Photo Collage | Beyond Van Gogh

Van Gogh Immersive Collage

I was supposed to share this collage a few days ago, but the weekend required rest, and Monday was…Monday. I’m awake later than usual, so I decided to take a few moments to share a “few” of the 200+ shots I captured at Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience last year.

Vincent van Gogh is my my favorite Post-Impressionist artist, so when Beyond Van Gogh finally opened in Alabama, there was no way we were going to miss it. I secured tickets almost as soon as they became available. The guys and I were headed to Atlanta for Thanksgiving, so a stop in Birmingham for the exhibition was the perfect kickoff for the extra long weekend.

Beyond Van Gogh was everything I expected plus more. From the beautiful quotes extracted from the letters between van Gogh and his brother, Theo, to piecing together the story of his life through vignettes and images, to the [seemingly] entire van Gogh portfolio unfolding before our eyes and beneath our feet–the entire expereince was simply breathtaking. Participation in the immersive experience was the next best thing to being inside the artist’s mind or at the tip of his paintbrush.

My guys and I agreed the only thing that would make the experience better is to experience it without all the other people.

Photo Collage | Art, Art, and More Art!

Lowe Mill-2

Squeals! Have you ever had an experience—unrelated to psychotropic drugs—that left you feeling so high and giddy that you have difficulty controlling yourself?

That’s how I feel whenever I walk the floors of Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment here in Huntsville. So much amazing! So much art! So much talent!

I don’t go very often, but when I get there I leave with a desire to quit my job, get a studio there, and make (and sell) art for a living. Fortunately, before acting rashly, I realize, that might not be the best course of action for me. 

Lowe Mill is the largest privately owned arts facility in the South (USA). The former textile mill was “redeveloped into 152 working studios for over 200 artists, makers, and independent businesses, 7 galleries, a theatre, a community garden, and event spaces.” 

The goal of Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment is to nurture artists while educating the public about art and the creative process. In order to accomplish this, the Mill has established a community where artists, in a working studio environment, are able to create, display, and sell their work; and the public has the opportunity to visit, view, learn, and acquire work by local artists.

What I love about Lowe Mill is the access to many, many art forms in one space—mixed media, textile, bookbinding, culinary, photography, printmaking, ceramics, woodworking, glass, digital, sculpture, painting, performance, graphic design, fashion, and much more. It is pure pleasure to walk the long artful hallways, peer through windows and open doors, and speak with artists who are excited to answer questions and talk about their art.

The collage above features some random pics from my latest perusal of Lowe Mill with my guys. We especially enjoyed speaking with staff at the Cigar Box Guitar Store and Denise DeKemper Art from whom we purchased several small prints (including two sunflower prints).

You can learn more about the various artists and studios by clicking here. There’s so much color and beauty, your soul will sing!

Photo Collage | PhotoArt from the Creative Gathering

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As I wrote the date in my journal this morning, it hit me like a ton of bricks–we are about to enter the last month of the year. The last month! I slightly panicked about all the things I’d planned but didn’t and won’t get to before Christmas. Thankfully, I quickly adjusted. I cannot allow the unfinished business of the year to plague the last few weeks, especially since the deadlines are self-imposed and none of it is actually necessary.

That said, taking time to share beauty and light is always necessary, so this week, I’m opening my camera roll and creating collages of some things I’ve wanted to share, but have been too busy or too tired to do so.

Today’s long overdue post features the 30 pieces of photo-art I created for Sheila D’s September 30-day Gathering (the Gathering).  I went into the Gathering knowing only one thing: since I wanted to feel like a “real” artist, I would put some work into the photos and alter them using PhotoShop and/or other photo applications. After my third post, I decided to work in threes–that is, I would work with one theme or technique for three days and then select my favorite piece for each day’s post. This resulted in 10 themes/techniques for the month–which resulted in a bazillion photos (not exactly an exaggeration):

  1. Music
  2. Circles
  3. Purple Flowers
  4. DistressFx
  5. Sunflowers
  6. Purple and Red
  7. Purple Fractals
  8. Brushstrokes
  9. Textures
  10. Roses

