Picto Project Week 4 | Colorful Mushrooms Galore | Liebster Award

Striped mushrooms

The photo above is a slightly different angle from the one I snapped yesterday and with a little more post-processing, namely with the pronounced blue and green hues.  I couldn’t resist putting another mushroom/fungi photo in; ya’ll seemed to enjoy the one from yesterday!  Picto Project week 4 is almost wrapped up!

Every couple of months, the “awards” flare up in the blogosphere.  I like to joke that they’re a bit like a virus…everyone seems to catch one, and then they die down.

I still like to participate, however, because it’s a fun way to look at others’ blogs, glean a little recognition, and learn about each other.

I’ve had three awards bestowed upon me in the last couple of weeks from Terrye, Janine, Clark and more recently, Denise.  I’m always thrilled when someone bestows one upon me…even though it’s a little like taking a dose of cough syrup.  But you all are wonderful, wonderful bloggers.

The Liebster Award:

In the various versions of this award, the rules state that you display the award on your blog OR don’t follow any more rules OR state 11 things about yourself and then pass on the award to anyone OR 11 other bloggers, depending on how you look at it.

You know, I like to be snarky.  I think I’ll do my own thing here.  Read on to find out.

The Facts…

1. I’m a sucker for Seinfeld re-runs.  Every night while I’m making dinner, I need Jerry to come to my living room to make me laugh while I cook.

2. I must follow Seinfeld with a dose of Jeopardy.  Yes, after I have made dinner, the Hubby and I love to eat and throw out answers to all the questions.  We’d never win.  Ever.

3. If I love you, I will torture you.  That means I will tickle you, give you zerberts, play practical jokes on you, scare the bejeezus out of you, and randomly shower you with Hershey’s kisses.

4. I will eat all the Hershey’s kisses, too.  I have no willpower when it comes to those things.  So, I limit myself to once or twice per year.  Because I will eat the whole bag.  And leave a trail of foil wrappers.  And maybe make something with them.

5. I must spend time creating.  Every day.  Not that you didn’t know that if you follow this blog.  But, it doesn’t just have to be photography or art or writing.  I like creating food art, hair art, window art, clothing art….and my whole house looks like some clown came along and hiccuped bubbles of color all over the place.  My house is blueberry-colored.  While all the other houses here in the countryside are white or gray, mine is purple with a rose-colored porch.  I guess we won’t be selling it anytime soon…or at least until I get around to painting it again.

6. I don’t like talking on the phone.  Unless I’m commuting to Asheville in my car.  In that case, I have 40 minutes to bombard someone with the minutiae of my banal existence.  I try to do it hands free, but it’s highway driving.  Cars should be cell-phone free, I know, so don’t follow my example.

7. My brother-in-law has been on my mind for some reason.  Dang it, I’m always impressed by that dude.  He does 100-mile road rides, owns a fly-fishing business, built this incredible canoe from scratch, and is one of the forefathers of tele-skiing.  Yes, he really is – he helped usher in an era of tele-skiing while working at Crested Butte Ski Area in Colorado.  Just once, just ONCE I wish I could say that I did something to impress him back.  I don’t think I’ve done that, yet.  Dammit.

8. I don’t have kids.  It’s a beautiful, violent, big, unpredictable, creative, constrictive, filled-with-potential and harsh world we live in.  I just can’t decide if I want to give all those adjectives to a future generation.  Maybe I will.  Maybe I won’t.  I admire the courage of others to do so.

There are 8 facts.  And somewhere in all those blogs with the awards, it said there were no tag-backs.  I guess I’ll try and find some other bloggers that I think deserve an award.

And the nominees are (in my best Oscars-not-that-I-watched-it-voice):

Adorable Chaos

Mail 4 Rosey

Shona Skye

Everything Susan

Diary of a Plague Year

Congrats to these bloggers and may many more wonderful awards come your way!  Thank you also to Bill who recently wrote a tribute post in my honor.  Thank you.  I am feeling the love, people.  Feelin’ the love.  🙂

Wordless Wednesday 9 | Colorful Fungi | Picto Project Week 4

Mushrooms in a bog

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday #9

For instructions on how to participate, scroll down.

Wordless?  Hardly.

I shot this photo on a walk almost right outside of my house.  There’s this little boggy area in the woods (yes, I live in the forest, people) and a log had all these colorful fungi growing on it.

