“Creative living is stranger than other, more worldly pursuits. The usual rules do not apply.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
Something about photographs takes me back to the memories I hold dear. That’s why one of my goals this year is having several of my favorite pictures made into 16×20 canvas wood-framed wallhangings. So far, I have had 6 of them created, and I’m loving the feelings that they bring at the start of each day.
The first is an eagle that we watched from a hovercraft in Ketchikan, Alaska swooping down for fish in June 2022. The spectacular show inspired hundreds of photos, and I chose my favorite fraction of a second to place on my bathroom wall so that every morning, I start the day with sheer splendor and the gratefulness to have witnessed the majestic wingspan and precision of these birds.
Another is of our White Christmas on a farm in Kentucky at sunset. The angle and shades of light were mesmerizing, and they blend into the orange pop of energy contained in my walls – chosen specifically to be like a burst of citrus at daybreak ~ awakening me and rejuvenating my senses.
One I haven’t hung yet was taken at Dowdell’s Knob in Pine Mountain, Georgia when my son and his family were visiting with us in one of F. D. Roosevelt’s favorite picnic spots near his home at the Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia. We had our own picnic, made s’mores, and enjoyed the scenery from atop the mountain. And the hidden secret here is that the newest grandbaby is in the picture – – (arriving in July).
Each adventure brings its own special moments, and Canvas on the Cheap helped me turn these into beautifully preserved photographs that bring me joy and gratefulness!
“…your life is short and rare and amazing and miraculous, and you want to do really interesting things and make really interesting things while you’re still here.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
Whenever I travel, I carry a Ziploc bag filled with pre-addressed mailing labels and postcard stamps. I want my grandchildren to experience the thrill of excitement I felt when I received mail as a child.
I think my passion was born when in fifth grade I wrote to every capital city’s Chamber of Commerce requesting brochures on the state for a school project on the United States, back in the days long before such a request would be met with a reference to a website. I smiled and skipped back inside from the mailbox with letters most days during the project time, ready to read about the states and cut and paste information from the brochures onto the notebook paper in my presentation book. I’d enjoyed the learning, and out of it was born a love of mail that arrives in envelopes, with stamps in the upper right hand corner and my name on the front. I don’t remember every state’s bird or tree or motto, but I do remember that when I needed resources, there were places to look and people to ask. I learned something about being resourceful – about how letters requesting information glean a response.
And that is why I take every opportunity to send a quick card, whether I’m five hours from home or one hour. My grandchildren may not fully appreciate all of the cards now, but one day I hope they will look back and realize that their Nana always wanted them to see the world and to enjoy the ride!
One of my creativity goals this year is taking more photographs. I’m not a talented artist who paints and draws, but I enjoy images and words. My daughters have always kept sketch pads and art projects going ~ they appreciate the spontaneity of lettering a Bible verse or sketching a face or landscape. I think “capturing the moment” is the artistic approach that appeals to me most. Life sometimes begs to be captured.
On a recent visit, my daughter asked me to share the photos we’d taken while we were out exploring in the snow. We’d worn our pajamas and snow shoes and had taken pictures of sunsets, snowdrifts, and squirrel statues. It’s the ultimate happiness for a mother, really, because pictures aren’t just pictures. They’re memories. That’s what she was really asking for ~ a jar of snow memory preserves. She wants to come back to our moments, just as I do. Score!
Something I hadn’t expected was the surprise of discovering photographs she had taken after I’d handed the camera over to her when I’d gone inside to thaw my toes. Scrolling back through these images, I found pictures I didn’t recognize. And then it hit me: these were images I was seeing through her eyes – the gift of glimpses that weren’t mine in the moment, but shared even now.
And so I logged in to my photo processing account and ordered some snapshots on real photo paper. Over the next week, I plan to send her three or four each day to bring smiles and memories. She’ll make a photo collage that will keep this day, these special shared moments, forever etched in her heart.
Q: What is creativity?
A: The relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration.
-Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert asserts that the universe buries strange jewels deep within us all and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels is what she calls creative living, and the surprising results of the hunt are what she calls Big Magic.
During this first week of 2023, I’m spending time each day defining my goals – not resolutions – for the year, in seven broad categories that include reflection, spirituality/inspiration, self-improvement, literature, gratitude, experience, and creativity. Definitive goals for creativity would be in direct contrast to the open-ended creative spirit and energy that can only emerge organically within any given moment from the right slant of light at a particular vantage point, but I aim this year to spend more time on photography as a visual art form.
I have taken a couple of photography classes over the years, my most recent being through University of West Georgia. I had a friend taking the same course, and we would spontaneously go on “photography excursions,” jumping in the car and driving the rural countryside to look for images of beauty. I miss those days of creative adventuring and look forward to resurrecting the energy I felt on those outings. One goal is to improve the photos I share on my blog. I also want to create some photo displays of recent trips with favorite pictures from our travels, beginning with a few photos on canvas.
As a hobby, photography is relatively inexpensive – far more so today than in the 1980s, when I took my first photography course in college and had to purchase film and develop it in the dark room. Unlike my children, I don’t have the gifts of drawing and painting. But I’m often able to find a subject of beauty and click from several angles to find that certain slant of light that magically illuminates the shot and brings a dazzling luster.
The Big Magic ~ I’m hunting the jewels buried within in 2023!