Monday, June 28, 2010

Exploration #3: Light Vision

Lita and I continued on with our Exploration challenges.  #3 had two options and I chose Light Vision:

Pay attention to light patterns, reflections and projections.  Consider that they are everywhere.  Document them.

Being a photographer, light is something I'm always looking for and paying attention to.  So although it wasn't very challenging, it was a great reminder that light reflections, shadows and patterns are everywhere.  Here are some examples I captured this week:

Late afternoon sun casting light patterns through the window onto the wood floor.

Late morning sun casting reflections and strange colored streaks out of the clouds

Early morning sun casting shadows from a vintage fork.

Here are some of my past favorite captures of light patterns, reflections and shadows:

Light pattern during High Tea at the Ritz in London

Winter Reflections

Shadow Cat

Light is everywhere. We wake up with it, we eat dinner by it, it shines a light through our bedroom window at night. It grows our food and warms our bodies. Light is part of us. 
May your path always have light,

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

As if I needed another project, I signed up for The Sketchbook Project today!  I've chosen the theme of "Under the Surface".  My mind is already spewing out ideas!
I've done a Moleskine journal in the past but to participate with a whole world of creatives and have it being looked through by thousands of people was appealing to me. I found this project through my friend Phoebe who has also signed up and chosen the theme of "Storybook".
I will, of course, blog my progress as I fill up each page.
I'm hoping more of my friends choose to sign up too (are you listening Missy, Lita and Doug?)  There is always room for one more creative project in our lives! :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Exploration #2: Experience Collection

"Every experience is unrepeatable" -Italo Calvino

For Exploration #2 we were instructed to make a list of things that you notice on your travels or experiences you have. They could be very brief notes including location, time, date, etc. Every moment is an experience that is unrepeatable. While doing this task, I realized that most of the small experiences, those in-between moments, are lost from memory by the larger experiences and events of each day. This task reminded me to be more aware of those in-between moments where the most profound realizations of the journey in life often lay.
Since every moment is an experience and we then have hundreds each day, I chose to focus on what I felt or saw while experiencing one of those fleeting in-between moments. I decided to do it for five days starting on Wednesday and ending on Sunday.

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
Location: My Butterfly Garden
Time: 10:30am

The butterfly garden was the busiest I had seen it. Giant Swallowtails, Sulphurs, Gulf Frittilaries and Zebra Longwings all fluttering about. I went out with my new D90 in hand, in order to use the video for the first time and capture some in flight. While out there, I felt peaceful and I also noticed how green it was in the garden. Most of the Spring blooms have gone now and all that is left are the leaves of each plant, bush and tree. Leaving a canvas of green in different shapes and sizes. This was my in-between moment, noticing the dozens of various leaves, the patterns they create and the variety of tones on each stem. If I wasn't doing this task, I would not have noticed the leaves but would have been solely focused on the butterflies.

Thursday, June 17th, 2010
Location: My neighborhood
Time: 9:30am
I decided to go for a run this morning. It was already super hot and humid.  The thunderheads were building up quickly. I was aware of the strong smell of cut grass as I ran and how bright everything was: fluffy white clouds, white blinding sun that bounced off the concrete buildings, roads and sidewalks. The in-between moment came while I was running. That extreme sense of feeling nauseas and completely drained of energy thanks to the heat and humidity. Because I was keeping the task at the forefront of my mind and determine to notice and experience everything during the run, I became hyper-aware of how ill I felt which made the last two miles nearly unbearable. Sometimes, I think those fleeting in-between moments are experiences we ought to not be aware of.

Friday, June 18th, 2010
Location: My swimming pool
Time: 2:30pm
I spent some time in the pool today. After doing a few laps and trying to burn off the previous evenings dinner of Mexican food from Chipolte, I found myself floating on my back staring up at the clouds. Here was that small, special moment in between a day of grocery shopping, running errands and gardening. As I floated, I noticed how large the clouds were, interspersed along the blue canvas of sky.
The feel of the water on my skin and the smell of the chlorine gave me a strong sense of nostalgia, remembering the summers spent swimming in my grandmother's above ground pool and out in the murky lake waters of the Sand Pit.  A strong sense of love of summer, always my favorite season. Remembering my days of being taught to water ski by my Uncle Pat, shooting off fireworks with my cousins, the smell of my mom's suntan concoction of baby oil and coffee grounds. Long summer vacations spent travelling in a camper and staying at KOA campgrounds where immediately upon arriving, myself and my siblings would head off to the pool and become like fish until we were pruned up and the sun began to set.
In that moment of remembering, it felt like an out-of-body experience.  Looking up at the clouds, I really left all other thoughts behind as I traveled back in time to my childhood. It was a fleeting time, just like this moment.

