Saturday, July 18, 2009

Eyebrow Raising

(This was originally posted several months ago and is being re-posted as part of the Buried Treasure Collaboration, to be shared July 23, 2009. The photo on the left is my original photo of God's cloud-art at Raritan Bay, Sandy Hook National Park, New Jersey. On the right is my digital collage Heart in Hand II. Click to enlarge.)

When we keep our eyes open, we find that God sprinkles our paths with unexpected art materials...anywhere!

Several years ago, when I worked at TJH (The Job from Hell), I took a short daily walk as a mental health break. This walk took me past an alley behind a few shops, where shop owners used to leave discarded packing materials for the trash collectors. One day I saw a piece of packaging material, a honeycomb of brown heavyweight paper, mangled and weathered -- and I snatched it up before the "real" trash collectors could get there! Finally I'm using it in a piece of art and so far I'm happy with the way it's progressing.

This may be an embarrassing story for her, so I won't name my girlfriend; but one day she and I stopped at a curbside pile of discards outside the home of someone who had just recently cleaned house, probably in preparation for a move. Yes -- we actually went thru the mountain of trash. I got some lovely lace that had once been living room drapery, a million old CDs and a pile of composition books that anonymous schoolchildren had used for written exercises. I'm sure the neighbors were peeking out their windows, scratching their heads...especially since we were toting our newly found "treasures" to the trunk of my girlfriend's car, a shiny classy Lexus!

Photo opportunities await us, too, when we have eyes trained to notice them. We artists see things others don't. A few days ago I went to a playground in a local park and took close-up, angled photos of the playground equipment along with shadows it cast. The results are abstracts that will be used in several ways in my digital art. Nearby, toddlers played on the younger kids' equipment, while their parents sat on benches and looked at me from under squiggled eyebrows. I went about my business with a contented smile, happily paying them no mind.

This approach to others' eyebrow maneuvers is, for me, an acquired skill. I've grown a thicker skin since the day, a few years ago, when I went on a chartered bus trip to the Bronx Botantical Gardens with the ladies' group from church. I'll never forget my excitement, on that trip, when on a guided greenhouse tour, I noticed an exotic tree with a wild tangle of dreadlock-like roots, sprawling at the base of the tree. I knelt down and took a stream of close-ups, fascinated by the patterns and texture spread out before me. Done taking pictures, I got back up to my feet, turned -- and came face-to-face with a circle of women taking me in, all of them with a mile's distance between their lower lips and their eyebrows.

Like other artists, I see treasure in trash piles and, in a tangle of roots, a background for digital art or a custom-made Photoshop grunge brush. At a playground, I see a dancefloor for a fairy still waiting to be born on my Photoshop work-page.

A warm hug to my fellow artists,

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