Thursday, June 28, 2007

I've been gone. Didja notice? The last few weeks have been a lovely blur of family and travel. My blogs got set on the back burner. I finally had the opportunity to upload all the photos I've taken recently - thousands of photos. Isn't digital photography the best thing since sliced bread!?

We were walking down a street in Coronado (Cornado Island, San Diego) and suddenly, there they were, a bunch of bananas hanging over the sidewalk. Growing on a banana tree. For those of you who live in tropical climates, this might seem ho hum ordinary to you. But to us it was Wow! Cool! Lookee there! A bunch of bananas!!!

Along with being a nice artsy photo, it's also a lovely green photo. Although I won't post photos yet, because I've only got one wall painted, I'm sure the color of my new wall is in this photo somewhere.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

While wandering about the mountains yesterday, I felt the muses awaken, inspired by all the open space and natural beauty. (My muses have a much harder time at home, where they're competing with phones, laptops, teenagers...) They like it when I'm out in nature, or even when I'm on a long car trip, my hands and feet busy driving but my mind free to wander. Among the ideas generated in the fresh air and mosquitoes yesterday was this one - I want to create my own personal Tarot. And I want to invite all of you to do so as well. Therefore I'm announcing the start of:

The Personal Tarot Project

Hmmm, maybe someone can come up with a more clever name. In the meantime though, here's the idea. Once a week (I'm going to try to do one a week, although you can certainly play at your own pace, faster or slower) post a photo to represent each of the 78 Tarot cards. Do all 78 or, if you prefer, just the 22 major arcana. Go in order, follow my lead, or jump around the deck at random as you find or create a photo that fits the symbolism of each card.

Use old family photos or set the scene and take a new photo. Use simple untouched images, use Photo Shop to add or subtract or establish a mood, or make a collage or vignette the old fashioned way with scissors and glue. You can even paint, draw, or in some other non-photographic way create your own card. Just keep in mind that the objective is to use an image that has a personal meaning to you and embraces the symbolism and meaning of each card. Therefore, it doesn't have to be an image that follows the traditional Rider-Waite imagery and it doesn't have to be understandable to anyone else. Just you. This way each and every card - not some, or a few, or even most - will resonate true for you. Here are some examples of what I mean by personal interpretation:

  • Your brother is a lawyer and you've always thought of him as being able to "cut to the core of a argument" and be able to win justice with his eloquence and skill with words. A photo of him sitting at his desk (throne), might be your perfect King of Swords card.
  • Do you have a photo of a younger you, freshly graduated and about to embark into the world, perhaps with a car filled with all your worldly possessions? Methinks you've found your Fool card.
  • How about the next time you are making a big pot of chicken soup for your sniffing, coughing, aching flu ridden family, have one of them hobble out of bed and take a photo of you surrounded by your messy kitchen counter and your cauldron of medicinal magic and voila, you have a Magician card.
  • Things aren't going well in the studio. So instead of working on your project, you set up a scene with five troublesome quilt blocks tacked up to your project board, put your camera on timer, and pose beneath them looking forlorn and without hope. There's a Five of Pentacles card.
  • Photoshop all your loved ones together around a photo of your front door to create the Ten of Cups card.
You can make your cards as simple or as complex as you desire. Just upload the photos raw or trim and add a title to the bottom of each card. You choose the amount of effort and spontaneity this project requires in your life. Find symbolism in photos of real life situations or if you prefer, create scenes like I did here of me, for another photo challenge last year, as The Fool. (not sure if I'll use this card for my personal Tarot or if I'll create a new one - hmmm)

When you're all done, with the magic of printers and heavy card stock, you can create your own personalized Tarot deck.

So. Wanna play? Let me know! And spread the word. The more players, the more creativity we'll generate and the more inspired wel'll all be by each other's unique interpretations. I'll create a button (unless someone wants to submit one?) and you can add it to your blog and link back to a post listing the guidelines and links to all the participants.

(Note: I'm going to be out of town for this coming week, so you might have to be patient for the button, but I wanted to get the idea up and running.)

Monday, June 11, 2007

I've been busy so not much today. A number of blogging friends are having fun with macro floral photos lately so I thought I'd show you a couple of photos of my roses I took a couple of days ago.
I know the rose on the right looks a little worse for wear but there was something really sweet about how they were growing "cheek to cheek" like this. I imagine them as sisters or best friends. One lovelier than the other but both of them sticking together, looking out for each other.


Friday, June 08, 2007

I mentioned my local quilt shop is closing. I went in last week and bought some fabrics at their clearance price. Only thing is, I forgot to pick up a couple of shelf units that the shop owners, friends of mine, were borrowing for their shop. Which meant I had to go back again to get them and lookie, I found a few more fabrics that wanted to go home with me. (you have to double click on the photo to open it to see the print on the bright yellow fabric)

I also got an equilter order today. I'd been resisting but I really wanted the Eiffel Tower fabric you see in the bottom row and was afraid eventually they'd no longer carry it. I couldn't decide which color I liked best, so I bought a yard of both the black and the white to use together in one project, and a half yard of the pink for some still undecided project. Isn't it cute!? I didn't read the description very thoroughly and I was suprised at how big the towers were. I was expecting them to be an inch or two high. They're more like six inches high. But I don't care, in fact I think I like it even better this way.

