Sunday, October 31, 2010

Creative Saturday: Inspirations

Inspiration can come from anywhere, at anytime. Sometimes, inspiration is found close to home and other times it can be found in far flung places across the globe. Often, where Lita and I are concerned, the combination of being together and a bookstore usually leads us down a path strewn with creative ideas and little inspirations that tug at our sleeves, begging to be realized.

We met in the morning and headed out to our first bookstore. We found inspiration before we even stepped a foot into the store. Right outside was a small photo booth with black curtains that enticed us to climb in and be silly.
Approaching the bookstore, we are like two wide-eyed children outside a candy shoppe, drooling with delight over all the bright colored goodies stacked on the shelves. What will we find? Or more correctly, what will find us?  We have a method to our madness...usually we hit up the magazine section first. Looking for goodies in the Computer, Photography, Craft and Art sections. Our most favorite magazines for inspiration are the ones by Stampington & Company including Digital Studios, Somerset Life, Somerset Studio, Art Journaling and Artful Blogger to name a few. Just browse a few pages of any one of these magazines and I guarantee you will be rushing home with a head full of creative ideas. Today Lita and I both picked up the new Somerset Life. From the pages, we each picked a project that we would like as our Christmas gift. Lita will make the one I picked and I'll make the one she picked. We will interpret the project in our own way and at Christmas, we will exchange them as our gifts to each other. What fun!

Our lunch today was another place to gather inspiration. We chatted about our ideas, talked about our recent creative projects. Even the tables, dressed to perfection gave inspiration. I even took pics of the bathroom wall, made up of tiny little marble rectangles.

After lunch, we headed to our second bookstore, Barnes and Noble. We found a bonanza of new books in the Arts and Crafts section. While browsing this section, I found 4 very strange books stuck together, stashed among the books on journaling and mixed media:
What kind of personality was carrying these four books around? Why did they suddenly stash them in the Arts & Crafts section? What the hell were they doing in that section anyways? Are they still roaming around the store? Watching us? Seeing what we would do when we came across them? Probably didn't expect me to lay them all out and take a picture! It was just too interesting to resist! After the picture taking, I hurriedly stashed them back into the piles of craft books. Needless to say, it gave us quite the belly laugh!

Surprisingly, there were a few new books in the Photography section which has inspired us to make plans for an upcoming Photo Safari which I'm already so excited for! And, I've been inspired to do a photo series this picture everyday of the same thing...I think I'm going to do my morning coffee. I'll post the whole series at the end of the week. Who knows what that will lead to...maybe a new inspiration will come from the coffee series. Ya just never know!
My inspirational haul included: The Crafter's Devotional which is full of 365 days of tips, tricks and techniques for unlocking the creative spirit. I haven't decided if I will start this book right away or wait until January 1st and make the book my 2011 project. The Big-Ass Book of Crafts I got this mainly for some of the photography projects but also just because the name makes me giggle. inner Excavation is subtitled Exploring Your Self through Photography, Poetry and Mixed Media. Three of my favorite things! Oh, I had to have!
Book + Art is about handcrafting artist's books. Something I've not done but find fascinating. I also picked up a Victorian Designs clip art book. This has a CD that includes all these great copy-right free images that I will be using via Photoshop. I love all the Dover clip art books! And, finally the Somerset Life magazine mentioned above.

We also found inspiration at a huge costume store that opened near my house. It's only open for Halloween and will pack up and be gone by next week. When we create our digital art in Photoshop one of the things that always frustrates us is trying to change hair color, especially Lita's dark hair to blonde. We were digging on all the wigs we found in the store:
Lita as a blonde, with lots and lots of curls!

This one is called "Trailer Park Trophy Wife Wig"
Are you kidding me? Hilarious!

Laura as a brunette goddess, purchased for an upcoming photo shoot with Perseus. :)

I hope you, dear reader, will spend some time in a bookstore or library near you. Browse the books, feel the paper, marvel at the covers. I promise you will find some inspiration hidden there, on the shelves, between the pages. 

If minds are truly alive they will seek out books, for books are the human race recounting its memorable experiences, confronting its problems, searching for solutions, drawing the blueprints of it futures.- Harry A. Overstreet

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Week in Photography & Art

It was a busy week for both Photography and Art!


