Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Fence for Pete's sake!?


Another posting that isn't really in the intended art vein. Oh, well.

Friends have been transfered to a project on the fence between Texas and Mexico. I'm embarrassed! Is this our so elegant (not) version of the Berlin wall? I don't see that it serves anyone. People south of our border need work and money. We need laborers. These are our neighbors, former owners of much of our country. These are people!!! Why oh why do we want to keep them out?

There is a legitimate financial concern that people who work here and live here and don't pay taxes put an unfair burden on those who do pay taxes. So, charge them taxes. Sign them up to work here on a time-boxed and authorized basis and charge income tax. They already pay sales tax. Charge the employer, just like for citizens.

Where do we get the right to bar someone from a job over a political boundary? How can we let someone live in poverty a stone's throw from our doors? I don't get it. If someone from another country works here, make them pay taxes, if they break the law, deport them.

Yes, I'm in favor of different treatment for our neighbors than for other countries. Because they can walk here. They can work here and go home daily or periodically. Some are indeed seeking citizenship and should follow the rules and limits of all others. Many just want to work and go home. Yes, they send money home. So do others from other countries. They also spend money here.

Monday, August 11, 2008

More on open adoption


Wow! We've been so open about adoption and the boys having birth parents that sometimes I have a pang of jealousy. It's senseless and fleeting, but it is definitely there at times. Today we were looking at some flowers we planted amongst the huge weeds by the barn. They picked some for me as always and some for their birth mother and birth father. They learned about him recently. I have to bite my tongue to keep from saying "they don't have anything to do with you". But I think it is healthy and they will grow up with a confidence about adoption. I truly do intend to introduce them someday.

The boys don't understand that the bps never saw them. They think they remember a life with them. They talk about things their bm gave them or fed them. Someday they will know all, but for now, I let them have the memories. It does sting me some.

I'm the real mother, I'm the real mother, I'm the real mother......

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

In Favor of Open Adoption

This is off topic for this blog, but I am inspired to add it. Adoption is on my mind because I have friends who are praying for a child to adopt. Our children are adopted (as infants) and we have an open adoption. Here's why I am in favor of open adoptions:

It gave me confidence I was not leaving a heart broken young woman behind, I know she knew what she was doing and felt it was intended and best.

I have an image and memory of her to love. Birth mothers give the greatest gift of life.

I have pictures to show my children at the right time.

I feel the birth parents are confident of their choice because they got to know us.

Someday we can comfortably get back together to let each party know the other. I want to do this at the right time - middle school, perhaps.

Surprisingly to me, my sons began asking "where did I come from" questions at just over 4. At nearly 5, they already know they are adopted, have a birth mother, that they "came from her tummy", and will meet her someday.

I believe having an open adoption helped me be relaxed and natural about answering their questions. We don't have secrets to keep.

If you are considering giving a child in adoption, or adopting, please consider open adoption. Birth mothers, you are givers of life in the largest way. Thank you for sacrificing for your child and other parents.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Holy Cow We're Back in Nebraska


I suppose I'll have to change the name of my blog soon. I'm taking the boys back to Houston for preK. Unforunately there is none available here; at least not enough. They are very energetic and curious and active and need more than the 4 hours per week I can get them here.

I will miss my new friends the most and new photo ops next. I see barns in other places, even near our house in Houston, but they don't attract me the way these have in rural, corn and soy rich NE.

Let me restate - I will miss my husband most - absolutely. This will be hard on all of us; as he stays to finish the project here. He will be home for 3 day weekends every other week. Otherwise we wouldn't go.

I'll be taking a new cat south. Cleo was found here and has never been to H town. She's an indoor cat, so she won't notice the change of altitude or terrain. Lily the dog will be sad to leave the farm. She has had free rein of many acres here and free run of county roads. In H she'll be in what used to seem like a big yard. Poor dear.

I will be overjoyed to be with my friends and family. While on vacation there the last two weeks, I spent delightful days in a friend's studio and long hours talking to buddies I have missed. The boys will be in their 'old' school and back in gymnastics. I hope to add soccor and a martial art soon. They need actvitiy!

Now the job of sorting and packing begins!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

You CAN go home again!


The boys and I are back in Houston for a visit. As we entered our subdivision, one of them threw his hands up and exclaimed "We're hooooooome!". I felt the same way. I've enjoyed living in a different place, meeting new people, and observing the agrarian culture and landscape; but I'm ready to be home.

The rent house isn't ours, it isn't that great, the farm is messy and untrimmed. There are no flower beds and few trees. And I miss stores and restaurants! In Nebraska we shop at a couple of great stores on the square and at Walmart which is twenty miles East or West to nearby towns.

Anyway, it is nice to be home, we're not disappointed and we don't feel out of place. We feel we're home. I have owned this house 23 years and we are part of each other. I feel comfortable here.I'm too sentimental about the house for my own good. It's also the neighborhood and neighbors. I've had the same neighbors on each side and across the street since I moved here. There is a lot of history and comfort in that.

I'm surprised the Houston traffic doesn't bother me. It doesn't right now. I'm just glad to see stores and houses and people. Interesting fact with regard to crowds and traffic - there are more than twice as many people in greater Houston than the state of Nebrska.

So, the adage that you can't go home again doesn't pertain to us who have transferred temporarily from a big city we know to a sparsely populated agricultural state. An interesting fact on population - there are more than twice as many people in greater Houston than in the state of Nebraska...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I quit!




These pictures are of the tornado damage near Aurora Nebraska last week.

