Happy New Year!

New year greeting card with goat

Thank you to everyone who has commented, liked my posts and signed up to follow me this past year! I really, truly appreciate it.

Lots coming up in 2015….

I’ll be attending the 111th Annual Dinner of The Explorers Club, to be held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. I’ll also be visiting Club headquarters and seeing what exploration sketchbooks they have, along with any momentos from Roy Chapman Andrews.

Looks like May will take me back to Europe for the first time in ten years. On tap is a visit to England and an adventure in Romania. It’s still in the preliminary planning stages, but I’m hoping to spend 4-5 days in the Carpathian Mountains of, yes, Transylvannia, to learn about how the herders there live, how they use dogs compared to the Mongol herders and, with luck, see brown bear and maybe even a wolf. I’ll also be sketching on location.

In July I’ll be heading back to Mongolia for the third WildArt Mongolia Expedition. Much more on that coming up.

And in September I’m planning to once again attend the Susan K. Black Foundation art workshop and conference in Dubois, Wyoming.

I’ve started work on new paintings for 2015 that I’m very excited about….Mongolian subjects I haven’t done before, so stay tuned for work-in-progress posts.

I continue to be represented by Strawberry Rock Gallery, located not far from me in Trinidad, California. They have a nice selection of my paintings on hand.

You can also always find small original oil paintings and drawings at my Etsy shop. Fine art prints of my paintings, which can be ordered in a variety of sizes and supports can be found at FineArtAmerica.

I wish you and yours all the very best in 2015!


Susan Fox

In The Beginning….There Was Smalltalk (The First Graphical User Interface) And I Got To Use It

Smalltalk printout-
Smalltalk printout-

Sorting through old files the other day I came across a bit of computer history. I’m sharing it here because it had a bearing on me even getting interested in computers and also as a public archive since I doubt there’s much left anymore like what I’m posting here.

In 1981-82, my husband at the time and I were taken for a visit to Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) by a friend who worked in IT so that I could see this new way of using a computer that let one draw pictures on the screen (I was a freelance graphic designer at the time). We were welcomed by one of the employees, Pavel, who did the demo above and then turned me loose to play with this cool thing called Smalltalk.

At a time when “computer” meant large rooms of very expensive machines or a small black monitor with clunky green type, Smalltalk was a mindblower. DRAW with a computer? Really? Really.

Of course, those of you who are in IT or know the history of Apple are aware of the version of events in which Smalltalk was the precursor to the Mac interface that made computers easy to use “for the rest of us”. If you want to know more about that history and connection, here’s a account. For years, the story has been that Steve Jobs “stole” the concept of Smalltalk (and a lot more) after his own visit to PARC. Whether that’s true or not is outside the purview of this post, but you can read more here and here if you’d like.

Today I have a 3rd Gen iPad with a half dozen or more apps for making images. I use it as a sketchbook, as do some of my artist colleagues. A couple are even teaching classes and workshops on how to use an iPad as an art media. But in another time and place, here’s what one artist spent a happy hour creating on the first computer which had software that let one draw….

Smalltalk art 1
Smalltalk art 1

All of these were printed out for me on a small plotter. I can’t remember what I was drawing with, but it must have been a mouse.

Smalltalk art 2
Smalltalk art 2
Smalltalk art 3
Smalltalk art 3
Smalltalk art 4
Smalltalk art 4

I was a member of the Society of Creative Anachronism at the time and much into unicorns…

Smalltalk art 5
Smalltalk art 5
Smalltalk art 6
Smalltalk art 6
Smalltalk art 7
Smalltalk art 7

I’ve never forgotten that magical afternoon at PARC when, for me, computers and art came together for the first time.





GoDaddy Has Censored Me Because I Support The SOPA Strike

UPDATE 9:30 AM THURSDAY: Well, well, what a surprise….went to my GoDaddy account about an hour ago and had no problem accessing my old website there, just “coincidentally” after the end of the 24 hour SOPA strike. I had last checked it around 9 pm last night and was still locked out. GoDaddy is in the news today because they have FINALLY come out against SOPA/PIPA. But my experience tells another story. Wonder what they’ll pull the next time. I won’t be around to find out because my new Sandvox-built, Namecheap-hosted site went live yesterday afternoon. This morning I stripped the old site bare. Yesterday I deleted the clunky, visually cluttered “albums”. The whole GoDaddy website-building operation is a kludge, badly implemented, and I’m so glad to be done with it, even without the last little gotcha, not to mention their inane sexist advertising and their elephant-killing SOB of a CEO. And no, I did not return the call from Mr. Director of Network Abuse (WTF?) because I have no reason to believe anything he might have said.

And why, you might reasonably ask, did I ever use them in the first place if they were so awful? Because, at the time, they were the least objectionable of the very few options available for artists who want to build their own sites and I have another artist colleague who had managed to put together a quite decent-looking site using them. What was not obvious is what a mess the interface is, to the point of being a terrible timesuck. I didn’t know about Sandvox and it may not have existed. At least it never showed up in my Google searches. I’ll be reviewing Sandvox in a future post.

