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!

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…

IMG_6837

Photo by Tapman Media, New Orleans

Autumn Has Flowers Too!

At the mention of spring, we imagine an explosion of blossoms in many, many colors. At the mention of autumn, we think of the changing of trees.  But autumn has flowers too, and that was the point of the photo postcard swap in which my penfriend Beckra and I participated.

On a walk in the woods, Beckra captured Ladies’ Tresses which is a kind of orchid.  She writes that it is “great that when autumn brings some relief from Arkansas heat, it also brings flowers. We call it a second spring.”

Ladies' Tresses, photo by Rebecca R. (aka Beckra)

“Second Spring.” Ladies’ Tresses, photo by Rebecca R. (aka Beckra)

She points out that in this photo the blooms have not fully unfurled.

When I was at the Nashville Zoo last month, there were flowers everywhere.  In addition to some “still flowering” rose bushes and hydrangeas, there were mums everywhere (I think they’re mums).

"Mums the Word"

“Mums the Word”

And there’s always, always something blooming on our beautiful campus. This caught my eye while I was having a very rare moment to chit-chat with my friend, Meli.

Campus Bloom, iPhone Photo

Campus Bloom, iPhone Photo

I was grateful to see some pink dancing with the oranges, yellows, and reds of autumn, but I decided on “typical” autumn colors for the swap.  I played around with a couple of photos in the iColorama app and ended it up with way too many versions, so my hubby and son helped me select some of the edits. From their selection, I sent three or four to Beckra. [Click an image for a closer look]

 

“Behind the Glass” was inspired by an autumn photo Beckra sent to me.  “Van Gogh” is my favorite of the set, probably because he’s my favorite Impressionist.  “Nautilus” and “Ray” tie for second.

The advantage of a late fall here in Northern Alabama is that everything is still so beautiful and brilliant, but I have a feeling that is going to change with the blink of an eye, so I’m pretty sure this is going to be my last autumn post for the year. Until next year, I’ll just enjoy this year’s photos. 😉

They Gave Me Butterflies!

As part of my Mother’s Day gift this year, my hubby and son planted zinnia seeds outside my home office window, so I can enjoy the flowers even when I’m indoors.  I’ve watched the buds open and multiply brilliantly over the last few weeks.  A couple of days ago, I noticed butterflies hovering around the blossoms. Today, I stepped outdoors to snap a few shots of the zinnias, and the butterflies were everywhere, gracefully fluttering from flower to flower while I attempted to capture them in their best poses. They lightened my mood and made my heart smile.

This picture (post-processed) captures my mood after today's encounter with the butterflies.

This post-processed image captures my mood after today’s encounter with the butterflies.

My guys gave me flowers. They also gave me butterflies.

 

 

Liberate Your Art 2016: My Photos into the World

Yesterday, I shared the postcards I received via Liberate Your Art 2016, so today, I’m talking about the postcards I sent for the swap. If memory serves me well, I sent four postcards out. Some older and some newer.

Lone Boat, 2004

Lone Boat, 2004

I captured this photo of a boat sitting in the water at the approach to Goree Island in Senegal.  I shot the original photo on my first “real” digital camera, an Olympus Camedia.  I’ve always liked the colors in the picture, and I have other photos of this boat and others like it. The boat’s colors drew me in.  I altered the photo in the Superphoto app for iPad.

Colored Pencil, 2011

Red Pencil, 2011

I read the “Broken crayons still color” quote somewhere and decided to make this postcard in honor of women in my life who feel “broken” by life and circumstance. I wanted each woman to remember to embrace the parts of herself that are broken and realize that there are ways to be broken and still be whole, healthy, and beautiful.

I shot the photo while playing around with the macro settings on my first Canon Digital DSLR (the Rebel). I added text to the photo using the Rhonna app.  It is stunning when printed on Red River Paper’s polar pearl metallic stock–every photo looks better on that paper, really! I was tempted to forgo professional printing and print the photos myself!

Blossoms Blanket, 2015

Blossoms Blanket, 2015

The fallen cherry blossoms are almost as pretty as the blossoms on the tree. They form such a beautiful carpet of soft pink petals on the areas surrounding the trees.  I captured these last spring while walking through campus on the way to lunch with a friend. I altered the original photo in Superphoto.

Sadly, I completely missed the cherry blossoms and pear blossoms this year.  I almost missed the dogwoods.

And lastly, I sent “Grace.”