I quit trying to sell my art! Oh, not really; but I am going to dial it way back. I have stuff on two Etsy shops and one on Cafepress, my own website, and lots of plans and dreams. I'm not trying to sell for money, other than to offset my expenses. I just want someone to want it. I want to share and feel the link of someone appreciating my work.

Anyway, I'm going to let myself just do art to do it. If it is seen and/or purchased, so be it. I will share it through my blog, friends and family, and a few artist and art networks. I'm not watching my Etsy shops everyday or trying to find ways to appeal to buyers. It's not a job for me. It is art for me. I had my commercial job and now I have two full time mother jobs. Art is art, for goodness sake.

Other news. We have had some kinda weather around Nebraska and other states in the plains. I'm putting a photo here. There is no way to show the magnitude of the damage. Fortunately, most of populated areas around Aurora were spared. One entire farm was wiped out. All the outbuildings, grain storage, and the house are destroyed. More storms coming today. My prayers are with all who have had damage or injury.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Return from Vacation

My husband and I took an anniversary cruise - alone. The boys are four and a half and this was the first time both of us have been away from them over night. We all did fine and enjoyed ourselves. We love the Carribean. I never get used to the water. We went to Cozumel and rented a jeep to drive to the ocean side. The water, waves, and sand are beautiful. It's windy and the waves are vigorous- very different from the side next to coastline.

I'm rested and eager to get to some art projects. I have a couple of paintings on my mind and want to start working with my new encaustic medium. Also ready to get my hands in the mud again - it has been too long!

Happy Summer!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Acorn to Oaks- Feed the Hungry - Boost Awareness

I've included acorntooaks.org in my favorite causes on this page. If you are an artist, they could be both a market and a cause for you. Acorn will open a gallery when the funds are raised (Houston) and sell donated art to support the nonprofit organization, raise community awareness, and provide funds to established assistance charities. When it is established it will be a venue in a large metropolitan area that one might not otherwise have access to.

Bigger, though, is the chance to do something about raging world hunger. Hungry children, families in camps, on the run, barely getting by. My heart aches.

Deborah, who is a founder and artist, makes beautiful earthenware an donates all her work to Acorn to Oaks. Please take a look at her pottery. They sell via Etsy (http://acorntooaks.etsy.com ).

Please leave comments as to how you like it and any other sites that are art charities I should see. Thanks! Debra

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I'm hung!

I got my photos hung in the coffee shop - Espressions in Aurora Nebraska. It was an exciting time, choosing spots, guaging height, and getting them up. I'm happy with them and will be happy to hang them at home when the month is over. I did, though, have momentary panic as I left after hanging them. "Oh, what if they're awful and everyone laughs or talks about how silly of me to hang them?". I soon calmed down and realized that they aren't matted as well as I'd like and the paper isn't just what I wanted, but I am happy with the images and happy to share them.

It feels so complete to actually mat, frame, and hang my photos. I ususally just review, tweak, and admire them and put them away. These are really done.

Now I want to turn to papers for my new printer. I'm very happy with the print and ink, just not satisfied with the papers I've found locally. I want to try art papers and some finishes that aren't glossy. I tried matte presentation paper and hated the result.

Now that the green is back in Nebraska, I'm ready for another big round of shooting. I have from now to November to capture this part of the state and our experience and scenery here.

I'd like to hear from others about inkjet papers for archival chrome inks.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Holy Cow - Mat cutting

Oh, my! I decided to cut my own mats. I think I've got it now, but I cut 5 mats before I got one photo framed tonite. It was a double mat, so not too bad; but I thought I had all the technique and measurements right. When I got the blade down far enough, I had calculated the inner mat wrong. Well, I'm glad to have it done and know I can do it. I'm using Logan equipment - free standing cutters and ruler. Precision is good - the cutter's that is!

Show!

I'm preparing for my first show. It is small, in a great coffee house. I'm excited. I'll have about 8 pieces, all photographs except one small mixed media collage that started with a photo.

The largest piece is a 4 panel window I found in the barn under hay and worse. The glass is intact and I'm putting 4 photos bordered in black behind the glass, unpainted wood side out. It is very rustic and the images are all farming related.

The smallest is about 3 by 9, a triptic of the photo on my website (holycowstudio.com) banner.

Wish me luck! I just hope someone gets something from my work.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Are these just cans in the grass?

When I find a site where I want to shoot, I don't always know why or what meaning or feeling it evokes. I am just drawn to it or see light and shadow or color I like. Sometimes, after the picture is taken, sometimes weeks after, I really look at it and see reasons for it.


This is one of those pictures. I was shooting a barn and as I walked to another side, I saw these old cans in the field. I liked the look of them and took several shots. Now I've taken time to really look at this one, my favorite. First, I like the rust on top and the rich color of it, especially with the silver/blue of the can and sky. Then I notice the shape of the rust as it meets the silver on the front can. What an intricate and sharp edge, just from elements working on metal.

The cans are practical and solid. Around them the weeds and grasses are like lace, so fragile, so tangled. I like the crispness of the grass against the smooth solid side of the can. So what could the rust against silver, grass against metal represent or suggest?

Could be
  • survival - both the metal and the grass have survived winter cold, snow, and ice; the cans have survived years in the elements

  • usefulness discarded, hard work in days gone by

  • refusal to give up - both cans are damaged as well as aged and yet they are present and to me, at least, artful

  • beauty in the ordinary

  • aged beauty

  • history, stories of lives past

  • what else?

This image suggests coolness and calm to me. Of course, I was there and it was cold; but I think it is the coolness of the colors and the starkness of the shapes. Do I see myself or my life there? Practicality, certainly -I could always be washing clothes and dishes, sweeping, picking up, cooking and shopping - everyday practical tasks. Calmness, these days, no, not with two four year olds! :-)

What about internally, less concretely? Boy, I would like to think I am the sturdy, practical, surviving being that has its own beauty. Well, I guess, actually, I am. I am not, however, discarded! I still have lots of life to do.

