Giving Thanks to SOBcon Chicago 2012

SOBcon Chicago 2012 happened this past May, and I haven’t been online much since, working my butt off on building my studio and ideas that transformed and developed since the event…  The people and the event helped me more then words can could ever describe…

Bit of history…

This morning I got to thinking to my Mom who passed away from Cancer that morning a year ago today, the 7th of September landed on a Wednesday…  I smile thinking to how much she supported and helped me in becoming an Artist, and smile deeper thinking of how happy she was when I first shared with her ideas of doing a Charity Art Auction to raise money for the Cancer Research Institute and to help the homeless…

She had donated much of her life in helping people in our town and county…  My Mom had helped in starting the Tioga County Arts Council, helping with writing it’s non-for-profit status and being one of their first Presidents…  She donated thousands of hours during almost 20 years with our town’s volunteer ambulance, and even helping in writing the by-laws of our town’s Chamber of Commerce- she was so proud when later I would become the Vice President of the Chamber…  I was taught to give back to the community through her giving…

Last summer I ran this idea of doing a Charity Art Auction by a few of my friends online, and when Liz Strauss (one of the founders of SOBcon) felt this was a great idea, I knew I was on to something…  Sadly the idea I knew needed to be shelved last summer when I found the cancer had spread to my Mom’s brain, then her passing away- I knew then I would need a better frame of mind and my studio completely up and running… So slowly I handled the many challenges in front of me then…

Since my Mom’s passing a year ago, I’ve worked to get my studio equipment and needed materials and supplies to be able to offer the best possible color for fine art prints possible, I also worked on growing this idea…  The color management system is going to be added this week that will help with the Giclee Fine Art Imager to print the best possible color possible… Smiling with pride as I slowly work on the studio, building the furniture by hand and slowly earning the money needed for new equipment and materials to open the studio’s new Fine Art Reproduction service…

I’m getting close to finishing everything needed to reopen the studio soon…   Then turn my efforts to earning the money needed to pay for Artists and purchase more materials and get the needed permissions all in order for the first Charity Art Auction…

Inspired by SOBcon- Giving

With realizing in the beginning of this year my portrait abilities had become a bit rusty, I started to think to some Artists I would like to hire to do two portraits each of some inspiring people in Social Media…  As I started to look into this some, I suddenly had an opportunity to attend SOBcon Chicago 2012

Even before the trip to Chicago, this idea started growing, and I would like to share how…  A few weeks before the event, people were sharing online why they attend SOBcon…  Molly Cantrell-Kraig (founder of Women with Drive Foundation) did an AudioBoo audio recording that I felt was very insightful and so very inspirational-

Molly made my heart grow larger and larger- she Grinched me…  To you Molly, I whisper softly a special “Thank You”…  Wish I could have spent more time with you to share this idea more in depth, events like this have so many people, am glad we could share that glass of wine together, and now you know why I mentioned that you “Grinched” me…  As I was listening one late evening of sleeplessness to Molly’s soft voice, I came up with the domain name and bought it- ArtistsHelping.com (which I am thinking now to a nice logo for and will soon be starting to create the website)…

Knowing my studio wasn’t yet ready to start this idea, that I still needed a bunch of time to build studio furniture and buy the needed equipment to produce the idea of quality fine art prints…  Since December I’ve been needing to reinvest in a new computer, all new software and there was hundreds of pounds of materials and some more tech equipment I would need to purchase…  But also felt there was nothing wrong with starting to share the idea some with a few people to get their feedback…

Landing in Chicago, this artist from a small town without a stoplight was a bit overwhelmed with the BIG CITY…  It being about 8 years since I had been in New York and looking up at buildings that disappear in the clouds…  And even longer since attending a large Tech conference…

I shared the Charity Art Auction idea to a few people at SOBcon and got even more support for the concept that truly astounded me and also helped in growing more confidence in this idea…  Chris Brogan said he really liked the idea and would do all he could, as he would be one of the six Inspiring People…  Then after Tim Sanders spoke, he stopped at our table and asked me what I was doing, so I told him quickly and he looked to me and said; “I want to help make this happen!”, giving me his business card…  And then there was Jay Jay French who spoke a little bit about how he too had suffered the loss of his mother to Cancer, of how he came through that hard period of his life, such strength to share such pain and how he made it through it, which giving me a bit more confidence in my own pains of the heart…

Over the next couple of weeks I got to thinking as I listened to this recording Molly made…  I suddenly thought to myself- “Why do just one event, when I could possibly create something that could help other Organizations and Artists too”…  I did poured myself into research about Copyrights, Taxes and Art Donations…

