On pins and needles in ……anticipation

I have a friend that wants to have a Star Wars costume made, and right now he’s in the process of deciding what costume to choose.  We narrowed it down to either a Mandorlorian or a Jedi Temple Guard.  Depending upon what he chooses – I will be suddenly immersed for the next month and half in either Jedi Temple Guard or Mandorlorian.  I think both costumes are great choices for cool characters to play.

One of the reasons for my level of anticipation, and perhaps a bit of stress, is that he wants the costume for an event this summer, which is not that far away.  I usually take my time on my costume gear and hunt around for the very best deals and so forth, but this has a time deadline that must be met.  So right now I am waiting…..  I really don’t care that much for waiting. :)

Sabine Wren - a character from Star Wars Rebels dressed in Mandolorian gear.

Sabine Wren – a character from Star Wars Rebels dressed in Mandolorian gear.

So how about I share what I found out about both of these character profiles for those of you that like costuming or cosplay.  First of all, the Mandolorian offers a bit of freedom of palette choice.  There are lots of color combinations that one can choose from.  Recently presented in the Star Wars Rebel Series the character Sabine makes good use of her artistic skills to make her Mandorlorian armor very customized, so one’s personality can really show through on one’s armor.  It’s very much like the Landsknechte from the 1500’s or even like the planes flown by Richthofen’s Flying Circus aka Jagdgeschwader 1.  Also another advantage is that many of the components are available online now by enterprising artisans who are catering to the Star Wars Universe of fans.  When my husband made his Mandolorian gear about 8 years ago, these sellers were not so readily available and he had to make many of his pieces himself from patterns shared by other enthusiasts.  There are also many groups that dress up and do activities dressed as Mandolorians, which opens up reasons to wear the Mandolorian gear more often.  So this costume choice has many positives.

Jedi Temple Guard in the Star Wars Clone Wars Series

Jedi Temple Guard in the Star Wars Clone Wars Series

Then there is the Jedi Temple Guard, which I have seen very little available online concerning it’s construction.  The character is also only seen, so far, as a cartoon character.  This makes it more challenging and easier all at the same time.  It will be up to me to figure out what the pieces of gear really are and how they are put together.  This is a rare and unique costume, so the wearer will be extra special, which many cosplayers may prefer.  At some point I imagine that there will be an enterprising group that will put together a unit of Jedi Temple Guards.  Perhaps my design will be helpful to those  in the future.  Luckily, I found an online seller for the mask and there are double light sabers available as well.

Either way, I think this will be a fun and exciting project that I am sure will stress the heck out of me just like the Wookie costume did.  I was really pleased with the results of the Wookie and so was the wearer.  So come back again for an update about the choice that was made and the process of building this new costume.  Hopefully, I can share some useful photos about the process.

Have a great day and hopefully all of you lucky enough to go to the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim this weekend will share lots of great photos and stories.

Gretchen Winkler © 2015

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Posted in Costume, Preparation, Star Wars

Big Clone Trooper – little clone trooper

After shooting this series of photos and resizing them, I realized they made a good Father’s Day statement within the realm of Star Wars and Legos.  It seems that Star Wars and Legos brings all ages together with each generation bringing their own creativity and dreams.  I hope you enjoy this fun little series of seven photos.

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Clone Trooper and Legos 06 1000w

Clone Trooper and Legos 07 1000wGretchen Winkler ©2015

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Posted in Digital Photography, Family, Star Wars, Legos

Star Wars Universe on my mind

Ever since my husband and I with our best friend decided to attend a Comic Con as Star Wars characters, the whole Star Wars concept has been on my mind almost daily.  You see, I grew up with Star Wars as a child and loved the mysterious Darth Vader character.  I even made a Darth Vader costume out of black clothing, paper plates, staples, black garbage bags, white crayons, and old sun glass lenses.  It was pretty good for my age level.  We didn’t have the fancy costume helmets that are available now.  I wish I had a photo of it.

Love the art and story line for the Clone Wars series.

Love the art and story line for the Clone Wars series.

