Sabbatical

Sep. 9th, 2015 06:45 am
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Another blog sabbatical, of sorts, all based on a 'convenience' factor and feeling excessively busy. Busy with what? Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Ranch is in some ways beginning to feel overwhelming, which may be a Summer thing. With the heat and humidity of North Central Baja Jorja summers, work always wants to become Routine Chores Only. This summer didn't allow that. Combination of we received a lot of needed rain (though so far, not much in the way of tropical storms... not claiming we won't, saying not yet), and Cows and Goats stressed fences which needed maintenance.

Goats, well, their fence is one of the first ones we put up here on the Ranch, so 25 plus years old. That they started blowing holes in old rusted wire is unsurprising. Frankly, we gave up on trying to mend most of it, at least those portions that divide within, and simply started letting the Goats wander through the Park and the Horse Paddock. They've been eating back a lot of the brushy growth which thrived on the Summer Monsoon.

Cows, on the other hand, we couldn't ignore so placidly as a couple two-three took to going over (or through) the fence onto the road. Two things happened from that. A lot of fence maintenance involving pulling wire fabric back up, re-attaching separated segments and twisting those connections tighter, re-stapling to posts, then adding stays which isn't hard yet is time consuming. And, the prime offender experienced his Change of Occupation from beef stored on hoof to beef stored in the freezer.

KP Ranch is not a petting zoo. If you aren't comfortable with that part, skip over it.

Because of all the needed maintenance, and because the high summer months see a bit of a slow-down at Farmers Markets we vend through, we scheduled a Modified Summer. That plan involved setting up at one market every other weekend, and doing milk delivery only on the opposite weekends. The second market on Monday evening slowed down so much, and all the vendors so busy getting gardens and other aspects ready for Autumn, that the market as a whole simply closed for two months. We'll re-open in a couple more weeks. Meanwhile, Herself is still doing the milk delivery to the regular customers (takes about an hour and a half).

I did mention the Monsoon, right? Well, that turned the Saturday Market (At Haile Town Centre) into mostly an every week milk delivery only. We are back to every week there, now, and beef sales went well (take that, Recalcitrant Youngster Bovine who disregarded fences!) along with our other usual sales of goats milk, goat cheese, and free-range eggs.

But not a huge amount of Art accomplished. Some. Working on a series concept titled Special Snowflakes. Finished up a Really Big Piece, and decided on a title for that following an older suggestion, re-spelled. Need to mat and frame that piece, then mat the smaller print (at least mat, maybe frame) and decide how many more prints to do. This one is designed as a Big Piece, so a small print of this one falls into the 27 centimetre long size. And I might decide that's too small, which makes a small print more like 35-40 centimetres long. The 'small' print of the two sizes I've got now is 50 cm long.

Then again, I've always been partial to big prints.

The Autumn Show Season is coming up, reason to get the bit of backlog needing mats done, as well as the current prints needing framing, and then planning on more prints to replace inventory that's getting low. Or sold out. Stuff like that.

Houdini BorderCollieBro is now into his elder years, and frequently referred to as the Elder Statesdog. We adopted a pup last year, and I'm so infrequently posting here that likely haven't mentioned her. She's now a month plus a year, still puppy, and growing. She's slightly bigger than Houdini. We kept the name the Humane Society gave her when delivered to their doorstep as an hours old pup whose dam refused to care for her, the only surviving pup from a litter of six. So, meet Velvet.

Velvet is already starring in a few greeting card art pieces, and will no doubt continue to do so. Houdini and Squrrl are, of course, also featured in some of the greeting card art pieces. All of which need to be printed and added to inventory. To that end, I've been shopping for papers and will try some from a company called Red River Paper. One portion of their product line is photographic paper stock designed to be folded into greeting cards easily. Fairly good results on the test pieces.

And on that note, it's about time to get moving and take care of the Ranch...
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
When last we visited Mad Shutterbug for a State of the Artist the calendar year showed 2014. In reality it's been about two and a half months, so mentioning only the calendar year is a bit misleading. Gregorian New Years Day transpired in the interim thus bringing us to 2015, but hey, it sounds really dramatic.
We've filled the time in between with a goodly portion of Ranch Work. Besides the usual daily things, Herself and I managed to get her Truck Garden (so called by me because her plan is to load up the produce into Forrest Nissan Pickup and truck it off to one or the other of our Farmers Markets... well, and eat some of it ourselves for sure) fenced. Reason for fencing, this will mostly keep Dirty Yard Bird Chooks out, as well as goats or cows that may wander by. Three sides of it are fenced with wire fabric, one side with plastic contractor fencing. That last we chose for three reasons, expense, expediency, and keeping Dirty Yard Bird Chooks out.

As to the latter, it seemed like it would work well enough, being as high as the wire. Mostly it does keep them out. There are a few who applied some brilliant thinking and figured out how to (barely) flutter over any given stretch of the fence. Those ladies are now marked for future residence in Chicken Tillers. What we didn't figure into the equation: Velvet Youngster Dog and her desire to be close to her Humans. Plastic netting and Velvet teeth are not a good match. Or, from Velvets point of view, not a bad match. We've more or less convinced her that it is a Bad Idea to chew holes in Moms Fence.

Expediency came into play because this is the last stretch that needed fencing, it crosses the drain field for Studio 318's septic tank and being light could run some distance with fewer posts, thus less hazzard to the drain field. On that note, it works very well. Regarding Expense, three 30-plus metre rolls cost less than the equivalent length of wire fabric. So overall we are fairly content with results so far.
Along with protecting the Truck Garden from marauders we also decreased the number of stomachs we feed and increased the amount of frozen meat in the stocks to go to Farmers Market. That involved two days and resulted in 270 kg of pork.

Over a portion of January and much of February we also dealt with several Freeze Alerts and Warnings. Over here in Baja Jorja, an Alert from the National Weather Service means that the specific weather is possible; a Warning means it will happen. This part of the world does see freezing temperatures. Unlike points further north (and much, much further south) duration and intensity are not as extreme. However, when the ambient temperature is at or below the point that water becomes a solid... it is cold.

Things like our water bibs where we provide fluid replenishment for Goats, Hogs and et cetera become at risk. The Goats and Horses require a bit more shelter than normal, and potentially some bedding. The Chooks definitely want some protection, but really that mostly means a wind-break because birds are pretty good at roosting together, and fluffing up feathers for dead-air-space insulation. Ditto for the Goats, actually, the don't mind cold so long as they're dry.

Each of those freezes came preceded by a fair amount of rain, and this is nominally our dry season. We managed to keep mostly everyone dry (Cows and Horses fend for themselves, sheltering under trees). So we got through it, without much problem, but with a lot of energy expense. Both ours, and I just received the electric bill and the House jumped by a couple hundred dollars from the previous month.

Ah well. Activities of Daily Living and all.

In between all of the above, I also managed to accomplish:
Shipping some pieces off to MarsCon in Williamsburg, Virginia for that Con art show
Completing applications for both the Orlando and Tampa NudeNite shows; Orlando invited one piece, Tampa invited neither piece.
Receiving notification that we are juried into the Santa Fe Spring Arts Festival (Not Santa Fe New Mexico; Santa Fe College, here in Baja Jorja).
Getting a (mildly short) notice for a local Photography Exhibit sponsored by the Gainesville Fine Arts Association (Herself and I are members), submitting three pieces each and being invited one piece each for the show. That show is on-going until 9 March.
Matting more work to increase inventory stock for the upcoming GFAA Winter Fine Arts Festival at Tioga.

So, in order, more or less.

Preparing for these weekend festivals and other shows generally involves thinking at least six months ahead. The Call for Artists usually go out then, applications are readied, jury fees paid, and then we wait. A few festivals, particularly smaller local ones, will ask for the booth fee with the application, and when one sees the check clear the bank account one knows one is accepted into the event. More information follows, of course, but that's usually the first indication.

GFAA Winter Tioga, the SF Spring Arts Festival, and the two Nude Nite shows are more as described. So related to that, and more or less in order of completion of the application are these images. Usual disclaimer about Nude Art, If You Don't Like That Don't Look, Et Cetera.

Back in December though they didn't get shipped until a fairly short time before the event, I applied for my third time around with MarsCon in Virginia. The shipping took place a tad late compared to earlier years, in part because of Ranch Work aforementioned. Also because this year I shipped using the Brown Truck Folks (United Parcel Service). I found I could ship a larger package (thus some pieces matted up to 16x20) for the same fee the previous two years using United States Postal Service. Nothing sold, which is fine as I enjoy the vicarious thrill of attending the Con via my artwork (though sales are very nice). Return shipping proved a bit of a learning experience, as I needed to schedule that through the UPS web site. Learning occurred. More on that later, however.

