Hoorrayyy!!!!

Alright ladies and gentlefigs, this blogger now officially has a most splendid job to occupy her summer. Though it is only eight weeks of work, I cannot begin to express how excited I am to have work that is within my field and at an institution that has an excellent reputation. I am going to be acting as the Scenic Charge Artist for a summer arts camp out in Michigan. Basically, I could not have asked for a better fit. Not only do I get to be in a supervisory/management position that will further my experience within my field, but I also get the chance to work with passionate students who are spending their summer making awesome theatre. What exactly is a charge artist? Well, the title basically encompasses anything that has to do with any/all paintwork within a theatrical production/s.

In a theatrical production, there is usually a scenic designer (*please note that in a great number of situations, the designer can also act as charge artist, but we are going with an ideal template here), and the scenic designer imagines the physical world of the show (i.e. anything not costumes, lighting, or props. Again, people often cross-pollinate in the design world). They take their imaginings and create drawings based on a series of understood specifications so that the people responsible for actually making their ideas a reality (known as the production team) can firmly grasp the ideas of the designer in order to properly execute them onstage. For the charge artist, this means looking at a series of artworks called paint elevations, which are small paintings that are proportionate renderings of what the designer wishes the final paint treatments to look like onstage. From these elevations, along with extensive questioning of the designer, the charge artist must translate that small picture to full scale scenery for the stage. The charge artist must consider everything from ordering supplies, to mixing colors that perfectly match the elevation, to scheduling out when every piece will get painted based on the schedule of the carpenters actually building the scenery, to the actual techniques needed to accomplish the paint treatments. Mainly, a charge artist is an interpreter. An elevation is not just something that one can copy line for line and expect the desired result. One has to really listen to the designer, and determine how best to communicate that designers vision through the paintwork presented on stage.

My previous job was certainly not terrible, but part of the reason I did not return for another season was because my heart truly lies with painting and design for the theatre. Eventually, I want to be a full fledged scenic designer, and starting out working in charge artist positions is certainly an excellent way to begin laying the foundations for that castle. The Park allowed for painting opportunities, but not on a consistent enough basis to truly bring me joy. With this summer job, I get the chance to challenge myself within my work because it will be my first time acting as a titled supervisor within my desired job title. Such a chance is truly a gift, and on top of that the camp sounds like a really excellent atmosphere that encourages actually having fun in the process of making theatre. Not to say that the schedule won’t be rigorous, and the quality expectation is quite high. However, I am ready to meet that schedule and expectation, and I only pray that I can be a valuable asset to this team of wonderful artists. And plus I GET TO GO PLAY IN A GLORIOUSLY PRETTY PART OF MICHIGAN!!!

Two Happy (if unrelated) Things

Two things are currently making me really happy and considerate of that happiness. The first is space. I am extremely responsive to the space around me, and I am amazed at how easily I forget that fact. Like eating well, I definitely notice a significant mood change when I am operating in an organized space. The room that I live in currently was basically an utter disaster since my arrival. To be fair, I have not exactly been around much to fix that problem. However, I always felt anxious and disoriented when I stayed in this room, but yet this room is the most logical place for me to get the “alone time” I crave. Why so anxious and disoriented? Obviously, the fact that the room was a tiny disaster where I could barely move two feet without risking injury. Even knowing this, I still let the situation escalate. Finally, a rapid whirlwind of energy seized me from my stupor, and I restructured the space with a ferocity akin to a wild bird creating her nest. Despite knowing how a clean space would affect me, I am still stunned. I am soothed, tranquil and warm as a fresh cup of tea. I see the gorgeous new yarn and new painting I acquired, on a dresser that is only covered in things I wish to be displayed (rather than random bric-a-brac diminishing the fine surface). The floor is open, and the space can actually thrum with my energy as opposed to getting splintered and caught on all the crap I let build up.

The second thing is horses (grammar nazis, I am aware those subjects do not agree, please put the mental red pens away). I am in the unique situation of having an occasional opportunity to help ¬†tend some horses. A woman in my father’s church, we shall dub her Epona, has multiple Thoroughbreds that she and her family board at a nearby stable. Seeing as how they do all the work themselves, Epona’s normal crew (namely her, her husband and daughters) are sometimes unable to make it to the farm every day. Thus, I am on call in case of such an occurrence. I love horses. Before I pursued the arts, I was fervently in love with riding and anything that had to do with taking care of such creatures. I dreamed of horses in waking hours, and rode them through the night in my dreams. A certain event caused me to voluntarily end my riding career, but over the years I have sorely missed being around the animals. Being in a barn, and grooming Epona’s fine (if somewhat feisty) steeds gives me a glow that absolutely consumes the whole of my torso. I don’t know if I could adequately communicate this deep passion for horses, but suffice it to say it is not something that went away just because I quit riding. The situation is further enhanced by the fact that Epona is a lovely woman who enjoys good conversation while the work commences. Being in a barn among good equine and human company is not a joy I expected to discover here in New Jersey, but the Lord’s surprises are endless.

