Creative Work

Fragile Things: Part Three - A Broken Egg by Leslie Fandrich

Part Three of my Fragile Things series is here!  Part One is herePart Two is here. This is the final part of the series featuring my photographs of fragile things, with hand-lettered text from Neil Gaiman's book of short stories, Fragile Things, overlaid on top. Working on this project has been enlightening and I really appreciate these final thoughts about the nature of fragile things.

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Fragile Things: Part Two - A Heart by Leslie Fandrich

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Part Two of my Fragile Things series is here!  Part One is here. This is a three part series featuring photographs of fragile things, with hand-lettered text from Neil Gaiman's book of short stories, Fragile Things, overlaid on top. These photo illustrations explore the nature of fragile things. I myself am going through a fragile time right now, my Mom is dying of cancer, and I have found working on this project to be a great way to meditate on what I am going through and what it all means.

From the Introduction:

Hearts may break, but hearts are the toughest of muscles, able to pump for a lifetime, seventy times a minute, and scarcely falter along the way. Even dreams, the most delicate and intangible of things, can prove remarkably difficult to kill.

From the story Strange Little GIrls:

The view changes from where you are standing. Words can wound, and wounds can heal. All of these things are true.

From the story How To Talk To Girls At Parties:

We wrapped our dreams in words and patterned the words so that they would live forever, unforgettable.

Hearts may break, but they are tough. It's something I need to remember right now. Resilience, perspective and a legacy. That is what Neil Gaiman's words mean to me. It's why I write and make art. Writing and making art make me stronger, give me perspective and hopefully, it will build up into a legacy that I can leave to my family.

Part Three is coming in the following weeks! Stay tuned for that.

Fragile Things: Part One - Feathers by Leslie Fandrich

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A few months ago I was inspired to photograph objects that are considered fragile. As I was working on the shots, I remembered that Neil Gaiman published a collection of short stories called Fragile Things. It was a book I didn't remember reading, so I picked it up from the library and I found that I was familiar with many of the stories from other sources. There are some good ones in there. Some of them are creepy, but still so good. Gaiman is such an amazing story teller.

I came across so many great quotes that I decided to hand letter the ones that were specifically related to fragile things and overlay the illustrated text onto the images. This is the first image of a three part series and I'll post the next two separately in the following weeks. 

From the story Strange Little Girls:

She seems so cool, so focused, so quiet, yet her eyes remain fixed upon the horizon.
You think you know all there is to know about her immediately upon meeting her, but everything you think you know is wrong. Passion flows through her like a river of blood.
She only looked away for a moment, and the mask slipped, and you fell. All your tomorrows start here.

From the story Instructions:

Do not lose hope—what you seek will be found.
Trust ghosts.
Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn.
Trust dreams.
Trust your heart, and trust your story. 

I've really enjoyed working on this project and it's given me new insights into fragile things. I love these sentiments about identity and trust. You need focus and passion. You need to trust dreams, hearts and stories. It's about knowing and trusting yourself. And above all, do not lose hope. Ever. What you seek will be found. For a seeker like me, that statement makes me feel so good. It assures me to just keep at it. I will get there eventually, I will find what I am looking for.

The short story Instructions, became a lovely book of it's own illustrated by Charles Vess. I bought it for my kids and this story/poem is pure magic. It's all the best advice from fairy tales. Your kid's adventures and imaginations will most surely be inspired by reading it.

What is your favorite fragile thing or fairy tale?

Part Two - A Heart is here.

Lighting a Candle by Leslie Fandrich

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I got myself back into the studio yesterday and the first thing I did was light a candle. It sets the mood and scents the room and I love the idea of a candle burning while I am working. It helps me focus and direct my creativity.

I love to use these Fortune Matches that I picked up in Chinatown years ago. It gives the act of lighting the candle just a little more meaning. Today I chose Wisdom. The candle smells delicious and it was a gift from Greenmarket Purveying Co.

Getting back to work amidst uncertainty and stress seems to be good for me. It's distracting and rewarding, but I am doing only what feels good and not putting too much pressure on myself to meet any kind of expectations. Unfortunately, with that comes a little less blogging, but I hope you understand. Now is the time for a little more quiet and reflection. I'm turning inward a little, but I want you to know that I am coping as well as I can, and this is just me taking care of myself. (Wondering what the hell I am talking about? See this: One Thousand Goodbyes)

I'm excited to be working on illustrations for a friend's book proposal and I'm in the middle of a personal art project based on Neil Gaiman's book Fragile Things. It's going to be really cool and I can't wait to show you when it's done.

If there is one thing to look forward to, it's the wisdom, depth and experience that you gain when going through something difficult and traumatic. I know that I will come out on the other side of this with a deeper understanding of life and death, and for that I am truly grateful.