Pieces submitted to MarsCon
MarsCon Art Submissions... not much nudity )

Orlando NudeNite (Event took place 12-14 February)
Completed application back around New Years Day, this one is juried and two pieces allowed. I submitted these – Gravidity #4 and I Shall Wear... a Red Hat #1. Red Hat #1 did not make the cut, however Gravidity #4 did much to my delight, as this is the second time I've tried getting pieces into the Orlando NudeNite without ever seeing the show and thus obtaining a good idea what the show is looking for.

Gravidity #4 is from a 2006 session with art model Shayden. She and her husband lived near Colorado Springs at the time, out on the western edge of the Great Plains. They would drive around their area and note on the map abandoned homesteads, then research the tax maps for who currently owned the properties. Then they would contact those owners, explain that as a professional model Shayden would occasionally work with photographers who came to them and ask permission to work on the land. Thus when I worked with her, we did work on just such an abandoned homestead. Shay was also eight months into her first pregnancy at the time.

Gravidity #4 )

Tampa NudeNite is the next show I applied to. This one I approached with a tad more confidence as I've been invited both previous years with at least one of the two images submitted. The first year was Kitsune Out of the Storm, and last year was Erotica in the Manner of Rembrandt. However, this year neither photo received an invitation. Alas and all that, however it did free up time to work on some other things, including a short notice application to the local GFAA Photography Exhibit at Santa Fe College.

We each submitted three images for the jury. We each received an invitation for one. Some of this may involve the physical space for the show, which is currently in the Presidents Gallery in Building F on the Santa Fe campus. From myself, Sumi-e Reality; from Herself, Up-Side Down World.

Sumi-e Reality )
This one I did up originally for That Camera Club which we once participated in, and their monthly competition. The subject, Reflections. The category, Creative, by which they mean anything not photo-realistic. So it's a bit of a manipulation, duplicating the basic image, applying a brush-work style filter which provided a portion of the title, then masking off the portion which needs to show 'Reality'. It's a good photo to start, one of my primary rules in any sort of composite (and this is a sort of composite, though of the one image alone). Start with good photos. Curiously, the sumi-e styling helps a lot compared (at least to me) to the reality of the houses in the photograph.

Up-Side Down World )
Now, the latter still is a bit of a debate between Herself and I. It's her image. Darn good one; primary subject Reflections and done for the monthly competition while we still played with the Ocala camera club (time, distance, and other issues caused us to re-think that). I tend to take the title as my cue in how to 'hang' the image. She hangs it in the manner she composed it. Both work.

Getting her piece printed, matted, and framed is one of the things I needed to work on which not making it into Tampa NudeNite provided. Still, I've got three more large prints to mat and frame that I intended for those two shows. Given a wee bit of time I'll get those done, and sooner rather than later so that large prints are protected better than being in the shrink-wrap from the lab.

However, increasing basic inventory is the current priority what with two more weekend festivals coming up. GFAA Winter Art Festival Tioga will be in two weeks (6-8 March), and includes a Friday night portion so it's a three day show. I've a bit more time before Santa Fe Spring Arts, which is held in Downtown Gainesville every year. This year it will be 11-12 April. I did up a quick blurb for our Farmers Market booth to let regular customers know about the two festivals, since we may not be setting up at the Farmers Market those weekends.Still, need to continue with basic inventory for that show as well is also a big priority.

So I've matted up a small batch of 8x10 prints from Herself photos, and a couple 11x14 prints of my photos. One of those is intended as a gift, the other will be sent off to another Con art show in the near future and the third which is already in inventory will be available at both Tioga and Spring Arts. Until it sells, of course.

Meanwhile, I also matted for framing a Big Print of In the Hall of Titans King. I've got an 11x14 framed in a 16x20 of that one. But hey, I like big prints so I couldn't resist.

I'm currently working on matting in a diptych format two of Herself's 8x10s which make up Deer Scarer. They're photographs of just that, a Japanese bamboo deer scarer at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. This is a simple device, a section of bamboo hinged, with the 'top' portion trimmed and set to fill slowly from a trickle of water from a well. Then, filled to the tipping point is smacks down onto a small stone making a loud noise, drains all the water, and lifts itself back into place to re-fill. We've only ever put out individually matted images of the two, and I've always seen it as a perfect diptych.

Well, that about covers it. Time now to get this loaded into the blog, then make the pitch, then get dressed and head out for more Ranch Work.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
One of the projects I've worked up over the past year (about as fast as either glacial advancement or melting... ) is creating Greeting Cards from some of our photographic art. The initial thought is getting something into an affordable price range which is also attractive and could bring more sales. After all, there are two means (as it were) to making 'The Nut' which is a shorthand term for Booth Fee, Expenses, and then we can look at Income. One is to sell a Big Price Ticket item, a framed print. This doesn't happen often. The other is to sell a larger quantity of Lower Price Ticket Items. That's where we're trying to go with this concept, add those smaller items that will be attractive.

It's not an original idea with or from me. I am frankly stealing the idea and filing off the serial numbers, though yes I'm putting our artwork out there as the subjects. Said another way, I've seen a lot of artists at the weekend festivals selling Greeting Cards. Go for it.

This project involves then three parts. Part the first, develop the Art. (Since we're talking Photography here, Pun Intended.) Part the second, design the Card. Part the third, actual production which involves acquire materials (Cost of Goods Sold on the Schedule C for Uncle Irs) and then presentation.

So. Part the First you've seen as we go along in these State of the Artist postings. Still, related to this project my start-up last year involved images done up as Holiday Cards (sold a few, eh) yet not necessarily the images of which I sell prints fairly regularly. The cards sold last year included a couple images of mine and one of Herself's. I'd also printed a few which are scenic or site specific for the North Central Baja Jorja area here, those didn't sell as well. Total inventory at that startup, around a dozen cards which included the card, an envelop, and a transparent sleeve/bag holding both.

Then we sort of sat on the concept for a while, taking that small amount of stock to the other weekend Art Fair shows after the 2013 Holidays and putting them out. Not majorly, basically on a small table, and very, very low key presentation. Coming up on the 2014 Holidays we revisited, decided to print some more, and work up at least a small display that will handle an inventory around a score of cards.

Did some research now, looking at sales records over the past looking for which images sold. One of those is titled 'Peek-a-Boo' of a Tom Turkey at nearby Dudley Farm State Historical Site (a very cool park which is a Florida Cracker farm, maintained in a manner around the Turn of the Century 19th - 20th time). Another is my rather abstract and Sci-Fi/Fantasy image, Naiad. Didn't get that one printed up yet as a Greeting Card, did print up 'Peek-a-Boo'. Also looked at some of the Critter Cards we've discussed and printed up some of those.

So that's the Make the Art side so far.

Now, here's another aspect of the project that I'm going to taught. The software to develop both the art and the product (greeting cards) is Open Source Software, free to a good home. That I use Gimp for the art work, photographic post-production I've mentioned before. For producing the cards, we need a document layout application, perhaps more familiar to you as a Desktop Publishing program. Ahem.

So the 'State of the Art' here is still probably an Adobe product called Pagemaker®. Got several hundreds of dollars? Go buy it. A good alternative that I've used in the past is Microsoft Publisher® which for a time included some features that Pagemaker didn't. It's actually one of the few Micro-Shaft products I recommend. Discovered earlier this year, that's probably because Micro-Shaft purchased the application from the company that developed it, as in not an in-house initial product. Ah.

However, earlier this year while researching this whole Open Source Software movement, I came across Scribus®. The version I acquired is 1.4.3 and available through their web site http://www.scribus.net and as mentioned, being Open Source is free. It may not have all the features of even Publisher but so far, it's meeting my now-a-days much less extensive need for a desktop publisher document layout application.

These desktop publishers shine by taking already written text (use a word processor for that, eh), then importing that into a 'Text Frame'. In a larger publication (a Newsletter, a Magazine) these text frames may be linked together and a story then continued over several pages. The application also provides Image Frames, for placing artwork, or small charts (spreadsheets or graphs) and et cetera.

For the Greeting Cards, I developed two 'template' files, one for the image on the card to be in Landscape orientation, one for Portrait orientation.

This is the Landscape:
Landscape Half-Fold Template )

This is the Portrait:
Portrait Half-Fold Template )

When I'm working up a new card design then, I first work up the image and get a 'print ready' copy at the size I need for a card. Hmm. Back up a wee bit.