Saturday, June 19th, 2010
Location: Lita's apartment
Time: All day
Today was a Creative Saturday with Lita. We were working on digital art over at her apartment. There are always great experiences and special moments when Lita and I are together. On those days when I am at her apartment, I always have a sense of calm and peace. Lita's apartment is filled with calming colors, she has a peaceful view and it's quiet. That fleeting experience of an in-between moment came while we were at Champ's having lunch. We talked about the oil spill and all of the wildlife it's affecting. I told Lita the story of Olivia, a bird-loving little girl and artist who decided to sell her drawings and paintings to help raise money to save the wildlife she loves so much.
Olivia, who was profiled on the CBS Evening News was shown walking down the beach with her mother.  She stopped, picked up a bird feather, saw that it was covered in oil and broke down in tears. As did both Lita and I when I shared the story with her. It was an experience of shared sadness that we had in that fleeting moment, in between the joys and frustrations of creating digital paintings.

Sunday, June 20th, 2010
Location: My house
Time: All Day
As I said in the beginning of this post, most of what we experience during those small, transient moments are overshadowed by the bigger events of our day. Today was just like that. I began the day running, bike riding, swimming and was cognizant of what I was feeling and experiencing during all those moments. But they were completely wiped from my mind by two big events that I would actually like to forget. Telling my Dad on Father's Day that his brother, my Uncle Melvin had a stroke and trying to save a dying stray kitten.  The only experiences I had or moment I could remember was being angry that no one else called my dad to tell him, that I had to be the one to do it and and the overwhelming sense of loss and grief of the stray kitten.  Everything else I felt or experienced earlier in the day was wiped from my memory. I won't go into details of this experience in order to spare my animal-loving readers of the images that I am now left with or the heartbreaking outcome that still leaves me feeling devastated as I write this a day later. I know that life is made up of big and small experiences, fleeting and long-lasting moments and all of them make up the journey of life. And, this task made me more aware of the small moments of life but also that there some experiences and moments, big or small, that we would rather forget.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Creative Saturday: Pinup Progress

It's Saturday! Today we had a Digital Art Day at Lita's. Lita began painting the most beautiful landscape, taken from an image she took when she visited the Northern part of the East Coast. Periodically throughout the day, we check on each other's work and I was blown away by the beauty of her piece which was rich in color and in the impressionistic style. I've already requested a print! I will post it here when she finishes it.

I was back working on the Pinup I started a few weeks ago. Here is a reminder of how far I got previously on "Peggy Sue" (She finally got a name today):
She started out as a sketch and then slowly took shape with painting of highlights and shadows:

Today, she came to life when I began laying in the colors:
There is still much to be done. I still need to work on all of her body parts, soften her face, blend all the skin tones and put in details.  I also still have to do detail work on the ropes and log as well as paint a landscaped background. While working on this today I revisited the Clipping Mask and learned how to create my own pallet of color using the Stained Glass filter. I always love when I find some new interesting technique in Photoshop! For now, I will put her aside for another day.  Future blog posts will show the continued progress and maybe, one day soon, the finished piece!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Creative Saturday: Traditional Art

Creative Saturdays with Lita include one Saturday a month for Traditional Art. This day is not about creating some masterpiece or even finishing a small work of art. It's about doing. It's about practice. It's about learning something new. Lita has always wanted to take the time to learn to draw and our Creative Saturday was a perfect day to start this new experience. She recently received a set of drawing pencils for her birthday along with a basic drawing book that I had given her. She sat to work on this beautiful fairy:
I think she may have a natural talent for the art of drawing!

Before Lita arrived that morning, I had worked a bit on my Girl with Horse painting, adding more layers of thin paint, building up the image with shadows and lights:
With this painting left to dry, I turned to watercolor only to discover I was plumb out of watercolor paper.  So, I decided to do an acrylic on canvas. I've been watching the sunflowers grow and bloom in my garden which inspired me to paint the flower of my home state of Kansas:
As usual with our Creative Saturdays, we take a break for lunch, a walk through Barnes and Noble (Lita came out with a armful of books!) and a visit to Kilwin's chocolate shop. Also, as usual, we ran out of time and didn't finish our art. But, as I said before it's not about "finishing" but "doing" and that's exactly what we did! When our paintings and drawings are finished, a future blog post will proudly display the results.
As this week begins, I look forward to our next Exploration Task and next weekends Digital Art Day at Lita's. I hope this inspires you to "just do it"...get out those paints and pencils and feed your creative soul!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Exploration #1: Right Where You Are Sitting

Lita and I are embarking on a new challenge of being "Explorers of the World". Although we both live our life as explorers of the world already, we can use a refresher course of how to see, smell, observe, collect and document the world around us. There will be fifty-eight assignments that will help us see the world in a new and exciting way. Our experiences will be blogged about, mine here and Lita's on a new blog created specifically for this challenge. Perhaps it will inspire you to follow along and also become an Explorer of the World.
So, here we go on our adventure with Exploration #1:

