Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Old Days

For some reason nostalgia is kicking in and I have scanned some childhood pictures. What have we become and why? Were the influences of environment already started at the time these images were captured? Too many questions and not enough really good answers.
I find my writing falling off somewhat, and I think it's because I'm in a good place in my work. I just have to stop thinking of this blog as a part of my working self and realize I am simply trying to define who I am to myself.

Where is my blue pen?


Another branch on the tree of life...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Rainy afternoon and all, I found myself looking around the bedroom for images. Sure there were a few, but as I write this I think that I am not spending as much time with hand-work or digital efforts because of the new-found interest in photo-making. The vision thing, the looking and finding is a key to any sort of art, but following through and creating something important to you as an artist/person is the most important aspect of being a "maker" of art.
Actually it's funny that I bend toward the philosophical here as I am watching the Louisville Michigan State game and the underdog is winning, which almost always pleases me because of what it says about the human spirit.
The somber weather has shown some clouds in front of Cadillac Mountain and I am having an afternoon of just kicking back after cleaning up this morning from the construction job yesterday at the Adult Education Center here in Sullivan. The view from the house is always spectacular, even on these darker days.

The next two pictures may be a bit unusual as still life, but they are the objects I have on my bureau and a shot of a pair of shoes under my bed. Photographs like these of "my stuff" are always like metaphors for parts of my life and how I am. Lately I've been more conscious of Matt and his circumstance as a part of my life than I ever have been, but I'm not sure why.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The last ice-cake just before dark tonight. The bay is pretty well cleaned out of ice. There is just one thin yet large sheet of ice that keeps drifting up and down the bay with the tides and the wind. I don't ever remember seeing anything like this before, but then again I haven't looked before like I'm looking this spring. There's something in the discovery of the words that I write here that relates to these pictures and really moves me in a number of directions. I'm finding more and more of a challenge in light, and light is life in so many ways.

I've used the flash at night before and gotten some interesting pictures from it, but it still always ultimately seems so artificial. I need to explore light sources away from the camera... maybe spotlights or such. This summer in the warmer nights I would love to shoot some portraits in the dark, lit by perhaps the setting sun or soft spots or such. The human being can be such a powerful subject, so emotional, so provocative. I took this well after sunset tonight, as I did the one of the house from down on the beach at low tide. and the flash was just an after thought. I will explore this more.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Repeat Subject

Sure, shoot a photo you like and then forget it... or, as often happens in the real life that is in the real world, when you do something you like, do it again. Do you see more than one point of view when you make an observation? I mean that metaphorically as well as photographically. I find myself looking back into the history of who I am and feeling like what often happened is that once I'd seen something (metaphor for touched, related to, danced with (a metaphor within a metaphor) or even imagined something) I thought that was it, that there wasn't any more.

I now know that there is more, a lot more, in taking a second look, taking the time to examine the details in what you observe and not just pass over quickly to the other side of knowledge without actually knowing.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


One of the fishermen at the head of the bay had a landing float drift off on him, and we saw it yesterday at the edge of the ice pushing against the tide. One end was sunken as it must have had some of the floatation tear out of it in the ice this winter, and it just seemed to sit in the water in a tilted unusual way, adding interest. I went down to the shore and took a bunch of pictures, and I think a few of them came out ok. I really enjoy this photography thing and taking pictures of an event (no matter how minor) does please me!
Cara Romano asked me to put a piece in Sam Shaw's annual Island Artist's Show, so I will probably show at gelatin print. I'd like to do a few this spring anyway, and having a deadline for a show is a great incentive for me.

