My Favorite Muse

I’ve always been a fan of cemeteries.  I find the tranquility there to be quite refreshing. I know it might seem macabre to some, but if you’ll bear with me a moment, I’ll show you why it’s anything but.

Ornate Scrolls 2First off, most cemeteries are set away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  I’m not sure if this is to keep the living residents from being freaked out, or if it’s to make sure that the other “resident’s” final resting place is, in fact, truly restful.  You’ll also find lots of trees all around, so there’s plenty of shade, not to mention the birds who build nests in those trees, which adds a nice, soothing sound to the rest of the atmosphere.

Finally, I think being surrounded by people who have left this world puts me in a pensive mood.  I don’t always ponder my mortality when I’m in a cemetery, but those thoughts definitely pop in from time to time, and I welcome them, using them as a way to check in with my life, so to speak.

When I lived in Mt. Kisco (an hour north of New York City), I had to walk past a cemetery on my way home from the train station, and I would oftentimes stop in there to rest and take in the beauty of nature before making my way home to deal with dinner and whatever lay ahead of me that evening.

So when I started getting into photography, it seemed only natural that I would want to capture that peaceful quality through my lens.  The fact that there are some lovely lines with the tombstones, and amazing light play coming in through the trees just enticed me more.

Through my travels, I’ve come to enjoy the cemeteries in Europe much more than those here in America.  The ancient plots and the prevalence of crypts and tombs in older countries just speak to my eye more than the simple gravestones found in most of our cemeteries here.  However, there have been a few places in America where I’ve found some lovely gems, like those found in today’s blog.

Angel & Sphinx - Color SplashI lived in Chicago for six years before I finally decided to visit one of its cemeteries.  And the only reason I found it was because I’d been taking a glass fusing class at a shop right across the street from it.  One wintry day, I brought my camera with me and spent a couple of hours in the cemetery after class.  These images were taken back in 2005 with my Sony Cyber-Shot DSC, so many of them weren’t high enough quality to warrant being turned into prints, but I was able to find a handful that I deemed worthy.

Chicago Cemetery 2I hope you enjoyed these shots.  If you’re someone who used to be “creeped out” by cemeteries, hopefully some of my images will help you see the beauty and serenity instead.  There will be many more cemetery shots from me over the next few months, so be sure to look for them here, and in our Etsy store.

Stippling Victorians

Hello, Craig here.

Today I want to talk about my latest stippled piece. It is a house of Victorian design, and is probably one of the most recognizable and gorgeous on our island of Alameda. Every year, a gallery on the island [Frank Bette Center for the Arts] hosts an event called “Alameda on Camera”. It’s coming up again, so I’m sure that subject will be a blog of its own shortly, so I won’t go into it all here. Suffice it to say, that it’s a group of local artists and photographers that take pictures of various locations around the island. Alyx has done this for three years running, and I did it last year for the first time. While participating in this event, I got the idea to do a stipple piece of this grand Victorian. My assigned location didn’t include this house, but I know my Mom has frequently drooled over this place whenever she visits from South Carolina.

Alameda Victorian

That got me thinking about the various artwork my Mom has displayed in her house. Now, I’m one of three of her children, and all us siblings have a talent for art. For some reason, my Mom has very little of our works displayed. She has a couple watercolors from my sister Jenny that I know of, but the only picture she has of mine is an oil painting that I did for a painting class from community college. It was just a still life of a banana and some grapes, and I’ve never felt that it was one of my best works, and certainly not something I would say says something about me as a person or an artist.

So, when I saw the Victorian, I decided that I would create a stipple illustration of it as a Christmas present for my Mom. One of the great things about doing artwork of Victorian houses, is that it’s so much fun. They have so many details, trim, nooks and crannies that it keeps it fun. Start playing with lights and shadows and it virtually starts jumping off the page. I started work on it back in April or May last year, and got it done about a week and a half before Christmas. It sat dormant for most of the months in between, but I’m so glad I finished it in only one year (and it wasn’t that much of a deadline crunch either. Yay, me). So, I sent it off, and it arrived around Christmas, give or take a day. In the words of my Mother, she was so tickled. Now she has a beautiful original piece of artwork from her son that she can proudly show off and boast about to her friends.And here it is for you to share too.

Alameda Victorian Stipple

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