Wabi-Sabi: My Liberate Your Art 2017 Reject

The Liberate Your Art 2017 (LYA) swap has begun! I received my first postcard a couple of days ago and I can hardly contain my excitement as I wait for the remaining cards to arrive.

Some people begin posting their cards on social media and “side-swapping” right away, but I usually wait till the LYA blog hop to post and begin sending extra cards.  I look forward to “the surprises” and want to see the postcards for the first time when they land in my mailbox.

It doesn’t hurt to share a postcard that didn’t make the cut.  Right?

As usual, I had a hard time deciding which cards to choose for the swap, so I had a lot of different cards printed. The design below was an early pick, but after seeing it printed as a postcard, I changed my mind.

“Wabi-Sabi: Beauty and Decay”

There’s nothing spectacular about the original photo, but I liked it when I shot it last August. I was a bit fatigued after being in meetings all day and stepped outside to escape for a moment. The flowers provided aesthetic relief after being trapped indoors.  They were showing signs of decay, but there was something in their beauty that caught my eye that rainy afternoon.

“Beauty and Decay,” iPhone Photo

I edited the photo a half dozen ways using the iColorama app. This was a favorite:

“Beauty and Decay,” Edited in iColorama

Wabi-sabi: a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.  [Definition from WordStuck].

The Japanese principle of wabi-sabi provided the perfect expression for what I was hoping to capture in the photo–beauty in imperfection.  After adding “wabi-sabi” to the photo, I sent the photo for a photo inspiration swap hosted for the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot.

“Beauty and Decay,” Edited in iColorama

The final edit (first photo) was colorful and cheerful, and I appreciate that it did not mask the imperfections.

Considering the message of the design, it is a bit ironic that this one was not chosen for the swap.  No worries though.  It has made its way into at least two mailboxes and I have a few more in my stash to share. 😉

Have a fabulous week!

Happy Spring: Education Outdoors

The weather today was (and is) too gorgeous for indoors.  By afternoon, I couldn’t resist, so a couple of my students and I decided to take education outdoors.

English majors discussing issues they’re examining for their final projects.

How did you celebrate the first day of spring (in the Northern Hemisphere)?

Love Inspired: Loyal Birds and “Fowl” Words

For a recent “Love Inspired” swap for the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot Gale D., my partner, went birds and feathers on me.  The goal of the swap was to pair a love quote with an appropriate photo.

Gale settled on a quote from  A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh:

Some people care too much.  I think it’s called love.

Gale does a lot of bird photography, so she sent me two of her favorite photos.

The first, a pair of Mute Swans:

“Mute Swans” by Gale D., grstamping on swap-bot

According to Gale’s note, the Mute Swans “stay together forever. It saves time and energy, and they produce more cygnets this way.  They make a great team.”

I found some interesting tidbits about Mute Swans on Cornell University’s All About Birds Site.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Mute Swans are not native to North America
  • The swans pretty much mate for life, but will find another mate if a partner dies
  • Their reputation for monogamy along with their white plumage has helped establish them as a symbol of love in many cultures
  • The Mute Swan is the “star” of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling
  • The swans are pretty aggressive (so give them lots of space)
  • The oldest known Mute Swan is 26 years, 9 months old

Gale also sent a pair of Canada Geese and their goslings.

“Canada Geese,” by Gale D., grstamping on swap-bot

Gale wrote that she loves Canada Geese, but although they adapt around humans well, she hasn’t had much opportunities to get close to the geese.  Ironically, she lives in Canada.  This particular photo was shot in a cemetery pond.

There are a LOT of Canada Geese on the university campus where I work.  She’d have no problem getting up close and personal with them. During early fall, they pretty much rule the campus, even stopping traffic at times.  That can be annoying, but it is a pretty glorious sight to see them take flight in formation.

During the second year of their lives Canada Geese find a mate, and like Mute Swans, they are monogamous and mate for life.

It truly is inspiring to find such “faithfulness” and “loyalty” in the animal kingdom.  We often think so little of them, but we have so much to learn from them.

Pink Orchids and Karle’s Wings

“March 11.”

“Pink orchids.”

These words played over and over in my mind as I awakened from my slumber this morning.  Today marks four years since we lost Karlette, my younger sister, to breast cancer.  And pink orchids were her favorite flowers.

