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: https://www.facebook.com/athena.carey/posts/10221624015063608

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Viral Kindness 05

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.

Fondly,
Athena

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Make Something New Update

This past week was severely challenging at our house and as a result, I am going to let the “home” creativity prompt run for a second week. I feel a bit guilty about this, but hopefully, the overall result will be that more people have time to participate.

Which brings me to this question:
*Should we have two weeks per prompt?*

Perhaps it would preferable for the prompts to be a bit longer now that many people are returning to work as lockdowns ease? I have had several people tell me they would like to participate but cannot manage it within just one week.

ps: the attached photo is a visual representation of how I have felt this past week…drowning. Things are getting better now though.

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Make Something New 06 – home

This week’s creative prompt is “home”.  Home is something hugely relevant to us at the moment.  As a result of the pandemic and the ensuing travel restrictions and lockdowns, most of us have spent more time at home in the last few months than is “normal”.  What does home mean to you?  How has being home so much affected you?  What is different about your home during the lockdown period?  You can choose any sort of perspective to answer the prompt.  I am looking forward to learning more and having my ideas about home expanded through your work.  🏠

Creative interpretation of the prompt is *highly* encouraged. Remember that the ultimate goal is to create something new this week. Don’t push yourself too hard though – sometimes creativity thrives best in the pauses between thought.  Just leave yourself open to receive it.  ✨ Please do keep things family friendly so that everyone can participate and make sure that what you post has been made now, as a response to the prompt.

Like many, my time at home has drastically increased recently but that is not all.  The way I manage my home has changed as well.  We went through two separate two week home quarantines one when each of the boys returned.  During that time, I had to find ways to source everything- from our basic needs to any small pleasures – without leaving our house.  Unfortunately, the grocery stores here were overwhelmed with delivery orders.  Unable to get a delivery slot, I turned to other more creative sources.  Wherever possible, I have shopped with local merchants to keep delivery travel down and to support the small businesses nearby.  However, the largest supplier of things to our house has been Amazon.  I have ordered things from Amazon that I didn’t even know they sell.  Among the items Amazon has delivered to my house are flour, canned foods, soap, disinfectant, cleaning products, garden supplies, a guitar, vitamins, gin, wine, cat food and of course books.

Cardboard box home on a drawing background with Amazon sticker windows and door.

This image is a playful way to express what part of my life has felt like during the lockdown.  My shopping has been almost completely online, filling my house with cardboard boxes.  I have spent an unbelievable amount of time indoors, wearing slippers, going stir-crazy.  The whole world beyond my door has felt unreal and unreachable to me.  I’ve switched to sandals now that it’s warmer but the rest still largely applies. 🤪

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#viralkindness 04

This week’s letter to my local care home residents. They are still unable to go out and cannot have visitors so I am trying to bring a little bit of the outside to them. 🙂

Dear Friend,

I hope that you are well and managing to find interesting things to do inside during our pandemic lockdown.  On some days, I find it stressful not being able to go out.  I miss my regular photography trips very much.  But I know we are doing something very powerful in the fight against this virus so I am trying to take comfort in that.  It doesn’t feel like doing much but it is.

I have another little photo escape for you today.  A few years ago, I took a group of fellow photographers to this lighthouse at night with the aim of photographing its beacon.  We arrived at just the right time to also capture The Milky Way in the sky above.  The light moves in a circular path around the lighthouse, so timing was very tricky.  It took several attempts but with this click, I had the most excited feeling.  I knew it was the one.

Originally, this lighthouse was on the strand on a narrow island off the coast of North Carolina in the United States.  Erosion was threatening it and so several years ago a massive project was launched to move it inland.  Now the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse sits just on the other side of the dunes, still shining its light of safety and hope to all near enough to see it.  We are far away on the other side of the ocean but here is that light of hope for you.  And for me too. 🙂

Fondly,
Athena

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Make Something New 05 – Bottoms UP

This week’s creative prompt is “bottoms up”. The phrase has a drinking connotation but your creations don’t necessarily need to. Think of all the things these words could mean and how that could be creatively or literally expressed. All creative expressions are fair game – drawings, stories, photos, paintings, songs, and even fancy drinks. 🥂

Creative interpretation of the prompt is *highly* encouraged. Remember that the goal is to create something new. Release your inner artist. ✨ Please do keep things family friendly so that everyone can participate and make sure that what you post has been made now, as a response to the prompt.