We have no shortage of mold and fungi in this part of western North Carolina – I am telling you.

With the moisture and the striping on the fungi, I squatted next to a briar whose thorns were poking me in places that I care not to mention, and took a number of photos.  I have black and whites, and many types of color versions, but this shot is the one I liked best.

I have my camera on the “miniature” setting, meaning it hyper focuses on a certain part of the image and blurs out the rest.  It’s a fun thing to do, especially when you’re experimenting with aperture settings.

Macro photography on cool objects in nature?  Check.

In any case, here are the image properties:

F 5.6 | 55mm | 1/100 sec. | ISO 640 | Exposure compensation: -0.7

I had the exposure compensation set a little low on accident.  However, I compensated with a higher ISO and I really like the results.  I embrace my photo accidents.  🙂

And now, come participate in Wordless Wednesday!

Here’s what to do:

  1. Grab a photo that you think is worth 1,000 words.  Preferably it’s your own photo, but Creative Commons photos are allowed (with proper attribution).  This photo can be a regular photo, artwork, or even a video.
  2. Place it on your blog and link-up below.  If you don’t have a blog, go to my Facebook Page and paste a photo there.  Linking up also means that you may be featured on this blog the following Sunday and I will need to use your photo.  I will choose a theme each week and feature 10-15 photos from people who link-up.
  3. Grab the button and display it on your blog or side column (optional)
  4. Keep it Wordless or Wordy – your choice!
  5. I’ll be by your blog to tweet your photo and add the hashtag #Wordlesswednesday.  Feel free to do the same.
  6. Please visit at least 4 or 5 other blogs (especially the people who link up right before you do).
  7. Follow your favorite blogs – and I would LOVE for you to follow my blog, too, but I won’t force you to.  😉
wordless wednesday pictimilitude button

Don’t forget to link up!

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Winter Leaves Painting | Picto Project Week 4 | Winter Leaf Fire Dance

winter leaves inspirations

A few Saturdays ago, I shot this photo when it was snowing.  I loved how some of the trees were still clinging to their leaves and a gentle dusting of snow graced the tips and edges of the rather golden leaves.

It inspired the next part of this process.  A charcoal drawing:

The final stage is a finished painting.  However, since this next painting was fairly small, I decided to do it on two different framed canvases.

It’s a painting in stages:

Stage 1:

winter leaves blue

I know it doesn’t look like much.  But you have to start somewhere, right?  As I worked on this, I didn’t really like the direction it was going.  That’s the beauty of painting.  You can change it.  Each canvas has a portion of the trio of leaves.

Stage 2:

winter leaves painting orange gold blue turquoise

Here the two canvas frames sit on my easel.  It’s hard to tell from the photo, but there is silver and gold in the painting, as well.  I used short, stubby brush strokes to create a background for what was to come.

Stage 3:

Winter leaves painting with colors

I could have kept it like this.  I started blocking in the veins of the leaves, but this isn’t my “style,” yet.  You will see in the last stage that I am addicted to geometric patterns and designs and the leaves became the vehicle for that…

Stage 4:

Winter leaves with swirly lines

I have abstracted the leaves with the black lines.  This is the left canvas piece.

And the right canvas piece:

Winter leaves with black lines

And the two pieces together:

Winter leaves and color on canvas

It’s definitely fun to go back and look at the process.  The final stage gives the leaves a whole new look.  It makes them look like they’re almost dancing over a fire…

And with that, this painting is entitled: Winter Leaf Fire Dance

Because, you know, I can’t wait for the heat of summer.

Note: this diptych painting is for sale, and you can reserve it.  I will need it for my mid-year exhibition in August.

French Broad River | Living the Life of an Artist | Picto Project Week 4

 A view of the French Broad River in Western North Carolina


This image is a similar one to the color version I shared last week.  However, it is at a slightly different angle and in a rich black and white pattern.

I wanted to share it because this is the next photo I intend on rendering into a painting.  (Tomorrow’s post will feature my latest finished painting.)

The next step is doing the charcoal drawing, which I will share later in the week.

Living as an Artist…

A few days ago, my breath was taken away when I found one of my journals from a few years ago.

In an entry dated 6/25/10, here is an excerpt:

I think if money were no object, I would use my Spanish skills to help members of my community.  I’d spend the rest of my time selling and working on art.  I’d garden and write and can and preserve.  I’d learn the guitar finally and hike the Camino de Santiago.  I’d paint murals with messages and mountain bike and hike to my heart’s content.

