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2015! Can you believe it? I can't. Time sure flies when you're smack dab in the middle of living. Speaking of time, I, for one, realize how precious it is and I really do appreciate you spending some of yours here with me. You choosing to subscribe to this little Newsletter Love of mine truly means more to me than you can imagine. Thank you.

One of my many maxims (No, not Maxim the magazine! Maxim, as in a pithy little truism...) is "Be original...or be silent." You may have seen it posted on my website before so I suppose just the fact of me repeating it isn't being very original. However, the reason I bring it up is because occasionally I get asked about my artwork, be it my drawings or my photography, and whether they are my originals or if I'm finding most of them off the web. My answer always is, unless I specifically attribute the work to someone else, all work, regardless if it be writing or drawing or photography or videos or (and I apologize for this next one) music, is mine, for better or worse.

And just because you all here in this newsletter salon-like space of ours are so special to me, I am going to give you a quick look into how I go about creating things. Specifically, I'll show you a couple of the steps involved in the creation of my New Year card as shown above:
 

The first thing I did was draw the picture. I have been experimenting with these newfangled digital drawing pads but I just can't seem to get the hang of it. It's much easier for me to just draw my image using good old fashioned pencils, pens, and paper. Once finished, I either scan the image into my computer or take a picture of it with my phone's camera, which is set up to automatically upload my photos to the cloud.

After it's digitized, I then fire up GIMP, my graphic design engine of choice. Now the professionals almost exclusively use PhotoShop. But as you can see, I ain't no professional so I ain't about to spend all that dough when I can get a similar machine for free right off the web. Just go to gimp.org and check it out. There are other free design engines out there but I've always used gimp and probably always will.

Gimp comes with many handy controls and filters. For my photographs, I mostly use the following features: Brightness-Contrast and Color Enhance controls, as well as the Enhance >> Sharpen filter. I use other controls and filters from time to time, but these are the primary ones I use for my photos.

As for this image, I fiddled around a lot with it to get it cleaned up. One of the best benefits of finishing my artwork in a design engine is that I don't have to worry about all the erasure marks and other nicks and bruises an amateur hack like me often inflicts on my drawings.You can see all the damage done by my excessive erasing (which is a result of all my excessive attempts to get it to where it's at least presentable) in the original drawing so the first thing I had to do was to make those go away. I knew I wasn't going to keep my drawing of 2015; I just drew it in there to get an idea of what it would look like, so that, too, had to be disappeared. Once I got the drawing to where I was satisfied - after cleaning it up I ran it through the "Oil Painting" filter to give it the sumi-e, or Japanese ink painting look - I just typed the year as a new layer over the drawing, found the desired font (I forget which font it is...sorry), dropped its opacity level to about 50% so you can still see the drawing through the numbers, and that's about it.

To get to the finished product of the above postcard, all I then had to do was to add a new layer and type up my New Year message to you, my bestest of friends.  Of course there are a few more steps involved in this, or any, graphic design project; but these are the major ones.

I hope you enjoyed that little behind the scene look into the inner-workings of my graphic design process, as off-the-cuff and haphazard as it may be...
 
Hercules Gone Mad - Part One
The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor

Hey, have you all checked out the Relating to Humans feature lately? It sure is growing. If you haven't visited it in a while, please do. And while there, give a "Like" or two to the contributions that you enjoy. I am quite sure the contributors will appreciate it. I know I will.

On that note, I would like to share with you one of the pieces from the feature. I have chosen a poem by OneBigPoet from the Race Issues sub-feature. Anyone who has paid even a little bit of notice to the news lately surely is aware of the many challenges my country, the United States, is facing revolving around the subject of race and minority rights. We may be entering a new year, yet we are still grappling with such aged and troubling issues as these. And I suspect, sadly, we will be doing so for many years to come.
 

The Diner

At the diner’s counter one hopes
to eat in solitude but seeing
my whiteness his bigotry
just had to suckle on my skull.
“You know they’re taking over.”
He motioned toward the cooks in the kitchen.
“Who, who’s taking over?”
“The Mexicans, that’s who!”
“They’re not Mexicans, they’re Hawaiians.”
“Hawaiians?”
“Can’t you tell a Mexican from a Hawaiian?”
“No.”
“That’s what makes it so diabolical,
the Hawaiians cross the border disguised
as Mexicans. Don’t look, don’t look!”
“No shit!”
“Yeah and they’re the ones who are
really behind it all.”
He mulled over our conversation
trying to grasp the implications.
“If we’re not careful we’ll all be choking on
pineapple!”
“yeah?”
Unsure, his meal seemed somehow soured.
“We should really build a fence to keep out
Hawaiians!”

onebigpoet.wordpress.com

Poems from the River
LEAVE: A Short Story

I am very excited for all the promise 2015 has in store for me.  I expect to be quite engaged throughout the year putting together a new short story collection, putting out the next part in Hercules Gone Mad, republishing Poem Man, putting out another poetry collection, and continue working on one of the two novels I have outlined (I haven't decided which one I will work on yet but you will get glimpses of each as excerpts in the short story collection).

Additionally, I will continue to work hard, though lovingly, on my website. Its readership grew considerably throughout 2014 and I look forward to 2015 for further growth. Consequently, I am bringing my son on to help me with some of the nuts and bolts of site management and marketing. He and I have been discussing our website goals for the year and, based upon the vision we have determined for ourselves, it appears we are going to have to form a media production company of sorts to accommodate them all. More on this venture soon.

So yes, I am very excited about the new year. And I am especially excited to be sharing time throughout it with you, my bestest of friend.

As it begins with time, so shall it end (well, at least time as we understand it...or not). And I am afraid that I have spent more time of yours than I rightly deserve.  But I am thankful that you allowed me to do so.

Until our next time together,
Peace, my friend.

Kurt

 
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