Sunday, November 20, 2011

What Do You Do...Create!

I've been away quite a little while, but I have been busy creating! With all of the creating I have done of late not much of it has included the written word which has always been the backbone of my creativity. The funny thing about creativity and creating is that the creators are often so hard on themselves. You never think you are really any good. There is a voice that lingers in your head questioning your every step and stating with authority that you are not "all that and a bag of chips" even though you may think so.

This voice or gremlin (thank you Karen Walrond) is very loud and fills your mind, and head with so much doubt you begin to suffer from creative block. Writers refer to this as Writers Block, but I speak of creative block because as the title says I create! I create through words, photography and papercrafting! These are the things that bring me joy, but these are also the things that leave me feeling less than more often than not.

Kat Sloma recently wrote a post about the many hats she wears and how it is difficult to answer the question "What do you do?" with a single response. I too would be limiting myself and the things I love to do by simply stating "I am a Marketing Manager," in response to that question.

As I close out 2011 it is with the strong desire that I will learn to ignore the GREMLINS in my mind and continue to pursue and practice the things that I love to do.

Here's some of the work I have been creating of late:

Taken for both the texture and the composition - I came across this fence during a recent Photo Walk.
I really love this next picture because it shows how beautiful, and intriguing nature can be. I have recently become a big fan of the outdoors and trying to see the beauty that exists around us, but that we rarely take the time to see.

Hairy Tree is what I call this photo, because I never recall seeing a tree with all of this hair or fur.
This last shot would fall under the category of paper crafting I believe and is my first attempt at Subway Art. Thanks to Jessica Sprague for her recent class Mouse, Paper, Scissors - Give which incorporates Photo Shop and paper crafting as ways to create wonderful gifts and works of art. Joining Jessica in presenting the class is Heidi Swapp. The class has been a true journey and I've learned a great deal about Photo Shop! If you're not familiar with the work of Jessica Sprague, you must check out her site here.

Subway Art

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Martha Southgate returns to CLE to read "A Taste of Salt"

Martha Southgate during book signing at Visible Voice Books in Cleveland, OH
***Note - this post was started last October and I never got around to uploading. If you're looking for a good quick read this winter, be sure to pick up A Taste, and any of Southgate's other works. She is an engaging and enjoyable author.

Cleveland native Martha Southgate, author of A Taste of Salt  returned home to give a reading at Visible Voice Books in the City's Tremont neighborhood. It was a wet and chilly Thursday evening in October, but the quaint warm surroundings offered a perfect setting for a friendly open discussion.

A small but engaged group gathered to hear Southgate read from her latest novel and discuss her journey as an author.

The conversation covered everything from "A Taste of Salt" to her life as an author. Southgate was open and engaging as she talked about her path which included a stint as a writer with Essence magazine. When speaking of the jobs she has held Southgate was offering insight into the real life of a writer. It is not all glamour and sitting at home working on that next great work!
Eager readers await the start of Martha Southgate reading.

Her latest work "A Taste of Salt" is largely set in Cleveland which lead to questions about the levels of autobiographical information contained in the story. Southgate was adamant that this was not her story and is indeed a work of fiction. As with most works of fiction some elements of the book were loosely  based on  individuals Southgate has met, and settings are based on places she has been.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Today is the National Day On Writing - #whyiwrite

So today is the National Day On Writing and the ladies over at She Writes have encouraged members to participate by explaining in 140 characters why they write. Here is my contribution:

To add clarity to my life, color and flavor to the world of others and ultimately produce pieces that resonate and may bring about change.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Playing with Texture

The art of photography is complex. It is not just a world of point shoot and voila! There are pre-processing steps and post-processing. Pre-processing involves making sure you have a good shot - the right lighting, focus and composition. Once you have taken the shot you enter into the world of post-processing and that has many forms in the digital age - anything from cropping to adding texture.

If you're interested in textures the place to go is Kim Klassen's Cafe'. Kim is the queen of textures in my mind and really enjoys creating and sharing them. Check her out here.

So I thought I would try and play around with textures recently and these are the results. I'm no master and I haven't truly developed an eye for what it is I want to see yet, but its fun to play around.

Moon Before

After using Kim Klassen's "life is good" and "if only" textures.

