Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Of Spring

I find it exceedingly interesting that I was born during a month of spring. For so long, I haven't really enjoyed spring at all. And I can still understand why I suppose, as spring leads to summer, and summer means the reign of the sun, and the reign of the sun means less comfort from hot drinks and a sunburned earth. Selfish summer.

Or perhaps I am just trivial.

But this year has been much different. Not just in the sense that spring has taken her time, lingering much longer than I remember, but I have actually been glad for her stay, for her company, content in just studying her face, her hands, her eyes, realizing all the things I had missed before. The green around the blue iris, the softness of her smile as it curves to one side of her face and then the other, the gentle curl of her peach colored hair, and the small scar on her right forefinger. 

Yes, last year felt much different. I felt the burden of her stay, of what she would herald in, that coming of the summer wind. I was sad to hold her hand, reluctant to follow, walking instead with eyes turned down, resisting her tug. The path she lead me down I knew the end, yet I did not see what was around, I did not stop to look at what she showed me; for all I saw on that day was the edge of my boots and the weeds and the shadows.

I missed the precious season altogether. 

But, this time, I let her come and spread my fingers with her own, surprised to find it a perfect fit. She squeezed my hand, another surprise, and pulled my sleeve to lead me down the way, but for a moment stopped to whisper in my ear, "just breath, it'll be okay." So down we went along the bends and the dips under canopy green, a slow pursuit of her childhood haunts she wanted to show. The lane of trees she said once seemed to stretch on forever, the infant flowers reaching for the sun, and then there was the spotted mushrooms by the big oak tree where she said the rabbits hide. 

And then her eyes looked back at me, to see if I was coming, to know if I would look. Would he see the life, the earth, the breathe, the buzzing and the bloom? And in that pause I knew that this moment, well, it was different, this time I did not dread it. So I squeezed her hand back and met her gaze, the smile and the laugh, and I knew the time had come to love that which I had lost.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Balancing Act

This image will always intrigue me because, well, I didn't mean for it to happen. Not in the sense that it was an accident, or a stumbled upon success. No, not that. But rather, because it was thought of in the heat of the moment.

You see, I had originally intended to use my little origami paper boats for a photo with an umbrella. But upon coming to my location, where I have shot a few times before, there were two things that stopped me from doing this. The first was that there was a river flowing exactly where I had planned to shoot. Relief from the drought apparently means surprising water levels, so a steady stream blocked me from where I had intended to photograph.  I stared at it for a time, both excited that there is water in the valley, but stumped about where to shoot.

I then turned around and realized the second thing keeping me from completing my photo. I had forgotten the umbrella at home. I sort of just stood there and gazed and the water rushing by and feeling like we had gone out for no reason at all. But my gloom didn't last for very long. What is can not be changed, I reasoned, and I was determined to make something of my paper boats and different location.

And so I went off to think of what to create. Flipping through my sketch book, trying to find some inspiration from past ideas, I wracked my brain of what I should do. I walked and walked, around and about, letting the landscape inspire me. Blindly stumbling through the grass and trees and stepping deep in the unseen mud is more like it, but I searched for whatever it was I should create.

But then I stopped. Or, perhaps more accurately, I stopped in my head and let my body roll forward. The moment of silence in my head led me to pray. Prayer is what I try to fill my silence with. When I am wordless, I know God always has what I need to say, always knows what I should create, always the answers come from Him. And from there I find inspiration, from there I create.

So I went what I had, a challenge to myself to make something purely from the moment, entirely going off of the vision in my mind, the kind that I don't know if it will work, or what the meaning is behind it, but simply what popped in my head when I thought of origami boats and a field. My sister encouraged me to create whatever it was that I thought of, it didn't really matter as long as we tried. 

As long as we tried... the true success of our day.

This photo was a chance taken, a moment held, and a surprise to both my eyes and my mind. My hope is that we find what we should create, and maybe that means more than ideas and planning and stressing over details, but perhaps it is good to work in the moment, and just being in it's ebb and flow, but above it all, to remember to pray when we think we have no where to go.

Because in our unknown, God can work through us.

So here are some behind the scenes photos for you! I have felt completely directionless lately (this could merit an entire blog post/book at the moments about my life, alas) with the blog, so I would love to hear what you guys would like to see more of!

I hope you have an inspiring week!

We have decided that this is our favorite picture from the day.

