AT HOME

It’s easy to pass by mundane sights you see hundreds of times around the house without thinking twice about them. When weather and a pandemic conspire to keep you at home, familiar sights are seen again, and again.

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I don’t mean to say that these sketches are mundane – they’re not. Two weeks ago, thanks to Jean MacKay and a local art center, I sketched wild rose hips while watching Jean on Zoom. With over a hundred other people I watched as Jean drew plants found around her home in New York while giving tips for making quick sketches from nature outdoors (even on cold days!) and finishing them up indoors. It felt surprisingly comfortable to work on my drawing while listening to her relaxed, confident instruction. Drawing entails a different way of seeing and working. It slows you down, which is a nice counterbalance to digital life. In my experience, the eye that photographs is primed for drawing, just as the eye that draws is ready to make photographs. You may think the skills needed to make a drawing or operate a camera are potentially the biggest barriers to creating good work, but learning to see is more important, in my opinion. That skill can be practiced anywhere and anytime, with or without tools. Even around the house!

2. Looking out a window on a stormy afternoon.

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4. While the bell waits for me to pass by and give it a nudge, it makes its own music with light and shadow.

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It’s been rainy for weeks and weeks. The light is soft and diffuse, a quality I longed for in July but grow tired of now. Whenever the weather clears my eyes are greedy for the sunrise hues that grace the sky behind the black lace limbs of the Douglas fir trees. I find myself looking out windows a lot, as I’ve done all these years. There’s something satisfying about placing my gaze over there, not here, beyond.

6. Two tall Doug firs on a dry morning, seen through a window.

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8. A leaf caught under glass in the yard.

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10. Looking out the window in December on a rainy day.

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Best Wishes to you, and to all living beings on this planet, for 2021. Let it be a year in which getting out of the house is less fraught with danger. Let it be a creative year, a year in which we expand our minds to entertain more possibilities. And a deeply felt Thank You to all the readers who have come here this past year bearing gifts that lift me up and broaden my world.

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76 comments

  1. Your drawings show the same subtle qualities as your photos, dear Lynn.
    This series of domestic images is breathing deep peace, there is an inner light shining in them not regarding the cloudy twilight from outside. Impressing.
    All my very best wishes for the New Year are flying long distance to you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The drawings were much lighter than what you see – I darkened the pencil lines in LR so you could see them better. Even after darkening the lines you still see some subtlety there – that’s interesting. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s also interesting that the scenes I photograph around the house are carefully selected – you don’t see all the piles of papers and odds and ends that seem to be everywhere. The photos depict the calm I strive for but rarely achieve. Thank you, Ule, for your thoughts, which are always valued. I caught those New Year wishes – they all arrived safely. Fresh ones are flying back to you… ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. I wish you also all the best for 2021, Lynn! I think it is important to think about all the things we have an not to and not constantly think about what you don’t have at the moment. And it’s damn important to have a home that you really like. ๐Ÿ™‚ Simone

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, thinking positively is important – it’s not always easy but each attempt bolsters the next one. That’s what we need – a long, linked, line of positive thoughts and feelings. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you, Simone, and best wishes for 2021!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. there is a feeling of beauty and harmony and a fine breathing in everything you touch, dear Lynn, either with your hands arranging or drawing it, either with your eyes by fotographing – very different of mine. I agree fully to what you say about sketching in front of nature: it has a beneficial effect on us, refining our observation and giving the experience of a rythm and connection that we cannot find easily in everyday actionism.
    But we dont need shutdowns to experience it. We can have it every time when we decide to live it. My best wishes for you! Gerda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your thoughts, Gerda. It’s hard to put down the camera and pick up the pencil – for me at least – so I was glad that I attended Jean’s Zoom workshop. Following the contours of the rose branch with my eyes and hand, a different connection was made, as you say. You just have to be open to it, and ready to slow down and look, which can happen anytime. I used to work on people’s gardens for a living and even then, the way I looked at everything while I weeded and pruned kept my eyes inspired. It was another kind of aesthetic exercise. Best wishes for you, too!

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  4. Lovely post – inspiring me to have a better look at the things in my house……
    Beautiful pictures and drawings!

