Sometimes we need to take a step back to move forward...

It's been a while since I have written a blog entry. However, I have been quite busy during this time "away". I have had some wonderful blessings relating to my family AND I have had some breakthroughs in my journey as an artist.

If you have been following me, you know I am learning and growing in my craft. But part of my journey relates to my past and having a very talented artist for a mother. I have been struggling with doing a project relating to "Maxine and Me". I have started and dropped it a few times, diverting my attention to something more fun to pursue. One of my first teachers/mentors Maggie Meiners, helped me discover it is a project I must pursue at some time.

My struggle comes from the mixed emotions that go along with having an extremely talented artist for a mother, who is bi-polar. It was a tough road for us at home, but there were also some tremendous gifts we were given with someone of her talent. After her passing, it has been hard for me to focus on the gifts. But I think I am coming around, and am on the best road I can be on at this point in time. 

I dug out some of my mother's work from when she was a fashion illustrator. I have always been fascinated with 1940s-1950s, watching old movies when I was younger and thinking about the "Chicago" of those days. She lived it! Her high school yearbook called her "Von Steuben's Fashion Plate". She was a young woman in advertising creating a style... a style she had in spades at the time. As I held her original drawing for the Chicago Tribune ads, I felt transported. I felt part of her art once again. How can I create that feeling in my work? That feeling of being transported... the feeling of us working together on a piece of art, as we used to do when I was young.

So as I was taking a step back, I discovered the project! Those of you that follow my blog get a sneak preview. I am combining my mother's work with mine. I have just begun the project (an example below). 

So by stepping back, I was able to "turn left" in a positive way and get real joy from working with my mother, the artist, once again.

~Jody

Cerulean Style

Cerulean Style

Gifts of Discovery

I recently finished a course with two excellent instructors; Maggie Meiners and Chuck Gniech. The emphasis of the class was "professional practices". They covered what one needs to do to be more of a professional artist rather than a hobbyist; such as, what to put in a CV and BIO. What I felt was the greatest impact of the course, was their emphasis on the purpose and story behind one's art. 

I'm still discovering my purpose with all of this. I know getting back into art is something I need to do. I'm just not sure why. So our discussions in class helped move me forward in my mission of discovery. I kept thinking I need to do a series about my mother (see blog "Will I Turn Left? April 20, 2015). After all, as a professional artist, she had a great impact on my love of art. As I struggled with my "artist statement" for my portfolio trying to relate it to be about my mother, Chuck said, "Make this about YOU. Tell us how YOU feel." Wow! Now I really had to think, explore, and expose. I had to search inside and come up with a portfolio that was really about how I feel...

When I was a young girl, I spent a lot of time alone. I would purposely avoid plans with friends. I spent the days in our basement alone in my mother's studio working on various art projects. Time would fly by. The house was quiet. I craved the time to create, looking forward to it when I woke up. THAT was really the start of my journey, and I needed to capture that feeling in my photos.

Out of this class came my "Strength in Solitude" portfolio. I have discovered a piece of myself through this process. A good piece. A piece that is content with myself and who I am at 60, because of how I coped at the age of ten. This portfolio is really the beginning of my journey of discovery, and I thank Maggie and Chuck for the push in the right direction. 

I hope you enjoy the portfolio and the artist statement. (click here) Here's a sample of a few photos:

I am grateful for a wonderful year of growth and I look forward to many more "gifts of discovery" in the new year... and, of course, sharing them with you.

~ Jody

 

The Beauty in Imperfection

I just finished a wonderful class on Textures in Nature with Dianne Kittle. She is an inspiring, creative soul that pushes her students to see the world a bit differently than they saw it before. My last blog dealt with one of her assignments. (See Symmetry in Art and Beauty - Sept 14) Throughout the class, I challenged my normal view of "beauty".  

When we did some of the assignments, my natural tendency was to see the beautiful colors in nature. Below are a few from the multi exposure assignment, and experimenting with the use of light and light tables.

I enjoyed the use of pretty colors. So for my final assignment, I decided to look a bit deeper into this idea of beauty the imperfect. One of my classmates gave me a book about Wabi-Sabi. As I read it, it resonated with me. I created this "artist statement" and the end result can be seen in my "Imperfection" portfolio.

As autumn draws to a close, I see many beautiful photos of the nature around us. The colors of yellow, orange, and red adorn the trees against a bright blue sky. As I examined the leaves a bit more, I could see the ones that are dying and decayed lying on the ground. The curled dried leaves as they prepare to become part of the earth upon winter’s beginning, show that nature is impermanent and imperfect. Yet, I found beauty in the curves, textures, and fragile wisps of what once was young, strong, and green.
As humans, we put a value on the young, the beautiful, and the strong. My project allowed me to show the beauty in growing old and frail. There is Japanese concept called Wabi-Sabi. It is a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay. As we approach the cold and dark of winter, I found the beauty in decay, the strength in what is fragile, and the peace and comfort of the natural cycle of life and death.  

I look forward to winter through my lens!

~ Jody

Symmetry in Art and Beauty

New Year. New Class. New Concepts. I'm ready to go!

