This past spring Phyllis Straus, long time academic advisor in the FSU department of art, passed away.  I received an FSU College of Visual Arts alumni e mail about it this summer.

I did not know Phyllis very well, and only met with her a handful of times.  But she was an imperative part of my journey as an artist.

When I dropped music as my major after one semester of my freshman year, I decided to take a photography class.  They offered "Photography for non-art majors."  This was me.  I had no major.  I took it, enjoyed it, and with the confidence of my professor writing "You're good" on my final project, wanted to move forward.

Somehow I ended up in Phylis' office.  To take any more art classes, I needed to see an advisor in the art department.  Her office was like a studio and a museum and a think tank all rolled into one.  I told her I wanted to take another photography class.  She said I had to officially be an art major to take any more photo classes.

I felt overwhelmed.  I'm sure she could see this on my face.

She shrugged, and said, matter of factly, "Just declare art as your major.  Take another photography class.  Here, I'll put you in two other art classes."

I left her office as an art major and thus became myself.  Found many of my gifts and the things in this life I can get behind.  Learned about God my creator through creativity...moving my pencil on a piece of paper and standing over chemicals in a darkroom.  (The above photograph is the first I ever developed in Photo 1 class.)

I finished in art.  I never changed my major again.

Phyllis, though just doing her daily grind of a job, pushed me to take a few more photographs.  She had no real idea how frozen that made me feel.  She made it seem like it was the most natural thing in the world.  She encouraged me by acting as though moving forward was a breeze.  Nothing to get anxious about.  Just keep working.  Inability was not an issue.

In thinking about this, I have realized something.  I can be this to my kids.  My little students who need a push every once in a while.  A push to use their gifts and a push to move forward as if it's the most natural thing in the world to leave your comfort zone and head into the unknown.  And not just my own kids.  I'm also starting up art class again next week.

Let's make art.  Let's move forward.  You don't think much about it, you just do it.  Thanks, Phyllis, for making those official changes on your computer screen.  For making me an art major.  For being an inspiration and working with your hands.  I hope I can do the same.


Produce, produce, produce. Create, create, create.

Today was a hard day.  I had a sore throat and didn't slept well last night.  I wasn't at my mommy best.  I felt like I wasn't accomplishing anything, yet when I assessed all I had done by noon I realized it was quite a lot. 

What I did enjoy about today was watching and listening to my children make things.  Make things up, pretend, or actually work with their hands.

I read a book in college that was rather encouraging and the main idea was "Produce, produce, produce.  Create, create, create."  As in...Work!  Make things!  Don't think, DO!  Sometimes art (as life) is about the process, not the product.

What we learn as we go.

I enjoyed seeing Juliet hide out in a row of boxes from Sam's that Libby waited weeks to obtain.  All sorts of things have been pretended and made from them. 

Juliet likes to sit in them and fill them full of toddler graffiti.  She asked if I would color with her.  I did.  I drew her a triangle.  She asked me to draw Oregon.  Then Maine.  And Texas.  I found this difficult but asked her if they were right and she said yes.  (She has memorized the shapes of states from an app my kids play.)

I enjoyed Libby and Penelope's paper doll creations and My Little Pony coloring fest.

I enjoyed helping Juliet meticulously stack up all the tiny figures just to mess them up.

I enjoyed listening to the boys talk about video game achievements and later plan some sort of secret club.  (This actually didn't last long and ended in an argument, but hey, just keeping it real.)

I painted for 30 minutes, my daily commitment to a cabinet which we bought for $20 at a garage sale.  I know it has potential, and it has reached almost all of it (it began as dark brown) but the insides of the mail slots are driving me a little batty.

This is the very real part.

It is hard to hover over my life.  It is hard to get perspective.  All I can think about are the mountains of laundry I'm ignoring and the obligation to come up with something halfway healthy to eat three times a day.

I want to have a romanticised view of my life and write a blog about how we all went outside and sat on a red and white checkered blanket for lunch and gave each other butterfly kisses and had tickling contests.

That is how I know I will view this time in my life in the future when I'm done wiping noses and handing out band aids.  But now it's hard to see past dinner.

Produce, produce, produce.  Create, create, create. 

Sometimes as an artist you have to make three really bad paintings before you get the one that works.

Sometimes as a mom you have to have a bum day to understand how to have a better one.

I'm going to keep working.  I'm going to keep working on these little works of art.  I'm hoping that when I'm dead, they'll be worth a ton of money. 

Just kidding.  Sorta.


NYC 2013 Part Two

Let's see...where were we?

Oh yes, the beautiful Metropolitan Museum of Art*.  We left there and headed to the New York Public Library*.  Later that night we went to a Broadway show.  I am skipping a lot but can't show everything!

The last day we ate breakfast on the Upper West Side at The Popover Cafe.  Very fun and very non-touristy.  Just what we wanted.  You can see my reflection in the window.  I was in a hurry.  I never do this in my real estate photos.  Just in case you wanted to know.

We walked around Greenwich Village. Later Rockefeller Center*.  I really liked it there.  It seemed like a fun place to hang out.

Then I split from my family for a bit and went to the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art).  Unfortunately it was a rainy Sunday afternoon so everyone else went there too.  My experience became experiencing famous artwork with crowds.  But that is New York.


This is the view I got when I came around the corner to see van Gogh's famous "Starry Night."

Pretty cool to have an old canvas painted by a crazy guy treated like it's the president or something.  Love it.

