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!

Possibilities

“Possibilities” by Diane W., Midteacher on swap-bot

The academic year began with far more drama than I expected, and I’m finally finding a few moments on a less crazy night. I’ve been reflecting on the mixed media photography piece Diane W., Midteacher, sent for the “Raindrops” swap I hosted a few weeks ago.

Last Monday, I marched into my office after dropping my son off for his first day of school, happy to have a full seven hours to transform “possibilities” to realities. I had such plans! But one obstacle after another hindered any progress on anything day after day for almost the entire week.

When my own classes began two days later, I was not prepared. I “faked the funk” and pushed through, but by Friday, I was deflated–my only solace was knowing I had the weekend to recuperate.

Today, I took a short walk after my morning classes, annoyed by another hindrance. Through some connection in my thoughts, the words Diane worked into her photo surfaced–“today is full of possibilities.”

Was I going to let one thing gone wrong ruin a whole day filled with possibilities? Was I going to allow my week to be hijacked again?

Of course not! There’s too much at stake.

I shook off the icky feelings, returned to my office and got to work…chipping away at the possibilities.

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!