Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ranunculus, Part II

My cat loves sticking his nose in my business.

I love the light that comes through my bedroom window in the early evening.  I took these photos at the same time as the instant ones I posted earlier.  These are much lighter because I was working with 400 speed film and a 1.8F lens with my Nikon SLR, versus 100 speed film and a 2.8F lens with my Mamiya medium format (although I can handhold my Mamiya at 1/30, versus 1/60 for my Nikon, so that helps).

{photos: nikon fm2 and kodak portra 400 film}

Friday, June 15, 2012

Roast Chicken with FRESH Herbs

Organic rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano.  

Straight from my balcony garden to my roasting pan.  (Crispy sage is the best.)

{photos: nikon fm2 and kodak ektar 100 film}

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Much of my enjoyment in life comes from experiencing and appreciating what others put into the world.  I voraciously consume books, music, films, and blogs.  I am happy in this role, because all great art deserves an audience.  At the same time,  in this age of consumption and digital existence, I have a tugging desire to create something tangible of my own - to be not only a consumer, but a creator.  

I spent much of my earlier youth too intimidated to attempt creation.  Now I understand the value in small creations that enrich my personal experience without the pressure of being anything terribly unique or accomplished.  For example, this year I began knitting, after acquiring yarn and needles from This Is Knit while visiting Dublin.   This simple act brings me satisfaction; I am accomplishing no great feats, but even a basic scarf that I've been working on for months is special to me.  

And as important as the result is the process.  While knitting, I can converse with a friend, listen to an NPR radio show, jam to music, or simply lose myself in my thoughts.  I cannot watch television or browse the internet.  

Here is a vignette of a perfect Saturday morning, relaxing on my balcony with my favorite magazine, new camera, and knitting.  

Other hobbies that allow me to create are photography (especially developing my own film) and tending my little urban garden.  Blogging also helps fill my need to create and contribute, although the intangibility makes for a less satisfying result.  Whatever activity I'm engaging in, the important thing is that I am engaging - with life, with the small environment around me, with my thoughts.

{photos: nikon fm2 and fuji superia 400 film}

Monday, June 11, 2012

Art Institute Garden

Before entering the Art Institute to view the Lichtenstein exhibit last week, I spent some time wandering through the public garden outside.  There was a light rain, which to me made the scenery more beautiful, empty and glistening.  

A beautiful public space, one of so many in Chicago.

{photos: nikon fm2 and fuji superia 400 film}

Friday, June 8, 2012


End of the week ranunculus bouquet, evening window light, instant film.

These flowers are so gawky and delicate - love them.

{photos: mamiya 645 pro, polaroid back, fuji fp 100c instant film}

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cozy Bed

After a lifetime of cheap mattresses and bedding, I rejoice in my adult bed that I absolutely love.  The quilt was a handmade wedding gift from my husband's aunt; the duvet and shams are from Anthropologie, on extreme clearance; the mattress is tempurpedic.  

I rarely make my bed, but there's really no need.  Messy = cosy.  

Another one of the simple things in life that makes me happy.

{photos: nikon fm2 and kodak ektar 100 film}

Friday, June 1, 2012

Lichtenstein at the Art Institute

The best experiences with art are those that take you by surprise.  Yesterday a new friend invited me along to see the temporary Lichtenstein retrospective exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago; my motive for accepting the invitation was to spend time with her at the beautiful museum.  As for Lichtenstein himself, I was lukewarm.  I knew he was a pop artist and I have never been crazy about that particular movement.

This is the kind of work that came to mind at the name Lichtenstein.

His play on gender norms in popular comics is clever, but had never moved me.

Surprisingly, the exhibit affected me powerfully. I found the work captivating, interesting, and sometimes even beautiful.  Giving time over to the works in a museum setting was the best way to appreciate them - radically different from the scrolling, scrolling, scrolling that the internet encourages.  The canvases are huge and their full impact can be felt and artistry understood only on that large scale.  The biggest factor in my appreciation of Lichtenstein, however, came simply from learning about and contemplating his background, intentions, context.

I am a word person: reading an explanation enhances my visual (or auditory, in the case of music) experience.  Upon entering every room at the exhibit, I immediately read the introductions.

A prime example of the power of words on top of art is the Brushstroke series.  Looking at the canvas does little for me emotionally, but reading his intention engaged my intellect.  He said that a brushstroke in traditional painting is a grand gesture, but in this series the brushstroke is a depiction of a grand gesture.  

I enjoyed the sense of play and affection that he brought to other styles of art, such as the work below of traditional Chinese art and others reflecting and commenting on the Matisse and Picasso styles.  This one, Landscape with Lone Philosopher, affected me deeply as I gazed at the half-wall panel.  Unfortunately, the power and sublimity does not come through this little jpeg.  

My favorite Lichtenstein series came one year before his death in 1997 - obliterating brushstrokes.  He said these visions came to him in a dream.  The visual impact alone is strong, but combined with the thought of an elderly man near death painting it from his dreams - obliterating - is enough to move me to tears.

This experience reinforced for me the importance of never discounting an experience, person, or artist before giving the time and effort to learn more and truly consider the merit.  I am grateful for the opportunity to do so with Lichtenstein.  After experiencing the exhibit, I am inspired to seek out new forms of beauty in my photography - and in life.

You can read more about Lichtenstein's work and the Art Institute's retrospective here.