Using Instagram as a Visual Diary: Puddles

By: Rishi 

I joined Instagram about a year ago out of curiosity.  My initial dip into the platform seemed unfriendly because of the onslaught of pictures of feet, food and frappes.  At the time, I didn’t understand the social connection of Instagram and was dismayed by what I saw.

What kept me using Instagram was my curiosity about how people saw Milwaukee.  I created my account and lurked afraid to put my content out there.  

I consider myself an amateur photographer and have been taking pictures for over a decade. I know my voice and my photography is my visual diary.  I tend to be an optimist and that mindset pushes me to look for the light in the darkness.  One perspective is never right and I look to capture my subject from multiple angles. Textures, grain, grit and the imperfections that occur naturally in the world are beautiful to me.  Symmetry is not important in my life, but important to my pictures.  I use symmetry to contrast a subject and to appreciate the different elements that make up the symmetry.

As I began to wade into Instagram, I found myself taking pictures I didn’t care about.  I posted images that I thought my followers would like and not what was true to my voice (or sight).  I found myself frustrated and angry that my “followers” couldn’t see my talent.  I had lost sight and was caught up looking for approval from strangers.  Fear of losing my voice (sight) forced me to pull back and reevaluate what was important to me.

I started to follow instagrammers in Milwaukee I found interesting.  Mke_illgrammers was the gateway to all good instagrammers in our city.  I found a community of photographers who were proud of their city and didn’t see themselves in the shadow of Chicago.  They had confidence, swagger and most importantly an eye that made our city look amazing.  I attended my first instameet in March of 2015 and began an artistic journey that changed my life.  Photography on Instagram is about connecting with photographers who inspire me and want to find the beauty within Milwaukee.  They are gracious with their time and always willing to help other photographers improve their skills.  Instagram wasn’t a silo but a silo buster. It took me out as a consumer and made me a creator.

Choosing 5 images I wanted to share with you was a difficult process.  How do you choose between your children?  Five elements manifest themselves in my photography:  water, light, dark, reflection and architecture.  The basic theme of my photos is to find the light in the darkness, the grime and the grit of the world.  Most of my pictures are taken on my iPhone.  The iPhone is a powerful tool and I learned to hone my skills by practicing without guilt.  I can take as many pictures as I want and then edit them at my convenience.  I have put in 10,000 hours taking pictures and it has all been a labor of love.  I also look for beauty in the unexpected. Photography is an opportunity for me to change my perspective and to see beauty in unexpected places.

I love puddles.  Puddles may be an inconvenience to many of us but to me it is a photographic goldmine.   At the surface, a puddle seems dark and unseemly.  Upon closer inspection and depending on the depth of the puddle, there are some interesting textures at play.  The surface covered by the puddle could be speckled asphalt or gritty concrete.  Leaves and other debris add complexity to the textural layers.  I also don’t know what I am seeing until I get my camera close to the puddle.  If you get low and close to a puddle, it will reflect a part of the world we take for granted.  If done correctly, the puddle should show two worlds above and below the surface.  

I want to show my appreciation to the Duck and Owl blog for giving me the time to share my art with you.  Please feel free to follow me on Instagram (mke_rishi).

T-Time with K & Commonplace

By: Kaitlyn 

The other night, I went to a small storefront that has become a staple in Milwaukee for clean, simple and functional products ranging from menswear to candles: Commonplace. I met up with Commonplace's founder and owner, Zach Peterson, to discuss Commonplace's past, present and future.

In 2013, Zach decided to open his own online shop to showcase brands that are simple, functional and modern. His intention was to get rid of the clutter of a traditional apparel shop in order to make the actual products and brands the real focus.

"It's intentional simplicity," Zach said as he motioned to his shop that perfectly encapsulated his description, decorated with clean walls and custom wood tables.
Zach started Commonplace online in 2013 and after a year, he decided to open up his first pop-up shop in the Third Ward for two months.