I have now been published locally, nationally and internationally!
This week I received my copy of Explore Your Somerset Routes from the lovely Natalie who works for the Somerset Heritage Center in Great Britain and puts together their annual guidebook. My image of The Chalice Well in Glastonbury is featured in the guidebook and now millions of travelers will see it as they browse through and plan their holiday!
Since I'm a Anglophile in my heart (I have English ancestors after all!), I'm honored to be included!

Somerset holds a special place in my heart as I spent nearly a week there with my mother during one of my birthdays, which happens to be exactly on the Spring Equinox. I was in Glastonbury and climbed the Tor which has many, many magnetic lay lines running through it. I spent about half an hour alone at the top. Just me, the wind and the incredible amount of energy that surrounds it. It really was a magical time. We stayed in Wells and in addition to Glastonbury, we also toured Cheddar and Wookey Hole, which to my delight we had all to ourselves! If you would like to see all my images from Somerset, click here to be taken to my Flickr set.

This week I had a very special outing to Butterfly World to capture a commissioned image. It was a successful trip and I came home with the perfect capture for the client. I can't share the image quite yet as the client will be giving them as Christmas gifts but as soon as I'm given the okay, I will be making the image available as note cards and will be sure to post it here too! Until then, enjoy this one taken during the outing. I love the colors. And the quote is so true, although I don't get a "true" fall down here.

Autumn is second Spring where every leaf is a flower.
~Albert Camus~

 It was a great week for art too. I almost managed to squeeze art into every day this week. I also enjoyed a Creative Saturday with Martina (Lita took some down time but will be seeing her next weekend for a photo outing) where she worked on a beautiful acrylic painting and I began a large mixed media piece about the Spirit of Adventure.  Here are some of the artful things from this week:
The Elfin Dance

Livin' in a Fishbowl 

This is a Zentangle. Who knew there was an actual word for this art form I've been doing since I was a kid! This is what I do when I want to relax but need to have a pen in my hand at the same time. There is no thinking with this kind of drawing. It's doodling in a mediative state. In other words, very relaxing. I even discovered that they have books for learning how to Zentangle. I had no idea these even existed before this week. I was browsing art books on Amazon and the cover caught my eye. I've put them on my wish list. Of course now I must have one, or two. :)

Mandrake Root
Using re-purposed jars (the one in the pic used to be an Artichoke jar), I made up several of these Harry Potter themed Potion jars. I made a few today for a friend and the one above will be available in my Etsy store just in time for Halloween or the opening next month of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (so excited!) Thanks to Anna at Frosted Petunias for the idea. It's another great way to reduce my contribution to the landfill. :) 

Martina's piece in progress

The colors on Martina's palette 

I now am offering LE Artist Cards of some of my photography and art. You can visit my store at ArtCardsWanted to purchase one or more! Each is numbered, signed and come in a protective sleeve.

This upcoming week I hope to finish the mixed media piece and have a photo outing to catch some Halloween spooks. I will also be posting some new Halloween stock this week up on my Deviant Art site. Thanks for visiting and I hope you all have a wonderfully creative week!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Exploration #10: One Thing

Finally found some time to continue onward with my "How to Be An Explorer of the World" tasks.

Exploration #10: One Thing
Choose an everyday object. This can be something you find on the street or something you have. Look at the top half of the object for fifteen minutes. Record everything you see there in detail. Then do the same for the bottom half. The longer you look the more you will see.

I chose my Native American Spirit Basket, a gift from my husband and made by my aunt, a Southwestern Artist. Over the years I have filled my basket with things I've found in the natural world such as pine cones, stones, shells, etc.  Staring at an object for a total of thirty minutes was really hard on my ADD and I did get distracted by Katie Couric and Jay Leno. However, this is what I discovered while participating in this task. 

For the top half:
There is leather, light in color, twisted and wrapped around the handle. Yucca pods, that I found on Pawnee Rock are naturally full of light and shade and have a texture that looks like it was done with a graphite pencil.

The main attraction of the basket are the deer antlers. I tend to call them "horns". The texture runs vertical and is smooth. One of the points is super sharp, the other blunt probably from too much head butting. :)
The positioning of the horns on the basket makes me think of the Texas Longhorns "Hook 'Em Horns".

