A Victory Party

It is an over the top bodacious day on the eve of a celebration for me.  The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the squirrels are romping as are the children who have the day off thanks to Super Tuesday.  The world is smiling and I am enjoying the warmth.

Everyone handles a crisis differently and I chose not to publicly talk about my battle with breast cancer.  I told only those who needed to know.  The support and love of family and friends was overwhelming and carried me through some heavy days and trying moments.  I felt guilty for putting my daughter and husband through all the worry and stress.  Whatever was going on in their heads they were pillars of strength on the outside. It is their battle as well but I couldn’t change the fact that I was the one with cancer.  I had the surgery, the chemo, the radiation.

I always said that I would be furious if I were diagnosed with cancer in my sixties after escaping all those years.  I was 58 and I didn’t have time to be mad.  Once I was diagnosed my doctors raced me through the food chain of tests, appointments, surgery and treatment.  If a doctor said “jump”, I jumped.  There was little time for tears or anger.  I refused to let fear creep in. A friend gave me excellent advice.  Once you left a test or doctor’s appointment you could have a pity party until you arrived home.  If that meant driving around Northern Virginia for 4 hours that was fine.  But once you walked through the front door pity be gone!  That is good advice for any day or circumstance.

I only had one freak-out moment(that I remember). For most appointments and tests you are required to have someone with you.  You need another set of ears to keep track of all the information that is being thrown at you.  No one should be driving after being poked and prodded.  The one time I went to an appointment alone was the one time I lost it.  Before starting chemo I attended chemo school.  To their best the oncologist and her staff tried to prepare me for the next 20 weeks of my life.  Chemo is administered through a port which is surgically implanted in your chest.  In my mind I envisioned a tiny device.  I was shown what looked like my dental floss container and I could feel the color drain from my face. I did not see a tiny device.  I saw a huge box. While I appreciate the purpose of the port I still refer to it as the alien in my chest.  Driving home that day I was stopped at a traffic light and had a fleeting thought to let my car ease into the path of the oncoming cars.  Just having that thought quickly jolted me back to my senses.  I don’t think you can go through an illness without having at least one dark moment.  That was mine.

I was blessed with amazing doctors and nurses.  I had top medical care but it was so much more than that.  I do not know the name of the nurse who held my hand during a test because she knew it was painful.  I will never forget her kindness.  My breast surgeon is now retired but our children went to the same high school and she was an instant friend.  The ease of our conversations removed the dread of our appointments.  I spent a lot of time with my chemo nurses and the radiation technicians.  They became an extended family who extended compassion beyond the requirements of their medical duties.

There are unexpected surprises along the way.  I really do not care for jokes and I can be a bit too serious.  During my cancer treatment I found a sense of humor.  I realize now that was one mechanism for dealing with the fear and uncertainty.  I try now to remember each day to lighten up and laugh.  I lost some “friends” along the way.  I also found my way back to some friends from earlier years.  A crisis really does define who is a true friend.

I almost hesitate to talk about the final surprise.  I have shared with one or two people and it is hard for an outsider to understand.  Cancer sucks and chemo is the devil incarnate.  It is hard to believe that you can be ravaged by the one thing that is supposed to save you.  Ironies of life.  The other irony is that to this day I consider my chemo treatments to be one of the most peaceful times in my life.  Each session I had a private room and one or two nurses assigned to me.  I packed my chemo bag with water, snacks, digital toys, a pillow, blanket, reading material.  My blood was tested to make sure my levels were high enough to have chemo.  They were many touch and go days.  And then you can watch the drip, drip of the chemo bag.  The chemo blurred my vision so I often just stared at the same page without reading.  I texted friends and family.  Some sessions were almost 4 hours.  I didn’t really sleep but I rested.  I didn’t dwell on the disease or the drug being injected into me.  I jokingly called it a day at the spa.  I just rested peacefully.

March 2, 2015 was my final day of radiation.  Tomorrow I will celebrate the end of treatment one year ago.  What a difference a year makes.  A clear mammogram in July! And the little things like eyelashes and hair are back.  I have my life back and there are days I do not remember that I had cancer.  Thankfully it no longer defines me or my days.  I am a cancer survivor and tomorrow I will celebrate.

Every day is a gift.  Celebrate!

