basketball art fans, the Columbus Museum of Art has some bracketing fun for you. Check out their website and make your picks for the week:
basketball art fans, the Columbus Museum of Art has some bracketing fun for you. Check out their website and make your picks for the week:
Have you ever wondered how the shamrock symbol is related to Saint Patrick's Day? In case there's anyone who hasn't heard the reason before now, I'd like to share a story one of the tour guides in Ireland told us about Saint Patrick reaching down, plucking a clover leaf, to use as a visual aid to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity. This just struck me as such quick thinking, as well as a practical and visual way to explain a sometimes difficult concept. The lovely little shamrock symbols are plentiful in Ireland, and you can even find them atop the Dublin street lamp posts. Oh Ireland (SIGH inserted here). I'm coming back to visit some day. But, until I do, this one day in March will have to suffice.
In honor of Saint Patrick's Day, here's an Irish Blessing for you, my friends.
May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
I just watched the news coverage of the announcement of Pope Francis. Wow! It was amazing to watch from afar. And, speaking of watching from afar, the images of the piazza and Vatican Square made me feel like I was in Rome and Vatican City, even though it's been over two years since I stood there. (The image above was taken inside St. Peter's Basilica if you don't recognize it.) What a momentous occasion and celebration for those vacationers and spring breakers who were there by chance.
"Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. Talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet. Make all your friends feel there is something special in them. Look at the sunny side of everything. Think only the best, be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. Give everyone a smile. Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others. Be too big for worry and too noble for anger."
Norman Vincent Peale
This weekend I stopped by the log cabins because they have a lot of white irises, commonly referred to as "White Cemetery Iris", in bloom. These lovely white beauties last a short time in the spring, so you can't procrastinate. How do I know this? Because that is precisely what I did last year and missed getting any photos. Anyway, there were these two purple irises that really stood out, so I of course I tried to capture them (see the white ones in the background). I really didn't think much about it until I got home and uploaded my photos. As I was adding keywords, I did a quick search to make sure I was correctly identifying the flowers and found this on the Aggie Horticulture site:
"An often-repeated gardeners' tale about White Cemetery iris is that they "take over" patches of purple iris until very quickly the purple blooms are gone for good. Even though this should not happen if iris don't set seed, there are plenty of people who swear they have seen individual plants which began with purple flowers, then with purple and white, until finally only white remained."
Could this patch be in the midst of a "take-over"? Have you seen any other "take-overs" in your area? Well, that's it for useless trivia for now. Enjoy the irises because they don't last long.
I've been having fun practicing my macro photo skills lately. It has become a good excuse to buy myself flowers every now and then.
I plan to compose some more creative shots, but the flowers aren't lasting, and I haven't taken the time to pull out all of my props to set up a more pleasing composition. I'm also trying to experiment with some high key looks, so that has taken priority over the staging. It shouldn't be that hard but, I was trained back in the high-contrast world of black and white film photography, so it's been a struggle to figure out the best way to achieve the look I have in mind. I think I'm having trouble achieving the high-key look, mostly because it all seems counter-intuitive to me. Added to the learning curve is the fact that I tend to research the research and, days later, I'm afraid I'm no further along in the knowledge/skills area. (Oh, if only "Grasshopper" had a personal photography mentor with all the answers ...) The good news is that when it "clicks" for me, I'm going to OWN the knowledge and not just guess or hit a preset button. So, I'm considering these my warm-up exercises for those beautiful spring flowers that should be, hopefully, peeping out any day now.
Happy Valentine's Day my friends.
Just like black and white photography, I've always been smitten with macro photography. I was fortunate enough to take a Macro Photography Boot Camp from Mike Moats recently. I really admire his work and his workshop was a real treat. He even brought some of his macro photography booty to let us all practice taking our own photos. Here is the workings of a pocket watch he brought. Oh, and he even loaned me the 90mm lens I used on this bad boy! Now that's what a Boot Camp is all about people. ;-)
I intended to be much more active with Social Media in 2013, but, clearly, I'm off to a dismal start. I also decided to shore up my Color Theory and Composition skills, which has taken on a life of it's own. The more I study, the more I want to learn and I've been neglecting everything else. I didn't think that posting any of my sketches, reading materials or color swatches would be of interest, so I didn't post anything and kept studying.
