Documentary Photography at the beginning

Dorothea Lange is known for her compassionate and thought provoking photographs of people. She is best known for her documentary style photographs of extremely poor people during the Depression. She was able to capture their stories and feelings in a single back and white photograph. She was one of the pioneers of this documentary style of photography.

Penniless family, 1936, shows a family traveling between Dallas and Austin, Texas. These people left their home and all of their connections in order to possibly find work somewhere else. They have little food and their car has broken down. Dorothea Lange is able to capture this entire story through one picture. She shows this family all alone in an open field. They are all looking past Lange to something on the horizon, in the direction of their home. These people look like they still have a little hope left. The man repairing the car shows that they are resourceful and hard working. The parents will do what needs to be done for their family. This is a classic Dorothea Lange photo where it documents the rural poor’s lives during the Depression. The reason that I like Lange’s photographs so much is that they tell a story. They also tell the truth. Lange is able to look at a situation and know exactly how to photograph it to show what is happening and how the people feel. She always focuses the photograph where the people’s faces are. The rest of the photograph is out of focus. I can’t think of anything that I would do differently.

Migrant Mother, 1936, shows a destitute rural family living in tent in migrant camp. This is a mother of several children. Like the first photograph that I chose, this one also has a small depth of field. Lange chose to focus on this mother’s face and capture to desperate look. This woman is not looking at the photographer. She is staring off at something past the photographer in a pose that looks like she is deep in thought. The children look tired. This photograph is also framed in a way that is reminiscent of paintings of Mary and baby Jesus. We can see that this woman is a good mother because the children are wrapped around her. Like all of Lange’s photographs, this one tells the whole story of this woman and her family. Again I can’t think of anything that I would have done differently. Dorothea Lange’s photographs had a very big impact on society of that time. They were able to quickly show the country what was happening in the Dust Bowl and how dire the situation really was.


“No, you turn”

Here’s my random thought for the day. I’m from the South where people on the road generally will wave you on in front of them even if it’s not your turn: people are just like that. Frankly it got on my nerves a bit. Sometimes I would get stuck behind someone who would wave several cars ahead while I was stuck behind… Anyway, the point of this short story is this, when my husband and I moved to the North we saw a different kind of No U Turn sign. The one above was the one that we were used to, the one below was the one that was new to us. I immediately read it out loud accenting it a little differently than it was intended to be. Instead on “No U turn” I said “No, YOU turn” while waving my hand. My husband and I still laugh when we see one of the No, You Turn signs. Well, now you know.

Iain Heath created these Lego models as a tribute to master animator and storyteller Hayao Miyazaki. If you are a Miyazaki fan, you will recognize the characters & movies:

Totoro Satsuki and Mei legos by Ochre Jelly

My Neighbor Totoro

Arietty in legos by Ochre Jelly

The Secret World of Arrietty

Ponyo chase scene in legos by Ochre Jelly


Spirited Away in legos by Ochre Jelly

Spirited Away

Castle in the Sky legos by Ochre Jelly

Castle in the Sky

Kiki's Delivery Service in legos by Ochre Jelly

Kiki’s Delivery Service

See many more of his amazing Lego creations (including more Miyazaki) on Flickr and on his blog, The Living Brick.

My Neighbor Totoro is one of my all time favorite movies. I wrote about a funny Totoro craft a long time ago here, and if you’re looking for a wide range of Totoro crafts, try Craftster.

Happy weekend to you!

All images: Iain Heath/Ochre Jelly

View original post

A Poem Without Words: Black and White Art

My amazing sister sketched all of these from her imagination. One day I hope to be like her and come up with beautiful art from my mind. I, on the other hand, still have to look at a photograph or something from real life to make art.

God and Art: My spiritual journey to art school

This blog is much more personal than the stuff that I usually write. I’ve been meaning to write it for awhile now. So here it goes.

Art, for me, has been as much of a spiritual journey as it has been an exploration in my talents. In the past I have found it difficult to tell my short life story to others because it felt like a failure. The story of my adult life consisted of art school for two years, being a missionary in Micronesia for a year, nursing school for two years, working as a nurse for a year and a half, moving to another state for my husband’s school, and finally ending up back in art school. I was searching for God’s purpose in my life. As a Christian, I desperately wanted to serve God in all that I did, including my career.

