Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Big Garden Project 2016

Once I had a lovely garden.  Here it is in 2000, the only time I seem to have photographed it.

It wasn't weed free, as you can see, and the lawn wasn't perfect, but the flowerbeds were full of colour and the lawn was flat and green and much the same height as the flowerbeds. 

Gradually the balance of my work became less and less teaching and more and more artwork.  Artwork isn't paid nearly as well as teaching and by the time I stopped teaching altogether, about 6 or 7 years ago, I no longer had time for the front garden at all because I needed to work very long hours to make enough income.  (I have always managed to keep up with the vegetable garden at the back of the house.)  Mike used to mow the lawn and for a couple of years we did give it some attention, but it was a losing battle and the quality has deteriorated, while the level has risen above that of the flowerbeds.  I'm told this is because of lack of traffic on the lawn coupled with busy worms. I've had a friend do a little weeding some years, but not enough to keep on top of things.  Gradually the beds have become infested with grass. 

Now at last I am working part time and always planned that when this day came I would return to tending my front garden.  Too late!  It's actually now beyond me and my back.  I fall into the flowerbeds from the raised lawn and because I still have some plants I like, it's almost impossible to remove the grass from around them.  Mike was also in charge of tree pruning but that too had got beyond me as I'm not able to lop through branches as thick as the ones he tackled and the small trees had become bigger and straggly and past what I could deal with.  I'm almost ashamed to post photos of what it all looks like now.

And as for the quality of the lawn ...

So 2016 is the year of the Big Garden Project.  In May a landscaping outfit are coming to rescue the front garden and after that I'll be able to work on it myself.  

Today I feel the project has actually begun.  An ex-tree surgeon friend spent a couple of hours removing dead branches and giving a long-overdue cut back to the tamarisk and the smoke bush, so here is the first 'after' photograph of the Big Garden Project 2016.  


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Photo a day challenge

There are various of these challenges around, apparently, but the one I fell across and joined is run on a Facebook group.  Daily 'prompts' for the topic of your photographs are posted in the group, one month at a time.  The idea then is that everyone posts their photos to the group where others can comment, or just 'like' them, and a small selection are chosen each day as the pick of the bunch.  I do post occasionally to the group but mostly I post in my own Facebook Photo a Day album.  Recently a friend asked if I had learned anything and that prompted me to write about why I decided to do the challenge. I sort of knew already, but I found it interesting to put into words that other people could understand.

I took on the challenge as an artist's discipline. For me it's about many things 
- stretching my brain to find a subject to fit into the brief when I find it uninspiring
- continuing the process of documenting my life which I do already
- stretching myself as a photographer when I've got time to experiment with different settings on my camera
- sometimes aiming and occasionally succeeding in creating an attractive image that I can use one way or another in my artwork.

Like sketching, taking photographs doesn't always lead to anything much at the time but provides a resource to be drawn on when needed. I'm no good at sketching.

On 4th January I came down with flu and did nothing much of anything for a few weeks, including taking photographs, but since resuming on 24th January, I've managed to post something every day.

I am certainly learning - about myself, my cameras and about what other people like in a photograph.  I've also learned that a flatlay is when you lay the subject(s) of your photograph out on a flat surface and photograph from above.  This one, 'Fish pie', from January, was my first ever flatlay.  I'm quite pleased with it. 

Sometimes the prompts would be easy enough for anyone with any other people to hand to pose for them and others require animals so lacking both I resort to archive photos on those occasions.  It's often an opportunity to share some of my favourite photos, such as 'This is funny', from March.

Sometimes I go out with my camera looking for something that fits the prompt ('Path')

and sometimes I'll put together a still life of some sort, such as 'Toy'.  I'm particularly fond of this one.

And finally, occasionally I use Photoshop to create an image from one or more of the photographs I've taken.  'Abstract' is my favourite of these.

I am learning to look around more, take a little time out of what I'm doing in order to capture a photograph with a little care and planning, and at the same time to be spontaneous in my photography.

Watch this space.  

Thursday, April 7, 2016

New poem

Here's a new poem I think I'm pleased with.  It can be very difficult writing about something intangible but I think I've got somewhere with this.
If you've experienced it yourself you may understand it better - such is the nature of it.

Coming out the other side

I notice
I feel different
and at first can’t say how

then I realise
the place I’ve been
sometimes indefinable
sometimes indistinguishable
from the outside world
yet when you’re in it
so clearly existing
behind a force field
through which you cannot break

not where I am

no anniversary
or event
no clue
nothing sudden

each of us makes our own journey
through where it is
not the past but not the future
accused once
(behind my back) of
doing it unnaturally fast
yet here I am again
a relatively short time on
coming out the other side
and knowing

this is right.