Thursday, December 29, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011


Another in the series of images based on poetry by Madeleine L'Engle

"This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and mild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
There'd have been no room for the child."

"After Annunciation" Madeleine L'Engle, Crosswicks Ltd. 1978

Monday, November 28, 2011

Water, flour, and newspaper

I saw an article in my favorite magazine that inspired me to put empty water bottles to a new use. As it turned out, the Cafe where I am a barista has loads of empty bottles from flavored syrups. So, armed with a dozen bottles of various sizes, I pulled flour from the freezer, gathered several days worth of the Marietta Daily journal ads and classified, donned an apron, and retreated to 1975 summer camp projects with an decidedly accidental artist flair.

The project in the magazine was about Christmas tree angels, but I quickly found that my creations would be too heavy for tree tops. Still, I was having fun, so I decided to move forward and check a few people off my Christmas list while I had fun reliving childhood craft projects.

This is my first completed doll. She is joyful.
The project consisted of multiple steps, from creating an armature of bottle, paper, and masking tape to papier mache to paper clay to paint to decoupage and finally to finishing touches. As I worked with the materials I found myself talking to the dolls (as I call them) and asking them who they wanted to be. The most surprising step for me was seeing the faces as they formed. The first one caught me so off guard that I actually said out loud, "Well, hello there." From that point on, I quit thinking and just let the faces and personalities emerge.

I now have a dozen dolls in various stages of completion. Each is unique, and I hope the recipients enjoy the results as much as I have enjoyed the process.

This is Joy. She makes me happy.

Dolls in three stages: needing final touches, paper clay'd, and gessoed


Sometimes it's good to play.

Inspired by Erin Butson Cloth, Paper, Scissors, November/December 2011 "Angels Among Us" 

Monday, November 14, 2011

How Great is Our God

I saw this first at the Passion City Church Good Friday service at Verizon Amphitheater in Alpharetta, GA. It is just too cool.

Friday, October 07, 2011


We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;
How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver,
Streaking the darkness radiantly!--yet soon
Night closes round, and they are lost forever:

Or like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings
Give various response to each varying blast,
To whose frail frame no second motion brings
One mood or modulation like the last.

We rest.--A dream has power to poison sleep;
We rise.--One wandering thought pollutes the day;
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep;
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away:

It is the same!--For, be it joy or sorrow,
The path of its departure still is free:
Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow;
Nought may endure but Mutability.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

The only constant is change. I Ching

Conflict is the root of all good literature, and at the heart of conflict is change. When some inciting incident upsets a beginning balance, the wheels of the protagonist begin to work, attempting to regain that beginning balance. Sometimes the balance is restored, although the protagonist should have grown as a character. Sometimes that balance is utterly destroyed. Even then, however, there is an unchangeable resolution. The book ends, the covers are closed, and the reader moves on to the next book on the list.
Conflict is also the critical element in living a full life. However, unlike in literature, there really is no beginning balance, and an inciting incident may be as insignificant as a dream or a single wandering thought. What then? If something small change change the future, how does one hold on to sanity or contentment or joy? Without a beginning balance, how can man find his way through 70 years of uncertainty?
What is the purpose of a goal, anyway? Why do men dream dreams and debate vision? If man has no control of the next moment, why plan? For what can he prepare?
Perhaps that is the point. Those who allow themselves to be so constrained by a particular plan never truly experience the spontaneity of adjustment. Those stiff-necked people who pretend to know the best definition of success cannot possibly work out unusual solutions to projects or adapt quickly to a new idea. The best and brightest of men are those who live on the edge,, welcoming each change as an opportunity to grow, to invent, and to create. That measure of success is not in some societal absolute, but in the satisfaction of personal achievement.
To live a boundless, unrestrained life is the beginning balance of the creative mind. The inciting incidents of change are merely the springboards to imagination. The rising action becomes an exciting and frustrating series of new applications and new ideas. Climax is that moment of revelation. Resolution comes with adaptation. There is no denouement in life because each resolution leads to another inciting incident. The story does not stop in a life fully lived. The covers of the book never close, and there is no need to find another life to live.  The man who chooses a full life embraces every change.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Card

I haven't made a card in FOREVER, so it felt good to actually sit down and create this one:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My brother is so cool

The dude second from left with the sunglasses on his head? Yeah, that's my baby brother.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Transcendentalist 1

I'm developing a new approach to teaching literature by making photography/digital design an essential element. The last few sessions we've studied the Transcendentalists with an emphasis on Whitman and Thoreau. Emerson became the source for journaling.

The students had to choose a selection from either Thoreau's Walden or a selection of Whitman's poetry (Dover has a little book of them, which oddly, leaves out some of my favorites.)
I pulled a section of Thoreau called "Solitude." It reads, in part:

 I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will. Solitude is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between a man and his fellows. The really diligent student in one of the crowded hives of Cambridge College is as solitary as a dervish in the desert. The farmer can work alone in the field or the woods all day, hoeing or chopping, and not feel lonesome, because he is employed; but when he comes home at night he cannot sit down in a room alone, at the mercy of his thoughts, but must be where he can "see the folks," and recreate, and as he thinks remunerate himself for his day's solitude; and hence he wonders how the student can sit alone in the house all night and most of the day without ennui and "the blues"; but he does not realize that the student, though in the house, is still at work in his field, and chopping in his woods, as the farmer in his, and in turn seeks the same recreation and society that the latter does, though it may be a more condensed form of it.
Thoreau was, of course, talking about the benefits of solitude. As an introvert, I identify with the idea that society can be exhausting and that a respite is refreshing. However, I also identify the idea that it is possible to be lonely in a crowd, and so I used that idea in my piece. I used a student from another class as my model and took a timed exposure (without a tripod, by the way), having her hold still while other class members walked around her. I desaturated her image and increased saturation on the background students. The digital papers are from my collection (mostly Faith Sisters and DigiDesignResort). Add some word art, play with blending modes, and done. It captures the essence of being lonely and I think illustrates Thoreau's concept of social fatigue.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

New Necklaces

I've been busy making new necklaces for 3Cs Design. Here are a few, but check out the shop to see them all! They're only $25 (and there's a wedding coming up that needs funding!)

