Thursday, December 31, 2009

Say Cheese

Simply delicious comfort food on a cold, snowy, icy New Year's Eve. Just right for a photographer's dinner. Spending this year quietly at home eating a grilled cheese sandwich, just because.

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year and all the best in 2010.

Funny thing I noticed at the grocery store while shopping after Christmas. Apparently, the world has become so PC that some people are apparently afraid of offending anyone who doesn't celebrate New Year's Day. I was actually wished a "Happy Holiday."

Offhand, I can't imagine anyone who'd prefer an Unhappy New Year to a Happy one. So to you who celebrate, enjoy a glass of champagne, or maybe a shot of Kentucky bourbon, or a glass of your favorite non-alcoholic beverage. To you who don't celebrate ... do you even exist? ... I dunno, life is just getting too strange these days! I suppose as long as there's no "whine" with the cheese it's all good. * lol *

BTW ... Yes, the style of this blog entry is a tad different. I tried being a serious blogger all last year. Tried my hardest. Ended up getting too intimidated to write, a lot of times. In 2010 I resolve to have a lot more fun blogging. :-)

Who knows what new direction this blog may take? Life is an adventure ...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Quiz

The above photo is called "Christmas Tree Dream" and was taken last year in my apartment lobby.

Picked up this neat meme idea from Jane who runs the blog called "I'm Downtown" at

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

Both. That said ... the gift bag sure makes life easier. Went to an anonymous gift swap where we exchanged unmarked packages. Someone picked up mine and asked, "Who brought this Charlie Brown gift?" Yes, the wrapping paper looked that bad! *lol*

2. Real tree or Artificial?

An artificial tree that I once set on fire unintentionally by lighting a purple rain candle underneath it on the coffee table to set the mood while I read "Moby Dick." The tree was only slightly scathed ... I trimmed off a blackened branch and a bit of tinsel.

3. When do you put up the tree?

Used to do it the first Sunday in Advent. Now I don't put up a tree as I travel at holiday time.

4. When do you take the tree down?
Used to do it on the Feast of the Epiphany.

5. Do you like eggnog?

Ick! No way! For several years I tried to force myself to like it. What's the point? Better to go with what you really do like.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?

A set of plastic Native American figures in action poses, back in the days when they were still called Indians.

7. Hardest person to buy for?

If they seem hard, they get a gift card.

8. Easiest person to buy for?

A dear friend of mine.

9. Do You have a nativity scene?

In fact I have two of them, a traditional one where the moss falls off the roof of the stable and a modern one with white porcelain figures. Maybe someday I'll use one ... Hopefully next year.

10.Mail or email Christmas cards?


11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

I'm always happy when someone thinks enough of me to give me a gift.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?

A Charlie Brown Christmas Special. Okay, so it's a tv show.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?

Whenever I see something somebody might like, provided I don't give it to them for their birthday first.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

Probably, if it's never been used.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?

Sponge candy. If you never had any, you haven't lived. If you want to try some, get it from Buffalo, NY / Western New York. That's the very best.

16. Lights on the tree?

Electricity and I have a weird relationship, and I already burned one tree with fire. No thanks!

17.Travel at Christmas or stay home?

Travel to the Buffalo, NY area / surrounding region of Western New York.

18. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?

Yes! :-)

MERRY CHRISTMAS, and may God bless us, every one!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

One Christmas Season, Two Holiday Art Shows ... Or From Narnia to Oz, and Back Again

The day this photo "Over the Rainbow" was taken, August 25th, happened to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Wizard of Oz movie release.

What a long, strange trip it's been. Ohio, New York, Narnia, and the Land of Oz. Haven't been blogging due to life being so darn adventurous lately, but in a real good way! Sure have missed everybody meanwhile, and I look forward to being around more ... it'll have to be a New Year's resolution!

Two of my photos are once again on display at one of my favorite haunts, the Market Street Art Center in Lockport, New York. These featured photos are "Mineral Water" and "Welcome to Narnia." The "Deck the Halls" Holiday Show runs from November 21st, 2009 through January 3rd, 2010. Been so busy decking my own halls, writing cards, and wrapping gifts for Christmas that just now do I have time to share this happy news!

You've seen "Mineral Water" before. An abstract image of my favorite frozen pond named Dreamkeeper.

