The New Media Workshop

 

Photo by Keith Burtis, Magic Woodworks

 

I used to enjoy spending time on the weekends watching “The New Yankee Workshop” with my Dad, who is a craftsman. Today I had an opportunity to see a live broadcast that reminded me of those happy memories. Except here, it’s more than woodworking—it’s also a friend bringing the social media community together through his art.

Artisan Keith Burtis is known for his beautiful woodturning work, which he showcases on his website. In crafting bowls, bottle stoppers, ornaments, and sculptures, he never fails to surprise his viewers by bringing out the hidden personality of wood.

What’s interesting about Keith is the way he blends the age-old craft of woodworking with the modern tools of the internet. He is an active member of the social media community, and recently spoke about “Creativity and the Arts” at PodCamp Boston 3. He also hosts a live woodturning show on BlogTV. Viewers can spend a fun hour watching Keith turn a hunk of wood into a collectors item, while sharing a conversation with him and others through the chat feature. And once the show is over, fans can buy Keith’s work from his MagicWoodworks Etsy shop.

This weekend, Keith is hosting an event that he calls The Woodturner’s Weekend. Through Sunday, July 27th, he will be dedicating his live broadcasts to the achievement of a special goal.

I invite you to tune in tomorrow and join the fun, as an old-world art comes to life in the hands of a new media craftsman.

I’ll see you there!

 

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© 2008 Christine Taylor

Published in: on July 26, 2008 at 9:16 pm  Comments (13)  
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A Whale of a Day

 

This was my day on Twitter:

 

 

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© 2008 Christine Taylor — Permission is granted to post this cartoon on your blog–just please link back to this post! :-)

Published in: on July 23, 2008 at 8:51 pm  Comments (6)  
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Being a Noun Means Nothing Without the Verb

 

My Mouse by mousewords

 

We all identify ourselves with nouns. Like me, for instance. I’m a writer, an artist, and a web designer. I say this quite often, and type it into all my social media bio pages. Everyone knows me by these nouns.

Nouns are great. But I need to remind myself of verbs. Being a web designer doesn’t mean anything unless I design web pages. Saying I’m a writer is meaningless unless I put words on a page. I am those nouns, so one would think that performing the verbs that go with them is second nature to me. It is…when I let it be. But more often than I care to admit, I let myself forget.

Sometimes I fall prey to thinking that the verbs that are most important in my day are the demanding ones. Answer that message. Work on that project. Clean that room. They need to be done by a certain time, so they must be high priority, right? But that’s not always the case. There will always be tasks and “to-do’s” that are deadline-intensive, in the short term. Be assured, there will always be a steady stream of them. When one is dealt with, another will arise to take its place.

On the other hand, the long-term goals—the ones that are really most important—will be there consistently, not moving, not going anywhere. It’s tempting to let them slide down the priority list, simply because they’re always there. But the truth is that they’ll always be there because I’m not doing any verbs toward finishing them.

Long-term goals are kinder and gentler than short-term requirements. Quieter, not so demanding. They sit meekly in the background and await one’s attention. Making them very easy to neglect—there’s no knee-jerk reaction to deal with them, as there is when a short-term shouts at you. And neglect can become a habit. If there’s no unpleasant reaction, no shouting, no chastisement for being neglectful, chances are good one will put off remedying it. You can get used to leaving the quiet things for later…even when they’re really the most important. But they’re usually the most faithful. They’ll wait for your attention.

I know I do this. I get a lot of things “done.” But I don’t do enough towards what’s important. So I need to take a step back every so often. Reorganize my goals. Trim the short-term off the top of the to-do list, remember that taking care of them will not get rid of short-term tasks. Others will take their place, and I will be trapped in an endless cycle of crisis management. While the goals that are most meaningful to me and my future waste away in the background—and may never be achieved.

I don’t want that to happen. So I’ll remind myself to actually perform the verb that comes with my noun.

Writers write. Artists paint. Lovers love.

What verb should you be doing?

 

And the Nominees Art…

ACA 2007 Finalist

As fancy-clad artists of the performing genre wait among the Academy Awards audience to hear the final winners, I sit by my computer in my Sunday best and await the vote that will determine the winners of the 2007 Artists’ Choice Awards. “The Artists’ Choice Awards is a peer review of the art produced by artists who sell on eBay. This year, over 370 nominations were made.” I have had the honor of being nominated by my peers for the category of ACEO Fantasy/Fae/Surreal.

For the voting, I’ve uploaded more art to my Flickr account, and am in the process of renovating my blog gallery. I invite you to take a look!

Being recognized by artists I admire has moved me deeply, and I appreciate it so much. And I can’t help feeling a bit nervous as I wait to hear the outcome…

Award Logo design by kiniart

Published in: on February 24, 2008 at 9:33 pm  Comments (4)  
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The Social Media Miracle



Figured Tiger Potpourri 2, originally uploaded by KeithBurtis.

All the events of life pass over the screen of social media–birth and death, joy and sorrow. Milestones are shared by communities of people from all across the globe. And this week is no exception.

