it started with a wink...

Some days are like most. Routine. Slight variations on a theme.
You never know when something simple will impact you in a way that never seemed possible. A tiny pebble of a day creating vast ripples in a life of ordinary.

Two years ago, today, I received an email that would change the course of my life, forever. Or more aptly, the course had already been set, I just did not see the turn coming. A butterfly effect enacted by a wink.

In my endeavor for companionship I had received a few emails of this nature. Each time I would receive an email like this, my future would flash before my eyes. Curious if this would be "The One". "This is how it started." "Could it be?" And once the flash was over, the wall of "forming a response" would jolt to the foreground. Followed by the process of investigation. Reading her profile. Rereading her profile. Rerereading her profile. Looking through all of her pictures. Rereading her profile. Looking through all of her pictures looking for any type of context clue that might reveal itself. Rereading her profile. Opening an email form to send a response. Closing window. Rereading. Pictures. Mouse hovering over "reply".  Riffling through cheesy responses in my head. Writing. Deleting. Editing. Rewriting. Another future flash. hope. doubt. anticipation. anxiety. Unable to sit still long enough to write a response.
Just hit send.
Just hit send.
Slight edit.
Just hit send.


Joy, fear, excitement, curiosity, and anxiety all coagulated into a single mouse click.
Rereading the email. Rereading her profile. Rereading my profile.
Check email.
Just walk away.
It is an interesting blend of being so excited about the possibility and trying to keep in mind that it's only an email to a woman 150 miles away that I have never met. It could pan out to be nothing more than a single interaction. OR it could be the single most important interaction in the history of everdom. The battle of excitement and realism. Do people really find meaningful relationships this way?

Flash forward:
First Response.
First Phone Call.
First Date.
First Touch of her skin.
First Sunset.
Falling in love, with Los Banos?
First Kiss.
First Proposal.
First Ring.
First Wedding.
First Forever.

I could never have imagined that I would be sitting here and looking back on so many wonderful memories from the last two years. It has been a blessing and a joy to be able to get to know such an amazing person. Still rereading: but now a face and stories...our story. And looking through pictures...our pictures. A woman who makes me know love in a way that I never thought possible. To know and to be known.
To think, it all started with a wink.


As I visited the ocean tonight I stood and watched the waves swirling around the rocks. I reflected on  entering a season of large changes. In the next few weeks I will pack all of my belongings and leave the county that I have spent the last ten years. It is strange to think that I will move away from the coast that I have become accustomed to visiting so easily and often take for granted. So much beauty just a short drive away.
I will pack up an office and leave a place I have worked at for the better part of the last nine years and say, "see you later" to many friends that have become like family. I will head east and start a new job, in a new city and most excitedly enter a new season of life; marriage.
So with great excitement I enter this new season of life. There is so much to look forward to: being closer to the woman whom I love so much, starting a new job, meeting new people and of course being closer to Yosemite, a wonderful source of beauty. There are also many things I will miss. And so on this night, likely one of my few remaining opportunities for a casual impromptu visit to the ocean, I decided to stop at one of the turnouts I had never been to before. I parked and walked down the short trail, dancing around the scattered patches of poison oak. Reminiscing about the time I wandered down a trail in shorts and got poison oak up and down my legs and on my face so that my eye was swollen half shut and had to have two shots before the symptoms subsided.
I thought about the many times I had stood next to the ocean waiting for the light to be right to take pictures. Reminding myself to always step back and be present in the moment. A picture can never fully capture the moment and so I try and be mindful of being present knowing that life is not just about seeing the moment but about taking time to feel it.
And so I endeavor in all of these changes to be present. To remind myself that the journey is exciting and I need to take moments just to take in everything around me. I am thankful for all that I have and grateful for the experiences life has brought me so far and look forward to the adventures that lay ahead.

One year

Little did I know that a moment of boldness had set a series of events into place. All seemingly simple at first blush, but incomprehensibly intricate when viewed in hindsight. Moments woven into a tapestry of experience amongst tiny turns, twists and chances. Curiously working their way into something special.
It started with a wink and a wait. Then a note, followed by curiosity. Brief notes, comments, witty remarks, and attempts at jokes. Short notes grew into letters and letters grew into long distance conversation. Something developing, waiting for a chance to be discovered.
One year ago...
I awoke with excitement, anticipation and a bit of nerves. I ate breakfast, got dressed and headed off to church, though that may not have been at the front of my mind at the time. My mind was a few hours ahead dwelling and scheming over what the rest of the day might mind flashing between possible variations and outcomes. Then prayer for discernment, surrender and boldness.
Then a short butterfly filled drive for the meeting. The moment of truth. Which preconceived plan would be the one that materialized? Was there possibly an alternate story?
That first moment in the Best Western parking lot, an already hyper-active heart leapt out of my chest and into my throat.
More beautiful than any of the pictures. A beautiful smile. A good christian side hug.
I had to jump start my brain with simple directions:
1. Words.
2. Phrases.
3. Sentences.
4. Don't screw this up.
5. Repeat.
My rush of joy, excitement and nerves quickly transferred into calmness, comfort and familiarity. Words, phrases and sentences growing into paragraphs and conversations. Moments growing into minutes then hours, days, weeks, months and a year.
A year filled with moments of joy and adventure. A year of discovery and revealing. A year of being seen for who I am. For being accepted for who I am without expectation and being inspired to be so much more.
A moment of boldness transformed into a year of joy.
and then...

Inpiration: Waterfall Wednesday

I have a great love for running water and these are a few images that I really liked. Hopefully, I can visit more spots like these and grab some pictures of my own.

