Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dreaming of Higher Realms to Fly In

"Two Objects Merge as One"
Digital Art

"Higher Realms of Being"
Digital Art

For the last week or so, I've been experimenting with my photos. I haven't been really content with the images as they are and adding a few digital effects gives me the dreamy quality I'm looking for. The original photo was a purple flower with a white netting over it. Then a few digital effects later, the top image shown here emerged. I stared at the image for awhile and then noticed what I thought was a white bird flying (in the top right area). So I cropped that area down and the second image above was created. During this whole creative process, the words of a former watercolor teacher ran through my head. Just drop the watercolor paint onto the paper, let it flow around and see what develops. In other words, preconceived notions of what we want to create is not always necessary. In this case, I was working with digital effects, but still felt the relevance of her words. As I worked on "Higher Realms of Being", I toned the colors down so it had a more hand-colored look to it. I felt it more effectively conveyed the dreamy look I was looking for. The image looks rather intriguing in black and white as well, but for now I will settle for this. I do love the creative liberties we artists are allowed to use though, so much more freeing this feels.

The flower was tucked away on the grounds of a religious sanctuary I often go to when I'm in the mood for quiet reflection. My eyes, even in meditation, are always aware of what nature is offering to me, so I am careful to check under bushes and brush for these hidden gems. If I hadn't done this scrutinizing of the landscape, the above images would not have come forth. As one of my fellow writers said the other day, "the subjects are there waiting for you to find them." The synchronization of it all, the chance encounters, all in place.

Although I have not been posting here on a regular basis, I continue to create new images almost daily. I am finding myself more and more energized as I maintain for longer periods of time my creative flow. Surrealism and fantasy are my artistic companions and yes, birds are always flying into my vision. I soar with them to higher realms.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Do our Creations Have to Be Something?

"Form Emerging or Formless?"
Acrylics enhanced with Digital Effects

The other day I had the urge to paint, I mean with real paints and brushes. The smell of paint permeated the air and I spattered some acrylics on me and on my workstation. Fortunately, some landed on the watercolor paper in front of me and the above creation emerged. The main subject has been done in acrylics and then, as has been my mood lately, I finished it off with some digital art effects. After I was finished, I turned the image four different ways to see which position I liked best. Originally it was a flower and a planet in the universe, then I joined the two objects together and it became a strange bug. Now, I'm a firm believer in the idea that we are all interconnected (that zen taoism philosophy) so perhaps that's why I decided to fuse the two objects into one. Also, that particular day I was reconnecting with my sibling, trying to bridge some of the distance that had occurred between us over the years. So maybe the image above represents the fusing of bonds, the melting of walls erected. Maybe on some unconscious level I was thinking of my sibling and our relationship as I painted and painted. Or it could just be an abstract creation with no other purpose than to be an experimental piece to practice and play with. Using mediums and glazes, opaque and transparent colors, I took creative license and did whatever I wanted to. The sky was the limit, it felt so freeing. So I want to remember how great it felt to be free and not get bogged down with trying to make the image into more than it has to be. It is what it is and I am what I am and Life is Good.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Three Great Horned Owls in the Neighborhood

"The Three Great Horned Owls"
(Just the top of one owl's head is showing at photo bottom)

"Owl Stare"

"Stalker of the Owls"

A great Horned Owl graced my presence the other day. A friend invited me to her place to photograph not one, but three of these gorgeous creatures. They were about 30 feet away in a big birch tree. I had my telephoto lense but still it wasn't powerful enough to capture the owl in a more focused manner. Ah, I'm being fussy, but I did so want a clear shot. I do admit that I had my tripod with me, but it was laying next to me on the floor. I was so excited about the owls that I did not want to take the time to fuss with the tripod I might have gotten clearer shots if the tripod had been used, but my excitement overtook me. Alas. Also, I was pretty far away from the birds. I was ready to go right up to the tree for some really close-up shots. But my friend wouldn't let me any closer for fear they'd fly away and never come back. So I stayed behind the glass enclosed patio door and shot away, moving from window to window trying for the best view. At one time during the afternoon, a feral cat, who is a regular visitor, moved through the snow and towards the birch tree. The three birds flew quickly away to a nearby tree. My friend said, "Oh that would have been a great shot of them flying". Yes, it would have been but it had happened so fast I couldn't react in time to get that beautiful action shot. They were so interesting perched on the tree branches, heads turning all the way around, checking out the cat's status, while their bodies remained immobile. Such flexibility. The owls went into protective stance, with their wings tucked tightly to their bodies and horned ears pointed straight up into the air. I enjoyed being in this spot of nature, where the birds seemed oblivious to the houses around them and any human activity going on (well, except for the cat and myself). Otherwise, they seemed to be in a meditative contemplation.
My friend wondered why they had chosen her house, her birch tree, to settle into. I don't know, perhaps these creatures had a message to deliver to her. I was reading a book called Medicine Cards, which talks about the symbolism of animals and birds. Traditionally, owl sits in the East but these birds were sitting in the Southwest, which seemed curious to me. The book also mentioned that owls have a tendency to collect around certain individuals because they recognize a kinship with them. So we talked about this a bit, which made the owl experience just a bit more magical. I am usually quite shy around people, and this was a new friend who had invited me over, so I was a bit on edge at her place. But the photography process and the adventure of taking photos of these owls soon overtook any reservations I was feeling about being there. In addition, squirrels, male and female cardinals, doves, and sparrows also shared the spotlight with the owls, and I happily tilted my camera this way and that as they scampered around the yard.
I could pretend for a little while I was in a wildlife refuge. I am thankful my friend has such an appreciation of nature and treats these creatures in such a reverent way. In the middle of suburbia, it was a breath of fresh air for me. I think I'll go back again soon when the sun is shining on them. I would love to catch the glint of light reflecting in their eyes and get to know these magnificant birds a little better. Oh, yes, and I'll use my tripod, for sure!