So these cards I'm showing the templates for are called 'Half-Fold' because they work to a standard size sheet of paper or card stock (8.5x11 in the US, A7 elsewhere) and will fold in half. Another size is called a 'Quarter-Fold' because it could take that standard sheet, fold it in half and then half again (quarters) for a smaller card. What we do is first cut the standard sheet in half, then fold those halves for the smaller cards.

So I've got a 'print ready' image for a Half-Fold card, it's about a 5x7 photograph. Being print ready, I can print a 5x7 and then do the Mat & Sleeve thing for a matted piece to sell, or mat and frame it for a framed piece, and for a card I'm importing that 5x7 file into the Image Frame. This is usually the front of the card. Sometimes the cards will have an Inside as well; usually just another Image Frame on a Page Two in the template file.

In the Landscape template above you see an upside-down Text Frame. This will be right-side up after the fold. Another nice feature about Desktop Publishing programs is one can create the Text Frame, set it to be 'upside-down' and then when importing text into it (or, for the cards, I often type the minimal amount of text into it straight up) and approving the overall look, will be upside down as needed.
It's all right-side up on the Portrait card.

Once the card is ready to go in Scribus, I do a 'Save As' and name the card. For printing, in Scribus I simply export the card to a PDF file. The application will send direct to a printer, but that part of it sends it to an EPS which is Encapsulated Post-Script and which is a very professional printing house kind of machine. Some of the HP laser printers will talk EPS, so will quite a few ink-jet printers and it's a lot more involved either way. Saving the file as a PDF is simple. Then just open it up in Adobe Acrobat Reader (also free software, because hey, Adobe wants the Whole World to us PDF eh so make it easily readable to everyone) and send it to ones printer.

I mentioned 'Peek-a-Boo' above. Here is what he looks like as a print-ready Half-Fold card:
Peek-a-Boo )

The Quarter-Fold cards may also be known as a Two-Up because there will be two layouts on the template. Miss Truffles Pig provided the images for one of these (she's also available in a Half-Fold) last year as one of the Holiday cards because the markings on her nose remind us a bit of a Christmas Tree:
Truffles: Happy Holinose (Two-Up) )

I did mention other Critter Cards, and here's Houdini Border Collie Bro. Border Collies are Working Dogs, and there are many in the Dog World that consider Border Collies to be the Type A Workaholics of the Working Dogs. Always ready and able to help, eh! So one evening I slid my headband type of battery torch onto his head. Surprise, he liked it. Also, with the text in this one I'm looking for all the Ursula Vernon fans out there (and doing a wee bit of fan art as well):
Houdini: Remember Tunnel 17 )

Finally, because I do call them Art Greeting Cards and because the particular subject is one of my personal artistic passions, my dear friend and muse Marjai from the Red Hat series (warning, gratuitous nudity behind the cut)
Red Hat #4 )

We aren't done once the printing is over. The rest of the production work involves folding the Half-Folds, cutting and folding the Quarter-Folds, then pairing them with an appropriate size envelope, then placing all within a clear transparent sleeve/bag. Now we may add them to Inventory, store them in the Transport Tote (I'm using Really Useful Boxes® these days more and more, but that's another State of the Artist post).

For Presentation at the Festivals, now, this is the next step. Since we're keeping total inventory on hand for these down to about a score of cards or so the display is small. There are a ton of display options out there, most of them marketed for Brick Stores and all of those rather expensive. We need something that will fold down/collapse and pack quickly and yet be very sturdy. It's a rough life out there on the road and that's only partially a joke. So the bigger display/presentation is still under development. For right now, Herself found a small wire rack which is sold as a lid holder for kitchen pots. Works very well for the Landscape orientation cards, not so well for the Portrait orientation. I tried an acrylic one this past weekend we had about the Ranch (things like this just sometimes come to us... it's a bit of a story in itself) and that worked... except not quite well enough. So I'm still on a search for the Portrait display pieces. Still, this is what the Cards looked like at this past weekend Blue Oven Kitchens Winter Gift Fair:
The Art Greeting Card Display at Blue Oven Kitchens Winter Gift Fair )

Summary, or Tell 'em What You Told 'em

About a year ago we decided to expand our 'product line' to include Art Greeting Cards. Our goal is to offer another affordable bit of art, one which is usable as a greeting card, or yanno, be greedy and keep it yourself. Startup plans included keep expenses down, so we expanded on using our free Open Source Software applications. After trying to do this using Open Office components, we found, downloaded and installed Scribus, a publishing application and found it works great for this type of product. We're printing using an Epson Artisan 50® printer which while I didn't mention above I purchased specifically for this project. Pretty happy with the printer too. Sales are OK so far, good enough to justify continuing to build this part of the Studio 318 Product Line.

Shameless Self Promotion

So if you are interested in some nice Art Greeting Cards, drop me a line. If you've got my e-mail use that directly, otherwise leave a comment here and we'll work something out. No, don't have a place I'm selling on-line otherwise, but trust me, we can work something out.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Each show, each weekend art festival, brings new lessons, reinforces some lessons, and always, always the question: Will this setup grab enough attention to promote sales of my/our artwork this time around? No sales may not be a life-ending problem, and at the same time sale is one of the goals if only to kick some 'children' out of the house. The entire process is both involved and simple. This most recent go-around even provided an opportunity to review for myself once again, and begin to mentor someone starting on this same journey. It is not something which does well with an impulse to go and grab something by improvising. There is an infrastructure to working on selling a product, ones own artwork, and that infrastructure needs to be transported to site, easily unloaded and set up, then just as easily struck and loaded to go home.

We call the loading/unloading process the Show Tetris Game. Yes, it is named after that computer/video game of a decade ago, because what is being loaded comprises blocks going into a set volume of space. We've got two types of space as well, Forrest Nissan Pickup Truck and Sydney Subaru Outback the Younger. Sydney Subaru Outback the Elder also served, and provided a lot of learning. Sydney Younger is slightly larger, and that pays off.

In the past three weeks, we've done two weekend art festivals. One of those is a repeat show, with two years in a row now participating. The second is the first time for our participation, with the previous year being an attempt (as in we applied, and did not pass the jury). Life overall this year did impact on doing these two shows, and that is simply the way it is, so other than acknowledging the impact it isn't something to dwell upon and certainly not here. Here I'm going to look at each event in review, provide a brief summary of the event and sales, and discuss the process of showing ones art because that is what discussing with the newcomers covered.

Let us begin with the Micanopy Fall Harvest Festival.

Micanopy is a small community in North Central Florida, located a bit south of Gainesville and a bit more north of Ocala, right in between two major roads, the I-75 and US 441. Settings in Micanopy provided scenes in at least two major cinematic productions, Cross Creek about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (who lived nearby while writing her many well known stories), and Doc Hollywood. The folk who live there enjoy the fact the place preserves a lot about a quieter time, and also provide a lot of support to local arts, crafts, and antiques collectors. Each year the community (or at least a lot of members of same) come together to produce the Fall Harvest Festival as a community fundraiser, and all their proceeds go to several different non-profit community agencies. So for us, much like the Windsor Zucchini Festival it's an event we like to participate in both to sell our work and to help provide to local community well being.

This means, sure I want to make back expenses to break even, but I'll keep on applying for this festival if I at least recover some of those expenses.

Micanopy allows for vender set-up on the Friday before the Festival, which runs both Saturday and Sunday. It is a pretty big deal for the town as a whole, even the folks who aren't participating, because it draws a Really Big Crowd. The main drag for the town is the site of the Festival, all traffic for the three days is routed one way (vendors, that is, as the main drag is then closed to general traffic other than by foot). The length of the road here (and calling it main drag is true, but we're talking about a two-lane road, not a highway at all) which is set up for the Festival is a bit longer than half a kilometre, about a third of a mile.

All the properties and routes around this are cordoned in preparation. Designated vendor parking is provided for vendors, and those who want to help provide parking for attending folk are allowed to charge for parking on their property. This probably provides the funds to recover from the amount of traffic involved. Those who don't want to provide parking, their places are cordoned off as Private, No Parking. Don't want to pay for parking? No worries, park on the right of way of US 441 out there, but plan on a short hike to get over to the festival.

Booth spaces are marked on the roads with spray paint, corner markers and booth numbers. Check in, get ones paper packet (includes booth designator sign, and some other bits), drive in to ones space, stop, unload, and drive out to ones designated parking area. Seriously, drive out before setting up or a lot of folks (not just the community residents) are going to be quite upset. Remember, two-lane road, eh.

