shock most people who know me, but I don’t take enough pictures. I mean, when I do…I take a lot. Sometimes a thousand or more at one event. Apparently, this is small stuff for wedding photographers. But those people are in a whole different, and scary, world.

I don’t use my cameras every day. Sometimes I’ll go for a few days…even up to a week without using them.

And that really sucks.

I need to push myself a little more. Maybe a lot more. And this challenge that I’ve self-gauntleted is where I start.

I made a list of 31 pictures (yeah, October would have 31 days) I’m going to take. They’re not in any particular order because I don’t know what the weather will be like tomorrow let alone weeks from now. They cover a lot of things: indoor and outdoor portraits, off-camera flash in fields at night under a full moon, some HDR wilderness shots, shots stressing color and B&W, events, some street shots…lots of stuff.

Now, here’s where the challenge is: I have to do this every day. Every day. For a whole month. And I can’t just run outside and take a picture of the sky (although sunrise and sunset pics are on the list). I have follow a plan and…omg…learn something from all this.

But what’s to keep me from coming home tired from work and then having to rush off to teach a writing workshop or fulfill a sudden craving to drink a six-pack of beer?

This blog. That’s right. For all two of you who read this blog…I will be posting the picture I took that day at the end of the day along with some info about the image, like, why I took it, what I was trying to accomplish, et al.

And if you don’t see that picture that day, I know you’ll send me more hate mail.

So this Wednesday, the hell starts. I’ll be getting home from work and rushing off to M&T Deli to install pictures the wall space I’ll there for the next three months.

And maybe some of the images I take in this challenge will appear there.