New Prints & My Art Featured at Inward Facing Girl by Leslie Fandrich

Melanie at Inward Facing Girl is featuring my photography and studio in her Art I Heart series today and I couldn't be more flattered and honored. 

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The turquoise supplies were photographed at Uppercase Magazine while I was visiting last summer. The office is so lovely that I didn't move a thing when I was taking pictures. Although Janine did "tszuj" a little as I was shooting. See more pictures from the visit.

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The dripped coffee was shot last spring at the Blue Bottle Coffee stand on the High Line in New York City. Isn't the swan neck kettle gorgeous? The High Line is one of my favorite places to visit in the city. I took this picture at the end of a wonderful day of street photography with Sandra.

From the interview with Melanie:

I'm a very intuitive worker. I try not to plan too much and I let my mood and circumstances tell me what I should be working on. Sometimes it's just about sorting through a box of old things.
I have a list of ideas and concepts that I revisit constantly to see if anything stands out to me or feels like I have more to add to it.
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Read more over at Inward Facing Girl and get a peek at the first photos of my newly organized studio! I've been working on cleaning up my space for MONTHS and it's finally starting to come together. If there is anything you would like to know about my creative process or my studio, ask questions in the comments and I would be happy to answer them! Here's one secret, while the pictures show a perfectly arranged studio, behind the camera and just out of frame is a complete disaster of everything ELSE. It's true. Remember: Nothing is perfect.

From Above by Leslie Fandrich

I love the way things look from above. It's objective, it's distanced. You aren't in it, you are above it. It's the big picture. The shot below was taken from a plane when I was landing in Phoenix. That's not snow, it's the desert.

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Aerial shots of Earth are my most recent inspiration. Have you seen the post office's new stamps? I love the colors and patterns so much. 

One of my all time favorite large format books is The Earth From Above. I can spend hours looking at the images in it. It's so mezmerising to see things we are familar with from such a different point of view. Everyday landscapes are transformed into patterns, shapes and fascinating arrangements. Even hearts.

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Have you tried looking at things from a different point of view recently? 

Yearlong Creative Projects by Leslie Fandrich

Oh how I admire yearlong creative projects. The dedication, the planning and the thought that goes into these just blows me away. I'd like to do my own someday, I think, but for now I will just admire them from afar.

Check out this video. Jonathan Britnell shot video every single day last year and used one second from each day to make this incredibly moving portrait of his life.

Amazing, right?

Last year, Amy Turn Sharp wrote one poem every day, and Lisa Congdon posted an illustrated quote to her blog every day. I loved those two projects and they were so inspiring to me throughout the year.

This year, Lisa is teaming up with Maria Popova from Brain Pickings (one of my favorite places to find cool new ideas) to publish the site The Reconstructionists. It launched today with four portraits and biographies of incredible women who changed the way we see the world. Read more about it on Lisa's blog.

Each Monday they will post a new portrait and I'm looking forward to seeing who they will feature. Joan of Arc? Nora EphronMarie CurieAmelia Earhart? This is such a brilliant idea, I wish I had thought of it myself!

I did some research for my son's science fair last year and I was amazed at the small number of women scientists I could find information for. I used Jane Goodall and Mae Jamison in the materials I prepared and it got me thinking about how we present role models to our young girls (and boys too!) It's so important to present a balanced view of both genders (and all races) so that we can all find someone we can see ourselves in. Hopefully this site will go a long way to making role models for our girls more accessible.

Are there any year-long creative projects that you know of? Are you doing one yourself? Please let me know in the comments!

xo

Animated Family Portrait (with 10 tips!) by Leslie Fandrich

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Happy Holidays everyone! We are all very excited about tomorrow being the last day of school, some time in NYC to see the holiday fun this weekend and Christmas next week. I can't wait for downtime with family by a warm fire, reading books and good food. We are so lucky and grateful for all that we have.

Do you like our animated jumping picture? It was so fun to make. I have a few tips for you if you want to take great family pictures of your own that include everyone. 