Did you know if an Artist donates a piece of artwork to a charity to be auctioned off, the Artist can only write off on their taxes the material cost to create artwork?  So a piece of art that might be sold for a large amount of money, if it were a watercolor, only write off the cost of the paper, frame and a few more cents to cover the amount of pigment used, an Artist can’t even write off the time taken to create the art piece…  This too came into the idea- how could I maybe be able to benefit Charities and also help the Artists that donate their artwork?  Took a bit of time, but I figured that part out too, how this could also help Artists since attending SOBcon

The ideas I gained with some of the people I had the opportunity to meet during SOBcon in Chicago, and those ideas of “Giving” helped to grow this concept further…

The first Charity Art Auction I will do with ArtistHelping.com will be for three Artists to do 2 portraits each of Inspiring People in Social Media, produce 200 limited edition prints of each of the 6 portraits, then to do an online and live via smart phone Charity Art Auction during a major Social Media Conference…  To be able to donate the profits after covering the costs, to be able to print out one of those HUGE Checks to donate the net profits to be split between the Cancer Research Institute and InvisiblePeople.tv

Giving Thanks to those at SOBcon Chicago 2012

Now the time is drawing near and I wanted to share and also thank some people who were so very inspiring to me…

It’s the amazing people who attend SOBcon- the people that make it such an amazing event, not just the learning or mastermind sessions but the feeling as if all who attend are like family…  The speeches and learning is just a small part to the whole- it’s really the people and the giving that makes this such an amazing event!!!  Too many good people to list that I had the opportunity to meet, but there are a special few I do wish to thank-

Cate Equality Colgan (@CateTV), Liz Strauss (@lizstrauss), Terry St. Marie (@Starbucker), Tim Sanders (@sanderssays), Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan), Diane Brogan (@DianeBrogan), Steven Brogan (@SteveBrogan), Mark Horvath (@hardlynormal), Molly Cantrell-Kraig (@mckr1g), Ric Dragon (@RicDragon), Marc Pitman (@marcapitman) and Jay Jay French (@jayjayfrench)…

Thank you all for listening to my idea and for giving me the extra confidence to start making this happen…   Thank you all for being so very inspiring!!!

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The Last Dance with Mom…

Dancing is such an important part of our lives; embedded as part of so many religions, a major part within so many cultures and our lifestyles… The wedding dance that a father does with his daughter or mother does with her son is considered a special prized and cherished moment to so many people, we look forward to this special Dance and then after remember with such deep care… Such a special moment with so much meaning for parent, grandparent and child…

Personally, I’m not one to often dance just for the joy of dance, use to only slow dance once in a great while with someone special… If I had deep feelings for that person, we can dance to music not heard by others, to a rhythm of the deep care and love shared…

A couple months ago while visiting my Mom who was fighting cancer, was up late night around 2am-ish, not being able to sleep and I shared a few hours just talking with her about memories shared that would bring her some laughter… We got talking about Dancing, something my grandmother who passed away had told me too- she had no regrets except one, to see me married and to have that extra special dance with her grandson…

Then Mom said she wished so deeply she could have this one dance too, that special Mother-Son Dance… She then told me that she had hoped to someday watch me get married and wanted to have that special dance that a mother has with her son… I tried not to think to this, and reaffirmed she would get healthy again and we would have that dance someday…

We both all teary eyed shared tissues together, till I got her laughing… I told her that I would only do a slow dance with her if she did another with me afterward, standing up showing her my funny dance – the “Uncle Chuck Dance”… I’d started doing this dance with and for my niece when she was barely able to walk, her baby body waddle to control balance just to stand and take those first few steps… Later she would shake her hinny to music in her little diaper, she would dance, swinging her butt around, and I started to imitate this balance act to the rhythm of the music… How my niece, Mom and sister laughed… It’s been now about 22 years that this dance has brought laughter to my family, even still to this day… At the time it was nice to hear my Mom laugh, when I knew even then she had so much pain…

I am still not married and that special moment is now something that will never happen except within my heart and memory…

Monday morning, we needed to bring in a special bed for Mom, so she needed to come out of her room while we took her bed down and brought in the special adjustable bed… Unfortunately she was in such deep pain get up to walk, she needed help…

Happily she recognized me with a large smile, as we often joked about she said; “My Favorite Son”, as I am the only son with two sisters- no competition- another joke we all enjoyed… She laughed for a moment as she put her arms around my neck, and I helped lift her to her feet… Slowly we danced without music, taking baby steps to where the wheelchair was at the doorway, my last dance with my Mom and seeing her smile, she now watches from heaven…