Another one you've seen before, "Welcome to Narnia." Well of course as the self-proclaimed Queen of Narnia I must share winter's finest with the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve in the form of a cold and snowy scene ...

The other big news is, my work is also currently being featured at the Niagara Arts & Cultural Center in Niagara Falls, NY. There I have three photos on display. Namely, "Over the Rainbow," "Morning Pasture in Deep Emerald Fog," and "Stairway to Winter." The NACC Artists & Friends Exhibition runs from November 21st, 2009 through January 9th, 2010.

Somehow in the weird weather combination of strange wind that moved only the British flag while leaving the American flag untouched along with the dense fog on a fateful morning I began blogging about earlier, I apparently was transported to ... could it be the Land of Oz? Perhaps this is where the Horse of a Different Color lives ... in a field not too far from the Emerald City. Thought I heard at least one horse through the heavy fog. Didn't see any Yellow Brick Road, but something felt like a familiar adventure, so I followed that instead. And called what I saw "Morning Pasture in Deep Emerald Fog."

My very favorite season, as shown in "Stairway to Winter." Stone steps hewn out of weathered rock at Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Northeast Ohio. The sedimentary glacier-carved rock formations along the Ledges Trail date back 320 million years to the Paleozoic Era.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's Autumn in Narnia

... and you know what that means ... Winter is on its way! Finally! Yay!

But wait, I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

The best fall foliage in Ohio yesterday was an hour’s drive north at an ominous-sounding Lake County Metropark called “Penitentiary Glen.” On the way, I looked for the entrance I’d found to Narnia three years ago last February … But there was a wedding party nearby, so I went on by.

Having no clue where the trails were, I wandered into the Nature Center to ask. The ladies behind the counter gave me a map. Someone remarked that this was a long way to travel since I was used to hanging out in the Cuyahoga Valley. I answered that I’d come up here before to go to the Holden Arboretum, and Narnia which you could get to from around here.

The mention of Narnia brought an “always be good-humored towards Metropark guests” laugh which was sunny, bright, and cheerful along with being skeptical. I was content with not trying to convince anyone. To their minds I was probably one of “those eccentric artist people” with maybe a touch of the proverbial absent-minded professor thrown in. Carrying a camera with a long dangling broken strap didn't help.

The trail worked out very nicely.

Driving home, the entrance to Narnia was open and empty. Two minutes later, a couple pulled up to see if I was having car trouble. They drove off when they saw me peering intently into the woods with a camera.

Mission accomplished, I got in the car again and turned on the radio. By coincidence, after changing the station several times, a song inspired by The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe came on called “Remembering You” by Steven Curtis Chapman.

And of course, I love the fact that it’s autumn in Narnia, because that heralds winter! Bring on the Snow!! Okay, let’s enjoy the autumn leaves first … But as soon as the last leaf’s fallen … Let it SNOW !!!

The Queen of Narnia has spoken …

For anyone new to this blog, here’s a link to an earlier entry that may help explain things:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Friday with the Artist

Tower City in downtown Cleveland, Ohio plays host to an event called "Friday with the Artist" every Friday between 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. from May through October. Last Friday I had the pleasure to participate.

The nice thing is the people who sponsor and promote "Friday with the Artist" provide the display table and chairs. All you have to do is show up with your art, craft, or baked good ... the culinary arts count. Browsing at all the tables is quite popular with both the office workers and shoppers of Tower City, especially over the lunch hour.

You get to people watch all day long and meet lots of friendly mall walkers.

Tables are set up all around a wishing fountain whose water streams in time to the mall music. Mall music includes anything and everything from Yankee Doodle to Phantom of the Opera to jazz to the Skater's Waltz to Pachelbel's Canon.

I plan to return this coming Friday.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's England in America

It was a surreal morning surrounded by fog with just enough of a breath of wind to lift the British Union Jack but not the American Stars and Stripes. I was staying at a British-themed bed and breakfast at the end of August, the Blacksmith Inn located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Very eerie start to the day.

Off the beaten path, and on the path to mystery, a spider web gleamed in the faint light of morning.

The house through the fog seemed to make reality itself shimmer in and out enveloped in intangibility. Here is a link to the Blacksmith Inn's website:

Looking out across the lawn into the realm of dreams, the mind conjures up a whole host of possibilities to wonder about. Beyond, adventure awaits ...

