Photo-Heart Connection: December

 
Simplicity. Lines. Space.

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Since travelling to Singapore in the spring and now China and Taiwan in December I have felt a growing affinity to asian art and themes in my work. I love the lines of bamboo, the circles of lily pads, and the spare brushstrokes and space found in sumi-e paintings. I’ve been searching out sumi-e art online and studying which styles and techniques resonate with me.

It’s amazing what can be expressed in a few lines in space: Beauty, peace, grace.

While I strive to achieve the same effect in a photograph, I often can’t. I can’t always get the right angle. The background may be distracting. There is no space to be found.

And so this month, I tried something new. I created the lines in space myself. This image is a digital painting created start to finish on my iPad. It’s inspired by a photograph I took of bamboo, but it’s not a photograph. Much as I love photography, there are moments of frustration that I can’t capture what I want. There is a freedom in creating from scratch, and leaving things out. It allows me to express myself when the photograph just isn’t quite right.

Simplicity. Lines. Space. They call to me.

A new direction? Maybe. Or just an expanding of the circle. There is space in my art for all manners of expression to coexist.


Happy New Year! I’m back home from my holiday travels. I was gone for the last two weeks visiting family in Colorado. It was a much needed rest and now that I’m back home I find that I’m ready to take on the world again. Whew. I was worried there, for a while. December was rough, from a creative perspective, as you can probably tell from my sparse postings. But having the time to relax and start creating again at the end of the month was just what I needed. It allowed this new direction, the interest in sumi-e painting and exploration of digital painting techniques on my iPad, to emerge.

On my trip I created photographs and played with digital paintings alike, finding it a spectrum of expression that bleeds together from one end to the other. After creating a base painted image I used many of my usual photo apps to add color and texture to achieve the desired effect. It all connects, I couldn’t have created this without the knowledge and techniques I’ve developed in my mobile photography. So that’s why this non-photograph is in the Photo-Heart Connection. I’m not going to draw imaginary lines on what art is allowed or not allowed in this practice. It’s all my art, and if it has a heart connection, something to teach me, that’s all that matters. I’m done with placing things in imaginary boxes and drawing lines around them saying what “is” and “isn’t” allowed. I threw out those rules last year.

So if you’re not a photographer, join in with us too. What matters is the heart connection in your art, not the medium it was made with.

How was December for you, creatively? What connected to your heart, in this dark time of the year? Share it with us. The link up will be open through January 12.

Photo-Heart Connection: November

Hope. Sadness.

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Two sides of the same coin? Perhaps. I see mostly hope with some sadness on one side, sadness with bit of hope on the other. They touch in the center. They echo each other; reach one to the other.

Can you have one without the other? Is the experience of one healthy without the other? For sadness, alone, seems to me depression. And hope, without sadness to temper it, is delusion.

Perhaps the best is when they touch in the center, balancing each other out. Hope and sadness. Sadness and hope.


Well, my Photo-Heart Connection this month is filled with melancholy, isn’t it? I couldn’t decide between the two images this month. They seemed to go together, and reflect one another. When I listened to the words they whispered, it was the mirroring emotions of sadness and hope. I don’t quite understand why I needed this message today, but I’m not going to try to analyze further. This is just the message from my heart this month. It will be clear in time.

What is your Photo-Heart Connection telling you this month? Does it speak of sadness? Hope? Or something altogether different? Link in here and share with us.
Please note I won’t be by to visit until later in the month, after the link up closes. I’m off to China and Taiwan on a business trip this week, and I’ll catch up when I’m back.

Photo-Heart Connection: October

There is beauty in autumn. And no, this time I don’t mean the vivid colors that some trees and plants use to herald their demise. I mean the quiet beauty of transition.

The beauty of a graceful exit.

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I love the lines of the bare trees of winter, that is no secret. But as this fall has progressed, I’ve enjoyed the emerging lines which are accentuated with the receding leaves. Some leaves go out in a blaze of glory, falling from the tree en mass in their bright colors, still flexible and pliant until days on the ground. One day the tree is full, the next it is bare. It’s startling. But other leaves age in place, slowly and quietly making their transition, losing a bit of themselves here and there with a whisper until one day they are all gone.