    And I also wish you (and all other living beings (I loved that phrase)) a very happy and healthy 2021.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great, I’m glad this inspired you to look closer to home. I love spring and summer when everything is going crazy outside, but we have to work with what we have, right? Thanks so much for commenting, and for your good wishes – the same to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your second sentence reminded me of “Some Enchanted Evening”:

    And somehow you know, you know even then,
    That somehow you’ll see her again and again.

    Along those lines. we’ve caught the same vibe in choice of subjects, moving away from nature for a change. Yesterday I featured condensation inside a pot lid, and you’ve shown a different condensation in your #7-2. I have a post scheduled for later in the month that plays up, as you put it, the “music with light and shadow” on objects inside the house, including, like your #9-4, a lampshade. Finding such things is an archaeology of light.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can hear the tune but I don’t know the lyrics – it’s a nice association. ๐Ÿ™‚ Condensation – it’s interesting, isn’t it? It’s our “poor man’s frost” on the windows. ๐Ÿ˜‰ As you can see, the little piece of blue glass trapped more moisture behind it. I’ll get over to your blog to see your image soon. We have to take our pleasures where we can…and the eye never stops noticing. I love your notion of an archeology of light, thank you. Best wishes for a healthy and creative 2021, Steve!

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    • Thank you, Scott. I hope you’re finding time to hike these days, while it’s not so scorchingly hot. May you ease into 2021 smoothly, and best wishes for a healthy one to you and your family.

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  6. I like the way sketches, photos and words all come together here. You have a calm and perceptive eye. Sorry there wasn’t much opportunity to interact in the class due to the number of participants– but glad you found it easy to pick up the pencil. Happy New Year! — Let’s make it a good one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ๐Ÿ™‚ You got here before I could tell you that I linked to your blog. It’s true what I said about your relaxed, supportive way of communicating – it really set me at ease. For my own purposes, the way it all worked out was just fine. It was a real gift, Jean.
      It was fun putting these together, switching one out for another, etc. I was initially inspired by another blogger, Irene Tetaz, A Belgian blogger who blogs in French and makes interesting watercolors, often of teacups, painted in books. Here’s a link. https://irenetetaz.wordpress.com/2021/01/01/cafe-reveil/
      Thank you again, and best wishes for 2021. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. Wonderful post Lynn! I love the variety of little treasures that surround you, how you put them and the way you photographed them. I love your sketches of the Rose hips! And I like the way you look at all these tiny things like the puddle or the remains from the oven – an artwork itself ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t choose a favorite picture here, I like all of them as a whole, they are inspiring. It is funny: I just talked to another blogger. She wrote about “room-journeys” (Voyage autour de ma chambre) that were founded by a man named Maistres 200 years ago. We thought about starting a blog project writing little stories in this way. So your post is just that: a journey through your home. All the best to you Lynn (I like your last sentences!). Yes, a year of creativity and open minds, travelling in our thoughts if not in real.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love making little scenarios around the house so it’s nice to know that they appeal to you, too. The rose hip drawing was not dark enough to see in the photo well so I darkened the lines in LR. The actual drawing doesn’t look as bold as these bits in the photos – but the important thing is that I sat down and did it. You and Ule (and Jean) are good examples for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ You can thank Joe for the oven artwork – that was potatoes, something we rarely have. They were good! I’ve never heard of Maistre and his voyage (please read that word with the French pronunciation!). I googled him – it sounds like a delightful work. You should know that I was inspired by Irene Tetaz to make the photo galleries. She is an expert at it! Thank you for the good wishes…more wishes are floating east, hoping to find you healthy, happy, and creative.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am so happy for you, that you did this workshop with Jean, yeah! Isn’t it nice to sit down and do something with your own hands? And it is relaxing too. I hope you do more of this ๐Ÿ™‚ I like the “bit” and am curious for more! Thank you for your good wishes! I try to be ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  8. An important reminder that we are surrounded by beauty if we open our eyes and choose to see and accept it. A Happy and a Healthy New Year to you and your family Lynn!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Howard. I hope you and your family have a fortunate New Year! I heard that my nephew is considering a dosimetry position in Coos Bay – maybe you would cross paths if he takes it. He’s also looking at Boston so who knows where he’ll end up?

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  9. (hopefully) A Happy New Year to you Lynn.

