My Little Town

Tiny Vignettes from a Tiny Town Remembered by a Tiny Little Girl

I was born in a North Carolina city so small, at the time, you could blink while driving down main street and you were already outside the city lines.  OK, that’s  gross exaggeration but it was pretty small.  My dad, a newspaperman, worked for the local paper and a lot happened there— from bootleggers and tobacco farmers to lightening striking!  So much happened there that my dads stories from the paper were picked up nationally all the time.

In fact it’s where my parents met.  My mom was traveling through putting on plays from town to town and went to the newspaper office to get some publicity.  My dad was smitten enough to hold her up, engaging her in a conversation that interested her enough to stand up another man she was meeting for a date.  My parents were a phenomenal match and during those early days spent hours just being together walking, talking and falling in love.  29 days later they were married.

Though I was only four years old when we made the drive to the southern tip of Florida to relocate I definitely remember a few things.

Like how to count money.  A man demonstrated for me by placing a pile of pennies on a tabletop and one by one slid them into his hand to show me one- two- three- four- five.  I still think of him to this day when a similar opportunity arises.

People are friendly.  My mom would stroll me down the main street sidewalk and people would stop and say hello, coo over how cute I was, and I liked that!  In fact, seem we had a drop in, drop by route and the habit of having a route stayed with me over the years.  There have been periods in my life when I developed routes and “visited” with people.  Never seems to be enough time these days for that but it’s something I’ve always appreciated.

My mom cooked on a cast iron skillet, which I still have to this day. Early on in my parents marriage they didn’t have very much and my mom told me a gypsy woman she befriended gave her the frying pan.  I love that it has such a colorful history.

Yep, that's me as a wee child holding a hooch jug, standing next to a backwoods still recent raided by the police.  Photography by Ted Crail, my dad.

Yep, that’s me as a wee child holding a hooch jug, standing next to a backwoods still recent raided by the police. Photograph by Ted Crail, my dad.

My dad used to take me out on news stories with him and once took me to the location of a giant backwoods still that had been raided by the police.  He even photographed me holding a jug standing next to the huge thing!

One night the fireflies arrived and the town went crazy with delight!  Suddenly the entire open and spacious area behind our house was filled with the neighborhood, each person young or old was holding a jar to catch the fireflies with.  Each jar had a lid with holes poked through too so the fireflies had air to breath and they would fly around inside it.  Running around and catching them was the fun part.  It was a magical sight to see them all flitting around like tiny fairies holding a lightbulb.  I’ve never witnessed such a sight again but I still hope I do someday.  Everyone was so happy and alive, filled with a kind of joy that is still so beautiful in my memories of that amazing night.

Have you ever looked ahead on the road on a scorching hot day and saw what appeared to be a water mirage?  I did, for the first time right there in that little town.

I was a very independent little girl and felt a sense of freedom to roam, which I did.  There still a lot of that little girl left in me.  The wonder, the friendly ways, the sense of history and interest in the news of the day.  I often think we are born who we are but we definitely are shaped by our experiences too.  Goodness I’ve had loads of those, haven’t you?  #30dayblogrockstar

Hello again!

I’d like to Introduce myself again via this blog.  I’m taking on a 30-day challenge and here we go!  This is a bit of a stream of consciousness…

I’m a professional photographer and an artist with plenty of interests, which include making art and rad digital images, crafting, I have the perfect husband for me, I love raspberries and cream, whistling, Words with Friends, doodling on metal, sewing, movies and BBC anything, marbling on paper, making the kitties purr and my iPhone.  Not necessarily in that order and certainly not everything but you get the idea. I’m creatively influenced on a pretty constant basis and often text myself with ideas and inspirations with words and pictures. When I say inspiration is everywhere I mean it! Just look from where you stand and it’s right there!

Self Portrait made in the car with my iPhone. Check out my earrings! Old flash bulbs from waaaaaay back in the day.

