Sunday, November 23, 2014

Meet Vero Navarro - Illustrator

Art should make you feel something. As in Buddist practice, all emotion is not good or bad. Same for art.

For me, Vero Navarro's work does that partially because it's done in beautiful colored pencil, in part from the subject matter, struggle, reaching for something else, worry.  At the same time, she makes whimsical pieces of bird boys playing guitars and dancing that would be suited for children's bedtime tales.

Her official bio goes like this:

"Vero Navarro is a freelance illustrator from La Mancha, Spain, currently living in Madrid. In 2006 she earned her degree in Fine Arts from the University of San Carlos in Valencia.

Her body of work encompasses delicate and realistic renderings of human figure, fauna, flora, architecture and everything in between. In her works she tries to tell us stories about human condition using characters in constant struggle with their inner selves.

She is an enthusiast of coloured pencils in one hand and digital techniques in the other. But is not odd tho find both techniques mixed together in her pieces."

One of the few things I took from my art school years was that the more personal you make your art, the more universal it becomes.  I wanted The Everyday Struggle the second I saw it, and recently was able to get a copy for myself. And am more than a little excited about it to arrive, honestly.

Check out her Etsy Shop for prints - Here
Good art does not mean outrageously priced. Go check out her full portfolio here.
The Facebook here.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Why you should stop using pink to sell to women

Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup don't even wear pink.
Ok, maybe just a hint.
Not that we hate the color per se, it’s just … for girls. Girls, as in being not grown up enough to make their own choices and are ok with one option. 
When you limit choice, you limit the chances that someone will pick your product. Don’t know about you, but when I am offered one choice which I don’t like, I go find something better, someplace else. It may cost a bit more, but hey, I’m worth it.
Are some women ok with pink bows, arrows, cases, and armguards? Sure, but quite a few don’t want to look like My Pretty Pony. Would you sell more merchandise if you had something else to offer besides pink or pink camo? Highly likely.  Archery gear is a personal statement.  Go to any decent sized tournament and see what women are shooting and what color. We like our gear to represent who we are and I haven’t been ten years old with unicorn stickers on my notebook for a while now.  Pink does not state with confidence, “I am about to kick your ass at this.” 
Look at the numbers. The ATA turns out a wealth of survey information and makes it available to you for free.  In the last survey, they learned,“18.9 million participants in archery and one-third of all archery participants in 2012 were women, and that 4 million women were involved exclusively in archery.”  That's a lot of archers that want an adult color.  Also of note, that target archery appeals to women more broadly than bowhunting. Not a stretch really.
Bowhunting shows are meant for guys to watch and buy sponsored products. The busty blonde sidekicks shoot pink bows, because that is what they are handed to use. The huntress, Eva Shockey, is in her 20’s and young and adorable enough to wear as much pink as she wants. She’s also a class-act and darn good shot.
Where we live there is a healthy target archery community and I see women getting started in the sport together with their kids. None of them would be caught dead with pink equipment.  Ms. K is a glamour editor and writing a book on 1940’s Hollywood fashion. She shoots barebow. Not a pink flake for miles. Ms P shoots recurve with her daughter who is 11. Both are serious about their sport and neither have a stitch of pink on their gear.  Red?  Black? You betcha.  While my sister can glam it up and mix with the high rollas, she has a matte black bow to go with her camo pants. Because black is slimming and never goes out of style.

Is there a place for it? Sure.  What women want  - it’s simple, really.  Equipment that FITS, performs to standard and allows us to shoot at our best, whether in the field or on the range. In a color that represents who we are.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Flip Side

Stream bed in the Rockies
You know sometimes when you look back over 10 years or so and you are surprised with how things were at the time, how things have changed and what's endured. This isn't really about archery so much as where I've been and last week, was near that spot again.  I was out in Boulder for work stuff last week and was able to carve out some time to drive up to the Park and get in some Nature, with a capital N.  The light is different there - not all chock full of smog and fog like back East. The shadows are deeper and more serious.

A few years ago, I got all-up serious about painting and took a couple of week long classes from John Fawcett in Clark, CO, spitting distance from Wyoming. John and his lovely wife Elizabeth live up on a ranch with a view to kill by and to paint by as well. His Western art career is well documented and he teaches as well as he paints.

The couple of plein air classes I've been lucky to take there were in September where it frosts overnight and you're sunburnt by 3. Those were fun days, as you spent most of the day soaking in how to get the shadow behind and in front of a front knee proper, the correct nappy ear attitude and taking turns as horse handler, which is basically getting slobbered on while keeping the pony du jour occupied and reasonably still. You had to work fast and loose and keep your watercolors wet in the dry air. After some lecture and critique, we'd head out for a good ranch steak and beer. Yeah, it was a rough trip all around.

