Monday, December 29, 2008

How a Bird Celebrates New Year's Eve

"A Sparrow's Take on New Year's Eve"
Digitally Enhanced Watercolor

Another little sparrow bird has flown in to say Hi. She is ready to welcome in the New Year and excited about the possibilities of what lies ahead. How to celebrate New Year's Eve, she wonders? She could sit outside on the bird feeder, nibbling bird seed, letting the shells drop to the ground, staring into the quiet night and reflecting on hopes (not resolutions, thanks Diane, like that word change) and dreams. Daisy the Cat might saunter by but bird is safe way up here on second floor. She might even wish the cat Happy New Year (how she loves to taunt that white fur ball). Little bird might let her crow friend, who so loves his tarot decks, tell her what her future holds. With candles burning all around, maybe a mysterious, mystical setting might be worth investigating. Or she could sit tucked inside her abode, watching videos like Sesame Street's Big Bird series (whimsical and light-hearted) or The Birds (scare the peep out of her), and then watch that crazy big ball in New York drift slowly down, down. She imagines the ball made of bird seed and her flying round and round sampling the huge delicacy. Yum, yum. Yes, living it up, chowing down before dieting in 2009. She could join some fellow bird friends and go flying off into the woods and dance with them, shake a few feathers loose and at midnight give them each a little bird peck on their fuzzy faces. Ah, the choices of this last day into night of 2008, yet so many more days ahead beckon her with possibilities and adventure. Life is good, let the magic begin, may all your dreams come true!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Crow bestows his magic on me

"Crow Bestows His Magic On Me"
Watercolor, Digitally Enhanced

I hop on crow's back and we fly together into the cosmos,
where mysterious realms beckon
and call my name
Crow helps me open my eyes
to the possibilities of where my creativity can go.
Darkness, lightness, embracing them I seek
more journeys, past my perceived limits I go,
dancing on the stars, twirling in the smoky clouds,
comet tails I hold onto as I move
deeper into the void
Crow watches knowingly from his perch now,
his cawing growing fainter, more muffled
as I become a distant speck,
unafraid of the nothingness of space
and yet, knowing its essence fills me up
Completeness of self,
I have come home to me.

Crows are messengers calling to us about the creation and magic that is alive in the world today
and available to us all. I open myself to all of nature's teachings, humbled by the vast knowledge that surrounds me.

Right after I finished the crow creation above, I felt a pull from somewhere deep inside of me to write some words to accompany it. Doing the art was meditative. Adding layers of watercolor paint and putting detailed lines in to delineate feathers, for example, seemed to access my unconscious self. And then, with the poetry being done right after the art process, seemed to keep the creative flow going. This is unusual for me, as I always give myself a break, maybe hours, maybe days, between painting and writing about what the painting means. I almost felt the words here were written by someone else, not me. (Automatic writing, ghost writing?) Usually I feel that way about my art after I complete and step back and stare at it. To me, it seems a form of detachment, of letting go, releasing what I have held within. So this is a weird feeling, unusual, but not unpleasant. Crow did work his magic on me and my creative process. My art is changing, I am changing. Thank you, Crow, for stopping by and witnessing this.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monkey Meditation, Recharging His Energy

"Quiet Time"

Don't forget to take some time out for yourself, this little monkey at Brookfield Zoo tells me. He seems rather mystified by why all the humans walk by, gawk at him and let flash bulbs from cameras blind him. Yet, he stays centered within himself, unrattled. With all the chaos of the holidays, I think we need to follow his example and maintain our calm spirit. Meditate, pray, write, create, take a quiet walk in the woods, reflect on possibilities, the true meaning of the holidays. There is always a need to replenish our energy at this time of year. To be self-loving, during this holiday of giving and interacting with others, requires self awareness. Take a bubble bath, light some candles, eat some chocolate, read a good book, rest, take a light nap. And if you're ready for the crowds again, go to the zoo and see these little creatures, who lead by example. There's always a lesson to learn no matter what corner we turn in life. I, for one, will recharge myself by laying low now, for 2009 is just around the corner, and possibilities beckon!