Self Portrait made in the car with my iPhone. Check out my earrings! Old flash bulbs from waaaaaay back in the day.

So, speaking of inspiration— I use my phone to collect it most of the time so my cell phone has become a (visual) diary of sorts and I love making movies just for the joy of it too.  And I work a lot. Like A LOT! Probably because I am self-employed— photography, art, teaching— I think about business all the time and am always up to something. I occasionally joke that my profession is juggler. I work late too— I just have a lot of ideas and I guess I enjoy my work!

I’m just about to become a published author— I’ll have a chapter in a book very soon and that’s brand new info. I haven’t even told more than four people about that yet so woo hoo, you’re nearly the first to know. Of course there’s loads more to say about that be we shall save it for another post.

Lately, I have become, even more than usual, obsessed with my iPhone because not only is it fun but I love it so much I want to share with anyone who wants to learn all the crazy cool things I can do with it. It’s rarely ever two feet from me. I remember when I first got mine. I think it took me two weeks to get used to it but they were so new to the world!  I’ve been an Apple enthusiast from the early days and have never switched either.  I even stood arms length away from Steve Jobs while on a photo job once and even as he stood patiently looking deeply into my eyes expecting me to say something I was struck completely silent.  I could not utter a single word.  This was only one of two times that has ever happened to me-  I’m a pretty chatty person!  Email me if you want to know the story of the only  other time it happened… 🙂

OK, back to the iPhone– I was the very first person I know to even have one.  It was a strange thing at first but once I got the hang of it– wow.  It was several generations later before I even shot photos with it though– I think at first with the iPhone 3–when I shot a Def Leppard concert in 2007 with it and those photos were not bad at all!  Of course it helped that I was stageside.  But luckily as the camera has progressed, the pictures have improved and so has my passion for it. So much so that I’ve created classes about using it for photos and videos happening in September! If it sounds like something you are interested in you can find out more— Click Here!

That’s all for now folks!  Stay tuned for more of the All About Charr series of posts coming atcha.  🙂 #30dayblogrockstar

Spring is Springing and The Borg

There’s a loud sound outside– the grass is being mowed.  One of those things that happens every Tuesday at our apartment building.  Today I see it as making way for the new.  And another thing.  I’m in the process of learning something I don’t want to learn.  I can’t say I’ve been resisting because I do have good motivations for doing it, but I’m chagrined to note that it turns out to be a pretty groovy thing that I can see has real value.  A humorous truth here is that I am reminded of the Star Trek series and recurring characters– The Borg.  Resistance is futile.  Yes, I can relate to that to a degree with this current project I’d been resisting, avoiding and generally irritable about.  Look, I’m a real pro so I get it done.  That said it doesn’t mean I’m always giddy about it.  So what I am saying is if you find yourself in a situation where “resistance is futile” and “if you can’t beat ’em join ’em” which way are you going to go?  I say grow, learn, embrace.  Experience and grow.  Your choice.  My choice today is to embrace and learn, share the new knowledge and then make a far better and educated decision whether to continue with it or not.  Free will people!  It’s the best part of being humans.

Google Yourself!

Yes, definitely Gcharr crail getty images prince william duke of cambridge prince charles whoopi goldberg camillaoogle yourself from time to time because you never know what will show up and where you might find your pictures.  I did it today and was delighted to discover I appear on the Getty images page along with Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Camilla and Prince Charles and Whoopi Goldberg to name a few.  I’m delighted to be in such good company and right on the top of the page no less under the headline Best of Entertainment!

That’s all for today folks, I’m just sitting here smiling for awhile at such a fun discovery.  Go ahead and Google yourself too and see what shows up.  🙂


Whisked Away…

My original pen and ink drawing, photographed and brought into Adobe Photoshop to do the coloring and graphic treatments.

My original pen and ink drawing, photographed and brought into Adobe Photoshop to do the coloring and graphic treatments.

