A Hint of Summer Vacation

No, it’s not summer vacation just yet.  However, things are starting to wind down for vacation. Granted, little things are popping up here and there, but especially with the end in site for a few large projects I’ve been working on for months and the weather outside staying a little warmer each day and the trees blooming, I’d say it feels like I’m getting close to my summer vacation.

About three weeks ago I got the opportunity to go to Holland for a photoshoot and we (my brother and I) stopped by Lake Michigan after we were finished.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen the lake and I have to say I love going there.  When we got to Holland it was nice and sunny out, but by the time we got to the lake it wasn’t quite so sunny.  Bright, but a hazy brightness which made looking at the lake a little dull.  However, it makes for great portrait weather because it reduces the harsh contrast between light and shadow on faces.  Normally I’m the one taking the pictures but I asked my brother to a couple shots of me at the lake (since I don’t like most of the pictures taken of me.)  He doesn’t really consider himself a photographer, so he just kept clicking and said  “We’ll get a good one in here somewhere!”  (These turned out to be a few of the best ones:)

We didn’t stay long because we had to get back on the road but it was nice just to make a quick trip to walk on the sand, listen to the waves on the shore, and become enchanted by looking out onto a horizon full of sky and water.  I’m almost certain that’s just the first time I will see the lake this summer, as my friends and I have a history of visiting the lake and I have a feeling we will be making a beach day trip again this year.

The other thing that was nice about this adventure were the tulips!  I’ve always wondered what it would be like to go to the Tulip Festival and although we missed it by a week or so, the tulips were already in full bloom and we were able to enjoy the large flower beds of tulips everywhere.  To my surprise, the tulips were even planted next to the curb along the main roads!  Again we didn’t stop it was nice to take in a taste of what the excitement was about and perhaps I can return another year.

Needless to say, the trip to the lake and the break in routine definitely made me start to feel like summer was just around the corner.  I think most people consider Memorial Weekend as the beginning of summer but with the warmer weather, and general change of pace I feel like summer has been calling me a little earlier this year, and I can’t wait to find out what other adventures it’ll bring!

~nestorakarts

Vacation: A Refresher for Inspiration

After recently coming back from vacation and visiting my boyfriend I’ve realized how beneficial a vacation can be especially for a creative mind.  Although I haven’t posted in a while it doesn’t mean that I haven’t been working on any projects. (In fact, if I were doing nothing I’d probably be posting more!) I’ve been working on two major projects to hopefully finish very soon and it’s just simply been a busy time. Juggling two part-time jobs and freelancing in art can make things pretty busy! Where does all the time go? And with the nature of my jobs, weekends are usually quite busy too so there is little time to relax.

It’s amazing how a little change can re-inspire you and pull you out of a rut. Perhaps some people don’t feel that way, but I know I tend to get burned out after a while if I’m going all the time for months without some sort of vacation.  Living in a small town can only give so much inspiration before you run out of ideas.  Even traveling to the same place over and over may only spark a little inspiration after a while.  But visiting a place that’s 500 miles away and very different from the big cities you’re used to can open up many avenues for inspiration.  The big city pace seemed to keep my mind moving to take in everything I was seeing and file it away in my mind for future inspiration.  Instead of researching on the computer for new ideas, I was able to research in real life.  Instead of blocking out new ideas to make sure I finished the old ones, I was able to allow myself to say ‘do what you want today; take pictures of whatever inspires you.’

This vacation was also nice because I also had time to work on my projects uninterrupted.  My boyfriend had to work while I was in town so while he was gone I worked also.  By clearing out that time from any other commitments or distractions I was able to focus on the task at hand and accomplish more.  I knew I was getting ahead on some things that I may not have had time for at home or enough energy for at the end of the day.  I like to set aside large chunks of time to work on projects but my schedule doesn’t usually allow that, so this break from the other routines really helped to push me further along in my projects than I might have had time for at home in my regular schedule.