I’ve been fighting with a photo of pink orchids I shot at the New Orleans Botanical Gardens in January. I want it to commemorate her life. I want it to be beautiful.  I want it to represent her.  I want it to be perfect. It’s far from perfect, but it’s what I have until I get back to New Orleans and capture them again.

Pink Orchid, New Orleans Botanical Gardens

I realize my fretting over the orchids has a lot to do with my trying to cope with March 11, a date that gives me anxiety, although I think about my sister every.single.day.

Before her death, Karlette and I had plans to write the stories of her brutal battles with breast cancer and what we’d hoped would be her victory.  I have the pictures, but without her voice,  I know it will not be the story she wanted told.

Some aspect of her story will be shared eventually, but for now, I’ve decided to honor her memory in another way.

Recently, I had the privilege of writing postcards to breast cancer patients with whom my only acquaintance is that someone they know is in one of the same Facebook groups to which I belong.   I prayed and used my sister’s experience to guide me as I wrote.  I thought about what she would say and how she would encourage women.  It dawned on me that sometimes a small thing such as a postcard or note goes a long way to cheer someone who is struggling with this disease, and honoring Karlette does not require a monumental gesture.

So today, instead of suffering silently this awful loss, I’m reclaiming March 11.  Today, I am launching Karle’s Wings, a postcard ministry aimed at sharing with breast cancer sufferers and survivors beauty, light, and joy–characteristics Karlette embodied.

If you or someone you know would benefit from a postcard from Karle’s Wings, please complete the contact form below. The  information will remain private and will not be shared with anyone beyond the purpose of addressing a postcard, note, or letter. Within days of receiving the request, you, your family member or friend will receive a handwritten, personalized postcard from Karle’s Wings.

Love and light…

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Photo by Tapman Media, New Orleans

“It’s About Changing the Very Face of Power Itself”

Happy International Women’s Day!

-2017-

 

Soul Work: Making Art of Loving People

“Purple” Rose, Big Spring Park, Huntsville, Alabama. [Altered Photo]

As promised, here’s the “love post” I sent to family, friends, and swappers this year.  The card features an altered rose and a Van Gogh quote.

I found the rose last December showing off in Big Spring Park in Huntsville, Alabama. It was simply gorgeous and many people were pleasantly surprised to find its unexpected beauty.

Van Gogh offers more than a “quotable quote” here.  Instead of making a pithy statement about art, he uses art to challenge our notions of love.  Moving us beyond ideas of love as feelings and romance, he calls us to love in a way that an artist creates.  And that is anything but romantic or fleeting.

When we experience a finished work of art–visual, written or spoken, performed, musical composition–we respond with admiration or distaste without ever fully considering what the artist pours into the work or how gut-wrenchingly vulnerable it makes one to place the inner life on display.

When we truly love people, we are similarly crafting and creating, unveiling our most intimate self and making ourselves vulnerable to the scrutiny, judgement, and sometimes the disdain of others.  Our love for people doesn’t always mean they will love us back and though our natural inclination is to protect ourselves, we must learn to love them regardless…

This point was driven home for me and my little one last week, as he was present when someone disrespected me in a public forum.  Though angry, my little one emphasized that he “admired [my] restraint” because he knows that many people wouldn’t have taken it so calmly.  On our drive home we talked about where that “restraint” comes from.  I was honest with him. Some base part of me could have humiliated the man and “put him in his place,” perhaps deservedly so, but that this man could behave this way suggests that he needs my prayers, not my tongue.  In an instant during the exchange, I paused long enough to hear from God, check myself, and recognize in the offender the child of God who I am called to love.

Van Gogh is not speaking of simply loving people in our circles, those with whom we already share a heart connection, or those who are easy to love.  Nor is he simply speaking of a general, abstract love for humanity.  The artistry and mastery of love come as a result of loving through challenge and difficulty and loving people who aren’t loving, even people who can be mean and evil.  It comes as a result of seeing them as complex beings who, like a work of art, are more than what we immediately see.

Just as it takes more than a few strokes of the artist’s brush to create a masterpiece, it takes intense soul work and an intimate and constant connection with the Divine to make art of loving people.

Quotes and Hearts: Love on Postcards

I recall my glee the evening my hubby handed me the stack of postcards he had just retrieved from the mailbox and post office box.  I placed them in my planner hoping to savor them later, but then life happened–illnesses, midterms, and life in general.  Now, that the madness is less intense for a moment [Spring Break, yay!], I have time to really appreciate the postcards.

