Here she is… AUDREY!

Here it is. the first official portrait in my series “Silver Screen Icons: Series 1”. What better way to kick things off than with the epitome of style, class, and grace.The one and only, Audrey Hepburn.

This image only took 12 or so hours, and I was able to complete it within the month, as scheduled. Unfortunately, this months entry is definitely going to be a challenge to finish (More on that later). As an extra feature, I recorded video of myself as I worked on this image that my lovely wife will be compiling and editing. You’ll be able to see it soon on our new YouTube Channel (Coming Soon). We’ll let you know where to go when we get it all set up. There will also be a link to it from our website (www.masartwork.com/art).

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And, who IS the subject of the next portrait? I’ll give you a couple hints. It’s going to be the first one in a different series. So, it won’t be a “Silver Screen Icon”. This person will be a major military leader. Also, they are fictitious. So, if I’ve already told you, or you know somehow. Don’t tell. If you don’t know, feel free to take a guess in the comments below.

As always, thank you for reading our Blogs and we hope to hear from you soon.

~ Craig

Merchandising

Craig & I know that we have some fans out there who enjoy our art, but might not want to hang it on their wall.  So we’ve decided to branch out a little bit & see what kind of response we’ll get by offering our art on various pieces of merchandise.

We’re just in the beginning phases of this, & as such, we’ve got limited quantities of each piece.  This is really more of a test to see if it might garner any interest, so we’d love to get your feedback.  As a reward for your comments, one lucky winner will receive one of these gifts for free!

The first item we thought would be of interest to our customers is a mouse pad.  We realize that many people are using their phones to surf the net nowadays, but I personally know lots of people who still use a desktop computer at home.  So we came up with a few options:

mouse-pads

The next thought was coffee mugs.  Craig’s stipple of Marilyn Monroe looks great on these, and my Psychedelic Flower Wheel does, too . . .

mugs

We also thought coasters might be a fun idea.  Here are a couple of the ones we chose to start with:

coasters

And then–because we both love to play card games ourselves–we thought playing cards would be a great idea too.  We’ve definitely bought novelty playing cards from some of our trips, & are guessing others might as well:

playing-cards

And finally, my whole family enjoys doing puzzles; the more challenging, the better.  And many of my photos would make lovely puzzles (as well as a couple of Craig’s stipples).  We’ve gotten just a couple options to test the waters, & these are small count pieces (about 250 pieces each), but they would still likely take the owner quite a while to put them together.

puzzles

Anyone who leaves a comment will be entered in a drawing to win an item of his/her choice.  And for those of you who don’t win, if you’d still like to purchase one of the gifts, drop us an email at info@masartwork.com.  We’ll happily sell you what we currently have in stock, & that will also let us know which ones would be great sellers.  The prices will likely change once we start ordering them in bulk, but for now, the pieces cost:

Mugs – $25
Mouse Pads – $15
Puzzles – $15
Coasters – $10
Playing Cards – $5

These are just a few ideas of where we might go with our merchandise, so please feel free to let us know if there are other products you’d like to see offered with our images on them.

Calling All “Firefly” fans..!

I just completed two new portraits. Both from the Sci-fi series Firefly, and the subsequent movie Serenity. The first one is the head honcho himself. You may also know him from the ABC drama Castle. It’s Nathan Fillion in the role of ‘Captain Malcolm Reynolds.’ Give him a big hand, he likes the attention.

The second one is Mal’s pilot on the show, last seen skewered by Reavers. Fortunately, that’s only the character, and the actor is alive and thriving in his hot web series Con Man. He has voiced ‘King Candy’ in Wreck-it-Ralph and most recently starred in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as ‘K-2SO.’ It’s Hoban ‘Wash’ Washburne, aka Alan Tudyk. Yaaayyyy.

Here is the first official peek at both images. I will be adding them to my website shortly, and I’ll send out an email when they are posted and ready for purchase, so don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list now so you can be notified (or send me an email on my website and order one directly).

