Make Something New 10 – The Letter T

This prompt is a wide one – the letter T. You can choose anything at all that begins with the letter T and photograph, draw, sing about, bake a cake in the shape of it, etc. I am really looking forward to seeing how everyone will respond. Table, terror, ticket, tickle, tomorrow, target, three, tower, tools, teacher, turtle, tattoo, truck, tumble, tennis, texture…. So many options!

With this prompt we have a special treat. f-stop gear are joining us and will give one random participant a Dyota AG+ Ion face mask. I have a purple one that I love which is saying a lot as I am claustrophobic and struggle with masks. You can read all about these special masks here.

In my Letter T image, I have included a few Ts – Time, Teapot Tally, and Trapped. There may or may not also be a Tempest in that teapot. That part varies from day to day. The image represents my experience of waiting during the pandemic. So much waiting and trying to stay calm. Waiting through lockdown, waiting to feel safe, waiting for a vaccine, waiting for more information, waiting and waiting, and all the while, drinking tea because I am after all, in England. Back to scrubbing the wall now…

You can participate in this prompt here:

conceptual image showing time trapped in a teapot
created during the 2020 pandemic lockdown

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The more of these letters I send, the more I feel they are benefiting me as much as anyone else. 💛 💜

Dear Friend,

The world outside is reopening but I am still staying at home.  One of my big courgette plants was broken off at the stem this week.  Normally this would be sad but not tragic, right now it feels awful.  I think I have put too much of my heart into my garden this year.  Or perhaps I am being too metaphorical.  I worry that I might have too much time for thinking these days.  Let’s look back to a time that was too busy for so much thought.

When I came to live in England in 2017, it was actually the third time.  I came first from the US in my 20s.  That time I lived in Richmond.  The second time I returned from living in Zimbabwe with my husband and one year old son.  This last time I returned from Switzerland, this time with my husband and my second son.  While he finished high school here, I worked on a Masters of Fine Art at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham.

When I made this photo, I had been in Derby at a photo festival to have three portfolio reviews.  We were encouraged by the university to do such things.  My MFA work was very different from my regular landscape work and while I loved it, I missed the outdoors.  On my way home, I realized that the route would take me fairly near to The Chesterton Windmill.  I quickly decided that I deserved a diversion.

When I arrived it was windy and cold but I didn’t mind.  I was out in my element again and delighted to be so.  I am looking forward to a return like this sometime very soon.  I know it will be as wonderful as this day was.



Make Something New 09 – darkness

This creative prompt is somewhat vague – darkness. It may sound difficult at first, but this vagueness gives you a lot of creative freedom. Sometimes we have freedoms that we don’t even know we have. 🙂 Darkness has many cultural and connotative meanings that can be explored or you could attempt it more literally with a low key (dark) image. Remember that visually, darkness is the only way that we are able to perceive light – the whole yin and yang of realities.

In my darkness image, called “hide”, I am expressing all sorts of frustrations. Recent events have included an inconceivable amount of death, hate, destruction, repression, and deceit. I have felt this weigh heavily in my heart. I have also felt “in the dark” in regard to what is truly happening and unable to fully grasp the whole situation due to its complexity and the withholding by some of vital information. And finally, I have on many days felt the desire to simply hide. Unable to process the impact of everything that is happening leaves me wanting to shut off for a while. This image represents all three of these interpretations of darkness – deep sadness, secrecy, and refuge in addition to literally being dark.

On the technical side, despite the intense meaning in the image, the making of it was rather comical. The fabric over me is a single panel of blackout curtain so I could not see a thing and it kept slipping off to one side or the other. Of course, I knew in my mind exactly how much hands and feet needed to show so it took maaaaannnnyyyyy attempts to get it just right. Also on the humorous side, the alt text generated for this image was “A person wearing a suit and tie sitting in a dark room”.

If you would like to participate in this creative prompt, you can do so here:

a woman hiding beneath a dark clothe
The image represents the feelings of sadness, deceit and being overwhelmed during the pandemic.
conceptual image showing a person hiding from life created during the 2020 pandemic lockdown what one does when one does nothing

Hokkaido Shrine 02

During my visit to Japan last Spring, I spent a lot of time alone at Shinto Shrines. I cannot put words to the calm and peaceful feeling that I found in these spaces but it is a gift both from the place and from inside oneself. I believe this serenity is available in many places – shrines, mountains, churches, forests, temples, the seaside, open water, rolling fields, hidden lakes and even your own back yard if you are willing to seek it there. 🌳✨💚

Shimoubakubetsu Shrine in Hokkaido in June 2019

Make Something New 08 – bubbles

For this creative challenge lets focus on something fun – Bubbles! 
You can of course be as creative as you like in creating something new with the topic – it can be backyard bubbles or social bubbles.  Physics defines a bubble as “a globule of one substance in another, usually gas in a liquid.” 😳 😆  How you interpret it is entirely up to you.  Free your mind to play with the idea of bubbles and see what you come up with. Hopefully lots of happy sparkly fun will ensue.  🌈✨

I chose to make a mess in my studio.  Well not intentionally.  I wanted to capture a photo of rainbow coloured bubbles on a black background and so setup an old piece of velvet as my background and commenced blowing bubbles.  It was a lot of fun and well, the floor needed to be mopped anyway.  😃

You can contribute to this creative challenge here:
I am looking forward to your creation.