I wish all of you a wonderful holiday season, filled with love for others and love for self!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Winter Blues of a Peony

"Winter Blues of a Peony"
Digital Photograph

I've seen enough winter pictures to get the idea that we are in the clutches of the season. With thoughts of Spring and Summer Flowers dancing in my head, I decided to do an image depicting my longings for warmer weather. The background above is a close-up of a swan wing taken one cold winter day at Lake Katherine Preserve. The swan was all tucked in, its feathers providing a nice warm blanket from the frigid temperatures. The peony has been hibernating in the wing, seeking protection and nurturing while Mother Nature frolics with Old Man Winter. The peony peeks out, dreaming of the times when she can bob her head to the sun's glowing rays. Yet, she is connected by strings to the wings for Swan friend knows that peony will suffer death if she ventures outside her haven. Be patient, little flower, those days will come. In the meantime, be grateful for your friend, swan wing. When someone offers of themselves, lending a helping hand, the world is a better place. And in due time, when summer arrives, the swans will be swimming nearby, inhaling your fragrant perfumes and feeling the joy that you offer in your own way.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Wonders of Ice, Can Be Quite Nice

"Ice Sculpture, Chicago, 2007"

"Ice Sculpture, Frankfort, IL, 2007"
Digital Photograph

"Ice and Snow Fantasy at the Center"
Digital Photograph

"Icicle Wonderland at the Center"
Digital Photograph

Rumor has it that an ice storm is coming. Though Mother Nature can challenge the driver in these kinds of conditions, she can also share her beauty and creativity as she ices the landscape. There really is wonder all around if we just open our eyes and our heart.

The top image was a photo taken at Millenium Park Ice Festival about a year ago. Sculptors have always intrigued me and to design such a huge ice sculpture, what love that artist must have for ice! The second image above was a photo I took at the Frankfort Ice Festival. It was one of many sculptures scattered around the town, adding such a holiday festive spirit to the place. These candy canes were embedded in ice, and I loved how the ice did amazing things. When the sun adds its reflection, oh so dazzling. I couldn't resist playing around on the computer adding my own little touches to an already surrealistic image. The third and fourth images were photos I took at the Center in Palos Park, Illinois. Ice and snow add more magic to a place that is already a beautiful setting in the woods, like adding frosting to a cupcake. The fragile plants are amazingly able to withstand these elements of winter, almost fossil-like in appearance. And since I've heard that snow is not really white, especially when it is painted by an artist, I thought let's add a little blue and purple to spice things up. Creative license is so much fun, isn't it?

So as we prepare for the ice storm and get our salt supplies ready, remember that Mother Nature is also gifting us with creative surprises that can take our breath away! Man and nature do not need to fight with each other, but rather by working together, what can be birthed is a sight to behold!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My Creativity Welcomes the Holidays

"Reflecting on Christmas"
Watercolor Digitally Enhanced

"Christmas Memories, Melting My Heart"
Watercolor, Pen & Ink, Digitally Enhanced

The holidays are upon us and I suppose I wanted to get into the spirit with a creative piece or two. "Holiday Reflections" depicts an ornament with ribbons looking down into water, perhaps. Or maybe its on a glass tabletop. The ribbons twist and turn, intent on pulling us into the chaos and stress the holidays can bring. Yet they also represent our freedom as they flow in the air, reminding us we have choices on how to celebrate these special times. The ornament represents our inner calmness, a solid object that remains true to the real meaning of love that is what we ultimately yearn for. I've kept this piece relatively simple, flanked by a white background, to represent my yearning to live a more simplistic life these days. Finally, the ornament's dual image with reflection is myself, feeling reflective and nostalgic at this time of year, with memories past looming up into my heart and psyche.

The second painting, "Christmas Memories, Melting My Heart", depict three ornaments sitting on a snowy landscape somewhere, almost dreamlike, beginning to lose their form, solidity melting into nothingness. The ornaments glow from within, remembering fond feelings from Christmases past. My love of surrealism and Dali's melting clock piece are evident here. A nostalgic look into the past, where time and distance began to fade our remembrance of details, clouding them, but our hearts remain warmly alive, cherishing those times and traditions that sustain us deep within ourselves.
I am thankful that my creativity continues to unfold. And I am glad to share it with you all.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Luminarias And Tubas, A Holiday Festival

"Luminarias and Poinsettias"

"Christmas Music, Tuba Style"

Our writing assignment for this week: Write about Winter!

