Process as meditation…

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Many of us have been running all our lives. Practice stopping.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Process as meditation…

Hello world,

In my last post, I chatted about wandering with my camera - wellbeing through photography… since then I have had my head well and truly down, working on my iterative process that I apply to improve all aspects of my work. As you know I love classic photography and black and white silver printing in the darkroom. At the moment I can’t have a darkroom of my own, so I have created a lighter stage of darkroom - a dim room so that I can carry on some form of printing from home - cyanotype. Printing feeds my soul.

I have been thinking how this, for me, is yet another form of wellbeing. Wellbeing through process… Through studying classic photography, over the years I have become interested in all sorts of processes for producing photographs - beyond cyanotype printing - platinum printing, contact printing silver prints in the darkroom with digital negatives and also hand colouring.

The pure concentration needed to perfect these various techniques to me is a form of mindfulness, of wellbeing.

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I can loose myself for two or three hours whilst hand colouring a black and white photograph. Working the colours to achieve the right tones and shades, applying the colour gently to achieve the translucent feel and shading that I love. Equally, I can loose myself in Lightroom and Photoshop processing an image that I know is to be printed through one of these printing processes. Converting to black and white, making a digital negative with the right amount of contrast and density or simply weighing out and mixing chemicals for cyanotype, then coating papers takes me away from all that is going on in the world. In the zone. In a state of complete and utter flow…

If you are interested in Cyanotype prints, then I can throughly recommend Linda McCartney’s book Sun Prints. It is a beautiful book to read - even if you have no interest in printing your own. Such an organic process, quietly connecting me nature and process.

Hoping this is a little soul food for your own creativity and wellbeing

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Consider this...

 
Beauty and wholeness are worth preserving.
Unknown.

Consider this… Photography as a meditation practice.

Hello lovely reader,

How often do you have seemingly unconnected thoughts in your head that are just there? Time will pass and then the wires join? Well, this happened to my a while ago and the result of the fusion is a series of courses that I am planning to share… They have seeds of an idea for a very long time and I haven’t been able to articulate them sufficiently in order to take them further. When this happens, I simply leave them to germinate slowly when the time is right.

You know how I love wandering in the countryside either with my hounds or my camera, drinking it all in - well it was when I was out with my dogs here, that I had that lightbulb moment. I recalled the simple Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku - forest bathing that brings together ancient ways and wisdom with the latest environmental health science - by coincidence, I have also written about it in the same post too. I was suddenly connecting the benefits being out in nature and photography as a meditation practice. I had long been aware that my own heart rate lowers when I am alone in my studio behind my camera. I had brought together various thoughts and the result was that I had something I wanted to share - a form of creativity that brings about a frame of mind, in which a person actually taking photographs is fully immersed in a feeling of energised focus, full involvement and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, this state of flow is characterised by complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one's sense of space and time. Share the benefits I glean whilst behind the camera.

Building on those firm foundations already laid…

In order to enter such a state, you obviously have to be totally at ease with the rudiments of photography, hence my foundation courses. This holistic approach was designed specifically with Art Photography and/or Photography for Wellbeing in mind. The craft of how to - the technical side - gently, simply and easily put. All the technical expressions unpacked and understood and go down to form solid foundations on which the rest can be built. Once this is firmly embedded in you, then your mind will be open for the creative side of your mind to work.

I truly believe that there is creativity in each and every one of us. We may choose not to use it or tell ourselves that it isn’t there and so creating a barrier, a block, but I truly do believe that it is in us all.

It is through these courses that I will help you discover the creativity that actually has been there all along, nestling deep within you. The creativity that comes from the fusion of heart and mind and a particular moment.

If you are interested in learning more, as the courses progress to becoming live, then do please subscribe to my New Shoots Magazine with occasional supplements and gain access to my Inspiration Library…

Sending a little inspiration your way to unlock that creativity within,

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ps By coincidence, I am going a wandering in some bluebell woods this week end with my family as we celebrate Easter. I hope you enjoy the long week end and manage to get out in the countryside. Maybe bring a little nature home too? :)



At last, some progress...

 
The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.
Yousuf Karsh
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Hello lovely people,

Hope you are all bright eyed etc :) Spring at last here in the Northern Hemisphere…

After quite a few teething problems, false starts and delays - no internet, slow internet, dying laptop - I am, at last, making headway with my first of three eBooks. The content has been solid for quite some time now but actually getting that content onto my computer ready for the design and page layout has been a non starter. I even resorted to writing out copy in a notebook with a real pen and paper!

