New Abstract Art – Given Her Advice

As much as I enjoy the process of writing, sometimes a person needs to just step away for a bit. Lately I’ve become much more drawn to art, no pun intended.

I’m lucky that way. If I trust my intuition I can easily move from one form of expression to another. For example, for more than a few months I let my art rest while writing Dawn at Last. I also left it alone for many more months while trying to navigate through the promotional storm called book marketing.

Those waters have calmed for now and Dawn at Last feels like a pearl waiting to be discovered . . . still. That’s perfectly fine for now, especially given my new and renewed journey into art.

I’ve sailing on a new boat too! It’s the online cruiser called Fine Art America. In case you haven’t heard of it, the site is a great place for artists to showcase their work, and to sell it. While I had my own site for many years, Fine Art America has a structure that offers much more than I could do on my own.

I know a few artists on there and they are very happy with the service, and most importantly the quality. It’s very much like a mini-Amazon for artists, though I’d say it’s a lot more user-friendly. While there are tons of artists on there, the clutter is no where near what it is on Amazon. Perhaps that has something to do with artists having the option of having their own website within Fine Art America?

I hope you will visit me there sometime soon. It’s a fun break for the eyes – one of my dearest writer friends recently told me she “felt like a kid in a candy store!”

Anyways, here is my latest introduction – I have so many works in progress – so new introductions are coming fast these days. It seems I’ve now outpacing the snail for a change!

Enjoy, and please don’t hesitate to share what you like.

Abstract Art - Given Her Advice

Given Her Advice – My latest introduction on FineArtAmerica

10 Big Ideas for a Monday (minus nine)!

Well it’s Monday so I suppose it’s time for more about Einstein’s travelling at the speed of light? It’s tempting because not a day goes by where I’m not thinking about related topics. In a recent post – Light Surfing and Chasing the Big Ideas – I mentioned a film called How Albert Einstein Discovered e=mc2. In it the notion of matter being fixed in the universe is brought up, though I can’t remember whether Einstein is the first to come up with that theory.

When you understand the thinking behind that it’s hard to dispute it . . . a fixed or finite amount of physical matter floating around the universe . . . the question remains as to the order of thing!

Often “Oops” Follows Leaps!

But then there seems to be this leap of logic as much as a leap of faith. One may extrapolate that if there is a fixed amount of matter then the universe must be finite. That’s a huge conclusion . . . it can lead to notions of a beginning and an end, an ever-expanding universe and so on.

The funny thing is, even if matter is fixed (finite) that still doesn’t mean that it can all be counted or measured.

I find that funny in a Zen kind of way because of a bit of a paradoxical nature about the finite and the infinite.

Einstein grappled with all of this when he tried to understand unity in the universe. It’s really all there in the irony of infinity . . . an infinite universe can neither expand nor contract . . . there is a total and complete oneness about that. For me it also brings a sense of peace and calmness . . . reassuring in some inexplicable way.

Also, like icing on a cake, the fixed nature of an infinite universe is perfectly congruent with the theory of a fixed amount of matter . . . double layers of icing for the truth that none of it can be fully measured, yet so nicely understood!

My Ever-Expanding Time Travelling

Other than that, I’d like to let all of you know that I’ve moved my art over to Fine Art America. I’m really glad to be making this move, should have done it long ago. They do an excellent job and this move will allow me to devote more time to creating, not to mention the ever-expanding requirement of my social media activities!

There is some new art on my new site as well. One of those pieces is shown below. Finally, here is a link to my Gallery page on Fine Art America. Please do me a favor and use those share buttons, either on this blog or on the gallery page. Since you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading this post . . . and as always, it’s nice to hear your comments!

Sweet Dreams by Lawrence Grodecki

Sweet Dreams – Now available on Fine Art America

 

Beyond Surviving

digital painting called The Hunted (Cropped)

The Hunted (Cropped) – another play in progress.

I watched a very articulate documentary tonight, Surviving Progress. It was largely cathartic as it touches on so many issues, thoughts and concerns that I’ve had for years now. It’s about the human condition and presented honestly in the context of nature. If you decide to watch it, be careful as it can be disturbing. It was a little that way for me, and I’ve been studying this subject matter for about nine years now. I don’t write much about it because it’s frankly too depressing in many ways.

However, this film doesn’t come across that way . . . sobering yes, disturbing yes, yet still with a calming eloquence about it . . . the humanity of the those involved somehow shines through much of the horror. Oddly enough, there is prominent mention of the question, “Why?” and I mean that in the broadest sense. For years now I’ve viewed that as an almost dangerous question – a very mysterious one – and perhaps ultimately part of our collective Achilles heel?

