Friday, May 30, 2014

Good things come in BIG packages!

An enormous padded envelope arrived today filled with one of my favorite things: papers! Laura Lein-Svencner at Lone Crow Collage filled an envelope with a combination of papers, including a bunch she had made herself. I have enough to make a LOT of collages (no pressure now!).

In addition to what you're seeing here (and you're seeing just the tip o' the 'berg), are various tools, materials, suggestions, and a big tutorial packet about making collages -- a seminar in itself.

Aprons one day, collage materials the next, another postcard from Sarah M. from France . . . it doesn't get much better. And now if you'll excuse me, there's obviously some work to be done!

©Carol Leigh

A sense of perspective . . .

Yesterday I celebrated a milestone birthday. I was surprised at how down I felt -- old, friendless, unloved.

This morning, with a new perspective, I concluded: How ridiculous! I'm younger now than I ever will be. I have friends I treasure (and who I hope treasure me), and I am extremely loved.

Artists who work in studios usually wear aprons. I've never had one. Well, Chris gave me two aprons yesterday (why two? it's a Gemini thing). One's red, one's blue. I donned the blue one this morning and began working on a postcard-sized collage. An hour and a half later it was done and two versions were uploaded to Fine Art America.

Ta da! I celebrated a milestone birthday, lived through it, and, with my "magic" apron, now consider myself a "real" artist! A great start, wouldn't you say?

And to all of you who sent me birthday greetings yesterday on Facebook, thank you so very much. I'm truly grateful.

©Carol Leigh

Latest work: "Weathered Weathervane"

While visiting in southern California, my tendency was to get up early and walk a few miles with my camera, just seeing what I could see. Well, right across the street was this cool 1929 beach bungalow with a funky weathervane up top.

The lighting was overcast and grey, so in post-processing I used texture to bring out the clouds in the sky and to reveal the unevenness of the stucco. The orange tiles were a huge bonus, and combine nicely with the complementary blue in the sky.

I also created a square version of this image and am not sure which I prefer. The vertical version emphasizes height and sky, while the square version emphasizes movement from left to right along the lean of the rooftop.

©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Art from art . . .

Chris and I were in Orange and San Diego counties this past week, a delightful week spent visiting with loving and caring family and laid-back and low-key friends.

A place we visited in San Diego was Writerz Blok, where graffiti artists gather to create and to practice their work in a sanctioned yet free-spirited location.

It was fun wandering around, taking overviews as well as close-up details of colorful murals. The beauty of Writerz Blok is that the work constantly changes, so what we saw this week will likely be gone next week, replaced by something different, but probably just as vibrant and inventive.

Every morning this trip I got up early and walked one or two miles around the neighborhood, shooting whatever caught my eye as well as getting much-needed exercise. Lovely quiet mornings with overcast light, interesting doors, textures, flowers, and more. As I take a closer look at my photos, I'll be posting some of them here.

Wishing YOU quiet mornings filled with beauty.

©Carol Leigh

Saturday, May 24, 2014


In the sunshine for a few days! Enjoy wherever you are. Taken with my iPad. Copyright Carol Leigh

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Galvanized by metal . . .

While in Tucson, I was excited by seeing this big ol' fence made of galvanized metal. I liked the combination of blue and rust colors, the linear compositions I could create where the various layers of metals came together, and then the cool shadows, which added not only depth, but strong compositional elements as well.

It amuses people to see me shoot this stuff. And I'm amused by their amusement. Win-win!

©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Two more postcards received . . .

Sarah M. is apparently having way too much fun as she travels the "continent." A card from Cassis last week and another from Giverny today. And for each one she sends me, she's getting one back, although she won't know that until she gets home.

Wishing her well on her travels. She deserves all the fun she can get!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Cacti on color . . .

Wandering around Tucson, I specifically looked for cactus that sat in front of brightly colored walls. I then deepened the color even more in post-processing -- just because I could. So I offer you these three bits of photographic fluff, fluff that makes me happy on a rainy Oregon day. ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Lindbergh: The Moon Shell

We fill our lives “with continuous music, chatter and companionship to which we do not even listen.” —Anne Morrow Lindbergh

As I’m reading “Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, I’m continuously reminded how our lives haven’t changed much since 1955.

The music and the chatter continue on, multiplied a thousand times. We seem to have continuous companionship, but how many “real” friends do we actually have?

Lindbergh’s lesson from the moon shell she picked up on the beach is solitude. The need to get away and be alone, even for just a few minutes, and how important that is.

I was talking to a friend about the appeal of going on a retreat and had she ever considered it?

She had, “but I have my studio here and all my supplies, so why would I want to pack all that up to make my art somewhere else?” Good point.

I think the benefit of a retreat is, as the moon shell suggests, solitude. No family interaction, no distractions, freedom from household chores, from noise, from domestic responsibilities.

