Daguerreotype & Ambrotype Inspired Mirror & Glass iPrints

ipabadge

I first entered the world of iPhoneography after I stumbled across the iPhoneArt.com website. From the moment I opened the site I was hooked. I was blown away by the quality of art shot and edited on iPhones and iPads and displayed on IPA. I found inspiration, encouragement and friendship amongst this group of cutting edge artists. The first time I exhibited my iPhone art was at the LA Mobile Arts Festival in the Santa Monica Art Studios. It was one of the largest curated exhibits of mobile art to date, put on by the founders of iPhoneart.com, Daria Polichetti and Nate Park. The exposure for that event was global and it helped to legitimize the art form and create new opportunities for many of the artists who were on display.

Daria and Nate have decided to bring IPA to the next level and currently have a Kickstarter campaign that is very close to its goal. They have developed Ambrotype inspired iPrints that are printed directly onto glass blocks and Daguerreotype inspired iPrints that are printed directly onto mirrors or aluminum plates.

Check out the Kickstarter video and if you are moved to help them reach their goal, here is the link to the Kickstarter page.


Frozen – Macro Photography and the Ice Age

Since a recent deep freeze has engulfed much of the U.S. over the past week, I decided to take a series of abstract macros of the icy conditions with my iPhone and a Olloclip macro lens. During these severe weather changes a lot of us tend to focus on the negative impacts and inconveniences while few of us pause to consider the beauty that Mother Nature gifts us with in those fleeting moments. So here’s a slideshow of some of the smaller frozen moments that caught my eye, set to my favorite piece of classical music, Debussy’s Claire de Lune.


Black & White Mobile Photography

I have the distinct honor of being one of the Founder Artist’s for the New Era Museum, a collective of some of the best mobile artists across the globe. I am also part of the Founder’s Board, serve as the NEM website administrator, a member of the NEM Artistic Committee, and am Curator for the “NEM black&white” Photo-Action on Eyeem. On occasion I plan to post my selections for the “NEM black&white” submissions here on the blog. My intention is to share some of the amazing mobile art that is being created and to continue to support the mobile photography movement and the artists that are behind it.

Here are my selections for “NEM black&white” 01:

NEMb&w1

The featured artists clockwise from upper left: MICHAEL MANZA (@FIXIT_INPOST), FEDERICA CORBELLI (@LUBALUFT), @MARQUESADESOBRADO, DARKO (@DARKOLABOR), @RIKKR, PAUL GATTER (@PAULGATTER3), @MABADCA, @WANT_SNOW

Here is the link to view the gallery on the New Era Museum website: NEM Black&White Gallery 01

Here are my selections for “NEM black&white” 02:

NEMb&w2

The featured artists clockwise from upper left: NATALI PROSVETOVA (@NAPROSVET), JAC (@JACCARDOSO72), NIKKI (@NIXV1313), TRISH (@COURTANDSPARK), @LORENKA, ROGER GUETTA (@ROGERGUETTA1), STEFANIA P. BIGIARINI (@STEFANIAPECCHIOLI), ASLEEPUNDERCOLUMNSOVLIGHT (@COLUMNSOVSLEEP)

Here is the link to view the gallery on the New Era Museum website: NEM Black&White Gallery 02

If you are a mobile photographer and you would like a chance to have your black and white work featured on the New Era Museum website plus a shout-out across social media, submit your work via the Eyeem mobile app to the album “NEM black&white.” Hope to see your work there soon!


Fall Colors

I began my career in photography as a nature and wildlife photographer.  Over the years my work has morphed and touched just about every genre imaginable in the craft.  Lately I have found myself drawn back into nature, focused primarily on landscape photos.   In the past I shot most of my landscapes with my DSLR, creating moody High Dynamic Range images.  This time around I have been shooting exclusively with my iPhone and feel drawn to a combination of apps that create a more painterly effect on the final image.

Here are some of the recent landscapes I have shot during the Fall color change in the Sierra’s.

"Nature's Symphony" - Fall colors at Independence Lake, Tahoe National Forest, CA.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Nature’s Symphony” – Fall colors at Independence Lake, Tahoe National Forest, CA. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"The Change" - Fall colors at Independence Lake, Tahoe National Forest, CA.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“The Change” – Fall colors at Independence Lake, Tahoe National Forest, CA. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"Into the Woods" - Fall colors on a grove of Aspens, Independence Lake, Tahoe National Forest, CA.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Into the Woods” – Fall colors on a grove of Aspens, Independence Lake, Tahoe National Forest, CA. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

Below is a photo I shot last year that was recently part of “Creatives Rising” and was projected onto the 42-story Linc LIC building in New York City as well as part of the See Me exhibition on Long Island.

"Soliloquy 9" - Fall colors in the Sierra Nevada, CA. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012-2013. All rights reserved.

“Soliloquy 9” – Fall colors in the Sierra Nevada, CA. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012-2013. All rights reserved.

 

 


Back From My Sabbatical With a Bang

It has been quite awhile since I last posted a blog entry here.  Following my illness I spent a lot of time playing catch up on all the work projects that help to put the bread and butter on the table.  Therefore I have not spent much time on either my photography or my writing.  I viewed my absence as a sabbatical of sorts.  An attempt to regroup my creative juices.

Estrogenius

However, wonders never cease in regards to the creative energy I have put out into the world over the past year.  This month two amazing things have come to fruition from those past creative moments.  The first was news that my essay from the Seal Press book “Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the Stories That Kept Us Small” was chosen as one of 8 pieces to be adapted for a stage production at the 14th Annual Estrogenius Festival in New York City.  The piece is being directed by Ashley Marinaccio, Founder and Artistic Director of the amazing group “Girl Be Heard.”  The performance will be on October 21st at 7:30PM at Stage Left Studio, NYC.

Creatives Rising

The second bit of news occurs tonight in New York City.  One of my photographs is being projected onto the side of the 42 story Linc LIC building at 43-10 Crescent Street, NYC for the “Creatives Rising” event. My work will also be shown in the See.Me Gallery, 26-19 Jackson on Screen 8. The event runs from 6pm-12am tonight and beyond.

I’m hoping to move back into creative mode now that my work projects and busy life have equalized and hope to post more regularly again from this point forward.


More Fun With Photomontage

My creative imagination has taken over once again and I have been having a lot of fun with photomontage.  There are times when I burn out on montage work because it takes a lot of time and is pretty tedious to create on an iPhone.  So, I take a little break and gravitate back towards straight photography.  But since I got my iPad Mini, my eyes are far less strained and I am able to do the more tedious editing on the larger iPad screen with the remainder of editing on my iPhone.

Here are some of my recent photomontage pieces.  Yes, I have a very unique and often quirky imagination. 🙂

"Remnants of a Happy Life" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Remnants of a Happy Life” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"The Rabbit and the Wolf" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“The Rabbit and the Wolf” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"Aliens on Holiday" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Aliens on Holiday” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"Phone Home?" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Phone Home?” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

 

 


Happy 4th and New Work

Happy 4th of July to my U.S. friends!  Still on the healing path and now waiting for word on the West Nile Virus antibodies test.  In the meantime, I have been focused on creating art by shooting with my iPhone and doing some of the editing on my iPad.  The iPad screen definitely provides relief for my strained eyes.

Below are two examples of the new direction that my photomontage are headed.  My photomontage pieces take a lot longer to create than my more straightforward app’ed images, but I have definitely had a lot of time on my hands lately :-).

"Owl Medicine" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Owl Medicine” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.  Apps: procamera, icolorama, pixlromatic, procreate, blender, superimpose.

"Mama Gaia" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Mama Gaia” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved. Apps: procamera, icolorama, superimpose, pic grunger, pixlromatic, blender

 


Healing in Nature – Independence Lake

photo(2)

“On the Mend” – Independence Lake, Tahoe National Forest, CA

I am still on the mend from this not so fun illness.  The mysterious polka dots still remains in smaller patches on my legs and arms but are fading daily.  The only symptoms that persist besides the rash is fatigue and a few achy joints.  I felt well enough this past weekend to escape to the Tahoe National Forest for a night of camping in “Lucy,” our vintage 1956 canned ham trailer.

We decided to check out Independence Lake, a pristine alpine lake that sits at around 7,200 feet in elevation.  The lake and surrounding acreage was purchased several years ago by the Nature Conservancy and is cooperatively managed by a number of agencies with the goal of preserving the area and protecting one of the last populations of native Lahontan Cutthroat Trout that live in the lake.

Our vintage 1956 Canned Ham trailer.

“Lucy”- our vintage 1956 Canned Ham trailer.

There is currently no camping adjacent to the lake so we chose the Little Lower Truckee River campground located off of Hwy 89 and within 10 miles of Independence Lake.

The five miles of road that lead to Independence is a rough and rocky ride that requires a high clearance vehicle.  The surrounding scenery was absolutely stunning with thick forests of pine that would occasionally open up into wildflower spotted alpine meadows and groves of aspen.

Here’s a very condensed version of the trip up to the lake:

In order to protect the lake from invasive species, no outside boats are allowed.  The Nature Conservancy provides the free use of a fleet of kayaks, fly fishing pontoons, and motor boats for anyone who would rather spend time out on the water than along the shore.

Following are a few of the photos I took while there.  I am experimenting once again with a variety of apps so each one is a bit different in look and feel.

Several of the free-for-use kayaks line the shore of Independence Lake.

Several of the free-for-use kayaks line the shore of Independence Lake.

"The Paddler" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“The Paddler” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"Just Fishin'" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Just Fishin'” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“The Shoreline” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

It was so nice to spend some time outside of the house and out in nature again.  I look forward to our next trip to Independence Lake when I am feeling myself again and will definitely grab one of the kayaks and paddle around the lake and take a lot of photos!

**All photos shot and edited with an iPhone 5**


2013 iPhone Photography Awards – Honorable Mentions

I was more than honored to find out yesterday that I had received three Honorable Mentions in the 6th Annual iPhone Photography Awards.  This is an International competition that brings in a whole lot of global entries every year.  Three of my photos were chosen in the categories of “children,” “flowers,” and “travel.”

My photo “La Niña de las Flores” received an Honorable Mention in the “children” category.

"La Niña de las Flores" - La Parroquia, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“La Niña de las Flores” – La Parroquia, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

My photo “La Novia y el Novio” received an Honorable Mention in the “travel” category.

