Friday, January 27, 2012

My Life in Six Words

In our Beyond Layers class, we were given a challenge this week, based on something that Kim read in Oprah Magazine, which referenced Smith Magazine.  It's all about writing a six-word memoir -- six words that describe your life.  I came up with a bunch of them, but I guess the one I'm willing to share is shown in this picture:
I do tend to challenge myself to go beyond my comfort zone, as shown in this picture.  This was taken from a catwalk underneath the New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville, West Virginia, 851 feet above ground level. We walked the entire length of the bridge last summer. I'm not exactly fond of heights, and there was nothing between the catwalk and the ground but clean, West Virginia air!  (We were harnessed in, however.)  I can't say I loved the whole hour+ long walk, but I am glad to be able to say that I did it!  And I did get some fun pictures.

Tomorrow my husband and I leave for a week in Florida.  The primary purpose is to escape the dark winter days we experience here in Chicago.  And we are also meeting up with my cousin and her husband.  (My cousin is the one I did the bridgewalk with.)  I'm sure we will come up with some grand adventures, including canoeing in the Everglades!  Personally, I'm not as afraid of alligators as I am of heights, so it should be a wonderful time.  If we survive (!), I'll be back here in a couple of weeks with some (hopefully) great pictures!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Setting a mood

I took this picture last spring on a rainy day in Chicago.  I was initially disappointed that the day I planned to go downtown wasn't sunny and beautiful.  But I like the moody, introspective look of this shot.  (I did some post-processing in Photoshop and used Kim Klassen's "canvas" texture.)
Here's to an early spring!

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Why is it we (I) don't take the time to do the things I love until I have an assignment?  I guess that's why it's so important for me to take classes.  And I'm loving Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers class.  Yesterday I spent most of the afternoon playing with my camera and with Photoshop.  And since the Chicago area got about 8 inches of snow yesterday, that was a very good use of my time!  (Yes, I did help clear the driveway :-) )

Here are a couple of pics I took the for assigment "less is more".

I like the first one OK, but I really like the second one.  I copied the photo and blurred the image.  Then I used a layer mask (so easy to do in Elements 10!) to brush the focus back into the flower petals.  I added Kim's "awaken" texture, but you can't really tell after I blurred it.

I had so much fun that I decided to play some more, and came up with a new "self-portrait"

I wanted to have a more artsy look for my little icon, and I think this will do nicely!

Another thing I learned from one of my fellow classmates is that my camera has a "dioptic" knob so that I can see through the viewfinder to manually focus without wearing my glasses!  It is truly amazing to be able to focus my camera without pulling out the reading glasses every time!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Two books and a class . . .

Nurture is my "one word" for 2012, and I am in the midst of reading two books that are great companions as I explore how to nurture what is inside me (and, as an extension, other people too).  The first is one I was given by a friend last fall.  I saved it for the new year.  It's Dream Culture.

The quote that opens the book is by Lou Engle:  "God had a dream and wrapped your body around it."

Maybe it sounds cheesy to some, but I think it's a great affirmation that what we see in the mirror isn't the sum total of who we are.  There are great treasures to be mined if we will just take the time with the help of the one who created us.

Which brings me to the second book:

This is a library book by one of my all-time favorite authors, Madeleine L'Engle.  I was surprised to find one that I hadn't read already.  It's called And It Was Good.

This book contains L'Engle's musings about the early chapters of Genesis, including the creation, with some surprising and delightful insights.  She writes about God specializes in asking us to do things that seem impossible to us, and fully expects us to do them.  She continues, "Slowly I have realized that I do not have to be qualified to do what I am asked to do, that I just have to go ahead and do it, even if I can't do it as well as I think it ought to be done.  This is one of the most liberating lessons of my life."

I submitted a piece to a juried art show last week-end.  I already know the piece isn't good enough for the show, but it's been a dream of mine to participate in the show, and I found that it was very empowering to actually go through the process.  Maybe next year I'll have something better to submit.  (I won't even mind getting the rejection letter because at least I did something!)

Finally, the third piece of the puzzle (so far, at least) is Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers class.  Besides giving opportunities to make lovely art out of our photographs with Photoshop, one of Kim's objectives is to empower us to dream and really take off in new directions in the creative process.  There are at least 200 participants from all over the globe, and I'm so excited to dive into this year-long adventure with them!

It's going to be an exciting year!

Friday, January 13, 2012

A couple more calendars and more

I forgot about an important calendar that I have hanging in my studio.  Each year our calligraphy group produces a calendar -- each of us creates one month, and someone does the cover and credits page, and then we collate them into cases the size of cd cases.  They make great gifts and lots of people buy them.  This is the January page for this year, made by Bessie.
And at our annual calligraphy group holiday party last week-end, we also got this wonderful calendar done by Tim Botts, who is also a member of our group, a gifted instructor and fantastic calligrapher.
And finally, my friend Karen made this lovely piece which was hung on our Arboretum tree and then auctioned off at our party.  I was so happy to be the lucky highest bidder!
It's humbling and challenging to be surrounded by so many creative people.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Project Pinterest

After the flurry of Christmas crafts and projects has died down, it's been fun to try some of the recipes that I've pinned on my Pinterest boards.  The one for Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana caught my eye right away.  That is one of my favorite things at Olive Garden, and I found it on Pinterest!Pinned Image

It was a little time consuming to make, but very easy.  My daughter and her boyfriend purchased some bread and made a delicious salad to go with the soup.
Believe it or not, it tasted just like the Olive Garden version! 
With a little Italian music in the background, it was delicioso!  I don't think Olive Garden has to worry about losing us as customers though.  It's always lovely when I can get up and know that someone else will do all the clean-up!  Be sure to check out the Project Pinterest button on the left for Pinterest projects that other bloggers have done!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Christmas camera play

Before I leave the Christmas season altogether, I wanted to share these:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Word for the year

My word for the year is . . .
As I was musing on the word, I decided to create a daily reminder for myself.  It hangs above my workspace in my studio along with another important image that I will share about at a later time.
Like many women/wives/moms, I am a giver, and it's easy to get depleted and burned out.  So this year I feel a nudge to allow God to nurture me.  Not to be selfish, but to replenish the source.  For example, I was able to get together with some wonderful calligrapher friends today.  We were working on a project, but had a great time together, and two of us had lunch afterward.  Nothing earth-shattering, but very nurturing for me (and I hope for the other women as well.)

What is your word/theme for the year?  It's always fascinating to hear from friends in bloggerland!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year, New Calendars

One of my favorite traditions each January 1 is to get out the new calendars I have collected, open them, look ONLY at the first month/day/week and place them where they will stay for the year.  Here's the calendars for 2012:
The kitchen calendar -- Mary Engelbreit.  A few years ago we did our kitchen in "Mary" and each year one of my kids gives me a new calendar.  Her whimsical illustrations make me smile.

A daily tear-off for the top of the steps -- more "Mary"!
Right outside my studio -- Pam Johnson Brickell's gorgeous sketches from South Carolina.
Sorry -- I don't know why blogger flipped this one -- but on my desk I have a weekly calendar with illuminations from the St. John's Bible.  I had the chance to see some of the original pages from this incredible work last year, and each page inspires awe and worship.
My dollar store Italy calendar for the bedroom.  We were there a few years ago and I would love to go back.  Right now, just in memories and pictures!

Happy New Year to all!