Monday, February 28, 2011

Panorama of Tobacco Farm

Tobacco Farm, Danlí, Honduras, 2011

This is what landscape is all about: the blue of the skies, the brown of the earth, the green of the vegetation.   As far as tobacco goes, it is a pretty simple crop.  There is nothing fancy about it, no strenuous planning of the land, rocket-science irrigation techniques, or dire straits consequences if a minimal part of the equation goes wrong.  In all, it is an almost perfect indigenous plant, a testament to proper agricultural techniques and sustainability.  Besides, it is also beautiful to look at, and to listen to: the broad-sun-warmed leaves gently whispering as they are cooled by valley breezes.  And at an early crop period, barely a notion of the potential final product it will become.  

"District" Photo News

News you can use...

If you are an artist and live in the Washington, D.C. area you should definitely check out the Pink Line Project, the District's hottest art-driven web portal.  In their words, "the Pink Line Project catalyzes the culturally curious to participate, innovate, engage, and conspire with passion, awesomeness, inspiration, generosity, and ingenuity."

In District photo news, a show to look forward to is the Flash Photo Explosion in Crystal City.

Support Foto DC and Crystal City in their efforts to bring more attention to photography and visual arts to the DC area.  FYI: Foto DC is also sponsoring the National Cherry Blossom Photo Contest, in conjunction with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, taking place from March 26th to April 10th, 2011.  

Looking forward to shaking off the winter blues and taking advantage of Spring and Summer photographing opportunities!

Friday, February 25, 2011

It all Starts with a Wild Idea

One of the things I miss the most about grad school is the view from behind the darkroom door, as projects come into focus and maturity.  We don't often get to see the trial-and-error approach, or the happy serendipity of successful "accidents."  A portfolio isn't always so much about being methodical from the very beginning as it is about taking risks and seeing what happens.

Take a look at Theron Humphrey's project-in-progress, "This Wild Idea," based on the starkly simple yet ingenious premise of meeting thirty different people and cataloguing their life while on a cross-country photographic journey.  Happy travels, Theron, and I'm excited to see what all you end up with.  

This Wild Idea: 30 Stories. 30 Days. Traversing America.

Vignette of a Career Cigar Smoker

Career Cigar Smoker, Danlí, Honduras, 2011
Walking in to one of the cigar factories in Danlí, we were greeted by rows of shy, smiling women waving blue and white bannerlets, the little plastic triangles representing the colors of the Honduran flag snapping gently to and fro amongst the constant hiss of the overhead humidifiers.  I found this woman at the far end of the main corridor, waving in a queenly manner and inviting us eagerly for the chance to take a photograph with her.  It was dark, warm, and humid on the factory floor.  Sweat was barely collecting on her brow, and still here she was, coolly puffing away on a monster of a cigar, a long char of ash dangling from its end, as if in testament to her endurance.  

I didn't get much of a chance to talk to her; I did gather that she was somewhere around eighty years old and healthy as the proverbial ox.  She claimed to have been smoking cigars daily for the last thirty-five years.  I didn't quite get an answer as to what she did, exactly, in terms of employment at the factory, other than stand around looking pretty photogenic.  

Not a bad gig, really.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Good Start, a Long Way to Go

Soldier and Children, Danlí, Honduras, 2011
I think of Honduras as an elderly woman in a small town whom, still being judged for several moral transgressions in the past, must tread carefully in the company of strangers, despite her successful reformation in latter years.  The last two years have been a severe trial to Hondurans, who have deeply and emotionally felt the pain of recent political upheavals.  The great social, economic and technological strides achieved since the dark times of turmoil in the seventies and eighties seemed for naught, as the carefully built monument of stability came tumbling down after the removal of Chávez-sympathizer President Mel Zelaya in June of 2009.  An astounding fact of the "coup" was that it was perpetrated by the military, with the overwhelming sanction of the general population. Condemned by most of the world's leaders and nations, Honduras retreated into itself.    

It was a trying time.  Tourism and foreign export began to dry up.  Investments dropped.  Hondurans watched with sadness as their country's image was smeared by international media.  Uncertainty and worry grew exponentially.