So, as I get back in to the swing of things this week I’m thankful to have a slightly less busy schedule (with spring break and Easter). I’ve committed myself to getting these projects accomplished before I do any other projects because I know otherwise they will be put off to work on the new ideas.  I’m hoping to keep that refreshed mentality going to at least finish my other projects and get on to my new, inspired projects.  (Hopefully this means I’ll be posting more new things more often as well!)

~nestorakarts

An Artist’s Dilemma

I love having pictures to hang on my wall.  However, I hate hanging them.

I finally pulled out the box of framed artwork and posters from when I moved in to this new apartment today.  At first I wasn’t quite sure why it took me so long to get these hung, because I really enjoy some of the pictures I’ve taken.  (Most of my artwork other than the posters are pictures that I’ve photographed.)  I think I also was waiting for inspiration to hit me for where the photos should go.  But yesterday I cleaned and tidied my apartment and saw the box of pictures still sitting there. So, I decided today would be the day.

(pictures from allposters.com)

The only small artwork that isn’t mine are some vintage prints (above) and I thought I’d hang some of those together.  Well, for me trying to hang everything by myself, this was probably a bad idea.  I don’t like to measure because I measure three or four times, step back, and it still looks crooked.  So I used one nail hole that was already there, measure and try to line them up together.  I was close but not close enough for a perfectionist.  So, I tried again… still not quite right.  Posters are ok because only one is framed, and the other I use the command strips and if I don’t line it up quite right it’s easy to carefully peel off and readjust until it’s right.

As I went on, I started getting tired and a little frustrated because the holes already in the wall were not where I would want them to be, or the nail didn’t go in as far as I thought it should, putting prints together they didn’t line up, prints didn’t go together like I wanted, etc.  But I also decided I’m not going to worry myself over getting them just right for now either.  At least they’re up, and while I’m in this apartment (or any apartment that I don’t know how long I plan on living in) I’m not going to fret over getting them perfectly even, or finding the perfect spots.  I don’t entertain many people and the whole apartment is sort of mismatched anyway.  All of my furniture was given to me from different places and are all different colors that don’t exactly “match.”  And very thankful for all of them (I mean, ALL of them were free!)  It saved me a lot of money, but if I were really settling in I probably wouldn’t have picked some of them for a more permanent residence.  Right now I feel like I’m still in the traveler’s stage, in the unknown and waiting for the the next change until I’m allowed to settle somewhere for a while.  So until I get a place I can really call a “home” then I’m content to be a little mismatched.

~nestorakarts

New Year, New Routine

I personally believe that we all have new year’s resolutions whether or not we recognize them. We all look back at the past year and make new decisions or changes based on things we want to change for the future.  I’ve certainly made a few resolutions for the new year, in many different things.  And many of them are small resolutions or adjustments to the way I work so that I can keep them going.  Small changes are much better and easier to keep than a huge change in routine.  They’re not necessarily ‘new year’ resolutions either, but just resolutions that happen to occur around the new year because I’ve had a break to catch up, re-evaluate things, and a chance to make some changes in my routine so that there’s some flexibility while I’m not stuck in the same routine trying and attempting to do things differently.  Here’s a handful of them:

  • Get up when the alarm goes off (and not hit snooze for the next 30 minutes!)
  • Allow myself some time to myself each day so I don’t get stressed.  Especially with moving, the holidays, and LOTS of deadlines I started getting way too worked up about and stressed about getting things done and didn’t enjoy doing some of my work as much as I should have.  Setting time apart for myself to unwind each day and not get caught up in things should help with that.
  • Make more time for reading my Bible & prayer
  • Limit my time on facebook!
  • Set certain times for working on photography/graphic design-related items and STICK TO IT!  My art career is more of an “on the side” career but I never really made time to keep it going as a ‘career’ so I plan to actually make time to get things accomplished this year instead of doing it when I feel like it.  Sure, there is something to be said about getting more accomplished when you’re feeling more awake, more inspired, etc. but setting a time for it will help me get it done sooner.  This will also help me get projects done faster!  (Coming soon- new branding design, new logos, and new design book!)

