Sep 26, 2013

About my Art: The Moment

This shows where the piece started and a few of the steps along the way. The description is  simplified and does not describe every step, just general steps.

Here's the final piece.

Sep 24, 2013

The Darker Side of Humanity Art

Expect to see more art that shows some form of humanity's darker side, often contrasting with the more "conventional" political correct norm established by society.

Purchase prints and posters!

Sep 12, 2013

Putting a Face on Portland's Homeless...and working toward a solution?

Every major city has homeless people, which means they also have a homeless problem and Portland is certainly no exception. How does a city such as Portland deal with their homeless problem? They don't. Just like most cities, the City of Portland seems to believe that if they keep either ignoring the problem or if they keep arresting people who are merely trying to sleep... and exist, that the problem will go away... or at least be manageable enough to not embarrass the city officials with their presence anywhere in proximity to their regular establishments. If they can keep the homeless away from their Nordstroms and My Shit Doesn't Smell boutiques and over-priced, yet so trendy sidewalk cafes that everything will be just absolutely delightful. This mentality has been the core of the problem. Homeless people have to exist. They have to sleep. They have to eat once in a while at least. You cannot make them go away by strong-arming them into the other side of the tracks or under another bridge where the people who live and work near the bridge haven't complained enough yet to cause enough of a "stir" to be forced to address the issue. When this happens, no one wins in this situation, not even the precious yuppies. I am aware that there is a general percentage of homeless people who may use drugs or abuse alcohol. Many of these types of homeless people have turned to these substances out of desperation and as a way to deal with life. It is quite common for many of the homeless to have come from backgrounds that most people would consider to be respectful and "normal". Many of them have suffered great loss in their lives. This loss can be any combination or all of these things; career, job, income, assets, reputation, loved ones and friends. No two people on this earth are exactly the same, therefore everybody is affected in a different way. Since I've been affected by all of those things at different points in my life and have been homeless and near-homeless at least a few times in my life, I can relate enough to know that most of the homeless are probably suffering some type of depression. Depression manifests itself in many, many ways and everyone handles depression in their own unique way. 
So instead of judging the homeless and looking down on them in a way that says you are a better person than them, maybe we can begin to work together on finding a better solution, one that will benefit both the homeless population as well as the city and the communities throughout the city.

The first thing we need to do as a society is to change our attitude toward the homeless to be more compassionate and hopeful, rather than the cold and careless attitude that much of society seems to have. Our society is so consumed by being good, obedient consumers. We buy, buy, buy...then buy buy buy some more... and we throw away our old stuff or we stuff it into storage, then end up throwing it away eventually anyway.

Much of society blindly moves through life, dwelling on and being utterly entrenched with TV and movies. We feel like we need to escape into this non-reality just so we can deal with our lives, much like someone who uses substances or alcohol may be doing also. These are really just the same thing, just different flavors of escapism. For many people, depression leads to these various activities and depending on our influences, background and personal situation, we are all guilty of some form of escapism. I am not saying that escapism is wrong at all and there are many forms of it that can definitely be considered positive, but even the activities that are deemed more positive by most of society can still be abused and over-used, therefore having a very negative consequence also.

So as we start to have a better attitude toward the homeless, what can we do to fix our homeless problem? There has to be a solution. I won't accept no solution. Who am I to say this? I'm a human being, so are you and so is every homeless person. If we even cared about the homeless problem just 10% of how much we care about having all the latest trendy over-priced items we just might be able to deal with our homeless population in a loving, dignified and humane sort of way. I realize that many various groups have been working on solutions and each group has their own positive application to this problem but all you have to do is take a short ride through the city, or walk around a few blocks anywhere in the downtown vicinity and you will see dozens and dozens of homeless people. If you did this all day, you would easily see hundreds of homeless people. Every single one of those people have to exist somewhere. I don't think society actually wants any of them to die, although a good portion of society really could care less about their livelihood.

This idea may seem preposterous to many people but maybe we can build up a strong coalition of a support network made from local businesses and caring people who want to actually deal with this in a positive and constructive way. With this coalition of support to start with, have a piece of land somewhere in the city that isn't being used and develop this property into a homeless commune. A place with enough space for anyone to sleep under a roof and with a vegetable garden which can be made and maintained with the joint cooperation of willing homeless people and caring people in the community. All the food can be used to feed the entire homeless population of this commune. Various business owners who join this coalition can also help work with educating and rehabilitating the homeless who show a desire to accept help. For many people, just the act of someone else helping pull them out of the hole they are in, is enough to kick start an entirely new life for themselves and to become more productive members of society. For many just the act of doing this will give them a huge jolt of confidence and for the first time in a long time they will feel that someone truly cares about them. All of their clothing and personal comfort belongings can be supplied by the community by just giving them the stuff we don't need or might typically throw in the trash. I'm sure that as a city that prides itself on being so clever and kind, that we can handle doing something like this. This also does not have to involve a brick and mortar building at first, but can be started off with tents and more temporary types of shelter solutions.  I am not saying this is a perfect solution and I am only touching on a few simple points without going into great detail, but something has to change because it is extremely obvious that this problem has not gotten better, year after year. This is literal insanity.

