The Gift of Sound - Not Yet Vision by Shawna Miller

While an incredible studio space is currently being built on our rental property, I am forced to go over some electric art - specifically hashing out and editing the shit out of old images. Mostly with the focus on processing those images that are in some way or another incredibly technically flawed. After a while this sort of thing becomes an addiction. You find the most over-exposed image and process your way around understanding how to make that piece work. Over the years there has been a growth in my adoration for technically flawed pieces of art, but as a photographer it can be hard to go over old images - this could be for any number of reasons - especially if you are an art photographer. When the waves of (insert whatever artistic flaw one feels they have here) start piling up, it can become difficult to press on. However seeing as photography is currently my only outlet for artistic expression I must...well...press on. So when I lack vision, what do I turn to? Or who, that is?

Music. I turn to music. There are certain artists, certain songs, certain albums that can push me through a halt in artistic productivity. I can feel your anticipation for wanting to know what it is I listen too, but first, I must hedge a bit. I am not an audiophile nor am I a musician. These are just a few of the tunes that push me. These are just a few random bits from my past and my current that have always kinda brought me back to life, in one way or another. I could write about each one, but to be honest, I need to write another blog post tomorrow, so I will work on that for then. Hail the lazy artist! 

So here is a bit of the tunage that gives me feels of confidence, movement, and love:

(clicking here will send you to my YouTube playlist) 

Rocky Mountain High + Banner Design by Shawna Miller

Don't worry, this is going to read nothing like the title suggests. The past two days included fantastical moments of hiking within the Rocky Mountains. Having it be so close to the Hobbit Hole means many opportunities for having insane moments of clarity due to both lack of oxygen and intense focus on what your body is doing at any given moment. Yesterday this mixture gave me a couple moments of clarity with regards to social media, my role within it, and design. Today I will only write about one very specific design change that I have already implemented in order to simplify my work even more.

I have had my current logo for nearly 2 years now. It is pretty basic, but sells the name of my business, which is me. That is how the simplicity of my website and logo came about. Having a love for critiquing my own work, I have found that this logo and her sister logo-type needed an update, but first it's time to update the dreaded Facebook business page! Ahh! I swear, I never post on that fucker, and not because I don't want to, oh wait, yeah, that's what it is. I really do not enjoy Facebook. It just feels sticky. 

Back to the banner design - we are talking promotion on a site to try and filter viewers to my Instagram page, but also keeping it simple. Seeing as humans enjoy symmetric design as it is easy to follow, I decided to go that route in hopes for a bit of a lingering the viewing department, and then mayhaps a quick journey to my Instagram page - which I am being the currently being most open about my work on.  Being in the misty mountains yesterday allowed for the perfect opportunity to merge my need for design as well as simplicity. Down below you can check out the new banner design. 

You can check out a few pics from the trip in the Rockies HERE. A couple of those shots would not have been possible without the coaxing from a guy named Sam who was also hiking the same trail. There is no way my stubby ass would have gone up those rocks without some serious encouragement and knowledge that I had a soft landing in case of a full-on body tumble. Thanks, Sam. 

So the background shot is from inside the Rocky Mountain National Park - taken around 6pm, on the way out of the park. There was some intense weather changes that allowed for the surrounding area to be enveloped in this incredible mist. The kind of weather that makes you feel alive. I chose to take the opportunity to use the Facebook business cover image to become short-hand information for my most current work. Hopefully this will allow me to filter those viewers to my Instagram feed. 

 

Art + The Spirit of Man by Shawna Miller

Good eve! Have been thinking intensely about this one from 'Art & The Spirit of Man' - thought someone else might like to ponder it. "Just when we had achieved this amazing degree of intensity in the portrait, art suddenly - whether from weariness or from inability to continue developing in this direction - turned away from preoccupation with the inner life."

Have a marvellous evening. - S

Nonsense to Empty the Brain by Shawna Miller

Today, well today is one of those days that I dread. It is a day that all creatives despise – the day where the wall has fallen in front of any inspirational flow connecting various parts of ones being. What does that mean? A bunch of nonsense, sure, but it also means that today my being is tired and uninspired. I decided a few day ago, foolishly, that I would start documenting when these moments happen so that I am able to reference back later when the wall not only hits, but the fraud police knock on my studio door with glee to inform me of my right to remain silent. Think of it as an alibi of sorts – something to get me out of an artistic shit creek later on. Now the reasoning for this non-invitational artistic cock-block could be the result of me bleeding my inside lady-bits out through half a package of Stayfree maxi-pads today, or it could be that I have not seen the actual sun in 3 days, or it could be that I have been sculpting, painting, and gluing for those 3 days and my brain is a literal mush – no matter the reasoning, it’s here. So let us just get on with this, write a bit, and see what sort of nonsense we can muck up on this lovely day.

