So Many Sunflowers…

Designed by Michele Frusciano for Pictura

My penfriend Christine has been my most prolific sunflower supplier. At least seven sunflowers on my wall came from her. This number does not include the gorgeous sunflower notecard sets she sent to be shared with others.

Some cards feature her photography. Some her watercolors like the two below. Some are store-bought like the one above. All of them bring cheer and brightness when days are far from sunny.

The card above, designed by Michele Frusciano, is prettier and more detailed than the scan. It is full of light and texture, not flat as it appears. The accents–lines, dots, diamonds, and squiggles–are a metallic blue and gold. The center of the bloom is navy blue and the bloom is embossed–or double embossed (is that a thing?).

Maybe, these photos give a better picture (no pun intended). [Click an image for a closer look].

The watercolor sunflowers below held a beautiful set of monogrammed sunflower notecards Christine purchased to support another artist.

“Quick Watercolor Sunflowers” by Christine

The sunflower sisters appear to be involved in an animated conversation.

“Inspired by Sheila D.”

For this one, Christine borrowed our mutual artist friend Sheila D’s idea of sunflowers in a vase.  She imitated so well that at first sight I thought it was from Sheila!

Sunflowers in vases always remind me of Van Gogh–whose sunflowers I hope to talk about later this week.

Each of Christine’s cards deserves its own blog post. So many sunflowers, so few posts. . .

Sunflower Humans: If I Were a Flower

If I were a flower..I would be a sunflower.

Pam Stewart

My penfriends have been showering me with sunny blooms and sending beautiful reminders to “face the sun,” so my sunflower wall is growing beautifully wild. I’ll have to share an updated photo soon. Until then, I’ll continue to share the individual postcards on the blog.

About a week ago, I received a postcard from Geraldine (Nannydino on swap-bot) that offers a unique interpretation on the sunflower theme. Instead of growing in a field or sitting in a vase, the sunflowers appear to be growing out of a human.

“Sunflower Humans” by Priyanka Parul

Pretty interesting. Right?

“Sunflower Humans” is the work of Priyanka Parul, a young artist from Mumbai, India. I love how the human face is replaced with or masked by sunflowers. Are they human? Are the sunflowers a gift? Symbolic of a sunny disposition? A reminder to “radiate sunshine” from the inside out?  I’d love to know what Priyanka was thinking when she conceived this piece.

In my search for information on the piece, I ran across a post written in 2016, “Are You a Human or a Sunflower.” There are some conceptual similarities, so I wonder if the artist was inspired by the post.

I hope you have your shades nearby. You’ll need them for our final week of sunflower posts for the year.

May you have a week filled with sunshine and good things.

Circle Art: Let’s Make a Mess!

All good things are circular.  —Kiersten White, Now I Rise

Shortly after my focus on photographing lines last year, I transitioned to finding circles in ordinary places. I’ve seen the art installation above [or ones similar to it] at least three times within the last year–at work, in a dentist’s office, and in a hotel.

As I was scrolling through my Flickr albums–trying to decide if Flickr is worth the new price tag–I ran across a few circle art pieces the now seventh graders completed while in sixth grade. Their work reminded me of the art installation, so of course, I have to share.

My son is not crazy about his, but he’s allowing me to post it. Why? Because “there are no mistakes in art,” as his fourth grade teacher says. [Insert my shock that he’s okay with my including it].

Circle Art by Vaughan

Sadly, I didn’t have time to photograph all the students’ circle art, but here are the few I captured. [Click an image for a closer look].

 

Various tools can be used to make circle art, but the goal is to allow the process to evolve naturally–without overthinking it. It is definitely my kind of art, so I’m grabbing some art paper, colored pencils, markers, a compass, and (maybe) paint to make my own circle art this weekend. Maybe, I’ll find the courage to share here on the blog.

Why don’t you join me?

This is an excellent weekend activity for kids too, so get them to join the fun. If you need more information or inspiration on circle art, check out the Artful Parent’s Circle Art post.

Let’s make a mess!

Eric Carle’s Bears: What Do Bears See?

It’s been several months since I last shared children’s book illustration [CBI] postcards, so I have a lot of catching up to do. I assigned partners for the public and group swaps #44 [on swap-bot] a few days ago, but with the exception of the special posting of the sunflower from one of the #30 swaps, I’m only up to #24 on the blog. So much for not falling behind.

Instead of picking up where I left off chronologically, I decided to share the four “bear” cards from the Brown Bear collaboration of writer Bill Martin, Jr. and illustrator Eric Carle.

All were sent to me by Geraldine [Nannydino on swap-bot], one of the swappers who faithfully joins the CBI swaps. The postcards she selects for me always, always, always result from a careful reading of my profile, but it was [still] so thoughtful of her to send me every one of the bear book covers for four separate swaps. It freed me to send these blank Carle cards in my own collection to someone else. After all, postcards filled with ink, stamps, and postal markings are way more interesting than blank postcards.