After parking, walk back to booth space and start setting up. I don't usually bring the artwork with me on setup days, unless that day is also going to be an Opening Day (happens, some events). Setup of the basic pavilion runs like this:

Pavilion Up. Anyone who's gone to some sort of weekend art festival fair or a farmers market will know what the pavilion tent looks like. There are a variety of manufacturers and styles. Some are more rigid and a bit more involved in setup as the legs and roof pieces need assembly. Some are fairly easy, expanding frames. We've used some from several manufacturers over time. The one we're currently using is an EZ-Up® Instant Shelters® (Web site is EZ-Up® Instant Shelters®). We use this one not because we think it's the best (it is pretty good) rather because we got a good price on a new one at one of the major discount box outlet stores. Since there are a lot of them out there, and periodically weather or wind trash one so those folks toss it, we've also been known to grab those abandoned damaged shelters to disassemble for spare parts.

First step is expanding it, then raising it to the first height latch. At this point I've been putting on what I call the Weather Walls (EZ-Up calls them the Sidewalls, eh). These get 'furled' and secured in the up position for now. Next I place the wind weights, because these types of shelters do act as parachutes or sails in even a rather mild breeze. The company provided add-on feet to put weights onto. I use those, but also add a heavy canvas tote bag which holds three jugs of water. Two are repurposed soda water jugs, one is a repurposed liquid laundry detergent jug. Between the three there are eight litres of water, so about eight kilograms of mass. One each is placed at each corner on those add-on feet, then a strap and hook is fastened around the upright at the roof frame for belt and suspenders security.

Mind you, even with this much weight (eight kilos times four bags so 32 kilos) there have been festivals with enough wind that I've acted as an interactive additional ballast weight for the pavilion.

With the Weather Walls on and furled, and the weights on and secured, I hang the Art Walls. There are companies out there that make assorted display walls, rigid and flexible. We use a mesh wall because it is lightweight and folds up rather small (relatively) for storage and transport. Again, there are companies that make these walls and I went shopping for them on-line. And gasped. Needed a stiff drink, because a set of these to display in a 3 by 3 metre pavilion runs about $700 US. So we went shopping. For some time invested, and possessing some skills with sewing machines, we made our walls out of mesh shade fabric for about $20 US per wall. We run grommets along all four sides. Ball bungee cords (looped bungees which close in a ball, eh) through the grommets and around the frame of the pavilion and the Art Wall is in place.

The first year we did this, we also inserted a PVC tube into a sleeve along the top to help distribute the weight of the hanging framed artwork. After that first year, I flipped the curtains over and that tube goes into the same sleeve just along the bottom. The curtain attaches securely enough to the frame of the pavilion (this is one of the benefits to us of the EZ-Up design) that the tube mostly helps the wall keep its shape and the pavilion bears the weight.

With the Art Walls up, it's time to finish raising the pavilion to working height. Sometimes that doesn't happen until the next morning, though, just before hanging artwork and opening.

We've a small assortment of furniture which comes along with us. Two tall directors chairs (folding chairs) because being in the booth for eight hours, one does appreciate being able to sit down. Our first setup for holding the matted artwork (we sell more matted work than framed, another bit for discussion later) involved a folding table and the transport bins. We've since shifted to using two folding canvas racks that hold a portion of the matted work. As pieces sell, we replenish the stock in the rack. These are put inside the pavilion on setup day and left with the kit.

Much of the supplies for this and some other items transport in a hinged-lid tote box. This includes the Booth Banner (currently, and will stay there but the main Booth Banner is a bit different now), a Bag-o-Bags holding shopping bags for those customers that need one when they purchase something, a roll of paper towels, a small tool box with odds and ends in it for the setup, and a nice repurposed teak breakfast tray table. I set the tote into a corner, cover it with a blue cloth, and put the teak table on top of that. Holds a few things on the table, the paper towels and other small bits for ongoing display work go under that on the tote.

On Setup days, it's now time to close up for the night, go home and finish things on the Ranch.
Next morning (day of show usually) on arrival I park whichever vehicle I came in, and unload the framed and matted artwork totes. Framed work is currently being transported in large corrugated board boxes and a few recycled portfolio bags. I like the bags, they're easy to move (comparatively) and rather a bit more weather resistant than the corrugated board boxes. However, the boxes are fairly inexpensive which makes up for it; portfolio bags are not so inexpensive though they do last longer.

Haul this over to the booth pavilion on collapsible hand-trucks, usualyl two to three trips, then it's time for coffee and getting the setup done. Framed art hangs on the mesh walls using drapery hooks. Once that's up, each piece is labeled using a business-card sized pin-on name badge holder. Each framed piece has a corresponding name card which says Studio 318, the Title of the piece, which of us made it, and the price. Simple, easy to print, looks very professional. Once the walls are done, putting matted pieces into those folding racks takes maybe ten minutes.

Add assorted other small signage (“We take the following Debit/Credit Cards”, “Buy Local, Support Local Artists”, and “Artist Blurb(s)” which, that last, I find rather difficult to write up.

By now, it's time to roll up the Weather Walls and Open Up.

Set up, it usually looks something like this:
Micanopy, 1024x )

Come closing time I drop the front wall (We're Closed) which allows me to pack up the matted work, clear the floor slightly by folding those racks and leaning them against our tall directors chairs, and then take down the framed work into those boxes. I don't like leaving the artwork there overnight, it's paper, even with the protection it's vulnerable to damp and wet. So I pack it back out to the vehicle, come back and close up all the weather walls.

The Art Piece Name Tags and drapery hooks stay where they are though, so the next morning setup takes far less time. Pack in the artwork, hang, adjust the matted racks. And Open for Business.

Each show will be slightly different, but not much. Both sides will hold art, and the back wall will vary between being a half-wall, a three-quarter wall or a full wall. Some festivals allow the artist vendor some space behind their booth. Others do not. Sometimes we've either enough space between booths or we're on a corner of some sort, and we hang one or a few pieces on the outside of the Art Wall.

Most festivals inform the accepted vendors that the festival will go on rain or shine, which is one reason the Weather Walls are put on as well. And yes, we've dropped them for rain. Rain often thins the crowd, thin crowds do tend to buy less, so it goes.

The Downtown Art Festival, the setup looked like this:
Downtown Fall Art, 1024x )

At the end of the Festival it's time to strike the set, pack up again and go home. So we're back to the Show Tetris. Forrest Nissan is a bit easier to load into, being a pickup truck. Sometimes though, particularly if we know the weather threatens rain, transport in the Subaru is preferred. Sydney Subaru Outback the Elder could fit most of the kit. With the addition of the chairs though, things got... excessive tight. We'd started thinking about a small trailer, or a roof rack (and in fact, used the roof rack on several occasions with good weather). Sydney Subaru Outback the Younger is as I've mentioned a bit longer, wider, and higher than Sydney Elder. We will still, likely, get to a point that a small trailer is going to be needed.
Here's the Show Tetris into Forrest Nissan after Micanopy:

Nissan Load-up )

Herself remarked when I got home and we started unloading on Monday Morning (left it all under the tarp Sunday night, home safe and protected from wind and other weather, besides, good forecast) that it is all primarily one layer. What's on top of the totes are the two collapsible hand trucks. The directors chairs went onto the middle column of totes before folding over the tarp.

That middle column of totes are 32 Litre Really Useful Boxes® (Web site Really Useful Boxes Inc. Really Useful Boxes) and we're using more and more of them. They are tough, lightweight, weather resistant boxes with a good positive lid seal. The one on the end holds the Art Walls, because I learned after pulling the pavilion tote out to prep for the fall season that over the summer, palmetto bugs got into the blue tote. Needed to clean the Art Walls of (ahem) nasty dirt. The matted work is in the other two.

The long blue tote across the back on the left of the truck is the pavilion tote. In front of that is another tote, don't recall the company, holds framed artwork up to 11x14 frames (so 8x10 prints, or smaller). The corrugated boxes behind the cab hold the larger framed pieces. The pavilion shelter itself is in the long black bag to the right. Weight bags behind each wheel well. The grey roll in front of the matted totes are two foam shop floor pads. They make being on pavement in the booth (a common situation) easier on the feet and legs.

