Join me on the trail using #morninghikewithkat

Do you like to hike, walk, or run in the mornings? Do you ever stop to take a photo of something interesting? If so, join me this summer on Instagram using hashtag #morninghikewithkat.

I’m trying to get out into the forest as much as possible as the days start to get longer and the weather gets better here in Oregon. The extra time I’m out of the house, along with the leaves arriving on the trees, mean it’s time to shake things up with my art. No more bare trees! Instead, I’ll be trying to regularly photograph and edit images from my morning hikes, and I’ll share them using the #morninghikewithkat hashtag on Instagram. I thought, wouldn’t it be fun if other people are doing that too?

So, what do you say? Are you in? Just add #morninghikewithkat to your image, and we’ll be able to meet up.

Whether its daily or weekly or once in a while, I hope to see you on the virtual trail!

Where does art come from?

Is there a place you feel most like yourself? Where you shed the trappings of everyday life and the expectations of others? I have a place like that. Or places, I should say. It’s wherever I find a dirt trail winding among the trees. Wherever I can be surrounded by the forest – tall trees, filtered light, greenery. Just the sounds of the breeze, the birds, and my breath.

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It’s in the forest that I most feel like me. I’m not Kat the artist, or Katrina the engineer, or Trina the daughter, sister and wife. I’m just me, the core of me that doesn’t need a name. The forest reminds me there is this constant, consistent existence inside all of the outer trappings. This essential “me” that is the same no matter what direction I am facing in life, which name and role I’m taking on. I get to be that essential me, get in touch with that core, when I am in the forest. What a beautiful thing!

This lovely realization came through a couple of hikes I managed to squeeze in recently. It’s nice to know that regardless of how busy my life is or how many items on the “to do” list, there is a constant source of peace I can tap into. This realization has also led to an “aha” about my art.

Sometimes, looking at my work in the last couple of years, I’ve wondered how someone who is so busy can create art that is so peaceful and contemplative. I mean really, look at the work I create. It might make you think I live life in some zen way, full of meditation and awareness. Yet I am usually going a hundred miles an hour, filling most of my time with commitments and projects and goals. I have a full time corporate job, I create and sell art, I write and teach, I’m a wife and mother. Doesn’t sound very zen to me.

At times, I’ve wondered: Is the art I create a yearning for something else? Some simplicity that I can’t seem to achieve? But even though I’ve asked myself those questions, it’s never really felt this way. It doesn’t feel like the art comes from a place of emptiness or wanting. It feels like the art is just there. And I reach in and pull it out.

And that’s the “aha”… My art is there. It comes from that constant core, the “me” that’s me regardless of the name I’m using, the role I’m playing. The same self I get in touch with in the forest is the same self that I’m tapping in to when I create my art. It’s always there, always ready to be accessed. It just takes me finding a moment, finding ways to connect with it. Isn’t that brilliant? My art is from a place of abundance, not a place of lack. Because what I have, what I always have, no matter what else is happening in my life, is me.

I’ve always thought that connections brought through art are special. That when someone creates with honesty, you can see the true person through their art. I’m getting a deeper, more personal understanding of that. People who connect with my art are people who see me. The real me, under all of the window dressing of the different roles I play. It explains why I want to sell my art – because getting out there increases those connections. It explains why I love to teach about art – because it helps others find that connection to self too.

All of this has led to me rewriting what I think of as a “welcome” message, for the About me page on my website. Trying to capture who I am and what I do in just a few sentences is a difficult thing, but here’s my first draft…

My art is an expression of who I am, beyond the trappings of a modern, busy life as a mother, wife, engineer, teacher, and artist. There is a place of stillness, peace, and beauty that exists deep within me which comes out in the imagery I create. If my work resonates with you, then you have this special place within you too. I am honored to have made a connection with you. Nothing makes me happier than sending a piece of my art home with you to grace your space, or showing you how to create that kind of connection for yourself.

Welcome to Kat Eye Studio, my online creative space. Get comfortable, grab a cup of tea and make yourself at home here. Let’s connect through art.

What do you think? Does that capture it? Does it let you see a little bit of that real me, invite you to join me? I’d love to get your reactions to this new understanding, these new words.

Photo-Heart Connection: November 2014

What comes next?

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The dawn of each day brings a whole new range of possibilities.

I am not sure what comes next, but I am excited to find out.


My Photo-Heart Connection this month has to do with the Photo-Heart Connection monthly practice itself. I’ve decided that I will end the practice as a regular feature here on the blog as we complete 2014. This month and next will be the last of the Photo-Heart Connection link ups.

There are a variety of reasons for ending it now. With my schedule, it is becoming harder for me to complete and post exactly on the first of each month. Making that happen has become more stressful than peaceful, which is not a good state of mind for quiet introspection. I haven’t been doing the practice justice. For the last number of months, I haven’t been able to visit the participants regularly, which weighs on me as well. (I do hope you have been visiting each other.) And participation has dropped off dramatically over the last few months, probably in connection with my frame of mind around it. So I’ve been thinking… is the Photo-Heart Connection ready to end?

