TECHNOLOGY AND ART
Modern Technology Is A Wonderful Tool For The Artist If You Can Avoid The Gremlins.
No Matter How Hard You Try Sometimes Things Don’t Go Right.
Modern Technology has been a God send for my art. Through the internet I can share my passion and creations with the world. Yet sometimes the Gremlin’s find their way into my best efforts and yank the wires that help my art fly and stay airborne. And so it was this past week.
Every Wednesday I present a FREE Painting Tutorial on Facebook live, One week I might present a watercolor tutorial, another wee acrylic and still another week an oil painting tutorial. This past Wednesday it was an oil painting tutorial and the Gremlin’s decided that they would have their fun with it.
I pre-record my tutorials so that I can go into live chat and answer any questions people may have during the live presentation. As I recorded last Wednesdays Tutorial., Whitby Abbey Cemetery, I soon discovered that it would be a long tutorial so I decided to break it down into two parts. I finished recording the creation of the painting and took it into my video editing software. Little did I know at the time that the Gremlins had already started their fiendish work.
As I was reviewing the final edited video I discovered that not only was a segment of the audio screwy but two segment of the audio were screwy. Add it that the final display of the finished painting pixelated half way through the presentation. At that point I am sure that the computer Gremlin’s were dancing with glee.
It is not like I can just go back in and re-record the tutorial. Spending another 5 hours on a painting I have already done is just not an appealing nor fun idea for me. I present these videos free for the first week after the Facebook Live presentation and the they are for sale for only $15 on the Artist Alley Studio website after that. I couldn’t very well expect people to buy a video that was not the absolute best I could present. So what could I do? Somehow I had to thwart the Gremlin’s dastardly sabotage, and I did.
I decided to make Parts One and Two of the Whitby Abbey Cemetery Oil Painting Tutorial FREE indefinitely. I would let people know of the Gremlin caused glitches and they could ignore those problems and still discover what I had to teach. I would also identify and remove the monkey wrench the Gremlins threw into my recording software and put up safeguards against their future interference.
I am happy to report that the Gremlins screamed in agony and departed to harass some other poor soul when I implemented my fixes. Now all is right with the world and you can forever have this tutorial for FREE.
We do not know whether or not the Gremlins will ever return to try and interfere with my art tutorials in the future but if they do their only reward will be that I again give you a tutorial that is FREE Forever and I am sure the Gremlins will have no satisfaction in that.
Art Takes On Many Forms. Some Art Creates Magic Memories.
Once upon a time there was a quaint little village called Topeka in an enchanted land known as Kansas.
The village of Topeka was not remarkable as villages go. The native Topekan’s were friendly people who took care of the needs of their village. Working hard from sunrise to sunset the people of the village had little to entertain them.
One day a powerful Magician visited the village and saw that the hard working Topekan’s needed some way to relax and re-energize their spirit. Picking a large Sunflower from a local field the Magician waved it in the air and in the middle of the village appeared a Grand Palace; a magical and wondrous place.
Brightly colored carpets led to sparkling glass and chrome counters which displayed the most wonderful treats the villagers have ever seen. There were Sweets and Sours, Corn Light as Air and Drinks in all Colors of the Rainbow, Ice that had been Creamed and Beans of Jelly were the delights that the Villagers could partake in.
Within its blue walls lit by orange lights the Topeka Villagers could relax in cool darkness on velvet thrones. Within the soothing shadows the Magician would shine his lantern on velvety, gold gilded curtains that reached to a ceiling so high above that the top of it could barely be seen by the Topekan’s below. And as the lantern illuminated the Grand Curtain it would slowly part and reveal behind it’s secret folds a silvery land wherein the most talented of performers dwelled. There were Nuns who Sang, Eunuchs who Jest, Spies who Dance and Cowboys who Croon. There were Monsters and Madmen, Bears and Mermaids, Kings and Queens, Hero’s and Villains and all would entertain for a small offering of only a couple of shinning tokens.
For years this Magical Grand Palace gave the Villagers of Topeka in the land of Kansas a place to escape and renew their soul yet time moves on and the Magician grew old. For you see the magician stayed young from feeding on the energy of the laughter, the tears, the ooh’s and the ah’s, thrills and chills. Yet the villagers of Topeka forgot to feed the Magician.