Slowly and steadily, and with a stubborn determination of the "sticks and stones..." variety, Hondurans have been regaining their voice.  "Honduras is an extraordinary hotbed of possibility," one visiting investor told me as we sat on the tour bus driving us to Danlí in El Paraíso.  "She's just absolutely terrible at marketing herself."  To contradict him, I mentioned several large-scale projects proposed by the private sector and the government to re-attract foreign investment, including the Humor Jaguar Cigar and Tobacco Festival he was currently attending.  He smiled. "it's definitely a good start, but she's still got a long way to go."

It is difficult to explain to others sometimes why I left Honduras.  It is bitingly hard to leave your family, your friends, and everything that you have ever known.  It is not a light decision to make.  Lack of job opportunities is one reason, educational pursuit is another.  You tell yourself a million others, but in your heart of hearts, you always wonder if you have made the right choice.  When I do return to visit, I am assaulted by unexpected culture shock at the noise, the poverty, the whole chaos of it, even if it is as familiar as my own skin.  I am saddened by the overwhelming growth and spread of American fast-food chains, megabox stores, and Capitalist influence (does that sign really say, "Black Friday Sale?").  It generally takes a few days for the old feel to come back, for me to shed my own carefully-constructed reformation, before I start noticing that between the the Burger Kings and Pizza Huts there seems to be a curious new population of restaurants catering to a type of local fare called baleadas.  A kind of burrito, the baleada is honest and simple Honduras food at its best, a flour tortilla classically filled with refried beans and cream, which can then be modified by the eater with a variety of other fillers such as scrambled eggs, chorizo, avocado, and cheese.  It is the "new" fast food.  Other signs of a latent nationalism begin to emerge: the explosion of local television stations, the heavy push to "buy local," and everywhere I go, everyone wearing the national soccer team's jersey.  

When we arrived in Danlí on the third day of the Festival, we were greeted to perhaps the most inspiring display of nationalism I had seen all week, especially regarding the recent upheavals.  As we stepped off the bus, we were greeted by twin lines of Honduran children in their school uniforms, smiling broadly and proudly holding plastic Honduran flags taut in their hands.  I was not the only one incapable of keeping a dry eye.  I stepped to the side to quietly photograph, and noticed off to one side a man in military garb, part of the security detail, with a smile just as broad and as proud holding a small digital camera up to the scene and snapping off a few shots.  He saw me looking and laughed, embarrassed.  I asked him what he was photographing.  "The foreigners, looking at the children.  Look at how respectful they look.  I am proud of these children, and proud of what they can show the world."

He asked me to take his photograph with the children, this man who represented to the world the "oppressive, violent, and aggressive" military who had "torn the country apart" a year before.  He stood before the children and pushed his chest out, choosing not to smile, but rather to appear stoic and invincible, protective of the future standing behind him.  He genuinely appears to be a son of that proud old woman Honduras, who though kicked and beaten, called names and thoroughly exoriated, chooses to stand and show the world that she has not been defeated, that she will continue to stand tall for generations of Hondurans who believe in their potential and promise.  

School Children of Danlí, Danlí, Honduras, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

From a Tiny Seed, an Entire Industry Grows

Detail - Flor de Tabaco, Danlí, Honduras, 2011
It all begins with this: a fragile, pink flowerlet trembling in the hot, humid breezes of El Paraíso, Honduras, twenty kilometers from the Nicaraguan border.  Before being gently plucked from its perch, it was part of a cluster of others like it, high on the crown of a tall and sturdy tobacco plant.  In such towns as Danlí, Jamastrán, and La Música, tobacco flowers are carefully nurtured and harvested for their prized seeds.  Unlike the majority of other industrialized crops, tobacco is self-supplying and a farm can use its own crops for propagation.  It is 100% certifiably organic, and its demarcation of origin inscrutable.  Farmers do not have to rely heavily on multinational suppliers of raw material (seeds), and are usually capable of planting, harvesting, processing, packaging, and shipping the finalized tobacco product from within a single area or farm.  Many families in the Jamastrán Valley are completely dependent on this single plant to generate their income; mothers and fathers work either in the fields or the factories, and the children attend schools financed by tobacco taxes or as subsidized by the tobacco farmers and investors.  As the fourth largest export crop in Honduras, tobacco is pretty important business around here.  But you wouldn't be able to tell, just by looking at this pretty pink flower; just a humble little thing unaware of the potential it holds within.      

