Sunday, July 31, 2016

Love In Light

"Love in Light" Still Life, #9221

You Are In Every Portrait

Self Portrait  #9136,  2016
Some say every portrait is a self portrait of the photographer.  In the case, it is the truth.

Saturday morning I went to the Mpls. Farmers Market with Karl's daughter, Carla.  She had to buy some Minnesota cheese curds to take back to her co-workers back in Colorado.  I had a small inkling that maybe, just maybe I'd buy some flowers if something called to me. My birthday is coming up and I could make an early still life that was autobiograpical.

I walked through the market and did a comparison shop of what flowers were available at the best price.  From the onset the purples called to me and I knew that the yellow lilies would be the perfect contrasting color.

Got home and double checked that the green background was still up and usable for today's still life. I did however pull the fabric more taut to minimize the striped lighting pattern this time.  Then assembled the following elements:

Poetry books, always Mary Oliver and my new collection by Wendell Berry
Cameras:  tiny crystal Swarovski camera and gold plated miniature camera
Wine glasses: three glasses that represent Karl, his daughter Carla and me with a nice white wine
Glass paperweight which displays a picture of me from 2nd or 3rd grade in my school uniform
Fabric to add color and texture

It could have contained more elements but I've learned that less is more.

Repetitive elements that almost always appear in my still life portraits are
natural light
poetry books
living flowers
beautiful vase
beverage vessels

To my mind they are all representations of love.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Worldly Owl

The Worldly Owl Still Life, July 2016


Morning Glory, July 2016 

"Look at everything as though you were seeing it 
either for the first time or for the last time.
Then your time on earth will be filled with glory." 
                                               Betty Smith
                              author of one of my favorite books
                                    "The Tree Grows In Brooklyn" 

poem: The Telephone by Robert Frost

Red Lily, July 2016 

The Telephone   

           Robert Frost1874 - 1963

“When I was just as far as I could walk

From here to-day,
There was an hour
All still
When leaning with my head against a flower
I heard you talk.
Don’t say I didn’t, for I heard you say—
You spoke from that flower on the window sill—
Do you remember what it was you said?”
“First tell me what it was you thought you heard.”
“Having found the flower and driven a bee away,

I leaned my head,
And holding by the stalk,
I listened and I thought I caught the word—
What was it? Did you call me by my name?
Or did you say—
Someone said ‘Come’—I heard it as I bowed.”
“I may have thought as much, but not aloud.”
“Well, so I came.”

Friday, July 8, 2016

poem: Museum

           by Keith Leonard (link below to audio and text)

"I walked the three floors
of the local antique store
and imagined white plaques

adorning each room

—but unlike museums
I could touch the displays,
and could take a seat
at a beautiful walnut table—
I could wonder about the moment
its palm-stained patina
went from simply dirty
to expensively antique—that
singular moment the thing
became slightly more
than a thing by simply
continuing to be
the very same thing—all its cracks
thick as the edge of a quarter—
all its smoothed over corners—
all its dark knots flourishing—
and I thought I could live
for awhile in this very
same body—and did, somehow,
and was loved, somehow,
into a third body, which totters
across the living room,
and whose knees I kiss
when he stumbles,
and the difference between
just now and not
is an aperture’s quick snap—
is breath-delicate—
it must have been Luck
—I see it—that saddled me,
the blind horse rising
and falling as the carnival
blared from the brass pipes,
as the carousel twirled
its crown of lights,
and one by one the bulbs
went dark—and so it is,
this life—this goddamn
lucky life—the organ
sounding off the melody,
the platform winding down,
and the horses still bounding."

About This Poem by Keith Leonard

“On a rare day, I’m reminded how paper-thin and tearable existing is—the aneurysm, the cancer, the errant car jumping the curb—and such chance mortality both terrifies me and fills me with gratitude, since many of those I love are still here, somehow, and I’m still here, somehow. This poem was written on one of those grateful days.”