"La Novia y el Novio" - San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“La Novia y el Novio” – San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

My photo “Icelandic Poppy” received an Honorable Mention in the “flowers” category.

"Icelandic Poppy" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Icelandic Poppy” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.


Still Healing and Creating

Skin biopsy site with rash where the non-latex bandage was located.

Skin biopsy site with rash where the non-latex bandage was located.

Today is day #17 of the Great Pink Polka Dot Mystery.  The crazy rash is beginning to fade nicely after using the heavy-duty steroidal creams for the last eleven days but it is still pretty evident on my legs and inside of my arms.  It now looks like a bunch of faded circular lavender bruises.  Still sleeping about 10 hours a night which is highly unusual for me and am still feeling some muscle weakness and fatigue during the days.   However the fever, headaches and muscle contractions are now gone.  Still awaiting the skin biopsy results and have to go back in for more blood tests in a few weeks.  Bets are still on for West Nile Virus but the antibodies have not shown up in the blood tests as of yet (which is normal for several weeks after infection).

The past two days I have finally felt well enough to begin creating again.  My iPhone 5 arrived so I have been enjoying the much higher resolution over my antiquated iPhone 4.

Here are a few of the pieces I have created over the last few days…

"The Place of His Imaginings" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“The Place of His Imaginings” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“The Place of His Imaginings” was chosen for Pixels: The Art of the iPhone yesterday and was “Explored” on Flickr today meaning it was chosen as one of the top 500 photos out of roughly 4.5 million uploaded photos.  Quite exciting and as of this hour it has received over 100 “likes” and a multitude of comments.  You can give it a “like” too at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tjthomas_iphoneography/9008848760/

"Where the Wild Things Roam 1" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Where the Wild Things Roam 1” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Where the Wild Things Roam 1” is the first photomontage I have had the energy to create in a while.  It was also chosen for Pixels yesterday:  http://www.pixelsatanexhibition.com/uncategorized/tracy-j-thomas-where-the-wild-things-roam-1/

 

"Butterfly Iris" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Butterfly Iris” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

I haven’t spent much time outdoors since my illness with the exception of journeys to and from my doctor’s office.  The other day I was going stir crazy so spent the evening in the shade of our patio and noticed the Butterfly Irises had begun to bloom.  I snapped a photo with my new iPhone 5 and went to town on editing it the next day.  It reminded me to open my eyes to everything that surrounds me even in my home.  There is always something picture worthy no matter where you find yourself.

"The Lifeguard Shack" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“The Lifeguard Shack” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

The other day while sitting on my couch I found myself day dreaming about the ocean.  I flipped through my photo files from last summer when we spent time down in Santa Monica and Venice Beach for the LA Mobile Arts Festival where I had several pieces on exhibit.  I came across a photo of one of the lifeguard shacks at sunset and decided I needed to app it and keep it on my computer to remind myself of that fun trip and the healing vibes of the ocean.

Tomorrow my new iPad mini arrives and I am so looking forward to using it for a little videography as well as having a much larger screen with which to edit my iPhone photos.

 


Accolades to Boost Immunity

Still feeling under the weather and just waiting for more test results.  I haven’t had much energy to do any work, especially not of the creative kind, however over the past few days I have received notice of a few accolades for recent work that have helped to boost my spirit and hopefully my immune system as well.

"Tainted Beauty Queen" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Tainted Beauty Queen” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

My iPhone photo “Tainted Beauty Queen” was one of 8 chosen for New Era Museum’s “NEM memories” photo-action, curated by Jennifer Bracewell.  You can view all the choices here.

"Oasis" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Oasis” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

My iPhone photo “Oasis” was chosen as one of 8 entries for New Era Museum’s “NEM landscapes” photo-action, curated by Gianluca Ricoveri.  You can view all chosen entries here.

Artist of the Day at iPhoneArt.com

Artist of the Day at iPhoneArt.com

And once again (I believe this is my sixth time) I was chosen as “Artist of the Day” on iPhoneArt.com today.

I only wish my body felt as happy as my mind does with all these new accolades.


Featured in iCreate Magazine

The June issue of iCreate Magazine with a feature on my and my iPhoneography.

The June issue of iCreate Magazine with a feature on my and my iPhoneography.

I have been very ill this past week with a yet to be diagnosed illness after being bit by an unknown bug (most likely West Nile but time will only tell).  So yesterday I received a nice “gift” in the mail that lifted my spirits – the recent issue of iCreate Magazine with a two page feature about me and my iPhoneography.

The two page spread with interview, a few of my photos and some tips & fave apps.

The two page spread with interview, a few of my photos and some tips & fave apps.

You can also pick up an electronic copy of this edition in the Apple iTunes store.


Sipping Coffee With Maria Shriver

Maria Shriver at Capitol Park, State Capitol, Sacramento, CA. 2009 - ©Tracy J. Thomas. All rights reserved.

Maria Shriver at Capitol Park, State Capitol, Sacramento, CA. 2009 – ©Tracy J. Thomas. All rights reserved.

I have always been a huge admirer of Maria Shriver.  She has been a staunch supporter of many things that are near and dear to my heart such as Special Olympics, programs that support low-income and at risk youth, and she has provided major support for women through the annual California Women’s Conference.  To top it all off, she is also an extraordinary journalist.

In 2009 I spent a lot of time wandering Capitol Park at the California State Capitol while interviewing and shooting photos and video of homeless individuals for my M.F.A. thesis project.  On one sunny Spring afternoon I was fortunate enough to cross paths with Maria Shriver, then California’s First Lady, who was touring the grounds around the Capitol for the launch of her “WE Build and WE Garden,” a playground and community garden-building initiative for school-aged children.

Maria Shriver at Capitol Park, State Capitol, Sacramento - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

Maria Shriver at Capitol Park, State Capitol, Sacramento, CA.  2009 – ©Tracy J. Thomas. All rights reserved.

I stood there in jaw-dropping awe as I watched her interact with the media and a group of children who were planting in a garden plot set aside for the purpose at hand.  This iconic woman was so genuine, intelligent and warm to everyone that surrounded her.  It was an honor just to be in her presence and a privilege to capture several photos during those moments.

She was the type of woman I could envision grabbing a cup of coffee with just to chit-chat about the state of the world and what we can do to change it.  A big fantasy, I know…

But then it happened.  This year Maria Shriver read the book “Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the stories that kept us small” (Seal Press) and her staff said she loved it!  Myself and 26 other amazing women just happen to have stories in this book.

So now I can more realistically envision Maria Shriver curled up in her big comfy chair next to her fireplace (if she has one), sipping on her cup of coffee (not sure she even drinks it), while “listening” to me “tell” her my personal story.  Wow!

"Dancing at the Shame Prom" on Maria Shrivers blog.

“Dancing at the Shame Prom” on Maria Shriver’s blog.

And now, our spectacular co-editors, Hollye Dexter and Amy Ferris have a piece about the book on Maria Shriver’s official blog! (You can read it here)

So, coffee with Maria Shriver, check! One more thing knocked off the old bucket list…


The Frustrated Painter in Me

"Waiting to Board" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Waiting to Board” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

The frustrated painter inside of me has decided to hang out for a while.  Since last Monday I have been ill with the lovely upper respiratory virus that has been making the rounds.  I feel as if my body has taken ten steps backwards following last Sunday’s wonderful 10K run under the giant Redwoods.  I am hacking and coughing and sniffling and am finding it hard to get enough rest.  To take my mind off the illness, I edited a ton of photos I had hanging out in my iPhone photo gallery.  Every single photo I edited ended up with a painterly feel.  I have learned to just trust my intuition when editing and go along for the ride for a while until my creative spirit takes another turn.

"The Orange Bag" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“The Orange Bag” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"The Runners" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“The Runners” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"That Way" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“That Way” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

**All photos were shot with my iPhone 4 and the ProCamera app and edited with Camera+, Glaze, Laminar and Pic Grunger.

 


More Color and Texture

"The Farm" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“The Farm” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

This past weekend I took Amtrak up to Arcata, California to spend time with friends and to run the Avenue of the Giants 10K under the giant redwood trees just outside of Weott.  It was great to escape to cooler weather away from the heat of the Valley and to spend time on the laid back North coast.  On my way home I took a lot of photos of the landscape from the train window and several photos at the train station.  The photos in this post are further experimentation with the use of color and texture which during the editing phase.  All of these photos were taken with my iPhone 4 using the ProCamera app and were edited in Camera+, Laminar, Glaze and Pic Grunger.

"Along the Tracks" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Along the Tracks” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"The Terminal Stroll" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“The Terminal Stroll” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

 

 


Playing With Color and Texture

This past Sunday we drove up to a lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains to get away from the abnormally sweltering Spring weather we have been having in the Valley.  I parked my chair in the shade and immediately felt the stress of past weeks subside.  I sat and walked and took photos all day long while breathing in the beauty of my surroundings.  Here are a few of the photos I created with a focus on playing around with color and texture in the editing process.

"The Docks" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“The Docks” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"The Peaceful Place" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“The Peaceful Place” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"The Kayak" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“The Kayak” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

**All photos were shot with my iPhone 4 using the ProCamera app and edited using the Camera+, Laminar, Glaze and Blender apps.

 

 


iCreate Magazine Interview

©iCreate Magazine.

Photo ©iCreate Magazine.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by the Features Editor of iCreate Magazine.  iCreate is a print magazine based in the UK with a large circulation that focuses on everything related to Mac computers, iPhones and iPads.  The Features Editor came across my portfolio on iPhoneArt.com and sent me an email with the desire to feature me in one of their upcoming issues.

I was surprised and honored to say the least.  I continue to shake my head with amazement over the amount of exposure I have received for my work since I purchased my iPhone about a year and one half ago.  And to think I never thought I would take a single photography with my phone since I was a diehard DSLR user.  This whole experience has taught me to remain open to the possibilities in all forms of new technology.  I can’t wait now to play more with video and video editing once I upgrade to an iPhone 5, just to see where that experience might lead…


At Times Like This…

"Chi" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Chi” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

It’s at times like this when our country is left with the resounding question “why?” that we are reminded life itself is fragile and the moment of our death is unpredictable at best.  We have no control over our future and can only hope for the safety of our loved ones and ourselves as we journey along our paths.