The postcards came from friends and Love Notes and heART Exchange pals.

The February 2017 heART Exchange focused on “Quotes from the Heart,”  so participants had to include a quote somewhere on the postcard.  I received postcards from two of my three partners.  I realized after receiving my third card that I submitted my address with the wrong zip code to Louise, the swap coordinator.  I used my P.O. Box address with my residential zip code. Duh! I’m actually amazed that most of them made it to me. Kudos to the USPS for the extra work they had to put in!

Nancy of Ellijay, Georgia sent a cute bunny with an inspiring greeting.

Love You Bunny, Art by Nancy F.

Love You Bunny, Art by Nancy F.

You are so special! Believe in yourself and the dreams you hold. Dance in the rain and play in the moonlight. Celebrate YOU in all your glory…Enjoy all the magic that life has to offer.

The happy-face rabbit gives me the warm-fuzzies.  Bunnies (rabbits) are among my favorite “critters,” second to teddy bears.  I especially appreciate the charge to “dance in the rain.”  I can’t wait till the weather stabilizes and I can do just that. There’s something cleansing about walking in the rain.  I imagine dancing in the rain is liberating.

“Lacy Heart,” Die cut by Lori W.

Lori W. of Elroy, Wisconsin sent the lacy heart reminding me that [life] is “about love, compassion, kindness, and faith.”  It is so easy lately to get caught up in trifles, so this was a needed reminder.   She also enclosed a tag which now fills a slot in my faith planner.

“You Are Loved,” Tag from Lori W.

Lori also sent a beautiful autumn postcard with vines framing a window.   How did she know about my romance with autumn? 😉

“Nature’s Décor,” postcard from Lori W.

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.

Christine B. who introduced me to both Love Notes and the heART Exchange, made a sweet fabric postcard and sent it as an extra.

Fabric Postcard by Christine B.

Fabric Postcard by Christine B.

If you love someone, tell them because hearts are often broken by words left unspoken.

Martha, who participates in both swaps, sent another of her gorgeous watercolors.

“Nesting,” Watercolor by Martha Slavin

Your soul is the place inside of you which reaches out to connect you with the universe.

Slightly unrelated, a second Joy to the World card, from the December heART Exchange, winged its way to me from the United Kingdom last month.

“Wishing you Joy, Peace, and Happiness,” from Ann M.

Ann M. ran into a few snafus, and since she was sending the card after the height of the festive season, she remade it, modifying the colors.  As far as I’m concerned, blessing the world with “joy” is never out of season.

Love Notes also came in to help me celebrate “love month”–two from new penfriends, Sarah and Eileen, and one from Christine B. (whose postcard made the green-eyed monster appear because she was exactly where I wanted to be, on the beach in Florida). [Click an image for a closer look and details].

I was ill twice in February, so my friend Cy surprised me with a “get well” postcard.

“She stretched herself upon tiptoe and peeped over the edge of the mushroom and her eyes immediately met those of a large blue caterpillar.”

The postcard is part of the 100-postcard MacMillan Alice set.  The illustration is from Carroll’s manuscript for Alice’s Adventures Underground.  The timing of this postcard was perfect, not just because I was ill but because I had just sent the same postcard to a swapper who loves Alice in Wonderland. The mail gods sent it back to me. 🙂

Last, but not least, I received a unique handmade postcard from my penfriend, Beckra.

From Beckra

“The Workings of the Heart,” Designed by Rebecca R. (Beckra)

Beckra had fun making these cards for friends and family.  No two are alike. She created the texture by painting over text pages and threaded her design over the texture, allowing the diagonals of the threaded design to play against the straight lines of the text that are just below the surface.  Her goal was something “vaguely like a heart, but then abstracted.”

I thoroughly enjoy Valentine’s Day cards that deviate from the typical motifs–red hearts, flowers, and chocolate–so I’m loving this one.

My mailbox was full of love last month, and I did my best to reciprocate.  I’ll share the postcard I sent in 50 different directions tomorrow.

Until then, maybe you can take a few minutes and write a postcard tonight.  Someone in your life needs to be reminded that he or she is loved.

Hugs!