Much More Than A Clock

Coincidentally, today also marks a day of the release of new scientific findings and warnings concerning climate change. This too struck a nerve, one that runs deeply in all my creative endeavors. The strike came by a statement made by a scientist on the news, “We’re running out of time.”

Such a simple statement perhaps it summarizes our entire predicament . . . our distancing from Nature and the absence of balance within it. I’m still amazed by how few people make the connection between time and gravity – they are inseparable – if we are “out of time” yet gravity continues, what does that say about us? Again, I no longer want to ask “Why?”

I’m sorry this is maybe a sad post to read. Still, it’s what’s on my mind. As a person who loves art, especially the process, I can’t help but wonder if it still has meaning anymore . . . have we passed a turning point that way too? More and more it just feels that way, though I wish it didn’t.

Ending On Another Timeless Moment

Finally, in the spirit of time, I’m going to post a little bit of writing. It’s from my first novel, one that will never be published. After I writing it I knew that these 121,000 words were not the right ones to launch upon the world, or even a few hundred readers! Still, it was a wonderful confidence booster and there was a lot of joy in the process.

Like Dawn at Last it has its tender moments. Since completion I’ve always felt like the only thing that really mattered were the words in the last two paragraphs. Somehow even these few words made all the rest worth writing, unpublished and all. They make me smile and I find peace in them. Since the book will never exist, here is my precious ending . . . perhaps you can use your imagination and fill in the rest . . . the past of it or the future? Or both?

Here’s how it ends, and once again it has something to do with love. Without it why survive?

They remained in their upward gaze, into this and every night’s darkness, and though their eyes did not meet, a common smile spread from her cheeks through his cheeks. It began to rain softly, only a few drops here and there. Still no words were spoken, though Lance wanted to share his thoughts with her. He was thinking of all he had been through, the beauty he found in the mysteries of the universe, of love and peace. The joy of knowing mixed with the agony of explaining, like finding love in a drop of water and trying to pull it out, just to hold it and say, “See.”

At that moment Suzanne turned her gaze toward his face. She saw a raindrop on the side of his cheek and naturally she cupped his hand in hers, leaned forward and kissed his cheek on that very spot, saying simply and softly, “Voici.”

 

This Special Edition Has Some Special Additions!

Abstract Art by Lawrence Grodecki

My Sweet Dreams

The oddest thing has happened. It began happening nine years ago and last night it became official.

Back in 2005 is when I began exploring digital painting. Even then this new, personal style was emerging – a combination of abstract drawing, then scanning various things from nature, then more drawing on-screen, and then fusing it all with light as my palette instead of paint.

When your art is done on a screen instead of paper or canvas, essentially that’s what your doing – working with light instead of paint. There’s actual quite a difference and it has to do with light and our perception of it. Art done on a screen is viewed with emitted light. In other words the light comes from behind the picture and towards your eyes. That’s very different than a canvas painting, where the light is reflected back from the picture to your eyes.

When Daydreams Come To Light

When I first started I knew that some day I would need to sell some of my art in order to keep to doing more of it. I wanted to make it as affordable as possible, so naturally I thought about electronic formats. I used to daydream about large, flat screens hanging on walls, where fans of my art could look at a wide selection of it, have it hanging there on their wall, switch it, or turn it off and on at their will.

In that way there is no need to print the digital creations – the pieces would look fantastic in the medium – and it would be very affordable original art! This is really very similar to what is happening to book publishing in the age of electronic books, though the price difference with the art is even more pronounced.

Last night that dream came true when I published a special illustrated edition of my novel, Dawn at Last. Instead of wall-mounted screens you can see the art on hand-held ones, on laptops, tablets and so on.

Eleven thousand words, all but one are titled!

There are eleven original pieces in this edition, each selected to go with various parts of the story. They are all set for full-page viewing and placed at the end of selected chapters. I didn’t just whip these up over the weekend. It’s been a nine-year work in progress. In fact there are a few pieces that have more hours behind them than the novel, and that was a four-month process for the first draft!

I’m not showing you any of the art here, but soon I’ll be announcing a surprise about these eleven pieces and other art that I’ve created. However, the picture at the top is somewhat representative of what’s in the special edition – it also links to the book on Amazon. The picture at the bottom links to the same book on Kobo.

So there you have it. Almost a decade ago, in one of those serious family discussions about politics and other world problems, I made a promise that someday I was going to quit my job and doing a little writing. I did quit, then did a lot of art, and then a little writing . . . I’m glad I did so.

