Sunflower Surprise!

About a week ago, my guys and I encountered sunflower fields during an early evening drive. I’m sure you can imagine my reaction. I was giddy. Seriously. I almost jumped out the car while it was moving.

The fields are part of a farm that was closed for the day. We parked. I swooned for a few minutes, zoomed in as much as I could, took a dozen shots, and made a note to start carrying the 300 mm lens.

Fortunately, the farm is only a few minutes away from home, so I plan to visit later this week for a closer look.

“Who’d a thunk it?” Sunflower fields in Northern Alabama. A beautiful surprise.

Get your shades ready. We’re going to have another brilliant week of sunflowers.  🙂

Kindness Week Day 1: Kindness at Home

About a year ago, we “celebrated” kindness on Pics and Posts by featuring seven consecutive days of posts on kindness. The world can always benefit from a bit of kindness, so it’s Kindness Week again. Instead of sharing kindness-themed postcards and messages written by senders, I’m asking that we do more than read pretty words and inspiration. This week let’s focus on kindness at work.

I’ll drop in every day with a brief post and a general “kindness prompt.” I won’t be too specific because we all have our gifts, our ways, and our sense of what someone (or something) needs.

Since genuine kindness is altruistic, there’s no need to report or share your acts of kindness with others. This is not about show and tell or about social media and selfies. It’s about developing and exercising a truly kind spirit with no intention to gain–not even attention.

We’ll get the ball rolling by taking the advice of Mother Teresa and starting at home.

Today’s Kindness Prompt: Show kindness to your family members. You know them best, so you know the kindness they need. Keep in mind that kindness isn’t always tangible. A kind word spoken at the right moment can be all a person needs.

In addition to the prompt, I’ll share postcards, art, and photos because every blog post needs a bit of eye candy. 😉

Note on the image: A little more than two years ago my hubby and son planted zinnias outside my home office window. It’s the gift that keeps giving. For three summers the zinnias have bloomed beautifully and have beckoned the butterflies. This year’s first flower opened today. The image above was shot the first year the flowers bloomed; it is edited, of course.

If you’d like to (re)visit last year’s kindness posts, see the links below:

Quotes Challenge Day 2: Wild and Free

Today’s quote–All good things are wild and free–comes from “Walking,” an extensive essay written for The Atlantic by Henry David Thoreau, the American essayist, philosopher, and naturalist best known for Walden and “Civil Disobedience.” The essay, published after his death, was a combination of two lectures, “Walking” (1851) and “The Wild” (1852), which Thoreau combined, separated, and combined again for publication (1862).

The opening of the essay provides a clear snapshot of the content:

I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil— to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society.

When I shot the photo above (last year, late spring), my “real” camera was out of commission, but I was determined to still take advantage of photo opportunities. As a friend and I were leaving a bookstore late one morning, a mini-daisy field caught my eye. How odd it seemed in the middle of all the commerce! Neither the magazine purchased nor the hot beverage consumed could evoke the good feelings that a moment with the daisies yielded.

The one sentence from Thoreau’s essay captured my feelings–“all good things are wild and free.”

The full quote sums up preceding paragraphs in which he valorizes the “untamed” or natural over the “civilized” and cultivated.

In short, all good things are wild and free. There is something in a strain of music, whether produced by an instrument or by the human voice—take the sound of a bugle in a summer night, for instance-which by its wildness, to speak without satire, reminds me of the cries emitted by wild beasts in their native forests. It is so much of their wildness as I can understand.

Take a moment to read the entire essay. If you want to know more about Thoreau, see the Walden Woods Project. There’s a series of links near the end of the Thoreau background information page that you will find useful.

“The Spirit of Sauntering,” a Brain Pickings article published a few years ago, offers an analysis of Thoreau’s “Walking.” You might want to check that out too–or instead, if Thoreau’s writing style does not appeal to you.

Today’s challenge nominees (see previous post for rules):

It’s almost the weekend! Be sure to tune in tomorrow for my final quote of the challenge.

Quotes Challenge Day 1: Do It Afraid!