Microblog Mondays: African Masks [Children’s Art]

My son is all better and back in school, but I must say, I was in kiddie art heaven last Thursday while I waited to meet with his teacher to collect the assignments he missed.  The school held its annual art fair and though I didn’t see everything, what I did see was pretty impressive.

I’m in the throes of midterm grading, so I’m just going to share the colorful masks done by my son and his peers in Mrs. Trott’s 5th-6th grade (combined) class.

They all started with a basic mask and added touches that express their personalities.

I love every one of these masks!

The students have been learning about the continent of Africa–its landforms, peoples, histories, and cultures–so I’m sure this was a fun exercise to complement their lessons.

Well, I’m back to grading.  I’ll be back eventually with pics of some of the other art.

Happy Monday!

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Photography: Taking Shots and Finding the Right Challenge

Last month I attempted Fat Mum Slim’s Photo-a-Day.  I completed the challenge a few times and thought it would encourage me to get a little creativity in each day.  Unfortunately, the timing was wrong. The semester was beginning and the weather was strange.

I captured about nine days before the possibility of capturing a photo every day in January slipped away.  I gave up when I realized I was pretty much  just “taking shots” and not actually “crafting” or “creating” anything.  Here’s what I did capture as part of the challenge.

Day 1: Favorite ColorPurple, of course.  An ornament on my Aunt Elaine’s Christmas tree.

Day 1: Favorite Color

Day 1: Favorite Color

Day 2: Delicious–Avocado.  My favorite fruit. Yum!

Day 2: Delicious

Day 2: Delicious

Day 3: Circle–The circular ironwork on a mailbox.  I know it’s more a nautilus, but you get the point. 😀

Day 3: Circle

Day 3: Circle

Day 4: Animal–Ferret.  Say “hello” to Gnash! He’s kind of a ham–or maybe just curious about the camera.

Day 4: Animal

Day 4: Animal

Day 5: A Favorite Thing–Books! A tiny sneak peek at the books in our home library or the reason why I can’t be a minimalist.

Day 5: A Favorite Thing

Day 5: A Favorite Thing

Day 6: Me–A Selfie.  I’m not into selfies, so I played around with the pic.  A bit cheeky, eh?

Day 6: Me!

Day 6: Me!

This is me too!  Same photo. Different manipulation.

Day 6: Me!

Day 6: Me!

Day 7: Time–Quotes in my planner on time.  It was such a coincidence that the quotes in my planner coincided with the theme for the day! I had to capture it.

Day 7: Time

Day 7: Time

Day 8: A Wall–This is a part of the inspiration wall in my office on campus.  It has quotes, beautiful images from friends and students, photos of family members, sunflowers, cards, and so much more. Eye and soul candy to get me through the challenging days.

Day 8: A Wall

Day 8: A Wall

Day 9: Mail–Beautiful postage from Senegal that I’d planned to use in a project and postcards and a letter with vintage postage that were “adorning” my desk.

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Day 9: Mail

Day 12: Leaf–I captured the leaf photo late one windy evening.  Bronze leaves against the black sky.

Day 12: Leaf

Day 12: Leaf

I found it boring, so I altered it. This “shows” the wind.

Day 12: Leaf

Day 12: Leaf

I “failed” at photo-a-day, but some good came from this failure.  It freed me to have some photo fun at the New Orleans Botanical Gardens (I’ll share that adventure another time).  (And) through this exercise, I learned that I want a more intentional photo challenge, one that is about more than a photo and a theme.

Thanks to Alice’s Grand Adventures, I found The Dogwood 52 Week Challenge.  This challenge is manageable during the busy academic year: it removes the pressure to capture a photo every day based on a specific theme, and it’s about stretching and growing as a photographer.  The assignments are “in one of three categories: storytelling, technical, artistic impression.”  The good news is that even though we’re seven weeks into the year, I’m not late! The challenge is designed to begin at any time; it’s up to the individual photographer.

So…I’m in!

I’m looking forward to sharing the challenge with you each week.

Microblog Mondays: He Restores My Soul

My little one is sick for the fourth time this season, so when I woke up this morning, worried and stressed, I needed a simple and familiar scripture to start the day. I opened the Bible App and the “Verse of the Day” provided the first few verses of Psalm 23–just what I needed to help the little one get through the day.

“He Leads Me Beside Peaceful Streams,” Wheeler Lake, Huntsville, Alabama.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
He leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
Psalm 23:1-3a NLT

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