I hope this image evokes something for you and that you will take time to look at it, at life images, and at other art in this way. It can be quite interesting and revealing.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Encaustic

I've been wanting to take my photographic images a step further. I love to shoot and feel strongly about many of the images; but I want more. I thought of painting on them, dabbled in that with no success. I have collaged with some but what I have done so far actually takes the photo down a notch to me.

Anyway, I saw some encaustic work at a local school last fall and have been thinking about it since. Today I ordered a starter set of encaustic paints and some extra medium. I'm not going to invest in art store heat equipment or tools right now. I will get a griddle at the thrift store and use the metal tools and heat guns I have. I'll get some wood blocks and seal them myself.

For those of you experienced in encaustic, any wise words or experiences to share?

For those of you who haven't seen or heard of encaustic painting, it is painting with beeswax and pigment. Layers are laid on; colors show through each other and blend when heated. Heat tools and shaping tools are used to carve and smooth the image.

Encaustic is used for painting, collage, and painting over other images (like photos!). I'll update this site as I progress and would like to hear from any of you doing or thinking of encaustic.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Is anybody out there?

I enjoy my website and blog; but I wonder if am just entertaining myself? I don't expect to sell a lot of art on the net, but I would like to have some visitors and comments. I'm thinking about what I could include that would be of more interest to artists and art lovers. I don't feel qualified to write tutorials or even display techniques. I'm just working at art.

I do like to write about my photographs - interpret them in a way. I wonder if that would be interesting? I could also include how, why, and where I took a given shot.

If you're reading this and would give me some feedback via comment or email, I will certainly appreciate it!

PS: I'm making Artist Trading Cards from my photos. Some are small versions of the full image, some are crops of the image and some have been digitally or manually altered. I'm putting them on HolyCowPaper at Etsy.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Misty Day


The picture here is the barn on the farm where we rent a house. It will be part of a story later in this post. This picture is from last summer.
We had a misty foggy day today, so I tried to get some shots with the fuzzy light. I went to the cemetary which has some old graves and a purportedly witches grave. I hope they came out, but haven't uploaded the camera yet.


The soft rain was actually good for our new flower seeds and it was warm. Yea! it was warm!


We have a small clay group that meets at an art gallery in Aurora - l'Eglise that meets tonite. We're going to build with slabs and coils in slump and hump molds. I bought old dishes and pyrex at the thrift stores and 4 yards of cotton fabric for $2. Should be fun and is something the others may not have done before.


There is a kick wheel there but I haven't tried it yet. I have only used electric and have one at home. I was very surprised at how long it spins once it is going. I'm sure the group will want to throw before long.


Completely unrelated - did you know pheasant eggs are a variety of colors from khaki to army green? There are pheasants on the farm we rent a house on and we found a bunch of eggs today. I blew some to use in something.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Good Book to Reread



Good books are worth re-reading. Past journals are no exception. I have a habit of picking up whatever blank book is handy when I want to write; so my journals cover long periods and have gaps. This week I finished one I started a year ago and picked another to use the blank pages that are left. I thumbed through each of them and found myself re-reading every page.


I was surprised at the richness of the content (do I think myself frivolous or shallow?) and both regretful and inspired by the plans and promises I found. Some I have moved past but most are still valid and rereading them reminds me to think of them and work toward them.


If you have old journals, I think you would enjoy and/or gain by reading them over.




Good writing!


D

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Drama - Spring



I have never liked the concept that without sadness there would be no joy, or similar contrasts. BUT, after spending a winter in Nebraska, spring is more delightful than ever. I have never watched so closely for tree buds and flower shoots. I have never so appreciated grass greening. I have never been so excited to plant flower seeds. Without the snow, ice, wind, rain, and bitter cold, this spring would not be so sweet.


I didn't even spend the whole winter. The boys and I spent 1/2 of December and most of January in Houston. We actually missed most of the single digit weather. The cold was the coldest I've experienced and the snow stayed the longest; but it was the length of the winter that made the biggest impression and wore on me the hardest.

I liked the snow and the boys loved it! I got used to cold surprisingly quickly. In Houston I wear a coat when it gets down to 50 degrees. In Nebraska, we take off our coats when it gets to 40! The boys were in shorts and bare feet today in the low 60's. Amazing!

Anyway, I liked the snow. I didn't mind how long it lasted. The most dreary has been after the snow melted but the temps were still cold and the wind and rain took turns and came together. Especially the cold wind! Without crops or snow, the landscape was tan on brown. It depressed me. Sun has become joy. We sing "Sun, sun, Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on me." pretty often these days.

So, perhaps without sadness joy is less sweet. It is certainly so with winter and spring for me. I wish you each a happy warm spring.


PS: The photo is, for me, like being in the cold and watching the trees.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Spit it Out! - Gently

I am a direct communicator. Outstandingly so, judging by reactions and responses I have evoked over the years. I don't know why. My family are not particularly direct, loud, or outgoing, although my youngest brother is a politician. I guess that counts. We are quite a bit alike.

Anyway, back to direct communication. I worked in business for 34 years to some success, including large staff management. When I say 'direct', I mean a style that includes asking direct questions, stating what I observe, expressing my opinion ( I always have one), and facing the tough questions out loud. I often ask the question a group is thinking but not saying. This directness has served me well and cost me too.

