Assignment: Color

This semester, I’m taking a photography class. It’s one that’s required for all art majors.  I took it this semester because over the summer, I had a class with some photography majors, and they told me that UVU was switching the Photography I from a film class to a digital class. I wanted to take film photography, because I knew I could borrow Dad’s fancy film camera, but my little digital camera probably wouldn’t work for the class. The course catalogue for this semester listed Photography I as a film class, but on the first day I learned that the switch had already happened.

Drama ensued. I can’t afford a new camera, and doing research on the dSLR camera‘s I could afford I discovered that they shot in a lower resolution than the camera I already have.  So I hunkered down with the instruction manual, and the syllabus, and discovered that my Canon Powershot SX100is would probably work–I emailed my instructor and she agreed, though she was concerned when she actually saw the little thing.

Anyway, my class is on Saturday.  Which I actually think works, because it gives me the rest of the week to do the assignments. It’s hard going to school six days a week, but I’ll get though.

The assignment for this week was color–simply to take two colorful photos that would work well together.  Of course, no photographer worth her salt would stop at just two, so here are my favorites:

I was trying to get a good contrast between the red of the blanket, the yellow and blue of the dog bed, and Lulu's white fur. It never really worked that way. I think this looks like Lulu's eavesdropping on the downstairs neighbors.

I LOVE this picture, I just couldn't find something to pair it with. Sure, it would have worked with the last picture, but I wanted two different subjects. Max was being even less cooperative that Lu was about the whole photography thing.

This is a basket Mom has. It's woven into a diamond pattern, alternating the red and green. I took other pictures where the pattern was more clear, but I liked this one the best.

These next two I almost turned in–in fact, I had turned them in, but we had a break before we got to my review, so I changed my mind, and substituted another pair.  I think they’re well done, but they’re not my aesthetic, and I didn’t want to put them in my portfolio at the end of class.

So the whole "something delicate juxtaposed with something hard and rusty" is absolutely not my aesthetic. Still, I'm a little obsessed with this old horse trailer (the blue thing) that lives behind my complex. This was taken during the golden hour in the morning, and I love how the sunflowers are glowing.

this truckbed-turned-trailer lives next to the horse trailer in the last picture. This picture was taken half a dozen times before I managed to get there in the golden hour in the evening. While I think pictures of rusty metal are so overdone, I love the lines in this picture, and the glow of the trailer.

So, fall's here. Or almost here. Or something. I couldn't find any leaves that had changed color all the way--not that I looked very hard--so I settled for my parent's honey locust tree, where the leaves were just starting to change.

 

"Color" kinda turned into "lighting" for me. And I had a lot of fun playing with the shutter speed on my camera. This was taken by setting a 6" shutter speed (while the car was not moving, naturally. This was dangerous enough, and I tried to be smart-ish about it) then propped up on my dashboard while I was driving an empty stretch of road. I like how the yellow roadsign and the yellow stripe in the road come together. I kinda wished I was following someone, so I could get red tail-lights, but I think just the yellow, black and white work together.

So you know how I said that "color" kinda turned into "light" for me? Yeah. This is one of the pictures that I ended up turning in. I was mesmerized by the way the blue screen reflected on the desk with the computer. I'm really happy with how this turned out.

Last week, we looked at some abstract photographs, and I was intrigued by the notion, so I attempted some myself. This is a vase, a drinking glass and some ribbon stacked inside of each other--and the other photograph I turned in. It's blurry, but that was by choice--I wanted the focus to be on the colors, not any of the objects actually used. My instructor was worried about my camera after seeing this picture, until I showed her some of the others that I took this week.

So as far as color goes, I think I did well. Next week, we’re talking about composition, and taking a photography field trip around campus

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Finding Happiness

Things have been rough since the semester started this week.  Between the stress that comes from new classes, campus going from the ghost town it was over the summer to downtown Mumbai, coupled with some minor health concerns, life has not been fun.  And the beast that is depression has reared it’s ugly head, and is determined to take it’s share.

I have an appointment to see a therapist on Wednesday, and I think I’m going to ask for some anti-depressants.  I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting really angry and pissy lately–between the times when I just want to sit down and cry.  I’ve been off my meds for more than a year, but I think I need something to lift me up emotionally for the time being.