 This photo will always make me laugh. The mix of Stacey's expression and my inability to keep a paper boat in the frame.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Of Spring and Walls

There is a fondness to the air, you know? Little did I know I would feel it so insistently, that shift, the rotations over and around, the earth beginning again. I have said before that I feel incredibly restless during the spring months, the new budding trees and green coated leaves making me want to run as fast as I can to those places no one can recall, to plant myself by the oak trees.

This year, especially, it hurts.

But it is beautiful still.

Spring seems to be more a time in between than it's own being. More or less a reversed twilight, more or less a glimpse, more or less a friend I wish could stay longer. Seasons coming and going, never content to stay until it's too late, always after I have become comfortable in the day to day of their reign; winter to spring, spring to summer.

The wheel rotating again.

But I can not deny the beauty of her stay. The days fond to the sun, the color returning to the cheeks, moments weighted, held tight. It rains and it shines, sometimes both on particular days, and the earth, in it's turning 'round, sees fit to blossom in colors new to me, or at least unexpected. The drought has left for a time with the gift of rain God has given to us, and His fingers ruffle the foundations of the grass and the trees and the flowers; they blossom at His touch.

And it is beautiful.

These photos, I realize, are not really pertinent to spring and it's metaphors. Perhaps the opposite is true, the wall again hit, no spring to draw strength in new life, just fighting the road blocks.

I created these on a day where I just wanted to make something simple. Me and the wall, again meeting, the metaphor and the reality. I wanted to practice and see the different emotions I could convey with just me and a blank canvas. The resulting photo shoot had around 100 images in it... Maybe there was too many emotions.

Never the right pose, never the right emotion, and every angle seemed to be wrong.

Simple. Ha.

I looked through them all much later, frustrated that the shoot took so long and that I didn't feel connected to the photo's like I thought I would. The different emotions of each pose flew by on my screen, the shades of them all blurring in indifference. But these two stood out from the rest, the top one catching me by surprise as I didn't really remember seeing it when I was taking all the photos. As if I created something by accident, as if I was not the one taking the photo but just the character fully in the moment.

The spring has come, and although I feel it in my bones, I am taking time to enjoy it in full, a practice I am not used to.

And it is beautiful.

So, below are some behind the scenes photos of things that worked and things that did not from that day with the wall. Enjoy.

Successfully cut off my head in this image without photo shop...

Yep, I had the remote in my mouth the entire time. This was taken as I was running back to the camera before it could refocus after it took a picture.

 What ever took hold of my left hand in this photo I will never know.

What is your favorite part of spring?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Chasing Childhood

This will undoubtedly sound a bit odd, but I have realized something about my work recently.

I rarely take photos with my legs in them.

I can not provide much clarity to this, other than I really don't think about it because most of the time it is irrelevant for the photo or the only thing I have to wear on my legs are a pair of jeans. This is not exactly what I envision when I think of what my character would wear, but since I do not have a wardrobe filled with assortments of 18th century pirate shirts and trousers or long trench coats, I've been in the habit of cutting off my lower half.

This image is particularly special to me in many ways. I re-did the photo shoot three different times. The first try I didn't like my locations (and some guys were watching me from a distance as I took photos of myself leaning forward into the wind with my arm stretched out to an indefinite position), the second try I didn't photograph enough photos of the surrounding area to composite in, specifically photos of the ground beneath my subject; apparently I thought he was just going to levitate from the rim of the photo instead of the ground beneath him.

So I went out into the world for a third time to create the concept I had been thinking of for months. Upon the outing of this attempt, the earth was very sodden and grey. Rain came down through most of the shoot, the air a wave, the ground a sea. It was a beautiful thing really, alone in a field, the silence flooding my senses, clearing my head for a heart beat or two or more I can not tell. All was good.  

I will say that I was sort of desperate to create this photo. The idea was so clear in my mind, but I wasn't sure if it would work at all. Hence the three attempts at it. But I kept at it, because I knew that to fulfill my vision, I needed to try again and again until it was right.

And now it is one of my most favorite images.

Nostalgia; a sweet thing. Rippled water and flower petals, blades of grass twisted by forefinger and thumb, the child under the cherry tree. Yet, it is a heaviness, a waited heart, a looking back, a tear stain, the twilight. I can not say when it came or when it left, but only when I noticed the scar on my shoulder, only when the blue moon came and went without a word and the grass ceased to wave. Things seem different now, notes long sung have changed forever, the east greets the west, a smear grows on the horizon.

