Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Look Up//Look Down #17: A Dog Day

Just hanging out in the backyard today, and I found this wonderful look up photograph of the dogs.  Aria and Gypsy are fast friends - when they aren't snarling each other.  I searched around in my photos for a complimentary look down photograph and found this paw print from a walk in the nearby open space. I don't know what varmint left the track, but I'm sure the dogs would love to find out!  I've been playing along with Helena's look up//look down meme for just over one-fourth of the year and this is the first time I've looked around my photos to find a good match. I think my approach to this meme is evolving.  I really want an aesthetically pleasing pair or a pair that tells a story.  So the photos don't necessarily have to be taken at the same time, in the same space. If you've been playing along with an annual photo meme, have you noticed that your approach has evolved as the year has gone along?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Be Strong, Be Brave: Tags for Glue it Tuesday

This week, for Glue it Tuesday (a fun gathering hosted by Artsyville), I decided to create some tags. As I walked to and from work last week, I made a concerted effort to pick up interesting bits and pieces to use for a collage. Most got discarded, but many ended up here (the canvas tag, bottle cap, splitarillos box, bee label, gum wrapper and bus transfer). I used Adirondack spray inks to create the backgrounds and then started gluing!
The tag on the left is called "Be Strong," and it looks back to all the strong women who have come before me. The tag on the right is called "Be Brave," and it looks forward. The journaling reads "She ran ahead where there were no paths. . ."
I am at my best when I am both strong and brave. What about you?
To visit other visitors to the Glue it Tuesday lounge, check out this link.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Let's Meet for a Drink at the Hotel Bar

Written Saturday, April 27, to be posted on Monday morning, instead of "hello Monday" . .. 
Once a month, Abi invites folks to sit down for a cup of tea and a chat. Since I'm traveling this weekend, I thought we could meet for a drink at the hotel bar. If we were to sit down, I'd have a Stoli martini, up, really cold, with lots of olives. What would you have? 
I'd tell you that I'm in Detroit, Michigan because I do some work for the United Auto Workers. I'm part of Public Review Board, which helps hold the international union accountable to its membership.  I'd tell you how much I enjoy this addition to my regular teaching load and how impressed I always am with the union members, regular working class folks, who come to the hearings to plead their case. I also really like the other Board members, and I find our Friday night dinners a highlight of the weekend. This meeting fell at a good time because I'm done teaching classes for the semester; I have a review session to conduct, one more exam to write and then will have to start grading exams later in the week. I'd mention that we usually just meet at the airport hotel but this weekend we're staying downtown, along the river which runs between Michigan and Canada. We could look out the window and see the ships passing by.
I'd tell you  how happy I am to be able to travel again. When Paul was sick, I was unable to get away to these quarterly meetings. It feels so good for things to be getting back to normal! Paul's doing well, and we continue to hope and pray that the awful cancer stays away. 
I'd tell you that Clara and I are getting along better than ever; that deciding to train together for a half-marathon was the best thing we ever did. The race is June 2, and we both feel like we'll be ready. She's trying really hard to bring her grades up this semester and wants to keep running over the summer. We're not sure where she'll go to school next year, but, for now, we're grateful that she's doing okay. I'd tell you Henry still hasn't decided where he's going to University, but that the national deadline for colleges is tomorrow (April 30). I'd probably also mention that he's turning 18 on Thursday, and we're just planning a small family dinner. Plus, I'm planning a surprise for him next week - if I can pull it off.
We might chat until the sun sets and the moon comes up. I'd tell you that I enjoye the two movies I watched on the plane this weekend (Chasing Mavericks and Hitchcock) and I'm starting to read a book, "White Dog Fell from the Sky" by Eleanor Morse for my book group. I'd tell you that I've been enjoying working in my art journals again and taking photographs with my iphone, but that I miss spending time with my big camera. I'd end the evening by telling you all about my plans to host a photography scavenger hunt this summer and invite you to play along.
What news would you share over a cocktail in the hotel bar?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

It's Coming!

Starting June 1, 2013 and running through Sept. 21, 2013, join photographers from all over the world in hunting for 21 fun and eclectic items and then sharing your results.  This will be the third annual Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt, and I'm really excited for it to begin.  I'll post a list of items on that day, as well as a full list of guidelines for participants. You can find my posts from the prior years' hunts by clicking on this link. Will you be joining in? If so, here's a smaller version of this year's blog button in case you want to put it on your blog:
(Let me know if there's technical problems with the size of this photo, and I'll work on it.)