It’s Raining in my Heart

Waking slowly to that singular blue eye staring at me, the excitement in it as my now 2 year old pup gets excited that I am waking, as it’s “Breakfast time”, turning to show his brown eye before to start doing a spin around… Now both of my dogs join in, 250+ pounds of excited dogs doing what I call the “Breakfast Dance”, that always brings a smile to my face at their excited morning antics…

“The Breakfast Dance Squad”

I feed Snowy the pup in his kennel, as he is a messy eater… His excitement now at it’s peak, doing the side-to-sideway shuffle, hopping up and down getting excited for that first mouth full of morning crunchy treats… I pour it into his dish and he starts to eat, and I look up smelling in the air the sweet smell of rain in the breeze on this overcast morning…

Saxy his mother neat and dainty, crunching 1-2 pieces at a time and no crunched up slimy chunks surround her bowl like Snowy’s… Even my first Saint Bernard was like this, Food all over the place… She looks up to me with a mouth full, her eyes as if saying, “Thank you this tasty breakfast”…

I continue my morning routine, brewing Java, be it regular coffee or espresso, a bit of bathroom time, then grabbing a mug full of the good stuff, I head to my studio-office… I sit down and flip open my PowerBook, then opening up a browser to check for mail, Facebook messages, checking quickly my Twitter messages and lately checking my Google+ stream… In Facebook it’s become a ritual this past month or so- always checking on my Mom’s page and looking for things she has been commenting on…

As I sit in front of the monitor, I start to hear the water spray sound of wet wheels from a car going by the house on the road out front… Stopping a moment to listening more intently, yes, I can hear the soft rain on the roof above… So I go out to let Snowy inside before he gets soaked and I have a house smelling of BIG WET DOG…

This morning was no different then any other mornings, except that it had started raining after so many weeks of it being so hot without rain… I stood there for a moment, just enjoying the cool fresh breeze, the droplets of rain running down my shoulders and arms, racing to jump off the ends of my fingertips to dive towards the dry earth below… Snowy seemed quit happy to come inside, finishing his bowl of food in just a few giant gulps… I think he was excited not because of the rain and his getting wet, but in knowing Saxy often doesn’t finish her bowl of food and he might be able to gain an extra bite or two- he’s turning into a little (120 pounds) fatty ball of white fur…

So I sat down, taking a look at the groups of text and images in browser windows before me in one window- Facebook… Laughing for a few moments at some of my friend’s statements, reading some of politics from one old friend that tend to rub me the wrong way, enjoying the Artwork some of my Artists friends have posted, then I noticed something my Mom had posted in the comments of one of my posts from yesterday…

What I read brought a tear to my eye and sadness deep inside, it’s raining now in my heart… But I also wanted to share this…

My Mom’s Facebook Post

My Mom has been fighting cancer now for a little over two years, the doctors saying they had caught it early and chemo would work… 3 months ago, the scan showed they where right, the tumors had gotten smaller and they felt that they where now just scar tissue… Then about a month ago, she was experiencing major headaches and they found the cancer had spread to her brain in two locations… She has just finished 15 doses of radiation and is now waiting for the MRI in a couple weeks to see what step to take next- laser surgery and maybe more chemo…

Over the past month you may have noticed I haven’t been posting as often as I had been… This isn’t just because I am in the process of reopening my studio and starting a 2nd business- though that is part of the reason… I am going through some major family matters and I would like to apologize for my being kind of “Cold” or very “Business Minded”… I am trying to turn the negative energy of worry and sadness into positive energy- filling those sleepless nights with learning and executing the needed steps for reopening my studio… I will say, it is a major challenge to dig deep and find the  abundance of artistic inspiration and creativity that normally is overflowing, as if the well seems to be drying up and I need to dig deeper…

Outside the soft sound of raindrops seem to echo this sadness that seems to flood my heart… But also happiness, as my Mom is right- with all the doctors are doing, “At least I will be”…

The tears of worry and sadness still fill me within; it’s raining in my heart even though I try to smile…

**If you’re a friend of mine online, feel free to give my Mom a follow, drop her a note… If you have a story to tell, be it of a friend, a family member or even maybe something good you might want to say about myself or my sister Wendy- it would mean a lot…

You can locate her Facebook profile name here- Neenah Kromer- http://www.facebook.com/#!/nkromer1

Thank you…

Charles McL. Taggart II

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