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Charlie Brown Craft Show Tent – Of Good Samaritans and Your Tax Dollars at Work

To qualify for the vast majority of outdoor craft shows, you need a 10-foot by 10-foot white canopy tent. I called my friendly neighborhood Pat Catan’s to see what they might have. Turns out they had just one left … the floor model display, and the cost was a whopping … * drumroll please * … ten dollars! An awesome find, since many of these tents cost hundreds of dollars. “Hold it for me, I’m getting in the car right now and will be there as fast as I can drive!”

On entering the store, I heard far-off clinking metallic sounds. I made a manager aware of my presence and mission. Off we walked towards the metallic sounds. Surprise! A couple of employees were dismantling the craft show tent. “Hold it right there,” the manager said, “You can’t take this home free for yourselves. We’ve got a paying customer.”

The tent went into a box with no cover and no set of instructions. At least I was able to carry it to the car myself. I’m small-built, so if I hadn’t have been able to lift it, this saga would have ended right there.

This summer I applied for the Rocky River Fall Arts Festival. Kinda nervous, I called a couple friends to ask if I could borrow their backyard and could they help me practice setting up the tent? I brought them a cherry strudel for their trouble. But between the three of us, there was no earthly way we could stand the crazy contraption up!

The big day arrived. I showed up and explained my predicament. Someone suggested I could live without a tent since it was a nice day. Only, the mayor hosting the arts festival would not like that.

And so it took SEVEN PEOPLE working AN ENTIRE HOUR to help set up the craft show tent! Come to find out, these Good Samaritans included at least one financial tycoon of Northeast Ohio and several high-ranking officials in the local city government! I asked the most helpful one who he was so I could thank him properly, but he preferred to remain anonymous. In fact, nobody gave me their names. Anyway, I am SO IMMENSELY GRATEFUL to everyone who helped me at the first annual Rocky River Fall Arts Festival. Thank you! You know who you are!

Later on, my friends from the backyard came to help me take down the tent … which of course was no problem at all.

As for the fate of the tent, I’m planning to drop it off at the Goodwill store. The good news is, at least it served its purpose on the day I really needed it!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What If You Held a Butterfly Festival, and No Butterflies Came?

In the photo above, a Wood Nymph butterfly focuses intently on a delicious meal of autumn aster. Picture taken in October of 2005 at the Holden Arboretum in Northeast Ohio.

Well anyways, the burning question was answered this past Saturday, September 12th. The Monarch Butterfly tagging portion of the Butterfly Festival on Kelleys Island had to be cancelled due to lack of attendance on the part of the butterflies! Apparently they didn't receive their invitation. It was also being said that as a matter of fact, the butterflies weren't migrating normally in general. There were also no Monarchs in either Mexico or California. Maybe it's this crazy weather we've been having.

Having looked in on friends elsewhere in the blog world and the Flickr photography website, it seems the butterflies are hanging out in places like Indiana (hi Mary at Faith, Fabric, and Photos!) and Georgia (hi ruthalice43 on Flickr!)

Link to Mary's blog post:

Link to ruthalice43's photo:

Anyways, it was a beautiful day to sit out on the porch of the new Kelleys Island Historical Association building and sell landscape photos while right next to me sat an author who lives on Kelleys Island and just published a book on the island's colorful residents from earlier times in history.

A friendly slobbering Golden Retriever named Zeus who was very old and allegedly had a "delicate stomach" spent the day following around with big, sad, begging, hungry, puppy-dog eyes anyone who bought a hot dog. It's almost too bad we couldn't have tagged Zeus and sent him airmail on down to Mexico or California, but that pesky ole dog was just too doggone nice and provided a bit of entertainment.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Market Street Art Center Members Exhibition

Two of my photos are currently on display at the Market Street Art Center in Lockport, New York as part of the annual Members Exhibition. The show runs from September 5th - October 4th. The reception will be held this Saturday, September 12th from 5 pm to 8 pm. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend because I have a different event going on that day, the Butterfly Festival on Kelleys Island. That will be a whole 'nother adventure, and is always a good time.

Here's a link to the Market Street Art Center current show information:

The first photo, Lockport Cave Raceway, shows the entrance to one of Lockport's best-kept secrets when it comes to underground caves beneath the city streets. Tours are now held there.