Using "if only" and "life is good" but with different methodology.
The middle photo is a bit dark, but closer to late night shot. The last photo gives the idea of an unsteady atmosphere and an earlier time of day. So what do you think?


Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Task of Choosing Favs

Over the last several days I have been tasked with choosing favorite photos I have taken and choosing my best or favorite shot from the Worldwide Photo Walk, which has proven to be a challenge.

The first challenge came as a result of my enrollment in Finding Your Eye, and eCourse offered by Kat over at  Kat Eye View. In order to home in on what your eye gravitates to and enjoys you were asked to go through your photos and develop a "favorites" file. The problem with this task is going through ALL those photos! Boy have I taken a ton of photos over the last year, and that doesn't even account for the many photos I've taken prior to this time - sheesh I am exhausted just thinking about it.

I really believe before even tackling that task that my favorites are people photos. I really enjoy capturing the spirit of a moment, the feelings that they are portraying. Now recently I have also become enamored with urban/city views. Really this boils down to seeing the world around me in a different light and seeing things for the first time.

For example I initially chose this picture to enter into the WWPW photo contest - a contest I must say that I'm not really familiar with, but this is my year of taking a leap of faith so enter I will. I chose this particular picture because I thought it was a good find and because it illustrates the resiliency of this tree which is very similar to the strength of Cleveland and its residents. We may suffer, fall down and reach the brink but in the end there is a seed of hope that is planted giving us the ability to strive and survive even during the bleakest time.
Really - have you ever seen anything like this?
After some thought and consideration I decided to change my photo to one that has more photographic feet so to speak. It has color, reflection and a feeling of art.
Do you feel my pain? Well not pain really, but choices are difficult. Hope you enjoyed!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

CLE Worldwide Photo Walk

Just a few shots from the Worldwide Photo Walk in Cleveland last Saturday. It was a great time even with the windy and cold weather.

Tasting Yarn and Wine!

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend a Yarn & Wine Tasting presented by Soft 'N Sassy Yarn Shop and hosted by the Richfield Art Studio. It was a blast, and I have been meaning to post this for a week, but life keeps getting in the way so I tried my hand at creating a storyboard so that I could share some of the highlights with you guys! Not sure what happened to the bottom photos...will work on that.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Capturing A Moment In Time

Capturing the many unique and interesting experiences in life also draws me to the art of Photography, and the image below represents one of my recent experiences.

I recently visited Chicago to attend "Stitch and Pitch" which is an held by local Knitting Guilds and Major League Baseball. This was a gift to my niece an avid baseball fan/player and former knitter at the ripe age of 11.

Men Knit Too
The gentleman pictured was attending the same event and agreed to let me photograph him, because "Men Knit Too"!

Finding Your Eye ~ Prompt 1

So yesterday I created a post explaining why I chose photography as an art form and while on my quest to learn something new I accidentally deleted the page and the wonderful comments associated with it. I hope I'm getting this right on my second go-round!

So I have been taking pictures since I was in middle school and became fascinated with my Dad's love of taking photos. Seeing the interest and trusting that it would not be fleeting my parents gifted me with my first SLR camera, a Nikon FG, that I have loved and cherished since that time.

With this camera I documented many events in Cleveland, OH and many family memories. I dabbled in the craft throughout high school and college and wanted to take it a step further but each time I looked into it as a college student I was told I had to start with Art classes. These classes all started with 101 Drawing which left me feeling intimidated because I CAN'T draw! 

Never to be turned away totally I signed up for photography classes offered by local community centers and even joined a few groups where I learned a little about developing film.

Fast forward to Christmas 2010 and my new Nikon 5000 and the bug was reignited. I enjoy capturing the moments in life, really like to capture candid shots of people and I am now trying to find beauty all around me.
In Kat's "Finding Your Eye" series I hope to determine what really is my "eye" and experiencing even more joy from my photography.

This shot is one of my favorites and I believe it sums up what I feel when I'm taking photos - joy, happiness, spontaneity. I have titled it Free because that what I feel when I look at this shot.


Photo Journal

Well, I'm learning new things today and in the process I have deleted a newly added page. This is my attempt to correct that mistake.

