Friday, August 29, 2008

Creativity has alleviated some stress

"Cardinal Lets Loose"
Digitally Enhanced Watercolor

Well, this little cardinal (who symbolizes me) is finally letting loose and playing after a day spent figuring out computer settings for making cards and other graphic design brain activities that had me on the brink of a breakdown. A voice inside of me said "stop and play!!!!". And so I let my hair down, or shall I say, let the feathers fly, experimented and allowed the spirit of creativity to take me where it wanted to.
Cardinal gal has been sitting around on a white background for a few years all by her lonesome. I supposed my fear of painting backgrounds usually left my nature friends floating on blank paper. So I decided to add some things to give her some companionship and to get past my own old hangups. The background is a little hand-painted tissue paper I finally dug out of my studio and incorporated here. There's some pretty cool brushes on the computer that I got my hands on and it felt good swirling them around. These little brush tools seemed to release some inner stress I was feeling. Little birdy looks a little crazy now, hope I didn't transfer any of my loony vibes to her. She could be overwhelmed by all the changes I did to her and the painting. Hope she doesn't get lost here now, because she is a beauty in her own right. I enjoyed moving the bird off the page a bit and liked touching a few brush strokes to outside edges, felt freeing to me. (represents me pushing out of my self-limiting boundaries).
I feel more relaxed and mellow now as I sit here writing about my new/old creation so I thank you, my cardinal friend, for letting me transform you and visa versa. Let us both soar together.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Nostalgia calls to me

"Bird of Paradise"
Photograph with Sepia Tones

"Hibiscus at Rest"

I'd like to start posting some of my more recent art/photo creations and not rely too much on those done some time ago. I feel a sense of wistfulness about how I used to paint and realize it can contribute to my "blocks". What I mean is that I think my past art (specifically with watercolor) was flowing, colorful and true to me and I long to recapture that, yet I've changed as a creative being since then and need to accept that, albeit reluctantly. Ironically, the photos above that were enhanced using several computer techniques have a nostalgic feel to them as well. So perhaps I am taking my feelings of longing for the past and applying it in a symbolic manner to some of my newer creations. Or maybe I am just a bit worn out from preparing for a recent art fair and long, at least for today, for a slower pace. I get bored with photos that are either black and white or color so thought I'd experiment with tones in between. "Hibiscus at Rest", the second photo shown above, has a hand-colored photo feel to it, which I like, and brings back memories about how photos used to be produced (Black and white and then tinged with pastel tones). I also grappled with a title for this particular image. Initially, I thought "Hibiscus Bud". Then I changed it to "Hibiscus in Decay" as the bloom seemed a bit lifeless, and had brown, curling edges to it. That stirred some darkness within me that I didn't want to deal with. So I looked at its peachy-pink tones, which had an aliveness to them, and called it "Hibiscus at Rest". Now I've always enjoyed titling a piece and making it meaningful by adding human connotations to it, which is why I'm being fussy here. And maybe the writing class is making me more aware of how powerful words can be. Wow, just writing here has stimulated me to want to write a story (or elaborate on what I've written here). Isn't it curious, at least to me, how emotions can better be explored and understood through creative avenues? And the added tool of writing about it here seems to give me an even more well-rounded voice, tapping into my inner depths. I'd be curious to hear what others have to say about how they arrive at titles in their own work.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Computer's Role in My Fantasy Images

"Fountain Fantasy #2
Digital Photograph

The last few days I've been taking images which already have fantasy potential to them and tweaking them a little more on the computer. The computer offers tools and special effects that is conducive to the artist, if you don't let the technical side throw you too much. Interestingly, I had just read comments in an artist magazine regarding the fact that in their contests they do not offer a digital art category. Some of the readers griped about this, others thought digital art is really not an art form in the purest sense. I know in photography for sure there are purest photographers who will not touch computer tools and effects with a ten foot pool. So this is not a new concept for me, anyway. In fact, I admire anyone who discovers a particular medium, masters it, and does not stray from its path. I, myself, embrace anything new that evolves, especially if it helps me to express my creative voice. This has alleviated some of my creative stuckness. Granted, I have not entered any contests and competitions where there are "rules" for photography. So far, the art fairs and galleries where I have shown my work have given me free rein, which has helped me to unleash a more passionate side of me.But perhaps in the future, I'll have to abide by the rules if I explore other exhibit possibilities. So with my opinions expressed about digital art, I'd welcome the thoughts of others regarding digital technology in regards to creativity.

