Saturday, November 30, 2013

Latest work: "Winter Fall"

A compilation of various papers, including a letter written in 1831, aged and weathered cellophane tape, vintage Japanese papers, and torn cardboard. Thank you Kathleen A. for one of the papers and CJ for the ripped cardboard and cellophane tape! You know me so well...

Other women love receiving diamonds and clothes; I squeal over rusty washers (Elena N.), used stamps (Patty H.), and foreign coins (the Bears). Thank you, too, to Linda H., who introduced me to SCRAP. And a special thank-you to Chris, who finds things I don't even know I need until I see them! ©Carol Leigh

Friday, November 29, 2013

"The Artist's Way"

My latest work: "Amida Buddha Postcard Collage"
which I just uploaded to Fine Art America this morning.
This book has been on my shelf for at least 11 years now, and I keep vowing to work through it, but I never seem to get past the first chapter or so. It's The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron and it encourages you to accept your artistry and enhance your creativity. It's a tad "woo woo" for me, but this time around I'm giving it a decent go.

Part of Ms. Cameron's philosophy (well, it's a huge part of her philosophy) is to write three pages of what she calls "morning pages," three pages of anything you wish to scribble down. Even if all you're writing is "I don't know what to write. I don't know what to write."

Gotta say, as much as I love writing, I don't relish doing these three pages every morning. But I've done them now every day for more than a month, so I'm proud that I'm hanging in there.

Have there been any big revelations? Any huge breakthroughs? I'm not sure yet. I know that I have gotten some good ideas, but then I always get ideas, whether I'm writing every morning or not. In fact, I have so many ideas that I'll need numerous lifetimes to carry them out.

What I want is clarity, a more solid direction for me and my art. But I get bored going in just one direction. Who wants to spend their life doing just one thing? I blame it on being a Gemini... I cast my fate to the stars -- it's totally out of my hands!

Anyway, just wanted to mention what I'm reading and why. It's fun having all these books around to be picked up at times throughout the day. I read a few pages, nod sagely, make a few notes in my "idea book," and then move on, refreshed.

So I hope I can make it all the way through The Artist's Way this time, even though I find myself complaining, as I write my morning pages, how I could be at the computer or in the studio actually making something right now, rather than sitting on my butt writing, writing, writing . . .

How about you? Anybody else working their way through this book? (I know you have, Laura Lein-Svencner, and I'm enjoying reading your blog where you're talking about it.) And is it putting you in a different space? Is it elevating your artistry, your sense of yourself as an artist? Please say yes, otherwise I'm doomed to harboring 12 weeks of resentment as I grumble my way through this book!

©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Latest work: "Folded Indigo"

Artistic slumps come around and I know they always move on, but it's sure tough while they're here.

But in a way, no, they're welcome, because they force me to think more, to experiment more, to learn more. And man, this one, which I just finished, was a real learning process. Things weren't coming together the way I thought they should, so I kept asking myself questions, looking things up online, experimenting, tossing things out, etc.

So this one's done, but as I look at it, I'm thinking of different ways it can look, so maybe tomorrow I'll pull it apart and transmogrify it into something similar, but different. We shall see. In the meantime, it's not raining here, it's low tide, it's overcast -- perfect for walking on the beach! I'm outta here!

©Carol Leigh

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Overheard . . .

Overheard in a restaurant: "What size suitcase do you have?" Long pause. "Blue."

I swear, I can't make this stuff up . . .

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Being thankful . . .

We had a good afternoon the other day up at the docks. Lots of walking, lots of looking, lots of (really bad) photos taken, a tasty lunch. We have so much to be thankful for . . .

At one point this lone crow (hello, Laura!) walked along a heavy rope, something unidentifiable in his mouth. I was shooting straight into the sunlight and look at how the sparkles on the water turned into a lovely bokeh. (Pronounced with the stress on both syllables "bo-keh." The out-of-focus circles.) It was so pretty I added a few more sparkles down at the bottom using Photoshop. Not so many as to be really obvious and gimmicky, but enough to repeat the pattern and to keep your eye moving up and down in the frame as well as horizontally along the rope, following the crow.