Seeing as no inspiration has laid its graces upon my being I figured I would share a poem that I feel changed my perspective on what poetry could be. Yeah – poetry – it’s totally random and ya know, it’s poetry. I know, you think poetry is scary: there are rules, narcissism is the primary rule of thumb for subject matters, the majority of the really good authors write in this language that is not American-speak, AND you have to actually read between the lines and become bit of a Dr. Holmes of the English language. Don’t worry, I thought all of these things once as well. (insert obligatory life-changing college moment here). Okay, I really did have a life-changing moment happen when I went to my first Romantic Lit. class. I had no clue how much their (scary poets) words were nothing but streams of incredibly descriptive moments – perfect for the creative with a heavy imagination. Tough for the kid who taught herself to read by turning the closed captioning on while watching her morning cartoons, however, when I made it through that class, successfully at that, I was pretty fuckin’ smitten with myself and a few things actually stuck. Although I do hope my instructor for that class does not read this as I am positive he would recoil in horror.

One of those “things” was a poem (posted below) written by William Wordsworth in 1802 – it is titled “Resolution and Independence”. Below I am going to tell you a quick and horrible summary of this amazing piece. You can read his actual piece below the nonsense summary I have already prepared for you – and I highly recommend you do. Why am I writing about this today? If you really want to know, it’s because it is not shaped like a vagina. If you don’t understand that reference then you can either look at my current work or just, I don’t know, whatever you were doing before. Let’s face it, if you are still reading this then you are either my husband who I gleefully force to read my nonsense, or you have just come upon it by chance, and in that case, may the lords of Abernethy be with you.

Onto the half-assed attempt to describe how my insides feel today by way of poorly describing an incredible piece written by William Wordsworth:

This is from a real encounter he (Wordsworth) had in 1800 with a leech gatherer – yeah, someone had to do it. Imagine this: Bill is walking through a land with lots of happy nature happening around him, we are talking picturesque almost orgasmic type descriptions of his surroundings, but even with all this incredible beauty he is like: fuck this, I am not feeling this shit right now. Don’t worry, he notices the irony in this. This is were we start to understand the meaning of the title. He references himself as a younger poet – romanticizing a bit the easy joy that came with being a young poet. I think: ha! No way would I go back to living with that trucker in the dog shit room. So, anyway, Bill is walking, thinking, and feeling shittier and shittier about his future, then he comes upon this old man just standing and staring into a nasty ass pond. As a narrator, Bill is kind of a dick, but the point of it is to tell you that this old guy must be beyond human, and him standing still while staring into a pond at his age is more than impressive. Yeah, it’s kind of ageist, but let’s not think about that. This guy is so still that Bill doesn’t even know if this guy is alive, but suddenly the dude moves, and then Bill takes the opportunity to jump in and start asking this dude questions and just generally getting up in his shit. So, Bill is like really interrogating this guy wanting to know all of his guru thoughts, like why and how did he get here (literally and spiritually, from what I read). However, Bill is a horrible listener. He kinda fades in and out, giving a real half-assed attempted into expanding his listening skills. Bill finally comes back from dreaming of how dreamy this situation is and hears a few lines that give him relief from his despondent feeling, almost as if he just heard his student loans were deferred until next year. Don't worry, he doesn't stay that way - he is a poet so he must constantly poke himself with an elongated and curved cattle prod until he feels beyond the Charlie Brown. I am sure you want to know what those magical words were, but oh, you KNOW I am going to make you read the piece to find out. Trust me, Bill considered himself to be one with the “common man” – this means that if I can read it, you can totally read it and probably have a better understanding of it than I do. I am just kind of here because Past Shawna made deals with Future Shawna and Past Shawna has been known to crack some knees. Anyway, there are a few interesting notes of introspectiveness in this piece that relates a bit to my innards right now while I am in this moment of mine.

For your enjoyment, I bring you William Wordsworth (who I so lovingly call ‘Bill’). Don’t be a jackass to yourself – read it. Mayhaps read it again, and even better, Google a few better worded summaries by people with degrees in such fields and excel in teaching where I can only grunt and point at my genitals with vigor. 

