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Updates from New Landscapes

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I can’t believe my last post here was in September. I haven’t been kidnapped, I promise! On the contrary, I have been writing weekly still for Widows Voice about all the goings on since my move… but I’ve neglected to share what creative things have been going on here.  Probably because its been a time of wandering and less direction… which is always when I seem to write less here. Somehow today felt like a good day to dig back in though. I suppose I should start with an update on just what has been going on creatively since my big move from Texas to Ohio.

Firstly, it is COLD in Ohio. And this has been an unseasonably warm winter for Ohio I am told. Despite that information, below freezing for 2 weeks in a row is something I have not previously experienced. That sort of cold only lasts like a day and a half in Texas before it goes back up to the 60’s. Sigh. I miss my flip flops.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 2.25.32 PMOkay, I am not really in love with the cold. So just what am I loving about this new place? The landscape. It is foreign. And fresh to my eyes. The trees are much taller. There are rolling hills, steep valleys and beautiful gorges. And all the water features, oh! Waterfalls and creeks and rivers and ponds and lakes everywhere…. ones that magically do NOT dry up 2 days after it rains, like in Texas. No, they actually exist all year, only changing in winter when freezing solid. Speaking of that, icicles galooore! Some of them 20 feet tall! Talk about magical. I may hate the cold, but winter here certainly leaves a lot of room for your childlike wonder to roam.

I have spent the past few months trying to get settled in. It’s been chaotic, and a challenge to make room for creativity. There haven’t been any big conceptual photo shoots. No climbing around in frozen landscapes in front of my camera to capture new self portraits. I’ve been a little bothered by this. I always feel, if I stop doing the portraits for too long, that I am missing opportunities to tell stories that are happening right here in the now. I’ve had to let go of that a little, and realize that I am telling those stories in different ways perhaps.

Mike and I have hiked nearly every weekend the past 2 months now. I’ve gotten in the habit of taking my camera along and shooting along the way. I never really hiked much in Texas, so this has been a great adventure. Everything has become less about my internal emotional world lately, and more about what is going on all around me. I suppose I am starting to put down the self portraits for a while… and lean into exploring what else there is to capture. What stories are told when I don’t have a figure in the image? How are they told? How does this change my own relationship to nature and to the images? There’s been plenty to explore for sure.  As I embrace this direction more, I can feel my creativity loosening up. I am experimenting with color images more, or adding tints and filters to my black and whites to give them a sheen of color. I’m even going back to old images and reprocessing them in completely new ways lately.

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A few of my older shots getting a face lift with some color tints!

After several years of hard emotional work, and using photography mostly as a means to do serious healing, I am enjoying the play. I’ll admit, I did start to feel stuck within the portrait series after a year of commitment to it. Slowly, it is beginning to feel good to let loose and just explore where things are going – both personally and creatively. I’m also looking toward some new ventures now that will include others within my creative process, something very new for me. More on that soon. Cheers everyone! I hope your new year is off to an inspired start!

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Mike out hiking around Gorge Metro Park

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Sandstone detail in Gorge Metro Park

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Blue Hen Falls – Cuyahoga Valley National Park

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Prairie at Springfield Bog

Project Update: Into the Unknown

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There are new things on the horizon, I can see it. New landscapes I’ve yet to explore – within my artistic career and myself. I’ve been feeling it for some time now… and as I sat down today to write week 37 of the series, I somehow ended up with THIS post inexplicably. So I’m deciding to pay attention… to listen to whatever stirrings have finally decided to come out….

Closing One Chapter:
Although I have not reached a full 52 weeks on the project, I have made it a full year of shooting the series. (A few weeks were missed for holidays and bad weather). And so I’ve decided that I will make the informal close of the first year be at week 35. The dates of my last 5 or 6 posts I think will reveal I’ve slowed down things a bit. It’s good, in a way… it is because so much life has been happening. Rushing in quickly since the beginning of the year. Still, Life is happening, indeed.

I never planned on Week 35 to be the closing image, but somehow looking at it now, it feels appropriate. It is about the point in which life truly begins again… the rushing in of life and the reaching out into it. It suddenly feels just right for this image to close one chapter and allow for the next chapter to begin.

I say the “close of the first year” because I’m intending to continue “Still, Life” indefinitely, but at a slower pace. Perhaps one image a month. Or perhaps just organically as life allows room for. I will be working that out out over the coming weeks and months. I’ve still many shots planned for this series and others still unknown that will come – so I’ve no doubt that this is now going to be a series I carry on for a very long time.