He decided to start a pop up to test out how people would respond to his brands and products. Pop-ups have been popular in many other cities across the United States, but few have been seen in Milwaukee so far. Zach had great success with this pop-up due to the fact that it was a limited-time opportunity, which created more hype for his store as well as the space itself.

"It gets attention that a normal shop wouldn't get," Zach said.
The two-month endeavor was beneficial for Commonplace as well as for the space he was renting from. Zach recommended that more building owners take advantage of pop-up shop opportunities.

After his pop-up shop, Zach decided to open up his own permanent shop in Bayview, which features a bright and inviting storefront that truly beckons customers inside.

Throughout the years of being online as well as a brick and mortar store, Zach has had the opportunity to work with numerous brands from around the world in order to feature a variety of well-made collections. The store currently features over twenty different brands and makers.

"My favorite thing is getting new shipments," Zach said. "Brands are consistently releasing new items and I'm able to have a small hand in everything."

In the future, Zach hopes to work with more brands as well as participate in local collaborations to create products specifically for his store.

Zach's future plans depend on how the holiday season goes at the shop as this will be his first concrete and mortar store he has had during a holiday season.

He will be in Bayview until at least the spring and then we will decide what to do next. He might stay in Bayview. He might move to a new location. He might have more than one locations. The possibilities are endless and anything but common.

You can find Commonplace online as well as in person at 3047 S Delaware St. in Milwaukee. 

Fiction Fridays: Second Skin

By: Lisa

It was my father who bought me my first pointe shoes.

I always thought my father’s deafness made him a superior communicator. I could take a single glance at him for a fraction of a second and predict his whole mood for the day. It all had to do with the forehead wrinkles. That’s what I miss the most about him: his distinctive moods and his endearing tells.

On the cold November day when my father decided to give into the haranguing of my ballet teacher, Ms. Forgione, who insisted I was ready to stand en pointe, I was in a fierce battle with myself. On the one hand, I knew straight down to my steady, strong core that I deserved pointe shoes. I was the best in the class; I was amazing. It’s only natural that this expense—and a terrific expense it definitely was—be spent on me.

On the other hand, it was such a luxury. For my Ukrainian-born parents, born into strife and conditioned to struggle with poise and economy, luxury was completely foreign, even shameful. I was taught never to indulge in luxury. But is happiness a luxury?

But standing on the sidewalk just before entering the shop, I could read my father’s thoughts on his brow. It was straight and stern but the soft crinkles on the sides of his eyes gave him away. I read in his face that a part of him wanted to indulge in this luxury not only for me, but for himself. That day I learned that my excessive pride was genetic.

My father’s hands were quiet as we entered the sparkling 8th Avenue shop. It was a girly paradise, frills of tulle and lace poking out of every clothing carousel, shelves and shelves of rose-colored boxes that I knew held my future perfect pair of shoes. I could feel the anticipation concentrating in the space around my father and knew he felt isolated, overwhelmed. I hardly spared him a second thought. Walking up to a woman draped in folds of black, I said, “I need to get fitted for my first pointe shoes, please.”

“Really?” she asked, assessing me.

“Yes, my first pair. Could you help me?”

A tinkle of a small bell behind me signaled the entrance of my savior, the plush Ms. Forgione. I thrilled. I felt saved.

Ms. Forgione’s timely, significant appearance worked upon my father like a charm. His nervous, drawn demeanor instantly became open, charming, grateful. He greeted her in broken, distorted English that was no less enthusiastic for its clumsiness, and all I can remember thinking is that the grownups always take so long to do everything. I signed to my father and translated between the two of them, turning my father’s mix of Ukrainian, English, and sign language into something intelligible for my monolingual ballet teacher. Her dimples flashed in my father’s direction as she spoke to him, and he was fully won over.

The niceties concluded, Ms. Forgione quickly took the reins with the pointe shoe fitter, overcoming the salesperson’s inherent snobbishness.

“This is Kat,” she said, gesturing vaguely toward me. “Today she’s getting pointe shoes.” The saleswoman nodded and began to perform her own little dance.