Next is a simple shot of the door to a boat's cabin. I liked the dark triangular shadow lower left and how it echoes the dark glass of the window upper right. But the cool part was the patina on the lock/doorknob.

And finally, Chris snickered when we walked past a dumpster and I said, "Ooh, great paint drip! You scoff now, but I will use that!" "I know you will," was his response. "And you'll use it well!" So here it is combined with lettering on the side of a fishing boat. A very messy "S."

In this season of giving thanks, of being especially aware of gratitude, I thank you all for being here, for taking the time to stop by my blog, and, every now and then, taking the time to comment. May we all never take any of this for granted.

©Carol Leigh

Friday, November 22, 2013

Street art . . .

Sometimes the coolest patterns and designs are right under your feet. Or in this case, right under your tires. Gotta love this "street art" I found in San Diego. ©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

On creativity and slowing down . . .

I read a lot, always have, remember very little, always have, but things hit me hard once in awhile and make me pause.

I've just begun reading World Enough & Time by Christian McEwen and it's a delicious, slow read. Concurrent with this book, I'm also reading James Lee Burke's Creole Belle, another slow, delicious read. Burke keeps me glued to the story. McEwen keeps me coming back for more, little sips at a time.

McEwen's concept is in her subtitle: "On Creativity and Slowing Down." And that's what caught my eye when I learned about this book.

I'm creative. And I have decided to slow down (again). What a perfect book for me to read right now.

She talks about teachers who have to deal with larger and larger classes, with "no child left behind" requirements, getting up early to grade papers, to prepare for their classes, and who are often "overtaxed and anxious." And aren't we all these days?

She points out that,

In recent years, that humblest of written links, the tiny hyphen, has vanished from some 16,000 words. "Fig-leaf" is now "figleaf," "pigeon-hole" is "pigeonhole," and "leap-frog" has catapulted into "leapfrog." The reason, says Angus Stevenson, who edited the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, is that we no longer have time to reach over to the hyphen key.

What does this have to do with art? With living? I don't know yet because I'm only 27 pages into the book. But it's a delightful read. A slow read. A put-the-book-down-and-think-a-bit read. And it keeps me coming back. And did you notice? Look at all those hyphens I used!

More to follow, I'm sure, as I move through this delightful book. (I've put links to both these books in my blog, there on the right side, down a little bit, just in case you're interested.)

©Carol Leigh (who rescues hyphens whenever possible)

It's a good day to . . .

. . . practice your enigmatic smile! ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Overheard . . .

Overheard in a restaurant: "We'll need Christmas costumes like an elf, Robin Hood, you know."

Robin Hood?

Latest work: "Under the Trees"

Huge amount of experimentation going on of late. Using different tools. Doing some hand-painting. Trying different techniques. Fun stuff! This piece is a combination of an old book cover, hand-painted papers, ink and paint. I like how it looks, like the monochromatic feel, and the texture. And isn't it interesting how bits of tape morph into structure-like things at the base of this picture?! Love these little surprises... ©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Let's just see what happens . . .

At the end of last night's twilight shoot (see previous post), I was facing sort of southwest looking down at the beach when I noticed a great blue heron-ish bird in the surf. The bird was quite far away and out of reach of my lens, but I zoomed in as closely as I could, figuring let's just see what happens. During my 8-second exposure, my blue friend s-l-o-w-l-y made his or her way forward, step by step, as is their wont. I knew this shot wouldn't be good, but I wanted to see what the bird would look like during an 8-second period of its life. I blew up the heron part of my picture and added a bit of contrast to show you more clearly the final result. It's kind of cool, isn't it?