Test Strip

Has it really been thirty years? My seniors were gone from Photo I this morning and I had some of my 1978 negatives, so they wanted me to print this one. All I really want to post is the test strip. Thirty years seems like so little time, and now I find myself beginning to be concerned about how much time I have left and what I'm going to do with it... can I somehow make a difference to the world?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mothers Make Magic

Nostalgia kicked in as I looked through some old pictures of my mom, dad, brother and I. I scanned a couple (will do more) and began to remember some of the things Mom did to make life good for all of us. Just a thing moms do. You guys are all special in your caring and nurturing modes and in so many ways. The magic that is made may not be fully appreciated for years afterward, but it lies there dormant at the least in all of us until we realize the nature of it. My mother was around 20 years old in this picture (circa. 1940) and I've always thought it meaningful that she was born the same year that women got the right to vote. She was a beautiful young woman and an independent, tough human being, handling everything that came her way with apparent ease. The breast cancer and last few years were difficult, but she held on and traveled and accomplished so much that she had planned in spite of her sickness. I'll never forget watching her take her dying breath.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blogging on the GO!

What a day! Good day in school, but kind of ironic after the post I put up this morning. I called George to see about riding to work together and he said "Sure, whose turn to drive is it?" Well, I looked it up on the calendar and it was his, so he said he'd be down to pick me up. I got ready and he came down. About halfway to school he realizes that he had a 6:00 p.m. meeting and so said he would run me home rather than making me wait around school. Anyway, I ended up catching a ride to the Ellsworth Hospital with Bruce, knowing that Matt had an appointment at three, so I met Jennifer and Matt there. Now I'm sitting in the parking lot at Wal Mart typing this up to enter tonight, another first, blogging on the road!
The changes in routine are good, I think, but I am tired from late night last night and an awaked-ness in the middle of sleep that interrupted a very needed sleep rhythm. Some of these rhythms are not simply routines, but needs of the body!

Rhythm & Pattern - Principles of Life

Sure, sure I know they are principles of art/design, but I have been considering their importance of late. I've been reading Richard Florida's "The Creative Class", and am wondering how these principles effect and affect the condition of a person's existence. Is it natural that we have such solid routines in our lives that we often identify as "good" for us when they can actually turn us into rigid thinking "zombies"? Of course I'm speaking only for myself here. I'm always looking for new things to try or to do in my job. How can I teach students if I am not excited and exploring possibilities? And then I think of teachers I have known, although not well, that seem to be dragging and tired a lot of the time. I understand the idea of being tired because I start my day early and it usually ends late, and sleep is a necessary ingredient to good health, but the days that are most exciting are those days that contain surprises, take you out of the routines in life that you have set up for yourself, and nourish your spirit!
So, even though there are restrictions dictated to us by our society and culture, there is so much interesting "stuff" inside those restrictions that can make things like "movement & repetition" thrilling beyond belief even if for a relatively short time. C'mon let's break our routine!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Controlled (but just barely) Chaos...

Is the way I have felt at times today... when Matt is having a difficult day and in a confined space such as an automobile it does seem chaotic, the entire spectrum of life. I went to pick up student work and was pleased to have several students to recognize, and I had a feeling that Izzy's political piece with bloody chains was not something that should travel the state. It was good that he got notice for his work though, as he has few barriers in what he does. The morning passed quickly, but the rest of the day slower until home and putting findings on the glass work from yesterday. A few emails (thanks for the post, darling) and some schoolwork and I'm about ready for bed. I did stop at GoodWill and pick up a couple of books, one of short stories edited by Alfred Hitchcock and I'm looking forward to that!
I'm just feeling a little emotionally tired, but thank goodness I can put my mind in a nice warm space!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Hi Test Morning!

Not a 4:30 rise, I manage a few extra hours of sleep on the weekend, but this morning I got accidentally dosed with caffeine instead of decafe and I started flying early.

I figured I would save an image of my workout space as I spend a hour a day there, starting with aerobic on recumbent bike and then weights on my "gym". The nice thing is that I can watch TV (arts programs, stuff I've taped, or even a movie (that takes a couple of mornings) or the sports networks) or if I just want to listen to music that's a possibility too.

Been helping clean this morning as the "pig sty" had gotten bad (not my words) and help is always needed to clean showers, move big stuff (sofa bed) and rearrange furniture. I happen to catch "Sandy the Cat" in some great light lying on the rug. I took 15 or 20 shots of him and will post one here.

