Powered By Blogger

Friday, October 31, 2014

Be Still: Contemplative Photography

Henry Miller said, "The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably significant world in itself."

Giving close attention, seeing beyond seeing, and walking while waiting for nature to reveal itself...these were exploration topics at last weekend's photography workshop offered at the Tatamagouche Centre in Nova Scotia.  

We spent enjoyable time learning that throwing away photos, with which we weren't quite happy was a form of "labeling" and doesn't respect our own abilities.  We found that dawn's rain and afternoon's drizzle offer up many lush photos, that Tatamagouche has a view of the bay, huge old maples, a river, rock walls, walking paths, stands of old pines and open fields, each an opportunity to be amazed, to make photographs and to learn about cropping, colour pushing, fill light, balance, rules to be followed and rules to be broken.

We were awed.  We marveled.  We saw the world with fresh eyes. 

We had fun, ate good home cooked meals, worked hard, then played and went to bed tired and happy.

Who could ask for anything different?

Words in colour will take you to another site with additional information, if you click on them.  Photos and words are copyright Carol Steel 2009-2014.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Contemplative Photography

I'm off on Friday, off on an adventure to Tatamagouche to learn more about photography.

The Tatamagouche Centre is a non-profit education, conference and retreat centre located in the village of Tatamagouche, on Nova Scotia's north shore. 

"Be Still: Contemplative Photography" encourages participants to explore the making photographs as a meditative process and path to self-discovery.  The workshop runs from Friday evening until early Sunday afternoon and includes creativity exercises, reflection time, sharing and analysis.  

We'll have the opportunity to go out for two dawn photo shoots, plus trekking along the shores of the bay and the expansive wooded grounds during other periods of the day.  It's supposed to rain on Saturday and Sunday, and is certainly pelting down as I write at suppertime on Thursday.  The dawn photo shoots might be dull, damp affairs.

I've heard from friends who have attended in the past.  They are full of enthusiasm for the program.  And their photos show a new depth and richness because of the time spent learning more about who they are and the art of photography.

I'm excited to be going and looking forward to working with Janice MacLean and Gordon Williams, both talented photographers and facilitators.  

My rain boots and gear are packed and ready.

Words in colour will take you to another site with additional information, if you click on them.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Art Across the Marsh 2014

Ghita's laneway

The busy weekend left us little time for one of my favourite treats, the "Art Across the Marsh" tour of artist studios in the Tantramar area.  (www.artacrossthemarsh.ca)  We made the most of the few hours we had on Sunday afternoon, enjoyed the company of family, the autumn colours and four of the nineteen venues.  

We squeezed in a quick visit to the Winegarden Estate Ltd. in Baie Verte NB  to pick up a bottle of raspberry wine.  Why not?  We were passing by anyway. (www.WinegardenEstate.com)

Ghita's nasturtiums

An artist's studio fascinates.  It is an intimate space of personal creativity which says so much about the artist, draws the visitor into their world and routines, disciplines and work. It is a serious place where the desire to be authentic and true to skills and gifts meets the slogging hard work of trial and error, of honing and expanding the craft, offering new ways to view the world. 

It was a privilege to watch Marilyn Cook working on a gorgeous silk painting in her cozy studio,  a rustic wooden building surrounded by heritage flowers and views out to the Shemogue Marsh.  (www.cooksilk.ca)   

Ghita Levin's property is sheltered from the road by a long lane that opens out into a yard with both a studio and gift shop.  Ghita's wood-fired pottery reflects the wild beauty that hugs her home and the herons, crows, owls, frogs and dragonflies which share those woods and marshes.  (www.ghitalevinpottery.ca)

In front of Ghita's studio

We stopped at the Tidnish Bridge Art Gallery and chatted with the painters, photographers and potters.  We couldn't visit their studios as they bring their creations to the gallery.  They explained, "Working as a co-operative allows us to have an affordable venue to show and sell our work."  Outside their building, we took photos of the river and marshes that edge the property.  It was such great weather and the light so inviting. (www.tidnishbridgeartgallery.com)

It would be a luxury to purchase something from each artist, to support their work and to bring their vibrant art back to our home, but we have neither the space here nor the funds to buy very much, other than a couple of small gifts for others.  Still, it is an enriching experience to walk around the shops and studios, to hear the artists' passion for their creations and to learn how they channel vision into tangible form.