Please be patient with me. :)

Checking in

I'm checking in to see if my new page works, but I don't think it will. I may have to fast forward my efforts of getting my new site up so that I can post to specific categories. So if you're reading this, it is just a test of the Shelley Emergency System! :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Picture Inspiration ~ Feet

I'm behind in many of my endeavors so I'm playing a little catch up tonight. This is a photo for Tracey Clark's Picture Inspiration Series and the prompt was to capture your feet wherever you might be. Well my feet were in Chicago when the prompt was issued two weeks ago. When I read it I was excited about the fact that I would be out of town, and then I was ecstatic when I looked down and saw the manhole cover telling me where I was.
Enjoy! I had fun shooting this photo!
Picture Inspiration ~ Feet

A New Look at Cleveland, Ohio ~ My Town!

Okay I am a native of this wonderful city but lately I have been looking at her with a totally different eye and seeing things I've never really looked at before, and in some cases never seen before. During a recent walk at lunchtime I pulled out my phone and took a picture of this statue.
Fountain of Eternal Life
No big deal you may say, but what I realized after snapping the photo was I had no clue what this statue was called. Today I know the name of the statue and according to Wikipedia this is the story behind this interesting structure:
The Fountain of Eternal Life, also known as the War Memorial Fountain and Peace Arising from the Flames of War, is a statue and fountain in Cleveland, Ohio designed by Cleveland Institute of Art graduate[1] Marshall Fredericks and dedicated on May 30, 1964. The sculpture, which serves as the city's major memorial to its citizens that served in World War II, is situated on Memorial Plaza, which is part of the Cleveland Mall.
The fountain was initiated and promoted by the Cleveland Press, which raised $250,000 in donations from private citizens and various organizations for the project. The centerpiece is a 35-foot (10.7 m) bronze figure representing man escaping from the flames of war and reaching skyward for eternal peace. The bronze sphere from which the figure rises represents the earth. Four granite carvings, representing the geographic civilizations of the world, are placed around the sphere. On the surface of the polished granite rim surrounding the fountain are bronze plates bearing the names of 4,177[2] Greater Clevelanders who perished in WWII and in the Korean War. Following a complete restoration during the construction of an underlying parking garage in connection with the neighboring Key Tower, the memorial was rededicated on Veterans Day in 1991.[3]
 Another great find while walking downtown was this beautiful branch of KeyBank. It is located in the Key Tower, but I suppose since I don't bank there I had never had a reason to go inside. This particular day I was with a friend who needed to make a deposit. I was floored when I saw just where the tellers were located. Take a peek. Isn't that awesome? Sites like these further solidify my belief that we should not always look for new to be the next best thing.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Creating Vision Boards ~ Planning Your Year

Where do you see yourself in six months or a year? Have you given it any serious thought? If you're anything like me the answer is probably "I don't know, and no I haven't thought about it." Well I can't say I don't think about it, but plan - WHAT'S THAT! I've always been a go with the flow kinda girl. 

Now that doesn't mean I don't have a plan or idea swimming around in my head, but to put paper to pencil and make a list and plan out my life - that's no fun! Where's the spontaneity in that? Well the events of the last couple of years have me working to be more focused, organized and really striving for change.
These feelings are what led me to Karen Walrond's Path Finder and to the process of creating a Vision Board, which is ultimately a visual path for the next year. What do you want in your life over the next 365 days? Have you really thought about that, well I have for the past two weeks and in a nutshell it's Clarity, which Merriam- Webster describes as "the quality for state of being clear." 

I want to be clear in all aspects of my life - starting with organizing my work areas which will give me a clear space to create. With a clear space my mind will be clear of the chaos that clutter breeds thus giving me the time to clearly express myself through words, photos and other creative endeavors.

This is a sneak peak of my Vision Board - still a work in progress? Some of the highlights of this board include a neat and organized work area, a new lens to help me create, books, beautiful flowers that add color to my visions. I hope I'm on the right path as I seek Clarity in my life.
My Vision Board - a work in progress

I would love to hear your thoughts. 

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Finding My Path & Texture Tuesday

You might wonder when reading the title to this post what do the two have to do with one another, so I'll explain.
On Monday I began participating in Karen Walrond's Chookooloonks Path Finder a five-week self-guided study program on creating your own beautifully different life, and part of the study program involves journaling - something I do fairly consistently, but not in the same manner Karen encourages.
Yesterday's prompt involved writing a "Love List", and one of the things that I love is to learn new things. Recently I said to a friend that I might want to work in academia, partly because I love the aura found on college campuses.
While reflecting on my love list I happened about Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday post and started playing around with some of her textures. Now I won't say I have learned all there is to know, or even a great deal but I have learned how to use the textures and this photo is the result.
Photo compliments of Kim Klassen's textures.
To create this look I used Kim Klassen's kkportrait with color burn and an opacity of 62% along with her sweettart texture with vivid light and an opacity of 31%. I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome!