Decaying away, yet chasing what was; a photo of memory.

I have been submerged in the middle of it lately, the reminiscing mornings in a sea of pillows and bed sheets, seeing life as it is now, but remembering what it was, the scar, the stain, the whisper; both the good and bad. Forever on our skin, forever in our bones, forever crossing the paths of our mind.

It comes and goes.

I have found that it is something to hold on to, to see it for what it is, that blue hue which tints my childhood, the smile and the shiver. Not a thing to run from, not a thing to wish different, but rather a thing to keep in your back pocket while traveling the long roads forward, and from time to time, take them out and throw them into the sky so they can dance with the stars in memory of what you have done and direct you to what you will do. 

 Psalm 32:8
 "I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you."

Sunday, February 12, 2017

In The Grey

There have been many times in these past days when I have thought that the limit of my words had simply come to an end, that the soil with which words sprout and bud and bloom to feel the sun upon petal and stem was simply too dry to cultivate anything of use. The sky seemed to grow dim, the nefarious grey setting into my joints and spine, suffocating the dexterity of my fingers. I felt alone among the silent words of a different language, lost in a confine I couldn't see; stuck.

I asked myself often if I had lost it. The creativity, the life to my work, the ability to keep creating and finding inspiration and writing it down, the wheel turning, the hammer ringing? Will this wall that I lean against break down or at least crack or at least fade so that I may see what it is I should say, see where my creativity has run off too, peak through the notches and splinters to view what I am supposed to be doing just over the wall. I have been told it will come back to me, told to hold my breath and wait, told that eventually the words will live again, that I have not lost creativity... But sometimes it's hard to see it so.

Sometimes it is hard to wait.

I am predisposed to believe them, for they are correct whether I think so or not, whether I see the sun or whether I look at the ground. Yet, as of late, I have been left wishing that I could convey everything I want to in words I do not possess, in a voice I can not command. Where do these words go when you can not find them? 

I do not know the answer.

So, I have learned then to live in this grey state, to explore it, to draw inspiration from it the way I know I must to survive, the way they have told me how. I know that we as creatives go through these things often, through the bricks and barriers, the churning over and the falling down and the getting up again... I know, I know, I know how it feels to be in the grey, to see the window and feel the breeze coming though, but being chained down or blind folded or buried or tangled... beyond reach.

So, If I can offer anything to those who have felt this way, it is this: that it's okay to not know what to say, to not know what to create, to not know how, and it is so truly okay to be in the grey, if that's what you need at this moment. The greys and the blacks and whites, the falling lower where the house is locked and the key lost, they are for learning, they are to teach you how to create when it's hard, how to take a break when needed, how to simply sit and stare out the window, and also how to pray from within the house, in the place of the unknown and silence.

For in the silence we hear God's voice. 

The photo below is of self blindness. I know that much, as I am usually aware of why I created the photo, but I have spent the past week wondering what else to say of it, what source of help I could give to people from it; yep, I was completely in the grey, looking around in that house behind the wall. And so I prayed and let it be, worked on what needed to be worked on and let God guide my mind to where it was supposed to go; I took my own advice, and, huh, it worked. Through this I realized that yes, it is okay to not know what to say, okay to wander through that house, but it is so important to know, above anything else, the why you created, to know the depth of it all even if it is just an obscure idea that is hard to describe in words, and to then create and see it before you in such a way that just makes you slip into a different world; that is why I create, that is why I share, and that is what I feel called to do. 

And don't worry, because from these things, the things that inspire you, the reasons of why you create, from there the words will come, the inspiration will return, for one of the greatest things I have discovered is that your ability, your inspirations, your creativity, it never ever leaves you. 

I promise it will return when it feels as if it has left.

For those in the grey, and for those who have chosen to follow along on my strange photo shoots and ramblings, thank you. I create for you and my King. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

To Grow In Spirit | Behind the Scenes

It was recently requested of me to make a tutorial for "that rose photo"which I posted on the internet a few days ago. While this post will certainly not be a step by step guide on how to make things grow from your face in Photoshop, I hope I can share with you some of the things that I do to my images, and a little look at what I did to this photo particularly through a few behind the scenes photos.
For this post, I have decided to concentrate on two aspects of my process: focusing and believability, with a little YouTube video at the end. If you learn anything at all from my ramblings, I hope you see that my process, when broken down to it's bones, is very simple.