So, without further adieu, here they are.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I’m going to switch gears for a bit. But never fear Firefly fans, I will be doing more portraits of the gang, and you’ll see all your friends soon; Inara, Kaylee, Jayne and more.

Thanks,
Craig Smith
www.masartwork.com/art/

A Clear Picture

Being a photographer who loves taking pictures of architecture, one thing that bugs me a lot is when things obstruct the view of whatever building I’m shooting.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a tree, street sign or a person.

I’ll use all sorts of tricks to make sure I capture just the building, and not the unwanted obstructions.  If people are in the shot, I’ll wait until they clear out (sometimes, waiting up to an hour for tourists to move out of the way).  If it’s street signs, I’ll find a different angle where you see just the building.  In fact, I took a photo of Windsor Castle one time where you only saw the top half of the structure, because of all the street signs AND tourists in the way.

But sometimes I can’t “cheat” my way to a clear picture, and so I try to take one with as few distractions as I can, and then edit them out in post-production.

 

portland-maine-021This photo, of State Street Church in Portland, Maine, is a lovely mixture of multi-colored bricks, with some very cool towers and other elements.  And thankfully, the telephone or cable wires are only in the sky, so I could easily use Photoshop to get rid of them one way or another.  I wouldn’t consider the trees an obstruction in this case because–with the fall colors–it just adds to the charm of the church.

 

 

 

 

These next two images would take quite a lot of manipulation in Photoshop.  I might be willing to mess with the church on the left, but probably not the house on the right, no matter how lovely all that ivy looks growing on the side.

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But even though I might or might not be willing to edit them in Photoshop, I still like taking the picture, if for no other reason than to remember some lovely element of the image (more on that in another blog).

portland-maine-107Now, this last picture is a Photoshop editing nightmare, and I DEFINITELY wouldn’t undertake it.  The Victoria Mansion (also in Portland, Maine) is a lovely structure, with lots of cool columns and whatnot, but I wasn’t able to capture the entire building without being across the street (with the lenses I had with me).  Unfortunately, being across the street meant that EVERY electrical wire got in the shot.  Even just editing out the wires in the sky would take a good couple of hours . . . forget about where they cross the building.

 

But, I liked Portland, and definitely plan on going back some day.  So I’ll be sure to bring some other lenses with me, and maybe I’ll be able to capture these buildings without any obstructions in them next time.

 

Year-long Challenge – 2017

This is Craig Smith here, and I’m challenging myself in the new year. It’s not a new year’s resolution, but more of a dedication to getting new work out there on a regular basis. My goal is to create a new stippled portrait each month. That’s not all though. I’ll also be filming my progress, and I invite all of you to watch as I post on my own site as well as our YouTube channel (details to come).

These portraits will be the start of a complete series, or possibly 2 complete series. The subjects of which have yet to be determined. I invite you to make suggestions in the comment section below. These will be in a size similar to the Marilyn Monroe portrait I did early in 2016.

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I can’t wait to get started, and I’ve been finishing up some other portraits that are almost done. Namely, Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk from the sci-fi series Firefly. Since they’re near completion, I’m going to make you wait until my next blog before I let you see them (bwaahahaha).

So, until next time, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Awesome New Year and lets get the heck out of 2016 while we can!

Craig Smith

MAS Artwork

Experimentation

I’ve done enough research to know that I have no idea what my “signature style” is yet.  And apparently giving the answer of “A lot of different stuff” when asked what I specialize in isn’t looked upon too favorably.  So I’m clearly still in the “discovery” phase of my journey.  Thankfully, that means I get to play . . . a lot.

I’ve been taking a photography class at a local college just to see what’s out there, & we’re getting ready to turn in our portfolio, so I thought I’d share them with you.  I don’t know whether or not any of these images will make it to the website, but you might be seeing the stirrings of some future shots.