Another  highlight there was the huge triptych panel of Monet's Waterlilies*.  There was a guy super excited about it.  He was alone.  He set his camera on the floor, turned on the timer, and sat down in front of the huge work to pose next to it.

I caught him as he was standing up.  It was funny to me that he wouldn't ask one of the huge selection of other museum goers (and photographers) to take his picture.

There was an entire room of Paul Klee.

I like his work.  I had never seen this one before.  I could look at it for a long time.


When I saw this guy using his phone to photograph a tiny portion of Andy Warhol's work I was stunned.  I am sure Andy Warhol is either rolling his eyes, rolling in his grave, or rolling on the floor laughing.  If painters knew that that's how artwork would be viewed in the future I wonder if  they would have painted at all.

And of course, there's Jackson.  Jackson Pollock, that is.  I recently read a biography of Lee Krasner, his widow and fellow Abstract Expressionist.  I read all about their post war life in New York and then marriage and life on Long Island.

I was interested in how he nailed his canvas to the frame.  I liked thinking about him building the canvas that would someday become this painting that I journeyed a long way to see.  And even though he was an alcoholic, he was constantly trying to kick it and was sober for two years...this one painted during that time.  Many people think he just threw paint around.  I think he was an artist.

Since our apartment was so close to Times Square, we had to walk through it (and it really extends into the blocks around it pretty far) often.  I had enough of it after the first night.

There is quite the industry in Times Square.  We learned how to walk quickly past people dressed as Dora, Elmo, Superheros, you name it.  (If you wanted a photo with them you had to pay them.)  Caricature artists, bus tour pushers, etc. as well.

The most memorable were these guys who had about 3-4 rats that they had dyed pink and blue.  They were allowing people to hold them or put them on their heads/shoulders long enough for whoever you were with to take your picture with them.  Then you paid them money.

I didn't expect that.  This guy looks so excited to have rats draped on him.  It is ridiculous.

And at one point in the trip in Union Square I even managed to get a very close up shot of a squirrel.  He had just taken food out of someones hand and had no problem letting me get very close to photograph him.  I'm just a squirrel tryin' to get a nut...

I heart NY.

*My Julie Alley Photography Facebook page has more photos of these places.


NYC 2013 Part One

Well, as much as I hate to be like so many other people in the world, I will admit it.  I love New York City.  I have always wanted to live there.  Probably not for more than a year or two, but I'd love to experience the city without being a tourist.  But I'll take a chance to be there in whatever capacity.

Recently my mom and my two sisters had the opportunity to stay in NYC for four days and four nights, right in the heart of the city (two blocks from Times Square) for a really good price.  Miraculously we were all available on the days it was available so we jumped on it.  The four of us have always dreamed of taking a grown up trip together.  And so we did!

We packed our days full and I took over 800 photographs but I will try to highlight my favorite moments for the sake of the blog.

Here is the lobby of our apartment building.  Super nice.  Gloved men helped push the revolving door for us every time we went in and out.   I never even thought of doing something super tourist-y like asking one of them if they would pose for a photo with me, but I sorta wish I had.  It would have been funny.

Our apartment was super nice and very space efficient.  My favorite space was the bathroom.

As I was researching for our trip I learned about all the different districts of the city.  (I also made a list of all the movies I have seen that take place in New York City.  I watched You've Got Mail while packing for the trip.)  The first morning we headed to the Upper West Side.  Our subway stop spit us out right next to Gray's Papaya, which is in the aforementioned movie.  Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan stand in the window and eat a hot dog.

Eventually we entered Central Park.  I had downloaded a cool Central Park app and one of the highlights was reading about Bethesda Fountain, and the sculpture "The Angel of the Waters" and how it was based on John chapter 5 when the angel stirs the waters.  (This fountain has also been in quite a few movies/tv shows.)

We also saw some street performers.  This guy jumped over all these people.  Pretty amazing.  The bag in the foreground was one of the huge ones they went around with to collect your money if you were standing watching.

We went into the huge glass cube underground Apple Store that is very very very very cool to see.

Later that day we walked through Chelsea Market.  I read about this in my research.  It is an indoor walkway (the longest in NYC) inside the old Nabisco factory.  Full of restaurants and kitchen supplies and groceries.  Super cool.  I bought a retro poster in "Chelsea Market Baskets."

After eating standing up at a taco joint in Chelsea Market we took the Staten Island Ferry to...Staten Island.  But we just got right back on and went back to the city.  It is free to ride and my sister knew to time it so that we left at sunset and got amazing views.

My favorite lady.

The next day we hit the MET.  Obviously this was a must for me.  I had all my must see paintings lined up.  I am not afraid to say that with all the art available to see in the whole museum, I was most excited about seeing a Chuck Close painting in real life.  After seeing so many in art books, I had always noticed of course how large they are.  I knew a tiny copy in an art history book was not the same as seeing it in person must be.

I was not disappointed.  The two they have there are amazing.  (Unfortunately none of the works the MoMA has in its collection were on display.  More about the MoMA later in part two.)

Funny, this lady seems to be following me.  When I saw this humorous painting in the European paintings section I remembered my blog and our trip to Epcot earlier this year...

This is Penelope in "France." Hello again french lady.

That's all for part one...


Top iPhone moments

Guess what?  I went to New York City!  But this post has nothing to do with that.  I need time.  Time to gather my thoughts.  And my 800+ photos.

But before I left I cleared my phone of it's nearly 2,000 photos.  And now I will offer up the best ones.

Best Everyday Moments


Best Self Portraits


Best poses- Say Cheese!

Best Costumes

Here's to the next two thousand iPhone photographs.