Here are Carle’s bear illustrations–sent for swaps #33, 36, 38, 41.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is the first book in the Brown Bear series; it was originally published in 1967. The cover above is from the 1992 edition.

The duo came together again more than two decades after Brown Bear to collaborate on Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? The book, published in 1991, was designed to help toddlers identify animals and their sounds.

Published in 2003, Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? focuses on the world of endangered animals.

Published in 2007 Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? is the final book in the Brown Bear collaboration. In this one Baby Bear learns about North American animals while on his quest to find Mama.

Baby Bear holds a special place in my heart because I have a wonderful recording of my son “reading” it when he was about 18 months old. My mommy heart swoons each time I hear his tiny toddler voice rhythmically repeating the lines from the book. The Carle illustrations were among his favorites. And they are still among mine.

If you’re interested in the unique way Carle creates his illustrations, follow the link in my sunflower post. 

Until tomorrow…

Learning to Make Mistakes: Another Mini Lesson in Creative Photography

There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes.   –R. Buckminster Fuller

I have this book called Mess, by Keri Smith, creator of Wreck This Journal. The book encourages making a mess and serendipitously arriving at something beautiful. I look at the prompts regularly, but the book has remained untouched for the five months I’ve had it. Why? Because I’m afraid of making mistakes.

Eye roll.

Bear with me. I’m making progress. I now take the book to work with me and I am inching toward making a mess in the book. Until then, I’m learning to take risks and accept mistakes with my photography.

To that end, on our way to shoot a couple of brilliant trees yesterday, my friend Amanda gave me another mini lesson in creative photography–this one on creating sunbursts. After suggesting settings, she said, “You’ll have to play around with it till you get what you want.”

I know photographers don’t always hit the perfect shot the first time, and of course I rarely do, particularly with an 18-200 mm lens that is becoming frustrating (time for a new one!), but there was something in the phrase “play around” that gave me permission to make mistakes and not feel bad about the shots that fell flat.

I zoomed out for some shots. I pulled the lens all the way in for others. Shooting at 18 mm produced the best bursts, but of course, they were tiny. I knew to crop the image to make the sun appear closer, so here’s the lesson I learned intuitively: in art [and to some degree in life] our messes are often salvageable.

So I’ll keep working on it.

The funny thing is, the image I [initially] liked least has sun flare, an effect some photographers try to achieve, according to Amanda.

Serendipity.

A Written Word: I’m Here.

 

Tiare Smith Designs, from the Tia Playful Collection

“I’m thinking of you, praying for you, and I am here as your friend.”

–Cy–

We close “A Written Word” week with a postcard and note from my longtime friend Cy. She checks on me and sends a virtual hug regularly.

It was nice to find the super cute postcard in the mail with the simple message (above). The note warmed my heart and the Tiare Smith image of girls playing “jacks” brought back memories of childhood and playing “jacks” with my sisters. [Side note: I’m a “jacks” champion. In middle school, I won the competition during field day]. 🙂

“I’m here” is the most comforting phrase I’ve heard over the last few weeks. Even though I may never take some up on the offer to be a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on, it’s consoling to know that I have people to turn to should I need them.

When you don’t know what to say or how to approach someone who is grieving, know that the words above, spoken or written sincerely, are sufficient.


I trust you were inspired this week by the messages of encouragement and hope from my friends. It was certainly beneficial for me to take some time each evening and meditate on the precious words and just allow myself to be with my feelings. Thank you for taking a part in the journey with me.

A Written Word: A Small Thing

If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath.

Psalm 34:18 MSG

Among the precious notes written to me by my colleagues and students is a touching letter and beautiful tulip sculpted by my multi-talented student Tyhara Rain.

I’ve read the letter many times in the quiet of the night and when I pause during the day. Tyhara’s soothing words remind me into Whose arms I can fall when the darkest despair descends:

When you feel too emotionally worn out to get through the day, when your heart aches too much to let you fall asleep, I encourage you to close your eyes…breathe…imagine yourself cradled in the loving arms of our Savior. Feel free to bury your face in His chest, and feel free to feel the ache and sorrow of loss.  Sob if you have to. He understands. Feel his arms wrap tightly and protectively around you in your broken state. Listen to His whisper as He reminds you of His promises of life eternal, everlasting joy, comfort during trials, and His nearness to you always. Stay in His embrace as long as you need. When you’re ready, open your eyes, know God is always with you, and claim the power of God through Jesus to get you through…

I carry Tyhara’s letter with me throughout the day. It remains in my “pouch of pretties,” available when I need to refer to it. The tulip, Lori’s favorite flower, rests on the mantel. In Tyhara’s words, “a small thing to bring comfort […].”