 Resolution and Independence - William Wordsworth, 1802

There was a roaring in the wind all night:
The rain came heavily and fell in floods;
But now the sun is rising calm and bright;
The birds are singing in the distant woods;
Over his own sweet voice the Stock-dove broods;
The Jay makes answer as the Magpie chatters;
And all the air is fill'd with pleasant noise of waters.

All things that love the sun are out of doors;
The sky rejoices in the morning's birth;
The grass is bright with rain-drops; on the moors
The Hare is running races in her mirth;
And with her feet she from the plashy earth
Raises a mist; which, glittering in the sun,
Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.

I was a Traveller then upon the moor;
I saw the Hare that rac'd about with joy;
I heard the woods, and distant waters, roar;
Or heard them not, as happy as a Boy:
The pleasant season did my heart employ:
My old remembrances went from me wholly;
And all the ways of men, so vain and melancholy.

But, as it sometimes chanceth, from the might
Of joy in minds that can no farther go,
As high as we have mounted in delight
In our dejection do we sink as low,
To me that morning did it happen so;
And fears, and fancies, thick upon me came;
Dim sadness, and blind thoughts I knew not nor could name.

I heard the Sky-lark singing in the sky;
And I bethought me of the playful Hare:
Even such a happy Child of earth am I;
Even as these blissful Creatures do I fare;
Far from the world I walk, and from all care;
But there may come another day to me,
Solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty.

My whole life I have liv'd in pleasant thought,
As if life's business were a summer mood;
As if all needful things would come unsought
To genial faith, still rich in genial good;
But how can He expect that others should
Build for him, sow for him, and at his call
Love him, who for himself will take no heed at all?

I thought of Chatterton, the marvellous Boy,
The sleepless Soul that perish'd in its pride;
Of Him who walk'd in glory and in joy
Behind his plough, upon the mountain-side:
By our own spirits are we deified;
We Poets in our youth begin in gladness;
But thereof comes in the end despondency and madness.

Now, whether it were by peculiar grace,
A leading from above, a something given,
Yet it befel, that, in this lonely place,
When up and down my fancy thus was driven,
And I with these untoward thoughts had striven,
I saw a Man before me unawares:
The oldest Man he seem'd that ever wore grey hairs.

My course I stopped as soon as I espied
The Old Man in that naked wilderness:
Close by a Pond, upon the further side,
He stood alone: a minute's space I guess
I watch'd him, he continuing motionless:
To the Pool's further margin then I drew;
EIe being all the while before me full in view.

As a huge Stone is sometimes seen to lie
Couch'd on the bald top of an eminence;
Wonder to all who do the same espy
By what means it could thither come, and whence;
So that it seems a thing endued with sense:
Like a Sea-beast crawl'd forth, which on a shelf
Of rock or sand reposeth, there to sun itself.

Such seem'd this Man, not all alive nor dead,
Nor all asleep; in his extreme old age:
His body was bent double, feet and head
Coming together in their pilgrimage;
As if some dire constraint of pain, or rage
Of sickness felt by him in times long past,
A more than human weight upon his frame had cast.

Himself he propp'd, his body, limbs, and face,
Upon a long grey Staff of shaven wood:
And, still as I drew near with gentle pace,
Beside the little pond or moorish flood
Motionless as a Cloud the Old Man stood;
That heareth not the loud winds when they call;
And moveth altogether, if it move at all.

At length, himself unsettling, he the Pond
Stirred with his Staff, and fixedly did look
Upon the muddy water, which he conn'd,
As if he had been reading in a book:
And now such freedom as I could I took;
And, drawing to his side, to him did say,
"This morning gives us promise of a glorious day."

A gentle answer did the Old Man make,
In courteous speech which forth he slowly drew:
And him with further words I thus bespake,
"What kind of work is that which you pursue?
This is a lonesome place for one like you."
He answer'd me with pleasure and surprize;
And there was, while he spake, a fire about his eyes.

His words came feebly, from a feeble chest,
Yet each in solemn order follow'd each,
With something of a lofty utterance drest;
Choice word, and measured phrase; above the reach
Of ordinary men; a stately speech!
Such as grave Livers do in Scotland use,
Religious men, who give to God and Man their dues.

He told me that he to this pond had come
To gather Leeches, being old and poor:
Employment hazardous and wearisome!
And he had many hardships to endure:
From Pond to Pond he roam'd, from moor to moor,
Housing, with God's good help, by choice or chance
And in this way he gain'd an honest maintenance.

The Old Man still stood talking by my side;
But now his voice to me was like a stream
Scarce heard; nor word from word could I divide;
And the whole Body of the man did seem
Like one whom I had met with in a dream;
Or like a Man from some far region sent;
To give me human strength, and strong admonishment.