Just in time for Valentine’s month, Twitter is witnessing the power of romance! Artist and craftsman Keith Burtis is hoping that “with a bit of tough work, some perseverance, and some social love,” he will be able to purchase an engagement ring for his lovely girlfriend by Friday, February 22nd–two days from now. To achieve this goal, Keith is feverishly turning incredible wood bowls and offering them for sale on his blog. Each work of art is unique, each different type of wood has a personality of its own.

Pictures are worth a thousand words, so I invite you to visit Keith’s blog, read about his Social Media Miracle, and perhaps help to make it happen!

Chris’ Large Calling Card

@Kellyd has asked for details on the stained glass window I designed, so here they are!

Time: 1996. Place: Tinley Park, Illinois. St. George Catholic Church was doing a renovation, which would include a new, 10-foot-tall stained glass window in the children’s area. My parents donated two windows–the children’s window and a crescent-shaped etched glass window. I was picked to do the design for the etched glass window (one of my first public speaking experiences, giving that presentation to the committee…nervous? Naaaahhhh….) and chose to donate my services.

The window was to depict Christ standing with His arms outstreched, welcoming the viewer. How to draw the Lord? That was a challenge, an awesome one. We always think of Him as a “carpenter.” I did some research, and discovered that the original Greek word we translate as “carpenter” was “tekton”–a term which describes a person who is not only a craftsman, but a scholar, an architect, a construction engineer. A tekton would do more than work with wood; he would design houses and temples, hew the stone, cut the trees, cart them to the site, and build from his design. Emaciated figures from iconic representations were entirely inaccurate. A tekton would be pretty buff…for lack of a better term.

Keeping this in mind, I created a drawing that I hoped was as realistic as possible–feeling my inadequacies every step of the way. But I drew strong hands and muscular arms–a Savior needs to be strong. I tried to give Him a lean, intelligent face; and my Mom requested a bit of a smile, since the Lord of the Bible stories always had a sense of humor. Once I had the drawing as right as I could make it…

I erased it.

Sad part of graphic design, it wasn’t possible to translate the details of a pencil drawing into etched glass, so I simplified it as much as I could while still keeping the impression I hoped to capture. The drawing was full-size, four feet high. (Apologies for the scanned photographs–poor quality)

Design for Etched Glass Window by mousewords

Here is the final result of the window:

Etched Glass Final

At least they kept my design for the hands…Well, moving right along.

Some time later, when the design for the children’s window encountered some problems, the church asked me to do that one, also.

The extent of my stained glass design experience was drawing fan artwork based on Disney’s incredible designs for “Beauty and the Beast”; but I was up for the challenge. I undertook the research project into the window–and for us, this was pre-internet, so it was like the dark ages. Like…I had to read books and things.

I also studied every stained glass window I could lay eyes on. I studied the construction as well as the design–the placement of rebars, the capabilities of detail. I dove into my drawing head-first, figuring that what the company needed from me was a basic design. I thought to myself, their engineers will fix the rebars later. But of course, I still did my best to make them as close to accurate as possible, working from the designs of the other windows in the church, among other resources.

The window was to depict Jesus and the children; my parents had ideas on what they wanted, but left the rest up to me. I thought back to my childhood–how, during church services, I would spend most of my time staring at the beautiful colors of the windows, while the sermon blended into words in the background. I thought to myself, a child may not be listening to the message of salvation in the sermon; so let’s see if he can find it in the window. I put myself into my childhood, and tried to depict a picture of Jesus as the Bible describes. Not distant and iconic–warm, friendly, caring, strong. Someone a child would want to be close to.

Here is the final result–ten feet high, my large calling card:

Chris' Large Calling Card

Being a writer, I also wanted to tell a story in the window. The service, after all, lasts about an hour, and colors can only hold so much attention. So I put as many curious details into the design as I could, so a child could imagine a story about the scene. There are also different ages, so that any child can relate. One youngster is playing in the sand at Christ’s feet; the littlest one is safe in His arms, playing with His hair, as babies do. The teenager has his hand on the Lord’s shoulder; a younger boy is sitting nearby, listening; a young girl is giving Him a hug.

Stained Glass Window by mousewords, St. George Church, Tinley Park, Il.3

Shortly after I completed my design, I moved out of state. I never saw the completed windows until ten years later.

When I walked into the church and saw that towering window aglow with afternoon light, it was unreal. That was my drawing. I could see my hand in the style–I knew the way my fingers turned, made lines. I was looking at a representation of something very personal to me–my art. I wondered if that’s at all similar to having children–to look into another face and find signs of yourself. The window company had basically just photocopied my design–rebars and all. They used my lines to the exact detail, and it actually WORKED. It hadn’t collapsed. Oh, my. The edification…

Even though I had done my research, I wasn’t aware of the full capabilities of stained glass. So when I drew the faces, I made them very abstract, not realizing that details could be painted directly on the glass. The company used my drawing as an outline, and had one of their artists paint details into the features. This artist did an amazing job.

So that’s the story. My calling card. Thrilling in its inspiration to me. A bit too big for a business card holder, however…

 

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