As the Magician withered away and died so too did the Grand Palace until one day all the magic disappeared and so did the place that had captured that magic.
The villagers of Topeka scarce noticed that the marvelous Grand Palace was disappearing until it was gone. Then, on that day that the last brick of the magical place was wiped from the earth forever they bemoaned the loss, swearing to never let another Palace as Grand as that one had been disappear from the village ever again.
So it is that the resourceful Topekans strive to keep another Magical Palace alive for within it’s walls lives a strange and rare creature known as a Jayhawk. The villagers have learned that to keep the magic alive you must feed the creator of the spell and they have vowed to feed the Jayhawk.
Yet never again will there be a Palace as Grand as that which was lost to all except those that remember the magic it shared.
Ghost Towns Offer Unlimited Creative Opportunities For The Artist and Photographer
VISITING A GHOST TOWN CAN INSPIRE YET YOU MUST SHOW RESPECT
I have always had a fascination with ghost towns. I have a deep desire to know their story. How was the town born? What was it like in it’s prime? What caused it to die? And why does it’s ghost linger on long after the town is gone?
As an artist my eye sees beyond the decay. I see the remaining color, the shapes and the textures. Oh those textures! I smell the scents of the town; secret deep scents that still linger long after the last barber gave his last shave. Long after the last Thanksgiving Turkey was cooked. Those scents linger within the rotting wood and crumbling stone. But most importantly I hear the stories the town has to tell and as I listen I reach out my hand and capture those stories.
Sometimes I do it with photography, sometimes with the written word and sometimes with paint but always with the respect that the town earned and deserves. I love ghost towns and I really can’t say why beyond the artistic opportunity that they afford me. Maybe there is something deeper in my psyche that knows that long after I have become a ghost these “Villages of the Lost”, though ghosts themselves, will still be visible to generations to come.
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT GHOST TOWNS
If you are artistically drawn to visit and capture the stories of ghost towns there are a few important things and rules that should be observed. First and foremost is remember; though it may be a ghost town there may still be living people that call it home. Also though a property may be abandoned does not mean that it is unowned. Do not intrude or trespass! Let’s examine Ghost Towns and how you can show proper respect.
VILLAGES OF THE LOST
A “Ghost Town” is any community that is either abandoned, whose main industry that kept the town vital has ceased to exist or whose population and community infrastructure has declined to a level that recovery into a thriving community is highly improbable. There are three types of Ghost Towns: completely deserted ghost towns; towns with a minimal population; and still-thriving towns.
Philip Varney, the author of several popular Ghost Town books defines what to look for in Ghost Town:
- Scattered rubble or site where nature has reclaimed the land
- Roofless buildings or partially demolished buildings
- Boarded up or abandoned buildings, no population
- A community with many abandoned buildings and a small population of residents
- Historic community or town, functional, but much smaller than in its boom years
- A restored town, state park, or replica of an old town, community or fort
GHOST TOWN CODE OF ETHICS:
The following partially taken and modified by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America from Gary Speck’s Ghost Town Ethics, Ghost Town USA
I WILL NOT
1. Destroy, damage or deface any buildings or other structures.
2. Disturb any structures that are locked or appear to be occupied.
3. Remove anything from the site other than obvious trash such as candy wrappers, soft drink cans, etc.
4. Enter a site that is posted as “No Trespassing” without permission.
5. Take in a metal detector without the permission of the owner. These are often the badge of a vandal to local residents.
1. Observe all rules and regulations be they local, state, or national.
2. Camp and make fires only in designated safe locations.
3. Leave the land and vegetation as it is.
4. Fill all holes or excavations I make.
5. Remove and properly dispose of any trash I find, and will not litter.
6. Respect the rights and property of landowners, leave gates as found, and obey all posted signs.
7. Appreciate and protect this nation’s ghost towns and the heritage they represent.
8. Always conduct myself in a manner that is courteous and polite, and always show consideration for others.
Visiting Ghost Towns can always be fun and educational as long as they and the people that have called and may still call them home are respected.
I hope this has given you some inspiration to explore and artistically capture a ghost town or abandoned structure near you. I would love to see your creations. Please join our Facebook Group The Artist Life Creations and share your art and stories.