As I said on my Instagram, I did not think it a possibility that this photo was in the realm of my abilities when I first conceived the idea of it back on that September day in the woods, when I and the wind became a lucid thing, ideas swirling with the tarnished leaves just starting to fall, the shifting earth clearing my mind. I pushed it away, buried it under my doubts, to that far off day where I would have the wherewithal to make it a reality, always seeming to be out of reach.

It was left alone in this way for many months, but a few weeks ago I pulled the idea out from my idea book as I felt the tug of it on my hands and sleeves and heart. So I took a trip to hobby lobby and bought one red rose. I got a little smile from the cashier, no doubt used to weird purchases from customers. But I walked out with the first step to my photo completed.

For this image, I had a very clear and simple vision of it in mind: me, a blank wall, and a rose rising out of my shattered face. These ideas are all written down in my little sketch book, detailed in text and horrors of doodling that help give me a visual for the final image. This can be said as my very first step, from imagined impossible entity to written practicalities on paper, so my brain doesn't let it slip away. I usually try to describe everything from pose and color and setting to the message I wish to portray, although at times the reason is somewhat blurred to me; but always the image is clear, or somewhat so. In this case, the concept was particularly clear to me, being of growth, the cultivation of our spiritual lives rooted in Christ, grounded in love, the Holy Spirit blooming for all to see; it is of our witness being evident in who we are and how we act and what we say. 

So, the day after I bought the rose, I set out to make the idea into a reality. The step two in a way. Sitting against my little green wall, I positioned myself in the way I thought best, marking where I needed to squat, focused on myself with my camera remote, and then locked down that focus (flipping the auto focus switch to manual focus on the side of the lens.) This insured that the other photos I took, which would eventually be added to the final image later, would all be in the same focal plain. A focal plain is the area in which you will remain in focus if you stay within it's limits. So, I put myself exactly where I wanted to be for this image, therefore, when I focused on myself and locked it down, I had a specific plain in which I had to stay in so that I would remain in focus. This plain essentially works horizontally; I can move side to side from my marked position and still remain to be in focus, but if I move toward the camera, or vertically from that plain, then I will be out of focus. (If that made any sense, bless you)

In any image that I create, the biggest thing that I strive for is believability. I knew that to make this photo look realistic, I needed to ground the fantasy world with the physics that govern ours. That rose would not look like it was coming from my face if I did not make sure I photographed it at the right angle, and because it was at the correct angle, I knew exactly where to create the hole in my cheek later in Photoshop because of where the rose intersected with my skin. Being conscience of how things will blend together later in Photoshop is one of the most important things to think through and experiment with and fail at and burn to the ground and try again and again and again...

I digress.

The three photos above were the only photos I used to create the final image (plus one other of just the wall so I could expand my frame upwards.) I had my pose, the rose intersecting my face, and the rose by itself all photographed individually and within the same focal plain, and then later in Photoshop I constructed the rose and added some cracks to my cheek from a texture of a crumbling wall which I got here. To finish the photo, I darkened the background and played with color and contrast, my favorite steps when creating these photos. You can see all of these steps in my quick little video below which shows each layer being revealed until the final image is complete.

If you have any questions or wish for more clarification, please feel free to comment below and I would love to help, brainstorm, chat about impossibles, or shed light on an inquiry in any way I can!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Growing Pains | A Musing We Will Go { 12-29-12 }

There are, in this world, so many many words, but never the right ones that I wish to use that can convey what it is I am thinking. I have been somewhat trapped in my own mind as of late, words lost and ideas unspoken and all, and with the Christmas days behind and the new year about to descend, I must admit, I have been rather grey. Writing, particularly, has been difficult for me these past few days. Staring at blank pages, willing somethings, anything to happen; the pencil stays still and my mind goes blank, the shadows growing, the drafts outnumbering the published; the sun relinquishes reign and I am left in the middle ground before darkness descends with silent mantras to do better come morning.

It was in this haze, between dusk and stars, linen and skin, my life a blur; it was here that I created this little image, to heal, to watch the water ripple away from my stone, and let the strange birds fly away, to clear my mind. Healing is, for me, something I do in my own strange ways; wrapping my head in yarn and tying myself to a tree is an example. They are moments carved in my mind each one, the days I make the turbulent thing that is my mind into a reality; sometimes the only days that the winds calm and I can see again. Solace in creating, rain upon soil, hands against sun; healing.

