Three Things To Consider Before Quitting Your Blog

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Writer’s Block is the culprit.  Over the past months I’ve learned, accomplished and experienced so much yet I’ve struggled to get myself to this place where my fingers are once again typing a blog post.  I’ve even considered giving up on the whole wordpress thing as life has evolved but in doing so I would be erasing seven years of this journey, 186 posts to be exact.  In some ways I wonder if it would be a good thing to light an imaginary smudge stick and let the smoke envelope my ramblings.  In so many other ways I am comforted to know that there is a chronicle of my slip into creative madness, a journal of sorts that my kids and my grandkids can use to avoid the pitfalls of the same condition unless of course they are also compelled to be Artists.  

You may also find yourself at a junction where you are considering giving up your blog.  If it has anything to do with something that you enjoy and are passionate about I offer you three things to consider before walking away.

  1. Before quitting be sure to ask yourself why you chose to start it in the first place.  If your dreams and passions have changed then by all means burn the bridge and move forward but if you still hold close the same hopes and desires as you did then wouldn’t it make more sense to keep at it?
  2. Just because you blog has underperformed in the past doesn’t mean that it can’t be an important cog in the wheel in the future.  Look for ways to make it fresh, alive and more convenient to add to.  When was the last time you changed your banner, your bio or page theme?  If your long winded posts don’t seem to be getting traction, look for  ways to abbreviate them.  Likewise, if the short one liners with a picture aren’t engaging your audience consider posting more substance, less often.  When was the last time you checked to make sure your links to your other websites and social media are current?  Chances are that if you give your blog some TLC, it will in return make a difference. 
  3. If you have any followers at all chances are there are some who have been touched or encouraged by your outreach.  They notice when you don’t post and wonder what became of you.  Some will assume that you have given up on your dream and in some way that may take the wind out of their sails.  Giving up on your blog also means giving up on those contacts.
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Recent Paintings at The Gallery

Lost Treasure From 2017

Every Which Way 2500

“More gold has been mined from the thoughts of men than has ever been taken from the earth” ~ Napoleon Hill

When I’m out and about exploring interesting and beautiful places with my camera in hand it is not unusual for me to slip into a kind of hypnotic trance and the subjects of my photographs seem to choose me rather than the other way around.  Over the course of a year I can acquire thousands and thousands of Raw images.  As you might imagine I spend hours upon hours scouring through digital files, looking for and developing the creme of the crop while the ones that aren’t quite so obviously great fall through the cracks become forgotten.

oregon textures

Being the creature of habit that I am, as I become introspective about the year that was each December, I pull that imaginary shoe box full of “negatives” from the top shelf of my imaginary closet and I look through them one more time in hopes of discovering lost treasure.  The images in this post are just a few emerging stars from 2017, all taken in late summer at the Oregon coast.

There is always a specific reason that I click the shutter release when I do but sometimes it takes a second or third cutting to remember why.

Hidden Treasure 2500

Magic Momemt 2500

Gravity 2500

What If

Drawn To Fire 1500

“Drawn By Fire”

From time to time my inner critic screams at me “Where is your focus Man? Don’t you know that a jack of all trade is a master of none?”. He has a point. I do have a tendency to be overly eclectic in my pursuits and I agree that in some ways life might be easier had I narrowed the field. The thing is that over and over again the words “WHAT IF” pop into my brain and I must drop what I’m doing and listen to the words that follow. What if I leave behind the safety of that solid career to try to build a new business from the ground up? That was a big one! What if I create videos that showcase the beauty of nature? What if those videos can promote tourism and the arts or sell real estate? What if I follow my childhood dream of being a photographer? What if I pick up a brush and move some paint around to see what happens? What if I use this time that I’m coping with illness to paint full moon winter scenes with cabins and skiers and full moons? WHAT IF? WHAT IF? WHAT IF?

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The truth is that listening to the “what if’s” can and will result in spinning wheels. You may be led down a few dead end paths and at times you may feel completely stranded but if you just keep the wheels moving eventually you will find traction. If you keep the wheels moving you will find yourself on a path to completeness that never would have been found had you played it safe. Don’t ever forget that “Every Brilliant Idea begins with ‘What If’”

 

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“Two Steps Forward”

Fetching Water 2500

“Fetching Water”

 

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My Wall In The Denver Art District at Grace Gallery

 

Show And Tell

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The older one gets, the faster time seems to move. Do we all agree? Holy Cow It’s mid-October and I find myself refusing to believe that the autumn leaves are really falling to the ground. Where did those long summer days go?