To that end, last night I asked my Facebook friends to share with me what makes them happy.  I did ask that they not talk about their children because, well, that biological clock is ticking pretty loudly, and hearing how other people’s kids make them happy makes it worse.  I love the responses I got:

being with people

ice cream

Dr Pepper (twice! I dislike Dr Pepper’s aftertaste, so I’m going to chalk this down as “a sweet treat”)

watching a favorite movie for the millionth time

reading a favorite book for a millionth time

exercising (’cause of the ice cream and Dr Pepper, I guess)

being in nature

going to the library

laughing so hard you cry

sticking your hand out the car window on a nice day

the stained glass window at the Orem Library: 

(which I have to admit, I’ve never really paid attention to–this window is in the children’s book section, and when I go to the library, I’m headed off to non-fiction than the fiction section.  I’ve glanced at the window, but next time I go to the library, I’ll be sure to go look at it)

Life is always better in the light of morning so I added my list:

that moment that something I’m making–be it a painting or some baking or a story or a blog post–begins to come together and I know it’s going to be awesome.

re-reading a good book

reading a good book for the first time

little dogs waiting to greet me when I come home

hummingbirds fighting at the feeder

waking up because your body tells you to, not because your alarm clock tells you to.

And of course, wonderful family and friends.

 

So, if you were to add to this list, what would you say? What always cheers you up?  I was amazed at how therapeutic just coming up with a list was.  I’d love to hear in the comments what makes you happy, but if you don’t want to share with the world, come up with one for yourself.

The things that make us different make us the same.

Yesterday was remarkable.

The fact that yesterday was so amazing leaves me with an interesting conundrum–I’ve been trying all day to organize my thoughts and feelings about what I experiences in a way that feels not preachy and interesting. The problem with these life-changing revelations is that they tend to apply only to the life of the person who experienced it.

So, yesterday, my local NPR station broadcast an extraordinary interview with a man who is both openly gay, and a faithful member–and employee of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You can hear it here. This interview led me to Wilcox’s pet project–beyond the film discussed in the interview–The Empathy First Initiative. The EFI Facebook page had this video of a TEDtalk linked to it.

First off–why had no one told me about TED? It’s amazing.

Second, I realize I just linked an hour and twenty minutes of media that, while I found utterly fascinating and life changing, others may not.  What follows is what I found apropos, if you don’t want to watch and listen to those links.  Or, even if you do.

So, here’s how I understood all of this. In Randall Wilcox’s discussion on what it means to be a gay Mormon, he talked about embracing his whole self. When he accepted who and what he was, he became more spiritual–contrary to what Orthodox Mormons tend to believe about homosexuality, and what it means to be gay.

The other thing Wilcox discusses beautifully is empathy.  Rather than looking at a person as an object–oh, he’s gay, or she’s a democrat, or their poor–he encourages us to look beyond, to see the person who has thoughts and feelings and ideas. To not dismiss someone as an abomination or a bigot, for instance, but to try to understand their thought process and the life-experiences that led them to those conclusions.

Brene Brown’s talk is on similar lines, in that she discusses empathy as well. But what stood out to me in her talk was the notion that when we numb the negative in our lives–the pain, the depression, the vulnerabilities–we numb everything. I think I’d subconsciously come to the same conclusion, at least in regards to my depression.  When I started to open up about the fact that I am depressed, and stopped pretending that everything was fine, I started to feel better.

Brown also talks about vulnerabilities–we are all vulnerable. Everybody has something that makes them vulnerable, but it’s the people who embrace their vulnerabilities who thrive, who can love and be loved, while those who try to hide their vulnerabilities struggle, blame others, and spend their lives searching for meaning.

This makes perfect sense, and it’s something that I’ve begun to put into practice.  I’ve been dredging up those deep, dark places within my soul and mind, examining everything and–and I think this is the important bit–not reburying those imperfections that make me vulnerable. I’ve realized that all the self-destructive things that I do are because I feel vulnerable, and I’m trying to either hide the vulnerability, or the shame that comes from being vulnerable.