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson was a strange bird, but she wrote beautiful (albeit sometimes morbid) poetry. Since I'm teaching a new class that I'm creating as I go, I'm experimenting more with incorporating poetry into my photo and digital projects. It can be particularly challenging, especially right now when my Muse is on vacation. Seriously, can't she vacation when I'm not in dire need of her? Ah well...the weather and seasons will change soon enough, and I'll be out, camera in hand again. Until then, I will read poetry. And plenty of it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Reflecting at summer's end

It's mid-August, but with schools starting this week, for me, the summer is at its end. It's different this year. Carrie keeps in touch more through Facebook, Twitter, and texting than in visits home, which is appropriate for a college senior. Her life is now her own, and we're letting go more and more as she begins to establish herself as the adult she wants to become. Corinne begins that journey this week. We moved her into the dorms yesterday, knowing that she will likely not live at home again. It's an exciting adventure for her. Caty Mae is the only one at home now, but school began for her today, and the house is quiet. It even feels emptier. And that's the way it is supposed to be.

We raise our girls to be strong and independent. They make their own choices and live with those consequences. Sometimes they choose well, and other times, well, we wish they listened better to us. Each has a future that is hopeful and positive; there is no reason to suspect otherwise. Yet I wonder what they will learn from their choices. Will Carrie regret not being more proactive in finding a fellowship of Believers? Will Corinne look at the grudges she holds and see how bitterness damages precious relationships? Will Caty Mae hold her ground on the things that matter and engage in conflict at the right time and in the best way? I can't know these things, but I can pray for them fervently, knowing that God sees through eyes even more loving than mine.

Everyone wants the perfect happy family, white picket fenced house and all. But the reality is that it doesn't exist. There are those who are blessed with happy children whose nature is to please. There are those whose marriages improve over the years without much effort. There are those who never deal with the tragedies of loss--whether it be lost jobs, lost opportunities, lost or wayward children, lost parents and siblings and friends--some float though life smugly assured that they haven't suffered because they are BETTER. Deep inside, though, even those will deal with loss, because they will not have experienced the depth of joy that only grief can allow. That self-satisfaction prevents them from a walk with God that is raw and real in many ways. So often they refuse to break out of that self-imposed "christian" bubble, limiting their experiences with God to the comfortable.

I don't want to be comfortable. I don't want my girls to be comfortable. I want them to live their lives with passion and fire and exuberance. Comfortable is easy, but comfortable is lazy. There's too much out there that God has planned for us to be satisfied with laziness. Strength and endurance come by throwing off the things that make life easy and running after God's best with all out heart, mind, soul, and strength. That's where the joy is. That's where delight comes from. That's what I want for my girls. That's what the Father wants for me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

3Cs Design--on Etsy

It's been a LONG time since I put anything in my etsy store, but I've been a necklace making manic, so hopefully these will sell (must support the addiction...)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Inspired by Advertising Challenge

DigiDesignResort has great digital products, but I am REALLY hooked on their challenges. One of the 13 (yes, 13) challenges for July was to scrap a page mimicking a 1950s ad featuring Marilyn Monroe.

It's a classic 50s look, with multiple fonts and a fairly monochromatic color scheme. The first challenge was to decide which family event fit the inspiration. Choosing photos was a challenge because I had to rely on Facebook downloads, which are tiny files. (I get around that by using my OnOne software to enlarge the image. It doesn't do anything for sharpness, but it helps make the pictures workable.) The other thing that I had to figure out was the text. Most of my layouts are photo-heavy and text-light. This one required a fair amount of written language.

I decided to use Corinne's senior prom pictures. She looked particularly elegant, so I thought the "look" would be appropriate. For the journaling, I caught her in a chatty mood and asked her to write up her thoughts about her prom experience. A couple of DDR papers, PSE blending modes and crop shapes, three fonts, and about 30 layers later, I have this memory to share:

See why I like the challenges? I never would have done this without the inspiration of the challenge.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Beautiful Like Me

"I am not beautiful like you; I am beautiful like me." (Joydrop)

When I first saw the challenge to create a self-portrait that included these lyrics, I cringed. I am one of the self-critical who will never feel beautiful because my features will never conform to current societal standards. I have worked for years to accept my body type (strong and muscular, when the ideal is tall and slender) and to be satisfied with my looks, from broad forehead to strong jaw. Still, to have to write something linking me to beauty is a challenge. It would be easier to use the quote and ignore the journaling requirement of the challenge, but I know the introspection is good for me, so I set up the camera and think about what makes me uniquely beautiful.
I know people think that I am creative and talented. Others see me as persistent and intense. A few envision me as compassionate and sweet. I've been told I am inspiring. (I haven't quite figured that one out.) I know I am a good teacher with a dry sense of humor, but does that make me beautiful? What defines beauty anyway? I know Psalm 139 by heart, and I've taught on God's standard of beauty, so I know the "right" answers, but that doesn't necessarily mean I feel beautiful on a regular basis.

As I created the easy part of the artwork, I thought about the journaling. Finally I decided to look at the picture carefully and write what I saw. I look pretty good for my age, but I think it is less my features (which are about the same as they've always been) than it is my spirit revealed in my eyes and smile. I am strong. I am positive. I am passionate and intense. Those are the things that make me look the way I do. And in that sense, that makes me beautiful-not like anyone else, but like me.