Winter offers challenges and risks for the photographer. Camera batteries are depleted much faster, lenses fog up during the temperature transistion from outside to inside, and frostbite is always a possibility. But when one has a passion for capturing images in this way, the cold melts away and the warmth of creativity takes over. The elements of nature become a distant memory.

I was wandering through the Tinley Park downtown area this past weekend. The holiday season has been upon us for several weeks now and it was this particular town’s turn to embrace and celebrate the upcoming season. The area by the train station was festive with gold lights. Lights had taken residence on trees, bushes, and a replica of a train engine gleamed brightlly on the overcast day. Gold had taken over the city and the Burl Ives song “Silver and Gold” danced in my head. I was overtaken with excitement and quickly took some photos of the various lights all around me. I did this quite quickly as I had taken off my bulky gloves to snap the pictures and my hands were turning red and becoming numb from the cold. Those fingerless gloves would have come in very handy right about now, I thought regretfully.

I noticed a number of men, ranging in age from 16 to 60, bending down and lighting candles inside of tall, white bags. Ah, the luminarias. I love them and their symbolism of lighting and guiding us down the path. Thei bags encircled a fountain in the center of the town, and they were all glowing magically in hues of peaches and pinks. Red poinsettas peeked out from blankets of snow. nestled behind the glowing lantern, forming a glorious backdrop. I took a few pictures of the luminarias, singly and in clusters, and noticed several bags were catching on fire. I gestured to one of the young men to get his attention and he quickly walked over and blew it out. Not before I got an action shot of the burning bag, of course. I thought, “wow, what a job these men have to do. Apparently, the four dollar store lighters that they had brought with them no longer functioned and as the wind either blew out the candles or a bag started on fire, the guys had a look of desperation on their faces. “Got a lighter?” one of the men asked my husband.. No, I don’t, he answered, and the man’s face sank. I felt sorry for his plight, but only momentarily, as my eyes took in the tall evergreen tree nearby.Decorated in huge ornaments of red and white, I stared in awe as it seemed to touch the sky. I stood back and took a picture of the top of the tree, bedecked with a star on top against the darkening sky. Then I moved closer to the tree and decided that it would be fun to take a few ornament pictures. My reflection and those of bystanders nearby could be seen in the ornaments. I love to take reflection shots, they seem mysterious and almost otherworldly. The red ornaments were too dark to see much of a reflection through, but the white ones seemed to offer a clearer image. I moved around to different angles, and I think I captured one of the ornaments with the train station reflected in it. We shall see how that turns out when I look at the photographs later.

As the day moved into late afternoon, the wind had picked up even more and the temperatures were really starting to dip. My husband said, “Time to go, you’re getting frostbitten". I think my cheeks were numb or getting there, so with some reluctance I decided my camera day was over. As he pulled me by the arm, I noticed now my eyes were starting to water as well. Isn’t it interesting how I hadn’t even noticed the cold while I was in my photo zone, but now trudging back to the car, I was almost gasping in the frigid air.

Yes, being a photographer today had been a challenge. I could have stayed in the warming tent, which we had visited early on, content to snap pictures of the German band playing music.My German roots stirred in appreciation, and the tubas and accordions were wonderful sights to behold. But that was too easy, my adventurous side had countered. How was I ever going to attain my dream of working for National Geographic if I didn’t push my limits? Climbing mountains, facing war zones, confronting wildlife in Africa all are the kinds of jaunts I dream of encountering someday. But I need to hone up on my skills a little bit more first. And dealing with subzero cold temperatures during a town’s holiday celebration is certainly a stepping stone in that direction. I turned around one last time and stared at the distant luminarias glowing in the night, serving as a reminder to me that all paths are possible and that there will always be a light to show me the way.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sparrow Sings to the Universe