So Star Wars has good memories for me, and perhaps that is why I have been having fun taking photos of the 6 inch action figures.  We have a pretty size-able group of figures that allow us to come up with various scenes to photograph.  But photographing the characters are not enough for me.  I think I would really like to write a Star Wars novel.  I keep asking myself questions about certain characters and events contained within the works considered to be Canon.  I have also enjoyed reading several novels that are considered Expanded Universe, aka EU.  (I kept thinking EU meant European Union.  I was really confused at first.)

So here are my thoughts concerning the Star Wars Universe…

  1. Star Wars Prequel movies: Many people really hate the 1,2,3 movies that I knew back after seeing 4 and reading articles about Star Wars in magazines that Darth Vader had indeed a duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi and had been injured by lava.  Sure there are some aspects that I don’t agree with or characters that I find annoying, but the reality of life is that not everyone likes the same thing.  I don’t buy the whole Midi-chlorians concept.  It doesn’t make sense and it seems to me as a writer that it was done to explain how the Jedi were able to measure and determine that Anakin was the Chosen One.  Someone didn’t have enough confidence in the Jedi Knight concept to believe they could tell through other means that Anakin had this high level of potential skill.  This also means that all the Force users – Jedi and Sith – do not have free will.  These microscopic lifeforms are influencing and using others to have a battle.  Not cool.  I think a better solution could have been made.
    To me Jar Jar Binks is an irrelevant comedic relief character.  Yes, he is annoying, but not as annoying as the Jedi Council.  As a real Knight of an Order that used to have Jedi like skills – maybe not as fantastic – it was a moment for extreme frustration to see the Jedi Council and their over the top arrogance with young Anakin Skywalker and Qui-Gon Jinn.  My Knight companions and I walked out of the theater feeling pretty cheesed with the Jedi Council.  Most of us felt they were the cause of Anakin’s eventual downfall.  A downfall that also injured Obi-Wan, who was not really yet ready to take on such an unusual Jedi apprentice without any real support from the Jedi Council.  So do I hate the 1,2, 3 movies?  No.  They are what they are.  Could they have been better? Yes, but I think that is a topic for a blog of it’s own.

    This was not the fight of a frail old man.  Makes me suspect that he was holding back on fighting Mace Windu to get Anakin to help him.

    This was not the combat of a frail old man.   Makes me suspect that he was holding back on fighting Mace to get Anakin to help him therefore destroying Anakin’s happy future.

  2. Why was Palpatine so Powerful?: This question plagues me, but I suspect from what I have seen in the Canon level works that he might be considered something of an energy vampire to use a modern term.  He seems to really enjoy inflicting mayhem and misery on others and I think it feeds him.  I started to suspect this more seriously after watching the Clone Wars series when he vanquishes Darth Maul and his brother apprentice, Savage, on Mandolore.  He doesn’t kill him.  Then the Inquisitor from Rebels allows himself to die because there are somethings more frightening than death.  What would the Emperor do to him if he failed?  What did the Emperor do with Darth Maul?  How can Palpatine control Darth Vader, who is one of the most powerful Force Users in the Universe?  This crazy clever old bastard has the ability to cloud the Force for the entire Jedi Order on Coruscant.  This is no minor player.  I would not be surprised if he shows up again.  I have been told that some expanded universe literature have him returning in cloned bodies of his own.
  3. Fascinating character that has so much potential.

    Fascinating character that has so much potential.

    What Happened Ahsoka Tano and Asajj Ventress:  Well, Rebels has explained what happened to Ahsoka, which makes logical sense,  and I have to admit that I am looking forward to seeing more of her in the series.  I really like Anakin’s spunky Padawan.  As for Ventress, she was very stereotypical at the beginning of Clone Wars, but as her character developed, she gained more depth.  She is a wronged soul, who just needs to belong with worthy individuals.  She has a lot to offer, but the one person willing to give her the consideration she deserved died.  I could easily see her appearing again, not as a Sith contender, but as an opponent to the Sith.  She may also decide not to trust the universe again and stay a bounty hunter.

So this is just part of the reason why I keep thinking I would like to write a Star Wars story.  I think there is so much potential here for more stories that are intriguing, imaginative, and just plain fun.