Me measuring hip ratio while John pony wrangles this sleepy horse.
Yeahh, it's an old pic of me.
...and just look at that gorgeous hip study there!

I guess I am surprised mostly by how much I've let this go and how much I do miss it some days. I'm also surprised by how much I like the stuff I created. One of these days, maybe they'll get some light and frames on them.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Early Riser Gets the ... Target

Ya'll remember the Kite Eating Tree from the Peanuts?

This morning's field practice was along those lines, with Paul and Matt scraping back dripping wet trees and brush to locate my errant arrows. Some were found, some not so much. Wreaked a couple as well, but at least they are fixable. Hoping that nobody gets poison ivy because of it. The flying piranhas held off until the end, and it was a gorgeous day to be out with my compound, the hubs and our friends that we don't see much of in the summertime.  And there may have been ribs and brats later. Is that a way to spend a summer Sunday morning or what??

It's probably time to buy a copy of the On Target software to calibrate my sight and just be done already. My lines were off and I was shooting arrows for my other bow. Meh. Ended up sticking to the baby lane to get some shooting in and not lose any more expensive gear. I realize this is part and parcel of the game, but it always gets under my skin when it happens.

Always fascinated with how easy it is for me to swap back to Cricket and shoot without the mind games and angst (aside from the dumb arrows I lost). It's really just a relaxing walk in the woods.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Christmas in July

Here are some fun things you won't find at Lancaster, or likely even at your neighborhood shop. Now that archery is more mainstream, these were all found on Etsy. Click on the photo to order if you can't live without one of the below.

So much more fun than lighted nocks... actual fire. Crazy Czechs. :-)  These would be phenomenally fun for our bbq. Maybe not mixed with alcohol, though.

Offered by the same person as above, I actually would like to try shooting into one of these, although I don't think they would stop a compound arrow.  They are just more esthetically pleasing and have a natural center if you are blank bale practicing. Nice, lightweight design. Maybe not combined with the above product, unless at the end of the season. Hehe.

This one is just for fun and for any of you who do take your practice seriously.

For those of you with a more traditional bent, these are really beautiful and look quite well made. Not cheap, but you get what you pay for.

(Caveat - I've not purchased any of the above, nor do I know the makers.)

Friday, July 4, 2014

If you build it, they will come.

Recently, the hubs and I joined our local bowhunter/ field archery club to try something new and support our sport a bit more. There are more summer events state-wide via this group and its affiliates than the ones we normally go to together.

This brings me to my main point here. There is a definitely a split between events and clubs that support and encourage participation for both recurves and compounds at the state and local level. I am caught in the middle as I like to shoot both, but want to compete using whatever I am the most comfortable at that time. Most of our friends shoot compound and its a rare event where everyone can  come together on the same target.  I've posed the question to our largest state club to see if they would please add olympic recurve to the competitions, so I can play on the same line as my hubs.

Ride 'em slide 'em sans bridle - fabulous!
Elizabeth Juliano doing a powerful extended trot
Barns are just as divided. When I rode, I did mostly dressage at a hunter/jumper barn that was close by and had a great facility.  They were always a bit skeptical, but loved it when I would flat their horses and get them round and light in front. It's almost the same as reining vs dressage compared to Blue face vs FITA targets. Both strive to perform a series of similar exercises with utmost accuracy with a horse or bow but to an outsider, look very different.  I learned this early on from my uncle who was a classically trained dressage rider, but also turned out sharp and athletic reining horses. Good basics are good basics. Period.

I've always tried to keep an open mind and pull anything applicable and useful from groups "outside" my current focus. Want to learn to eyeball unmarked distances better? Shoot with a long time hunter and pick his brain. They know the tricks. Want to learn to shoot in the wind at 70m? Shoot with a FITA gal who can tell you how to read the OTHER flags, not yours, to see what the wind is really doing out there. Same deal with riding. You need to sort out how to better ride off of your seat and have your horse carry himself, without leaning on your hands, watch a reining pattern or three. Plus, they are fun to watch and the crowds love to get in on it.  Trust me, dressage could use some hootin' and hollerin'.  In that same vein, so could archery.

Someone recently called me a "switch hitter" in jest while I was helping out the compound guys in a mostly recurve group lesson. When I go to see my sis and teach there, I am the recurve gal in the land of camo.  Good basics are always the key, no matter the sport and no matter the specialty. If your horse is relaxed and receptive, you'll have a better ride. If you have good alignment and are relaxed (See what I'm doing here?) you will hit the X or the doe.