“Nice to meet you Kat, I’m Annie. If you could please take off your shoes and socks.” I sat and did so, and then she knelt down, hovering over my bare feet. I didn’t know exactly what she was looking for, but I hoped she liked what she saw. For a ballerina, feet are everything. She touched my arches, my heels, tapped at the line my toes made, straight and even. Feet to be proud of.

“Stand there at the barre,” Annie said. I glanced at Ms. Forgione, who nodded her head. I held the bar with focus and precision, moving my feet according to the instruction of Annie, who was now being thoroughly scrutinized by Ms. Forgione.

“Rise to demi pointe, Kat,” Ms. Forgione asked. “Tendu to second.”

Finally, a buttery pair of pink pointe shoes appeared, and Annie encased my feet in them, stretching, stuffing, spacing, and tying my feet into submission. I performed the movements again, conscious of my father’s quiet attention. I felt his eyes on me, and I gave even these minute movements every bit of flair I possessed. And on the ends of my legs, my first pair of pointe shoes bent and flexed with me. A fire glowed in my chest. I felt free.

Of course, all too soon, my first shoes were soon removed and taken away, and I felt a little bereavement at the loss of such a true, close friend I had only just met. That evening, we tried on what felt like hundreds of shoes, from the fat, wide ones like Grishko, to the skinny Capezios, while Annie asked me dozens of questions about the fit. I fell in love with all of them, even the ones that hung off my feet like bits of pink elephant skin. I liked the way my feet elongated, the hard toe box transforming my common old foot into something powerful, as if I were slipping into a different identity entirely. My skinny legs ended in ballet, and it was the beginning and the end of my life.

Each time the haughty Annie came over with yet another pair of shoes, Ms. Forgione adopted a ridiculously serious manner and was more stern with me than she had ever been in class. She did all the serious things: pursed her lips, furrowed her brow, cocked her head to the side, all of it. “Plie, Kat,” she commanded in a tone much unlike her regular one, unembellished with that sparkling passion I was used to, the “t” clacking against the roof of her mouth. “Now second. Flex. First. Again.” I found the whole thing unbearably comical but I followed her orders and managed to catch my father’s eye. He smirked, I smiled.

An hour passed before I met my first pointe shoes, Bloch shoes that felt like a second skin in relevé, and I exulted. Ms. Forgione’s dimples once again made an appearance as my reflection twirled in the mirrors of the 8th Avenue store, cheeks flushed, hair sticking out from my sharp shoulders, finally, finally a ballerina. The shoes were a soft pink, subtle as a blush, but I thought again of my green tutu.

Outside the store, Ms. Forgione tousled my hair, clasped hands with my father and disappeared into the black night. Underneath a red awning, my father told me I had to be good, work hard, justify his purchase. I signed back, my hands a flurry of movement, my face still red and glowing. I assuaged my father with promises of determined work but I also saw through him. His hands spoke of responsibility, but his eyes twinkled in excitement. His American daughter was really something special.

I relished that day for months.

World Mental Health Day

By: Kaitlyn 
I’ve always been passionate about mental health and about changing the negative stigma surrounding it in order to make real, positive change in our care of people with mental illnesses. 

Mental health is something that has affected me, as well as my family, my whole life. I have seen first-hand the flawed healthcare system we have today and the blatant disregard that some people hold towards the legitimacy of mental illness. 

This NEEDS to change. 

It’s not only important that we raise awareness. 

We need to raise UNDERSTANDING. 

The reason for the lack of efficient care is largely due to the misunderstandings and misconceptions of what mental health is. 

Breaking a leg and having a panic attack should be treated with the same respect. One shouldn’t receive a cast, while the other receives an eye roll. 

We should not be ashamed to have an open dialogue about our own mental health and how we take care of ourselves whether that be through therapy, medication, etc. 

The lack of belief and the brush-off reaction many people receive when talking about their mental illnesses, shuts people down and silences voices that need to be heard. That need help. This negative stereotype is literally killing people. 