My former thoughts return'd: the fear that kills;
The hope that is unwilling to be fed;
Cold, pain, and labour, and all fleshly ills;
And mighty Poets in their misery dead.
And now, not knowing what the Old Man had said,
My question eagerly did I renew,
"How is it that you live, and what is it you do?"

He with a smile did then his words repeat;
And said, that, gathering Leeches, far and wide
He travelled; stirring thus about his feet
The waters of the Ponds where they abide.
"Once I could meet with them on every side;
But they have dwindled long by slow decay;
Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may."

While he was talking thus, the lonely place,
The Old Man's shape, and speech, all troubled me:
In my mind's eye I seem'd to see him pace
About the weary moors continually,
Wandering about alone and silently.
While I these thoughts within myself pursued,
He, having made a pause, the same discourse renewed.

And soon with this he other matter blended,
Chearfully uttered, with demeanour kind,
But stately in the main, and, when he ended,
I could have laugh'd myself to scorn, to find
In that decrepit Man so firm a mind.
"God," said I, "be my help and stay secure;
I'll think of the Leech-gatherer on the lonely moor."

The New Year Is Upon Us. by Shawna Miller

As 2015 seems to have drawn to a conclusion, it seems appropriate to reflect my thoughts upon the upcoming year. First, let’s take a look at 2015 – like most years our blessings are abundant. So much has happened over the past year that has impacted us in almost every way possible. One could easily categorize them as: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. This year saw some incredible changes. 2015 started off rough – as the end of a well-thought-of friendship drew to a close coincided with some pretty intense body issues mixed in with a splash of New Jersey living, internal artistic implosions, and lots (and I do mean lots) of introspective hermiting inside this incredible orange-lit sanctuary I have created out of wall hangings and dried flowers. However as the smoke cleared from the unnecessary/necessary ugly, and I began to understand a bit more about my internal artistic being it became easy to see that this year was pretty, pretty, pretty good.

2015 saw me conquering many fears, as well. Both professionally and personally. I could not be more grateful for that. Fear has been the running theme since moving to Jersey and I am finding the release to investigate that fear through my art has been such an intense relief. Artistically, 2015 found me exploring more than ever. From taking a few drawing classes and learning a bit of sculpting to learning and exploring new mediums like encaustic and watercolor – these are things that are leading me into 2016 as I will continue to use them to better my craft. So what are my goals artistically for the Year of the Monkey? Here are a few that I will either be successful at, almost finish, or horribly crash and burn at. I will accept any of those fates as 2016 is about just doing and not harboring:

  • Complete the “Vagina First” series by sculpting and applying mixed media methods to a total of 100 individual pieces. Why 100? Because 300 feels narcissistic and the number 200 and I have a continued feud. 

  • Complete another self-portrait series. Speaking of narcissism, aye? Ha! In reality, I learned a crap-motor-ton from my last adventure in self-portraiture and I want to see what happens when I add a beard into the mix. Yeah, a beard.

  • Collaborate with another artist to create a super-fantastic-fun-time-super-art. Why is this important? Much like the all-important sand-box in kindergarten, social skills are best kept polished, and learning from another artist is the perfect way to not become full-hermit and also learn a bit about another human being and their art. 

  • Continue learning anatomical sculpture. Starting small with polymer clay this year. I will upgrade with time.

  • Research and apply for at least 1 artistic residency with focus in any of my current fields. This has always been a huge fear of mine. Mostly because I feel like I am struggling every day to just identify myself with being an artist. Having to write about why my art is important AND also ask people to vouch for such a narcissistic act? Oh heavens, my heart feels like it will explode upon full thought of such a thing. However, this year, I give no fucks. 

  • Have coffee with 1 local artist. Hey! Route 9 is seriously a scary road to travel upon. If you have spent any time with me over the past year I have surely told you about how my first evening here I almost…well, that is for another time.

  • Sell 1 piece to a private buyer. Validation. Plain and simple. 

  • Finish my drawing and painting course. Yas! I have struggled with seeing that I am valuable enough to do these things - this has been one of the biggest issues for me this year. 2017 will also include more research and practice, but it is important to still keep it on the list. 

  • Learn how to make marionettes. Mostly to frighten my sister...I have a thing worked out with my nephew. Don't worry about it...

  • Focus on two other artists to shamelessly promote throughout the year. One thing I so wished for when struggling emotionally as an artist was knowing and understanding the validity of my work. 

