Monthly Archives: July 2012

A Purple-y Day at the Beach… the weekly photo challenge continues!

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Have you ever just needed to get your toes in the sand?…  

Thunderstorms in the forecast, sweltering heat advisories in effect… sounds like a day trip to the beach to me! 

Apparently, this was not as original a plan as I had anticipated because we landed in miles of traffic with other like-minded, coastally obsessive optimists.  

A little purple in the grape slushy!

Here, you can see that the kids were contributing to the hunt
for all things purple, as well!

Undeterred, we headed toward Ocean City, Maryland, then passed over to Assateague Island.  I had been there only once in my 20’s, but had never seen any of the wild ponies I had read and heard so much about.  So I could sense the excitement welling up inside me as we finally broke through the backups and began to see sand along the roadways.  Once we parked and unloaded, I felt weeks of tension easing out of my body with every soothing breeze and relaxing sound of waves breaking and rushing toward the shore…

I was able to capture a few purple shots for the weekly challenge with my Kodak Easy Share C813… hahaha!!!  Sorry, I couldn’t resist!  I love admiring the photographs taken by ‘real’ cameras, posted in photo blogs… I just don’t happen to own one yet, so my camera model disclosure serves as a sort of disclaimer.  Just to really give you a sense of my photographic limitations, I don’t even have a viewfinder in my camera!  On a really sunny day, when it is impossible to see anything projected on the 2-inch screen, capturing an image becomes more intuitive… much like using the Force.  Yes, it’s true… I am a photographic Jedi… now you know! 🙂  So these pictures should really knock your socks off!  

Fast forward a few hours… and I was feeling a bit saddened by the lack of ponies on the beach.  There was plenty of… er, let’s say… evidence that they had been there earlier in the day, but as far as I could strain my eyes, there wasn’t a hoof in sight.  So gathering all of our gear, and with swimsuits full of sand, we scrambled back to the van.  

My husband suggested that we drive further down the island toward the National Park with the hope that a few ponies might be snacking along the side of the road.  We drove, scouring waterways and groves of trees… Then suddenly, just as we rounded a bend, there they were!!!  I was ELATED!!!  You would think I had never seen a horse before in my life.  Well, in a sense this was a new experience — I had never seen a wild pony before!!  They were much larger than I had imagined.  I thought they would be more like miniature ponies – I have absolutely no idea why – and despite my husband’s elaboration of what I envisioned an Assateague pony to be… NO, I did not believe that they would be sparkly and gallop between rainbows in the sand!  Although, that would have made for some great pictures!  

…BACK to reality, though…  I don’t know what it is about coming into contact with an animal in its natural habitat, that is so exciting.  In our yard, we see deer, rabbits, a red fox here and again.  But it doesn’t matter how many times we see them, we always run to the window for another look.  That sense of admiration may change when I finally get my garden in the ground sometime next spring, but for the time being, we feel privileged to get a glimpse into their mysterious world.  That was how I felt with these amazing ponies…

The beautiful ponies of Assateague Island (Maryland).

My entire weekend felt complete!  …that is to say, until our bellies started rumbling… So we headed off to a local favorite called Waterman’s Seafood Company.  Being Marylanders, you just don’t go to the beach without gettin’ some crab!  I had two of my favorites… Cream of Crab soup and a Crab Cake!  They were DEE-lish!!!  

A cup of Cream of Crab soup at Waterman’s Seafood Company… YUM!

…and a FANTASTIC crab cake!

…then a lovely end to a perfect day!

Even a hint of purple in this glorious sunset on our ride home…

Weekly Photo Challenge: PURPLE!

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Two sweet little girls
at our wedding reception in November!

As I am relatively new to this whole blogging thing, I am finding fun ways to keep my posts interesting.  Upon perusing the latest postings of a blogger I follow, her ‘Purple Picture’  has inspired me to jump into the game with The Daily Post-ers and take on this weekly photo challenge that is perfect for me…  

Purples, and especially plums, are some of my favorite colors!   This becomes vividly apparent through these pictures taken at our wedding last November! 🙂

Then, all the way at the bottom of the page, I included a photograph taken at Brookside Gardens in the spring.  A pond surrounded by wisps of purple blooms, was tinted a dark violet color which sprinkled through a fountain at its center !  It was absolutely stunning!

A collage of wonderful winter memories…

Beautiful bouquets carried by our wedding party.

A purple-tinted fountain at Brookside Gardens.

Festival Mayhem at ARTSCAPE

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     Take 173 exhibitors setting up for 6 days…

                   12 city blocks in Baltimore, Maryland…

                              free admission to 350,000 attendees for 3 days…

                                         and you have yourself a pARTy!!!

