Saturday, November 23, 2013


Dean is taking a photo class at school, and loving it. Black and white, actual film -- learning how to process film and print his own photos. Loving it. I'm trying to let only the right dollop of my joy level show; yes, I want him to love it and have been trying for the past, oh, 11 years or so to put a camera in his hands, but I don't want to overwhelm him. I know I can be overwhelming when I mean well, so I'm trying to be an encouraging voice on the sidelines in a way that makes being there appreciated.

The rolls of film I ordered for him haven't arrived yet (I'll let you know if it turns out a certain online source was bogus or not). The 200 sheets of paper on which to print have arrived; I told him that being able to be free to do what it takes to get the print you want is important and it was a luxury neither Ken nor I really had during our own photo class days.  He is working with a camera provided by school -- I haven't been able to convince him to try one of my cameras yet, but I did manage to get him to let me change the lens for him on our expedition today.

His weekend assignment was to shoot landscape, so I asked if he wanted to check out the beach. We're about an hour from the ocean but we rarely ever go -- traffic in the summer is ridiculous, and there isn't generally the enthusiasm for the leaving-before-dawn-to-get-a-parking-spot aspect of the journey. Today was sunny and cold-ish (45f) and windy and it felt fantastic to breathe in that salty air and walk -- although we should have brought hats and gloves and all. Next time. I'd planned to take us to a more wild/secluded-ish kind of beach, but a massive roadworks project meant we couldn't get there so we just stumbled upon a spot in Lynn with parking and a long, wide beach just waiting for us. (Boston area beach access tells a fascinating story of major wealth vs. old-time working class, as well as of the prominence of commercial verses recreational use of the ocean; as you can imagine, the story twines around accessibility to the water -- a concept which, as a Chicagoan raised on something like 25 miles of publicly accessible, beautiful lakefront, is foreign to me.)

 Trying not to get ahead of what our shared story might be. Eager to see his work, when he's ready to share, and to be able to talk about photography. He loves it, meanwhile -- did I mention?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Making art and making the grade

I have done everything I could, always, to encourage Dean in the arts.  Oodles and oodles of supplies, and time to experiment, and conversations, and always saying what I truly believe -- that everyone is an artist.  Our output is the output that we, and we alone, are capable of producing.  We may judge our output harshly, against all those killer standards that beat us all down one way or another, but the reality is that we can all make art and that the art we make is uniquely our own.  Art is visual, auditory, aural and oral.

Dean was always a "process" guy growing up -- much, much more interested in getting his hands deep into the paint and rubbing over and over the surface telling a story as he went (a story that was obliterated in the end, but that gave him pleasure in the making), much more engaged with seeing how much color and texture he could put down but not interested in the end result.  He'd draw, a little, again to tell his own stories, but it wasn't his passion and I can't think of the last time he drew anything.  He still loves to dance, but on his own terms (although he is looking forward to a dance class later this year).  He does play piano, and is newly inspired to push himself to practice and experiment more.  But, at least at this point in his journey, he doesn't feel that he's a visual artist and doesn't have a great deal of interest.

His school, however, requires that all students work across all disciplines, and he must take music, visual arts, dance, theater (and all students focused on the arts must meet requirements across every other academic discipline).  He just finished up his Sculpture 1 class, and stands next to himself up there -- self portrait, full-sized bust in cardboard.

I see his work and I am thrilled.  I know how far out of his comfort zone he has been in this class, and I am awed by his work.  On the other hand, I understand that this is a real, academic course -- the school takes the arts seriously.  I get that.  I even understand how other students in the class produced *better* work.  But the bummer is that he got a grade he's not happy with in the class, which tragically has him re-convinced that he's NOT an artist and wanting to shimmy his way out of any other visual arts courses.  (He will have a photography class coming up, and he feels pretty positive about what he'll be able to accomplish).  I wish there were some middle ground; I wish there were some feedback the teacher could have given him that was more encouraging, even if that had to be the grade.  It's difficult to teach someone how to deeply engage with the art they are tasked with making (my mom was an art teacher so I had a front-row seat on this), how to show their thought process even if their execution is deemed somehow lacking. Back to that business about loving the process -- if he's engaged in the process and the thinking, should that "count?  I believe so.  You don't begin to make art unless you feel good about and are willing to undertake the process.

And the grade isn't the end of the world in my eyes, by the way -- but the issue is the way Dean interprets that....

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

And on

(Click on photo for full image.)

I stopped carrying my camera with me today, because it is heavy and I already had a lot to transport to and from work and and and.  And I missed the opportunity to take a photo of the incredible praying mantis that was hanging out on a bush just outside my office door. So THAT tells me something....

I have an idea about doing some little something of clean up in my studio every day for the next thirty days, but the count will not coincide with the calendar because I don't quite have it in me to jump in yet.  I type that and instantly feel lame; I do just need to do it. Kind of so much to juggle every day in life already -- we're in one of those "just need to make it through the next couple of weeks" mode with a zillion things going on for each of us and me feeling in the center needing to hold it all together for every one.

Right. And that's really what's at the heart, for me, about the challenge of choosing to do something every day that will feel positively productive. I will try. I will start now, and I will try. And meanwhile I will see about remembering to carry my camera with me.

September thirty

(Click on photo for full image.)

September twenty nine

(Click on photo for full image.)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

September twenty eight

(Click photo for full image.)

Friday, September 27, 2013

September twenty seven

(Click on photo for full image.)

My friend Polly is wondering who else might still be playing along, trying or practicing or perfecting something for 30 days.  Doesn't matter if you've been on top of every day, but have you been having some fun that you'd like to share?

I'm glad to see the end on the horizon, as much as I have enjoyed these 27 days of photography.  It does sometimes feel burdensome, either in the taking or the posting (or the thinking about or the adding it to the to-do list), but to have the body of work to look at and ponder -- that's where the beauty of really pushing yourself to do a thing every day really pays off.  Thinking about whether or not to continue, or to try something different, or -- bold thinking -- to continue and ADD something.  Natalie would be proud....

September twenty six

(Click on photo for full image.)

September twenty five

(Click photo for full image.)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

September twenty four

(Click on photo for full image.)

Late afternoon brilliant sunshine, and another brilliant win. Gryphons remain undefeated....

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September twenty three

(Click on photo for full image.)

And so it begins.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

September twenty second

(Click on photo for full image.)
I  would not blame you in the least for thinking some over-wrought PhotoShop enhancement were at work here, but I tell you honestly -- this is straight out of the camera. It was still summer in New Jersey this morning, before we headed north for home.

September twenty one

(Click on photo for full image.)

We attended a magnificent 90th birthday party today in New Jersey, for Ken's uncle.  What a long-over due chance to spend time with this branch of Ken's family!  Dean hadn't been down since he was a toddler, so of course for him this really was for all practical purposes his first time.  Dean, left, is standing with Tyler, who is two months older than Dean.  Tyler is the son of Ken's cousin's son -- not sure there's any kind of name for this relationship (cousins twice removed? thrice removed? who knows?) but to me there is certainly a family resemblance.

Friday, September 20, 2013

September twenty

(You know the deal -- click on photo to view full image.)

Happy Friday, indeed.  For all the grousing we do about the weather at other times of year, New England remains patient with us, and focused -- she knows she's going to come through with a spectacular fall.  Every time.  And she'll have us on our knees begging forgiveness for every and any unkind thing we may have ever said about the weather, because THIS is heaven on Earth.  Thank you, New England; I do love you.

September nineteen

(Click on photo for full image.)