Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Keep Pruning

Yes, I am here this morning with a cup of coffee, contemplating all that needs done creatively and around the house for the holidays. My main characters have been filling my head along with sugar plums dancing in my head. I have yet to bake cookies, go serious shopping, and decorate a tree. 

Seems for some reason Christmas came up on us from behind and now we're faced with less than two weeks. I haven't felt much in the spirit, tis the season for my allergies and sinus inflammation. I also haven't made headway with my work-in-progress novel and my main character, a soon 30-year-old female, wanting life to just go on as it has for the last 15 years. Doesn't like complications.

But sooner or later, mostly sooner, we all are face to face with those types of things, and whether we finally do something about it, is up to us and how much we've grown as a person. So how will my character respond to evidence that presents itself and shakes the world she has known?

This photo best illustrates where I'm at with my main character these days, I have to get the big hedge clippers and get all the overgrowth to find the gems to her personality. This pic was taken in one of my favorite states, Maine.  All around this man's land were old rusty vehicles hidden by fallen tree branches and overgrown grass, etc. 

Made for neat pictures, I found the aesthetic even with all the rust, tall grass, and unkempt land.  I walked and walked through it and found what I was looking for! I uncovered the beauty, my vision of beauty. Just like we are to do with our characters. 

Yes, I was really into the dilapidated and made my husband stop so I could take pictures of this house falling apart at the seams. I could actually use these pictures as jump-starts to getting the juices going with my character when I get stuck.  What are your characters hiding behind the tall shrubs or behind the walls to this broken-down house? 

I plan, along with the baking, wrapping, and getting packages out in the mail, to work on her as a gift to myself during the holidays.  It makes me happy to be creative and give myself the time to do so and make progress ... will keep you all posted. HAPPINESS to ALL for a GREAT HOLIDAY, however you celebrate!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Part of the Picture

It seems like forever since I've posted. It's been a combination of being very busy at work to allergy season taking its toll on me. It seems no matter I can't seem to catch up lately. I'm still finding my way with this blog also. So bare with me!

The pictures above are different perspectives of the Eiffel Tower I took in Paris this summer. It's only part of its vast structure. I tend to like pictures that give small hints of things and where you fill in the rest. You know the saying of less is more. 

Somehow the less part is more appealing than seeing the entire picture. I like to try and use different angles or find a new way to take a picture of a major landmark like the Eiffel Tower. It was truly magnificent. 

Of course a straight shot speaks for itself, but it's more challenging to find new ways to take a landmark that has been photographed a zillion times. Many times writers and photographers and painters don't have to give the 'whole picture' in order for the audience to understand what the message is or what is going on in the story.

It might seem something is left out but that can make it more interesting and that in itself may be the entire point of the piece. Like in a short story, if the writer places every single detail about a main character from head to toe, there'd be nothing left. We'd soon lose a desire to find out what happens to this character as we have gotten lost in the full picture maze finding out she only drinks Maxwell House coffee, is tall, eats pizza every Friday, visits Aunt Ruth every Tuesday, exercises on Wednesday and Saturday, wears red shoes a lot, etc.

This was part of a huge wall painting of the coronation of Josephine at Versi (excuse if misspelled). I decided only to take pictures of parts of it as opposed to capturing the whole. You can see a whole lot in the faces of these three women.

Good night for now. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Creative

Remember the DAY IN THE LIFE series? If memory serves me, that started 1985 or 1986, where professional photographers were asked to go out into their communities, their countries, for a day and truly capture what "A Day in the Life" was like to certain cultures, certain peoples of the world. I have a couple of those books. The result was incredible in terms of the creative pictures that were captured on a certain day in the life of people in Italy, US, China, etc.

So A Day in the Life of a Creative should be surreal and dripping in creativity, right? Well, not every day in the life is filled with ideas coming at you left and right, and you're painting like Van Gogh regularly, or your novel just flows from your pen onto the paper without any hesitation.  It's more like going to your day job, thinking about some ideas for a project at lunchtime, taking 20 minutes at lunch to type a few paragraphs in a Chapter. Coming home to house and family and making supper and something strikes you about the said novel you have still playing in your head.

Creativity can be like the light coming from an open door in a dark hallway, sometimes you remain in the shadows and other times as you allow yourself to get closer and bask in it and are drawn to it, wanting more, and letting its brilliance guide you.

If we were to take pictures of a Day in the Life of a Creative, some would show the mundane struggles we all have I'm sure. Others would attest to the Utopia we all feel when an idea or project is working and  our creative juices are overflowing with such richness we think it will never go away.