Inspiration.  Where does it come from?  Who knows!  But then there it is.  Maybe one can pinpoint the time or the thing that sparked it but it’s still such a mystery to me.  Why ask why really because you know what, it simply feels so good.  I love being inspired.  It’s a lifelong pleasure.

Funny, I was thinking about my dad a few days ago and how he’d say he falls in love everyday.  True, I’d seen it happen time and time again.  Someone would walk by and he was entranced, “in love”.  It may sound kinda weird but I know that feeling too, I’ve experienced it.  Maybe you have too, have you?  Seeing someone or something so unimaginably exquisite that you simply want to stare and wander in a room full of dreamy imaginings that can’t even be expressed or defined in words.  It always moves me to create.  And it moved my dad that way too.  He was a wonderful and prolific writer and photographer who taught  me so much.

So as I continued to think about being “in love” I know it’s really about being inspired.  A feeling that comes over you, me, whoever and we lose our breath for a fraction of a second and we ponder that thing, which has whisked us away to some invisible place where creativity and possibility lives.  The dreaminess breathes and expands and if we have the time and the tenacity we can use the tools at hand to wander to a new place that never previously existed where art in some magical form is created.

Waxing on I go.  🙂

So, today I found myself on Facebook and someone had posted a one line drawing, something I adore and started doing in High School so long ago.  Whiz Bang!  I was off, searching my computer for one of my own drawings probably done several years ago and immediately went to work in Photoshop— cropping, colorizing, adding texture, gradients, color combinations— until I could finally stop, call it complete, and look at it as a viewer, no longer inside the thing— but now outside looking at it.  It only took a few minutes.  Sometimes what makes the difference is allowing yourself to be inspired and to take action.  Bake a cake, put a braid in your hair, play the guitar, draw a picture, arrange flowers, write prose, allow the muse…

That was fun!  Yes, whisked away.

Before “Selfies” were #selfies

oldiesbutgoodies charr crailJust yesterday I had to go back and find some pictures from awhile back and came across this fun one I blogged many years ago, even before blogging was a household word.

At the time I was hired buy a midwest newspaper to go photograph Gary Puckett— aka Gary Puckett and the Union Gap.  He was performing along with a whole bunch of fabulous “oldie” acts out at Raley Field in West Sacramento.

Though I was only there for Puckett I stuck around for the day long show and had a blast photographing them all.

In those days I had a super wide angle lens for my camera, which I took everywhere and it’s what I used do do “selfies” before it was a super trend.  And I called my selfie project “101 horrible photos of myself with famous people”.  🙂

And these guys, in their day, were UBER famous!

In 1968 Gary Puckett and The Union Gap had six consecutive gold records and sold more records than any other recording act— including the Beatles!

BJ Thomas is a five time Grammy Award winner and won the Academy Award for Best Song in 1970— Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid movie soundtrack.

And then there’s Jack Ely who sang “Louie Louie” with The Kingsmen, that HUGE one-hit-wonder in 1963 that everyone believed to have racy lyrics, but it didn’t!  I’m sad to say I just found out Ely passed just this past April at the age of 71.

Being a professional photographer has been so much fun and so rewarding.  What a great life it has been because I’ve had the pleasure to see, do and have the most remarkable experiences.  The business and the tools of photography are changing so much and so fast but I’m still managing to keep up, whew!  It’s good to take a few minutes out now and then and look at where I have been as well as reflect on where I am going.

The Art of Doodling is Thrilling!

What an amazing class last night in my studio with the coolest group of students who dove in so fast and so deep my head was spinning– in a great way.  This class is a never ending experience of awe–  Awe of the imagination everyone has and where they go with creating their wonderful pieces of art.   I could hardly sit still for a couple of hours afterwards because I was so energized by the students and the art they created!  Today I am all smiles, all delight and completely inspired!

Want to learn more about this class?  CLICK HERE FOR CLASS PAGE

Please sign up for my email list so you can get updates about when the next one is being scheduled.  Do you have a group ready to go for a class like this.  Let me know and I’ll put it together just for you.  🙂

Time of your life…


Never Give Up. Great Things Take Time. Image © Charr Crail, 2014 and created using apps on her iPad.

