The House of Dumb – Success #3

The House of Dumb – Success #3

The House of Dumb

Here are Dick and Jane,
Prince and Princess of their Domain.
They have fans galore.
They are admired and adored.

They travel the world in luxury,
Never stopping to think or worry.
Their servants take care of this and that
Even their crowns (which they call hats).

They went to school but learned not a thing
Of common sense or reasoning.
They didn’t have to because they told,
Their daddy had a big billfold.

One day they were marching right,
Loving being in the light.
When they ran into something they didn’t see
A sign that read ‘you’re lousy.’

Dick and Jane thrashed in rage,
Like animals in a terrible cage,
That the crowd and daddy had allowed
The sign to be in the way somehow.

They demanded it be taken away,
To an ugly field and burned today.
Their daddy did as he was told
And Dick and Jane, on they rolled.

They learned nothing from hitting the lousy sign,
And thought their life was simply fine.
But one day their money did go poof,
And where it went there was no proof.

Then their daddy died and went away,
And none of their fans wanted to stay,
Now that the money and glamour were gone,
On Dick and Jane they would not fawn.

Dick and Jane never knew why,
They were no longer adored to the sky.
All they knew was they were poor,
And had to open their own doors.

Dick and Jane got old and grey,
And never went out to march or play.
They died one day in mid-July,
Never knowing they lived a lie.

Writers told the story later,
Of Dick and Jane and all their haters.
They became known as being from,
The very last of the House of Dumb.

The End

Drawing and poem © 2017 Marty Coleman |

Quote by Bill Gates, 1955 – not dead yet, American businessperson and philanthropist.  – “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”




If you are an artist then playing with line and color is a great way to experiment with ideas. You aren’t trying to accomplish something grand ,even if you end up with something grand. You are simply enjoying creating playing. No pressure, no expectations, no stress. One of the great things about this freedom is that it allows your creativity to flourish. As a result you can very easily end up with something pretty cool.
I have been playing with image making on my ipad mini for a few years now. I started by making digital portraits and eventually that led to overlaying patterns on top of the portraits that I would then play with. Eventually I started just playing with the patterns minus the portraits. This is what you see here.  Let me know what you think!

Finishing the Journey – Success #2

Finishing the Journey – Success #2

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My Achilles Surgery Journey So Far

Leaving the Port

I recently had Achilles Tendon surgery to get rid of some nasty bone spurs in my left heel.  It was 6 years in the making before I actually made the decision to have the surgery. It was actually pretty easy for me to not only decide to do it but to actually have the surgery. All I had to do was lay back and let it happen.

Leaving Sight of Shore

The time immediately after the surgery wasn’t that hard either. I went home, rolled around on my little knee scooter for 4 weeks in a cast. It was annoyingly inconvenient and painful now and then but it wasn’t really hard. Then I got out of the cast and got in a walking boot for two weeks. That was a bit harder because I was meeting resistance, I was pushing the heel a bit and it was not happy about it. It meant more pain and more worry. But it still wasn’t that hard. I was restricted by the boot in what I could do and the pain level was high enough that I could pretty easily tell when I had gone too far.

On the Open Sea

And now it is 10 weeks after surgery, the boot is off and it has become harder. Why? Because my willingness to actively work on the recovery is front and center. I have no external restrictions, only my own judgment of how far to push, when to pull back, when to push again.  It’s all up to me, even if I do have advice from a Dr. and help from a Physical Therapist. And what is helping me decide all this? Having my home port in mind. What is my final destination?

Entering the Port

My final destination is to be back to running healthy and run a marathon by the one year anniversary of the surgery. That is the port I am sailing for. That is how I will know if my voyage has been successful.  Now, the truth is I could be blown off course by something beyond my control and have to recalibrate that goal. That is always the case in any endeavor. But I am not overly worried about things I can’t control. What I am focused on is what can I control? I can control my dedication to reaching my goal and I can control the actions I take to reach them.

While every step is important, knowing your final port of call is really critical because otherwise it’s very hard to gauge if you are being successful in your endeavor or not.  It also becomes V]very hard to want to go through the pain and unexpected setbacks that are always apart of a substantial journey without a positive goal ahead.