Unlike me, my friend has a large family all living under the same roof, including young adults. Talk about noise and distractions! But maybe it’s those very distractions that go into making her art. Maybe without them, she might not be as prolific. Perhaps those seemingly mundane chores keep her grounded, keep her balanced. Maybe they're not distractions at all. Maybe they make her art better.

For me, a person whose only distractions are a loving spouse and a cranky cat, a retreat still sounds exquisite! To be alone, creating, sleeping, and eating and exploring whenever, sounds incredibly decadent, incredibly appealing.

The previous chapter in this book, a chapter called “The Channeled Whelk,” talked about simplification.

If I want to simplify AND have solitude, what do I need a retreat for? To simplify I need to make do with what I have, to appreciate what I have rather than accumulating more. A retreat would be just another acquisition, don’t you think?

I can easily create my own retreat here on the Oregon coast. Leave in the morning. Do whatever I wish. Then come home whenever I wish in the evening. Okay. I’ll give it a go sometime next month. I’ll let you know the results.

In the meantime, I’m just going to stare at this moon shell. . .

©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Latest work: "When Worlds Collide"

I usually have some sort of story that accompanies my work, but in this case, I don't know what to say. I began the picture by creating a variety of circles and then added texture, color, tiny circles and triangles, scrawling lines, thin-lined rectangles, a weathered page from an old scrapbook, a clock spring, scratched metal, and more until I felt it was finished. The appeal, to me, is the rich color, the slightly hidden geometric elements, and the swooping lines here and there. ©Carol Leigh

Monday, May 12, 2014

Latest work: "Bar Pilot"

The Columbia River separates Oregon and Washington and, where the river meets the sea, it's known as the "Graveyard of the Pacific." More than 2,000 ships have gone down attempting to navigate this treacherous bar crossing.

Columbia River Bar Pilots risk their lives ensuring that ships enter and depart the channel safely. Their sturdy boats maneuver themselves alongside freighters and tankers, log and container ships, where the bar pilots clamber up a wood and rope ladder to safely navigate the ships into or out from inland ports. This is one of the most dangerous harbor entrances and the bar pilots do their job extremely well.

As I was putting this piece together, I liked the feeling of the sea that my texture photos and a photo of a tire tread created. I added some hand-painted elements that made me think of the rustic ladders these bar pilots climb, and how the pilot may fall and be swept away (as happened in 2006), perhaps to climb another ladder safely to the sky. ©Carol Leigh

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Lindbergh: Channeled Whelk

I continue on to chapter two of Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The chapter is entitled “Channeled Whelk.”

She writes from the perspective of a woman in the 1950s and how her life is a series of distractions — spouse, children, housekeeping, cooking, doctor appointments, school conferences, car-pooling, laundry, cleaning, social obligations, etc.

Today our lives are all that and more with the distractions of the Internet, Facebook, blogs,  national and international news, e-mail, jobs and lack of jobs, television 24/7, all info all the time.

The quest for balance and simplification was strong in the 1950s, a thousand percent greater today.

She gazes at the simplicity of a channeled whelk, a seashell, a perfect and simple and beautiful home for first a snail and then a hermit crab. Now empty, but perfect, it inspires her to pare her life down somewhat, to see what she can do without, rather than accumulating more.

As I read her words, I wonder. Is the “accumulation syndrome” something we all have when younger but which then becomes the “simplify mantra” as we age? Have we seen so much, absorbed so much, experienced so much that we’re “full,” and the concept of simplification and balance is thus so appealing now that we’re older? Perhaps (and hopefully) wiser?

I’d ponder this a bit more, but I’ve got to check Facebook, read my latest e-mails, watch a basketball game, critique some photos, check out Pinterest, help fix dinner, create a photomontage, upload a few pictures to Flickr, and then maybe figure out how to simplify my life . . .

©Carol Leigh

Saturday, May 10, 2014

I got mail!

I was very surprised to receive not one, but TWO postcards today, apparently in response to my blog post celebrating National Postcard Week.

The first one you see was sent from Sarah M. who is in Switzerland, frolicking among "sweet Swiss cows with their clanging bells." There's a cool stamp and cancellation mark and a "prioritaire" rubber stamp on it, too, which I'll put to good use in a photomontage someday.

And then you see a card sent from Judy T.'s iPhone (she's such a techie) of what I'm assuming are some succulents from her garden. How cool is that?

So in return, I sent each one of them a postcard back. To Sarah I sent a collage postcard I made using the packaging from a ream of photocopy paper I got at Staples. I cut it all up and then reassembled it onto a piece of watercolor paper. A couple of color-coordinated Czechoslovakian matchbox labels add to the mix.

And to Judy I sent a collage postcard I made using a page from an old book, various bits of paper, an old matchbox label, and a graphic I cut out of a promo piece I received from a printing company in the Palouse (Washington State).

