Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A New Blog Called "Dark Places"

Today I have started a new blog. If you click to the right on "Dark Places" blog, you can access it. The intent of the new blog is to help me delve into the darker side of me, into my shadow self. I feel it is necessary to create this new blog, as the inner stirrings of myself seem to demand another outlet. The Dark Places blog replaces Finding My Voice blog. Sometimes we need to empty out the old to make way for the new. We shall see how it progresses, and I invite you in now and then to take a peek. As always, I welcome your comments and am honored you are coming along for the ride.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bowser the Cat

"Bowser the Cat"

Well, I suppose it was inevitable that a cat would pop up here today. With all the little birds flying around on my site the last few days, what could be a more alluring treat for these amber eyes to behold and fantasize about?
Earlier this year, I was wandering out by my local library, camera in hand. Flowers dazzled my eyes and I walked around to the back of the building to get some day-lily close-ups. Entrenched deep into my photo zone, I almost stepped on a black and white cat rolling around on the cement sidewalk. He jumped up and moved to safer land, hiding in the tall stalks of grass and peeking out at me. A librarian walked up behind me and said "That's Bowser, Bowser the Cat. I've kind of adopted him at the library, and have been feeding him". We chuckled together about the cat's name and I noticed the librarian's eyes were filled with love as she gazed at her adopted cat friend. I decided right then and there to take a few photos of him and promised I'd give her a copy. Several weeks later, I noticed Bowser was no longer around the premises. After inquiring of his whereabouts, I found out he that he was now living in Connecticut, with a friend of the librarian. I thought that now the photo of Bowser would become even more of a treasured memory to cherish.
Today I went to the library and gave the librarian the photo of Bowser. On the front of the photo, I attached a small Sparrow card I had painted. I thought that would be a humorous little twist, letting it lie right on the cat's face (with only some sheer plastic to keep the two creatures apart). Inside the card I wrote "To Mary From Bowser (and Beverly). The librarian stared at it for a few minutes, seemingly lost in memories. "Bowser is doing well now, has gained weight, is healthy", she softly said. One of the fellow librarians standing nearby said, "Too bad you didn't take him in under your roof". The librarian nodded silently, knowing that another addition to the 6 felines she already had would be next to impossible. Ever the photographer, I told the librarian that I had tried to erase the stalk of grass in front of the cat's face (via photoshop tricks, but had given up the task). "I like the cat with the stalk of grass". Glad you didn't do anything like that to the photo", she commented.
She peered closer at the cat's image. "Ah, yes, see the beauty mark on his white fur by his whiskers? Isn't that something?" she said, beaming. I, myself, had thought it was a smudge on the camera lens which had made its presence known on the photo and had tried to erase it. When it did not come off, I figured it was a spot of dirt or something the cat had picked up in its roamings. Never did I think it was a beauty mark, a legacy of Cindy Crawford, perhaps. And I stood there pondering how we attribute human traits to our animal friends, in the process deepening our connection to them. The librarian gave me a hug, said thank-you and kept staring at the cat photo as I edged out the door, my departure going unnoticed.
I felt good inside. Hopefully, today, I had made someone just a little happier. And I had had fun creating it. So it was a win, win situation. And maybe, just maybe, Bowser's memory across the miles would be strengthened by the photograph. I stare up at the wall next to me at a photo of Princess, my beloved cat who has passed on, and know from the heart that this is so.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Collage Endeavor, Scaling Its Peaks

"Collage Endeavor, Scaling its Peaks"
Collage with Handmade Papers
5"x 7"

Well, lo and behold, I cannot believe I am able to post the creation above. My first real attempt at making a collage with hand-painted papers. I decided to post it here even though it is in beginning stages. I take this cue from Laura, a wonderful collage artist who sometimes shows her step-be-step process in making her artistic gems. Many weeks ago I had painted a batch of papers using a variety of techniques with my art buddy Marge, another gifted artist. All the papers were laying in my studio, waiting for the next step, to be pasted on a backboard. But somewhere, deep inside of me, lurked resistance and other dark companions. "You're having too much fun making these papers", my ego critic said. So I put the papers in boxes and forgot about them. Well, yesterday, my inner child said "It's playtime", very loudly and persistently this time and wouldn't let up. So I went to Marge's house again and I proceeded to tear and paste these papers onto a tiny 5x7 backing (I believe).Even tearing these big papers into tiny pieces was tough. I had considered my whole papers a masterpiece in and of themselves, worthy of framing (We artists have a love affair with everything we produce, or so it seems). And a tiny 5x7 backboard, well, I didn't want to ruin my bigger backboards, (hm, negative thinking here) so I let the experiment run its course. The piece above resembles a landscape, and I left the middle blank for now. I might add one of my birdie pictures there, or maybe I'll paint the white backing or add some threads or something. But I was excited about this accomplishment and needed to share it. I will continue to hike my creative mountains, regardless of rocky terrain and other obstacles. For it strengthens my heart, and encourages more endeavors.

