beach, clouds (amazing) and nia

I took these photos over the last two days locally on the Gulf of Mexico here in Florida. Sometimes when I take photos from far away, they come out of my camera with a painterly quality.

Aren't the clouds amazing? You can click on any photo for more detail if you wish. 
The photo below was my blip for July 5th on blipfoto (my photo journal).
The following photos were taken at today's Nia class on Longboat key.
Nia is a sensory based movement practice. What better place to practice than on the beach?

As you may note, I played in Photoshop with these two -fun!!

warm wishes of good health and lots of sunshine to you! 

Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. 
~ Theodore Roosevelt

Art Journal Every Day (only when you can!)

Art Journal Every Day (only when you can!)

"I have some awesomely good news for you: you don't actually have to art journal every day to be a part of Art Journal Every Day. So if you're up for a little bit of "you" time every day (or every other day, or simply when you can) I hope you'll join us for Art Journal Every Day this year." Julie Balzer . . . 

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celebrating dance . . .

Today at Conscious Movement, sponsored by Dance SRQ in Sarasota, FL . . . I took some low-light photos and played with them in Photoshop. Click on any photo for a larger version.

- xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox -

It was a very large group of conscious movers today and this photo does not even show everyone who came and danced, whooped and sang! Lots of energy and lots of fun. Thank you Kathy, Mary & Debbie for facilitating, thanks to Norman & his friend for the live music. A wonderful time. I am still smiling because of it.

photo collage and dance

On Sunday morning I attended a conscious movement event in Sarasota, FL hosted by Dance SRQ/Conscious Movement Sarasota. While there, I took just a few photos of this hour and a half free-form movement class without flash, not wanting to disturb the environment. Later at home, I brought the photos into Photoshop and layered two or more of them together to create more depth. I played with the filters and opacity of the layers until I came up with a number photo collages I liked.

The collage above was created by tweaking the 2 photos below after they were layered together.
Click on each photo for a larger view.

Here are some more I created with those photos...
I like the shadows created in the top section, below. They come from yet another photo.

The photo below was added to create the collage above

more variations . . . yes, I am obsessive!

My favorite I think . . . click on it for a larger view.

The dancing was . . . . "authentic" in the words of my Nia dance teacher Kathy, and I would agree. It is wonderful for me to combine my love of dance and movement with my new love of photography and being creative with it. I just wanted to share this! Have a creative and happy day. : ^ ) lenna

Dance SRQ and photoshop

I found out about a Conscious Movement class held once a month on Sundays through my Nia teacher Kathy Oravec. This class is held in Sarasota and sponsored by Dance SRQ (the Sarasota Airport code is SRQ) and hosted/led by Kathy. She described the activity as a free-form movement class with conscious awareness of your sensations, movements and surroundings. I found it very much like the modern dance classes I took; the improvisation section especially. It was fun, freeing, I met new people, drove to a new place, and was brave. I also got quite a workout as it was an hour and a half long and I moved a lot! I took a few photos on Sunday and later enjoyed playing with them in Photoshop elements.

The Bayfront Community Center is a really fabulous space, with wood floors, tons of light.

Tweaking the photo with a Hard Mix filter makes for a very interesting look.

We took several photos of our bare feet for a new Dance SRQ logo!

I put those 2 photos together by treating them as layers.

The windows were overlooking the Sarasota Bay and it was quite amazing. Dancing in front of the windows and looking out over the water, I felt and still feel that I am living in paradise.

Another combination, photo collage - two layered photos

You can achieve some wild colors via photoshop - I do like how it looks like paint.

This one is my favorite out of all my efforts and I chose this photo 
for my 300th upload to blipfoto! (my photo journal)

I'm starting to do mixed media art again which is good, but since I'm not quite up to speed yet I thought I'd share some of the other creative things I have been doing to feed my soul and "fill me up" as my friend Donna said, not too long ago. It is all creative, all a way  to express myself which I obviously need to do (!) and I love keeping a record of my journey. If you would like an easy way to flip through a number of posts on my journey, try the flipcard view of this blog. Hover over any square to see the title and date of the post and then click to read! I do like that version very much but am leaving it as an option instead of the default for now until it is more seasoned.

Hope you are all doing well, sending love -lenna

creativity, photos + The Ringling Museum

* my husband, Steven *

Taking photographs and perhaps playing with them in Photoshop elements has been the only way I have been creative since my dad passed away October 1st. I know this is to be expected and I know it is okay that I feel this way.
I understand it . . . and yet, it still feels strange to me not to be doing any mixed media art for this amount of time, about 3 weeks. In general, I am a fairly prolific artist and so, I feel slightly out of step right now. I have been thinking about doing an art journal page - truly, it's just a half a page to finish a journal, or some ATCs. There is also a 4x4 themed piece coming due at the end of the month and I have even been thinking about getting started on my Sketchbook Project 2012. But basically, I keep telling myself that yes, when I am ready, I will start up again with paper and paint and fabric and ink. In the meantime, I am glad to have my camera and the creativity it affords me.