It serves well because I get information, I am heard, I clear the air and help groups get on with a difficult issue. It has cost me and my friends and associates because it can be shocking and/or embarrassing to others. It can hurt feelings. It can stop a room cold.

I am retired now and being away from workplace issues and projects, my own recent life events, and continued personal development have quieted my communication habits some and helped me have more appreciation of others' feelings and reactions. (My husband wouldn't agree) I am still, though, involved in teams, organizations, marriage, children, and friendships that require communication. I still see great value in speaking up, speaking one's mind, saying things clearly, and clearing the air when there are unspoken issues.

B U T, direct communication demands preparation, grace, and kindness. Prepare - think before a meeting or conversation how you can introduce difficult subjects or unspoken concerns gracefully in your own style. When I managed staff and had the wonderful opportunity to coach individuals on improvements and corrections I thought they could make in their performance, I learned that starting a conversation with some disclosures and encouragement helped the communication and helped both of us feel at ease. Statements along these lines:

  • that I am a direct communicator and that is sometimes a bit surprising to others,
  • that we would discuss some topics that might be uncomfortable at first,
  • that I encouraged them to use their own communication style (not mine),
  • and to feel free to ask for a break or change the conversation

Grace and Kindness - consider how someone else may feel, how you would feel if the topic were raised, question asked, feedback given. Couch it in friendly terms, start out slowly if you need to. Say "this may be a difficult question,...", or "if I may state an opinion...". Wait in silence for a response or reaction. Give others time to think and decide how to respond. Talk with a soft polite voice. DON'T, as I did many times, just blurt out your thought in a loud clear voice when no one else would dare say it. Wade in slowly. Think about how to say your thought in a graceful and kind way. DON'T, as I have, say "Says who?" when you could say, "excuse me, why is it, or under what advice...". Trust me, you'll be glad. Say it, but be kind. It will still help the cause of communication and progress and it won't hurt you or your associates! Don't make them victims.

When I know I am being extraordinarily direct, I try to prepare people and to be gentle. BUT I choose not to avoid the message or question. I tried that with no success and I frankly don't believe in it. I think we are all better off if we get our thoughts and questions in the open. We can not work on the issues we do not state. If we are willing, there is nothing we can't work out with time and effort.

So, my message in the post is encouragement to speak up, state your mind, ask your question, but unlike I did for many years, consider the feelings, fears, and preferences of others. I wish you great success in your communication. It can stop wars, solve world problems, and bring us closer together.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Will it ever be spring?


I am so blinking tired of the cold! Houstonians aren't weather-proofed for Nebraska winter. April and it is still coat weather - something's not right about that! The grass is beginning to green up and I bought flower and vegetable seeds this week - hope lives.


The sunshine today really cheered me up. It's interesting how weather and sunlight or the lack thereof contribute to mood. I know after this first winter here that I'd never do well in Alaska or the like. I need the sun and warmth. I complain about hot weather but it's better than cold, especially windy cold!


Cozumel in May - our anniversary is coming up and we're cruising. I must keep reminding myself. Ah, Cozumel in May!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Photography as art




Clearly not all photography is generally considered art - you know, 'real art'. What is and what is not is beyond me; but I feel more artistic with my photography now than I did almost 20 years ago when I discovered black and white photography and the relative simplicity of having a home dark room. At that time, I felt my photography was art, but I wasn't sure why. On second consideration, I wasn't convinced it was art, but that it could/should be. I was certainly exposed to bnw photography that I considered art.

Anyway, back to now. After many years without serious shooting, and since arriving in Nebraska, committing to focus on art, having relatively little entertainment (distraction), and being gifted the different landscape, plants, and buildings, photography has become a true artistic endeavor (preoccupation, obsession,...) for me. Buildings, grasses and hills, windows, fences, and the like, have become metaphors and objects of beauty - granted a different beauty than fine china etc.

On top of that, I finally made the leap to digital photography and digital editing of my photographs. I stuck with film a long time because I was committed to producing the image without electronic help, just me, light/shadow, and film. Ha! And autofocus, varying paper hues and printer and inks I couldn't predict or control, etc etc etc. Anyway, I gave in. My husband bought me the most wonderful digital slr, perfectly suited to the way I shoot. I already had Photoshop Elements and basic editing skills. I added a nice photo printer and off we go!

Now, back to photography as art. As I look at photos of my contacts on Flickr and continue to develop my own work, the art becomes more clear. Shadows are poignant. Colors touch me. Buildings come to life with history or opinion or feeling. For me, that is art. Whether it is for the viewer remains to be known; but for me, it is.

Then in the editing process, the colors and shapes become paint. Images appear in the larger composition that must be carved out and dramatized. I've always wanted to be a painter - a 'real artist'. I'm starting to feel like one. Again, to what success for others, remains to be known, but I'm having a new experience with the camera.

Shown above are a photograph as shot and a portion of it tweeked up with Photoshop as the muse directed. Can a photograph become paint to the artist? Is this art? What are your experiences?


The equipment I'm using is:
  • Panasonic DMC-FZ50 (Leica optics)
  • Epson R2400 Stylus Photo Printer
  • Toshiba computer and MS Vista
  • Photoshop Elements 6

Thursday, April 10, 2008

ceramic buttons



Here are the stoneware buttons I just made. the last picture shows the mess that fell to the kiln shelf. Some wouldn't fit on the rods of my bead rack and I strung them on two sizes of high temp wire. The smaller wire slumped. I think I can save some with a small dremel bit.
I saved some with minor glaze damage and will use those as collage embelishments.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Misc


The buttons are glazed and in the cool-down stage in the kiln -my new, and newly decorated kiln. Riley painted it with about 8 tubes of acrylic paint a couple of days ago. No harm and it is lovely and bright. Can't wait to see how the buttons turned out.