I usually worked the photos in more than one app to achieve the desired results. I shared four of them on the blog in September, and maybe, I’ll get around to sharing the others–and some of the other 709 pieces I created during September. Yes, that is the exact number. Isn’t that close to a bazillion? 😉

I thoroughly enjoyed the Gathering. It provided time out from life’s vagaries and lots of free therapy! Unfortunately, that was the last time I took time to create art every day. In fact, that was the last period in which I consistently took time for creative fun and possibly the last time I could vouch for my own sanity!

You can get an overview of the full Gathering and a glimpse of the work of the other artists by checking out Sheila’s post featuring the Creative Gathering Group Gallery. There’s lots of wonderful eye candy for your soul!

#ThursdayTreeLove | Green Trees in My Heart

Golden Glow Tree-3

Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a songbird will come. –Chinese Proverb

I missed the last month and a half of posting for #ThursdayTreeLove, so I am dropping in to share some trees from a recent brief walk between buildings on campus. The sky boasted an unusual hue–a cross between overcast and golden skies. These pics do not do justice to the scene I beheld. There was no way a phone camera could adequately capture the gorgeous play between trees and clouds, but I hope these are at least adequate.

I didn’t attract any songbirds, but if you look closely, you can see a squirrel hanging out in one of the pics. Close enough, right? 


I am usually joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month, but I’m playing catchup and sharing on the third Thursday. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

Such Is Life…

Fractal Deep Purple and Black

I woke up a week or so ago and typed the following note in my e-journal. I’d intended to flesh it out and clean it up, but sometimes, we need it straight. Even though it takes the shape of a poem, it is not a poem. Then again, maybe, it is. It is sad (perhaps?) and hopeful at the same time, but eh, such is life and the paradoxical state in which we all operate.

Life is hard.

Like really, really hard.

Achingly so at times.
Crippling even.

We must understand that.
We must get it through our thick skulls no one has it easy,
no matter how it looks on the outside.

There is no “life should not be this way.”
It is all life.

The sooner we get there in our thinking,
the sooner we will get to the part where we accept
“life” is always happening
and learn to find joy in spite of our circumstances.

The sooner we climb out of the oppressive pits of self-pity and despair
the sooner we begin to live,
and the sooner we will get to the part where we dance in the rain
and stand tall when everything around is crumbling.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.  —John 16:33

Deep Silence and the Conversation with Our Hearts

Rebecca R

It is possible to speak with our heart directly. Most ancient cultures know this. We can actually converse with our hearts as if it were a good friend. In modern life we have become so busy with daily affairs and thoughts that we have lost this essential art of taking time to converse with our heart.  —Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life

As I mentioned in my Sit with It post, I have been out of sorts. Not quite myself. I woke up this morning able to name some of my feelings–disoriented and flustered, like I can’t quite find my footing. These feelings remind me of the time [a little more than a decade ago] when I went silent for about three months. I still spoke with others, but I did not engage in lengthy conversation, did not engage in discussions about points-of-view on issues. I didn’t even listen to sermons. I closed my ears to all voices but God’s. I am heading in that direction again. 

Lately, I have spent too much time and energy striving, struggling, wrestling inwardly [with myself] and outwardly with other people and their struggles, strivings, and energy. There’s so much brain clutter that the only way through it is through silence. Not a literal silence, but a spiritual one—a way of tuning out the unnecessary and tuning in to what is needful and authentic. 

There is deep rest in that type of silence, in withdrawing for a dedicated time from the madness of the world and giving full attention to the stirrings and musings of our hearts. 

I like the way Jack Kornfield put it. We need this silence to “converse with our own hearts as if it were a good friend.”


About the Image: The abstract photo above features the work of my pen friend, Rebecca R, also known as Beckra. The artwork sits inside one of my planners–as a reminder to write to Rebecca. The reminder has failed. I owe you many letters, Rebecca. [Insert Face Palm Emoji]

Life Insurance: Nannie Helen Burroughs

Nannie Helen Burroughs

Reproduction of Knowledge Trust, part of Dead Feminists series of broadsides. Chandler O’Leary and Jessica Spring.

