Category Archives: creativity

New Year and new focus

The door closed on 2016 and the sun rose on a new year a couple of days ago. We are conditioned to think that as one year ends and another begins we should reflect back on the happenings of the prior year and plan for changes in the new one with an emphasis on improvements and perhaps doing more.

I’m not immune to such thoughts. In the new year I will have a new focus as well – a focus on slowing down to allow myself more time to be creative. Slowing down to make time to think about what I want to create, and how, and in what medium. A new photograph? Something written? Some music played on my recently resurrected violin? Who knows? But, without slowing down and thinking about it, how can anyone truly be creative?

Although we are now in the midst of winter, the solstice has passed and the days are already becoming longer and brighter, although at a glacial pace so far, and it’s noticeable. For those of us that crave light, this is an unimaginable blessing. Although the coldest two months are still ahead of us, sunshine and more light in the morning and late afternoon makes it bearable. Even our dogs have to bundle up at this time of year!

So, with plans to write more, photograph more, make more music, the new year has begun with a focus on creativity. What do you have in mind?

Happy New Year!

 

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Surmounting Obstacles.

There are obstacles that apply to any endeavour, but perhaps even moreso when it is something ‘artistic’. Sadly, there is less support and empathy for anyone struggling to create something – a book, a poem, a photography project, painting, sculpture – whatever – if it is not ‘traditional’ work.


Want to build a house? There’s support for that. Want to write a book etc.? You have to create your own support system – one that works for you – and that depends on, as this writer said “How bad do YOU want it?”

Check it out at: How Bad Do You Want It?

Also posted in BLOG, writing

Making Memories

A photograph is a memory tangibly captured for posterity. It may be a scene that moves you or a shot of someone you love. Whatever it is, your memories deserve to be preserved and depicted in unique ways – made special and elevated above the ordinary.

How can you do that? Not every scene is inherently beautiful. Sometimes the light is dull. Sometimes there are ugly power lines in the background. And occasionally the subject itself is a bit boring to look at – but still special to you.

A good photograph tells a story. It might be the story of a relationship. It might be the story of some action that is happening. But it definitely tells a story.

Best friends

Best friends

And exciting photos have a main subject that the viewer can identify. As a photographer, you want to create an image that draws the viewer in and gives them a reason to spend time with you.

Winter Fun!

Winter Fun!

Whether you use a simple point and shoot camera, your cell phone or a fancy DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera with all the bells and whistles, remember – it’s not the gear that makes the photo, it’s you. Granted, a high end camera will create huge files with terrific detail that can be printed on ginormous posters and small cameras and phones can’t produce the quality to do that.

But, to capture the story of your life and the memories that are important – get snapping and keep these thoughts in mind:

  1. Have a clear subject, and
  2. Tell your story well.

Now, pick up your camera and have fun!

Also posted in All About Images, BLOG, photography Tagged , , |

A wonderful addiction

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I am a lifelong learning addict. I live to learn new things, often signing up for courses, degree or certificate programs, or just trying to read about and absorb new things every day. I really believe that when you stop learning you die – at least mentally.

I also think that sometimes you have to push yourself to step well outside your comfort zone and try new things. This fall I am heading off to Brazil for two weeks as a part of the Brazil on Focus photography workshop with world-renowned equine fine art photographer Paula Da Silva from Italy. I’ve traveled before, and often alone, but not so much in recent years, so facing a 25 hour journey through three or four countries and two continents is a tad daunting. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained. The opportunity to visit this beautiful country and photograph magnificent horses and scenery as well as meeting new people and experiencing a new culture is just too good to pass up. I’ve even been working on learning a little Portuguese so that I’ll be able to at least converse, on a rudimentary level, with our hosts at the various harass (ranches) we’ll be visiting as part of the workshop. Plus there will be about 20 other photographers from around the world that I’ll have the pleasure of meeting.

We’ll also be giving back both to the area we will be visiting and to people back home. The workshop will be supporting two charitable endeavours. The first is a home for the aged in the region. We will raise funds to donate to the home through the sale of our photography. At the end of the workshop each participant will donate a couple of photographs to be printed, displayed in an exhibit, and sold as limited edition prints with the profits going to the home. The exhibit will be launched in Brazil and then will travel the world going to the home cities of the participants where prints will also be available for sale. This international exhibit will help to introduce others to the culture and beauty of Brazil while benefiting the residents of the home.

The second endeavour involves using technology to share the experience of the trip with people from our home countries that have an interest in travel, horses and photography but who are unable to attend due to illness, age or disability. At designated times we will take advantage of Google+ technology to hold ‘Hangouts’ inviting our participants to join us via computer and direct a photo shoot. Should be fun.