G. Winkler ©2015

Please note artwork is not mine to give permissions to and are from Clone Wars series.
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Posted in Culture, Star Wars, Writing

Telling Tales without Words

StormTrooper and Legos BannerMy apologies.  It’s been too long since my last post, but this year has been rather curious and not very inspirational.  So I have been on a small quest to find inspiration.  After all any good writer or artist needs inspiration to keep themselves motivated, so I deemed this time to be worthwhile and logical.  Just like a good business is wise to re-invest in their company’s infrastructure, it is wise for the professional to take some time to improve skills, expand knowledge base, or perhaps take the time to re-energize.  So I have been playing with toys.  Yes, toys.

My focus has been the Star Wars action figures that are 6 inches tall and I have been photographing them.  Now, I am not a professional photographer, but I do find using photography helps get ideas for paintings and letting myself imagine helps with my writing.  And yes, I have been writing, but not on my blog.  You see, I have a story that I am telling and the characters come to life and they need my attention.  It is my hope and desire that someday, I may have the opportunity to share those characters with the world.  So when I need a break from fretting over events occurring in my head, I take the time to photograph the action figures.

This batch that I am sharing with you today is simply telling story without any words at all.  I am hoping the images will bring a smile to your face.  After all, in these strange modern times, I don’t think there’s a person out there that couldn’t use a reason to smile even if for a short time.

G. Winkler © 2015

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StormTrooper and Legos 02 1000w

StormTrooper and Legos 03 1000w

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Posted in Inspiration, Star Wars

Artist blues on customer service

This is the jar I received as opposed to the jar that was shown on their website.  And I was expected to pay for it to be shipped back to them.

This is the jar I received as opposed to the jar that was shown on their website.   And I was expected to pay for it to be shipped back to them.

Hello fellow artists and business humans.  Last month I wrote a blog about how I was disappointed with the customer service of Daniel Smith – the art supply company.  And well, I was hoping to have a follow up blog where I told everyone how they responded to my letter and cared about my concerns.  They have not responded to my letter.  That was a month ago.

I have to admit I am very disappointed.  I wanted them to have integrity.  And I wonder what that says about them as a company.  I really liked their products and even participated twice in their annual art contest.    So I am disappointed with them, but there are other art supply companies out there like Dick Blick and Utrecht.  There is even one small store here in town that caters to fine artists, so I can find supplies in other places.  Some of the paint manufacturers sell their stuff directly to customers now as well, so they are replaceable.

But there is something else that disturbs me about all of this.

I am seeing this lack of quality and pride in all aspects of business and professional trades.  I just recently went through a very frustrating 3 months with a job recruiter that apparently was misinforming applicants about the timeline of the jobs available for a certain company.  This along with a prestigious law firm that could not get anyone’s personal information correct or have people that could spell correctly.  Really?!  A law firm.  Those people are supposed to know grammar, vocabulary, and spelling perfectly.

I normally don’t like to write blogs about stuff that brings “a downer” feeling, but sometimes we need to be mindful of what is really going on around us.

I promise to come back soon with something fun.

G. Winkler ©2015


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Posted in Art, Business, Culture, Professionalism

Creativity Well runs dry

Star Wars snowfun 01 1000w

As an artist and a writer it is important to keep practicing, so when the lack of inspiration or vital energy slams the creativity well, one has to do something to perk themselves up.  Don’t stay in the dark hole of despair, well, unless you are goth group song writer.  And for some reason this past Winter holiday season was extra energy sapping and lacked the feeling of joy despite the fact that I felt very fortunate to have such good family and friends.  Perhaps it was the universal mindset of planetary woes that led me down such a gloomy uninspired path.  I’m sure I could come up with many reasons, which were all irrelevant unless they were were the actual cause.  So what was important was doing something about it.

I decided to attempt an almost daily posting of my Star Wars figures placed in fun or interesting places and situations.  I was going to force myself – no pun intended – to come up with something everyday no matter how stupid or lame it may be.  I would do it, not just try, or worry about it being perfect.

So I am sharing my effort to push aside those uninspiring days that strangle the life out of every kind of artist.  Here are some of my better efforts to cheer myself up as well as anyone else who loves Star Wars, toys, science fiction, or digital photography.  When dealing with the moments dull energy levels and no creative thoughts, try something different. Do something different.  Experience something different.

