Monday, October 30, 2017

Lake Photos

In an earlier posting, I mentioned that I'm working on my photography skills and that I signed up for several workshops at One is on product photography to help with photographs of my sewing, knitting, and wire working projects. One is on creating a photo narrative like the type of article you'd see in Artful Blogging or on a lifestyle blog. Another is about capturing the pictures in-between the posed pictures that are more spontaneous and natural. I'm not sure how that will apply to the blog but it sounded like fun. The other two are on basic digital  camera skills and on editing pictures. Those are two I'll need to focus on going forward.

Right now, I'm working on composition, probably because it's familiar to me and seemed a good place to start. A book I found particularly helpful with textile art is proving equally helpful with photography. It's called The Simple Secret to Better Painting by Greg Albert. I highly recommend it.

The book talks about having a primary and a secondary focal point and how the not quite equal tension between the two focal points keeps the viewer's eye moving around the piece. I tend to work toward that with each image. In the two above, I wanted to capture the contrast between the organic forward focal point and the more linear secondary point in the background.

In the book, Greg talks about placing the horizon line at 1/3 from the top or the bottom of the image and about diagonal lines moving through the piece. Typically, it's not good to have the primary focal point dead center and yet of all the images I took of this group of trees against the mountains, dead center worked the best especially with the more graceful lines of the grass and the mountain tops.

These images are of the same boardwalk from opposite ends. I like the energy of the shadow lines and how they pull your eye into the piece. The diagonal lines come in from one corner of each image but not out the opposite one. I was aiming to achieve that effect because that helps the eye stay with the image longer.

I have a fondness for images that are taken through the foreground to whatever is in the background. I like the way the water beyond the trees and the light at the end of the path help us look into these photos. I have a basic...

... Canon SD1000 Elph point and shoot that could be used on manual only I have no idea how to take pictures on manual. That's something I'm working toward with the basic class. With the two images above, I slightly depressed the button until I could see the squares that show where the camera is auto focusing and then I shifted that square to where I wanted the camera to focus before depressing the button all the way. I want to learn all I can using what props and products I have for now without spending too much money. The photography supplies that I do want to purchase are indoor ones for the product photos.

It is amazing how the choice of where to place the horizon line can drastically alter the feeling of the image. In the one above, we are looking through the bull rushes and toward the mountains and in the one below we are looking over them. I find the top one far more interesting.  Again, I was playing with the top third or bottom third placement of the horizon line.

On Saturday, I was looking for a sock knitting chart that has somehow disappeared from where it is supposed to be. In the process of looking for - and so far not finding - the chart, I discovered another basket of knitted projects that needed to be blocked and/or sewn together. LOL - I imagine you'll see more knitting BUT sewing is definitely on this week's to do list. It's good to have all those bits and pieces of UFO cleaned up.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - increasing photography skills and decreasing projects to finish

Friday, October 27, 2017

Happen To The Day

Live your dream.
Show compassion.

Create your own happiness
Follow your heart.
Enjoy the little things.
Laugh out loud.
Be your best self.
Cherish every moment
Dream big.
Embrace every possibility.

Discover your passion.
Believe in miracles.

Create peace.
Make a wish.
Be spontaneous.
Remember to breathe.
Fall in love.

Today is the day.

As a reader, a writer, and a keen conversationalist, words are important to me. The phrases above were on a framed piece that I saw at a local store several weeks ago and even though I like the encouragement, I'm not one for displaying a lot of plaques. Except it stayed on my mind. And was gone when I went back. And then was back in stock. So I bought it intending to put it in the bathroom over the toilet only who can read it there - VBG - so I'm debating two different places in the hallway.

This magnet on my fridge is of one of my favourite quotes and as you can see, there's a commonality of theme. In my journal study yesterday was the phrase - I happen to the day instead of the day happening to me. It's from Julia Cameron's new book It's Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond. The book focuses on discovering - or rediscovering - creativity during the shift from working full time to retirement, from having a dictated schedule to dictating your own, from being told what to do to deciding for yourself what you want to do each day.