Friday, April 26, 2013

My Photographer's Eye/Messy Little Details

Vignette #15: Rusted Memories
On the side of the house, there's a pile of stuff waiting to go to the dump. Unusable. Rusted. Discarded.  But, in the right light, my photographer's eye spies an interesting combination of shapes and a muted tapestry of colors. As I gaze deeper, I remember the use that each of these once had - the hack saw used to trim branches off a Christmas tree; a shovel and hoe used to turn the garden; a tray from our old Weber BBQ.  Rusted memories brought back to me when I pause to capture a photograph.
My Photographer's Eye is a semi-regular series designed to feature my instagram photography and a brief accompanying narrative. You can see the other vignettes in this series by clicking on this link
My blog friend, Carolyn Phillips, is starting a new photography meme called "Messy Little Details," giving photographers a place to share photos of those little details you can't help but shoot. I thought Rusted Memories would fit nicely in the thread, but I also wanted to post this photograph:
While walking Gypsy along my favorite Montara back road, I saw a bunch of dandelions. Getting close to just one and looking straight down, I was amazed at what I saw. To me, the flower resembled a faraway galaxy and reminded me of a moon jelly fish.  Recurring patterns in nature revealed when I stopped to capture the messy little details.
To see other photos of the messy little details, click on this link.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

PPF: Simple Spirals

A simple painting to share with Paint Party Friday today.  But, it still calls to me and it may be my favorite creation this week. I usually have trouble learning to love white space but not today. It was inspired by the this month's prompt at the Sketchbook Challenge (spirals). What do you think? Is it too simple?
To see other artists participating in Paint Party Friday, click here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Thursday This and That

On Saturday, I had a great time playing in my art journals. I created this Frida page which I really like. The quote on the page reads "Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love." I am definitely pulled to Mexican art influences, and it was fun to celebrate that in this page. 
The quote came from a postcard I received in Kat Sloma's Liberate Your Art postcard swap, which is about halfway done. I'll post all the cards I received during the blog hop scheduled for May 10.
A few other interesting things going on around blog land:
Sian is hosting a great big swap of very small things. You can sign up until the end of April. Check out the details here.
Ali Edwards is offering a free journaling class. You can sign up here. {fixed the link!}
Denthe posted this amazing step by step post of a painting she made. I would love to try to create in her style.
Jim Jams posted this fantastic list of quotes which she put into a mini album.
Someone who I don't recall posted a link to origrami, a fantastic looking company printing out instagram photos. I can't wait to try it out.
Last, but certainly not least, Jennifer Grace is hosting one of her amazing weekend blog event, featuring challenges, tutorials, a blog hop and lots and lots of prizes!!! The fun begins on May 10 and the spring theme is "Onward and Upward." You can read more about it here. Jennifer always does a great job with these, so it's well worth putting on your calendar.
And, from a musical standpoint, can I just say how much I'm lovin' Matt Nathanson (click here to see the video for Modern Love, set in San Francisco) and Allen Stone (click on the link and sample "Sleep" and "Contact High")!
Enjoy the links, and feel free to share any others that may be of interest. Also, if you know who posted about origrami, please let me know.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Look Up//Look Down #16: In the Club House

Last week, I went to the High School baseball field to help my friend Becky take the team photos. She is a fun person and a very talented photographer, so I not only enjoy spending time with her but always learn something. I happily held the reflector and talked lighting with her, as she created portraits of the players that every family will treasure. At some point in the afternoon, I went into the Club House to chat with the Coach.  While there, I seized the opportunity to take my weekly look up//look down photos (a meme created by Helena).  These photos aren't technically perfect, but I think Henry will be happy that I captured this glimpse into the behind the scenes world of baseball; a perfect complement to all the on field actions shots I have of him.  Looking up at the sign over the door to the field; looking down at the floor in front of Henry's locker.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Steampunk: Glue It Tuesday

Artsyville hosts a wonderful place to share your "cut and paste" projects called Glue It Tuesday.  I first discovered Aimee's blog through Paint Party Friday - her paintings have a very definite style which intrigued me, so I started to follow her. After seeing my posts for the dry art journaling class I took, she mentioned GIT and I decided to play along. 
I love how GIT gives me the freedom to use my huge stash of collage elements without worrying about whether I should be creating artwork that includes only my original work (drawing, painting, photography). So, thanks Aimee for opening the GIT Lounge every week. To see this week's entries, click on this link. 
My art journal page this week is in my road atlas journal.  Acrylic paint for the background. Lots of random elements that came together into a page which asks "Is steampunk the odd memories of a time that never was?" You can click on the image to see it larger and in more detail. While doing this page, I realized I've become very comfortable using my watercolors to color images and that I am really close to getting rid of my markers because I really don't like coloring with them! And it made me wonder what you all use to color images (if you do that sort of thing). Do tell!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What's On My . . . Monday?