Often on this blog, I talk about the simple things that bring me joy. I mean, there are definitely larger events that I have discuss that certainly bring great excitement to my life, but I find a deep pleasure in the the things that I find consistently allow a smile in my heart. My fair Reader, my life is definitely not always beautiful. Often times it is fairly mundane,downright frustrating, and, sometimes, deeply troubling to me. I rarely share the details of that reality, unless in a glancing manner that helps me further emphasize my brighter point. The reason is not to hide from those facts. My reason is because I refuse to use this venue for the spreading of things that threaten to poison our world. There are deeply troubling things about being in existence, especially as a creature that has the capacity to understand such deeper cruelties. However, those cruelties are slammed into our awareness every day, and not with an intention of keeping the public awake and enlightened. My intention is not to pretend such things do not exist. My intention is to maintain that there is beauty, happiness, and fullness to be had in this world. In order to do that, I choose to write about the things that are examples of that fullness. Writing for that purpose not only allows me to chronicle what is actually important in my life, but also to keep tenuously pieced together my general sanity in the midst of this extremely broken world in which I live. I use this place to remember, and I choose to remember that which is Light.

Outakes (birthday goodness)

So what does one do with a rainy day birthday? Well….

First, one should enjoy at least one fun purchase in honor of the day.

This piece is called Cossette, painted by the amazing Amy Brown

This piece is called Cossette, painted by the amazing Amy Brown

Amy Brown is probably one of my favorite faerie artists ever, so I make it a point to purchase her work whenever I can. I got this from her Etsy shop, and I must have at least a couple dozen others in my favorites. Truly, her work brings me an insane amount of joy.

Secondly, eat an absolutely fantastic cake.

Yes, it's real

Yes, it’s real

My daddy made me a most scrumptious double-layer chocolate cake that most certainly tastes a thousand percent better than it looks (which is a feat because it looks utterly perfect)!

Finally, finish a piece that actually makes you proud to say it’s yours.

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I painted this from a picture that I took in the Smokies (you can actually view the photo in an earlier post on this blog). I am extremely pleased with how well it finished, and most happy that I could claim its completion on this weekend. Mayhaps a not terribly eventful birthday, but turned out to be a very productive day none the less :).

An Excellent Birthday Gift


Fantasia

When I saw the posters advertising this concert at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, I just about squealed in utter delight. Imagine how much I freaked out when my sister agreed to purchase tickets for myself and a guest as an early birthday gift (hint: a certain dog in the house may have left the room with a slight whine). I am a huge fan of the original Fantasia as well as the more modern Fantasia 2000. The original was a god-send to my parents because it was the best way to keep me occupied for a solid two hours as a toddler, and the more recent piece had me just as spellbound as an older kid. I can’t tell you the overwhelming excitement that came over me at the thought of being able to view the animation as it was originally intended by Walt Disney and Leopold Stokowski, with a live orchestra. I was accompanied by the ever excellent Handsome, as well as Wonder Woman and her mother (they had purchased tickets for the same day), and we all had an incredible time.

Rather than go through the whole concert, I’m going to hit my personal highlights, surprises, and slight sadness. First, I must tell you that the concert was not what I expected. I originally expected to watch the entire original movie with the orchestra accompanying the whole piece. Instead, the concert was a group of selections from both movies, and some works that did not make it into either. I found this format to be quite engaging because I did not get lulled into the rhythm of the familiar movies, and I got to see my two favorite pieces from Fantasia 2000. Let’s start with two pieces that were NOT selected that I rather missed.

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Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky is probably the most epic piece in the original film. Although I loved Rite of Spring (yes the dinosaur one) as a kid, Bald Mountain is the piece that I grew to most appreciate as an adult. The piece is a terrifying vision of satanic rites on All Hallows Eve, but all that riotous horror is dispersed by the simple sound of a church bell. I really wish that this had been chosen, because it is an incredible piece of music. However, I understand that with so many children at this event, the creators of the concert were probably concerned about reminding everyone that they ever animated such a lengthy piece starring Satan and some very well-endowed harpies.

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Now this was the piece that I was most confused by its absence. Dance of the Hours by Amilcare Ponchielli is a deliciously whimsical ballet with some of the animal kingdom’s finest as the dancers. True the piece is a little long, but there is certainly plenty of activity to keep one engaged. Alas, I was slightly miffed by its absence, but that miffedness was more than made up by two of my favorite pieces making it into the concert.

