Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow;
I am the softly falling snow.

 I am the gentle showers of rain;
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush;
I am in the graceful rush

Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.

I am the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

Poem by Mary Frye, 1932.

 Photos of monuments were taken at Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Wishing you a blessed Memorial Day.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Better, Worse, or Just the Same?

In a recent post, I mentioned that I wasn't happy with the first of three pieces that I did for a client.  I had hoped to send her photos of at least three, so that she could choose one to go with two others she had already purchased.  So I added some plants on both sides, interrupting and covering most of that big horseshoe-shaped area on the bottom, which I felt was competing too much with the focal point.

       Is it better, worse, or just
              the same?

 Sometimes I debate with myself over whether I've actually improved the piece when I make changes like this.  Often I wonder if what I'm putting in is as good as what I'm taking out.  Was it better before?  Was it worth the risk of losing what I covered up?  At these times I hear the eye doctor's voice echoing in my head, "Is it better, worse, or just the same?"  Looking at an eye chart, though, the choice is usually far more obvious.

In life, as in art, the choices are not often so clear.  So, what do you do?  If we doubt all our choices too much, indecision can easily turn into paralysis.  The outcomes of this type of thinking are that you do nothing, which is a waste of your talent and precious time, or that you let circumstances and/or others make your decisions for you.  And believe me, you might not like the ones they make.

Of course, major life decisions are much more difficult to make than choosing what to glue onto a collage.  If you don't like what you've done to a piece of art, you can glue something else on, tear something off, paint over it, or cut it up and reuse the pieces.  If you make a bad choice in life, you have to live with it, literally.  For many of us, this thought is pretty scary.  Lately, I have found decision-making of any kind daunting.  For example, I'm seemingly unable to figure out what direction I want to take with my work.  This is not a life-or-death decision, so why is it giving me so much trouble? 

                                                                  photos by Colin Reusch

In his article, You Cannot Choose the Wrong Path, Stephen Mills writes, "You can’t possibly know what experiences you would have had if you had chosen differently.  Life is too contingent for that kind of after-the-fact-it-might-have-been obsessing."  He sheds more light on this subject in another post, Why You Should be More Decisive:
"When you spend too much time analyzing a decision, you are usually less satisfied with whatever decision you end up making.  People who consider more factors when making decisions are more likely to worry later that they didn’t make the right decisions.  So they agonize during the decision making process and then worry even after they’ve made a decision."  Yup, that's me.

I like the way Larry Crane puts it:  "Often, it is not the end action that creates the most fear; it is the decision to act or not act. Since life offers no guarantees and you would never know that your decision would be wrong until you have made it, then you might as well let go of all of your fear, take the risk, and decide. It is definitely better than keeping yourself in limbo. Although it is true that one wrong turn could get you seemingly lost, it could also be that such a turn could be an opportunity for an adventure, and even open more fantastic roads. It is all a matter of perspective. You have the choice between being a lost traveler or an accidental tourist of life. You have the choice to let go of your fear of deciding."

IT IS ALL A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE.   Can someone remind me of that every three seconds or so?

 OK, these are the three pieces I'm sending to my customer:

Transformation 41

 Transformation 42

Transformation 43

That's my final answer.  I'm not phoning a friend.                       

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wordless Wednesday : Kentucky Wildflowers

                                                                                    wild dwarf iris


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Transformation 43

Transformation 43
Ingredients: monotype scraps, Caran D'Ache crayons, watercolor pencils, acrylic gel, PVA glue.

This is the third of a set of pieces I'm working on for a client who has two others, but wants a third.   Now that I've finished this one, I realize I'm not satisfied with the first one.  Oh, well; back to the drawing board...

Don't forget to check out 

 Chapter 7

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

When Is Too Much Too Much?

In my last post, my conjecture concerning a failed experiment concluded by saying that the reason for said failure was my inability to leave anything out.  The piece just had "too much stuff" in it; you could say it was "overstuffed."  In my quest to determine if my theory about the composition was valid, I thought perhaps I should try systematically cutting off parts to see if it was improved; a scientific experiment of sorts.  Hypothesis: too much stuff.  Experimental methodology: cut off some stuff.  Dependent variable: loveliness of the composition. 

As I went to get the trusty exacto knife, it suddenly occurred to me: why not use Photoshop to crop it, instead of an actual 3-dimensional implement of destruction?  That way, I could crop it one way and observe the result, then go back and start over, as many times as I wanted to.  Genius!

The original mess

Version 2:  The first thing I did was to cut off the edges a little.  I didn't think this was a great improvement.

Version 3:  I trimmed it down a bit further.  Not bad.  But now the upper right corner seems too light and doesn't really go with the rest of the piece.

Version 4:  I took off some of the light area on the right side, and I'm starting to like it better.  There is still a tension between the gold/rust diagonal and the gold/rust bar at the bottom.  My eyes bounce back and forth between them.  Hmmm...

Version 5:  Here, I eliminated the bar at the bottom completely, making the gold in the center the focal point, and simplifying the composition greatly.  No more push-pull; the composition is more static.  Has it become boring?  

I realize this was all kind of tongue-in-cheek, but in spite of my silliness, there is something to be learned here.
Of course, you may be thinking, "Who cares?", and I wouldn't blame you.  But if you have any interest at all, I'd like to know which version you think is best, and why. 

Is less really more?  By golly, I believe it is!  Next thing you know, I'll become a minimalist.  No, wait... what am I saying?