Our time was nearly gone, when we arrived at the studio of Thaddeus Holownia, built on the site of the former home of the poet John Thompson.  Thaddeus, accompanied by his two well-behaved dogs, gave us a tour of the letterpress printers, chatted about his large format cameras, his photographs and graciously answered all our questions.  When we left, he gave us directions for going home another way, so our day ended with the impressive views from the High Marsh Road:  distant dark cows grazing on golden marshland spreading for miles, tinged with dusky clouds hanging low on the horizon.  Breathtaking!

I am humbled in the presence of someone who loves what they do so much they don't think of it as work.  They speak about their art as something irresistible, part of themselves, who they are and who they must be.  I am grateful to those artists who opened their lives this weekend so we too could be part of their worlds. And sorry that time didn't allow us to visit each one on the tour. Perhaps next year?

"Art Across the Marsh" reminded me, each of us has gifts to share; not all are visual artists or work in clay or silk, but we each have unique selves to offer to the world. 

And don't our personal passions and talents drive each one of us? Aren't we always more content when we recognize our own abilities and pursue them?

I think so.

Words printed in colour will take you to another site with more information, if you click on them.

Monday, October 20, 2014

An Archaeological Dig

Cleaning the basement.  This has been our focus the past week in preparation for the semi-annual "Big Garbage Pick-up" in our town.

The process showed us we don't need to keep all the cartons for every darn thing we've purchased during the past ten years of living in this house.   And we don't need items we haven't unpacked since moving here: bowling shoes, ski boots but no skiis, knick-knacks (when did we think those were pretty?).

Sure, we have the space to store everything we want to keep.  The basement isn't used for anything except storage.  And we have filled it.

But to no good end.  We have forgotten what is there, can't find it, if we can remember and now feel overwhelmed with the cluttered mess lurking at the bottom of the stairs.

We threw out an embarrassingly large pile of soiled cardboard and packing stuff, nonredeemable garbage.  And are waiting for the garbage pick up to remove it from our property.  Bless them for offering that service.

Anything good or useful is going to a organization that resells clothing or small housewares and donates the funds to charity. Anything someone else wants goes, if they come to fetch it; one person took all our wine making equipment.  A couple of kitchen gadgets we thought we had to have (but used once) are in new homes.  Recyclables will go to the appropriate depositories.

What's left?

We ran out of energy and ability to say yes or no to the choices by the time we hit the boxes of photos.  We'll save that for sorting another time.  The useless bits of wood and wall board will go to the dump when we can borrow our friend's trailer to haul the stuff away.  The 10 file boxes of paperwork from our past lives will require a call to a shredding company.  Hazardous waste, an old propane tank, batteries, empty paint cans will go to the HW pick up next Saturday in Riverview.

After the basement floor appeared again and we washed the dust from ourselves, we decided:
we will be discerning and disciplined about any new purchase;
we will remind ourselves that we already have everything we need;
we will enjoy the new found space in our basement and will not re-fill it.

The declutter process feels healthy and encouraging.

What's next?  The upstairs den, which is the whole top floor of our house.  It is a TV room, a reading room, a spare bedroom for company, a toy room and my knitting storage area.

Yikes!  Another dig through dust and stuff.

Now, we have a goal and are looking forward to seeing our way though the piles, to spacious rooms and to regaining control of unhealthy accumulation.

Who knows what possibilities will open for us?

New ways of being more responsible for our lives, and perhaps downsizing to a home with less space for unneeded junk.

We can do anything we want.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Monday

Light shimmers 
 in the darkest times.

Sometimes we concentrate so hard on the darkness,
we forget to see the light 

suddenly, we are overwhelmed, speechless.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving weekend

and I am grateful for bright leaves

floating on amber ripples.

I am grateful for the ebb and flow of life,

for coloured carpets in the shady woods,

and for the small creatures 
who find nourishment

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fall Oranges 2014

Fall paints my yard orange.  Not everywhere, not everything, but enough to raise my spirits.  The colour radiates vibrant energy, makes me smile.