One last thing. I remember how long it took me to get a blog going. With the support and encouragement of wonderful friends, I was able to get past my fears and resistance. Once I got past thoughts and took action, things got easier. I suppose the same could be said about the collage above. Blogs and collages, all stepping stones to a more well-rounded me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Sacred Experience

"A Sacred Experience"
Digital Collage

This image leaped out of my soul today. I did not look at photos or other prompts but just let my heart create this. The energetic lines emitting from and behind the cross-like structure symbolizes the powerful impact our love has on the world, the universe, and beyond. As we go into the depths of our being, we find the light that is our true essence. And from there, anything is possible.

This Unicorn has a Question

Image taken from Drawing Book mentioned below
and my enhancement of it with watercolor and computer art

As I'm wanting to have more fun with my art, I thought I'd post this little unicorn here. Fantasy is a wonderful thing, and one can be so free with it. Sometimes I think about becoming an art illustrator for children's books (an art teacher once told me I had a knack for that). Her words filled my mind when I was looking at "Manga for the Beginner" a drawing book by Christopher Hart. The unicorn image in there appealed to my sense of wonder. I drew the unicorn outline and then added my own watercolors to the image. The original white background was changed to dots of color with some computer tools. And as I've been thinking about copyright laws, etc lately, I'm wondering if I could open up the discussion to all of you who stop here and visit. One of my former art teachers recently said "when you create something from someone else's drawing or photograph, only 20% of the original image can be left showing, the rest needs to be changed by you". Now maybe I didn't get that quite right from her, but I would like to pursue this in more detail. Especially if I want to sell some of these particular images. I know a lot of books say you can use their images for personal use only and reproductions are a no-no. Now maybe a reproduction is an exact copy. But what about those artists who reproduce the artwork of the Old Masters? For practice only or do they sell it? So anyway, I'm just paying more attention now. Most of the time my images do not look anything like the original, which is a good thing. Yet, vague traces remain. If nothing else, my little creature above was good practice. I don't want to dwell on this too long and stop my creative flow so I'll end here, hop on the unicorn and let it take me back to my studio.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Flock of Birds Emerges Today

6 Watercolor Bird Studies
Done on 140 Pound Rough Watercolor Paper

I decided to do some more bird portraits today. As my sister has mentioned she'd like a finch painting,I took a book on how to draw birds and anything finch-like, I tried painting. Plus a few other species as well. Using a few how-to examples as a starting point, I painted the top bird first. I did not intend for the left side of the bird to lose its edges and form, but I kind of like how it flows as I look at it now. On a second sheet of paper, I did four separate bird portraits. (All done in watercolor). I've got some photos of birds I have taken from the past and will reference them for future paintings, but this was just how I wanted to begin. The book suggests specific paint colors for each part of the bird, but I experimented with some of my own colors as well. I did not add much water to my paint, and noted that the colors seemed brighter, more saturated.
I scanned the watercolor original (with the four birds on it) so I could see it on the computer. Unfortunately, my 8.5 x 11" scanner could not accommodate the bigger paper So I had to break each bird down so it was its own separate portrait study. Sometimes I kept a pair of them together. Each seems to have its own story to tell. That's fine with me for now, as I am not sure which of the birds appeals to me at this point. I suppose in the future I'll get a bigger scanner or use smaller paper. Today, though, this sufficed.
Anyway, it was nice to paint and paint and paint today. Some of the birds seem a tad bizarre, others have a more realistic feel to them. These birds are a diversified group.I see I have not done much of a background. I like the way the birds float on the white paper though. Maybe tomorrow I'll change my mind and add a background. What's nice about art, we're not locked in. So freeing. I'm always surprised at the unpredictability of my creative self. But I accept and embrace what surfaces.
I showed my husband the paintings and he said "Now that's the Bev I remember". Those words were a nice ending to a very creative day.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Birds are Keeping Me Company Today