During these moments it’s easy to dwell in the collective outrage that begins to surface and crowd our puzzled psyches.  It’s hard for the majority of us to understand how a human being can possibly be so evil.  We feel helpless.  We swell with sadness and anger and our wish is justice for those innocent souls who were injured or met with such an untimely and violent end.  We relish, at least for the moment, the fact that our own loved ones are still safe and within reach for us to embrace, to cherish, to love.

"Love" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Love” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

What we often fail to remember during these heart-wrenching times is the amount of beauty and good that still exists within our world.  When we contrast that with evil, it is easy to get swept up in the dark shadows that lurk along the edges.  But when we place our focus on the light, it’s harder to see those shadows and so much easier to heal our broken world.

"Healing" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Healing” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

With a background in martial arts, I am a firm believer in our ability to reshape energy (chi) both as individuals and as a collective.  When we focus on the beauty and kindness in this world we are giving our fellow humans the most wonderful gift.  That kindness and that love begins to swell and brings with it healing and a deep sense of peace.  We might never find all the answers to the questions we seek but we have the opportunity to make this world a much better place by remaining focused on all the good that is in it.

"Peace" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Peace” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

My heart wraps all those effected by the events in Boston with a blanket of love.  May you dwell in the kindness and the comfort of your fellow humans and find healing and peace.

 

 

 


Never Give Up

The Press

Have you ever had one of those weeks that was stressful for a variety of reasons and no matter how hard you worked it felt as if you were running backwards instead of reaching the target you were shooting for?  That was the type of week I had.  So, when more good news in the area of my art work began to flow in at the end of this week, I was reminded of the fact that hard work is eventually rewarded as long as you just stick with it and never give up.

To begin with, I had work chosen for “MobFORMAT: The Press” at the Format International Photography Festival in Derby, UK.  This was a unique exhibition deemed to be the first mobile photo press and curated by the festival goers themselves.  Over 6,000 photos were printed and displayed over a period of 30 days.  The concept was to “print out the thousands of photos being shared on EyeEm every day and create the largest interactive exhibition the mobile photo world has ever seen.”  Here is a time-lapse video from the event:

I was also informed that three of my images were chosen for the “Physical Streams 2” exhibition at the Overpass Gallery in Loano, Italy.  This is the second year in a row I have had images chosen for this exhibit of 100 mobile photographs presented in a giant mosaic.  Last year’s exhibit was also on display at the Nuovo Film Studio in Savano, Italy.

The poster announcing Physical Streams 2.

The poster announcing Physical Streams 2.

My three pieces chosen for “Physical Streams 2.”

"Rubber Band Man," "Illuminati," and "The Undertaker" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Rubber Band Man,” “Illuminati,” and “The Undertaker” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Illuminati” being printed for the exhibit:

©Alessandro Gimelli, 2013. All rights reserved.

©Alessandro Gimelli, 2013. All rights reserved.

The giant mosaic that hangs in the Overpass Gallery.:

©Alessandro Gamelli, 2013. All rights reserved.

©Alessandro Gimelli, 2013. All rights reserved.

And then today, I woke up to find out I was named “Artist of the Day” on iPhoneArt.com again:

Screen Shot 2013-04-14 at 12.08.54 PM

All is well within my soul this morning and I am ready to keep my nose to the grindstone and never, ever give up!  :-)…


Recent Exposure

"Wings" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Wings” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

On Sunday I was very honored to have my iPhone photo “Wings” chosen as a  featured photo on the Juxt 1000 Words Showcase.  Juxt is a highly respected site made up by some of the best mobile artists from around the globe.  You can view it along with the other amazing pieces chosen for the showcase here.

"In Praise of Blue" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“In Praise of Blue” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

This morning, two of my iPhone photos were chosen for display on Pixels: The Art of the iPhone website.  “In Praise of Blue” above and “The Pleading” below.  I took these two photos last year at a local Color Run and just recently rediscovered them when plowing through all my photo archives.  I love the quality of light in each one and the energy of the subjects and used minimal apping with Laminar to create two images I am really happy with.

"The Pleading" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“The Pleading” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

All three of these images seem to speak to my current personal spiritual journey as do several other images I have been working on for quite some time now.  It will be interesting to see how they evolve over the coming months.


Taking the Leap

"A Conference of Clowns" - Oakland, CA ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“A Conference of Clowns” – Oakland, CA ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

I was looking through my photo archives for one of a series of photos I took a few years ago when I was documenting the “Occupy” movement with my big girl DSLR and I came across the following photos that I decided to share in this blog post.

My studies at the Academy of Art for my M.F.A were in Documentary photography and I still love taking photos of people whenever I get the chance to wander the streets. I do a ton of that street photography with my iPhone although until recently I haven’t shared much of that work since I have been so focused on creating and exhibiting my montage work over the past year.  But perusing through my archives this afternoon has rekindled my desire to delve a bit further into my street and documentary photography with my iPhone.  All my serious pro work has been captured with a DSLR but I think I am ready to take the leap as soon as my iPhone 5 arrives (yes, I get the upgrade this month finally!).

I was also extremely inspired by hearing Richard Koci Hernandez present at MacWorld.  A photojournalist by trade, Koci now shoots his street photography exclusively with his iPhone.  And God knows we need more women representin’ in the world of street photography.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Happy Hippy” – Oakland, CA ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Strike of the Sunflowers” – Oakland, CA ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Half and Half” – Oakland, CA ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“The Thinker” – Oakland, CA ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“Two for a Buck” – Oakland, CA ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 


Spring Hath Sprung

"Fire Poppy 2" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Fire Poppy 2” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

Ah Spring.  The beautiful awakening of flowers, pollen and the honey bees that still remain.  The the time of year I love to roam the garden and take photographs of all the pretty blooms that appear after a Winter’s rest.

This year we have Icelandic Poppies that we planted in the Fall and they seem to be very happy to be here.  So here are a few of my favorite shots for you.  The piece above “Fire Poppy 2” made its way onto the “Pixels: The Art of the iPhone” gallery website today (you can view it along with all the other wonderful art here).

"Fire Poppy" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Fire Poppy” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"Poppies in a Row" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Poppies in a Row” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"Spring Hath Sprung" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Spring Hath Sprung” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"Spring Equinox 1" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Spring Equinox 1” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"Spring Equinox 2" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Spring Equinox 2” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.


The Magic of San Miguel de Allende

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

The cobblestone streets of San Miguel… ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

I know. I have been unusually quiet since arriving home from the International Writers’ Conference in San Miguel. Forgive me. It is hard for me to believe that it has been one month to the day that I was on a plane headed back to the U.S. Where did those four weeks go?

The interesting thing about social media and building relationships in cyberspace is when you finally meet in person, something truly amazing happens. In ways, my cyber connections have been afforded the chance to know quite a bit about me even before our first face-to-face foray. This allows for all those shallower “Glad to meet you, this is what I have done in the past, etcetera, etcetera” niceties to be cast aside so we can get right to the deeper, more meaningful conversations about life.

Although I had met several of my writing friends in the “real” world at previous physical gatherings, the conference in San Miguel provided me with the opportunity to be introduced to some of my life-long idols and to add new contacts to my growing list of wonderful human beings I am happy to know.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

La Parroquia in the Jardin.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

There are so many claims about San Miguel de Allende being “magical.” Some swear it is because the city is built on some mysterious bed of crystals. Some blame the 6,000 foot elevation that limits the amount of oxygen to the brain. Some attribute the magic to the number of Huichol Shamans known as “mara’akame” that reside in the area. Whatever the reason, it is beyond any doubt an astounding city. My personal experiences while in San Miguel were full of “OMG! This is truly a magical place” moments. And it has taken me four weeks to digest those experiences…

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

The first bit of magic occurred the moment my shuttle dropped me off at the front door to my host’s beautiful home. As faculty members we were each offered the opportunity to be hosted by one of the many wonderful residents who are lucky enough to live in this mecca. When Barbara opened the door, I was immediately taken by her warm personality and the beauty of the courtyard that greeted me. I had my own room on the upper floor of her casita and felt so welcomed the entire time I spent there.

The faculty luncheon was held the day after I arrived and was hosted by the Mayor and city of San Miguel.  There was glorious food, margaritas and fabulous company.  I had the pleasure of eating lunch with Cheryl Strayed, author of the New York Times bestseller “Wild”; Amy Ferris, author of “Marrying George Clooney” and one of my co-editors on “Dancing at the Shame Prom”; Hollye Dexter the other glorious co-editor of “Dancing at the Shame Prom”; Sarah Stonich, author of “Shelter,” “These Granite Islands,” “The Ice Chorus,” and the recently released “Vacationland”; Samantha Dunn, co-contributor to “Dancing at the Shame Prom” and author of “Failing Paris,” “Faith in Carlos Gomez: A Memoir of Salsa, Sex, and Salvation,” and “Not by Accident: Reconstructing a Careless Life;” and Jody Kobak Feagan, original co-founder of the San Miguel Writers’ Conference and all-around wonderful human being.

From left to right: Hollye Dexter, Cheryl Strayed, Jody Kobak Feagan, Amy Ferris, Sarah Stonich.

From left to right: Hollye Dexter, Cheryl Strayed, Jody Kobak Feagan, Amy Ferris, Sarah Stonich. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

And did I mention Cheryl Strayed???! ;-).  What a down to earth, fabulous and funny person!  I, who adored her book along with countless millions, never in my “wild”est dreams thought I would end up breaking bread with this remarkable icon of memoir.  Right off the bat I began to believe in the magic of this place.

Jody's table

Jody’s table. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

And then there was Jody’s table…  Jody Kobak Feagan’s table in her beautiful home, served as a meeting place for an endless stream of amazingly creative human beings.  A throw back to the days of artist colonies and enclaves where conversations waxed poetic, philosophical, and occasionally surreal.  And oh yes, there was always an abundance of margaritas.  Perhaps that’s why some conversations felt so surreal…

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

The grounds of the Hotel Real de Minas where the conference was held provided a wonderful gathering area during the afternoons.  Blankets and pillows were strewn around the shade covered lawn for reading and relaxing.  Those same blankets seemed conductors of magical experiences like a picnic lunch with none other Suzanne Braun Levine, first Editor of Ms. Magazine.  Now that is something I never imagined would happen in my own humble lifetime.  But it did!