But why do something like this? Why bother when we know the result's going to be less than stellar? What this tells me is that if I ever find myself in a similar situation, where maybe I'm closer to a great blue heron, close enough to fill my frame, that an 8-second exposure (or longer) might just be cool enough and big enough to make an interesting, decent-size print. And it also, the morning after, makes me feel more connected to this bird. That last night wasn't just a one-night stand, rather a fond memory that will linger long . . . (But I digress!)

It was quite dark when I shot this from the bluff, but just light enough that I could see there might be a blue heron down on the beach. I'm there. The bird's there. My camera's set up. I'd be foolish not to try the shot.What would you have done?

©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Seal Rock night life . . .

The sun was down but I stuck around to see how things would look at twilight. This is a 25-second exposure at f/11, ISO 100, of the waves coming in at Seal Rock, just up the road. Such a long exposure softens the wave action, softens the spray, as well as the sky.

When I looked at this photo at 100%, I could see that there were six seals draped across that little flat rock over toward the right and it was easy to see that in those 25 seconds, they barely moved at all. Well, they're seals and that's their job . . . ©Carol Leigh

Latest work: "Flight"

As usual, this piece began nothing like I thought it would as I put together my photos of cement, ink, paint, papers, hand-drawn lines, and more. The blues and the feeling of movement, however, gave me a feeling of flight, of bird migrations, air mail (!), star charts, aerial views, etc., so that's the direction I took.

©Carol Leigh

Saturday, November 9, 2013

After sunset but before the margaritas . . .

It was overcast at sunset this evening (surprise!) but I wanted to shoot some long exposures anyway, so we headed to the Waldport Marina. Folks who had been crabbing this afternoon were packing up their things and leaving the docks. Looking up the Alsea River, lights glow from windows. And then right in front of me, gulls hunker down, relatively stationary except for their heads, constantly rotating back and forth. Exposures ran from 1.3 seconds to 13 seconds to 6 seconds.

No wind, no rain, a little cool (but that's what pockets are for) and a lot of quiet. I packed away the gear and we walked over to have nachos and margaritas. A lovely interlude at twilight on the Oregon coast.

©Carol Leigh

Friday, November 8, 2013

Latest work: "Counting Fish"

I created this picture (which is, I know, very weird) using my photos of cement walls and a fish from a sign on the east coast. Each fish is numbered, in line with our predilection these days of counting and tagging everything.

©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It's a good day to . . .

. . . take a walk on the beach! ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Latest work: "New Mexico Winter"

We were traveling from North Carolina through New Mexico and camped for the night at Red Rock Canyon. The canyon walls rose up all around us so sunset was very quick, very fast, but I was able to take this photo of a tree isolated against the canyon wall. It was so cold that night! So cold that the inside windows of our Roadtrek were iced over! Ah, but the solitude, the quiet, and this tree made it all worthwhile. ©Carol Leigh

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sometimes I just don't know . . .

Most of the time, when looking at my photos, I know when something is working or not. But every once in awhile, such as with this photo, I just don't know. Most of me likes it, but that solid feeling of confidence just isn't there.

We were driving up to the airport in Portland a couple of weeks ago. The fields right next to the road were dry and light brown. Off in the distance it was raining on low green hills. I selected a slow shutter speed (1/6 second) to create a feeling of movement as I shot out the (moving) car window. I added a texture that would accentuate the golden brown foreground colors and that would also accentuate the grey, rainy skies in the distance.

The reason I like the photo is that it makes me think of an old-fashioned, flat, landscape painting. I also get a definite feeling of movement, which is what I wanted.

But then someone else might think, "That's just a flat, out-of-focus, dirty picture! No artistry there!" If I had the solid feeling of confidence that I usually have, I wouldn't care. But there's a nagging feeling of insecurity lurking in the back of my head that's agreeing with the critic.

But what the hell! I uploaded both these formats to my website at Fine Art America and let's see what happens. I've sold almost 40 pictures there this year, so I must be doing something right. Will this one go out the door? I'll let you know.

©Carol Leigh