I have to say each day I am aware of my potential for creativity.  Some days it is overflowing and can be overwhelming what to do first, I feel I'm not acting upon some ideas quick enough. I can't write my novel fast enough because already I have another idea for another novel that keeps knocking at my door to make its sales pitch to me. Other days I am bogged down with daily chores and worries--the dog needs a bath, I really should clear out the pile of junk mail on the dining room table. Then there's always laundry to be done.

Our creativity is always with us, ready and waiting on us to set it free ... waiting for all the fog to disperse. As we are already in mid-October and fast approaching the holidays, hopefully we can take a few creativity breaks from the everyday Days of our lives.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Sky's the Limit

For the past decade or more, I've been enamored with vibrant, dramatic skies that seem to be mostly right in my back yard. Although traveling to Tuscany, Italy, this summer the sky appeared to follow me. My husband and I ran outside our Villa so I could soak in the sky with my camera. 

These skies bring me inspiration for whatever creative endeavor I am involved in at the moment.  They are "eye candy" and very meditative. They occur at sunset and there is something majestic about them and how the sun leaves behind for a short time its artwork painted in the sky with brilliant color.

The clouds are saturated with color at times and other times strewn across the sky like pulled cotton candy in pastel pinks and baby blues. The next pictures were taken in 2007 in Philadelphia. That's the thing with being both a photographer and writer, one complements the other. I can use the photographs as an exercise in descriptive writing and to document what I don't want to forget and use later for a writing piece. Or vice versa, from my writing I want to visualize and put into a photograph.

It definitely puts a new twist on picking out faces and animal shapes in the clouds!  

I hope these inspire to take a second look at the sky as it leaves us a signature before saying good night. On that note, I will say good night and HAPPY FALL ... as we have now crossed over into October.   

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Writing is a Process

Celebrated a birthday last week and actually worked on polishing a short story on my birthday. The day was kind of ho-hum and I wanted to do something that brought me some joy and tapped into my creative spirit. I was feeling kind of frustrated and unproductive with my writing. So that is what I did on my birthday this year to get me into a writing pace again. I did return to my story two more times that week. 

This week I want to keep going and hopefully by mid-October I will be ready to increase my time devoted to my writing. I was thinking how writing is a process and that it only was when I started to really enjoy the process and relax that I was productive and wrote the most.

Sometimes it is like looking for that one colorful leaf amongst all the brown, it's allowing yourself to just write and not edit while going through the process. It's allowing yourself to dig deep into the darkness and see what comes up. I was just reading that you have to live with not knowing where the character is taking you. 

If you are like me, it can be tough taking those leaps of faith in writing. The rewards are great though when you allow the process and realize the process is what it's all about in the end. I'm putting aside the editor in me and giving up the control this week. 

I've started already with this particular short story I am ready to put to bed. So as the leaves start to change in Pennsylvania, and hopefully the air begins to cool, I will allow my characters to take me into their world, their way. And I will enjoy the process.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Story in a Painting

I appreciate the condolences. The memorial service was outdoors at the home where Chad grew up and in the part of the yard where he got married 10 years ago (at which I was the photographer). Balloons were let go by his parents and wife and children. It was peaceful and comforting to be out in the open and watch the balloons (with messages in them for Chad) lift higher and higher following a path where it was natural for them to go--UP. Just like our souls not meant to be here earth-bound forever.

My picture for this week is actually part of a painting I was intrigued by in Venice, Italy, this summer. It was my first time in Venice, but my third time in Italy. I have family in Italy and feel so connected to Italy each time I visit the country and my family. I will have to research the artist and title, as I just snapped away most of the time in Italy. Here is the color photo.

There is such a feeling of story in this snippet of a painting.  Even though our main subject  appears to be the bride (as I'll call her or perceive her) in the middle getting her dress altered, it's the leaning female figure to the left that really tells the story -- for me anyway.  She has such a look of longing and desire to be in the place of the woman getting her dress altered. Her dress looks tattered and she is placed in a position in the painting far back, giving the impression she is not a participant but an onlooker. The bride's face is not shown, telling me this is not important for us to see.  The seamstress appears to be delighted at her task, but a prop figure to give setting to our story.  The fabric piles in the various areas tell of place and profession.  

One could think that there is a lot of detail here, but I was not distracted at all by the strewn fabrics and shelving and chairs. I am even more able because of these details to follow what the real story is!  All art forms help each other and this helps my writing in so many ways to be a photographer and also to really contemplate the meaning of various paintings.  