Into the Unknown:
As for what lies ahead… there are other things my ambitious heart is yearning to get itself into. It’s a bit terrifying, and I have no idea where it’s going yet, but I’ve got some ideas. I’ve just submitted my first proposal for a public speaking engagement on death and creativity. I want to begin speaking to people about the healing power of creativity, about everything this project has taught me in the past year. About everything I’ve learned over the course of my life about creativity and healing, and the power of death to help us live life more fully. There is so much to share from behind the scenes of this series, and I’m feeling like it’s time to begin making room for that.

Along with public speaking, workshops, articles, and the like… the even bigger project that is calling my name is the “Still, Life” book. I have dreamt of this since I first begin the series. Have held it in my mind and heart all this time. With every image and every word written… with every painstaking hour and uncomfortable position I put myself in for a shot… always, the book was there in the background whispering to me. A physical manifestation of one woman’s voyage… navigating the depths of herself as she lives through death, loss, fear, anger, and despair… coming out the other end more powerful and more alive than ever before.

This is the first time I’ve been so open about sharing of the book. I’m hoping it lands in supportive hearts… I’m having faith that it will be heard by just the right people out there who can help me to make it happen too. I believe in those connections… in opening the door and the right person walking in. I’ve got faith and things to share and I know the right publisher will be found. And the right speaking and writing opportunities will too. If you’re out there read this, and have any advice, ideas, or connections for me, feel free to leave a comment below or message me on my Facebook page. My heart is open, I’m ready for what’s ahead, and I’m all ears.

I want to thank everyone who has been on this journey with me thus far, whether you have been enduring your own journey with death or not. The growth and number of lives this project has touched could not have happened without every one of you. When it’s gotten hard to keep going, just knowing I had an obligation here – with you – kept me pushing ahead. And it will continue to do so as I take my first steps into the next phase of this journey… onward it goes. Thank you all!

Happy 3 Years of WordPressing!

Picture 6Today is my 3 year anniversary with WordPress. Crazy. Back in 2010 on this day, I signed up to make a blog. A few months later, in January of 2011, I began this 12 month project – using the blog to hold me accountable. While it has continued to limp along since that first year in a rather haphazard and sporadic fashion, it is 2011 that I am thinking back on today. This  project stretched me creativity in ways I could have never imagined that year. It gave me a newfound confidence in my own creative abilities and gave me permission to just DO things because I wanted to – not because they were good ideas or because someone else would like them. Believe it or not, I actually believed before that project that I wasn’t very creative. Ha! I think we can all laugh at the absurdity of that idea now! But that’s where I was. And although when I began this blog and this project I had no intention of changing those beliefs… it was truly the tipping point of turning those negative beliefs around and beginning a journey towards owning myself as a creative individual with a unique voice to share with the world.

Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 10.46.52 AMMany of you know I was continuing to write about creativity here even after the end of 2011, but was interrupted by life when I lost my fiancé – who was a pilot – in a helicopter crash last June. As my world fell apart, I mostly dropped this blog and went on to create my 2nd blog, Our 1000 Days, to share my story of love and of grief after losing the love of my life. It was where I needed to be. That has turned out to be yet another place that has given me confidence in my creative abilities – again, not ever the intention of writing it. Much like how I felt before beginning this blog, i actually didn’t really think of myself as a particularly good writer and was very self conscious about the fact that I have no formal education in english, poetry, literature, or writing whatsoever. Through writing Our 1000 Days and telling our story and my story, I have gained much healing and also – to my surprise – I have slowly gained confidence in my writing and begun to step more fully into owning that part of myself too. He continues to give me gifts even from the other side.

Now, 3 years later, when people ask me what I do… I confidently say to them “I am an artist”. I don’t dance around it anymore. Even if I’m not making much money with doing it, even though no writing of mine has yet to be published, I no longer equate myself being an artist and writer with whether or not I make money from it. Instead, now, I answer that question by telling them the most IMPORTANT thing I do, the most MEANINGFUL thing in my life… not the thing that makes me the most money. And the most important, meaningful thing I do, is most certainly, creating.

Just three years ago, none of this existed. I worked at a job I wasn’t really happy with and I constantly talked myself out of ideas for projects and never gave myself permission to do any of them. I was in a dull, boring slump. Since Nov 19, 2010, I have done furniture making, jewelry making, short films, poetry, welding, encaustic (wax) painting, clay sculpture, feather painting, found object sculpture, large-scale finger painting, photography, needle felting, toy making, raku, glass etching, poster design, nature sculptures, Ukrainian Easter Egg dying, screen printing… and the list goes on. I had my first booth at an art show earlier this year… a dream I have had since I was a little girl, and I have sold my art to lovely people. And in the next week or two, I’ll even be jumping into mosaics for the first time… with the hope to begin teaching grief workshops with it – yet another totally new and uncharted territory for myself!