Flor de Tabaco, Danlí, Honduras, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cigars: Handmade in Honduras

Mr. Jorge Arturo Bueso Árias, holding a "Don Melo" cigar
Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras, 2011

Whenever I immerse myself in an intensive photographic project, I become acutely aware of the thematic cues that guide my eye.  These do not develop consciously, but rather are cultivated and gently evolved throughout the process of image capture.  Sometimes, these themes run deep and are subtle, not much else than a lingering emotion throughout the portfolio.  Other times, the storyline is much more defined, much more vivid and bold.  This past week, while photographing the Humo Jaguar Tobacco and Cigar Festival in Honduras, the theme made itself evident rather quickly, perhaps a little too obviously, but I could hardly object to its propriety or importance.

The world of cigars is one of gentle luxury, deep passion, and a sense of bon vivre that is particular to a certain handmade product (like wine or fine liquors, food crafted from the local terroir, or the organic feel of tailored leather).  Cigar smokers are acutely aware of the steps involved in the manufacture of cigars, relish in the process of producing them that is little-changed over the centuries.  The word "manufacture" comes from the Latin manufact, which means "to make by hand."  The more I photographed, the more I noticed my focus resting on the fingers and hands of the people who sow, plant, reap, and process the tobacco, then the manual dexterity of those cutting, rolling, and packaging the cigars, and finally the inter-digit casual grip of the smokers themselves who reap the rewards of the final product.

It is for this reason that this particular photograph holds such an incredible value.  The hand holding this cigar belongs to Mr. Jorge Arturo Bueso Árias, undeniably the Patron of the tobacco and cigar industry in Honduras.  This portrait, for the weight and personality it carries, was taken inside the factory-turned-museum that housed his original cigar venture many years ago.  The ninety-one year-old is a bastion of the Honduran economy, a one-time presidential candidate, Minister of Economy, founder of the Banco de Occidente (Western Bank), and also founder of the Flor de Copán tobacco factory in Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras, in 1976, following a long family tradition of involvement in the tobacco industry since the years of Spanish colonial rule.  He is a man widely admired and respected for his honesty, integrity, humility, hard work, and passionate sense of nationalism.  I find, in this image, every single one of these descriptive words captured in this simple object in his hand, this cigar touched by so many others' hands and made with love, to be enjoyed and savored at the end of a long day--or at the end of a long career--with a deep sense of satisfaction.   

Saturday, February 12, 2011

On Holga Cameras

My Holga 120S as rendered by the
Hipstamatic App
Yesterday, I made a comment about never having taken to the whole Holga phenomenon.  I can say with all honesty that I was actually aware of Holgas way before they were 'discovered,' before Urban Outfitters saw a marketing window and populated their stores with the Holga's alter-egos, the Diana and Lomo cameras.  I bought my modified Holga from Randy at Holgamods, before he created too much attention and the manufacturer discontinued the 120S.  Nifty little thing, plastic and almost weightless.  There was something undeniably fun about wedging strips of cardboard to hold the film taut in the camera back, and wrapping the whole thing festively in gaffer tape.  I wasn't skeptical yet, not until after the tediousness of processing the film manually and watching with dismal disconcertion the morphed imaged in each frame, none a keeper.  I continued to shoot a random roll here or there, never to any satisfaction.  I was seriously engaged in a project at the time using my Wista large-format camera, and it was hard to make the mind-switch between the crisp utter cleanliness of the 4x5 film and the mottled, warped, barely legible Holga shots.  As a photographer, I am generally thorough to a fault.  Barring acts of God, I can generally guarantee the viability and success of each piece of film that I shoot.  At the cost of large-format film (approximately $3.00 per color sheet, plus $3.00 per processing, plus mailing expenses and drum-scanning), I better had be that sure.  Even now, the financial expense, the time spent, and the unpredictable results do not justify the camera to me.  It reminds me of the time I took a Printmaking class (but that is a story for another day).  

I'm not saying that the Holga is not a good camera.  In fact, it can be incredibly versatile, in the right hands.  Artist Michelle Bates has explored the capability of the Holga thoroughly, and has put together some fascinating publications on the subject.  One of my students at Georgia Southern, Amanda Morrow, probably pushed the Holga to the furthest extreme I have ever seen, using the unpredictable medium to document architecture and landscape.  I still hold firm to the idea that what you use to photograph is not nearly as important as what you choose to photograph.  However,  it is probably just as important to figure out how to apply the right equipment to the task at hand.  It might be the pithiest metaphor ever, but I think of each piece of equipment as a new language to learn, and I use each language as appropriate in each country I visit.  