TALL GRASS PRAIRIE
INSPIRATION ON A LATE SUMMER DAY
Sometimes You You Go Searching For Inspiration. Sometimes Inspiration Searches For You.
The road suddenly gives way to dirt and rock. The gravel crunches under your wheels as you shift down and slow your pace. It is a time for caution but also a time for beauty and truth.
You have entered into a world where rushing causes disaster and taking it easy causes revelation. It was easy when the road was smooth. You did not worry as the asphalt sang beneath your wheels. But easy does not last and now is the time to test your mettle.
Something ahead has caught your eye, it lies within the tall grass along side the road. You stop and get off your ride approaching you notice that it is a beer can. Anger rises in you, how dare they trash this beautiful place.
You pick up the trash and throw it into your saddle bag. Mounting up you continue your sojourn into this magical land knowing that you helped it survive one more day.
The tall grass of the prairie surrounds you and soon you feel the need to become one with it. Finding a side path you pull in, off the road and start walking out into the land.
It is late in the day on an Indian Summer afternoon. Gathering clouds threaten rain but you don’t care, time has stood still for you, the air is as it should be.
Your thoughts are silent, not really congealing in any form, yet you know that within this world that you have entered there is harmony. The Tall Grass cannot survive without the Golden Rod, the Golden Rod needs the insects that travel from yellow plume to yellow plume.
Indigo Fire Plants live with Wild Daisies while their neighbors, the Blue Bells, look on. Bear Grass surrounds the Live Oak helping it stand and hold the soil they call home together.
The deep roots of the Cotton Wood Tree seek out water and give shelter to the birds that flit among it’s branches. This is their world and they have welcomed you into it. You know that you can only be a part of what is their home as long as you can live in harmony with the denizens of this land.
The shadows grow long and you know, though you don’t want to, that you must return to your scooter and continue on your journey.
As you top a rise you see a sign up ahead, “Scenic Overlook” you chuckle to yourself, you don’t need to pull over and look, you have been intimate with this world that has welcomed you.
As you pass the overlook you notice a couple of pick-up trucks and a half dozen “Red Neck” types drinking beer and tossing the empties into the prairie. You want to stop and say something to them about how they are trashing what they have no right to trash. But there are too many of them and you are only one.
As they watch you pass you make a mental note to go back that way and clean up their mess. It’s the least you can do for this place that so graciously welcomed you.
As the miles roll by so does the red Sumac and the purple Thistle, keeping the sides of the road marked for you in their dusky colors.
Soon you come to a T in the road and you know this is your turn around point. A sign at the juncture tells you that if you go west you will leave the prairie and head off to a distant town where the highway once again rolls on. Another sign points the opposite direction stating, “Tall Grass Prairie Headquarters”. You make your decision and turn the big bike in the direction your gut tells you to go.
The Park Ranger listens to what you say, thanks you and radios the Sheriff’s Department. As you relieve yourself in the rest room you hear the tires on the big 4×4 turn up the road as the Ranger heads out.
Back on the road again you idle along back the way you came. The sun is hanging low in the west and it is time to go. As you approach the scenic overlook once again you can see the red and blue flashing lights of a couple of Sheriffs cars and the Park Ranger. One of the “Red Necks” is picking up the beer cans and putting them into a trash bag while the rest, in hand cuffs, stand by watching. You travel past not acknowledging the drama.
As the sky turns purple, pink and blue setting the clouds on fire you come upon a herd of grazing Bison. You keep your distance and watch as they do what nature intended them to do. They snort and grunt creating a symphony of prairie music against a backdrop of glorious color.
Your tires have left the hard pack dirt and you are once again on the asphalt, safe back in your world that those, in the Tall Grass world you just left, know nothing about nor will they ever enter.
You will tell your friends of the Tall Grass Prairie and the drunken “Red Necks”. You know you did the right thing, you protected the prairie, you protected the ’Red Necks” from themselves but most importantly you may have protected someone from an encounter with a drunk driver. You smile in satisfaction, this was a good day and a good ride.
REFRESH AND REGROUP
Sometimes You Just Have To Get Away From It All
Every Year Our Church, Topeka Bible Church (TBC), Sponsors A Retreat, “Family Camp”. It Is A Time To Get Away And Spiritually Recharge.