Because we did get some rain, overnight Saturday to Sunday for the Gainesville Downtown Art Festival, I drove Sydney Subaru Outback in on Sunday. I'd taken everything into town on Saturday Morning for setup. Part of the Festival is set up in City Hall parking lot, and City Hall didn't want to close for business on Friday for vendors to set up. Well, actually, since five to six city blocks hosted all the vendors for the Festival, that would tie up traffic pretty much. Plus, the Friday Night Kickoff included a live band in the Bo Didley Plaza. At any rate, Setup took place Saturday morning and I took it all in the Nissan pickup.
So coming home with the kit, the concern was would it all fit. We thought it would, but Herself did text and ask should she come help. I felt confident and told her no. The first time Tetris game went pretty well, considering loading after dark albeit with street light illumination. And...

Subaru Load-up, Rear )

It did, as you can see, all fit in. The corrugated boxes sat behind the front seats.

Subaru Load-up, Driver Rear )

The Weather Walls up to this time we packed into a pocket on the EZ-Up pavilion bag. However, I didn't pack them this time, being concerned they still felt damp from the previous night rain.

Subaru Load-up, Passenger Rear )

They now live in another of those Really Useful Boxes. It may ad to the layering, we shall see. The pocket on the big bag will still be used, for other items which the pavilion will need periodically. The kit came with two short metal tubes which support a sun shade we sometimes put across the front, and we are building supports for the back wall to stretch it out during the day as another shade source for the 'back room' of the booth when we can.

There is always something going on. I expect the Studio 318 Booth itself may be considered a Work In Progress. There's more to discuss, even, since one of the visitors to the booth on Sunday is half of a young couple looking to start showing their own photographic artwork. This led to some thinking and recollection about those who helped us as we started gearing up. There are folk out there who proved not too forthcoming with us. Others proved very helpful. I remember them with fondness, and did my best to answer the questions asked. So another State of the Artist is going to look at the process of setting up ones business as an artist showing at weekend art festivals.

Tonight, though, it's time for beer. G'night.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
I remember fondly Pogo by Walk Kelly, and one of my more favourite memories of the gang from the Okeefenokee is someone running around when the 13th of a month fell on some other day than Friday. Often they decried that it fell on a Sunday, but any day would serve.

Today (somewhat related as a State of the Artist) it is pertinent to me due to another date, the Ides of October. We filed an extension on our income taxes back in April. Close is good in horse shoes, hand grenades and thermonuclear devices. Doesn't work with the Tax Man though. And of course then I procrastinated until Oh Look Deadline. Apparently though the only thing I actually procrastinated about involved transcribing the mileage log from Forrest Nissan Pickup. Once I completed that, stepping through the process using tax preparation software (I happen to use TurboTax, I have used HR Block as well in the past) took less than 10 hour. Not bad for the 1040 with W2, two Schedule C forms (one for the Art, one for Herself), a Schedule F for the Ranch (which is where the mileage for Forrest comes in to play) and dividends reporting.

This year we also received a credit for the roof repairs last year to the Big House, since the materials we chose qualify for energy conservation.

So now that's done, printed, ready to sign and mail off. We do need to mail it as well, since a Schedule F for Farm can not be e-filed. Why not, I wonder? After all, connectivity is coming to the most rural of places, whether by land or by sky. However, by snail post it is to go.

This means, of course, that taxes aren't really over... it's time to start working up the bits and pieces for the 2014 taxes. ::sigh::

I can though commit more time to working on matting up current work for two more upcoming Art Festivals. In three weeks time we shall be at the Micanopy Fall Harvest Festival. If you are local (and yes, folks over in Tampa/St. Pete or Orlando or Jax, this is relatively local to you) come on over and see the Festival on Saturday / Sunday November 1 & 2. Studio 318 will be in Booth #49. Along with matting up those pieces, I need to work up a bit of my own publicity blurb for folks at Hospital. Likely I shall work on that on Thursday Morning.

I need to but up a posting about the other pieces that went off to the Necronomicon Convention Art Show (with Pretty Pictures) however that too shall wait. Herself is off to Tioga Farmers Market just now, and I've got Puppy Watch and Ms. Vel will need time to run outside here shortly. We'll combine this with Evening Rounds so Mr. Houdini can continue showing her the routines. She's growing and growing, weighed in at 10 kg for her 10 week clinic office visit. This is the point when the Humane Society likes to neuter those pets which will be adopted, but Vel is now bigger than their facility can handle. So she's going to need an appointment over at the University College of Veterinary Medicine for that. She's already outgrown the two smaller travel crates for transport in vehicles. Gonna be a big dog is Ms. Vel.

On that note, time to post this and head out and about.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
What with a bit of this and a dash of that, I can say the 2014-15 Show Season is off to a start... though for a while there some grave doubt existed.

This past weekend, starting actually on Thursday a week, and after working pretty hard on getting as much done on the Ranch as possible (feed storage, critters fed, laundry done, dogs walked, and more) I pointed Sydney Subaru Outback the Younger down the road to Tampa and the Necronomicon Convention and Art Show. For six years now, I am happy to say, pieces of my artwork graced the display walls at the Con Art Show. It's a fun time (as most Cons are) and the Show is, just as the Con, run by Fans for Fans. This one is done by the Stone Hill Science Fiction Association (see link above, follow appropriates), and one of their goals in doing the Con (just one. Obviously having fun and stuff is on that list as well) is to help raise money for Kids and Canines. More info on them via that link above too; go follow.

Because, frankly, my story is about going off to that Con this past weekend. I posted some during the summer about getting art related work done, either putting together pieces or working on presentation for those pieces and how Real Life (I sort of don't like that term. After all, my going off to Hospital to take care of people and incidentally earn money, Herself and I working the Ranch and taking product to Farmers Market and incidentally earning some money are Real Life, yes, and so is making Art and showing it) interfered with time priorities and such. Still, I did get six pieces framed and ready to go.

Now, from a business point of view, I didn't get anything new ready for the Print Shop which runs in conjunction with the Art Show. Since I prefer to show my work framed, and price my framed work appropriately to the extra time and materials, I did not expect to sell any of it via the Art Show auction. Any sales I've made at Necro are via the Print Shop. However, because the Necronomicon Art Show is one of the first I started showing at when I escalated my plans to begin showing work, and because it is also one of those Homer Simpson Moment bits for me (I'm a science fiction fan from childhood. And why haven't I made any science fiction/fantasy themed art? D'oh!), I really, really like to show at Necronomicon sales or not. Actually, even doing weekend art festivals where we set up our booth, more matted pieces sell than framed. The framed work, though, that's the eye candy that draws folks in to look.

This year then as mentioned, I put in six pieces. I'd prepared a seventh, and well, while framing it the frame experienced a catastrophic failure. I'm OK with that, it came with a large group of frames purchased in a yard sale, pretty cheap frame to begin with much less figuring the price per frame I paid via the yard sale. Just, this happened and there proved too little time to either cut another mat to fit a larger frame, or to acquire another frame before needing to finalise paperwork and pack up for the Show.

I will work on another State of the Artist and discuss all of the pieces submitted. The list for now is as follows:
Sakura, Sakura (DC)
St. Pete Beach Sunset
Where Is Everyone? Monty a Dog Gone Dragon
Stardancer
Sumi-e Reality
In the Hall of Titans King

Out of that list, two I did not make with a starting viewpoint to be a science fiction or fantasy theme item. Sakura, Sakura (DC) is of the cherry trees around the Tidal Pool in Washington DC, the capitol of my country of birth. None the less, I prepped a good comeback line if anyone asked why that in a show with a Sci-Fi/Fantasy theme, and it is simply that anything associated with DC (any national capitol of any nation, really) does possess a strong element of fantasy, eh?

And St. Pete Beach Sunset I included because A) beautiful sunset photo, eh, and B) Tampa, St. Petersburg area, eh.

Three of the other four we'll talk about in that next posting, other than one of the things I learned this past year after some in-depth research is that NASA flat out stipulates that any image made involving a NASA mission is in the Public Domain, and may be used by anyone with out charge. The Nationals Aeronautics and Space Administration does request crediting NASA and the specific mission when using such work, and I do so by putting up a short Artist Blurb when displaying these photos. They will also include a copy of that blurb when (if) I sell any prints. NASA may not be thinking anyone is going to use these images the way I did, may be thinking more about education and such.

So now about the primary subject for this post:

Where Is Everyone? (Monty a Dog Gone Dragon) by madshutterbug on deviantART

Doing composite work is easy these days using most any digital image manipulation program that allows layering or simply just cut and paste selected portions of an image into another. Doing it well enough so that the final piece doesn't look 'shopped' is what takes some time and skill. I often don't like to answer a 'where is that' question about my composite pieces, because after all they are supposed to be, they are, places which exist in my minds eye. Still, when discussing a piece it may be appropriate.