I've been accused of 'disliking' the Holga, or not knowing how to use it, which couldn't be further from the truth.  I simply acknowledge that I am not attracted to the the process of using it.  To me, the Holga is an experiment in serendipity, a delightful accident, if successful.  I feel the same way with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone, which has the same level of unpredictability as the Holga except you don't need any gaffer tape.  And a reshoot can be instantaneous, if the result sucks.  

Now if only someone would come up with a Holga app...

Friday, February 11, 2011

What You Shoot With Doesn't Matter, it's WHAT you Shoot That Does

The winners for the World Press Photo Aware, 2010, were announced earlier today.  The grand prize goes to Jodi Bieber, of South Africa, for her utterly resonant image of a young woman with devastating facial disfigurements inflicted on her by a former husband during the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan.  What was most notable about the Awards, however, was the strong contention of freelance and"opportunistic" photographers, or amateurs with a capture device who happen to be "at the right place, at the right time."  Not only were unaffiliated photographers well-represented, but also cameras of all makes, sizes, and types.  Cell-phone cameras have seeming broken the barrier; many entrants' photographs, under serious consideration, were taken with iPhones.  Just last month, Newsweek magazine published an article on the troops in Afghanistan using photos taken with the ubiquitous Hipstamatic app for smart phones.

There are us photographers out there who know that what equipment you have and use doesn't amount to crap if you're not paying attention to what is going on in the frame.  Sure,  you can create a big following making 20"x24" Polaroids (William Wegman), but a one-trick pony who doesn't learn new tricks is going to lose its audience, and fast.  If you care to argue, maybe it's because you're feeling a little bit raw about the ten grand you just dropped on your shiny new Nikon, while some kid with an Android and a couple of buck ninety-nine apps just won some major international award.  Artists have consistently blown the lofty assertion that in order to make great pictures, you need a great camera.  Immediately Google Richard Billingham.  His series Ray's a Laugh, which was shot with disposable cameras, is one of the most outstanding and ground-breaking series of our time.  Don't forget Nan Goldin, either.  Of course, you will say, it depends on the focus of your subject matter.  I will agree with you there.  I'm a large-format photographer by nature.  There is simply no replacement for the rich tonality of large-format film.  However, I feel like the ease of the digital camera, and especially when in comes in the form of my mobile phone, has opened up new and exciting potential themes that I am anxious to explore.  I don't always feel the same with every new camera I try.  For example, I never really took to the Holga fad (shock!).  But I'd really like to try one of those nifty Rollei minis, when I get the chance.

The point is, quit your worrying and scheming, stop piddling around with all those manuals and courses and seminars, and go take a picture.  Take a lot.  You might like what you get.  

I'm definitely not finished with this topic, but it's a Friday and my brain is fried, and I'm getting ready for a big assignment next week.  So, to be discussed further.  In the meantime, do look up Richard Billingham, you'll be glad you did.  

Jodi Bieber

Thursday, February 10, 2011

For Love of the Craft?

There is a dubious fast-track formula for success in the art world: think of the craziest, most deranged, offensive, downright lousy thing you could do in art, apply it, and release it into the world.  Once you have generated the acceptable following, then you are able to settle in and do what you really want.  It worked for Catherine Opie and Andrés Serrano.  It also seems to be working just fine for Bryan Saunders in Tennessee.  Check out what VICE magazine had to say about that.  

The Crazy Things Bryan Saunders will do for Art

Bryan Saunders
Self-Portrait, "Crystal Meth"

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

On Greener Grass

"I really haven't had that exciting of a life.  There are a lot of things I wish I had done, instead of just sitting around and complaining about having a boring life.  So I pretty much like to make it up.  I'd rather tell a story about someone else."