Fortunately, I do love the theatre of writing - the lovely paper, notebooks, the right fine liner, then there is the table where you write and the flowers - of course - and the drink to sustain… tea or coffee? The cup, the pot and so on. Yes I insist on setting the stage so that it becomes a pleasure that it elevated from the ordinary to the extra ordinary. It’s all in the detail. The little things. The image above was from a time early in the morning when I set up a writing place in my studio - the light is beautiful in there first thing. So inspiring. So very peaceful. Lovely.

The framework of the second and third volumes in the series are all set out, so they will too be a pleasure to bring together, as and when I get there.

It is now, and only now that I feel I can think about other things.

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By nature, I aim a very caring and generous person. So, naturally I’ve been wondering what I can give to you, my lovely community of followers and supporters. It needs to feel good in my bones, whatever I do. From the heart.

Whilst I was out wandering with my dogs earlier in the week, I had a spark of inspiration! From that, I am planning to make an eBook to put in my Inspiration Library for all my subscribers to my New Shoots Magazine to enjoy, to download for free. What’s in it for me, I hear you ask. I’m seeing it as a personal project that will fill my need for design and photographic exploration, whilst at the same time celebrating my love for all things seasonal and country. I am conscious that we can all bring a little seasonal country into our lives - wherever we live - town or country.

I would love to think that I can pop this in my Inspiration Library towards the end of Spring, to celebrate that season. I have a good working title, notes of ideas of what I would love to include and share. I am going to proceed with fingers crossed that there will be no more hurdles to slow down this project and I have a vision in my mind’s eye that I will be doing the work towards publication on this from my lovely new all white, light filled workspace that is being painted now!

If you are not already signed up to my New Shoots Magazine, but want to take advantage of my Inspiration Library, then please do subscribe in the panel in the right hand margin here or from the one at the bottom of my home page.

Wishing you a light filled week end

love

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ps There are some new calendar pages for April going live this week end in my Inspiration Library. Jx

A tip, a quote and a book for March

 
I believe photography is a tool to express our positive assessment of the world. A tool to acquire ultimate happiness and belief.
Ansel Adams
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Hello creative people,

Here in the UK it is grey, cold and wet after an unusually glorious spell of the complete opposite. Hello Spring :)

I am thinking that a tip, a quote and a book is a good collection for a series of blog posts to kick start the new growing year here. Hope you enjoy them….

The image above is of a Crocus Giant Ruby and I have applied one of my own photoshop actions to give it that pared back, muted colour palette that resonates with me so readily. The image speaks of quiet beginnings in early Spring rather than a literal, documentary style that is not me. Hope you like.

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On slowing down.

Something I always share with my creative students and fledgeling photographers is simply to slow down! This actually helps you see better, by placing you in a better creative zone. Every little extra moment of slowing before you press the shutter will help.

Slowing down is like a tiny meditation of gratitude.

Slowing down, not only opens your eyes, but will also open your mind and your heart to discover the magic in the everyday.

I really do believe that by finding little pockets of you in the everyday, slowing down, is a path to creativity.

A simple pleasure in any event.

And finally a book - I feel that I want to recommend something that aligns nicely which my thoughts on slowing down. Something that will add to your photography through increased awareness of creativity. Enter The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard.

‘A prism through which all worlds from literary creation to housework to aesthetics take on enhanced and enchanted significances.’

…from the new forward in my copy, that has been read several times and is now full of underlines, annotations and asterisks! Thats a recommendation in itself. Do go and find yourself a copy to read, well worth the effort. Enjoy. Read slowly :)

sending lightness through this grey week.

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ps Thank you for all the lovely kind words on the Spring edition of my New Shoots magazine - much appreciated…



This Still Life - a personal project

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Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence, so that’s very important for good health.

Dalai Lama

Hello again you lovely folk,

Hoping this finds you well and with Spring in your step! Not long now here in the UK…

Early musings

For my new readers, let me tell you - I love to play with words and love to consider dictionary definitions. I take inspiration from those that aren’t first of th list - the less obvious get me thinking laterally. The phrase Still Life is a great example. I have been pushing ideas around in my head and trying to articulate my thoughts for ages - all this time, I have been shooting images that speak of this, for my personal exploration. My camera speaks readily.

Whether or not I have yet found the words, remains to be seen, but the stillness that I experience in This Still Life is central to my work and people regularly get in touch with me or mention in conversations about the sense of calm they experience when they consider certain of my images.

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A couple of definitions to ponder…

STILL

/stɪl/

noun

deep silence and calm; stillness.

  1. "the still of the night"

    synonyms: quietness, quiet, quietude, silence, stillness, hush, soundlessness, noiselessness;

 
 
 

QUIETUDE

/ˈkwʌɪɪtjuːd/

noun

  1. a state of stillness, calmness, and quiet in a person or place.

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Flow and Memory

This very personal project explores this - together with flow a positive psychology phrase/theory that was first coined in the 1960’s by Martin Seligman meaning in the zone.