While was pondering what to do, my Inlinkz subscription (the link tool I’ve been using for years) came up for renewal. It seemed to be a sign. It was time to make a decision, and that decision was to not renew the subscription. I will place this lovely practice on the shelf as we head into 2015. I do still believe this is a wonderful, powerful practice. It’s brought me through much transition, moving back from Italy and into my new love of mobile photography, helping me find my heart’s path. I cherish that. Now is just no longer the time for me to commit to it each month.

I also know that when I end something, it makes space for other things to come along. New possibilities open up. I can say “yes” to what comes next, when it appears.


So with that, I’d love to invite you to join in with your Photo-Heart Connection for these last two months. Review the art you created in November and find the piece that speaks to your heart. Listen, and share it with us here, by leaving a comment and providing a link. (If your comment goes into moderation, I will get it posted as a soon as possible.)

Thanks to everyone who has participated these last three years! Let’s take this practice out on a high note.

Heading Out

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Isn’t it interesting how one word or phrase can mean so many things?

I’m heading out today…

… for my morning hike.

… for my usual workday.

… for a trip to Ohio, to visit my grandmother who is ill.

All these things, all true, one phrase.

I don’t know how much I’ll be connected while I’m gone. It will be a time focused on family, but I plan to take walks in the woods where I can. Hopefully, I’ll get to walk in the same woods my father walked when he was young, in rural Ohio. I get my love of being in the forest from him, and I’m going to where he first spent time among the trees. It should be a special place.

I wonder, will it feel like home?

One Week Left!

There’s one week left in the open call to artists in mobile photography. This is a great opportunity to liberate your art out into the world and share your work with a new audience. Have you submitted yet? Don’t delay! Deadline is June 2.

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Expanding Vision: The Contribution of Mobile Photography

 
What: Call for photographs made with mobile devices (phones or tablets)

When: August 21 – September 28, 2014

Where: The Arts Center, Main Gallery, Corvallis, Oregon

Deadline to Apply:  June 2, 2014

How to Apply:  Online

Artists have embraced technology as an art-making process since photography became available in the 1800s. Each new technological advance increased the tools available for creativity and artistic expression through photography and mobile photography is no exception.  This method of image making has the potential for the greatest widespread influence of any type of photographic innovation. People who would never have considered themselves an artist, or even creative at all, now have the means to be just that with mobile device camera technology at their fingertips.

We are looking for the full breadth and depth of what mobile photography has to offer. While the chemical darkroom allowed some latitude for expression, the digital darkroom increases the possibilities for manipulation of images even more dramatically. Mobile devices have a myriad of programs and apps–all on the device itself–that give the photographer an incredible opportunity for creative expression. Mobile photography ranges from the representational to the abstract, from street photography, still lifes, portraits and landscapes to fully abstracted impressions. We hope to see examples of all these approaches, highlighting how mobile photography contributes to the expanding artistic vision of photography.

Eligibility:

  • The Call is open to all individuals using a mobile device to take images.
  • All images must have been taken in the last two years.
  • Work previously exhibited at The Arts Center will not be accepted or presented to the jurors.

Terms and Parameters:

  • The original image must be created and edited in its entirety on a mobile device, either phone or tablet.
  • The submitting artist must be the owner of the image.
  • All submissions must be via digital image uploaded via the submission form
  • The $10 application fee must be received by the deadline. Applicants may submit up to 5 images for this amount.

Painting with Photographs

There is nothing like a new challenge to spur creativity. My morning hikes have been wonderful, and giving myself the goal of creating and sharing one photograph per hike has given me the motivation to try something different.

In recent months, my photographic style has been very spare, with lots of open space. I love the simplicity and peace that space brings to an image! But open space is rare in the forest. Western Oregon’s forests are dense and verdant, so I’m learning to fill the frame again. I’m retraining my eye to see lines, color and space a new way.

I’m also playing with new processing techniques, on mornings when I have a little more time. My latest favorites have been created by blending multiple different photographs together. Maybe an app or two to shift colors, but otherwise created by layering and blending multiple photographs to create a rich tapestry of forest impressions. Here’s the first, called “Can’t See the Trees for the Forest.”

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And, after several attempts that haven’t quite gotten where I want them, this morning I created another piece with a similar feel, called “Left Light.”

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This technique is new. It’s as if I am painting with photographs. It’s not just altering the photographs with painterly techniques, which I’ve certainly done plenty of times, but using the photographs as the structure; the paint with which the final image is created. Layering them and combining them to create something new and unique. Look close and you will see the bits and pieces of the individual photographs. From far away it’s an impressionistic whole.

It’s a whole lot of fun, and frustration, at the same time. It’s a new way of approaching the creation of a finished piece. And this creative challenge comes only because I’ve given myself the goal to go out and hike, and capture and share a photograph of the forest each day.

Where are you challenging yourself these days?