On Saturday, I took myself and my camera to the Ringling Museum while Steven was out using his new paddle at a local messabout. While at the Ringling, I visited their 2 Circus Museums. This was a new experience for me having never stepped inside them before.

Inside the Circus museum, I could not resist taking a photo of myself among the clowns. I especially enjoyed all the posters and the history I learned about the Circus.

After lunch at one of the cafes, I walked through a beautiful Rose Garden on the estate where I took many photos before continuing to the Ca'd'Zan Mansion that belonged to John and Mable Ringling. It's described as “the last of the Gilded Age mansions” to be built in America, Ca' d’Zan has 56 incredible rooms filled with art and original furnishings. I only saw the first floor and that in itself was quite amazing. It is huge and looks out over Sarasota Bay, Florida.

The Rose Garden 

For Frieda . . . 

A glimpse of the Ringling Mansion . . . 

Inside, looking out at Sarasota Bay

The courtyard overlooking the Bay . . . 

Another view of the front -click for details

Next, I walked towards the courtyard of the Museum of Art, which I had visited before. The Ringling property spans 20 acres! More about the history of the Ringling estate is here. In the courtyard of the museum there was a special dance performance being put on by students at FSU (Florida State University) as part of the Ringling International Art Festival. It was titled, When Art Refuses to Sit Still and be Quiet. The group of young women from FSU danced among the renaissance statues in the courtyard and I was most certainly entranced. I had danced in a similar performance in the courtyard of the Wadsworth Atheneum museum in Hartford, CT when I was a teenager. 

Then I made my way into the art museum proper . . . 

The painting below is by my great uncle, William Glackens.
I stood in front of it for quite a while.

I am enjoying using my camera and figure I will be back to my 'usual' creativity before too long. I am simply feeling a little more quiet than usual, which is to be expected. I do talk with my mom a lot, as well as my sister and my husband Steven and it seems we are all just moving through this life changing event of my father's death at our own pace. Do not worry, we are as fine as we can be. With love, lenna

p.s. I am not sure if the comments glitch has been fixed, but I did send notification there was a problem. If you get to a blank page when publishing your comment, please use the back arrow, open up the comments again and you should see your comment there ready to be published. So sorry for any inconvenience!

If you'd like to see more of the courtyard and museum, about a year ago Steven & I visited the Ringling together. Afterwards, I created this 4 minute Animoto Video - fun to watch & create!

more of my photos here . . .
creativelenna. Get yours at

creative every day

I am not going to post what I do creatively every single day . . . but I thought it would be a great idea to do this some of the time. At least good for me, and especially as I embark upon this new (old?) journey. Today, I'm electing to share my creative every day activity with you and hope that you'll enjoy it too. I took many photographs while on a walk with my two dogs this morning and then played with the photos, using layers and filters in Photoshop elements. A leaf floating on water . . . in more than one version!

click for a larger version

I used this one for my blipfoto . . .

This was the original! 

More photos from our walk can be viewed here. Thanks for your notes of support!
; ^ ) lenna

where's lenna?

My sister and her family (minus one nephew in college) have been visiting me + my husband Steven, and my parents. We've been quite busy! My sister lives in Connecticut, where Steven and I used to live before moving to Florida. The morning after Kathy arrived, my mom and I were planning to go to a Nia dance class and asked Kathy if she would like to come too. She took modern dance classes just like my mom and I did for many years, so all 3 of us went to Nia together. What fun! I do enjoy this new class my mom has introduced me to very much. It includes creative thinking and movement, much like the dance classes I was raised on.

walking behind my mom & sister on the way to Nia dance, Anna Maria Island, FL

But, I do enjoy the Zumba fitness classes I have been taking so much because they are different - with Latin music, dance steps that are a challenge to me, and a lot of energy and fun, much like the Jazzercise classes I taught 20 years ago when I owned a franchise. Yes, it's true! I was a Jazzercise instructor for 7 years.


So we all went to Nia on Friday and Kathy & I went to Zumba on Sunday. After that class I told Kathy that Mom & I were going to Nia on Monday and I would be going back to Zumba on Wednesday. Did she want to come? She said, "Boy, you guys exercise a lot!" : ^) we got a good giggle out of that. We have enjoyed being together for a number of dinners and swimming in my parent's pool.

my dad, sister, mom, brother in law, and husband - all together!

reflections in my parent's pool

my brother in law and husband
(and my nephew in the pool!)

reflections on the wall near the pool

Kathy and her family went out fishing on Tuesday and caught enough Grouper to feed all 7 of us! That is my favorite fish and fresh caught it is fantastic. Steven cooked it for us most deliciously with panko breadcrumbs over at my mom & dad's and we had it with a delicious cold vegetable soup my mom had made earlier. When Asia & Chloe needed to go outside I would happily take them, along with my camera. This is why . . . .

crinum tree lily in mom + dad's yard -click for details

beautiful gardenias

one of mom's gardenia bushes

mom said PLEASE pick some gardenias -so I did!!