So, set your sails and prepare for that journey you want to take. You can do it!

Drawing and commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman |

Quote by Henry Ward Beecher, 1813-1887, Congregationalist Minister and Abolitionist



People on the Street – London and Paris

People on the Street – London and Paris

Street Photography

One of my favorite things to do when I go on vacation is street photography, meaning not photos of streets, but photos of the action on the street. It really means action most anywhere; in stores, at famous monuments, etc. The only defining factor is that it is spontaneous and, for the most part, not posed.

In the early summer of 2015 my wife Linda, daughter Caitlin, and I went to London and Paris. These are a selection of the photos I took on the streets of these two amazing cities. Each photo I think captures an essence of the moment in a way that staged photos can’t. After each photo I have given some ideas of what I was looking for and what you can also look for when you do street photography.


Selfie Kiss at Versailles  –  © Marty Coleman 2017

The main thing about street photography is you have to be ready. No fumbling, no settings, no focusing even. You have to get that shot as if it’s a breaking news story, right now right there. In this case I had already noticed her bright red (and long) fingernails so I was attuned to her.

I also knew there was a rare empty space not filled with people behind her and watched for a moment to see if something interesting might compose itself. And when she raised her arm I knew what was coming and raised my camera.

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Stripes  –  © Marty Coleman 2017

Street photography is about visual stimulation. Your eye drives the process and you have to respond quickly. The decision-making has to be immediate or the moment has passed. In this case I already had my finger on the shutter button as I happened to see this woman with the bold striped dress coming towards me. I didn’t think about it I just pushed the button.

The other thing about street photography is the fun of not really knowing what you captured. The stripes were interesting, yes. But getting the other striped shirt and the person walking right between them was fun to discover later and it’s what makes the photograph as a whole visually stimulating to me.

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Standing Nudes, Sitting People  –  © Marty Coleman 2017

Juxtaposition is a key element in the commentary in much street photography. The interaction between people, objects, environment, and light add to the visual conversation.

In this case the verticality and solidity of the sculptures played off the very slack and loose poses of the sitters. I loved the humorous juxtaposition of their poses and of the nudity vs clothing so I pushed the button.  If you notice, the camera is not up at my eye level. I had it around my neck hanging to my stomach and took the photo from there. I could have chosen to raise it up, it wouldn’t have bothered me to be seen taking the photo, but having the sitters be midway between the sculptures was key to the composition and feeling of the image so I kept the camera at waist level.

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Bride and Locks  –  © Marty Coleman 2017

Doing street photography means you are always looking for great angles. Sometimes that means you have to imagine what something would look like from a different angle from the one you are at. Keeping the camera at your face and thinking that is the only image available limits your choices considerably.

In this case there was no doubt I was going to take a photo of this bride on the bridge full of locks. The question was what angle would best tell the story? There was way to much clutter in the image when I was standing up so I squatted down very low and put the camera even lower, almost to the ground, to get the shot.  This is one of the reasons an articulating screen at the back of the camera is essential to street photography, so you can see very low or very high.

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Two Sisters and a Ceiling  –  © Marty Coleman 2017

Not only is what height your camera is at something to consider, but where it is pointing as well. To limit yourself to only pointing forward or slightly up or down means once again you are limiting yourself and the possible images you can get.

Here I, along with thousands of others, were looking up at the ceilings in Versailles. But what I saw wasn’t just the ceilings but everyone else taking photos of those same ceilings. I angled my camera from my waist directly up to catch that phenomenon.  In this photo I was walking quickly and just barely caught these two women out of the corner of my eye. I turned, snapped and moved on. I didn’t know what the image looked like until well after we were done with the tour and on the way back to Paris on the train.

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Bride and Groom at Notre Dame  –  © Marty Coleman 2017

In street photography something unexpected is always just around the corner. The best shots aren’t always going to be in main areas of tourism or activity. They more likely will happen as you are walking to or from those areas. Having your camera on and ready (and with the lens cap off!) is critical. I can’t tell you how many photos I have missed in my life because of one of these reasons.