  • Don’t be a jackass. This sounds simple enough, but it encompasses so much. I am not talking about just being a jackass to other people, but also to myself. It is so easy to fall into the pit of self-pity, or sadness, or doubt. That is being a jackass to myself. I mean, come on. I never thought I would actually be doing this as my life. It’s pretty fucking great.

  • Incorporate more music into my work space. Just ‘cuz, grooves, man.

  • Learn hand book-binding. In my opinion, there is nothing sexier than a handmade book or journal. 

I am sure there are more goals that are needed to be put up here. In fact, I know there are because I wrote a list last month in preparation for this writing. I lost the list this evening while installing my new desk. I shit. You. Not. I even had some fancy artistic wordage written on there to validate each goal. But let’s face it, who the crap-jack wants to hear all of that? It’s not natural to speak in such a way. I would much rather just bullshit a few sentences and see what we get at the end.

One other thing that I have been thinking about lately is the amount of exposure I give not only myself, but my work. It seems like this day in age an artist is expected to produce so much work, it become an assembly line of mediocre pieces seeping with no thought to appease the gallery commerce gods. Now, it is not fair to say mediocre in all cases, but you cannot tell me that if these artists had the funds and the time to create work that allowed them the actual time to dive into their artistic psyche that they would not chose such a fate over the one of the assembly line artist? What I am saying is, now a days it seems like every artist I follow has new work every day. They post their progress every day. They post the good, the bad, and some even post the “ugly”. I have always felt uncomfortable doing so. Somehow I feel like I have no right to post and connect in such a manner because I am still learning. I am starting to believe that this is flawed thinking. I wonder what actions I could take over the coming year to live in the lavender lands of the in-between?

So art is the theme for the Year of the Monkey. Let’s even make it a combo theme of art and connection. We will leave the definition of such things up to fate for the coming year. I am so thankful for the incredible experiences I have had in 2015 – I don’t know if I will ever be able to top such an incredible year. In all seriousness I want to give a huge shout out to those who do support my art. You get me and that is why you are in my forever-circle. That’s a thing, trust me.

So onward to 2016 we go! Engage! Do! Be! Don't Be A Jackass! Make Something For Someone! Be Rebellious! Be Excellent To All! And most importantly: Do One Thing You Are Afraid To Do. 

 

 

I R E L A N D + U R B A N by Shawna Miller

IRELAND + URBAN: What does that mean? Well it means you are about to read about my experience exploring the incredible capital of Ireland. While on our trip to Ireland, our visit was mostly located in one area of the island - Dublin. I must admit that although beyond thrilled to be visiting such a place, it bothered me that the majority of our stay would be filled with the urban side of Ireland. Sure Ireland has been on my bucket list since I first found out about the mystical land, but the city experience has never been for me. I hardly drink, I have some major anxiety when it comes to crowds, and I prefer not to be stabby-stabbed while just trying to make it a restaurant. Not only was I grossly misinformed and under-educated about Dublin - but I allowed my prejudices of city life almost mar this incredible experience. That all changed the moment we flew into Dublin. 

We arrived shortly before 530AM - jet lagged, stinky, and tired we made our way to a cab outside the airport. Pro-tip: ask the cabbies BEFORE getting into the cab if they process credit cards. While in the cab I saw the city for the first time and was hitting myself for having such negative feelings about it prior. There was no one out. I mean not a single soul was roaming the streets. Our cabby took us around Dublin and then to our ultimate destination being our hotel. I could not have asked for a better first-time look at the city. From that cab I felt as if I owned my surrounding. It was mine to undress slowly and methodically. 

When we arrived at our hotel we were greeted by a most jolly front man by the name of Stephen. My partner had the forethought to book the room for the evening prior to when we arrived, which meant that we did not have to wait around until 3PM, yes 3PM was the check in time,  to make it to our room. Still reeling from the incredible empty drive through the capital we made our way to our room. As soon as we entered we opened the curtain - and - I shit you not, there was a rainbow coming out the top of a castle (image is located in the album below). We laughed with gusto at such a stereotypical Irish moment that was occurring before us. We were so filled with glee that on our first day we could check two major things off of our list.

After the intense rainbow experience, we put on our fancied walking shoes, and began to make our way through the city to my partners' office. The air was beyond incredible. Sure it smelled like a city should, but there was something else - oh yeah, the fragrance of Ireland. It was chilly outside, the sun was exploding beyond the buildings, and we walked. We walked towards the office while a few locals began to awake and begin their morning routines. The streets were slowly filling with commuters, school children, and those dedicated to the art of body discipline via exercise. We made it to the office, had an incredible breakfast of porridge, and then explored the city.