I have the first edition of my studio website up. It is holycowstudio.com. I plan to link or move my blog there when I figure the software out better. So far I have my ETSY shop displaying and I plan to use ETSY for my sales from the website. I don't think I want to manage an online store and I'm not selling much anyway!

I used godaddy to get my domain name and to host the site. I am using their software to build the site.

Tonite is clay-play at the art gallery. I'm working on a hollow egg - "CAT". We use low fire clay and work together once per week. It's fun to work together and visit. more later - dinner!


Dinner is over. I gathered up my majolica style glaze and colors to take to clay play. In the distraction of after dinner, Eli took a gallon of white glaze and poured it down the sink. He said it was old. Drat! I swear I can't have anything. It depresses me sometimes how destructive they are. They're 4. He knew that was mine and that it was 'paint'. It's not innocent. He's in time out but that hardly seems sufficient. He knew. Boy this is hard sometimes (parenting). Then again, just look at those faces!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Button Button

I'm working on ceramic buttons. I've had some made for some time, but waited for a bisque firing. They're bisque now and I'm glazing them. One by one. It is a bit tedious, but I like it. some have wire shanks, some ceramic shanks, and some have holes.

I hope they will be attractive to quilters and mixed media artists. I will use some in my collages. I'll post a photo when they are glaze fired. Wish me luck!

News: I've quit eating meat. I eat fish. I heard from a dear friend and very admirable woman that her arthtritis pain went away when she quit eating meat. She's really a vegetarian. I'm just eating that way. Anyway, I have so much joint and bone pain, I'm trying it. My hands are better already. I quit about the first of the year. I don't miss it -much. I have broken training to have steak and ham once each and some chicken. I'm not really a vegetarian, after all! I''ve always liked the idea of eating close to the earth (I think I read that in Diet for a Small Planet) Today I read "If it (food) grows, eat it."

I'm also reading (Leslie Hay) and writing about self love and letting go of anger, resentment, and the like to feel and be better. Nothing we don't all know, I suppose, but it does take some thought and concentration to be positive and self-caring. I feel calmer and happier - not giddy -- just more positive about things in general. Try it - what do you like about you? Who do you need to forgive? Why hold on to bad feelings? Let's not waste emotional energy on bad thoughts!

I guess these last few paragraphs are about what we are or can be -- "You are what you eat" doesn't say enough. We are also what we think, do for others, how we care for ourselves., .... all to say we have a lot of control over our environment and well being. Leslie Hay says "the power is always in the present moment."

Anyway, that's what's on my mind right now. Your thoughts?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Photos and Journals - do you journal?

First of all, I think journaling is a wonderful practice for self reflection and help, recording memories, writing stories and poetry, recording history, drawing, oh so many uses.

I have journaled at various times in my life but none quite as seriously as now. I record what's happening, what I'm thinking about, what I struggle with, projects I aspire to, funny things my children say,... on and on. I have a bad habit of picking up whatever journal is nearby so my dates are scattered everywhere. Sometimes there are years between entries in a given book.

I'm not too picky about journals, but they must be spiral and blank. Spiral so I can use both sides of the page, and blank, because they should be blank. I wouldn't write on the lines anyway and if I get a lined journal as a gift or by mistake, I use it and ignore the lines.

I've been spending a lot of my available and driving time on photography this past year. Sometimes, as in a couple of prior blogs, I reflect on and write about my photographs. I have put a selection of them on journal covers at Cafepress. Most of them are images that evoke journal-like thoughts and feelings - doors, windows, trees, skies, nature. They make me think of reflection, history, future, nature, the meaning of life, oh dear, too far!

Anyway, I'm putting the link to my journals here because I truthfully think they are good covers for writing and drawing books. I hope you like them. I'd like to hear what you think.

http://www.cafepress.com/sceater/4431286

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Audrey Hepburn - Beautiful Woman

This is a poem Audrey Hepburn wrote when asked to share her 'beauty tips.' It was read at her funeral years later.

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

I have always liked and admired her for her acting, poise, and beauty. I knew she was a sweet person, from this I know she was wise as well.

May we all be as beautiful in the important ways.




Friday, March 14, 2008

Depression

This is not for the faint of spirit.

Depression is a real and serious condition. And it is wicked, sneaky, and evil. It can drop like a bomb. It can sneak up in the night. It covers everything. It is physical, mental, and emotional. It is not something someone makes up or pretends. It is blinking real.

Depression can take all meaning out of life. It can make the most important things in life seem beside the point. In the depressed state, there seems to be no hope to escape it or feel better. Things will always be bad or will never stay good long.

Good takes on new meanings. Good is just not awful, miserable. Good is the high of feeling better. Good is I made it through the day.

Don't be misled by smiles and apparent adequate functioning. Those who are depressed can, for short periods, pull it together and put on a brave and cheerful face. It is not to deceive per se. It is to act normal, be there for someone, hide the misery, avoid detection, as depression hurts everyone in the vicinity. And some view depression as not real, laziness, emotional-ness, anti-socal, etc. So around others, in the breach, the depressed look and sound 'normal'. The acting takes extraordinary effort and leaves the depressed more drained and more depressed.

The loss. Depression robs and has robbed me of energy, life experiences, loved ones, creativity, love of life. Ever tried living in an aquarium of extra thick jello? Moving through it, thinking through it, smiling through it? That would be a peek at depression. Only a peek. It can't be explained. It is awful.

Yeah, I'm depressed today.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Cat Bite!

I was bitten by a feral cat yesterday and spent most of today going to the next town to see the Dr. All is well enough. More later tonite.

