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.

Liberate Your Art 2017: “Experiment, Play, Create & Liberate”

The LYA blog hop has begun!

As mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, I participated in Kat Sloma’s Liberate Your Art swap again.  The swap has been running for seven years. I’d “just missed” the first year when I found out about the swap, but I’ve participated every year since.

This year’s stats:

876 pieces of art liberated
146 artists participating
12 countries
30 US states and territories

The words that make up Kat’s theme, “Experiment, Play, Create, and Liberate,” serve as “clues to an expressive, playful, and free approach to making art.” She encourages participants to “keep those four words with us over the next year as we create and share our art.”

I’m happy to report that I received all six unique pieces of art sent my way. [As usual, April is insanely busy, and I haven’t had a moment to stage and photograph the postcards in my environment, so please forgive me].

“Angles and Lines” by Christopher A. 

My first card came from Christopher of Michigan, a piece of art he created in December 2016. Christopher’s circumstances “made” an artist of him and compelled him to take a minimalist approach to art.  He works with what’s available to him–a pencil and a piece of paper folded to make a straight edge.

He shares a quote that appropriately captures his circumstances and his art:

I’ve wanted to somehow convey to you the sensations–the atmospheric pressure, you might say–of what it is to be seriously a long-term prisoner in an American prison.  –Jack Henry Abbott

A few days later, a little bit of Hong Kong graced my mailbox.  Kris sends “love from Texas,” but as she points out, the scene is clearly not Texas:

“Not Texas” by Kris Mc.

I love everything about this photo–the composition, the tone.  There’s so much story in this image!  You can find more of Kris’s stunning work on her blog, on Instagram, and on Flickr.

Greetings from Gabriola Island (Canada) came next.

“The Road to Cold Mountain,” by Paul T.

Paul had fun creating this piece, entitled “The Road to Cold Mountain.” I find it intriguing.  I’d love to know more about it!

Siobhan sent a calming photo postcard with a clock tower reflected on a rippling river.

“1902 Clock Tower” by Siobhan Wolf

The photo was shot at Riverfront Park in Spokane, Washington.  You can find more of Siobhan’s work at Wolf Tales, her blog.  I love her signature line on the card… #bethelove.

Ella sent a whimiscal watercolor.

“Puff” by Ella L.

Ella completed this watercolor a few years ago.  She sends her card with wishes for the “joy of playfulness.” Ella is a freelance illustrator who works with children’s books and poetry among other things. You can find more of her work on her website: Ellapointe Studio.

If you’ve been following along for the last several years, you know Kat’s postcard always ends the swap.

When I retrieved Kat’s card, I had mixed feelings–excitement because the “long anticipated” Kat card arrived, but disappointment because the card meant the end of the swap and I have to wait a year before it comes around again.

Digital Painting by Kat Sloma

Kat surprised me this year.  Instead of sending one of her photos, she sent a colorful digital art piece.  I realize, though, I shouldn’t have been surprised.  She’d been posting digital paintings via IG: kateyeview.  Trees are one of Kat’s favorite things to photograph, so I like how this image pays tribute to one of her favorite subjects.

Thank you Christopher, Kris, Paul, Siobhan, Ella, Kat and all the other wonderful artists who courageously share your art.  Your creativity inspires me!

I am so grateful for you, Kat.  Thank you for consistently, patiently, and meticulously coordinating LYA.  Your work pushes all of us to strive for the best in our work as artists.

Fortunately, side swaps help us liberate even more art.  If you’re interested in swapping away those extras, let me know. I’ll post the postcards I sent on “Microblog Monday.”

If you want to see more “liberated art,” check out the video featuring art from some of the participants. For a more comprehensive view of the exchange, click the tiny blue frog below.

 

Until next time…create more art!

Love Inspired: Loyal Birds and “Fowl” Words

For a recent “Love Inspired” swap for the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot Gale D., my partner, went birds and feathers on me.  The goal of the swap was to pair a love quote with an appropriate photo.

Gale settled on a quote from  A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh:

Some people care too much.  I think it’s called love.

Gale does a lot of bird photography, so she sent me two of her favorite photos.

The first, a pair of Mute Swans:

“Mute Swans” by Gale D., grstamping on swap-bot

According to Gale’s note, the Mute Swans “stay together forever. It saves time and energy, and they produce more cygnets this way.  They make a great team.”

I found some interesting tidbits about Mute Swans on Cornell University’s All About Birds Site.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Mute Swans are not native to North America
  • The swans pretty much mate for life, but will find another mate if a partner dies
  • Their reputation for monogamy along with their white plumage has helped establish them as a symbol of love in many cultures
  • The Mute Swan is the “star” of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling
  • The swans are pretty aggressive (so give them lots of space)
  • The oldest known Mute Swan is 26 years, 9 months old

Gale also sent a pair of Canada Geese and their goslings.

