Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Right to Dream


The blank page gives the right to dream. ~Robert Frost

Or in this case, the blank screen? Opening up PSE to play with artistic effects is exactly like having a blank canvas. I choose an image and there are no rules...I add things here, remove things there, erase things that I don't like, etc., until it "looks pretty". The results are unrealistic and surreal - but it sure was fun to create. It's therapeutic and completely satisfying! I highly recommend it.

This was originally a photo of a small hole in the street pavement...inside the hole, there was a tiny green plant growing. I've had a real busy week and little time for photo ops, so this is all I have to offer today. I'm off to the National Zoo this morning, so hopefully I'll have some good photos to share later this week! Thanks for stopping by - have a wonderful Sunday.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Photo Art Friday

floral expressions

In every landscape should reside jewels of abstract art waiting to be discovered. ~Melissa Brown

For this week's Photo Art Friday, the prompt was "abstractions from nature". I chose a photo of some pretty flowers I took in Occoquan, VA. I used Bonnie's "Age It' texture at Soft Light/54%. I also used the Posterize Edges effect at Normal/47%. The colors were very bright at this point, so I made it more subtle by using Gradient Map (black to white) at Darken/68%. I then finished up in Radlab to lighten and soften it a bit. Thanks for visiting - please visit more photo art by clicking on the button below!

Photo Art Friday

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Late September Days

pink flower


purple hosta bloom


fall berries

Hey there, normal day…let me be aware of the treasure that you are. Let me learn from you, love and bless, before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and “perfect” tomorrow. - Ellie Claire

Late September...a few snapshot moments on an ordinary day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Pale Hidden Kingdom

fall mushrooms

Here was my thought process this past week: "Oh wow, what a beautiful mushroom would be perfect for my fungi poem. But wait, no, I can't post that...what will people think? It's sad. If I post my sad poems, people will think I'm this depressed, melancholy person who never showers or leaves the house. They won't want to read my blog anymore...they'll avoid me and think I'm strange. The poem makes me feel too vulnerable...I can't expose myself like that. I really want to share it, though...what if it resonates with someone else?, I don't think I should post it. Should I?" *repeat 10 times with anxiety*

Poetry is my "let's get real place". It is where I work out not only my joy of life, but more importantly, my struggles, my low moments, my pain...which means it's not always happy. When I feel sad, the poetry starts...I need to get those feelings out. But my sad poems are written about temporary emotions, not permanent states of mind. In the thick of them, I write, I release...I feel better and can get back to my happier self. They are small pieces of me, but not the whole picture. This poem is about those moments when we're struggling and are temporarily overcome with sadness...we've all been there. We fall into a hole for a little bit before gathering our strength, grabbing onto our hope(faith), and pulling ourselves out.

Regardless of my fears, I've decided that my desire to share my poetry is strong enough that I will dare to share it...all of it. It has a message and I hope, as any writer does, that maybe someone will read it and feel connected, or less alone, or validated. So here it is, my fungi poem. I post it with pure intentions and a compassionate heart for the difficulty of sitting with those sad moments...

For this image, I surface blurred Kim's "partings" texture (thank you for that tip, Kim!) to add purely tonal changes to my image. I liked the very subtle effect! I used the Darker Color blend mode, at 52%.


In the right conditions
My sad thoughts thrive
Growing overnight like a
Patch of mushrooms
Deceptively bland on
The surface, yet their gills
Gape like open wounds
On the underbellies of
Wickedly smooth caps
A pale hidden kingdom
Fruiting into my spirit
The root of the root
And I try to choke them
Trampling them in the grass
Pelting them with pebbles
But they keep growing back

So I whisper to them, plead
With my silver tongue
Gouge them with my golden pen
Tend to them helplessly and
Toss away the mossy rocks
With a hand's human span
So they can breathe across
This presentiment of loss
Will they ever be
Done with me, I think to
Myself, as I wait in this
Perilous place, and they
Absorb my turmoil's shapes
Sporing the wan curves
Of my ache.

