Thursday, April 26, 2012

When Opportunity Knocks

It may be just as surprising to you guys as it is to me - that after making (what I'm sure may now seem like) empty, idle threats a couple of entries ago, I've already emerged from the departure that I'd planned to take from self-portraiture indefinitely...and am back, and in action, and blogging about a brand spankin' new set of pics....

Coincidentally, the pig farm (seen here in these pics.) was offered to me as a venue in which to stage a shoot - within one or two days of having written that "sabbatical" post...not nearly enough time for me to have made much headway in my efforts to revamp my approach to self-portraiture. Matter of fact, I was so reluctant to dive back into my art prematurely - that I came this close to politely declining the property owner's generous offer to let me shoot there, or at the very least - postponing the shoot, until my head was screwed back on straight. 

Luckily however, two deciding factors brought me to my senses, and prompted me to seize this fantastic and rare opportunity. The first one was this: several months ago I petitioned the property owner - "Slim" - to please, please, pretty please let me pose with his pigs...unfortunately though - he said something to the effect of,"Mmmmm? No." But when his girlfriend - "Duffy" (a woman to whom I've grown much closer, recently) revisited the idea sometime late last week, Slim had a startling change of heart. Mentally prepared or not, I knew that it would be terribly foolish of me to not take advantage of this sudden windfall, lest Slim should change his mind down the road. And although I was somewhat concerned that I might be setting myself up to suffer further disillusionment - I reasoned,"Eh, what could be the harm in at least giving it a shot. If the pictures ain't no good? I'll just bury 'em...and forget the shoot ever happened..."

The second deciding factor was - the flowers on the hat that I'm wearing in these pics.. You see, Slim and Duffy were to be attending a fancy shindig, last weekend - and Duffy (style maven that she is) had made the oh-so-chic decision to don Slim's mother's vintage hat to the event...but only after she'd had it beribboned, and bedecked with bobbing feathers, and giant clusters of go-juss, fresh flowers. 

After sending me a picture text to show me how fabulously it turned out, both Duffy and I agreed that the elegantly adorned chapeau was not only an ideal statement piece to potentially drive the "piggy" shoot, but might also be the catalyst that would literally set my wheels in motion. Those beautiful flowers would be withered and wilted in a matter of days, which meant there was little time left for me to continue to tarry. 

My kids' schedules over the weekend, followed by bad weather on Monday - pushed the shoot out to Tuesday at the soonest. In the meantime though, Duffy did her best to keep the flowers fresh, by storing the hat in her fridge, and I used the extra time to round up a costume, and to actually put some thought into a storyline - something I hadn't done in ages…and it felt really good.

Anyway, so that's why I came out of my mini-semi-retirement earlier than anticipated. And ya' know what? I haven't an ounce of regret for doing so...ya' know why?...

(All pics. snapped on 4/24/12)

...Because despite my reservations about being ready to "work" again, and the fact that I left Slim's farm freaking cold, wet, and stinky - I can't remember a shoot that made me feel quite this happy...

Thanks so, SO much to Slim, and Duffy - for giving me so much more than just the opportunity to stage some selfies with the pigs (know what I mean?) And also to the nice man who works on the farm...he was absolutely the reason that this shoot went as well as it did! Y'all the BEST!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

GOOD News, People!

(Snapped on 10/24/10)

Shortly after I took the picture seen above, I uploaded it to the self-portrait album that I'd created on my (long since deactivated) Facebook account. Not long after that, I was contacted by an old friend who I'd met during my wild party days - back when I was still a young adult living in my hometown of Richmond, Va.. The friend had seen, and liked the image - and was curious to know if I'd be willing to let his band (The New Messengers) use it as the cover art on his their soon-to-be-released single. I was honored as well as positively ecstatic that my photo had been chosen to grace the cover of their upcoming release - and so naturally, I gave them my blessing to use it.

That was in the Autumn of 2010...and after hearing nothing further about the project, I figured that for whatever reason - the band's plans to do the single must've fallen through. Eventually, I forgot about the whole thing altogether.

