365. Three Six Five

365 MosaicI think I’m more excited to have completed this daily blog than I am for my birthday tomorrow. This has been, without a doubt, the greatest year of my life so far. I think this blog is a fundamental piece of what led me to changing my life in so many ways.

First of all, I wanted to challenge myself into making a long term commitment. This all started with a question I have asked of myself for many years now “have I ever put in a full year?” Meaning, have I ever done the work to become better at my craft every day for an entire year?

Now I am very proud to say yes to that question. Every night I posted, or had pre-loaded posts while on vacation, a different photo from my library of years and years of photos. I also chose a song to accompany the post that I felt had some connection with how I was feeling or what I was listening to while editing the image for that night. Some nights would only take 15 minutes, others would take well over an hour. A safe estimate is 20 minutes a day totalling 7300 minutes of work. That’s 121.6 hours. Which breaks down into just over 5 days of editing, posting and working on my craft.

I’m proud of that number alone, but what I never considered a year ago was all of the side benefits of blogging every day. When I started to challenge myself in this small way it led to many other challenges and goals that I took on in the coming months.

First of all, Kara and I planned a vacation to Italy. I have been wanting to do this forever but it never seemed like the right time to go. It was going to be expensive, there’s too much to see, it always seemed like we would wait to take this vacation when we retired. I learned to ignore the part of me that wanted to keep putting it off and start planning a trip I had been saving for the “right time” for years.

In February, I took on a different challenge. My office was holding a Biggest Loser contest. I took the same principles of the daily blog, took on a couple changes to my diet every day and lost 25 lbs in 2 months. I’ve since gained back 5 but I’ve maintained this weight now for 6 months. I’ve lost weight before but keeping it off was never something I could do before. I won the competition and the prize money and put it all into a new wardrobe and some spending money for our trip.

In May, we took our vacation and on the first night I had the revelation that I wanted to quit my job. I laid out the basic plan for quitting and Kara supported my decision. I should note that I feel incredibly lucky to be with someone who supports me enough to take the chance on me leaving my secure job while she is in school, trusting that we’ll find a way to make it work. In June I started laying the groundwork for changing my career. I should mention that I had no intention of dropping this bomb on our first dinner on vacation, it just came out. Lots of things came out on this vacation but I won’t go down that tangent tonight.

I had been holding onto a lot of things that I wanted to do like my Field Trip Project which I started in June with my sister-in-law Kirstin. In November I will be taking this up again and I have an open invitation to anyone who is interested in spending some time with me, a different person every month to do something fun, something creative and share it with the world. Just embracing this project has been another dream of mine for some time and I’ve really enjoyed the 3 that I’ve taken so far.

In August I filed my business, got my tax ID and quit my job. I never expected this was going to be the year I went into business for myself. Since starting my business I’ve already met so many wonderful people who have been so supportive and helpful that it has made the move feel a whole lot less scary than it could. I’ve also had more interesting opportunities to do photography, something I really love, than I ever imagined back when I was doing graphic design every day.

Now my year is finished. I’m so excited for what next year has in store. I will be stopping the daily blog for now, but this blog will certainly continue. I’d like to take some more time to figure out my next moves, everything has changed so much that I hardly recognize myself from just one year ago. And that’s a good thing.

Thank you for following me on this journey. I’m looking forward to what’s around the bend.

Tonight’s song is Better Days by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros.

 

364. Mucha

With one post to go I wanted to feature my personal favorite artist, Alphonse Mucha (pronounced Moo-kah). He was a Czechoslovakian illustrator and painter who lived and worked in Paris at the turn of the 19th century. He is responsible for the entire Art Nouveau movement that took over Paris and much of the world for about 20 years from 1890 to 1910 and when he stopped creating his style of art, Art Deco moved in to take its place.

I first discovered Mucha in school at Northeastern in one of my graphic design courses. It was this piece that first caught my eye, an advertisement for Job cigarette papers.

Alphonse_Mucha_-_Job_Cigarettes_1Even now when I look at his work I get lost following the shapes of the flowing curls, the intricate patterned border as well as his ability to separate the subject from the text and title so seamlessly that she appears at once contained within the frame but also pushing through the boundaries. All of my favorite pieces he created are enormous posters – life sized portrait posters that were plastered on every street corner in Paris – advertising all manner of products and events. Everything from brandy to bicycles, chocolate to a number of pieces commissioned by the most popular actress of the time – Sarah Bernhardt.

MF_Medee

I love this poster because of the expression on Sarah’s face and the unnatural posture of the body at her feet. It’s the perfect mix of horror and shock.

When he moved away from advertising and into more personal work, he started designing around motifs like the dance, music, celestial bodies and the seasons. My personal favorite piece is called Ete (Spring).

Summer Alphonse Mucha

I still remember the first time I saw this image, it was in a giant book of all of Mucha’s posters that I found in the upstairs catalogs of the Boston Public Library. It was the first time I was truly moved by a piece of art. It still excites me now, 10 years after I first saw it. It’s like he tapped into every element that I love about art in a single piece. I could easily go on for over a thousand words describing why I love this illustration but instead I will just say thank you Alphonse, I hope to one day create something as exquisite as this piece and propel another artist into their own personal artistic journey.

One day I will go to his museum in Prague (his hometown) and see his work with my own eyes. The only downside to loving a poster artist from the turn of the last century is that all of the reproductions you find on the web have vastly different color treatments so it’s difficult to know exactly how he intended to present his work. I have some awesome books that claim to have the best representations but how can you capture a life sized portrait poster in a book?

Tonight’s song is The Avalanche by Sufjan Stevens.

 

361. Wall Dogs of Santorini

In Santorini there are lots of stray dogs. When the sun goes down you can see packs of them roaming around scavenging for food but the thing I found most interesting is that the packs were all mixed breeds and sizes. Also, for some reason they seemed to travel along the tops of the walls, maybe because that gave a better vantage point to see where they could find dinner.

Santorini - 062On one of our hiking days we fed a particularly friendly dog some of our leftover lunch and asked him to guide us the rest of the way to our destination. Without missing a beat he took the lead and followed the best paths through the countryside and into town, stopping every 30 yards to look back and make sure we were keeping up.

Tonight’s song is All These Things That I’ve Done by The Killers.