Also caught up with school stuff and the wikis that drive a couple of my extra-curricula activities and even put together 6 sets of fused-glass earrings to fire and am now waiting for them to cool. Picture of them annealing in the kiln is posted. Odd jobs abound today (won't get much done tomorrow as we are taking Matt to Bangor and I will take down student work from the Mall Show) and I've planed down sticking doors, put up woodwork trim, and repaired damaged windows. Imagine! All of this in just one day and it's only 2 p.m.! I expect to crash around 6:30 tonight!

Friday, March 20, 2009

"Ice Cakes!"

Reminds me of an old saying the kids used to use playing ball at D.I, but the shore is finally open and I can actually go down and find the sand and such on the beach. It will be a while clearing out, but this first day of SPRING is a miracle, as always. So much to see and take in with these changes that I am without much for words.

Ice jumping lets me feel like I'm on the water again, and I had thought about kayak on the way home, but there's waaay too much clutter with the ice. Another few days like this and it will be cleared out and maybe the kayak will be an option.

I really want to focus on some art things this weekend I feel the urge to create, but am looking for focus... suggestions?

Can I Climb on an Ice Cake and Drift Away?

The ice along the shore is breaking up and there is a very real emotional connection for me as the ice releases it months long grip on the shore. I love the ice, and in my "pragmatic" year maybe those sorts of things have become more and more important to me a "signs" of how I function in the world. I perceive the ice breaking up and drifting off on the tide (an hour past high right now) as a good thing, as a symbol of change, and although change is not always good I know that for some people who are a very important, if not constant, part of the life I lead that change may be the best thing to happen.
So I remain positive, I look for the beauty in everything, and today's photos were all taken (digital photo amazes me) this morning before full daylight. You can still see the lights of Bar Harbor off the southern end of Treasure Island (click on photo for full version). I know I need to start looking at the New Media approach to my postings and will soon include some video and digitially manipulated images, I just need to work toward it a bit at a time.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


All that which was under the snow and ice for an interminable time and is longing for the warmth of the sun and the release from the confines of the cold is beginning to show itself. Not out of a meanness of spirit, but from an natural need for a change, a difference in things. I am the same, I realize how much I have been identifying with the change of seasons and the degree to which I am affected (not effected) by it. Yes, I have taken the opportunities to create, to work in my studio, and how could I give that wonderful pleasure away? A strong reason which would be met by forces as strong or stronger that I am with incredulity and anger could give cause, but where would I go with that? Could I walk into the warming spring fog and let foresight of an extremely narrow and close focal range guide me moment by moment? Too many questions, too many possibilities at this time, but need is sometimes the father of invention, and the sadness which would undoubtedly accompany my need dampens my thoughts of creative solutions.

Images pervade my surroundings, and they represent much of what I am and much of what I feel. The need is not missing, the fulfillment is loud in it's absence. Sometimes I feel like a hollow log!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Long Cove Ice is Moving Out

Of course, spring is a time of what? Love, the rebirth of all things green, the growing and renewing of life, and anything else that represents that warming of the season. While the last few days have represented extreme cold during the nights the higher sun gives a message of the breaking up of winter and the departing of the cold season. Ahhh! Spring!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Photography Students are Awesome!

We really have made a lot of progress the last few weeks, and it's amazing how quickly these students pick up the idea of what makes a good photograph. They are really looking and learning what to look for in their environment. Students are taking so many different approaches, from close up to wide angle, and they love the anticipation of the darkroom and its effects. We began some digital techniques for image adjustment today and it was really cool to look around the classroom and see the entire class engaged in the presentation and interested in the examples of some of their own photographs that I used. I really love teaching! (Even photography...)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Ice is Softening

All broken into clumps, albeit very large clumps, one can easily see the degradation of the ice along the shore. Mostly the tops of the larger "cakes", but holes have formed and the ice is soft to the touch. I braved the "bergs" as the light was lowering this afternoon, and I was out with about fifteen to twenty feet of water below me. The pictures just kept presenting themselves and I didn't really shoot that many, maybe a dozen or so. At one point I just got too involved in rocking one narrow slab back and forth until there was quite a rhythm going and the slabs of ice were rocking twenty feet away. I had these quick adventures in my head of being stranded on an ice slab and drifting to wherever the tides took me. And then there's always the apple tree... What a beautiful afternoon!

