August 31, 2014

Two inches of so much painterly heaven it's like Christmas over here.

Detail ^
Mary Addison Hackett
Self-portrait with Red Towel, 2013
I discovered that tomorrow's UPS delivery would arrive this afternoon. So yes, when I heard the UPS truck, I stepped out on the porch to await his arrival. I was smiling like an idiot so I hollered out that I was exited about the package. He asked if it was a camera. Yes, yes, it was. Turns out my UPS guy is an also an aerial photographer bearing a close resemblance to Michael Madsen while wearing shades. If I were still in LA, I would have bet the farm on it.

I'm almost weeping with joy. Since 2010 I've been suffering a through an insufferable malaise about not having amazing images of the work. Ask anyone who would listen. I was almost to the point of thinking I was living in a parallel universe where 'good enough' was the new black and that there was no such thing as a tack sharp image at 100%. I was one breath away from accepting that using loupes and 'actual pixels' to check sharpness of an image was like puttin' g's on verbs. Still, I would come across details of other painter's images and I knew one day, I, too, would have sharp images again. Good People, that day is today. There are still some lighting kinks to work out: one of the cords in my my trusty light kit finally shorted out.

Power Cord with Specialized Housing to Fit Tota Lights
(1988- 2014) 

August 28, 2014

Time for an upgrade.

The guy at B&H called my Nikon D40 a tyrannosaurus. I had to agree. No one shoots 6 MP anymore. If I had the foresight to build all my canvases to match the digital aspect ratio of my camera, I wouldn't have been on the phone with Lou in the first place. But alas, after cropping, my simple caveman pictures are not large enough in our gazillion megapixels world. I told Lou I mostly shoot artwork. He asked me the usual questions: Tripod? Check.  Lights?  Normally check, but I briefed him on 8 foot ceilings and power surges and said I was now shooting outdoors. People think shooting outdoors is great. It's not. It flattens the artwork. Great for flat artwork or sculpture, but if you pride yourself on using your bag of painterly tricks, you're fighting the odds. Even lighting mean no shadows. No shadows mean no texture. No texture means thin washes look suspiciously close to gobs of paint and the beat goes on. Hence, milking everything you can is critical. When it sinks in that 90% of the people who view your art will do so though the Internet or printed matter, you begin to appreciate what a time-consuming OCD detailed process it is. My life working in a frame-accurate, color-accurate, no-pixel-left-behind world conditioned me for minute details. Whenever I feel like I'm being fussy about these things that the average joe in average joeville looking at his average joe monitor might not notice, I remember reassuring words spoken by an artist I met when I first moved here: "You've only got your name and the work." It's true. Never forget it. Ordinarily, I'd never give it a second thought.

But back to Lou. We discussed a few more items though he reiterated that a great deal of progress had been made in the last 10 years in the world of digital photography and gently encouraged me to consider joining the revolution. I'm doing research now. I  currently have a ragtag lot of miscellaneous equipment  listed for sale in order to raise some dough for the new camera. I am  attempting to downsize at the speed of light after watching Tiny, but a day later I decided to keep the old lenses. You never know. 

August 26, 2014

Magic Mail

I have 4 catalogs left from a 2008 show back in Los Angeles. They are for sale on my website. This note arrived with a check today. I'm posting it here because every now and then, no matter where you are, or what you do, everything about this note will come in handy.

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away.

©Mary Addison Hacket

Ultra-rare B&W images from The Last Surviving Contact Sheet. Probably shot with a Nikon F3 about 23 years ago and developed in a basement on the north side of Chicago. 

Humidity and floods are not my friends. Neither is Relocating, Rash Thinking or Justification. 

I might try and sell some 4 x 6 prints to raise funds for a new camera.

August 25, 2014

Never trust January.

There's a document titled "2009 The Year of  Good Stuff" sitting in my dock. It's been there since 2009. It's a journal. Usually I write a sentence or a paragraph, date it, and store in a folder named after the year, but in 2009 I decided to keep a running tally of only good stuff in a single document. It begins with January 1st. The first couple of days were fine, but it quickly goes downhill. If you're into making distinctions, 2009 was a terrible year. As I was writing, I noted this fact, and also noted that I was compelled to keep writing in spite of this. I hadn't read the document in a few years because I try to avoid pain, but  yesterday the file accidentally popped open when I was trying to retrieve something else out of the trash. (Yes, I got the irony.)  I read a few pages. There was a tremendous amount of deep sadness and crappy life stuff, tucked in with some good stuff, but my determination to keep documenting all of it without changing the title made me laugh. Plus, some things were tragically funny in hindsight. I mention this because 2014 is turning out to be even more hysterical if you're into folly and pathos. I remember thinking back in January, what a great year! And then bam. Turns out it was a vortex into a black hole. January's like that. Tricky. Never trust January.  