Ok, anyway, a feral cat that had been hanging around got in a basement window. We cornered it and thinking cats always go limp when you grab the back of their neck, I grabbed it. It not only didn't go limp, it bit me.

Greg finally captured it and caged it. I cleaned and bandaged my finger - three small punctures and some scratches. I know cat bites can be very germ-y, so I called the Dr. today. I got a tetanus booster and 10 days of antibiotics. Could be much worse.

Lesson: One cannot always immobilize a cat by grabbing the scruff of the neck..

The cat? We fed it and turned it loose tonite. It is healthy, just very wild and very frightened. Animal Control never showed up.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Women in Art - Portraits

I received this link from a friend and I really like it. It shows 500 years of women's portraits in art. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I makes me think of my friends and family. the many different faces of women and the something that is in all of them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUDIoN-_Hxs

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Tumbledown House

I have photographed this old house 3 or 4 times, many shots each time. It is near our house, but I go back there for more reasons than convenience. What happened? Why is this house so dramatically falling down? Then again, why is it still standing and not razed? When is ruined ruined? When is old and crumbling ruin and when is it beauty?

This house could tell many lovely stories of families, seasons, events, challenges, and victories. Or, maybe it could only tell of neglect and loneliness. The tales it tells are as varied as the viewers, as they are in our eyes and through our personal filters. What does this house say to you? What stories do you hear?

Perhaps tales of hardship, hard work, and the hard times and hard wind that did it in.

Perhaps tales of bustling farm life, many children, many meals, and the saddness on being left after the storm.

Perhaps of a hardy couple's first home and their hard work on this sparse prairie farm land.

Daydreams, memories, stories that are really our own - or, just an old house...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Friends

I didn't have many friends as a child or youth. I didn't know how to be a friend. My best friend in High school was killed in a stupid plane crash. I still miss her. Then, fortunately I met a wonderful friend, I say a sister, in my 40's. We are remarkably close. One thing I have learned from her, among many things, is to take good care of friendships. She carefully tends her friendships and faithfully contacts and keeps up with each . I've never known another who is as diligent and caring about relationships as she is. And, as a result, she has friends all over the states and England, several from grade school.

As a mature adult, I've made new wonderful friends. Friends I can tell my troubles to. Friends who'll tell me theirs. We share interests, worries, laughs. I know I can count on them. I want to be friends always.

I count that as so so fortunate. for one who didn't know how to make friends, who waited to be befriended, I'm so happy to have good friends. Be a friend and cultivate your friendships. They are treasures we should store up on earth!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Notecards












I've been making notecards for fun. Right now I have them on Cafepress but I have ordered a printer that will print of a quality I can print and sell direct on ETSY. I'm really looking forward to it. I haven't wanted to sell anything home printed because ordinary inks won't last. The new printer uses archival chrome inks that with proper care will last 100-200 years, depending on the source one reads.

It's an EPSON R2400. I got the higher quality scanner too and it will scan negatives. That's another project. I have hundreds of black and white negatives that I can now digitize and print. I have one very special picture taken in central park in NYC the morning after the blizzard on '93. It was very hard to print in the darkroom so there is only one good copy. I hope to make a limited edition of it. It has been very popular and is probably the best shot I have.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to some new projects with the R2400. Anyone have one? It is the same as the R1800 with some extra black inks.

Warning- if you get gifts from me in the next year or two, it is likely to be monogram notecards or art prints!






Saturday, March 1, 2008

News and such

Saturday. I wanted a me-day. Greg was gone two nights this week on business and I was mom-tired. I planned to spend the day in my art rooms. Instead, I went back to bed. I wish I had spent the art time, but I did enjoying laying abed. I do have a lot of art stuff going - i have a new kiln. I'm test firing it now. Just touching the shelves and controls was calming and energizing at the same time. Now I really want to get throwing!



I also broke in a new storage device for my computer. I had built up a huge amount of files of photographs and multiple versions - 65gb. I've been saving the RAW files in case I learn to deal with them. So far all i can do is move the color curves around a bit. Photoshop has a lot of capability- more than do right now.



I'm liking the new digital SLR. Light weight, one lens for macro 35mm through 420mm. f-stops easy to change. I shoot aperture bias.



So, I have a big art space in the basement, a new kiln, a slab roller, a new camera, computer and storage sufficient to edit and store photos, oh, and a digital drawing program. I should be cranking out pieces right and left, right? I'm not. Well, not other than photographs. No collage, no pottery, no painting, no beading with the sterling I bought at the Houston bead show.



Why? It isn't just having twin 4yr old boys. I get time. My husband is great about taking them and giving me time. Is it depression or artist block or lack of images in my head? Am I not inspired - no, I am. I want to do. But, I sometimes think "omg, I'm not an artist! what was I thinking" Oh, well, enough pityme.



It was 50 degrees here today. Beautiful. We take our coats off when it gets above freezing, so this was a WARM day. I''m longing for Spring. I didn't do that so much in Houston where it is never really winter. Back to art, I think spring coming will be inspiring and motivating.



I've been playing with photo collage. I have one in the works, but will wait to post it. I need to let it stew a bit.



I'm discouraged about my ETSY shop. Several of us are discussing them(ETSY) making fine art a bigger priority and providing more art categories. That should help. I have really enjoyed discovering photographers through Etsy and Flickr. What wonderful work I have seen. One of my favorites lives near here in Lincoln and is interested in old buildings too. We exchange notes.



