The Pink Moment

For many years now I’ve had reverence for “the magic hour” – that brief time before sunset when the light becomes golden or amber or pink. It’s the photographer’s sweet spot, providing a boost of glowing color and shadowy definition to natural scenes. A friend once said it makes us look like “Italian goddesses,” and sometimes when it bathes my surroundings I feel like I’ve been transported into a Maxfield Parrish painting.

My latest collage – “How Do You Spot a Blessing?” – was inspired by how this magical time seems to calm me down and make my soul smile. So, I was thrilled to read the paragraph below in a Conde Nast Traveler article on Ojai, California (the state is a slight obsession of mine):

…Ojai has been a cherished place for any number of California cultures over the years: the Chumash Indians who first settled the valley; citrus and avocado ranchers; theosophists; Krishnamurti; and Hollywood stars, who’ve long owned discreet retreats here… All of them are drawn at least in part by the town’s famous “pink moment,” a fleeting period before sunset when the jagged Topa Topa Mountains that frame the northern edge of this fertile valley take on a dusky-rose hue: It’s an enchanting time that draws the eyes up and clears the mind.

It’s an enchanting time that draws the eyes up and clears the mind…

Sunday evening I was sitting on a bench overlooking the Delaware River sharing a tall Negro Modelo (leftover from our byob Peruvian lunch) with a good friend. We were deep into a meaningful conversation when puffy pink clouds started to float over the mountain across the river. A few of the trees were just starting to exhibit the golden leaves of fall, and the pink light made them glow a vibrant orange amidst their green neighbors. The puffs turned to streaks and soon the sky, the river and my friend and I were all bathed in lavender light. I stopped him mid-sentence and told him about the pink moment. We were silent for a bit, looking up and appreciating the beauty. Soon everything greyed out into dusk and we finished the warming beer. Our conversation continued, but we both came back to it with a slightly heightened sense of awe about the beauty and magic that appears, and disappears, with each day.

How Do You Spot a Blessing small“How Do You Spot a Blessing?” is a digital collage I made from photos I took in New Orleans, LA; Rhinebeck & Woodstock, NY; and my own backyard (the pink sky and dark trees). May it bring you some clarity. And, remember to look up.

Hiking to Cathedral Music

When I started out along one of my favorite trails in the Wissahickon Woods, I was in a confused state, feeling overwhelmed and unsure of my direction. Within minutes I started hearing music – at first I couldn’t make out the song but as I trekked down the path it got louder.

136Let me sail, let me sail,
Let me crash upon your shore,
Let me reach, let me beach
Far beyond the Yellow Sea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I looked up at the canopy of green, yellow and orange leaves high above my head. Surrounded by tall trees and enveloped in the beauty of the melodic sounds drifting through the woods, I felt like I was in a wilderness cathedral.

142From the deep sea of Clouds
To the island of the moon,
Carry me on the waves
To the lands I’ve never been,
Carry me on the waves
To the lands I’ve never seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recognized the song – Enya’s “Orinoco Flow” – as it followed me along the trail. I realized  it was coming from a large house that I’d walked past many times; it’s on a nearby path but I couldn’t see it from where I was. The music was ringing through the woods (thanks to a really good sound system) and it carried me away on a wave of sheer delight.

221Sail away, sail away, sail away
Sail away, sail away, sail away

Sail away, sail away, sail away

Sail away, sail away, sail away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[The italicized paragraphs are excerpts from the lyrics of "Orinoco Flow" - a 1988 song written and recorded by Irish singer Enya for her second studio album, Watermark.]

Art, Inspiration & Synchronicity

studio 2Inspiration has been popping up everywhere lately – I love it! Have you noticed that when you commit to something and focus on it, resources seem to just appear and synchronicity kicks in? Especially when you’re really onto something that authentically lights you up.

Today’s post features some interesting and talented people I’ve come across – I think they’ll inspire you too!

Pepa home

Photo from Artist at Work article in Lonny magazine – lonny.com

Pepa Poch is an artist and a color trend forecaster (that literally makes my stomach flip with excitement – to be immersed in color!) living in Spain. Lonny Magazine did a lovely article with beautiful photos about how her home, creativity and inspirations are all woven together into one rich life. If you make any type of art or want a glimpse of what an artistically integrated life looks like, do yourself a visual and soul-nourishing favor and check it out: Artist At Work.