Part the First: Monty. As a sculpture, Monty a Dog Gone Dragon is the work of John Andrews, who lives and works relatively nearby the Ranch. I met John at the Tioga Winter Fine Arts Fair this year, let him know I'd photographed the piece. He said he needed photographs to put together a good brochure to sell the sculpture. I swapped my photographs for that purpose for permission to use those images in other art, crediting John as is right and proper for his part. There is more info here: Monty's Facebook

The kitchen, through which window Monty is putting his head looking for his family (because I figure any dog reincarnated as a dragon is going looking for his family, and 'far away' is a relative term regarding dragons) is from what I call Tudor House. This belongs to another acquaintance of mine through the Society for Creative Anachronism. Once again a mutually beneficial arrangement involving good photographs of something proved good for both of us. She added those photos to her portfolio about the scale model (1" to 1') Tudor-period Scots Manor House, and I gained settings for photographs.

And the Members, the Fans who attended Necronomicon and went through the Art Show, requesting to participate in judging the show (Members then get a form, go through the show, and mark of their favorite selections; turn the form back in, and the Art Show Mob does the rest), these wonderful folk like Where Is Everyone? Monty a Dog Gone Dragon enough to present a shiny ribbon to me and to Monty.

For which I respond Thank You Very Much.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Is tired. Big surprise, I suppose, since this may be a frequent description. Work is coming along on matting pieces for the upcoming Necronomicon Art Show, more to go and likely to come down to the last minute (as usual). Planning on getting up to eight pieces framed, and some duplicates of those pieces matted and sleeved to take along. All of this, as usual, fits inside other business such as Going to Hospital for work tours, Ranch Chores and Duties, and now an additional bit.

Month and a bit ago, Herself and I adopted four kittens who'd been fostered at a friends place. All of them were either gathered or otherwise turned in to the next over county Animal Control Service, and as quite young kittens though with their eyes open already. First week or so proved interesting, though we provided the Young Kittens with a private space to slowly introduce them to the KittenzOfApocalypse. This proved a successful plan and over then two weeks or so from first introductions the elder KittenzOfApocalypse accepted the Young Kittenz. Perhaps the introduction of the 'Red Dot' (a laser pointer to play with kittens) helped...

The Young Kittehz )

Chaucer proved the slowest to warm up to Houdini Border Collie Bro. Houdini, for his part, felt some concern. He grew up with cats around, and indeed the KittenzOfApocalypse are good friends with him. The newcomers didn't seem so friendly at first, often exhibiting 'Leaky Kitty Pressure' syndrome with hissing and bottled tails. Bleau cottoned first, he being quite the extrovert, and with the example of their elders the KittehzOfApocalypse even Chaucer calmed down when Houdini was about.

Chaucer received his name from the Agency; he was found near to one of the major library buildings on University campus, alone and wee as mentioned. I started thinking a dog probably caused his separation from mother and siblings. Given some additional data, I am much firmly of this opinion.

Then, last week and because we somewhat lucked into the connection, we brought another youngster out to The Ranch.
Vel & Houdini First Meeting )

This is Vel, or Val, short for Velvet Valkyrie. She was the only surviving pup in a litter of six, the other five being stillborn. Her dam would not accept her, what with the rest of them all being dead, and that family contacted the Animal Control folks for help, being unable to cope with an infant pup needed every two hour feedings and such. Local Animal Control Agency has a network of volunteers willing and able, and as it happened the volunteer who received Vel gets her goat milk supply through us. She told us we might be interested in this pup, and indeed we are.

We felt some concern at how Houdini would cope with a new addition. He grew up with his brothers, and there is some exposure to other dogs in his life. Not all of them were friendly. Based on evidence so far, Houdini is an excellent Uncle. Including that prerogative of Uncles to turn the youngster back to the 'parents' when he's had enough.

However, we are now also re-learning just how much energy a seven week old pup sports. Interrupted sleep is Us. Officially we are 'fostering' her for another three weeks until she hits the age at which Animal Control Agency will adopt out. It is our intention to adopt her at that time.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Marjai is an old, dear friend and one of my Muse. Alas, she no longer dwells nearby geographically, so our sessions are spaced out in time. A couple years ago, she expressed an interest in doing a session utilising one of our livestock water tanks, assorted hats, cigars, and booze. Or at least a looks like booze, if not the real thing.

So we did.

Now, her visit coincided with the recent arrival of Sydney Subaru Outback the Younger and my interest in photographing both Sydney the Elder and Sydney the Younger together. Primarily for sentimental reasons, you know. And I decided one portion of our session would cover the rather cliché subject of women and automobiles. That is, women wearing primarily what they were born with and automobiles. Despite the cliché nature, good sport that she is Marjai accommodated my request and so here we are, a portrait of Sydneys as it were.

This also followed a brief conversation with Ed A Guy Your Age (link to his blog there), an interesting bloke who patronises our Haile Farmers Market booth occasionally for goats milk, goats milk cheese and other odds and ends as we've got them. Discussing the acquisition of Sydney the Younger Ed mentioned that in his experience, many Subaru owners seemed to be a bit odd. This, he allowed, coming from himself, and certainly not a derogatory comment as he rather appreciates the odd. I did think about this later, and may need to agree with him. At least, such other Subaru owners as I know particularly well. Not a large number, that, and yes, we all seem to sport some aspects of the Odd.

I allowed to myself as to this bit of Odd and Subaru connection when I reviewed the photos from the session while reassuring Houdini that the Sky Grumblers wouldn't be coming inside after his Magnificent Tail (one of our summer thunderstorms approaching at the time). Reassuring Houdini put me in mind of two things, one being the Subaru advertisement campaign featuring the Barkleys, a family of Golden Retrievers as well as other dogs. The theme in these ads summed up with 'Subaru: Dog Tested, Dog Approved.'

Houdini certainly approved (approves) of Sydney Subaru Outback the Elder. He is a bit disappointed with Sydney Subaru Outback the Younger as Sydney Younger has now yet allowed Houdini within for a ride. This is more due to our decision to hold off until we acquire seat covers. Sydney Younger has leather seats, you see, and we'd rather not have Mr. H climbing across the leather. Leather seats isn't a feature we went looking for, and further when the sales representative mentioned them our response was we preferred cloth. So no selling point there. Obviously there are other points in Sydney Youngers favour as we did purchase him. Just... leather seats are nice but not vital.

Dog Tested, Dog Approved popped into my head as I reassured Houdini about those pesky Sky Grumblers, reviewed photos, and of course (we are talking about the Odd here) my mind said to myself, Myself, you could title these Nude Tested, Nude Approved.

Photo Behind, Art Nudity, Eh )

I suppose I could, at that. Might be truly Odd as well to do so and dedicate the naming to Ed, since his mode of transportation is bicycle.

However, Hats. Marjai brought a couple, I provided a couple, and on a rather warm August day we proceeded to photograph in the water tank after walking around a bit to do the Automotive theme pieces. One of the hats is her pith helmet; she uses this one often with some of her Steampunk outfits.
Pith Helmet. Little Else )

Marjai is a diverse person, gamer, cos-player, costumer, geomapping engineer... Another is her fedora, a well used traveling hat. I also brought out a black hat I call the 'Gamblers Hat'. We will visit some of those images later.

The Red Hat is my contribution, and I've used it before with other models. This time I quite consciously kept in mind the spirit of the poem 'Warning' by Jenny Joseph. This poem inspired the formation of the Red Hat Society. The first two lines are:
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.

Go, look it up if you've not read it. Really good. And, while a purple dress does not feature in the photographs, the hat does feature a purple band and bow.

I Shall Wear... a Red Hat )

Red Hats & Hens )

Not all of the photos feature hats. And while this one isn't the one, there is a portrait of her that I swear she channels Colombo...
Portrait of Marjai )

We worked for a couple hours. Besides the Subaru photos, we made a few using Littlejon Deere tractor. While we worked alongside the trees with the livestock tank, a power company line crew started working out on the road at the junction there, where the power lines branch to come onto the Ranch and go across the road and further down the road. It's a fair distance from where the Studio is, and while they may have seen us as well (power line follows our private road and passed overhead where we worked) they probably didn't (good bit of foliage cover in line of sight, which in fact the power company needs to come trim back to the edge of their right-of-way).

