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Pugs and Pics

Writing, Art & Photography

Upcoming AVA Class

I will be offering the following course on April 23rd at AVA Gallery in Lebanon, N.H. Registration is through AVA Gallery. Spread the word. Thanks!

 

One Photo, Four Stories

$95.00

Kim J. Gifford

 

April 23

Saturday, 10:00am–4:30pm

One 6½-hour class

Tuition: $75 /members; $95 /non-members

 

This one-day workshop uses a photo of your choosing as a prompt for four separate stories. Get your creative juices flowing and spark your memory in a class that promises to be fun and stimulating. It is also a great way to launch or jumpstart a memoir, begin a new journal or create an archive for family or friends. Open to all ability levels. Come with a spirit of fun and a willingness to share!

More Colored Pencil-Rhianna and Amore

Rhianna Final

Colored pencil may be my new addiction so I hope you guys don’t get tired of viewing them while I perfect my technique. This picture is of my new pug puppy, Amore, and a young girl from our church, Rhianna. I’ve been taking Amore to church since I got her last December. She is quiet and well behaved and loves being passed from person to person during the service. As she has gotten a bit older this is not as easy because she is growing so big so quickly, but both Amore and Rhianna still seem to love their cuddle time. Below is the picture I did this from as well as further examples of my process.

1934946_10208341578239868_6771658361017948843_nRhianna Sketches

Colored Pencil-Obama

President Barack Obama by K.J. Gifford

President Barack Obama by K.J. Gifford

Last February I attended a conference put on by the Vermont Arts Council called Breaking into Business. It was designed to help artists establish and market their businesses. There, I met colored pencil artist Corrina Thurston, who does fabulous drawings of animals, wildlife etc. They are so realistic. I had never realized such an effect could be achieved with colored pencil. A lot of it involves building up layers and also using tools to cut into the layers to create lines, hair, wrinkles, whiskers, fur, etc. I decided to give it a try and began doing some portraits. This is one of my most recent of President Obama.

I’m really enjoying the process and am fascinated watching the image emerge. I have been taking photos of the drawing as it progresses and find that by the time I take the one prior to the final I frequently am ready to give up. When I get to this point I have tried studying the photo of my drawing and comparing it to the original picture in Photoshop. I practice making changes in Photoshop where it is easy to backup and erase mistakes and once I realize what needs to be fixed, I return to the page and colored pencil to make the changes. In this case, the changes were minimal, a narrowing of the face and a darkening of the eyes, but it made all the difference. Below, shows the sketch in progress.

Obama sketches

You can see how the fourth picture here is slightly different from the final image. All the changes here were done by hand. I only use Photoshop to compare the photos.

Writing Prompt: There and Back Again: Memoir Writing on Home and Travel

Sundog

I’ve been thinking a lot about place lately as I am scheduled to begin a memoir class on home and travel. As I’ve been pulling together my syllabus and lesson plans, my mind has been keenly focused on the subject and as a result I’ve come across so many interesting pieces of writing focusing. A fellow blogger, Deb German Young, wrote a beautiful piece capturing the heat of Memphis and her childhood there while she searches for Avalon in her now everyday life in Vermont. A friend shared with me a piece about his grandmother’s home in Vermont and a childhood fight that had him feeling like an outsider on many levels. This morning I stumbled across an announcement that West Virginia University Press is starting a book series called In Place focusing on books firmly rooted in place. For numerous years my primary form of income has been writing for magazines such as Upper Valley Life, Kearsarge Magazine, Rutland Magazine—all regional publications, but I don’t think I gave much thought about how much the place where I live and was raised affected me until I started traveling. So many of the differences in political, religious views, customs, even affection for pets, I could soon trace back to my northern New England upbringing. My setting influenced if not my actual beliefs at the very least the way I approached things. I began to see that even my fears were based on where I came from. I have friends from afar who don’t think twice of getting in a car and driving through six lanes of traffic, while many of the people here close to home find a sojourn to Burlington a big challenge. Our world here is small in scale and while I am not implying that we do not seek broader horizons, for many of us it is a leap to do so. I realized that my best friends have not strayed too far from home and my own family all lives within a 50-mile radius of each other. I come from people who stick and my own journeys in to the bigger world have thus, been perhaps been viewed as greater adventures than they might be to someone else. Each summer I get on a plane and travel 7,000 miles away to Hawaii. When I was 12, 16, even 25, I could not have imagined myself going that far.

I took a writing class two years ago with memoirist Abigail Thomas who kept encouraging me to write more about my family and their rural way of life. I couldn’t quite grasp the uniqueness of it then, how much of it is a part of my story. I am beginning to now. Perhaps that is why I decided to teach this class. I have a good group of seven or eight students and I am excited to see where they are from and where this class will take us. I am also intrigued to find more memoirs and books where place plays a role. I recently found a few on Amazon that I am eager to read: Small Beneath the Sky by Lorna Corzier and No Place Like Home: A Memoir in 39 Apartments by Brooke Berman. One of my favorite descriptions of a place is not in a memoir but in Steinbeck’s Cannery Row.  I’d love to hear any suggestions anyone else might have.

When I attended the workshop with Abigail Thomas she gave us a memoir prompt on place that I intend to use with my students the first day of class: Write 2 Pages on Where you Are From. I’d love to hear responses.

New Beginnings

FullSizeRender

As some of you know, today my first email newsletter went out, keeping you apprised of latest news, classes, art shows etc. If you haven’t already subscribed, you will notice there is now a place to do so on the home page of the blog. I hope this is one of many new changes over the course of the next year to make the web site more user friendly.

This newsletter was made possible by an artist development grant through the Vermont Arts Council. This past February a friend told me about the Breaking into Business Program, also sponsored by the Vermont Arts Council. My sister-in-law and I attended and the results, including the grant, have been fantastic. The program offered crucial information and advice on how to establish and further your art business as well as awesome networking opportunities. I am really excited about the newsletter, which I will publish monthly to start, that will give you further glimpses into what is going on with my writing, art, and teaching. And, of course, you’ll get a fair share of pug news as well.

Which brings me to the latest update—a new litter of pug puppies at my friend Joan’s home. Five blacks, all different in shape, size and personality. I’ll be introducing them to you in the days ahead. They are three weeks old, have opened their eyes and are learning to stand. The biggest barely fits in two hands, while the little one can curl up in the palm of one.  They are magical and I have been visiting them daily.

Unfortunately, I have to take a break as I am  headed to Philadelphia to volunteer for an open air religious crusade in Nicetown. For those of you who come to the pages of this blog as writing students or art lovers, please don’t be dismayed as I share these other details of my life. We are people of story, which is what art and writing and living and memory and memoir is all about. So just as I encourage you to share yours on the page, I am learning to share mine. I will be writing more soon and sharing lots of news, pics and some latest art projects, too. It has been a busy summer, which means there are many stories to tell.