Choose Kindness.

I thought I was at the end of my “kindness rope” earlier today. Then, a postcard arrived that helped me hold on a bit tighter.

PeggyO sent the card below for a Literary Wisdom Postcard swap, a series I host for the “All Things Book-Related” group on swap-bot.

Purple Crocuses and Kindness

Let’s take a moment to squeal because…well…purple crocus flowers! [Thanks, Christine]

The quote does not directly relate to my situation, but it reminded me to continue being who I am. A kind person. Even when I’ve had enough.  Even when I am saying “no.”

What do you do when your kindness is taken for granted? When you have been overly kind, generous, gracious, but it’s not enough?  When those on the receiving end are less than kind and seem insatiable, wanting more and more and more of your kindness?

I hope you choose kindness.

Note:  The quote, though ascribed to Mark Twain, did not originate with him.  Find out more here: Quote Investigator.

 

Photo Magic: Exploiting the Possibilities

I’ve been playing around with photos more than usual lately, altering them in PhotoShop and iPhone apps.  I love putting them through multiple processes just to see what evolves.  My selections for Liberate Your Art 2017 came out of such photo-play.

The postcards I sent began as a purple orchid and a pink coneflower.  Both were captured at the New Orleans Botanical Garden in late January–a blog post for another time.

Here’s the orchid–original and altered.

Purple Orchid, Original New Orleans Botanical Gardens, 2017

Magical Orchid, 2017

The orchids were protected in an enclosed, temperature-controlled space. However, the coneflower survived outdoors despite the winter weather.  It offered one of the few glimpses of color in the Garden that cold January afternoon.

“Coneflower,” Original, New Orleans Botanical Gardens, January 2017

I “transformed” the coneflower in many ways and couldn’t decide which to choose for LYA, so I decided to have all of them printed as postcards.  I selected randomly for the swap.  Here’s a peek at 10 of the 15 edits.

“Coneflower Magic,” 2017, Collage Made with PicsArt

Even though I struggled (as usual) with selecting photos for LYA, I chose these not because they represent my best work but because I had so much fun with them.  Since so many things have been so serious and heavy this year, I wanted to share lighthearted images.

A photograph can be naturally beautiful, flawless even, but there’s still something liberating about exploiting the possibilities of it.

My Bouquet of Yellow Postcards

My Yellow Postcard Bouquet

I cannot let March end without sharing the big yellow bouquet of postcards I received in honor of International Women’s Day/Women’s History Month.  With Beckra’s (ongoing) permission, I hosted her “Yellow Flowers for International Women’s Day” swap on swap-bot for the fifth time.  I felt compelled to share the yellow blessing with the Love Notes community and many were excited to participate.  So, in addition to the swap-bot participants and the women in my circle of family and friends, I also sent dozens of postcards to Love Notes participants.  In return, my mailbox was filled with yellow flowers all month long.

The first postcards came from my two swap-bot partners, Jan and Valerie [Click image for a closer look].

My penfriend Beckra sent a bright closeup of a yellow flower she photographed.  She hasn’t participated in the swaps lately, but she always sends me a card for IWD.

“Happy International Women’s Day.” Photograph by R.R., Beckra

Then, the cards from my Love Notes pals made their way to my P.O. Box from various parts of the USA and the world.

Christine B’s was the first to arrived with an IWD greeting and a sweet message–“You are an outstanding woman and I am glad we connected.”

“Happy, Happy International Women’s Day.” Photographer, Christine B.

After reading the Karle’s Wings post, Christine sent a second postcard, orchids, in memory of my sister, Karlette.  Isn’t she the best?  There’s a special heart hidden in the photo. Can you see it?

“Orchid for Karlette.” Photograph by Christine B.

I usually don’t mind postal markings on postcards.  I “minded” this time. :-/

Lorelei sent a coloring card with a couple of spots colored in yellow:

Illustration by Johanna Basford, from Secret Garden 20 Postcards

Many sent photo postcards.  Some, like  Beckra’s and Christine’s, featured the photography of the senders [Click image for a closer look].

