Friday, February 25, 2011

jump in the muddy puddle

I immediately fell in love with this photo (a young stranger at the Quebec Rainbow Gathering) months ago, and I often look at it for inspiration. Artistically, I love the intensity of the girl's expression, the beautiful composition, and the shock of bright pink. Philosophically, I love this photograph as a symbol of hippie culture and an importance placed on experiencing life over following the rules.

I am naturally an extremely fastidious person and sometimes just down right anal and crazy about tidiness. However, this all changes when I am in the presence of children, because I believe they should get dirty, make messes and be engaging and experiencing life. That's not to say I don't wash their hands or teach them to put their toys away, but if they see a muddy puddle on the street and don't have boots on, I'm going to tell them to run for it and jump in. And I think this is a concept that we can benefit from as adults. When I don't spend enough time with children, I often find myself thinking more about consequences and clean-up rather than jumping in and enjoying the wondrous possibilities in front of me (not so much a problem these days since I spend most of time with little ones).

At any rate, I think I see my childhood self in this photo. I see an obvious physical likeness, but even more so I see the carefree yet intense spirit I had as a child......way before I became a neat freak. I was messy as all heck, hated to bath or wash my hands, would scream if you brushed my hair......I simply didn't want to waste any of my time not dancing, painting, playing, or running barefoot through mud. I've been trying to recapture that spirit lately.....perhaps that is why I was drawn to this photograph.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

emotional release

As I've mentioned, it's been incredibly freeing to start painting again! The very first painting I worked on was such an emotional experience that I knew it would be the beginning of great shift within me. At first I felt the nervousness of over 15 years of inhibition and fear, the final clinging to the corner of my heart that was afraid of the light.....afraid to be expressed. That first painting was a struggle to paint, but ever since I have experienced such freedom and joyful expression. It is a part of myself that I had long forgotten, an almost childlike playfulness and respite from my battle to feel safe enough in the world to express myself. It's exactly what I needed, and something I lump into the category of "spiritual practice" along with yoga and meditation (and a few other things).

I have also noticed a huge shift in my emotions since I have been is almost surreal. I feel more open, better able to express myself and I have very unexpectedly begun to recover some intense repressed memories, little by little. I never expected all of this, but it only makes the practice of painting that much more meaningful for me. I now understand why I felt unable to paint for so long, why the thought of it caused such fear and nervousness.......I wasn't ready to experience all that I am experiencing now.

All of this makes me wonder what other painters experience through their art and the act of creating it. Every form of art that I create or express yields an entirely unique yet powerful experience for me, and I can't help but think other artists must be this emotionally connected to their work (I'm going to have to start asking them!).

I feel so grateful and in awe of art. I know that I personally couldn't exist without heart, soul and mind would be in such a state of turmoil that I feel fairly certain it'd be a slippery slope to insanity. I think we are all born with so much to express to the world and it's utterly important that we feel free to find our means for expression. I happen to feel such intense emotions that my whole body is buzzing and shaking in feelings that cannot be fully expressed with words (although, being a writer, I certainly try). For me, art is necessary, expression is necessary, emotion is necessary.........I couldn't live any other way.

Emotional Girl by Southern Prairie

Emotional Response by Studio Marlene

Surrender by Alice Lily Fine Art Photography

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

out of place

I've always been fascinated by things that seem totally out of place. Aside from the inevitable giggle it provides me, I am intrigued by the story behind......a neon fuchsia couch nestled amongst fallen leaves and pine needles in the middle of a forest, a pile of books stacked up on a city sidewalk, a tiny plastic Jesus doll and puppy found in the middle of a grassy field, a mannequin painted with flowers and placed in someone's front yard......or perhaps an ancient organ hanging out in your sister-in-law's driveway. [And yes, these are all things I've encountered]

Our brains have organized and categorized billions of items and circumstances throughout our lifetime so that casual scans of our environment make sense or appear normal most of the time. I seem to have an incredible radar for the things that do not belong. I appreciate the confusion my brain feels when it's attempting to make sense of something bizarre.....this must be why I'm constantly photographing these oddities. It's a shock of color in an otherwise neutral palette. It's a pause in your automatic observation of the rational world. It gets you thinking in a new way, which for me, brings on a flood of inspiration.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

sweet olivia

As I mentioned yesterday, I felt very inspired and emotionally connected to my photo shoot with newborn Olivia. It's only natural that a photographer would feel compelled to capture the pieces of life she is most connected to, and for me, infants are no exception to that rule. When it comes to portraiture, I believe my work turns out better when I am photographing subjects that I can connect to. A few examples (for me) would be: babies, children, families, couples in love and artists. I have long struggled to capture (what I consider) decent photos of environments or events that I am uninspired by or lack a connection I'm now trying to only commit myself to work that I feel passionate about.

