30 Days of Creative Joy!

My artist friend Sheila invited me to participate in a 30-day Creative Challenge for the month of September. With the beginning of the academic year and a million other demands on my time, of course I couldn’t resist. I needed motivation to take a few moments for creative joy each day.

Throughout the month, I doodled, drew, photographed, wrote poetry and prose and worked on two major creative projects. Here are some of the “little things” from this month’s moments of creative joy.

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I “created” a whole lot more than this. I drew or doodled something almost daily [especially sunflowers], but I sent some with letters and notes and didn’t get around to scanning others. The photographs [on my camera] were a bit too overwhelming to tackle after a long and busy Monday, so I took the lazy way out and went with photos shot with my phone.

Not surprisingly, flowers dominated, and I was also a little obsessed with clouds. But did you notice the two bears I drew? I was determined to draw a bear yesterday. My not-so-little one gave me some pointers [he’s really good!], so I think I’ll continue working on bears next month.

That’s it for now. Sleep calls.

If you’d like to check out more art created this month, check out the 30 Days Creative Gathering group on Facebook. The artists are a-maz-ing!

Have [creative] joy!

Optimism and Joy | #WordlessWednesday

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

 “Don’t Hesitate | Swan: Poems and Prose Poems | Mary Oliver
After taking a couple of “mental health” days, I returned to work yesterday and found a huge bunch of cheerful mums from my colleagues sitting in my office. The flowers brightened my spirits and made it easier to get through the day. I did not expect to meet such “sudden and unexpected” joy, but I grasped it without hesitation.

I read somewhere that mums symbolize “optimism and joy.” I like how that phrase honors the moment I’m in while at the same time reaching toward what can be and what will be.
Note: The top photo was shot with my Canon; the bottom two shot with my phone. I had so much fun experimenting with camera settings. I captured way more than three photos, but I’m exercising restraint. 😀

The End of the Rainbow with Patti LaBelle | #WordlessWednesday

I’m not sure if you can tell from the photo above, but we saw the end of a rainbow! I’ve seen many rainbows, but I’ve never seen the end of one. My guys and I were so excited that while en route to an open house at my son’s school, we pulled over to capture a shot. It was far more brilliant when we first noticed it, but by the time I grabbed my camera out the trunk, the rainbow had begun to fade.

Who knew that the rainbow ended on the university campus at which I work? And there wasn’t even a pot of gold!

Well, at least we can enjoy the amazing vocal range of Patti LaBelle in [not one but] two “out of this world” performances of “Over the Rainbow”–a 1989 performance at the Apollo Theatre in New York City and a 2014 performance at the White House for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. I can’t choose, so I’m leaving you with both.

Until next time…

Duck Tales | #WordlessWednesday

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.  –Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata”

On a recent visit to the park, I observed the little girl pictured above and her older brother chattering and interacting with the ducks. Based on their conversation, they visited the park frequently. They “knew” the birds personally, gave them names, and as you can see, fed them from their hands. I couldn’t resist photographing such a precious sight.

Snapshots from an Early Evening Walk

As I mentioned in the previous post, my guys and I took an evening walk some days ago in a nearby nature preserve to see if we could spot the recently released rabbits that were under our care. We didn’t find the bunnies, but we found nature being her wild best.

We love walking in this park. We encounter beauty with each step, whether on the open trail which frames the pond, or the covered trails where we’re more likely to encounter the creatures that make the park their home.

Though much of the brilliance of summer has faded, there’s still so much to enjoy: Unloved flowers showcasing their beauty for those who have learned to see it.

Bugs that feast on the flowers. [Look closely]

Sun-kissed clouds floating above the trees, making way for night.

Random splashes of color.

Feasts for birds…

and the smallest animals.

Remains of fallen trees that continue to give life.

A surprise gift–a moth waiting patiently to be photographed.

A brightly colored flower captured as we exited a trail.

The final gift of the evening.

I hope you take some time this weekend to sit [or walk] quietly in nature, find strength, heal your soul, connect with the Divine.

A Fortunate Find: A PhotoArt Journal

“A Fortunate Find.” PhotoArt by Diane W.

One of the most gorgeous mail packages I received this year came from my photog friend and art journaler, Diane W, aka midteacher on swap-bot. If you’ve been following along for a while, you might remember that she enjoys working her photographs into mixed media works of art using paint, fabric, paper, washi tape, and other materials.

“Mail Call.” PhotoArt by Diane W.

Over the years, I’ve watched her skills develop and evolve and her projects become more and more complex and beautiful. Sometimes the beauty is difficult to convey through photos.

“There Is Beauty in Simplicity.” PhotoArt by Diane W.

Such is the case with a photo journal she sent early this year for a “Favorite Photos of 2018” swap. The swap invited photographers to look through the photos they shot the past year and select those that brought them the most pleasure.

