#ThursdayTreeLove | Blue

How do you see that tree? It’s [blue]? Well then, make it [blue], the best [blue] on your palette.  –Reduction of Paul Gaugin’s advice to his student Paul Sérusier [The actual quote below]

This has been the most rainy and dismal winter I’ve experienced yet. I was certain I would lose my mind if I woke up this morning to the sound of rain hitting the window. Thankfully, even though it’s still gloomy out, I awakened to silence. “Lo and behold,” there will be sun tomorrow, and, based on the forecast, we won’t see rain again till Tuesday. Woohoo!

I captured the tree above one morning last week on the way to work. I was drawn to the two trees leaning into each other and the mist rising from the earth (no longer visible), but I was weary of gray skies, so I turned the whole thing blue. 😀

How do you see that tree? It’s green? Well then, make it green, the best green on your palette. How do you see those trees? They are yellow. Well then, put down yellow. And that shadow is rather blue. So render it with pure ultramarine. Those red leaves? Use vermillion. –Paul Gaugin


I am joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

Finding Color with the Tiny One

“The Little Explorer”

Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. –Oscar Wilde

The Southern magnolias are blooming and spring is breathing her last. Last week when we visited my cousin and her family, her daughter who is four, noticed me photographing the magnolias and the tiny purple flowers near the front door and made it her job to find all the remnants of color and flowers left in the garden.

So while the guys looked over a “fixer-upper” vintage Corvette, we searched for all the bits of color still hanging on in the garden. [Click images for a closer look].

We found pink in “once roses.”

 

Purple, always camera-ready.

 

Almost-missed yellow hiding out in all the green.

 

White hydrangeas hiding in the shade of trees in the front garden. And my favorite “unloved” flower, dandelions, in the back.

 

Green, of course–new holly berries and lettuce, one of the many leafy greens growing in their back garden.

 

Purplish/blue hydrangeas hiding against the back fence. [They look purplish here, but they really were more bluish “in real life.”]

And more purple from the lamb’s ears plant that I’m sure was some small animal’s feast.

We found a tiny green heart-shaped leaf.

And lots of colorful flowers on the little explorer’s skirt.

These photos aren’t so great. In our search for color, I simply followed directives. The tiny one was a taskmaster, so there was little time for composition and focus.

Just as we had exhausted color in the front yard, their neighbor’s dogs came charging at us full speed and barking ferociously. That was my favorite part of our adventure. Not! I stood shock-still in terror while the tiny one stood chatting away, oblivious to the danger the dogs posed.

It’s amazing how quickly things change. Just weeks ago their gardens–front and back–were exploding with color. I missed the hydrangeas and roses in full bloom, but I managed to capture the Japanese magnolias and apple blossoms.  I have yet to post the apple blossoms on the blog, but if you missed their gorgeous magnolia, click the link and take a look. They’re certainly a treat for the eyes and soul.

Wishing you a weekend full of color and light…

4-4-4: Four Weeks, Four Topics, Four Notes

Building a snail mail relationship through (random) swapping isn’t always easy.  Quite frequently, I receive from or send to a person knowing we won’t hear from each other again until years later when one of us is randomly selected as the other’s partner again. In some cases, never.

A couple of years ago I hosted a four-week, four notes photography swap to deal with this problem.  The swap, called 4-4-4, invited participants to select four topics from a list of 12 and send one photo representing each of the four chosen topics to their partners every week for four weeks. The photo was just one part of the swap.  Swappers also had to make the photo part of a letter, notecard, or postcard in which they explained or provided details about the photo, technique, inspiration, or the story behind the photo.

This was one of the best swaps for me. I really got to know my partners. I learned about their photography styles, their families, their careers, their personal philosophies, and more.

I decided to host the swap again.  This time my partner was Diane of A Focused Journey, Midteacher on swap-bot.  Diane and I communicate regularly through swaps and “random acts of mail,” but I learned a lot more about her life and her creative work.