Abstract Art by Lawrence Grodecki - Anyone for Chess

Anyone For Chess

Light Surfing and Chasing the Big Ideas

Picture called Wind Surfying

A picture I did many years ago called “Wind Surfying”.

There’s something that really grabbed me about the most recent review of Dawn at Last. Maybe it’s the part about writing from the heart? Maybe it’s the reflective quality? If you wish, you can read the entire review here on Ionia Martin’s Amazon review of Dawn at Last.

There are some big picture issues that I only lightly touch  in the book – this post is more about these issues than about Dawn at Last.  It’s about the kind of stuff Einstein and others liked to ponder. There is so much more to write about, but not necessarily in fiction.

Light, Camaraderie, Action!

The other night I watched a wonderful NOVA docudrama, How Albert Einstein Discovered e=mc2. It is not just about him. The story covers the lives of a handful of scientists and thinkers over the span of more than a century, so in a way it is one account of the history of the ideas behind the components of the equation: energy, matter and light.

The individual stories are portrayed in an overlapping way, almost blending into each other, though in many cases the characters are completely unknown to each other in the personal sense. Speaking of personal, The individual stories are alive with humanity, including their many sacrifices and their intimate relations . . . muses more than sounding boards?

I also learned of some remarkable women, at least two of whom I’d never heard of before – I’ll leave it for you to discover them by yourself. All in all it is a film full of pleasant surprises.

Tickled In the Light and Other Ideas!

My favorite part, the one that gives me an intellectual tickle of sorts, concerns a discussion between a young Albert Einstein and an unidentified lady friend, while on a stroll. He ponders what it would be like to travel alongside a wave of light . . . light surfing, so to speak! What happens at such a speed? In a way he wonders how one would think of time in such a travel. For example, in the film he asks the young lady whether one could see one’s mirror image in such a condition.

He states that light in our normal condition light reaches our face, then the mirror, and then back to our eyes so that we can see the reflection of the face in the mirror. However, while travelling at the speed of light he contends that the light from his face would never reach the mirror. He asks whether he is then invisible.

Mirror_Mirror

Zoom In and Zoomin’!

This is the place where I begin my own zooming, and for me this is a ton of fun!

First, Einstein liked to think in pictures, which ties in nicely with this mirror scenario. Because of the situation he would not be able to see his mirror image, yet the encased mirror would have its own image, travelling in different light a few feet ahead of him. However, even if he could see it, he would only see the casing and a blank mirror . . . in one sense he has become selfless?

Second, Einstein firmly believed that the speed of light is the fastest speed in the universe. That poses the following dilemma. In his mirror scenario he must have the mirror in his hand and then extend his arm to put the mirror a few feet in front of his face. However, in order to do that his arm must move ahead of him – in fact for this motion to occur the arm must move faster than the speed of light, which according to him is impossible!

Now here’s where things get really interesting. In such a circumstance it seems that he would not be able to see anything at all. I wonder too whether his other four physical senses would be functional. Still, assume that he would be able to think – to use his mind’s eye. Hans Selye did a number of studies concerning sensory deprivation and it seems the mind becomes quite hallucinatory in such a condition. As such, in a way the ego disappears, one loses control of one’s self – again, selfless in a way?

Before Sunny Side Up!

Where am I going with all this? Consider that a selfless man is actively light surfing, time seems non-existent, so he is kind of completely in the moment. Yet his mind is working, playing all kinds of tricks on him. Ideas come. They arrive.

In order for ideas to come – to arrive – they must travel much like that arm holding the mirror must travel. In other words, ideas can move faster than the light.

This relates to something I touched briefly on in Dawn at Last . . . what guides the light? It also relates to that age-old question of what comes first, the chicken or the egg? In either case, first there is the idea!

I will be writing further on this topic of ideas, tying it in more with some of my other writings, but in essay form as well as in story telling. I’ll also be writing more about love . . . if you’ve read Dawn at Last you know I believe in love in a certain way . . . something timeless, yet faster than the speed of light. It’s very real, selfless and enduring . . . somehow the butterflies know this in their own marvelously fearless way!

Light_Surfing

Julie's Pets

The Precious Pet Projects of Julie Whiteley

One of the nicest surprises about self-publishing is getting to know book reviewers. They have quite the story to tell, and each one is different. One such person is Julie Whiteley, who coincidentally is the first reviewer that I ever approached about Dawn at Last. I was quite nervous back then, feeling that I must maintain a cool distance. I thought that was required of the author. I’m glad I was wrong.