“Went Off Bravely.” PhotoArt by Diane W.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to share this project on my blog for months! Beyond the visual, there’s the heart that goes into her work, and that can’t be captured.

Diane is attentive to every detail–from cover to cover.

Photojournal Cover by Diane W.

On the binding, she “dangled” charms that feature my interests and personality–an owl, (sun)glasses, leaves (trees!), and of course, a camera and a sunflower!

“Charmed Binding” by Diane W.

I know Diane chose her favorite photos, but her selection aligns with my loves–sunsets, vintage/unique mailboxes, [places of] solitude, leaves, rusty old things, autumn, and sunflowers.

“There Is a Strange Fascination.” PhotoArt by Diane W.

I l-o-v-e the way she arranged the elements on pages. I also love, love, love how she affixed to each page a phrase perfectly matched for the featured photo. How did she do that?

“Just at the Moment.” PhotoArt by Diane W.

I’ve placed [photos of the] pages throughout the post, but I’m not convinced this is the best way to share.

After the fact, I realized I could have created an “unpacking video,” so you could experience my glee and the heart and soul that went into the journal. Unfortunately, I don’t pause long enough to think of a video when I receive mail– especially when beautiful envelopes like this are pulled from the box:

My original plan was to write individual posts for each page of the journal, but after reviewing my backlog of “to be blogged” materials, I decided to choose a few. Soooo…I look forward to giving the four below their hour in the sun. [Click an image fo a closer look].

And guess what! I have another art project from Diane that’s been on “blog hold” even longer, so we have that to look forward to also.

Diane has been encouraging me for a couple of years now to venture out of my digital comfort zone and start “making a mess” with my photographs. I have far too many creative irons in the fire, but I’m beginning to see how this can work with my writing.

I’ll get there, Diane. Eventually. I will.

You can find Diane blogging about photography, her art journals, and “a focused journey” on her blog and on Instagram. I’m sure she’d love for you to follow and play along.

Have a fantastic week!

Shining with the Moon

North Pole Topography–from the HMOA advertising postcard

The moon, like a flower
In heaven’s high bower,
With silent delight
Sits and smiles on the night.

William Blake, “Night,” Songs of Innocence

In honor of the 50th anniversary of man’s first step on the Moon–July 20, 1969–I am sharing more photos from a visit to the Huntsville Museum of Art, this time from the exhibit, A New Moon Rises: Views from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. The traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum “features amazing, large-scale high resolution photographs of the lunar surface.”

The images were captured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) over the last decade. I snapped only a few photos because the lighting and reflection from the shiny displays made photographing a bit challenging, but here’s what I captured.

Global Views

The “Global Views” display shows the South Pole, Far Side Mosaic, Near Side Mosaic, and the North Pole views of the Moon. You can find more details on these views by clicking here: Global Views.

My photograph of “High Noon on the Moon” was so filled with “people reflections” that it’s distracting, so I borrowed the image below from the Smithsonian website. [Click image to download or for more details]

“High Noon on the Moon,” from the Smithsonian website.

The sunlight at noon minimizes shadows but enhances subtle differences in surface brightness. The dark material is mare basalt, a volcanic rock that formed when lava erupted and flooded large impact basins early in the Moon’s history. The brightest features are ejecta, deposits and bright rays of material thrown from relatively recent impact craters. Notice how dissimilar the near (upper left) and far (lower left) sides appear.  –from the exhibit label

A section of the Lunar Topographic Map

The lunar topographic map above “shows the highs and lows over nearly the entire Moon at a pixel scale of 300 meters (980 feet). The colors represent elevation, from lowest (purple to black) to highest (red to white). the map is centered on the Moon’s near side.”  For the elevation scale and more images and details: Lunar Topography.

Although the moon looks “black and white to the naked eye,” if you look closely at this [partial] image, you can see hints of color.

The subtle variations in color seen here result from the differences in the chemical composition of the rocks and soil of the bright highlands and the dark lowlands.

The craters were probably my favorite of the displays. The two images below are from the Copernican Craters. The “ejecta patterns” make the craters look like works of art. Actually, they are masterpieces of nature in “outer space.”

These two impact craters have large, spectacular ejecta patterns of bright material thrown across the Moon’s surface. […] Each is incredibly well preserved: crisp crater rims, steep crater walls, and delicate small-scale ejecta patterns. The overhead sunlight highlights the brightness variations. –from the exhibit label

I’m holding photographs of another crater for a future post, so stay tuned.

We have marvelous views of the Moon and stars each time we step outside our home at night, but these gorgeous LROC photos give us things to look for and think about when we’re looking through the telescope.

I have a special “relationship” with the moon. My name, from the Sanskrit, means “moon” or “to shine like the moon.” Some say I live up to the name. I hope so.  😉