From the Archive: Hidden Treasure

Adventures in Frustration or A Hidden Treasure

Sunday, October 1, 2006

The light in October is beautiful and totally worth sacrificing breakfast and a little sleep to capture.  That’s why this past Saturday morning found me out in a field, in the early morning, waiting for the sun to illuminate dew drops just the right way.  The light was perfect and the sky was stunning, but at this location, I couldn’t find a view without power lines.  In the end, I trudged home, wet and frustrated, in search of coffee,  having decided that the “shoot” was a bust.

When I got home and off-loaded the 50 or so shots that I had taken, my suspicions were confirmed.  Between the ever-present power lines & my shaking hands, {It was cold as well as early…} none of the shots turned out to be what I envisioned when I set out.  Too blurry or too full of extra information, there didn’t seem to be any keepers except for one set of three shots that had pretty color in the sky and a silhouetted flower stalk with a single dew drop, in the foreground.   Of the three, one shot was in focus;  I liked the composition of another;  and one seemed unimpressive on both fronts.  Obviously they didn’t strike me as magical when I shot them, because I didn’t even remember taking them.  Still, I was pretty glad that there was some payoff for the pile of wet clothes and all the frustration inside my head and spilling onto Randy.

{And by the way, when is my creative practice ever worth sacrificing important relationships?…}

I decided late last night to take the one shot that had decent composition and fashion some sort of apology to Rands for being such a grump.   I also decided to take a closer look at the few individual shots that were closest to my ideal and see if metadata and intense scrutiny would reveal the adjustments needed for the situation next time.

{the situation =  the place of dealing with change, discomfort and an environment that doesn’t match large ideals.}

I almost missed it.  I almost hit delete…

September sky in dewdrop

There hidden inside the third unimpressive shot was a hidden treasure.  Reflected in the face of the dew drop was an image of the incredible sky that I had been striving so hard to capture.  There suspended on the end of a dried flower stalk, in a throw away shot, was a reminder that anything that I “create” is simply a reflection of God’s glory.   It was a prompt to look closely at what seems to be, by my analysis something to discard, and find every bit of what God has for me.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:34-04:00August 16th, 2011|Archive, Art is Life is Art|1 Comment

Art is Life is Art: Collaboration & 9 months of words

calendar & mandalaOver the past several months, it’s been my privilege to sit and chat with my new friend, the lovely Meghan Arias.   We talk about all sorts of things.

* beautiful things

* creative things

* spiritual things

* favorite beer things

* cemeteries and their stories

* our people and their stories

We talk about the past and the future, but mostly we talk about this:

Art + Mommy = X

X = blocked

X = conflicted

X = all or nothing

X = a dance

X = synergistic

X = not the same as before

The last time we met, Meghan and I talked about how motherhood has changed the structure of the creative process in our lives.  We no longer have the freedom to wait on inspiration or feeling to create.  We no longer create when it is convenient for us.  Instead, art happens in and around motherhood and life.  In planned spaces.  Or in unplanned spaces.  In studios.  Or in nooks and crannies.  Written in neat handwriting.  Or scribbled on a napkin.  Often times art happens in ways that are counter-intuitive to our natural bent.

We confessed that we don’t like it.

We shook our fists.

We may have even cried a little, but just a little, cause we’re tough like that.

And then we laughed.  Seriously, we bounced in our seats.  Because in the deepest part of who we are, the need to create supersedes the need to be angry about our less than perfect studio spaces.

In the midst of discussions about calendars and schedules, deadlines and shows, we decided to create a collaborative space of our own.  Thus, each month from April to December, we’ll choose a word and respond creatively to that word.  Simple, I know.  But, simple is good, since between the two of us, we:

*write words and songs

* paint stuff

* glue paper on things

* sing

* parent 9 children

* run businesses and manage creative careers

* read lots of books

* work on our vocabularies

* and make copious lists

We have decided that our motherhood is a reason, not an excuse.

9 months worth of words.  Very gestational and birth-like.  It is in keeping with the motherhood theme.  We have a pretty awesome list of words – some nouns, some verbs & even some adjectives and adverbs.  It’s a list of words that have been sitting in our hearts and minds percolating.

Bubbling to the top for April, is the word Surrender.  I’ve been carrying the word around in my pocket for a couple of weeks now.  Noticing it.  Looking it up.  Breathing it in.  Waking up with it on the tip of my pen.  This time ’round I’m making pages.  Keep an eye out for posts concerning our current word – there may be more than one.  {What can I say, we’re Word Girls.}  Meghan and I will link to each other’s blog and invite you to join us by leaving a link in the comments.    We’ll then scoop up all the collaboration and share the love.