I found this meme on Ali Edwards's blog, though she credits her sister. I thought it made a nice variation for my Monday morning check-in. Today's photograph is of the apple tree which is finally starting to blossom

What's On My . . . 
VANITY:  Toothbrush and toothpaste; Decleor skin care products; Deva Curl hair care products; our wedding Budda.
PERENNIAL TO DO LIST: Clean up my art desk; Clean out the garage; Clean up my office at work; Edit the vacation pictures from last summer; Work on my heritage/genealogy scrapbook. 
REFRIGERATOR SHELVES: Lots of leftovers; milk; sparkling water; apple juice; cheese; cauliflower; asparagus.
ITINERARY:  A trip to Detroit at the end of week to do some work for the United Auto Workers; Gypsy gets a much-needed grooming on Thursday.
FANTASY ITINERARY: Australia; Greece; Hawaii.
PLAYLIST: The Avett Brothers new album; Rebel Beat by the Goo Goo Dolls; Aint Messin Round by Gary Clark; 93 Million Miles by Jason Mraz; Tightrope by Walk the Moon; San Francisco by the Mowglis; Modern Love by Matt Nathanson; Stubborn Love by The Lumineers; and Hero by Family of the Year
NIGHTSTAND:  A bottle of Smartwater (my favorite); my jewelry box; a heart shaped rock from Deb Turtle; a guardian angel shrine.
WORKOUT PLAN:  Strength and stretch class at my gym; power blast class at the gym; long run (10 miles) on the weekend; medium run (6 miles) on Wednesday.
IPHONE: MLB.com At Bat; Splice; Shazam; Fandango; Snapseed; Instagram; and Netflix.
TOP 5 (To Do) LIST1. Make sure Henry gets his homework done. 2. Write exams for my classes. 3. Fold the laundry. 4. Talk to Henry about a college decision. 5. Prepare for the last week of class.
BUCKET LIST: To see wildflowers bloom in the desert. . . and a few other things.
MIND: The value of spending time focusing on Clara, first-and-foremost as a parent, but occasionally as a friend. Planning for Henry's 18th birthday.
BLOGROLL: Most of you! 
WALLS OF YOUR FAVORITE ROOM IN YOUR HOUSE: Nothing but yellow paint on the walls of our bedroom; prints by Thomas Killian in our living room.
LIQUOR SHELF: Dark rum for Rum and Cokes; Stoli Vodka for martinis; and Sapphire Gin for Gin and Tonics. We're always short of the mixers, though!
LAST CREDIT CARD STATEMENT:  Dinner out way too often!
SCREENSAVER: An awesome baseball portrait of my son taken by the amazing Becky Ruppel is on my phone; a cute picture of Gypsy on my computer.  I change my phone screen saver all the time, but I rarely change the one on the computer.
TV EVERY NIGHT: San Francisco Giants baseball; we watch almost every game. And then, whenever I get a chance - Mad Men; Top of the Lake; Nashville; CSI; Body of Proof; Vegas; Project Runway; Grey's Anatomy; Chicago Fire. Yes, I'm a bit of an addict.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Push-Up Bra Blogging: What I Do