I could literally sit here and write an entire booklet on the experience. However, I realize that sometimes keeping moments to yourself can be the most impactful for a human experience. So I will just narrow down my thoughts to a few important notes about the urban Ireland observation. 
 

Noteworthy thoughts/experiences

I was able to walk the city while my partner worked. Every day I made my way outside to venture into the city without abandon. Some days I took my camera, and a couple days I left the glass at the hotel in order to have those experiences for myself. What were my days filled with? I am so glad you asked:

  • Embroidered a green and gold uterus next to a juggler in the park who had the most lovely of movements:

  • Walked around in the rain exploring the city:

  • Had glorious conversations with locals and tried not to horribly imitate their accents while conversing with them:

  • Frighteningly dove into a most interesting ghost tour of Dublin that was filled with incredibly dark history:

  • Sailed the high seas of the local rivers (that is supposed to be cheeky, Ben) via a viking history tour of the capital that was mostly filled with mocking Bono and his recording studio:

  • Did I say walking yet?:

I walked, and I walked. I walked while taking in the experience as best I could. I wanted to remember these moments as I had no idea how impactful the urban experience of Dublin would be.

As I walked I got lost. As I got lost I found a city surrounded by slate, wood, metal, and stone. Those areas filled with moss, phlox, and bits that revealed how old the capital was and how much the locals really loved their city. Experiences that allowed me to dive into and take advantage of my favorite things in life - hidden wonders. The only problem is that the entire capital was filled with those hidden wonders.  


  • Experienced many of the museums/libraries that were open to the public - and were free.

My number one tip for exploring any urban city is to visit the local museums. They are often free, if not donation suggested only. They will allow you to mix in with the locals, and tourists alike. Visiting these places during regular lunch hours really allows for ease of exploring exhibits crowd-free, which can be pretty fantastic when there are hundreds of people all with rucksacks on. The three that I am showing below were by far the best examples we were able to see in the short time we were available to. We were able to find this set of three all within a courtyard of eachother, which made it incredibly easy to see almost everything we wanted to see. 

NATIONAL GALLERY OF IRELAND

The National Gallery of Ireland was an incredible stop. We walked into art being created - what a fantastic welcome! They were doing some renovations in the museum itself so that meant that many of the areas were closed for the day we visited them. However, I jumped for joy when I saw that they had their Masterpieces from the Collection, and From the Archives exhibits available for public viewing. I literally jumped. I was so excited to be able to see a few of the pieces I had only read about. They were incredible. I was not able to photograph many of the pieces I went there to see due to them being on loan, therefor photographing them would have been a violation of copyright. Well, actually posting them for the public to see would be in violation, so let's just not post those. A few of the pieces that had the most impact on me were:

Jusepe Ribera - St. Onuphrius : This baby was saturated with boldness. I was taken back by it.
Kees van Dongen - Stella in a Flowered Hat : This one is not listed below due to it being on loan. I fell in love with this piece. Viewing it in person really allows one to see some of his artistic process through the layered impasto paint application - you could really dive into the layering and see the purposeful placement of the paint.
Joshua Reynolds - Parody of Raphael's 'School of Athens' : Okay, this piece is fantastic. It is like an I Spy for political parody. We stood there for a good 10 minutes looking at each individual figure in the piece. 
Sean Scully - Entire Body : This entire exhibit was incredible - and not AT ALL available for photographing, even at a distance. These pieces were huge, they were fill with artistic exploration and experimentation. I was really inspired by his entire body of work. If you ever get the change to check out his work in person, please take the time to do so. Like Rothko, Scully's work, I feel, needs to be seen in person to appreciate fully.


National Museum of Ireland : Archaeology 

I will fully admit, without much shame, that I had no clue of the rich Viking history in Ireland. This museum in its entirety was full of old bones, metal, wood, and other bits that have miraculously survived over the centuries. As our visit to Ireland went on we were glad that we were able to stop by this museum in particular as the entire country is filled with rich, deep Viking history. You cannot get away from see the major influences from the Viking Age in Ireland. By visiting this museum we were able to have some major Irish/Viking history in our back pocket. 

One thing I really enjoyed about this museum was that it was filled with people doing studies of the various items. There would be a group of artists surrounding some old bones in one room, then in another room you would find another small group of artists having lively discussions about the ornamental jewelry they were looking at. All locals. It made the entire experience immersive. 