Having your camera set to multiple photos at one time is also key. In this case, I saw the bride and groom walking down the street and kept my finger on the button until just the right time and then held it down. I got about 3-4 shots and was able to choose the best one from the bunch as a result.

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Place to Kiss  –  © Marty Coleman 2017

When we walk around a city we see the fluidity of time and motion. As a result we often don’t see examples of anticipation. But the still photograph from the street can often capture just that right moment.

Here these two people were drinking and talking and flirting, all the while seeming to hem and haw about the funny sign right next to them. I got the feeling they wanted to kiss but weren’t sure how to go about it, especially when there was a sign directing them to do so!

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Four Portraits at the Musée d’Orsay  –  © Marty Coleman 2017

When you do street photography you are going to get motion. And motion means blur. This is not a bad thing. Blur is a tool of expression. It expresses movement, action, direction, energy. Don’t reject an image because of it but instead evaluate how the blur may help the image.

There is usually no more static place in the world than a museum. But people walk around them all the time and that means movement. Here I was able to capture a bit of both the action and the static at the same time. I had a number of other shots from right around this same moment, but this was by far the best because the blur of the woman in the stripes on the far left balanced out the strong and isolated image of the nude by Renoir on the right.

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The Singer and the Thames  –  © Marty Coleman 2017

Isolation is another important element in street photography.  Isolation means visual power and weight and it can be used to tell a story.

On the banks of the Thames in London I was watching the hundreds of people go by before I went in to see the Tate Modern Museum.  This singer with his small speaker and music machine was entertaining the crowd. But all I saw was him alone next to this giant river. I set myself up to capture an image that showed how I saw him in the midst of the crowd.

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The Fascinator  –  © Marty Coleman 2017

Style is everywhere on the street. Ignore it and you miss a million fantastic shots. Find it and you will have a never-ending well of ideas and opportunities.

While we were in London we took the train into a certain station to transfer.  When we got off we started seeing an unexpected amount of men and women dressed to the nines. I mean they were really going all out. If it had been on a weekend night it would maybe make sense. But this was at 9am on a weekday morning. What was going on? I didn’t know, but I knew I was going to have my camera ready to go. This woman was walking by with panache and purpose and I immediately angled myself to make sure I got a photo as she passed.

Later we discovered it was the Queen’s Day at the races and everyone was going to the station to travel out to the track.

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The Woman at the Seine  –  © Marty Coleman 2017

In staged photos we most often will see a lot of people smiling.  But staged smiling usually only says one thing. What is great in street photography is to find true expressions that aren’t staged. That are a result of a person’s true feelings coming out.

Here that feeling is sublime joy and happiness. It can be felt in much more than just the Mona Lisa smile she has. It’s in everything her face and body is doing.  Always be ready for that moment where you are capturing true feelings because those are what will let people know as much about a place as any monument or building.

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Mannequin and Walker  –  © Marty Coleman 2017

Street photography can get very personal. People can see you take photos, some think it is a violation, others couldn’t care less and you don’t know who will react how. If you believe in capturing the life of the street you have to be bold and courageous to do so. Sometimes that means you have the opportunity to ask permission but other times you do not.

I was walking near our Airbnb apartment in Paris early one morning, on my way to the cafe where I had been drawing each morning when I saw this scene. I was focused on the mannequin in the window with the sunrise reflecting off the building when this woman walked by. She had been looking down at her phone but looked up right as a took the shot.  She was past me in a second and that was that. I don’t know what her emotions were about seeing me as I was taking pictures and I am not assuming I know. But I had to have the courage to take the photo without knowing that.

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Seeing Versailles  –  © Marty Coleman 2017

Bold graphic elements are everywhere in street photography. Windows, doors, people can all be seen not as what they are but as formal devices to frame or direct an image compositionally.  This is especially true if you are going to shoot in Black and White or are thinking in terms of BW when you later work on the image.

I didn’t see an image of Versailles here. I saw an image of how Versailles is to be seen.  Finding a set of elements composed so they show a third person’s view is something for which you should always be on the look out. It tells a story much more effectively than just a photo of a place.

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Escalation  –  © Marty Coleman 2017

Lines direct one’s vision. Finding those lines and using them to create mystery or wonder is one of the joys of street photography.