Julie Kirk of Notes on Paper has been running a terrific series/free class called "Push-Up Bra Blogging.  It all about doing more with what you have (named after the similar intended effect of a push-up bra).  Well, anyone who has met me in real life knows that I am most definitely not in need of a push-up bra (LOL!), but I have really enjoyed Julie's blog series.  Partly because many of her ideas are very similar to what I do already, but I hadn't realized until reading her posts why I do what I do or how it works for me on my blog.
In any event, today I wanted to share my own "push up bra" example - how to make a week's worth of blog posts from one creative outing.
Earlier this week, I took the dogs out for a walk in the open space near my house.  I took my iphone along and took a variety of photographs.  From that one outing (which was something I kind of needed to do anyway), I created the following posts:
Sunday - A Simple Moment (journaling was from a run, but photograph from the walk)
Wednesday - Look Up//Look Down (two photos from the outing)
Thursday - My Photographer's Eye (one instagram photo from the outing)
Friday - Paint Party Friday (water color art journal page created based on a photo I took during the outing, as well as a flower sketch in my sketch book)
Saturday (today) - art journal page using flowers practiced in my sketchbook, based on photo I took during the outing.
That's five posts from one 45 minute creative walk with the dogs. I could easily have illustrated my "Hello Monday" post with a photograph from the walk as well, but I liked the pay phone better. And, if I really wanted to, I could have blogged the two Friday entries separately - with the art journal page for PPF and the sketchbook page for my occasional series - "A Peek Inside my Sketchbook").  So, I truly could have created seven posts from that one walk.  
How did I do it?  You'll notice that two of the posts (Look Up//Look Down; Paint Party Friday) are weekly memes and one of the posts (A Simple Moment) in a monthly meme - Julie mentioned using periodic memes as a way to fill out your blog.  One of the posts (My Photographer's Eye) is a recurring thread of my own creation - another idea mentioned by Julie.  Also, I wrote them all early in the week and scheduled them to run as the week went on. One benefit of preparing these all in advance was that it freed up "computer/blog time" for me, so that I was better at getting around to read blogs, leave comments and participate in community activity.
So, here's my question for my regular readers? As the week went by, did you notice that so many postings came from the same event? If so, did they seem repetitive? Or did you admire my ability to make the most from what I had to work with? And have you learned anything from Julie's blog series? If so, consider popping over here and contributing to her fundraising effort for "Save the Children."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

PPF: A Peek Inside my Sketchbook and Art Journal

It's been a long time since I've pulled out my sketchbook and art journal, but there's something about spring which pushed my muse in that direction. So, I'm linking up with Paint Party Friday to share this water color painting in my art journal.
And a few sketches in my sketchbook, featuring "Things I See on a Run."  The second deer is kindof goofy, but I like the first deer pretty well. And I enjoyed trying to figure out how best to paint those awesome flowers ("Pride of Madeira") that are everywhere on the coast side these days.  Where is your spring time muse pushing you?
Thanks to Kristin and Eva for hosting Paint Party Friday.  To see more painterly goodness, click on this link.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My Photographer's Eye

Vignette #14: Pride of Madeira
When walking the dogs in the open space recently, I noticed that the winter rains had brought this bush ("Pride of Madeira") into bloom.  At the time, I didn't have my camera with me (not even my iphone), but I resolved to return and take some photographs.
My photographer's eye yearned to capture the intense purples of the alien-looking rosette blossoms.  I'm glad I returned to capture these images. Have you ever returned to capture an image you missed the first time around?
My Photographer's Eye is a semi-regular series designed to feature my instagram photography and a brief accompanying narrative. You can see the other vignettes in this series by clicking on this link

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Look Up//Look Down #15: In the Open Space

A few blocks  from our house is a large area of open space which connects with Montara Mountain.   The dogs love it when I take them  up there for a walk. I can let them off leash, and they can run a bit.  For this week's look up//look down photo meme, created by Helena, I'm featuring photographs from a recent walk there.  Looking up into the eucalyptus trees and looking down the trail to see Aria running back towards me. 
This pairing got me thinking about the orientation of my local geography.  Most of the coast feels very horizontal because of the dominance of the ocean and shore line.  In contrast, Montara Mountain  and these photographs are all about vertical. This is a concept I have never really thought about before, but one which I think has the potential to improve my photography. Does this idea make sense to you? Have you ever thought about the orientation of your locale? Is it more horizontal or more vertical? 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Today, I Chose Art

This morning, I had a little free time before heading up to work.  Normally I would have taken the time to to go the gym.  But, today, I chose to make some art instead. I worked in my sketchbook and my art journal and had so much fun. This background was created using water color blocks.  Collage elements include washi tape, a Club Scrap border and background sentiment, tag cut from paper bag background paper, and images from my Marilyn Monroe collage sheet. Added some top texture with a texture stamp. My journaling reads "I am looking through the camera not posing for it."  Feel free to click on it to get a larger, more detailed view.
I was inspired to choose art today so that I could link up with Aimee in Artsyville for her "Glue It Tuesday." Check it out!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hello Monday