-Kurt Cobain

I have developed somewhat of a fixation for reality shows about addiction.  My favorite go-to is Dr. Drew Pinksy's "Celebrity Rehab."  I once spent a whole day editing and watching, out of the corner of my eye, back-to-back episodes of "Intervention."  When those ran out, I put on "American Meth," and "Haze."  I was traumatized.  And intrigued.  I remember reading an article a long time ago, in a magazine whose name I have since forgotten, that a survey taken of the richest people in America revealed that they credited "hard work" as the number one reason for their success.  Such is the same for artists, except that we really are not doing it for the money.  When I was heading to grad school in an art college, my friends joked about "what a great life" I'd be having, I'd be spending days "scribbling with crayons," "wasting time in coffee shops, analyzing pointless books," and "trying to look cute in second-hand clothes while drinking Two-Buck Chuck at endless gallery openings."  The truth is about as far from vanilla as you can possibly get.  The hardest work I have ever done in my life was performed in the pursuit of a graduate degree in fine arts.  Days upon days of sleepless nights.  Innumerable dinners cobbled from the aisles of the gas station down the street.  Molding my class schedule to ridicule hours so I could work a full shift waiting tables at the celebrity restaurant downtown five days a week.  The never-ending quest to discover "the thesis project." Shooting. Editing.  Re-shooting.  Printing.  Looking back, I'm surprised I survived.  I did almost fail out of the program; I had to petition the head of the department and the dean to stay.  When I finally graduated, I was down to the last thread holding me together.  

It's been almost four years, and I've found large and hazy gaps in my memory about my time in grad school.  Most of it is due to the sheer exhaustion of what I was doing to myself on the daily, but I'm sure some it comes from the coping mechanisms I adopted.  Drinking bottom of the barrel margaritas from the disgusting Mexican place next door, out of discrete coffee mugs, to take the edge off while the RA-4 machine broke down once again, only six hours left before my final portfolio was due.  Four generic PM painkillers at the end of my work shift at night so I could sleep, two Five Hour Energy drinks during the day to keep me functional.  I worked hard, and I partied harder. On a given week, by the time Thursday rolled around, the desperation kicked in for human contact after knowing nothing but the four walls of a private darkroom, or the screen of an unfriendly computer day after day.  Restaurant workers by rule party hard, as well, and we were all art students, so the partying took on a different level.  And still, above the incessant input and interaction, there was a nagging feeling of, "I'm not doing enough."  Somebody else was spending more time on their thesis, or shooting more exposures, or I was always missing out on the best night out, the biggest party.  I had a serious case of the Grass is Greener.

Last Saturday night, I found myself still at the studio at midnight, after an already long day.  I was putting together a Rather Important portfolio for a review at the Corcoran the following day.  Something happens to the mind when you force it to focus for so long.  A semi-delirium sets in.  I work to loud music. The louder the better.  I'm usually a hard-core Dave Matthews fan, but this night I had Passion Pit and the Killers on repeat.  I discovered you can create a playlist on YouTube and put Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros on a loop.  To break the monotony of the editing, I turned to e-mail and Facebook.  I've said before that being an artist is the loneliest job in the world.  Let me tell you, at eleven o'clock on a Saturday night, you can definitely bet that it is.  All I could think about was all the fun everyone else was having while I was locked down in the studio.  I hadn't been outside in almost thirteen hours, other than a quick jaunt to the Chinese food place two doors down for a can of Diet Coke and a box of the most delicious Taiwanese grub you've ever put in your mouth.  It's at this time that the depression sets in, the self-doubt.  This is the point where trouble begins.  Moments of doubt in times of creation are what breed the alcoholism, the drug-dependency, the out-the-back-door excuses for artists who are handling "too much."  

When I finally forced myself to go home, the feeling of things left undone wouldn't allow me to sleep.  I stayed up reading The Daybooks of Edward Weston (I. Mexico), to console the puritan part of my brain telling me I was a slacker.  This is the general esprit of my life: consumed by the guilt of never doing enough, of not being interesting enough, of not pursuing enough.  "An artist is a creature driven by demons," William Faulkner once said in an interview for The Paris Review with Jean Stein.  "He doesn't know why they choose him, and he's usually too busy to wonder why."

As a photographer and writer, I tell stories about other people, other places, that are much more interesting than my own reality.  It sure is better than spending my time complaining about what I haven't done, or wondering what everybody else is doing.  "I wish I was like you," Kurt Cobain once wrote, in the lyrics  of the song All Apologies.  "Easily amused."