And here is what I came up with.

Had a friend who thought these were real people at first.

Had a friend who thought these were real people at first.

Star Wars Obi-wan Stormtrooper 01 1000w


This one has a more interesting composition.

This one has a more interesting composition.

Using the environment to imagine what would work best.

Using the environment to imagine what would work best.


Restaurants proved to be interesting places to do this.

Restaurants proved to be interesting places to do this.

Star Wars Stormtrooper 03 1000h

Star Wars Stormtrooper 04 1000h

Sometimes my desktop was the place to find a setting by accident.

Sometimes my desktop was the place to find a setting by accident.

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The Han Solo figured to be very expressive and easy to pose.

The Han Solo figured turned out to be very expressive and easy to pose.

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It seemed natural that Han Solo would be sneaking around corners of potentially dangerous places.

It seemed natural that Han Solo would be sneaking around corners of potentially dangerous places.

The dessert terrain was a natural choice for these two.

The desert terrain was a natural choice for these two.

Star Wars Han Solo Obi-wan 02 1000w

Star Wars Han Solo Obi-wan 03 1000w


Laurie Rockenbeck came up with the caption - 'No, really!! I swear, I left the millennium falcon parked RIGHT HERE!'

Laurie Rockenbeck came up with the caption – ‘No, really!! I swear, I left the millennium falcon parked RIGHT HERE!’

Star Wars Han Solo Obi-wan 05 1000h

My sister came up this caption for Han Solo to say - "Look, me and the dragons only had a few drinks at the bar. How the hell was I to know that Greenie would get the hiccups and burn down the joint!"

My sister came up this caption for Han Solo to say – “Look, me and the dragons only had a few drinks at the bar.   How the hell was I to know that Greenie would get the hiccups and burn down the joint!”

Pulled the Luke figure out for my birthday.

Pulled the Luke figure out for my birthday.

Star Wars Han Solo Luke 01 1000w

The bar interior proved difficult to photo in since there were so many reflective surfaces.

The bar interior proved difficult to photo in since there were so many reflective surfaces.

Star Wars Han Solo 04 1000w

This is from my latest batch which has several good shots.

This is from my latest batch which has several good shots.

There are several more days left in January that I will be sharing these on social media.  I hope this #actionfigurefun project will make your day just a little less dull.

Thanks for visiting.

Gretchen Winkler © 2015




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Posted in Digital Photography, Inspiration, Star Wars, Toys

Customer Service Blues

Customer Service Blues BannerIt’s not in my nature to complain about everything, but it seems as each year goes by that one has to complain vigorously to get things corrected.  And that’s a shame.  The professional world has really taken a nose dive and the only way one can fight back is to try and turn this trend around by pushing off the mantle of apathy and complain.  And that’s no guarantee that bad business or work ethics will  improve – it may only solve your problem leaving another to experience the same misery of incompetence.  An example of this is my friend had to switch from using Walmart’s pharmacy because they kept mixing his Thyroid medication with stray Ambien tablets.  If I recall correctly, I think one of the Kennedy family members had to go to court concerning the results of such a mix up.

Now my problem is no where near that important, but it follows the same line of thought that…. if it doesn’t affect me, why should I care?  That’s someone else’s job.  I am not responsible.  I’ll just do enough to get by and be paid…..

This is a letter that I wrote to the President of Daniel Smith, Inc., and I wanted to share my frustration.  This is a blog mostly about art and creativity, so my problem does and could affect other artists.  And I am going from the point of view that if we don’t say something, nothing will improve.  I am hoping that Daniel Smith with improve.  (Please note that I have removed the names of people to be considerate.)

Dear Mr. ___  ______,                                                                                        January 9, 2015

I am writing to you because I am disappointed, which is a first for me with the Daniel Smith company and its products and services. I am a long time customer as well as my Mom. We used to order items out of the catalogue during the late 80’s and 90’s.

tubes of DSS paintLet me first set the stage as to why I am disappointed. About a year ago I bought myself some of the Daniel Smith paints that fall under the Luminescent line. I wanted to be adventurous and try something different. And as you can see by the photo, I bought a large assortment of paint. I bought different kinds to see how it would work. Now some of them I found more useful than others. The pearl colored ones that required layering were not as effective as I had hoped, but I made the choice to try them.

jars of ds paintThen I had a friend who gave me jars of this paint, which I really enjoyed using. He did not like it and knew that I was an acrylic only painter, so he wanted me to have them. One thing I notice about this paint was that I could clearly see what it looked like from the see through jar containers. No more experimenting. I knew what I would be receiving since I had already used this kind of paint in this kind of container.