My wife Raychel “Mad Hatter” George and I first experienced Family Camp the summer of 2021. After the pandemic stress of 2020 the retreat was a welcomed chance to relax and escape for a few days. This year was no different. After the horrors of our studio and home being violated and Raychel’s battle with cancer a getaway was desperately needed.
We arrived at New Life Ranch: Flint Valley in Colcord, Oklahoma around 2:00 PM on Thursday Afternoon August 4th. We would have arrived at 1:00 PM but there was a man hunt underway in Pryor, Oklahoma and all traffic was being diverted around the city.
We quickly found our cabin and started unloading our rental car. If you recall our car was stolen a day after the studio break in. Our car was totaled by the thieves, so we were grateful that our insurance policy included a rental car. After the car was unloaded it was time to relax. Raychel took a nap (she does not travel well), and I kicked back on the deck of our cabin to enjoy a peaceful afternoon.
Family Camp is alive with lots of Fellowship and lots of Activities and Raychel plays a major role in one of those activities; Children’s Crafts. Raychel takes over the Activity Hut and leads the Children in Craft Activities every evening after Worship Service. Raychel looks forward to being with the children and spends weeks before Family Camp getting the craft projects together.
For my part I help Raychel set up the Activities Hut and I assist her in keeping order among 30 excited and happy children. Otherwise, I am on my own to create my own entertainment and this year that is just what I did.
I took my portable easel/paint box with me with every intention of doing a painting outside while at this beautiful camp. I had recently gotten the easel/paint box and was excited to use it. The design is based on the easel/paint box that Van Gogh created and with Vincent Van Gogh being my favorite artist well…
There was a great view of a hillside and a pasture from the deck in front of our cabin, so I decided to paint my interpretation of that view. New Life Ranch: Flint Valley is located in the Oklahoma Ozarks, so every view is great. But this one intrigued me. I cannot explain why, it just did so I set out to capture it on my canvas.
The first day I worked on the painting for 3 hours and the second day I finished it in 2 hours. I paint fairly quick but could be faster if I was not so meticulous. I recently read an essay by a well-known artist where his opinion was that “unskilled artists spend too much time on detail”. I disagree! I strongly believe the old adage that “God Is In The Details” and I love the details. For me that is half the fun of creating a painting.
Sunday came all too soon, and it was time to head home. To try and explain how special the 4 days we spend at Family Camp would be like trying to explain the feel of the first warm day of spring; there are no words.
I have something special in mind for this painting which is acrylic on 16” x 20” canvas board. I have entitled it “Flint Valley Pasture”. What will I paint next year when Raychel and I go to Family Camp? Who knows? But I can promise you that I will greatly enjoy capturing whatever scene it is.
When Your Studio Is Violated Do You Cry Or Do You Pick Up The Pieces?
WE FORGIVE YOU
We have picked up the pieces cleaned up the mess and the studio is in full operation. Should you happen to come across items that belong to us or you know who the thieves are please phone Detective Julian at Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office at (785) 251-2551 or (785) 273-2220. If you have information on the theft of our 2001 Lexus please phone Topeka Police Department Detective Division at (785) 368-9400.
Thank you for your help, prayers and positive thoughts. All are appreciated more than we can express. God Bless You.
-The GYPSY and Raychel George-
The Recipe For A Big Life Is Full Of Small Moments
It was February of 2007 and the weather was 60 degrees and sunny in Independence, Kansas. Here let me repeat that just in case you didn’t hear me the first time; It was February of 2007 and the weather was 60 degrees and sunny in Independence, Kansas. I bet that if you think hard enough you will know what I did that day. If you said, “Ride your motorcycle” you are only partially correct.
I cannot tell you how it felt to put the wind in my face. I cannot tell you because I do not wish to explain it. Those, like me that ride, know what it felt like, those that do not ride cannot even imagine. My bike and I got re-acquainted with the road today. My bike coughed and protested it’s awakening from its winter long sleep but I soon had the cobwebs blown out of her. Soon she purred like a content lion as we hugged each and every curve.