We all love what we do and this will be a unique opportunity to share the experience and all that we are learning. Life long learning truly is a wonderful addiction. Stay tune for updates!

 

Also posted in appreciation, caring, charity, horse photography, horse photos, horse portraits, horses, photography, Photography techniques Tagged , , , |

A hoar frost morning

In late November, when you wake up and see everything before you covered in fog, you know the roads will be slippery and tree branches may be at least partially covered in hoar frost.

So, my friend Kathy and I bundled ourselves, her 9-month-old son Sam, and our gear into her vehicle and we headed up to Cornhill. Our search for photo worthy spots was not in vain. Here are a few of my favourites from our morning’s efforts. I hope you enjoy them.

Also posted in Autumn, BLOG, Canada, day tripping, farming, friend Tagged , , |

It’s gonna be a hot one today….

The cheery soul on last night’s TV weather forecast share a prediction for temperatures in the 30s for the next several days accompanied by high humidity, rain, thunder storms. In other words, a typical mid-summer week ahead.

Luckily, Hoover and I are early morning types so, to avoid being on the hot asphalt road later in the day, we took our long walk at 6 o’clock when the sun was barely peeking over the horizon and the air, although humid, was still relatively cool. We weren’t the only ones out and about. Across the road two farm workers were quickly gathering the last of the huge, round, hay bales on the forks of the tractor and loading them onto wagons for transport to the barn. Because the last bit of the field is a long way from the road, it looked for all the world like dinky toy vehicles zipping around.

And, even though the hay has been cut and baled already, new shoots are growing up and there will be a second cut in August for sure!

Wonderful scents competed for my attention: newly mown hay versus musky woodland smells. Both hold their own attraction for me. When inhaled deeply, both evoke a moment of peace and I am immediately transported back to my childhood lying in the grass watching cloud characters float by on high. And it feels good.

 

Also posted in BLOG, Canada, farming, gratitude Tagged , , , , , , , |

It’s Father’s Day

I miss my Dad – as do most folks whose fathers are no longer with us. I miss sitting on the floor as a small child while he played patiently with me – pretending to drink tea at our tea parties, helping me dress my dolls, teaching me to ride first a trike than a bike.

He is single handedly responsible for my passion for riding. My career began by climbing up on his back and urging him to “gallop Daddy. Faster!” At 2, 3 and 4 I had no idea that he was exhausted from a hard day of working – often 10-12 or more hours tuning pianos all over town and beyond. He was my best playmate.

I miss falling asleep on his lap, knowing I was always safe.

I miss talking to him and telling him stories about my day, my life, my adventures and letting him experience new things through my eyes. Did I mention he was blind? It was a minor inconvenience to him most of the time. He’d been blind since early childhood so really didn’t know much that was different. His memory of things he had seen was prodigious. And he did know colours – at least the basic ones. Terms like “fushia” and “turquoise” meant nothing to him so I would edit my descriptions to say ‘red’ or ‘green’ instead.

My Dad and me – in the beginning 🙂

As a grandfather to my son David he fulfilled many of the same roles – playmate, toy, comfy lap designed for a snooze.

Sadly, he never met my husband, Joel. He would have liked him. And, of course, he never met David’s wife Linnea and children Mattias and Isla. They would have liked him too. It’s too bad because he would have taught the children many things – like tolerance and patience and how to help others – just by being who he was.

My Dad.

Happy Father’s Day!

Also posted in "C'mon Papa", "Ryan Knighton", appreciation, blind, BLOG, caring, children, consideration, family, father, grandchildren, gratitude, happiness, happy images, life, life changes, losing, parenthood, playing Tagged , , , |

Listening to the dawn – and other lessons

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a Nature Writing workshop with Deborah Carr. Our very first exercise was one of listening and truly hearing the sounds around us. Sitting on a chair in the woods near Trout Stream in the middle of Sussex it was a challenge to block out the roaring sounds of motorcycles, chain saws, dirt bikes and other people and hear the stream, the determined chirping of birds refusing to surrender to the sounds of civilization, and my own heart beat.

The second exercise involved viewing any found object in nature from the perspective of a small child. Since I spend a lot of my time with Hoover, for me it is easier to imagine looking at things from a dog’s perspective – and that adds an element of fun to the exploration.

When we walk together early each morning I try to grab a camera or at least my iPhone to gather memories of what we see. We are often out and about long before the sun peaks over the horizon, smelling the musty earth and waiting, with anticipation, for that firs glimpse of light on the horizon over the Picadilly hills. Once light appears, the mysteries hidden in the dark and mist are revealed – acres of dandelion fluff waiting for a breeze to send each seed forth on its journey – or into the house attached to Hoover’s long coat.