So when I decided to treat myself to some more painting supplies and I saw the sale that Daniel Smith was having, I decided I wanted more jars of this kind of paint. So when I selected the Luminescent paint choices, I wanted the jars due to the good experience I had with them. All three of the jars of paint I selected all showed colored paint through the container walls. I did that so that I would not be confused about what I was ordering. These pictures below show clearly what the paint looked like just like the ones I had been given. I knew what to expect. (These pictures and text were taken off your website during the first part of January this year when I made my order.)

DS jar Lilac
Interference Lilac 4oz Jar, DANIEL SMITH Luminescent Acrylic
Our Luminescent Acrylics include three types of unique colors: Interference, Iridescent and Pearlescent pigments-all made with the same care and emphasis on quality as our other Daniel Smith products. …

DS jar Oceanic
Duochrome Oceanic 4oz Jar, DANIEL SMITH Luminescent Acrylic
Our Luminescent Acrylics include four types of unique colors: Interference, Iridescent, Pearlescent and Duochrome pigments-all made with the same care and emphasis on quality as our other Daniel Smith products. …

The jar clearly showing purple in color as shown on your website arrived as a jar of the pearl colored paint with the same label. It was not what I wanted. I actually avoided purchasing anything that I was unsure about because I did not want any more of the pearl layering paint. The picture below clearly shows that the received product does not match the item on the website. But if you look at the following picture of the green paint, “Oceanic”, it does match the item presented on the website.

DS LilacDS Oceanic

When I contacted your company about this, your sales representative, ___ ____, took the attitude that she did not sincerely care about my disappointment. No offers to exchange the product and no explanation as to why the picture did not match the product sent. Why would you show a purple jar when it is clearly not a purple jar of paint? I asked her if she actually looked at the website page. She did not respond to my question. I really don’t think she cared. All she did was send me the RA number that I requested. Her response really made me feel undervalued and as if she thought I was stupid for not understanding the text explaining about the paint. By the way, I am not the only one who has found those descriptions less than illuminating. I explained to her that a visual arts medium really should be shown clearly as to what it is in a visual manner. After all, painters are visual artists that communicate visually. (Also, I did not mention that I suffer from the reading handicap known as dyslexia, which is why I also rely on the correct visual representation as well.)

The final result is that I will have to pay to return a product that I think was incorrectly advertised, which is not good customer service – it’s almost bait and switch. I am losing money on this deal, which negates the sale prices that had encouraged me to purchase from Daniel Smith in the first place. So I guess I am stuck with the jar of paint that I did not want.

Why not photograph the actual jar of paint? Why put up a misleading photo?

What would I have liked to have happened with my interaction with Daniel Smith concerning this situation? I will answer that.

A response from a representative from the company that would have cared a bit more and offer a solution like: “Would you like to return or exchange the product for another one? We do have a jar of Luminescent paint that would fit that photo better. I will make sure that the website team fixes that confusing picture. It’s obviously incorrect. I would not want other customers to have this same experience. Please send the one you don’t like back and we shall exchange it for one you do like.”

I think that is just good customer service. It’s also a way to retain repeat customers.

So this is the reason why I am disappointed with Daniel Smith. Like so many companies in this modern age and important infrastructural institutions, there is a growing lack of pride in one’s work. No one cares about doing an excellent job any more, the Microsoft Windows 8 OS system is prime example of that. Please don’t become like all the other places where passing the buck on to another for responsibility is the normal operation.

There was a reason why I wanted to purchase art products from Daniel Smith, and now I am left wondering if that is such a good idea for the future.

Most sincerely,
Gretchen Winkler
CC: Observation Post 42 blog

G. Winkler ©2015




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Posted in Art, Business, Culture

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