Weekly Photography Challenge: Half-Light

I love the slanting, fading light of winter evenings, so I thought “Half-light” was a straight forward challenge…but then I saw that we are also invited to choose a favourite poem or lyric as inspiration for a photo, not necessarily half-light…How to choose! I thought of “Bird on a Wire”, which I love, and I have taken pictures of birds on wires, but where in my vast archive are they? Not labelled “bird on wire”, that’s for sure. I searched for Emily Dickinson’s poem, “There’s a certain slant of light…”, and then I searched for the photos.

I found these – two taken at home, and playing on colour, light and shadow. The sunset is from the west-facing balcony of my daughter’s previous home in Canberra. The big windows onto the balcony admitted marvelous evening light in winter, allowing for beautiful side-lit images of little Juniper. She was just one year old in those pictures, in one wearing a gorgeous vintage hooded cape – impractical, but so cute. How time flies!IMG_7483 (Large)

Now she’s two and a half, with a head full of curls and a passion for Thomas the Tank Engine, and all his friends. And she doesn’t mind some raspberry sorbet, either! Like the plums that William Carlos Williams purloined from the refrigerator, it was “delicious, so sweet and so cold”.

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Friday Poem: Afrayed

IMG_7439 (Large)Sixty is a daunting number for a birthday – I’m officially a senior now. I’m sure it’s worse for my mother , having a child so old. I remember her telling me, maybe twenty years ago (she was nineteen when I was born), that the older she got, the older her idea of old was. To me it just seems to be nonsensical that I am this old – I think most older people feel that at least some of the time. It’s when I see a recent photo of, say, Henry Rollins, who is a few years younger than me, and he looks so darned old …or my own kids grey hairs…well, that’s when I feel ancient…Sorry, Hank!IMG_7478 (Large)

 

I see my grand daughters
Vibrating with life.
I see the grey
In my children’s hair.

I think maybe I have
Another thirty years.
Thirty years of mitochondria
Powering down,
And fraying telomeres…

So much to do
And that’s a long time,
But maybe not.

Will I ever get to live
In Olympia,
A year, a week, a month?
Am I too old for dreams?

You can see from the size of Juniper that the photo of my mum,me, Zoe and Juni was taken a while ago. She’s not wearing lipstick in the recent photo – she’d just finished a raspberry sorbet in Halls Gap. My specs and ring are evidence that I haven’t given up just yet, and Dad’s old Commer – well, we are around the same age, and I think I’m generally holding up better than the truck!

Creativity: The Party Props in Action

My recent Creativity posts have been all about making props for my 60th birthday party – Punk’s Not Dead. Today I’m making a gallery of some photos from the party, featuring those pieces. It’s not every day (or year) that I have a sufficient excuse to hire a band and the local Hall, so I thought I may as well make an event – an art project – of it.

Guests were invited to dress up in Punk Rock Style, and most of them did, with a broad range of interpretations. To me, Punk (Rock) represents freedom of expression, a DIY aesthetic and a can-do approach, so I was little bit surprised at how many of my guests associate “punk” with obnoxiousness – there was a lot of face-pulling going on! There was even concern expressed about the possibility of violent behaviour, despite the fact that my friends are very mild mannered, middle  class types who would never dream of such a thing. Thinking about this afterwards, I realised they were reflecting the biases of the Murdoch Press reporting on the Sex Pistols et al way back when…sad!

Weekly Photography Challenge: Dance

I’m baaack – this weeks challenge topic is Dance – however we want to interpret it. I have been distracted for the past couple of weeks with the lead-up and aftermath of my 60th birthday party – which had a punk rock dress-up theme, and featured  Ararat’s 90’s punk and alternative cover band, Kerplunk. They were awesome, and although many adults were too shy/overawed to get up and dance, the kids were right into it.

My grand daughter Juniper makes a very good punk grrrl – all toddlers a little bit punk rock from time to time! Madeline wore a fairy dress, but we converted her by the end of the night. The cake is one of the two Zoe baked for the occasion – this one was rose flavoured, and she had the idea for the frosting at the last minute. It worked spectacularly well, my two favourite colours dancing together, and forming roses all over the top of the cake. Matt and Zoe did a brilliant job of vegan catering for the night.