  1. Use a tripod. You might be tempted to telescope out all the legs so the tripod is as tall as you. Don't do it. For a full body shot with a 70 mm lens, keep your camera low, maybe two feet off the ground.
  2. If you are using a tripod, you will also need to use a wireless shutter release. It cuts down on having to run back and forth between the camera and the spot you need to stand in. Have the release set to give you a few seconds to compose yourself and hide the hand the release is in. There is a maximum distance that the release will work in, if it's not working, try standing a bit closer to the camera and make sure you have a direct line to the infrared sensor.
  3. Go outside if the weather permits, the light is better and you will have more room to set up.
  4. Find a spot that has a simple background and stand way far in front of it so the background is at least slightly blurry. We chose trees here, but you could also find a wall, the side of a house or barn, a view, or even a cool old truck or huge set of stairs.
  5. Find the sun and face it. I have also found the sun and shot into it, but that is trickier and you have to watch your exposure (expose for the face) and sun flares (use a lens hood and make sure the sun is not hitting your lens directly.) You want diffused light, so hope for a slightly overcast day, or find a shadier spot under a tree or near a house. You don't want deep shade, but you also don't want extremely direct light.
  6. Watch for shadows on faces and avoid them, especially if your slightly shady spot is from trees, like ours. There is a shadow on my face in the shot below of me standing with my hands on my hips because the sunlight was filtering through the trees, but it was diffused enough that you (hopefully) don't notice it very much.
  7. Check your focus. Take a test shot, zoom in on someone's face and make sure it is sharp. Ask your family to stay in position. Once you set the camera to receive the remote shutter signal, the focus might be locked.
  8. Take a decent number of shots. For this shoot I took about 20-25. I did about 4 or 5 warm-up test shots. Quinn was not coorperating at first and he had his back turned to the camera (he is cheeky, that one). I let him do what he wants for the first few shots and after he warms up, we get serious about getting a "straight" shot. After I feel like I have at least three good straight shots, we do "fun" shots. We get to jump and make goofy faces and it's like a reward for the kids. They love that part. This year, the "fun" shots turned out so great that one made it to the back of our holiday cards and are featured here!
  9. For use in a holiday card, take the picture well before December. We shot these on Thanksgiving day because we were already dressed up, but you could also pick any day in October or November to have a fun shoot somewhere.
  10. Dress in clothes that coordinate, but don't perfectly match. Matchy-matchy can be cute/ironic if that is what you are going for, but I prefer to see outfits that are from two or three related color families. This year we did blue, orange and dark neutrals. Milo and Quinn are wearing tops from Gymboree.
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I will be taking a blogging break over the holidays, but you can still check in and see what I am up to on Twitter and Flickr! Hope you have a fantastic break with your family and that you rest and enjoy the season. I'll be back here on January 2nd with lots more creative goodness. Until then my friends.

xo

This post is sponsored by Gymboree. Bring a friend to a Gymboree store and sign up for GymboreeRewards together and you'll both SAVE 25% off an in-store purchase. 

How To Make A Vision Board by Leslie Fandrich

Last Fall I made a vision board in Karen Walrond's Pathfinder class. It was a great exercise to visually set out some goals for the year and I was excited to do a new one. This year, it's all about embracing my edgier side, emphasizing my art and FOCUS.

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I'm really happy with this year's board and I'm excited to see some of these things manifest in my life.

Have you ever made a vision board? Here are my tips:

  • Choose about five magazines to pull images from. Make sure the magazine are ones that you read and love. Just any old magazine will not do.
  • Go through the magazines and pull out ANY images that appeal to you, for any reason. Color, words, imagery or just a "feeling". Don't worry about why you are picking images, just pull them out and make a pile.
  • After you have a good stack of images, lay them all out on the floor. At this point, you can do some journalling about why certain images appeal to you. Maybe they relate to things on your life list, or maybe they represent certain ideas to you. Write the reasons down if you like. This year, I didn't journal about my images, I just let my instincts lead me.
  • Get poster board, a canvas or some other stiff surface to use as the base for your collage. Begin to arrange the images in a way that appeals to you. Maybe you want to pair certain images with certain words. For me, I laid out all the images first and then added the words later. Not all of your images will fit, so pick the ones that you like the best and place those on your canvas first. Arrange the rest of the images around the most important ones.
  • Glue the images down with a glue stick, mod podge or rubber cement. Really, any kind of glue will work. Some glues make the images curl or warp a little, that's ok, just keep pressing down the edges and they will eventually stick.
  • Once it's finished, select one word to guide you for the year, and place it in the middle. I used white paint and outlined it with a black Sharpie marker, but you could print something out on your printer or draw it on a separate piece of paper and glue that down too.
  • Hang it on the wall to catch your eye any time you need inspiration.

If you wanted to do something that was a little less work, you can just tack images to a bulletin board, although, I do love the permanence of doing it with glue on a canvas. If you have any left over images, don't throw them away! Make a collage in your sketchbook with double stick tape or save them for next year.

Good luck making your own vision board! I'd love to see pictures if you do your own.

Life List: Set Up an Online Store by Leslie Fandrich

In preparation for Camp Mighty (I fly out TOMORROW!) I am sharing the five goals I will be selecting from my Life List to complete this year. Goal #1 is to write a book, goal #2 is to become an American Citizen and goal #3 is that I want to sell my photographs in an online store.

Bicycle in Nolita, New York City.

Bicycle in Nolita, New York City.

I've been waffling on this goal for months and it's time to do it. The two big service contenders are Etsy and Big Cartel, but before I set up a shop and start uploading my pictures, I need to figure out the work flow. I need to know what I will do when an order comes in for a print, I need to decide how much to price prints at, I need to figure out where I will get it printed, on what kind of paper and how will it be framed, if at all.

