Mother’s Day 2017

Eat the Ice Cream copy
Happy Mother’s Day.
Sometimes we spend a lot of energy avoiding things. Relationships, activities, foods we enjoy. After a while, it seems that life is somehow passing us by. I would like to take a moment to encourage us all to re-channel our energy into building things up in our lives. A random act of kindness goes a long way. A walk offers an opportunity to appreciate the neighbor’s rose garden, or the clouds, or the mountains. A warm cup of coffee on a cold morning, or a cold drink on a hot afternoon can be a simple pleasure.
It’s important, I think, to focus on reasons to be thankful and to indulge in life’s simple gifts. So I offer a couple of well-worn phrases to help us remember to appreciate these reasons and gifts:
Stop and smell the flowers.
Eat the ice cream.
P.S. Artwork in this design is adapted from a picture by my granddaughter. I love working with the grandchildren’s art. I never know how it’s going to turn out.

Fairy Garden

Blue Fairy in Succulent Garden
I was enjoying the colors brought out by the sunlight in a small garden of succulents. One of the photographs became the background for this design. I tried out so many different effects, just to see what they would look like, before I settled on this one, which if I remember right is dry brush. I thought for awhile about what to add, and then remembered this ornament from my mother. I used lighting and color effects and she blended right into the garden.
Just a couple of fairy smiles and color to brighten the day.

Cactus Flower

Cactus Flower 2016

One of my passions is theater. I enjoy a good movie, but I adore the intimacy of a good stage production. For awhile, I lived in a place that still had a dinner theater, and one season, Cactus Flower, a play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Gredy, was among the offerings. This dinner theater production boasted Ann Miller. I had the privilege of seeing Ann Miller dance, live, on a table.
Growing up on the west coast, I wasn’t familiar with the phenomenon that is a cactus flower. These days, I live in the desert mountains. There are numerous cacti in the garden, and each year, the flowers bloomed with a passion. This variety lasts only 24 hours, but with the wonders of technology, today’s design saves one for posterity, open to the fullest before it faded away.
As I worked with the cactus flower, I was thinking of how beauty can be found everywhere, even in seemingly unlikely places, such as a dry desert. And even though these moments may be fleeting, they become treasures of the heart, to be retrieved when one is in need of encouragement.
I also thought about regeneration. The flowers may fade, but the cactus remains, steadfast, and then next season once again, it presents its gift of flowers bursting forth in their blaze of glory. The gifts we have to offer  may not be as obvious. It may seem they go unnoticed. Or like the cactus flower, perhaps they are few and far between. But there’s also a chance that someone does notice, that it makes a difference to someone, and becomes one of their treasures of the heart.
Finally, if you look, you will see two spent flowers in the design. Not just one flower, but many flowers taking turns, if you will, presenting their gift to the world. And so it is with people. It is not up to just one person, all the time. But we take turns presenting our gifts.
Thank you for listening as I share my thoughts. I am delighted to present my cactus flower with a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, that the earth laughs in flowers. May this be a reminder to us to laugh when we find beauty in unlikely places every day.

Let It Go

Ice Castle - Let It Go
I’m sure some of you have had quite enough of the song from Disney’s Frozen. However, I live in a house full of little girls who have not. In fact, they still gather round their princess dolls and act it out. The four-year-old can sing it quite well, in my grandmotherly unbiased opinion.
If I remember correctly, the castle is one of England’s. Another photograph I saw that I wanted to work with, and this is the result.
Thing is, most of the time when I’ve heard the phrase, let it go, it’s in reference to something negative in your life that’s maybe holding you back, something that annoyed you that is best forgotten, along those lines.
To me, this is about a gift that someone was forced to withhold. There is power in those words, as she begins to see what she can do. Makes me wonder what the rest of us might be sitting on, what wonderful creativity we might see if we let it go. Don’t hold it back anymore.

Don’t Blink

DontBlink
Any Doctor Who fans out there? I named this one “Don’t Blink” in honor of the 10th Doctor and the Weeping Angels.
I borrowed the angel from a photo and after that, started exploring texture. I wanted the angel to look carved so I applied some craquelure. And then put the drop shadow to separate it  from the background. The background is distort effect, possibly polar coordinates, plus brick texturizer. I like the bit of greenery there at the bottom, although right now I think it might be growing off the design.
May the angels you encounter be the guardian variety. I met one recently. His name was Christopher.

Just Start Over

Just Start Over

The photo of the little plant appeared in a Guideposts post on Facebook with the caption, “Don’t Quit, Just Start Over.” It was accompanied by a story of a pastor who was discouraged and asked his young daughter if he should quit. The young girl told her father, “No, just start over.” And apparently those words brought about a change of attitude resulting in new life in the church as well.
I believe that growth is part of life, and learning is part of growth. When I look at the photo of the young plant, I think about how it started from just a seed. I think about how it needs the sun to help it grow, as we need the warmth of love and encouragement from our family and friends. And I think about how the plant will someday need to start over. Leaves will fall and be replaced by new growth. Sometimes we lose things, a dream, a friend, but we move on and find that our lives are reshaped by the ebb and flow of the comings and goings.
It’s okay to grieve the “goings”. It’s okay to make mistakes. When it gets to be too much, it’s okay to reevaluate, make new plans, dream new dreams. Remember to embrace the “comings.” They encourage new growth. Growth leads to all sorts of things.
I like that, don’t quit. Just start over. Here’s to new beginnings, big and small.

Here is the Guideposts story, if you’d like to check it out. https://www.guideposts.org/faith-and-prayer/prayer-stories/persistent-prayer/don-t-quit-just-start-over

Winged Cloud

Winged Cloud
The photo was taken several years ago when a storm was approaching. The view from my window held me enraptured, and my trusty cellphone caught the image. I was taking an earth sciences class that included meteorology, and the instructor had encouraged us to look up and study clouds. As if I needed any nudging to skywatch.
The photo hung out in Photoshop for a couple of days. I was so fascinated by the cloud itself, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, besides just look at it. When I located the quote by Sharlot Mabridth Hall on the web, then it became an exercise in the art of using text to complement the image beneath.
I suppose in spite of my fascination with science, I remain the poet at heart, because I love the “flight of fancy” suggested by the quote. Whereas, I could not tell you what type of cloud that is. Storm cloud? I prefer “wondrous winged cloud.” May the poet live on.