As I was fretting over today’s blog post, I received notification from Divya of Merry Motherhood that she nominated me for the Three Quotes in Three Days challenge. Quotes? Of course, I’m in!

The rules are pretty simple:

  1. Thank the person who nominates you
  2. Post one quote per day for 3 consecutive days
  3. Nominate three new bloggers each day

Thanks Divya! [Divya blogs about first-time motherhood among other things. You’ll love her Day 1 quote–straight from Calvin and Hobbes!]

This challenge is especially timely since I’ve been working on projects that involve integrating quotes for the last couple of weeks. Now, I have a reason to share a few of them immediately–instead of some time later.

Today, I’m sharing the photo and quote I shared for the “Fierce Woman” swap I blogged about a week ago.

When I blogged about Sally Ride two years ago, I asked readers for their favorite “fierce woman” quote. My blogging friend Sheila of Sheila’s Corner Studio responded with a quote by Georgia O’Keeffe that I knew I had to work into a photo:

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.  –Georgia O’Keeffe

The quote speaks to Sheila because:

[I] found that when I was in high school, and I have never forgotten it. I found it so hard to believe, and so reassuring. She was such a trailblazer, before her time. Since then, I have read about many extraordinary women who claim to have felt the same way. Yet, they have achieved great success.

I didn’t expect it to take me almost two years to use this quote. Part of the reason is that I didn’t want to use just any photo. I wanted to imitate O’Keeffe’s style with a photo edit. After many tries, I was satisfied. I think.

O’Keeffe Inspired

Here’s a link to some of O’Keeffe’s flowers.  How did I do?

The trick was placement of the quote.

Inspired O’Keeffe Inspired

Unlike O’Keeffe, being “absolutely terrified” has hindered my conquering a few things. I’m not a complete “fraidy-cat” though. What I have done, I’ve pretty much done straight through the terror–which emboldens me to take on bigger, scarier ventures. As cliché as it sounds, “doing it afraid” takes real courage. In fact–as O’Keeffe’s words suggest–facing each day takes courage.

Today’s nominees are:

Be sure to tune in tomorrow for more inspiration!

Everyday Fierce

Can you imagine walking through a fish market and encountering a woman who is so content, so fierce that her smile captivates you, even as she’s slinging a knife and her hands are covered in blood and guts?

When my photographer friend, Gale D, traveled to Mumbai some years ago, that is exactly who she encountered. The woman, “who was cutting baby sharks, had an incredible smile and a beauty that did not match her surroundings” or the task she had undertaken.

“Fierce Woman” by Gale D.

When she saw the description for the “Fierce Woman: Photo Inspiration” swap in the A Thousand Words group on swap-bot Gale knew she would use this image. The swap, just like the others I’d hosted in the past, required that individuals pair an inspirational quote by a woman with a complementary photograph. Gale felt Jennifer Lee’s quote captured the experience and the photo:

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.

This quote has been attributed (by some) to Lee, noted for directing Disney’s Frozen, but I haven’t been able to find any information on when and where she said this.

What I appreciate about the pairing of the photo with the quote is that it speaks against the usual narrative that our pursuits must be grand or lead to magnificent outcomes, that they must involve an encounter with and a conquering of our fears. The woman in the photo shows us that even the mundane moments of everyday life require fearlessness, passion, and fire.

Re-liberating the Re-liberated Art

Well, I promised I’d be back with a post on the bonus Liberate Your Art package I received.

At the end of the LYA blog hop, Kat held a giveaway for participants in the hop. As noted on her blog, by random drawing, she gave away:

  • One 6×9″ fine art print of this year’s final celebration image, “Art brings Light to the World”
  • One copy of the second edition of her book, Art with an iPhone: A Photographer’s Guide to Creating Altered Realities, which was published at the end of 2017.
  • Eight packets of postcards from other participants. These were extra postcards participants sent to give to Kat’s helpers on “swap day.” There was a lot of love and appreciation left over.

Guess what! I won a set of postcards!

I know you want to see the “bonus” postcards. Right?  Be sure to read to the end because my blessing could become your blessing.