 And now on a nicer and less brain-taxing note, lovely Laura of Shine the Divine: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice has generously given me a Beautiful Blogger award.  Laura is a brilliant writer whose spiritual insights always inspire me.  Thank you, Laura!

Because many bloggers don't do the awards thing, I'm just going to say:  Please visit the blogs I have listed on my blogroll; they're all wonderful!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Experiment Continues...

So, my ongoing experiment with doing collage 'sans monotype' is still going on.  This is hard, people! (Did I just say that?  I'm starting to sound like my students!)  Here is, I suppose you could say, the 3rd incarnation of this piece- sort of.  You'll probably recognize parts of it from incarnation #2.  I felt it wasn't going anywhere, so why not rip it up?  Nothing to lose, and lots of potential learning to gain.  Besides, tearing something apart is a good way to get out your frustrations, if nothing else.

This has several layers, and has gone through quite a bit of ripping and scraping of its own. It didn't scan very well, I guess because of the metallic joss paper; the colors are a bit off, despite my attempt to correct them in Photoshop. 

Self critique:
I like the colors, but I'm not sure if the joss paper is too bright/strong in value compared to the rest.  Maybe there's too much contrast.
I think the composition is the biggest problem here.  Not enough of a focal point; it's a disjointed jumble of stuff, like the inside of your kitchen junk drawer.  The issue for me has always been that I have difficulty eliminating anything, so it becomes too much, too much, too much!
Maybe I should cut the sides off?

Well, it was fun, and I did learn from it.  And I made a huge mess in the studio.
Your critique?  Any comments, advice, and/or constructive criticism are appreciated.

Tune in next time for incarnation #4...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Doors and Windows

There's an old saying...

I'm sure you're familiar.   It goes something like...

"When one door closes,

another door opens."

Or is it, "When a door closes,

a window opens."?

You're probably wondering if I have a point here, which I actually do.  Some of you may recall my recent post, where I ranted on and on about how much I hate applying for exhibitions.  Well, the rejections have started rolling in, and I could just hear the doors slamming!  I started to feel a little... less than hopeful, I guess you could say.  

But then, yesterday, a strange and unexpected thing happened.  I got an email from a gallery saying that they have chosen me for a solo show!  I'm still not convinced that it's not some sort of mistake.   I hear a voice in my head saying, "This just doesn't happen to me."

As a student of Buddhism and other philosophies, I know that our thoughts do create our reality.  I think we expect what we get used to, and those thoughts can become a habit, a pattern, a self-fulfilling prophecy.  My point is this: when you're busy focusing on the closed door, it's hard to notice the open one.

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.
- William James

Monday, May 10, 2010

To Our Mothers' Mothers' Mothers'

I know Mother's Day was yesterday, so technically, I'm late, as usual- slower than molasses in January, as my Mammaw would say.  But I don't suppose it much matters, since technically, all of these women have passed on, except Mammaw, who I visited yesterday.

I want to send a message of gratitude back through time, to my Mother,
Bonnie Lou Creech Davidson (I love you, Mom; I miss you.);

to her mother,
Nellie Pearl Wilder Creech, now age 94;

to my paternal grandmother,
Olive Rebecca Hunt Davidson;

to my great-grandmother,
Juliet Bracelin Davidson;

to my great-grandmother,
Aldora Thompson Hunt;

and to all the others who came before.  For everything you did to nurture the lives that were in your care, for all the love given, and for being the vessels of my incarnation,

I am grateful.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Something Green

Everything has suddenly turned very, very lushly green.  Each Spring this seems to happen virtually overnight. One day, you know Spring is coming, you see little buds peeking out, and the trees start to bloom... then- GREEN!

This got me thinking about the color green and all its permutations, and, well, I decided to see just how many shades of green people had actually attached names to.  This turned out to be well-nigh impossible because, apparently, you can call a color anything you want, especially if you happen to be a paint company.  "Uphill" and "Cabbage Patch", are names for colors of green paint, for example.  I also learned that the computer can distinguish over nine million shades of green (!).  Humans, not so much.

This site listed 99 shades of green, but some of them seem pretty weird, like "Bile"- yuk!  Here's a partial, non-definitive list I compiled from those that seemed reasonable. (A lot of them refer to vegetables, which makes me hungry!)

 Algae, Amazon, Apple,

                                                Aquamarine,                   (Kinneyconnick Creek)
Army, Avocado, Bottle, Brussels, Cactus, Camo, Caribbean,

                                   Celadon,                                                              ( Lamb's ear)


                                                  Chartreuse,                             (Wild grape)

Chromium, Clover, Cornsilk, Drab, Electricity, Emerald, Eucalyptus,

                                                Fern,                                       (Wood Fern)

Fir, Forest, Glass, Goblin, Gooseberry, Grass, Hookers, Honeydew, Hunter, Jade, Jungle, Juniper, Kelly, Laurel, Lawn, Lime, Malachite, Mallard, Ming, Mint, Moss, Office,

                                                 Olive             (Reflection, Kinneyconnick Creek)

Olivine, Parrot, Pea, Perylene, Phthalo, Pickle,

                                    Pine,                                                                  (White pine)          

Pistachio, Sage, Sap, Shamrock, Spinach,

                 Spring,                                                  (budding leaves, Kinneyconnick, Kentucky)

Spruce, Teal, Turquoise, Verdigris,

                                              Veridian,                                         (Wild Rose)

Willow, Zucchini.