"Sparrow sings to the Universe"
Digitally Enhanced Watercolor

Iconography: The design or creation of images, image writing, image content. An artist friend of mine talked about the sparrow as an icon that finds its way deep into your being. I processed her words for a while and then looked at a recent image I had done. I've read that a sparrow symbolizes self-worth, dignity. From a chakra viewpoint, its song energizes and awakens the heart and throat. From God's view, it represents concern for the most insignificant living things. All these meanings seemed to come together in what I was trying to depict on a deeper level. From an artistic level, the sparrow had become a rainbow of colors, transformed from its original brown. Light violet tones emanated from the bird, reflecting its higher spiritual level. The background was red, symbolizing spiritual awakening, joy of life and love and passion. The green to the right I thought of as the earth, reminding her not to stray to far from her roots on the ground below. The sparrow appears perched on a quartz crystal, an object known to heal the heart. I even felt the object to the left was a stringed instrument of sorts, maybe a mandolin from historical past or Picasso's time. The bird's song, the music from past to present, all were linked in a timeless fashion. The background lines that went in all directions were the energetic lines of the universe. All in all, it seemed to come together and I was beginning to enjoy what color, line, texture, and object could convey on a deeper level.
The sparrow, though small, has a voice to share with the universe. And the universe responds back with its own musical energy, embracing the little creature, encouraging her. She does matter and has something to say. Spread your wings and fly high.

Thank you Doris, for helping me set the wheels in motion for this new creative vision. Thank you, Laura, for sharing your recent crow series. Thank you, Frank, for dislodging my writing resistance, which has subsequently helped my art to unfold. Thank you readers for being a witness to my artistic journey. Today I am grateful.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Sparrow Flies in to say Hi



Well, the cat is still hiding somewhere so another little bird emerges, this time a sparrow. I had taken this photo while the bird was nestled into the twiggy bushes. I had my zoom camera and was able to take the photo without disturbing the creature. Today I decided I wanted to paint from the photo so enlarged the photo on my computer screen, took my paintbrushes and started painting on paper. A bit of a challenge as the computer screen picture kept fading in and out. I suppose I could have printed out the image, went into my studio and painted it there. Nope, too much in the moment, or maybe too lazy, who knows. The painting above does not look anything like the sparrow photo, although that was my initial mission. It has no feet, and the bottom kind of flows, impressionistic style. But it does look like it's wearing suspenders, is is possible that my husband wearing suspenders is seeping into my artistic subconscious? Well, nevertheless, I was running out of steam, so maybe that's why detail (depicting every feather, for example) was tossed. But I'd like to think I was just going deep into the "zone", where reality disappears. Hm, maybe there really is something about painting from your own photos. It did feel freeing, I was experimenting more, and I was reliving that day when I took the photo, happy to be communing with nature. All in all, my senses were totally in moment when I painted it and time flew. My bird menagerie is becoming quite the family and I promise I will keep you safe from predators. If you promise not to chirp at night when I am trying to sleep! A deal?

Keep an Eye out for Bowser the Cat, Please!

"Finch on Coneflower"
Watercolor Digitally Enhanced

Well, little finch here feels it is safe to come out now that Bowser the Cat seems to have vanished. I drew from a magazine cover this little guy, painted him with watercolors, and then popped up colors with a computer program (also added some fuzziness to his edges). I had a photo I had taken in the woods of a finch but it was so swallowed up by the woods it was not very clear to see. My sister says she wanted a yellow bird of some sort so voila he landed here. He's got a flat top/maybe a buzz cut due to cropping him down here. He's also painted very close to top edge which is okay. I sometimes like images to go off the edge a bit. Also, don't tell little finch here but another librarian wants a print of Bowser the cat to send to her mother, who now owns Bowser. She wants her mom to see Bowser in his wilder days roaming streets of Frankfort. He's now a pampered, spoiled cat living in Connecticut but the librarian doesn't want him to forgot his original roots!!! This makes me laugh, how pets really can pull at our heart strings. I am glad I left the blade of grass in on his portrait as it shows a little piece of his natural surroundings.