Focus on Art and Creativity: Musings at the Museum

On Wednesday, after Linda and I perused the lovely flowers, overwhelmed at the variety, color and texture of mother nature’s artwork, we traveled over to the CAM (Contemporary Art Museum) located at 409 W. Martin Street in Downtown Raleigh.040 - Copy It is a spacious and well-lit facility with windows placed in strategic places to let the  light  flow in. We had viewed nature’s art, now it was time to delve into art created by the hand of man.

There were two artists exhibited:Alistair McClymont  and Ryan Travis Christian.

Alistair McClymont is a British artist who works in sculpture, photography and video. His exhibit was entitled, Everything We Are Capable of Seeing.  His vision is interesting, ranging from a model he built which keeps a tiny raindrop suspended in mid-air McClymont to huge McClymontsculptures made of piling MDF boards in interesting patterns. His interest in finding a connection between art and science is exemplified by his tornado series of paintings and his tornado making machine.


Tornado Machine


The second exhibitor was Ryan Travis Christian. This fellow is obsessed with lines and patterns. He basically builds his vision around diagonal lines and a pair of googly eyes.


the lower floor taken from up above


close up of the googly eyes

042 - Copy

I Guess You Had to be There

His exhibit is entitled Well Here We Aren’t Again and consists of a floor covered in diagonal lines and some surreal drawings, one a large panel called   I Guess You Had To Be There (small section of the panel  below)




My musings as I toured this museum:

Whether or not this art form appeals to you, it is an example of 2 people expressing themselves, celebrating our gift for creativity in a positive way. Contrast this with the 2 young men who have wrought havoc in Boston these past days. Instead of putting something useful out there, they choose to maim and destroy. What a waste of the precious life they were given. Thankfully, there are more people in the first group, people who contribute to this world, and make their life matter.

I’ve heard about a quote from Mr. Rogers bandied about lately and it has a powerful message for those of us overwhelmed by what seems to be a continually rising threat of evil in the world today. Mr. Rogers says:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.(

I think of the firefighters running into the towers on 9/11; the doctors who were running in the marathon in Boston helping the injured; the teachers who gave their lives to protect the innocent children in New Town and I am comforted by Mr. Rogers words. There are a lot of caring people in the world. People who share their gifts and their vision in a positive way. We must celebrate them, emulate them, and teach our children to be kind, to be helpers and maybe one day the evil in this world will be vanquished.


Focus on: Painting and Planning and Parkinson’s

Life is a trip.Don’t miss the boat:)
– pc 2013


 I had a visit with my neurologist on Thursday.  So far, so good.  Meds are working and I seem to be in a holding pattern. Bill and I decided to take advantage of this and book a cruise around the British Isles in July.  It will be a 12 day cruise, with 2 days to explore London after we leave the ship.  We will tour Ireland, Scotland, England and spend a day in Paris We are looking forward to the trip.  Neither of us has been to Europe and although we took a nice stroll through the neighborhoods of Victoria, Canada last summer, the final port of call on our Alaska cruise, we have yet to acquire a stamp on our shiny new passports.
 Right now, there are days I almost forget I have a degenerative neural disease, but I know that will not always be so, unless a cure for Parkinson’s is discovered, So I want to do what I can while I can.! That means getting enough exercise to keep the body moving, and challenging the mind so it stays sharp.
  I find that anything I do with my hands is very helpful in keeping my fingers nimble In addition to exercises, So I do some cross stitch, make jewelry and I love to paint. I’m not an artist, however, but I enjoy  paint-by-number painting.  It helps my fine motor coordination; is a calming activity and I get to practice patience as well.  Here are a few of what I call masterpieces. from a wannabe artist:

I found this little garden angel irresistible

I found this little garden angel irresistible


There’s something about a barn in the snow…

.  I  find the paint- by -number to be more relaxing because you don’t have to figure out the color   scheme. .However, as I paint, I begin to see how the artist  used the colors to achieve the total effect, so it is a learning experience as well. I am in awe of anyone who has this natural talent. My niece, Becky ,is one of them. Her paintings are so intricate,  She will work hours on just a small section of a painting, and her finished work is amazing. What a wonderful gift!

King Tut. I am fascinated by all things ancient Egyptian

King Tut. I am fascinated by all things ancient Egyptian

Just recently I came across something new in the paint- by -number scene, from a company called Diy oil paintings, and they are bright, abstract and delightful to paint. I chose the one I did because the blues match the colors in my living room. I have ordered a second one before I finished the first. What makes these stand out, besides the bold, abstract style, is that they are printed on a canvas you have to stretch over a stretcher frame supplied with the kit.I have found the paints to be of excellent quality – not the thin, runny stuff you find in other kits. Here is the finished product. Different, isn’t it? I like the bold strokes of the primary colors, the effect of wet pavement shimmering in the lamplight. In this small sample it may appear there is one person walking, but there are two, if you look closely you can make them out. Where are they going on such a cold, wet night? Maybe they couldn’t resist walking together, no one else about, under trees decked in autumn dress, the colors glowing in the lamplight, surrounded by a cloak of midnight blue. 



I’m anxious to start the next one! I have dabbled a bit in painting on my own.  Mostly mountain, sunsets and butterflies. I’d like to try this style now.

019 031

I painted this butterfly to match the blue-greens of my kitchen. The first mountain sunset is in acrylic, the second is a watercolor.

So for as long as I can, I will challenge myself with new ventures. Painting is much easier than my other current challenge – algebra. I never mastered it in high school, but I can say I’m getting there, There is a sense of satisfaction when I come up with te right answer. My online courses have been superb. My next one will be Introduction to Internet Writing Markets.