After getting to know Julie better – and a few others – it just seemed right to do let my followers have the opportunity to hear what she has to say. So here’s my interview. Enjoy it and learn . . . I know I have.

Can you give me a little about your background? How long have you been writing reviews? What made you pursue this hobby?

I started writing reviews 3 years ago when I began to notice authors becoming more vocal about the need for reviews. My family said I should write reviews because I read so much and I should share my thoughts with others, plus help an author out in the process. So, I thought why not?  So, I wrote my first review for Amazon and a professional reviewer tore it apart. I didn’t know I was being graded! I took that as a personal challenge and started writing reviews all the time, for every book I read, but stayed over on Goodreads instead of Amazon.  One day I got an email from Goodreads letting me know I was in the top 1%  of reviewers on that site.  This was another indicator that authors needed reviews.  So,  that was when I started taking things more seriously and got very involved all over social media and with authors personally, also on Netgalley and Edelweiss, and I started a book review blog.

Can you describe a typical week in the world of reviewing?

Oh that’s a good question. Instead of a typical week, though, let’s break it down into a day.   I have a blog post every day. So, I schedule the post,  then I start putting it  out there on social media.  I then answer emails for review request and other emails concerning tours, blogs, reviews etc.

After that I read, read, and read, then I start writing reviews. I like to write the review as soon as possible after reading the book so it’s still  fresh in my mind.  It can take up to two hours – sometimes more – to write a review. At that point I will either need to contact the author to let them know I have their review ready, or I will need to post it to Edelweiss or Netgally or one of the other sites I review for, then on to  GR, Amazon, and LibraryThing for starters.

I start prep work on the next blog post, interview or spotlight, check on all social media to touch base with other reviewers and bloggers, authors etc.  I may chat with Lawrence. LOL

Then I read some more!  I do this seven days a week.  I work on books in one way or another for 5 to 6 hours a day.

Is there anything you would like authors to know? Is that different for indie authors than for traditionally published ones?

What should  an author’s know?  They need a thick skin,  a positive attitude, must always be professional, even if this isn’t your day job, and above all be patient. Read a lot, research self-publishing and get advice before you even start  trying to promote. Beware of scams and paying for reviews and do not under any circumstances swap reviews with other authors.  Going a little further, I really don’t recommend having friends and family post reviews for you either. Trust me, this will come back to haunt you.  So, try to prepare yourself and arm yourself with some good solid advice before publishing your book.  Knowing what to expect and having some idea what works and what doesn’t will go a long way.  Also, you might want to know that most likely you will have to spend a little money to get your book promoted. I don’t mean buying reviews, but you may consider doing some book tours and putting your book on an indie author site like StoryFinds that will get you get some reviews and a little recognition.  Costs for joining are very reasonable and will help get the ball rolling for you.

Yes, it is different for independent authors. A lot different in fact.  Indies do not have a filter. The traditionally published author has a little help even if it’s a small publishing company.  There is  more money to spend on promoting your book, there are more contacts, more ways to reach people. The indie is out there all by themselves.  If their book gets promoted it’s because they used their own money and spent their own time building up a network of contacts and it’s a much slower process and  since you don’t have an advisor, you can make a lot of mistakes and get taken for ride if you aren’t careful.  On the plus side, you have complete creative control over your work. You are your own boss, so can write a romance then write a horror novel if you want. You don’t have to fit into any set mold and you aren’t under a contract or deadline. Writing can be something you do for pleasure away from your day job or you can turn it into a career option, it’s up to you.

You must have certain experiences that really stand out for you, both positive and not so positive – can you tell us a bit about them?

Positive far outweighs the negative.  I have built some wonderful relationships with publishers and authors since becoming a reviewer. I have had my reviews published in books, in publications, and I have had people send me personal notes, become friends with me through social media and we work together to help spread the word about great talent and good books.  I love this part of being a reviewer.  Most authors are very professional and nice.  In fact, just yesterday I got a card  in the mail from an author thanking me for the review and interview I did for him. I get personal notes, swag and some authors are kind enough to follow my blog and help me gain more followers.  Most authors are aware that reviewers are not being paid for their time and so they will do some little something to pay if forward. One of the best rewards though is seeing an author blossom and knowing that in some small way I helped them out.

Negatives: Spending hours on a book, the review, the blog post, and promoting on social media and never even getting a response from the author. No thank you, no kiss by *** or anything.