My Studio is a Mess

... but I'm lucky to have one and it's getting more organized. I managed to pull out my "big old easel" and store it in pieces (takes up less room) in the basement. Now I am getting ready to set up my kiln and a compressed air supply for airbrushing. I had plumbed an air line into the studio when we set up the compressor for the shop and garage, and I can use airbrush for a number of things I want to try, including ceramics and printmaking. So, anyway, between keeping things going for school and home, I seem to be able to keep quite busy.
Yesterday was a very off day, as I had some things on my mind that weren't about reality of day to day, and felt terribly unfocused and I didn't accomplish much. I talked with "hunny bunny" about it this morning and got a new perspective, and feel like I am more "centered" and focused today. I guess I need to try harder with those around me and shake off the distractions somehow. I really know the physical part of my life won't change much, but I can just try to stay fit and have a positive attitude.
Wow, this entry got a lot more personal than I intended, and only "brushed" on art, but that's where I am! I'm still looking for what to do with Argy's crayon?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Encroachment of the Open Ocean

The days get longer and the sun gets higher... my winter's theme of pragmatism is now coming to fruition as I enjoy the departing of the ice in the bay, and the encroachment of the open ocean upon our shore. I am bound to the sea, I know that. During the summer months when it is accessible it calls me daily, and I am so looking forward to that feeling again. The winter is not a bad thing, and it passes quickly with the short days and long nights, as well as it somehow calms and centers me as to my human fragilities.
To plunge into the ocean in a quick rush and leap, no sense of preparation but an overriding urgency that is instigated through the visual softness of the surface of the water. It is a simple touch of the water that reminds me of previous pleasure and guides my spirit in those several running steps that propel me inside the enveloping softness. The shock of the cold against my skin and on every pore on its surface gives me a sharp pleasurable pain that focuses my mind and through that clarity brings me full circle back to anticipation of the experience. I would love to follow the ocean up and down the planet, even if for just a year, and experience that "endless summer".

Friday, March 13, 2009

Snowshoeing Through the Wilderness

Yeah! That's right! Jen Crandall, George Deans and I took the CREST (Community for Rural Educational Stewardship and Technology) team team through the woods behind the high school for a two-hour GPS mapping hike. We were looking for a trail possibility to develpo for next spring/summer. We were doing this in conjunction with the Partners of Acadia and we had Terry Begley along with us for the ride.
What an adventure! I had forgotten how cool (no pun) it is to wade through deep snow and visit the Maine woods. While I did some snowshoeing a few weeks ago, this stuff was a bit soft under a crust and the kids did some "post-holing", as George called it. It was a great time, a good workout, and a bonding exercise for all of us. A plus was that we got to get some plotting points to do some mapping for the park and "The Friends". There were two video cameras working and I took a few stills, so we are also hoping to do some video for this!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I Have the Most Awesome Students

Lindsey came up to me with a print the other day towards the end of block "C", and that's a tough class period because we eat last lunch and it's almost time to go home by the start of lunch. I'm usually at least as hungry as the students. Anyway, she comes up to me with this print and it was awesome! I had a moment where I was dumbfounded and then I gave her a hug and told her it was one of the best "first prints" I had ever seen. It was. Usually a student struggles a bit with reading a test strip (I just teach them how, I don't believe in doing it for them) and doesn't get it exactly right the very first time. But more than that, it was her choice of negative image, the contrast, the composition... all the elements were there! I actually had tears well up in my eyes, and we both turned red, her probably because of the attention, and me because I was so moved by her success. She is a four year arts student, though, and has really become interested in art the last couple of years. She's going to graduate and all the arts faculty will miss her dearly. Anyway, I've posted the picture with her permission. Another great teaching moment. I love this job!