In Riverside Park I saw a father blowing bubbles with his son. An elderly woman walked her dog along the road. Big horn sheep frolicked upon icy slopes in the hollow along the road that passes the zoo and all was right with the world.
When I returned home I saw patches of green within the yard fighting to force back the grays and browns that have dominated for so long. I went into my home studio and started on a painting that was inspired by my friend Jana. It will be outstanding when completed because it was inspired. I had been in a creative slump for awhile and it felt good to make my brush do my bidding as it skipped and danced upon the canvas.
I also did some cooking in the kitchen, real cooking, not Hamburger Helper. It had been awhile since I had felt like exercising my culinary skills. I had debated what to fix. I had thought about Spaghetti with a nice thick meat sauce and Asparagus patties (recipe courtesy of my friend Dianna), but I opted instead for something that I had not made for along time, Meatloaf. “What, Meatloaf again, that’s the third time this week!?” For you maybe but not for me. So I rolled up my sleeves and went to work.
I wish that I could give each and everyone of you a taste because it came out fantastic but since I can’t I will do the next best thing. I will give you my recipe so that you can make it yourself and melt into its rich and many layered fountains of flavor.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- 1 pound of Ground Beef
- 1 can of Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Chili, Cilantro and Lime Juice
- 1 Can Tomato Soup
- 1 small yellow Onion
- 1 7.5 or 8 ounce can of Tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons minced Garlic
- 2 large dashes of ground Basil
- 1 large egg
- 1 sleeve of Ritz Snack Crackers
- Pam butter flavor spray
- Peel and Dice the whole Onion into fine cubes.
- Crush the Ritz crackers into an almost fine powder.
- Drain the juice from the Rotel.
- Combine all the ingredients, except for the tomato sauce, into a round oven proof casserole bowl.
- Get your hands into the bowl and thoroughly mix the ingredients together.
- Make the mixture into a large loaf and remove from casserole bowl. Place on plate.
- Clean and dry the bowl and coat liberally with Pam butter flavor spray.
- Place your loaf back into the bowl and gently pat down until it covers the entire bottom of bowl. DO NOT hard pack the loaf.
- Place casserole onto center rack of oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove Casserole and drain off grease.
- Pour the can of Tomato soup evenly over the entire loaf.
- Cook 15 More Minutes
- Remove from oven and allow cooling for 15 minutes before serving.
A large baked potato with real butter, sour cream, real bacon bits and shredded sharp cheddar cheese. It makes a perfect side to my Gypsy Meatloaf. I would also suggest adding Texas toast with Garlic butter to complete the meal. A nice Merlot goes well with this meal. Bring your appetite because you’ll need it.
This is a very moist meatloaf and very flavorful. You will taste it for hours afterwards and will not be able to resist the urge to sneak bites from the leftovers. You can make it dryer by cooking for an extra 15 minutes but I don’t recommend it.
I have other meatloaf recipes and if you like this one I might share the others with you someday.
It was a great day and I got to do three of the four things that I enjoy most in the world. And who knows I still might get to number four before midnight. So how was your day? I hope that it was at least half as enjoyable as mine. And if it wasn’t don’t worry because there is always tomorrow.
I SURVIVED THIS TORNADO
I was 10 years old and was playing on the front porch of our home with my friends. Grandma came outside with Lemonade for us children and stopped in the doorway, she was looking at the sky which had turned a sickly greenish yellow. She calmly said; “Children, let’s go have our Lemonade in the basement.” My best friend Bobby Boyce said that he had to go home. Grandma said; “Run, don’t walk. When you get home tell your parents to look outside and then go and play in your basement.”
Just as we got to the basement the sirens sounded. Grandma rushed upstairs to the second floor where she rented out 3 apartments. She got the tenants to the basement while my Mom got my dog Buster inside. We lived at 7th and Western, 4 blocks from downtown. When mom opened the outside basement door to let Buster in it sounded like a freight train.
As we huddled in the corner Grandma and Mom kept us children calm. They turned up the radio to drown out the outside noise. We listened to a reporter out at Ballard Airport describing the planes being flipped over.