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Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin probably wins the award for the most complex piece of the concert. Not that I am a musician by any stretch, but watching this work in action made me feel like I had run a marathon by the end of the song. The piece is characterized by an energetic style that is a mixture of piano solo and orchestra. The pianist that played at this concert was completely incredible and barely missed any of the cues that went in time with the animation. I happen to love the style of the animation, and I have used it multiple times as inspiration in my own work.

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As Night on Bald Mountain was the most epic piece in the original film, so I think Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird claims that for the later film (in my humble opinion of course…some people argue the flying whales). Stravinsky was apparently the only living composer whose work was chosen in the original Fantasia (remember the dinosaurs we talked about earlier?), and thus when the animators were working on the recent incarnation, they wanted to pay him tribute. This piece was truly enhanced by the live orchestra. The whole theatre jumped when the Firebird first opens his eyes, and I definitely cried in the final sequence when the sprite regains her power and showers the land in Spring. My chest hurt from how beautifully the music entwined itself into the animation, and I could not be more pleased that I was there to engage with that art.

Although those two were my favorite, there were a few pieces that surprised me. I am only going to discuss one here, because I think you may share in my enjoyment.

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This piece was originally made to feature in the original film, but was cut for time management reasons. The animation is set to the piece Clair de lune by Claude Debussy, and it was a simple look at the moon on the water, and herons (technically egrets) in flight. Although very little action occurs in this piece, I was enthralled by the water distorting the moon’s reflection, as well as the haunting atmosphere of the marsh with the two heron going about their business. I was strongly reminded of Florida, and I could only smile as I watched the bird dance through the water, and glide through the moon’s deep shadows. The whole concert was a fabulous experience that I will always treasure, because I was allowed to be 5 years old again. Just allowed to wonder at the amazing world that could play itself into a picture, and take me away.

Dinosaurs are awesome!!

Dinosaurs are awesome!!

Outakes ( A Most Magical Garden Indeed)

I went to an incredible place today. On South Street in Philadelphia, there is a garden where a single artist decided to turn a small plot into the interior of his of his mind. Welcome to the Glass Garden.

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Wandering through this maze of recycled wonder, I felt so strongly a child that I almost skipped. Tis the same feeling I get when I am immersed in a really good book. I become so consumed by the artist’s world, I quite forget there is any other.

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This place is not that big, but I felt absolutely bite- size in the midst of so much raw love. Imagine someone happily allowing you to wander inside his mind for however long you liked. Absolutely overwhelming as it is glorious.

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A garden unlike anything I could have dreamed, and yet had the air of being peeled right from my own imagination. An exquisite place to pause in wonder at what one human can accomplish. If this is not on your bucket list, it should be. I leave you now with the artist’s words…

I use art as a spider web, to trap people and change how they look, feel, dream.” Isaiah Zagar

Assurance

Caught in between hope and realistic understanding of the fickleness of the job hunt, I am in a place of growth. Two things happened that catalyzed this process:

1. Person I have not seen a long time remarked that I appeared to “have hit a rough patch.” Please note that this person was interviewing me for a potential job, but mainly I recognize her as a friend and mentor. Having her notice such a thing from a single interview was startling.

2. Person who I know and love very deeply (who spends a great deal of time with me) gently commented that I was becoming a lot more anxious in inappropriate situations to mask my larger anxiety over unemployment. You ever hear that dark-cornered voice in your own mind come screaming through another person’s courageous honesty? If not, it’s terrifying as much as it is a relief.

So, two people, completely unrelated and not in cahoots with each other both prod me to the truth. The truth? I have allowed my unemployment to cause me to doubt myself and my capability of accomplishing what I know I need to do. I am a driven person. The Lord has burned in me a strong energy and passion for what I do, and I have rarely doubted my own ability to accomplish anything set in front of me. However, I have also rarely been denied anything that I wanted. I know that I was qualified to receive the opportunities I pursued, but that does not change the fact that I am not used to being thwarted. So caught up in the continual flow was I, that I did not even realize that I was using that flow to affirm my abilities rather than fully believing in myself. With that said, I now think I know why many of the interviews have not turned an offer. Aside from the factors that I could not perceive (employers do have an awful lot of talented applicants after all), I firmly believe that part of my issue has been lack of faith in my abilities. I have been interviewing with the attitude of, “Well, I think I could do it…” and that is a dangerous attitude. Such an attitude leaves room for self-pity when the opportunity is given to another. Whereas, if I actually approached with “I can do all thing through Christ who strengthens me…” essentially trusting in all that the Lord has already given me, the job situation would be inconsequential. The true belief in myself not only greatly enhances my chances of obtaining a job I want, but also the assurance inspires me to keep doggedly pursuing what I want in spite of where I am at the moment. It’s not that I deserve what I want, but I have a deep fire that convinces me that I can do something incredible when that opportunity makes itself known. No more self-doubt. Now is the time to actually believe.