The easy part is figuring out where I will sell it, the hard part is figuring out the rest. I wish there were a place that did all the printing, framing and shipping for me, but I guess if there were I would get a much smaller cut of the profit. I'm also wondering whether I should invest in a good printer and print them myself, although my gut is telling me that route might prove to be an expensive initial investment.

I think what would help is if I got a few test prints done, got a few things framed to see how it looks and how long it takes. I have to approach this as if I am making art for your walls. If I can test out a few things and see what I like, then I can have the confidence in what I am selling.

Can I ask you for advice?

If you sell things online, can you share with me what you have learned? What is the most difficult part of the process? Do you use Etsy or Big Cartel? Is there another place I should be thinking about?

If you think you might be interested in purchasing my photographs, can you tell me what you are looking for? Do you want prints framed or do you want to frame them yourselves? What are your price points? What sizes are you looking for?

Help a girl out? Please leave a comment below, or send me a message. Thanks!

Life List: Write a Book by Leslie Fandrich

Camp Mighty is next week and I can't wait! I'm ahead of the game this time and I have already picked the five goals from my Life List that I want to complete this year. If you have a look at my list, they are the ones that are in bold. I'm going to do one post about each of them over the next week and through Camp Mighty. Typically, I don't post about goals until they've been completed, but because of Go Mighty, a related community website where you can share your life list goals, I've been thinking a lot about these five goals and why I am choosing them. 

My first goal, and one that I am just beginning to work on, is to write a book. Initally I had on my list "Publish a Book", but I realized that can come later. Right now I just want to focus on writing it and not worry or think too much about the publishing part, or even the part about other people reading it. If I worry about other people reading it, I might not write the hard stuff that I really want to write.

Writing assignment for Alice Bradley's Practice of Writing class.

Writing assignment for Alice Bradley's Practice of Writing class.

A page from one of my favorite books, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.

A page from one of my favorite books, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.

I love to write, and I think I have gotten better at it because of blogging, but blogging is a very different kind of writing. It's more conversational, often bullet pointed and can be more train of thought ramblings. I've dipped my toe in memoir writing, and even published a few things here on the blog for an online writing group  that is now called Write on Edge. It was a great experience and the people who participated were so supportive, but publishing everything online once a week brought some anxiety for me and limited me in terms of what I felt comfortable sharing. I think I just need to do my writing in private until it's bigger than just a few pages.

Last year I purchase a book from Jen Lee called Writing Your Story. It's a fantastic workbook that comes with an audio CD, but it was hard to motivate myself to get in there and do the exercises. As if she knew I needed it, last month Jen started an online workshop called the Story Academy, to work through the book with other people and to delve deeper into personal story telling. Jen is so inspiring and amazing and with this direct involvement from her, I have finally cracked the book open and begun working. I've been learning so much and I have also really enjoyed watching people tell their stories at The Moth. I'd love to go to a Story Slam event in NYC and I'm even considering putting my name in the hat to get up on stage and tell a story! It freaks me out a bit, but it seems there is something (crazy) inside me that wants to do this.

The final thing I have been doing to work towards this goal of writing a book has been Alice Bradley's online class, The Practice of Writing. Alice is incredible, funny, warm and smart and her daily emails, affectionate admonishments and writing prompts have got me finally filling up a writing journal that I have had sitting in my drawer for, oh, twelve years. I think I am really starting to get it. And while I am just at the very beginning of this process, I have hope that I can make this goal happen. 

My first book is probably going to be crap, but I am going to write it anyway and see what happens. I have so many stories to tell, from my own personal experience, but also important messages that I want to share. I'm still not sure what kind of book I want to write, but I feel like I have ideas brewing that fall into the memoir and YA fiction categories. I'm excited at least, to see what I can spin together.

Girl Crush Philly: Part Two by Leslie

On Tuesday I wrote Part One about Shauna's beautiful space and my girl crush on Danielle. Today I dive deeper into the exercises we did, specifically the jealousy map.

Girl Crush is more than girls crushing on each other. Before I went, I didn't really realise how in depth we were going to get about our goals and dreams. Yes, we had tea and cupcakes, but Danielle led us in three exercises adapted from The Artist's Way that were designed to get us comfortable sharing in the group, battle our inner critic, and recognise our greatest goals by identifying who we were jealous of.

Looking at who we are jealous of is an unconventional technique because we are taught that it is wrong to be jealous. We shouldn't envy our friends, or want to be something other than what we are, but the truth is that our brains do it ALL THE TIME. Instead of battling that feeling and letting our inner critic tell us we suck for being jealous, why not embrace that feeling, look at it honestly and figure out the WHY. Figuring out WHY we are jealous of someone can lead us to understand what we really should be focusing on in our lives.