Meanwhile, in the garden, we were blessed with some actual rain last week, which has woken up autumn flowering plants, and set them dancing! And for the record, here’s a pic of me and others) on the big night, in front of the photo background I painted for the party. It was well used on the night, and definitely added to the atmosphere. Matt Harris, Juniper’s dad took all these photos, as I was a bit busy…IMG_7674 (Large)

Creativity: Playing with Paint(.NET)

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As you may know by now, I am celebrating turning (gasp) 60 by having a punk-themed party. I am also a Nirvana fan, and a feminist…I decided a detail of a collage would add something to the party decor, but the slightly blurry photo wasn’t all that exciting. So I decided to jazz it up a bit, using paint.NET.

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After fiddling with brightness, contrast and saturation, I played around with curves until I had a look I liked (making the discoloured old newspaper clippings pink and orange). But that still seemed a bit dull, and I felt the dark spaces needed…something.

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Writing using the mouse is a challenge – so I did that. I was surprised how neatly I managed to write the name of my “event”. I filled some more empty space with my “peace love empathy” bleeding rainbow heart symbol, and wrote in the words. Filling in the colours of the rainbow took a lot of effort, and frequent use of “control Z” to fix mistakes…because the original background is unevenly coloured, it was not a simple matter of filling the space between the lines, and the lighter section (the newspaper clipping) read as the same as the heart outline – resulting in the whole thing being coloured in….several times before I gave up and left that corner “as is”. Finally, in case anyone missed it, I underlined the more pertinent parts of the quote about women. I made the collage from bits and pieces that had been stuck on a wall in my studio a long time ago – 18 or 19 years – so unfortunately I have no idea who it was that said/wrote either of the quotes.

Creativity: Upcycled T-shirt Cushions.

These are all old band t-shirts, but the idea can be used for any printed tee that is beyond wearing for whatever reason, but still loved. The three Nirvana ones I made years ago, but the others I was inspired to get made for comfy and appropriate party decor.IMG_7432 (Large)
I found the Twentieth Century Breakdown shirt in an op shop/thrift store, and teamed it with a flowery print in toning colours. I used iron-on interfacing on the back of the t-shirt panel to stabilise it. The stretchiness of the fabric isn’t really an asset for cushions, especially when using it alongside woven fabrics.IMG_7433 (Large)
Two more Greenday shirts belonged to my daughter. I asked her before I chopped them up. One was wide enough that I could simply cut  straight across the whole shirt, top and bottom, to leave a square with the print on it. Then I stitched a long, preloved zip into the top seam, sewed up the bottom, and that was it. A new cushion from an old t-shirt! One thing I found out the hard way – it’s a good plan to UNDO THE ZIP before completing the seams – much easier to turn your cover right side out if you do! From the other shirt, I cut a panel with the printed image and appliqued it onto a patched background. I used fusible web to hold the layers together, then top-stitched around the edges.
Also, unless you are making your own inserts, measure your fabric before you cut, and make your cover to fit standard inserts. ( 14″/35cm,  16″/40cm, 18″/45cm ).

I was given two round inserts, so I made two round cushion covers! The Vines shirt I found at the Salvos. It was in good condition, but I only used the front as the back was blank. Any spare sections of t-shirt have been cut into continuous strips of “yarn” and put aside for a later project. I’ve used the “Trouble” print on a chair and another cushion, so they all play well together without “matching”. The tiny P.J. Harvey shirt I’ve had for years after buying it at the Save The Children shop. I cut it into two discs, front and back, and cheated on the zip by sewing it onto the outside – a line of stitching either side of the zipper teeth – then slit the fabric behind the zip…It worked, but it’s probably not a good method if the zip is to be used often, as the raw edges would snare the teeth eventually, I think!

Weekly Photography Challenge: State of Mind

This week, an invitation to be moody, or rather, to show a state of mind via photographs. It’s odd that when we say “moody” or ” in a mood”, it always has a negative and gloomy/grumpy connotation, whereas the word “mood” simply refers to a state of mind, which could be excitement, bliss, apprehension, boredom etc etc.

I’ve gone back to August 2011 – our Trip of a Lifetime – and chosen some different states of mind in Washington State…There’s elation in the pink’n’orange cladding of the Experience Music Project, wonder in the amazing architecture of that building, mixed feelings with the Here Forever sculpture -I love it, but it’s not quite true – pleasure and contentment sitting on the grass at an outdoor concert (where I saw Sub Pop photographer Charles Peterson at work! Exciting!), and awe with every sighting of the Space Needle. I picked up a flyer somewhere in Seattle for a photography tour that promised the “right” view point for the “perfect” shot of the Space Needle. I was disgusted with this idea, and made sure and take pictures that were not “perfect”, but interesting instead. I just don’t see the point of reproducing a postcard…