It’s these leaves I’m noticing. They speak to me of tenacity. Of a will to continue, even with the inevitability of the end. And wow, aren’t they beautiful? In their demise, they are so graceful. They accentuate the beauty of the bare tree beneath, rather than covering it, as the summer leaves do. It’s almost as if this is their finest hour, their greatest contribution. This is when the tree and leaf are truly one. They tell me that a tree is not either/or, bare or full, it’s both. I can see both seasons, appreciate both, together in this brief moment. These leaves chastise me in my wishing for one or the other; in my desire to hurry or slow time. They remind me there is only this moment. Can I not see?

This time, as any other, I look to the trees for lessons. This season’s lesson for me: How to appreciate the transition. Regardless of what is coming, it can be approached and experienced in the moment, with grace.


“Graceful” is a word that keeps coming to me, over and over, to describe the lines that I want to capture in my photographs. The way I want to live my life. Lately, I see grace all the time in the lines around me, whether it’s in the trees or the sand or extension of a human hand. This month it’s been especially clear to me in the transition of the seasons, as my Photo-Heart Connection expresses. It seems so dramatic to say this, but I ache for the beauty of it all. I do. I am deeply touched by the grace I see in the face of inevitability. I want to have that kind of stoic strength in my approach to the transitions of life. I observe it, I photograph it, and I know I fall short. But I keep going, hanging on, working toward that kind of being. I wonder: Do you have to first see, before you can be?

What is your Photo-Heart Connection this month? Do you see deep longings or light playfulness in your photographs? Your heart is telling you something. Explore the message. Share it with us here.

Photo-Heart Connection: September

 
The world does not exist, beyond the edge of the frame.

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There is only this place. This time. These lines, of my choosing.

Why does there need to be anything else? Throw your worries away. Shrug off the burdens that are carried on your shoulders. Within this frame, they don’t exist.

There is only this place. This time. These lines, of my choosing.


With this month’s Photo-Heart Connection, I’ve realized that one of the personal themes I’ve been exploring the last couple of months is my role as a photographer. How I, as a photographer, can see and shape the world around me. How I have a choice. It started with exploring the role of the photographer in the creation of a photograph, then moved on to my discoveries about myself as a photographer, then through my personal journey as an artist, and now today’s Photo-Heart Connection. All have been leading to me to this place of deeper understanding about myself as a photographer and an artist: Everything is of my choosing, from picking up the camera in the first place to presenting it here. It is incredibly powerful to realize the control being a photographer grants me! When there are things outside my control, I still have this ability to gather up pieces of the world, completely of my choosing.

What does your Photo-Heart Connection have to tell you this month? Share it with us here.

Photo-Heart Connection: August

Bold. Strong. Dynamic.

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There is an energy to this image that gives me a “zing” every time I look at it. I created it this way. From the choice of the rainbow colors, to the multiple exposure/zoom effect. It was all chosen. And it needed to be this way… I had a softer, dreamier version of the same tree in progress but this one stood proudly and said, “Who are you kidding? You know I’m it.”

So why does it make me uncomfortable? Because it does make me uncomfortable, in some weird way. I shared on social media but never shared it here on the blog. I did a test print and took it down from my wall after a week because I didn’t want to look at it any more.

It makes me uncomfortable because it is bold. There is an in-your-face nature to this one. You have to make a choice. Do you like it or not? It doesn’t allow you to sit back and scroll by, saying, “That’s nice, ho hum.” You have a reaction, good or bad. That’s what makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want to make you, the viewer, uncomfortable.

And if I’m uncomfortable with that, if I’m uncomfortable with asking the viewer, myself included, to make a choice, what does that say about me as an artist? Am I playing it too safe? Am I making pretty pictures when I could make bold, dynamic ones? Ones that jump out and ask for a reaction?