Ellen even used a stamp featuring my favorite flower:

Sunflower Postage

Some sent “store-bought” postcards: [Click image for a closer look].

Many included inspiring messages:

“Life is Beautiful.” From Jackie W.

She is clothed in strength and dignity,and she laughs without fear of the future.  –Proverbs 31:25

We get so worried about being “pretty.” Let’s be pretty kind, pretty funny, pretty smart, pretty strong. –Britt Nicole

“Waterlily.” From Eileen of Germany

Little yellow flowers
Dancing with the breeze
Little yellow flowers
Huddled round the trees
Little yellow flowers
Seemed to know my pain
Little yellow flowers
in my mem’ry will remain.  –Valerie Dohren

Yellow Jessamine, State Flower of South Carolina with an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, State Butterfly of South Carolina.  From Connie of S.C.

Some women fear the fire; some women simply become it.  –R.H. Sin

“Tree Cotton Plant.” From Sheila L.

May we continue to make progress on all issues that affect women.

Some featured the art of the senders with inspirational reminders [Click an image for a closer look].

Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.  –Mother Teresa [Cricket]

Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.  –Unknown [Lori W.]

Debra D. sent an elegant “thank you” for my “hosting” the swap.

“Thanks,” Heartmade by Debra D. of Virginia

Martha S., whose work has been featured on Pics and Posts before, sent one of her gorgeous artistic creations with a poem (the scan does little justice).

“Cherry Blossom Season.” Artist Martha S.

An artist to me
is one
of those
kind of prophets
of our community.
Their antennae,
or their sense
of what’s
happening,
is so vital
and so pure
that we always
need to listen
to them. –Fiach Mac Conghail

And finally, Lori-Anne C. of Canada,  sent a handmade, sunflower-shaped postcard that made me squeal on a day when I really, really needed to be reminded to “face the sun.”

“Sunflower Love.” Artist Lori C.

The beautifully written message on the back of the postcard was just what I needed to hear the day it arrived.

Isn’t that an “amazing” message?

You are amazing and strong and brave and wonderful!

When life tries to convince you otherwise, be sure to carry this heartfelt message with you.

Thanks, ladies, for all the postcard love!  Until next time…Hugs!

Discovering Spring in a Pretty Purple Pansy

Although we’ve had consistently warmer temperatures for the last week or so, spring has not actually sprung here in Northern Alabama.  I’ve been waiting a bit impatiently for the blossoms to fully appear, but it seems the temperamental winter we’ve had has made our early spring less brilliant than usual.

We’re not the only ones experiencing a delayed spring.

I received a postcard today from my photog pal, Diane, Midteacher on swap-bot, for an A Thousand Words group swap, “Early Spring Photo Postcard.”  She writes that it is still “clearly winter in Michigan.  The freezing cold and bitter wind hasn’t let up.”  As a result, she had to find a little spring at a local nursery’s “Spring Expo.”

Purple Pansy by Diane W.(Midteacher on swap-bot)

Of course, I’m pretty pleased with this gorgeous purple pansy. Not only is the pansy beautiful but the presentation is stunning, so I’m grateful Diane was forced to find spring in another way [Sorry, Diane].  She writes that the pansy was popular among the attendees and she “enjoyed watching everyone’s faces light up when they saw” the pansy. I wish she’d seen my face light up when I retrieved her postcard after work today!

How appropriate that Diane accented the flower with the word “discover.” I’ve been looking for strong evidence of spring (beyond temperature) for a week now!

Now, I have to figure out which inspiration wall needs this purple pansy most–the one at home or the one at work???

Has spring sprung yet in your region?

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!

Another Round of Love!