There was an eclectic set of seven postcards in the envelope–one a duplicate of a side swap, one similar to a side swap, and the rest new to my eyes. Here they are:

Natasha P’s “Peony Party” was featured in yesterday’s blog post.

“Peony Party” by Natasha P.

So was one of Janice’s angels–though this one is different.

“Winging It” by Janice D

Check out my previous post to find out more about these artists and their work.

The first “new to me” piece was made by Jennifer Calvin.

“What Is It?” by Jennifer C

Have you figured out what this is? It’s handmade paper! Jennifer makes paper. How cool is that? You can find all sorts of paper and other artsy stuff she makes at Wild Oaks Studio.

The next one was made by Karen J. It’s a mixed media project that won first place at the Ohio Montgomery County Fair.

“Variety” by Karen J.

What is the art made of? According to Karen:

the underlying paint is acrylic. Attached are various round items including: giant checkers, backgammon blots, tiny spools, buttons, tiddlywinks, jewelry pieces, slices of a huge woody vine from my backyard, faucet handle.

The next postcard came from L. Hudson, I assume.

Art by L. Hudson?

I have no information on the art or the artist, but the person included an email address and a printed message on the back:

Now go make something happen with your art!

Carolann  shared a multi-view card featuring scenes from Western Ireland.

“The Best of Ireland” by Carolann M

Carolann dedicated this year’s card to:

the beauty of Western Ireland and the open hearts of its people. It is truly the land of a thousand welcomes [and] to the Moores of County Mayo Ireland [family].

I like that phrase, “a  thousand welcomes.” She added a blessing, of course:

May your heart and your art be filled with Irish blessings.

Last, but not least, a lush autumn scene shot by Nick H.

“Autumn Glory” by Nick H

Nick writes–

This card is from a scene from the area where I am lucky to live in Yorkshire.  I enjoy traveling and making new friends around the world but I especially love to come home to this beautiful part of England.

Yorkshire is indeed beautiful. And if you know how much I ❤ autumn, then you know that you might see this photo again in a few months.

Now that this art has been liberated by the artists, again by Kat, and liberated again by me, I want to liberate the art even more! The postcards need writing and postal marks, evidence that they’ve traveled. Don’t you think? Sooooo, I’m sending these out into the world AGAIN.

Two are already claimed–I promised a friend the peonies and I’m keeping autumn (sorry, not sorry). 😉

That means the other five are up for grabs! If you want one, let me know in the comments. I’ll write a note and send one on its way to you. First come, first served. No strings attached.

Happy Day!

Liberate Your Art: Side-swapping Shindig

It’s always a bit of a challenge when Liberate Your Art ends, but side swaps help participants extend the camaraderie a little longer. I was so insanely busy when the postcards for side swaps started coming in that I just placed them in an envelope to enjoy after grades, reports, and meetings.

That time has come!

I received 13 cards via the extra swaps, plus a bonus package I’ll share tomorrow. Would you like to review them with me? Here goes…

Sherry H. of Amook Island Creations sent a reproduction of a mixed media piece accented with a Matisse quote:

“Always Flowers,” by Sherry H.

There are always flowers for those who want to see them.  –Henri Matisse

She encourages us to “look to nature for inspiration.”

From Terry O, an “in-progress” project:

“Slow Stitch” by Terry O.

This is a “slow-stitch” project. All of it is done by hand. Terry “attached a worn, paper thin vintage handkerchief to a sturdier fabric–a pink linen tablecloth, thereby creating a new piece.” Isn’t it pretty? I’m impressed that it was stitched by hand.

My penfriend Lisa C sent a “city shot” as she describes it.

“City Shot” by Lisa C

I almost didn’t notice the buildings because I was “lost in the clouds.” Interestingly, the postcard Lisa sent last year also featured clouds.  She shot this from the parking lot of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

You can find more of Lisa’s work on her blog and her website, Chasing the Sun.

Christine B, my faithful friend, sent two. Here’s the first one, a macro shot of a dragonfly.

“Dragonfly” by Christine B.

My hubby added this one to his collection. [He says, “Thanks, Christine!”]

