Rust: “This is just one story; the oldest… Light verses dark.” Marty: [Looking up at the night sky] “It appears to me that the dark has a lot more territory.” Rust: “Yeah, you’re right about that… But you’re looking at it wrong, the sky. Once there was only dark. If you ask me, the light’s winning.”
This DreamWorld image was directly inspired by HBO’s massively critically-acclaimed, original and spectacular-in-every-way-show True Detective.
Taking a very unique approach of turning what would be an interesting procedural drama on its own and injecting massive amounts of myth and metaphor (which you know I love) it transcended a mere television show. It became so much more than entertainment, superb acting, and top-notch writing. Within a few short weeks of its release, it had developed an enormous, rabid following, which I will gladly admit I was a part of.
I have more to say about the show on my blog and I also talk about how this image ties into the show. And detail shots! The original file is HUGE, so you’ll definitely want to see those :)
I shot this DreamWorld image rather an embarrassingly long time ago, but by the time I’d gotten to editing it, it felt so spring-like to me that I wanted to wait until actual spring. While may or may not be happening in your part of the world, but it’s unfolding rapidly in Los Angeles. The orange and plum blossoms are perfuming the air every day and the flowers are blooming.
This is a preview of a new set I’m currently editing for DreamWorld. This set will be important to the entire series as it marks the entrance of the first non-benevolent character. At first I had envisioned this character, whom we only get a glimpse of for the moment, as a more Puckish, trouble-maker character, but as I worked on the costume and planned the shoot, I was also watching the first few weeks of True Detectiver. True Detective (one of the most original, mythic, challenging, well-acted and completely-fabulous-in-every-way show I’ve seen in a long time) had already begun making dark allusions toward The King In Yellow, and I found it seeped into what I was doing. And the darker I took the character, the more right it felt, so it was perfect timing on the part of the universe.
My model for this shoot is the incomparable Dan Donohue, an actor known for his extensive stage work, including just about every Shakespeare play you can think of and Scar, in Dinsey’s Broadway production of The Lion King. While Dan himself is one of the sweetest, sincerest, most lovely and generous people I’ve had the pleasure to work with, he has the ability to summon inner darkness on whim. I had him start the shoot a little more Puckish and less evil, and let him get more and more dangerous as we progressed. And, of course, I ended up loving the darkest shots the best.
I have the wonderful problem of having too many wonderful images to choose from, but I’ll get by somehow. I wanted to send this one out into the world today, not only to harken the rest of the set, but to celebrate Dan’s appearance on Brooklyn 99 tonight! It should be lots of fun to watch :)
Tune into my blog for a bit more about Dan and some ME/CFS news!
This is another self portrait I took in the snow over the holidays. I’d been wanting to add a little snowy corner to DreamWorld, and this did the trick for me :) Incidentally, this is the same cloak I made for Paul, who is something like 6’ 4”, and also the same one I used for Erick, who is also quite tall, so I was swimming in it and tripping all over myself. My “elf hood” was hand-knitted by a wonderful person on Etsy, whose shop I can no longer find. If this is your work, please let me know so I can link to you!
My favorite bit of this is a close-up detail you can see on my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/artosthebear I’d like to say I framed it exactly that way on purpose, but it was a happy accident :)
It seems a little odd to be posting so many dustbowl photos during winter, but Los Angeles seems to have mostly skipped right over winter. I know the rest of the country is suffering from intense cold, but I wish we could have just a little more and take some of the burden off the rest of you. Heat makes all my symptoms much worse, and I look forward to winter as a reprieve from the LA sun, but that seems to not be an option this year. We have daffodils blooming happily in our yard. How ridiculous is that?
Anyway, with out unseasonable heat, and the way I was feeling the last couple weeks, this was a therapeutic image to work on. I feel it would be unwise to get into the details of it too much online, at least right now, but there are some major, bureaucratic changes and threats to my healthcare and income. Things are looking up a little more now, but it’s been an extremely stressful few weeks trying to deal with it.