I have just wrapped up my course on magazine writing and will be sending out some articles to test the waters.

I also have plans for the publication of two of my books, more about that next time.

In the meantime, take some time to let your creativity loose. You may be surprised about what you can do. In                the words of my favorite painter, Vincent Van Gough, If you hear a voice inside you say ‘You cannot paint’, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.


Staying in Focus: Notes from a Scrapbook Fanatic

I wrote this as an assignment for a writing class. today.  You may ask why I enjoy making scrapbooks.   Well, preserving memories is certainly one of them, but the act of putting them together, seeing the pages emerge as embellishments are added,  fills my need to create.  It’s also therapeutic – keeping my mind and hands engaged keeps the old noggin from losing it  and the fingers stay nimble as well. Not to mention how much people enjoy paging through them, especially my grandchildren  It fascinates them to see what they looked like when they were one or two years old..And when they’re older, I will give them their books and they will have a nice chronology of their childhood. So grab some markers, stickers, photos and paper and feel like a child again, ready to embark on creating a masterpiece.  Have fun!

Bits and Pieces

“Nothing is ever lost to us as long as we remember it” – L.M.Montgomery

I have preserved many of my most cherished memories by collecting bits and pieces and arranging them in a way to record the memory visually.  Or, in other words, I am a self-taught scrapbooker.

I began making scrapbooks long before the craft and hobby stores began to devote aisle after aisle to stickers, fancy paper, die cuts and doodads  too numerous to mention.  My first scrapbooks were really visual travel journals, my way of preserving the memories of family vacations, and I began my first one when I was a teenager.

I would literally collect bits and pieces to make my scrapbooks – post cards, brochures, ticket stubs, photographs, even the bags my souvenirs were placed in at a gift shop. When we returned home the first step would be to get my film developed (this was long before the advent of that most wonderful of inventions – the digital camera).  I would  assemble them into a visual  journal, using colorful paper, and those paper bags as backgrounds. I would add written anecdotes and comments to recapture the feel of the experience.

Over the years my scrapbooks have become much more sophisticated, with the advent of computers and an infinite variety and color of fonts, home printers, Photoshop and other wonderful tools.  I make them for friends we vacation with; I have made one for each year of my grandchildren’s lives – 10 so far; I make them to showcase my photographs and poetry and most recently, one to document my journey with Parkinson’s disease.  This IMG_9761may sound morbid, but I fill it with positive quotations, my poetry and a diary of the ups and downs of this journey.  It is a catharsis of sorts, and will be helpful when I write my life story.

In addition to preserving memories, making scrapbooks takes us back to our youth – creating masterpieces with crayons, construction paper and scissors.  And making scrapbooks encourages our creativity.   Nowadays, with all the supplies available at craft stores, each page can be a work of art.  In fact, frames are available in the standard size scrapbook page (12 x 12) for display on a wall.  And best of all, making a scrapbook lets us extend our vacation!  We find ourselves reliving the experience as our bits and pieces come together to form a special memory. and they make great gifts that your friends and family will treasure.

This summer, my husband and I joined two close friends for a cruise to Alaska.  I did not want this vacation to end, but ever on the lookout, I was collecting my bits and pieces for my scrapbook.  We happened to wander into an office supply store to get a camera battery when I spied a binder with the state of Alaska on the front cover.  It was like discovering a treasure! The day we returned home, I got to work, and guess what?  Thanks to those magical bits and pieces, I was back in Alaska again!


Focus on Flowers, a Camera and Creativity

Every now and then my local supermarket puts their cut flowers on sale, and I jump at the chance to get models for my camera on the cheap.  For cut flowers make wonderful subjects for picture-taking purposes.  View the gallery below and see the fun and creative experience you can have for $2.99.

First of all, there is no denying that flowers are pretty, coming in a rainbow of colors and  a variety of form.  I believe flowers are the epitome of nature’s creativity.  With petals soft as velvet, the intricacy of their design is unparalleled.  Who can remain sad and blue when gazing at a perky yellow daisy or a regal red rose? The intricacy of their petals make them ideal subjects for macro photography as well.

As photography subjects, flowers are patient – they don’t wiggle, make faces at the camera, or cry as  I struggle to get a shot.  And they are portable, easily moved about the room, to catch the sun as it moves across the sky.

I also enjoy playing with the background of my flower photos.  No sophisticated software is required for these shots.  I simply put a sheet of solid or patterned paper from my scrapbook supplies behind the subject and interesting pictures result.

I use these photos for greeting cards.  If someone gives me flowers, I’ll take a picture of them and use it to make a thank you card. I also frame them and give them as gifts.  After all, everyone loves getting flowers.  And the pictures last a lot longer!

Here is my flower gallery: Most of the pictures were taken with a 4X macro lens attachment on a 35 – 80mm zoom lens.

Using a sheet of shamrock paper from my scrapbooking supplies behind the flowers gives the effect that they are growing outside

The yellow and blue pattern of this paper compliments the color of the daisies

Playing with light can produce the effect that the tulips are lit from within

Bright and bold and ready for the Fourth of July!

I enjoy playing with back-lighting which I can do mornings in my sunny room

I placed the flower in front of my closed blinds which let in just enough light to back-light the petals into a translucent appearance

These hydrangea was gift from a friend. Now I’ll have them forever

This background adds a pop culture feel to the photograph

The intricacy of nature – it’s all in the folds of this carnation

and it’s all about petals for this one