Teaching in "Disney Land"

Is often a phrase I use when someone asks me how I like teaching at MDI, and I know that there are a lot of fantastic schools and programs around the state, but I am so enthused by where I work and the people I work with that it's hard not to let it show in my conversations.
One of our Social Studies teachers (Mark Puglisi) also directs the One-Act Plays each year and for the last two years has written the plays that the kids have performed. This year the play was actually a sequel to last year's play, and they are both political and meaningful, although I don't know how you could have one without the other. They have dealt with the "war on terrorism" and it's effects on families and individuals on a very intellectual level. The thing that is most satisfying to me as a teacher is that the thoughts and concepts brought to light by these productions are not lost on the student body, they "get it", and are open to discussion of the war and resulting repercussion.

Mark (on right) and Casey Rush, our theater director.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I had a great time in Orono with 22 arts students who attended MAAE's Careers in the Arts day and enjoyed a kick off concert and workshop discussions and descriptions for a wide variety of arts fields from Graphic Design to Yacht Building to Pottery. It's also a great way to make meaningful connections with working artists.
These are the kinds of things that students need to see and understand to truly appreciate the impact that the arts has in our economy and in the way of life for citizens in Maine. It was a great day and my students were all very "pumped"!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Mall Show for Students

I always get a "bump" at the annual Bangor Mall Show, the Art in the Heart group have made it an event worth placing in capital letters and it's wonderful to see all of the work each year. The sounds of staplers popping and the conversations make an amazing and all too brief backdrop to this special event. It does sometimes get congested, but everyone seems to be able to work together and get things placed quickly. What fun!

I even put together a cartoon for the event... with the particular picture I had shot, I couldn't help myself! All in fun though!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Saturday Sonombulism

Yeah, I could pretty much sleep the day away, but up early for daily workout and felt real good, so extra couple of miles and extra sets on the weights got me back in to the swing of things. I just have to finish getting the student art together for the Mall Show and the lists and such and I'll be set to head to Bangor tomorrow. I had to throw in a couple of things for "fillers" that are actually too small for the show, but I like to see as many students as possible be seen and the room was there after all the first choice pieces were mounted, so ...

I'm in hopes to get some fused glass pieces done tomorrow, and I blew the last load by over firing so I'll be much more careful this time. I've been recycling glass and use pickle jars and especially the blue vodka bottles (I won't advertise the brand here). The pieces look fine, but sometimes slide a little.

Friday, March 6, 2009


A little over one week and I'm already faltering with this blog... I missed a day. Last night I was just so tired I fell asleep in the car (I wasn't driving) on the way home from work. At least that nap refreshed me enough to get the wiki up for the Hancock County RPC (Regional Professional Committee). I hope people get involved with this as I think it can be a very good thing for arts educators here in mid-downeast coastal Maine.
It's 4:30 a.m. and I'm skipping my workout today for the first time in a while because I need to get progress reports done and there are still only 24 hours in a day, although I understand this weekend DST kicks in... does that give us another hour or take one away?
Below is the graphic I put together for our RPC wiki.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Regional Arts Meeting in Ellsworth

Wow! This is amazing to see the people here for this meeting. It seems as though we might actually be able to begin to organize events or at least meeting on common ground to discuss and brainstorm ideas to develop the arts here in Hancock County. We, as teachers in all of the arts, really can help one another to develop progressive concepts to improve teaching and learning for students in our area. It would be really cool if there were collaborative events and such that would bring attention to the work of students (and teachers) and others involved in the arts in our greater community. I'm excited about this, will organize a wiki to allow all of us to collaborate in a positive manner transcending time and space (sounds like science fiction, but it's just simply the use of technology. More on this as things develop. I've posted a photo of Argy in action.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

ART Meetings

I talked with one of the leaders of the Art in the Heart group tonight about my hopes for a similar group down here on the Maine coast. We will meet as needed to form sort of a "reinforcing" core of educators and then see where it might take us. I hope everything works out for people and that we can generate interest. I'm a little nervous about it but have a good feeling! I'd be a "Sad Man" if it bombed...