Finding Inspiration Outside

After exhausting the interior of the house for inspiration, I turned my focus outside. I covered the usual subject matter – trees (so many trees), grass and flowers. Again, some decent stuff, but nothing earth shattering. I was looking for something unique to use as subject matter.

My gaze settled on the large metal sculpture we had commissioned for our new house and installed just outside of the workshop. It’s an abstract piece of large steel “reeds,” some plain and some painted in shades of blue. My first attempts were admittedly pretty lame. I had my beloved 50mm lens and couldn’t get the effect I wanted.

Fortunately, I kept at it and the results kept getting better over time. This is Andante. I bet you are wondering about the orange. All in good time.


Art Inspires Art

My abstract photography class started at the end of July. I picked this session because we were supposed to be moved into our new house by then and I envisioned creating masterpieces in my beautiful new photo studio. It didn’t quite work out that way. Not only were we not moved in, there was still a significant amount of work to be done. So I didn’t feel like I had a whole lot of time for creative expression.

But taking the class meant having assignments and coming back the next week with something to show to the rest of the participants. I needed some quick and easy inspiration and I found it in the form of art – the many paintings and pieces of art glass that fill our new home.

I created a lot of blurry images of paintings and glass, some of which turned out pretty well. But in the end, it wasn’t art inside the house that turned out to be the inspiration for “Symphony of Color.” This is Adagio.

How I Got Here

I took a class in abstract photography over the summer. It was just five sessions long, which was good because I might have strangled the instructor if it had lasted any longer. Don’t get me wrong, he was a very nice man and a decent photographer, just a really lousy instructor. I spent the whole first session wondering if they had just sprung the class on him with an hour’s notice and he didn’t have time to prepare.

When a friend inquired as to why *I* was taking a photography class, my response was that it forced me to use my camera. Which I hadn’t been very diligent about lately. House and everything, you know. So, while I can’t say I actually learned anything in the class, it proved to be a creative rebirth. Time and money well spent.

This is Crescendo, the second image in the series. The portfolio as a whole is titled “Symphony of Color,” hence the fancy pants musical terms for each of the images.

No Apologies for My Absence

You (meaning the three people who actually bother to read this crap) may have noticed that I took a six month sabbatical. I’m not going to apologize or explain. It’s my blog, I’ll write or I won’t as I see fit.  It’s been a shitty year, let’s leave it at that. What hasn’t been shitty is the art I’m now creating. Yes, art. I used the A word. After 35 years as a photographer of all things realistic, I’m now calling myself an artist. I’ll try not to let it go to my head.

I just completed a portfolio of 25 abstract photographs. I’ll spin out how I got to this point in bits and pieces, as I feature the work. First up is a piece I named Fantasia. All of the images are of a single subject matter, believe it or not. But, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself.  All in good time, grasshopper.

Crazy Lady in Target

We needed to get a few things from Target and didn’t have a chance to stop yesterday. Since Saturday at Target is always a shit show, we decided to go early this morning. Not early enough, apparently, since there were a disturbingly large number of cars in the parking lot less than twenty minutes after they opened.

I only needed a few things, so I largely stood by the cart, browsing on my phone while my husband did his shopping. From several aisles away, I could hear a woman holding a loud, one sided conversation with some hapless team member. She’s a fixtures at this particular Target on Saturday mornings. I felt sorry for her captive audience.

As I am standing by the cart talking to my husband, shaking our heads over this craziness, a woman approaches us and starts talking about the crazy lady. If she had just made a comment and walked on, I would have thought nothing of it. But she kept talking and sharing a lot of personal information, including showing me a photo of herself before she lost a tremendous amount of weight.

My husband beat a hasty retreat to continue shopping, but I had to stick by the cart, nodding along to this woman’s dialogue. She finally wandered off. As we headed to check out, we couldn’t help but wonder how she failed to see the irony in criticizing someone else for crazy talk and how long it would be before she was the one yelling at team members on a Saturday morning. Maybe she’s just waiting for the current crazy lady to die, so she can assume the crown.

I Touched My Camera

I had a YPC photo shoot yesterday. That’s the first time I’ve used a camera since February. Which, coincidentally, was also for a YPC photo shoot. The creative muse has flown the coop. The photo shoot was a total shit show. It was a large cast of teenagers with zero attention spans. The actual director couldn’t attend, so someone else was reading through his notes and attempting to direct the photo shoot. Multiple costume changes were involved.