 

 

 

Goddess Lakshmi

Goddess Lakshmi by Alice Mason (photo from society6.com/alicemason)

In the spirit of adding some good Feng Shui and original art into my space, I bought this print of the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi from fellow Society 6 artist Alice Mason. Lakshmi is known as the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, both material and spiritual. I love this representation of her – the color combination is gorgeous and the technique Alice uses reminds me of glittering mosaics. Alice’s work is colorful and dreamy in general – I get lost in the patterns and transported by the imagery.

 

 

Artwork by Mae Chevrette (photo from her blog - http://togointotheworld.blogspot.com/)

Artwork by Mae Chevrette (photo from her blog – http://togointotheworld.blogspot.com/)

 

I just started turning my photo collages into mixed media canvases. It has been challenging but also satisfying for someone who loves color, layers and patterns. I’m in awe of Mae Chevrette’s mixed media work – she uses her own photos, often from her travels, and creates highly layered and rich images like her “Sunset Over Newport Harbor.” Living in Boston, she is clearly inspired by the sea and harbor culture of the northeastern coast. And, by strange coincidence, she just did a quick trip to Mt. Desert Island, in northern Maine near Bar Harbor… Guess where I’m going in October? See, coincidences. Look at her travelogue and gorgeous photos here.

Shades of Grey

gates small

There is no black-and-white situation. It’s all part of life. Highs, lows, middles.
Van Morrison, musician

Ins and outs. Ups and downs. Gives and takes.
Are you okay in the grey?

Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. what you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.
Aaron Siskind, photographer

What do you want to remember?
What do you want to forget? How do you want to see it?

grey & silver, small & crop


To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.
Elliott Erwitt, photographer

001
Poetry is the art of substantiating shadows, and of lending existence to nothing.

- Edmund Burke

Light. Magic.
Mystery. Shadows.
Creative flow.
Ins and outs.

I think that’s why artists make art – it is difficult to put into words unless you are a poet. What it takes is being open to the flow of universal creativity. The Zen artists knew this.
Alex Grey, artist

For the poet and the lover and the artist and the seeker:
Play in all the shades of grey.

Inspiration: It’s Closer Than You Think

If you’re looking for inspiration, sometimes there’s a whole world of it right nearby. You might be in the habit of walking or driving around without really noticing your surroundings, but if so, you may be missing out on some idea-generating treasures right in your midst.

When I need a change of scenery to get my creative juices going, I usually just take a walk through my neighborhood – Chestnut Hill (a section of Philadelphia). I’m very lucky to live in a place where residents and business owners take great care in making their properties look enticing and attractive. Even so, sometimes I breeze by the beauty a little too fast and miss the special details (hello, Mr. Cricket!). I took all these photos within a block of my house (except for Woodmere), and just that little jaunt has given me some new ideas and fresh photos to use in my next round of collages.

Chestnut Hill 1The little lending library (top left) is a new addition – you can take any book and bring it or another back whenever you like (I took Awaken Your Senses, of course, and a steamy-looking novel by Paul Theroux). Everyone’s flowers are crazy lush this year – eye candy everywhere! I often pop over to Paris for a La Vie en Rose cocktail on Friday evenings – there’s even a jazz club downstairs, bien sur.

Chestnut Hill 2The green revolution has come our way, thankfully, and there are some great eco-friendly shopping options up and down the Avenue. My world changed when Green Soul opened – fresh pressed juices, smoothies and yummy salads, all with fresh ingredients… heaven. 054

The outdoor exhibit (top right) is put together by a group called Fresh Artists that works with public schools and businesses to mount shows of students’ work. (Love how the frames are actually part of the print – brilliant!). The Woodmere Art Museum (top left) has a permanent collection and special exhibits of regional artists, and they often have outdoor installations on display as well (and a hay bale maze come Halloween).