When I was teaching on-line, I spent four or five hours a day, seven days a week, forty-nine weeks a year, answering student's emails and on weekdays, I also spent four or five hours developing new products and creating class samples. When I stopped teaching, the shift was so drastic that even though there were all kinds of possibilities for me to discover in my studio, I spent a lot of time walking around in circles trying to find my feet. It took years. I wish I'd had this book then.

There are two phrases I hear often when people are comparing the time they spend creating with the time I spend creating - which we should never do - because comparisons are never good. The phrases are you're not working like I am and you live alone and I don't. As I told one friend the other day when she tried these on me, I don't buy that. When I was teaching full time, when my kids were at home, when I worked outside the home, when my husband was on the road working and I was basically a single mother, before and after children when it was just the two of us, and basically ever day of my adult life, I've made time for creativity and I got a whole heck of a lot more done when I was busier than I do now with five full days to myself. Too much time can be just as difficult as not enough time.

One thing I'm working on is getting back to my regular routine and to planning the day in a way that work for me. I spent yesterday morning finishing knitted things. I wove in some ends, blocked some projects, unraveled a scarf, organized two children's cardigans to sew together at today's knitting group, added thumbs to two fingerless gloves, started the collar on a child's cardigan, again for tomorrow, and finished the back of the sweater that I'm working on. Once the cardigans are sewn together, I'll have finished all of the current projects and will be ready for new ones. My oldest grandson would like to please have some not itchy purple socks. Of course!

I thought I knew how this fall was going to go and we're not even halfway through the season and several things have shifted significantly. My tenant disappeared in the night and I'm now looking for a new one. After decades of treating this condition, Howard's doctor's are re-considering his diagnosis, running and re-running tests, and may or may not know something by the end of January. Everything we thought we knew is not valid until they confirm that it is or they change their minds and that would most likely mean more unknowing and more tests. I'm not good with unknowing. And Diane - my creativity coach - has decided to take a break right when I'd hoped to spend more time with her and be more focused in the studio. Life's like that.

I am learning to be flexible although sometimes it takes a whole lot more effort than at other times. I am far and beyond where I used to be in that I recognize that there's nothing I can do about the tenant or the tests but choose how I will search and how I will wait. And, while I'm going to miss talking to Diane, I'm thrilled that she is working on some projects of her own and I understand that - ultimately - my creativity is my responsibility. If it's meant to be, it's up to me. I have an assignment to finish, notes to review and endless possibilities in my studio just waiting for me to explore them. Including the purse.

If I'm honest - which I typically am - I have been procrastinating sewing my daughter's purse. Since April. I'm feeling intimidated. I want it to be exactly what she's hoping for and well worth the wait. At first, I had valid reasons to procrastinate like having her approve a different choice of fabric, ordering the hardware, and finishing the house renovations. But now, I'm simply procrastinating and by Monday, I will have finished most of the creative procrastination projects I can dig up. It's really rather silly. I've been sewing for over forty years. I'm good at it. I've already sewn the prototype and it turned out well. I need to JUST DO IT.

I've been "just doing" photography, a little bit each day. Next week, probably on Monday, I'll post some more of the photographs I took yesterday while walking along the lake. I've been working on composition and I think that's coming quite well. With these couch and knitting interior images, the light from the window was too bright so although I like the composition, they appear overexposed. When I get to "just doing" editing and learning the software program, I'll work on those.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - recognizing that I'm procrastinating

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Two Year Mark

This past Sunday, I drove to Calgary to spend several days with my daughter and her family. Jessica was graduating with her degree in accounting and I wanted to attend the convocation and celebrate with her which meant...

... looking after my grandsons while Jessica and her husband went out for dinner together. The boys are two and four and it was so fun to watch them play together, to get woken up with snuggles and kisses, and to attend my oldest grandson's karate and swimming lessons. I also...