Those are just a few of my ‘resolutions.’  Some of the things that I’ve used that I would recommend for other people trying to reorganize are Evernote and the 99% blog.  Evernote is a computer software program that lets you sync notes from computer to computer or other devices (smartphones, iPads, etc.)  It’s really helped me especially with checklists and to-do lists and jotting down thoughts so I have them wherever I need them.  The 99% blog (by Behance.net) is an organizational blog that helps you organizational skills, how to be more productive in your work, etc.  I’d definitely recommend it as a resource when you’re feeling stuck or like you need some help feeling more motivated.  (No, I’m not getting any benefit from endorsing them but I do feel like they have really helped so I want to recommend them to you.)

For some things I’m a creature of habit, but I also enjoy variety and change, so evaluating myself and figuring out how to make myself improve is a good and healthy exercise for me.  (Who doesn’t like to feel accomplished?)  I don’t know what the next year holds but I’m hoping to be prepared enough for it so that I can take on whatever comes my way.  So, here’s to hoping that everyone has a happy, productive, and blessed New Year!

~nestorakarts

Happy New Year

Christmastime: A Whirlwind of Busyness

It’s been over a month since my last post, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing anything. (In fact, it’s quite the opposite.) There have been lots of small projects in addition to work, such as printing the directory photos (see https://nestorakarts.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/the-next-big-project/), preparing my students for a recital, and the big one: moving. We actually ended up moving on Thanksgiving Day and the rest of the weekend simply because there were more people around to help.

But now the photos are being handed out, the violin recital is over, and Christmas is nearly here! Things are still busy enough to keep me from fully unpacking my apartment, but it gives me a little more time to slow down and really remember what the season is about and why we celebrate the season: Christ, and his gift to us through his birth–not just something you can buy at the store or on Amazon.com.

In one of my whirlwinds of busy days I was teaching violin lessons and one of my students was ready for the recital.  She is still sort of a beginner but was advanced enough to start playing some Christmas carols that weren’t too difficult.  When I asked her if she wanted to learn a Christmas song her eyes widened and she bounced up and down and said “Yes please!”  We pulled out some of the songs that would be suitable for her level (which were quite a few) and she was so excited about so many of them she wasn’t sure which one to choose!  Her enthusiasm made the rest of my day so much brighter and made me feel a little silly for being so upset about trying to get things accomplished and making myself somewhat miserable about it.  That’s not what the season is for.  It’s for rejoicing, and from the holiday we can take a break and spend time with friends and family that we care about.  I think this year it will be more special for me as many of my friends and family are spread out and have moved to other places so the coming together will be more special than before.

So, I have tried not to get caught up in that busyness that leads to Christmas and tried to be aware of that.  I’m finally on a much needed break for a little while (at least from most responsibilities) and I can enjoy the season.  As I get older and more independent I’m also realizing the little things that make so much of a difference (like a wide-eyed child learning Christmas songs) and things that don’t matter so much (like having the “perfect” Christmas presents for everyone).  Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

~nestorakarts

(PS- I hope to have more posts coming soon!)

The Colors of Fall

(Side note: I had started this blog a little while ago but wanted to try to get more fall photos but since we had our first snow of the year two days ago I don’t believe I’ll be taking anymore fall pictures, and “fall” is running out of time before winter starts.)

Fall is probably my favorite season. I’d always rather be cold than hot, and I enjoy those days where it’s just cool enough for a light jacket and jeans. I also love the colors as the leaves start to turn. My parent’s house is surrounded by large maple trees and so during the fall the bright oranges and yellows reflect off the trees before the leaves fall and cast a beautiful glow in the windows. I also loved raking leaves and making giant leaf piles to jump in, and there were certainly enough leaves to create huge piles to bury yourself in. In fact, raking leaves wasn’t so much of a chore as an activity to prepare you for fun.

I’ve enjoyed searching for great photo opportunities with the fall colors but this year with my busy evening schedule I think I missed some of the best fall colors, but it’s also been an odd year and half the trees are still surprisingly green. By the time I did get to go out most of the “sections” of trees had already lost their leaves that would have been nice to take a picture of or the trees that had already turned were interspersed with many trees that were still green. Nevertheless, I was able to find some nice pictures.