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ALL of that began right here, in these pages, with you guys reading and supporting me. I guess it just goes to show that no matter where you are, that is a really really great place to begin. Today, is the best day to begin… something, anything, and especially if your only reason for wanting to do it is because you’ve never done it and it sounds fun. I assure you, in having fun with new things, you will learn so many amazing things about yourself that you never knew… yup I said it, just by having fun!

So here’s to three years of blogging… and how it has changed my life, how I see myself and the talents that I have to offer the world. Thanks WordPress! And most of all, thanks to everyone who has been along the journey with me and helped me to grow. It would have been an incredibly lonely journey without you, and one with far less depth.

Now get out there and make something today! Just for fun!

Much Love,
Sarah

Healing Milestones

photoI’m just a day away from selling at my first art festival… and my emotions are all over the place. I’m SO excited, this is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl. Every summer, I went to a myriad of art festivals and left each one with a calling in my heart. I watched artists at their booths and talked to them and stood in awe of their work.. listening all the while to the whispers in my own soul of how badly I wanted to be one of them. And tomorrow, I will finally be stepping behind the booth with my own creations.

I’ve been hard at work the past month to get ready – and as I’m getting the final touches done on my booth setup and inventory, I’m in awe. I’m looking down at all these lovelies and thinking “did this actually come out of me?” Really… they are not mine as much as they are gifts to me in my dark night. I’ve just been trying to survive my emotions this past year, and looking for hope wherever I could find it. I believe each thing I’ve made was given to me to help carry me through the loss of my fiancé – to give me hope and joy and courage. To help me tell our story – an artist and a pilot – two lovers of nature, adventure, flight, creativity and so much more. There are small things that tell this story in each thing I make. They restore me daily. What magic to be able to share them with others and hope that they find their own healing, courage, and hope in them!

It is bittersweet of course, which is where my all-over-the-place emotions are coming from. I am both so excited and at the same time utterly heartbroken. To know that he should be here for this. To know how proud he would be and that he’d be by my side helping me out. There is absolutely no way around the deep sadness that this brings to the occasion. I’ve shed a lot of tears in the past few days… but felt a lot of excitement too. Tomorrow, I’m just going to focus on enjoying the moment with good friends and family around to support me. I know he’d kick my ass if I let his absence get in my way, after all! Here’s to a new adventures. Its going to be exciting. A little bit sad too, but mostly… exciting!!!

November Submissions are In!

The submissions are in for 12MoC’s very first ever creative blog challenge… Woohoo! In case you missed the post announcing it early this month, the chosen theme for November was “Flight”. Without further ado, I give you the submissions of all our fabulous November creatives. Be sure to check out their blogs (linked to each image) for more photos and juicy details of their projects! Enjoy!

1. Laura Wooten of My Suburban Life

I’m loving this mixed media piece Laura did for this month’s theme – especially all the symbols on the balloon, which were from some of her own pattern designs. The curious little houses below truly made me smile, too. Please take a look at the full post on her blog, as she has some excellent process pictures and shares a wonderful story all about this piece and its inspiration!

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1. Kristen Conley of Whimsy Inspired

Kristen did this beautiful acrylic painting of a hummingbird in flight! I love the colors and all the layers… and the messy drips. (I am a big fan of messiness!) You can check out some great process pictures and the story behind this one over at her blog, Whimsy Inspired. Thanks Kristen!

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3. Rose Miho 

Oh ambitious Rose – she did not only one entry but THREE this month! You go girl! Rose is a very talented poet/artist and has shared with us three poems and complimentary art pieces on the theme of flight. Be sure to check out her blog for more of her poetic words.

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FLYING CLOUDS

Clouds! Oh! soft clouds …

Floating above us,

silent and soothing.

Whispering, white tender cirrus.

In one beautiful blue sky

opening my heart to the world.

It’s beauty.

It’s softness.

As a blowing wind in the universe,

I’m floating and I have been rocked gently.

As a baby in a woman’s belly,

warm tender and sweet.

Softly floating among stars.