While many worship athletes, musicians, and actors, it was always authors that did it for me.  Becoming a reviewer has shown me another side of the author that I wish I didn’t have to know.  A little familiarity breeding contempt I think, which can lead to disillusionment and so it’s easy to get burned out.  Some authors have written one book and suddenly they think they are Ernest Hemingway.  They don’t ask if you will do something for them, they demand it and some can be really rude.  So, I’m going to lecture authors:

The statistics for reviews is dismal. People will rate a book but will not leave comments. I have to wonder why that is. Informal polls suggest reviewers don’t want to be hassled by authors to revise, edit or even take down the review. One reviewer expressed real concern when an author began stalking him online.  Seeing reviewers being trashed on social media sites is also a real turn off.  It’s no wonder authors have a hard time getting people to review books for them.  Again, be professional, even if this is just a hobby for you.  Always thank a reviewer for their time, even if the review was disappointing.

I’ve had my moments too, when  I wanted to know “What’s in it for me?”  LOL [Note - Julie sent me this clip from one of her favorite movies - Field of Dreams - and the author gets to walk I can so relate to this :-)]

Aside from reading, what are your other passions in life . . . chocolate goes without saying!

My pets are a HUGE part of my life.  I have two cocker spaniels and three cats.  They are all spoiled and so I have to spend a lot of time with them. Somebody has to do it  LOL  I also spend a lot of time spreading the word against animal cruelty and violence against women.

Where would you to go from here regarding your book reviews, personally and professionally?

First a personal comment. I hope to continue to increase my blog followers in order to reach more readers. I want to improve my writing skills and in the process write cleaner and more interesting reviews.  I am also working on calling attention to reviewers so that authors can appreciate the hard work that goes into writing a thoughtful review and to  work on a system that will compensate reviewers in some way and perhaps come up with a way for authors and reviewers to rate their experiences with  one another after a review has been completed.  Feedback from both parties could help us learn what we need to do to improve a system that is in terrible shape at the moment.  Do you think this is a good idea or do you think it will only increase the gap between author and reader? [I think these are fantastic ideas - it's about time.]

Professionally, the future is wide open for some really great changes in the world of books and reading.  The short story will become a favorite of fans and e-series will grow in popularity.  I really do believe that books will become more interactive in the near future, giving the reader a say in what takes place within the story and the way the story ends. Alternative endings are already cropping up as well as books that offer the reader choices within the book on which path they would like the character to take.  It’s like reading a book three different ways.   I think video reviews will also crop up more often.  There are still a lot of changes to come and growing pains yet to work through, but overall it’s an exciting time for authors, books and readers.  I hope to be part of it in some way. 

 A huge thank Julie. If you would like to follow her, here are a few links, one to Facebook and one to her blog:

Julie Whiteley on Facebook          Julie’s Blog – Cluereview on Blogspot

Do you know2

75 times 365 gets closer to 24/7

I read a blog today that touched on the issue of security cameras, and in this case in the workplace. It reminded of a bit of information a year or so ago. Do you know that In major metro areas a person is on camera an average of 75 times a day – this was back in 2007!

There are also many studies all over the world talking about the current and future crisis of youth unemployment. A university education is certainly not a solution to this problem, nor is getting a trade. As I see it, the crisis is due largely to a lack of new industries, such as automotive, the telephone, and so many more that were launched in the last century. That kind of explosion can’t be sustained today, not by people nor by the planet.

The other issue is increased automation. Machines can lower production costs, increase efficiency, and create some jobs. However, the net effect may be less jobs overall.

I’ve had these discussions in the slow periods with a few of the workers at my 7-eleven down the street, especially with the young guy who’s been working there a few years now . . . the one with the honor’s degree in chemistry. We talk late at night while he’s whipping up tomorrow’s hoagies.

If you don’t believe me, it’s all on tape. We can actually watch each other live on the overhead monitor. One of these days I’ve got to remember to shine up the back of my head, maybe even use some of that glow-in-the-dark glitter glue?

Some guys will do anything for a halo effect!

On the serious side, it seems there are some simple solutions to all this mayhem. First, if I (we) no longer have any legal right to privacy, then dammit I (we) should have the right to at least look good on camera. After all, the president and so many others have their make-up crew nearby all the time, so wherever there is a camera there should be someone available to powder my nose, trim those nostrils, shine my head and so on. Voila, unemployment no longer exists.

I’ll leave it for you to add your own touch to these opportunities – feel free to add your own!

It seems appropriate to once again include that beautiful video, Diana Ross singing “Do You Know?” Aside from being gorgeous in both audio and video, it has this haunting cultural message to it. By the way, her image appears less than 75 times.

Finally, when you think about, almost everything in this Diana Ross video touches on the messages that are in Dawn at Last, right down to a little mahogany and especially the butterfly. You have to think about it though, and please do.