Maybe, just maybe. Something I’m going to have to think about a good long while. I’m going to have to be sure I’m not pulling away from the uncomfortable, just to be safe. I need to make sure I’m not avoiding confrontation or conflict, even within myself.

The best art asks the viewer to make a choice. And that’s what I want to create.


August was an interesting month. I didn’t take as many pictures as in July, but it was so much better in terms of creativity. That feeling of productivity and creativity probably came because I was pointing my camera at and editing subjects I liked better, rather than mostly family vacation. But maybe also because I was pushing myself in some new directions, like with this month’s Photo-Heart Connection. I really can’t believe this one came out the strongest, after writing it off as a failed experiment earlier in the month. But my heart knew better, it had a message for me. A strong one too, that I’m going to have to consider.

What’s your Photo-Heart Connection? Was it hard or easy to hear this month? Was it a gentle reminder or a bold sharp poke like mine? There is always something for you to learn in the process. I look forward to reading what it was for you.


A few reminders...

  • I have a giveaway going on right now! Visit here for the details and to enter. I'll announce the winner on September 3rd.
  • It's the last few days of registration for Find Your Eye: Journey of Fascination. We start the journey on September 8th. Join us to build a stronger connection between photos and heart.
  • Did you know you could sign up to receive the blog via email? You won't ever miss another post! You'll find the sign up on the top of the blog sidebar.

Photo-Heart Connection: July

Good morning, Sunshine. It’s nice to see you.

Most of the year, I’m up before the sun. Don’t hate me, but I’m a morning person. I don’t even set an alarm anymore, I let my body tell me when it’s time to get up.

I love my mornings, when all is silent in the house. I journal or read or create in the quiet. While the world slowly lightens outside, I sit in my comfy chair and am in my own world. To be honest, I rarely notice the light coming on, or see the sun come up. I’m too busy in my internal world.

Until now.

Now I am still up early, but instead of reading and journaling, I am going out first, to hike. Just as I love the quiet of the early morning house, I love the silence of the early morning forest. I love being the first car to the trailhead, knowing the paths are my own. Just me and my dog and my iPhone, exploring the world. I knew I would enjoy the solitude. I knew I would enjoy the movement of my body. I knew I would enjoy the time in nature.

What I didn’t know I would enjoy so much: Greeting the sun.

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It’s not just being in the sunshine, although that is wonderful after Oregon’s long, grey winters. It’s not just about the golden hour light, which is a photographer’s dream. It’s that I love to be there when the sun first touches the land. There is something special about being in that place and that time and seeing the long rays of light waking up the earth for the day. Me and the sun and the earth, together for the first touch of light. There is a beauty and a peace and a reverence in it I can’t quite explain. As if I’m part of something special, an ancient ritual that is repeated every day.

The sun and the earth don’t care if I am there, they will greet each other just the same. But when I am there to witness it, to capture it… I get to acknowledge and honor it. I say, Thank you, Sunshine, for bringing warmth and light to my day. I say, Thank you, Earth, for carrying me along the way. It reminds me that I am a small part of something much, much bigger.

I need that reminder. It’s all too easy for me to get wrapped up in my own internal world, living inside my mind. So while I miss my journaling and reading and creating time, I relish in what being outside to greet the sun brings me.

Each and every day.


July was not a prolific month for my photography. As I was mourning the loss of the month earlier this week, in the back of my head I was worriedly thinking, Will I be able to find a Photo-Heart Connection this month?? I had to dig deeper than ever before, but it was there. Finding the photo that made my heart sing, and writing the words that came along with it, makes me see that July is not a lost month. Getting out — being on vacation, gathering with family, going on hikes — and living was the important part of July. I need to exist and experience in the external world in order to fuel the creativity of my internal world. It all works together.

What is your Photo-Heart Connection this month? Did you have to dig deep or was it right there, waiting for you? Either way, the messages our heart has for us are important. I hope you’ll take the time to listen and join in.