It is the flight,

of my gentle heart

For you dear.

antre

UP AND DOWN

I flew

I flew so high I could touch the stars

and I sank

deep in the water

deep within my own body

and I flew

Hight again where no one could see or touch who I was

It was as if I was a cloud,

an invisible cumulus

a colorful cirrus flying hight

and vanished into the darkness of it’s soul

and this great dance went on and on

and I kept on dancing it

Going hight into the sky

and falling back deep into

the deepest water of my being.

epson0042

FLIGHT

I have eaten the blood of the young

fed on the elder’s wisdom

I am standing within the earth

between walls of history

and wisdom

I am flying above the sky

and standing over the entire world from my own mount

I am the one who chooses where I walk

 

where I stand

I am the knowledge of the earth

the woman of the fields

the heart of the lovers

and the tears of the dead

I am everywhere you go

in every step you take forward

I am your path

future

present and past

I am the spirit of golden wings

the one you feel when you follow

the path of your heart

I speak to you in those words

so you know and remember

that I am everywhere you go and are

by your side

a golden sparkle in darkness and light.

 

4. Katharina Hoehendinger of Musical Chairs

Katharina has a great blog full of her creativity, travel stories and experiences. Her post for this month’s challenge is a one that is going to last well past the month! Take a look at an excerpt below or click here to read the full post!

“My personal carbon footprint is something of an ecological nightmare: 14 flights from January to December 2012 alone! I live abroad, fair enough, and my family and many of my friends are based in Germany. But somehow that seems a bit of a weak excuse when thinking about the long term impact of my individual choices.

According to WWF UK, a passenger on a flight to Paris is responsible for ten times more CO2emissions than a person using the Eurostar. I actually wanted to go back home by train this year for Christmas. But then I got confused by the Eurostar’s online booking system and opted for easyjet instead. (Again, very weak excuse!)

Living in London has made me a bit more aware of the extent of air travel that is taking place across Europe. It is only during the night that no planes can be seen in the sky. Apart from that I hear them all the time starting from or flying to one of the city’s five airports. When I went to Heathrow for the first time I was genuinely shocked because of its enormous dimensions and the amount of people traveling to and from there every day. Where are they all going, and why?

Finally, I’ve decided to reduce my ecological footprint and will try not to fly in 2013. This will be difficult when visiting back home but it’s not impossible. And for going on holidays it’s actually quite good that I live in another country: there are lots of beautiful places in the UK that I haven’t seen yet.”

 

I love all the different viewpoints and perspectives that everyone had on this theme – as well as all the variety  of media we had. Even with just four artists, we had writing & poetry, painting, mixed media, drawing and photography! What an awesome mix. I want to thank these ladies again for sharing their lovely work and for taking on the challenge this month!  While you’re here, don’t forget to check out the December Challenge – you know you want to make something!!

December Blog Challenge! Beginnings & Endings

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Since we are fast approaching the end of the year, I thought it fitting for this month’s theme to be on the subject of Beginnings and Endings. Where they take us, the excitement of them, relief of them, or fear of them. How they are related I have had some extremely significant beginnings and endings in 2012 – the most significant of my life to date. I plan on exploring this

Art credit: Lucien N.

November Blog Challenge nearly Over!

Hey all you creative folks! Just stopping in to remind you that the deadline to send me your fabulous results for this month’s creative blog challenge is TOMORROW! I hope to be getting some really inspiring “Flight” themed creations in. I must admit that I also have to finish my own piece too still! *gulp* It is very near done though – it will happen! I challenge anyone who’s just finding this to do a quick & dirty project and submit it tomorrow too… sometimes those last minute small projects can be such a delight and a great kickstarter to your creative energy! I will be posting everyone’s results in the next few days, as it will take a little time to compile things. So be on the lookout for November creations as well as a theme to kick off the month of December!

Some Exciting New Stuff for the Blog!

I’m excited to share with you guys some new ideas I’m going to be working on for 12 Months of Creativity! This blog has meandered a lot this year… which is great. There’s been a lot of exploring and feeling things out, and tons of learning. Now, I’m feeling ready to get it back to the main focus, but with a slight shift. When I started this blog and my 2011 project, my goals were simple. It was about giving myself permission to play – to create whatever excites me without over thinking it and worrying whether its a “good” idea or not. To try new things with childlike wonder and curiosity. To learn to not judge my own creative abilities and get more familiar with my own individual creative process. I came away with all of this and much more. But it would not have been nearly as rich an experience without all the other people who have been reading, liking, sharing, cheering and following along.

That’s why I’ve decided to start making this space a little more about all of you! This means monthly creative challenges with themes to stretch your mind, heart, and skills. And posts on my process of creativity as well as interviews with other creatives sharing their processes and pitfalls. And of course… if there is anything else you’d like to see that you’re not seeing, I invite you to share that with me. I want this to be a space that celebrates the idea that creativity breeds even more creativity. And that everyone deserves to be in touch with their creative side – no matter if you can or cannot draw a straight line (can anyone actually DO that?). So please let me know what you’re liking and not liking as I begin venturing into adding this new content! See you there!

 

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