Education and justice are democracy’s only life insurance — Nannie Helen Burroughs

Although we are eight days into the month of November, I came to my senses and decided not to post every day for NaBloPoMo 2022. It took me a few days, but I realized that I don’t want to post for the sake of posting, especially when I need to spend my “real writing energy” on the unfinished essays that are due by the end of the year [self-imposed deadline]. Beginning with this post, I will return to my regular blogging schedule of two to three posts per week. I am looking forward to participating next year and I already have a manageable idea for the month.

Tonight I am sharing a postcard that was waiting for me when I returned from my brief roadtrip. It is appropriate for this election night as the results are rolling in. 

The postcard was sent by my Wildflowers friend, Kathi G. One of her artist friends creates inspirational art for women through the Dead Feminists Series, of which this card is part. 

The card features Nannie Helen Burroughs, an educator, religious leader, social activist, orator, businesswoman, feminist, and more.

The tiny print at the bottom of the card reads: 

Nannie Helen Burroughs (c. 1879 – 1961) was born in Orange, Virginia and moved with her mother to Washington, DC after her father’s death. As a student at M Street High School, she met activists Mary Church Terrell and Anna J. Cooper. After graduating with honors, she moved to Kentucky to work for the Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention (NBC). At NBC’s annual meeting in 1900, Burroughs’ speech “How the Sisters Are Hindered from Helping” gained national attention and inspired her to co-found the NBC auxiliary Woman’s Convention (WC), the largest Black women’s organization in the United States. Here Black women could exercise their labor and organizing power independent of male membership and white women suffragists. Burroughs served the WC for over 40 years, first as corresponding secretary, then as president.

In 1907, funded by donations from women and children, Burroughs opened the National Training School for Women and Girls in Washington, DC, adopting the motto “We specialize in the wholly impossible.” To develop “the fiber of a sturdy moral, industrious, and intellectual woman,” students learned vocational skills to become self-sufficient wage earners. Burroughs’ Africon-American history class was a graduation requirement. She served as school president until her death. The former Trades Hall, now a National Historic Landmark, today houses the Progressive National Baptist Convention.

Illustrated by Chandler O’Leary and printed by Jessica Spring, in gratitude to the Black women who have insured our democracy’s future beneficiaries. 190 copies were printed by hand at Springtide Press in Tacoma. March 2022

You can find out more about the Dead Feminists broadsides by clicking the link: Dead Feminists.

For a little more about Nannie Helen Burroughs click here: Nannie Helen Burroughs; click here for a few details on her relationship with the the Martin Luther King, Jr. family: Burroughs and the Kings; and click here for a list of her speeches with links: Burroughs’ Speeches.

Until next time…

The Storm

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I posted the poem above on my Musings Instagram page a few days ago. I marveled at how I sweetly captured my family’s intimate moment with a storm, and I was overcome with a flood of memories of stormy nights: the bunch of us (younger siblings) scared by loud claps of thunder piling into my parents bedroom; years later, my making a pallet on the floor in the hallway just outside their bedroom. 

I don’t mind rain, but I still hate stormy days and nights. 

The poem, written when I was 14, was tucked away in one of the folders in which I kept handwritten poem bits and drafts. Most of the poems were written between the ages of 12 and 15.

It’s funny that I knew long before becoming an English professor or even a writing student the importance of revision. I “preach” this to my students all the time—writing is revising is revising is revising. I’m not sure a work is ever in a final (that is, perfect) state. There are probably some New York Times bestselling authors who will pick up their books years later and see some things they wish they could change. 

I think I’ll have some fun with this poem and see where it takes me—not as a revision but as an adult take on the subject. Wait. Kate Chopin already did that! 😀 For a steamy “storm” story, see “The Storm” by Kate Chopin.

lightning by jplenio