Butterfly and Grace, 2015

Grace, 2015

This is a photo you may have seen before. I posted it last July with the title Everything Changes. Then, it was paired with a Frida Kahlo quote.  I can almost guess my state of mind when I added that quote, but as I contemplated the photo and how it was “achieved,” I felt that it would be more appropriately titled “Grace.”

The moment this photo was taken was “grace.” My camera and I have been on “vacation” from each other, but every now and then (like the afternoon this photo was shot), I experience a moment of reprieve and of artistic “blessing” in which the colors and the environment cooperate and allow me to exhale at a crucial moment. I’m not sure I’m particularly fond of the photo itself, but I love the combination of pink and green with a touch of yellow.  For me the quote makes this photo. Though I have altered versions of this photo that I actually like better, I decided to send the original for the swap.

So that’s it for now. See something you like? Let me know, and I’ll send it your way.

Stay tuned for a final LYA 2016 soon. I have a few side swaps in transit, so I’ll blog the “after party” when those come in. Until then…

Have joy!

 

 

 

Planet 50-50: Happy International Women’s Day!

 

IWD 2016 Postcard

“Yellow Flowers for International Women’s Day”

The postcard above features the United Nations Women’s theme for International Women’s Day 2016.

According to the UNWomen’s website:

The United Nations observance on 8 March will reflect on how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals. It will equally focus on new commitments under UN Women’s Step It Up initiative, and other existing commitments on gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s human rights.

For more information, go to the UN Women’s website: UN Women IWD 2016.

Also, if you haven’t seen today’s Google doodle, be sure to check it out.  I L-O-V-E it! You can find out more about the doodle and even some behind the scenes footage here: #onedayiwill.

Happy International Women’s Day!

 

 

Nature Photo Challenge: A New Song

Last week, my brother, Dennis, a talented photographer and graphic artist/designer, nominated me to do the “Nature Challenge.” The challenge calls for posting a photo, on Facebook, I assume, every day for seven days and nominating someone different every day to join the challenge.

When I first read the post, I embraced it. I was tickled pink that my brother thinks enough of my photos to include me and was also excited to share nature photos–my favorite! But…I’m not much of a “facebooker.” I visit sporadically, and even then, for only a few minutes at most. I posted the first day and then forgot about it. Completely.

I don’t want to disappoint my brother or feel like a complete failure (a little dramatic, yes), so I am going to share here and allow WordPress to do the “dirty work” of Facebook posting.

I’m starting over. Today is my new Day 1.

"A New Song," Original

“A New Song,” Original

I shot this photo Labor Day weekend in North Carolina. It took quite a bit of work since the front of the flower was positioned away from view and in the middle of dense foliage.

"A New Song," Millers Creek, North Carolina, September 2015

“A New Song,” Millers Creek, North Carolina, September 2015

I was inspired to work with the photo when Takiyah, a former student, mentee, and sister-in-Christ shared with me her performance of a new song entitled “A New Song.”  Take a listen…

I’m already singing my new song…

Wishing you a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2016.

Note: For a look at Dennis’ work:

Face the Sun: My Summer in One Photo

Today is the last “official” day of summer, and I cannot let the evening pass without posting about a summer-themed swap I hosted–“My Summer in One Photo.”

For the swap, partners had to “capture” their summer in one image. Literally. Not two, three, or four images crammed into one 4×6 print or notecard, but a single image. Quite a challenge for those of us who had eventful summers.

My photog pal, Cakers, sent this:

Patty's Box

“Needle Tips Box,” Photo by Cakers

Even though I didn’t know what it was, I immediately knew it had something to do with knitting because Cakers is an avid knitter, and possibly an addict. In case, you think I’m exaggerating about Cakers’ “addiction,” she has a knitting injury from too much knitting and her swap name when I met her was “midwestknitgirl.” Enough said. 😀

The photo features her needle tips in the “cool, funky” box she bought “cheap” recently. Thankfully, she gave an explanation. Needle tips are, part of what are called “interchangeables.” You can switch the tips with different length cords.

Her words, not mine. I have no idea what she’s talking about.

I had quite a number of major events myself–saying “good-bye” to friends, witnessing my little one’s choir join a 1000-voice mass choir to perform in front of an audience of 84,000 (and millions more? via broadcast), spending time with one of my beautiful best friends and her family, my dad’s 80th birthday celebration which was the icing on the cake of my summer. I probably should blog about all of that some time.