However, since the weather has been so lovely, I took a trip to the Botanical garden in Austin, Texas last week AND I was lucky enough to attend a photography workshop in Irving, Texas this weekend. I hope to work on a photo or two to show you this week. Hang in there with me.
As we look forward to beginning a new year with a fresh start, I'd be remiss if I didn't take a moment to wish each of you a 2013 full of abundant blessings, good health, and filled to the brim with rich moments for which memories are made. Thank you for giving me the gift of your time and support. Happy New Year!
Project Nine from Step-By-Step Guide to Painting Realistic Water Colors by Dawn McLeod Heim is Autumn Leaves. My plan was to get this one posted for Thanksgiving, but I kept thinking I could turn it around and the deadline came and went. I was completely deceived by this one. The first time I looked through the book I remember thinking it was strange that the easier one is left for the latter part. Boy, was I wrong. I didn't have all the recommended palette (and have a self imposed, I will NOT buy another tube of watercolor paint to satisfy another workshop/lesson; UNLESS, I feel it's absolutely necessary). I "substituted" early and often; and it showed from beginning 'til end. My exercise lacks the depth the example showed. I'm blaming it on the lacking palette. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. :-) Lesson learned. Just one more lesson in this book and then I'm off to tackle something else. I'm thinking ... a little oil painting practice so I'll be ready for those fields of bluebonnets in the spring.
It's Veterans Day and as I was putting in keywords on some of my pictures of poppies, I was reminded of the red poppies that were sold and worn on the lapels of the older generation of my youth. I did a quick search and found that the red poppy's symbol for Veterans Day is attributed, in part, to a poem by John McCrae which I found on Wikipedia. I included the poem below, along with my gratitude to all the Veterans, past and present.
In Flanders Fields John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.
Project 8 from Step-By-Step Guide to Painting Realistic Water Colors by Dawn McLeod Heim is Strawberries and Lace. I know you should never say never, but I HOPE I never revisit this little exercise again. This exercise was all about the strong morning light, painting intricate reflective objects, and making the strawberries look like ripe, juicy strawberries. If I were grading, I'd give myself a very strong, solid D-. It looks very "amateurish" to me and couple that with the fact that I barely got this finished in time to post... I do, however, like the cast shadow from the basket. It is very unlike the example, but I think it's the only redeeming passage of this bad boy. I could go back and make some areas stronger, but this one isn't going anywhere, so, why prolong the frustration any further. I hope that feeling frustrated means you are growing and learning because this one held a few of those moments for me. I'm glad I committed to posting these lessons to hold myself accountable, because I'm pretty sure this is where I would have put the book back on the shelf if left to my own devises.
I saw this on a blog in which a photographer was being interviewed. This was her answer to the question: "What is your favorite quote?"
If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture, let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies... It would be a sad situation if the wrapper were better than the meat wrapped inside it."
- Albert Einstein -
I made this photo in New Mexico a few years ago. It always makes me chuckle a bit. Someone has a keen sense of humor and somehow, in my mind, seems to kind of fit the quote I selected for today. Happy Wednesday!
Lesson 7 from Step-By-Step Guide to Painting Realistic Water Colors by Dawn McLeod Heim is Teacup with Golden Spoon. It is a lesson on reflective surfaces and how to create a mother-of-peal effect on the cup. I am still messing with that spoon to make it look more three dimensional. Oh well, time to move on to Lesson 8, so tune in next week. (My fingers are crossed for a finished Lesson by Thursday because I only have about one-forth painted so far.)