In early March of this year however, I got an email from my old friend in which he announced that The New Messenger's song, "Beauty and Light" was about to be made available for download off of the band's website, and that they had stuck with their original plan to use my snap for the cover art. Needless to say, I was stoked...still am!

Anyway, sorry that it's taken me so long to share this exciting news with you (in case you haven't noticed - I've been kind of "out there", lately), and also to THANK The New Messengers for featuring my artwork as the visual companion to their new digital track. Best of luck to you guys...and Thank You again!

(please click here to give "Beauty and Light" a listen)

Now, just real quick while I still have you here - there's one other news bulletin that I wanna share, and although it might maybe seem like a bit of a bummer at first, hopefully in the long run it'll be beneficial to The Big Ugly.

Lately, as you know - I've been feeling just a wee bit off kilter...and although the ebb and flow of manic mood-swings has plagued me throughout most of my life (the onset of which is typically an involuntary response to particularly difficult personal calamities), over the last few years they've impacted more than just my day to day demeanor, and the poor souls who get caught in their wake. By now it's no secret that one of the first things to suffer, whenever I wind up in one of my debilitating funks - is my art. Yes, I do on occasion rely on my self-portrait shoots to temporarily lift my spirits when I'm down - but when it's all said and done, and the pictures turn out shitty? I quickly descend into an even darker place...

Last week's shoot (along with a couple of others recently) was a prime example of how turning to self-portraiture as a panacea for my troubles, can sometimes lead to deeper disappointment. That shoot was nothing more than a band-aid that stayed on until I got home and uploaded the pics.. After which the band-aid was essentially ripped off, and whaddya know...on top of my misery over looming personal issues, I had a sorry group of pictures to fret about, as well...yay.

Let's not forget though, that I said "mood-swings"...remember? And just as sure as my emotional pendulum will periodically plummet - inevitably it will pass all the way through those wicked doldrums, and swoop up to a far more pleasant place...and when I awoke wide-eyed at 4 a.m. this morning - it felt as if the pendulum had begun to do just that...completely of its own volition.

I lay there in bed, thinking about a million different things - and amazingly enough, none of it made my stomach hurt - not then...nor has it done so, at anytime throughout this entire day.

I guess the revelation that I had which was most pertinent to The Big Ugly, was this: whether I like it or not - I am definitely stuck in one of those cyclical, artistic slumps - and rather than continue to limp feebly along (as I've been doing) I gotta take a break from self-portraiture for a minute, or for however long it takes me to switch up my strategy and change my approach...while searching for sorely needed inspiration (I also havta get my flipping computer fixed, cuz at the moment? It won't let me upload a single picture from either my camera or my phone)

In my opinion, this actually really is good news - for the blog, my readers and myself...but for those of you out there who may be sorta skeptical - just ask my stomach in its mysteriously settled seems to know more than the rest of us combined…

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Things Happen in Twos

(Both pics. snapped on 4/14/12)

The last two weeks have been real humdingers (to put it mildly)...that is to say, both emotionally draining, and physically taxing...the latter of which, almost always works in tandem with the former (speaking only for myself, of course)...and what I mean by that is: whenever inordinately stressful situations, cause me to get worked up into one of my classic, anxiety-induced meltdowns - my stomach in turn retaliates, by tying itself up in agonizingly painful knots, and refusing to accept much nourishment at all...outside of spoonfuls of peanut butter, and stiff vodka cocktails. 

Trust me when I tell ya' that two weeks in a row of that shit - does take a toll on a person's mind, body and soul... 

Not gonna go into specifics about either of the two separate scenarios that gnawed at my heart, and ravaged my gut - #1.) because both situations are (for the most part) resolved now, and #2.) even though I have essentially come out on the other side of each one of these trying dilemmas - trudging through the troublesome mires for days on end, has left me sapped of my usual boundless energy...

I will tell you this though, snapping nary a self-portrait over the course of my couple weeks-long tizzy - further exacerbated my escalating malaise...I mean, by now we all know how much more Mama suffers, when she's remiss in turning to her selfies as a means by which to seek some semblance of solace in times of strife.