When the all clear sounded Mom escorted my friend’s home. Grandma, who was the Manager of Pelletier’s Department store walked downtown to assess the damage from the storm and to see if the store needed to be secured. One of the tenants, a girl in her mid twenties, walked downtown to sight see against my Grandmas advise, and ended up being the first injury recorded at Stormont-Vail when she ended up stepping on a nail and driving it up through her foot.
In the days following the Tornado Mom, who was a PBX Operator working for an answering service over by Washburn University, put in long hours coordinating emergency calls for Doctors and emergency personnel. National Guard Troops escorted her through the devastation daily as she walked to and from work.
Grandma coordinated food and clothing drives through our church, First Church of the Nazarene. She also worked soup lines with the Red Cross and she urged other Pelletier’s employees to do the same thing.
Before the Tornado I had been taking Saturday Morning art classes at the Mulvane Art Gallery at Washburn University. But now that the roof of the Mulvane was parked in the parking lot our classes were moved to homes of the instructors. I still remember the unearthly feeling of walking to my art classes and seeing what had been being no more.
Our house did receive damage. A maple leaf blew through a storm window in the exact shape of the leaf. Our home got listed as the house that had received the least amount of storm damage. Grandma kept the piece of glass, leaf and article in a frame for years.
I do not think that there was one living soul who was a resident of Topeka at that time that was not touched by this monster in one way or another. I thank the Lord for those that survived and pray that he took those who didn’t into his Kingdom that day.
The days that followed were life changing for me. For the first time in my life I truly understood beauty from ugliness, calm from turmoil and peace from horror. My art in the days that followed reflected this. Even now, all these years later I see things in a different way and it translates into my art.
I have a healthy respect for the forces of nature and never take each day or moment for granted.
“Art Must Evoke An Emotion In Order To Be Art. If It Only Evokes Indifference It Is Not Art It Is Garbage.”
I HAVE MADE A DECISION
I have finally decided what I want to be when I grow up: I want to be an Artist. I know, I know you are asking yourself; Will he go mad from eating lead based yellow paint? Will he catch an incurable STD while painting ladies of the night? Will he go blind while laying on his back having paint drip in his eyes while painting a chapel ceiling? Will he paint a self portrait of himself as a woman? Will his studio be in a room so hot that clocks melt? Will he spill paint on a canvas and pass it off as art? Or will he eat a can of soup and think to himself; some fool will buy a painting of this can if I proclaim it inspired. Well the answer to all your questions is YES! But the sacrifices will be worth it because of the Zillion of dollars I will make. Now shut up because you ask too many questions and I have art to make.
Little did I know, when as a child, I finger painted my first finger painting, that someday I would finger paint a self portrait of myself. But as a child I did know one thing… I would be an Artist. While other children had dreams of being Doctors, Lawyers, Nurses, Firemen, Policemen, Scientists, I had a dream of being an Artist; a dream that would come true.
I remember; when I was in second grade, being asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said, “I want to be an Artist, I want to be Famous and I want to be Rich.” I take satisfaction in the fact that I have accomplished all three. I am an Artist; Body and Fine. I am Famous; in Body Art circles and the number of people that enjoy what I create. I am Rich; not monetarily but in the things that mater. But I did not accomplish these three things on my own nor easily I had help along the way.
On this long journey I have had the guidance of God. At times I was too blind to see and to self involved to understand that he was guiding me but guiding me he was. He gave me helpers that at the time I did not recognize as helpers. Some were friends, some were family, I loved some and despised others. Yet all helped me on my journey to being what I declared at 7 years of age I would be someday.
I was always Spiritual and believed in God. I believed that Jesus was his son and died for our sins but my faith was not what it should be. Though I had a successful career, that career came in spurts and had more downs than ups. I always thought; “This is something I can do on my own, I don’t need help.” But I did need help. I needed God’s help.
Once I realized that without God’s help I truly could not accomplish all I wanted to accomplish things started changing for me; for the better. I renewed my faith and have been on the right road ever since. There are bumps along that road but with God’s help I am able to maneuver around any major obstacles.
What do I want to be when I grow up? I want to be an Artist, I want to be Famous, I want to be Rich but most of all I want to be eternally grateful to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that have made my amazing life possible…. and I am all that and more.
-The GYPSY- “Art must evoke an emotion in order to be art. If it only creates indifference then it is not art, it is garbage!”