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.

(Monochrome) Photo Play: Water, Light, and Fairies

I’m baaaaack with another monochrome photos post.  I can hardly believe the last monochrome post, “Animals in Monochrome,” was in January. I didn’t realize how much time had gone by.

I attempted a “Water in Monochrome” swap earlier in the year, but there were no takers, so I was pleased as punch when my penfriend Beckra joined the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot and joined the swap when I “re-created” it in September.  She had been experimenting with shooting water in black and white, so the swap was perfect for her.

Beckra shared two photos which exhibit her photographic interactions with water and light.  Both photos were shot at her happy place, the creek at Woolly Hollow State Park.

“Writing on the Water,” Creek at Woolly Hollow State Park, by Rebecca R. (swap-bot: Beckra)

This first photo was captured “close, close, close-up” while wading and crouching in the creek. Beckra writes that it “seems like the light is writing on the water in a kind of cursive.”  Interestingly, it also looks like a fire dance.

For the second photo, she had been trying to capture the “starlike glints” on the water and was pleased to find this photo did not disappoint.

“Starry Creek,” Creek at Woolly Hollow State Park, by Rebecca R. (swap-bot: Beckra)

Although the next photo was not part of the swap, it is a “water in black and white” photo and it completes a perfect trilogy of abstract water photos.

“May Moontrail” by Rebecca R. (swap-bot: Beckra)

Beckra sent this one at the beginning of summer break, a moon trail on the lake. She followed the bright moon to the water and was able to capture this reflection, a beautiful “luxury of the summer.”

The guys and I found different places to experience nature and we were overjoyed to find some hangouts near or on water.  Being a Westbank NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) girl, I feel a little lost sometimes not having the Mississippi River down the street from me.

I sent four photos, two from summer and two older photos because I am sort of proud of the monochrome renderings.

Wheeler Lake in Black and White

Wheeler Lake in Black and White, iPhone Photo, 2016

This photo is from Wheeler Lake, which is located between Rogersville and Huntsville in Northern Alabama. The lake was formed by a dam along the Tennessee River. Although part of a popular tourist spot, we were among very, very few people in the area we explored.

Here’s another favorite shot from Wheeler Lake park:

Wheeler Lake Park, Huntsville, Alabama, 2016

“Where Fairies Play,” Wheeler Lake Park, Huntsville, Alabama, 2016

Although flawed, this one was fun to work with because I had to remove a HUGE orange garbage can from the shot.  For some reason, it reminds me of a place where fairies play.  I think I read one too many medieval romances last month.

Ditto Landing marina, described as “Huntsville, Alabama’s gateway to the Tennessee River,” is my new favorite spot.  We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the area and are looking forward to returning soon. You can learn the history of Ditto Landing and see gorgeous pics on the website.

The “Closed Bridge” photo featured in Friday’s post was from Ditto Landing. Here’s the original photo.

Closed Bridge, Ditto Landing, Original

Closed Bridge, Ditto Landing, Original

And a favorite edit:

Closed Bridge, Ditto Landing, Huntsville, Alabama, edited in Snapseed

Closed Bridge, Ditto Landing, Huntsville, Alabama, edited in Snapseed

Here’s another one of my favorite photos from Ditto Landing–a nice balance between air, trees, water, and land.  There’s so much more to explore I can’t wait to go back.

“Balance and Order,” Ditto Landing, Huntsville, Alabama, 2016

As mentioned, I also sent two older photos: a sepia photo of from “The Fly” at Audubon Park, featured earlier this year in one of the nature photo challenge blog posts, and a photo of waves crashing against the rocks (was it mountains?) in Maui.  Although I “heart” the original photo, I couldn’t resist the purple.

The Purple Wave, Maui

That’s it for now.  Until next time…I’ll be riding the purple wave…

Pretty Purple Postcard!

Squeals! Look at what was in my mailbox:

"Creativity, Light, and Love," by Tiare Smith Designs

“Creativity, Light, and Love,” by Tiare Smith Designs

Neither my hubby nor I checked our mailbox Thursday, so this bit of awesomeness was retrieved Friday morning as I was heading out to work. Why the squeals?  My friend Cy and I “discovered” Tiare Smith Designs moments apart.  I actually shared her Etsy link with Cy when I saw some AKA sorority-inspired art.  As usual, I was multitasking while shopping, so the “Tia Collection,” one of the sets of postcards I placed in my cart, sold out before I could place the order.  I lamented missing out on Tia, but who didn’t miss out? And who sent me this postcard?  Cy!

Pause for the “happy mail” dance.

According to her creator, “Tia is here to bring light and love into the world.  She has many stories to share.”  Besides her “purpleness,” I love the innocence, sweetness, and light Tia projects.  She makes me want to skip through a field of flowers with nary a care in the world.