I’ve been a busy boy. After returning from the annual late summer sojourn to the great northwest, I’ve been working around the clock to prepare for my first ever outdoor art festival. I completely underestimated the amount of time and energy that would be involved in purchasing and outfitting a show tent with marketable photography prints. Finally with a successful show behind me I have a chance to do some show and tell.

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The show was a complete success and the response to my work was overwhelmingly positive. I’ve been marketing my photography commercially and online for a number of years and it is super exciting to now have a tangible show space as well. I’m already beginning the process of establishing a show schedule for next summer. Michael Scott Studio is born.

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Necessity is the Mother of Invention! For me, the biggest challenge of the preparation process was to design and produce a framing system for my work printed on metal. I’ve had success in the past creating a wooden backboard on which the metal prints are mounted and they look great. The problem with the backboards is that they are heavy and therefor difficult to hang and expensive to ship. The answer came after a number of prototypes in the form of a lightweight solid wood shadow box . I’m now building these pieces by hand and on demand and I love the way they complete the art. What do you think?

 

Return To Crested Butte

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“Moonrise Over Slate River”

I don’t know where time goes, only that it does.  Suddenly Summer is in full swing and I’ve already returned from the annual pilgrimage to Crested Butte to shoot rivers and wildflowers and all sorts of natural beauty.  This part of Colorado received a historic snowfall last winter and the rivers are as full as I’ve seen them this late in the season.

It felt great to get out and hike although my illness prevented anything very aggressive.  I hope you enjoy these wild water shots.   Which one is your favorite?

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“Gnarly”

OBJ return 2500

“Return To oh Be Joyful”

Dogleg Left 2500

“Dogleg Left”

Enchanted Moment 2500

“Enchanted Moment”

 

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Lost Souls Of The Grand Staircase

 

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The month of May found me in a state of improving health and the itch for adventure and exercise needed attention. My Wife and I didn’t have to study the map long before placing a pin on the Red Rock Country of Southern Utah. We even arranged to rendezvous with my In-Laws so that we could share the experience.  Why Southern Utah you might ask. For one thing, Denver was still getting pounded by turbulent Spring weather just as high pressure was taking hold to the West. Furthermore, this is the time of the year that deep canyon floors are thriving with green hues and runoff from the high country. The two of us and our Italian Greyhound Gracie were packed and on the road, destination Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

Willow Creek Reflection HDR 3500

The Staircase is special. It is one of the most remote and beautiful places in the desert southwest and during previous visits my exploration had only scratched the surface. The plan for this trip was to do as much desert hiking as possible and to experience the solitude of a wilderness that is now at risk of losing its protected status. I also needed to get a photography fix in the worst way. I had hardly picked up the camera since last fall when I fell ill and I couldn’t wait to get back to it. For hiking, I pulled my old trustee Asolo boots out of storage. They had carried me up half of Colorado’s Fourteeners when I was much younger. Surely they would serve me well in the desert.

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It’s always good to have an audio book on hand for long drives. For this trip I selected “Finding Everett Ruess” by David Roberts. His true story documents the life of a free spirited explorer who vanished without a trace from the Escalante region in the 1930’s. The book originally caught my attention because the forward was written by John Krakauer who wrote “Into the Wild”, one of my favorites. The subject of Krakauer’s book was Christopher McCandless, also a free spirited explorer who spent a great deal of time in the Desert Southwest. McCandless, who ended up starving to death in the Alaska wilderness, went by the alias “Alexander Supertramp”. I so much love the story that I named my camper “Alexander Supertramp” long ago.

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Sometimes the Universe aligns itself in such a way that you cannot deny that something is meant to be. That is exactly what happened on this trip to the Grand Staircase. Here we were in a rig named “Alexander Supertramp” following the footsteps of a free spirited lost soul and while hiking near the last know location of Everett Ruess, the soles of my Asolo boots peeled off, one after another. You can’t make this stuff up. It was a great trip!

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Finishing Matters

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Custom Made Re-Claimed Barn Wood Back Boards

I’m happy to say that I finally am feeling well enough to put the finishing touches on work that has been on deck for months.  The long standing plan for the Summer of 2017 was to become a gypsy of sorts and hit the art festival circuit in Colorado.  Metal prints of my photography come to life when I mount them on character filled backboards made by me out of re-claimed wood.  As most of you know, there is a saying about the best laid plans of mice and men and for me this year things did go awry.