“Canada Geese,” by Gale D., grstamping on swap-bot

Gale wrote that she loves Canada Geese, but although they adapt around humans well, she hasn’t had much opportunities to get close to the geese.  Ironically, she lives in Canada.  This particular photo was shot in a cemetery pond.

There are a LOT of Canada Geese on the university campus where I work.  She’d have no problem getting up close and personal with them. During early fall, they pretty much rule the campus, even stopping traffic at times.  That can be annoying, but it is a pretty glorious sight to see them take flight in formation.

During the second year of their lives Canada Geese find a mate, and like Mute Swans, they are monogamous and mate for life.

It truly is inspiring to find such “faithfulness” and “loyalty” in the animal kingdom.  We often think so little of them, but we have so much to learn from them.

Photography: Taking Shots and Finding the Right Challenge

Last month I attempted Fat Mum Slim’s Photo-a-Day.  I completed the challenge a few times and thought it would encourage me to get a little creativity in each day.  Unfortunately, the timing was wrong. The semester was beginning and the weather was strange.

I captured about nine days before the possibility of capturing a photo every day in January slipped away.  I gave up when I realized I was pretty much  just “taking shots” and not actually “crafting” or “creating” anything.  Here’s what I did capture as part of the challenge.

Day 1: Favorite ColorPurple, of course.  An ornament on my Aunt Elaine’s Christmas tree.

Day 1: Favorite Color

Day 1: Favorite Color

Day 2: Delicious–Avocado.  My favorite fruit. Yum!

Day 2: Delicious

Day 2: Delicious

Day 3: Circle–The circular ironwork on a mailbox.  I know it’s more a nautilus, but you get the point. 😀

Day 3: Circle

Day 3: Circle

Day 4: Animal–Ferret.  Say “hello” to Gnash! He’s kind of a ham–or maybe just curious about the camera.

Day 4: Animal

Day 4: Animal

Day 5: A Favorite Thing–Books! A tiny sneak peek at the books in our home library or the reason why I can’t be a minimalist.

Day 5: A Favorite Thing

Day 5: A Favorite Thing

Day 6: Me–A Selfie.  I’m not into selfies, so I played around with the pic.  A bit cheeky, eh?

Day 6: Me!

Day 6: Me!

This is me too!  Same photo. Different manipulation.

Day 6: Me!

Day 6: Me!

Day 7: Time–Quotes in my planner on time.  It was such a coincidence that the quotes in my planner coincided with the theme for the day! I had to capture it.

Day 7: Time

Day 7: Time

Day 8: A Wall–This is a part of the inspiration wall in my office on campus.  It has quotes, beautiful images from friends and students, photos of family members, sunflowers, cards, and so much more. Eye and soul candy to get me through the challenging days.

Day 8: A Wall

Day 8: A Wall

Day 9: Mail–Beautiful postage from Senegal that I’d planned to use in a project and postcards and a letter with vintage postage that were “adorning” my desk.

img_6401

Day 9: Mail

Day 12: Leaf–I captured the leaf photo late one windy evening.  Bronze leaves against the black sky.

Day 12: Leaf

Day 12: Leaf

I found it boring, so I altered it. This “shows” the wind.

Day 12: Leaf

Day 12: Leaf

I “failed” at photo-a-day, but some good came from this failure.  It freed me to have some photo fun at the New Orleans Botanical Gardens (I’ll share that adventure another time).  (And) through this exercise, I learned that I want a more intentional photo challenge, one that is about more than a photo and a theme.

Thanks to Alice’s Grand Adventures, I found The Dogwood 52 Week Challenge.  This challenge is manageable during the busy academic year: it removes the pressure to capture a photo every day based on a specific theme, and it’s about stretching and growing as a photographer.  The assignments are “in one of three categories: storytelling, technical, artistic impression.”  The good news is that even though we’re seven weeks into the year, I’m not late! The challenge is designed to begin at any time; it’s up to the individual photographer.

So…I’m in!

I’m looking forward to sharing the challenge with you each 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.

Morning by Morning…

When I awakened this morning, I felt overwhelmed by my external and internal to-do lists and deflated by life in general.  I pushed through my desire to hide from the world today and climbed out of bed only two minutes later than planned.

Shortly after breakfast, I heard my little one, who typically opens his blinds first thing in the morning, exclaim from his bedroom, “Wow, look at the sky!”  I raced to his window and beheld this gorgeous pre-sunrise sky.

Morning Sky

“Morning by morning…”

You know what happened next. I threw on a couple of jackets, grabbed my camera, and raced outdoors because an early morning sky can transform from dramatic to ordinary in the blink of an eye.

New Mercies

“New mercies…”

I didn’t spend a lot of time outdoors, but the few moments alone with my camera and the sky reset my mood.  While gazing at the sky, I began to sing a line from “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” one of my favorite hymns–“Morning by morning new mercies I see.”