Capturing Olivia was an overwhelming experience. Aside from her unbelievable beauty, she and I had just come off of 4 days of major bonding so her eyes were constantly locking with mine as she cooed at the sound of my camera's shutter opening and closing. She gave me so much to work with. There is so much depth to infants and children, in my opinion, which really gives my creativity an opportunity to soar. Their expressions are incredibly genuine and raw, their hearts on their sleeves, the innocence and newness of their lives much going on. Sigh. They capture my heart and I capture their personalities.

So, without further ado, the vibrant and beautiful Olivia.....

Monday, February 21, 2011

baby love

I just got back from 4 days of snuggling with babies, playing dress up and tea party, long sister talks......and a lot of sleep deprivation. [And unfortunately I didn't get to post my blog on Friday given my sister-in-law's internet went down and there wasn't exactly time to fix it with a crying newborn in the house]

I've never been more sure of my Cancer qualities or more aware of my most natural and joyous state: mothering. I am sure it's entirely different when you go weeks or months without sleep, but I thoroughly enjoy being an auntie and absolutely didn't mind staying up all night to stare at my niece's precious newborn face.

I am further in awe of motherhood, the bond between women and the love you can feel for a's simply amazing. I couldn't believe how much love I felt for my nieces or how profoundly bonded I felt to my sister-in-law after being in the thick of it with her for a few days.

OF COURSE, all of this has filled me with so much artistic fuel, inspiration and ideas. I am used to viewing the world as a series of possible images to capture with my camera, piecing together entire photo spreads in my head with just one look from a child, one leaf blowing in the wind, one sigh from a close friend.....on and on. But now, I have the added experience of visualizing paintings when my emotions feel more intense than I can express with words. It's incredible to experience this given I just started painting a few weeks ago, but it's very much there in my artistic brain now. I have several paintings to work on for my nieces and sister......oh when will I find the time?!

Tomorrow I will post the result of Olivia's newborn photo shoot, which I feel incredibly pleased with and can't wait to share!! As Annie Leibovitz says "a thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people." For me, portraiture work has much to do with the love I feel for people and the connection I have with my subjects. I think that is why I am most drawn to photograph infants and children, because I connect with them beforehand and I think that really shows through when I hit the mark.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

color inspiration

This week in my painting class we focused on color--combinations that inspire us, taking risks, mixing, and looking at the world around us in terms of color. I have to say I quite enjoyed this topic given my surroundings are currently drab and barren as the snow has melted, but winter drags on.

I tend to favor neutral backdrops with pops of bold, bright color in pretty much every area of life and definitely in my photography and now in my painting. I am absolutely obsessed with color! Even the smallest decisions, such as picking out a toothbrush at the drug store, leave me so focused on what color I feel drawn toward or want to see in my daily life.

I am currently on my way to Saratoga Springs, NY to help my sister-and-law with her newborn baby so I won't finish this week's assignment until Sunday:( I will post the end product in a few days! So instead I'll leave you with some color inspiration below! I am especially drawn to Mati McDonough's (one of my teachers) color palette! Her combinations always feel completely in line with what I'd like to see, and she makes it look so effortless.

Some brightness to add to your day.....

Drifting Blossoms by Hadley Hutton

Honeysuckle by Red Tile Studios

Fiery Trees II by Laura Trager

Black and Gold Abstract by Hannah J Studios

Night Swimming by Mae Chevrette

Dreaming Tree by Michelle Han, Artist

Rustic Bouquet by Peggy Davis Art

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

tales from the tracks

Adirondack Tracks by Lola Rain

I took my first train ride just 3 years ago, after a lifetime fear of trains. I flew into New York from San Francisco for a few days and needed to get to Connecticut....the natural thing for NYC/CT commuters is to take a train. It was a silly fear that I couldn't seem to get over, but once I was safe in my seat with books and journals on a table in front of me and music in my ears, I realized that I love trains! It felt like such a romantic way to travel. I could curl up against the window and watch the world streak by, daydreaming and observing until my thoughts bubbled over and I needed to write. I suddenly became (temporarily) obsessed with the idea of riding trains all over the United States while writing books from my seat. It seemed like a brilliant idea given the depth of inspiration I find myself with when I travel and observe.