I started a new "Patterns and Textures in Nature" class. For the first assignment we had to "break a rule". The rule I chose to break was "the rule of thirds". This rule of creating art asymmetrically is a rule I learned as a little girl. My mother always said to use an odd number of things when setting up a picture, a centerpiece, a display. "The odd number will make it more interesting", she would say. I learned it in early art classes. Never center your subject, you want the eye to be drawn around the whole piece. So, my assignment was to fight my natural inclination and provide a picture of texture in nature with bilateral symmetry. Here are a few examples... or as close as I could get!

This was hard to do. I also felt the pictures I took were not as interesting as when I went back to my old instincts:

I turned in two from the first group for my class to see, but I am more proud of the second group. This got me thinking.....

We tend to think people with symmetrical features are more beautiful than people with less symmetrical faces. (Click here for info) Babies are cute to us because their faces haven't developed enough to create asymmetric features. That, and, well, babies are just plain cute! As we age, we develop "character" in our faces. Our noses may grow to tilt to one side. One eyebrow may be higher that the other. And mostly, our wrinkles creates different nooks and crannies near our eyes, mouths and foreheads.

My instructor's purpose in having us break a rule is to inspire creativity. But for me, it had more impact. It caused me to rethink what I believe to be beautiful. When I reflect on what I see, I will now think differently.

In people, I will see how asymmetry creates interest. It keeps us engaged and draws us in to the "canvas" per se.

In art, I will respect when I see someone who was able to create a piece with symmetry that draws my eye, keeps my attention, and engages an emotion in me. I will know it wasn't easy to do.

As always... learning behind the lens...

~Jody

 

The Art of Distraction (or) A Summer of Fun

One of the things I know about myself is that when I am "on task" there is very little that will get me off course. However, one of the great things about retirement is that my time is my own, and if I do get distracted or "off task", it's no one's concern but my own. In fact, I am having so much fun the past year or two that sometimes I need to take a deep breath and thank the powers that be for this gift of time.

That said, my summer was NOT spent doing my Maxine project. I started it. I have some ideas. I've involved my sister to help contribute. BUT I did not make much progress. I added no new pictures to the Maxine portfolio. The ones I did take over the summer will not see the light of internet! I needed to be distracted... So I took a detour and had some fun. 

For one distraction, I took and class at the Botanic Garden with a super instructor who really helped challenge me in a good way. The class was about "water" with an emphasis on abstract photography. I learned new techniques, gained new ideas, learned how to think differently about my art, and met some talented classmates. I added some new photos to my website under the "Water Abstracts" portfolio. Let me know what you think! ;-)

I was also able to submit two photos to the Botanic Garden student show and both got in. I'm excited and honored to have my photos hanging with such talented classmates!

Another distraction was a trip to Alaska and Vancouver.  It was rainy in Alaska, but sometimes that made for better pictures. Vancouver was beautiful weather. I haven't had time to go through all my pictures, but you can see some on my twitter, instagram, facebook feeds. Here are a few more:

Another fun distraction was a workshop I took in Chicago. I put some of the photos in my "The City" portfolio. Take a look. I love the one of the policeman. He just had that big smile that said, "I love Chicago!"

And my favorite "distraction"... my children/grandchildren! I've added some photos to my "Small Loves" portfolios, but here are a few I took with a brand new macro lens:

So with a few more weeks of summer left before my new classes start, I plan to focus a bit on Maxine. But more importantly, I plan to savor the distractions along the way.

~ Jody

 

10 Questions

The last few classes before summer break were a whirlwind for me. The instructor wanted us to leave with one or two ideas for a summer project based on our "perspective". During the 10 week course, each class assignment was to bring us closer to knowing what we wanted to do for our project, and the last few weeks were a bit more intense.

We had to write the answers to 10 questions... Questions like:  Who are you? What inspires you most? What is your main character trait? What do you love about photography? What is the meaning of life? And more... We journaled our answers.

In the meantime, our photo assignment for the last week of class was to shoot at least one photo a day. I had to come back with 7 or 8 pictures that told "My Story". What would these 7-8 pictures say about me? The purpose was to analyze myself and my life in relation to photography in only a few shots. 

Here are my 8 photos I used:

I happened to be going to visit my son and his family, so I used my grandchildren to express what I believe is important to me in a couple of the pictures.  If you click on the photos, the title says a little bit about each photo. Basically, I used the 8 photos to represent what is important to me or permeates my day; The solitude of my morning runs, looking forward to the future, making sure to have fun, appreciating special relationships, intense focus (that's just who I am), relaxing and sharing, and peace of mind.  I didn't realize it at the time, but the journaling and this photo exercise just seemed to clarify my direction.

Back in class on the last day, we showed our pictures. We then, went through our journaling and picked out words and phrases that came up a lot. Some of mine were: family/children/husband, goals, purpose, independence, self sufficient, strong, lucky, happiness, give, love, a larger sense of being, hard work, planning, sacrifice... 

The time to reflect and decide was upon me.  I had to look back on the 10 weeks of class and decide. What was purposeful and meaningful to me, here and now. 

My project will be to add to my "Maxine" portfolio. It will be hard, as I expressed in my "Will I Turn Left?" blog. It is something I must do. I'm not sure why yet, but I will know once I progress down the road.

In addition to that project, I will plan to also continue to focus on seeing the world a bit differently through the lens.

It's going to a great summer!

~ Jody