August 24, 2014

Nature. The Benefit of Hard Labor

Radnor Lake State Park is practically in my backyard. I first began using the park on a daily basis after my dad died. Not only did I find consolation in nature, but with all the casseroles and lasagna that showed up day after day, I had put on some pounds. Hiking the trails allowed me to process my thoughts and 20 pounds later, I was back to my fighting weight. After I moved away, I would continue to hike the trails when I came home for visits at Thanksgiving or Christmas, noting every year the fresh red carnation placed on a one of the memorial benches for a woman who died too young. The park has a personal feel to it. I can't explain it. Maybe it's due to decades of people caring packed into the soil.

Yesterday I volunteered to help with trail maintenance. I left my iPhone at home so no pics and there was no time for sketching. Four hours of carting a wheelbarrow loaded with mulch 100 feet back and forth. I'm not doing the math to figure out how many miles I carted a wheelbarrow full of mulch, nor my pack load, but after a hot bath I napped for 2 hours. Having a summer cold probably didn't help but I ignored that. People on the trails would say thank you as they walked by, which made it feel like we were special trail people, but anyone can volunteer. I'm surprised I hadn't volunteered sooner. I felt a bit better knowing the 20-year old college kid was as exhausted as I was when he said he'd be fine if he never saw another wheelbarrow in his life. A mother had brought her ten-year old hoping to instill a sense of stewardship in him. He was a trooper, though he was equally wary of a spider and a deer so nature might not be his thing right now. It was hard work, but when I'm on the trails walking on fresh mulch instead of mud, I've always been appreciative. It felt good to give back.

August 21, 2014

August 17, 2014

Suddenly, It's Almost Last Summer

Yes, there is a faculty meeting tomorrow. Life is over.

But before I bemoan the cold hard facts of summer's end, let’s get my previous camp and outdoor activity credentials out of the way.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll use tags.
#Kettle Moraine, #technical mountain biking, #Colorado, #kayak camping, #Lake Superior, #Lake Michigan #Apostle Islands, #Mono Lake, #Sierra National Forrest, #Yosemite, #Zion, #North Georgia, #Somewhere in the Cumberland Gap, #King’s Canyon, #Sequoia, #Somewhere in Kentucky, #GSMNP #Santa Rosa, #Lake Havasu (don’t ask) and according to a bittersweet image labeled “Bad Camping Trip, August 2008,” a late-night one nighter to see the Perseid meteor showers somewhere outside of LA. I’ve forgotten the names of a few places, and most of the digital files never made it to my hard drive, but as I’m writing this, I’ve impressed myself with my camp creds. Even so, it’s been a while and with only one exception, I wasn’t camping solo. Base camping stuff with day hikes and paddling. No hardcore backpacking. And to be brutally honest, I needed rewards, like a trip to Starbucks and a hot shower for every 3 nights in the wilderness.

But with all the paintings about home lately, and since being on the verge of completing the work for two upcoming shows (one 3-person, one solo) and since nearing the end of my 5-year plan without a plan, I suddenly had the urge to go camping. Something about getting away and emptying out. I’d thought about the camp thing before, but (a) it's almost like the above list and hence my experience was completely blocked out of my memory, wedged deep in a little crevice between pleasure and pain, (b) it meant replacing some gear and (c) I was a little nervous about camping with a 75 pound dog who eats everything in sight and is restless whenever I make a move. I couldn’t imagine us in a tent together. I figured he would either trample it to death or eat us out of house and home. I was so wrong. Ranger Mellow. It was fabulous. We're on.

Also, and more to the point, it’s the next body of work. It's hard work, but it’s great. Everyone has a pace with which they recognize their own insights and I don't know if I could have arrived  here without everything that led up to it— but I'm happy not to be dependent on a traditional studio anymore.

August 07, 2014

When I'm not here, I'm there.

My writing and my mail list has been a little lax lately, so here's the low-down of how to keep up.

At first my tumblr was going to replace this blog, but then it didn't, so I turned it into a bulletin board for sharing other people's works and then realized the same stuff by the same people kept showing up, so I went back to posting works in progress and such, and changed the design so that my favorites could show up in the side bar. That was win-win for awhile until I realized maybe we were in an era where "lifestyle" was more important than art, and thought, screw it I'll post lifestyle images as well. Because pretty much other than working in the studio, I was beginning to notice I didn't have a lifestyle.

Every now and then I feel pithy and post one-liners in 140 character or less. Some overlap with tumblr and instagram because I'm lazy. I've tried to embrace twitter coming up on six years. 613 tweets later, I'm still trying. It's like being lost in a parking lot and clicking the keys to find your car.

Lately I've been a daily Instagramer. Usually just stuff I notice. Maybe some teaser images for upcoming shows. Haven't yet figured out how to regram. Haven't tried.

Facebook. I am on FB, but don't use it for a public forum, except to post announcements. I deactivated FB mobile after realizing the insane TOS made it possible to take over my iPhone.

I've tried my best to avoid Pinterest, for fear of a massive timesuck.

And of course, the website.