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Call Me the Breeze

13 Nov

I’m finally home after a year of almost non-stop traveling. In the past 13 months, I have been to Italy, Greece, Israel, Turkey, Germany, Switzerland and France, as well as Chicago (twice). We were supposed to go to Egypt, but the political situation there was too dangerous. Israel was surprisingly safe, but this was in September 2013. I wouldn’t feel at all the same about going there currently.

Each country was wonderful in its own way. As a true art lover, I tended to want to go to every museum I could find. Of course, the Vatican museum blew my mind – All the Ninja Turtles were represented: Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello. I completely geeked out in the Sistine Chapel, but my bliss was harshed by the very serious-looking men in suits telling us to move along.

Surprisingly to some, I preferred the Musee D’Orsay to the Louvre in Paris, but please believe me when I say, I wouldn’t kick either of them out of my bed. After spending a day in Montmartre, where the Impressionists lived and worked, seeing their pictures in the D’Orsay just made my world a whole lot more colorful. I also recommend a book by Sue Roe called The Private Lives of the Impressionists. It’s a very well-researched look into their lives from the start of their careers onward. Find out who whined and manipulated money out of everyone he met! Who was ravaged by Syphilis? Who left his wife to die at home while cavorting with his mistress at her place? Intrigued? You should be!

If you are anywhere near Chicago, get to the Art Institute. From ancient to modern, they have amazing pieces. My first time there was in a blizzard – my first blizzard too! The snow fell nearly sideways and was too thick to see to drive. Everyone else was fully irritated, but I was like a kid at Christmas. Chicago rocks.

After all this inspiration, I will haul out my paints and see where they take me. Photos to follow!

All Apologies

14 Oct

Evidently, some hacker who needs to get a life and a real job found his / her way into my blog and sent spam to all of my subscribers. I’ve changed the password, and I hope that is the end of it. No, you cannot make money filling out surveys, and I haven’t made $754 in the last 6 minutes….

Clickety clack, clickey clack….

12 Oct

…. go my fingernails on the keyboard / iPod / smartphone / tablet / notebook, etc, etc, etc.

Am I the only person out there who fondly recalls life before texting, tweets and status updates? Not that I’m completely opposed to our high-tech, online zooniverse, but sometimes it seems so…. removed. I skipped my high school reunion because it’s just easier to keep up on Facebook. Why bother making a phone call when I can just send a text, and when was the last time I held an actual book, magazine, newspaper or snapshot in my hands?

It sort of reminds me of armchair traveling only it’s armchair connecting. My birthday passed with e-cards and Facebook greetings. My only card came from my sweet mother who still lives by paper and a stamp, bless her. The romantic notion of keeping love letters tied with ribbon is a fleeting one. I’m getting married in a month and I’ve never received an actual love letter from my fiance, not one. I could print out pages of emails and texts he’s sent to me proclaiming undying love, but nothing he’s actually taken a pen to and written on. I’m no better – he’s never received a perfume-scented envelope containing my handwritten sweet nothings. Our scrapbook is filled with ink jet instead of ink pen words.

Taking the other side, I’m too lazy to keep up the old-fashioned way with everyone I know (get your minds out of the gutter… not THAT old-fashioned way!). I’m a rarity in that I despise talking on the phone, so texting was made for me, and I send thousands a month. I love email, and I read, reply to and “like” everyone’s status updates on Facebook. I’ve finally come around to LinkedIn, which I’d refused on principle for nearly a year. I wasn’t going to get into one more online network, by golly. Well, I caved over the summer and am haphazardly limping in to my LinkedIn page to see who’s doing what in the business world.

What thinkest thou, good people? Is resistance futile??? Are we all doomed to knowing each other only through some screen or another? I guess at the end of this post, I still feel a lot like I did at the beginning. Ambivalent.

