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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SHATTER

 

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SHATTER the light, the expectations.

BREAK up the view, the stillness.

ERODE the object, the function.

And never stop playing.

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Photographs:

Reflection and light broken up on a phone

Painted tarp on a chain link fence at a construction site

An “oops” taken out the window of a moving car

Reflections on a glass table

Rust on an abandoned car

Chair on a sidewalk

ABOVE IT ALL – BUT JUST A LITTLE

Another Photo Challenge is sparking ideas and sending photographers hunting for images taken “FROM ABOVE.”

Here is a collection of images, almost all from nature, that I have taken while looking down on my subject.

Since I was young I’ve liked looking down. Sometimes looking down flattens the space and creates interesting abstractions.

Sometimes looking down just keeps me anchored to the earth, or affords a view I hadn’t seen before.

Or, when there’s water involved, it’s a roundabout way of looking up.

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These photos were taken between January, 2010 and a few days ago, on Captiva Island, Florida, on the High Line in New York, at Bellevue Botanical Garden in Bellevue, Washington, at Snug Harbor Botanical Garden in New York, at Anthropologie in Philadelphia, in Spring Lake, New Jersey, near Tannersville, New York, along the Dosewallips River in Washington, in the Marckworth Forest in King County, Washington, in the Quinault Rainforest in Washington, and in old Robe Canyon on the South Fork Stillaguamish River in Washington.

More interpretations of this challenge can be found here.