Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Longing to Belong

"Maturity calls us to risk ourselves as much as immaturity, but for a bigger picture, a larger horizon; for a powerfully generous outward incarnation of our inward qualities and not for gains that make us smaller, even in winning."
                                                                              ~ David Whyte, Consolations 

There is an interesting trend going on amongst many of my on-line friends that I first met through photography classes and blogging, they are all turning to art. By art, I mean hand-created art: painting, drawing, fiber, collage. I have always wanted to belong in that world. I grew up doing rug-hooking and counted cross-stitch, but the only really good drawing I did was when I was ten. A pencil and crayon drawing of a Basenji dog. I wish I still had that drawing, or maybe it is better that it only lives in my memory.

Every summer, I have this itch to create with my hands, but this year the itch has turned into a longing. Mid-September, I began the practice of art journaling. I have (sort of) tried this before with minimal results. But here it is the end of October and I am still doing it. What I am finding most enjoyable is the playing, the trying, the failing and trying again. There is no rush, no pressure to get it right the first time.

Each spread pushes me a little further. To learn to embrace color, new techniques, and new materials. To learn to trust my intuition and not over-think.

This is the latest one I am working on. The first pages I did reawakened the longing to belong, it grew a little more with the second, and in this third one it came to fruition: the house/shed in the bottom left corner I drew myself.

I started a sketch book while we were on vacation. It was easy to pack and minimal supplies were needed. I didn't start out good, but I couldn't give up after only one attempt. I drew this from a photograph I took with my phone.

By the fifth day of practice, I was getting better. This was drawn from a photograph of a garden shed on Pinterest.

"If you don't love photography for the sheer act of trying to express yourself, and will only find joy in it when you finally get there, yours will be a disappointing journey. Not only will you likely never "get there" but you'll have missed how beautiful and exhilarating the journey itself is."
                                                                                  ~David duChemin, Within the Frame 

When I started to be serious about photography in 2012, I thought I had found my "art" camp. I wasn't good, but like the Ira Glass video on creativity, I knew what was good, and I knew with practice I could be good.  And I did get good, but what I soon discovered in some parts of the fine art photography camp is that they are only interested in the end result. What I loved was the journey. I needed photography to find my voice and tell my story.

The hand-created art camp feels different. They encourage your journey. They love watching you learn, grow and get better. They are just as excited about a finished piece as they are about the first pencil strokes you put on paper. They all know how hard it is to put yourself and your work out there. This is the camp where I have always longed to be, but I don't think I ever would have had the courage to be here, if I hadn't set up my tent in the photography camp first.


Here are some of the inspiring sites and classes I have found this year:

Jeanne Oliver - Great selection of courses

Laly Mille - Excellent teacher. This where my art journaling inspiration came from.

Toni Burt - Down to earth teacher

Ivy Newport 

Life Book 2019 - There was a free two week Summit for Life Book 2019 in October. While not all the teachers are my style, there were many who were.

Wanderlust 2019 - Looking forward to this.

If you have any art classes you have enjoyed, I would love to hear.

Sunday, October 21, 2018


Coming home from a great vacation is always hard. You just don't understand how on vacation you were content with three pairs of pants and five tops that you mixed and matched throughout the week. But when you get home and see your closet full of clothes you feel overwhelmed, and that you have nothing to wear. You long for that small pine armoire at the rental house that wasn't even a third full with your clothes. Or, at least that's what I long for.

I always come home from vacations, specifically, vacations from northern Michigan with a resolve to declutter and only keep things that bring me joy. Yes, I have read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy by Marie Kondo a few times.

Usually though, by the end of the first week home from vacation, that resolve has flown out the window. There are too many things on the daily to-do list and not enough time to do even half of them. With winter just around the corner here in Michigan, time seems shorter than ever. There is yard work to be completed before the snow flies, and some other big projects that need to be finished by the beginning of December.

Still, I am going to try to do some decluttering. One of the big projects is painting and organizing my soon-to-be reclaimed studio aka small spare bedroom. It has been apple green and lilac purple for 14 years, it needs to be simply white. Then, maybe I will use the room for more than storage.  Also, we are making Mallory's old bedroom into a guest room, so when she and Fin sleep over they don't have to sleep on a mattress on the floor. The good thing is, with both of these rooms, decluttering will happen because it has to.

Enough about the drudgery of being home. I will take you on a quick tour of the perfect autumn in Northern Michigan.

The weather certainly ran the gamut while we were there. We had temperatures in the upper 70's to daytime temps. of only 39 degrees. We had bright sun, fog, moody gray skies, and even some white snow/rain stuff.

We spent our mornings hiking. We revisited some favorite trails, and took a chance on a couple new-to-us ones. One of which has become my new favorite.

Usually lunch was at quaint local places.

Afternoons were spent at a couple wineries savoring a glass of wine and enjoying the view.

We only shot with the big cameras one morning because hiking in the woods is much easier with a pocket-size camera. Plus, Glen loves Instagram.  He has complete control when he shoots with his phone. Although, I end up in way more photos and stories that I would like.

It is so hard to leave this place. Maybe a pine armoire with three pairs of pants and five tops is a pretty good life.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Six Windows

I struggled to pick up my camera in September. After 365 days of daily photos, what could I possibly photograph that I hadn't already?

There is nothing wrong with taking a break when you feel burned out, but I also didn't want to let a year of hard work slip away for too long either. Thankfully at the eleventh hour a challenge came my way via David duChemin and The Compelling Frame course that I started last year.

The challenge was:

  • Choose one idea, theme or subject.
  • Choose some constraints.
  • Make photographs in September
  • Chose the six best at the end of the month and post them in the group.

I loved the idea, but struggled to find the subject. I just spent a year shooting whatever I fancied. The only constraint the Lensbaby Velvet 56. I decided to look back at my 365 project as a whole and see what subjects jumped out at me. There were a few different ones, but two that kept reoccurring were windows and reflections.

I needed to talk through the challenge with a friend. So in one of our weekly Skype sessions I hashed through it with my friend Lee. She said she had once done a window project for an on-line course, as did a mutual friend of ours. She sent me the link to the blog post she did on windows, as well as the link to our friend's blog post. Both of them encouraged me. I decided to do windows.

I started out strong with a photo walk in my downtown. So many great buildings and windows. But then that ugly "middle" came. I couldn't find any more good windows. I only had three so far, and those weren't even taken with the constraint I had chosen - my 60mm macro lens, a once favorite lens.

In the "middle", I played many games with myself to get through it. What if I set the timer on my phone and stopped every five minutes to take a detail shot of something? That worked for one morning, again yielding three decent photos. I didn't feel like playing the game again.

The windows still called to my soul.

Then, an unexpected trip to my personal heaven - northern Michigan. My husband had to go for work for three whole days, which meant I had three days to photograph windows in all the places I love.

Bravely, I posted the six finalists in The Compelling Frame FB group. The windows were well received. One comment especially stirred me. Cynthia said, "Great glimpses into what feels like looking into other worlds, both moving forward and looking back."

In the waining days of September, I found all the windows I needed and so much more.