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Blog Posts for March 2006

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Ride

 

On this bonny day, I left work a bit early to grab the steed from the shop and take it for a spin. When at the bike shop, I learned that the grinding sound that emanated from my bike last year when applying great torque was, in fact, a broken axle. It's been replaced and it rides as good as new. Yes! Since it's fixed, that's now my transportation to and from work again.

Got home with it and Nick and I went on a good half hour ride for about 8 or so miles. He's been in kickboxing classes for the past two months, so we kept pace with one another pretty well. Got home and had grapes and water for dinner. The weight can't help but come off me. I'll make Aaron chicken-something. Nick is eating at Ali's before his kickboxing class.

Last night, I took Austin and Cub and I went exploring and found our way to the park. Bat and ball in hand, we played until we couldn't see any more and then came home in the dark. It was wonderful.

We came back home and goofed around some more. Aaron showed off his new haircut...

And Cub hammed for the camera.

I love spring.

Painting-wise, I've been slacking off. I need to finish the painting I'm on and get going with the next. I did learn through a random survey of people that the most popular card I've done thus far is the Beach Kite. I need more children and more fun. I have a few ideas.

I open in April. I ought to be able to have 16 cards by then.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/1/2006 6:46:17 PM
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Late Night Ride

 

As I did last year, I recorded a late night ride while Nick was on the computer filling out his Best Buy application to get a job. You can click on the picture to view the three-minute clip.

The ride takes me along Jordan Creek Parkway toward one of the buildings that Wells Fargo uses on Vista Drive.

Tried painting tonight, but frankly, it's the source picture, and that's the last time that I use a source picture that employed a flashbulb. It washes all of the color out and scares away the shadows. The kids and I are unanimous: NOT THIS! I have a wall of shame on my wall behind my computer.

You can see where the painting was going, but it was dull and lifeless and looked like I drew it with a crayon.

Yes, I can paint, but I can also paint poorly. On to the next one...

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/1/2006 11:10:30 PM
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Morning Tree - Starting Out

 

ETC: And later...

Gotta wait for it to dry a bit before I can continue...

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/2/2006 10:38:58 PM
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Morning Tree (Card #8)

 

That's finishes the second row.

Off to Kinko's...

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/3/2006 12:53:02 AM
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How to Prevent a Cold

 

Those who know me know that it's rare that I get sick. I honestly can't recall the last time that I got sick with a cold or a flu - and that's despite having five kids.

So what's the secret?

At the very first sign of a tickle in the throat, gargle with whiskey. I use Jim Beam.

No, I'm not kidding. This is not an excuse to drink at odd hours... those who know me also know that I don't drink, except for an occasional glass of merlot or a whimsical dark beer.

So there it is, and it works brilliantly. To hell with zinc, vitamin C, echinacea, and Airborne... this treatment prevents a cold. Stops it dead. And it works every time.

ETC: After posting this, I thought that I might have to eat crow - what everyone I know had, I felt trying to get me in the form of a scratchy throat and a tickle. So, in a record nine whiskey treatments over a two day period, it's gone. Yep - it works.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/3/2006 7:31:29 AM
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Nesting

 

I've redone a bit of the ArtByBrett web site. On the suggestion of Kelly, I increased the size of the card images so that more detail is seen. I don't want them too large or people might just use the image that's there and try to print them on their own printer. But he was right, and so I did that.

I also reworked the home page so that it's the latest top three paintings that appear there. No one is going to read my text anyway, so it doesn't matter much. I like this better - a picture is worth a thousand words, you know?

I've noticed that most of my cards are horizontal rather than vertical, which has me thinking that I need to buy racks that support both orientations. Such a rack is only $6 more, so I'll do that, but it also sports 24 slots, so I'll need more cards. Paint, paint, paint...

I have the next paintings queued up. Pirates, Baby Laughing, In The Hole, Joy, Wedding Kiss, Yes!, Birthday Balloons, and Boy In Water. That's eight, and hopefully, that's March.

I've sent an email to a bunch of people (if I excluded you, I apologize... but send me an email, and I'll include you). I'm asking that they go to ArtByBrett and rank the paintings I have thus far. I'll use their input to determine which paintings go to the printer in March.

Getting ready to open shop... here we go!

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/4/2006 11:59:21 AM
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Pirates - Sketching

 

This one will be both fun and aggravating, I can tell already. Hopefully it comes out right, but to prepare, I'm doing something new - sketching it out roughly as a separate piece before I jump in. I want to work through the trick of some of the shadow work and the edges that I'll encounter before I start on the real thing.

This one will take a me a while. No rushing through this one...

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/4/2006 10:50:15 PM
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Pirates - Day One

 

After rough sketching and thinking about it last night and the approach I wanted to take, I started in this morning.