Here's a link for more information on the Lockport Cave and its Underground Boat Ride:

Another one of my photos, Skeleton Barn, is also on display: A dark wooden frame framed itself by the bright glow of autumn woods in the Hocking Hills of Ohio.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dream of Freedom

Stirred by a wind coming down from the mountain and bathed in the last rays of quiet sunset majesty, a horse lifts its head. Soon the sheltering fences will find themselves enclosed within the folds of night that will turn even the blue ridge to a sleeping black. The horse will remain awake, to graze, and to dream of freedom.

This photo was taken two weeks ago on a quick trip to a Bed & Breakfast in Virginia, and to my mind made the whole journey worthwhile all by itself.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

In the Middle of Lake Erie Grows a Flower

Above is a photo called "Lake Erie Daisy" that I presented to the innkeeper of the House on Huntington Lane in gratitude for all her help with getting started in the art world.

A year ago today was the first time I ever participated in an art show. It happened kind of like the way things happened to Forrest Gump. You see, I had called up my friendly neighborhood innkeeper at the House on Huntington Lane Bed and Breakfast on Kelleys Island to ask whether she had a room available so I could stay overnight, take pictures, and look into selling some prints on the island. A link to the House on Huntington Lane appears below:

Since I had stayed there before, the innkeeper knew me and suggested, “Why don’t you call up the Kelleys Island Historical Association? They’re having an art show. All you have to do is come set up a card table.” A link to the Kelleys Island Historical Association appears below:

Having absolutely no experience, I happily agreed. Long story short, I sold a decent amount of photos featuring Kelleys Island landscape and nature scenes last year. The most touching moment came when a six-year-old boy stepped forward and introduced himself to me because he wanted to meet a “real artist” and his mom had just bought him a picture I was selling of the glacial grooves so that he could hang up the famous Kelleys Island rock formation in his bedroom. A link to an earlier post on the glacial groove photo appears below:

The event ended on a humorous note when my card table totally collapsed right at the end of the show. Some guy volunteered that he could fix up my table enough so that the Kelleys Island Historical Association might pay me $10 for it. At that point, I simply donated the table for free and was real happy they didn’t charge me anything to haul it away as junk that was messing up their beautiful island! You might say my art career began with a bang …

Anyway. This spring, the same innkeeper from the House on Huntington Lane gave me another good suggestion: The Lake Erie daisies were in bloom along the North Shore Loop trail. I was so grateful that I gave her a 5x7 copy of the daisy in an 8x10 mat as a gift at this year’s island art show.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Back for Some Splashing Cool Conversation at Ye Olde Summer Watering Hole

This photo is called "Keeping Cool." These two horses were happily splashing around in their watering hole just like little kids. Photo taken at the Southern Cross Ranch in Madison, Georgia back in May, 2007.

What a long, strange trip it’s been … and the journey continues.

So what’ve I been up to?

Driving back and forth like a mad woman between Ohio and New York to participate in not one, but two art shows at the same time. Right now I have two photos on display: “Memories of Ellen” is up at the Market Street Art Center in Lockport, New York. “Intergalactic Scenic Overlook” … the photo that won first place back in February up in New York … is up at the Zanesville Art Center in Zanesville, Ohio.

“Memories of Ellen” is named after a childhood friend who grew up and moved away. In fact, this is the playhouse in her backyard. Link to the Market Street Art Center:

“Intergalactic Scenic Overlook” … as mentioned in an earlier blog entry … here’s a link to that blog entry:

And here’s a link to the Zanesville Art Center:

Worked on a short-term, time-sensitive technical writing contract assignment during the month of June. Long hours, but so rewarding to work with manuals in foreign languages from Spanish to Japanese as well as with excellent supervisors.

Feeling a bit under the weather with one thing or another, just now feeling like my old self again.

Attended a 4th of July picnic at a relative’s house. Most memorable moment was hearing from across a smoke-filled backyard, “Mom, he’s got one of the sparklers in his mouth …” Don’t try this at home. Even though someone else actually did.

So that’s what’s been up with me. I look forward to visiting blogs now that I’m here … Wow I’ve missed you guys! :-)

Question for Readers: So, how have you been spending YOUR summer vacation?

Monday, May 11, 2009

I Hate Snakes

I love my Indiana Jones hat. I love wearing it on intrepid adventures, nature trails, and bird walks.

