Practice, Practice, Practice

An artist must always continue to hone her craft.  It’s how she grows, learns new methods and maybe even finds new facets of her art to explore.  To that end, I’ve recently signed up for a class in photography, and I’ll be sharing some of my pieces with you from the class.

But I also want to share an online tutorial that I’ve found to help me fumble around in Photoshop and offer some tips and tricks.

I found Yanik Chauvin’s Photoshop & Lightroom for Photographers tutorial through (a place where you can get lots of online courses for very cheap prices).  But in looking at his website, I see that he has quite a few more courses to offer, and they all appear to be free.  I’m still working through the one I got from Udemy, but you can bet your boots that I’ll be signing up for his others, too.  He covers a wide array of tools you can use in Photoshop that I’ve found very helpful and his manner of teaching is calm and thorough.

Another site I’m going to point you to is for a friend of mine.  I met Roi Brooks while working for an advertising company a few years back.  His infectious laugh and wonderful hugs drew me in and I looked forward to seeing him each day.  I found out that he did some photography on the side, and everything I saw was very cool and quirky.

So when I started to get into photography as a career and not just a hobby, I asked for his help in mentoring me.  He currently splits his time between the Bay area and Belize, so we aren’t able to get together that often, but I’ve discovered that he also offers some tips and tricks on his own blog, so I’ll be checking those out in the spaces between our meetings.

Roi travels all over the world, taking product photos and whatnot, so I’d say he’s currently my photography idol.  I’d love to get paid to take photos around the world.  But as you can see on his photography website, he also does some very interesting things with his personal photos.

I’d love to hear any tips or websites you use for enhancing your photos, so please feel free to leave them in the Comments section.

‘Til next time . . .

Artists Tributes

Hey Everybody. Today, I’d like to talk a little about celebrity deaths, and share a couple tributes from some great artists that I came by recently.

Unfortunately we’ve recently lost some celebrities to cancer, and it has hit us pretty hard as a collective consciousness. I’m mainly talking about David Bowie and Alan Rickman (and just before posting this, Glenn Fry also passed away). This has sparked a slew of tributes posted to social media, and rightfully so. Both of these men, especially Bowie, seemed to strike a chord with creative types. While Bowie was a musician, and Rickman an actor (in simplest terms), both were creative artists, and certainly prompted responses within the visual arts community.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to make the time to create my own works of art in their honor. Therefore, I thought I’d share some artwork from other artists whose work I appreciated. Here are some images below, and I’ve captioned them with the name of the artist.

I also thought I’d muse a little bit about my reactions to these events, which may be different than you might expect. First of all, let me say that I wasn’t much of a fan of David Bowie. I didn’t DISlike him, and I certainly enjoyed his performance as the Goblin King in the Labyrinth. How can you not appreciate the glass ball juggling (I still want to learn how to do that), and I appreciated him as a musician. His style just wasn’t my cup of tea. I was more of a fan of Alan Rickman. My favorite role of his being, of course, Hans Gruber in Die Hard. I also enjoyed him immensely in Galaxy Quest and the Harry Potter movies.

Let me say up front, that I’m a pretty sensitive guy. I grew up with two sisters (no brothers) and my Mom. And my Dad had 4 sisters (and no brothers). So, I’m very much in touch with my feminine side. I enjoy romantic movies, and cry heartily at touching movies, and even select commercials. This is why I find it extremely surprising that the news of celebrities passing doesn’t hit me as hard as it seems to hit others. Even the death of Robin Williams, I think, hit my daughter harder than it did me. We both grew up on his performances, albeit different eras. I grew up on Mork & Mindy, Dead Poets Society, and HBO’s Comic Relief specials. My daughter grew up on Mrs. Doubtfire, Aladdin, Hook and Flubber.

Also, growing up, I never really had a personal experience with death. I had great-grandparents that lived long lives, and finally died in their late 90’s. All four of them. And I only lost a couple grandparents around the time I was in college. That’s about it. So, nobody really really close to me, and no one was lost to anything close to a horrible disease like cancer or Alzheimer’s. Maybe I don’t have the childhood trauma to well up in me and make me relate, like many people have.

My wife Alyx was a huge fan of Jim Henson. When he died, it hit her very hard. It was very emotional for her. Something about losing a childhood hero, someone that helped shape your childhood, can feel like the loss of a close friend or dear relative. Even if you’ve never met the person. So, with the recent losses of Bowie and Rickman, many people feel that loss very profoundly.

But not me. For some reason, I didn’t connect. It got me wondering… what it would take? Who do I revere enough, that it would profoundly affect me at their passing? Do I just not project that feeling of closeness or family onto celebrities? Do I actively hold people, famous or not, at a big enough distance to keep me from feeling the hurt? I certainly hope I don’t. Would the loss of Mark Hamill do it to me? Ralph Macchio? John Lassiter? Since I grew up on science fiction, fantasy and comic books, many of the characters and people that might mean something to me are fictional. So, their deaths are also the stuff of fiction and don’t affect me. Maybe I have too real a grasp on the reality of an actor’s role, and that they are doing a job, so I separate them from their characters, connecting personally to the character, more-so than the performer. I don’t know.

A few years ago, I lost my Dad, and that DID devastate me. So I know I’m not immune to or desensitized by death. That it can and does affect me, and losing a loved one will hit me very hard. I just wonder why I don’t have that reaction to celebrity deaths like others tend to. Or have I just not come across the ones that would mean enough to me yet?

I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts on what I’ve said. Also what, if any, celebrity death hit you in a special way.