This is almost all small brush work, which is unusual, but then it's very detailed and lots of face work, so big brushes are out for that.

It occurs to me that people might wonder why exactly I post and snapshot the work as I go. Two reasons:

1) I do so at times when I need to step away and clear my head of its assumptions before I return to work. Taking a picture of it lets me see it in a fresh way and I often spot problems early on in this fashion, which leads to a better painting.

2) I think it breaks down the "mystery" of painting. Often, we only see the finished work of an artist, and seeing it in its early cumbersome stages makes it more a process and more human. For example, notice that the girl taking shape has her right arm both downward and out to the side. Why? Because I can't decide at the moment which is better for the composition. Hence, I'm taking a break. It's my opinion that anyone can paint. I would hope that, by seeing the step-by-step development, someone might be less intimidated by art and be more prone to try it themselves. It's one shape and one color at a time - that's all.

ETC: A bit later, and time for another break.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/5/2006 9:18:22 AM
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Pics from the Past

 

I went through every picture I own yesterday to find anything I might have that is paint-worthy. Funny how I see picture-taking much differently than I once did. My photography was terrible - poor composition, bad light. I found almost nothing workable. But I did find a couple of fun pictures...

When I used to go to church, we attended Calvary, the big pink church in Charlotte, North Carolina. That's me and the kids on a Sunday morning. And check out me in a suit... I actually still have that suit. I sold the rest. But I'm excited to squeeze back into the suit after the weight loss. That's fun to do with old clothes :)

From about the same period, the boys are wearing my shorts and sweat pants.

Austin and Cub playing in a wading pool in Ames, Iowa.

Kind of a cool texture of cacti in a tray behind a Kmart.

And one last picture. When I was 20 or so, I bought some watercolors to mess around with them and I actually tried a painting, but never finished it. So here it is:

And from that time forward, I didn't touch it again until I turned 40. The rest of the story - well, you know it if you read this web site.

Okay, enough goofing around - back to painting.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/5/2006 10:57:33 AM
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Amazing Face

 

The face is an amazing thing. It's so full of contrasts and hue.

As I work on the face of the main person in this piece, I marvel at the human face. It conveys so much. Indeed, it's the first thing we ever know when we're fresh from the womb. Fascinating, to study a person's face.

Anyway, just one of those "Wow" moments when life's simplest things give you great pleasure.

ETC: Stopping for now... more later.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/5/2006 2:58:32 PM
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Kelly

 

I've mentioned him a few times on my site here... Kelly is an amazing human being whom I've had the privilege of knowing for over twenty years. I went over to his house for dinner tonight and in the next few months, we'll be exploring music together and having a good time. I expect to buy a new acoustic guitar soon and then songwriting will become quite active. Kelly has a few tunes of his own, and he has some ideas for the drum machine for one of my songs.

Kelly's also an avid photographer. He uses a Canon 20D. Nice camera, and he uses it quite well. He took two pictures of me tonight while over at his place.

And this one:

Pretty cool.

And since he sent this picture of himself to me, I'll stick it up on my site ;)

I'm amazed to know so many good people in life. I'm glad that I know Kelly...

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/5/2006 8:56:22 PM
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Pirates (Getting Closer)

 

Currently...

I have two more girls to go and then it's lights out on the slumber party.

On December 3rd, I started this little exercise into greeting cards. Today, the printer told me that they have received the 600-dpi jpeg files of my first eight cards and I should be able to proof them in the next couple of days. Sometime next week, I'll pick up the order. At that time, I'll have 1,000 cards, 125 of the first eight.

Then comes the task of finding retailers. I initially wanted to start with ten. I've trimmed that to four. That's managable. I get to put on my salesman cap and trot door-to-door in the venues I've selected to approach. Need to practice my pitch...

I've actually done a lot of door-to-door sales. Back when I had my window washing business in the 80's and early 90's, I went to residential neighborhoods and would walk up to the door, smile, and ring the doorbell. The man or woman inside would answer and look me from head to toe. I held my pickle bucket in my left hand, squeegees hung from the ringlets in my pants, and towels were draped over my shoulder.

"Can I help you?" they would ask, one eyebrow raised.

"Hi. My name is Brett Rogers, and I'm a window washer in the area. I've done a few houses in your neighborhood, and wondered if you'd like an estimate to have your windows cleaned."

And then I would wait, smiling firmly and kindly.

Sometimes, the decision was immediate. Mostly "No," but occasionally "Why, yes. Go right ahead." Other times it would be about 20 seconds before I would get an answer.

If "Yes," I would walk around the outside of the house, gauge the number of hours that it might take, and then report back with an estimate for $20 an hour.

