Monday, January 23, 2012

Creative Goals for 2012

Ahh, January, the time to make empty promises to ourselves and try to forget our failings of the previous year. This has become an annual post for me already, going back through 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008. That first year was a pretty humble collection, which helps me see that my creative goals have gotten completely out of hand. Resolution Number One: dial it down.


I see that last year was way too ambitious. Looking at the flopped goals, I did not:
  • a photography mentor or learn to shoot video.
  • ...branch out with my subjects much or take any photographic road trips
  • ...get a fancy camera -- I bought a used body that is one model less obsolete than the one I had, but still obsolete. Decided to repair it when it broke.
  • ...complete three new photo books.
But thankfully, the year wasn't a total write-off. Some good news too:
  • For that last one (bookmaking), I did manage to finish two books that I was really proud of (Okanagan Orchards and the Trout Creek Ecological Reserve book) and got a good start on an additional one, so that wasn't too far off.
  • Participated in the C'est La Vie show at the Summerland Art Gallery in January.
  • The process, presentation and book I did for the Trout Creek Ecological Reserve project was very rewarding and it stretched me in the right ways.

  • I kept going with my "curating" projects and had good fun with them. Wordpress tells me that I've already done 50 Focus Friday and In Focus articles for Awesome Okanagan -- not bad for just over a year. On Flickr, I Love the Okanagan and Ultimate Ice are still plugging along too.
  • I also took a LOT of photos this year, which is sort of the point. I kept posting them to my Flickr account regularly, and I see now that I added about a hundred to my most current Faves of Mine set.
So that was last year. What about photography this year?
  • Finish the black and white book I've been working on -- photos of the kids, tentatively titled something like Growing Up on Jones Flat.
  • Start (maybe even finish) one more Blurb book on some other topic, preferably more "out there" than the orchards book. Speaking of which, I'd like to get the orchards book out to more people, which will require overcoming my disinterest in selling (or the continued joy and poverty of giving it away).
  • One solo photo trip, at least out of the valley, but preferably further. The prairies in fall would be just right. Whitehorse and Iceland will likely have to wait.
  • Keep making time for photos, and don't ignore family snapshots...that likely means remembering to take the camera on more everyday outings.
  • One presentation or small public showing of some kind.
  • Successfully teach the one-day photography workshop I was asked to do later in February. This scares the crap out of me, and is also quite exciting.

I took pretty easy with music this year -- still playing regularly, but I was much less goal-oriented. A real highlight was hearing other people play my compositions, both at the Strings the Thing camp in summer, and at Manning Park in fall. Looking at my goals, I think I was a better musical dad, supporting the girls without pushing too much. I should have made more effort to get together to play with others (again). I didn't do much new composing, but succeeded in not buying any new instruments. The ol' bass guitar has worked its way back into the mix, and I played viola most days (but almost no violin). For 2012:
  • It sounds like I'll have an excellent opportunity to do some composing for Strings the Thing again -- this should give me a chance to compose for string orchestra, something I've never done before.

  • I will learn to play the cello this year, and learn to compose better parts for it (I've been flying blind, writing for cello without being able to play it).
  • Be open to different opportunities to play or record with others.
The Web
  • This poor blog was largely ignored. Facebook has replaced all the "little" stuff, and I don't seem to be getting to the "big" stuff as often as I used to. It will continue to limp along.

  • I've paid some more attention to my site over the past year, but feel like it's a bit of a jumble. Need a better vision for it overall.
  • I'd like to help Martin get his web site up.
  • I've let my identity (and skills) as a designer lapse these last couple of years. I think I could get excited about design again, but it may take a specific project to rekindle that interest.
I'm also reflecting on the need to recognize and value the things I do outside of my creative pursuits -- my family time, friendships, trail-building, mountain biking, hockey, reading, gardening, work, travel (in theory, anyway)...last spring, I ended up spending most of my free time on Mount Conkle, working on trails -- and that was definitely a worthy (and creative) pursuit that falls outside of these annual goals.




Sunday, January 08, 2012

reading watching listening

Whoa, six months behind on these posts, which means it's a mess...and I've missed tons. But still better than nothing. As usual, I've decorated with some recent photographic experimentation.

  • Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive by Jared Diamond is a real monster of a book -- thick and dense and wide-ranging. It took me a couple of months to finally finish it, and I'm so glad I did. This review is a great overview.
  • I went on a serious Robert Sapolsky kick, knocking off three of his books over several weeks: Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, The Trouble With Testosterone, and A Primate's Memoir. He's a primate researcher who primarily studies the physiological effects of stress -- yes, super geeky and super fascinating.