Right Where You Are Sitting
Write 10 things about where you are sitting right now that you hadn't noticed before when you sat down
1)  The window has peeling tint. Just another thing that needs to be upgraded. *sigh*
2)  The view would be better if I removed the window screens.
3)  The cat takes up half the desk. I never realized that before. Should have gotten a longer desk. :)
4)  The room has become cluttered. I really must take some time to declutter and get some breathing space.
5)  Out the window a lizard is perched on a bamboo stake.
6)  The sunflowers have become a bit droopy as the weather heats up. :(
7)  My project pile has gotten huge. I wish someone would invent a pause button for time.
8)  The birdbath is empty. Yesterday, a squirrel was hanging upside down while drinking from it.
9)  There is thread on the floor from my recent sewing. Need to get that up before my cat eats it!
10) The fig tree is bearing fruit! Soon, it will be full of squirrels gorging themselves.

It might have been a more interesting first assignment had I actually been sitting in the garden and not my desk when I started. But, this challenge is about being spontaneous as well as observant and I want it to be an entirely organic experience. And this is where I was sitting when the assignment came through from Lita. So, what did I get out of this first assignment? Besides the fact that the garden needs my attention, I realized that I have put a lot of things on the "back burner" which are now piling up and cluttering my life. In order to be an explorer of the world, I need to eliminate those things that keep me tied to the shoreline. I will focus on doing just that until the next challenge comes along!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Into Another Year Goes She

Sunday was the birthday of my creative soulmate, the beautiful Lita!
We celebrated by taking a quick day trip over to Marco Island. Neither of us had been before and we were excited to see what adventures we would find. Now, we usually don't go with map or plan, just get there and see what happens! We headed to the islands South Beach first and took a few shots of the beautiful white sandy beaches.
South Beach, Marco Island

Sea Oats

Although not as many shells as Sanibel, there were some nice finds like jingles, clams and cone shells.  Birthday Girl collected the nice round flat jingles to use in future crafting.

Sand Shark!!

Laughing Gull who is not laughing over the catastrophe happening in the Gulf of Mexico which is now affecting Florida's shorelines. 

Of course we had to do some shadow shots on the beach.

After a short time on South Beach we headed over to Tigertail Beach. As we were walking down the boardwalk towards the beach a guy leaving said to us "There's nothing down there to shoot". I loved Birthday Girl's response which was "it's subjective" which is true as we can always find something to shoot. We continued walking and came across a playground. Birthday Girl gets motion sickness easily so I was the one who got to fly through the air and pretend I was seven years old again!  What fun!

When we made it to Tigertail beach the first thing we saw was an Osprey who flew right over us with a catfish in his grasp and landed on a tall post. We quickly hurried over and snapped several shots of this beautiful bird of prey.
Once this raptor began drawing blood, it was time for us to move onward. We met a Londoner named Tiki Tony and he told us how to get over to the Gulf of Mexico which involved crossing the lagoon. We were a bit nervous, afraid of falling with our camera equipment but we love being adventurous so we carefully made our way over to the west side of the lagoon.
We laughed and giggled the whole way over...feeling the soft, slightly slimy seaweed under our feet.
Almost there birthday girl!  I love your adventurous spirit!

When we finally made it over to the other side we walked down a path that had tons of cute little crabs running in and out of the brush. The sound they made when they all started moving at the same time was like a stadium full of people all clicking their fingernails together.  It was quite the symphony!

The lagoons at Tigertail beach were stunning. It was a beautiful area teeming with life, like this little stretch here that had silky seaweed to hide the silvery minnows darting about:

Adding to the experience, I became one with the seaweed.
After our morning on the beaches, we had a wonderful lunch at NeNe's cafe followed up by a visit to a little chocolate shop where we met another Englishman, this one from Birmingham and where we discovered a Lita doll! It was this little plush doll that looked just like her! Of course I had to get it for the Birthday Girl and once she posts a picture of it on her blog, I will link it here so you all can see this little Lita lookalike! 

We wanted to do the trails at Rookery Bay in the afternoon but for some crazy reason they have the trails closed on the weekend. We then headed back over Alligator Ally to our local Barnes and Noble where we went a little nuts and bought magazines, a book on writing and a huge book on Pinups. Birthday girl and I are already getting inspired from it and have some digital ideas that we will be creating in the coming months. The Birthday Girl also picked up a great book called "How To Be An Explorer of the World" and it has tasks that get you more involved and in touch with the world around you.  This week we will be starting the tasks together and blogging about our explorations:

As Birthday Girl says goodbye to another year, our day together reminded us both that you can grow older without growing up. Keeping that spirit young and adventurous is important to longevity.
So, as she leaves one year behind and steps into another, she will keep her heart light and full of love and nurture her soul with creativity and child-like laughter and her loved ones will benefit from her joys! xoxo