“Face Forward”
A 16-foot tall kinetic sculpture
created by artist, Christian Ristow.
[Click on this photo to learn more
about this amazing robotic artwork!]

Now, also keep in mind that 2 out of those 3 days poured buckets from the heavens, so the bulk of the attendance was probably counted on the day we decided to take our first look at this annual Artscape festival… That was yesterday, and I am still alive to tell you about it!  Where do I even begin???…

I have heard about this event over the years, but I am not much of a city gal, especially when I have to do the driving and the agonizing parking, so I just never got up the zeal to brave the crowds and check it out on my own. Enter in my new artsy-pal from my class last semester, Josie, who emailed me that she was thinking about going.  (By the way, you can link over to her fun blog site by clicking on her name.)  I thought it over… art, music, sparkly things, food, ART… I was in!!!  Hopped in the car, traffic wasn’t bad, free parking was everywhere… I was looking for the giant chicken foot to descend from the sky to wake me back into reality… But it was all good and soon after meeting up on the grounds, we were scoping out the tents.

This year the festival was situated on Mount Royal Ave., with free performances at The Lyric and by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.  Three sound stages scattered throughout the city featured musicians all weekend long like Brian McKnight, Clutch, Emma White, Easy Star All-Stars… just to name a few.

The Squonk Opera Roadshow entertaining the crowd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then there was the Squonk Opera Roadshow who brought their own custom built stage masterpiece to the streets!  I have to say, they were my favorite performers of the day.

Arts and craft exhibitors ranged from the stunningly beautiful to the shockingly bizarre.  On a trip I once took to San Francisco back in the 90’s, I thought I had seen it all… anyone who’s been there has to admit, there is some distinct zaniness going on in that town.  All I can say is that there must be some of the same juice floating in the water out this way, because we just had no idea what to expect at every turn!  I think we were pretty worn out after the 4th hour or so, but pressed on in sheer curiosity over what could possibly be around the next bend!  You gotta love the art-folk!  If you have never been to an art festival before, you may be in for some culture shock at Artscape, but you’ll be hooked on the mayhem and maybe even a little inspired!

 

Forty Years of Video Games

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Summertime blues and boredom have gotten me surfing the web for ideas on how in the world we can get out of this house and explore something new and exciting.  We live in this vibrant area – in one direction you have Washington, DC, then drive north and you run into Baltimore, Maryland!  I grew up in Virginia, and there are still places I haven’t seen in this metropolitan mecca.  So with a Saturday of rest under our belts, we decided to head to the museums in the city after church.  It was a late start, but it was a tad spontaneous — I mean, we did go home and change out of our ‘Sunday’s best’ after all — yet it still qualified as an adventure!

A classmate had mentioned that the Smithsonian Museum of American Art was showing “The Art of Video Games” exhibit through September.  It wasn’t a mind-numbing electronic device — no, no… it was a trip to the museum disguised as a video game!  This was perfect!  So the, “What? We have to go walk around in the heat to boring museums?” morphed into, “Cool!!!  Are we there yet?”  It was magical…  I was even a little excited about it myself.  One area of graphic art that I have been intrigued by is 3D gaming animation.  I was able to get some introduction to creating a 3-dimensional space in my last summer course, but I would like to delve deeper into that virtual arena… especially with its dynamic rate of innovation!  I feel like Marty McFly hanging onto the bumper of technology with sparks shooting out from under my skateboard!  Well, if you think that last reference dates me, take a look at where the genesis of video gaming began with me… That’s right, “Era 1″… bring on your “Pac Man”, the “Space Invaders” and “Break Out!”  Those were the days, alright… when the characters were subtle and the audio was muddled.  Fast forward thirty years, and I am watching my children flailing their arms about while bringing their Miis to life in a virtual game space.  I wonder what the next 30 years will bring… Will we be installing a Holodeck in our basement for our grandchildren?  Fortunately, we’re not there yet, so I have time to savvy myself up to speed with the young-un’s and to jump into this genre of illustration.

