Sunday, February 19, 2017

Painting


I use to occasionally paint for others. By paint I don't mean a landscape painting, I mean painting their bathroom, their bedroom, their living room. It isn't that I love to paint, but over the years of painting all the rooms in our houses multiple times, I have my system down to a science, and a little extra hobby money never hurt.


I went through the faux texture wall application phase, I went through the focal wall a bold color phase, I went through the colorful walls phase, and now I am settling into the simply white walls phase.


Over the past two weeks I have been doing another painting job, and this one is without pay, at least in the monetary form. But it also a painting job that brings me great joy. For the past two weeks I have been helping my daughter paint her new vintage apartment.


My beautiful girl is moving out, and most likely for the last time, with a taste of true freedom I doubt she will return. I had a moment the other day while driving to her new place when it hit that this is it and I could feel the tears well up. But I pulled myself together and said she is only ten minutes away, not like college when she was eight hours away, she can stop by any time...

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Scene & Story - January 2017


It was about this time last year that I began to become disenchanted with iPhone photography and the driving force of social media linked to iPhone photos - Instagram. I can't put my finger on one specific reason for the dissatisfaction. Two things do stand out though. First - I had grown extremely lazy with my photography. My iPhone and various apps. could do everything for me and fix almost any technical error. Second - Instagram, something that had once been a community of "my people"  had turned into one more way to prove my self-worth based on how many "likes" a photo received. I was posting to post and to get likes, not to create and that bothered me.

Over the course of the year I continued to fall off, at one point even temporarily suspending my account, I needed a break for a while. Eventually I did reinstate it, probably prompted by a class that encouraged Instagram sharing.

Some really good things have come out of this disenchantment; I use my big camera on an almost daily basis now, as opposed to my phone, I also feel my photography skills have grown with my recommitment to my dSLR. Using my Canon has also made me strengthen my Lightroom and Photoshop skills, as well as, learn some new programs like Topaz Texture Effects and Impressions. I have also rediscovered Flickr and some pretty amazing groups there.

A couple things I have missed with my iPhone: the easy portability, and apps. like Stackables, iColorama, and Brushstrokes. I will probably never return to the level of obsession I had before, but I am slowly finding a place for it in my life again.


This photo was taken with my iPhone on a cold, damp, foggy day in January at the Lake Michigan beach near my house. The day was too cold to lug my dSLR around and freeze my fingers off fiddling with dials. Seeing the potential in this shot, I did some editing in Snapseed and Stackables and created the image at the beginning of this post.

No matter the camera device or the editing software, I still love the creating.



Sunday, January 29, 2017

Altered


It has been an unusual January here in Michigan. We have had a couple of cold blasts and enough measurable snow to break out the snowblower a time or two. But for the most part the days been a dull gray with temperatures hovering in the 30's and 40's Fahrenheit. There was even a day that it reached into the 50's.

Photo Credit: Glen Huizenga
I have a gym membership for the rainy days, the snowy days and the bitter cold days, but given a choice I prefer to be outside. The need for fresh air, natural light and wide open space is irrepressible. Most of the year I am happy to walk along the beaches near my house, but in the winter, when I am craving creative visual stimulation, I hop in my car and drive to our thriving downtown.

I begin my walk in near darkness, the sidewalks illuminated by street lamps, car headlights and the lights of store window displays. It is the window displays that draw me downtown, so much creativity and imagination goes into each store's presentation of who they are. Following the holidays, my mind seems to be empty of creativity. I walk, I look, I dream, I am inspired.

Photo Credit: Glen Huizenga
There are also office buildings at the east end of our downtown, many of the offices have windows looking out onto the main street. As I walk past and the lights begin to come on, I see the photographs that adorn the desks and walls of these spaces. The smiles of children and spouses often shine bright from the desk or the shelves behind the desk, my favorites are when the family pets have their own framed portraits, this office belongs to someone I would like to know.

