November 2017 Full Moon

Beaver Moon 112017
I enjoy building designs using layers with different opacities and color enhancements to create shading and highlights. The little beaver on the mountainside is simply in honor of the traditional name for the November full moon.
Algonquin tribes called it the Beaver Moon because this was the time to set the traps before the freeze, so they would have furs to make clothes for the cold winter. The November full Moon was also called the Full Frost Moon by other Native American tribes.” – Farmer’s Almanac
My view of the full moon was partially obscured by clouds tonight. It was lovely all the same. A full moon is one of my favorite things to see.

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Skybirds

Ravens over MSJ
I was recently struck by the fact that the “greenery” on the mountaintop looks golden in the photos the webcam captures at 7 a.m. I decided to revel in that a little bit, working with one of the photos in Photoshop to enhance the color. The result is from three layers, the original, one with a dry brush filter, and one to emphasize the gold, and varied levels of opacity to achieve the blend.
I also enjoyed watching a large black bird performing aerobatics over a field. It would rapidly flap its wings, hovering in one place, and then suddenly dive-bomb to the ground. It may have hunting. It was fun to watch. And so I added a pair of frolicking ravens to my design, with a snippet from Skybird from Neil Diamond’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull soundtrack.
I thought about a couple of things while putting this together. For one thing, you don’t have to climb the mountain to find gold. But isn’t the view lovely from the top? And secondly, what joy there is in just being yourself.

1960s Playlist

60s Playlist

I love music. I especially love the old songs. Even when I was a kid, I loved the old songs. I spent many afternoons sitting cross-legged on the floor, next to the portable phonograph with a stack of 45s. And I would play them one by one. The A side was the hit. Most people never heard the B side, but I always played it at least once, because if I like the A side, maybe I would like the B side, too. And because of that practice, I knew all the words to Elton John’s Skyline Pigeon before it was ever on the radio. Skyline Pigeon is the B side of Daniel, and I still have that 45.
When I suddenly remember a song I used to like, or can’t remember all the words, or who sang it, I turn to YouTube these days. More often than not, I can find the recording I’m thinking of, plus a few related ones that are fun to listen to and appreciate. Then one day I got nostalgic, and I put together this little tribute to those days gone by.
However you put together your playlist, just keep on singing.

Letting go, or let it go

National Forest Red BalloonRed Balloon Yosemite
When Samuel Gompers was asked, “What does labor want?”
He responded, “It wants the earth and the fullness thereof.”
I was contemplating the phrase, let it go, versus, letting go recently, which somehow put the image of the red balloon floating away in my mind. Thus I was prompted to return once again to Photoshop to see what I could do with this idea. At first, I was drawn to the landscape on the bottom, which is of Yosemite National Park in California and appeared in my Facebook newsfeed. Then I remembered driving past another forested national park on a road trip, so I retrieved one of my photos and added some artistic effects to the landscape on the top. The balloon itself is my own creation that started as a simple shape and evolved into a shiny globe and trailing string. I think the one on the top is my favorite; however, since they share the same theme, I present these designs as a pair.
I wanted the balloon to represent the release of a worry, a care, something just plain unpleasant. Something that may be standing in the way of new opportunities. And the idea that whatever it is can simply drift away over the vastness of the landscape, of time, of space. It can remain a memory, good or bad, yet no longer be a hinderance.
Finally, I stumbled upon the opening quote. For want of the earth and the fullness thereof, may we cast our cares to the wind and may we embrace all that the Earth has to offer.

Magical Moonlight

Moonlight is Magic

I stepped outside one evening to find the moon playing hide and seek among the clouds. Its glow lit up the edges of the gaps and cast multi-colored lights in a halo. I gazed long enough, I hoped, to implant that image in my brain to recall at later moments.
Back at my Photoshop, I retrieved an image of the full moon and a cloudy sky, hoping to marry them into some semblance of my memory. I was using a Distort filter to make the gap in the clouds more natural when I was called away from my work. Upon my return, I was surprised to see the profile that was now present in my design. I turned the different layers off and on, seeking the source of the profile. Finally I realized it was no one layer that bore the profile, but the combination that created it. By now, the original purpose of creating this design had given way to the enchanting notion of this mystical creature with the golden crown dancing among the clouds in the moonlight. At that moment, the only thing left to do was to cast a rainbow upon it, amidst the starlight that now resembled falling snow.
Please share with me the magic that is moonlight.

Song Sung Blue

Song Sung Blue

Two things are going on in my mind here.
First is the background. It’s a variation of a photograph of a small garden at the side of my house. When the sunlight hits it just right, the pinks and the greens just glow. I made a different design featuring fairies. After that, I kept coming back to that photograph, trying this effect and that effect, and really liked when this one turned blue. There’s a space there, just right of center, where I feel like I could get lost in this blue garden as if it would take me to a new dimension.
Second is the text. I was finishing junior high school in May of 1972, when Song Sung Blue was released. I thought it was the first I’d ever heard of Neil Diamond. All I really knew was that to me it was a happy little tune that I enjoyed so much, I went out and bought the 45-rpm. In fact, I still have it.
So I think it was a matter of time before the blue garden and the song title and lyrics came together, here. My tribute, I suppose, to my first favorite song by my favorite singer.
“Before you know it, start to feeling good. You simply got no choice.” – Neil Diamond

Star Mandala

Star Mandala
I was watching a video about the healing powers of art and music. Specifically, that art and music are¬†indeed therapeutic for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. I am a firm believer in the healing powers of music,¬†and I agree that the music must first mean something to the person in order for the therapy to be beneficial. If it is music you enjoy, then it can trigger happy memories, and perhaps open conversation. Sometimes the topic takes me back to a time when lyrics such as, “I believe in music, I believe in love” were very popular.
During the art therapy discussion, they described how patients are encouraged to express themselves using paint and paper. They spoke of making a group project out of creating a mandala.
This idea intrigued me. I’ve had a photograph that I’ve been working with for a few days, of artwork by my five-year-old granddaughter. I wasn’t really getting very far with it until I started thinking about creating a mandala.
The center portion of the design is my granddaughter’s original artwork. I used the cookie cutter tool to create the stars from the same colors as the original. Then I used the ellipse tool to make circles and found a close match for the magenta from the color swatch for their fill. After that, I chose a gradient and texture for the background, and framed it with the magenta and a bevel effect.
All in all, I must agree. This has been very therapeutic. And I am happy to have preserved another piece of artwork from the next generation.