"The Basis for a Finch Painting"
Sketch in Pencil and Pen & Ink

"Winter Companions"
Digital Watercolor Collage

I think in a past life I was either a flower or a bird, as I always feel a deep connection to each of them. Lately, I've been focusing on birds as flowers seem to have departed now to let Old Man Winter make his presence known. Also, I have been requested to work on several bird images nestled into a snowy, winter scene, so I'm sure this has influenced my decision to focus on birds as well. (Balancing what my soul wants to do with what the public wants from me, a delicate dance, indeed). I started with a pencil drawing accented with pen & ink. (I was in a serious mood at the time and trying to be precise). Then I decided to color the birds via the computer process, but that got too complicated. Then the fun voice within me kicked in, said "Enough already, Take a Break, It's Playtime" and the second painting above emerged. I combined several birds from past creations and then really worked with my imagination on a background. The two different sparrow sizes happened because I like to vary images. And better yet, maybe my growth as an artist can be depicted by the larger bird. Who knows? I sure do like to psychoanalyze myself regarding creativity, but I'm told to write about my passion, my love, so soul-searching ponderings are evident in some shape or form. I think my ideal career would be psychoanalyzing creative pieces, hm, a thought!!!! And they could be a captive audience, not speaking back to me. I like that even better.

I am beginning to like doing backgrounds. It's actually challenging to fill up the whole paper. Perhaps it helps me to make a more complete statement now about what I am creating. And from a psychological point of view, (can't keep my shrink voice quiet), the Whole is the Sum of its Parts, a gestalt kind of thing. I find that I am taking various parts of myself and putting them together, like a puzzle piece, into whatever I put down on paper. Well, I've certainly got off the track in creating my finch images, but I cannot control my creative process and I would not want to.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Autumn Leaves, Making Room for Winter

"Autumn Leaves, Making Room for Winter"
Digital Collage

Soon Winter will arrive, the next Season in the Cycle. Fall disappears into the heavens, leaving us still breathless with memories of its beautiful palette of colors.

Yesterday I felt like playing with my imagination. Decided to travel into the universe with my creativity so this dimensional abstract emerged. I know there's so much one can do with 3D effects on the computer. But right now I will suffice with this attempt. The bottom piece was constructed first and then each successive layer was added. The topmost square is actually a photo I took of a fall woods and then altered it in various ways to add a more mysterious feel. I tilted the squares to give a sense of movement and unusual perspective, which helped energize things a bit. As I stare at it now, perhaps I might have made each subsequent square a bit smaller. But when I attempted to fix it, the computer began fighting with me. So I will let it be, and take that as a sign from the universe, to go with the flow. Sometimes we must settle with what is and let it be, for too much of a change defeats that first creative impulse. Well, that's that. I enjoyed creating the abstract art piece here for this is the kind of art, according to Wikipedia definition, that is unconcerned with the literal depiction of things from the visible world. It gives me freedom, pushes me outside of my boundaries, lets loose what's locked within me. I find the process comparible to writing fiction, where the sky is the limit regarding characters and story lines. This freedom can be overwhelming at times, yet so exhilarating nevertheless. So many choices! I feel rather disoriented but in a pleasant way after finishing this piece. Time to come down to earth and ground myself. A bit of a jolt but necessary. Or is it?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I offer my gifts of hope and love

"Autumn Evergreens"

Make like a tree and Leave your creations onto the wind. Let your glorious ideas Fall into the hands of we mortals who need your gifts of hope and love.

Frank Coughlin 2008

Frank, my creative partner (and so much more) on this Earth, sent this little gift of words to me this morning. The message touched me in a deep way and I wanted to share it here on this site. I think the election has given both of us new hope and I think the words above convey this. In addition, I feel each of us has an obligation to be the best we can be, to offer our gifts to the world, to share of ourselves as authentically as we can.

The photograph above was taken recently as I was trekking through the glorious foliage of Fall. I've taken numerous leaf pictures, singly, and as part of their fall environment. But to see green evergreens against a dreamy background of colors seemed a little more unique to me. Seasons change, the political climate changes, and so do we change. The ripple effect of life touches us all and we touch it back. Like tree branches bending in the wind, our flexibility to what life offers us is vital.

Happy New Beginnings for a New World.