Here’s the deal: 

People who are suicidal aren’t attention seeking. People with anxiety aren’t avoiding others. People with depression aren’t lazy. People with a mental illness aren’t faking it. 

We are real. We need to be heard. Be respected. Get the help that we deserve. 

All of us deserve the opportunity to be as healthy as we can be. This isn’t a matter of attention or weakness. This is a matter of strength and of people having the ability to face darkness and struggles within themselves every day and to still wake up and say, “Let’s try this again. I can do it.” 

When people are fighting themselves, the last thing they need is to have to fight with others in order to be considered valid. 

They are valid. 

This isn’t an issue of annoyances. This is an issue of life and death and we need to do everything in our power to help. 

So listen. Understand. 

And together we can start making some real change in attitudes, policies and lives. 

You Can Be Creative

By: Natasha Aldred

What does creativity mean to you? I hear so many people who think that they can’t be creative. They can’t draw, play an instrument, write a book or paint and the truth is, they can and you can too. Everyone sees these ‘talents’ as something remarkable but it’s just practice. Michelangelo didn’t just pick up a paintbrush one day and paint the Sistine chapel. Jimi Hendrix didn’t pick up his guitar and automatically start playing the most amazing riffs you have ever heard. It doesn’t happen in those singular moments we see. The things we never see are the processes. That initial inspiration that urges our passion to do something different. Those days, weeks and years you spend learning the rules so you can break them and adapt your own style. It reminds me of the song by Macklemore:

So I ask you today: What would you love to do? What inspires you? What are you really passionate about?

Find this thing you love and try it. Learn how to do it and practice, practice, practice.

Creativity can be found in everything. Maybe it’s how you dress or how you apply your makeup. It could be the way you cook, what type of ingredients you fancy, or how you present it. These little minute seconds of every day your brain is being creative without you even thinking about it.

So go out there and just try. Shut off that little voice of perfection and tell the nagging one that you can do this. You can:

  • Sign up for a class. Learn the basics through YouTube, skillshare, workshops, local groups or colleges.
  • Surround yourself in inspiration. The artists you love, music that you admire, anything. You can do this just by following blogs, Spotify playlists, Pinterest boards or even head down to your local library.
  • Jot ideas down. Write a journal or post your wish list or target anywhere you can see it.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You’re only beginning.
  • Get advice from others. Positive or negative feedback. Take it on board and learn to adapt.
  • Take time to relax. A comfortable surrounding or a night out with friends can really help bring the inspiration back when you’re getting bogged down.
  • Doodle
  • Experiment. Trying new materials or techniques. You may even find something that comes more natural to you.
  • Go somewhere new or just get outside. Nature is full of inspiration. Think back to the alien films, does anyone else see how much they look like deep sea creatures? Just saying.
  • Find your inner child. Where has that imaginative kid gone who used to make broomsticks and swords out of sticks.
  • Finally, just keep on swimming. Practice makes perfect as the old saying goes.

You can find Natasha on the internet on her blog, Instagram and Facebook!

Easy Halloween Makeup Ideas

By: Alicia

Halloween is almost here, and I could not be more excited. It’s every makeup artist’s favorite holiday. But I hate having to buy a brand new costume, makeup, decorations and more every year. Last year, Americans spent $6.9 billion on Halloween! Since I don’t have tons of cash to blow, I’m all about using props and costumes I already own to stretch my dollar. If you’re like me, one way to save is using makeup you already own to complete your costume. You don’t need to spend tons of money on special effects makeup to bring your costume to life. I’ve put together three looks using beauty makeup you probably already own. So instead of buying a new Halloween costume, splurge on that bag of fun size candy bars you have no intention of handing out….no judgement here.

1. Prep your clean face with primer if you have it. I skipped primer since I knew I wasn't going to wear my ghost makeup all day. I did use NYX Eye Shadow Base – High Definition primer on my eyelids, though. I love that stuff! If you don’t have primers, that’s ok, but I recommend getting some and wearing them every day to help makeup last longer. Next, I covered my entire face and décolletage with a foundation color lighter than my skin.  I covered my lips, eyebrows and eyelids with it too! Everything needs to look pale. If you’ve ever purchased the wrong shade of foundation, this is the perfect time to use it.