All I have needed...

“I see…”

The sky led to the song and the song led to the biblical text which inspired the hymn:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

I’m walking with gratitude for the awesome promise of “new mercies” each morning, and I am a bit “lighter” knowing that God’s “great love” will rescue me, even from myself.

Autumn Happy Mail

I hope you’re not tired of reading about autumn, because I received a bit of autumn happy mail today and I have to share!

Swap-bot’s Midteacher sent a swap in an autumn-themed envelope with a gorgeous autumn card and photo.  Autumn was not the theme of the swap, but it is not unusual for swappers to send extras that the receiver will enjoy. Of course, my love for the season is no secret.

I will share the swap items tomorrow, but for today, let’s just take a look at the envelope and the autumn extras.  Here’s the pretty mail art:

Zentangled Leaves by Midteacher

Zentangled Leaves by Midteacher

Just seeing this envelope makes me smile.

On the inside was a card designed with one of Midteacher’s photos and embellished with paper, ribbon, and other items.

Fall Card made by Midteacher

Fall Card made by DBW aka Midteacher

I mentioned Midteacher’s card-making techniques in a post earlier this month.

She wrote a special thank you note inside which made me feel warm, fuzzy, and appreciated.

She adhered a little photo  inspiration to the inside of the card:

Photo Inspiration by Midteacher

Photo Inspiration by DBW aka Midteacher

And added a photo featuring her favorite autumn mug and a crunchy, frosty pile of autumn leaves:

"Leaves and Tea," Photo by DBW/Diane aka Midteacher (swap-bot)

“Leaves and Tea,” Photo by Diane aka Midteacher

Now, I have to make a decision: Should these go on my “Fall Wall” or should they be used in my journaling?  Maybe, they should go on the wall until I’m ready to use them in a journal. Hmmm… I’ll figure it out later. For now, I’ll just enjoy the little happy-makers.

“See ya” tomorrow…

 

“Walk to the Cross”

"Cross" @ Burritt on the Mountain

74-Foot Cross @ Burritt on the Mountain, Monte Sano, Huntsville, Alabama

I lied.  Not intentionally, of course.  When I wrote “Autumn Has Flowers Too” would be my last blog post this year featuring autumn photos, I had no idea that my family and I would walk the nature trail at Burritt on the Mountain this week.  I expected the weather to turn really cold and shake what was left of autumn off the trees, but imagine my surprise when we reached the park and found lots of color!

Our goal today, as always, was to reach the very large cross.  The 74-foot cross (with a 31-foot crossbeam) is an impressive site. It was built in 1963, “a racially integrated and ecumenical effort during complicated times, symbolizing a city balanced by a symbol of peace and faith”  (Paige Minds the Gap).

"Cross" @ Burritt on the Mountain

The Cross @ Burritt on the Mountain weighs about 38 tons.

In the past, we visited Burritt during the winter months, after the trees lost their leaves, so it was nice to experience the trail and the cross in the golden glow of autumn.

As usual, I captured many photos, but I’ll just leave a “few” for you to enjoy.  “Few” is relative, right? [Click an image for a closer look]

 

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. 😉

Fierce Woman: “Ride, Sally Ride!”

Some time ago, I coordinated a “Fierce Woman” photo swap.  A fierce woman, for the purpose of the swap, was defined as: a mover and shaker in science, music, politics, history, art, dance, theatre, literature, activism (etc.) who inspires other women to strive for excellence.  Participants had to find a quote by a fierce woman and capture (or choose from their collection) a complementary photo.  Tynkerbelle aka Zoey aka Peppie, shared a shot from a launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  She appropriately paired the photo with a quote by Dr. Sally Ride (1951-2012) who was the first American woman in space (1983).

Sally Ride by Tynkerbelle aka Zoey Rayne aka Peppie Selders

“All Adventures…” by Tynkerbelle aka Zoey Rayne aka Peppie Selders

Being a “wordsy” type of woman with a son who is both “wordsy” and “sciencey,” I have to keep up with space, astronauts, and a lot of other science stuff that usually holds my attention for only a few minutes at a time.  I enjoyed being able to share Zoey’s photo with him and teaching him about Dr. Ride, but I learned a little something myself.  While I knew Dr. Ride was a physicist and (of course) an astronaut, I did not realize that she also had an undergraduate degree in English.  Of course, that did my English professor heart a world of good! I tell students all the time that a degree in English can place them on the path to any career they desire.  Dr. Sally Ride is evidence–with a degree in English, one can soar!

All adventures, especially into new territory, are scary.

I keep the photo inspiration on my desk as a reminder that it is natural to be afraid when I venture into new territory, but I shouldn’t allow fear to keep me from moving in the direction of my dreams.

What’s your favorite “fierce woman” quote? Share it in the comments, and maybe, I’ll make some photo inspiration with “your” quote.