—Keith Leonard"

I signed up for the "Poem of the Day" and this was the selection for July  8, 2016.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Keep Something Beautiful In Your Mind

Keep Something Beautiful in Your Mind, Still Life #3789
John O'Donohue: "I love Pascal's phrase, that you should always "keep something beautiful in your mind." And I have often - like in times when it's been really difficult for me, if you can keep some kind of little contour that you can glimpse sideways at now and again, you can endure great bleakness."

I read this statement by Irish poet John O'Donohue an hour ago and it make me think of the experience I had recently while I visited a longtime girlfriend of mine. Debbie was my wild hippy friend, originally from Minnesota like me, but we were both living in San Francisco when we knew each other best (1975 - 1985). Passionate about life, love, family, friends and so much more. When she got into something she dove in 100%.

But today she's recovering from a stroke that occurred about two months ago. She is currently going through physical therapy to regain use of her, now paralyzed, left side.  I recently visited her in her private room at Walker Methodist Transitional Center.  She had finished dinner and was in bed watching TV.  We talked about her health and the music concert she'd gone to the previous weekend. She'd bought the tickets months ago long before the stroke and the six weeks in extensive care.  I told her I was so amazed that she and her daughter had rode over and back on a Metro Mobility Van. I saw the photo of them on Facebook with the #strokewontstopme,

While we chatted I enjoyed looking at all the photos and items of comfort packed in her room and especially on her dresser and window ledge.  Simultaneously, she asked for and was administered her evening medicine of pain pills and more.

Being who I am, and how I see things, I couldn't help but notice the beautiful orchid plant on display on her dresser near the window. It was hard to truly appreciate it because of all the other items around it. As the sun shone through the window and across the orchids I was prompted to move everything off the dresser top and onto the floor so that Debbie could appreciate this beautiful moment of sunlight on the flowers.  While lying in her bed, she helped give me directions on how I could compose the portrait so she could see the movement of light and shadows better.

It was only ten minutes or so of enjoying this beauhtiful scene before we lost the sun and everything fell in shadow. But it felt as though we both had shared the gift of beauty together and we both had seen and felt something precious before we had to go back to the reality of her stroke and the long recovery she has ahead of her.

The photos turned out so nice that I had them made into a set of greeting cards which I will hand deliver to Debbie on my next visit.

There are times I feel that my ability/need to see beauty and create photographs is trite. But other times, like on this day, it felt important and significant.

John O'Donohue quote above from:
August 6, 2015

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Red, White, Blue

Red, White, Blue Still Life #8722 

Yesterday's still life photos were pretty good as I created what I knew were going to be simply Version #1 with more variations to come. I didn't know what was going to happen next but I was open to change and new flowers coming into my life.  I thought I'd have a chance to purchase some store-bought flowers for myself on Saturday when I was out shopping.

Little did I know, however, that at 9:00 a.m. my neighbor Sarah S. would call to say she picked up a few things for me at the local Farmers Market and she was going to stop by for just a minute.  When she got out of her car she grabbed her things and started to quickly walk to our front door. 

I looked at her and then shockingly looked at the large bouquet of flowers that she was holding in her hand. I couldn't believe my eyes.

With a huge smile on her face she presented the flowers to me saying that she thought I'd like a 4th of July holiday bouquet.

I thanked her profusely and told her that she was a mind reader. I had been wishing that I could get a bouquet of flowers today specifically with a 4th of July themed still life in mind.  What a kind and generous neighbor we have with Sarah S. We're so fortunate that she is our neighbor and we've become good friends. 

Today's  Red, White, Blue Still Life came together with the following elements:
  • Red cotton fabric for a background
  • Red, white, blue scarf that I had purchased on Friday to wear and also use as a table cover
  • Books pulled from the shelves that hopefully, spoke about Americana in general rather than Independence Day, specifically
  • Glasses of red wine
  • Two white wooden bird sculptures embossed "DREAMS" and "LOVE" that I thought could be interpreted as emotions expressed about America.  
It is also true, however, to say that the words "DREAMS" and "LOVE" also expressed how I was personally feeling today about family, friends, my well being and my country.  I am so grateful for all that I have as a citizen of the U.S.A., as a member of the Houser family, my connection through marriage with the Blomseth family and my dear friends.

Hands Are Full

  petrichor   heavy in the air   fills our hands