2. After foundation, I used a pale concealer to whiten my brows and lips further. If you really want your brows to disappear, you can block them out with a glue stick. I just wanted mine to look more aged. I used Kat Von D Lock It concealer.

3. I used my Naked Smoky palette for the rest of my ghost makeup, but you can use any grey or black eye shadows you may have. Using a light grey color and a fluffy eyeshadow brush, I darkened any areas that sink inward – my eye sockets, cheekbones, temples, under my collarbones, etc.  I made sure to blend so nothing looked too sharp or messy.

4. With a darker grey color, I shaded in areas I wanted to appear even more concave. I really wanted my face to look sunken, so I placed dark color in the crease of my eyelid, in the middle of my cheeks, in the inside of the eyes and in the center of my temples. I also put the dark color on my chest to make my bones stick out more.

That’s all you need to do to complete you ghost costume! I love this look because you can dress it up in lots of different ways – corpse bride, vintage ghost, or with a little red lipstick and fake blood, vampire.

1. I applied my foundation and concealer like I normally do. I typically place concealer under my eyes, on my nose, on my chin and sometimes on my forehead to highlight those portions of my face. If you have oily skin, I recommend setting your face with powder so it lasts all night.

2. I contoured my face with Anastasia Beverly Hills medium powder contour kit. Superheroes have chiseled features I totally lack. Fake it til' you make it.

3. Using a liquid liner pen, I outlined a basic mask shape. Once I had the shape I wanted, I used my pen to fill in the entire mask. I used my Too Faced Sketch Marker pen. You’ll need to use a lot of liquid liner to fill your mask, so if you have drugstore eyeliner, I recommend using that instead. Using an eyeliner pencil, I filled in my waterline. I avoided putting the liquid liner on my lid because I don’t like the way that feels when I blink. It feels really drying. Instead, I got an eye shadow brush wet and dipped it in black eye shadow. Then I used that on my lids. Getting a brush wet saturates the eye shadow color so it looks really dark when applied.

4. Using a smudge brush and grey eye shadow, I added shadows around my mask. I placed the shadows on the bridge of my nose, under the mask and right above it.

5. I wanted to go with a classic superhero look, so I chose a red lipstick to complete my makeup. I used NYX Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in Cherry Skies.

You can use this easy makeup look for any superhero or super villain you want to be. Experiment with different mask shapes to see which design  makes you feel especially heroic.

1. First, I applied my foundation, concealer and eyebrow makeup. I also applied my eye primer to avoid creasing.

2. For a sexy look, I wanted to do dark, smoky eyes. I used both grey and black shades in my Naked Smoky palette. If you really want to glam up the look, you could add false lashes.

3. Using the same eye shadow palette, I drew a skull cheekbone on each side of my face. I made sure the blend out the grey and then added a darker shade in the middle and blended that out, as well.

4. To complete my sexy skull, I drew a skull nose on with liquid liner. I also placed concealer over my lips and drew lines vertically across my lips to make teeth. You could spend more time on this step and draw your teeth in a more realistic manner. Since I wanted this to be a simple makeup, I drew straight lines.

5: Eat, drink and be scary! Set your face with a setting spray and you’re ready!

I hope these easy Halloween looks inspire you and help you create an amazing costume! Get out there, and get your ghoul on.

You can find Alicia online on her Facebook and Instagram!

This Week's Flowers (7)

Fall is finally here, thank goodness. We are so ready for cozy sweaters and warm coffee. However, just because it's fall and everything's "dying", we don't think that you should lose your color! So, we got these little cuties to add to our plant family to give us a little more light. We'll see how long we can keep these babies alive. I'm betting on one week (which would be pretty good for us...)

Oh, hello!

Oh, hello!
We're Sarah and Kaitlyn, roommates from Milwaukee who started this blog to promote creativity and life.
Powered by Blogger.

Follow by Email

Blog Archive