My point here is more of a challenge.  Extend a warm welcome to the other half of the archers in your area. Include a category for pins and fingers, or sights and releases. Make friends, bee happy.

Happy Fourth!

EDITED - Just heard back from our state president and found there is some confusion in language in how things are bucketed. If you shoot recurve, you can shoot under "Sight w/ fingers", which sounds like you are shooting against compounds/ fingers.  Will try this out in a  couple of weeks and see how it goes. More to come...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

#TBT Waffle Round and Zombies

Ominous clouds = you will get drenched later

Hoo, boy. Well, we had the waffle round last weekend. It was mostly a good time, the weather was dicey, the field well organized and we managed to stay out of trouble (mostly).  Having shot 70 m just once before we went, I had less trouble with 70 and 60 then 50m. Have decided I quite like 60, actually. Right now, 50 m can kiss my you-know-what. 30 m - we're good.  Do me a solid and have a chat with 50? Much appreciated.

Midway through the first day, we got a super soaker. As in soaked to the skin, running down your scalp wet, watching your arrow disappear after 10 yards into gloom. As in not being able to hear your clicker as the rain is so loud. As in being SO relaxed, I totally didn't care. I love shooting in the wet. Then the sun came out and we all dried out more or less. Except for the squelchy shoes.

Had all NYC ladies on my bale, one who had never seen a cow up close before. Or deer roadkill. Culture shock. Nice people and good to shoot with, though. Also nice to be at a shoot where the recurves outnumbered the compounds.  

I had to sort through some bad habits (again) and then also came to the conclusion that I need to do some bow tuning and sort out some replacement bits and bobs as my groups are not where they should be. Lesson learned. Look out States, here we come. Will be more fun as we will know other peeps there. :)

Moi in my hot weather gear. Smiling, so must be lunchtime
or at least post-caffeine :)
The drenching continues.
You will notice I am under the judge's tent where
it's mostly dryish. Matt is mid-way down the line

PS. Just a word to the wise, if you are staying in Sharpsville, PA, avoid the Quality Inn. Run away like zombies are chasing you.

PPS. I may have, just possibly, snuck out out and put some arrows in the bag this afternoon. Shot better than I have in a long time, so not guilty.  :D No States for me this summer. Babying the shoulder, but we're getting there.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Bees, please.

For Rent - 10 owners, comes furnished

In taking my coffee and laptop out on the deck this morning, I almost sat down in the chair with the cold, sleeping bumble bee in it.  Being raised around honey bees, I just turned the chair into the sun, and pretty soon she warmed up, stretched, had a quick spit bath and zoomed off to find her coffee without causing any drama or silly waving of arms.

I like bees. As my dad is a retired biologist/entemologist we had lots of interesting stuff around growing up. Honey bee hives were one of them, and I have pretty vivid memory of helping my dad capture an escaped colony that swarmed into a tree. They didn't have Haz/Mat suits then, but the pith helmets were pretty cool. I was about 10 and my job was to puff the smoker on them and make them dozy while Dad pulled the lids off and checked the hives for diseases and mites.

Over this past freakishly long winter, Netflix was under heavy rotation. We watched "More Than Honey," which I highly recommend. When you get to the section where you see people in China hand-pollinating their fruit trees because the pollution has killed all of the insects, you start to see the problem on a grander scale.  We live in the fruit belt along Lake Ontario and around the corner from a commercial honey producer that's lost most of his stock.  I looked up the local honey group in Canandaigua, ordered catalogs of bee keeping equipment and a video on Organic Beekeeping (not worth the investment) and investigated plot planting on a grander scale.

Fast forward to this spring where I finally ordered my bees. Mason bees. No sticky mess, uber-pollinators. Perfect! Mason bees are friendly little guys that look sort of like a cross between a bee and a fly. I ordered 10 and as well as a little bee house. They came in a very tiny box of very tiny brown cocoons which I stuck in the fridge until it warmed up outside into the 50s. Felt like a kid with a science experiment, which was admittedly pretty cool. Most of the little guys found their way out into the world, but there were two that needed c-sections. Yes, I actually had to look up a video on how to open a cocoon with a pair of sharp scissors.  I highly recommend reading glasses during that part, along with some yoga breathing when they start to vibrate in your fingers when the top is cut off. They are alive but too weak to break open the package. Happy, brand-new bees stretched out, got a drink of sugar water and zoomed off within 10 minutes.