 I got chills reading this.  It’s been an interesting journey, but I am living that life right now.  

I am living my dream.

I’m teaching and helping members of my community.

I’m working on my art, especially through the Pictorialization Project.

I’m not gardening much at the moment as it’s winter and I am busily trying to get my art and writing business really going.

Guitar?  Well…I like to play and took lessons when I was in high school, but one of these days I’ll get going with that again.

Mountain biking and hiking?  Yes and yes.  Actually, winter calls for a lot more hiking (mountain biking is too cold and we all know I hate being cold), but I’m doing that.

Last year, I decided to live my dream…

I had the support of my husband and some great friends.

And once you decide that it’s time to live your dream, things somehow fall into place.

It’s certainly not an easy road.  Don’t get me wrong.  Dreams are not called such because they are easy.

They are called dreams because little by little, with persistence and determination, we can realize them.  We just have to commit to it.  Really commit to it.

And it can be done.

I’ve given up plenty to make it happen.  No, I don’t go out to eat.  I don’t have a smartphone.  I have an older car.  I don’t buy clothes.  I no longer have savings.

And you know what?  I’m free.  I’m doing what I love.  And somehow giving up those other things – which I know isn’t forever – is okay.

I know that I’m realizing a dream and for that, giving up a few creature comforts is a price I’m willing to pay to make my artistic and literary contribution to the world.

Wordless Wednesday Featured on Sunday 8 – Nature and Technology

This week for Wordless Wednesday, I had record-breaking (for Pictimilitude) submissions and wonderful entries!  Many photos also followed one of two themes: nature and technology (and oxymoronic, too!).  I decided to feature the photos that fell into one of these two themes.

This beauty is from the Student Gardener.  What a beautiful, hopeful photo!  I think the statue is almost defiantly saying, “Snow, pshaw.  C’mon spring!”

This fun photo is from Real World Mom.  She mentioned in her Wednesday post that she has a fascination for numbers on her clock. I do, too.  I imagine the little “legs” that make up the numbers in different places and how easy (well, hard, actually) it seems like you could just move all the legs to make “88:88”.  Ha!

You know who this image made me think of?  Terrye Toombs.  She’s got the whole “surviving the zombie apocalypse” down to a science.

This image is courtesy of My Thoughts, Ideas and Ramblings.  And it is a fantastic photo indeed.  I wanna drive this car for just a day and see all the looks I’d get.  I bet NOBODY would mess with me, cut me off or display any  road rage.  Ha!

This image is courtesy of Mom’s Bookshelf and More.  It’s from a recent snowstorm.  I just love the blue undertones and the serenity in this.  The snowflakes are perfect little round balls of fluff, too!

You need to head over to Wordless Wednesday by David to appreciate the full beauty of this photo.  The black and white starkness is spectacular.  I really do recommend heading over and seeing it a larger size.  You almost feel like you’re actually standing in the field.  I LOVE it when photos do that.

Water in Costa Rica

This awesome photo is by Emily over at Oh Boy Mom.  This is her Big Dude jumping into a lagoon in the Costa Rican jungle.  Yeah, as soon as you say “Costa Rica” and “jungle” you’ve got me smitten.  I LOVE that country – the rainforest is simply unparalleled and pristine.  If you’ve never been there, that must go onto your bucket list.

This beauty is by Melanie over at Scribbles and Smiles.  What a stunning capture: stunning as in diamonds.  She entitled the photo, “Diamonds on the Water” and I think it’s fitting.  The way the sun’s rays hit the water just so made for a “perfect carat” image.

This image is courtesy of Nan over at BlogShe.  It’s beautiful and extra special because she made it.  Lovely work by human hands.

This awesome silhouette and high-contrast image is by Cathy Kennedy over at Cathy Kennedy’s Blog.  She did a series of photo edits using the site Fotoflexer.  If you haven’t been to her blog, this is a great post to see because she has a number of different photo edits of this same photo.  Fotoflexer is a great site to get started with photo editing, especially if you’re new to it.  Then, as you get better and better, you can incorporate some advanced functions.  I love it!