Punchbowl Mist
Still Creek Autumn

the digital camera

Inventor Portrait: Steven Sasson from David Friedman on Vimeo.

It is interesting to me where ideas come from, how they come into existence and how they are dispersed into culture. Thinking about where cameras were before this and where cameras are now and all the little steps in between in order for them to be what they are today is intriguing. As are the strategies used to make them accessible, relateable and palatable to consumers.


I find myself working in the digital realm for so much of my day and life. Sometimes it is refreshing to just go back to the old analog way of creating. No matter how fancy things get there will always be a connection for me with pencil and paper. The feel of the pencil against paper, the smell, the texture, the mess, the feel. A connection to the roots to discovery. I wonder about people who never started this way. What connection to they have to paper and pencil?

Unreal boundaries

I have often found myself in situations like this where I have placed boundaries or obstacles when in fact none existed. I have a tendency to over think things, trying to see things from every angle before I will make a move.  Uncertainty can cause paralysis, not because of what is there, but because of what my mind thinks is there. Sometimes it is helpful to assess the situation objectively and rationally in order to realize what the truth is.

Taking risks and Making Dreams

 I came across this video and became intrigued by it for a couple of reasons. I liked it because it shows two ways to make a dream come true. My intial thought was in regards to the young piano player taking the risk to ask the tough question necessary for his dream to come true. It takes guts to ask a musical legend if you can accompany him.
I also liked it becasue there was the other side of the dream. Mr. Joel had a choice to make. It would have ben easy for him to say no, to dismiss the question, to dismiss the dream. He had obviously been performing for some time and the Q&A was intended to be a break. He could have said "no" and most people would have understood why he declined the request.
Mr. Joel decided to go another way. He chose to make a dream come true. It wasn't that hard for him. He has already sang that song countless times. He didn't know the skill level of the young musician but he took a small risk to yield a huge reward for both the young musician and the audience.
I think it points to the idea that you can tell someone how to pursue their dreams or you can make them come true. In light of his comment about how to become a horn player at the end of the video, earlier someone had asked how they could make it in the music industry.  You can ask for advice countless times and still be in the same place that you were when you started. Dreams don't come true while you are sitting around dreaming. Dreams take action and require risk.
Who knows how many times the young musician had asked those more advanced to fulfill a similar dream. Even if you hear no countless times it only takes one, "yes" for it to come true.

I think the take away, for me at least, is this:
Pursue your dreams. Take opportunities to make dreams come true.

Often we don't feel worthy or experienced enough to be able to do something like that. The truth is, if someone asks you for help it means they see something in you that they can grow from. Although it may not seem like a big or challenging thing for you to do. It can make a huge impact on another person.

a persistent sea

a persistent sea from daniel vangerpen on Vimeo.

waves crashing
water churns
at it edges
the great expanse yearns
for something a little further
just out of reach
white noise
and white spray
calling in rythmic retort
striving all this way
but coming up short
a boundless sea
meeting it's boundries
yet keeps persisting
always relenting


As one year comes to a close, another begins.
Some opportunites missed, some new risks taken.
Some questions answered, some left to be asked.
Each day holds its own interest within the details.
As year changes into year it prompts a look at the grander scope of things.
Another year older, more mature(maybe)
new experiences
new acquaintences
new relationships
new adventures.

A new provides new opportunities, chances and challenges to face.
Hopefully another year makes me older and bolder.

Cheers, to new experiences.
Go make it a good one.

Making a mountain

Each year as we were constructing the sets for Streets of Bethlehem we talked about designing a new mountain but never seemed to get it done. So last year, on my flight back to South Dakota, I decided that I needed to strike while the iron is hot and quickly sketched out an idea for the new set. It was rough but it was down on paper.
Over the year it began to take more shape, through discussions, meetings and plans. Then the time came to start building and painting. It is always exciting to see ideas manifested into something you can see, touch and walk around. It especially exciting when it is something of this magnitude. Also the process of problem sloving to make and sketch into a functional apparatus.
It was fun to see the team building the structure in real life and then to see everyone walk through the event. Knowing that it was part of telling the story of Christ's birth adds an extra bonus.

Here is a timelapse of the mountain being painted. You can see some of the construction still taking place as well.

Streets of Bethlehem 2012: Mountain Painting Timelapse from daniel vangerpen on Vimeo.

 Rori Jensen contacted me a while back to complete a logo for her blossoming business. She has an etsy shop where she sells unique handmade creations constructed from new and repurposed materials. She wanted a design that reflected both her work and her studio.

A Canon 7D short...POTS the musical from gnarly bay productions, Inc. on Vimeo.

Growing up I always had a fascination with stop motion videos. I guess I still do today. My favorite part of Seasame Street was "Tiny little super guy", the guy in the glass. As a lover of process, it was intriguing to think about how these things were made. I guess as a child I liked the idea of the inanimate coming alive, like toys were real and could tell a story.

Christmas time is here again. Spent part of the day today decorating the sanctuary for the Christmas season. With the help of Samantha (and a little from Randy) We got the lights and trees up. Each year I try to have some new element. This year I brought in some paper lanterns and suspended them in the middle of the wreaths which creates a nice effect.

I got preoccupied making some awesome stuff with/for some awesome people over the weekend so cr8tober fell a little behind. But today there are two sketches on one page so maybe that makes up for some lost time.

I pulled out the lights to do a little to take another shot at light orbs. I still need some practice to get better circles but it was fun to play with the lights.

I heard this quote as part of a business marketing workshop and thought it would be good to have a reminder keep making things and sending them out into the world instead of waiting until they reach unobtainable perfection. As an artist this can be very challenging at times.