I realize there is obviously a lot of red tape involved in doing such a thing as I am describing but I really do believe that this can be accomplished. I do not expect for this to completely eradicate our entire homeless problem, but I believe this would be a huge step in the right direction and from someone who does not hold a college degree and has no experience in social work of any kind, but is a human being analyzing the situation from my perspective and personal experience, I think something like this just might work... but only if we have the right attitude.

Here is a small collection of photos that I've shot over the past year of some of Portland's homeless population. You can see faces, real people and real needs. You can also see some of the various makeshift living/shelter arrangements they use. All of these are inadequate and NOT an acceptable way for people in 21st century Portland, Oregon, United States of America to be living.

Sep 10, 2013

About the Art: Love is the Answer

This is the before/after of my newest art piece.
Love is the Answer.

The main photo was shot through the windshield
when we were driving down a country road to McMinnville, Oregon.
All the cars were shot by me during other times. 
I am accepting new commission work.
Please see this link for more information and
feel free to contact me with any questions about this process.  

Sep 6, 2013

Why I prefer the iPhone 5 to a DSLR camera.

I remember how excited I felt 5 years ago when I was about to purchase my first "real camera". The new Nikon D90 has just been released and I was convinced that THIS was the best bang for the buck... or at least that this camera would improve my photography skills and business opportunities making it a worthy investment. This was the decision I made after carefully reviewing all the DSLR cameras.

While still in the parking lot of the camera store, I had to put it all together so I could try it out on my drive home. I was so eager that I didn't want to take the time to read any of the instructions and I nearly broke the lens while mounting it on the camera body for the first time. For the next 2 years I lugged that beast around almost everywhere I went, which was really a big hassle but still seemed like my best option until I decided to get a Sony Cybershot which was very small compared to the D90. Since I was literally able to take my camera anywhere I went, the Cybershot gave me a lot more flexibility. I never had to miss a photo taking opportunity anymore and so this little camera slowly became my main camera of choice, just for the freedom that it offered. Soon, I practically forgot that I had the D90 and it sat on my shelf just collecting dust and showing some signs of jealousy from the relationship that I was forming with the Cybershot.

All during this time I was still using a "dumb" phone. This phone had a 1.3 mp camera that in no way even came close to offering the kind of quality to be able to take a decent photo. But by now, I had my eye on the newer iPhones and started seeing some pretty impressive photos being shot on these little devices. I finally got my first iPhone earlier this year. Suddenly the rest of the shackles fell off and I felt completely liberated. Not only did I always have my camera with me, but I always had it in my hand, always ready to get that shot. This camera was so fast that I could just click off the photos very fast, with what seems like no lag at all from the time I press the button until the photo has been shot. The ability to easily email or post the photos online was a nice effect too. I started to document the cool things that I saw and experienced as I could shoot, then post the better or more interesting photos immediately and all while hanging out of the car passenger window even. Posting my photos instantly to Facebook was something I did mainly to have a single place to keep these types of photos, sort of documenting my life. At least this was the main reason I started doing this. My secondary motive was as simple as finding some joy in sharing the beautiful and very interesting things that I experienced with the world... or just whoever happened to see them.

I will admit that I have from time to time read about some of the newer cameras, such as the Sony NEX series, which I've had my eye on since right after I got the brick camera, my D90, which I no longer have, btw... but that is for future post. I've even been offered the full use of a nice Nikon D80 and politely declined since I really seem to prefer to shoot with my iPhone 5. I do realize that some of the other smart phones now have better cameras and also have the capability of shooting better in low light conditions. I also realize that there are a lot of limitations when almost solely using a smart phone camera, such as a good quality zoom. But for now at least, I choose to have these limitations in return for the utter convenience and simplicity of shooting with my iPhone 5. (Almost) Everything I need on the go is now in the palm of my hand. Internet, email, useful apps... and the only camera I really need.

That 41 mp Nokia 808 Pureview looks interesting.... but it uses Windows 8. I think I will stick with my iPhone for now.

Take a look at some more of the photos I shot on the iPhone 5.

Here's a whole bunch I shot from a moving car a few months ago.

written by Stacy Ann Young