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Midnight Ramble

Communications, Connections + Mis-

Story, Photographs + Comment by J R Compton

August 2005

Train Of Thought - Photograph Copyright 2005 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Train of Thought Through Tunnel Overpass Past Red Light

The thing about writer's block. You — I — don't even notice it's happening at first. It comes up, in a conversation on the phone late at night. Before that, it's just there. Hanging in thick air.

A vague lack. Something missing. Do the Calendar. Catch up listing pages. Take pictures on walks skirting the lake. Busy being creative. Do three sets of lake pix in one rapid succession week.

Send out several hundred Change of E-mail Address notices, never sure this is gonna work any better than the misadventure with DreamHost's peculiar implementation of jrc23@DallasArtsRevue Earthlink handled so easy, smooth. Suddenly crumpled like an origami boulder.

In video, drop-out, where pieces of the picture show sparkly white on an otherwise full tonal screen, emails would simply disappear. There then gone.

Before I visited Camp Grandma, I was writing up a storm. It flowed. Easy. Like ink from a new pen. Smooth. Consistent. Whenever I set pen to paper. Mind to thoughts.

The first week back from the sunny south I didn't walk. I'd swum every day for a week. Several times twice a day. In the brilliant sunlight so bright I had to wear shades. Couldn't stay out long. Even my dark skin would burn in that inferno. Again at even tide, back swimming into the darking sky, sunsets, clouds, always birds swooping over like bats knowing where to go, feeling their way.

I wanted to counterpoint to Michael's story on Craighead-Green's New Texas Talent show. I'd attended the opening, because Anna wanted to go. Wasn't moved enough to take more than cursory pics, liked some work, even talked about them briefly in my White Rock Journal. Distant ideas back-burnered bright then faded.

Alone with my camera on the comeback for serious illustrations I shot stuff I liked but Michael didn't mention, thought I'd just say a few words about this and maybe that.

Linda Rhodes - Verticals

Lynda Rhodes - Verticals - found and made objects - 38 x 26 inches
at Craighead-Green's New Texas Talent 2005

Very Indian-like display of patterned, textured and shaped objects and pieces of objects, all instantly recognizable, — nearly monochromatic brown, not quite natural things casting little shadows on a white sheet. A close-order ballet of native American tools. Intricate, straight-forward. No messing around. An idea stretched the length of its own yarn. A formal presentation complete with connection.

Especially about the horizontal field of verticals arranged on white paper. Artists' things, as I remember. Like the big piece Michael wrote most about and that I illustrated twice in zooming close-ups in his story that the pictures also did not turn out well. I struggled with them for nearly an hour. They would not render right.

Refusing my manipulation. Bright spotlights on both were impossible to burn or dodge away. (Or so it seemed. Now I've placed it above, it looks just fine. No problems. Mental drop-outs, no doubts.) I'd shot with flash both times. Turned out blue. Instead of white. Light blue enough to be impossible to neutralize.

Cedra Wood - The Orphanage

Cedra Wood - The Orphanage
acrylic and wood on mat board - 5 x 4 x 3 inches

Cedra Wood's tiny mixed media painting with black leaves hanging has more than shadow depth. Lilting. Thought-worthy. Anything but blatant, except as a bright snapshot of life. Just a hint of the institution. Saying plenty without shouting, clung with black leaves way past autumn.

Standing in the gallery. Camera balanced on the black monopod. The LCDisplay flashing a semi-psychedelic light show in miniature. No Memory Stick. But there was. I popped out the battery, then the memory stick. Carefully replaced both. More light show word frag flashing. The last two shots dropped out. Shoot them again. When's it end?

Chad Forsyth - Weekend Chores

Chad Forsyth - Weekend Chores (detail) - oil on canvas - 48 x 36 inches

My favorite part of a big painting, another too spot-lit broad scheme of things too hard to smooth. Great geometric expanse of roof and sky and a water tank far behind.

Silhouettes and subtle shadows nearly sun-bleached, light and summer blue yellow pastels, straight-edged fence blocking and exposing a figure mowing, the heart of the story.

Still no shouting, gentle color contrast everywhere but there. Painted texture I touched. Massive subtle spatial place with a story. We connect.

That light show camera dance danced five times again since. Either an unusually vivid demonstration of Mercury Retrograde or a digital camera on the verge of dying of old age. Life cycle zero at the tender age of four.

I've been researching replacements. Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-H1 is similar to my Sony DSC-F707 and only half the expense, but the LCD doesn't twist. Canon's PowerShot S2 IS's viewer twists and it has amazing video, a language I long to loquate again.

Now comes the Panasonic Lumix (as in Leica, sorta) DMC-FZ30 with the same zoom, decent vid and 8 megapixels, not qutie the double res I'd hoped for, but veddy interistink for $200 more.

Both Sony and Canon render rather too contrasty images with tiny purple fringes but have 12:1 optical zooms and only 5 megapixels. Neither focuses fast enough for rapidly fleeing egrets aloft or baby possums scurrying from under a car parked near the edge of the lake. And neither would speed me up sufficiently to push the button faster.

fleeing baby possum

fleeing cute baby possum

Both, however, do have excellent image-stabilization. Helpful for old hands that sometimes shake when I forget to stoke up on High-Stress Vitamin B.

Not that, even at only $500, I can afford either. My previous digi cam might still work but that simpleton's too much a nuisance. My first didge developed a black blot in the image path and was only black and white. I remember a Petri 7 rangefinder filmcam falling apart in my hands long before. My favorite 85mm Nikon slid out of its shell and fell down a mountain. I only knew it was loose.

Filmmakers have the same issues artists have with endings. Cinnematogs, at least, can re-edit. The lives of cameras and the stints between writer's blocks are less determinate. I have written before of art ennui. Only after writing about it these 18 paragraphs do I twig I am too deep in another pool to float up automatic.

See synonyms at boredom.

It happens. I am lucky Michael Helsem chose to send another story just then. People with careful opinions aren't easy to find. First-timers sometimes find it's not so simple as it seems. Wonder whether anyone else notices I am not writing. Wonder when I will.

Jessica McAmbly - Mad Girl's Braille

Jessica McAmbly - Mad Girl's Love Song
salt/mm - 24 x 25 inches in New Texas Talent

Soft braille communications, yeah, that, too, of course, but connection (The element so far missing in my summer essay series. Between artist and viewer, and intra artist, too.

Spotlight lighting to drive the photog mad but the art is opaque in the comm dept. without losing our interest, indeed piquing it. We gotta use our magic decoder rings to crack the code, decipher the secret message.

Lovely. Lyrics and lyrical, too. Soft textures, sharp light makes bright shadows of, medium and message.

It's not for lack of subject. I have two amazing portraits of me in very different moods and modes and life phases by my good friend Richard Ray. And a likewise letterbox work by Ann Huey I asked her to paint — again. There's plenty of words to spill on both those.

Probably lots others. I will see newer work by Bob Nunn tomorrow. His page is long unupdated, and I want everybody to see his newer work. I want to see Carolyn Brown and Marilyn Waligore photographs at 14th Street Gallery, DARts' only gallery member...

Now I walk every day, building to ten miles a week. My energy resurfaces slowly.

Even I see it now. This is me writing again.


To send feedback, ask questions, offer up answers or most anything else, E-mail J R.

; j r


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