Suzanne

Suzanne Braun Levine (middle), first Editor of Ms. Magazine. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

One of the most memorable moments happened when I joined six other amazing women on the stage for the “Women Write Their Lives” panel that was moderated by Amy Ferris and Hollye Dexter.  The room filled up with 400 people who laughed and cried with us as we shared our lives and stories with the audience.

Photo © John Ware, 2013.

From left to right: Samantha Dunn, Brooke Axtell, Laura Davis, Amy Ferris, Hollye Dexter, Suzanne Braun Levine, Tracy J. Thomas, Brooke Warner. Photo © Jon Ware, 2013. All rights reserved.

Lucky me between Suzanne Braun Levine, first Editor of Ms. Magazine and Brooke Warner, former Executive Director of Seal Press and founder and Editor of She Writes Press. Photo © John Ware, 2013.

Lucky me between two of my idols: Suzanne Braun Levine, first Editor of Ms. Magazine and Brooke Warner, former Executive Director of Seal Press and founder and Editor of She Writes Press. Photo © Jon Ware, 2013. All rights reserved.

For those of you who know the story of my sordid childhood, this trip was akin to traveling full circle when I was introduced to a woman whose book literally saved my life back in my 20’s.  Laura Davis, co-author of the iconic book “The Courage to Heal” was not only a presenter at the conference, but was also on the “Women Write Their Lives” panel.  Laura’s book was the first I read that honestly propelled me into my own journey of healing from my ghastly past.  I got to spend many amazing moments with this wonderful human being and feel blessed to be able to now call her my friend.

Photo ©Erin Doyle, 2013.

Me and Laura Davis.  Photo ©Erin Doyle, 2013. All right reserved.

On Sunday I taught my “Dominating Social Media: How to market your writing to the masses” workshop that brought in a full house of eager and inquisitive writers which culminated in several private consultations.

Photo ©John Ware, 2013.

Me having a lot of fun teaching my workshop.  Photo ©Jon Ware, 2013. All rights reserved.

Luckily I had a few hours during each day to wander, take photographs and get to know this wonderful city on a more intimate level.  Those hours were by far the most magical.  I would spend time outside the small cafes that surrounded the Jardin, where I would sip Cappuccinos, breathe the people into me, and watch the activities of the day unfold before me.

One afternoon while wandering the streets in search of my next photo op I ran into “The Three Amigos.”  Jon Ware, John Drake and Ken Ferris twisted my arm and I joined them for a few cervezas and photography talk.  Jon Ware is a fellow photographer from Minnesota who is married to the wonderful Sarah Stonich, while John Drake and Ken Ferris are cinematographers who both have quite an extensive list of Hollywood accomplishments (just peruse the links from their names).  These three great, supportive men mesmerized me with their knowledge of photography and made me feel like one of the gang.

"The Three Amigos" - Jon Ware, John Drake and Ken Ferris.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

“The Three Amigos” – Jon Ware, John Drake and Ken Ferris. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

The morning I had to pack my suitcase and catch the shuttle back to the Leon airport was a sad day indeed.  But there was to be yet one more moment of magic when I stepped into the van and found Amy and Ken Ferris being shuttled to the airport in the same vehicle!  It was like the icing on the cake for me.  A way to slowly and gracefully peel myself away from all the magic by spending several more hours in a peaceful transition back to reality with these two wonderful human beings.

I felt mesmerized with San Miguel.  I was smitten in a deep way.  Even now when I think back on my time in that beautiful city, I struggle to convey in words the impact this place and the people I shared it with have had on my soul.  It’s a quiet, deeply internal, life-changing, eerily mysterious, effect.  I get the feeling the true magic of that place will continue to be revealed until I find myself strolling along the cobblestone streets once again.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

Until we meet again… ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Interview on iArt Chronicles

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I was honored to be interviewed by Geri Centonze of iArt Chronicles about my iPhoneography and my creative process. You can read the article and learn a bit more about me here.


New Era Museum Founder Artist

NEM RoundLogo Transp

I am more than honored to be a “Founder Artist” for the New Era Museum, along with an incredible group of artists. Based in Florence, Italy, NEM is the first virtual museum devoted solely to mobile photography, and is the brainchild of Andrea Bigiarini.

NEM’s mission: “Promote the creation of visual art on mobile devices, in order to spread a form of active thought, which will help to build a new era in society, a new culture, and free our artistic expression even further.”

Click on the photo below to view a listing of the Founder Artists and click on each name to view their amazing work.

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I was also fortunate to have “Illuminati” chosen for the “NEM Fantastic Flickr 8,” curated this week by Roger Guetta. Just click on the photo below to view on NEM.

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Tienes mi Corazón San Miguel de Allende

The bride and groom of a traditional wedding leave the Parroquia in a horse-drawn carriage followed by a mariachi band. - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

The bride and groom of a traditional wedding leave the Parroquia in a horse drawn carriage followed by a mariachi band. – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

I arrived home this last Tuesday night after spending a week in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I presented a workshop on social media for writers, gave private consultations, and was part of a “Women Write Their Lives” speakers panel during the International Writers’ Conference held in this beautiful city in the heart of Mexico.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Chicle para usted” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

For the past four days I have been catching up on my work, my sleep, and have been struggling to find the right words to describe my experiences in this truly magical place. So for today I will let a few of my photographs do the speaking for me until I find my voice again. To say that San Miguel de Allende won my heart is an understatement. The culture, the beauty of the architecture, the amazing faces, and the kind hearts of the people who live there will forever remain etched inside my soul…

"Flores en la Puerta Roja" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Flores en la Puerta Roja” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"Músicos" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Músicos” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"Cruzar la puerta de la iglesia" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Cruzar la puerta de la iglesia” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"Dolls para la venta" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Dolls para la venta” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"Esperando en la Puerta" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Esperando en la Puerta” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

"Sombreros y Bolsos" ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Sombreros y Bolsos” ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2013. All rights reserved.

**All images were shot with my iPhone4**

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This Thing Called Photomontage

"When Tempest Tossed," iPhone photomontage. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“When Tempest Tossed,” iPhone photomontage. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

I stumbled across the world of mobile photography a year ago this month when I purchased my first iPhone. Yes, I was a bit behind the times in regard to the little rectangle of metal, glass and plastic that people have been addicted to for some time now.

When I first got my iPhone I had plans to use it for everything but taking photographs. Having just graduated with my Masters of Fine Arts in photography from the Academy of Art University the month prior, the use of my iPhone to create images worth keeping was truly a hard sell in my mind.

And then I stumbled across iPhoneart.com. To say this website was a life changer for me would be an understatement. The brilliant work I witnessed as I perused the galleries of images on this website blew my mind. How could this be possible? These images were shot and edited on an iPhone? Really??

I began to download photography apps and thus began my own addiction with my iPhone. Before long I realized it truly does not matter what tool a photographer decides to use. What matters is the photographer behind the lens, and the end result of its use. This has been true throughout the history of photography and the multitude of cameras made available to create photographs.

"Drowning in a Speed Queen," iPhone photomontage. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Drowning in a Speed Queen,” iPhone photomontage. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Not everyone who picks up a camera of any sort can create images that can stand next to the best in regard to subject matter, composition, use of light, line, color, and texture. But those who understand the technical and conceptual aspects of photography and are blessed with a bit of natural talent can indeed create compelling images no matter what tool they choose. It doesn’t matter if that tool is an SLR that uses film, a pinhole camera made out of an orange juice can, a plastic Holga, expensive large format, Polaroid, DSLR, point and shoot, or an iPhone; all have been tools used by some of the greatest photographers in the world.

What I have found endearing in the world of mobile photography is the controversy in some circles surrounding composite photography, better known as “photomontage.” Photomontage is basically joining two or more photographs through the use of layers into an illusion to create a surreal or artificial virtual reality. Photomontage has existed in the world of photography since its beginnings, long before the digital age, and was still considered to be “photography” because it was, and still is.

A great example is the image “The Two Ways of Life” by Oscar Gustav Rejlander, created in 1857. This piece was assembled from 30 individual negatives and printed onto one large piece of paper. Rejlander’s piece was first exhibited at the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition of 1857 and Queen Victoria purchased a copy for Prince Albert.

"The Two Ways of Life" by Oscar Gustav Rejlander, 1857.

“The Two Ways of Life” by Oscar Gustav Rejlander, 1857.

In the early 1900’s, the Dada movement out of Germany was instrumental in moving montage work into the limelight with their political protests against World War I via photographers such as John Heartfield, Hannah Höch, Kurt Schwitters, and Raoul Hausmann. The Surrealists and Constructivists continued the trend of photomontage, which has moved on into the modern-day contemporary photography movement.

From "The American Way of Life" by Joseph Renau, 1949.

From “The American Way of Life” by Joseph Renau, 1949.

From "Flying Houses" by Laurent Chehere, 2012.

From “Flying Houses,” digital photomontage by Laurent Chehere, 2012.

The grumblings in the world of mobile photography seem to arise from the lack of knowledge of the history of traditional photography. Some of the individuals heading the “movement” appear so caught up in the tool itself they seem to forget that it is just that, another tool to take photographs. It is really nothing new, other than being super portable with the all-in-one ability to edit photographs directly inside the same tool that takes the images. If someone uses an iPhone, it does not magically make them a photographer.

Photomontage, composite photography, photographs with a painterly effect, etc. are all accepted in the world of fine art photography and are exhibited in mainstream galleries around the globe. Photographs taken with mobile phones have also begun to show up in these same galleries with the same level of acceptance as traditional camera photographs.

"Rubber Band Man," iPhone photomontage. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Rubber Band Man,” iPhone photomontage. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Of course there are rules and ethics surrounding composite photography in the world of photojournalism, as there should be. Yet, the remainder of the medium along with those who lend their support to photographers (whether film, digital, mobile or otherwise) should remain open to not only “straight” photography but also those who choose to express themselves by way of “fine art” photography (manipulated or not).

As others have stated before me, eventually all this brouhaha surrounding mobile photography will subside. The iPhone will be viewed along with all other cameras as simply another means to an end. We saw it happen with the Holga, the Polaroid, the first digital cameras. Before long, every digital camera on the market will have the equivalent editing capabilities of the mobile phone.