Magee Marsh located at Oak Harbor, Ohio, is famous for unusual finds during spring warbler migration season. As of May 8, 2009, I was happy to see four "lifers" (birds seen for the first time that I can now proudly add to my life list of observed birds): Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Nashville Warbler, and Least Bittern. As for photographic evidence, forget about it. My camera's only good for landscapes. And, as luck would have it ... snakes!

Something else I have in common with Indiana Jones besides the hat. I hate snakes! Now this little guy happened to be contentedly sunning himself along the boardwalk trail, close enough to reach out and touch. (Perish the thought!) Turns out I had encountered a "species of concern" called the Eastern Fox Snake.

The Eastern Fox Snake, Latin name "Elaphe Vulpina Gloydi," is relatively tame. Hence the concern is that its population is thinning, though it remains at this point an unprotected species.

As the Eastern Fox Snake slithers off into the sunset, here are a few websites for more information:

This adventure demonstrates yet another instance of going off in search of one thing and finding something completely unexpected. Sure keeps life interesting!

Questions for Readers: What's the most interesting non-bird that you've come across during a bird walk? And what's your most exciting or memorable life bird?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Flowering Dogwood in a Blue Clear Sky

My first trip down to the Hocking Hills this spring was stormy and gothic as you've seen before. My beloved redbud trees were in bloom, but looking like pale ghostly laughter amid scraggly bare brown branches all around.

I asked the innkeeper to send me an e-mail to let me know when the trees were just starting to turn spring green, so that I could plan to get up at 4:30 a.m. the next morning, jump in the car, and make a one-day whirlwind trip back down there. Well, the day I received the e-mail was just gorgeous, but by the time I would have traveled to the Hocking Hills at least half the day would have been gone. Couldn't go the next day due to a business-related phone call. Got rained out the day after that, at least according to the weather radar at my favorite weather website, Weather Underground.

As each precious day went by, I knew it was less and less likely to achieve the perfect combination of redbud trees blooming together with flowering dogwood trees together with just the right amount of spring green new leaves on the hillside trees. But anyways, I started out Saturday morning, and in my previous blog entry you can see plenty of clouds ... or weird Photoshopped skies to mask the clouds ... along with the spring green and red barns.

Then suddenly, out of a blue clear sky, emerged the one safe parking lot to pull off in and take pictures from on Thompson Ridge Road in Laurelville, Ohio. Now Thompson Ridge is a beautiful stretch of a scenic route. Only trouble is it's narrow, winding, steep in places, and doesn't have much of a safe shoulder alongside to stop anywhere even when the beauty gets real tempting.

But the one gravel parking lot was enough. And it provided access to the flowering dogwood against the sky. The redbud blossoms were long gone, had long since leafed out as the flowers camouflaged themselves by turning like chameleons into the common spring green. But the dogwood was a more than worthy consolation prize.

What the Hocking Hills have taught me over the years is that you never go down the same road twice. If you try to go back looking for that perfect spot where everything came together last time for an especially-pleasing photo, what you'll find are memories of an ideal moment in the past alongside of a jarring present that doesn't quite compare because it's not the same. So the alternatives are to travel different roads, or travel familiar roads as if they're new.

Because life can still hold wondrous surprises and God-given gifts if you remain open for them. Like in Forrest Gump's world, life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get ... and unexpected hoped-for events can seem to come "out of the blue clear sky." Fascinatingly enough, while driving this past Saturday through the Hocking Hills, I heard a radio advertisement with a local actor pretending to be Forrest Gump. I like to think this fits a theme in my life, as is also apparent from this earlier blog entry:

Anyways, I went out hoping for redbud, came up instead with dogwood, and was not disappointed.

Question for Readers: Have you ever embarked on a quest looking for one thing, and found something else, a surprise maybe, just as good or even better?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Red Barns and Spring Green

I made this first sky black the better to accent the colors and textures of new growth and well-tended farm buildings and fences. This pretty little barn surprises me with its beauty every time I see it coming up just around the bend of a winding road meandering through the hills. Photo taken at Laurelville in Hocking County, Ohio.

This particular hill at Ratcliffburg in Vinton County always reminds me of a gumdrop.

A grandeur of sky hovers over the hills of Vinton County, Ohio. The sky has been dramatized in Photoshop so I can better communicate how looking at the clouds made me feel.