We had two birthdays this week and that meant two bottles of bubbles. After the second celebration had died down I was sitting on the sofa in the family room with my drink and as I tipped the glass up the last time, I noticed the colors and light from the TV through it. So lovely! I quickly made an iPhone photo of it. The next day, after I cleaned the glass I remembered this and carried it over to the window to make a photo of the back garden through it. I think I am going to be carrying this glass around the house a few more times to see what else I can find. 😃

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#ViralKindness 03

I have been writing letters as a way to connect with residents in care homes near where I live. They cannot leave nor have visitors because they are shielding from the virus.

Hello again my friend,

It’s me again, writing to share a photo and an experience with you.  I hope you are keeping well and able to get out into the garden in this beautiful weather.  We cannot go far right now due to the pandemic, but perhaps we can see what is nearby with new eyes.

The photo I am enclosing this time might look familiar to you.  It is one of our local treasures – The Ruined Abbey at Painshill Park.  I hope that you have had the pleasure to see it yourself and if not, that you will soon.  I have a special affection for Painshill Park as it is my local park and before coming to live here a few years ago I didn’t even know what a folly is!  This park has several beautiful ones.  Fast forward a few years and now I am in the middle of a large photo project all about British follies.  This experience is a gift I could only have found by coming here and for that I am very grateful.

On this particular day, I was at the park to test a new Hasselblad camera and so I was quite excited.  I had intended to create a minimalist photo with smooth water and sky but the clouds were dancing so beautifully that instead, I captured this.  It is as if the clouds were dancing with my own new camera happiness.  I am wishing you a similar happiness today.

Fondly,
Athena

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Make Something New 04 – Dreams

This week’s creative prompt is “dream”.  You may use the word however you like – dreams, dreaming, dreamy – it’s entirely up to you.  All creative endeavors are welcome and eagerly anticipated.  I’m very excited to see what you will make. 

Creative interpretation of the prompt is *highly* encouraged. Remember that the goal is to create something.  Release your inner artist. ✨  Please do keep things family-friendly so that everyone can participate and make sure that what you post has been made now, as a response to the prompt.

This week I was thinking about a series I did last year called “deconfinement” that is about societal pressure.  It occurred to me that many of us are now living a very different and more literal type of confinement and I found myself daydreaming a sort of merger of these two concepts.  The idea and then its execution became a delightful escape from my current reality.  To make it even better, I had the pleasure of collaborating with my former teacher, friend, and colleague, Sarah Grosso.  I made the visuals which then prompted her to make the beautiful piano accompaniment.  Words cannot express the joy this little adventure has given me. 🙂

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#ViralKindness 02

A letter to connect with residents in local care homes. 💗

The text of the letter:

Dear Friend,

I hope you are well.  I am writing to you again to share another photo and another story.  My hope is that while we are stuck inside during this dreadful pandemic that these can help brighten both our days.  I get to remember my past times out and you get to imagine them yourself.

The enclosed photo was taken last Spring in rural northern Japan. I had just finished my Masters of Art Photography degree and decided I needed to push myself further with a challenging trip. I got exactly that.

When I arrived, I found that there was essentially no English spoken in the area.  My Japanese consists of only a few pleasantries like hello and thank you, so I found myself hugely isolated for the whole week there.

But the isolation was not at all unbearable.  In fact, during that time, I was mostly very calm (despite a volcano erupting on the 4th day!) and overwhelmingly happy.  This photo is of a very small Shinto shrine that is up on a steep hill in a farming district.  I struggled a bit to find it and stopped to “ask” a local elder farmer.  I wish I had a video of our “conversation”. 

In the end, I did find it and it was worth the effort.  There is such a sense of calm in these places.  I hope the photo can transmit the same to you.

Fondly,
Athena

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