But when I sat down to think about how to capture “everything,” including the many things that are not listed here, one image comes to mind.

The sunflower.

I spent a lot of time during the summer looking at cheerful sunflower photos and mulling over a Helen Keller quote:

Doodled using the Art Studio App on iPad earlier this year. I can actually draw something that looks like a flower. ;-)

Doodled using the Art Studio App on iPad earlier this year. I can actually draw something that looks like a flower. 😉

My hubby’s back issues prevented his planting a sunflower garden outside my office window, but early one weekend morning, as I was having quiet time in my home office, I noticed bright, yellow sunflowers waving to me from our “back” neighbor’s yard. I grabbed my camera and hiked the grassy field separating us and spent some time with the sunflowers.

This was my favorite shot from the bunch:

Version 2

“Face the Sun”

It became a special reminder of a commitment I made earlier in the year when I was faced with one thing after another–to turn to the “Sun,” the Son of God, in all circumstances.

As summer progressed, certain situations intensified, and although I’d somewhat “mastered” coping well with things that affected me personally, I found myself slipping beneath the emotional weight of what was happening, not to me, but to people I love.  I had to constantly train my thinking and my attitude in the direction of “the Sun.”

What I love about sunflowers is their reminder to us that without the Son and/or when we live in the “shadows,” we are weighed down by heaviness and dark feelings. When we face the Son, we dwell in light and we stand tall and strong in the face of adversity.

A Box Full of Nature

My family and I were in and out of town during the month of July and “work” started hours after we returned from our last trip.  There was little time to appreciate and share the goodies that filled my mailbox over the last few of weeks.  But know that I was elated to find “nature” in the stack of mail waiting for our return–postcards and a letter that arrived somewhat unexpectedly.

The first I’m sharing is a really adorable polar bear postcard Silke sent.  She’d told me a few weeks ago that she wanted to add a little fun to my mailbox.  Of course, to my advantage, I forgotten about her intent.

From the postcard back (translated from German): Polar bears have adjusted perfectly with their white fur to their arctic surrounding. When they approach their prey, mostly seals, they even hide their black noses, if possible'

From the postcard back (translated from German): Polar bears have adjusted perfectly with their white fur to their arctic surrounding. When they approach their prey, mostly seals, they even hide their black noses, if possible.

Silke added to the description:  “Now, you tell me how they know they have black noses?”  I laughed out loud, because now I’m wondering that very thing. Animal intelligence.  More polar bear facts she shared:

  • As adults, polar bears live mostly solitary lives
  • They are the world’s biggest land predators
  • They can mate with brown bears
  • Their habitat is endangered by the meltdown of arctic ice.

She even added a tiny, happy brown bear sticker to the back of the postcard.  Adorable. Isn’t he?

Nature in my mailbox PCs-2

Candace of Glenrosa Journeys sent a postcard boasting about her coming retirement.  Okay, not really. Maybe not.  (Not sure, as I received this news as I’m beginning a new academic year). Her postcard should have been “expected” also.  We’d committed to exchanging postcards post-LYA and we procrastinated sending.  I couldn’t decide which one to send, and Candace was lazy–her words, not mine.  😀  She shared a beautiful butterfly postcard and quote that were worth the wait:

“Like a Butterfly” by Candace

The quote:

I want to fly like a butterfly around this beautiful world, till the last frame of my life and the last click of my heart.  –Biju Karakkonam

To see more Candace’s beautiful photography which focuses on the nature of Phoenix, Arizona, you must see her blog,  Glenrosa Journeys, or Flickr album.

Lastly, I received a letter from Beckra, a friend and colleague I met through swap-bot.  This was totally unexpected, especially since she had just sent me a special package a couple of weeks before–and I hadn’t even had a chance to respond to her yet.  Way to put the pressure on, Beckra.  😉

In addition to her newsy letter, she shared her photography story (read: philosophy) and three of her photo postcards. [Click an image for a closer look]

She writes:

Photography is a different way of experiencing, and one that helps me see differently. […] Without photography I’d never spend so much time with water and light, and I’m grateful for that.

I featured Beckra’s calming photo postcards in an October 2014 post I might need to revisit in a couple of days when classes begin: Getting Through the Crazies: part i.

Thank you, ladies, for adding beauty and joy to my life! You’re on my snail mail list for this week. Hugs…

Everything Changes.

Everything Changes

Everything Changes