We were headed down into the London Tube and I was standing behind this elegantly styled woman. All I could see were all these lines converging behind her and really wanted to capture that. Once again I simply took the photo from where the camera was hanging around my neck.  Being low created a giant black shape in the middle of the image. We know it is her but visually it’s a void, allowing one to imagine what is behind even more than imagining her.

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The Poser in Paris  –  © Marty Coleman 2017

People are always posing for something. Street photography allows you to capture when people are posing, not for you, but for someone else.

We took a walk along the banks of the Seine and what caught my eye first was the profound geometry everywhere. The lines were formal and abstract and I was trying to find just the right combination of elements when I saw this woman posing for a caricaturist.  She leant just the right amount of warmth and humanity to the otherwise severe composition so I took a number of photos. This one, with her gaze going completely off camera, was the one that really expressed how I saw Paris at that moment.

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So, there you have it. A little tour of London and Paris. It’s probably a lot different from what you would find among tourist photos. But maybe these photos give you a different understanding of the two cities. One that is more about the mood and feeling of a place than a recitation of its monuments and objects.  That is what street photography can do for you and your appreciation for a place.  It is also what it can do for others who see the photos, giving them an idea of what it’s like to be in and around a city, to feel they know a place at a more intimate level.

Give street photography a try, you won’t regret. And by all means let me know how it goes and let me see some of your photos!


Each of these photos is for sale. Price is $50.00 plus shipping.  Please contact me at if you are interested. Give me the name of the piece and we can go from there!  I can receive payment and ship internationally.

Believe It! – Success #1

Believe It! – Success #1

Who do you think you are?  

Why do I ask this? Because you won’t ever become someone you don’t think you are.  Don’t think you are an artist? You won’t become one.  Don’t think you are able to start or run a business? You won’t start or run one.


So, how do you become something you are not? To answer that question you have to answer this one first, ‘how do you come to believe you can be that person?’ My first wife, Kathy, was never very confident about herself and her abilities. But by the time we had our three daughters and they were in or reaching school age, Kathy had received her teaching credential and had taught for a few years. She also had been around a number of families at our church who home schooled their kids for a number of years. The combination of the two experiences plus her own comfort with our children led her to believe she could home school our daughters, which we did for 3 years.

In other words, she had faith that she could get it done. She gained that faith by education, observation, and experience.  I think those three elements are the keys to achieving your great goal.

  • Education – In most, but not all, cases, learning is key to giving yourself the confidence that you can do or be something. It might be formal training or it might be you self-teaching online, but learning more and more about the area you want to explore always helps, if not for you, for those who you must persuade to trust you in a future endeavor.
  • Observation – When you look around you, you can see things being achieved. How is that happening? What skills, behaviors, attitudes and connections to these achievers have?  Being aware of what others have needed to succeed will help you do the same. While in much of life it is not good to compare yourself to others, it is good in other ways.  This is one of them. Now, you may find that the comparison is unflattering to you. BUT then again, you might find it is favorable, or maybe it is irrelevant.  The point is, do not be afraid to evaluate how you stack up to others in this endeavor.  Self-criticism and self-knowledge of where you stand is essential to moving forward.
  • Experience – Sometimes when we look at biographies of achievers it seems this step is skipped. For example, Cheryl Strayed walked the Pacific Coast Trail and wrote about it in her memoir ‘Wild’. She had ZERO experience hiking but she did it, right?  Nope. She actually only did one day without experience. The second day she had the experience of the first day under her belt. Yes, to truly do it right she should have had a lot more experience, but to say she had none for the journey is to ignore what you learn along the way.  So, yes it is possible to start with no experience. But it is impossible to get half way with none and certainly impossible to finish with none.  The key is to be aware of the experience as it happens, to learn from it so you can immediately apply it, sometimes within minutes or hours of starting on a task.

These three things are what you need to become who you want to become and to do what you want to do.

So, start gathering them up and go for it!

Drawing and commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman |
“Faith that the thing can be done is essential to any great achievement.” Quote by Thomas N. Carruther.

This original drawing or a print are available for purchase. Matte and frame are also available.

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