Most of the items on the top half are all natural but I do have a man-made metal trinket on one of the horns that says "Bless This House". My cat has just discovered that I have brought the basket down to her level and she is now furiously sniffing at it. Intrigued mostly by the large Bird of Prey feather I recently found in my yard, I have to repeatedly shoo her away during my observations.

There is a string of shells that look to be tiny Atlantic Sundials. The shells are tied around the handle in a criss-cross manner. Turquoise beads dangle from leather fringe.

Hanging from one of the horns is a velvet bag full of various healing stones collected over the last 25 years. I'm sure there is a Lapis Luzuli  in the bag as that is my favorite. Perhaps because it is an intense blue color or maybe subconsciously I am drawn to it because it was used to make Ultramarine in paint. An artists stone.

For the bottom half:
The basket is weaved with thick twigs in various tones. Light brown rabbit fur goes all the way around the basket and there is a light-colored piece of fringed leather that hangs off to one side and the fringe here is cut in different lengths.

An arrowhead is tied to the basket and hangs with three different colored beads in different sizes. Everything from the top to the bottom is tied mostly with deer sinew. I also have a dream catcher weaved with deer sinew. It's an amazingly strong natural material.

Hanging on the other side is a vertebrae of an animal, what kind I am not sure of but it's a fairly good size. A  long fang is tied with leather and four beads. It looks like it could be from a coyote. Hanging down from a horn is a two tone leather talisman that I made myself years ago. It's filled with stones for love and has a private saying for my husband written on the inside leather.

The story of the spirit basket is typed on parchment with deckled edges and is tied on the right side.
It reads:
Fill this basket with your own special treasures, and the good spirits will flow through your home upwards through the upturned antlers, and trickle down the fur and leather fringes to welcome and send warm wishes to all who enter there.

I like means that if you come to visit, you will have warm wishes bestowed upon you. :)
This was a fun task. It was great to really delve into the Spirit Basket once again and marvel at all of the integral pieces. I'm looking forward to the next task as well and hope to get back on a roll with doing them frequently. Heck, I've only got 48 more to go! *sigh* 

"If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all."
~John Cage

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Muggle's Review of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts

Sun Flare Over Hogwarts

With the magical community finally coming out of the broom closet and admitting that wizards and witches exist, it was only a matter of time until the Ministry of Magic figured out a way to reach into our muggle pockets and extract some coin to deposit in Gringotts. Now open for muggle tours, the most famous of the Wizarding Schools, Hogwarts looms over the interesting and kooky village of Hogsmeade.

The Hogwarts Express
 ready to leave Hogsmeade for arrival at 
London's Kings Cross Station and platform 9 3/4

Being a huge fan of J.K. Rowling's books and of the movies, I was filled with excitement and anticipation for my first visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Approaching the entrance to Hogsmeade, I got a bit teary-eyed. I imagine it would feel the same if I ever get to visit Hobbiton in New Zealand. There are some stories you connect to more than others. 

I went on a Friday, in fall, while school was in session and it was still packed with muggles, all trying to get a picture of the Hogwarts Express, an entry into Ollivander's, or a mug of Butterbeer. It was madness. Most of the stores were no bigger than my bedroom and Ollivander's is the size of my closet. But sometimes, good things come in small packages!

Rowling created this amazing world, filled with amazing characters, amazing details. I can't help but wonder what this world would be like if the Disney Company would have had the rights to build the park. There is so much more that could have been done if it was a separate park instead of just a back corner of Universal Islands of Adventure. There could have been a crazy elevator ride into the Ministry of Magic, a Forbidden Forest to walk, or ride through, perhaps in Mr. Weasley's flying car. You could stroll down Privett Drive and see the Dursley's stuffing themselves through their living room window. You could relax away from the crowds in one of the four common rooms, or maybe take in a potions class in the dungeon with Professor Snape. Maybe you could attend Sir Nicholas' Death Day Party. Where is Doby or Winkie?
Unfortunately, no where to be found...nor did they find any look-a-likes of the main characters to wander the park. I did enjoy the Hogwarts Choir and seeing the ladies of Beauxbaton and the lads of Durmstrang.
Something Wicked This Way Comes
The Hogwarts Choir and the Singing Frogs