I love my neighborhood! It continually encourages me to really look around and discover the beauty and magic right outside my door. Although I love to travel and explore new towns and sites, there’s something to be said for the smaller, more intimate discoveries close to home.

How about you? Where do you go to find inspiration? Your backyard? Down the block? A couple towns over? I’d love to hear where you go for a quick and inspirational pick-me-up!

Beauties and Mysteries

Beauties & mysteries of lifeI took this photo at Red Rock Canyon, just outside of Las Vegas. After a couple of days of bright lights and crowds, this vast and quiet landscape brought peace to my soul. I can always count on nature to soothe and inspire me.

How about you? Do you have special places that you go to nourish your soul? Do you seek natural areas or does the energy of the city refresh you? Where do you find the beauties and mysteries of life?

Beautiful Things & Golden Moments #2

Orange calcite given to a friend for emotional healing
Concocting a room spray with essential oils of lavender (calm), Clary sage (clarity, balance) and frankincense (sacred)
A lightning storm over the ocean that lasted all evening
The manager of a grocery store spontaneously giving my mom a bouquet of a dozen red roses for her 90th birthday (way to go, Kenny!)
A jaunt to Bald Head Island on a glistening day

002088before lightning storm compbald head sailboat

Did you have any golden moments this week? I’d love to hear about them!

Beautiful Things & Golden Moments #1

… the remains of a faerie house005
… sipping cocktails on the porch during a July hail storm (and getting drenched when the wind suddenly shifted, but not moving inside)
018
… sacred moments at St. Louis Cathedral (New Orleans)
votives
… hiking to the summit of Overlook Mountain and enjoying a sweeping view of the lush Hudson Valley
Overlook vista

Tell me… What are some of your favorite Beautiful Things & Golden Moments?

The Sacred Sensual Ritual of Comfort Food

 Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul.
- Dorothy Day

When I visited my friend Peter at his place in Rhinebeck, NY a couple weeks ago, we joked several times about how we were creating Sacred Sensual moments – from sipping ginger pomegranate martinis on the porch during a hail storm to hiking up Overlook mountain and eating his homemade avocado-tomato-cheddar sandwiches while surveying the lush Hudson Valley. Only a few days after I returned home, his 87-year-old mother passed away unexpectedly. The process of arrangements ensued, and on top of that, Peter was committed to running a three-day retreat at Bard College, his alma matter. After that concluded, he geared up and went to his hometown for the memorial service. I joined him there as did relatives, friends and neighbors.

By the time Peter returned to Rhinebeck the following night, he’d been busy just about every minute since his mom had passed. For better or worse, there were no more distractions. When I texted him the next afternoon to ask how he was doing, he wrote back: “I’m doing what I always do when I’m upset: cooking.” Later, he sent me this email:

I slid the golden roasted chicken out the oven. I saw the course salt atop the crisped skin and smelled the combination of herbs and lemon and garlic. I just had to slice off a piece of the breast to try it. But before that I cracked open a 2012 Cabernet Savignon and poured a ruby red glass. As I brought it to my lips I was hit with the lush smell of ripe black cherries with a softer note of tobacco in the background. The sip was rich with just a hint of pepper and the slight tang of tannin. As the knife broke in to the tender flesh, hot juices escaped with a hiss. The first bite melted into a buttery, salty, lemony, garlic fusion. Followed up by another sip of the berry juice, I breathed in a sacred sensual moment. 
 
I really really needed that. Since losing mom I’ve been experiencing such a roller coaster of emotions. I’m finding comfort in these small moments – a snippet of my favorite song, the weight of my beloved Fritz [his dog] sitting on my lap, the warmth of a glass of hearty Cabernet. They help ground me, allow me to take a breath and remember that I’m still here, still connected, and that with time, things will settle.

I grateful to Peter for letting me share this because it shows the direct connection between our sensory experiences and their effect on our hearts and souls. Comfort food is more than just drowning our sorrows in a store-bought chocolate cake – it’s about returning to the rituals and sources that nourish us and choosing to love ourselves enough to, “breathe in a sacred sensual moment.”
Reflection - Peter and me in Woodstock, NY, July 2014.

Reflection – Peter and me in Woodstock, NY, July 2014.