Self-reflection is not easy and revealing who we are jealous of makes us feel vulnerable because we fear being judged. In the safety of the workshop it was still hard, but we all did it and supported each other with perspective, understanding and advice. First, we wrote down who we were jealous of, either a specific person, a type of person or a character trait. Then, we went back and tried to figure out WHY we were jealous of them. This is the part where the group discussion was very helpful because sometimes, the reasons we are jealous of someone are not obvious right away. Talking it out helped us to dig a little, find the truth and get to the heart of WHY. Once we figured out WHY, we thought of actionable steps that would help us fulfill that need or want or achieve our goal. Sounds easy right? It's kinda not.

I'm going to take deep breath and share who I am jealous of, to show you how this exercise worked for me. Don't judge, okay?

The one that I shared with the group was: I am jealous of in-crowds. Now, you might think it's because I want to be popular or to be seen, but you would be wrong. In-crowd might be the wrong term, but you know what I mean, right? It's a group of people who are already friends or have worked together before. I am jealous of them because of the support and opportunities that seem to come from being part of a group of people who are working together. It's hard to work alone, and to me, the in-crowd is this wonderful place to be, where you get hugs and jobs all day long. It's easy to look around and see cliques of people and want to be a part of one of those groups, but you can't apply to be a part of an in-crowd, they either include you, or they don't, and you have no control whatsoever about what other people do. So, here is what I have decided to do, I'm going to participate in and build my own community. I'm going to gather with those people around me who are doing what I do and I am going to hug them and support them and work with them. We all have our own communities if we just look around ourselves, like a local Mom's group, the local library or blogging friends who are attending the same events. Teaming up with the people who are already close to me is an excellent way to get support and opportunities.

After all three exercises I was totally exhausted and felt like I need to curl up and take a nap to process all the wonderful things that I heard, but we had one more task, art making! There were book covers, magazine clippings, stamps, pressed flowers, feathers and fantastic art supplies. We all got busy making art and tried to bring some of the insights we had during the day into our pieces. Sitting around the kitchen table, we had more discussions, and I wished that in the future I could conjure up this fantastic, creative table of women every time I needed them.

Thank you to everyone that attended Girl Crush Philly, especially Danielle and Shauna! You both did an amazing job inspiring us. Hope I can see you both again soon.

Check out Flickr to see the rest of my pictures from the day.

Girl Crush Philly: Part One by Leslie

Over the weekend, Jill and I drove down to Philly to attend Danielle Krysa's (The Jealous Curator) Girl Crush art workshop and tea party at Shauna Alterio's loft apartment/studio. Our friend Elizabeth, who we met at Camp Mighty last year, came with us and put us up in her guest room for two nights. (Her home and family are adorable.) We were also surprised to see Jennifer Cooper from Classic Play and Stevie Koerner of Tru.che (who we also met at Camp Mighty) there as well. Seven more incredible women rounded out the group and we spent the day getting to know each other, getting to know our inner critic (that devil that often whispers self-hate in our ear) and supporting each other through discussions about how to allow creativity into our lives as much as possible. 

Shauna and her husband Steve seem to live and breath creativity. Their blog Something's Hiding in Here and companies Forage Haberdashery and Seed House Stationaries represent the diverse range of things they like to make and every inch of their personal space is thoughtfully considered and decorated in a perfectly whimsical, modern and eclectic way. I felt like I was in an Anthropologie store before I even knew that Shauna had once worked for them designing displays and directing the visual language of all the stores. Everywhere I looked I was just in awe of beautiful objects, beautifully arranged. 

While the space was envy-worthy, what topped it was the people who filled the room. These women were incredible. Each one had an interesting background (videographer, chemical engineer, artist, curator, designer, writer) and really interesting ideas about where they wanted to take their lives. Shauna was the hostess and the center of much of the girl crushing, however I must admit that the reason that I was there was to crush on Danielle. There is something about her that I feel such a kinship towards. I'm sure half of it is that she is Canadian, but it's also her art school background, ad agency experience and her five year stay-at-home Mom stint before she realized if she didn't do something for herself again she might go crazy. All that is me too. I feel like I need to learn something from her. Yes, she was definitely my biggest crush of the day.

These gatherings of creative women are certainly something special. It's such a safe, nurturing environment and yet it's no cake walk. Vulnerabilities were revealed, feedback was given, we were all asking questions and trying to get at the root of blocks and issues that may be holding us back. It's hard work. It was exhausting. But it was amazing to witness and participate in. 

I have so much more to share about the insights that I had and the exercises we did to reveal them. Stay tuned for more soon. For now, you can check out the rest of my pictures on Flickr.

Update! Read PART TWO, in which I reveal who I am jealous of. (It might be you.)