More Fun with the IPhone

I have written several posts on IPhone apps which you know I love to play and create.  Being snowbound for a few days gave me time to review my images.  They are so fun, so interesting,  I have to share.  I want YOU to get excited, use that marvelous phone on your camera and start creating.

Sometimes when I am using my IPhone I am in a hurry and not worried about lighting or composition.  The apps love this using shadows and imperfections to create unique art.  The last time I went to the farmers market in Leesburg I found these wonderful turnips.  Fabulous shape and leaves; I knew I had to shoot them in my studio.  After taking a number of shots I was not so thrilled with the resulting images.  Until I used the Distressed F/X app.  After playing with layers I found the perfect look I was hoping to achieve.  Here’s the “before” and “after”.

 

I bought this beautiful orange poppy in full maturity which meant I had to shoot fast.  It turned out to be a wonderful model with lots of great images using my Nikon.  As I said the flower was fading fast.  With petals falling I shot some images with my IPhone and then began playing with apps.  Enlight black white filters produced some moody images which I think suits the flower as it withered.

 

Home décor stores are a trove of subject matter.  This chandelier was full of gilt and shimmer and horrible light spots.  Using Waterlogue I have this fun abstract!  Love all the color after days of looking at fields of white snow!

That same day I saw this perfect composition of barware.  The clear glass was a bit bland so again I turned to Waterlogue for the first image and Distressed F/X for the image on the right.  Very different and very effective to bring out color and mood to a great composition.

The New Year is a great time to explore.  You have a wonderful camera phone with so many possibilities.  I warn you; it is very addictive!!

2016 Pantone Color of the Year

As a lover of art, fashion and design I am always anxious to learn the Pantone Color of the Year.  The color selection influences the fashion and design marketplace worldwide.  This year the selection is defined by our changing world; some good, some not.  My own reflections of the year are troubled with memories of tragedies at home and abroad.  It is easy to forget the good and the positive.

For the first time Pantone has chosen two colors, Rose Quartz and Serenity.  Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute comments “Joined together Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as a soothing sense of order and peace.”

Balance      Calming      Wellness    Compatible    Duality    Tranquility

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The blending of these colors strikes a balance between the warmer rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue.  A prescription for todays’ stresses as we seek answers and reassurance, connection and wellness, peace and order.

Beyond world turmoil Pantone addresses our movement to gender equality and acceptance.  Color is increasingly used as a form of expression by a generation throwing out typecasts and judgments and being open to who we are as individuals versus labels.  The color selection symbolizes the mood and temperament of our current culture.

“Rose Quartz is a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure.  Serenity is weightless and airy, like the expanse of the blue sky above us, bringing feelings of respite and relaxation even in turbulent times.”(Pantone’s Introduction of Rose Quartz and Serenity)

As we all embark on a new year with hope and resolutions for peace and betterment as a world, as a country, as human beings, as our individual self there is no knowing if 2016 will bring peace, change, improvement.  We can only keep hoping, keep pushing, keep trying.  And in those moments of frustration I suggest closing your eyes and envisioning the colors of Rose Quartz and Serenity in whatever form they represent to you.  Weightlessness, wishful, dreamy, balanced, secure, warmth, coolness, fluidity, acceptance, compassion, forgiveness, tranquility, duality, contentment, joy, artful, creative, spiritual, a rose colored sky, clear blue waters…………………………………..

Wishing each of you a Happy and Blessed New Year!

 

One photo, 4 looks

It’s a rainy, cloudy day but the afternoon gave way to a balmy drizzle.  The leaves are falling fast and who knows what tomorrow will bring.  I took the opportunity to head out with my cameras (and tissues to clear the lens).  When I say my cameras I am referring to my digital and my iPhone.  Each capture an image differently and it is worth the effort.  There were some “winners” from both cameras.  I want to share with you an image I took with my iPhone and using Distressed F/X filters I was able to produce 4 different looks for the same tree.  One image, 4 ways…pick your favorite.

shoal creek 3 shoal creek 4 shoal creek 6 shoal creek

Color on a Plate

Art comes in many forms and from many sources.  I love all the steps in the art of cooking; planning the meal, discovering a new recipe, shopping for the ingredients, preparing the food and of course eating!  I am especially joyful when I go to a farmer’s market.  Under tents are tables teaming with a color palette of radishes, peppers, beans, berries, fruit, squash, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, lettuces, eggplant, turnips, potatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, tomatoes and more!  It is hard to resist; hard not to overbuy.