Lots of dandelions here, no bees. 
My mothering instinct is nil, so all of my new friends took off for warmer, more flowery places. Probably California or possibly Hawaii. I think I got too excited and put them out too early when there wasn't enough blooming yet to support them.  The project is a bust. Never saw any of them again, the house is empty and I just took it down. Sadness.

We have wet property with lots of willows and birch trees. Normally the willows are literally humming with bees when they bloom out. This year, nothing. Eerily quiet. I've seen quite literally three honey bees so far. That's it.  The orchards next to us are constantly spraying and spraying. Not sure if this is the sole cause, but if it's black and white and looks like a zebra...

Email the nice folks at Crown Bees if you are interested in setting up a few gentle hives in your back yard.

I'll try this again next year, and be more patient about waiting a bit longer. Do any of you have bees and what have you noticed?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Back to Basics

It's funny how when you run into issues, it's usually because you need to stop and reevaluate what you are forgetting to do that used to be rote.

  Sometimes I need to be reminded to relax, not just on the line, but across the board in life.  I’m on the deck with my laptop and icy iced tea focused on doing as little as humanly possibly on this fine, fine day. Laundry is circulating so I don’t feel too guilty. At least it can be hung up in the breeze.   Mani/pedi and lunch with my gf earlier where my feet and calves were pounded into submission and doughy softness by a small Asian man with a disco t-shirt. And drove the hubs' new car around looking and feeling like the old hotty I am. At least guys notice the car ;-) I had to sign a waiver that I would not eat, drink, pick up men, puke, or park closer to anything than 20 yards. Jesus. 

Signed up for a Level 3 coaches certification in the fall. Kinda wishing it was sooner, and will see an old roommate that I haven’t seen in 10+ years, as I’ll be in her hometown. Her kids shoot at the club where we’ll be and I think their coach is the one who is teaching the class. (Archery is a very small world) John Stover has a great reputation as a coach and also as a judge and parent to a high-performance athlete, so am looking forward to what he has to say.  Have no idear what I’ll be doing with said information, so maybe will put it to good use in the winter season. Usually when I get a wild hair and sign up for things magic happens, so I'm just rolling with it for now. So unlike me, I know. =D

Been teaching more than shooting, which is fine with me. I have been enjoying that more and more. Had a chance to teach a few recurve girls at Taz Archery, near Chicago a few weeks ago and had a great time with them. So fun to be able to walk in and have kids excited to shoot with you. The owner, Tim Zimmerman, is a great guy and super knowledgable about all things with strings. If you are in the mid-West, I encourage you to check them out, you'll be glad you did. If you see a cute blonde teaching that looks like a tall, skinny me, that's my sis. Say "hi" from me. I don't see her enough.

Speaking of sisters, mine has been working her hiney off with Tim to get Archery Events up and running. This well thought out site does some amazing things if you run a club, have events, classes, tournaments and the lot. Best of all - it's FREE. Yes, I said free. Host your club page there, sign up your JOAD kids and have them pay online. Seriously, it works and it's easy to do. Please mention Bow Meets Girl if you contact them, so they know I sent you.

Have a great week, ya'll!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Hibernation Nation

Well, Hi.

Bloggs are funny things. You need something to say, some inspiration that you hope will resonate with the people that stumble across these pages. I need to have time and brain space to create something, especially writing.  Archery has been on hold for a bit for various reasons. Both my cases are hanging out in the living room, on the off chance I'll have some energy to draw them back. Friends went to Nationals the past few weekends in various locations and I'm somewhat jealous of their commitment and drive to get there. I only have so much and if it gets used up during the day, then no practice. Aside from a way to spend time with family, I had made it unfun. A dangerous thing to do.

Now that patches of green are poking out of the snow in the front yard, there may be some hope for me yet.  Shot twice this week, no scoring. Monday with a baby bow the kids use that doesn't hurt my shoulder. Have changed my grip, my set up slice/draw and am playing around with locking my knees which feels really weird and looks weirder on me. My chin is sporting some string rash for the first time this winter.

I've messed around with my compound and back tension and decided that even though it's fun and a good break, I still really prefer the feel of just a string. I'm glad that I have the option to play and jump between them depending on what mood I'm in that day.

One of the girls on my work team also shoots for fun and we are planning to find a way to shoot at lunchtime when the snow melts. Such a good way to blow off stress.

Spring fever will hit any day now and I'll have too much energy and not enough focus to sit still. My head will be full of ideas for painting and all I'll want to do is be outdoors.