James Gordon Irving in Uppercase Magazine by Leslie

What started as a simple blog post has turned into my first printed article in magazine. Sometimes it's interesting how things happen. You can never quite plan the series of events required to produce a piece of work and many things need to be "just right." 

After I wrote that blog post, I began to wonder about Mr. Irving and the limited information about him online. My husband is amazing at tracking people down, as he did for his book 1950s Radio in Color, and I asked him to see what he could find out about Irving. His secret? Librarians. They know everything.

Initially, I just wanted to interview Mr. Irving for my blog and I thought it would be cool to meet him. It turned out to be very difficult to arrange a meeting though, he was sick at the time and it was hard to talk to him on the phone. The idea kind of faded away, until I met Janine at Uppercase Magazine shortly after ALT Summit last year.

She remembered the Golden Nature Guides and had an issue coming up about the creative side of science. An interview with Irving would be perfect. With Janine's interest, we had a new incentive to make the interview happen. After nine months of trying, we finally met with Mr. Irving in February of 2012.

It was wonderful to be invited into his home and to hear the story about his life and career as a commercial illustrator. He was a remarkable guy who worked very hard and had no grand illusions about himself. Modest, funny and a talented artist, he seemed to have enjoyed his life very much. Sadly, he passed away in August, and while it's unfortunate that he won't get to see the article in print, his son told us that he really enjoyed speaking with us that day about his work and basking in some attention from us. I hope that because of this article, more people will know about the fine work that Gordon did, and that his family will feel it's a fitting tribute.

Janine at Uppercase did an incredible job on the layout, it's really quite thrilling to see words that I have written and photographs that I have taken printed in a magazine! I am so grateful to her for the opportunity to do this and I hope that we can work together again soon.

Visit the Uppercase Blog for some excerpts from the article, my contributor's profile and more information about Issue 15. If you would like to read the article, you can purchase Issue 15 from the Uppercase website, however I highly recommend a subscription. I have one and love receiving these fine magazines in the mail every three months. I always find so much inspiration and information about the creative work that people are doing.

"A great idea can spark from an eureka-moment or it can be the outcome of methodical process. Whatever your method, you will find both the inspirational and the practical in this issue of UPPERCASE

In investigating the creative side of science, we were enthralled with the small bits of matter that assemble and combine to create something greater: on the softer side, coloured molecular orbs of baubles and beads are components of jewellery and art; on the flat plane, pixels, points and grids create the framework for two-dimensional creativity.

Please also enjoy our special feature “Beautiful Bitmaps” in which 26 typographers, designers and illustrators interpret a vestigial component of digital type, the bitmap."

Do you have anything from your childhood that you would like to know more about? I encourage you to research it! Meeting the people responsible for the creative work that we have grown up loving is a remarkable experience, for both sides of the table.

Inspired by Live Music: Jack White by Leslie

We're going to see Jack White in concert this weekend at Radio City Music Hall in NYC! It should be an amazing show. If you've got some time, watch the video below, directed by Gary Oldman, of the full live show that we will be seeing. If you don't have a lot of time, just watch the first ten minutes where Gary Oldman and Jack White wrestle, cool studio footage (I love the styling!) of the songs I Guess I Should Go To Sleep and Blunderbuss and an interview between Oldman and White. It's good stuff. If you watch through to the live show, please take note that in the first half of the show, White's band is all ladies. And wow, can they rock. The ladies recorded 11 out of the 13 songs on the new record, and according to this Slate article, Jack White might be one of rock's leading feminists. When he appeared on SNL, the first song was performed by the ladies and the second song by the guys. 

I will not be able to bring my camera to this one, so for additional shots of the live show, check out the live photos page of the website.

I'm loving all this music inspiration lately! I find myself to be far more inspired by a diverse range of topics instead of looking at creative work that I aspire too. Do you know what I mean? Constantly looking at work that is better than mine I can tend to feel jealous or inadequate, but looking at creative work that I admire but have no desire to do myself, is truly inspiring. It's why I read science and psychology journals, study architecture and enjoy live music so much.

It has a distancing effect that also allows you to be truly creative in your own work. I often worry about looking too much at other people's art or design, for fear of unintentionally creating work that is too similar. If you are inspired by work that is unrelated to what you do, it frees you up to explore things more fully and to create something that is more original.

What are you inspired by that is totally unrelated to what you do creatively?

Apple Cider Donuts and Something Like Balance by Leslie

With these two pictures, last week became Fall for me. It seems to hit me at different times every year, but this year we were on the beach until the day before school started for my oldest and my youngest's school started just last week, so it wasn't until last week that it really felt like Fall to me. All of a sudden I was eating apple cider donuts and noticing the beautiful yellow colors appearing all around me. I even had a beer over the weekend, a PUMPKIN beer. It didn't really taste like pumpkins, but it had that warm, cozy feeling that I was craving. Good bye ocean and white wine, hello fireside beers. 