One day I started telling my story to a bunch of professors and realized that it didn’t bother me anymore. I was not hit by an overwhelming sense of failure by quitting my last career of nursing. I did not fail at nursing, but that act of walking away from a lucrative profession into the unknown felt like failure to me.

It was in that darkness that I found who I am. I was not able to accept the fact that I was an artist until I had gone out in the world and tried nearly everything else. A professor told me today that God would not have given me artistic talent and then ask me to leave it to serve God in a way that everyone else does. God gives talents to people and expects those people to use them. This professor told me that that is where my faith comes in. I need to have faith that God can use the talents that he gave me and give God time to work in my life with those talents. Twice I walked away from these talents because I didn’t understand them, I didn’t see how God could work in my life with art.

I’d just like to tell you, if you are struggling with God’s calling for your life. Take time to figure it out and pray about it. Don’t rush into a profession (nursing for me) just because you don’t know how God can use your talents or passions. Trust that God made you passionate about something for a reason or that God gave you talent for a reason.

The Dangers of Drinking Coffee and Painting

Once upon a time…

…a painter was inspired to paint an amazing sky with billowy clouds. However it was early and the howls and shrieks of her husband’s banshee alarm did not fully wake her up. So she made a cup of fresh roasted Folgers and went to work on the canvas. (Has anyone else noticed that while Folgers and Maxwell House are similarly priced, the former tastes like fresh roasted heaven and the later is a combination of bark and dirt clods?)

You guessed it, there was a slight mix up in my glasses.

The moral of this short story is: be fully awake when you paint, or don’t use similarly sized objects to hold your yummy wake-up juice and your blue poison water.

If you love Firefly you will love this new space adventure story!

Here’s an excerpt from an amazing new novel that has not been published yet. If you liked the show Firefly you will love this new space adventure. It follows several characters, including the three in this section. Enjoy! And let me know if you would like to read more. Also, I created this book cover.

The beginning…

Karina Delany

Karina was already more than halfway through her shift at Anderson’s Restaurant when she heard the all too frequent sirens coming from outside. She watched through the front windows as several police and rescue ships shot down the street with lights flashing and sirens blaring.

“Please no,” Karina whispered to herself, but she could already hear her dislodged earphone buzzing. She pushed the tiny phone back into place and answered it as she dodged her way back to the kitchens.

“This is Karina Delany,” She tossed her order tablet on the counter and kicked off her fancy shoes.

“Your services are required at Kingsley Station, Gate 5,” the voice informed Karina as she thrust her arms into her jacket. Gate 5; it was one of the interplanetary ferry docks. If it was possible, Karina began moving even faster. If a ferry core breached, it would disintegrate everything in a mile radius; and that was only if it didn’t cause a chain reaction with any other ships.

“I’ve got to go, Cook, there’s been an accident at the docks.” Karina strapped on her boots and gloves, turning just in time to catch the keys that Cook tossed her way.

“Take the bike and bring yourself back in one piece,” Cook called after her retreating figure. “It’s murder to train in new waitresses this time of year.” The comment was made in good humor. Karina knew that he was just worried. Ever since her parent’s deaths, Cook and his wife had taken Karina under their wing.

Karina leapt astride Cook’s speed bike in the back alley. It began hovering the second that she turned the key, and she kicked it into gear. She pulled her sunglasses over her eyes and followed the sirens through the city streets. When she arrived at the docks, she knew that things were bad. Hologram caution tape was surrounding the building and security teams were busy evacuating thousands of panicked people. Karina flashed her badge at the security team and was waved through the barrier. She drove straight through one of the docking bays and raced down the emptying halls towards Gate 5. Billowing black smoke was wafting out the back hatch of a ferry ship and the rescue team was already fencing off the area with blast shield generators, leaving a gateway for the firefighters who rushed through a thick cloud of smoke and into the crashed ferry.

Karina jumped off of the bike before she even came to a complete stop. She located the man in charge of the rescue teams and headed his way. “I’m Karina Delany, the demolition’s expert,” She flashed her credentials. “What’s the emergency?”

The man couldn’t help but sigh in relief, “Lyle Weston, glad you’re here. We got a report that the ferry’s core breached. We haven’t gotten close enough to evaluate the damage yet.”

“How many ships are still inside?”

“Too many; at least a dozen,” Lyle spoke with experience and authority. He knew the worst case scenario. Those ships’ cores would only add to the explosion.