Greg read that old farm buildings are likely to be razed to reclaim farm land because crop prices are high. There are a lot of them here and I would really hate to lose them. I can see as I drive the county roads that over time owners have simply moved over and built a new building and left the old. Sometimes there are three generations of building.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Collage2


Here's an earlier version without the horses. Opinions?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My First Digital Collage


I have been playing with Photoshop and created this digital collage from three images. The window (black opening) and door covered in metal sheets are from the same house. The horses were added because it needed something on the left and they fit the mood. For me it is ghost or dream like. I really like the textures of the wood and rusted metal and door knob.

Why is this barn or house abandoned? Are the horses gone or lonely? Was it once a thriving farm or ranch? Mystery!

The bottom version is the same but with a black border as if from printing. What do you think of the piece? Which version do you prefer? Is the black border effective?

This was quite fun to do and I want to play with more images in combination.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Mood

Here is the original photo.
Here it is in Black n White.
and here in sepia tones.

My thoughts as I look @ these three are about mood, feeling, and atmosphere. The house is a charming subject for me. Large and old, once stately, plain but sturdy. It provided shelter for many, or a large family, judging by the size. The house is lonely and neglected, even though it served well. Some small attempts have been made to preserve it-there are metal sheets over the doors.

Nevertheless it is lonely and forgotten. Anyway, about mood. Look at each picture. Feel it. How does it affect you.? Is it different?

For me the difference is striking. At first, the color picture, as taken, is old and tattered. It is interesting and evokes stories of imagined inhabitants. The black and white looks colder, distant, aloof. This is connoted by the coolness of the blacks and grays. The sepia is older still and ominous or evil in feeling.

I've been thinking about these different moods of the same house for a couple of days. It has provoked a curiosity about how I may color the scenes in my life. Do I? Is it conscious? Can I influence it? I know my children are happier and easier when I an happy and calm. Can I copy that coloration? I wonder. I'd like to.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

For Greg

This post is for my darling husband who has a 'strict no blog policy'. I'm wondering if he is curious about what I may have written about him below? ;-p

Friday, February 22, 2008

More pics

We drove the county roads today looking for more interesting barns. Found some. I should share, for those who don't know the midwest, there are many more modern shiny new buildings - barns, grain bins, houses, than there are antique and tumbling down. I just like the old ones. I don't want my choice of subject to mislead anyone into a view that all Nebraska is falling down:)

Anyway I found some photo ops and will share some later here and on Flickr.

I like the character and real or imagined history of the old buildings. What happened there? who lived there and worked there? What was life like? I get so many feelings from old buildings. Do you?

I can't keep up

I can't keep up with my twin 4 year old boys. I'm an older mother, but I don't think it is age. Well, maybe part of it is. I don't have as much energy for as long as I once did. But it is more than my age. They are unbelievably energetic and they are not ADHD or any such. They are just curious, busy, active, lively - you get the picture. What oh what do parents of hyperactive children and parents of triplets and so on do?

I literally cannot pick up or wash clothes or dishes fast enough. I'm not aiming for @ Good Housekeeping award, just neat and healthy. You know, no apple cores under the couch, laundry in the hamper, a clean sink. Not to complain (well maybe) but Dad isn't any help. I have his muddy boot prints, socks, dishes, and tea glasses all over the house. Oh, woe is me. How pitiful I sound!

I don't want to be pitiful, but boy does it feel good to complain out loud and in relative anonymity.

So, I'm working on a smarter plan. I don't think I can work harder _ But can undoubtedly work smarter. The first key is to get their help. So, I'm outlining what is my job as house-mom and what responsibilities belong to the individual. Like, pickup your own stuff, clear your own dishes, put your own clothes in hamper. It sounds so simple, is so simple, but it isn't happening. Dad needs to set the example.

Advice welcome.

More l ater going to drop off one for art class.

I discussed individual responsibility w/ hubby toaite at dinner and he agrees each will take care ofown chores (Boys with our help of course). that shouldhelp. I'm still amazed @ how fast two little boys can make a mess!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Little Cabin in the Woods

Ahhhh, this scene taps my pioneer woman feelings. I imagine one or two rooms filled with home made wood furniture, patchwork quilts, a fire burning, bread baking, and me happily in work boots and an apron. The simplicity. The pureness of hard labor and nature.

I can almost step out that door into the coolness of that bright blue sky. (actually, it was 12 degrees and I could hardly hold the camera still) Imagine a few chickens in the back, gathering eggs, cooking sausage for breakfast, sweeping a wood floor.

Of course, I wouldn't trade central air, refrigeration, computers, appliances, or an air tight home for anything; but I do love to dream.

I really do think we as a people were better off when we had to work all day to feed and clothe ourselves and sleep indoors. Many of todays worries and stresses were unknown and there just wasn't time to indulge them.

Thank goodness we can still find these homesteads and daydream. For me it is a nice trip. I hope you enjoy the picture and your reactions and day dreams!

Sunday, February 17, 2008



This is Eli and Riley's new preschool. Well, it is the administration building at the school - Nebraska Christian in Central City. It is K-12 plus one preschool class. The school has been there 50 years and this building was built as a college building in 1885.

It sits on a good sized campus outside of Central City. The boys really like the school and have made new friends. They have a turtle, 2 guinea pigs, and a parakeet in their classroom.

Doors



This door touched me emotionally as soon as I saw it. I was shooting around an old empty house. It was in sad shape - that's why I stopped by. But this doorway is different. The tree had grown up just beside the house, blocking entrance or exit from the door. The branches are tangled. Whatever or whoever might be inside is blocked. Entry, companionship, help, friendship, experience is blocked. It is just such a sad door.