I initially went to Tiare’s shop to purchase a birthday gift for myself–a print the artist posted in “Black Women Who Plan and Create,” a community of black women planners, crafters, and artists on Facebook and Instagram.

"Fearless Girl" by Tiare Smith Designs

“Fearless Girl” by Tiare Smith Designs

This print captured everything I was feeling in the few days after my birthday. Focused. Determined. Fearless.

There was so much eye candy in the shop that I couldn’t resist purchasing other prints. Besides, I had gift cards to spend. 🙂 I purchased a total of 16 postcards, and Tiare included four extras, including three abstract still life prints and a multi-paneled print with tips for including it in planner layouts.  Here’s a peek at the order:

A collection of prints by Tiare Smith Designs

A collection of prints by Tiare Smith Designs

Tiare is a mixed media artist and instructor who obviously has fun with her work, but she also takes her work and her customers seriously.  She has great customer service–ships quickly, responds to questions, and customizes orders.  If you want to see more of Tiare’s art, check her out at Tiare Smith Designs or at her Etsy Shop. She’s also on Instagram and Twitter as @iamclassygirl and on Facebook: Tiare Smith Designs.

It’s always a treat to find a random postcard from Cy in my mailbox, partly because the writing side is always handled with simplicity and elegance.  Her message included a quote sticker:  “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” A “truth” to live by! 😉

Thank you, Cy, for always having my “postcard” back.

 

 

Playing with Black and White (Part II): A Touch of Color

Yesterday, I shared Part I of “Playing with Black and White” (Flowers).  Today, as promised, I bring you Part II.

The second swap in the “A Thousand Words” group’s B&W photography series, “Black and White with a Touch of Color,” invited photographers to stretch their skill just a little further by keeping just one color in the photo.

Mahlermail sent three photos that did not stay in my possession long; my little one requested them for his nature album moments after I opened the envelope.

“Leaf” by Mahlermail, October 2014

She captured the leaf in North Carolina while driving/riding the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It’s my favorite–an autumn leaf! 🙂

“Owl Eyes,” by Mahlermail

The owl picture was taken two years ago at a state park in the Houston, Texas area.  Its eyes are so striking, I can’t imagine them “losing” their color.

“Backyard Baby Love,” by Mahlermail

Mahlermail was fortunate enough to catch this one in her own backyard. She describes the photo as “totally cute”–a spring baby bird being fed by its mama.

I sent my partner four or five photos. Here’s one of them:

Melissa's Roses, Original Photo Taken August 2014

Melissa’s Roses, Original Photo Taken August 2014

I captured Melissa the Magnificent’s (the Program Coordinator in Academic Administration) beautiful red birthday roses on my iPad. They’ve gone through several different post-processes. I haven’t figured out which one I love the most, so I’m always looking for opportunities to use them in swaps. I’m a little proud of this shot since it shows a bit of improvement in my rose photography.

The quote is borrowed from the opening lines of John Keats’ poem, “Endymion.”

Here’s another of the shots I sent my partner–

My New Orleans, Original Photo, 2011

My New Orleans, Original Photo Taken July 2011

This photo is part of a “My New Orleans” collection of photos that I’ve been building for the last few years. I captured it while my sister, son, niece, and I strolled through the French Quarter one summer afternoon. I cheated a little by keeping more than one color, so I sent this one an extra.  Don’t you just l-o-v-e this dress?

I also played around with fish, flowers, leaves, stained glass, street art, and bird berries.

Some of these were a “miss”–they lost something they needed when most of the color was removed. But I enjoyed playing around with them.  The fun thing about keeping a little color in B&W photos is deciding which color helps the photo make a statement.

I’ll post the third part–“Buildings in Black and White“–tomorrow, or the next day.

Looking forward…

Playing with Black and White: Flowers

I’ve been experimenting on and off with black and white photography for a few years now, but I was recently “inspired” by Amy Saab’s blog post “The Roses Had Spots” to set up a series of swaps in the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot.

There are a number of photography groups on swap-bot. I belong to three or four. This group is different in that it requires photographers to be at least “intermediate” level and capable of crafting more sophisticated or thoughtful swaps using photos–beyond the simple “snap a shot and send it.” We’re a small group by swap-bot standards, but many of the members are serious hobbyists who may have taken a class or two or who have sold their photographic work at craft shows or in online shops. The idea is to challenge each other to grow and provide constructive feedback when necessary.

In her post, Amy Saab shared “flawed” roses in black and white. She “removed the color to show their beautiful structure.” I’ve done the same thing with “flawed” photos of flowers, buildings, people, and other subjects.