But, by embracing who I am, the dark scary parts and all, I can become a better person, one who has the capacity to love herself, and by extension, others. I feel like I’m taking the first steps on an important journey.

Now, I do understand that this is all shiny and new, and in a couple of months, the shine will probably have worn off–this post is as much a reminder to me as anything. By getting the words down, it cements the way I’m thinking or feeling. I also know that it might be too much to ask that these few words might help someone else. And you know what? I’m okay with that. Right now, me becoming a better person is all I can ask for.

Temple Square

I’m in the midst of a two-week break between semesters.  Besides waiting less-than patiently for my summer semester grades to be posted (I’m really only worried about my Math class, I’m pretty sure that I didn’t get lower than a “B” in any of the other classes), I’ve been trying to find things to do to keep from being bored–how in the world did I manage two and a half months as a kid?

Anyway, given my sudden influx of all sorts of time, I’ve had a craving to get my watercolors out. The problem is, I’ve let my sketching taper off, and I didn’t have a clear inspiration for a painting.

To that end, I went to Temple Square in Salt Lake City yesterday. And, because I can’t visit Salt Lake without bugging Sis, I dragged her, G and E along with me.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Temple Square–and I have to say, going on a Tuesday afternoon in the summer is a much more pleasant than going at Christmas Time. I’m a cold weather kind of gal, but I’ll take 90’s and no crowds to 20’s and loaded with tourists.

The original idea was to do some sketching there, but I threw my camera in my purse as an afterthought.  Which, had I been thinking, I would have just taken the camera–there was no way that I could have expected a 5-year-old and a 18 month old to wait patiently while I sketched. It was hard enough getting them to wait patiently while I took pictures.

I was more interested in the gardens than the architecture, but still:

It’s something of a requisite shot.

At the Conference Center. Not happy that his Mom and Aunt were telling him to stay out of the water.

In the lobby of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Originally known as Hotel Utah, it was built in 1911. Love the Art Nouveau styling.

Now, onto the gardens:

There were lots of gorgeous hostas, which, I think will work well for watercolor painting.

There were lots of gorgeous hostas, which, I think will work well for watercolor painting.

Hostas, or any plant with gorgeous greenery, really, make me think of an allegory once told me. I was taking a religion class, and my instructor was talking about having bought her first house, and putting in a garden. Her mother had suggested only plants that produced flowers or fruits, and getting rid of everything else. The point was we should fill our lives with productive things. In my literal-minded view of the world, I stopped listening to the lesson, and instead thought about all the beautiful, useful plants my instructor would miss out on if she took this advice. Like hostas. I came to the conclusion that it was a bad allegory.

And yes, hostas are technically a flowering plant, but you plant them for the beautiful leaves, not the rather lackluster flowers.

Black-eyed Susan. I’ve got this sketched and stretching, as soon as it’s dry, I’m going to try painting it.

I have no idea what this beauty is. The pink and purple flowers came from the same stalk as the orange and yellow flowers. The leaves look like mint, but it doesn't smell like mint.

Petunias are flowers that I've had to learn to like--but they are so cheerful, and they like the hot weather.

Just a couple of random lilies. I love how everywhere that could grow a flower is growing a flower. G didn't believe that there weren't any fish in the water in the background.

I wasn't the only person taking pictures of flowers--and if I had been thinking like a photographer and not a painter, I would have taken pictures of people taking pictures of flowers. I'm pretty sure I was the only person taking pictures of tree bark, though.

So, I’ve got plenty of inspiration, and for a handful of change for a parking meter, I had a fun outing with my sister and nephews. I think when you live close to monuments like Temple Square, it’s easy to take them for granted.

At least, I realized on the way home that I probably should have just gone to the public garden by my house for inspiration.

In other news, I’ve opened up an Etsy shop. You can find it here. Right now, I just have dog toys for sale, but hopefully, I’ll be able to expand into more artistic territories.  I’ve even already made a sale–a feat made less impressive considering the buyer is my cousin and one of my product testers. (Thanks, Sarah!) Anyway, check it out.

Writing Creatively

Medieval illustration of a Christian scribe wr...
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So, first of all, I’d like to fully acknowledge the irony that I’ve been neglecting my blog because of all the work that has been required from my creative writing class.

