No one uses actual cameras any more, they just don’t. I know. Why would you? Everyone is armed with a phone with a camera and instant video. A modern luxury or curse, depending on how you look at it.
I was one of the last people to switch from a film camera to digital, and even then, I would not make the switch until Canon delivered a DSLR. (Digital Single Lens Reflex.)
To me, nothing is more satisfying than the mechanical “click” of a 35 mm.
This changed the world for me. Finally, I could shoot digitally, and get the kind of quality I had grown to love from my Canon. (My first 35mm was given to me as a high school graduation gift by my parents…specifically my Dad, who loved photography, and shot with what is now considered a vintage 35 mm Leica from Germany. Somewhere in this house, I still have that camera. Don’t make me look for it now.)
But the new DSLR meant I could also still live in the world of lenses — zoom, standard, and wide angle.
I recently bought the lens of my dreams.
For those of you who are photo savvy, it’s 180mm, f/3.5 Macro USM.
It lays pixie dust on everything in its frame.
It’s designed for macro photography….so flowers, jewelry, nature.
I ran around the house and started taking pics of ordinary items, watching them become extraordinary.
Now this particular lens does not have image stabilization. That’s $$$$$. So I must use it with a tri-pod. But what fun.
Here’s a little sample. I can’t wait to use it for more. Everything in the world is a small miracle if you look closely enough.
People tell me, “It’s where I go to get good ideas.”
Yet, social media is a double-edged sword. So many things come our way to discourage us on our way to creativity and inspiration.
Short list of inspiration-killers:
–Someone will always be better than you at whatever it is you want to pursue. They have more time, more money, more resources, more experience, or more years of life ahead of them. And let’s face it, they often have better ideas.
–You’ll waste time on social media. Yes, you will see pretty things. But you are more likely to get discouraged than to be inspired. It’s the nature of the beast. (By the way, that’s also the reason that new studies are showing that the more time kids spend glued to their phone, the more likely they are to become suicidal. This is especially true for teenage girls. Don’t think adults are so very different.)
–Life gets in the way. We’re busy and pre-occupied with raising our children, working, caring for other family members, getting side-tracked by every day chores, like home repairs, grocery shopping, health issues (our own or that of loved ones.)
So what can we do?
- Take a walk in nature. Get to the woods, the trees, a botannical garden, your own backyard, a local forest preserve, any place not overly occupied by humans. Notice the birds, and the other tiny things. The change from flower to seed, the turning of the seasons, the smell of the air, the sky on any given day. Listen. Is wind rustling? Which birds do you hear? Are you near water? Crashing waves or trickling creek? Is it starting to freeze? What patterns do you see?
2. Visit some place new. Extensive travel to other countries is fantastic, but we’re not all willing and able to do that. I recently drove a half hour from home to a tiny shop that sells Polish Pottery. I’d never been there. The owner was a bubbly young lady, and had just moved into a new building. The shelves were filled with bright, cheerful pottery, hand made by women an ocean away. Lovely.
3. Learn something new. This could mean anything for you. Attend an exhibit. Take a class at the local community college or park district. Or easier yet, read a book. I recently saw a statistic that said that 30% of college graduates never read another book once they finish school. 80% of families have not purchased or read a book in the past year. How is this even possible? I’m not entirely sure I believe the statistics but the trend is discouraging. We already know that reading books makes people more empathetic. Where are we headed?
A book suggestion to get you started: Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson.
It’s a peak into his journals and famous works, as you also travel through life with someone totally committed to his art. Think you already know everything about him? I bet you don’t. Some of his geometric studies would make fantastic quilt patterns. Granted, he lived in a time when diversity, architecture, aesthetics, craftsmanship, and great art were all honored and appreciated at the highest levels of society.
Let us recommit ourselves to advancing the arts, in ourselves and in our society. Get out into real life. Experiment. Enjoy a visual and auditory feast.
And step away from social media for just a bit. It will be there when you come back.
I’m always charmed by the peony tree in my backyard. When I first planted it, it stayed basically bloomless and green for 5 years…an oddity, with it’s twiggy branches and mini-trunk. Very different from your normal peony bush.
Then one year, and I’m not sure why, it developed a bloom. A big, beautiful 7 in. diameter bloom. But just one.
The next year, the plant had 7 giant blooms. I’m not sure what gave it the courage to erupt. More sunshine as I cut away some of the brush? Another nearby plant which helped it to polinate? An adjustment to the soil? No idea.
I don’t know enough about plant dynamics to understand all the factors involved.
But I can enjoy it while it’s here. And every year, it is just stunning. This year, it bloomed on Mother’s Day. Have a happy one.
I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain.
There’s more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in a crooked line.
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.
Sometimes you need a little perspective. Recently, my family and I traveled to the Canadian Rockies to see the mountains and the wildlife, and to take some pictures.
In middle age, I had forgotten to take into account the altitude and the toll it would take on our bodies. So that was a bit of a shock to get used to…harder to breathe and exercise, less stamina. For people who normally live at 500 ft. sea level, a week at 5000 feet was a bit rough. It’s subtle however. You don’t really feel anything at first, it kind of sneaks up on you. And we spent a lot of time going up and down mountains as well, so we were much higher than 5000 feet at many times.