My mom's "jasmine room"

There is so much to see at my parent's home, so many gorgeous things to discover, it is no wonder I am taking so many photographs these days! I am also still playing a lot with photoshop elements and I am uploading one photo daily to my blipfoto journal. If you miss me here because I am busy, you can always find me there! A lot of my creative energy is going into photographs these days. Add to that a number of students I'm coaching through lessons and 60 swap participants, well! There is only so much of me to go around!! I do have a skinny page to do which I am looking forward to working on, the last one that needs to be done. There are colour combo ATCs for May upcoming . . . I will reveal my Mail Art once it reaches the UK and Australia and I have ATCs for one of Frieda's swaps to do! So I will be checking in! I did not want you to wonder . . . know I'm dancing, taking photos, spending time with my family (they are all coming here for dinner tonight!!), organizing swaps and teaching plus creating a bit of art. ; ^ ) Love to you! lenna

a banyan tree, by lenna

family, zumba & blips!

My sister has been visiting since Thursday and it has been great to see her. This was taken the other night at my parent's house . . .

We do look a bit alike and don't you think my dad is proud of us? Kathy and I went to a Zumba class on Sunday and tried our best to keep up . . . it's Latin-inspired dance fitness with fast footwork -sambas, chachas, lots of hip-shaking, and I had not been to class for a few weeks. I used to teach Jazzercise, but that was about 20 years ago. Zumba is different! It's a lot of fun though, and we both did pretty well. I have been concentrating on weight training for fitness to get stronger but I think I'll add more zumba in for fun.

Today, Kathy & I went to a small Church Thrift Shop near my home that I found last week. I promised I'd return with my sister (she loves Thrift shopping) and of course I made Kathy pose in front of it!

I have been taking literally tons of photos since I joined blipfoto because of my friend Frieda Oxenham's recommendation. Blipfoto describes their site as, "The zero-fuss website that lets anyone join in and publish one photo a day. Record your life in pictures, improve your photography skills, or just keep in touch with your family and friends. Join the community now and start seeing the world in a completely different way. We warn you, it can get quite addictive...." -The last part is certainly true!!

I can't even count how many photos I have taken since December 4th, when I signed up for my own blipfoto journal. A lot! I have taken many, many photographs and learned so much. In just about one week, I will celebrate my 100th blip (100 days of photos uploaded) in that short amount of time! I have taken even more photos than I can share if you can imagine, but here are a few recent ones:

me, often at DeSoto memorial beach

Asia & Chloe xox

working with photoshop elements

These Capri pants are Thrift Shop finds!

My mom's special Iris - I asked my Mom where she got this Iris from. 
She laughed and said she got it from Home Depot here in Florida!! 
Amazing, huh? It only blooms for a day or two.

lots of beautiful photo opportunities -
and now I am really taking advantage of them.

with love, from lenna

A bird in the hand . . .

A bird in the hand . . . is worth 2 in the Japanese clover?

This is my entry for Mary Green's February Collage Challenge on her blog, Green Paper. Click on the link above to see the original collage items that Mary provided for us to use. All you have to do is use at least part of all 3 images. It is a really fun challenge! 

This is my first time ever, answering a challenge with a completely digital image. wow! I would have never dreamed I would have done this a year ago. But with the increase of photos I've been taking because of blipfoto, I also started to take a real interest in Photoshop and have been trying to learn. I have an older version of elements, but it certainly still works. I've figured out a lot on my own, and also benefited from taking a free mini course with Kim Klassen -well worth my time. I've learned a lot and I definitely know that I was able to do what I did for this challenge because of that mini course! 

I did not start out planning to do a digital piece for the challenge. But last night before going to bed I was thinking about what I was going to do - time was running out. I wanted the Lespedeza Striata or Japanese Clover to be intermingled with the people in the old photograph. I was thinking about cutting the plant out. That would mean lots and lots of teeny, tiny cuts . . . when a light bulb went off. "I bet I can do that in photoshop!". I could not remember what to do to get the look I wanted because of my inexperience, but all it took was a review of one of Kim's videos. The free course has ended, but for a very small fee we could continue to have access to her videos. What a great help that is! Even still, when I look at this piece of digital art I cannot believe I created it myself! It seems unfathomable for someone who really knows very little about Photoshop.

So, something new with something old! 
I hope Mary and her followers like it, I'm quite proud of it!

I have done some more art -real paper and glue type stuff, that I will share with you soon. Take care!