Another day a few weeks later I discovered that the green leaves on my last outing had turned and was able to find some time (in the remaining daylight after work) to scout out some more color. Although the sun was fading fast I went back through one of the places I looked last time to see what the colors looked like after the green trees had turned. I didn’t have much luck with the trees but did find an amazing sunset (and some deer.)

My last chance at fall colors was my recent trip to Nashville. I drove by myself and was surprised how much color was still hanging on south of Indianapolis. Unfortunately, because I was driving and not really adventurous enough to get off the freeway (and spent the whole day driving anyway with few stops) I don’t have very many pictures to account for the lovely fall colors I saw, but I can tell you it was beautiful. To my amazement some of the pine tree needles were a blazing bright red (though I don’t know why) but it made for an even more colorful scene. I think much of my amazement was due to the fact that the “fall colors” were mostly dark reds, burnt oranges, and very rarely any of the bright yellows I was used to seeing from the maple trees in Michigan.

Although I couldn’t take pictures during the most beautiful part of the trip, I would highly recommend trying to take a trip around this time of year because even though I’m used to the fall colors, it’s really amazing to see them in a place you’ve never seen them before. I did take a few pictures at some rest stops which give a small glimpse of the beautiful colors I saw, though I wish that I could have gotten a few more inspiring pictures and that I wasn’t quite so confined to the space of the rest stop on my side of the freeway. (I guess it just means I will have to go back next year to try again!)

The next seasonal pictures will probably involve snow, but that’s ok. I enjoy the snow and although I wasn’t expecting as much snow as we got the other day, I’m looking forward to its return for the winter!

~nestorakarts

New Workspace

My laptop is almost 5 years old now, which is sort of like a dinosaur in computer years. It has served me quite well and is still doing surprisingly well for its age, probably because we added extra memory and ram and such early on because we knew there were big plans for it (lots of pictures and music).  Recently though it has started showing its age more and more. It did overheat one time recently due to lack of proper ventilation on a hot evening and I thought I had sent it to its demise. Fortunately, it’s still running and was ok after that, but I learned my lesson though and bought a new cooling pad to prevent that (or anything worse) from happening again.  I’m hoping to keep it running as long as possible, though it’s showing more signs of slowing down on its processing speeds, a longer start-up time, and the battery doesn’t hold a charge anymore. I’ve moved everything important off the hard drive on to external USB drives just in case.

As a graphic designer I became spoiled with the college’s awesome new computer lab and though I don’t know the stats or the cost of each computer, they were certainly top of the line and out of my current price range. Even a new computer with an upgrade of stats at this point would be a little out of my price range. Yet as I do more graphic work, adjusting to doing lots of details on a small screen made it hard for my already poor eyes to see.

So, I made a compromise….

I bought a new desktop monitor instead of purchasing the whole new computer.  The monitor was quite inexpensive due to “Back-to-School” sales and much much cheaper than a whole new computer.  I had also previously decided that I was going to buy a desktop for my next computer, as they work better for graphic design items for several reasons:

A.  Larger Screens– this makes it much easier for me to see details without having to squint at the screen to check the resolution of photos and such (which I’ve been doing a lot of while editing many wedding photos).

B. Colors stay the same– ever noticed how your laptop screen can change colors depending on what angle you’re looking at?  Quite a problem for trying to get just the right color as a graphic designer, and I think some projects have suffered just a little due to that problem.

So, hopefully now this new toy will help my workflow a little bit, or save my eyes and my wallet if nothing else.  I’ve tried it out and already feel that it is helping my eyes.  The workflow between the two screens is a little awkward at this point but not too bad, and certainly doable.  I haven’t tried printing yet but hope that it will be a little more accurate (though there is a noticeable difference between the two screens so I may have to play around a bit later on.)

So, back to work for me so I can hopefully show you more projects soon!

~Renee’