We all have dreams and desires, right?  I admit I got caught up in the current holiday season with it’s bustle and cheer and a hearty dose of many wonderful things and slacked off on my own dreams for a minute or two.   Now, I’m trying to catch my breath and as I sit back to reflect a bit it seems the idea of time keeps coming up.  I’m face to face with the time is NOW!  This is it, this is the time to do whatever it is you want to do, whatever your hearts desire is.  Act now and go for it!  As the brilliant marketing team at Nike says “Just Do It!”  At the very least take a single step towards it.  One step, one action, something.  This is not about the New Year.  This is for everyday of the year.   And just remember this… If you’re hungry the refrigerator won’t get up and come to you.  And just in case whatever it is you’re after doesn’t show up immediately simply have a little bit of patience.  Yes, Patience.

Think about the ingredients in the refrigerator that you might be combining into a lovely stew or zesty pasta sauce.  You have to put in some effort to cut up the veggies, measure the spices, the liquids, stir and simmer for awhile.  All things take time, a dash of effort and a little patience– and the yummmm factor is always well worth it!

So about this image– I was at a wonderful old theatre recently with this big beautiful clock on the wall, which I photographed with my cell phone.  Later on I took the clock image a few steps further to turn the clock picture into art and then created this meme– an image with words on it.

Are you interested in learning how to do this– make meme’s or create sumptuous digital art?  I teach virtual classes in creativity around photography, art and lots more.  I can show you how to do this in Photoshop or with some of my favorite apps on mobile devices.  I’m kind of App-sessed too so I know some pretty rad stuff.   🙂  Get in touch, comment, share.  I’d love to hear from you!  xo

Click Here for more information and to learn about some of my virtual classes and workshops.  I work with individuals and groups of all sizes.  Interested in me coming to speak to your group?  Get in touch!

Art in the Everyday

aite-wall-switchesArt in the Everyday– it’s everywhere you look!  (This may be why I appreciate Andy Warhol so much.  It’s largely where he came from in creating his own art and I so respect that about him! You can read more in this older post—

I teach and speak to classes on a regular basis and one of the things I talk about is how we are all creative and art is everywhere even if we don’t really pay attention or notice it as we go though our days.  I actually use the example of a wall switch.   We flick a switch to get light into a room and we go on our way and never even pay the slightest bit of attention to something so seemingly mundane.

But that wall switch was designed by a creative mind with multiple considerations for functionality and appearance.  Someone had to actually put a lot of thought into what it would look like, how it would be shaped, what materials it might be made of, how it would attach, where the nails go, the size of the holes, it’s specific size, what it might cover or surround, how something would plug into it and what color it would be coming out of the factory.

And that’s just the considerations of person sitting in the seat as the designer mapping it out.  There were many many people involved in this item prior and probably many more in the actual manufacture of it.  There were supervisors, testers, research and development types and ultimately there were people involved in the actual moulding and creating of it.  There were people who made the first working model of it before it was approved for the public and went forward to the production line.  And then there was the actual production line.

At the core of even this one small item there were many many questions that had to be carefully considered and answered before it could even be manufactured.  And it’s something we need and use everyday, each and everyone of us.  Yes, there always is someone— some ONE person, designer, artist, creative— who first conceives of something, probably makes a sketch of it before we even know it exists.  And then it exists because someone created it.

Wow, what a long way around such a simple idea.  Just start noticing what you see.  Start noticing the art in the everyday and soon it will be illuminating itself to you regularly and you will delight as much as I do in the beauty that creativity is.

We will keep talking about this and how it relates to us as creators.  Because Art is Everywhere and Life is Art.  We create.  Humans were born to create.  We simply can’t help ourselves and we will talk about that and about the extraordinary Art in the Everyday a lot more on this blog!

Have something you want to add to this conversation?  Please comment and share!