This image has been something of excitement and contempt when I look at it. I made it simply, me and the yarn and the tree, so post processing was a breeze because of that simplicity, and it formed into what I saw in my mind with ease. I felt entirely pleased with it, and I still very much do, a fact unachievable at times. Unannounced, the idea walked into my mind a few weeks ago, without ceremony or brainstorming, as if I had expected it, as if was a normality for unknown impossibles to walk in and sit down; well, perhaps it is a normality of a sort, but I am accustomed to it being a bit more formal, known to each other instead of strangers. It has been from the beginning that I have been wondering why it has left me without proper words to use concerning it. Many times I have sat down to describe what it is I thought about the photo, or about life, or about anything concerning the concept of thoughts growing or identity's twisted or constricted puppets; but soon it became something that was wordless, blank pages and spilled ink and such.

Just when I was beginning to think that it would forever be hidden away in my vault of unshared 
works, the winds and the rains came, bringing life back to the soils of the earth. Awash in sodden greys, the world letting the ode to winter come down, open palms and bare feet. I walked in the rain when I could, sneakers laced up, coat zipped, and the big umbrella with me. I didn't use it much; I like to feel the rain on my face you see. This warranted some strange looks from passerby's, but I didn't mind; I wasn't really paying attention anyways. It was amongst the stones wet and the gutters flooded and the boughs and branches shivering that I prayed much about things of the now and of the future, pleading with God to give me the words He wished me to speak and write. The rain, I have found, is not all the time secluded to heal just the earth. Wave upon wave, it can wash the mind just the same, as it has done for me and this photo.

So, the photo. I have often thought that the color red, when inline with a photo like this, would constitute the like of things such as power or blood or death. But I realized, it doesn't always have to be so. Nobility, strength, honor, sorrow it can be too, the like I think might be in this photo somewhere. It is many things to many people, I have found, but of my opinion, it is about the difficulties of growth. I know as an artist, it can seem all blood and war when it comes to growing sometimes, constricted minds wanting to be free and the like. But I have found that, like the rain which falls in time to the direction of the clouds and winds and such, we must not rush ourselves, but to have the strength to fall where we are directed, to grow where we are planted, with all it's growing pains.

As you can probably imagine, this photo was a peculiarity of hilarious maneuvering to achieve. My sister had to assist in the clicking of the shutter and flipping the screen around so I could peer through my wrapped up face to see if I was where I should be as I was preoccupied with, well, being constrained to the tree and all. Creating with others around is, in itself, an amazing thing that can produce much laughter at times; bonding in the ridiculous. As was the case with this photo. Holding that simple pose was harder than one would think, much less keeping a straight face with a giggling sister taking the picture; indeed falling victim to the glorious odd day that this was, of creating beauty and sorrow that forever bend and fold back with each other, forever growing, forever the same; just like the rain.

So, here are a few links to some great things for you this week of the in between Christmas and New Years. 

~ This wreath tutorial by the blog Local Milk. I have always wanted to make a wreath, and maybe someday I will, but if I do, or when I do, I would want them to be in the somewhat likeness of the ones in that blog post.

~ Another thing of inspiration by Beth Kirby of Local Milk (what can I say, she's awesome)- These Earl Grey Marshmallows laced with Salted Lapsang Souchong Caramel that look entirely amazing and if I ever attempt different things that are awesome in the year 2017, I want one of those things to be these marshmallows.

~ Okay, I must say that I am not a food blogger. I don't develop recipes and I don't post weekly of my various baking try's and do's and don'ts because, quite frankly, I have no sense of those things. But I am inspired, for my art and my mind and my creative inspiration, of things that are of a different life I live, one where I dwell in cottages and countrysides and practice arts of living simply. And that is why I take photos of such things, both still life and fine art; they feed and cultivate one another, both of lives I live in my mind, both of the life I live of the present. And so, this Chai Tea Hot Chocolate recipe by Nathanial Crawford is of those things that inspire both my mind in photos and my small kitchen adventures in recipe.

 ~ If you want a pretty cool tutorial on how to Photoshop a person in the middle of an ocean, than this is for you, a tutorial by the wonderful Brooke Shaden
~ This image, in particular, has inspired me greatly as of late, by the incredibly cool Rosie Hardy.

~ Lastly, and another piece of inspiration from Brooke Shaden, is this photo and blog post has been one of my favorites this year.