National Library of Ireland:
Yeats : The Life and Works of William Butler YEATS

Sadly, we arrived too late to see the entire National Library of Ireland, but the Yeats exhibit was still open so we found our way into it. This exhibit was insane. The curators had put so much thought into the layout and really found a way to involve their visitors with the exhibit. They set up little side rooms in dedication to different members of the Yeats family - each one totally different than the previous. It truly was an incredible exhibit. 

 

Doors of Dublin

  • One of my major photography goals while traversing Dublin was to capture the doors of Dublin. The majority of the residents and businesses that are south of the Liffey have brightly painted doors. As I walked I took photographs of the doors that I most loved. I could have filled all of my memory cards with just these doors. They are so incredible to see in person. Every corner I turned, there were more and more doors. Each one more ornate than the last. It was impossible to capture them all through my lens so I settled on photographing the ones I fell in love with. I really enjoyed seeing how the door colors seem to match perfectly the mood of the architecture surrounding it. The glazes over the doors vary from the very matte to the most shiny of gloss - some were almost blinding when the sun reflected upon them. Not only that, but the landscaping was also used as part of the design. Dublin seemed to have the most fantastic blend of conscious design and haphazard beauty. Some of the front stoops looking as if they were well versed living in the city, and others looking as if they were simply plucked out of the woods and placed into the city. It was truly a pleasure to see and I am ever grateful for the experience. At first I felt odd taking snappies of residences and their doors, but that feeling quickly vanished my first 30 seconds in the city. Here are a few that I took - they were even more gorgeous in person. I really loved seeing how they interacted with other parts of the buildings and landscape from which they are attached:  

Exploring together + OTHER IMAGES

On the days where my partner was available to join me we chose to have our days in the parks that were within the city. Here are some of the images from our explorations together and a few that are just random:
 


I R E L A N D + R U R A L by Shawna Miller

This past May an opportunity came knocking at our door - what did it say? Well, funny you should ask, it beckoned us to visit a land that I have been dreaming of for as long as I can remember. The land - well the title of this post probably clued you in - the land was Ireland. Today I am going to focus on the rural part of Ireland that was traversed by this very inexperienced world traveler. 

The rural tour of Ireland started by driving through the town of Limerick where we could see King John's Castle from across the river Shannon. The day started off sunny - almost disappointingly so. "Where is the rain? Where is the fog? Where are the rabid leprechauns dancing in the mist below a perfect rainbow?" These are all questions that I demanded, but was delightfully answered when a storm rolled in while driving. That is when we saw the real Ireland. The Ireland I have been wanting - no - needing to experience since a small child. It. Was. Incredible. Not only did we get rain, we got mist, low lying fog, and every now and then a clearing through the fog that allowed us to breach our eyes beyond and see what Ireland really is: a land of mystical mystery and beauty. Yeah, yeah. I know how that sounds - but trust me - we were in literal awe. Like gaping mouths with overly stimulated brains that were incapable of taking in all that we saw kind of awe.

The Cliffs of Moher were my favorite, I must admit. When we first arrived we were taken back by the sheer amount of tourists that had flocked to see the great beauties. Then, Ireland came to our rescue. In rolled light rain, mist, and fog. This caused the majority of the hoard to flock to their tour buses and almost exceed the human body capacity inside the tourist center. Needless to say, we only visited the tourist center at first arrival - nature had called upon my bladder and I could not refuse. When we stepped outside the back end of the tourist center, we were greeted with a most fantastical view of the rock formations. We made our way to O'Brien's Tower (which marks the highest point of the cliffs), payed our 5 euro to march our way to the top, and then marveled at the immense landscape and water-scape that lie ahead of us. We scoped out our path, headed down the incredibly rickety stairs, out of the tower, and made our way across the rock path. The natural slate fencing led us to the other side of the cliffs. The path led us past a man who was meditating heavily beyond the fence, past a young woman who methodically made her way over the fence to sit in awe at the beauty that was displayed in front of her, and to a view that included the ever-churning sea below the incredible rock formations. It was a view that will not vanish from my mind quickly. 

From the cliffs, we traveled to Galway Bay, and made a quick stop at Dunguaire Castle - which unfortunately we were unable to see because the weather had turned from lovely to intense. In-between the Cliffs of Moher and Galway we were able to stop at what the locals call the "baby cliffs", which is located in the region of the Burren. The weather was rough, but boy-howdy was it more than worth the stop. There are some INCREDIBLE rock formations and heavy ocean tides at the baby cliffs. We then had a quick lunch and drink at a little pub called McGanns. McGanns Pub also specialized in the art of the bed and breakfast. We were unable to stay for the evening as we needed to get to Galway before the storm took away the rest of our time with rural Ireland. 