Even without “imperfections,” black and white photography reveals beauty in ways that we often miss because of all the color. Don’t get me wrong. I love the brilliance of color photography, but an image composed in black and white can be breathtaking.

So far, I’ve hosted three “black and white” (or monochrome) swaps–in October, November, and December 2014.  Instead of showcasing the photographs in one blog post, I will share the photos in three separate posts.

The first swap in the series was “Flowers in Black and White.” Swappers were to alter photos of flowers already in their collections and select what they consider the best two and send the B&W photos to their partners. They were encouraged, but not required, to send the color photos as well.

My partner, “Midteacher,” sent four sets. I’m sharing two because the other two are either buried under my desk clutter or are sitting in the collection of notecards I keep at work just in case I get the urge to write a note or letter during a break.

Flower in Purple by DBW

“Balloon Flower” by DBW aka Midteacher

Midteacher writes that she loves B&W photography because of the details the photos expose. “By taking away the color,” she writes, “the eye focuses on the textures and details of the shot.”

Flower in Black and White by DBW

“Balloon Flower in Black and White” by DBW aka Midteacher

She writes that she “loves the veins in this shot.”

Purple is my favorite color and I love seeing purple in nature, but I’m having a difficult time staying loyal to purple in this instance.

Midteacher also sent my favorite flower, a sunflower. She loves the industrious bee who was too “busy to notice me standing away with my camera.”

The Bee and the Sunflower by DBW

“The Bee and the Sunflower” by DBW aka Midteacher

The sunflower is stunning in black and white, especially with the added texture that doesn’t show up so well in the scan below.

The Bee and the Sunflower in Black and White by Dee

“The Bee and the Sunflower in Black and White” by DBW aka Midteacher

I sent my partner four sets of flowers in B&W. Two that appear in earlier posts–dogwood blossoms and daisies–and one that will be featured in a future post, so I’ll share only one of them here.

Untitled 2 2I shot this one in color some time during Fall 2013. The original color image also appears in an earlier post. It was one of the images I used to make a postcard for International Women’s Day 2014. The B&W photo was a bit “blah,” so I used sepia instead.

Here are two I intended to send when I began planning the swap, but I completely forgot about them when I put the swap together.  (Sorry Newfie!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I captured the water lily while on a Mother’s Day visit to the New Orleans Botanical Gardens. The lavender flower was my favorite shot of the day.  I like the photo in B&W, but I love the color one.  I found the bright orange and yellow flower while taking a walk one summer day.

Here are two bonus postcards Beckra (RR) sent.

“Wild Alium” by Beckra (RR)

“Blackberry Blossom,” by Beckra (RR).

She writes, “In early autumn Arkansas seems to undergo a second spring of sorts.  Flowers that had lapsed during the heat of summer re-emerge.”

Beckra and I were on the same photographic page when I put the swap together. She had just ordered these B&W postcards when she read the swap description, so she decided to share them with me.  I always appreciate her photographic interpretation of her world.

I’ll post the second part, “Black and White with a Touch of Color,” tomorrow.

Oh, my hubby has finally joined the blogosphere here on WordPress. While you anxiously wait for my next post, head over to his page and show him some blog love. 🙂  Find him here:  Viewfinder.

See ya later!

My Pretty Bloomers

I know what you’re thinking, but we’re talking about flowers, people! “My Pretty Bloomers” was the name of a swap I participated in for the “Color and Light Photo Swappers” group on swap-bot. Swappers were to share a photo postcard of flowers from their gardens or, in my case, a photo from someone else’s garden.

Here’s the pretty bold bloomer “Ladydy5,” my partner, sent.  She writes, “This flowers every year” and what makes it a “joy to see” is that it was a gift for a special occasion.

Ladydy5's Pretty Bloomer

“Ladydy5’s Bold Bloomer”

I also received a bloomer via email from my photog-penfriend Dee, who happened to be my send-to partner.

Dee's Pretty Bloomer

“Dee’s Sunny Bloomer”

Simply because the sunflower is my favorite flower, I played around with Dee’s photo a bit.  Here are two of my favorite edits.

And from my photog friend Patty (aka Cakers)–

Patty's Pansy

“Patty’s Pansy”

Don’t you just love the deep, rich colors of this pansy?

Like me, Patty doesn’t have a garden, but she has the most beautiful purple clematis plant.  It’s 22-years-old!  The longest I’ve ever kept a plant alive is three years.  I’m tempted to share her clematis photos here, but I’ll save that for her.  She needs to update her blog anyway. Hint! Hint! 😉

The flowers I photographed are from my friend Colleen’s garden.  She has a very pretty garden, full of variety and color.  She has some staples, such as red, pink, and white roses, but she also mixes things up a bit from one year to the next–based on what I’ve seen the last two years.  She even has an awesome vegetable garden in the back of her yard. I nabbed a few pics of grapes yesterday!