© Sherri Brannon

"Poetry is the way I pay attention, appreciate, give praise, struggle, grieve, rage, and pray. It’s the way I embody my love for the world." ~Ellen Bass


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Crisp and Golden

Acorns and leaves

Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple… ~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow

Taking this online Lightroom class has really affected my time to just get outside with my camera. I took a break yesterday and did just that. It was nice to snap a few photos and do a little editing. We have an electrical grate in our yard that makes a beautiful backdrop for photos; something in the plastic has a bit of a sheen to it that really pops in PSE. Here is a shot I captured of some beautiful acorns on a sprig of turning leaves. Autumn is here! She shows here face a little more each day. Thank you for stopping by...I'm wishing you a wonderful week.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hushed Butterfly


"There’s no way to know what makes one thing happen and not another. What leads to what. What destroys what. What causes what to flourish or die or take another course. I’ll never know, and neither will you of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore." ~Cheryl Strayed

Lost dreams...I think we all have a few of those. As I get older, I often think of them. But I love the perspective the above quote gives. I have truly come to believe that everything happens for a reason, and in its proper time. I wrote the poem below years back, while still struggling to gain this perspective that I firmly believe now. I felt a sense of loss then when thinking about things I wish I'd done. But now, at 50, I feel as if I'm exactly where I need to be. Those things that didn't work out for me simply weren't ready to unfold in my life yet. They were important and beautiful, but not mine at the time. Isn't that a lovely way of seeing it? It sure resonates with me. I salute those lost dreams of the past, and embrace the dreams I have today...lovely dreams that make me want to get up in the morning and take on the day. Sometimes on the way to your dream you get lost and find a better one.

For Photo Art Friday this week, Bonnie has asked us to create an image centered around aging. For my butterfly photo, I used two of Bonnie's textures, Wicked (Saturation/100%) and Heavenly (Difference/76%). I also used the Poster Edges effect in PSE, and put it through Radlab several times to tweak it. Thank you for visiting and please visit Bonnie's site to see more photo art (button below)!


My wringing hands are catching my eye
And become ribbons of thought
Entangled inside
I abandoned my dreams
Neglected their whims, and now they
Nest high where the night birds cry

A moment of peace lands with a sigh
And tickles my wrist with its lull
Purply musings ripple my skin
And I scratch them away to feel
Flesh-toned again

Upwards I soar and I kick at the clouds
Only to fall softly down with the rain
Colorful yearnings flow from my brow
To become singed to the wings
Of a hushed butterfly...

I watch it grow smaller
As it flutters and flies,
With my rainbow dreams
Towards the sky.

© Sherri Brannon

Photo Art Friday

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


orange flower

Red is passion-lit, orange is flowerageous, yellow is suntastic, pink is lipsensual, green is lifebursting, blue is skyful, purple is berrydancing, gray is cloudrainy. ~Terri Guillemets

For this week's Texture Tuesday, Kim asked us to feature an image centered around "orange" and to use one of her textures (I used "vintage", at Soft Light/22%). I must confess, orange is not a color I'm normally drawn to. I don't have anything orange in my house (except for the fruit, in juice and nothing orange in my closet. So I hope you'll forgive me going back to my archives and finding this photo of a gorgeous flower I took while in Hilton Head a few months back. (I still have so many vacation photos I never processed!) This prompt gave me a wonderful opportunity to finally edit this "flowerageous" image.

Thanks for stopping by - I apologize in advance if my posts are a bit sparse over the next several weeks. I'm taking an online Lightroom class (also by Kim) and it's taking up most of my spare time. Lightroom is a whole new world for me, and my head is spinning as I try to take it all in. Kim's Round Trip class is awesome and I highly recommend it! It's packed with information and I look forward to finally figuring out how it works so I can use it daily with all my photos. Do any of you use Lightroom? Its possibilities look magical...


Friday, September 14, 2012

5 Fact Friday


It's Five Fact Friday over at the Reflection of You blog...I thought I'd share again. Please visit the blog (button below) and participate! I love reading facts about people.