... spent a day with my friend Mary. While waiting for our table at lunch, we went to a nearby consignment shop that carries brand name clothing. I didn't buy this sweater even though I loved it but only because the colour just wasn't right and the content was mostly synthetic so I couldn't over-dye it. I did...

... get these pictures and will combine Drops 69-9 and Drops 56-21 to knit something similar. Mary and I shopped, had lunch, and then knit at a local yarn store where I bought a similar weight of yarn in purple. That's more my style.

The drive home was an adventure. Due to heavy traffic, it took me an hour to get from my daughter's to the highway. I stopped for breakfast and journal writing in Canmore and stopped again in Banff to visit some galleries and the Christmas store. The weather was great there but...

... further along the road there were wind gusts, heavy rain, water pooling, snow dust, and then slushy snow as well as LOTS of construction. In one 75 km period, I was stopped five times for over an hour and a half in total. It's a good thing...

... I had my knitting along. This is the second sleeve of the second child's size 18 month cardigan that I'm knitting from the yarn that I first knit into two shawls when I flew to Winnipeg and back last month. I didn't like the shawls. The knit was too loose. It's better here. I knit one cardigan using only the variegated yarn and one using a combination of the variegated and a grey yarn. There's one piece left to knit and then I can block the pieces and sew the cardigans together. Photos then. Knitting and sewing in children's sizes is something I find quite relaxing. It's a way to play and experiment with no expectations of fit or flatter. It's also a great way to use up scraps of fabric or yarn.

Last night, I helped my friend Wendy set up her new studio. I kept telling her it was something I'd love to help her with and that it wasn't an imposition at all - that it'd be something I'd really enjoy. I don't think she believed me at first but after we'd put the main furniture pieces in place and were talking organization and decor, she said she could see my enthusiasm. YES YES. She's an amazing decorator so I can hardly wait to see it with all her touches.

It was two years in September since I moved to Salmon Arm. Wendy was my realtor but I'd known her for quite a long time before that although we were more acquaintances than the good friends that we're becoming. It was nice to know someone when I moved especially as I had never moved anywhere as an adult before and had no idea what to expect. I realized other day that the two year mark is significant.

At two years, you're not new anymore nor are you completely integrated. While I've met lots of interesting people and some - like Wendy - are becoming better friends, there's no one I'd call at two in the morning in an emergency. Two years is long enough to develop some patterns that could become ruts if I'm not aware and it's long enough to have tested out some groups but not necessarily to have found the ones you want to belong to. I'm thrilled with my two knitting groups that meet weekly and now I'm looking for some once a month opportunities. Yesterday, I attended a trade fair for the Women In Business association to see whether I might like to join that. The monthly luncheon with discussion appeals to me and the members I talked to seemed quite impressed with the group so it looks good so far.

Two years is also long enough to see who is going to keep in touch and make the effort to come visit and who is not likely too. That can be sad and it's reality. One thing I am learning as I age is how to be more graceful about the relationships lost that I had hoped to keep and to realize that even though I may have multiple things in common with someone, it doesn't mean the relationship is going to work and apparently two years is also long enough to have tried a few groups that didn't work and to have discontinued Some relationships that weren't going anywhere good. AND...

... two years is about right for getting settled and finding a daily/weekly routine that feels comfortable. While I still have some work to do finishing up the renovations, I am looking forward to this stretch of time between now and Christmas when I can get into the studio and really enjoy being creative. I have a purse, a t-shirt, and a necklace pending along with a sweater for myself to finish knitting and another one to start, a dress to cut off, a skirt to copy and take-in, and LOTS of potential pending. Although I'm experiencing the ebb and flow of emotions around moving and the reality of this two year mark, it's more an awareness and hasn't changed how happy I am to be here and working in my studio.