We completed the first round of Love Notes 2017 a couple of weeks ago.  Again, I had a beautifully artistic soul with whom to exchange cards and messages.  My partner, Carolyn D. of Garden City, Idaho sent handcrafted cards with elegantly handwritten messages.  It was always such a treat to find one of her notes in my mailbox.

For week 1’s prompt “I can trust the universe because…,” Carolyn sent:

“Create Art” by Carolyn D.

I can trust the universe because of its maker, who shows Himself in the laughter of the children, the beauty of nature, and the kindness of strangers.

Week 2’s prompt, “I invite you to tend to your soul…” provided me with a gorgeous card and much needed advice.  I should have heeded this advice before I was forced to spend four days in bed.

“Feathers and Spools,” by Carolyn D.

I invite you to tend to your soul in a tub of hot water with your favorite bubble bath… Then, donning warm socks and a pair of sweats and reading your favorite book while curled up in your favorite chair.

I’ll be tending my soul and body in this way tomorrow with a hot cup of tea added to the prescription. My soul and body need this.

And for “Love is…,” the dreaded week 3 prompt (dreaded because that means the round has come to an end), Carolyn appropriately sent hearts and love.

“Hearts and Love” by Carolyn D.

Love is…

  • taking time to help someone when you’re in a hurry
  • being kind when someone’s opinion differs from yours
  • God giving you strength when you are overwhelmed by the events in the world and in your country

I’m intrigued by how Carolyn can take torn paper and cut outs and make such visually appealing cards.

We were similar in our approaches to the prompts and I thoroughly enjoyed our exchange.  She ended the swap with a nice lengthy note telling me a bit about herself.  I’m happy to add her to my growing list of postcard pals.

As usual, I received extra cards from other Love Notes participants turned pen friends.  I shared Martha’s cards here and here.  If you haven’t seen it already, you’ll fall in love with the adorable raccoon watercolor.

  • Jacki sent a multi-paneled postcard, “Driftwood Art” by Martin Wiscombe.  This one was sent from the future, as it was dated February 18, 2017.  I love it!  I’ll make a point of revisiting it on 02-18-17.
  • Lorelei sent a “Did You Know?” postcard about Five Missions of San Antonio, Texas.
  • Sheila, a new Love Notes friend shared a woodblock print by Holly Meade, a Maine artist. Check out Reach Road Gallery for more.
  • Marrianna, another new friend and very talented photographer shared her gorgeous flower, edited in iColorama, one of my favorite editing apps.  You can see more of her work on her blog, Snapshots in Time.
  • Christine, who is a prolific postcard sender, sent her cheerful watercolor tulips.

[Click an image for a closer look]

The next round begins in April. Plan to join in! For more information and to sign up, click here.

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. 😉

“Art Takes Courage”–Liberate Your Art 2016 Side Swaps

The party is never really over with Liberate Your Art.  It is pure pleasure to find a “random” postcard from another LYA participant in my mailbox.  I had the good fortune of sharing with many other photographers and artists long after the swap and the blog hop.

Wanna see?

“Dandelion in Snow,” Photo by Christine

Christine of Flagstaff, Arizona has been a faithful postcard sender since our first interaction shortly after Liberate Your Art 2016. She sent the dandelion with the blessing, “May you find peace and love everywhere you go.  Enjoy life.  Share and trust.”

“This Spring” by Christine

This was not one of Christine’s LYA selections.  She shot the photo in the spring and lamented the crazy weather–snow in May with wind that took the petals off the trees.  Fortunately, she was able to capture the beauty before the ravages of unpredictable weather.

And for the last LYA 2016 postcard, Christine sent a photo of gulls she captured in Mexico on the Sea of Cortez.

Photo by Christine

“Six Sand Pipers Walk on Water,” Photo by Christine

She also reminded me that “Today is the tomorrow I worried about yesterday,” so “live it up and enjoy!” Christine introduced me to the fabulous Love Notes community and regularly sends postcards to many in the group. [For the record, I know the postcard depicts only three birds].