Kathy and I agreed to swap before I received her card as part of the main swap, so I was surprised (and elated) when she sent another mixed media piece.

“Heart in Hand” by Kathy Mc

Like the first one (see LYA 2018 post), this one also started as a magazine page. She altered the page with oil, pastels, acrylics, citra solv, and monoprint. You can find more of Kathy’s work via Sol Sister Studio, her Facebook page.

As expected, Janice D sent a gorgeous mixed media piece–an angel, this time.

“Winging It,” by Janice D.

Her note, appropriate:

We’re all winging it. That’s what angels do.

You might want to go and take a look at last year’s Dreamer again and her LYA blog post to see more of her angels.

From my blogging friend Louise of Drops of Everything:

“Dancing Clothes” by Louise M

Until I read Louise’s caption (“Dancing Clothes”), I was prepared to entitle this one “Linen and Things.” 😉 She added a quote to the back:

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.  –Mother Teresa

I remember hanging up clothes to dry outdoors during the summer when I was younger. I was not yet into “seeing” or photography, so it didn’t strike me as “artistic,” but I had lots of fun running and playing through the drying clothes. Louise’s image makes me wish I could recapture those moments from my childhood.

Check out Louise’s blog for more of her photography and art.

My neighbor, PJ, moved away, but she remembered to reach out for a side swap (She used to live in Tennessee, not too far from me, but moved to Kentucky earlier this year).  She sent mountains:

“Flyover to Oaxaca” by Patsy J (PJ)

The painting is part of a triptych PJ created during a Paint Fearless Mexico retreat last November in Oaxaca. She was inspired by the mountains she flew over to get there.  I’m loving the color combination and would love to see the other parts.

My blog friend, Sheila D, sent a lovely bouquet of flowers.

This piece, a giclée print, was featured in UPPERCASE Magazine. She’s a celebrity! Sheila is seriously productive. You can find more of her work on her blog, at Society 6 or on Instagram.

In keeping with the floral theme, Natasha P. sent a peony party:

“Peony Party” by Natasha P.

This appears to be a mixed media piece. Natasha added a quote on back:

Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.  –Mary Lou Cook

After visiting Natasha’s blog, I realize that I’d received one of her postcards–a peacock–the first year I participated in LYA. In fact, she was featured in my first “real” blog post. How nice to reconnect! Natasha has a thriving henna business in San Diego.

Peonies seem to be the thing this year. I’m seeing photos and art of peonies everywhere I turn. I even “discovered” some peonies I shot some time ago. I’m not sure they’re worth sharing though. Maybe, I’ll play around with them…

Val vdP of Mellowood Studio sent a beautiful winter-themed watercolor:

“Shadows in the Snow” by Val vdP

Isn’t it just perfect? Val works with various forms–watercolor, acrylic, mixed media, monochromatic, oil. She even does lessons and paint parties. Find lots more of Val’s work on her website: Mellowood Art Gallery. Check out her blog too!

While we’re on the subject of watercolors, Christine sent a pair of sandpipers:

“Sandpipers” by Christine B

Confession–I had to “google” sandpipers to make sure I had the right bird. This watercolor is spot on! 5 green stars, Christine!  I think we should talk Christine into starting a WordPress blog, so she can share her art and photography with a wider audience.

And lastly a “butterfly on deck” from Teresa H.

“Butterfly on Deck” by Teresa H.

I coveted this postcard when Christine posted it in the LYA 2018 group on Facebook. Fortunately, Teresa had one left and she kindly sent it to me! The quote is perfect.

But on paper things can live forever. On paper a butterfly never dies. –Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming

Teresa wrote that the butterfly is “about the size of your palm and glides slowly and majestically from blossom to blossom, so it’s easy to get good photos.”

Though it was my first time swapping with Terry, Natasha, Val, and Teresa, I’ve “side-swapped” with the other artists before, and some have become blog friends and regular penfriends whom I’ve come to cherish over the years. I’m looking forward to building more friendships as we move along this artists’ road.

Tune in tomorrow to see the contents of my surprise LYA package!