Hello Monday . . .  a meme started by Lisa Leonard, and hello to an old-fashioned pay phone spied outside the Highway 1 Brewing Company which we visited with friends over the weekend.  You don't see these much anymore, but it's necessary at this locale as there's very poor cell service along this remote stretch of the highway.  Paul thought it was funny that I was taking a photograph of a phone, with a phone.  A relatively quiet week ahead for me. . .
Hello Book Group . . . this month we read Into the Beautiful North by Luis Albert Urea. Karen Walker of Random Reflections recommended this once, and everyone seems to have enjoyed it. I enjoyed the first ten pages of the book and then made the mistake of leaving it on the floor next to the bed when I went to work. I came home to find that you-know-who chewed it up into an unreadable mess. 
Hello High School Baseball . . . Henry's got a couple games this week.
Hello Penultimate Week of School . . . This semester seems to have gone forever, and I'll be happy when it's over.
Hello Sketchbook . . . It's been calling to me lately, and it's fun to start drawing again.  
What are you saying hello to this week?

A Simple Moment in April: Perseverence

April 13, 2013, 9:21 a.m.
The weather is still cool.  The sky is blue and it will no doubt get hot later in the day.  For now, the dappled shade offered by the scrub oak trees keeps me from getting overheated.  Under my feet, the packed dirt of the trail is a lovely shade of brown.  The grass along the edge is deep green. I've been running for almost an hour, and for the last twenty minutes I've been going uphill.  I am running alone and feel a little sorry for myself. Clara stayed home today, and no one from the Team is with me on this portion of the trail.  I continue to shuffle up the hill.  Trying to keep my form.  Trying not to cry.
9:24 a.m.
I have made it to the top of the loop.  My stride falls back into its regular form. No shade here.  I look down and see my shadow keeping pace with me. Dressed in running clothes, visor and a water belt, my shadow self looks strong and confident. I hear birds singing. Suddenly, I feel better. Alone; but no longer lonely.
9:29 a.m.
I have started the descent. I am running down deeply shaded switch backs, picking up speed and letting gravity provide most of my energy. Ten miles suddenly seems doable. I am surprised to realize that I am smiling.
A Simple Moment is a monthly meme sponsored by Alexa of Trimming the Sails, which encourages participants to share the sights, sounds and other small details of a moment in your life.  This link is now open. Why not join in?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My Photographer's Eye

Vignette #13:  Faded Beauty
I am out back, looking for signs of spring. The intense fuchsia of the new hydrangea blossoms catch my eye. They are fresh and pretty; bright and full of the promise of spring.  But, then, my photographer's eye sees something different. The faded beauty of last season's hydrangeas, not yet pruned from the arbor.
Their faded, crumbling beauty touch me in a deeper way.  They speak not of the promise of spring but of the fullness of a life well lived - one that drained every drop out of life before succumbing to a wintery end. 
My Photographer's Eye is a semi-regular series designed to feature my instagram photography and a brief accompanying narrative. You can see the other vignettes in this series by clicking on this link

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Look Up//Look Down #14: Middle Gate

Spring continues its inevitable arrival, and I am continuing to look up and look down for a weekly photo pairing, inspired by Helena.  This week I am out back again. A few years after we purchased our house, we purchased the undeveloped lot behind our house. We fenced it, leveled it, threw down grass seed and planted a few trees. Someday we will build a one story house on it where we can live when we can no longer manage a large house with stairs. In the meantime, it's been a play yard (first for the kids; now for the dogs). Today's look up photo is a picture of the latch on the middle gate which divides our back yard from the "back back" (as we call it). And I'm looking down at a small patch of weeds flowers, a sure sign of spring.
What do you see when you look up and look down? I realize, for me, it's a window on the future.

Monday, April 8, 2013

OLW: Paramount, April 2013

Every year, I choose a "one little word" on which to focus my intentions.  This year, I chose "paramount."  You can read more about my choice and the project by clicking on this link.  When I chose the word and through much of the first few months of this year, the word was necessary to save my sanity.  Things in my life were so unsettled and difficult that I needed to keep focused only on the essential in order to get through each day. Now, as things in my life have gotten more settled, I am trying to hold on to the power of my word to keep me focused on those things which are truly important.  
Like spending time with family. 
For the last few years, I've gotten tickets for the four of us to attend a San Francisco Giants game during opening weekend. I almost forgot this year, but I'm so glad I didn't. The team gave out Championship Rings to all attendees, and we each put ours on for this photo opportunity. When I look at this photograph, I am filled with gratitude. I am grateful that we were all able to attend . . . grateful that we have come through this rough time in our lives with our family intact and together, enjoying an annual tradition. Grateful that I have kept focused on what is paramount. And resolved to continue doing that for the rest of the year.
How are things going with your One Little Word?