That covers recent work. Also on line is clearing up the clutter in Studio in order to resume matting and framing pieces. The Autumn Start to the Art Festival Season is almost upon us. Progress is the next challenge. First showing will be at Necronomicon in the Art Show, 3 to 5 October in Tampa. Then I've some 'time off' until the first two weekends in November. 1 to 2 November will be the Micanopy Fall Festival, and the next weekend 8 to 9 November will be the Gainesville Downtown Art Festival. If you are in the area(s) come on and see the shows! Seeing the Art Show at Necronomicon will involve purchasing a membership to Con, hence the link to their site. Micanopy and Downtown Gainesville are both open to the public.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
A long time ago in a galaxy not very far away, actually, I told Myself, Myself I need to do a blog entry like at least weekly on the State of the Artist. Things where I discuss art, philosophy, projects I'm working upon, maybe show samples, and include bits and pieces from Real Life because, hey, artists live in Real Life.

Myself didn't laugh. Quite.
Meditations on Life and Art, Interactive, Have Fun )
Really.

So that will be another posting, and hopefully will happen soon because I'm a tad time-limited on how soon I need to sell Sydney Elder. There's another State of the Artist meditation that involves these Subarus as well, about Subaru owners, and Houdini, Subaru advertisement campaigns and Ed A Guy His Age.
madshutterbug: (C) 2005 S Grossman (Stalking_Elusive_Photograph)
Photographs.

Made a few today, copied a few onto storage. Photographed a pair of moth wings found over at Caprihaven/Devonshire. Abdomen of moth gone, head and thorax remain holding wings together. I call them 'sketchbook' photos and still they are likely useful as building blocks. More photographs pending, the wings are set with another pair which I need to photograph as well.

This is part and parcel with my one lesson. If the most useless tool one owns is the one not present when needed, then also using the best tool present and not putting off making some photographs is beneficial. It is also an interesting point to me, as to what are the capabilities of the wee point and shoot digital. A tripod might have helped, yet there is no noticeable blur in an enlarged view of the pictures. I looked at shutter speeds as I worked and some of the images shutter proved as slow as 1/30 second. Yet hand-held, on macro setting, as mentioned no noticeable blur.

All three of the digital point and shoots I've owned provided excellent photos. There are (or were, in the case of two worn out cameras) limitations; slow focus lock could lead to not getting the photograph one wanted. Not so great perhaps on action shots, and perhaps contributed to by the owner operator(s) not selecting the 'Action' mode. Low-light capabilities are limited as well. Frame capture and storage speeds noticeably slower than a DSLR or a film camera, yes, and keeping that in mind provides one of the measures for when to replace batteries. The longer it takes to write, the older the batteries are likely to be.

Some of this is driven by my looking through photographs lately. It is one thing to make a lot of photographs, and another to then go through them. I do use the More is More feature/aspect of shooting digital, and also find myself working to keep the overshoot aspect under control, not shooting tons of photos. It's an approach from shooting film; limited rescource space as it were and so pay attention to the piece.

I've been carrying the point and shoot in the belt pouch we found for it some time back. That does reflect the most useless tool lesson, and always therefor have a camera with one. May not possess the speed and image size of the digital single lens reflex, however it is lighter and present.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
It is [personal profile] wcg Day! Hippie Birdbaths, Bill.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
It is an old practice for artists to take their inspirational cues from legends, fables, scripture for that matter, and even from other artists work particularly if work comes out of any of the above.

Creating art which comes from a science fiction source (as it were) often requires what people think of as 'special effects' work -- think either the energy beam of Star Trek phasers or Star Wars light sabres, or the transporter effect from Star Trek and yes I reveal some of my fandoms here. Composite work where the artist combines and blends two or more images into a final which exists primarily in their imagination is one of these special effects. Long before 'blue screen' (more properly labeled chroma-key and often using green rather than blue) either stage backdrops or glass screens were painted for the 'alien' landscape and then worked into the scene takes from the storyline. A variation on this is known as 'split screen', another variation is 'back projection'.

One of the pieces I've been working up for, oh, nigh on a couple two-three years calendar time from the creation of one of the components progressed under the 'working title' In the Hall of the Mountain King. This is of course the title of a musical piece written by Edvard Grieg for Henrik Ibsens play Peer Gynt. The play storyline is from a Norwegian fairy tale. So per the opening statement here, the subject of the piece hearkens back to a fairy tale, yet as I worked I knew it held no more linkage to that specific fairy tale than the working title.

Composite pieces are intended to create, as mentioned, a place, a vision, which exists primarily in the artists minds eye. I am frequently asked 'Where is that' related to one or another of my composites. Sometimes my curmudgeonly nature comes through and I obstinately answer, In My Head. This despite recognising that people are asking so that they might be able, some day, to go to a 'place' and see it for themselves. Hobbiton, The Shire is an example of that; Tolkien first established that place in his minds eye writing both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson and associates then created it somewhere in New Zealand to film those sequences for that version of the trilogy. As I understand it, this is now something of a tourist attraction.

Jerry Uelsmann is my first inspiration for this type of work, and I've no idea truly how he might answer the same question. However, in my less curmudgeonly moments I may be a bit more forthcoming about sources, perhaps, or might answer fairly simply yet politely:

This is the Hall of Titans King. Discussion and Image behind the cut. )

Again, then, from a primarily technical point of reference:
- Approximately 72 hours of work
- Two different image manipulation software packages, starting in Photoshop 7 and completing in Gimp
- Seven different images provide the component pieces in total or in part
- Yes, I do pun my titles

The working title, or project title, came along as I started putting things together. That also lets you know some of my musical inclinations, even if I'm not telling you the different 'covers' of the piece I've heard. It isn't a re-telling of the fable, or the play that grew from the fable, or even the specifics of the musical piece as background for a scene in the fable. It is my own short story, 1000 words more or less, which still leaves questions unanswered. The working title did lead to the final title, once I added the celestial image to the overall.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Well, with a Long Time No Post, things what happened.

Pursuant to the subject above, on Friday past I bid adieu to Mr. Gallbladder. Our relationship never proved an unpleasant one, nothing stony about the course nor such. However a few months back I received a letter from my urologist, follow-up on last October appointment to check on kidney stones. The ultrasound done then (stones light up brightly on US, being hard and all) showed no stones to the urologist and he simply wanted me to know the radiologist agreed. Except, the radiologist did see a polyp in Mr. Gallbladder. Polyps being pesky things that may be affiliated with cancers, a visit to a general surgeon seemed in order and Ta Ta Mr. Gallbladder.

Doing well, little pain, rather more ache, and adjusting diet in steps. Should be back to work at Hospital some time next week. Meanwhile, on some lifting restrictions until the four laparoscopic wounds heal completely.

Shortly before the Day of Separation, faithful old Sydney Subaru Outback started overheating. While I carry extra fluids on board (both coolant and oil, the flat opposed 'box' engine Subaru uses tends to use oil rather more noticeably than more conventional engines) he still showed signs of continuing to overheat. Off to the Growly Beast Doctor (our mechanic) who confirmed the head gasket is compromised. Were Sydney a younger bloke of an auto I'd consider more extensive work to keep him running. At 326 K km plus (204 K plus miles) not so much. So we shall be shopping for a replacement and are discussing exactly what to do here.

In between this and weekly Farmers Markets where our local produce of meats, goats milk, goats milk cheese, goats milk fudge (Oh My) and fresh produce as the garden yields is selling fairly well. That is become a tad more 'interesting' for the next few weeks with my lifting restrictions, both on loading Forrest Nissan Pickup and setting up. We've managed with help from our dairy goat provider friend and partner, but both parthers in the 'ship are looking at other commitments on the next couple of weekends. Busy could be good, but truly we'd considered (before knowing exactly when the surgery would be) that I'd be continuing the Markets.

Ah well. Such is life.

Art projects are moving slowly, though some progress is being made. I am generating a reference library of paper types as I 're-learn' printing, and getting ready to expand the types I shall reference. More on that as it develops (pun intended). A few prints sold over the past quarter, nice bit of extra. Two Autumn shows to which I applied for entry (three should be, been looking for the paperwork on that site hasn't shown yet) and heard back from one. Tried getting into this one last year, didn't make the jury. Did this year, now need to cough up the booth fee, deadline in July. Should be able to do that next week. The other I am expecting to hear from nearer the end of June. Once I've paid the booth fee for the former I'll formally announce the venue, ditto for the latter.

Pieces in progress are primarily composite work, science fiction themed. Did some research to verify and it is apparently the case, images available from NASA are in the public domain (since they are funded by tax moneys). NASA requests only acknowledgement that they are indeed NASA images and the mission upon which they obtained the source (so, Hubble Telescope, Cassini Probe for examples). Provides a wonderful source for astronomical imagery.