I call this guy “Big Red.” Almost looks like a face with one eye patched, a loose nose, and a wide gaping mouth. Photo taken on Big Pine Road at Laurelville.

A quilt barn with matching wooly quilt sheep. The evergreen design on the side of the barn lets you know you’ve arrived at the Weaver Christmas Tree Farm. Photo taken at Creola in Vinton County.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ash Cave Waterfall on the Rocks

A primal view of the Ash Cave Waterfall in the Hocking Hills of Ohio. Amazingly enough, this photo was taken on the same day as the Gothic Spring images in the preceding blog entry. It turned out after driving around a stormy countryside for six hours that the spring rains eventually poured themselves out into a pretty waterfall. More amazingly, I had this waterfall all to myself. And the sun came out just long enough to give the day a happy ending.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Gothic Spring

Disclaimer: I am only a humble blogger. I only report the weather. I do not create it. Having observed bare branches in Northeast Ohio, I traveled to Southeast Ohio, all with the noble goal of seeking out and bringing to you the loveliness of flowering trees and the gentleness of spring green. Here follow the results of my quest based on what I found on April 21, 2009:

This photo is called “Haunting Stormy Ohio Day.” It depicts intensely-changeable weather conditions on a back road in Vinton County, Ohio. All day long scattered rain storms would alternate with small bursts of sunshine. No Photoshop was used on this image. I know it's very dark, but I wanted to keep it as is to preserve the mood.

This photo is called “Spring Gothic.” In it, a majestic stand of trees loom in an eerie stormy light at Lake Hope State Park in Vinton County, Ohio.

This photo is called “There is Beauty in a Dogwood Bush.” When skies are grey, trees are spooky, and that roof over your head doesn’t look entirely comforting, you can still count on the dogwood bush to provide beauty. So remember, when life hands you a dogwood bush, take a picture of it. Okay, so the dogwood bush is pretty spooky too. But in a good way, I think.

To end on a small note of hopeful color, at least the “Ghostly Pink Redbud” trees were in bloom!

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Spring Bird Walk in Northeast Ohio as Seen by a Landscape Photographer

The birds must’ve taken one look at the sun dramatically trying to burst its way through the haunting clouds and simply went back to bed. It was mighty quiet when we started out on the Sunday morning bird walk in Brecksville, Ohio. Ah yes, what a gorgeous spring morning ...

Every week you can choose a group to go with based on which direction they’re going. Today I chose the group going South on the tracks. You literally have to walk on the train tracks to cross a rocky stream ten feet below. If a train came, you’d have to jump off the train tracks to avoid being hit. This thought came to me while I was searching for Red-headed Woodpeckers one night after work. I was halfway over the water in the middle of the tracks and suddenly realized I had no idea what the train schedule was. So now my philosophy is that there’s safety in numbers.

Aha! Waterfowl! This being a bird walk, here’s the obligatory bird photo. Two Canada Geese, each with a watery mirror image.

The bird photo out of the way, I can get back to concentrating on landscapes. I had lots of fun with this marsh in Photoshop to give this image a surreal painterly look. The dark blue-black background helps bring out the detail of the golden marsh grasses.

And here’s a shot in which no Photoshop was used called "Bare Trees in a Foreboding Sky." Still waiting for the leaves … Wonderful spring mood, huh?

Another painterly version of the wetlands at the Brecksville Reservation in the Cleveland Metroparks.

Woohoo! Flowers at last. Okay, so the daffodils are set against a spooky Northeast Ohio April hillside. But they’re still flowers. Bright and cheerful, aren’t they?

And to end on a birdwatching-related note, here’s a tree with a lived-in look. I call it "Woodpecker Totem Pole." Many a woodpecker appears to have called this place home.
Please Note: I will be away until late Wednesday night or Thursday morning. I look forward to visiting your blogs on my return!

Friday, April 17, 2009


"Endurance is nobler than strength and patience than beauty." -- John Ruskin

Having lasted through the winter atop this rugged peak of the Grayson Highlands, this blueberry bush will grow fruit again come summer. Photo taken near Mt. Rogers in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in May of 2007.

In fact, this image comes from the same adventure-laden day filled with rascally wild horses and eccentric married couples with dogs as described in an earlier blog entry.

