Wednesday, April 25, 2007


The internet is a great resource for people like me - that is, people who like a Do-It-Yourself solution.

We've had a laser printer on loan for a while now, that we haven't returned because of a printer jam problem. It's an NEC brand desktop laser printer, which I have since learned, is notorious for getting parts. Googling for "printer repairs" was useless, all I got was phone numbers for printer repair shops who either don't answer the phone, or don't fix this brand. I can't remember what I fixed in the search phrase, but happened upon this gem: and a quick search and perusal got me to exactly the right solution.

It was mind-numbingly simple too - I just had to take out two components, flip up a flap and then pull the little black rollers back into place.

Other things I've fixed thanks to the internet:

Clothes dryer (needed a new pulley thing)
Busted copper pipes (I know how to solder now)
Vacuum cleaner (new belt needed)
Car (not really, but I was able to diagnose that it needed a new distributor -- this is one task for the pros!)

Anyhow, it's a bit geeky, but I love fixing problems -- the whole search, synthesizing, applying, testing and adjusting of information is really fun to me. Appliance repair is rewarding, but solving visual problems is even better. Like I mentioned in my previous post, sometimes with art, nothing comes out right some days. But when you break through the problem (whether it be a eureka moment, or through careful analysis) it is the best feeling. And usually the best solution is the most elegant and simple.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

the process

Just watched an interesting documentary title, "The Queen, by Rolf". From what I can gather from his website, Rolf Harris is an painter and recording artist based in the UK. The show was part of the CBC Passionate Eye series and the title caught my eye. It showed the process of painting a portrait of the Queen over several weeks with two actual sittings with the queen herself. Rolf has an interesting technique of placing the canvas almost right beside the subject and starts the painting with what looked to me like dubious swirls of colour.

What emerged was a really great portrait of Queen Elizabeth - she's smiling, relaxed, and important details like her brooch and pearl necklace are captured well. The process was fascinating to watch and I saw some parallels with my own work - like bantering with the subject to put her at ease, not getting too caught up in the details of the image and taking time to step back and see the total effect, and the inevitable artistically-blah days - when nothing you put down seems to work out right.

On a completely different note, I made the best tacos ever tonight. Recipe from America's Test Kitchen website (you have to register to access recipes - if you do the free version you get to see most recipes, but get shut out of a lot of other content). The secret weapons of this taco recipe includes sauteeing onions, garlic and spices BEFORE adding the meat, and also adding chicken broth, tomato sauce, vinegar and sugar at the end to round out the taste. Also frying up corn tortillas is the BEST for taco shells. We will NEVER go back to taco-kit tacos again. Ever. It is worth the effort.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Pretty car makes for pretty pictures! I studied some car brochures and websites - unfortunately I don't have a giant soundstage or super cool vacant warehouse at my disposal on a day's notice, but I think I did alright with the No Frill's parking lot :) Thanks Chris for letting me practice car photography on your car.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Improving your professional image

Does your professional image need a renovation?

Just about everyone has an online presence and if you are a professional, the need for a good website, blog or online profile is even more important.

Good images set you apart from the masses. If you are a facebook user, then you see more than your share of out-of-focus, far-away, out-of-date or self-portraits (i call them big-arm photos) photos that pass for profile pics.

So here are some recent headshots. Three very different people but they all end up looking polished and appropriate. First person is Maureen McGowan (, a Toronto based writer who is a finallist in the prestigious Golden Heart writing competition. Thank you to Danielle for referring Maureen to me. I think this shot works because it's warm, and sincere - just like her in real life! We tried out a couple of different tops before deciding that the black v-neck worked best. This was photographed in the writer's home, in front of her favourite bookcase.

Second example is actor Michael Holtz. The final shot was selected by his agent (even though we both preferred a shot with a more serious expression). Usually we think that only actors and models need headshots, but this is not the case!

Last and most recent example is Monika Dutt. I recently re-connected with my elementary school classmate through facebook and found out that not only is Monika now a family physician with an MBA and Masters in Public Health, she is also the St. Paul's (Toronto) Green Party candidate for the federal election! That last one was a very recent development, and she was suddenly faced with the fact that a vacation snapshot from last year does not a headshot make. I'm pretty pleased with the result - she looks confident and pulled together - exactly how you would expect someone with her impressive CV to look.