  • I gave local author Don Gayton one of my books as a present, and he gave me a copy of The Wheatgrass Mechanism in return. It's one of the few books of his that I hadn't read, and it totally hooked me. I was pining for the prairies in a big way.
  • Love Wins by Rob Bell -- I'd never read a book like this if I wasn't connected to believers, and I was thankful for it. His philosophy had me reflecting on how poorly religion was presented to me. All fear and dogma and a totally irrational lack of logic. There would have been a time for me when this approach could have really resonated.

  • Heart of the Samurai by Margi Preus -- this was a book I got for the girls and ended up enjoying it myself after they showed no interest in it.
  • The Hobbit -- yes, we've probably read it too many times, and it's still a year till the movie, but it just seemed right. Still always fun.
  • The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall -- we've enjoyed all of the Penderwicks books, and this newest one was no exception. Warm, simple storytelling with characters you care about.
  • This is going back into summer -- we plowed through the whole Percy Jackson series over many weeks. Relentless pacing, great fun, and we were all hooked.

  • More recently, I cajoled the girls into re-reading the Narnia series (minus The Last Battle) and they didn't dislike it as much as they remembered.
  • In our last Harry Potter marathon, we had skipped The Goblet of Fire because we had just seen the movie, so we dug into it in December. Not my fave HP, but good fun.
  • Magic Tree House -- Ez is really into this series right now, so we're plowing through the (many) books. They're his first real chapter books.
  • Spirit in the Grass by Chris Harris, beautifully reviewed by Don Gayton. Solid landscape photography book.

  • The Worst Hard Time was not exactly uplifting holiday reading. Fascinating stories of the people who stayed through the Dust Bowl in the '30s.
  • Introvert Power -- the self-help genre doesn't really appeal to me, but maybe this was the right book at the right time. I'm still working my way through it, but I'm finding myself nodding and chuckling and pondering...usually a good sign.
  • The Journal of Lady Aberdeen by R.M. Middleton -- this was a pretty dry bit of local history, but I found some of it really interesting -- especially this part about Okanagan optimism in the 1890s:
    "It is hard for poor persons to stay and keep their orchards up to the mark. But it is truly wonderful how optimistic everybody is. It must mean a brighter future. People of B.C. are certainly not despondent. I think the climate is so invigorating that it is impossible to be other than cheerful, and the longer one lives in the country the better one likes it, in spite of every drawback from a financial standpoint. Other than those, there are no drawbacks."

  • Way back in summer, Tannis and I had a date night and saw the last Harry Potter movie, which was pretty terrible. Still somewhat entertaining, but wow, what a lot of awful decisions they made in adapting the book.
  • I took the kids and their friend to see Hugo -- our first 3D movie, and overall the 3D part was pretty cool. I thought it got in the way of the story sometimes. The film itself is pretty slow, but visually pretty stunning at times. Decent (if expensive!) entertainment.
  • Inuit throat singers
  • Stress, Portrait of a Killer...this was part of my Sapolsky kick.
  • All the mountain biking videos by an extremely talented local photographer named Matt Butterworth. I was so impressed that I profiled him for Awesome Okanagan.
  • I pulled Singles off the shelf on a rare night alone -- surprisingly great, and aging reasonably well.

  • Kids movies: Spirited Away, Megamind and Despicable Me...and Rio at the Dueck's most excellent backyard film festival.
  • Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS -- goosebumps!
  • It was so cool to see Donovan's Echo at the VIFF -- my friends Jim and Melodie wrote the screenplay, and Jim directed the film. Check it out if you get a chance -- it should be playing in Canadian theaters in February.
  • Avatar: staggeringly beautiful and painfully dumb. I couldn't believe how many Miyazaki elements he ripped off for the visuals...maybe that's why I thought it was so visually amazing. But wow, most predictable plot ever. And yes, as always, I'm at least two years behind the times.
  • Industrial Revolutions -- Danny Macaskill transcends "riding a bike" and turns it into a new form of performance art. Beautiful cinematography too.
  • In a similar vein, this segment from All I Can turns the traditional ski video on its head with an incredibly creative athlete and amazing camerawork.

  • It's downloading season again as all the music blogs publish their best-of lists for the year. Some standouts: Low Roar, Austra, Brooklyn Rider, Zola Jesus, and ├ôlafur Arnalds.
  • I'm not always in the mood for the Beastie Boys, but when I am, Hotsauce Committee Part II has been hitting the spot.
  • Kronos Quartet plays the string quartets of Philip Glass...I keep coming back to this one.
  • Marjan Mozetich's Postcards from the Sky...also a favourite.
  • Faith No More's The Real Thing, a masterpiece that has been in heavy rotation in the car
  • Andrew and I went to see the St. Lawrence String Quartet in Penticton at the end of November -- wonderful show, thanks to my folks for the tickets.