Talk soon - Myrna

- helping Wendy with her studio

Friday, October 13, 2017

First Time Success

It's ten o'clock on Thursday night and I am only just now sitting down to write this post. Ideally, I'd have written it much earlier in the day and that's not the way things went. What I did write earlier was a five page letter to my youngest son. He asked if I could write down what we talked about in a discussion earlier this week and it was surprisingly intimidating for someone who likes to talk and give advice as much as I do. I wanted to make sure that he knew how proud I am of him, how amazing he is, and how - as annoying as it is to hear this phrase - it will all work out it the end, no matter what it may be.

One of the things I talked about was that my highest priority is relationships. I believe that life is about relationships and I work on my relationship with God, with myself, with my family, and with friends in that order. After that, everything else is stuff. This past weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving as well as Howard's birthday and our entire family was home which I really enjoyed. My oldest grandson told his parents that he likes Grandma's house best. It's because everything is on one level and he doesn't have to go upstairs to go to bed but I'm choosing to interpret that as Grandma's the best - VBG.

I love this picture of my youngest son and my oldest grandson playing in the dirt of my unfinished walkway. Huge amounts of time and energy in my life have been spent attempting to recapture the childlike play that used to come so naturally. One way I play is by realizing that no matter what I'm creating, it's not earth shattering, it's not a life and death event. It's entertainment. An experiment. A learning process. This thing that I am making can succeed, it can fail, or it can evolve and I will still be warm, safe, loved, clothed, and fed. Some of my most favourite projects are the secondary ones that came after the primary failure. I've found that by letting go of expectations, I've been not only more successful but I'm having far more fun.

In May, I started renovating the house... and then the yard... and then the suite... and life has had some ups and downs that I'm still navigating. I have definitely not had nearly enough time in the studio. And it shows. I'm somewhat itchy, anxious, crabby BUT... this was the week to get back in the flow. As a warm-up, I'm working on pajamas for my grandson's Christmas presents. I have both pairs of pants finished and one top minus the buttons, buttonholes, and slip stitching. I hope to finish the second top this morning and the handwork at knitting this afternoon.

I'm visiting my daughter next week and I want to take their Christmas presents with me. She is graduating with her degree in accounting and has invited me to the convocation. As my friend Barb said, it's a huge accomplishment especially as she's done it through correspondence and night school, while maintaining a home and a marriage, working full time, and having two children. YES YES! I'm so proud of her.

One of the women who works at Starbucks is having a baby boy in the next few weeks. Her nursery is painted yellow and turquoise. I don't own any yellow yarn so I used left over yardage of grey, green, and turquoise yarns to knit this size two cardigan. The buttons look brighter in this image than they do in real life. They actually match the stripe which means...

... I can use this image in the photo editing course that I am taking on Craftsy. I signed up for four different photography courses to improve the quality of my images. I took these sweater photos outdoors in "open shade" which means in an area that is shaded by an obstacle nearby but has open sky above.

I took the images of this pendant I just made for my friend Wendy outside with a white piece of paper as a background and an overcast sky. So far, I am getting better results with outside versus inside images so I'm researching lighting and a photo set-up for the studio to improve the indoor images and I'm working to develop the skills to edit the pictures.

THANK YOU for the feedback on last posting's questions. I've done a lot of thinking about what I want to do going forward. While I want to maintain my tone and style, I definitely want to improve my writing skills and the photos on my blog. I'd like to update the format so it's somewhat more glossy and just have fun putting every post together. One of the photography workshops I'm taking is about narrative photo essays and that's basically what each post is. My primary objectives are to share what I know to support and encourage others and to connect with the community that loves what I love. That's not going to change.

Some other things might. I've realized I do not want to teach interactive on-line workshops. I've done that before and when I'm completely honest with myself, I don't want to be that "on" anymore. I want my focus to be on developing my skills and abilities and sharing what I'm working on... which is more than I can keep for myself... so I may start offering pieces for sale. And I'd like to do more writing which may also take the form of something to sell. We'll see as time goes on. As far as formal teaching goes, I would like to teach two or three times a year at a retreat, weekend workshop, or event of that kind so I'm quietly setting that intention in the background as I continue to do my best in the present.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the delight of changing thread in the serger with first time success