The most important change will occur when photographers who choose mobile phones as their primary tool begin to compete on the same level as the master photographers who have come before them. Many have begun to enter that realm already with success including Karen Divine, Chase Jarvis, and Richard Koci Hernandez. These photographers view the iPhone as another tool to take photographs and they treat this little rectangle of metal, plastic and glass in the same way as they treat their more traditional cameras. It is one of their tools of choice to create the compelling imagery that comes from a space of technical and conceptual mastery. It is as simple as that.

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Photowalk: Jenkinson Lake

Yesterday was another nature day. It has been warm and wonderful here this past week, actually climbing into the 60’s by midday. Warmer days means snow melt in the Sierras, that in turn opens up access to some of the recreational areas normally covered in the cold white stuff this time of year.

I spent the day wandering around Jenkinson Lake near Pollock Pines, a short 45 minute drive up Highway 50. The lake was created in 1955 when a dam was built to harness Sly Park Creek, a tributary in the Cosumnes River watershed. The dam formed a 650-acre reservoir called Jenkinson Lake. It was constructed primarily to provide irrigation water to a portion of El Dorado County.

I’ve spent a lot of time around this little lake, hiking on the trails and kayaking in its pristine waters. I always see something new when I go there that I didn’t see before.

Yesterday’s photowalk was all about capturing the familiar vistas as well as the smaller intricacies of nature that we often fail to notice while becoming smitten by her grandeur.

A duck flies across Jenkinson Lake near the marina and boat launch.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

A duck flies across Jenkinson Lake near the marina and boat launch. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

A paddle boarder makes his way across Jenkinson Lake. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

A paddle boarder makes his way across Jenkinson Lake. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Detail in rock found next to the lake.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Detail in rock found next to the lake. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Rocks along the shoreline.  This one reminded me of a horse head.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Rocks along the shoreline. This one reminded me of a horse head. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

A piece of driftwood surrounded by colorful rocks at the edge of the shoreline.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

A piece of driftwood surrounded by colorful rocks at the edge of the shoreline. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Leaves and colorful shale.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Leaves and colorful shale. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

One of the finger inlets that feed the resevoir.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

One of the finger inlets that feed the lake. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

The sky was on fire on the way home.  A dramatic ending to a perfect day.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

The sky was on fire on the way home. A dramatic ending to a perfect day. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

[All photos were shot and edited on my iPhone4.]

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Photowalk: The Evidence of Creatures

When I was a child, I spent most of my summer days following animal tracks in the fields behind our house in search of elusive creatures. On occasion I would find one, but most often their prints were the only evidence that proved they had once waddled or hopped or slithered on that same piece of ground.

Yesterday’s photowalk was all about finding evidence of creatures both big and small. It was a beautiful, sunny day and the Sacramento River was calling. The heavy rains have subsided for now so the river was lower than normal for this time of year. I made my way along a short stretch of sandy beach and found prints of several animals that make this area their home.

Here are the photos with evidence of creatures, both human and animal, that I discovered yesterday. All photos were taken with my iPhone with the Hipstamatic App, JohnS Lens and Ina’s 69 film.

Looking across the Sacramento River towards Riverbank Marina. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Looking across the Sacramento River towards Riverbank Marina. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Raccoon and mollusk tracks.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Raccoon and mollusk prints. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Bobcat prints.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Bobcat prints. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Raccoon rear foot print.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Raccoon rear foot print. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Clam shell critter snack.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Clam shell critter snack. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Baby raccoon prints the size of one half of my thumb.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Baby raccoon prints the size of one half of my thumb. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

River Otter prints.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

River Otter prints. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

River Otter and Bobcat prints.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

River Otter and Bobcat prints. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Raccoon print.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Raccoon print. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Raccoon family prints.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Raccoon family prints. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

The head of a sardine discarded by a fisherman.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

The head of a sardine discarded by a fisherman. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Discarded shopping cart that was most likely the carryall for one of the homeless who live along the river.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Discarded shopping cart that was most likely the carryall for one of the homeless who live along the river. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

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“Illuminati” – Honorable Mention in the Mobile Photography Awards

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "Illuminati" - Apps used:  vintage cam, camera+, perfectlyclr, juxtaposer, pixlromatic, scratchcam

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. “Illuminati” – Apps used: vintage cam, camera+, perfectlyclr, juxtaposer, pixlromatic, scratchcam

My heart is beating double time. They just posted the “People/Portraits” category winners for the Mobile Photography Awards and my iPhone piece “Illuminati” won an honorable mention! So this piece, along with “Rubber Band Man” in my previous post will be on exhibit in the Soho Gallery for Digital Art in New York City at the end of February. An unbelievable honor to be in the company of the best mobile photographers in the world!

You can view more of the winners here: http://mobilephotographyblog.com/peopleportraits/


“Rubber Band Man” – Honorable Mention in Mobile Photography Awards

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

I am beyond thrilled and honored that my iPhone piece “Rubber Band Man” has been chosen for an Honorable Mention in the Visual FX category for the Mobile Photography Awards! These awards feature the best of the best in the world of mobile photography. All those chosen in all categories will be on display at the Soho Gallery for Digital Art in New York City from February 22-28.

You can check out all the amazing works here: http://mobilephotographyblog.com/visual-fx/


Photowalk: Old Sacramento

After finishing up the class I have been writing for the University and finally recovering from a bout with the flu, I was able to get out on a photowalk this morning. I decided to photograph Old Sacramento with my iPhone and used my Hipstamatic App with the Tinto 1884 lens and D-Type plate. This combination seemed very appropriate for a place steeped in history.

The Sacramento River

The Sacramento River with the I Street Bridge and paddle wheeler boats docked in the distance. The Sacramento River was an important food source for the area’s indigenous tribes and became a major transportation and trade route during the California gold rush during the 19th Century. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

The Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge was built in 1935 and was the first vertical lift bridge in the California highway system. The center section of this bridge raises and lowers for large boats to journey up and down the Sacramento River. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

The paddle wheel of the Delta King that journeyed daily between San Francisco to Sacramento from 1927 to 1940.  It is now a floating hotel and restaurant docked in Old Sacramento.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

The paddle wheel of the Delta King that journeyed daily between San Francisco and Sacramento from 1927 to 1940. It is now a floating hotel and restaurant docked in Old Sacramento. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

The I Street Bridge has spanned the Sacramento River for 100 years.  The steel double-decker swing bridge was built by Southern Pacific Railroad and continues to carry trains and automobiles across the river to this day.  The bridge swings open for larger boats to go up and down the river.

The I Street Bridge has spanned the Sacramento River for 100 years. The steel double-decker swing bridge was built by Southern Pacific Railroad and continues to carry trains and automobiles across the river to this day. The bridge swings open for larger boats to go up and down the river.

A Sacramento Southern rail car sits on the tracks near the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento.  The Sacramento Southern rail line was built between 1906 and 1912 and ran south for 24 miles to Walnut Grove and later became part of Southern Pacific.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

A Sacramento Southern rail car sits on the tracks near the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento. The Sacramento Southern rail line was built between 1906 and 1912 and ran south for 24 miles to Walnut Grove and later became part of Southern Pacific. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

A stack of freight sits near the Central Pacific Freight and Passenger Stations in Old Sacramento.  The station was reconstructed on the site of the original which was built in the mid-1860's.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

A stack of freight sits near the Central Pacific Freight and Passenger Stations in Old Sacramento. The stations were reconstructed on the site of the original which was built in the mid-1860’s. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

The backside of the passenger train station along the tracks.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

The backside of the passenger train station along the tracks. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Looking toward the trains and boarding area from the passenger station. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Looking toward the trains and boarding area from the passenger station. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

The Huntington, Hopkins and Company Hardware Store.  During the 1860's this company was a wholesale brokerage that supplied all of Northern California.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

The Huntington, Hopkins and Company Hardware Store. During the 1860’s this company was a wholesale brokerage that supplied all of Northern California. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Pioneer Park sits in an empty lot where City Market, a butcher shop, used to stand.  There are remnants of Old Sacramento's past throughout this park including columns that used to adorn the outside of buildings and ironworks cast in Old Sacramento in the 1800's.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Pioneer Park sits in an empty lot where City Market, a butcher shop, used to stand. There are remnants of Old Sacramento’s past throughout this park including columns that used to adorn the outside of buildings and ironworks cast in Old Sacramento in the 1800’s. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

A slab of granite, some ironworks, and the old brick wall of the adjacent building in Pioneer Park.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

A slab of granite, some ironworks, and the old brick wall of the adjacent building in Pioneer Park. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Closeup detail on one of the columns used to adorn the outside of business buildings in Old Sacramento.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Closeup detail on one of the columns used to adorn the outside of business buildings in Old Sacramento. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

A fallen column slowly being absorbed by a tree in Pioneer Park.  ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

A fallen column slowly being absorbed by a tree in Pioneer Park. ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

**Return to iPinion Syndicate**


My Favorite Superhero

My son Justin was born with FG Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder linked to the X chromosome that affects him physically, emotionally, neurologically and intellectually. His syndrome has in no way stopped him from blooming into a remarkable and independent young man with a heart of gold, a wonderful sense of humor, and a deep sense of compassion for both humans and animals. He is the defender of the underdog. He is my role-model for unconditional love. He is my favorite Superhero…

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

[**All photos shot and edited on my iPhone4**)


A Self Portrait in Pieces

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

These eyes have seen the depths of Hell and stared into the very face of God. They have stayed themselves on beauty and sought out the very truth of every soul they’ve met.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

This mind is often lost in thought. A thousand pictures formed in rapid fire across the neurons, reminding me of things I’ve seen and forming visions of what is yet to be.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

These hands have written a million words, played a thousand tunes, gently cradled a newborn child, clenched closed with rage, and held my heart for all to see in tenuous trust.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

These wrinkles. Each one earned as a badge of honor over time, woven across a once smooth surface like a roadmap leading to my past.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

These feet have climbed a dozen mountains, walked a million miles, run as fast as they could carry, and propelled me through the dark out into light.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

And this heart still keeps on beating, whether broken or whole, happy or sad, empty or content, with others or all alone. And it will beat on, until the day it decides its job is complete.

This is me.

[**All photographs were taken with my iPhone4 using the Hipstamatic App, Tinto 1884 Lens and D-Type Plate Film**]

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“Asphyxia” Makes the Best of 2012 on iPhoneOgenic

"Asphyxia" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Asphyxia” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

My steampunk inspired iPhone piece “Asphyxia” made it into the “Best of 2012” on iPhoneOgenic. It is one of 60 iPhone photographs chosen out of 45,000. Quite an honor to have my work placed in the presence of some of the top iPhoneographers in the world.