Galway Bay was our last stop. It is a rustic little port town that was filled with a variety of hotels and little shops. There I had a most beautiful experience: walking past an older gentleman who greeted me with "Hello, friend". It was simple. It was lovely. The visit at Galway was freezing with the rain bearing down on top of us. Would I have changed it? Hell. No. The rain and cold weather allowed those streets to be ours. We walked around without care, taking view of all the colorfully decorated shops, taking notice of how the rain inter-played with the parts of Galway that were falling apart (there is something quite beautiful about rain on rust), enjoyed a beautiful coffee paired with a tart dessert, and made contact with the street art that was displayed in the streets and parks of the town. 

Rural Ireland turned out to be a most incredible tour of floral and fauna, of free breathing and boom towns, and simple moments that gave me a different perspective on the term "lovely". Below you will find two galleries that show my rural Ireland experience. The first covers the floral + fauna of rural Ireland. In it you will see my favorite images of the floral + fauna type. The other highlights the structures inhabited or once inhabited by humans. This one will dive you into the O'Brien's Tower, Galway Bay, and a few other slate/stone/brick/metal moments of our rural Ireland trip.

I hope you enjoy the images - as it was an experience unlike any other. Give them a few moments to load properly as these images are epic in nature. 

 

CLIFFS OF MOHER + BABY CLIFFS + FLORAL/FAUNA 

Rural Ireland 

SLATE + STONE + WOOD + THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE WITHIN THEM

Rural Ireland

I R E L A N D by Shawna Miller

Recently I had the opportunity to visit a land that has been on my bucket list since I was a small child. The visit, though limited in time and location, was a game changer for me spiritually and emotionally. Let me ask you a question: have you ever walked into a place and felt like you have been there before? This is how I felt about the land of Ireland.

The stay was concentrated mostly in southern Dublin but also included an incredible visit across the island where a viewing of the Cliffs of Moher could be had. The weather could not have been more sublime - every day a different feel: rainy, foggy, sunny, cold, misty, warm - basically Ireland. I was beyond thrilled when I was able to walk the streets of Dublin in the rain, and when the visit to the Cliffs of Moher, the "baby cliffs" (as our guide so cheekishly called them), as well as a 12 hour incredible rural tour of Ireland was filled with rain, fog, and mist. It was perfect in every single way. I will post a few images from the trip here - every single image has a different feel because, well, the days were very different. I hope you enjoy the images that I have posted here and will continue to post.

This visit was more than just a simple holiday. I took the time while there to think heavily about myself as an artist and how I perceive my art as being valuable or not. My camera made the journey along with my journal, a pen, and questions I had for my inner being. I will continue to post as I rustle through everything - slowly un-wrapping the truths I found there and displaying them here. 

 

Cliffs of Moher

D E S T R U C T I O N + N O T E S by Shawna Miller

Hello there! Recently there was a huge snafu on the site which removed a ton of content - all operator error in a late-night insomniactic haze. I woke up the next morning to an "oops" feeling deep in my gut. However, I shall not go down with tears. I will post thoughts, raves, and rantings as they come into my mind. I hope you enjoy them as much I will enjoy reading myself think.  

This section, of which I have titled 'conversations' will be just that. Sometimes those conversations happen just in my head - but they are still conversations nonetheless. My goal of these conversations is to stop hiding behind myself and allow my inner being to grow in a proper and beautiful way. Sometimes they will be notes to myself, random thoughts that will mean nothing to the reader, or just plain gibberish. Being hidden is no longer on my to-do list - specifically being hidden because I feel like my work is not valuable or that my words are not meant to be heard. 

I don't think we as humans view ourselves in a meaningful and loving way enough. Too often do we subject ourselves to the abrasive opinions of others, count their words as being the truth, and then smother any unique quality we have because we feel like we don't fit in to some random list of qualifications for being human, for being female/male, for being artists, for being alive. Well, damn it, you weren't meant to fit in. You were meant to be unique and to find the beauty of your inner being. You were meant to be...well...whoever it is you want to be. Just allow yourself to be it. 

So, there is my first-second-first-post. I am working on posts from my recent trip to Ireland, my experience walking and protesting in the NYC Cannabis parade and rally, my current paintings/photographs/arts and experiences with other humans viewing my self-portraits. All of which are very exciting and thrilling (feel the sarcastic confidence there?).

Until Then,
  - S