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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!

My 12 Months of 2012

I’ve spent the past few weeks thinking about what I’d like to focus on creatively this year. To be honest, I had a really hard time deciding! All I knew for sure was that – at the end of each month last year, I would just be gaining momentum and getting excited about one type of project and then I would have to switch gears totally and drop it. So I think this year, I’m ready for longer projects and timelines…

Quarterly Projects
I’ve decided to focus on 4 different types of projects quarterly throughout the year. This might mean that I do one large project for the quarter, or many small ones… depending on how things unfold and you know, how badly I procrastinate. ;)

The 4 projects I’m thinking for now are:

– Welding/Metal Sculpture
– Illustration/Drawing
– Needle Felting
– Nature/Land Art

Welding is something I’ve never done and always wanted to do. I’m signed up for a class at a local community college to start January 22nd, so this is where we begin! The others were things from this past year that I fell in love with and wanted more time with. The list could possibly change if I find anything else exciting along the way – but for now this is a good start!

12 Month Barn Series
Alongside that, I’ve decided I also want to focus on photography for a monthly project. I have a barn series that I began a year or so ago that I was really fired up about but never really got off the ground. So the goal here is to trespass onto as many abandoned old properties with barns as I can find!… or hopefully more of the time enter with permission so no one comes after me with a shot gun (this is Texas, after all).

By the end of the year I want to have photographed a full series of a dozen barns, each with a ceiling shot similar to the one below, as well as other supporting angles and details. I’d really like to get a wide range from old abandoned barns to fully functioning newer ones… but we’ll see where the journey takes me.

I will be doing some research on how to create good black and white images too – as there are good and bad ways to achieve it and I’m pretty sure I’m not using the best methods right now. I may also throw in some techniques to focus on (landscape, macro, HDR, etc) from time to time to help me practice in areas I haven’t taken the time to really read up on or practice a ton yet. Pretty excited to revive this project! I have been in love with it since the first ceiling shot I took and look forward to having my first full series of photos done by the end of 2012!

 
Yes, We Will Create!
And that’s still not everything! On top of my personal creative projects, I’m spending this year trying to get a creative community called We Will Create off the ground. It’s a place to share any and all sorts of creative projects – big or small, long or short. I’m hoping together we can create a real place of open support for each other in all our creative endeavors… a place for anyone who is looking to add a bit more creativity in their lives and wants some friends to do it with! In the much bigger picture, I dream of this becoming a community that reaches millions… where you can explore or join various groups and have specific communities related to your interests (photography, cooking, living green, painting, charity work, etc) as well as joining other groups for 365 projects, 12 month projects, 30 day projects, etc. It’s definitely far from anything that big (yet), but I believe in it a heck of a lot, so I’m doing all I can to get it going. I figure worst case is that a few more people in the world are inspired by each other, and I learn a lot about how to NOT make a community site.

If you actually made it this far into my novel of a post… please take a moment to check us out at wewillcreate.ning.com and if you like what you see, join us or share with your family and friends!

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