UPDATE 5:20 PM: Just listened to a phone message from 10 am that I missed because I was otherwise occupied from a guy at GoDaddy who described himself as the “Director of Network Abuse” calling to say that it “had come to his attention” that I had posted about “issues I was having with my account” on my Blogspot blog (my blog is on WordPress). Would I please call him so he can see what he can do to “help”? Yo, Mr. Director, how about if you’d called to tell me that I can now get to my site and, oh gee, we’re really sorry you had a problem. But no, I just went there and I still cannot access it. But it doesn’t really matter because my new site went live about two hours ago. Check it out! www.foxstudio.biz

Want to know what the world will be like if SOPA passes? I just found out. After posting on my website’s home page yesterday that I would be blacking it out today in support of the Strike Against SOPA. I went to my account this morning to do so and found that I cannot launch my site, which is how one accesses it to make changes. Which means that I cannot black it out or make any other changes.

I also have two other domains registered, but that do not have live sites. My access to those has been blocked also.

I moved my domains and my web hosting to Namecheap when it became known that GoDaddy was supporting SOPA. They publicly backed off, but I doubt that anyone really believes that they had changed their mind.

Yesterday I could access my site to make changes. This morning, the day of the strike, I cannot. Coincidence? Highly unlikely.

However….I had already rebuilt my site using Sandvox. We just haven’t had time to do the conversion. We’re in progress on that right now. As soon as the new site is live and I have access to the old GoDaddy version again, if I ever do, I’ll be striping all the content from it and also deleting my albums, which contain images of my work and travels. I had already redone those in Picasa.

So. F— you, GoDaddy. I’m posting about what you have done to me in every place and comment thread I can find.

Technical Difficulties: Aperture Down And Out

My studio work area

UPDATE!- 5pm- Aperture came up this morning and then the connection to the Library hard drive dropped again. This time David swapped out the power supply, which made no difference. Then, because the next step was drastic, re-building the entire Vault, and with no reason to believe it would make a difference, he put the original Library drive back on. And it worked. All day without a hiccup. At this point he thinks that somehow a read-write error got onto the hard drive, but somehow it’s not there now. Go figure. The good news is that I got a good afternoon’s work in at the easel. The Vault drive will be re-built over the weekend. Just in case.

We were almost certain that the problem was due to something in Lion since the problem showed up the first time I used Aperture after the upgrade and because of what happened when I installed it on my MacBook (see below). And it might be, but no idea what it would be. Thus once again demonstrating why correlation is not necessarily causation.

Original post from 10am this morning:

We’re still in the midst of dealing with this “situation”, but it’s ugly. The first morning I came into the studio to get to work after the holidays seemed to go fine. Until toward the end of the day I clicked on an image in Aperture to change the view mode and suddenly things went crazy. One image was half blues and magentas. Some had vanished. Uh oh. Call Tech Support, which happens to be my husband, who has been in IT (Information Technology) since 1964. Without Aperture, I literally cannot do my work. Did I say this was ugly?

That was two weeks ago. Despite changing out the external hard drive which has my Aperture Library on it (he had a third drive on hand just in case; four+ hours to copy the Library to it), multiple calls to the hard drive company (good support and helpful) and swapping out the Firewire cables for USB cables, just to hit the highlights, yesterday afternoon the Library simply vanished from the Desktop after successfully, we thought, addressing the problem. And work was done for the day and until we can get this fixed. Stay tuned.

Fortunately, all my images are backed up to a duplicate hard drive and also to an external Vault drive, which is kept in the detached garage. So I’m not hyperventilating with stress and terror that I’m going to somehow lose over 60,000 images that I absolutely depend on for my work. But this sucks, big time.

We did everything right. We thought. David recommended holding off on upgrading to Lion when it came out because there’s always something and he knows how mission-critical Aperture is for me. So we waited some months.

Finally, we agreed that I should go ahead and install Lion on my MacBook, which I did. And it was fine, except that the MacBook now could not see the Terastation server drives. Just. Great. And expensive. There were no workarounds, though he was given some to try by various colleagues. So we now have new server drives. And all was rainbows and unicorns.

We let another couple of months go by. I checked all the forums I could find and didn’t see anything that suggested people were running into problems with Aperture after upgrading to Lion. So David finally said to go ahead. It went fine, Aperture came up and functioned correctly. Right up until it didn’t.

So, having exhausted the other possibilities, we are left thinking that the problem is something that has happened because of Lion, but we don’t know what yet. The IMac seems much slower to come up now than before and it takes a long time for it to see the Wacom tablet and the mouse upon start-up.

Mongolia Monday- It’s America’s Birthday Today! We’re Still A Little Younger Than Mongolia…

Today is Independence Day in the United States of America. We’re 235 years old. Not bad, all things considered. It marks the date of our Declaration of Independence from England and the British Empire and states the reasons why this was necessary.

The Declaration was largely written by Thomas Jefferson, who also became our second President, and its first sentence was one of the first times that human rights were proclaimed.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

By way of contrast, the Great Mongolian State in 805 years old this year, counting from 1206, when Chinggis Khan was declared the Great Khan of all the Mongols. There have been difficult times, including a loss of independence more than once, but in 1990 Mongolia had its own Democratic Revolution. The Mongols today enjoy the same basic freedoms as Americans, including freedom of the press and assembly, one of the few Central Asian countries whose citizens can exercise these rights.

Some of who we are as Americans can be traced back to the Mongol Empire. Some of what Mongolia is becoming can be traced to what America has always stood for. It’s obvious to me that our countries should be good friends now and in the future.