What does this image of Julie over at Life According to Julie have to do with this week’s theme?  Technology. Yeah, that’s right.  If you’re a writer, especially the online sort (and who isn’t?), then technology and coding and images and .jpgs and .pngs and hyperlinks and computers and social networking are all a part of the way you live and breathe.  It can get overwhelming, too.  So, I thought this was perfectly suited to a theme of technology.

These winter roses, courtesy of Natasha over at Diary of a Plague Year make me want to usher in spring with a flurry of flowers.  I am looking forward to the long, warm days where I can sit outside with my laptop and soak up the sun…ahhh….

I wanted to include Michelle’s image from Muses From the Deep because this plant – Chinese pussy willow – symbolizes growth and prosperity.  I hope everyone experiences growth and prosperity who sees this image.  🙂

I had to include this image of the Twig Terrariums – what fun miniature worlds they create!  I love the green and I can imagine the lovely, earthy scent they give off.

Amy over at Adorable Chaos said it perfectly when she said she felt like she was walking in a Monet painting.   And, of course, as soon as someone says “painting,” they’ve got my attention.  This is a wonderful photograph and her princess is in it.

Ruchira over at Abracabadra shared this photo.  It’s beautiful and it inspired her to write a haiku.  So far those are the only poems I’ve attempted and shared on this blog, but they’re sweet and short and to the point.

Would you believe me if I told you this image is NOT from the tropics?  That it’s in Michigan?  It’s on Lake Superior: the Upper Peninsula.  How awesome!

I am so glad Cara of Cardelean shared this.  It really makes me want to go to the beach and bask in the summer sun.  Right now.  I try to embrace the present, but you can bet I’m revved up for summer…as I sit here with a couple layers of clothes on and a blanket and a hot cup of tea…

And there you have it folks!  The photos I had of nature and technology for  this week.

Floating Tree? | Picto Project Week 3

Cut Tree Trunk on french broad

My question is this: did you really look at the photo?

Because I have no idea what’s going on here.

Last Monday, I went for a hike on the Jack Branch trail.  I’m always looking for great photos for the Pictorialization Project.

After I get home from our excursions, I usually have enough images to play with for the week: to turn into drawings, add poems and render into paintings.

I discovered this photo last night.

This photo – other than adjusting the contrast to make the details stand out a little more – is EXACTLY as it appears on my camera.

My husband thinks it’s evidence of Sasquatch.  He wants to believe – so badly.  Either that, or he says it’s a Wrinkle in the space-time continuum.

Me?  I don’t really have an explanation.  I don’t even really remember taking this photo.  I can tell you, however, that I do NOT remember any floating trees: this would have been the FIRST photo I would have shared this week.

 I swear, under penalty of perjury, that I did not edit this photo except for minor adjustments to make the river easier to see.

Maybe the ghost of Jack (of Jack Branch trail) finally decided to reveal himself.  Perhaps there’s some macabre history that I know nothing about and Jack is trying to communicate with the living.

But, um, why would you levitate a tree?  I can think of other ways to scare the people or attempt to get their attention.

Hell, I think ghosts exist.  Seems to me there’s more evidence that they DO than DON’T.

And there are plenty of haunted places around western North Carolina.  People have written enough books about them that you’d think people have regular coffee dates at their favorite “haunt.”

I have no idea if this image will make it into the coffee table book, but I can tell you that I might need to head back to this trail to see if I can find this tree and figure out what’s going on.  I mean, it’s too large to be suspended by another tree, right?  And look how straight the trunk is.

I’m part of a blogger’s group that participates in Finish the Sentence Friday.

I don’t usually participate because it’s often difficult to make my photos align with the week’s theme.

This week, however, the prompt is this: “Speaking from experience, I’m going to give you advice on…”


Yes, I actually can contribute to the prompt.

And my advice?  Be respectful and err on the side of belief because you don’t want to find yourself on the bank of a large river where there’s an apparent ENTIRE chunk of a tree missing;  it’s a long way to the bottom of the bank (or mountain).

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!  See you Sunday!

French Broad River and Mountains | Picto Project Week 3

Blue Ridge Mountains

There’s a trail in Hot Springs, NC called the Jack Branch Trail.  This is one of the views that made the hike worth the 1,000-ft. elevation gain in just over a mile.  We started the hike down by the river, actually.

It also inspired a haiku:

The rolling river

and mountain vistas make me

Reflect with joy in life.

Exif data: f7.1| 18mm | ISO 100 | 1/200 sec. | Sony a57 kit lens

The Picto Project continues…