Tuesday, January 31, 2012


If you live somewhere cold, This one's for you...

Friday, January 27, 2012

for the fun of it....

 Too often I let myself get caught up in the work of writing and the work of learning to draw and the work of photography and don't take the time to just enjoy it.  So, I've recently decided to spend some time on all three just enjoying myself.  I'll draw silly pictures and doodle to my heart's content and write a story that breaks all the rules occasionally.  It won't hurt and it'll probably help me to loosen up a bit in all areas.

How do you go about getting your creativity revved up to a fever pitch?  One way I've found is to exercise.  I have been working out lately and have found that it gets the blood flowing. And when it doesn't send me off for a long afternoon nap, it does improve my creativity.  That's a tip from me to you.

Enjoy your weekend and take some time to enjoy your craft just... for the fun of it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A change of scenery...

Foxtail Grass... Henderson, North Carolina

On my last vacation, I stayed a month in Black Mountain, North Carolina. I went there to gain a new perspective on my photography. I had grown complacent with all the palm trees and lush tropical flowers of Florida and needed something new to photograph.  This is one of my favorites from that trip. 

And, after the trip into a different environment, I found new beauty back here in the tropics.

Give me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Power of a Creativity Group

I recently blogged about critique groups and what they can and can't do for you. Today, I want to talk about a twist on the critique group. It's a Creativity Group. I meet with one of these weekly and find it very helpful.

You may call it a writers' group or an art group. It doesn't matter. What matters is that it is a wonderful thing to get together with creative types on a regular basis.

The benefits:

1. Meeting with the group should recharge your creative batteries. After meeting with my group, I am ready to take on the world.

2. Individuals in your group will inspire you. Not only will you come away with new enthusiasm, but you'll probably come away with new insight and new ideas for your own work. I've found that when I'm giving suggestion to others, my brain is sometimes flooded with new ideas about my own projects.

3. When you're stuck, this group is where you can ask for help. Brainstorming is usually a strength of most creative groups. The group may not come up with the specific answer you're looking for, but they'll probably come up with enough new suggestions that it'll help.

4. Critique is often a benefit of a creative group. Some people don't want critique of their creative endeavors, but for those who welcome it, what better place to test out your latest story or painting. Many times a critique by a group of people you trust is just what you need. You'll learn things about your work that re-reading a million times won't tell you. There's nothing like a fresh set of eyes on your work.

5. Support. Because the work you and the other members of your group create is so personal, these are people you get to know very personally. Therefore, it's only natural that they will feel they have a stake in your success as well as in your overall well-being. Thus, folks will probably become some of the most important in your life.

If you're not in a group, I suggest you find one. There's nothing like it. I would also suggest that you move slowly and with care in forming the group. You will naturally want to put together the right mix of folks.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Taming of a To Do List

Does your to do list ever take on a mind of it's own?  Mine did, but that's creativity, right?  You see... they say that your body will naturally try to maintain the weight that is right for it if you listen to your hunger. Now that body might not be the one that they advertise in Vogue magazine, but it'll be the body that is right for your health.

I'm hoping the same is true of my  to do list.  I had the feeling that it had run amok, but I've come to the conclusion that it is just reaching it's natural level of health, and I'll just have to learn to live with it and enjoy it.  

A couple weeks ago, I decided that I would simplify my workload where I could and crack open a nice hole in my schedule to accomplish more writing on my books (yes, I'm working on three at once). So, I consolidated my gallery blog with this blog and it worked. Rather than trying to write articles every day, I post photos or art a couple times per week. That way, I don't feel guilty when I can't get to the writing. 

It worked for about a minute and a half. The other day, creativity struck again. I had the idea to put up The Helpful Blogger. It's a blog of how-to articles.... I do love writing a good how to now and then. The minute I launched the new blog, that writing hole closed again...

The day following my first post, I thought maybe I could be classified as crazy for starting something new with so many projects yet to finish. Then, I got my first follower on the blog... and decided that it was meant to be.  And, hey... no harm done, right. After all, I must be listening to the hunger of my creativity and writing to the level that is healthy for me.

What about you? How do you manage your to do list.  Obviously, mine is incorrigible.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Heart Card by Lou

Am starting to post Valentine cards in my etsy shop.  This one is up and others will follow.

It's time to think about that.  Just a few weeks away.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Simple Things - Flowers

"simple flowers" 

Sometimes flowers are just as beautiful when you take away the color.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Keeping Resolutions

This is my first year belonging to the fitness center. I was warned before Christmas that the place would be packed for a few weeks after Christmas due to all the New Year's Resolutions. Was surprised today when it wasn't. But after my workout, I did grab a bottle of water and watch some guys playing racquetball for a bit. It was nice they had that planter there so I didn't have to mess with drawing their feet... Next time. I'll show some feet.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Critique Groups: What they can and can't do for you.

Many writers participate in critique groups and find them very helpful. I have been in several over the years and got something out of all of them. These groups are organized in a variety of ways, When looking for a group (or starting a group), it's important to find one that meets your needs. So, if you've never been in a group, you might not know what you would want in one.  Here are a few of the ways you can set up a group and what you might look for as a benefit of belonging.

1. In many groups, everyone brings a copy of a chapter of their book for each member of the group. They read the chapter and critique between meetings and at the next meeting, those who participated, orally critique the chapters and in some groups they give a written critique as well.

2, I've also been in a group where members bring a chapter to the meeting and read it aloud. Members critique it on the spot orally. For some people, this is an effective method. For me, it never worked. I'm a visual person, so I have trouble critiquing without seeing the text and my auditory attention span is not as keen as my visual attention span.

3. Another form of critique is the one-on-one critique. Some people don't really like to put their writing before  a group, so they critique with one partner. This is often very effective because the two are able to get to know each other's writing very well and can often offer in-depth critiques.

4. I belonged to a critique group on line years ago. It was interesting, but we never knew who was going to be in the group from week to week, and, after a while, I didn't feel all that great about sending strangers electronic copies of my book. You could revise this and just let in particular members. That might work better.

There are as many configurations of critique groups and how they work as there are writers. When setting up a group or joining a group, here are a few things I'd suggest you keep in mind...

1. Decide before joining what you want to get out of the group and ask those in the group or those leading the group questions. Determine before joining if the group might meet your needs.

2. Think long and hard about how comfortable you are receiving suggestions and giving suggestions. If you are highly defensive, you might want to work on that before joining such a group. If you have difficulty offering suggestions in a diplomatic way, you might not want to join a group.

3. Some groups look at big issues only, such as plot, character development, point of view and how these things work in the book. Others look at everything down to commas and crossed t's.  It is my personal opinion that critique groups should only look at the big issues and not try to substitute as editors.  All work should be edited before it is sent out and a critique group is not the place for that detailed work.

4. After the group, it's up to you what you do with all the suggestions the others have given you. You are under no obligation to use all or any of the suggestions. If the suggestions don't fit what you have in mind for your book, don't feel bad about not using them.

Many of these suggestions apply to art critique groups as well.  I think it's healthy to the creative process to hear what others think of your work, but use all, some or none of the suggestions. Never forget that it's your book or painting or photograph,  and you ultimately must be satisfied with how it turns out.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year.... Sweet Shot Tuesday #1

Sweet Shot Day

Pelican at Port Canaveral

Yesterday, I spent the morning with my brother. We met at Grill's Restaurant at Port Canaveral. It was too chilly to sit out in the air. I like to do that best, because the pelicans are only feet away when you sit out there. Instead, we sat on the glassed in porch. Here's a guy from that trip... Didn't think to draw a table or two into the picture.  Just wanted him this time.