Hello Monday

Hello Monday (a meme started by Lisa Leonard) . . . and Hello Aria!
Hello Back to School . . . both the kids have been out of regular school for two weeks! Henry was in Dallas playing soccer and then had spring break; Clara had an interim week and then spring break. It will be tough to get back into the regular swing of things, I'm sure.
Hello Blustery Days . . . huge winds rattled the house last night; waking everybody (especially the dogs).
Hello Mad Men . . . happy that one of my favorite shows is back TV. But, oh my, last night's season opener was dark. I also watched "Zero Dark Thirty" over the weekend. For me, it was a little talky and slow and hard to follow. I definitely preferred Argo.
Hello College Decision? . . . Henry has to decide by May 1. I'm hoping he doesn't wait that long, although he is still waiting to hear about potential scholarship money at a few places.  The smart money is still on University of Oregon.
Hello Hair Dresser . . . I'm off for a cut and color this morning; Gypsy needs to get to the groomer this week, too.
Hello Passport Office . . . Henry will be going to Costa Rica on a senior trip in ten weeks, and his current passport expires in four.
Hello To-Do Lists . . . only a few more weeks until the end of term, which means that I have lots of planning to do for finals, reviews, etc. Plus networking from our successful lecture event last Thursday and various other things.
Hello Long Runs . . . from here on out, the training schedule calls for alternating shorter and longer runs on Saturdays. This past weekend, we only ran six miles. This coming weekend, we're scheduled for twelve miles!  Yes, I'm a little scared. But I will think of all the wonderful supporters I have and the cancer patients for whom I am running, and I will get through it!
What are you saying hello to this week?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Storytelling Sunday: Buster B. Bear

On the first Sunday of every month, Sian of From High in the Sky hosts a round of storytelling. For 2013, Sian has suggested that people tell stories about the precious things in their lives, "those things from your past you can't bear to throw out . . . Or the thing you love most in a room."  For this month's story, I want to introduce Buster Brown Bear.
My husband Paul gave me this teddy bear while I was in law school, a year or two before we married. When he arrived, his fur was  a soft brown, and he wore a blue satin ribbon around his neck. I named him Buster Brown Bear, and we joked that he was a constitutional law scholar.  We both found this very funny for some reason. Buster B. Bear traveled with me from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Ithaca, New York after we got married.  For almost thirty years, this well-loved, well-traveled ball of fur has shared our bed. He's definitely the worse for wear these days, but I still love him.  He's very precious to me, and I definitely couldn't bear to be without him!

Class Review: "Marvel - Your Precious Life"

I just completed my art journal for an online class taught by Kelly Kilmer called "Marvel - Your Precious Life."  The class focused on creating collaged art journal pages using paper, pens and images, but no paint. Therefore I referred to it as my "dry" art journal.  If you click on the "art journal" label below, you'll be able to see more of the pages I created for the class.
The class ran for 31 days and cost $25.  On each day of the course, I received an email which included a "template," a sample art journal page based on the template, a few design ideas and a journaling prompt.  The "template" is similar to a scrapbook page or card "sketch." It suggested places for a focal image (or two) and an arrangement of background papers and embellishments.  These made it really easy to construct a page.  The design ideas were fairly simple (but fun), and the prompt was typically a fairly basic question.  In addition, Kelly gave each class participant a collage tutorial PDF discussing how she approaches making a collage page, and instructions for stitching your own journal.  During the month, Kelly hosted a few facebook chat sessions where students could talk with each other and ask questions. I didn't participate in these, but they looked like they worked just fine. She also hosted an ephemera swap in which I intended to participate, but I (sadly) missed the deadline.
In addition to the daily emails, Kelly set up a yahoo group where students could ask questions and discuss issues. She posted the daily emails in the files section of the yahoo page for easy access and suggested that participants create photo albums where they could post their pages. This worked fairly well, but it was a little difficult to tell when new pages were posted and when new comments had been left on the pages which I posted.  Overall, 27 students set up photo albums, and about a third of these participants remained active throughout the length of the class.  Kelly was meticulous about following the discussion and answering any questions that arose. I don't recall her commenting very often on pages posted in the gallery, but I could be wrong.
Overall, I enjoyed the class. It was very low-stress, easy and fun. And I LOVE the journal I created.  The class did not contain a lot of  challenging techniques. In fact, it really focused on teaching one technique (dry, collaged, layered art journaling) and gave participants lots of opportunity to practice it and adapt it to fit their own style.  I feel like the class accomplished this. In fact, I feel like I probably learned everything I was going to learn from the class after about ten days to two weeks.  After that, for me, the prompts, templates and design ideas got a little repetitive. I think the class could have been improved by either being shorter or adding some new,  challenging techniques in the second half of the month. I'm glad I took the class because it gave my art journaling a much needed kick start. I also think it was a reasonable value (given the templates, tutorials, chats, etc.), but it would have been better for me as a $15 two week class. The class would be especially great for beginners who don't know where to start with collaged art journaling and for those who don't want to mess around with paint. For intermediate to advanced collage artists/art journalers, it's a fun class to take when you want to get back to creating quick, fun pages that don't involve a lot of challenging technique.
Overall, I'd give the class a good, solid B.
Anyone else take the class and have any feedback? And for the rest of you, do you prefer a class that has a lot of difficult challenge for you? Or one where you can relax and enjoy learning a few easy things?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