I love seasonal changes. I love changes, period, and seasonal cycles are rejuvenating for me. Most of all though, Fall is simply my favorite time of year. It always has been, with my birthday and school starting, Fall always feels like a time of new beginnings for me. I've been cleaning and organizing my house like a mad women the last two weeks, sorting through YEARS of artwork and school work for the boys, figuring out a system for incoming papers and for storing keepsakes. Also, clothes. Sorting, donating, organizing. Such a sea of clothes, for me and the boys. It's done now and what a relief to have all those things organized.

So, fully into the season, routines established and shelves sorted, I can now get to work. I'm creating a new mood board for the year with a new word of the year, to be revealed soon. I'm redesigning my website and my business cards with the intention of dropping my site title "Lights and Letters" and just representing myself with my own name. Meagan Francis just wrote about this too. I need something flexible and simple to be able to branch off into different areas when I need to. I need something that will last. I have no idea when it will be done, but I am hoping no later than the end of the year. 

In the midst of all that, I will be taking a writing course with Alice Bradley, visiting Shauna Alterio in Philly for Girl Crush and attending Camp Mighty again. I'm really looking forward to diving more into my writing, being inspired in an art workshop and dusting off my Life List. Also, next month I've got an article coming out in Uppercase Magazine that I'm very excited about and I just learned that a teacher is using my Collaboration illustration in her Student Success college seminar at Santa Monica College. It's very cool stuff. Things are really beginning to happen, slowly but surely.

I've accepted that I'm on a different schedule than many other working women or even other working mothers. Things seem to take longer for me, some days it really feels like a snail's pace. I have so many ideas and so little time to act on them. It's ok though, because there is this:

Cuddling on the couch and building Lego with my boys. It doesn't get much better than that and I am so lucky and grateful that I can choose to drop everything and be with them. Amy at Frugal Mama just wrote a very long post about the business of blogging, what it takes, what you can gain financially and what she feels she has lost in the process. It's an open and honest piece about her own experience. It's a struggle many working mothers face and it sounds to me that rather than decrying blogging as a business, she is re-evaluating her own priorities and re-arranging things to feel better for her.

People always talk about balance. I always talk about balance. It's elusive sometimes. I've realized that there is never a moment of perfect balance, it's really just a process of tipping back and forth and hoping that at the end of the week, or month, or year, you've spent equal amounts of time on each thing that is important to you. Yourself. Your kids. Your husband. Your work. Your passion. Your home. Your friends. Your community. Diving into each bucket and soaking yourself in it and then diving into another one. You can't usually be in two buckets at once, it's much better to fully immerse yourself into each one, enjoy it, get your fill, and then switch to another one.

Some people have just a few buckets. Those people will seemingly get more done than I will. I have a lot of buckets and maybe each one isn't as developed as I would like, but I've got them all, and I love them all, and I need them all. We each need to figure out this grand game of life for ourselves. What works. What we need. There is no one answer, or one way. Try not to look around too much, just know yourself and you will make a good life for yourself.

Enjoy the Fall weather my friends! Enjoy the moment. Live for today.

A Beautiful LGBT Farm Wedding: Kate and Marty by Leslie

I was very honored to serve as a second shooter for my friend, photographer Amber Marlow, at a beautiful summer wedding at Red Gate Farm in Ashfield, Massachusetts last July for Kate and Marty. Amber's specialty is elopements and weddings in and around New York City, often for the LGBT community, and it's a very special privilege to be able to capture the love and excitement that happens when people are given the legal right to marry whomever they wish. 

What I loved the most about this wedding was how down to earth it was. First of all, having a wedding on a working farm naturally means farm animals and practical shoes (white sandles for Kate and blue chucks for Marty), but there also seemed to be no pretenses about what a wedding *should* be. There was no wedding cake for example, and the couple made choices that seemed to perfectly reflect their humor, love and friendships. Their friends served as justice of the peace and DJ, there were giant beer mugs with mustaches on them and at the head table was an illustration of two frogs kissing. There were also plenty of enthusiastic references to their rugby teams and colleges. It was the perfect mix of irreverence and tradition and I really got a sense about who Marty and Kate were and how much love and support surrounded them from family and friends. 

Check out the complete set of pictures on Flickr!

What a totally awesome group of people! I had so much fun shooting this wedding. As second shooter, I was focusing mostly on the guests and the details of the wedding. Amber did all the portraits of the couple and her shots of the wedding are incredible. I loved my first experience as a wedding photographer, thank you so much Amber, and I hope I will get the opportunity to shoot another one!

Best of luck to Kate and Marty! If your wedding is any indication, you will have a long and happy life together filled with beautiful people who love you endlessly. Congratulations.