Below is the original photo, and I really love it, but it is really more dramatic with the textures. What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks for stopping by! I'm off to work on the "why" associated with my "Love List" - so much fun!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Seeking Clarity

Have you ever felt your head was stuck in the clouds? Well I have for a while, but I'm seeking a clearing similar to the motion taking place in the photo above.

To that end I enrolled a few weeks ago in the Superhero Summer Camp in an attempt to slow down and play just as we did in our youth. As so often is the case in my world - life got in the way, and I didn't fully participate, but I did regularly print out the activities for the day. In reviewing the various activities I have found that I missed out on some great guided activities. Did I really miss out? Well no, because as I said I printed them out and even though the summer is winding down it doesn't mean I can't have a late Summer Camp does it? I don't think the actual start time is going to be a problem so I'm going to go all in beginning this Sunday.

If you are looking to find your creative clarity, or just plain old clarity in your life it's not too late for you as I just noticed registration for Superhero Summer Camp does not end until tomorrow, August 31st. What do you have to lose? It's free, and I'm sure you'll come away with a better sense of yourself. Curious? Go here, and move the storm clouds and cobwebs circling in your mind!

If free doesn't work for you, check out the Chookooloonks Path Finder, a five week guided self-study program on creating  your own beautifully different life. For a mere $75 author, blogger, photographer Karen Walrond will lead the journey to finding and creating your own beautifully different life. I have signed up and can't wait. Learn more about this adventure here.

Hope to see you on the Path to a beautifully different me and you!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Appreciating the Little Things

As the sunsets on Lake Erie
 As I reflect on the loss of my cousin, I am drawn to remember the little things that make life the joy that it is. Recently I celebrated my 9th wedding anniversary, but a few days before that I had the pleasure of just enjoying the majesty that is a sunset with my husband.

I am most appreciative of the little things! These are a few of the sights from that evening.
Playing with night photography, a shot of RKR as the sunsets on Lake Erie.

Remembering Suge

Albert "Suge" Maples III 1952-2011
Today my family and I said our farewells to my cousin Albert Maples III, who passed away suddenly and according to all of our minds too soon. As is always the case with funerals you are left reflective and today is no different.

Suge as he was known to his family and friends had such a huge spirit and a love for life it is hard to imagine that he is now gone from our daily lives, but we all know that his beautiful smile and spirit lives on.

Rest in peace my beautiful cousin...say hello to Mommy and I'll see you on the other side!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Blog Hop ~ Liberate Your Art

I recently had the pleasure of participating in the "Liberate Your Art" Postcard Swap hosted by Kat Sloma of The Kat Eye View! What an experience and what a pleasure.

I rarely think of myself as an artist, or even artistically inclined, I do however love photography and that is a form of art. I have dabbled in photography since I was about 15 when my parents purchased my first 35mm SLR camera, but I have always steered away from this joy because when I was in college and wanted to pursue photography courses I was told I had to take art classes as a prerequisite. Part of me understood the reason for this, but my angry twin refused to enter into these entry level art classes because I can not draw!

So instead I just pulled out my camera and took photos, not necessarily thinking about the composition, lighting etc. It worked for me! For the most part I take great pictures and because they are usually of people they were fine. As long as they weren't blurry and out of focus I was doing good - capturing the moment and usually coming away with a good shot.

Recently I have decided to develop more into photography through the use of Internet sites and photo prompts offered by a wealth of women online. I'm still not going to call myself a professional photographer, but I have a better understanding of ISO, shutter speed, and aperture but most importantly how these three functions come together to give you a great exposure!

With that in mind, and after taking a number of shots over the last year I decided to look at some of my favorite shots as art and liberate them and myself by participating in the Postcard Swap! It was a freeing experience for me because I am not always a fan of my work and this was an opportunity to say "You can do this and someone will enjoy it (hopefully)!"