You can view all the photos here.


More Playing With Colors

And the color phase continues. Every time I finish one of these pieces it makes me smile. They bring me right up out of the fog (both literally and figuratively). I am reminded of summer and warmth and the sand that sifts between my toes. I can smell the barbeques and feel the waves lapping rhythmically against my feet. I taste the salty air on my lips and curl up beneath the shade of a beach umbrella, completely content with life.

"Beachcomber's Paradise" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Beachcomber’s Paradise” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

"A Parasailer's Heaven" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“A Parasailer’s Heaven” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

"California Dreamin" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“California Dreamin” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

To view the rest of this series visit my recent post Playing With Colors.

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Playing With Colors

The New Year finds me playing with colors and texture. I suppose it was some subconscious shift from the dark events that occurred in our country at the end of 2012 and the hope that 2013 will be a brighter and more colorful year. Whatever the reason, this week I found myself pushing color and texture on a few beach scenes I had shot with my iPhone while down in Santa Monica at the LA Mobile Arts Festival last summer. Although it is most likely a temporary direction in my art, I am having a lot of fun with these pieces and they have a way of keeping my spirits high during a very busy time in my life.

"A Surfer's Sunset" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“A Surfer’s Sunset” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

"The Pier" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“The Pier” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

"The Beach Electric" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“The Beach Electric” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

"Beach Time" - ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Beach Time” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Primary Apps used for all these pieces: procamera, camera+, iris, glaze, blender

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Happy New Year!

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Today I went on a long walk and reflected on what an amazing year this has been for me professionally. It has been filled full with exhibitions, publication and a ton of wonderful projects that kept me focused and moving forward with my life. There were of course some difficult times – you’ve heard the expression “starving artist” I’m sure – however, I used those times to focus on creating art which carried me right through to the brighter side. Art always does that for me.

May each one of you reflect on all you have accomplished during 2012 and have a wonderful and very happy New Year!!

Here are some highlights from my year:

Exhibitions in juried shows at:

The Lunch Box Gallery in Miami, Florida (2x’s)
LA Mobile Arts Festival in Santa Monica, CA
Rebekah Jacob Gallery in Charleston, SC
Nuovo Film Studio, Savano, Italy
The Overpass Gallery, Loano, Italy
Orange Gallery, Orlando, Florida
Black Box Gallery, Portland, Oregon
Gallery 1075, West Sacramento, CA (Solo show)

Featured Artist on the App Whisperer, Life in Lofi, Pixels, iPhoneOgenic, Mobile Photography Awards, and iPhoneography Central websites.

Artist of the Day at iPhoneart.com (3x’s)

Two-time featured documentary series on SocialDocumentary.net

Finalist in Digital Photo Pro Magazine’s Emerging Pro Photography Competition

Finalist in the Digital Arts: California “Wide Open Digital” Competition

My photography was featured in PhotoWorld Magazine – China, The Huffington Post, LAist, Lesnscratch, the Miami Herald, F-Stop Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the Baltic News Network, The Daily Mail UK, and the West Sacramento Press.

I was published in the Seal Press Anthology “Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the stories that kept us small.”

I was added onto the teaching faculty at the San Miguel Writers Conference in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

I was contracted by the Academy of Art University to write the “Business Practices and Principles for Photographers” course.

May 2013 be just as good or better for all!


Digital Arts California: Wide Open Digital Finalist

Screen shot 2012-12-28 at 9.25.20 AM

What an exciting week! The good news for my iPhoneography keeps on coming! In addition to being notified I am a finalist in the Digitial Photo Pro Emerging Photographer Competition that I wrote about in yesterday’s blog post, I just found out nine of my iPhone pieces were chosen along with 66 other digital artists and photographers for the Digital Arts: California “Wide Open Digital” competition.

Here is a link to the online exhibit: http://www.digitalartscalifornia.com/?cat=14

From the Director:

“Our latest exhibit, ‘Wide Open Digital,’ showcases exciting innovative work by 67 digital artists and photographers from 22 countries. This show includes 293 images that range, in style and technique, from one end of the digital spectrum to the other. These images represent some of the most talented work in digital arts around the globe.

I would like to mention that this was a very competitive show, and thus, having even one image chosen for inclusion is a high honor. As much as we would have liked to have included every entrant in the show, we did not. But, we can say that every image we evaluated showed promise. We hope that those artists whose work was not chosen will continue working to further that promise.

…I would like to thank my fellow judges. These two graphics professionals have long resumes of accomplishment in the visual arts. As Art Director of Buddah Records, Elektra/Asylum Records, and 20th Century Fox Records, Glen Christensen was, for many years, a major figure in graphic design in the music industry. He has received two nominations for the prestigious Grammy Award, for Best Album Package. Gary Viskupic has, to his credit, an extensive body of work in editorial illustration. He created most of this illustration during his long tenure as an editorial artist at New York’s Newsday. In addition, his international freelance work has included many award-winning posters and illustrations for magazine and book publishers. Gary has been recognized many times by such prestigious organizations as the Society of Illustrators, Graphis, The Society for News Design, and Print magazine. He is currently an instructor of illustration at New York Institute of Technology.”

Additionally, on Wednesday of this week I was chosen as Artist of the Day at iPhoneart.com!

ipa


Finalist in Digital Photo Pro Emerging Pro Competition

DPP

I woke up to some really cool news this morning. My iPhone piece “Illuminati” is one of 42 finalists in the Fine Art category for the Digital Photo Pro Emerging Pro Photo Competition. Now it is up for People’s Choice Award and you can help me out by voting for it (if you are moved to do so of course).

Digital Photo Pro is a major photography magazine with a circulation of 100,000+ and I am so excited they chose one of my iPhone photos as a finalist alongside many other beautiful pieces shot with DSLR’s.

Just follow the link below and choose “Register” on the left (it’s free). After you register click on “Return to Contest Page” then under “Vote Now” choose “Fine Art Finalists” and give 5 stars to the little man with the illuminated umbrella (photo below). It will be greatly appreciated!

http://www.digitalphotopro.com/6th-annual-emerging-pro/fine-art/finalists.html

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. "Illuminati" - Apps used:  vintage cam, camera+, perfectlyclr, juxtaposer, pixlromatic, scratchcam

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved. “Illuminati” – Apps used: vintage cam, camera+, perfectlyclr, juxtaposer, pixlromatic, scratchcam


Twenty Little Angels

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved

It has been a week since the Sandy Hook shootings…

Most of us are still reeling from the tragedy and attempting to navigate a roller coaster of emotions. This shooting has been more difficult to deal with than most.

Maybe it’s the proximity to the holidays; the time when most little children are wide-eyed excited about lighting the Menorah or sitting on Santa’s lap.

Maybe it’s the reality these were little innocent six and seven-year old’s, many of them sitting in a Kindergarten classroom singing songs and reciting the alphabet. Trusting their teachers to impart the knowledge required to navigate this big and oft-scary world.

Maybe it’s simply because we are just done. Our shoulders are breaking from the burden of helplessness. Done with the continuing senseless shootings at the hands of troubled young men with automatic assault weapons and endless rounds of ammunition loaded into military-style clips.

Whatever the reason, these twenty little angels have come to stand as symbols of all that is wrong with our world.

The great gun debate has once again reared its ugly head with little talk of equally important things like mental health issues. The head of the NRA made the extremely insensitive choice to speak at a press conference a mere hour after a national moment of silence for the victims. In his speech he failed to take the stance of gun control and instead decried the absence of armed guards in all of our schools to protect our children from all the “evil bad guys” waiting in the wings to kill more of our children.

The NRA does not care about protecting your Second Amendment right to bear arms. Really, it could give a crap.

What the NRA cares about most is a $3.8 billion industry that keeps them in the money. The purpose of the NRA? They are lobbyists who represent gun retailers.

There is a ton of money behind the NRA because the gun business is BIG business. Of course they will take the stance that we need to put more guns in our schools. More guns in our schools means more gun sales for gun retailers which means more money in the coffers of the NRA so they can buy more politicians. You see how it goes…

What the NRA does not refer to in these speeches meant to rile up the NRA’s gun-toting “4 million mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters,” is the fact Columbine had two armed guards at the school during the time Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 and injured 21. Or that Virginia Tech had an entire police force housed on campus when Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 and wounded 17. Armed guards made ZERO difference.

Our focus should remain on the twenty little angels who died that fateful Friday. As mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters, we should continue to shout the names of these victims. We should keep a face on the innocent lives lost whenever a military-style assault weapon is wielded by a mentally ill individual and turn our focus away from arming ourselves in paranoia against all the potential “bad guys” who are creeping around in the shadows waiting to pounce.

Violence always begets violence.

As I stated in my blog “For the Innocents Lost,” we cannot look at gun control in a vacuum. We need to keep the conversation surrounding mental health on the table right beside automatic and semi-automatic military-style weapons and gun control laws.

We owe it to the victims and their families…

Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine F. Hsu, 6
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Aveille Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6
Rachel Davino
Dawn Hoschprung
Anne Marie Murphy
Lauren Rousseau
Mary Sherlach
Victoria Soto
Nancy Lanza

For twenty Fridays forward, I will create one angel piece in memory of the twenty little angels that died that day. They will be limited edition (100 pieces) printed on 12×12 metal. Fifty-percent of the proceeds are being donated to one of the Sandy Hook victim’s relief funds that focus specifically on help for the siblings and classmates of these victims. The prints can be purchased here: For the Angels of Sandy Hook.

Thank you to all who have already purchased a piece from last week’s posting.


For the Innocents Lost…

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Yesterday was art day for me. A kind of therapy day in the midst of a very busy week.

I was in the middle of working on the above iPhone montage when the news broke of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings.

I was stunned.

I was heartbroken.

I cried. No, I sobbed…

How in the world could anyone take the lives of such innocent babies?

Like everyone else in this country I feel devastated.

In the past I have addressed the gun control issue on this blog. I believe strongly that automatic and semi-automatic weapons should not be available for purchase on the market. Stricter laws surrounding background checks and proper identification should be enforced. However, purchasing firearms by way of “legal” retail channels is not the only way people who intend to do harm find those guns. If someone is set on using a gun, they can find it and still purchase it through illegal means.