The ladies of Beauxbaton and the lads of Durmstrang

Disney would have had more real estate to work with and it would have been less expensive for the muggle.
Let's face it, Universal charges more for everything. Tickets are higher and you even have to pay extra to get an Express Pass (to skip the lines) which DOES NOT include the Hogwarts Castle ride,Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in the Harry Potter Wizarding World. The cost of food and drink is higher and the souvenirs...lordy be! $50 for the Maurader's Map? 
Okay, I'm a sucker...I had to have one. Being an artist, I couldn't help but marvel over the yummy detail.
Muggle tip: The Express Pass is only worth it if you are planning on riding all the rides in the park and it's only good for one time on each ride. It does not include Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

The village of Hogsmeade is pretty darn cool but it's hard to move inside the stores. You feel like a sardine stuffed in a tin can. All you want to do once you get into one, is get the heck out. You have to wait in a long line to get into Ollivander's (part of Dervish and Banges) which as I mentioned earlier, is very very small. The wand that "chooses" you is based on your birth date so there are only a few different ones to go along with the character wands. Which, at $28.95, are pretty reasonably priced. Muggle tip: if you really want a wand, skip the line at Ollivanders and get a character wand from a small stand near the castle

Of course this small slice of Harry's world is better than not having one at all.  And there were some really great things about it. Including the ride at the castle and all the details within it...Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey alone is worth the price of the ticket. If you only go on one ride, this is the one to do. You go through Hogwarts in a virtual broom ride that is exciting and chaotic. It's really cool walking into the moving Portrait Gallery, to almost get walloped by the Womping Willow or to get the air sucked out of you by a Dementor. Muggle tip: Just walk right though Hogsmeade (try not to get distracted) and get to the castle first thing in the morning to do the ride. The lines just get longer and longer throughout the day. You can always come back and hang out in Hogsmeade later.

The Hog's head Pub and The Three Broomsticks are both well done. Both have plenty of room for the hoards of hungry muggles. I was absolutely loving all the painstaking detail in Hogsmeade.
The Hog's Head Pub Sign

Entrance into the Three Broomsticks
A Fine Eating Establishment

Of course, every muggle that visits Hogsmeade should try the Butterbeer, an overly-sweet fizzy drink with a delicious foam on top. The outside line for the Butterbeer was ridiculously long. Muggle tip: skip standing in line at the Butterbeer keg and instead order your butterbeer with lunch inside The Three Broomsticks. The drink will be too sweet for most muggles, so save some money by getting only one mug and a bunch of straws and just share it with your family and friends. It costs extra to get it in a souvenir mug so be sure to ask for one as it is not automatically assumed that's what you want.
A keg of Butterbeer

The food at The Three Broomsticks is delightfully British. I felt right at home ordering Fish and Chips and Shepard's Pie. They have vegetarian options as well. The grilled corn on the cob looked delicious.

Despite of the crowds and the size of the stores, I still enjoyed going in and seeing what kind of magical items I could find. I loved Dervish and Banges, which is where I got my outrageously priced Maurader's Map. It has an assortment of items from the World of Harry Potter including Quidditch gear and various clothing articles, all in the theme of the four houses of Hogwarts. There are details in store decorations inside as well as outside..look around, take it all in, enjoy it. 
I solemnly swear that I am up to no good...

Honeydukes and Junko's Joke Shop share a space and they are filled with tons of goodies from the books. I got a box of Bertie Bott's Every Flavored Beans and a Chocolate Frog which comes with a collectible wizard card! Yay!  It seemed that the Pygmy Puff's were the most popular item at Junko's. Many a tiny muggle and wizard walked out of there with the newly adopted puff. 

One of the least expensive things to do is to buy a postcard or two from the shop, have a lovely lady stamp it with a "Hogsmeade Owl Post" and mail it off to your other muggle friends. The Owl Post store front is filled with wrapped packages, letters and scrolls, ready to be delivered by the owls in the Olwery.