While I didn't receive a lot of feedback, I did receive some and I enjoyed the art that came my way. I had the opportunity to connect with women from as far away as Germany and as close - if you want to call it close as New York City!

Below you will find photos of the Postcards I received and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. I would gladly participate again!
The works of art I received during the Postcard Swap!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Summer Colds are the pits!

It’s 80° outside and the relative humidity is hovering between 65-70% and my throat feels scratchy. Not a good sign. Scratchy turns into sneezing, coughing and congestion! Dang it, I’ve got a summer cold that is hell bent on knocking me to my knees. I fight it and go to work sneezing, hacking and being just plain miserable.
My head before meds,
Last night I come home and my body feels as though I have been in the ring with Sugar Ray, but I’m ready to fight back. Armed with Theraflu Severe Cold, Coricidin Cold and fresh ginger tea I dope myself up and off to bed I go.
This morning I greet the world and I can breathe, hallelujah! The worst is over, but I still have a few issues – lingering headache, a little cough and some phlegm buildup in my chest. Ginger Ale, Orange Juice, Hot Tea, more Coricidin and plenty of sleep (try just about all day) and I’m feeling much better.
The upside to this story of misery is that I have taken out my computer and albeit late in the day, I’m working on being a little creative. I’ve uploaded some photos and with this post, I’m getting back to writing. Next I will write a couple of book reviews and edit some photos.

The clouds are parting as is the congestion in my head.
So what’s the point you ask? It’s real simple, don’t let illness put you down before you realize that you have been running on sheer steam. Take time out for yourself and get some rest – if you don’t do it yourself I can tell you that your body will wake you up and sit you down!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Liberate Your Art...Postcard 2!!!

While I don't know the sender of Postcard #2, I can once again say it is a wonderful work of art! See for yourself! The artist hails from Raleigh, North Carolina. Thank you for the beautiful image.
My second postcard from an unknown artist in Raleigh, North Carolina. Aren't these shells beautiful!

Friday, July 29, 2011

My First Postcard!!!

How excited I was today to find my first Liberate Your Art postcard in the mail! My first work of art came from Valerie-Jael, and it is definitely a fine piece!

While receiving this card was truly an exciting time, I also felt like I was out of my league. Valerie is definitely an artist, but don't take my word for it, below is a photo of her work.
Art work by Valerie-Jael
It was so fitting that I received this mail today in the wake of reading a wonderful post the other day about another Postcard project. Over at the blog Tea & Cookies, blogger Tara Weaver talks about a Postcard Project she started, and the feelings she recounts when she received hand written mail was very similar to what I felt today and I don't even know Valerie. It felt so good to look at the days mail and find something other than bills or junk! Thanks to Kat Sloma for starting the Liberate Your Art Swap!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Link Love

As I attempt to formulate my thoughts into cohesive thoughts I thought I would share some link love! The links below are some of the sites I regularly follow..places where I find inspiration and just some great information. I hope you learn something new, or meet a new webfriend!

Chookooloonks - Written by Karen Walrond of Houston, TX. This is a wonderful blog both for the fabulous images and the wonderful stories she shares. Currently traveling in Kenya with The One Campaign, her travelogue will move you to action!

The Kat Eye View of The World - Written by Kat Sloma of Corvalis, Oregon. Looking for photography tips or inspiration! Well this is definitely a place to start! Kat is the brains behind the Liberate Your Art Swap I recently participated in. Check her out!

Tayari Jones/Author of Silver Sparrow - The name says it all. This is the blog of author Tayari Jones and currently she is keeping readers abreast of all things Silver Sparrow, but when not promoting she offers a wealth of good information on writing, publishing and great reading! If you're a bookie as I am it's a must!

If you're looking for varying views on the world, family or just about anything in between then check out Vision and Verb a collaborative site written by women from all over the world. These women also share some great photos with wonderful in sight and wisdom!

White Readers Meet Black Authors - Looking for something to read, stop here first! Author Carleen Brice started this site and seeks to encourage an open minded look at some of the great material written by authors of color. Check out her site as well here. Currently she's releasing a chapter a month of her new work for .99.

Photo Inspiration can be found regularly at Shutter Sisters!