As we approach November the markets will change with the season.  The peaches and nectarines are gone.  Apples and pears are plentiful.  New varieties of squash appear.  Tomatoes are dwindling.  Summer recipes are put away.  New ones are found for brussel sprouts and acorn squash.

Eggplant is one of my newfound vegetable friends and I am trying new recipes every week.  Saturday’s dinner was a lasagna with a vegetable and ground lamb filling.  Peppers, eggplant, spinach and ground lamb were all purchased at the morning market.  Saturday’s art was a palette of colorful vegetables and a camera to capture the beauty.

Bon Appetit!

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Myth & Superstition

The Art League Gallery, Alexandria, VA,  is a non-profit membership organization that provides member artists with the opportunity to have their work judged by esteemed local art professionals and to compete to exhibit their work in one of Washington’s largest art galleries.  The Gallery hosts monthly juried shows usually with no theme.  Each show receives hundreds of entries and is very competitive.  Each artist is allowed to submit 2 works of which only one could be accepted.

The October show is “Myth & Superstition” and was juried by Joseph Cavalieri, a stained glass artist.  Member artists were allowed to submit three images digitally for consideration with only the possibility of one being selected.  The deadline was several weeks ago and choosing my three entries was both challenging and fun. What is a myth?  What is a superstition? Artists often use fantasy, dreams, beliefs in their work.  Knowing my love to play with an image I had a number of choices.

Loves Me, Loves Me Not

Parent_Loves Me, Loves Me Not

Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice to Deceive

Parent_Oh What a Tangled Web

My successful submission is an old favorite image which fit perfectly once I renamed it.

Break a Leg

1 Parent - Best Foot Forward

The show opens October 8 with fun and fanciful interpretations of myth and superstition.  Hope you have a chance to visit The Art League Gallery in Alexandria.

Back to Business

Yellow school buses are picking up children and taking them to school, outdoor pools are shuttered and I am once again receiving emails from people I know.  It may be 90 degrees outside but summer is over.  After months of silence, organizations whether they be places of employment or social clubs are awake and back in business. The day after Labor Day feels like the beginning of a new year as the world returns to a methodical routine of meetings, schedules, deadlines.  I have sharpened my pencils, opened my calendars and carry my cell phone from room to room.  The return to school signals the return to business.

Each year is a little different for me as I approach the last few months of the year.  Last year I was dealing with the ravages of chemo so I barely felt the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.  This year I want to hold on to the relaxing days of summer just a little bit longer.  I am equally excited to look at the coming weeks and the great experiences I will be having as an artist.  I have “to do” lists in many categories for upcoming shows.  After months of quiet I am very excited to once again share my work with old friends and soon to be new friends.  The joy of art for me is always the sharing and telling of the story behind each image.

I started my “New Year” with working on my website.  There is more tweaking to come but I encourage you to look.  New and Old Works gives you a taste of my portfolio.  I removed some portfolios and added Iphone images.  This summer I have been concentrating on still life work in my studio.  I could not let the dahlia and summer produce season escape without capturing their beauty.

dahlia mixed

magenta dahlia 3

The Iphone is so easy to use and the apps are amazing.  I will continue to explore, create and share.

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My first show is MPA Artfest, Sunday, October 4, 2015, 10am-5pm. This is a free outdoor show, rain or shine, McLean Central Park. #MPAArtfest.  That same weekend I will also exhibit work at The Waterford Crafts Fair as part of the photography show.  The Waterford Fair is three days Oct 2, 3 and 4 which gives you plenty of time to take in both events.  My last event in October is The Great Falls Studio Tour, Friday Oct 16 Noon-5pm, Saturday Oct 17 10am-5pm and Sunday Oct 18 Noon – 5pm.  I will be exhibiting at The Great Falls Library, 9830 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls, VA.  The library is headquarters for the tour and I will also serve as hostess to answer questions or help with directions.  There will also be a group show of all the participating Studio Tour artists at the library.  A GREAT MONTH OF ART!

It is back to business and I can’t wait to share what I have been creating in those lazy days of summer.

Living an artful life every day