It always feels just so unfair when you’re not only having to fight with your body by being sick every day, but fighting The System too. In Timothy Egan’s incredible history of the dustbowl, a href=”http://www.amazon.com/The-Worst-Hard-Time-Survived/dp/0618773479” target=”blank” rel=”nofollow”>The Worst Hard Time (which I highly recommend) he recounted stories of how relentless the dust blown on the wind was. There was absolutely no stopping it. Nothing you did would ever keep it all out. When it was blowing, it would get inside, dirty every single thing in your house, coat every living creature with a film of dirt, turn clean water to mud and choke the lungs of those who breathed it. The relentlessness of it was bad enough that its on record for having driven several people insane.
Life can often feel like that, the duster-without-an-end, a pointless fight where you’ll only get pushed down again. But who knows when the next rain will come and clear things up? It could be any day now.
"Oh, I am a king’s daughter And I grow old within The prison of my person The shackles of my skin And I would run away And beg from door to door Just to see your shadow Just once and nevermore."
- Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn
Whenever I get to this passage in The Last Unicorn, I find myself thinking about ME, and how I often feel trapped in the prison of my physical body. Though I’m sure it’s not what he had in mind while writing it, it still resonates with me and it feels comforting nonetheless.
I’ve had this photo idea in mind for quite a while and things aligned beautifully to let me bring it to life recently as part of a new Artist Profile series Katie Johnson has started. She created a wonderful video featuring an interview with me and some nice behind-the-scenes peeks into how we work together as well.
This photo goes in my Enchanted Sleep series on living with myalgic encephalomyelitis, or ME. I think the concept applies pretty universally to anyone with any kind of chronic illness; there’s so much you want to do that you’re held back from. You often feel trapped, disconnected from the treacherous body you find yourself in, watching the outside world longingly from deep within yourself.
Well you are my accuser, now look in my face Your oppression reeks of your greed and disgrace So one man has and another has not How can you love what it is you have got When you took it all from the weak hands of the poor? Liars and thieves you know not what is in store Well, there will come a time I will look in your eye You will pray to the god that you’ve always denied Then I’ll go out back and I’ll get my gun I’ll say, “You haven’t met me, I am the only son.”
Seal my heart and break my pride I’ve nowhere to stand and now nowhere to hide Align my heart, my body, my mind To face what I’ve done and do my time
I utterly adore this song. Some days I want to listen to it on repeat for entire car trips. It tells such a striking story in a short amount of time, but manages to infuse every little bit of it with dripping, overflowing emotion.
I shot this back in the summer, at the sheep farm I visited. The lamb’s name is Too Cute :) This was a pretty spontaneous shot; I asked Katie to pose with Too Cute and look protective, and Terry, who owns the farm, kindly supplied us with an honest-to-goodness shepherd’s crook for her to hold. Katie is always wonderful at portraying strong characters and emotions! It was later as I mulling over Dustbowl Dance obsessively that I realized they were both displaying the same emotion and story so I decided to name the photo after the song, just changing the gender to suit my image.
“Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go; it is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow.” – Alice M. Swaim
Boy, it feels like forever since I took a self portrait! It’s nice to stretch those muscles again. Yes, I did actually lay naked in the snow for this! I set everything up as much as I could before, so I only had to lay on it for a couple mintues, but it was still pretty darn cold, especially for a California girl who’s only even seen snow a handful of times.
I’d been wanting to do this self portrait for a couple years now, and things kept happening to get in the way, so I was proud of myself for finally braving the cold and just doing it. The quote from Alice M. Swaim is so beautiful and inspiring, I just had to use it in a photo somehow. I feel like it’s especially relevant to those of us with ME/CFS/fibro, or anyone with any kind of chronic illness… surviving it is not nearly so much about making one big stand as just getting through each day as it comes. I often feel very weak, fragile and lacking compared to my healthy counterparts. But when I remember that I’m engaged in a battle with my body every single day, it helps me to be more patient and loving with myself. It helps me appreciate my own efforts more instead of feeling like I’m failing. And really, you can’t hope to make any progress with your health if you’re beating yourself up over the things that you can’t do. It’s a lesson I still need reminders of, but I am getting better at it. All healing begins with love :)