Just for a moment, lets remember better times when we could roam happily around the earth making photos of beautiful places…

Ayr (Scotland) 4350

a quiet moment with the sea

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I am still sending letters. 🙂

Hello again Friend,

I hope that you are keeping busy and staying well in these exceptional pandemic times.  I am trying to keep active in my house with my treadmill and am growing many new vegetables outside in my garden.  While I am spending quiet time with my plants, I often wonder what others are doing in their homes or gardens or going for their daily exercise in their surrounds.  I imagine there are a lot of puzzles being made these days.

This thoughtful state reminds me of a photo that I took last year.  I had a long-time friend visiting me while he was traveling through for work.  I planned to take him out to see the famous Stonehenge.  We arrived early and still were among a large crowd while we made our way around the awe-inspiring stones.  After lunch, I had the idea to take him to a quieter but equally wonderful set of stones – Avebury. 

We arrived to a much smaller crowd.  It was such a more relaxed and enjoyable experience.  I set up to photograph these stones but had to wait for a group of school children to leave.  While I waited, lying on my belly on the ground behind my low mounted tripod, everyone left…except this man.  He was lost in thought and I realized that he was the photo I was waiting for.  It was a beautifully serendipitous moment. 

I will never see this man again and in fact, wouldn’t even know if I did, but I am grateful to him for this gift.  When I hold this photo in my hands, it reminds me that there are many people in our lives like this – strangers who in some way meaningfully touch our lives.  This thought brings me comfort.  I hope it will for you too.



Make Something New 07 – mandalas

The topic for this creative prompt is “mandalas”. A mandala is a circular pattern of shapes, colors, tones, textures… Creating mandalas and even just looking at them can be used as a way to focus attention. I have been wanting to make one with the plants in my garden for some time now and this past week we had a short break in the rain allowing me the space to do it. I spent about an hour making and remaking these in my back garden. It was a hugely calming experience. I would make one and then either the wind would blow it away or I would be inspired to reassemble it in a different way. These are all just iPhone photos. I didn’t even bring my bigger camera outside with me. In the end, I let the wind take all but the large yellow flowers, which I kept on my dining table to enjoy for a few days.

Please do not feel restricted to garden bits for your own mandalas. You can make them from anything – food, paper, utensils, sand, etc. They can be photos of things you have assembled or they could also be drawings or paintings. Let your creative mind fly. I am very much looking forward to seeing what you will assemble. I may well put together some more this week too. The calm that ensues from such no-pressure creative attention is delightful.

Creative interpretation of the prompt is highly encouraged. Remember that the ultimate goal is to create something new for this challenge and in so doing give yourself a break from these stressful times. Relax into the prompt idea and you may be surprised by how creative your thoughts will be. 🦋 Please do keep things family-friendly so that everyone can participate.

You can share your response to the prompt here:


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Dear Friend,

This week has been filled with ups and downs for me but I am keeping my hope up.  Whenever I begin feeling down about our current situation I remind myself of the very good things I also have in my life.  Even the warmth of the sun can make me smile when I look at things this way.

The enclosed photo is another one from my time in Japan.  As I mentioned before, my trip there was a challenge to myself and I certainly did struggle with everything from understanding road signs to figuring out what to eat.  But overwhelmingly during that struggle I was happy because I stayed aware that I was keeping my head above the water line and accomplishing my goals. 

One of these goals was to find and photograph many beautiful trees in the Hokkaido landscape.  This photo includes a set of four that I found quite by accident.  I was driving without navigation, following a huge billow of smoke that I could see far in the distance.  I could not understand anything on the radio so was unaware that a volcano had erupted.  Once I reached an area with a good view of the smoking mountain, I pulled over to watch.  This gorgeous group of trees was silently waiting for my attention on the other side of the road.

You may be wondering why the trees and the field are white.  This is an infrared photograph.  The light that we can see with our eyes is only a small part of the light spectrum.  Another part of it is what is called infrared light.  I have a camera that is specially modified to “see” infrared light.  This is what plants look like in infrared.  It’s a reminder to us both that things can be looked at in many different ways.  Most often there will be one that is joyous.