I hope both postcards make it to them with relatively little damage . . .

Thank you both -- what an unexpected little gift.

Methinks every week should be postcard week. Send me one and I'll send you one back (make sure you put your address on the card you send). And my address is PO Box 1269, Waldport, OR 97394.

©Carol Leigh

Monday, May 5, 2014

Unfinished business . . .

The other day I posted a photomontage I made after having taken a walk around my block at twilight. Looking at it a day later, I decided it was unfinished, so I tweaked it.

Here you see first the finished version and then the original. You can see that I took away some of the "stars" up top but left the lower "stars" in place at the bottom. I like how the bottom "stars" echo the top ones, just in a more subtle manner.

I then photographed an old, rusty, scratched watch face and used that image as a "moon." In the higher-resolution version you can see the tick marks here and there on the watch face that represent numbers.

I added that same watch face along the bottom of the image to create five (five!) more moons, one of them encased in a square.

Notice, too, that the squiggles I drew are more pronounced in the final version than in the original. I also softened the overall look in the final version.

So there you have it: Basically a background created using various textured papers, a few dots, a few squiggles, and a watch face. Hope you enjoyed seeing the process and the alterations I made.

©Carol Leigh

Sunday, May 4, 2014

National Postcard Week May 4-10, 2014

"Undeliverable: Too Messy"
Yes, it's that time of year again. And how will YOU be celebrating? Come on, you know you want to . . . send out a few! Don't have anyone to send a card to? Well, my address is PO Box 1269, Waldport, OR 97394 . . . just in case you get the urge!

©Carol Leigh
National Postcard Week

Saturday, May 3, 2014

It's a good day to . . .

. . . celebrate our diversity! You probably aren't aware that May 3 is National Two Different Colored Shoes Day®, a day created by Dr. Arlene Kaiser to express our individuality and to honor all the sorts of people who are in our lives. So today, put your best foot forward and stride with pride! ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, May 1, 2014

What I'm reading . . .

I remember reading Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh many, many years ago and enjoying it, so when my friend Laura began reading it, I ordered the book and am reading along with her.

The first chapter barely fills two pages, but its words strike a chord.

She’s on Captiva Island in Florida, alone on vacation for two weeks. She says the mind “begins to drift, to play, to turn over . . . like those lazy waves on the beach.” She talks of “chance treasures” the waves might bring in and warns not to be “too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient” for those treasures. “Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches.”

I think of my photo of a starfish that a large wave washed in. Patiently waiting in the sand for a wave to take it back out, it leaves slight indentations below and around it, showing us how it has moved softly in concert with smaller, less powerful waves.

And, in time, the starfish will slowly be washed back to its original habitat, will affix itself to one boulder or another, awaiting whatever new adventure the next strong wave may provide.

For me, this chapter encourages me to slow down, to let things come to me of their own accord rather than me impatiently rummaging about, digging in the sand. And could it apply to creating photomontages? To perhaps not force them so much?

And it reminds me of a morning I spent on Sanibel Island, right next to Captiva. The sun hadn’t come up yet, but there was a veritable parade of shell-seekers moving past, some with flashlights strapped to their heads, the better to find, spot, and secure treasures before others snapped them up.

This seemingly peaceful activity — beachcombing — had an undercurrent of anxiety, urgency, and acquisition — completely the opposite of what Ms. Lindbergh writes about. I look back on this memory with a certain amount of humor and a certain amount of sadness — but mostly humor. I mean, really? Headlamps?

©Carol Leigh 

Twilight Walk

Yesterday was an astonishingly hot day here on the Oregon coast. Our little weather station showed that at one point it was 93 degrees outside and 82 degrees inside. Now for us, accustomed to highs of around 59 degrees outside, this was amazingly hot! Humidity was way down, too, down to around 20%, so no, this wasn’t like Louisiana hot and humid, more like Palm Springs hot.

Just after sunset I took a slow, contemplative walk around our block. No camera. The robins — seemingly the first birds up in the morning and the last to bed in the evening — were making their loud, final squawks.

There was no wind, so it was easy to hear all the frogs, frogs I never think about except on quiet evenings like this. And it’s somehow reassuring — hearing frogs at twilight — figuring as long as we can hear frogs, everything’s going to be all right.

And then, as I rounded a bend, I stopped to watch a hummingbird moth, looking eerily like a small hummer, working the bright blue lithodora flowers. Wings a total blur, a slightly spread “tail” like a hummingbird. How can an insect and a bird appear so similar? Be so similarly designed to effectively accomplish the same goal: sip nectar from flowers? Amazing. So amazing I simply stood and watched until it finally noticed I was there and moved on.

I moved on as well. A thoroughly delightful walk filled with beauty, quiet, and wonder.

Yes, it was hot here on the coast yesterday. But oh, what a lovely twilight!

©Carol Leigh