The walls though are the most interesting, family photographs tell a part of their story, but what about the artwork on the walls. Did they get to chose their own pieces? Or did the interior designer chose what should adorn their walls? I like to think if you have to look at it all day, you get some say in it. Judging by the variety I have seen, it seems most people get to pick their own, to me that tells another part of their story.


Some have large, matted realistic photographs of the big red lighthouse near our local beach, a much photographed icon in our town. But the pieces that catch my eye are the painted canvases; open fields with rustic barns in the distance, painterly lake shores with iconic lighthouses. I always wanted to learn to paint, lacking the patience for that, I became a photographer instead.

I have many empty walls in my own house. I have talked for years of printing and hanging my own work, and I have done some over the years. What I mostly print is realistic photographs and then frame those 8 X 10's in 11 X 14 matted frames. They have never stirred me. The few canvases I have had printed of creatively altered photographs are the ones that move me, and the bigger the better.


You can guess and assume what your preferences are, but until you actually take action you don't really know. By seeing my small 8 X 10's printed I found out I prefer bigger prints. Realistic photographs don't thrill me, creating painterly images from my photographs in Photoshop and Topaz Labs programs, that makes me happy. Taking that knowledge and the inspiration from those downtown offices, I ordered a 24 X 36 canvas of a digitally altered portion of snow fence I shot in December. For the first time in almost fourteen years in our house, we finally have something on the wall above our bed. I kept waiting to find the right thing, little did I know I just had to create it myself.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Perfectionism


Perfectionism seemed behind me, but that is only because I have become fairly good at what I do.


Last week I began something new - Art Journaling. Perfectionism returned like the nasty, caught in your throat slime that it is, slowly choking me until all my creativity was extinguished.


One of the things I want to reclaim this year is making with my hands. I have tried collage work at various times over the past two years. Generally, I would get to the halfway point in a project and then my love for photography would return and the half-finished collage piece would sit on my art desk for months while I was at the beach, in the woods or exploring old buildings with my camera, completely captivated again by my first love.


Part of the problem with collage pieces is that I start too big. Smoothing drywall compound on 11" X 14" wood panels, letting that dry for the required 24 hours then coming back and staring cluelessly at it.


This year I am determined to try again, but on a smaller scale. I went to Hobby Lobby and purchased a cute, little red 5" X 5" art journal.


Being an explorer I love maps. Recently I purchased an old map of Lake Erie at an antique story. It was perfect for my first project. I got busy measuring, cutting, gluing and stamping. Loving what I was creating, I was ready to put the finishing touch on it - a stamped date for the date created. I inked up the stamp, did some sample stamps on the craft paper that covered my desk, one final ink and I was ready to commit. After pressing firmly I lifted the stamp, despair filled me. Only half the date had stamped on the paper due to the uneven, bumpy layers of paper and glue. I walked away.


An hour later I came back, picked up the matching color marker and tried to fix the error. It looked exactly like that - that I had tried to fix the error. I loved everything else about the pages, but that one mistake was the only thing I saw. I tried to embrace the concept of each piece having one mistake in it, it wasn't working.


I went back to Hobby Lobby and bought a new, smaller date stamp. I bought two new art journals. I began again, creating two new pages in a 5.5" X 8.5" journal. I loved one page, hated the other. My 52 week project was held up for a whole week as I struggled with these pages. My theme for the week was Being a Maker. Success was not coming as a maker.


Then it dawned on me, I didn't start out good at photography, I got good from lots and lots of practice. Why did I think I would be good at Art Journaling and collage pieces without putting in the practice time.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Scene & Story - December 2016


Bring out the camera and everyone in my family becomes a comedian.

I was trying to photograph this cookbook from a low angle for week eight of my 52 week photography project when my daughter decided to insert her comical face into the frame. By the grace of God I caught the shot perfectly and it immediately became my favorite photo from the whole project that week, yet one I could not use because it didn't fit the story.