Doors provide safety, privacy, silence, comfort, warmth; they open to welcome friends, sunshine, fresh air; they lead out to new experiences, nature, shopping! This one doesn't. Perhaps the owner planted this tree to keep everyone out. Perhaps it grew unnoticed due to isolation. Perhaps it is unwanted but lethargy and neglect have let it take over.

I visualize and feel all these messages and possiblities as both literal and figurative. It is the figurative that caught my attention that day. How many doors are grown over from lack of use, lack of interest, neglect? How many opportunities are lost because tangled branches of confusion, distrust, timidity, bias, or sheer fear block the way? I wonder. I want to look for those doors and prune those branches.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

We're expecting - Kittens!

Greg found a mother cat and three kittens on the construction site. While the boys and I were in Houston before Christmas, he brought them all home and began taming the kittens. The mother, Cleo, was quite tame and friendly.

Sadly all three kittens have disappeared. Locals say 2 were probably taken by owls. Ick! The third, the most timid, crawled in the engine of my car and subsequently safely rode there all day and into the evening as we ran errands, picked up Greg and went to Grand Island. Greg opened the hood to put in windshield fluid and found her. As we tried to get her, she jumped out the bottom and ran away. We did not see her jump out, so kept looking and lost her.

We've been sad about losing the kittens. Well, today I took Cleo to the vet for a checkup prior to spaying. She's with kitten! So, we'll wait on the surgery and have new kittens. I believe Greg has been converted to a cat lover!

Playing with photos



Here are the photos I mentioned in the previous post. The one on bottom right is the original, of course. This is a house near the boys' new preschool. Which do you like?

Miscelaney

Here's some motherhood nonsense. I "ran" to the garage barefoot, nightgown, to get my son some mittens from the car. It's 20 degrees here this morning-I was stepping on ice and gravel in my cold bare feet and getting crabby. My son (4) said "Mom you need to get some rest." Boy that's humbling! Like I don't know better. Like l would let them do that!





On a saner note -





I have two new toys. One is a wacom pen & tablet. I use it to draw and paint on my computer and handwrite my text. the handwriting is handy because my twins pulled a bunch of keys off my keyboard. Digital art is really fun.





The other is a digital SLR camera. I'm just learning it but with it and Adobe Photoshop Elements I'm having a photo adventure. I'll attach one I'm playing with. {time lapse, much frustration} Can't get the sample photos to upload... will try again later when I have more patience.

Hug your inner child today!
D

Monday, February 11, 2008

Children in War Zones!

I could not write a blog so important or any nearer my heart than these words I copied from War Child International. See their website link at right with other favorite causes. I was struck that the active organizations listed are Holland, Canada, and UK. No US? I'm sitting here in my comfortable home thinking with horror of my two precious sons in a war zone. What if they were alone? How terrified and lost they would be.

I have nothing to gain here, just please read on. Let's raise our awareness of children, women, any civilian, in a war zone or on the run from one. I will research the war zones they enumerate and report here.

WAR CHILD AIMS
War Child was founded upon a fundamental goal: to advance the cause of peace through investing hope in the lives of children caught up in the horrors of war.
As you read this, over 30 wars and conflicts rage around the world. Some fill our TV screens with appalling images of distress, emphasising war’s brutalising effect on man.
Many of these wars go unreported, often due to political expediency or lack of interest. They reveal a shaming pattern: Sixty million people have been killed in wars during the 20th Century. Over 80% of war casualties are now civilians - mainly women and children.
Children are amongst the first casualties of any armed conflict, always the most vulnerable and innocent of victims. In the last decade alone 1.5 million children have died in wars. Four million have been disabled and a further 10 million traumatised.
The severe psychological wounds that war inflicts on children can scar them for life, crippling the very generations that must one day rebuild their devastated countries. For the future peace of the world we must do everything in our power to help these war children.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Another Sunday

Well, I've missed a whole week! I'll do better this week. I traded and gave away a few photos this week via Etsy. Trading is fun.



It has been cold - single digits! We have a new cat - Cleo. She had 3 kittens and we took them in as well, but they are all gone. Two hopefully wandered off and one got in the engine and jumped out 20 miles from here. I'm very sad about them. We enjoy Cleo though. She is in at night and in the garage or breezeway in the day. She doesn't like to stay in all the time.



The hardest thing about a small town is lack of child resources. There is little preschool (2 hrs per week), no commercial daycare, no play places. Even the local McDonalds doesn't have play space! We do like Aurora though. I've made good friends and like the calm and quiet. AND, there is no traffic.



Anyway, I just enrolled the boys in preschool 20 miles away and plan to spend the 2.5 hours they are occupied driving the countryside looking for photo ops. I've already visited an abandoned house near the school. I took photos but am not happy with them.



We have a new camera - a Panasonice SLR digital. I'm still learning it and at this point don't plan to abandon film. We have so much film Nikon gear and I still like the idea of film photography. I'll let you know here how the new camera proves out.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Flickr

I've been uploading photos to Flickr and looking around. Boy, there are some awsome pics and photographers there. Take a look! Here is a great one-
http://www.flickr.com/photos/twrebelxt/

He has some truly great shots in Nebraska.

I'm trying to coordinate this blog, flickr, etsy, and cafepress, oh, and my domain I just bought - holycowstudio.com. Don't go there, I haven't done anything with it yet.

First Ice


First Ice, originally uploaded by Holy Cow Studio.

I love this view of the old house and new ice. The ice was so bright and sparkling and the building has fallen in and is deteriorating. The metaphors are many. For me, it is newness that can be in any 'old' life or damaged life. It is never too late for another start or to do something new. Me, twins at 53! What a new and bright view of a somewhat old and somewhat dingy life! Sparkling ice and an old house...