I leave you with a question & a prayer for Surrender.  {From my journal yesterday morning}

A question:  What does it look like to let go of control in the creative process?

A prayer:


O Love that will not let me go,

I’m still holding on.  Some things are precious to me and I don’t want them to change.  Others are broken and beg to be hidden.  As I become aware of these holding-on places, I reveal them to you.  I confess I have tried to hide and compensate and have grown weary.  I Surrender.  I accept this time and place.  I bring my gifts and my wounds and trust that you will display your works in and through my surrendered places.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:36-04:00April 15th, 2011|Art is Life is Art|6 Comments

Art is Life is Art: Show up for today

The following is part of a response to a discussion at the wild thyme creative facebook page

“…much of my current artistic work is in the capture of little moments. While I paint large scale and create mixed-media pieces on a regular basis, my daily practice involves what I call Art-in-the-Crevices. It’s the sketches and songs that happen because I carry my journal EVERYWHERE. It’s the partial poem I pen while I’m waiting and the photos from my phone.  Too often we get caught up in our expectations of the perfect environment and miss the beauty and truth all around us in the little moments. Honestly, it’s those little bits and pieces that keep me sane and present in my “real life”. Ultimately it’s the small captures that inform and birth the larger work.”

The little moments are where I’m living these days.  Concerning wild thyme creative,  I am both processing my archive and making plans for the future.  {This very much mirrors what is going on in my personal life too…}  I’m simultaneously reading old blog entries full of my emotions and thoughts from the past and  planning & dreaming for the future.  All necessary and exciting, but sometimes, I find it a challenge to just show up for today – to experience what it’s like to be in my skin, here and now.

I used to take these little “life bytes” for granted – now I give myself credit for capturing them and count it as my art.  My daily prayer is that I simply show up for what’s in my world today.  Here’s a tiny list {surprise!} of things I do to Stay Present:

* Write down {or draw or paint} exactly what I’m feeling at least once a day.

this is how I have felt for days...

* Go out in the garden barefoot.

I think it’s super important to feel the ground under your feet, where you are. I go out and tune into the following:

~ what I see around my feet

~ what I feel under my feet

~ what I hear around me

{I generally stay and breathe and observe until I can feel my breath all the way down to my toes…}

* Take a photo & notes based on your observations. {I write things down because I like to remember, but the point is to tune in.}


This photo says:

* It is cold & wet.  But I am not afraid of inclement weather or events.

* There are weeds in the garden & I need a pedi.  It’s time to slow down and tend to self & home.

* The birds are singing.  I have a voice.

* The ground is solid.  I have a place to stand.

I am petite.  But I am not small.

Things are a little messy.  Discovery & expression are found in messy.

Drips and Mistakes you don't scare me anymore


“Magic happens just by being present in your body.” Baron Baptiste

By |2016-10-19T14:20:37-04:00March 28th, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Journals|4 Comments

Art is Life is Art: Do your surroundings make a difference?

“Stop counting crayons, just draw pictures.”  ~Mark Scharenbroich

pockets of order

The new wild thyme studio space is slowly coming together.  I’m combining what used to be three different small work spaces into one large one, which is simultaneously exciting and overwhelming.  I know how I worked in the old spaces, but I find myself just staring at things and trying to decide how I’ll work in the new space.   One thing is certain, I like my space to be more than just functional.  I like {actually, need} for it to be inspirational too.

worktable mess

It’s not that things have to be pristine, but sometimes the creative explosions get out of hand and I can’t dig through the resulting clutter to create the next thing.  I’ve come to realize that, as I recently told a friend,

I create chaos, but require order.

Thus, I find myself in a constant dance between keeping the space tidy and actually using it to make art.  One of the ways that I keep my balance is to create vignettes.  I dedicate specific areas that stay “fixed up”.  Whether it’s a magnetic poetry board or a pretty stack of books, these little pockets of beauty give me peace –  a place to put my eyes.