This adorable shot of my serious child gives my heart that fluttery feeling. It is rare to capture these moments of my adult child who is stuck in her childhood life. She is ready for so much more, an adult job with an adult salary and place of her own. She is also ready for someone special to be in her life, the invisible scars of past relationships nearly healed.

As her mother I see how gifted and talented she is, I know that others will see that too. I pray that 2017 is the year that she begins her magical adult life.

P.S. I did get her permission to use the photo :)

**Scene & Story is a collaborative effort between myself and Lee of Sea Blue Lens. We encourage you to share a favorite photo from the previous month along with a short story or description and link up your blog or Flickr photo. Please remember to visit the other story sharers and leave a little love everywhere you visit.



Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Reclaim


My word for 2016 was Open. This word proved to be beneficial in the fact that I fell in love with the wide open landscape.


But you also have to be cautious when you pick a word like Open, because along with being open to good, you also have to be open to challenging things like change, loss, and frustration.


Being a bit more careful with my word choice for 2017. I have chosen RECLAIM as my word. I like reclaim, it is an action word and I am ready to reclaim some previous undertakings.


Reclaim health. I had two grandfathers and at least two great-grandfathers die from heart disease. One of my grandmothers had a stroke in her fifties and remained bedridden for almost thirty years. As I fast approach the half century mark it is time to be serious about my health, my diet and exercise.


Reclaim time. I need to get back to scheduled workdays. Working with purpose and passion. Make a schedule and stick to it. Make lists and cross things off.


Reclaim dreams. For more than a decade I have had a dream of one day leading small creative retreats. Gathering varying groups of women together to create, to share, to laugh, to cry. To photograph, to journal, to paint, to explore nature, to cook and share meals.

To see how these retreats are put together I need to attend a few first, see what I like, what I would change. I have my eye on one in particular Firefly Institute Photography Camp for Women in California mid-October. It is time to leap off that edge I have been teetering on for the past few years.


Reclaim Making. I bought a small red art journal the other day. I want to make with my hands again.


Reclaim space. In all reality we will be downsizing our house sometime in the next five years. Now is the time to get rid of the clutter, buy less, give more.

I hope that Reclaim is kinder to me than Open was, but no matter what happens in 2017, I am stronger because of being Open in 2016.

Have you chosen a word for 2017? I would love for you to tell me about it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Scene & Story - Bonus


Ever year as I review the photos I have taken over the course of the year, I always come across a few that I love but never made their way into a blog post for whatever reason.

This would be one of those photos.

This was taken in July when Glen and I were in Toronto on vacation. We had spent the day following a bread crumb trail a.k.a. the Downtown Toronto Discovery Walk trail that led us to various parks and green spaces throughout the downtown area. We had just come full circle to our starting point, St. James Park, when I spotted this colorful lady sitting on one of the park benches. I knew I had to photograph her. I love street photography but am not brave about doing it. This sweet lady was too good to let get away. Thankfully in front of her was a grouping of lavender. I crouched down in front of the flowers pretending to photograph them and then would occasionally lift my camera to photograph her as well. She never gave me any notice, absorbed in her crossword puzzle and enjoying the sunshine.

When we got home and I loaded the photos, I loved what I had of her. I even started a short fiction piece based on her. There are a multitude of stories within this frame.

Scene & Story 2017

Many of you have asked and Lee (Sea Blue Lens) and I have discussed, for 2017 we will be hosting a link up party for Scene & Story. The link up will be the first Sunday of each month, except for January which will be January 8 (the second Sunday). The link up will remain active for one week.
The link up will be hosted here on my site. I have never done a link up before so be patient if things are a bit sticky the first month.

Criteria - All you have to do is post a favorite photo from the previous month along with a short story about it on your blog and then add your blog to the link up once it goes live. The story can be anything you want it to be: why the photo touched your heart, the process you took to take it, a funny story, a fiction story, etc. Please visit the other link up participants and spread some love.