Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Green Man" Renders

     A few years ago, fascinated by the folkloric Green Man, I decided to model and render one of my own with 3D software. Friends to whom I'd shown the resulting images, both at that time and more recently, insisted these were of salable quality. So, I decided to make some improvements and a decorative addition, all with the aim of offering them in one or more forms of media via my soon-to-open (knock on wood) Zazzle shop. Below is a sample image (click to enlarge):

     The most notable change is the addition of decorative Celtic knot frames (a recently-acquired font made the process much faster and easier than it would have been otherwise). At first I worked in fits and starts, learning all the components and wondering just how challenging the design of a knotted frame would prove to be, but then quickly got into a flow. I'm very happy with how my frames look, especially as this was my first real attempt at the craft.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's a Great Silver Day

     For some days now I'd had an idea for my next blog post, but I was forced to put it on hold. This was mainly because I'd been unable to take a well-lit picture of my intended subject, an oak tree grown from an acorn I'd planted about 5 years ago. My problem? In part, a run of cloudy days.

     I accept gray weather as the price for the onset of autumn, but I still wrestle with the grogginess it induces, one that can slow, as it's doing now, the massive burst of creativity I annually leap into.
     This is not to say, as one might expect, that I am depressed by this sort of weather. Sure, I would at one time have called it dreary or depressing as readily as anyone, but I chose to change my approach some years ago, using a serendipitous, if a bit silly, source of inspiration (though I am proudly eccentric when it comes to these).

     In this case, I chose to take my cue from, of all things, an old series of TV ads for vitamins. The tag line was, “It's a great time to be Silver!”. Though it always seemed too clumsily obvious, in the way so many slogans are, I still liked the positive 'spin' of it – reframing the whole concept of aging, playing out scenes that shot holes in some of the myths associated with it.
     I could see the myth about gray days through the same lens. Instead of continuing to embrace the negative connotations of the phrase, the perceived gloominess and dullness associated with it, I'd begin to think in terms of silver days instead. Days of quiet and rest and recovery. A nice metaphor even came to my mind the other day: overcast weather is nature's way of giving a vacation to hard working plants.

     I would love to write more on the subject, but I'm afraid I can't. You see, it's a silver day and so I'm just too sleepy!  

Friday, September 24, 2010

Buck Dharma Had It Right

     I was born in the heart of October.

     If you were to look at my birth certificate, you'd note the date of July 16th, which would be correct. However, Mom's pregnancy was a fairly typical one, so the spark that would eventually give rise to the man I am today entered this world nine months before.

     I would argue that my passions and artistic leanings, even much of my mood and character, best fit that month resting amid the latest turning of seasons, at least as it manifests in this part of the country. When I was a child, I loved sledding and building snowmen as much as any other, and I've always treasured the months of nature's renewal and growth. Still, as I entered adulthood, I began to feel myself increasingly entranced by the unique character of October.

     What do I love so much about this month, once again nearly upon me? First and foremost, it's the colors. Sight has always been the dominant sense for me, driving my creative impulses, at times even overwhelming me. Such being the case, October is very much a feast for my eyes. Browns, golds, russets, deep rich reds, all so wonderfully warm and spicy and comforting. Blues and purples soften in their company, and even the lingering leafy greens seem to take on the gentle spark of the waning sun.
     Then there are the scents: the delicate tang of fallen leaves, the mouth-watering fragrance of apple cider and pumpkin pie, a hint of smoke from fireplaces reawakened. They all mingle to form a satisfying stew for my spirit.
     Finally there is that to which I might apply the blanket term 'essence'. I'm speaking of the way I feel when a gust of air rattles the last few stubbornly clothed oaks, making them sing; the glow of a fading day, seeming to encompass me in a warm velvety blanket; the subtle flicker of a candle's flame tucked within a jack-o-lantern. Whatever this thing is, it is the source of the wistful yet heartened feeling I get only during that precious span of autumn days (sometimes a few will stray into November, to my continued delight and stubborn recognition - "Today feels more like Halloween!").

     By now, some of you may wonder at my choice of title. It was deliberate, as I am fortunate that, due to the kindness of a friend, I know of a song that conveys my sentiments quite well, if perhaps too briefly.
     Four years ago, I was conversing with this friend about the subjects of October and the old rock band Blue Öyster Cult, as he had long been a big fan of the latter. We went over some of their tunes, and I mentioned that “Don't Fear the Reaper” (for those who don't know, a Halloween staple) and “Burnin' For You” were my seasonal favorites, along with other songs of various genres. Having kept up with the band's more recent work, he asked me if I'd ever heard one in particular, a song he said was widely regarded as one of BÖC's best. I agreed to give it a listen, and instantly and completely fell in love with it.
     The name of the song is “Harvest Moon”. It is cleverly constructed, a complete, haunting story told in the space of forty verses. What really makes it special for me, though, is that vocalist Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser conveys emotion quite deeply and movingly, and at just the right points in the song. This is something I came to see was missing from those older songs I'd liked.
     The chorus will, when my mood is right, make my hair stand on end, even evoke a tear or two:

“When the wind turns
“And blows the leaves from the trees

“I see the days grow shorter
“I feel the nights grow cold
“Young people feelin' restless
“Old people feelin' old
“I sense the darkness clearer
“I feel a presence here
“A change in the weather
“I love this time of year”

     When I listen to this song, I really do believe that Mr. Roeser shares my heartfelt feelings about the season of golden leaves and light. I most certainly do love this time of year, more than I can ever fully express.