If you're looking for groundedness and creative inspiration try going to Summer Camp! Find details here.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Removing the Rust - Back to Blogging

Wow, this has been a very busy summer and it has kept me away from this page - Not Good! I haven't posted in nearly almost two months, but that doesn't mean there wasn't anything to tell you guys about instead I have been swamped with planning my biennial Family Reunion and life!
The Shockley-Beatty Family Reunion is now under my belt and all-in-all it was a fabulous event! More than 120 Shockley's and Beatty's converged on Cleveland, Ohio for four days earlier this month and it was a lot of work, but I hope a lot of fun for all those who attended.

One of the best parts of this event was the fact that family members came from all over this wonderful country of ours - as far away as South Dakota and as close as Elyria, Ohio. Many of my cousins met one another for the first time and reunited with family members they had not seen in many years.
The Shockley-Beatty 2011 Family Photo

The true highlights are the Family Olympics when young and old form teams and compete in some of the wildest games you have ever seen - it's a blast and has become a staple of our reunions. This was our third Olympics and teams are already talking about the next Olympics.

Family Olympics - the Snail Race

One of my personal highlights was the production of "The Shockley's Journey to Oz" my adaptation of the Wizard of Oz! This is the family's second production and because of the popularity it is also becoming a family tradition. In "The Shockley's Journey to Oz" I traced the family journey from Marion, Tennessee in 1915 to present day. It was a blast!

Easing on down the road, a scene from "The Shockley's Journey to Oz

With the reunion behind us I am returning to my writing, photography and life journey. Thank you to Kat Sloma over at The Kat Eye View of the World, for today's blog title. Today I read her newsletter and the topic was removing rust - a task I will be completing over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Liberate Your Art...Join The Kat Eye View Postcard Art Swap Today

I have decided to take a leap of faith - faith in myself and my abilities and participate in Kat Sloma's Postcard Art Swap.  So why a leap of faith? It is a leap because, I like so many others suffer from self-doubt from time to time and often  I don't see the beauty in the work I produce.

In an effort to alleviate this doubt I have participated in a number of online classes and workshops aimed at helping artists find their passion, practice their craft and just find the beauty in the world around you. Most of these sessions have been at Big Picture Classes Online, and that is where I first met Kat.

I was drawn to Kat's site after she posted a link for capturing the moon in one of our class forums. After browsing through her site I was hooked and added her to my daily feed. When she first advertised the Swap I just sort of looked at the post and thought 'that's cool', but I never thought of doing it myself. After a few weeks I toyed with the idea and finally I said I would give it a try. In other words I would have faith in ME!

So if you are an artist in just about any medium, you should take a look at this site and liberate your art. Briefly, what you will do is create five postcards send them to Kat who will then prepare them to be sent to five people around the world. You in turn will receive the art of others. Doesn't that sound like fun?!
I would really enjoy seeing some stampers, scrappers and card makers join the Swap!

If you missed the link above, click here to join the fun! Don't wait - the deadline is this Friday, June 4th!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Feeling a Little Blue Today

I've had so much going on lately - work is crazy, and home life is hectic. Planning a Family Reunion, trying to have a decent garden this year and all of the household madness in between. It has kept me from posting here about some of the great things going on in my online communities.

But right now, I'm really missing my Mom so I thought I would shed a few tears why watching the video I made of trying to capture part her life.

Take a look - this is the fabulous woman that gave birth to me, nurtured me and just loved me unconditionally! How I miss her!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Channeling Your Creative Spirit

I've been on a journey to rejuvenate or positively channel my creative spirit over the last several months - from photography to knitting and adding in a dash of writing along the way. I've had successes and near misses but I'm feeling good about my latest venture Creativity Boot Camp.

What you may ask is the Creativity Boot Camp? Given life by Maegan Beishline of Madeline Bea Photography, the Boot Camp is an opportunity for artists, and folks like me (non-artists) to exercise their creative muscles. During this two-week Camp you are given assignments that work hopefully take you by to your youth when you eagerly attempted to create masterpieces for your parents. You know the stick figures that most of us created and the purple skies!

More importantly you are given the opportunity to just "be". You aren't graded and hopefully you are encouraged. Now I haven't submitted anything for my peers to view just yet, but if this experience is anything like the classes over at Big Picture Classes Online I expect nothing less than enthusiastic encouragement.

Drawing and painting have never been considered pleasurable experiences to me - why because truthfully I don't think I have what it takes. When we feel inadequate we run away from tasks, and that has been the case for me with art and math.

