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.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Photo Album


Nothing puts things in perspective faster than realizing it is the second week of December and yet again I haven't started on the family photo calendars. It wouldn't be so bad if it was just our family's calendar I had to make, I could milk that out for another week. But I also make one for my dad every year filled with photographs of barns, covered bridges and rural landscapes, my side of the family's Christmas party is Christmas Eve. So it was time to sit down at the computer and get it done.


Going back through the year in my Lightroom catalog tends to be a painful process for me. I am always a better photographer by the end of the year making me love everything I took October through December and hating disliking everything I took before that.


This year as I started at January 2016, I tried to keep an open mind and an open heart and look for the photographs that spoke to me each month. It was interesting to see the change in my work over the course of the year. January through March (the cold, snowy months) I spent a lot of time indoors working on still life projects.


April brought the arrival of a new furry monster grand puppy to the house. There is nothing more challenging or more rewarding than photographing a puppy.


May saw the weather finally warm up and a return to day long photographic adventures for me. 


June the Farmer's market was in full swing and our favorite stop every Wednesday and Saturday was Lemonjello's coffee stand and our visit with James, the man behind the airpots. Many meaningful conversations involved books, photography, jobs and job searches while pumping Six One Six or San Sebastian into our to-go cups.


In July my husband and I were able to get away for a couple of short vacations, one of them being northward.


August saw a return trip northward. My husband had business and I had freedom.


September signaled an end to the unbearably hot summer we had, finally I was able to explore the fields and meadows with my camera.


October brought heartbreak with the loss of my beloved Scout.


November found me committing to a 52 week photography project that is setting my creative world on fire.


And here we are December, the last month of 2016. The return of snow and cold couldn't deter me from spending a morning at the beach.

Each of these photographs is my personal favorite from each month, none of them made it into the family calendars. While each is different, they collectively tell the story of my year, my life, my journey.

Yesterday I finished my book club book a week ahead of schedule.  There is one book I have been meaning to read all year, but something else always distracted me, yesterday I couldn't stop thinking about that book, so I plucked it off of the huge pile of unread books on top of my bookcase and settled on the couch with it. On the last page of the introduction I read these two paragraphs...
"Ten years ago in my Harvard lectures, I tried to listen to a single day of my life in such a way. What I propose to do now is to try listening to my life as a whole, or at least to certain moments of the first half of my life thus far, for whatever of meaning, of holiness, of God, there may be in it to hear. My assumption is that the story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all.
For the reader, I suppose, it is like looking through someone else's photograph album. What holds you, if nothing else, is the possibility that somewhere among all those shots of people you never knew and places you never saw, you may come across something or someone you recognize. In fact -- far more curious things have happened -- even in a stranger's album, there is always the possibility that as the pages flip by, on one of them you may catch a glimpse of yourself. Even if both of those fail, there is still a third possibility which is perhaps the happiest of them all, and that is that once I have put away my album for good, you may in the privacy of the heart take out the album of your own life and search it for the people and places you have loved and learned from yourself, and those moments in the past -- many of them half forgotten -- through which you glimpsed, however dimly and fleetingly, the sacredness of your own journey."
I want this last part to be my mission.

The book is The Sacred Journey by Frederick Buechner.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Finding My WHY


As a child I had three outstanding characteristics, two of which are desired by women their whole lives. I was tomboy thin, I had a mass of unruly curly hair, and I was quiet and well-behaved. While these traits are admired, they do nothing to make a girl stand out from the crowd; I blended in well. I wasn't good at sports, I wasn't good at drawing or painting, and I was an average student, only excelling in English and reading. The one thing I did seem to have a flair for was wandering in the woods surrounding my house.

My dad is the one who stood out in our family. Everybody loves Jim. He is always there to lend a hand or a tool, or go out of his way to help someone. My dad is also one of the most humble people you will ever meet, he would never want praise or the spotlight. Still his shadow was a hard one to live in.


I got married young to another outstanding man. A man who everybody loves because he is outgoing, friendly, slightly wacky, and really good at everything work related that he does. I had found a new shadow to live in.

For the first twenty-five years of our married life I always identified myself as Glen's wife when introducing myself to people. And if I wasn't introducing myself as Glen's wife, it was as Mallory's mom.


It wasn't until 2012 when I began my first blog that I began to emerge from the shadows of other people. I committed myself to learning photography, discovering the art of writing along the way. I joined on-line groups, started making connections. I made friends that shared the same passions, people that didn't know my dad or my husband, people that only knew Sarah the blogger, photographer and writer. With these connections came confidence. I could finally go to my husband's Christmas party and no longer cling to his side the whole time. People wanted to talk to me about my photography, about my writing, about my adventures. I lost track of where my husband was in the room.


Recently I read a post by Kate Densmore titled Finding Your Why. She writes about finding her Why, why she loves and does what she does. The next morning I posed this question to myself in my Morning Pages journal "What is my Why?".


I think I have danced around my Why for a very long time. Eluding to it now and again, but never naming it. That morning in my journal I finally named it. My Why, why I do photography and why I write, no matter how hard it gets, no matter how much I want to quit, is because they have given me my own IDENTITY. I can't quit because then I go back to living in the shadows of others. I have found that I love being in the soft glowing light.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Scene & Story - November 2016


I knew from the moment I saw this photo on my computer that this was my pick for November's Scene & Story.

I often struggle with showing a feeling other than solitude in my photography. This photo is brimming with feeling and emotion, and it may be the turning point in my work.

The scene involves my daughter, her 8-month old golden retriever, Findley, and a hike in the woods at a family favorite state park.

Now you tell me the story...


Joining my friend Leon of Sea Blue Lens for our monthly collaboration.