Polymyalgia Rheumatica is an autoimmune disease that I didn’t even know existed nine months ago.  This 56 year old body shouted WTF at the low point last winter when just walking and touching the top of my head were difficult at best.  Finally, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I’m rebuilding my atrophied muscles enough so that I can get some new work sold.   Things are looking up!

I’d love to hear what you think about these pieces.  As always, comments welcome.

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An Artist’s Work Is Never Finished

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As promised in my last post I completed this piece this week and I’m sharing.

Something about finishing a job just feels so good, even euphoric.  You have arrived at the point where everything feels right and good enough.  You sign the painting, hang it on the wall and direct a light toward it at just the right angle.  You Love it!

Enjoy those moments of accomplishment because a sobering reality will follow.  It’s likely that it won’t be long before you see it with fresh eyes and wonder what in the hell you were thinking.  Perhaps it goes back on the easel for modifications, perhaps not.  In any event you soon realize that you aren’t finished at all.  A healthy dose of varnish will be needed to protect the piece from handling and UV light.  What about a name or title?  High quality photographs of the work will be needed for potential reproduction and marketing.  The tedious task of getting the work to market has only begun.

As if the whole process isn’t overwhelming enough life keeps throwing all sorts of curve balls at us.  Shit Happens, right?  Take my first ever Colonoscopy this past week for instance.  People kept telling me it really wasn’t that bad and now that I’m experienced I have to tell you that I disagree.  No person should have to gulp down a gallon of stool softener as if it were beer at a college kegger and no male should have to discover what it is to have water break…over and over again.  Anyway, you get the picture!

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Dreaming Of Alpenglow

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My third piece in a new series is underway and the deviation from rising super moon values has been a challenge.  I’m trying to capture the essence of alpenglow which in my mind is the time of day that the last direct light from the sun is hitting the clouds and perhaps the mountain tops.  In my minds eye there is a magic that occurs in the valleys below where the snow almost glows.  Do the shadows disappear or is there just a slight contrast indicating the position of the setting or rising sun?  So many new riddles to solve.  I’ll post the finished piece soon.

Physically I had a difficult week.  Polymyalgia Rheumatica is a roller coaster ride and finding the correct dosage of prednisone to keep the inflammation in check without increasing the side effects of the medication can be the real trick.  Finally this past week I felt myself finding some balance on that front when a serious chest cold took me hostage.           Once again, having my studio and a passion to paint has been great therapy.

Now for show and tell before signing off.  One of my photographs made the front cover of Open Fences Magazine.  It was uplifting to see how great it looks and on the other hand it saddens me to think that I may not be in condition to do serious shooting this Summer.

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Jump On The Brand Wagon

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Roughly half of my life experience was gathered in the pre-personal computer age. By my recollection, The “old days” came to a screeching halt sometime around the mid-80’s when IBM came out with a big box machine that had a whopping 40mb hard drive. Anyone who could afford a couple grand to have one in their own home bought one. Imagine what was going through my mind as I toyed with one of these machines for the first time the year after graduating from business school. I was prepared for nothing.  Learning how to use a Texas Instrument Calculator might as well have been time spent learning how to use an Abacus.  I realized that while I was in school learning the old game the rest of the world was busy creating a new game. Fortunately for me, I didn’t exert all of my youthful energy on academics. I was lucky to have spent my college years in the mountains of Colorado where a fair allotment of my time was devoted to outdoor adventures. Hiking and fishing and back country skiing are the experiences that I now find myself celebrating through my art.

One of the greatest lessons that any of us can learn is that everything is constantly changing and that education never stops. At some point, we are all confronted with changes in technology or changes in health that bring about a need to adapt and re-focus. . My chronic illness has for now taken me away from photography, video production and the client base that I’ve established. Over the course of the last six months I’ve redirected my focus to painting yet my marketing is lagging behind.

I started thinking about the concept of “postcards from the imagination” while writing a recent posts and I think it really represents me well. My paintings are regularly conceived in my imagination and I’ve learned a great deal about composite photography techniques which allow me to imagine new ways to present my photography. For now, my ambitions of doing shows is beyond what my health will allow but thanks to technology I have a storefront window to the world. It’s time for me to start selling some of this new work and all that stands in the way is a little hard work and a lot of education.

What do you think of my new brand?  Which banner is more effective?

artspiritvillage banner