Yet there's a different mood here. Of climbing. Of overcoming. Of getting near the top and still not quite seeing hoped-for results just yet, and of wondering. What exactly would the blueberry bush look like all decked out in its finery of leaf and fruit? What would the taste of these wild berries be? Would it be possible to take some back down to the more comfortable life of home, to make jam and pie? Has the climb been worth it, for a glimpse of bare branches? Do they in fact hold a beauty and message of their own?

And would there be any wild horses on the return trip hoping for a handout?

Does your life sometimes feel like this?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Let It Snow!

You are invited in this photo to walk the path of silent, majestic fresh-fallen snow leading to a realm of winter wonder. Enjoy the peacefulness of fresh-fallen snow at Tinkers Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook in the Cleveland Metroparks of Northeast Ohio. This photo, called "Snowfall Symmetry," was on display this past December 2008 at the Market Street Art Center in Lockport, NY as part of their "Off the Walls" exhibit.

I, Queen of Narnia, do hereby decree that winter is once again back in session!

At least in the realm surrounding Cleveland, Ohio. It's snowing, and I'm loving it!

Last night I drifted off to sleep happily to the sound of hail, for that meant ice. Today I awoke even more pleasantly to actual snowflakes drifting down, and the longer the day wore on, the heavier the snowfall became and the stormier it got. Beautiful bracing invigorating weather, cold and refreshing ...

In honor of the weather, I decided to feature some winter photos today in my Etsy shop. While many no doubt are all intent on spring and flowers, there had to be SOMEONE else out there who appreciates the finer points of glorious white winter, regardless of whatever the calendar may say. In any case, I knew I would enjoy seeing snow-laden images again.

And the good news is, one of my winter wonderland photos sold today.

Here's hoping for more snow tomorrow. And the next day ...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Why I’m a Photographer, Not a Painter

My first acrylic abstract painting, or attempt at one. A work in progress, maybe?

Remind me to think twice before attending an acrylic abstract painting workshop when I'm feeling under the weather. My first painting to my mind ended up looking like lavender almost-floral wallpaper with a dash of blackberry jam thrown in!

Okay, so it was totally exciting when a checklist of art supplies came in the mail beforehand listing everything I’d need from canvas to paint tubes to some weird substance called “gesso” to a spray bottle to paint brushes to pallet to pallet knives to rags. The glistening white canvas sparkled with creative freedom in all its glorious possibilities …

Then came the big day, this past Saturday. The instructor was a personable professional artist named Mel Grunau who assured us that we could paint however we liked, that there was no right or wrong. Well, that was before he saw me in action, creating what passed in my opinion for attempted art … as opposed to actual, real art.

Anyways, Mr. Grunau gave a demonstration of laying down colors and water on canvas. What fascinated me was that you didn’t even need a brush to start painting. As long as paint hit the white target somehow or other, it was all good. So I carefully picked out my three favorite colors of Brilliant Purple, Chromium Oxide Green, and Cobalt Blue, and was all set to make a masterpiece!

Meanwhile, there were several other acrylic abstract students at the workshop, all female. Most had previous painting experience. One shy soul coyly claimed that this was her first time, but once she got going, I was skeptical. Either she had beginner’s luck or massive raw talent, but this particular lady in my estimation already looked to be professional enough to exhibit and win awards right now. Maybe she had drawn or painted in other mediums like oil or watercolor and meant that she was only new to acrylic paints. Anyways …

Here’s how I wound up being different from the other workshop attendees:

  • Everyone else used paint brushes. I used torn up pieces of cardboard with a flat edge. Apparently, everyone else was afraid of getting their hands dirty. Me, I was afraid of getting my brushes dirty. My hands were covered in paint to the point that I might have almost been doing finger painting.

  • Everyone else felt the need to put recognizable representational objects or at least easily-guessable symbols into their work, such as flowers in a vase, a clearly-defined beach horizon, or a dreamy image showing what some called koi fish and I called red parrots. Me, I was happy to stick with colors I liked and primitive hints of geometric shapes.
When I thought I was done, I let myself be talked into adding violet splotches to my painting. Personally, now that I look at it, I'm not sure I like them. Maybe I'll paint over them.

Questions for Readers: Have you ever attended a workshop, art or otherwise, and found yourself different somehow from everybody else there? How did this affect your learning? Or on the other hand, have you ever attended a workshop, fit right in, and taken to learning the skill as easily as a duck to water? Do you enjoy hobbies best in formal groups, with friends or family, or on your own?