1. When I was three years old, my family lived in England. We were visiting Trafalgar Square in London one day and the pigeons decided my pure white hair was worth looking closely at (and pecking at!). Picture the visual of a flock of pigeons attacking a kid's head, and the hysteria that followed. I'm cautious around pigeons to this day. lol *vividly traumatic memory*

2. I'm an Army brat. I've lived all over the U.S., and also in Turkey, England, Panama, and Germany. I moved three times during high school, which was awful at the time. But getting to see so much of the world was something I wouldn't trade for anything.

3. I sometimes write sad poetry, but this is such a small part of who I am. It's my way of dealing with struggling emotions. If you met me in real life, you'd see that I'm silly and love to laugh. I treasure people with a great sense of humor! It helps get you through life. (see photo above) :)

4. Because of this amazing online world, three of my best friends don't live anywhere near me, and one of them I haven't met in person yet (she's in Australia - the other two are in Canada and North Carolina, respectively). We all talk daily via FB messaging, and are planning a "girl's vacation" together in Las Vegas in 2014. I can't wait! We've been friends online since 2006. *amazing*

5. I am often overcome by the beauty of nature...moved to tears, even. What is up with that??

Thank you for visiting - have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Soulful Expression

soulful expression

Bonnie's prompt for Photo Art Friday this week was to create a seven word sentence that describes your creative journey. It was hard to think something up! After a lot of attempts, my sentence is only six words...and I don't think it's even a grammatically correct sentence. Oops. :)

"Soulful expression with words and colors." This expresses pretty well what I love to do more than anything...write poetry, and work with colors and textures. And when I do all these things, they're at their best when they're soulful and from the heart. If I let my brain thoughts get caught up in it, it usually falls flat or feels forced.

Using PSE as a tool to merge my art and my photos is one of my most favorite things to do. I like that I can add beautiful textures and layers to give my work more depth and color than it already had. For my image above, I started with a very loose and primitive drawing on a page from a telephone book. I drew her face in about 30 seconds with a charcoal pencil...the idea was to not worry about being perfect and just get the basic shapes of a face on the paper quickly, without thinking about it. Then I used my Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Artists' Crayons to scribble in some color here and there (and then blended them with a paintbrush dipped in watered-down white gesso). I ended up with an alien girl (lol) - alien girls are cool! This is a fun exercise and if you're afraid to make bad art, this helps you get past it. Just let loose, don't worry about things looking realistic, and have fun! (I learned this technique from Katie Kendrick who is my all-time favorite mixed media artist...her book is amazing and I highly recommend it).

I scanned my girl into PSE and brought in a photo I took at Prince William Forest. Creating a new layer and using a reverse mask, I made that the background and also used the "dry brush" artistic effect in PSE to give it a more painterly look. For the writing on her face, I used a layer from an old poetry book I found online (public domain) from the 1800s. For her purple dress, I added an old wallpaper pattern to make it more interesting. I also used Bonnie's "Cinnamon" texture at Soft Light/20%, and ran the image through Radlab. Thanks so much for visiting - please click on the button at the bottom of this post to visit Bonnie's site and see more photo art!


My heart is a
Hidden wishing well
Filled with coins
An abundance of gold
Tossed by my own fingers
Laying at the bottom
Some sunken deep
Far from sun's light
Others sparkling
Just under the surface
With a shimmering life
Pieces of my spirit
That draw my eye
And for those I lean over
Far, to catch a glimpse
Gripping the well walls
Hard, so as not to fall in

I visit the well often
Walking the wooded path
In the dew of the morning
Or sometimes at midnight
Calling to the water, to
Pray with my offerings
To dip my hands
In their depths and
Lap up their lessons
Staring intently
At their reflections
And I am grateful
For the treetops, those
Giants from seeds
Who bow down to witness
And I am thankful
For the bluebirds who
Sing over my silence and
Trill their sweet hymns
To the air.

