To quote Mark Twain: "The Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." Well, I doubt there have been any such dire reports or rumors about me, but I have been terribly absent from deviantArt for far too long. I see that it's been some two years since my last Journal entry, so I thought I'd take a few minutes to catch up with y'all...
Let's start with what's going on in my personal life. I lost my father last month, and really have yet to allow myself to deal with the grief of his passing. I've lost a few people who were important to me over the last couple years since my last journal entry, so I've had plenty to ponder as regards my own mortality and the delicate and short nature of life in general. On the upside of life's happenings, I've been happily involved with my partner Ellen just about since my last entry. Just when my own kids grew up and allowed me time to work on my art at all times when I wasn't at work, I took on a girlfriend with two youngun's, and have found most of my spare time happily compromised. It has been a struggle to find balance between work, home life and art, but I think I'm getting better at it, although it doesn't take any reading between the lines to figure out why it's been two years since I updated my journal. Being a dad the second time around has been both joyful and trying.
Photographically... Well, I've had my work featured as the cover art of a second phonebook since my last entry, and a photo I shot of a yacht that passed through the local waters here ended up as the cover of the yacht owner's annual calendar. It's kind of fun to know that one of my photos caught the eye of a billionaire. I was also commissioned by the Ketchikan Gateway Borough to document a bunch of their facilities last summer, which was a way cool project. In May of this year, I received an individual artist's award from the Rasmuson Foundation
, along with a $7500 project grant that has allowed me to upgrade from my trusty old Canon 20D to a Canon 5D Mark III and some really nice glass, as well as step up from my dinosaur of a PC with CS4 on it to a super-fast computer with Photoshop CC & Lightroom on it. Now, I have a whole new camera to learn my way around... And a new 27" monitor that I have to scare up new calibration tools for. And, I guess I'd better learn how to use Lightroom, too. I have no idea where to even start on that, and no real understanding as to where one would use that instead of Photoshop. I feel like a real newbie these days.
The Borough project taught me how effective a project can be as an artist's tool. I am determined to start some personal projects, and see how that shapes my work--as opposed to my just stepping out the front door and going out with my camera to see what happens (which is my usual way). If it interrupts my normal Zen way, I'll have to can that approach, but I'm hopeful that it compliment, rather than detract from, my process. The Rasmuson award taught me about curating my work, and opened my eyes a bit in terms of my approach to my work as art. It was my third year applying for the grant, and I changed tack in my application--rather than including beautiful scenery with my application as I had on my first two submissions (after all, I'm sure they see lots of beautiful scenery with photographic grant applications in Alaska), I submitted work that was photographs of buildings, feeling that they comprised more of a narrative about the people and history of my area.
So... to recap: Life's had its ups and downs over the last two years. I'm happy and healthy, busy and creating new work. I'm newly inspired by grants and projects, and I'm floundering a bit in all that I have to learn with my new equipment and software. I have grown a lot since my last journal entry.
I hope you are all well, too. I'll try to be more active here!
Mike Gates, a.k.a. Muskeg
Journal CSS and design
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