Sometimes, on our way home, as I glance back over my shoulder, the rising sun waves goodbye to us and invites us to return again early tomorrow – before the sounds of civilization intrude so once again we can listen to the sleepy chirping of the wakening birds.

Also posted in animals, appreciation, BLOG, daylight, dog, happiness, nature, writing Tagged , , , , , |

Attitude Matters

On the West Coast of Canada, by mid-April, the trees are already laden with beautiful blossoms.

And, every street boasts a canopy of green…

A leafy green canopy shaded every residential street in the area

Every garden already offered a plethora of blossoms, common and exotic, to titillate the senses making every breath a sensuous experience.

Arriving in Vancouver after a 12-hour trek from the still-chilly Maritimes, finding Spring in full swing was a delight. Weary from the trip itself, I was refreshed by the warmth, colours and scents.

Normally, when I make my annual trip to Vancouver to see my son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, I camp on their hide-a-bed couch in the living room. But, since this year’s trip was to be a full ten days (less two travel days), I decided to splurge and stay at the Greystone Bed & Breakfast. This would accomplish two things – I could retreat and rest in comfort, peace and quiet (thus beginning each day refreshed and ready to go), and my family wouldn’t have the additional strain of having ‘Mom’, ‘the MIL’, Gramma underfoot 24/7 for 10 days in an already full apartment. The idea worked well.

My hosts at the B&B, Graham and Lee Laxton, were gracious and accommodating. Their 100+ year old home exuded charm and old fashioned comfort. Breakfasts were generous; the gardens gorgeous. My room was both cosy and efficient. The B&B is located in a quiet, residential neighbourhood making it ideal for my purposes – and only a pleasant, five-block walk from my grandkids!

The door to gracious living

A peaceful respite before, or after, a busy day

Charming from any angle, inside or out

Each room uniquely decorated. Mine was built around a ‘frog’ theme

The room across the hall sported a bright, floral and teddy bear theme

A comfortable home away from home

With these details out of the way, the scene was set for a great vacation in Vancouver. Previous trips had begun with unrealistic expectations about my role in the lives of my grand kidlets. I expected (and hoped) that they would respond to me with affection and enthusiasm. So I was sadly disappointed when this didn’t happen exactly as I had dreamt.

On this trip, I set out with an adjusted attitude: I was going to Vancouver on vacation – and that vacation included visiting the kids and grandkids – to relax and have fun. To my total surprise, and delight, it worked! I spent time with the family, some time with the grand kids both with, and without, their parents, time with friends, time exploring the city and time alone – all of it good. As a result, I was probably more relaxed around the grandkids and consequently we had fun together and perhaps built a bit of that bond that, as a grandmother, I crave.

Being “East Coast Gramma” (as the kids now call me) is tough. I’m too far away to be involved in their daily lives; too distant to be called upon to help or babysit; too far away at the end of too expensive a trip for them to come and visit me. So we have to define a slightly different relationship – one punctuated by an annual visit, cards and gifts on appropriate occasions, and periodic webcam visits via the internet.

How did distant grandparents cope before the advent of the internet and cheap long distance telephone rates? It is beyond my imagination!

We don’t connect often. The time difference and busy schedules at each end of this too-vast country makes it difficult to find a mutually convenient time. But we do connect one way or another.

Bi-coastal grandparenting is challenging at best – but it can be done and it can be satisfying when approached with the right expectations and a solid attitude adjustment.

Also posted in belonging, Canada, emotions, family, gardening, grandchildren, gratitude, happiness, happy images, life, life changes, lifestyle, parental responsibility, parenthood, rain, relaxing, spring, time management, time off, Tourism, Travel Tagged , , , , , , , |

Singing for sheer joy

Nothing says JOY louder or stronger than a happy dog cavorting in the snow.

This afternoon was one of those perfect late-winter days when the strength of the sun keeps you warm and comfortable while you take “woman’s” best friend for a walk on the wild side.

The weather folks are predicting a big storm tonight and tomorrow so it seemed appropriate to take advantage of the calm before its arrival to let Hoover get some exercise and enjoy the afternoon. It was beautiful out there on – wait for it –

Yep – that’s the name of it. And a sweet walk it is between two large hayfields. It’s one of my favourite places to walk with Hoover and the scenery changes daily depending on the season, the time of day and, of course, the weather.

Just goes to prove that beauty and joy are where you find them – even in your own backyard.

Also posted in animals, appreciation, Canada, dog, snow, walking, weather, winter, winter weather Tagged , , , , |