© Sherri Brannon

"I sometimes think that people’s hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what’s at the bottom. All you can do is imagine by what comes floating to the surface every once in a while." ~Haruki Murakami

Original drawing:

Photo Art Friday

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Memories of 9/11


I’m showing my age here, but do any of you remember putting playing cards in the spokes of your bicycle wheels when you were a kid? It would make a distinct flapping sound as you pedaled your way through your neighborhood, the wind blowing through your hair, your legs pumping, your heart carefree in that way only a child’s heart can be. When I think back to those times as a kid, I feel such warmth from those memories. I spent countless summer days on my purple bike with the sparkly banana seat, riding with friends through the streets of my neighborhood from morning till night, only coming home when the street lamps suddenly lit up as a sign that dusk was here and playtime was over.

It was such a good feeling to live in a neighborhood where I felt safe and watched over in my community…our neighbors were a close-knit bunch. And I don’t mean just our immediate neighbors, but entire blocks of people who knew each other’s names and their kids’ names. The parents all looked out for the kids, and families talked, reached out to each other, bonded, and had block parties on a regular basis. A united community…it was an honor to experience that as a child, and this was especially felt when we lived on army bases.

In the days and weeks following 9/11, I was in a state of shock like many others…the disbelief, the grief, the surrealness of it all was overwhelming. We all continued on, going through our days, feeling blessed that we still had our own family members with us. Our hearts broke for those who were not so lucky, and the outrage at what had been done to our country ached in us like an open wound. And like any other tragic time in this country, we all came together…our love for this country, our patriotic pride, brought us close and made us more forgiving of each other and our differences.

All the above emotions filled me up as I took daily walks that September in 2001, trying to process everything that had happened on that horrific 9/11 day. One morning as I walked outside with my thoughts, in the back of my mind I realized I heard a familiar sound from my childhood, or so I thought. I snapped back to the present as I realized I was hearing this sound every few minutes as I walked down the main road through our community…it sounded like that sound you hear when the playing cards are in your bicycle spokes. I was confused…where was this sound coming from?

Sure enough, within a minute or two, the sound came again and this time I was paying attention. I watched as a car approached and drove by me on our main road, and I identified the source of the sound: an American flag, attached to the car. As it drove down the road, the flag was snapped by the air and made the exact sound my bike used to make with the playing cards in the spokes. Every minute or two, the sound would come again, from a distance at first…then getting louder as another car drove by. And another, and another. My throat closed up as I thought about all these flags on the cars…this was a new sound. Prior to September 11th, I had not heard this sound before.

This sound – these flags - were symbolic of the love and pride people were feeling for our country. They were a small expression of honor and grief towards those whose lives had been lost. They were a reminder that our country is strong and enduring. And for me, they also brought me back to a kinder, gentler time as a kid, when the cruelty of the world had not touched me yet. In that moment, this experience became a permanent memory that has been seared in my mind ever since. Every year on this date, I think of the sound of those snapping flags. I think of my love for this country, of all the heroic people who tragically died, the unity of a nation, and the innocence of my nine-year old self on a carefree summer’s day, pedaling down the street on my purple bike, the playing cards flapping mightily in my spokes.

The Leaves are Falling

macro fall leaves

The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

How is it that something that is decaying can be so beautiful? I love the first September leaves that fall, especially the ones that are showing wear and tear. The rips, the mildew, the skeletonized lace revealing itself so delicately...each organic process leaves its mark and adds more color and texture. These flaws only add to the lovely, fading colors of the leaves themselves. On a late summer day, they begin to cascade downward, flushed with their last hurrah of color...most people shuffle their feet through these beautiful bits of glory, hurrying through their day without a glance. I notice their tangy perfection right away, and am mesmerized. I see their character, and the scars that show all they've weathered. I gasp and point and snap photos while my family rolls their eyes and look at me like I'm crazy. "There she goes again". :)

This is my submission for Texture Tuesday - I used Kim's "paper stained" texture at Soft Light/25%. I also used RadLab to tweak the mood of my image. Click on the button below if you want to join in or see more great photos!