More often than not, they went with the estimate, and usually I would get started right then.

It's interesting to me that they would then follow me around as I worked. First, screens out of the windows and gathered and taken outside to hose down and set against the house or fence to dry. Then back inside, laying sheet down on the floor to keep it clean, and then I went to fill up my bucket with clean water. But they would follow me the whole time, and I would ask them questions.

"Live here long?"
"I see you have kids? Are those recent pictures?"
"Did I catch you in the middle of reading your bible? What are you reading?"

And so it went, the conversation started with a complete stranger and soon enough, I was hearing things that few people would hear.

"I can't believe I'm telling you all this."

And then they would continue right on from there.

Some were accountants, or retired executives, or doctors or dentists, or housewives. All of them were well-to-do. I saw some great homes, and a ton of ideas for interior decorating.

"Where'd you get that?" I would ask, pointing at a knick knack. "That's mighty interesting..."

"Oh, we got that on our trip to Africa. You know, Dave always said..."

And the story would go on.

I don't mind door-to-door. Some of my best experiences in life came from my time window washing. I met some great people, and some of them shared quite a bit of wisdom with me. It was pretty cool.

Going out to drum up retailers feels a bit like that. So of course, I'm looking forward to it. Minus the pickle bucket, which was a 5-gallon green bucket from Burger King that held, as you might guess, pickles. Perfect for window washing, and back then, a Burger King would give me one if I asked. They always had an empty one handy.

What's nice is that I'm about on schedule with my plans. I'd like to have a couple more paintings done, but I'm content with my painting progress. I'll see if I can finish this one tonight. Hope so. Late night ahead!

ETC: One more girl...

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/8/2006 9:53:22 PM
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Pirates (3rd Row)

 

I've almost filled the rack halfway :)

Off to Kinko's...

(What would I do if they actually kept regular hours?)

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/9/2006 2:48:47 AM
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Low Res Proofs

 

I got an email today from the printer with the low res proofs. Here's the front and back of the card as it will be sent through the press. (I apologize for wide image...)

Pretty cool. I get the actual card proofs, paper in hand, around Wednesday and the entire order should be ready for pickup on Friday.

In regard to Pirates, the painting I just finished, people like it a lot, but for one feature: the plastic knives. So I'll change that. The knives run counter to a mom's sensibilities. I actually remember painting the second knife and wondering how that was going to play out. Now I know! I love the honest feedback people give me.

I'll buy two more racks today, both of these offering horizontal and vertical orientations.

Onward :)

ETC: Knives gone... see below.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/10/2006 4:56:07 PM
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Giddy

 

I had to stop by the doctor today and while there, I learned that I'm right at 300 pounds and that in the last year, my blood pressure has gone from 144 / 88 (yikes!) to 118 / 72. That's such a good thing. Obviously, by losing the weight I averted disaster.

I'll be finishing my next painting this weekend, which is titled "Baby Laughter." Or maybe "Laughing Baby." Hmm... actually, as I think about it, I like the title "Giggle" better. It's a close-up of a baby's face just ripe with mirth. We should all look like that more often. Stay tuned - you'll see it as it develops. Haven't started yet, but might later tonight.

Then my golf painting... a close-up of a ball going in the cup. These next two paintings are vertically oriented, which is good, because otherwise my racks will be overloaded with horizontal cards.

Next weekend, I hope to take some photos of a woman with her hair up in a bun. The most frequent comment I've received about Woman At Window is that she has bad hair.

Poor thing.

But I'll alleviate that soon. Nice thing about painting - correction is relatively easy, and I'm feeling more comfortable doing it. The hardest part is matching color.

I usually only work with a few colors as it is, so repeating the combination that got a certain spot of the painting is odd.

Had lunch with a business partner today, John, who is just a great guy. He's an investor in the company I started five years ago. The product I created back then has generated $18,000 in sales in the past two months and we're re-releasing it as a web app later this year, which I'll announce when it's ready. Sales, by the way, were worldwide: Netherlands, Fiji, Asia (don't remember where), and here in the western hemisphere too. The good news: my ownership of 55,000 shares may actually start returning money at the end of 2006 and certainly in 2007. So far, it's been a gimp turkey, limping along, but never give up, eh? That return on investment will go into the purchase of more racks and cards next year and a bit of debt clearance for me.

Good day, this #15,101st day of my life :)

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/10/2006 10:52:58 PM
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In The Hole

 

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/20/2006 12:00:00 AM
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Front Porch - Day One

 

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/21/2006 12:00:00 AM
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Front Porch - Day Two

 

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/23/2006 12:00:00 AM
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Front Porch - Almost Done

 

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/31/2006 9:31:26 PM
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