 

 

Thinner

23 Aug

As a model, I have way too many clothes. My walk-in closet is bursting at the seams, and if my family didn’t like to visit all the time, I’d turn my spare bedroom into a closet. At last count, I own 34 tank tops in every conceivable color, 31 skirts, 17 pairs of jeans, and the beat goes on…

Every once in a while something really does change a person’s life, and when I was at Costco last Saturday (looking for a new pair of jeans) it happened to me when I noticed this box of hangers guaranteed to be the “solution to my closet makeover”.

Makeover? I love makeovers! I promptly purchased 4 boxes of 50 and took them home to my poor unhappy closet. Dubious but hopeful, I replaced my old plastic hangers with these skinny fuzz-covered beauties, and what a difference they made! My closet no longer looks like an episode of Hoarders, and I actually have about 2 feet of unused space on one of the bars.

How have I not heard of this miracle before now? This could save relationships! I remember having to draw a Sharpie line in the center of my college dorm closet to keep my roommate’s clothing from spilling onto my side. We were so hardcore about it that we actually measured it with a tape measure to make sure we each had the same amount. My poor fiance has to keep his wardrobe in the guest closet along with old pet beds, my winter clothes and boxes of Christmas decorations. Maybe I’ll be generous and let him move into my closet now that I have some extra space!

Oh, who am I kidding? I actually had to try to type that last bit without laughing…

Off to the mall! …and to Costco for more hangers.

 

Time Keeps on Ticking

12 Feb

My mom is obsessed with clocks. Actually, to be more precise, she is obsessed with buying clocks for me. As I sit in my living room with the TV turned off (a very rare thing in my home), I am nearly deafened with the tick, tick, ticking of the seven clocks within my visual range. Four of my seven living-room clocks have pendulums, which give them an added insistence. They swing back and forth ticking away, pendulums waving “look at me, look at me”!

All told, I count a grand total of 16 clocks in my modest home. This does not include the myriad watches I have stashed in drawers and jewelry boxes, nor does it include my computer / phone / iPod / Blu-Ray player / DVR clocks. Just the old-fashioned, so-20th-century timepieces that I have hanging on walls or propped on tables. All ticking. Ticking…. ticking.

Someone much smarter than me said that the only things you can count on are death and taxes. I’d like to propose an addition to that short list: the infernal, maddening passage of time. Nobody knows how many more tick tocks they will get, but whether any of us are here to see that pendulum swing, it will still be swinging.

Now, what does that mean for me personally? Of course, my mind goes right to those tedious platitudes like, “right now is a gift, that’s why they call it the present”, which is supposed to make me stop fretting and start living. I’ve tried that. All I find myself doing is fretting about fretting and how to stop fretting. It’s a horrible, cyclical nightmare that’s crapping all over my gift of the present. Living in the now is hard work. If I don’t look at the past, I can never feel that lovely cringe I get when I recall my more drunken adventures. Avoiding addressing the future means that I won’t have crossed anything off a to-do list that never was written, because I was too busy reveling in the here and now. I’d exist completely for my own hedonistic pleasure, living off of red velvet buttercream cupcakes and forgetting to water the plants.

Waiting, hoping, dreaming… those are all contingent upon the future. That needlepoint pillow is right about one thing – the future hasn’t happened yet – but if we just camp out in the now, we miss much of the beauty of living. The past is who we are. It’s something we can’t get away from, because it’s completely woven into who we are today. As Frank said, “regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention”. Imagine Frank Sinatra without a past! Just try to hear that voice sing without all the years of living behind each note.

As I write this, my mother’s clocks are tick tocking away. There’s no getting away from time. Past, present, and the hope for the future are all any of us has. I guess it’s when we completely mire ourselves in the past or plan so much for tomorrow that we really do lose out on today. “Right now is a gift…”. Well, then let’s unwrap it.

 

Feels like the first time

10 Jan

I’d been a fashion model for years – on and off my entire life, actually, and I thought I’d conquered the universally recurring nightmare of being naked in public. After all, I’d changed in front of countless other people – other models, designers, and (usually) gay men, and it never really fazed me. During a fashion show, models are little more than store mannequins to be changed like living Barbie dolls as fast as humanly possible and scooted back out on stage for another round of looking tragically cool and hiply detached. We’re practically schooled on looking as if we don’t give a damn in order to keep the fashionable fantasy alive.