Friday, September 7, 2012

Bloom Where You Are Planted

bloom where you are planted

For the first time ever, I struggled with the prompt "moving" from this week's Photo Art Friday. I came up completely blank. Last night, I was still faltering and I was out of I "moved on" (does that count as moving?). Instead, I played around with this flower photo I took in Middleburg, VA. I only used one texture - the handwriting. The rest of the alterations were done with different PSE blend modes, artistic effects, etc. Please click on the button below to visit Photo Art Friday - it's a really fun prompt and maybe next time you can participate, too!

Photo Art Friday

Thursday, September 6, 2012

No Stifling Allowed


Is life not a hundred times too short for us to stifle ourselves. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

One of my favorite things about my iphone camera apps is that a lot of them do some very crazy things to photos...I like the playfulness of them, and that I can alter an otherwise normal photo into something very unique. They give me the freedom to "draw outside the lines" and see what happens. The other night I sat and played with an iphone photo I had taken of some leaves. I altered the photo over and over again using different apps. Once I had a handful, it dawned on me I could create a collage (using yet another app). I like that each photo is different but has the exact same color palette; it ties them together and gives them a lovely harmony. This is my submission for This or That Thursday; click on the button below to visit and participate! I've listed below the apps I used for each photo in my collage (clockwise from upper left). If anyone wants to follow me, I'm @sherribrannon on Instagram. You'll find me there often, playing. :)

Photo 1: Snapseed, iColorama S (Edges - Option 1)
Photo 2: Marblecam
Photo 3: Photostudio (Symmetry - there are three to choose from)
Photo 4: iColorama S (Escher - Option 2)
Collage app: Diptich

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Branch of Magnificence

August berries


You’re waiting for that magical day when someone makes the connection and recognizes who you really are. Maybe they’ll first catch the sparkle in your eye. Or perhaps they’ll marvel at your insights and the depth of your spirit. Someone who will help you connect the dots, believe in yourself, and make sense of it all. Someone who will understand you, approve of you, and unhesitatingly give you a leg up so that life can pluck your ready, ripened self from the branch of magnificence. Well, I’m here to tell you, your wait is over. That someone, is you. ~Mike Dooley, Notes from the Universe

What a beautiful quote...I need to tape this to my bathroom mirror. We change, we grow, we evolve...and with each day that passes, hopefully we come closer to the realization that it is up to us to acknowledge our own worth. The tree above is in my front yard, and it awes me to watch it evolve with the seasons, changing, altering itself through the elements...continuing to thrive even while parts of it die, wither, and fall to the ground. But through it all, its foundation is deeply takes strength from that and continues to grow. Each spring, new life sprouts and the growth continues. Like that tree, I must do the same...letting the parts of me that no longer fit wither and fall. Letting the new parts of me come forward and thrive, in a new season, in a new and wiser me...believing at my core that I am capable of handling whatever life brings me (this is a hard one for me).

I was happy that when I went in search of a spring photo of this tree, I found one with a key hanging from its branches...perfect. The biggest battle we face in life is against ourselves...we are the key to unlocking our own doors. Do I always remember this? No. But I'm old enough now to catch myself, and give myself gentle reminders, on those days when I lapse into insecurities and fears. What about you? How do you remind yourself that you're valuable? Because you truly are.

This is my submission for Kim's Texture Tuesday - today is "anything goes" day, including no texture if you choose. I went without texture today...please click on the button below to visit Kim's site and see more beautiful photos!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Macro Sunday

macro leaf

macro leaf

macro leaf

After all, I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string. ~Anne Shirley

I thought I would participate in Macro Sunday this week...I haven't done it in a long time and it feels good to zoom in close for a change. This past week I've found myself doing that a lot; with the change of seasons coming, things are turning and I'm noticing it everywhere. It's amazing what photo opportunities you can find if you simply look down at the ground. I could seriously do this all day...I love going in search of organic shapes and textures in nature. My photos today are all of leaves...the skeletonized leaf close-up amazes me because of all the colors. I did increase the saturation a little bit for this image, but the blues and purples were already there, I promise! So gorgeous...thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful Sunday.

studio waterstone