The photo displayed above, "Fountain Fantasy #2", utilizes some digital technology to give it a more surreal, fantasy-like quality. I was out wandering around the other day and took this fountain picture. I've taken numerous photos of this fountain, sometimes dropping flower petals into the water to give the subject an added punch. It's a pretty picture as is with the sun sparking on the water and the stony architecture has an ancient quality to it. This particular day, some clusters of newly planted petunias near the fountain beckoned to me. I took a number of photos of this image, with the petunias clear in some shots and blurred in others. The blurred effects of the petunias appealed to me, as it rendered the scene more magical. I decided to push the creative envelope a bit further with some computer tools and voila, "Fountain Fantasy #2 emerged. I had fun playing with this photo, and as fun and play seems to be my mantra these days, I was quite happy. Perhaps I'll add some elves and fairies later on. But then again, if you look closely, maybe they're there already and will come out of hiding!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Feels so Good to Hold a Brush

A Lotus Blossom Dreams

My Spirit Friend

I wrote a little story on my other blog about a stargazer lily that I posted earlier on this blog as a photo. Guess I didn't want my other blog to feel neglected although bouncing back and forth between the two is quite entertaining. After I wrote awhile this morning, I felt compelled to paint, yes, actually paint. I experimented with gesso, acrylic mediums, and watercolors, watching the various mediums act and react. It was rather interesting, I must say. Then I took a lotus blossom photo (it's actually the photo in the header above) and began to paint it. I used the photo as a jumping point and then went into my own imaginative zone, using mediums mentioned earlier. The background shapes became churches and people and other rather abstract forms. I have a small scanner, though, and the image got cropped off around the edges, so image above is only partial. From there, I decided to paint a woman from a small book of paintings done by the Old Masters. Then I added another female figure next to the first. My impression is that she could be the spirit of the woman to the right. The yellow glow depicts this. Notice the bamboo tree trunk and branches on the top and bottom of this painting. I took this sheet of paper which already had chinese brush strokes (from a previous Watercolor class) and added the women into the middle. I think bamboo means good luck and prosperity so perhaps I was infusing those good vibes into this creation. And maybe the Olympics in Beijing factored in as well. Whatever the reason, just glad to be painting.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Dreamy/Active Evolution of Myself

Original photo of Stargazer Lily

Computer Enhanced Photo of Stargazer Lily

Art fair coming up in several weeks, so want to put in a few new images. Will show some of my creations in action here. Hoped to have painted something to post on this site, but may have to settle for jazzing up some photos instead. Don't get me wrong, don't feel I've lost the painting bug, just think that when I put paintbrush to paper, a whole different part of my creativity will come out. I mourn a little the watercolorist in me who thought that I had found the perfect medium. But I am changing, wanting more brightness, more color, more variety so am exploring other mediums to satisfy that. Why I'm waiting and not taking action yet is beyond me. Perhaps afraid I won't be perfect, or maybe instead I'll enjoy it so much I'll never want to stop painting. I'd like to think it's the latter. So, in the meantime, I have my photography (and my writing) to keep me connected to my creative self.

I took a picture of a stargazer day-lily recently. I was attracted to this flower for its dynamic color and the way the lights and shadows reflected on it. I zoomed in on it so the stamens had a more active part in leading the eye to the center. I've read that diagonal lines can add interest to a picture, so this seemed to fit the bill. I enjoy taking dreamy pictures, but this one seemed a little more alive to me, more energetic. So decided to push this aliveness a little more on the computer. I feel symbolically this flower represents me becoming more alive, awakening to who I am, yet still needing to push my more dreamy self in the process. Which of course relates to my hesitation to plunge into other painting mediums (dreamy self seems safer, less accountable). The need, however, to continue to embrace all mediums still necessary to my evolution. Whether they play a big or not so big part in my life at any given point, I feel each one is a teacher to me, offering me lessons. And if I no longer find a medium useful to me, I will let it go, even if I have misgivings, and make room for new explorations.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Magic and Mystery of Creativity

Peach Daylily Through Glass Door Window

Pink Hibiscus with Dragonfly Floating on Water

Pink Hibiscus Floating On Water

Duck Close-Up

Well, I'm in that roller coaster phase of either settling for the art/photos I have for upcoming shows or searching for new creative opportunities out in the world to stretch my limits. I have decided both are vital to my growth. The creative pieces I've already done give me a sense of sureness and stability, anything new I create tap into the emerging side of me that needs to be heard. The first photo above was of a hibiscus taken through a glass window door a few steps from where I live. It made me realize I do not have to travel thousands of miles to capture nature's beauty. A few days later I went to a nature preserve, a place I go to often. The different seasons always give it a different look and feel. Discovered as I was walking on a dock several pink hibiscus flowers floating in water. Were they artificial, had some previous photographer set up a nature still life, or was it just meant for my eyes only? I opted for the last scenario, welcoming the images before me and was delighted when a little dragonfly perched on a petal. The little creature seemed to add an air of fragility to the already dainty stilllife. From a heartful point of view, loved the pictures. From a technical aspect, photos seem a bit blurred, due to lack of tripod and a family of humans jumping up and down on dock. This family was feeding corncobs to ducks or fish, who knows but I snapped duck coming in to investigate. I was a bit irritated with their disruptive nature, but calmed down as I captured this intimate wildlife portrait. Ah, how therapeutic my camera is! If I decide to fine-tune these photos for future show, I know that enlarging them will cause pixels to appear (Ah, delights of the computer!). So may not use any of them, unless I keep them small. Would appreciate thoughts and comments on them, nevertheless.