Karina nodded as she replaced her coat and sunglasses for a protective radiation vest and oxygen mask that one of the rescue workers offered her.

“Team Bravo will take you through the fire, but disarming the core will be up to you.”

Karina’s hesitated for a second. Team Bravo was Sam’s team. Samuel Reece: the tall, strong and witty, firefighter with the ice blond hair and warm, sapphire eyes. He was also Karina’s boyfriend of three months. She knew that she never should have started dating a firefighter. Sure, Sam claimed that it was a big city, there was no way that they would ever be forced to work on the same disaster. It was too late to do anything about it now, though. They both had work to do.

“Stay in contact over your earpiece.” Lyle Weston continued as he waved Sam’s firefighters over.

“I will,” Karina tucked the phone into her ear before she strapped an oxygen mask over her face and grabbed armful of blast shield generators. “I’ll secure the core and disarm it if I can.” She knew that the blast shields in her arms would only dampen the explosion, not stop it entirely. Even if she got the shield up, everyone would still be in danger.

“Good luck.”

Karina nodded her greeting to Sam before following him and his firefighters into the ship. Other than that brief greeting, they said nothing. If they survived, they could discuss the entire event in excruciating detail.

The smoke was disorienting as Karina followed Sam’s team through the debris. She could only see vague outlines of people and ships. She was glad that Sam knew where he was going. He and his firefighters cleared a path through the fire and ruble while the other teams cleared out the smaller ships. Karina had never seen Sam on a job before. She was impressed by how he handled the situation and directed his firefighters without letting fear or emotion cloud his judgment.

They finally passed the worst of the flames and Sam pointed Karina down a corridor. “The core is in the engine room at the far end. There is no fire there. Just be careful,” Sam called after her as she followed his directions and ran deeper into the ferry. He stayed with his men to battle the blaze and clear out the smaller ships. She knew that he wanted to go with her, but he had his own job to do.

As she neared the end of the hall, Karina noticed that the smoke was clearing up. As Sam had said, the fire seemed to be contained in the cargo bay. Karina was relieved. It would be far easier to do her job if she wasn’t blinded by a cloud of smoke. She set down the blast shield generators in order to pull open the heavy metal blast door. Inside was the blue-white glow from the core that was nearly blinding after spending several minutes in the black smoke cloud. The entire floor was covered in an icy blue cloud that hovered and swirled across the floor of the engine room. Karina didn’t even have to enter the room to evaluate the situation. Hundreds of lights were flashing red on the control panel and the alarms were deafening.

“It’s bad,” Karina spoke into her earpiece. Her voice was muffled by the oxygen mask, but she knew that Lyle Weston could hear and understand. “There’s a coolant leak, and the core is reaching critical heat levels.”

“How much time do we have,” Weston asked.

Karina grabbed the blast shield generators even as she answered. “Less than a minute. Evacuate the docks and get to a safe distance. There’s no way that I can power down the core in time, but I might be able to get the shields up.”

The second that Karina stepped into the engine room, ice began to form on her boots from the swirling cloud of coolant at her feet. Karina began deploying the shield generators in a circle around the engine room. As each generator powered up, a transparent green wall connected them. Karina was almost done with the blast shields when the engine room alarms started screeching their warnings.

“Get out of there, Karina!” Sam ordered her over the earpiece, panic evident in his voice. “Everyone’s clear, the ships are secure, get out of there!”

Karina slapped down the last shield generator and ran for the door as the green dome took shape around and over the breached core. She closed and locked the engine room’s blast door, hoping that six inches of solid iron would help contain the blast, than she ran down the hallway towards the exit. She could still see next to nothing in the smoke, and hoped that she was running in a straight line. If not, she wouldn’t have another chance.

She was almost out of the ship when she felt it. The floor lurched under her feet and a shockwave launched her the remaining distance to the door. She crashed into the metal floor, curling up into a ball as a wave of fire shot overhead. She hadn’t run fast enough. As her vision faded into blackness, Karina knew that she was dying. “Sam… I’m sorry…”

Jason Mirror

On the outskirts of Crystal City, resting on the cliffs of the Eastern Sea, lay the Marshal Academy surrounded by rolling green hills covered in running tracks, obstacle courses, and shooting ranges. The glass walls of the men’s dorm reflected the light of the setting sun over the ocean and Jason Mirror had to shield his eyes from the dying rays as he made his way past the glass wall and into his room.