Project Six from Step-By-Step Guide to Painting Realistic Water Colors by Dawn McLeod Heim is Vegetables on a Cutwork Cloth. I liked the looks of this project just looking through this book and couldn't wait to paint it. (In fact, I jumped ahead and did it out of order.) The focus of the lesson is to paint the different textured surfaces of the vegetables. I pushed my comfort zone by working really large. This is a full sheet of 300# watercolor paper. I've never used 300# paper and I don't generally use a full sheet. I learned that I don't really have the room to accommodate full sheet watercolor paper; well, I could if I took over another room in the house, but I'm less likely to do that on a regular basis. I also learned that I didn't have the experience of applying even washes in large areas since I usually work smaller. Again, I thought the turnip would be difficult, but I liked it from the first pigment. The other two companions that look "so easy" were deceiving and made me struggle, mainly due to such large wash areas. I might try this one again, only (wait for it) SMALLER. I'm beginning to sound like Goldilocks in Goldilocks and the Three Bears fame. My new mission is to find the right painting size. But until then, I may be cropping out just the turnip I'm so smitten with.
I've been looking through some of my work to submit for a Call for Entry that I may or may not have time to complete since the deadline is quickly approaching. As I was flipping through photographs, I paused at this one. Is it a good picture? Absolutely not. But today, I saw it with new eyes. It reminded me of how seeds of anger, bitterness, resentment, pride, greed, ...(you name it), finds fertile ground in our heart and grows uncontrolled until we prune the growth. So,today, I like this picture a lot, because it reminded me to do a little pruning.
Project 5 from Step-By-Step Guide to Painting Realistic Water Colors by Dawn McLeod Heim is Snuggling Ducklings. This project is a lesson focusing on how to imitate the soft look of feathers and the texture of wood shavings. 'Nuff said. On to the next project; and the REAL reason I was interested in this book. Come back next Thursday to take a peek.
This is the time of year in which the rainy season has ended in Ethiopia. The grasses are a little bit greener, the Meskel daisies are blooming, and the eucalyptus trees are perfuming the air. It is also the time of year for the Meskel Religious Festival (also known as Finding the True Cross). Jay was lucky enough to witness the Festival this year in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, and I begged him to take pictures so we could share them here. So, this is a special post from Jay about his recent travel to Ethiopia: As I understand, the history behind the Festival is that it commemorates Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, finding of the True Cross used to crucify Christ. In the 4th Century, the Empress lit incense and prayed for assistance to guide her. The smoke from the incense guided her to the site of the three buried crosses. Empress Helena gave a piece of the cross used to crucify Christ to all the churches, including the Ethiopian Church. Today, the event is marked by this Festival celebrated with prayer, praises, dances, feasting, and ending with a bonfire lit by a person of honor.
I attended the Meskel Eve festival held in Meskel Square in Addis Ababa. Thousands of people were in attendance to see the traditional march within the square as they prepared to light a bonfire made of wood and meskel daisies in the center of the square. Priests, deacons, and school children, clothed in traditional robes and dresses, gather in the square and form processions around the bonfire. At dusk the bonfire is lit, and people sing and dance until the fire completely burns out.
A smaller bonfire ceremony was held at the research center where I was staying. Prior to the lighting, people joined in conversation while drinking the traditional honey beverage (tej) and eating a traditional bread.
A bonfire had been built earlier in the day and was made of wood and the Meskel daisies. At the top of the bonfire is a cross adorned with daisies.
At dusk, three dignitaries from the research center lit the bonfire with long torches. As the bonfire burned, people danced around the bonfire while singing traditional songs. The singing and dancing continued until the fire burned out completely. After this, everyone gathered for a traditional Ethiopian meal, and dancing and singing continued until late in the evening.
On the day of Meskel, it is traditional for families to invite their neighbors for coffee and a meal. I was invited to one of my colleague's home where traditional Ethiopian Coffee was prepared along with a meal of roasted meats. It was a great day of sharing and fellowship and I was honored to share this historic holiday with my Ethiopian colleagues.