TED Talks About Innovation, Inspiration and the Creative Process by Leslie

I'm fascinated with the creative process and these two TED Talks by Steven Johnson and Elizabeth Gilbert are helping me understand where new ideas come from and giving me a different way to think about creativity. I watched the Steven Johnson one this morning and I love what he has to say about liquid networks. The Elizabeth Gilbert talk was shared with me in the painting class that I took and her ideas about a creative genius are very interesting. Please let me know what you think in the comments!

Paintings and Journeys by Leslie

Open Door, 2012

In July and August I took the advanced painting class that Lisa Congdon and Mati McDonough offer called Beyond the Basics. The approach in this class was a little different than in the original Get Your Paint On, instead of doing one painting per week for five weeks, we worked on one or two paintings slowly over the five week period. Each week we completed one stage and built up the canvas as we went.

Rolling Hills and Houses, 2012I hadn't taken a painting class before Get Your Paint On and it hadn't occurred to me to create a painting in stages, slowly building up the layers and carefully refining the shapes and colors as I went. It seems so obvious now, but you know what they say about hindsight. You can see an animated gif of the four stages I took Rolling Hills and Houses through. To see the four stages of Open Door, scroll to the bottom of the post. I love watching them cycle through the stages, to see how they go from rough, washy images to a clear, sharp and solid paintings.

It was so helpful to slow down the process and really take my time. This approach ensures that there is room to make mistakes and fix them as you go along. Paint can always be painted over and the richness that develops as you layer paint is really incredible. I feel like I am finally grasping concepts that will help me illustrate the ideas and scenes in my head and I look forward to continuing to paint.

For these two paintings I wanted to illustrate the idea of being on a journey and to also continue with the house and feather themes from two paintings I made in the first GYPO class. Open Door is a little more obvious and the concept began with the door handle. I modelled it after the door handle in my old room of the house I grew up in. I wondered, what would be inspiring to find behind a door you opened at the beginning of a journey? For me, it would be an old letter from a friend offering advice, a compass to find my way and a feather so I could fly. It's up to you what is inside the box. Maybe an invisibility cloak, or puzzle pieces, or even a sledgehammer. The box contains whatever it is you need on your journey.

In the second painting I wanted to visually represent the six stages I feel like I have passed through in my own life. The small house on the left represents my childhood. The house on the bottom right represents my teen years and has a distorted perspective from the rest of the houses, the next house up with a huge red roof represents my college years that had so much learning and thought. The house with the glowing yellow roof is my amazing time working as a designer in New York City and the house on the top right represents me as a mother. My motherhood house has a small roof but a huge main floor full of love. The last house on the top left is where I am at now. It's the biggest and most balanced of them all.

I'm really happy with them, I feel like I was successful at making these paintings into what I wanted them to be, but I still have that feeling of seeing other paintings and wishing I had made something else instead. Isn't it weird that despite what we accomplish we still wish we had done something more or something different? These paintings are far more colorful than the type of paintings I am drawn too and they feel like they are missing some kind of sophistication or coolness. I don't know, maybe it's my own internal critic but I suppose I simply must keep working. I'm pretty sure that the more paintings I make, the better they will be.

I'd love your feedback. I mean, if you think these paintings suck please don't tell me THAT, but you know, constructive criticism would be awesome. Thanks friends! Your input and support is always so valuable to me.

A Peek Inside the Office of Uppercase Magazine by Leslie

I discovered Uppercase Magazine at ALT Summit last January and was so happy to learn that they are based in my college home town of Calgary, Alberta and that the founder and design director, Janine, went to the same school as I did, The Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD), and graduated just a year ahead of me.

Janine and I began talking on twitter and email and one of the projects that I was working on happened to be a good fit for the Fall issue of the magazine. I am so excited that my first published article will be appearing in Issue 15! Stay tuned for more about that in September.

The Uppercase office is filled with gorgeous natural light, plenty of colorful items to inspire and of course all the printed magazines and books that they have produced. I'm so impressed with everything Janine is doing, she's worked hard to build a company founded on her passion and love of design and the printed page, all while raising a young family.

The magazine does not rely on advertising for revenue, so it has minimal ads, but that means getting subscriptions are even more important for them. I highly recommend you get this quarterly magazine delivered to your door! It's filled with inspiration, creative people doing incredible work and lots of amazing stories of people living their passions and dreams. Just click on the link below or in the sidebar. 

(Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Uppercase and receive $1 for each sale made through these links, but even if I wasn't, I would still be telling you to get in on this incredible magazine. It's THAT good.)

Thank you to Janine for letting me stop by the office, hang out as long as I wanted and take pictures! It was awesome to meet you in person and see where the magic takes place. 

Note for local Calgary creatives: Uppercase is located in the Art Central building in downtown Calgary on the corner of 7th Avenue and Center Street. The building is filled with galleries, studios, cafes and shops and it's totally worth a visit if you haven't been there before. Be sure to pop into Uppercase and see what they have to offer.