PPF: Inspired by Nature

I just finished up my art journal for the Kelly Kilmer "Dry Art Journaling" class, and I thought I would share this one last page with PPF, since it's been a while since I've stopped by. It's just about how much I'm inspired by nature. Layered patterned paper, wrapping paper, butterfly images from Stampington, stickers, washi tape, focal image and postage stamps from my stash.  Hope you enjoy looking at the page as much as I enjoyed making it. I'll be posting a class review tomorrow if you want to stop by.  
To visit others participating in Paint Party Friday, click on this link.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Look Up//Look Down #13: In the Garden

At the beginning of the year, I joined in with Helena's "Look Up//Look Down" photography meme.  I'm really glad I did because it's a great reminder to document the everyday.  Almost half of my up//down photos, including this week's entries, have been taken in the backyard. The up photo is the newly blossoming pear tree and the down photo shows the detritus from putting in the new spring vegetable garden. I like how both show that the beginning of spring is more full of twigs and bare branches than green leaves and flowers. That will come later.
I think it will be really interesting to look back on all these pictures of my back yard years from now. I am learning the visual potential of a limited subject matter. Thanks Helena! 
If you've participated in a long term photograph meme, what have you learned from the experience?

Monday, April 1, 2013

PHC: "Come here, Coach."

Kat Sloma hosts a photography exercise she calls "photo-heart connection," in which she asks participants to go through their photographs from the current month and select the one which has the greatest connection to their heart. I've noticed that many of the photos are selected by participants because of the emotion they evoke in the photographer or viewer, while I tend to choose photographs because of the emotion contained in the image. Not always, but many times. And this month's selection falls squarely in that category.
I took this photograph at my son's soccer award ceremony.  If you look closely, you can see that his coach is on the verge of tears. He had just given my son his participation certificate and talked about how much he will miss having Henry around after coaching him for so many years. Coach is a gruff man, a man of few words, and perhaps a bit embarrassed by his show of emotion. He was about to turn away, but Henry said, "Come here, Coach." Henry put his arm around him and told him he wanted a photograph with him. In that moment, I was so proud of my son. Proud, not of his soccer skills, but for the maturity and poise he showed in getting Coach out of a potentially awkward situation and of validating Coach's emotions. In that moment, I caught my breath because I saw Henry grow up a little bit, acting like a young man instead of a high school kid. I saw a glimpse of the man I hope he becomes. 
And I relive that moment and feel that emotion every time I look at this photograph. 
And that's what the photo-heart connection is all about for me.
There were a few other contenders for PHC honors this month. First, another one of Coach - this time staring at the Senior Award he is about to give Henry:
One of Henry, showing his fiery competitive spirit in his spring sport (baseball):
And a few which evoke a strong emotion in me, rather than display emotion:
As with all photographs on my blog, you can click on the image to enlarge it and get a better view of it. And, as always, I love to hear your feedback on my selections.
To check out other photographers sharing their photo-heart connection, go to this post. You can see my other photo-heart connection posts by clicking on the label below.