I have stumbled over a couple terrific art boards lately and have begun gathering up portraits of women as a result.
Many of the women on my Painted Ladies pinboard may be familiar to you–a lot of them are celebrity paintings by celebrity painters. Others, though, are newer or more obscure.
It has been fascinating collecting these, and what I’ve realized is that there’s a real difference between a photographic portrait–even if it’s fanciful–and something painted from scratch. The element of imagination is different: the painter imbues their subject with personality in a way that seems less about capturing reality and more about creating or amplifying it.
(From this you can tell I am not versed at all in art criticism.)
What was most exciting, though, was to stumble over Kneeling Girl, by Thomas Saliot. This is as perfect a picture of the protagonist of my next novel, a woman named Sophie Opal Hansa, as I could ever have wished to discover.
Today’s moving-related discovery: Revenue Canada will let us write off a ton of our moving expenses this year.
Back around the same time digital photography was beginning to dawn, my grandfather sent Kelly his old SLR 35-mm camera. It was in perfect condition and took beautiful pictures, and she spent a lot of time roaming around Vancouver making very cool black and white images.
A lot of them were of me, and this was entirely to my benefit. Before Grandpa’s Camera, I was awkward before the lens and hated almost every image taken of me. While K was learning to take better pictures, I invested some time and attention both in becoming a better subject and in appreciating a wider range of me-pictures. Here’s a random portrait:
Now, as more than one of you probably knows, I’m obnoxious on this topic–I did it, and I liked the result, so in the typical way of humans I can easily be led into preaching about how everyone else should do the same.
(But really! You should! Because people take more pictures than ever of you. And they put them on the Internet without asking. And this is the age of the selfie! And other reasons as well!)
I brought home books from the library. Hundreds and hundreds of books on photography for K to read. Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson and history of this and collections of that. And while I didn’t absorb more than a minute fraction of the content, I looked at all the pictures. Knowledge soaked in: I can tell a good photo from a bad one now, even if I can’t always articulate why. And I loooove good pictures.
That was 1997ish. Dad was alive (we obliged him to build a darkroom in our bathroom and our cat Obi clawed the living crap out of his hand by way of thanks) and I had just started writing fulltime. In 2001 I was toting a Polaroid around, because by then I’d found that, occasionally, I wanted a picture of something for writing purposes. It suited me to have the picture that very second, dammit, so I could write down why I thought it was important.
This didn’t work out so well, so in 2003, I bought my first digital. I’ve taken well over 15,000 images since then, with four different cameras. The further back you go in time on my Flickr account, the less impressive they are.
So, with that long wind-up, I offer you my photo pinboard. This is for pictures by other photographers, images I think are wonderful, interspersed with the occasional infographic on technique.
One of the things I do as part of my teaching practice is keep an eye on links about writing and, when they seem right for a given class, post them in my classroom at UCLA. What I’ve taken to doing as of this quarter is pinning the links on a single board called, not surprisingly, Writing. This way all of my classes can access all of the links, new and old, that I’ve posted.
As I’ve begun to do this, I’ve realized that posts without graphics (the text-heavy stuff we writers naturally tend to favor) don’t pin well. I was always aware that essays with at least a few pictures were more readable–giving the eyes a break, yadda yadda–but there’s this extra element of ‘need a picture’ now that is part of the reason you’re seeing all these little meme-y things and screengrabs popping up on my site.
Visuals aside, this board has some great writing essays on it. Go, read, enjoy!
I am trying to increase the functionality of my web site’s “Shop Planetalyx” page. Upgrade here would mean any improvement from the site’s previous state of “not all that useful, thanks very much.” So I’m updating the links to the various versions of my books and e-books, and also seeing which of my various short stories are still available for free online.
There are three of my “Proxy War” stories, for example. The Sweet Spot is the most recent to appear and yet the earliest, in chronological terms, of the squid stories. In it, a teenaged girl named Ruthie Gerrickle and her brother Matt try to survive the Battle of Kauai. Five Good Things about Meghan Sheedy falls quite a bit later. This time the fight is the Siege of Seattle. It’s one of two published by Strange Horizons. The third, of course, is “The Town on Blighted Sea.” The girl who was Ruthie has long since become Ruthless, but the war is over. Her side did not win. But life, strangely enough, goes on.
You may have also noticed I have figured out how to generate Pinterest memes. This may or may not be a phase I’m going through.
My Been There board on Pinterest is exactly what you’d expect: a bunch of images of places, be they museums, countries, parks or landmarks that I have actually seen with my own eyes.