While the exhibit was a fun stride down memory lane, it was much smaller than we anticipated.  Three virtual stations were available to people who wanted to showcase their gaming skills in public, with a loOong line of hopeful players watching on.  There were probably three small rooms with video interviews sporadically mounted throughout the exhibit — none of which I was able to hear well with the crowds.  So the obvious lesson learned here was, don’t visit on the weekend unless absolutely necessary… and if it IS the only time you can go, try to get there when it first opens.  For the homeschoolers & parents of younger children:  WARNING… I will advise you to move along quickly past the huge hypnotic wall of multiple screens.  As I was standing there trying to snap a visually interesting photograph, I was dismayed by the images of a topless women at the hub of this digital display that appeared rather suddenly (and then lingered) in the looped video sequence.  I felt that was inappropriately projected considering the target audience for video games, but I will stay off my soapbox for the moment.  At the end of the day, I would not recommend heading into DC specifically to see this exhibit, which we found to be somewhat underwhelming.  We felt that the potential to show 40 years of technological gaming evolution was underachieved.  On the upside, the kids enjoyed seeing all the different displays of games and listening to narratives through the phone tours.  Additionally, there are other engaging exhibits in the museum, and blocks of attractions to enjoy all over the city.

I’m Just Warming Up…

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Michelle Fitzurka's Art

One of my better daily practice sketches.

Continuing my organizational mission in my studio, I found some charcoal sketches from a portraiture class I had enrolled in 10 years ago at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts — WOW, has it really been that long?!  At the time, I wasn’t really sure if I would be any good at drawing faces, but I wanted to give it a try.  As it turned out, I really loved this subject, and I realized that pencil sketching each day would open me up to clearer observations of the details and sharpen my skills little by little.  So now that I am gearing up for my Drawing class that begins in the Fall, I thought I would post a few of my favorites.   I decided to add a few of the smaller sketches that were a part of my daily practice routine, as well.  This is a conscious reminder that I need to get that drawing pad out again for my down times… Did I really write that?  I am a mother of 4, there are no downtimes!!!  So in Momspeak, that is to say that I need to carve some time into my quiet hours ~ which equates to the time that the children are in bed sleeping, and when I probably should be doing the same.  But who has time for sleep when there are creative conquests on the horizon!  These are the moments when you recognize that you are doing what you were created to do.  You are recharged with a second wind of passion that drives you into the wee hours of invigorating process until you reluctantly surrender to your pillow.  With a breath of fresh morning light your workscape beckons to you… ahh yes, THIS is my Fitztopia…

A quick sketch of Gandalf emerging out of my fascination
with “Lord of the Rings” when the first movie was released.

Exploring various exposures of light in the studio with charcoal.

In the Beginning…

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Cotton application of ink onto newsprint
was the method of shading used in this studio art project.

Now that I have finally made it to the end of this summer semester, it is time to return to my domestic responsibilities in full force.  Our garage is still stacked high with boxes from our recent move and my [somewhat] freshly painted studio is buried in the basement by bins filled with supplies begging to be organized.  Do you ever find yourself vowing to purge stored forgotten treasures only to become entranced by volumes of unboxed memories?  Well, as I meandered through this maze of sketch pads and easels, I came across my cardboard, poorly duct taped college art portfolio from a time that predates vector graphics – at least before they were commercialized to the general public.  Yes, I realize that maps my post secondary education on a timeline, but it also serves as a disclaimer for coloring outside of the lines in these projects… in the spirit of ‘We just didn’t know any better’… That was the season when “Def Leppard” played in the Ratskellar, Dana Carvey & Mike Myers were dabombdiggity on “Saturday Night Live” and cell phones looked more like walkie talkies… Good times, good times… So just for the fun of it, I thought I would post a few of my earlier projects that I unearthed in the process of declutterization… okay, who am I kidding… this is just a great excuse to get out of that mess downstairs!  Enjoy!…

An early ink graphic designed for my studio art class at the university.

This design was created with cut Canson paper.

The visual transformation of a sketch into an abstracted non-objective rendering.

The Whispering Sands of Kseniya Simonova

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Click on the photograph to visit Kseniya Simonova’s official website.
Photo taken in Yevpatoria, Sept. 2009.  Stringer/Russia.

I am always on the lookout for artists who are reaching out in some compelling way.  It is a hope of mine to somehow channel my own talents in this way, so I am inspired by the efforts of those who are already making a difference.  In the case of Kseniya Simonova, I was first drawn to her mesmerizing sand art creations when I was introduced to her work by a classmate’s blog.

At the age of 24 and a young mother, she became the winner of the first “Ukraine’s Got Talent” televised competition in July 2009.  (Click on the link to watch the YouTube video of this remarkable 8 minute live performance.)  Since then, she has become an online and international sensation.  Upon further research, I was delighted to find that her passion extends to so many outreaches!  The depth of her compassion emanates through her works instilled with messages of hope.  There is a purity in her expression that is so refreshing and so filled with Truth.  As an artistic enthusiast, there is something innately captivating about watching an artist completely immersed in their creative process.  This is particularly true in the case of Simonova’s seamless choreography of gestures throughout her quintessentially poignant compositions which she delivers with both grace and conviction, leaving the audience enraptured.