"My Grass is Blue"
Washington, DC, 2010

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Enjoy Every Title

"Men might think about sex every seven seconds, but I think about project titles. There is no greater pleasure than lying on the couch, closing my eyes, and daydreaming about the perfect title."

Let's begin with a cliché.  When I was a child, I had a friend who shared my obsession with all things Black Stallion.  We mauled and mulled over the Walter Farley books at a fiercely equal pace.  We also liked to draw.  We were, we were told, "talented."  Besides discussing the books to a point of nauseum near the levels of "and this one time, at band camp," we liked to pass our time engaging in a curious pass-time: at a turn each, we would come up with a potential book title, and then we would furiously sketch the ergo book's front cover.  Alex would invariably "win" on the creative side, but I found a greater pleasure in the most banal part of the game, the naming of the fictitious book.  I would throw the match on occasion, if it was my turn to conjure up the next title.  We must have drawn hundreds, thousands, of book covers over the years, but sadly I don't know of any that survived.  What I do remember is the thrill, the pleasure, of putting together words, quick sentences, really, that evoked an immediate mental image of the plot, the story, the life of the non-existent book.

Photography is a two-dimensional story-line, really.  We've already heard that other cliché, the one about the worth of one photograph, but let's not beat a dead horse.  I've spoken before about my mistrust of easy images, those that don't offer the viewer a layered experience.  Photographs that lie dead on the table, flat, unbending, and easy.  As a photographer drawn to the vernacular, it gets old trying to explain to others what the importance is of an empty billboard, a telephone pole, a shadow, a street lamp or whatever particular piece of banality happens to catch my fancy.  People insist on the why.  The job of the photographer is not necessarily to provide an answer to their own questions on the "why," (although that is always a nice killing of two birds with one stone), but rather to provide the viewer with the tools necessary to answer the questions for themselves.  

I look at a lot of art, I read a lot of books, and a I listen to a lot of music.  We artists are all the same, really, just trying to put together some sort of cohesive collection of work that resonates with the ever-elusive "personal aesthetic."  There are writers/painters/photographers/singer-songwriters out there who are easily recognizable by the most minute sample of their work.  There are those who are prolific at it, some of them genius-like: Elmore Leonard, in writing, for example; Ralph Steadman in drawing.  Then there are a very few whose particular talent is in coming up with titles.  The king, in my book, is singer-songwriter Warren Zevon.  He is know for "Werewolves in London," in terms of titles one of his weaker attempts, but one which nonetheless still reaches at you with a quirky attraction.  You just can't distrust a song titled "Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money," or "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner." He named his second album "Excitable Boy."  His posthumous compilation of songs is named after one of his most famous quotes, "Enjoy Every Sandwich." Zevon called it as he saw it, didn't mull over the words.  Of "Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money," he once said, "back in the late Seventies I was working on the album 'Excitable Boy,' and I decided I needed a vacation, so I went to Kuaui, in the Hawaiian Islands.  I wrote this song late on night on wet cocktail napkins after a long day of improbable and grotesque mischief, obviously I survived all that.  But I learned something from the experience.  I never take vacations."  There is no obvious correlation between this experience and the ensuing song, of course.  It doesn't matter that he was far from Cuba and Honduras, where the song takes place, when he wrote it.  What matters is the line of thought that conjures the idea.  Wet cocktail napkins = running for your life in Latin America.  What Zevon understood is that titles evoke the emotion of the artist at the point of creation.  I don't think that you would be surprised to discover that he counted other champions of the vernacular such as Stephen King, Hunter S. Thompson, and Billy Bob Thornton as some of his closest friends.  Go ahead, Google him.  He's awesome.  

The point is, artistic projects, themes, are like the story ideas of a book.  We don't "come up with them."  Any successful photographer will tell you what happens when you force it.  Think Mary Ellen Mark and "Twins."  The light turns itself on, out of nowhere.  You never know when it's going to happen.  It's like playing Sudoku.  One number reveals the other, but not the whole picture, just little windows.  You have to be patient.  And you have to be honest.  Tell it like it is, no matter the train of thought.  You never know where it's going to take you.  At least it'll give your work enough layers to last through one more viewing.

"Washington's Birthplace"
Somewhere near Hague, VA,
January 19, 2011