Diane’s chosen topics were beauty, color, alone, and fragrant.  Take a look:

Week 1: Beauty

Outside of “Beauty” Card by Diane, Midteacher on swap-bot

“Beauty” by Diane, Midteacher on swap-bot

The “beauty” photo features a weeping pine that sits outside Diane’s kitchen window. She fell in love with its unusual form when she saw it in a friend’s garden.  She, then, took on additional work at a local nursery to purchase the tree.

She especially loves how the raindrops form on the tips of the needles, so the theme “beauty” is appropriate for the photo.

Diane sent oversize postcards for weeks two and three.

Week 2: Color

“Color” by Diane, Midteacher on swap-bot

The scan doesn’t capture the colors in this postcard very well.  The postcard features a photo of “clouds in color” that Diane duplicated in the background she created for the photo. She captured the photo one afternoon when the sun was “sending rays of beautiful colors as the clouds were moving across the sky.”  She wrote that she must have taken 30+ shots trying to capture the light and color.

Though I’m sure this was not Diane’s intention, I like how the quote underscores the selection of this photo–it’s not perfect in the eyes of the shooter, but it is a wonderful image.

Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.

Week 3: Alone

“Alone” by Diane, Midteacher on swap-bot

The theme isn’t obvious on this one.  The yellow tulips hold a dear place in Diane’s heart.  She had a pretty difficult autumn one year.  The school that she loved and where she taught was closed due to budget cuts, and she was sent to a school that was challenging or “hellish,” as she describes it.  Then her son, a marine, was deployed to Afghanistan.  While out shopping and downcast, she found yellow tulip bulbs on clearance.  It was past planting time, but she bought all three bags and planted them.  The following spring, the tulips bloomed beautifully bringing her joy.  Eventually, her son returned home safe and sound.

She writes in sum:

I felt alone that fall, but every spring these tulips remind me otherwise!

Week 4: Fragrant

I  was almost sad when I saw the week four envelope.  It meant our weekly exchange had come to an end, but when I opened the envelope, I smiled from ear to ear. Sunflowers! Such a beautiful and appropriate ending to our swap.

These brightly colored flowers–miniature carnations and sunflowers–posed brilliantly on the island in Diane’s kitchen. The fragrance filled the air and greeted her each morning and as she passed throughout the day.

Diane can’t know how much I appreciate her for sending three different versions of the photo–the original and two edits.  They now have homes on my inspiration wall at home and at work!

As I mentioned many times before, I admire the way Diane works her photos into mixed media art.  Although we have very different approaches to photographic art, she and I share a mutual appreciation for each other’s work and we learn a lot from each other.  We often share tips and ideas, and because of my curiosity about how she crafts her photos, she recently recommended a book on photographic journaling techniques.  It’s on my list for the summer.

Look forward to my “trial and error” mixed media posts in the next few weeks.

Until then…

Have a happy mail day!

Collage Art: The Little Matisses

“In the Style of Matisse” by Vaughan

[Art] is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence.  –Henri Matisse

By now, you know that there’s a special place in my heart for children’s art and art created for children, so as promised, I’m back with another dose of fourth grade goodness.

About a month ago, Mrs. Johnson, my son’s fourth grade teacher, introduced the students to the art of French artist Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse.  Matisse, whose work spanned many decades, worked with various styles and media.  Mrs. Johnson’s art lesson focused on a technique Matisse mastered late in his career after illness and surgery left him physically unable to paint and sculpt–collages made from brightly colored paper cut in various shapes and sizes. I’m sure the students loved playing with construction paper, glue, and scissors to create their own masterpieces à la Matisse!

My little one created the one above. These (below) were created by the other students in the class. [Click on an image for a closer look].

Sixteen little Matisses. The bold colors and unique shapes are mesmerizing.  It is obvious that the children enjoyed creating the collages. I wonder if they felt as “mysterious” and “adventurous” as some of these pieces feel.

I’m no art expert, but as far as I’m concerned, children’s art–even when it is imitative–is always fresh and always bears a stroke of originality and innocence.

To find out more about Matisse’s life and career, check him out here: Matisse: Life and Painting.

The weekend is here:  Why not take some time to create something with construction paper, scissors, and a little glue?