I am all for the gun control conversation, however that conversation should not be held in the vacuum that it is usually held.

We need to stop sweeping mental illness under the rug. That is the BIGGEST conversation our country needs to have right now… It should be the “why?” Not the “what?” or the “how?”

We know that guns kill. But so do knives and bare hands and barrels of fertilizer and all the bombs we drop on other countries. Gun control is an important conversation because it gives us all a sense of “control” during a time when we feel utterly helpless.

But we should also be brave enough to face the fact that mental illness is REAL and there are a lot of individuals in our country who suffer.

Parents, teachers, doctors, clergymen, friends, family, etc. need to be trained to recognize the signs. We need to encourage our politicians to stop cutting programs that help the mentally ill. We need to have a conversation about the constant stream of violence that fills our televisions, the internet, our music and video games that feed unstable minds. We need to have a conversation about dysfunctional families and how they serve as triggers for mental illness.

But more than that, we need to start loving each other a little bit more. We need to stop and listen. We need to give a lot of hugs and kisses and stop our self-absorbed busy existence long enough to make a difference in the lives of a young person who might be hurting very deeply inside their soul…

For now, I am going to continue to embrace life and cherish each moment I have been given on this beautiful planet, as if it were my last day. But I am also going to love more deeply, listen more intently, attempt to understand more thoroughly, and always take the time to wrap my arms around the wounded souls that cross my path.

[I have decided to run a fundraiser for the siblings and classmates of the victims. You can purchase the above limited edition 12×12 print (run of 100) for $80. Fifty-percent of the proceeds after cost will be donated directly to a victim’s relief fund set up for the children of Sandy Hook. You can read more or purchase the print here: For the Angels of Sandy Hook]

For the little angels of Sandy Hook:

Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine F. Hsu, 6
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Aveille Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6

We will hold you in our hearts forever…


Feeling Gratitude

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Although my life is currently the busiest it has been in a while I am feeling incredibly grateful. Grateful that I am able to wake up every single day and create art for a living. Trusting life enough to cast all other expectations aside and take that step off the precipice with faith was not easy. But doing so has brought me such a full and satisfied heart filled with great peace. Finally, I know my purpose in life.

My days are now ruled by writing and photography and creating. All the things my soul has longed to do since my childhood. I am finally free enough inside myself to bring this life to fruition. It is through these very gifts that I have been given that I was able to free the chains that bound me for so long.

Today I am grateful, as I am every day. Grateful for the gifts, grateful for the opportunities, grateful for the people in my life who have always cheered me on through the good and through the bad. Grateful for the chance to wake up every morning and breathe in a new day. Grateful for nature and all of its beauty. Grateful for the knowledge that through my words or one single photograph, I may make a difference in someone’s life. And that is all that really matters.

I wish each one of you a Happy Thanksgiving and hope you will carry a sense of gratitude with you beyond Thanksgiving day and into every day you receive the opportunity to open your eyes to a new dawn.


Soliloquy Continued…

so·lil·o·quy noun \sə-ˈli-lə-kwē\: a dramatic monologue that represents a series of unspoken reflections.

It is in nature where I cleanse myself from the constant drone of the city and absorb the quiet beauty all around me. A deep breath of fresh air and my lungs open to capacity, free from the exhaust and toxins spewed out hourly by the bane of a “civilized” society. My feet do a happy dance as they touch the raw earth beneath them. It is much more forgiving than the asphalt and concrete of everyday life. I feel connected to the core.

Surrounded by an infinite wisdom that transcends the exterior casing that houses my soul, I walk. I listen. I see. I discover. A swarm of white gnats gathers next to my cheek. I am amazed by an almost silent, collective “whoosh” created by their tiny wings. They move in unity with barely a space in between. Somehow they know to move left or right or up or down as one, without impeding the flight of another.

I continue my walk and contemplate. Hours go by and I feel refreshed, renewed, ready to move forward through life. The fall air lays its final kiss across my skin and once again the evening comes to slowly bid adieu…

“Soliloquy 9” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Soliloquy 10” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Soliloquy 11” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Soliloquy 12” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

More Soliloquy here.


We Are Women and We Roared!

To say that I am ecstatic today would be an extreme understatement. I am so much more than that emotion, but it is virtually impossible to match a word with how I feel.

Election night was incredible. I shouted, I cheered, I laughed, I cried. Once again I found faith in my fellow Americans. Not only did they rise to the occasion and vote Barack Obama back into office for a second term, they also voted strongly for women and women’s rights.

Following an extremely contentious campaign season that saw a plethora of Republican candidates spouting insensitive and misogynistic statements about rape, incest and a woman’s right to choose, Americans responded, and in a big way.

New Hampshire became the first state in U.S. history to elect an all female contingent. The Governor, the House, and the Senate; all women. They include Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) and Reps. Carol Shea-Porter (D) and Ann McLane Kuster (D) who join the Senate incumbents, Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Kelly Ayotte (R).

Wow! Can it get any better than this? Yes!

Massachusetts chose to elect Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren (D) instead of the Koch brother’s puppet incumbent Scott Brown (R). Warren becomes the first woman Senator in the history of Massachusetts.

Missourians sent a strong message through their votes for Senator Claire McCaskill (D) and literally shut down “legitimate rape” challenger Todd Akin (R).

Tammy Baldwin (D) becomes the first female and openly gay Senator by way of Wisconsin, after voters showed their belief in her abilities. Baldwin won this race by holding off a political comeback by popular former Gov. Tommy Thompson who had never lost a statewide race.

Mazie Hirono becomes the first Asian-American woman to be elected to the Senate and Hawaii’s first female Senator.

Then there is Iraqi war Veteran Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) a helicopter pilot who lost both legs and part of the use of her right arm in an explosion during combat, and was awarded the Purple Heart for her injuries. Duckworth defeated Tea Party incumbent, Representative Joe Walsh for the Congressional seat in her district.

Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) was elected to the US House of Representatives as the first ever practicing Hindu. Gabbard “voluntarily served on a 12-month tour of duty with Hawaii’s National Guard, and then became the first woman in the history of the Accelerated Officer Candidate School at the Alabama Military Academy to be designated a ‘distinguished honor graduate.'”

Altogether, the 113th Congress will have at least 20 female senators and the House of Representatives at least 77 Congresswomen, more than at any other time in U.S. history.

And of course there are all the female Representatives who were elected to their State Assemblies. Among them my friend Sara Gelser (D-Corvalis) who was re-elected to Oregon’s District 16.

I have had the honor to know Sara for many years. Her strong sense of integrity and fearless drive to fight for the rights of others less fortunate than most, has always impressed me. Sara is the youngest woman in the Oregon Legislature and has served since 2005. She is the Assistant Majority Leader, Chair of the House Education Committee, serves on the Revenue Committee and the Rules Committee, and President Barack Obama appointed her to the National Council on Disability. The nomination was confirmed by a unanimous vote of the US Senate. In my educated opinion, the future of U.S. politics has “Sara Gelser” written all over it.

Each one of these women is a hero to me, no matter their political affiliation. They have fought the battle, and against the odds, are rising to the top of their game in a man’s world. They serve as positive role models for our daughters, and are paving the way for all women now and into the future.

As I reflect on this historical time in our country I am still in agony over my attempt to describe in words the raw emotion that continues to rise inside. So, instead of attempting to put words to how I feel, I will turn your attention to the following video which displays how I feel quite eloquently.

This rather raw video captures Campaign Manager Richard Carlbom of Minnesotans United for All Families as he announces to campaign staff and board members that the vote on the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in the State of Minnesota was too close to call. As he was about to end his remarks and tell everyone to go home and get some sleep, Carlbom was told by the campaign’s communications director that the A.P. just called it. An ecstatic, joyous, tear-filled celebration ensued. This was the first time in U.S. history that an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment had been defeated.

I can relate to this expression of pure joy on so many levels and for so many reasons, but I will leave that for yet another blog…

(The real joy begins at around 2:50)

(Video by Robert Arvid Nelsen)


Readying Myself for a Knock-Out-Drag-Down Brawl With All You Self-Appointed Body Snatchers

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved

(*Trigger alert*)

I am a woman and I am pissed off.

No, I’m not just pissed off. I am frothing at the mouth angry over all the recent insidious and self-serving comments about rape and a woman’s right to choose made by a bunch of blathering, wrinkly-faced, Cialis-dependent male politicians.

Well, maybe not frothing at the mouth, but I am pretty damn angry.

No war on women? You had better believe there is a war being waged on women by right-wing conservative males with control issues. It continues to rear its ugly head during the recent political campaign and unfortunately won’t subside until women take a united stand to shut them the Hell up.

It feels as if our country has suddenly fallen into some black hole and has been sucked back in time to the 1950’s.

For those of you who were fortunate enough not to live through it, this was the time when a woman’s place in the world was well-defined. This was the era of the Stepford Wife. A woman’s job was to bear children, feed her husband, and stroke his ego (among other things), without ever giving consideration to her own needs.

There were a whole lot of aprons and meatloaf and women who greeted their bread-winner husbands at the door with a martini in one hand and a pair of slippers in the other. Women had of course barely earned the right to vote, so they relied heavily on the instruction of their husbands who told them how to cast their votes.

It all seemed a bit trivial back then, this voting thing, because women of course were living in a state of misogynist-induced bliss…

Education is power.

Ignorance and the spreading of untruths are the weapons of those who seek power over others.

Educated women are the bane of those men who seek to control them.

When women took a step forward and began to seek an education and a fulfilling career, they realized there was far more to life than mopping linoleum floors, vacuuming the shag carpet, and spitting out babies from their overly spent uteri.

Women have found their power, and that has pissed off a whole lot of misogynistic men.

It is clearly not just about the issue of abortion. These self-righteous bastions of “morality” who believe they have the right to dictate what a woman does with her body, are also attacking access to birth control and reproductive healthcare.

This feels vaguely familiar to me. Snatch the woman’s right to choose back away from her so she will go back to pumping out babies and serve the single purpose that “God” created her to fulfill. Oh and while she is birthing and caring for all those blessed bundles of joy, I the man, will once again stand tall with my ego intact because she failed to block my sacred seed.

All will be well with the world when a woman is back in her place… You know, that place where a man has his hands all up inside her uterus.