Of course I had to make a copy of my photo to see how it would look in black and white. See what you think ... I have learned so much from how painters compose their artwork. As a photographer this has helped me realize that each picture doesn't have to be crowded with detail to get a message or feeling across to viewers.  It can even only contain hints of things or people, parts of settings to be as effective or even more effective.  Like when taking wedding pictures taking the bride and groom's torsos holding their toasting goblets, without showing their faces.

Does the black and white image take away from telling the story? Or does it tell a different story?  Paintings can also help us writers, write our stories, by imagining our story scenes like scenes from a painting.  So if you sketch or draw or scrapbook also, you can do different scenes of your story or novel using these mediums. 


Friday, September 10, 2010

When you're creative in so many ways

This is the first I've been able to get back here. There was an unexpected death in the family of someone only 38 years old. A cousin with talents that may have just been coming to light. It makes me more alert not to take my talents for granted and not to waste time and say I'll write another day or I'll take some pictures later.  Some days my creative urges are like a swarm of mosquitoes nipping at me to act on a creative idea or on several ideas.

It is true that time is of the essence, time for developing your creativity and your talents. Today and now is that time. And I must oscillate between my card-making/scrapping, photography, and writing. Sometimes this is like I have several children all vying for my attention at one time. It can be most challenging who to take care of first!!!

Within my writing realm, I have at least one well-developed novel plotted and another wanting to take form and some short stories that need polished and on their way. So goes the creative life and I wouldn't trade it. I just want to make it happen before I'm finished here on earth.

Of course I will try with each post to place a photo or photos to share. In a future post I will talk about how I believe a picture can be found just about anywhere, it's all in the seeing. When I was learning photography in college, I was taught it isn't necessarily the type of camera you use, but what your two eyes see ...

So if you find a battle inside yourself for the best time to do a creative project or plant your favorite flowers, or learn to paint, don't wait, there isn't a perfect time, just the 'now time.' I will leave you with another picture tonight for cousin Chad. His memory and love will always be lit in the hearts of his loved ones.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Black and White vs. Color

Went to Paris, France, this summer for the first time and there was no doubt in my mind how awesome it was going to be. I wasn't disappointed in any of my expectations. I just told a photographer friend that Europe is a photographer's dream. Everywhere I turned I saw a picture. I snapped my heart out!!!

While I walked more than 400 steps to get to the gargoyles adorning Notre Dame church, it was worth every bated breath. The pictures I took were among my very favorite. I recently played around in PhotoShop and made a couple black and white and came to the conclusion that changing to black and white really enhanced the mysterious feel you get when you see them. The one above is in color and these below are black and white.

My husband likes the ones in color better, says the color makes the photo rich enough. I guess we each have our own taste. To be fair I'll place another color gargoyle and let you decide on your own. When I go to print them, I will most likely choose the black and white. My husband tells me that gargoyles were sculpted to keep evil away from the church. The last picture above demonstrates a gargoyle chewing on a demon!

Being a writer also, if I look at these pictures long enough, hard enough, I see a story emerging. One art form seems to inspire another in my experience. They all seem to play off of each other. 

Have a great Labor Day weekend. I hope to settle on a design for my blog by next week. I'd really like to make it more coffee-related ... 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It's September 1st and my first blog post!

September 1, 2010

For all of you coffee lovers out there, I make 'coffee cards' using recycled fabric samples from an Interior Design store that went out of business. I finally snapped a few pictures of my latest creations. I am fortunate that an artisan store in Harrisburg, PA, the Hodge Podgery, has been able to sell them. I've had my cards there since April. Now I must get busy and make loads more because the holidays are next in line.

OK, I know I have a slight obsession with the coffee cup and coffee!!! I also recycle those handy corrugated cup bands. I have been enjoying refurbishing and using up pieces of fabric that otherwise would have ended up in the trash. I can fairly say I'm going 'green.'
I don't only do coffee cards, I also do another obsession--shoes. 

Besides doing cards, I am a photographer and a writer. It can be overwhelming at times, not knowing which outlet to pursue next. But so far I've been getting my fill in all these areas. Right now in the forefront is my novel, working to complete a full first draft. Today I wrote at lunch but want to find a time in the evenings to write more. I read some helpful writing information that suggested let the main character lead the way to where he or she wants to go. So I'm going to work on just letting go when I write and not wear my 'editors' hat too much in the beginning.