    As you say it’s amazing what creative images can be captured in the ordinary everyday subjects around the house.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. How delightful to get a few intimate glimpses of your sanctuary. I’ve been planning something like this as well, and I am now inspired anew. May this new year bring unexpected and lasting treasures to us all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It may look a little like a sanctuary but you should know that the camera didn’t dwell on the piles of papers, books and whatnot. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But it’s great to hear you’re inspired to get back to your idea. Irene Tetaz’s blog initially inspired me to use blocks of images. Scroll through her posts and you’ll see. (She’s a Belgian blogger who makes interesting paintings, often of teacups).
      https://irenetetaz.wordpress.com/2020/12/27/cafe-console/
      May the new year bring treasures your way, too – I’m sure it will!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. And what an eye you have (e.g. #4) … quite sculptural, architectural, textural. I agree with you — different senses, and different tools, can reinforce each other, heighten impact: something I “slow down” by abandoning computer for writing (or, even more deliberate, printing) by hand. Sometimes I read material aloud, taking it in through mouth-muscles & ears, as well as eyes. All these devices, to bring ourselves fresh & engaged to whatever it is that we are doing…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do appreciate form and texture – and architecture, though you’d never know it by looking at this blog! Making marks, as they say, is such a primary experience, isn’t it? It’s good (but not surprising) to hear that you return to writing by hand, reading aloud, etc. Mouth-muscles, ear-muscles, eye-muscles…a woman I studied with years ago is famous for saying “The mind is a muscle.” I think you’d like her – Yvonne Rainer.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yvonne_Rainer
      Thank you for your comment, Penny, really a contribution. (I think we’re getting some sun in a few days, yea!)

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  12. The images in this selection confirm the truth of your opening comment. I particularly like the last picture which gathers together several aspects of your photography.
    Best wishes for 2021 Lynn

    opening paragraph

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Louis. The last picture shows the typical tangled border between two houses…rampant, invasive Himalayan blackberry consorts with native Sword fern and both are nestled in the double trunk of a Bigleaf maple. It’s a jungle out there. ๐Ÿ™‚ Best wishes for your 2021, too. Take care and stay healthy!

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  13. Oh, Lynn, I just love this post. Seeing the extraordinary in the everyday is the cornerstone of many great images and you’ve done this so beautifully around your home. I love to stare out windows, too. I am impressed with your sketching and it reminded me of a class I took in SF with John Muir Laws (yes that’s his name) about nature journaling and bird sketching and thought you’d enjoy a peek at the website. There are some gorgeous nature journals out there. https://johnmuirlaws.com.
    Wishing you creative and inspiring days ahead. ๐ŸŒŸ

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I know you love to look out windows – all those photos from your old place in SF prove it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I really appreciate your enthusiasm. I haven’t been inspired to go out much of late, with the gray, chilly, wet weather and I didn’t feel like posting from the archives. ThenI was inspired to put blocks of photos together and focus on things around the house after scrolling through some posts by Irene Tetaz. https://irenetetaz.wordpress.com/2020/12/27/cafe-console/
      You’d think nature journaling would be a natural for me. I admire anyone who keeps one but it’s hard for me to slow myself down enough to make that commitment. It was hard enough to decide to do Jean’s class (but I enjoyed it so!). Laws’ website is amazing – he has all the angles covered! It’s nice to see that he offers free zoom classes and resources to help other people teach. Thank you Jane, have a good week!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. What a feast of beauty this post is Lynn. How lovely to see these snippets of your home that are complete in themselves. Remnants from the oven has to be my favourite, then stems in a vase, and then the puddle. I’m in an abstract mood I guess.
    Best wishes for 2021 for you too.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it sounds like you were in the mood for abstracts when you looked at this post – I like that. It was a good exercise, putting these together. May we all enjoy many more creative moments in this new year…best wishes to you and Don!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Yes, I agree, learning to see is the thing >>> tho thank heavens for photography as my drawing / painting “skills” are certainly way off the bottom of the spreadsheet! I used to lodge with an art teacher while doing geological fieldwork (aka birding) on Skye, an absolutely wonderfully creative woman, and she was starting to get me into sketching, but that all fell by the wayside decades ago. My favourites here are both in 9: sun on blinds, and an unlit lamp. Happy New Year! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Birding or doing anything on the isle of Skye sounds glorious. I always admired the British tradition of teaching youngsters to draw – it’s probably not done anymore but wasn’t there a time when it was common for nearly everyone to draw from nature? Or was that mainly girls? Happy New Year to you, too – let’s keep that virus away and hope our governments get their acts together. :-0

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    • Oui, cela a รฉtรฉ inspirรฉ par vous. Merci de m’inspirer tout au long de l’annรฉe. Quant au n ยฐ 8, c’est un morceau de verre carrรฉ avec lequel je jouais l’annรฉe derniรจre. J’en ferai plus un de ces jours. Merci beaucoup, Irene, de grands sourires vous traversent l’Atlantique.