My maiden attempt at painting - no planned creation, just off the cuff.
While thinking about signing up for this class I wondered "is this really for you" well after two days I say YES, because I am being pushed to leave my comfort zone and try something new.

Wish me luck on this journey and stop by this page from time to time to see what I've created over the next two weeks. Now don't laugh at the creation above, just know that I am stretching my creative muscles and throwing caution to the wind!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rejected Sisters Fighting

The calendar clearly says mid-May, but Cinderella's two rejected sisters are fighting for attention! That would be Winter and Fall. They just can't seem to let go and today their combined grip has been hermetic. The consistent rain leaves you drained and you add to that the plummet in temperature and you run for comfort under that quilt you never got around to putting away. Good thing you were procrastinating that day!

So on this dreary Sunday evening I'm sharing a shot that leaves me with warm thoughts and a longing for Spring to make her appearance! Please Spring, won't you come out to play? You've been away too long...we miss you!
My heart warms at the sight of these heart shaped petals.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Sparkle of Spring

Today we took a look at the "Sparkle of Spring" as part of the Big Picture Online Classes Picture Spring class. Luckily Mother Nature cooperated late in the day as I was able to capture these shots.

Take a moment out of your day to enjoy the joys of spring. I'm sharing my view of spring with you, stop by regularly to see what's new.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mother's Day

It is still difficult for me to Celebrate Mother's Day so in order to prevent a weeping fest I spent the majority of my day weeding my uncontrollable flower bed, While I was toiling away I was startled beyond words by this baby bunny, so in honor of all babies longing for their mother's - take a peak at my Bunny!
My backyard Bunny
Bunny also provided the perfect opportunity for me to complete my Day 5 prompt for Picture Spring - Getting Grounded. We were to put the camera on the ground and snap from there.

Have a great week!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Are We Safer Today?

Last night while winding down from a fairly busy weekend, my regularly scheduled programming was interrupted by a breaking news story. The President was due to make an announcement about a matter of "national security". Within moments it was reported that Osama bin Laden, the notorious mastermind of 9-11 had been tracked down in Pakistan and killed.

The initial response I must admit was one of elation and pride. I was proud that after nearly 10 years President Barack Hussein Obama had completed the task that had alluded his predecessor. I was happy that a man responsible for inflicting such pain and destruction on so many parts of this world was now gone.

Later as I watched the celebrations in front of the White House and at Ground Zero I wondered, "how much elation are you supposed to feel" or "should you be elated when a life is taken"? On many levels I believe that this exuberance is justified, but as a Christian I wonder aloud - "How do you celebrate the death of another?"

One of the first signs of spring - Peace in the Garden.
Beyond the religious implications of celebrating death, I wonder how safe are we? I do not for one moment believe that al Qaeda will just lie down and say, "what's done is done". They will retaliate so we must continue to vigilant and instead of rejoicing in the death of a man - we must be aware focused and prayerful.

I for one will pray for peace throughout the world, and continue to enjoy the peace I find in taking shots like the one above.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring is coming, really it is

The last few weeks in northeast Ohio have left its residents wondering when, oh when will spring arrive. There was a brief taste of summer followed by many days of what felt like fall.
Today was a true taste of spring after a very wet Monday. These are some of my random views this spring Tuesday. Here's to many more mid-70s days and lots of sunshine!
A tree in my yard on a sunny, but windy day.

I just love my tulips!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Powder Necklace - A Review

Powder Necklace
By Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
280 pages

I just love when I have no preconceived notions about a book and delve into and really find myself enjoying it! That was just the case with Brew-Hammond's Powder Necklace.
If I were to put it into a category I would call it a "coming of age" story, but it is also a story of the different dynamics that make up a family in our world.
Told from the narrator, Lila's, point of view this international story follows the path a young Ghanaian girl takes as she travels to the homeland of her parents - something she has no knowledge of and back to her native London and then to New York.
Add to this mix the fact that she is prepubescent, sheltered and her parents are divorced and living on different sides of the world.
The writing is conversational,and although written from the context of a very young girl it is not elementary. The writer/narrator is wiser than her age.
Because we have all been children of this age we can relate to some of the issues she faces as she wants to assert her growth, but her parents understand that she still needs nurturing and guidance.
The story is also an eye opener for Americans or Westerners as the narrator presents the harsh realities of life in Ghana.
One scene I truly enjoyed for the written style of bringing the reader into the story was Lila's return to London as she compares the two places "Where everything in Ghana had some red it it - from the soups we ate to the dirt roads we bumped along - everything in London was black, ash or brown."
With passages like this Brew-Hammond draws the reader into her world and you absorb it - seeking to see, hear and feel more of this young girls life.
To learn more about the author and the book, visit here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Picture Inspiration - The Shape of Surprise

Loved the way the straight bricks, began to swirl as if in motion!