The dorms were small, but Jason was at least lucky enough to have his own room now. He yawned and stretched. After a hard day of excessive drills on hand to hand combat and swimming drills, Jason was ready to crash. He was just about ready to collapse on his bed when his earphone rang.

He froze as the adrenaline surged through his veins. He was suddenly wide awake again. He tucked the phone into his ear. “This is Jason.”

“They found out,” A mysterious man’s voice spoke over the phone breathless and frantic. “I don’t know how they knew, but they are coming after you. You never should have taken that deal, Jason. It was a trap. I told you—no! They’re here, they must have tapped the phone! Get out of there!”

Jason pulled the earphone out of his ear and crushed it under his heal before he rushed over to his closet. He pulled an already packed duffle bag from the back of the closet and tossed it into the center of the room. He then reached through the panels in the ceiling and pulled out a gun harness that he strapped on under his leather coat. He pulled a waterproofed envelope out of a slit in his mattress and checked inside for a new passport and other identification cards before he tucked the envelope inside his jacket.

Within seconds, Jason was prepared to leave, to go back into hiding. He tossed duffle bag over his shoulder and strode towards the door. Just as he reached for the handle, the door swung open and Joseph Tucker marched in. Now was not the time for a surprise inspection. Jason stood frozen on the spot as Joe took in the general disarray of the room, from the crushed earphone to the bag on Jason’s back.

“It’s after curfew, recruit. Where do you think that you’re going?” Joe became irritated when Jason remained silent. “Answer me recruit!”

“Sorry, Joe,” Jason replied in an emotionless tone as he drew the gun from the holster under his jacket. “You leave me no choice.”

“Whoa, Jason what are you doing?!” Joe demanded with his hands in the air.

“My job.”

Jason could already hear the infiltration team running down the hall. Time was running short. He ran.

Riley Evens

It was a good day. There was a pleasant breeze wafting up from the city streets below and the sky was finally clear after weeks of rain; though Riley couldn’t see many stars because of the glow of the city lights. There were worse things, though, than not being able to see the stars; like being able to see the half dozen laser guns pointed between his eyes.

Riley Evens stepped back onto the ledge of the building with his hands in the air. He glanced over his shoulder at the hundred story drop behind his heal. Hundreds of ships crisscrossed through the open air below, each following an invisible route through the chaos. He gulped and turned back to the police officers, “You sure that we can’t talk about this?”

“Riley Evens, you are under arrest for the murder of Jason Mirror, grand larceny, evading arrest, reckless endangerment, and armed assault on an officer of the law.”

Riley inched back towards the ledge again when one of the officers stepped forwards. That ledge and his threat of killing himself was the only thing that kept the officers from approaching him. They would not come any closer so long as there was a chance that he would jump. Police ethics would not allow them to kill a suspect if there was another option. So, for now, it was a standoff.

“If you’re talking about this,” Riley held up a small pouch of diamonds, “They were a gift from Richard Fox; the head of the Legion Cartel. He was going to buy a shipment of enhanced military-grade machine rifles, but I made him a better offer. You see, he already has enough illegal weapons to outfit an army, but he only has one life. I asked him which was more important to him and he gave me these diamonds as a gift for showing him the error of his ways. I doubt that he will be pressing charges.”

“Step off that ledge and we’ll talk about it,” The officer in charge said calmly.

Riley smiled, “I would love to. We could grab a latte, talk about the good old days; me running for my life, you chasing me; but then you would have to arrest me, and that would be a downer. Maybe some other time?”

“Don’t do anything stupid—”

Riley didn’t hear anything else beyond the rushing wind past his ears as he stepped off of the building. The window lights shot past his eyes, the ships raced by, and his own heart was hammering in his chest as he plummeted towards the ground below. The timing had to be precise. He had to be below the last ship path before releasing the dead man’s switch in his hand. It would release his parachute, and if his timing was off in the slightest, he would either meet a windshield, or the cement. Either way, he wouldn’t be around to try again.

Riley felt the extreme deceleration only moments before his feet hit the ground. He slipped out of the harness and left the parachute billowing on the ground as he ran. He could already hear the police ships and he could even see the flashing lights over his shoulder. He collided with a bystander, but Riley managed to stay on his feet as he rushed into an alleyway. He dropped through a metal grate behind a dumpster and raced through the storm drain below the city. There was no sign of pursuit.