The store front windows are all filled with awesome this crying Mandrake Root:

I will definitely be going back for future visits. I would love to slowly roam around Hogsmeade without the crowds but I don't think there will ever be a time where it won't be filled with muggles. Loyal fans will continue to flock to get their Hogwarts fix and more will be made as upcoming generations discover the astonishing world of Harry Potter through the books and movies.  The imagination is a wonderful thing and J.K. Rowling's is exquisite. I wish everyone in the world believed in fairytales. It would be a much nicer world to live in. I hope you enjoyed the images and this review of Harry Potter's Wizarding World. For now I'm off to my potions class...
Mischief Managed...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Carry Your Childhood With You

If you carry your childhood with you,
you never become older.
~Tom Stoddard, British Playwright

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Monday Night Football

Images from the ESPN Monday Night Football game of New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins.
The first half was great. The second half....not-so-much. It ended up being a painful rout by the Pats.
If I had stayed home and watched it on TV, I could have switched the channel and avoided the painful reality. :)

These were my favorite shots from the night. Enjoy!

 Sun Life in HDR

Prohibited Items: New England Fans
Notice the sign? ;)

Retro Fan

A happy Charlie, obviously snapped BEFORE the game

Sideline Boys

 #92 John Denney

Tom Brady and his crew...I'm still pissed they have Wes Welker. :(

Carpenter Kicks

Cheering for a Cure.  It was a pink-themed night for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Little Fan

And my most favorite shot of the night:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Art & Faeries...Do YOU Believe?

It was a good week for finding time for art! I finished two more pages for the Sketchbook Project 2011 my theme is "Below the Surface".


The inspiration for this page came from the genealogy research I have done this year.  It's been a wonderful process discovering just who and where I come from. The tree, in it's earliest stages of bloom is a Spring tree and represents my birth on the Spring Equinox. There are female shapes to the tree. My name symbolizes the emergence of the true self, carved from the tough exterior. My roots go deep and far. English is the culture I am most comfortable with so it is held close, comforted by a strong root. The materials used on this one were pen, ink, colored pencils and watercolor.

This week my tendinitis has been flaring up so I've had to limit my computer time, thus very little time for digital art or photo processing. I did manage to create an abstract image this week which will be featured on note cards and mouse pads and will be up for sale on Zazzle, with or without text:
The Well of Lost Colors
This image was created by laying in colors in order of the color wheel on textured canvas. Then it was taken into Photoshop to create the abstract whirlpool. The inspiration is from one of my favorite books "The Well of Lost Plots" by Jasper Fforde. Since it's been a week of playing with paint and color, I imagined being sucked into a world where all the colors live. :)

I posted two photos on Flickr this week, both which I think would make great art subjects:

Carmyle Cottage, Scottish Highlands

Enchanted Sunflowers

With the tendinitis limiting my time on the computer, more time was available for art. It doesn't bother my wrist or elbow to paint or draw. But, holding my camera and being on the computer...ah, painful! So, this week I worked mostly on sketching and watercolor:
Book Fae
From my watercolor journal

Tuscan Door
This was a lesson done from Karlyn Holman's book "Watercolor, the Spirit of Spontaneity".
This book is amazing. Watercolor is the medium I have had the most trouble with but her tips and techniques have made me much more comfortable with it. I still have the same issues (control and patience) but am definitely improving with the help of this book. I highly recommend it!

Taking what I learned from this one lesson, I began a series on Water Sprites. The first one, shown here "in progress" is the Blue-Ringed Water Fairy. I'm hoping to finish her this week. I still must paint her body and wings, add in the sea details such as a coral reef and some tiny fishies. ;)
Blue-Ringed Water Fairy (In Progress)

Speaking of faeries...I have begun to notice faerie activity in my Butterfly Garden. So, I decided to build them a faerie house and today took a walk through the neighborhood to gather natural supplies for their new home. I'm sure I spotted two little faeries following me. I haven't had faeries in my yard since Hurricane Wilma but prior to that, I did manage to see a few and even caught some in this image of mushrooms growing in my garden, taken in 2007:
Click on it to enlarge it. Do you see them? Do YOU believe in Faeries??
I will keep you all posted with updates and pictures of the faerie house. Hopefully, they will be so grateful they will let me take a few pictures of them...stay tuned. :)

There will be little time for art this first week in October. It will be a week of photography outings. I'll be taking a lot of Aleve with me. :)