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  16. “Drawing entails a different way of seeing and working.” Having recently taken up drawing I too have been noticing this…and how it is in an entirely different manner to the way I used to observe the world in my writing practice. Perhaps it is the part of me searching for all things minimalist at the moment, but I love your sketches, the black-and-white photo of your bell, and that very beautiful and zen beloved bowl of yours.
    Wishing you a healthy and marvelous new year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is such a nice comment – it’s interesting that you’ve taken up drawing…all things minimalist – sounds like a plea to get away from the news! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thank you very much. A very happy, healthy, and creative new year to you as well!

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  17. Well, this goes to prove the thought that restriction can breed creativity – these photographs are wonderful! I like the sound of your drawing class – it’s been a a mix of exciting/overwhelming how many opportunities have come up online that we never had before, sounds like you got a good deal from the class.

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  18. I admire your pursuit of drawing, Lynn. I’ve tried but my hands are too unsteady and the shaking makes drawing less than enjoyable. I foolishly spent a whole lot of money on good quality colored pencils before discovering that I wasn’t able to control them so they sit in a drawer sadly unused. Maybe someday.
    Much of what we consider mundane or not worthy of a second glance can be great subjects under close observation. I hope you will do more posts of your drawing as you progress over time.

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  19. I hear you about the hands being unsteady – it’s not an issue with me but if it were, I would struggle to have any fun with a pencil! For me, drawing is an old skill that I’m always telling myself I should go back to but I seldom do. I started drawing as a child and I went to art school. Much later I did a two year certificate program in botanical illustration at the New York Botanical Garden, so it’s not new territory! But sadly, once you get comfortable with a camera it’s hard to go back to drawing. That short zoom experience was really nice so maybe………..

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  20. WONDERFUL! I watched a presentation today about Fine Art Photography with examples from some contemporaries. One thing the presenter mentioned was depicting ordinary objects in unordinary ways. You have done that beautifully with many of the frames here. I majored in illustration in art college and then worked as an illustrator and graphic designer. I never draw anymore but do think about at least sketching again. One thing I know is that becoming a skilled draftsman or photographer both take practice. I often compare either one to learning a musical instrument.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, there is plenty to see everywhere you look…and I’ve always thought one of the most important things visual art can do is to open up a new way of viewing the world, to help people see differently, to spark a new idea. I must have known that you were an illustrator but I’d forgotten that. We both know the time investment necessary to keep those skills alive, and once you get going with photography it’s hard to make the time to draw. I really forced myself to do that workshop and I was so glad I did. It was a peaceful, relaxed feeling, watching Jean draw, listening to her talk, and working on my own sketch at the same time. Doesn’t sound calm but it really was. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for your enthusiasm, Denise, I appreciate it.

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      • I took a drawing class long after I was out of college just to force me to do it. I equate it with exercise … ‘you know you should but …’! What I found out was that it is like riding a bike … you don’t forget how or lose your skill.

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  21. Happy new year Lynn – if I’m not too late to the party !
    Such a wealth of creativity out there to enjoy and learn from, the Zoom session was obviously a success . I love seeing your sketches of plump wild rose hips there alongside your other ‘simple’ arrangements and views around chez vous . My oven remnants have never looked so artistic ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m reminded of Honesty / Moon Penny seed heads …
    Your comment about ‘seeing’ is spot on .Slowing down whether camera, pencil or paintbrush in hand is
    something I have to make mental note to self about frequently … I guess I’m always too eager for a result and countless images discarded are testament to that Lol
    A beautiful contemplative post .. thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your oven remnants are probably quite interesting…a little bit of Lightroom emphasis may be all they need. I see what you mean about the Honesty seeds…funny! For some of us, it’s hard to slow down, isn’t it? But a speedy brain has other benefits…I hope to see some of your dabblings one of these days, OK? It’s great to hear from you!

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