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Oooh La La!


Here is Alexander, my 7 year-old son, holding the most recent addition to our art collection. This kid is a magician. He has the power to both mortify and charm a girl at the very same time. He used to surprise me with his worldly wisdom, but now I've grown to expect something profound to exit his lips every few days. When it's not profound, it makes me wonder what I'm doing wrong as a mother... Let's just say he is no stranger to profanity. Yes, he is seven.

So enough about children who rock my world with the power to both break and build my heart... A week or so ago I posted this picture of Alexander on Facebook.


I am an avid iphontographer. Meaning I take pictures with my iPhone. All. The. Time. It is amazing what one can do with an iPhone and some cool software these days. Photography is an art that has always left me in awe. Back in the day the process of taking a photo, finishing a roll of film, dropping it off at the drugstore, and waiting, usually impatiently, to take ownership of an entire stack of beautiful new photos - that process was magical to me. I loved plowing through that stack of photos reliving every precious moment captured on film. Hoping I had actually captured the precious moment. Celebrating when I had, and trying not to be disappointed when I hadn't. Let's face it, some moments, the most hard to capture moments, like the sunset, a sleeping baby, and the Red Rocks in Sedona must be lived and appreciated fully in the moment. The pictures are simply a reminder of that moment.

I spent years carefully placing my photos in albums - remember those magnetic pages with the sticky stuff on them? I made my own scrapbooks, and felt as if I had died and gone to heaven when I learned there was an entire world that existed around what I had been doing in my own way for years - scrapbooking! I loved it all. The entire process. And as much as I love the instant gratification we experience now with digital photography, a part of me misses the rush I'd get when I'd finally get to see the product of my work after waiting with anticipation through an entire process.

Now I get a taste of that high through software like PicMonkey. It's not exactly the same, but I really enjoy my new process of clicking "Apply" and seeing my photos change right before my eyes. I enjoy seeing the many ways a photo can change with a simple click - adding "clarity" or a vintage look. Playing with the filters is really so much fun, and anyone can do it.

I still appreciate the art of photography and I sit in awe of the professionals. Seeing the ways they work their magic is inspiring. I guess the software is much like the magic kit I received as a gift as a child. I'm doing tricks with my software for sure, but it is play in comparison to the transformation that takes place at the hands of a real live magician.

Finally, we have arrived to the point of my post. If you love to play with pictures and even words, like I do, AND you are in the market for some meaningful art for your home, please consider this... I snapped that picture of my son and used PicMonkey to play with the filters and add a poem I found by Mary Oliver that fit both the image and the boy in it - within minutes. I uploaded it to Snapfish and within a week I have a brand new piece of art on canvas. I LOVE it! I love it so much, I just had to share it with you. I didn't anticipate you'd get an entire story to go with it, but that happens with me sometimes.

Go... Make some magic! Enjoy! xo

Loud, Messy Family Love

tangles used: poke leaf, perfs, and lots of flowers and variations of crescent moon.


It's Mandala Monday at Heart Connected. Here is today's mandala...the template comes from Erin at Zendala Dare. I decided to try a little color this week. I love the stark contrast of black and white, the Zentangle standard, but I have some new pan pastels that I wanted to dig into. The tones of the colors are more muted than I expected. I am okay with that though. I almost ditched the thing at one point. I wasn't liking the way it looked. But I remembered... it is about the process and I just changed my direction. I cannot say enough how much I love the fact that tangling, the method used in my mandala, mimics life in that way - not loving it, don't ditch it, change direction.

Over the weekend I spent a night with my cousins and aunties and my mom and sister. It is a tradition - the gathering of the Secret Pals! It all started with a gift exchange, but now I think the gifts are just a cover for a night of crazy family fun.

Through my mandala making process, my wandering thoughts kept making their way back to family. 

I read this blog post today, by Glennon of Momastery. I really love her and her message. The gist of today's post was that the family we see, on Facebook or on a person's annual Christmas card, isn't the whole family. There is the family we see, and then the family that exists beyond the picture. The family that can be messy and loud and sad and angry and not always clean and smiling for the camera.

That loud and messy family is CERTAINLY my family, even though I do enjoy our annual photo shoot for our Christmas card. My husband and I figured out that the secret to getting our kids to smile all at once is to make fart noises. It works every time. It only took us about 8 years to figure out that little gem. He stands over my head making fart noises and I snap like crazy. I take a ton of pictures for the photo shoot and then we narrow it down to the one that says LOVE the loudest. It's hard to depict love, of course, but we can usually find one picture that captures the sparkle in each child's eye and the endearing look that says, "I love my dad. He makes the BEST fart noises!"

Shortly after I read Glennon's post, my mother-in-law called. She had seen a few pictures of my aunties and cousins and me on Facebook and said, "It looks like you had a good time this weekend!"

We were all smiles. I did have a good time with my cousins and aunties, my mom and my sister. We laugh a lot when we are together. It is lovely to spend that time with them and beautiful to capture our joy in being together on camera. It is fun to post the pictures on Facebook for the rest of our very large and spread all over the country family to see.

While we had fun and we are indeed smiling for the camera, and without a doubt, there is so much the camera can never capture. That's the stuff I kept thinking about today as I tangled within the bounds of my mandala. I kept coming back to the fact that in the near future my aunt will undergo a stem cell treatment. The fact that the oldest auntie, my Aunt Maryann, has already passed on and her absence is always obvious at our Secret Pal gatherings. And, of course, that my grandma, who was there when it all started, isn't with us either. That in the group of ten of us, we have experienced many, many losses, divorce, anger, lots of anger, heartbreak, devastation, tough times... all that loud and messy, sad and angry stuff that life is made of.

And yet, we smile. 

We have a great time. We laugh and we love each other, even though we are a loud mess sometimes. Okay, in my case anyway, we are a loud mess a lot of the time. 

Today, if you do these things, take a minute to look closely at the mandala... look closely at the round boundary of this circle, and consider it a warm, sweet hug around your neck. Feel the hug and know that whatever is happening in your life, whatever it is that the rest of us cannot see, it doesn't change the fact that you are loved. Loved like family.

Take care! xo