And now these behemoths of righteousness have the audacity to announce to the world that a child conceived of rape or incest is really a “gift from God” and a “blessing.”

For Christ’s sake. Really???? Do you constantly walk around this world with your heads up your asses or what?

As you can probably assume, the proclamations of these ignorant little men really did me in. Their flagrant insensitivity caused me to come forward swinging hard with both fists. It was a flailing mad, deep guttural growling while gritting my teeth so I don’t spit on anyone kind of angry.

Yeah… those insensitive remarks made by a variety of out-of-touch men, kind of triggered something deep inside of me. A kind of rage…

Rape and incest are not crimes of passion you see; they are crimes of domination and control. The majority of the perpetrators are men. These men have a desire to dominate their victim’s bodies and eviscerate their very souls.

There is nothing gentle or tender or loving or blessed or gift-like about incest or rape.

It is ugly. It is vile. And it wreaks havoc on a woman’s psyche for a very long time.

I know.

It is so very convenient for these men to bring “God” into the conversation. How else could they possibly justify denying an abortion to a woman or a child who was forced into pregnancy outside of her will during an act of rape or incest?

Do they really want to force this woman or child to carry this fetus to term and then bring it into this world? The traumatic memories of the vile event that lead to that pregnancy are horrific enough. Now they want to add to the power of the perpetrator by forcing a victim to feel that unwanted baby while it grows and moves inside of her on a daily basis, even when she doesn’t want it to?

On top of it all, 31 states in our country reward the rapist by giving them legal custody and visitation rights. That’s right. Once again, they empower the perpetrator and eviscerate the soul of the victim.

These people have tailored the definition of God to fit their own needs and their own agenda. This is definitely not my God and I would never serve theirs.

The God they speak of is the God of the 1950’s. The one who conveniently created all women for the single purpose of receiving the seed of man, even the rapists, in order to bear his children. The same God they say created a man to serve as ruler over the household. The King over all. The decision maker. The bread-winner. The all-powerful, consummate Dick.

One thing these holier-than-thou female body snatchers don’t seem to remember is women have the right to vote. In fact, women fought for over 70 years and suffered arrests, beatings, harassment, and torture at the hands of men, so each one of us would have the opportunity to be involved in the legislative process.

It is our responsibility as women to rock that vote and to fight for our rights collectively.

No judgement here, just consider your conscience and ask yourself how you would feel if you were the one who was brutally raped. And yes, rape is rape is rape is rape, as incest is incest. It is ALL “legitimate.” There are no categories as some men would like you to believe and absolutely no magical physical process in the body that shuts down conception if it is a “legitimate” rape.

Better yet, just imagine how you would feel if you were twelve years old and brutally raped by your own father. All you could do after the attack was puke your guts out while draped over the toilet and sop up the blood from your torn hymen.

Then just imagine how you would feel if you found out you were pregnant with your own father’s baby. Then you were told you had no choice but to carry that child to term.

I doubt very much you would view it as a “blessing from God.”


Repeat Offender

“Rhodanthe” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

There are days when I feel like a repeat offender.

These are the days where nothing seems to go right. For every two steps I have jumped forward, I allow myself to be slammed backwards another four.

Those are the times when I feel most vulnerable, chained helplessly to my past. Those are the days when I allow doubt to creep in and I open the door for others to pounce and use and abuse that moment of weakness for their own personal gain.

I suddenly become that little girl again, where I always felt nothing more, but less than.

And all I want to do is run away and hide…

I don’t want to face the ugly man lurking in the dark shadows around the corner. I don’t want to feel the pain of change and reflection for the sake of growth.

In those moments I am simply done. Out of juice. Void of any semblance of chutzpah that previously drove me onward through all the grime.

That is the constant uphill battle survivors of abuse face. It is a frustrating, difficult, painful, and at times exasperating journey away from all the shameful feelings one developed during years of relentless attacks.

It takes courage, it takes honesty, it takes constant self-reflection, and it takes a Hell of a lot of energy to move on.

It also requires one to step out from behind the protective barricade in order to reach out for the people in life who are good, and kind, and gentle, and loving.

It’s the act of surrounding yourself with a giant roll of bubble wrap. It is transparent, but it feels warm, cozy, safe, and you know you will be fiercely protected from harm by a supportive village who lifts you up for who you have become and understands from where you have traveled.

But then there is that annoying little creature called “trust.”

Historically, I have not always made the wisest choices in terms of village members. Understandably, since trust was obliterated by the one person who should have been there in my life to encourage and reinforce that trust.

So, I approach people slowly on my tiptoes, and with great caution. From a distance I observe and take note. They seem safe. They seem genuine. They seem kind and gentle and like they would hug me in that warm, all-encompassing way like they meant it.

And then there are those moments when I feel alone. When I feel vulnerable. When I feel used. When I feel unable to sort through all the negative self-messages that kept me tied down for far too long to that nasty, misleading untruth that is shame.

No matter how hard I have worked and how far I have come, how much I truly know now that it was never my fault, I still find myself on occasion a repeat offender.

Of doubt. Of fear. Of confusion. Of shame.

As you read this, I am most likely riding on a train on my way to Los Angeles. I will arrive at Union Station this afternoon and make my way to The Last Bookstore to do a reading of my piece from the Seal Press anthology “Dancing at the Shame Prom.”

This act alone takes a ton of courage. I can stand before a group of strangers and give workshops and lectures without hesitation and with a measure of bravado. But this time I will be talking about my own personal journey.

It will force me to become vulnerable.

As I stand in front of that room and speak my truth, every cell inside me will know that the horrors of my life began a mere 10 miles from the site of this reading. The house that held the dark secrets has since been boarded up and destroyed due to freeway expansion. Yet as visual as I am, that house still lives on inside my mind.

I remember every room, every closet, every nook, every cranny, every single nasty deed.

But today I am safe. I will surround myself with the protective bubble wrap of my fellow Shame Prom sisters and celebrate. Celebrate life. Celebrate friendship. Celebrate truth.

I will mark this day in my mind as a victory. One more step forward towards peace and freedom for my soul. An official emancipation day from the chains that bound me to my past.

And I will dance. Boy will I dance.


Soliloquy

so·lil·o·quy noun \sə-ˈli-lə-kwē\: a dramatic monologue that represents a series of unspoken reflections.

Nature has always been my savior. No matter how dark, cloudy or confusing my life circumstances become, I can always turn to the outdoors to calm my nerves and regain perspective.

Nature helps me to breathe a little more deeply and to strike up an internal conversation with self. That internal monologue can be dramatic and filled with expression in order to release frustration and solve all of life’s dilemmas or it can be quiet, centered and reassuring.

I will forever embrace it as the grounding mechanism for my soul. My safe place. My source of replenishment. My healing balm. The inspiration for self-dialogue. My soliloquy…

“Soliloquy 1” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Soliloquy 2” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Soliloquy 3” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Soliloquy 4” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Soliloquy 5” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Soliloquy 6” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Soliloquy 7” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Soliloquy 8” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.


Bubble Heaven

On a brisk Fall day back when my son was a toddling three-year-old, I sat on our back patio with him and listened to my favorite piece of classical music, Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major.

Justin was a hyperactive child and classical music calmed him and helped him to focus. There were moments when a rise or fall in the music would stop him dead in his tracks. He would become instantly transformed into a ballet star, arms stretched over his head as he twirled slowly on his tiptoes to the music.

On this morning however, Justin was hyper-focused on bubbles. I blew a steady stream of the soapy spheres to the point my lips ached. He jumped and he stomped and he giggled and tried his best to catch or pop every bubble I blew.

After an hour of his tireless squeals of “More Mommy! More!” I told him it was time to rest. He plopped his tiny butt down next to mine on the concrete step and took the wand in his little hand to blow a few himself. His full lips puckered up tight and he let out a great big puff only to watch a stream of soapy liquid and spittle fall straight to the ground.

He was a determined child and never gave up easily on any quest. Finally, success. A line of small bubbles left the wand and began to float slowly towards the concrete. A slight breeze gave them rise and they climbed in a circular pattern above the fence line. Before long, they disappeared like translucent rainbows high into the clouded sky.

Justin watched them float away with wide eyes and a hand over his brow, as he strained to see where they had gone.

After a few minutes he sighed and looked at the ground. That is when he asked me one of the most important questions of my life.

“Mommy, where do bubbles go when they die?”

I smiled and searched my mind for a logical answer. This was my opportunity to put on my science cap and teach him a lesson on the changing states of Matter. But something deep inside caused me to hesitate. The next words that left my lips surprised me.

“They go to Bubble Heaven of course. They float far, far away over oceans and mountains and when they land they are all together in a beautiful meadow with a stream lined by flowers and bunny rabbits.”

His eyes opened wide, he grabbed the wand again and began to blow and blow until a few more bubbles would form and float away. He watched them rise with delight and waved and squealed “Bye, bye bubbles. Have fun in Bubble Heaven!”

Although twenty-two years have now passed, every time I think about that morning I smile. It has become a reflection of just how magical life can be when we use a little bit of imagination.

My son, now a man, has continued through life with that same sense of excitement and wonder he had as a three-year-old. That beautiful part of him will never die. He is one of the lucky few who refuses to be cemented down in the serious side of life. He still finds wonder in the smallest things and will pause to dance a pirouette when the music calls to his soul.

Now close your eyes and just imagine how beautiful that world would be…


The Bothersome Borg

I was recently infected with another case of the sillies. After a few months of being pulled back into the more serious side of life with our “Dancing at the Shame Prom” book launch and a couple other more straight-laced writing and photography gigs, my whimsical side decided to tackle me to the floor and demand release.

So, “The Bothersome Borg” series was born.

The Bothersome Borg is kind of like that annoying person who shows up in your life during the most inopportune moments. He is that pesky little brother or that persistent and ridiculous thought that pops up in your mind when you least expect it. Wherever he shows up, you would prefer that he didn’t. He tends to wreak havoc on everything around him. He makes a mess out-of-order, noise in the midst of quiet and constantly colors outside of the lines.

Regardless his foibles, you still can’t help but feel a little love for him… And maybe, just maybe, he can teach you a thing or two about life.

Without further ado, the beginning of my series, “The Bothersome Borg”…

“The Borg Around the Corner” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Sewer Diver” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“A.K.A. Borgsky” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

“Chef Borg-Uignon” – ©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.