Basically when I am taking photographs, I am in the zone - I completely switch off from the outside world and all that is going on around me. Apparently I even stop speaking mid sentence! It is nothing to do with creating Still Life Tableaux to shoot - rather making note of little pockets of calm in our everyday world that is full of noise.

I am shooting both on film and digitally - who knows where this will take me, but that’s the beauty of personal projects, isn’t it?

Some of these little pockets of calm appear on commercial shoots, when likeminded people work together - whether on brief or props quietly gathered in the wings, they may appear as everyone else has left… it’s simply a question of quietly noting your surroundings.

Some of the images on these shoots evoke memories of the quiet found, the light or the odd unplanned moments. Memories. The power of a photograph.

Do hope you enjoy this ongoing project… you can find the gallery here.

Sending lots of light and quiet your way,

lots of love



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A little Art History - Scandi style.

 
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A low, almost monochromatic tonality unifies the otherwise disparate elements within each room.

Richard Dorment, reporting in the Telegraph on the Vilhelm Hammershøi Exhibition in the Tate in 2008.

Hello lovelies,

It is still rather cold out there, but the birds are singing and there are snowdrops and crocus flowering out and about… a great incentive to get outdoors after this long old Winter, here in the UK. I’m regularly asked where I get my inspiration from… that is one huge question, which is actually far too big to answer.

Through my studies and ongoing interest in Art History, I want to share how diverse my inspiration is - from the Silverware of Archibald Knox for its simplicity and use of shape, through the design philosophies of the Bauhaus to the colour inspiration gleaned from Scandinavian painters renowned for their held back colour palette and resulting light.

Two of my favourite painters are Carl Vilhelm Holsøe (1863 to 1935) and Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916). They regularly inspire my choice of colour. I naturally gravitate towards these two painters - their use of colour speaks to me - of the quiet, considered tints that result in the gentle light that is synonymous with Scandinavian painters of that era.

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How the colour palette works

A quick snippet of Colour Theory for those of you who are interested… my pastel colours are called tints - these are made up from a pure colour that has been mixed with white. For me there is a clarity in these mixes as opposed to shades where blacks have been added to the same pure colour. I could go an awful lot deeper into this and start chatting about Colour Psychology and colours collected throughout the seasons, but instead I will send you here

If you visit the link, you will find Joen Wolfrom’s Colour and Design tools - aimed at people who use colour in their work - Artists and Crafters, Graphic Designers, Illustrators and Interior Designers. For the lovely people who book one of my private creative workshops, I always like to give them a copy of Joen’s Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool and a Studio Color Wheel Poster…

Simply chose a set of two complimentary tints or three triadic tints of equal strengths, then you will not go far wrong.

I hope that I have given you just enough information to encourage you to dip you toe into the world of colour. Do go and look at the Colour and Design tools - they are really worth the investment - and no, this is not an ad!

Sending lots of delicate tints and sublime light to inspire you…

 
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I know a place...

let me take you there…

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The London coffeehouses of the 17th & 18th centuries were the engines of creation that helped drive the Enlightenment - the European intellectual movement of the time that emphasised reason and individualism rather than tradition.

I love to play with language and with that comes my love of writing. Lately, in designing my new online world, I have been pushing words around in my head so that I can visualise the whole thing. How lovely to stand back and look at your own world once in a while.

In doing this I have realised that I have my virtual workplace firmly embedded in my head, so I thought I would introduce it to you and walk you round… I have obviously been influenced by In Praise of Shadows without realising it until now. Read the book club post here.

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Do come in

It’s like a little house - just as a child would draw. The whole place is very light and airy, painted in white to draw the light in for my photography. Let me start with the upstairs - first up is my studio - this has a dark end and a light end. Next to that is my darkroom, a place where I do all my online editing from digital files. It is in these two rooms that house my new eCourses - on photography, styling and editing and more…

Downstairs, there just HAS to be a library… lined with eBooks and zines and visuals. There is a comfy chair and a table to encourage you to stay a while. There is a section for my Inspiration Library - this is available only to the band of lovely people who subscribe to my New Shoots Magazine along with the Supplements that come along. When you sign up to my New Shoots Magazine you get a key to this space. The area is new and has empty shelves all ready for a collection of eBooks that I will publish and release especially for my subscribers. This is where the free inspirational desktop wallpapers live and you will find a monthly calendar to download too - all of these are for your desktop so that you computer will become a place of serenity and zen.

Next door to the library is the zen den and tea/coffee house. Two areas for calm and contemplation.

And there, my little tour has come to an end.

Sign up

Have you signed up to my Newshoots Magazine yet? If not, simply pop over to the margin on the right and pop in your email address.

Sending peace and light this January day,

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