Pat sent a distressed crow with hugs from the Pacific Northwest.

“Birds-Eye View,” by Pat M.

The problem with not posting things soon after receiving them is I misplace all sorts of pertinent information, like whether or not Pat has a blog or how we even connected.

Laurie of Color Poems shared a sweet photo postcard of peonies, chives, and atmint from her garden.

“From My Garden,” by Laurie

Laurie and I “met” three years ago via LYA 2013. She has since been a loyal supporter of “Pics and Posts” and of me personally.  Along with well wishes, she shared a quote on the back of the postcard: “With the coming of spring, I am calm again.” –Gustav Mahler

Sheila Delgado is a multi-media artist I met a couple of years ago through LYA.  She’s been enjoying new ways of painting my favorite flower–the sunflower.

“Sunflower Twins,” by Sheila Delgado

Sheila also printed a bit of creative inspiration on the back of her card.  She appropriately selected a Georgia O’Keeffe quote:  “To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.”  Sheila features more sunflowers and other art on her blog: Sheila’s Corner Studio.

Louise’s postcard made its way to me from France. She shared a view of Venice.

“Venice” by Louise Mamet

Louise, a professional photographer, described her visit to Venice as “magical.” Check out her stunning photos at Drops of Everything.  If you have time for little else, check out her post on the “swimming pool turned museum.”

Kat van Rooyen is a certified zentangle teacher and a photographer. Can you guess what she sent?

“Zentangle,” by Kat van Rooyen

The original was drawn on Canson watercolor paper with a Micron O1 Sakura pen. Kat’s artistic wisdom graced the back of the postcard: “No one can see through your eyes: no one can speak your art. Create!” If you want to know more about Kat and/or zentangles, find her at Hearts Untangled.

Sherry, who lives on a remote island off Kodiak Island, Alaska, sent her mixed media piece with hugs and a John Muir quote–“In every walk of nature, one receives more than he seeks.”

“Conceive, Believe, Achieve” by Sherry H., Amook Island Creations

I originally met Sherry through swap-bot, but it’s such a delight running into her through LYA.

When Janice posted her extra postcards in the LYA Facebook group with an offer to share, I could not pass up the opportunity of getting my hands on this elephant!

“Indian Elephant,” Art by Janice D.

To use a teeny-bopper/college student expression, this elephant is “everything!” Both my mom and my little one collect elephants, so I really wanted the elephant for them.  The purple–my favorite color–is a bonus. 😉 Beyond the purple, I appreciate this piece because elephants are soooo hard. Okay, for me any drawing presents a bit of a challenge, but I remember drawing elephants for my little one when he was actually a little one.  He celebrated all my elephant art and even though his aesthetic sense has developed quite a bit, he still encourages more than laughs at my drawings and sketches.

Find more of Janice on her blog: Janice Darby Photography.

I swapped art tools with Lynn, who describes herself as an”environmentally conscious” artist: I sent her a pencil and she sent me lots of pencils.  Even trade, right?

by Lynn

“Soul Colors,” by Lynn R.

Lynn can be found at the Studio at Piney Creek Acres or, if you don’t want to make the trip to Pennsylvania, at Trash Bubbles and Life’s Little Bits.

And finally, this impressive magnolia was from a 2015 LYA side-swap, but it came long after the 2015 posts. I love the quote on the front of the card.

“Sweet Magnolia Blossom,” by Shelley Shockley

The heat of the sun awakens my spirit

just as it unfurls the petals of the

first magnolia bloom of spring.

If memory serves me well, Shelley and I both included magnolia photos among our 2015 selections. There are so many types and they’re all simply breathtaking, so it’s nice to include others’ magnolias in my collection.

Want more of Shelley? Check out her blog: Consider This: Visual and Verbal Views from Collinwood.

If you missed my two earlier LYA 2016 post, you can find them here: Tardy for the Party and My Photos into the World.

Ciao!

NaBloPoMo November 2016

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!