I'm smiling to myself this morning remembering this whimsical book-writing-from-trains fantasy as I prepare for a 7-hour train ride to Saratoga Springs, NY (upstate) tomorrow. I've never been on a train for that long so we'll see if the romance of it wanes for me after a few hours, but right now I'm sort of looking forward to watching the landscape and loosing myself in thought and poetry. Who knows what crazy idea will pop out of my bohemian brain....knowing me, I could decide that I'd like to live in a teepee on the banks of the Hudson River to work on my photography or hand build a cabin in the Adirondacks where I will paint mountains and trees all day. Giggle. We'll have to see where my creative mind takes me tomorrow.....

Brown Leather Journal by J.J. Boyles

Vintage Royal Typewriter Tee by Caustic Threads

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

backyard studio inspiration

Backyard studio inspiration, originally uploaded by meg2885.
Today I am daydreaming about living in an open, airy country cottage nestled in a charming small New England town, with my very own art studio just a short walk away across my backyard grass. Ahhh, heaven.

Monday, February 14, 2011

love every day

I have been preoccupied with love for as long as I can remember. For the greater portion of my life it was seemingly all I thought about. I am wildly romantic and only know how to create very intense loves.....and I've had quite a few intense relationships, but I'm not sure I was ever truly in love before Alex.

One could easily say, given my painful childhood, that I was desperate to fill the empty holes in my heart by constantly engaging in over-the-top love affairs. But, when I found my husband that story seemed less true. Surely I wanted to be loved in a way that I wasn't as a child, but "trying on" all those relationships was more about a deep sense of faith. I always believed I would find the kind of love I found in my husband. The disappointments, heartache, frustration, and loneliness that I inevitably faced throughout my love life could never shake the faith I had in finding the kind of love that changes you, the kind of love you never question.

I'm writing about this on Valentine's Day, because I am struck by how trivial the day seems to me this year. I haven't given it any thought or planned anything with my husband and both of us were almost completely unaware that the "holiday" was approaching. We will have a quiet, romantic, candle-lit night at home, but what strikes me is that that is a normal occurrence in our life, and in our relationship. Romance and expressing our love, admiration, and appreciation for one another is a daily practice that we are both extremely committed to. Surely our life isn't all candles and poetry (but there is a lot of that *smile*), and our schedules get hectic and exhausting at times, but being in love has remained the most important thing to both of us crazy romantics (yah, yah, yah, I'm sure a lot of you are thinking "wait til the kids come along" ha).

At any rate, my point is that Valentine's Day has lost its mystique and that makes me smile because I know it means that I am content and satisfied rather than what it was in the past: being totally aware of how alone I was on February 14th or being totally aware that I was using the day to try to force romance with someone that didn't fit me. So I'm feeling incredibly grateful today......and I hope you all are too!


Love Will Save the Day by Field Trip

Love Shack by Whimsy Studios

Friday, February 11, 2011

get your paint on: week 2


My painting assignment this week was to select an artist I feel inspired by and draw from specific elements of their paintings, concepts, feelings, colors, or any other aspect of their work that could be used as a jumping off point. I chose Sunshine Barlowe Lewis....a current obsession. I wrote about Sunshine last week, and I have to say her tree-laden paintings immediately sprang to mind when I read my assignment. Part of the lesson here was to explore subject matter.....what do I want to paint? Trees. I'm predicting a lot of trees. But, there are also other elements of Sunshine's work that I feel very drawn to, such as her use of exaggerated size (i.e. very large flowers or leaves) and the inclusion of inspirational words or phrases (being a writer I adore being led into a story when I look at a painting).

I'm feeling more and more comfortable with a paintbrush in my hand. I have a long way to go, but it is one of those things that feels like a part of me that was just waiting to be discovered. I suddenly feel so elated knowing I have the rest of my life to paint and work on my craft (among many others artistic crafts, *smile*). So this week's painting was inspired by that feeling....

I really need a studio space! With my growing list of art forms, a small office is just not going to do. It was barely working for my photography...oh, to dream...someday.

One of last week's paintings finalized:

"The Adventure Begins"

The story behind "The Adventure Begins": The photo in the center is of a large piece of driftwood on a beach in Ventura, California. This was taken on the trip to Southern California on which I came up with my brilliant plan to pack up my life in Connecticut and move to San Diego....which I did a mere 2 weeks later. Crazy. My least thought out plan EVER. There is a lot of emotion behind this painting that can't completely be translated into words. In a way I can say that the free flowing, imperfect circles are the many and constant thoughts/ideas swirling in my head. The colorful ones are the ones that have been brought to fruition, and the others are still waiting but are complete (like a circle). So much a nutshell though, this painting symbolizes the beginning of one of my greatest adventures.