“I know how the flowers felt…”

“After the Pushing and the Pelting” (Tulip with Texture)

Today has been one of those days. April has been one of those months.  “April is the cruelest month…” Yada, yada, Eliot…

The Robert Frost poem above so adequately speaks my mood these days.  April for me is usually a one-thing-after-another, stressful, demanding kind of month, relentless in its pushing and pelting.  It is sometimes easier to “lay lodged–though not dead” than it is to keep things in perspective and remember that this is just one “moment” that will eventually pass.

Though it is tempting to just “lay lodged” in this state of mind, I choose to rise and meet the challenges while focusing my gaze elsewhere.

I’d captured the red tulip and several others after the poor flowers had been pushed by the wind and “pelted,” no constantly pummeled, by rain for several days.  I was happy to see them still standing, though a bit bowed.  When I shot this photo, the message was powerful, empowering, and affirming.  It wasn’t just a thing of beauty, but a symbol of perseverance and will, its beauty magnified in its reflection of the Divine.

In fact, I used it a few days later to share a bit of inspiration with family, friends, and colleagues, because such (im)perfect beauty only intensified my longing for Perfection.

“The Beauty of Holiness” (Tulip Original)

It is a little curious that this one flower–one image–captures both feelings so effectively.

Let’s Go to the Hop: Liberate Your Art 2015

What a maddening month (so far)! I’m happy to take a moment out of my busy end-of-the-academic-year life to focus on pretty things and happy mail.

For the fourth consecutive year I participated in Kat Sloma’s Liberate Your Art swap.  Again, I sent my art out into the world and have had various expressions of art land in my mailbox in return.

This year I received five of the six postcards that were sent to me.  That’s a little improvement over last year when two postcards went missing. I also received two extras in private swaps.  Here are the postcards I received.

Liberate Your Art 2015:  At Work

Liberate Your Art 2015: Postcards Received

I know this isn’t a very creative or interesting display, but the postcards are “on exhibit” in my “temporary” work environment.  There was an electrical fire in the building that houses my office, so our entire unit is slightly displaced in another building on the basement floor.  Although I can look out (and up) the windows and see beautiful trees all around me, my office walls are bare.  Fortunately, I had the LYA postcards in my craft pouch, so I used them and a couple of photos that I was using as bookmarks to add a bit of color and beauty to the wall I face as I’m working on my laptop.  There’s nothing like a wall of words and art to make me happy all day long!

Let’s take a closer look:

"Summer's Memories (Nellie's Flowes)" by Jane Ross

“Summer’s Memories (Nellie’s Flowes)” by Jane Ross

Jane of Reston, Virginia shares this beautiful reproduction of her mixed media art.  She includes an Australian Aboriginal proverb on the back of the postcard: “Those who lose dreaming are lost.”  She also encourages, “Let your imagination soar”–advice perfectly aligned with the soaring birds in her art.


“Tiny Tumbleweeds” [my title] by KnoHerPhotos

Jeannette sends greetings from Oregon.  I love these “tiny tumbleweeds” and the shadows they cast on the surface.  Jeannette’s “art starts with her camera.”  Mine too! You can find more of Jeannette’s work beautiful work at KnoHer Photos on either Facebook or Flickr.

"Natural Beauty" [my title] by Cathy

“Natural Beauty” [my title] by Cathy

Cathy hails from Arkansas.  This still life is simply elegant.  She also sends an inspirational quote. “Write it on your heart that every day will be the best day in the year” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).  You can find more of Cathy’s still life photos on her blog, Gramma’s Little Corner.

"Mondrian 2.0: A Tribute to Dutch Painter Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) by Will Conway

“Mondrian 2.0: A Tribute to Dutch Painter Piet Mondrian” (1872-1944) by Will Conway

Will of Dover, New Hampshire sends wishes for a creative and rewarding year of art.  I am delighted to be introduced to another artist.  Mondrian is new to me.  Like many LYA swappers, he included a quote: “All art is autobiographical.  The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography” (Federico Fellini).

"Imminent Downfall," by Kat Sloma

“Imminent Downfall,” by Kat Sloma

My last postcard of the “official swap” came from Kat, our lovely swap organizer.  Needless to say, this tribute to autumn is clearly a favorite.  Kat writes, “When you liberate your art, the world is a better place. Thank you!”  This does little justice to the word art she places on the back of the postcard each year.

So here it is–

"Kat's Postcard Back," LYA 2015 Thank You

“Kat’s Postcard Back,” LYA 2015 Thank You

I took a little liberty and added the texture.  The postcard back is white. You can find out more about Kat’s photography, the swap, and the courses she teaches by visiting her site:  Kat Eye Studio.

And here are the bonus cards.

"Cakers Knitting," by Cakers

“A Knitting Selfie” [my title], by Cakers

My friend Cakers surprised me and sent one of her postcards when she sent her set to Kat.  She writes, “My art is knitting and photography combined.  Knitting is what I do to calm my mind.  Photography is what I do to express my creative side.”  She includes a quote about knitting “Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled stpirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spiriti either.”  Elizabeth Zimmerman.  You can see more of Cakers art–both knitting and photography–on her blog, Cakers and Company.

And finally, when I saw Sherry’s postcard on the LYA Facebook page, I immediately fell in love with it. She generously offered a postcard to anyone who wanted one.  I accepted, of course!

"Wonder" by Sherry Harmes, Amook Island Creations

“Wonder” by Sherry Harmes, Amook Island Creations

Sherry writes from Amook Island, a remote island off Kodiak Island, Alaska. Notice how she includes a tiny portion of the map in her mixed media piece.  She admonishes,” Conceive, believe, achieve!”

Thank you to all of the artists whose work now adorn my office wall (I’ll be contacting your shortly).  An especial thanks to Kat for committing so much time and energy to the swap year after year and all the helper-swappers in Oregon who give their time and assist her in getting things organized and ready for mailing.

As usual, I had a difficult time selecting photos.  I had postcards made of six and couldn’t decide which one to eliminate, so I let family and friends decide. Even though it was also a challenge for them, everyone voted (against) the tulip.

"A Tulip for You," Huntsville, Alabama

“A Tulip for You,” Huntsville, Alabama

Here are the postcards I liberated. You may recognize “Abandoned,” “December Rose,” and “Dogwood” from earlier posts.

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As usual I enjoyed the swap and am looking forward to next year.  The inspiring work I receive and the amazing bloggers I encounter through Liberate Your Art push my creative growth.   I find myself experimenting more with different subjects, composition, textures and colors.  Every year, it seems, by the time the swap rolls around, I’ve added new techniques, either in composition, or in post-processing.

In liberating our art, we give ourselves to the world.  But it is an amazing gift that we also give ourselves.  We lose self-consciousness and self-judgment and give ourselves permission to create beauty where we are and as we see it.

I have a few postcards left, including the tulip, so if you’re interested in swapping LYA 2015 postcards, just let me know in the comments or via email.  Also, if you’re interested in my 2012-14 Liberate Your Art posts, you may see them here: LYA 2012; LYA 2013; LYA 2014.

You can find out more about the swap and artists by checking out the Liberate Your Art blog hop.  Let’s go:  Liberate Your Art 2015 Participants and Blog Hop!