But the thing that stayed with me the most was the lovely quiet. Standing at the top of a mountain, I had a moment, and one that will stay with me for a long time. The trees and the mountains, so majestic, were perfectly natural in their environment. The wildlife, so real and unfettered in its surroundings, was also natural. The only thing for as far as I could see, that was not comfortable and completely natural in this environment, were humans.
We are the disturbers.
In order for us to be there, we have to change the environment. We have to chop the trees and move the mountains for our roads and buildings. We tear up the earth for ski runs and paved trails. We carve a way so that more of us can come through and enjoy the scenery. And the more of us that are in any given place, the further everything gets from its natural state.
A little depressing.
In fairness, Parks Canada does a remarkable job in the National Forests to protect everything. In fact, they would much rather scare off the humans than disturb a bear doing its bear thing. I think that’s admirable. I think it’s necessary. Because it seems to me that we are the ones who can cause the problems. We are the ones that disturb the balance of nature. We are the ones who interfere, who travel with all our RV’s and campers and rental cars. We are the ones purchasing souvenirs, bringing our lunches into campgrounds, making garbage. A bear on the side of the road can cause a traffic jam for half a mile, with people jumping out of their cars trying to get a picture, creeping right up to the animal with their cars, crowding, crowding, crowding.
Don’t get me wrong. We did the same thing. Are you kidding? Of course we stopped to see a bear eating along the roadside. But we were not part of the crowd that was walking up to a wild animal.
Truly, it was an amazing trip with a view that we could not imagine, being from the flatlands of the midwest. But it really pointed out to me how uncomfortable and intrusive we humans can be. It’s good to see that the world holds vast places where we are small and insignificant. And that the wildness and the wilderness do just fine without us.
I’m adding a gallery of some of our pics:
They’re stunningly gorgeous, reliable, and resist pests. They require very little maintenance and they promote peace.
They don’t feed the hungry, but most world leaders don’t either.
Yes, daffodils should rule the world.
Until the peonies and irises come along, and then the duties will be shared.
But for now, we live in a daffodil world.
I started a couple of years ago with a cheap bag of bulbs from Costco. It produced lovely little yellow daffodils. So the next year, I turned to a catalog and purchased a few more varieties.
Now I am hooked, and these quiet, yet lovely little early risers of spring are enough to give me signs of hope every year. They cautiously poke from the ground when the frost is still in the air, when flurries are still flying, having full trust that the 70 degree weather will appear. And it does.
I’ve been busy. Too busy to write a blog.
And not only too busy, but too boring. And while I don’t mind writing a boring blog, I’m not sure you want to read one. All of that aside, I have also reached the point in the year where all good quilters/gardeners have to make some decisions. Inside or outside. Quilt or garden. Flowers and vegetables or blocks and table runners.
And while I may be able to hold it all in my mind simultaneously, I certainly can’t work on it all simultaneously. So although I have some very ambitious sewing plans and classes lined up, as my farmer grandfather used to say (and do), “Make hay while the sun is shining.” Of course, he made hay in August, but you get the idea.
In the hopes of providing a little temporary entertainment, here’s a gallery of recent flowers from the garden. Most are done blooming, so I’ll be back in the sewing room shortly. In the meantime…it’s summer…let’s all go for a walk!
I worked on this piece several years ago, but I recently brought it out again because of my work with Transfer Artist Paper. (I’ll show you that in my next post.)
In this example, I transferred my photography onto printable organza. You can buy sheets at an art supply store or even an office supply store…certainly online as well. They are designed for ink jet printers only.
I played with black and white photography and used a (more or less) abstract photo and began a collage. You can see from the photo that I added a number of different layers of texture — background fabric, organza photo, embroidery.
And believe it or not, the whitish fabrics floating a little ghost-like around the edges, are used-up bounce dryer sheets. They are shredded and needle felted onto the surface, with embroidery on top. (Incidentally, the photo is a detail of a wrought iron gate on the side of the road, which surrounded an old farm family tomb. It is just down the street from my house. The gate has since collapsed and been replaced with something much less ornate. But the tomb remains.)
In the detail below, you can get a good look at the needle felting used to attach the organza and the dryer sheets. On the organza, the more felting I did, the more the organza began to sort of pull apart and shred, which gave it a wonderful, antique faded look.
The embroidery over the top added a whole new level of detail and interest. This is one of those experimental pieces that gets more interesting the closer you look. I really enjoyed playing with textures other than simple quilt cotton. Our sewing machines are designed to sew through many different types of fabric and materials. While quilt cotton is easily accessible and stunningly designed these days, you just never know what fun things you can use in your “art quilting” travels.
What to do, what to do? The peonies should all be treated fairly, but I now prefer yours best. They are lovely.
Sarah Bernhardt. “The illegitimate daughter of a Dutch courtesan.” Quite a story, my dear.