Silencing your inner doubts

Reflections - my shadow
If we're honest with ourselves we all a doubting Thomas swirling around in our heads denouncing our abilities, and if you are lucky you take those threads of doubt and tie them into a knot which is thrown out the window. But there are those occasions when Thomas is persistent and you stop creating for fear of failure.

I can say that Thomas has a semi-permanent residence in my head and at times I really let him hang out a little too long. Recently I have found that participating in groups with like minded individuals and having the courage to post what you have created does a good job of ridding us of the Thomas' in our head.

Over the last four months I have had the pleasure of participating in a number of online forums for photography over at Big Picture Classes and the community I have found there is awesome! Just think, you are interacting with hundreds of like minded people and you share your work and you receive thoughtful remarks that give you that little boost of energy you need to keep trying.

In life all things are a challenge and whether you succeed depends on your passion, persistence and commitment to the task at hand.

So today I'll post a few shots from my journey with Big Picture Classes. I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Daffodils

Well spring is finally fighting to show her lovely face in Cleveland! She has pushed aside her warmer cousin summer, after her brief visit on Sunday and now she is settling in for a few weeks. Well that is what we Clevelanders pray! No more rushing from winter directly into the warm grasp of summer. We want to relish in a few weeks of breezy spring days where the birds chirp a little louder, the flowers gracefully bloom and we still need a windbreaker.
These are the days I am longing for and the sight of these lovely daffodils offers hope. Here's to spring! How is your spring unfolding? I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Eat, Pray, Love - A Review

I'm so happy I read this book and didn't buy into the hype surrounding the movie! I found it to be a very interesting and enjoyable read.

I enjoyed Gilbert's writing style - it was very conversational, and engaging. 

Her descriptions transported me to Italy and were so engaging at times I could really see where she was. The same was true with each of her destinations.

I would give this 3.5 stars.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A Day at Wildwood

Sunday I spent a few hours at Wildwood State Park playing around with Manual Mode on my Nikon DSLR and taking in the beginnings of spring.

Over the last few days I have played around with Storyboards thanks to the tutorials offered at the Coffeshop Blog. While I haven't been doing a great deal of writing I can say I have been working my Muse, and I'm having fun!

Here's a sample from my day at the park. Enjoy! Comments are welcome!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Welcoming Spring

Dropping in to offer you a view of my ventures by the lake yesterday. As I continue to seek out my Artistic Muse I have taken up photography again, and yesterday I took a walk around the lake for a little while to try and capture nature. I'm not sure if this is a Groundhog or a Beaver, but I found him to be rather interesting.
Much more to talk about later, but for now -take a gander at Bucky! I named him that because I assumed he was a beaver.

I'm also pretty proud of the watermark I created, thanks to the free tutorial offered by Kim Klassen over in her cafe. If you're looking for help with texture and Photoshop, stop by she has some very helpful information.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Finding your creative edge

I think I am really beginning to find my creative edge. It hasn't shifted over to my writing just yet, but I believe it will soon. The creativity of late has been with photography, thanks to the folks over at Big Picture Classes!

Picture Inspiration has really given me a lot to think about creatively. The weekly prompts from Tracy Clark are really inspiring. As an example, last week the prompt was Rhythm. The task was to find the rhythm in your life and capture it through your lens. I don't know that I truly fulfilled this goal, but it definitely has me thinking about rhythm and how to show it.

Motif was the next prompt, and I was really surprised by the many motifs we pass in our daily lives. The photos below were shot for motifs, but I really think the flaming fence has a sense of rhythm.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention Mastering Manual and Elisha Snow here as well, because without her weekly tips, prompts and assignments I would not have been able to capture these photos.

This is about the third posting on Big Picture Classes and I promise I am not a spokesperson, just a truly satisfied customer!