The good news is, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a writer.  For instance, I’ve discovered that I like to write creative non-fiction, which should be good news if I continue with this blogging thing.  I’ve also discovered that I have a hard time with plot, especially when it comes to endings. Which is probably why I struggle with fiction. And probably the most important thing, I’ve discovered that when I’m hashing out an idea in my head, I need to sit down with a notebook and paper.  The computer is great for the actual writing process, but, let’s face it, it’s a giant box of distraction.  If I can find a quiet corner, and organize my thoughts before I sit down to the computer, my writing will be, well, written. And I’m not going to be distracted by Wikipedia or TVtropes or my favorite blogs.

So, anyway, I’ve put a few of my stories from this class in the “Stories” tab.  But here they are in link form, for your convince.

Scout

The assignment for this story was to write in someone else’s voice. I was thinking of Mom when I wrote it; it’s her story after all.  I don’t know how well I succeeded in separating my voice from hers. And yes, Mom, I know I didn’t get all of the details right. It was for a creative writing class. I was writing creatively.

Pet Store

This assignment was to write about what my character does for a living. This exact incident never happened, but I was influenced by my time working at PetSmart.

Catch and Release

This was simply an assignment to write a piece of fiction. The first line was one chosen from a list–and I have to say, it kinda feels like I shoehorned the story to fit.

Also, I don’t know anything about fishing. But, my narrator doesn’t, either, so I suppose it all works out.

Hmm, that doesn’t seem like a lot for the amount of work I’ve done for my class, but, at the same time, it’s not everything. There’s stuff I’ve written that I absolutely hate and am not sharing with anyone I don’t have to. Also, there are stories that I’m working on revising for my final project that will go up, well, after the final.  But for now, just know that I haven’t forgotten about you!

Happy Independence Day!

Okay, I’m a little late, what with the spending the weekend at my parents house, with additional visitors, (I love you all, but still, ugh), trying to convince a little dog that the world isn’t going to end just because there’s thunder and/or fireworks (ugh. Also: July is a tough month for Lulu), trying to do five days worth of homework in a day and a half (see: spending the weekend with family and friends. Also, ugh) and my washing machine breaking. (expletives considerably stronger than ugh. At least things didn’t flood) So, I hope both of my American readers had a better holiday weekend than I did, and I hope that the one outside the US simply had a good weekend–you know, because it’s Wednesday now…

Also, this:

This is from an advertisement for a local grocery store. I’m choosing to believe that whoever put this ad together knew full well what random quotes do to a phrase, and truly meant those quotation marks around “safe” and “sane”.

After all, “safe” and “sane” fireworks are the best kind, right?

Please, tell me. I don’t remember–I’ve spent the last three Fourth of July’s trying with various degrees of success to peel a nervous little dog from off my face.

Bully

Okay, this will be the last post about the lolcat. (also here and here). Probably.

If you missed the edit from my last post, the lolcat doesn’t live directly below me. A very sweet, kind and understanding woman does. She came to talk to me after reading my letter, and after explaining what was going on in detail, she was appalled, and promised to keep her eyes and ears open as well.  I was embarrassed that I had thought the worst about her, but she agreed that my deduction made sense.  I know have a new suspect for the role of the lolcat–one that I find much less worrisome than the woman who lives downstairs.  For one thing, I know my new suspect has a temper.

After meeting my downstairs neighbor, I had something of an epiphany. The lolcat, whoever she is, is nothing more than a bully–and I learned how to deal with those in Middle School–ignore them when possible, laugh along with their teasing and above all, don’t give them the rise that they’re looking for, and eventually they’ll wander off to find someone who is more fun to pick on.  Not only is the lolcat a bully, but she’s a coward. I shouldn’t let a woman who refuses to air her grievances with me face to face have any control over my life–much less put me in a funk for two and a half days. So, I’m done with her. I’m going to continue to work on keeping Max and Lulu quiet in an effort to be a good neighbor, but I was already doing that. And I’m not going to take extraordinarily measures to keep this woman happy–because, if she’s who I think she is, I’m not sure there’s a whole lot that could keep her happy.

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