Negative space – art imitates life

Or is it the other way around - life imitating art? I spent January with my camera, learning about negative space. In the simplest terms, negative space is the area that surrounds the subject. It is sometimes called "white space", but it does not need to be white, or even, blank. When a photo has large areas of negative space, it often conveys a feeling of peacefulness or serenity, but it can also feel lonely. Since I am drawn to photos with lots of open space, it surprised me that I found this type of composition challenging - and just how much this challenge reflects my current life style. Finding negative space in "crowded" areas I spend my days in the crowded city - surrounded by buildings, noisy subways and sirens, and people - lots and lots of people. And while my weekends in the mountains are peaceful, there, too, it is challenging to find space that doesn't add to the busy-ness of my photo. Zooming in helps. As does looking up. And, a shallow depth of field, creates a blurry background. In my art journal, I am trying to do the same - leaving some negative space in my compositions. And, wow - I am failing - miserably. I am like a little kid with art supplies - no matter what I plan, my page winds up an explosion of color. Perplexed, I think to myself, "hmmm, I certainly hope this is not my style..." Negative Space - art and life This negative space thing, though, isn't that what my recent minimizing has been about.? Finding more free time, less, busy-ness, less stress - space to breathe - to just be. This, too, has been a challenge. I wonder to myself, is my art imitating my life? If I find more peace in my art, will my life follow, imitating art? So - without getting too philosophical - I am curious. If you were to think about your art - whether it is photography, crafts, writing, knitting... - do you feel that it reflects your current life - or that maybe, your art is a way to help guide your life?


Winter Wonderment

I'm not sure when it started - my love for winter - a season that is much, much more than a season to be endured - tolerated... I remember as a child, living at the top of a "big" hill (ummmm, yeah, I grew up in Kansas...), and those glorious snow days when hoards of neighborhood kids raced to our hill, sleds in tow - the thrill of sledding right down the middle of our street (which, of course, makes me wonder why our street wasn't plowed - but that's not really the point.) And yet - I don't think that I loved winter back then.   When my daughters were young, we moved to Chicago. "you'll hate it there" our friends said, "the winters are horrible." Yes - the winters were bitterly cold. I didn't mind. And yet - I don't think I loved it, then, either. But now, I look forward to winter - the cold, fresh air - the first snowfall. Winter is: The hush of snow, gently falling Early morning walks with Chessie as the sun rises over the mountain Wandering on the frozen lake and the crunch of freshly fallen snow under my boots - this is definitely a favorite for Chessie. Quiet time indoors - curling up with a warm throw, a cup of tea, and a good book January finds me - spending a little more time with my camera - trying to allow for more negative space in some of my compositions. This is proving a bit more challenging than I anticipated, but persevere, I shall... I've been adding to my art journal - enjoying the weekly lessons, and learning - always learning. "I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it." Vincent van Gogh My reading list keeps growing. I just finished After You've Gone, by Jeffrey Lent. In one word - poignant, but one word will not do for this book. Jeffrey Lent has a wonderful writing style. I am currently curling up with Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny. I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be, this winter, than the idyllic village of Three Pines in southern Quebec, the imaginary setting for this series of murder mysteries. On my bookshelf: Demelza (The Poldark Saga book 2), Winston Graham The Clockmaker's Daughter, Kate Morton Unsheltered, Barbara Kingsolver And so - January marches on. Your turn - do you embrace or endure these winter months?



"There's no time to be bored in a world as beautiful as this." Running behind - again. It's not that I have been putting off writing this post, or that I didn't want to do the things I haven't been doing - I did, and I do. Someday, maybe, I will learn how to fit it all in - ummmm, maybe... Our trip to the upper peninsula was fantastic! Beautiful weather and cycling through beautiful farmland, along the shore of Lake Superior, and wow - the western edge of our time zone - where the sun rises and sets an hour later... watching as day broke over the misty lakes and fields, savoring the slowness of morning while warming myself with a cup of coffee. Traveling to new places always brings new sights, new experiences, and new people. We cycled with a wonderful, eclectic group of cyclists from all parts of this country. As touring cyclists, these trips are all about enjoying the outdoors, camaraderie and lots of laughs. We also had a lot of fun meeting local residents, excited and proud to show off their neck of the woods. This pair of construction workers on their lunch break, teased us from the window of their truck as we struggled up the hill - but then, enthusiastically pointed out all there was to see from the vista at the top. I was so happy to be carrying my new point and shoot in my pocket - making frequent stops to click - mostly leaving it in "auto" mode. I will learn more about its other features another day. Happy, also, to be unplugged from the outside world - although I did post on instagram a few times :-) Our last day took us to Mackinac Island. Which is quaint in a touristy sort of way, but then, this is only to be expected from an island whose natural beauty speaks for itself. I'm pretty sure the main industry in northern Michigan is fudge. But don't quote me on that one... And not that we minded this - at all. If you have never tasted Mackinac Island fudge ice cream, I strongly suggest you click on over to - asap. I kid you not - it is that good! So yes - I am back at home and back at work, vacation ending all too quickly. But during this stressful time in my office, this trip was exactly what I needed to gain some perspective - take a step back and allow my thoughts to sort themselves out. And now I am catching up - so many things I know I have missed during my little respite from the "real world". I hope you have all been well - I'm slowly making my way through my blog feed; enjoying your photos, your stories - and excited to…