I bought a half yard of the branch-y, somewhat oriental looking yellow floral. I was tempted to get it in a turquoise background as well but I showed a bit of restraint. I bought two yards of the floral paisley in the top left. You can't tell real well but the background is a pretty chocolate brown. I'm thinking it will make a nice border, making blocks or some other middle with prints in all the colors of the pattern.

Sadly one of our neighbors is moving. He and my hubby have been great buddies. For years they've spent afternoon after afternoon sitting in lawn chairs in the front yard, shooting the breeze and drinking iced tea. He lived with and cared for his elderly mother, a nice woman who passed away last year. So the house and belongings are part of the estate that is finally being settled. He'll still be in the area so perhaps he'll stop by now and again, but it won't be the same as having him right across the street.

Today was the first day of the family's weekend long estate sale. I helped them move some of the furniture out to display this morning and later I went back and rummaged through all the tools and miscellaneous items set out in the backyard. I bought the wires and iron pieces to use in making art or to use as garden decorations. Except the big bowl, which I'm gonna use to make salad.

I also bought all these old windows and doors.

Everything but the two larger pieces on the left and the six-paned window in the middle are solid oak. I'm going to use the smaller windows and the two larger one-paned windows as frames. The six-paned window I'll probably hang just as it is as architectural art. The two largest pieces in the back I'd like to use as table tops. I can either do mosaic work in the lower sections or just cover the entire top with glass. Unfortunately the bad side is facing the camera, the other side is still in excellent shape. Although all of it is covered in a thick layer of dust and cobwebs. It'll all look a lot better when it's cleaned up, maybe sanded.

I also bought some even LARGER pieces of "wood". You can find out about those over at Beach Treasure.

Monday, June 04, 2007

David Teniers the Younger. The Art Collection of Archduke Leopold-Wilhelm in Brussels. 1651. Oil on canvas. 127 x 162.5 cm. Petworth House, The National Trust, Sussex, UK

When you hear the term "art collector", most of us think of someone who lives in a large home (or two or three homes) where they have plenty of space to display their many paintings or sculptures, purchased discreetly for them, of course, by their personal buyer traveling from auction to auction with their cell phone and auction number in hand.

At least I do. I have a vivid imagination.

But we are all art collectors whether we collect fine art or simply sea shells that we display along the bathroom window sill. Art, as they say, is in the eyes of the beholder.

The other day I was thinking about the overwhelming task I've taken on, of rearranging most of my personal belongings, and I had one of those "aha" moments when I realized that I'm not simply trying to reduce clutter and reclaim a bit of order in my life. I'm also hungry to create an environment that is both artful in and of itself and a canvas on which to display my personal collection of art. Which means thinking of myself as an art collector. And we're not just talking about finding a few walls for paintings. Nosirree. My taste in art is multi-flavored and my collection is as eclectic as you can get! Everything from Mary Engelbreit to Claude Monet, Edward Gorey to Paul Gaugin.

This path of thought allows me just one more way to feel overwhelmed! It also allows me to mentally divide my belongings into new categories.

Category A is Useful Things I Use and Need To Own. Although some of these things might also be beautiful in their own right, I'm thinking of things I need whether they are artful or not. It doesn't matter if my chopsticks are beautifully hand carved or just cheap wooden sticks from the local Chinese restaurant, I need them. And beautiful or not, mostly this category of stuff simply needs to be efficiently stored.

Category B is Non-Useful Things with No Purpose Beyond being Decorative. This category is where I need to seriously consider what my relationship is with each item. When I look at each item, how do I define it? Art? Knicknack? Tchotchke? Collectible? Sentimental trinket? Investment? Dust collector? Each of these definitions holds a different emotional value and relationship. Like people, some are cherished friends while others I simply put up with for some reason - probably not a good reason.

I have a small love affair with a book called Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston. And in that book, I have a favorite segment that I call to mind whenever I'm stuck on what to do with a belonging. I'll quote it here:

The Clutter Test

1. Does it lift my energy when I think about it or look at it?

2. Do I absolutely love it?

3. Is it genuinely useful?

If you can't answer yes to question number one and at least one of the other two questions, the author asks - why are you hanging on to it? I can't tell you how many times running something through that small test has been an enlightening experience.

Getting back to my small epiphany, I realize that I want to sort my belongings, making sure that everything in Category B is something I consider beautiful or entertaining or sentimental. It doesn't all have to be art in the traditional sense. It can be some silly, ugly little thing if it makes me laugh every time I see it. It can be a lump of clay in the shape of a ..... a.... indistinguisable lump of clay if my child presented it to me and it makes my heart feel full when I look at it.

But I want it to be art in the sense that it moves me. I don't want to keep things, dust things, find spaces for things, if I'm keeping them because they are the right color for the room or they might be worth something someday. I want to keep only those things that bind me to them in some magical and positive way.

I know that my fantasies will be tempered by reality. I live with family members who do not share my vision. I don't have the money to create the perfect home. I'm not gonna hide away the cat beds or the television. But I hope to aim high and then be pleasantly surprised at what I might be able to accomplish. And for that to happen, I must be off to do some decision making.

While I'm busy with my sorting and organizing, perhaps you might want to take a look around your own house. Ask yourself a few questions as you look about you. What items bring you a feeling of happiness or contentment? Which items make you feel stuck or sad? How can you make your environment honor your own personal collection of art?