Because ultimately, the work has to get done. Period.   I have also figured out that one of my avoidance behaviors is to stay in tidy mode for too long.  So, in order to shift from overwhelmed-by-clutter to get-in-there-and-DO-IT.  I practice the following short sequence:

1.  put my eyes on the pretty thing, vignette or board

2.  take a deep breathe

3.  then turn into the chaos and DO the THING.

pull yourself together

By |2016-10-19T14:20:38-04:00October 10th, 2010|Art is Life is Art|6 Comments

On the way home, on purpose, with chocolate this time

Meticulous planning will enable everything a man does to appear spontaneous.
Mark Caine

Stopped at the park, on the way home from dinner last night to take some photos of The Girl.  While this sounds terribly spontaneous, it was only sort of spontaneous.  I actually took some 100% spontaneous shots the other day after lunch.  The flavor was strawberry with chocolate sprinkles, and the sun was a little too bright.  We were going from voice lessons to Economics lecture and we were all {including the ice cream cone} a little melty.  It was a one of those moments where I grabbed my camera and shot quickly, but didn’t really get what I wanted.  Except that I loved the idea of The Girl and an ice cream cone.

strawberry w snappy eyes & chocolate sprinkles

The concept of planning is quite the mixed bag for me.  On many fronts, I am a planner.  I like to understand, not only what I’m up against, but how I’m going to handle the situation.  I make lists, print out maps, ask questions & do research, all in an attempt to predict the details in any given scenario.  This basic approach is almost impossible for me to separate from my artistic life and endeavors.

But in many ways, I am a Romantic with expectations that inspiration and opportunity will fall into place and I’ll just happen to be there to catch it.  I am deeply aware that sometimes art is a response to a moment.  In a Romantic’s world, the sun shines just the right way;  words fall in just the right order; and a wandering blob of paint inspires.   However, this romantic ideal sits in a place of tension with Ideas-From-The-Planning-Girl-That-Likes-to-Know.

I believe that both approaches are full of possibility.  My Romantic Self is no longer offended when I plan the details of a shoot.  And, as I reign in the all-or-nothing-ness and perfectionism of the other end of the spectrum, I more often see spontaneous opportunities.


The chocolate photos were a bit more planned.  I chose the time of day when the light would be golden.  {And let me take this opportunity to sing the praises of the iPhone app Darkness – great if you want to pinpoint Magic Hour.}

I also asked The Girl to put her hair in pigtails and went to a park where I knew I could get the background I wanted.    It’s hard to imagine that I used to think that attending to those details was “cheating”, but thus run the lies of perfectionism and the strange expectations of Romanticism.

When I shot the Strawberry, I was envisioning the Chocolate.   So, we shot with ice cream again.  {It was an easy sell to the model and I was glad to be shooting with a plan and inspiration all at the same time.}

" Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos." ~Don Kardong

By |2016-10-19T14:20:39-04:00September 3rd, 2010|photography|3 Comments

Art is Life is Art: It’s all about space.

If you’ve ever been in one of my classes/workshops there are three things you know right away.

*  I talk with my hands.

*  I rabbit trail in very quirky ways, but {almost always} come back around to the main point.

*  I have a deep belief that art principles are life principles.

Conversations with me usually involve “word pictures” and/or a sketch or two.   When talking about any given topic over coffee, I usually have to pull out a napkin or my journal and draw, or describe a scenario that illustrates the point.

So, last week when Aussie Brilliant #1 called with some time management challenges, we ended up in a conversation about “margin”, which launched me into an art lesson about positive and negative space – that, was really not an art lesson at all.

Because after all, you can form something by shaping it or by leaving room for it.

In my son’s world, this means showing up to several things that are in the Form-of-Self.  Things like classes, job and his volunteer work.  There are a million things that “shape” us.   From the people that we meet, to the discoveries we make, to our preferences & adventures.  They come to us from the outside in and add shape to our lives.


In addition to what shapes us, we are formed by other things.  These things, while just as important, are more ethereal. They are those things that we leave space for; and they are also in the Form-of-Self.  Things like writing songs, making art, reading books, thinking/processing time.  Personally, I think you have to fight a little harder for these things.  It is tougher to make space than to be formed.  But that is another conversation…


Imagine my delight this morning, when I received the following email.  The subject line read simply:  Mom!


I just got out of a fancy pen shoppe! :). The lady gave me an impromptu handwriting lesson!  And you know what she said??!!?

“It’s all about space.” She then pointed to the jar of ink.  “the letters are all there, waiting for the spaces”

dude!  She kept talking about pens but i I fumbled to write down what she said.

Private Reserve Ink - Avacado

Ah, thank you pen shoppe lady for the beautiful word picture.   I hope I get to meet you someday.  When you, in the middle of your fancy pen shoppe in Sydney, took the the time to show a college student the beauty of lettering, you not only sold a pen, you unwittingly reinforced one of the powerful life lessons that show up in art.  {The same message coming from home in Georgia…”It’s all about space.”}  I hope that your Generous Heart  and Love of Beauty circle back around to bless you in large ways. {And that would be REPETITION & UNITY...}

P.S.  We’re sending that young man back to you to buy a pen, because every songwriter/scribe should have a beautiful instrument.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:39-04:00August 12th, 2010|Art is Life is Art|4 Comments