So when my college professor asked me if I would consider modeling for the art department, I thought it’s be no big deal. I’d been naked in front of people before, right? I gathered together the necessary items: a robe, flip-flops, and a cushion to sit on during longer poses, courage…., and I went into the class only to discover that nothing was the same. With fashion modeling, focus is entirely on the clothes. Your body is merely a hanger to show them off. In art modeling, the body is the focus, and I had nearly 20 students staring at mine. The only fashionable fantasy I had was dreaming I was back in my robe again!

Thankfully, the first class ended and I was able to calm down and realize that they are truly there to learn and create. To this day, I have never had any incidences or feelings of being objectified. Everyone has been completely professional. Art students are the best, and I love the creative process. I feel like I’m learning along with them as I listen to the instructor’s guidance. The thing that terrified me beyond measure has become one of my favorite parts of my work.

Safety First

16 Aug

I am regularly approached by photographers who want to work with me in some capacity, and in today’s world, I had to learn to figure out who was a safe bet and who was a creepy potential stalker or worse. Having come through my learning curve relatively unscathed, let me share a few quick pointers to any new or aspiring models out there.

1. Know how to spot a G.W.C.: In the world of art photography, you have three general categories of photographer – the full-time professional who makes his or her (although 98% of the ones I’ve come across are guys, and for the purposes of this post, let’s assume they all are) living as a photographer. Secondly, you have the semi-pro guy who earnestly wants to make compelling art. He may have a day job somewhere else, but his passion lies behind the lens. Lastly, we have the Guy With Camera or G.W.C. These folks run around with a digital camera and precious little additional equipment and have figured out that there are naiive gals out there who will take their clothes off if someone points a camera at them. Since digital photography has become more and more popular and simple, these guys seem to be behind every tree (usually in a trench coat). They put up profiles on legitimate modeling sites, and start emailing models. Usually, it’s the younger, less experienced girls who fall for this, but we’ve all been there. This brings me to the next point….

2. Location, location, location: If you are approached by someone like this, most likely they will flatter you and ask for a nude session at their home / hotel, etc. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing in that many artists have home studios, but it can be a red flag in the uncovering of the G.W.C. A professional, freestanding studio is golden, but home studios are also potentially okay.

3. A visual: Be sure to ask him to show you samples of his work. I always, always do this before committing to anyone, no matter who they are. If I don’t like the art they produce, I figure we’ll not be a good match, and I politely decline. In order to save egos, my response is usually something like, “your work is interesting, but I don’t see me as a good fit for you. Thank you anyway and best of luck”. Don’t be pulled in by a big fee or flattery by a well-known photographer if his style isn’t for you.

4. Interview references: On sites such as ModelMayhem and One Model Place (among others), you are able to see who the photographer’s friends are and who he has worked with in the past. This is invaluable in finding out if he is professional in his work and attitude. Models will be happy to give you the scoop if you email them about a particular photographer. I had a bad experience early on in my career, and I was thrilled when I received an email from a girl he had asked to model for him. I told her the truth, and she was saved the same crap I had to contend with. Sadly, this guy’s work is beautiful, and I’d have worked with him over and over if he hadn’t been such a pig.

5. Notice dates: See how long he has been in the field. Someone who is semi-pro and has been working for the last several years is a sign that he’s legit. A guy with a profile and work history of only a few months will need further research.

6. Get the hell out: If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable for any reason at all during a shoot, you are completely within your rights to leave. You may have to forfeit your fee, but your dignity and safety are worth far more. You’re not only doing yourself a favor, but the creep may just realize that if he wants to be a true artist, he needs to treat the models with respect. Don’t remain where you feel unsafe!

I hope this is helpful to anyone who is starting out in the incredibly rewarding field of art photography. There are amazing photographers out there who are making fabulous works of art, and with a little savvy, you can have a wonderful career.