absorbed in thought; meditative - which is not the same thing as overthinking - or so I think Random thoughts - random photos Ever since my old point-and-shoot bit the dust, I've missed having a pocket sized camera in my bag - and no, my iPhone doesn't count. Worried that I didn't have a camera for our upcoming bike trip, Greg bought me a new one for my birthday :-) I've been having fun playing with it - pointing, shooting, and not overthinking every shot. While it doesn't replace my Rebel, it's a pretty nifty toy. I am learning the value of silence during times of frustration... There have been lots of those. I attempted joining an online daily meditation program - attempted, as in I joined, but only lasted about four days. My mind doesn't quit or quiet, sigh... Someday, I will give it another try; but right now, it just feels like one more thing... So, in an effort to be a little more mindful, each morning I set a "daily intention" for myself - giving my day focus. Misty mountain morning walks... If I knew how to capture the feeling of this misty background in a paint color, I would wake to it every morning. Is it odd that I am so utterly captivated by backlighting?   We've been busy working on lots of little home improvement projects - painting, carpeting, cleaning, organizing... In my current minimalist mindset, there has also been a good deal of tossing, donating, gifting... With each wall hanging or knick knack that I remove, I feel a bit lighter. And, I am finding that I enjoy our belongings so much more, with fewer of them. Each one speaks a little clearer, when not surrounded by clutter. And then, walking back up my driveway after our morning walk, Chessie and I are greeted by this little gnome. He is living my best life - reading among the flowers (unconcerned by all those weeds which are making me a little bit nuts.) I've been reading, also: Shoot First (Caught Dead in Wyoming #3), Patricia McLinn - What can I say? I like the setting, Wyoming Still Me: A Novel (Me Before You Trilogy), Jojo Moyes - Fun read, and reminder to trust in yourself; things will work out Less, Andre Sean Greer - I'm currently reading this one, it's odd - I'll let you know how it goes... Please tell me it isn't really September, already! We head to Michigan on Friday for our much anticipated bike tour. I am a little nervous that I am not physically ready, but am looking forward to a week of riding and unplugging. There's a saying "Train for the ride, or train on the ride" - I guess I know which I will be doing... Anyway - that's all for me. I'd love to hear…


Learning to Pause

Winter is a busy time at Away - weekend guests and outdoor activities. And while my wrist continues to heal, I forgo the skiing and snowshoeing, choosing to putter indoors. I don't mind this quiet time to myself - and yet, I am ready for winter to end... January has resulted in a dearth of photos; with the exception of a few quick Instagram snaps on my iPhone, I have little to share. Itchy to keep on keeping on, I have been perusing my photo catalogs from recent months - finding forgotten, untouched photos, waiting to take my notice. I came across several from our October camping trip in Acadia - a sunrise shoot on a cold autumn morning. While the multitudes of Acadia visitors took off for Cadillac Mountain (with out a doubt, breathtaking)  I sought a place along one of the coastal roads, not wishing to share the sunrise with a crowd. Tripod and camera in tow, Greg, Chessie and I climbed among the rocks, away from the road. A short walk brought us to a perfect spot for watching the sun as it rose over the horizon. I focused primarily on the shore, watching the sun peek over the water; Greg was fascinated by the golden glow that the early light cast on the rocks and trees. I need to remind myself - always - to stop for a moment - take a pause - look around. It seems that I need to learn this lesson over and over - just as I am now taking a pause from shooting new photographs to working with forgotten ones. Initially, I neglected these photos - baffled by how to work with the deep shadows and white balance of the sunrise. My editing style is minimal, hoping to share the view as it "looked" and "felt" to me at the time. And then, all too quickly, the sun is up - time to head into town for a hot cup of coffee. Slowly, slowly, my day-to-day activities are returning to "normal".  And while I know that this momentary pause has been good for me, I can hear my neglected camera calling to me. I will be back at it soon enough. In the meantime we are planning our next adventures - a bicycle tour in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, a hiking trip in Colorado... working with these photos, only adding to my excitement. And so in my own way, I guess I keep moving forward. Side note - I just finished reading Heart Spring Mountain, which I stumbled upon in my local bookstore in Vermont. The story brought to life, the unique culture that is Vermont. I don't generally write reviews, but will add some short comments on Goodreads - eventually - maybe... Are you - like me - already looking forward to / making plans for summer?


letting photos find me, book notes, and growing pains

Fair warning - randomness below - My exercise last week was to let photos come to me and not worry about whether they are good or not (although I may have made up that last part). Huh - isn't that what I've always done in the past and am trying not to do? Okay, in the spirit of learning, I stuck with the lesson - and it is a good thing (I think) that they don't need to be good. They're not. But I did enjoy snapping whatever "came to me". I have lots of blurry images of a puppy who won't sit still, and birds who flew away when they saw me in the window - not to mention my dead herb garden. At least it was still. Yeah, well... On another note, I recently finished the English Wife and The Woman in the Window - and highly recommend both. It's rare that I "highly" recommend any book, but it seems I selected two winners in a row - I may be spoiled, now. Both books were suspenseful, I found the characters interesting, and both moved back and forth in time, offering glimpses into the past. I particularly liked the writing style of Lauren Willig - author of the English Wife, as well as the story's historical setting. Changing topics, yet again - my move from Blogspot to WordPress has not been without a fair amount of pain. I am struggling with my "profile", finding I can use my WordPress profile (Open id) while commenting on some blogger blogs, and need to use my Google+ profile on others. It's annoying and making me more than a bit crazy. If anyone with a self-hosted WordPress site knows the answer - please, please, please send me a message! In the meantime, I apologize to anyone who gets stuck with my Google+ profile because, let's face it, Google+ can be ridiculously annoying! That's it for me - have a great day!