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This image is kind of similar to stuff I currently have up in the “Miscellaneous” gallery.  It’s very indicative of some of my favorite things; repeating patterns, & cool lighting contrasts.  The image was neat enough in color, but I think the black & white helps to set it off even more.

 

 

 

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We spent one class day shooting various pieces of glass.  MAN did I love that!  I’ve always loved glass objects (I could sit & watch the glass blowers at amusement parks for hours), & this object especially caught my eye.  I have a couple other angles of this piece, but I really liked the light reflections in this shot.  I could probably write the entire blog about this day’s images, but there are other photos to see.

 

 

 

 

car-show-vent-wheel

We also spent a day at another nearby college for their annual car show.  The cars were more modern than I normally like to see at a car show, but this gave me the opportunity to do what I do best . . . focus on the details.  I got to see the newest trends in wheels & hub caps, & MAN is there some cool stuff out there nowadays!

 

 

 

 

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These next two images are where I got to play the most & find a possible new style.  I was just playing around in Photoshop while editing, & hit the “Invert” option.  BAM!  This lovely image came out.  I originally took the photo because of the lovely curving line of the handrail, but the color version had too many similar brown tones.  But when I inverted it, all these cool blues & purples came out.  I tried playing with it some more to bring the dark blue/black “mountain” in the middle of the photo up to the top as well, but it never quite came out right.

 

 

 

glass-swirl-inversion

I tried this inversion technique on the glass object above as well.  The shot is from one of those other angles I mentioned earlier, & while I like the non-inverted image, I also like the simplicity of this one.  You can see the light reflection REALLY well, & all the nooks & crannies of the swirls look really cool in the darker tone.

 

 

 

So there you have it . . . some new images & possibly new directions for me to venture into.  It’s definitely fun learning & trying out new tricks . . . even if it doesn’t help me hone in on my signature style.

Site Redesign

As an artist (in any genre, really) it can be difficult to assess what constitutes your best work.  For me, many of the images on our website are a part of me.  Plus, just tweaking an image a little bit here and there offers a new story or perspective on your subject.  So, for me it can be difficult to narrow it down to just one shot of a particular subject.

That’s why I reached out to a wonderful photography teacher that I know for some advice.  She’s got years of experience, and also juries for gallery shows and art fairs, so I was thrilled that she was willing to help me.  So, one Saturday afternoon, she offered an objective evaluation of my images, and gave me three suggestions.

Her first critique was that I had WAY too many images up.  I knew that was the case, but again, I needed her guidance to weed out the weakest photos, which she did.  The next suggestion was to separate the black and white images from the full-color ones.  Apparently having them intermingled as I did wasn’t uniform enough, and the full-color images often took focus away from the strong black and white pics.

I took those suggestions and updated the photography website, which you can see here.  Her final recommendation was something I wasn’t able to do before this blog was due, so you’ll just have to come back and see the next round of improvements.

While you’re looking around the updated site, you might notice that Craig’s photos are no longer there.  Craig has decided to focus more of his attention on his stippling and illustrations, so his photos have gone away from our site.  We still have them, and we’re in the process of figuring out how to keep them available for those who want to purchase them, but since I had more photos on the site, we decided to separate things out a little bit and make the photography site more for me, and the art site more for him (you can see his site here).

We’ve also made one more adjustment . . .

We’ve partnered with PayPal Credit to offer a great deal on our images.  Any purchase over $99 will be allowed to be paid off in 6 months without being charged interest!  I’ve used this feature before with my own online purchases, so I know what a convenience it is, and we’re glad to be able to offer it to our customers.  With the holidays coming up, this makes it a great time to purchase all the images you want for your family and friends, and get a break on paying off the bill.

AND, we’ll go even one better . . . any purchase over $99 will receive free shipping through the holidays!  Yep, you read right.  From now until January 1st, you won’t have to pay anything more than the cost of the image(s) (provided you buy at least $99 worth).

So there you have it.  A revamped website, and two great deals on your next purchase!  Enjoy!