The Beauty of Oakland

Oakland, California has a long and sordid history.  It started out as a port city and is still incredibly busy; servicing all of the San Francisco Bay, and much of Northern California. The population of Oakland doubled after the big quake of 1906, and then lessened by several flu pandemics in 1918.  It thrived with the advent of aviation and the World Wars, and is extremely diverse in its people.

Starting in the 1980’s, Oakland became known as an unsafe town, due to several gang-related shootings, as well as drug transactions.  And in the last few years, it’s gained in notoriety because of the Occupy movement, not to mention the Fruitvale fiasco.

But I recently got to see another side of Oakland.  A photography Meetup group in my area held a self-guided photo tour of Oakland.  They gave us an address and date and we got to decide when to go there and what pictures to capture.

I was excited to see this event, because I’d been wanting an excuse to walk around Oakland and capture some of the amazing architecture through my lens . . . and here was my opportunity.

Google Maps directed me to an area that was several blocks away from the correct location, but I wound my way to the intended spot eventually, and picked up some great gems along the way.  The puffy clouds in the sky added to the day’s ambiance.

There’s the gorgeous Fox Oakland Theatre, which looks great from a frontal view (somewhat reminiscent of the grandeur of the early cinema, a la Grauman’s Chinese Theatre), but took on a whole new look when I captured just the top of the building.Oakland Fox Theatre

Another gorgeous structure is the Oakland City Hall.  Constructed out of white granite and Terra-cotta, this Beaux-Arts style building and clock tower (captured here) sits grandly over the Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.  This is one of my favorite structures, and I’m thrilled that I finally got to snap some photos of it.Oakland Clock TowerAnother of my favorite structures sits amid Latham Square, where Telegraph Ave branches off from Broadway.  This building–called the Cathedral Building–looks more like a fortress to me and is similar to the Flatiron Building in New York City.  The green tiles on the roof of the Cathedral Building set off the white stone quite nicely.Latham Square FortressBut it wasn’t just architecture that I found there.  I also saw some cool beauty in non-architectural things around the city.  There were some lovely flower beds to be seen near the BART entrances, and even this bike rack has some really nice movement to it.Cycling CirclesIt’s nice to know that beauty can be found in any city.  And this adventure was a good reminder for me of Oakland’s original grandeur.

These and other images taken that day will soon be available at both our Etsy store and on our website: MAS  We’ve currently got a sale going on at our Etsy site:  Buy 2 images (same size) and get 30% off!  We’re looking into how to offer that sale on our website as well, so until we do, feel free to email us to request the discount, and we’ll send you a PayPal invoice for the sale price (plus shipping and handling).

Willie Mays Work in Progress

Hello Everyone!

Craig here, and I’m going to give you all a sneak peek at a stipple artwork that I’m working on. I’ll also use it to demonstrate a little bit about the process I’m going through to create it.

My latest piece is a portrait of San Francisco Giant’s baseball great, Willie Mays Jr. For those of you who don’t know, Willie Mays is a Hall of Fame baseball player whose career was spent largely with the (then) New York/(later) San Francisco Giants, and is typically listed as one of the top five, if not THE greatest baseball player in history. For further information, here’s a link to his Wikipedia listing. Here is the image as it stands, today.

Willie Mays Jr. Portrait (in progress)The first thing I did when getting ready to do this portrait, was to decide whether to do a traditional head-shot bust, or to have a collage of several images. I decided upon the latter. Then I started looking at and collecting reference images. One of the big challenges with a collage approach is to get the right composition. You have to choose which images go with which. You have to make sure the bat from one picture isn’t poking another picture in the eye. You have to make sure the limbs are in positions that make sense, don’t create odd-looking distracting shapes with other elements in other pictures. You also have to make sure the picture as a whole is well-balanced, has good composition, contrast, and most of all, is interesting.

Then next thing I did was to take the images I collected that I thought would work with my concept, and brought them in to Photoshop to create the layout. This is a lot like working on a puzzle; trying to make everything fit, work together and be a good composition. I move things around, crop, resize, and generally have a really good time. I knew that there was one image that I wanted to use as the focal point and largest art of the picture, so that stayed pretty constant, and I played with the periphery. Here are some of the composition attempts I came up with, the last of which is the one I chose.

Samples of possible composition layouts


After that, I created a pencil sketch portrait, just to see how they all worked together and to get a little practice and rendering the different elements.

Once I knew I was happy with the layout, I drew the image onto my bristol board. I outline the various areas where there is a similar shade of grey. That’s pretty much the end of all the prep work. After that, there’s usually no more ways I can think to procrastinate, so it’s time to take out the pen and start putting dots to paper. I mentioned procrastinating, but that’s pretty much in jest. I enjoy this part so much, that I usually can’t wait to get to it. I would be happy spending hours and hours just sitting there poking the paper, but meals, job and buying kitty food inevitably interrupt. Here are some close-ups of the picture to give you a little detail. Can’t you just smell the pine tar (used to make the handle of the bat sticky, so it doesn’t fly away and concuss some poor spectator).

Details of the Willie Mays Jr. portrait work-in-progressThese images and more will be coming up soon on our website. Right now, we are running a summer special on all of our prints at our Etsy Store: Buy 2 prints of the same size, get 30% your order:

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