I used a few of the photos of Colleen’s garden to create a collage for my partner.

Colleen's Bloomers 2014

Colleen’s Bloomers

This garden deserves a closer look. Don’t you think?  Here’s a sampling of some of the beauties from last year’s garden. (Click an image to view larger)

Purple is my favorite color, so when I see purple in a garden (okay, anywhere), I’m going to snap a photo of it.   Colleen had purple in abundance in last year’s garden and I’m fighting not to include all of them here.  I just learned from her that the tiny pink flowers are some type of rose, something I would have never guessed.

And this year’s garden:

2014 was dominated by pink in varying shades and lots of different roses.  That yellow flower is a knockout rose–another flower I’d never guess is a type of rose.

My mom has the greenest thumb I’ve ever seen. You’d think she’d pass some of her skill and knowledge on to me.  Really, she tried.  Other things vied for my attention.  But I’m really connected with my mom and I can’t look at flowers without thinking of her, so I’ll share with you a photo of one of hers.

My Mother's Zinnia, 2011

My Mother’s Zinnia, 2011

And lastly, because “life” made me a blog slacker in the spring, I’m sharing with you the “yellow flowers” I received for International Women’s Day 2014.  If you’re interested, you can see the ones I sent out here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

That’s it for now! Enjoy!

 

One More!

What, Chandra Lynn?  A blog post two days in a row?!  Unheard of! Well, here’s the deal. We checked our P.O. Box for the first time in two or three weeks and there was a postcard waiting for me–

"Lavender," by Laurie, Silverbird Photography

“Lavender,” by Laurie, Silverbird Photography

The last of my Liberate Your Art 2014 “extra” swap postcards!  This one’s from Laurie of Silverbird Photography.  Pretty, pretty lavender.  Something about the marriage of purple and green is so appealing to me!  I met Laurie through WordPress. She left a heartfelt message shortly after my sister’s passing.  I am ever grateful for people like her who reach out and deeply touch the lives of others without realizing it.

You must check out Laurie’s blog, Shooting Glass in the Garden. She truly creates “color poems” as her site address declares: colorpoems.wordpress.com.

Note It!

Way back in October–it seems so long ago–I participated in the “4 Photos and a Note Card” swap hosted by kmug500 on swap-bot.  Swappers were required to use old photos they’d taken to create a note card. Literally. Swappers had to cut the letters N-O-T-E from photos they’d already printed, glue them to the front of a blank card or card stock and send the card on its way.

My partner, Scuslidge, sent two gorgeous cards with hand-cut lettering. Here’s the first one:

"A Note for All Seasons," by Scuslidge on swap-bot

“A Note for All Seasons,” by Scuslidge on swap-bot

Scuslidge had been planning a card that incorporated all the seasons even before this swap.  I am going to have such a difficult time parting with this card.  I think I’ll save it for someone super special whom I see a lot. Who saves cards and letters.  So I can see it again in this lifetime. 😉

My partner admitted to sending the second card because she forgot about the rule to use old photos, so she created another with photos of purple flowers from her stash.  I appreciate her honesty and am all too happy to benefit from her “error.”

"Purple," by Scuslidge on swap-bot

“Purple,” by Scuslidge on swap-bot

I had so much fun creating a card for my partner, especially since I used my trusty–though rarely used–Cricut to cut the letters.  My partner was pleased with her card, so pleased that she wants us to be neighbors  so she can use the Cricut.  Of course, that’s not a compelling enough reason for me to move to another state or make any of my neighbors move out of their homes, so I just suggested that she take advantage of the holidays and add the Cricut to her holiday wish list.  (Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the card before sending it off).

This is such a wonderful way to use old, extra, miscellaneous, or even ill-composed photos.  I’m definitely going to milk this idea till I’m out of random, extra photos.  I’ve already printed other letters (words) like the seasons, hello, hi and the like.   The challenge for me is the glue.  Glue is messy.  Glue dots?  No.   I don’t always trust double-sided tape.  So, I’m experimenting.

You should try it. You might like it too!

Good Mail In…

This was a rocky week for me, but finding good mail in the mailbox always cheers me up–immediately!  Here are the goodies that came this week:

Ernie the Envie, the swap-bot logo. I sent one out and I took one in!

This beautiful purple flower postcard was made by fellow swap-bot Sharp Shooter, FundyGirl. She photographs flowers in memory of her late grandfather who was also a photographer. What an admirable way to honor his memory!

This GORGEOUS breast cancer awareness “greeting” card was made by Namabear, a member of the swap-bot group, Crafting Queens. This was made for the “Think Pink” swap in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October). Neither the scan nor the photograph does justice to this awesome card.