Houdini BorderCollieBro is still hanging with us, showing some signs of his soon to be 12 years. During the past winter (unusually cold for this part of Baja Jorja) he preferred to be indoors at night. Through the Spring and still, now into summer, he wanted to be outside at night. So be it, despite his occasional wandering ways he doesn't go walkabout at night (that I know of). Since we provide a means to get back into the house, when teh Sky Grumblers (thunderstorms) show, he hies himself back in and hides beside me.

Doesn't seem to faze the fox that's started visiting, unfortunately, and snagging some of the younger Dirty Yardbird chooks. We've escalated the projects of clearing brush and making more Chicken Tillers since Fox hasn't bothered any of the birds in the tillers, mostly only the group that insists on roosting in trees and being total Free Range Spirits. Woe betide Fox, though, should Herself spot him/her and she is setting an alarm at random intervals to go make night time rounds. With her Ithica. Which, if she uses it I expect to find Houdini hiding beside me shortly after.

Enough for now. Getting to be time for Evening Rounds, which include feeding two kids.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Over there on the LJ side of the inter webs, the appearance has changed again.

Over there on the LJ side of the inter webs, once upon a time long long ago when I possessed more disposable income I purchased a permanent membership. So I keep cross-posting from here to there. Because, hey, I can.

However, I find myself supremely dis-interested in the recent changes over there. So long as cross-posting keeps working, anyway.

Pizza for dinner tonight, brought to you by Herself's Country Kitchen. As in, our place. Yes. Home-made pizza. Mine. Eat yer hearts out, inter webs.
madshutterbug: (c)2004 by Myself (Self RN HardAtWork)
To Florence.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Been thinking I need to get one of these done for a while, and I keep running into things which … seem more important. Work on the Ranch. Work at Hospital. Something else comes along. And no writing about the State of the Artist.

This is both good and frustrating. Good, because things are being accomplished. There is a goodly amount of cleanup happening around the Ranch. We are changing up on some of the regular things we do, getting things ready to go to (we hope) better manage this small corner of the Universe we call home. And some of that is cleanup, literally, gathering up a huge quantity of empty feed bags from delivery for example, and preparing to move that along to, well, The Dump. The paper bags, those we recycle and repurpose pretty much overall. However, at least half our feed comes in white plastic-y woven type bags, and those aren't quite as recyclable. We'd like to, haven't found a manner for it yet. So they've accumulated, and they need to go away. Cleanup time.

Chicken tillers, and if you don't know what those are Google is your friend, we use them a lot. Brief definition, an open wire fabric enclosure, fairly small and easily portable. Ours are made to hold from three to a half dozen or so hens and a rooster. Every few days to a week or so, we then move them along by their length or width onto fresh ground. Meanwhile, the birds withing stir up the ground as they look for more food (they do get fed by us as well) and woe betide any flying or crawling insect that wanders within (remember, open wire fabric, eh). Chickens are omnivores, and watching them hunt reminds us of the velociraptors, at least as depicted in the Jurassic Park movies. We've been making and adding some of these to the Ranch, since our egg sales at Farmers Markets are one of our most popular products. This includes refurbishing a couple which friends who were keeping urban chickens opted out of that pastime and gave us their back yard enclosures.

Hospital... hm. Well. 32 years and counting. Enough said.

As for Art, well off and on I've been working on a few different projects, and perhaps struggling a tad in keeping organised in both that and in maintaining inventory for the Studio 318 art festival booth. Plus, we just concluded the 2013-14 Weekend Festival Season with the Windsor Zucchini Festival (insert link as found). The last four festivals we've done then (Micanopy in October, Blue Oven Kitchens in November, GFAA Winter Fine Arts at Tioga in March, and now the Zucchini) have been, well, not total washes. We've sold art, though we've not made expenses. As a business, this isn't great, however it does all go onto the books and helps. That we've sold art at all tells me the overall economy, and peoples feelings about it, is doing well enough. That we've not made expenses tells me people are still feeling somewhat conservative about 'fun money' and how much they've got.

Staying organised with inventory is part of conducting a business in selling photographic art (or any art, really). It tells the business owner how much money is tied up in inventory (the goal is something like, oh, 'Just Enough' to be able to satisfy a demand quickly but not so much as to be sitting there idle), and which items sell the most frequently. I count something as In Inventory when I've finished matting and mounting it, with a label and then a transparent sleeve to protect it from most of the elements. Then it is a salable item, I can put a price on it, so it's in inventory.

I don't count the items which are printed, but waiting for me to mount, mat, label and sleeve. On the one hand, such prints are money expended and waiting to be recovered. On the other hand, they aren't salable in that status. And I'm doing fairly well in keeping those down to a minimum. It helps, getting better with Mr. Printy (tm Ursula Vernon, thx). This allows me to print up to 8x10 or 8x11 ish sized items, including prints and art greeting cards, here and not at the printing lab I use for large items. Saves me a bit of money though do not ever think that printing those bits of art you may be thinking about buying is free to the artist. Costs time and materials, eh. Simply, smaller items able to do close to home saves production costs.

There are less than a half-dozen really big prints waiting for mats, mounts, frames or sleeves. And I've sold one recently, which is nice. I've not added large matted prints to inventory quite yet; transport requires something large enough to do such safely. The largest pieces we routinely take to Festival shows are mat outside sizes in the range of 11x14 to 11x 17 or so. There are a couple dozen smaller prints (print sizes up to 8x10 or 8x12 ish) waiting to be matted sleeved. Not too bad, and one of the things the Summer Hiatus from outdoor festivals here in North Central Baja Jorja is good to accomplish. I can and do this work indoors, in air conditioning.

We had big hopes for the sale of Art Greeting Cards and did OK around the holidays, but not great. This could be related to display/marketing. That's something to work on during the Summer Hiatus as well.

And this fellow, behind the cut because I still think about bandwidth (viewing on smartphones or tablets that may not be connected to wireless burns the data plans, eh), this fellow is who helped keep the Zucchini Festival from being a total wash. Anecdotal response on my part says he is one of our most frequent sales, but my current inventory system isn't keeping really good track of sales so pulling that out takes a bit of time. Time I didn't spend yesterday evening after striking setup on site, getting home, unloading Forrest Nissan Pickup and helping with some of the Evening Rounds before cleanup and dinner. So getting the bloody inventory into a good, functional database is also on the agenda for the Summer Hiatus. Artist as Businessperson. Yah, that's one of my favourite things to do.

Still, yes, one of our more popular based on sales items:

Peek-a-Boo, image is a link, feel free to follow for larger viewing pleasure )

And, because it't that day, Happy Mothers Day to all who are, and to those who are not by choice or otherwise, Happy To You Too Day. Personally, I must admit it's been a while since I thought much about my own mother, being that it's been nigh on 18 years since she shuffled off this mortal coil. Not forgotten, not often in my thoughts. Recently, though, yes. Mom, thank you for all you did, when you did it, and for being you.
madshutterbug: (c)2004 by Myself (Weather Wet)
However, there is some resolution. Still not going into details, not because I want to be mysterious but because, mmm, rather a close subject. Suffice to say I received a wake-up call. And for a time, that wake-up call didn't show exactly what direction to move, though the general direction proved obvious. Now, it's settled in a bit. Still a tad precarious. Settled. A bit.

'Tis raining here in North Central Baja Jorja today. Parts south on the Peninsula are receiving more attention from the nasties than we are. Houdini is, none the less, staying as close to me as he can so I suspect he feels it. Like myself, Houdini is becoming an Old Fart, and one of these days... will come along far too soon, no matter what. So I happily provide him some 'Bubble of Kewl' and he does the same for me, he does.

Things

Apr. 30th, 2014 07:06 am
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Are still on the strange side. Life is all a bit in a flux.

But then again, when isn't it?

Meanwhile, two applications for Autumn weekend art festivals into the mail yesterday. The deadline for one of them is the first of May, the second the middle of June. Yet it seemed a good idea to get both into the mail and therefor as done as I can get them. There is another one I need to start following up right soon as well. Been distracted, see above, still not able to go into details about distraction.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Default)
I've... not posted anything in a month and a bit. And nothing at all Artist related in several months. It's...

Well, this quote does say it all. Not that it's over yet.

"What a long, strange trip it's been."
madshutterbug: (c)2004 by Myself (Weather Wet)
Today is a couple of Hippie Birdbaths, so a Shout Out to [personal profile] rosewildeirish (both here and over there) and ichthyus (over there).

Hippie Birdbaths Two Ewes! Despite the wet day in this part of the world, eh!

September 2015

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