By late yesterday morning, my stomach was so completely wrecked, that I seriously began to wonder if the derned thing had maybe started to eat a hole through itself. But uplifting, back-to-back visits from two female friends, helped me muster the gumption to collect myself (and my gear) - and call on another friend (the one with the apple orchard, remember?) for permission to take last minute pics. at his place...for the second time in almost as many weeks.

I can't remember staging any shoot before this one, where I snapped steadily for two hours (all the way up until my camera battery crapped out) and racked up a satisfactory 100+ pics. - after having only delved into two completely different themes...

Any other time, I would've been disappointed by the deficit in diversity - but not this time. Although I left my friend's orchard knowing that I'd have no more than a puny two pictures to post on this entry - I was cognizant that the value in this shoot had little to do with the quantity, or even the quality of the pics. themselves. For me, it was more about the therapeutic value of having gotten up offa my stupid, mopey ass - and taken respite from the tummy aches for a coupla glorious hours...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Hangover Helper

(All pics. snapped on 1/01/12)

It's amazing to me, how mindset alone - can so radically influence one's perception or opinion of, as well as their behavior in certain situations. Take for example, my mindset going into the shoot which produced the pictures that I wrote about in last week's post. My frame of mind at that time, was one of unenthused obligation...of having been shanghaied by a time crunch, into crankin' out a new set of images for the sake of keeping the blog up-to-date...while feeling uncharacteristically uninspired and unmotivated to do so. I wasn't there thinking, "Oh, goody! I have this incredible venue at my disposal (which I did), and tons of ideas and themes that I'm just itchin' to bring to fruition (which I didn't) - how can I lose? I'm golden, right?"...but rather, "Ugh. It's been a week since I've taken any new pics., and I have literally no idea what I wanna do...Here's hoping once I get there, the scrummy backdrop will dictate the direction of my shoot. Or worse case scenario? Override what's shaping up to be a half-assed performance on my part."

While the surprising outpouring of positive feedback from admirably glass-half-full readers, did make me wonder for a sec., if I was being unduly hard on myself - it still couldn't completely diffuse my overall disappointment. Seemed my negative approach to the shoot, had consequently poisoned my ability to see anything other than everything that (I believed) went horribly wrong with the pics..

Many of you (especially those who follow me on Instagram) know that I've spent an absurd amount of time lately (more than my usual, even) in and around abandoned buildings, taking quickie snaps with my phone...and over the last few weeks, I've come across an abundance of "lonely chairs" - a perennial favorite subject to shoot. But upon entering the vacant storefront (seen here in this entry) for the first time, I felt as if I'd wandered into a lost paradise of castoff chairs! Greedily I roamed from room to room, in search of other tantalizing vignettes to snap...and somewhat miraculously - each new space I entered, outdid the previous...

My satisfaction over having found, photographed and Instagrammed the old storefront - replete with its forgotten chairs, frozen for years in their solitary splendor - was soon trumped by a nagging desire to situate myself amid the stages that were already so perfectly set, throughout the two floors of the drool-worthy structure.

As luck would have it, a few nights after I became obsessed with the idea - I was invited to party, and to stay the night with friends who live in the same town as the old storefront stands. I arrived prepared to rise early the next morning, drive to the storefront, and stage my shoot - simple as that. What I'd neglected to factor into the equation however, was the collateral damage wrought from swillin' a buttload of cocktails, while bar-hopping the night before...And here's where that whole mindset thing, finally bookends this entry: I had been so excited about takin' my selfies in the storefront with all of those fascinating chairs, that nothing - not hangover nor high water, could've kept me from seeing it through. 

My head was pounding and I was nauseous as hell, as I set up my camera for my first set of pics....but by the time I shot the very last frame of the day, it was as if I had somehow been magically cured (well, almost). 

I'm really not sure if these pictures turned out better or worse than the ones that I bitched about in the last post, but what I do know - is that I happen to personally like them much more...and I believe that my sunny attitude towards them - is derived from this shoot having been so positive, all around. I was eager to be there, I'd come with ideas, and my hangover had (essentially) all but vanished by the time I'd called it quits...but best of all - I had made up for that last regrettably forgettable shoot (in my mind at least) and that's what really mattered...whether these pictures actually prove that, or not...