It took twice the normal time and I was completely exhausted at the end. At least the season is over now and I won’t have to do another one of these until September. By which time I hope to have a semblance of a life back. Meanwhile, rapid progress on our new home continues. We had a low voltage walk-thru on Tuesday, discussing the division of work between my husband and the company that did the wiring. We kept dodging drywallers, painters and trim guys.

We rented a truck yesterday in order to transport my husband’s tools to the site today, so they could be loaded into the workshop. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the 500 lb table saw up the ramp into the truck, so that’s staying in our garage for now. Our builder is going to contact some movers to see if they can get it loaded for us. My husband needs to get going on his woodworking projects for the house.

I’m still vacillating between elation and terror on the house. We’ll make the show, but that first weekend will be a scramble and there will still be a lot of work going on afterward. It’s not going to start settling down until the end of July. Everyone keeps telling us it will be worth it in the end. I hope so.

I Hate Utilities

I received our final Phoenix bill from Southwest Gas last week and was somewhat disturbed to find that they had charged us through April 26th, rather than April 10th, when I requested the service be terminated. I filled out their “contact us” form online to inquire about this seemingly obvious mistake. The response to my note was “call our customer service number.”

Great. I really wanted to avoid waiting in a call queue and having to speak to a human, particularly a human working for a utility monopoly. When I did get through to someone, the “explanation” I received consisted of some bullshit along the lines of “no one was home, so we couldn’t do the final meter reading on that date and just sent you the bill at the end of the cycle.” Huh? So, to recap, they read the meter remotely on all occasions except when you terminate service and then they need physical access to the meter?

Nothing about my service termination request (for which I received an email confirmation) suggested that was a requirement. No effort was made to contact me about this so-called need. I call bullshit. But just try arguing with a utility. They didn’t take a reading when they were supposed to, so we’re fucked. The bill for the whole month was $40, so we’re out roughly $20. No, it’s not a big deal and I don’t feel like wasting any more time, energy or righteous indignation over it. But it still really pisses me off. I hate utilities.

We’re in the Show

As I’ve mentioned previously, our new home is supposed to be featured in an upcoming home tour, hence the remarkable progress being made recently. I’ve checked the tour’s website a number of times and only found the list/profiles of the featured builders/remodelers. Until yesterday.

There’s now an online brochure for the tour, as well as web pages for each of the featured homes. So, I guess that definitively answers the question as to whether or not our house will be done by June 8th. Spoiler alert – it actually won’t be done done. It will be done enough for the occupancy permit and to look good for show, but there will still be work remaining.

There’s a triage process and things that don’t absolutely need to be done for the show won’t be done. Things like our roof deck and sauna, both of which were called out in the description of the house. The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, apparently. I thought I would be excited when the brochure came out, instead I find myself annoyed and a little bit terrified.

Annoyed because of the errors and some grammatically awkward sentences in the description, and terrified because there’s still so much work left to be done. I’m hoping to get to the excited stage in the near future.

Gaining Speed

At various points during our new home construction, we were told that “things are going to start moving really fast now.” Never happened. There were brief bursts of rapid activity, but nothing sustained. Now, with less than six weeks remaining until the Artisan Home Tour, there is truly a flurry of activity. It’s about time.

Our cabinets were delivered, almost completely filling our enormous garage. Day by day, more of them are being installed. Meanwhile, drywall finish work is nearly done and priming/painting is in progress. Outside, final grading was done between the house and workshop. Then they needed to pause, as the ground on the north side of the house still contained frost. The landscapers started last week and finished our first segment of gabion wall in a few days.

The basalt landing outside of the front door and some of the basalt treads were installed. The remainder need to wait for the metal section of the staircase to be fabricated. Speaking of staircases, the installation of our interior one started today. It came like a massive flat pack piece of furniture from Ikea. They had to install a pulley on the ceiling of the stair tower to install it. The elevator installation also started yesterday.

It’s beyond gratifying to see significant progress when we stop by every day. The house is large enough to accommodate multiple crews working without getting in each other’s way. Parking is becoming a bit of an issue, though. Most of the time we have to settle for a spot at the end of the block. It’s a small price to pay.