observation

Feature Friday: Love Locked on the Bridge by Mary Jennings

Love Locked

A year ago I finally got to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn, New York.  I go to New York City quite a few times and love to walk the city.  I love the long and fully stimulating journeys I am able to make time for during my visits to the big city.  They are one of a kind and have such positive lasting effects. My bridge walk was a on a cold and windy day in January.  I thought this could be an advantage with regard to the number of people on the bridge.  While it was not crowded, it still had quite a few people enjoying their walk over the bridge with me.

There are plenty of helps with directing your placement  and direction during the walk.  It was also under construction or is that a constant.  I met my dear long-time friend and we started on our journey.  She has lived in Brooklyn for several years and kindly agreed to experience this with me.  She was able to point out different points of interest as we made our way across the bridge.  While I was thankful for her guidance, as I would have missed so many important sights, I was looking for the special things that the average viewer would miss, either on purpose or by lack of observation.  With "good" camera in frozen hand, I was careful not to miss a thing.

About one-third of our way across, I noticed pad-locks, combination lock and even luggage locks in very useless places.  I remember looking at one for quite a long time thinking to myself, "I hope this tiny lock isn't holding the whole bridge together."  Upon making our way to the midpoint of the bridge, we knew there was some research to do when we got home.

What was up with all these locks?  Whose initials are those etched on the locks?  Why locks? Why the Brooklyn Bridge?

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As soon as I got back to my computer and thawed my fingers out enough to type, I found out that this was a tradition among lovers.  They show up at the bridge, place the open lock on a spot on the bridge, lock it and through away the key.  With great ceremony, they key gets tossed over the side of the bridge into the deep waters of the East River.  There love is forever locked.  I'm sure there is a super romantic kiss involved in the ceremony.  So sweet.

I also read that this is not exclusive to the Brooklyn Bridge, but can also be seen on the oldest bridge in Paris and I think one in Italy.

I was locked into the idea of creating a series of paintings that captured the essence of what this bridge has meant to so many couples.

This is a green response.  No fish or fishermen have been hurt be flying keys from above.  It's also longer lasting.  When I was on the bridge, the locks were sparse in comparison to what I saw in the article I read.  I found out that the crew responsible for bridge renovation, cut all the locks off and disposed of them in some fashion.

 

I hope you have connected to my story.  When I am feeling all lovey dovey, I will make more of these pieces.   At present, they are still in progress.  I'm excited about their creation and envision them in the hands and homes of many happy couples as a reminder of the crazy, sticky sweet we do when we are in love.  sigh.  You can look at detailed photos of the series individually in my Etsy Shop: maryjenningsart

When my husband supports my art and my artistic passion, I lock up those moments and throw away the key.

Experiencing Observation: Gratitude by Mary Jennings

"Discovery"

36"x36" oil on canvas. SOLD I didn't doubt that I would make it to this sixth installment of my blog series on experiencing observation, but I didn't actually lightheartedly skip along the pathway either.  It can be told that I have loved writing about all the subtle differences in observation.  Who knew that looking around could be so distinctive depending on a certain mindset?  I'm not sure I even appreciated this until I began to write about it.

So far, I have covered getting caught, making memories, being restored, hunting, capturing and now I am going to write about experiencing observation through the lens of gratitude.  With a mindset of thankfulness, what you see is not simply what it is.  It becomes greater in its substance due to the context in which it is being viewed.

A sunset, with its color, movement and mood, has a pretty good jump-start in being receptive to gratitude filled observations.  Not everything has it this easy.  With some things like a pile of unfolded laundry, a flat tire, an icy walkway, or a bad hair day, it takes a little bit of work getting a fruitful observation experience with a mindset of gratitude.  And because of this struggle, it is so very rewarding when you do see what others may not see.  This is a highly creative experience.  This is the stuff great poetry is made of.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "What is a weed?  A plant whose virtues have yet to be discovered."  I agree.  We are given so many wonderful "weeds" in life and we try to eliminate, hide and sometimes ignore them and their virtues.  In the spring of 2009, I did a video with a focus on inspiration and determination using the dandelion to support my message.  It is extremely consistent with the message I offer many times to this day.  It was nice to see I am staying on track to help inspire and encourage creativity.

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Watch it and see how I demonstrate how rich our observations become with a heart of gratitude.  Gratitude is a great place to take NOTHING and turn it in to a treasure.

Turn that frown upside down.  Turn that trouble into triumph.  Celebrate your creativity by seeing things that are good, helpful and productive from what we would avoid finding any beauty in at all.  With a mindset of gratitude, experience observation where treasures can be found in trash.

Share any observations you have made in the comment section below.  We want to see what you see.

Experiencing Observation: Photographic by Mary Jennings

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Have you seen my....? You can just about insert any item into the blank left at the end of the request. As a young girl, living in a messy house and now as a mother in a busy household, I am able to provide a location of pretty much any lost item. I have the opportunity to experience observation with my skills of photographic memory. I love to use these skills but would love to get paid for the workout they are getting with my sons "help me find it" requests. In this, the fifth posting about experiencing observation in different ways, I am either going to help you determine a skill you already have or help you develop a new skill. This form of almost photographic observation not only comes in handy when looking for something that is out-of-place, but it also serves as a tool to help your art become more well-rounded. It helps create an internal reference library of regular life stills. Colors, objects, arrangements, conditions and unlikely combinations are all retained for future use.

If you've seen it, you may be able to recall and use that information to add or complete a detail in your art. It makes a defining difference.

Blessing and Curse

At times, I am called upon to help a friend recall where they put their purse, or help my husband find his keys, but every now and again I am interested in recalling a certain color I might have observed in a leaf of a tree or in the shadow on the snow. These are important pieces of information that will help 'validate' a piece of art while painting. This is real information that might make or break a work of art. It might be the piece that adds real soul to your work.

The best direction that I can offer in developing the skill of photographic observation is to PAY ATTENTION. This might mean putting your smart phone or other device down *GASP*. The world is full of subtle details and they're all around you 24/7. Pay attention at all times. Take mental notes of how things are when you look at them. Make mental note of the environment and conditions surrounding the observation. Does it all make sense? If not, why? These bits of information might help complete the picture.

Project for You

I have an exercise for you to complete. For a very average part of your day, pay careful attention to every detail of your surroundings and events. Just do this for a few hours. In a notebook or sketchbook, I want you to write or draw some details that you noticed. These details aren't the ones that would stand out to everybody simply passing by, these are details that are well, detailed.

Feel free to share some of your average and not-so-average observations in the comment section below. I would love to read all about it.

Experiencing Observation - Focus by Mary Jennings

In this fourth installation of posts on Experiencing Observation, I will cover the duty of seeking. This requires a high level of observational skills and a multi-sensory focus. It has many applications and can be a benefit to exercise, but if over used becomes a problem by causing unwanted mental fatigue otherwise known as “UGH!”

Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most!

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“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most” reads a plaque I was given when I was a busy Interior Designer with Martha Child Interiors early in my career. It was very appropriately given and gratefully received. This was my first job out of college and I worked extremely long hours and was always looking for fabric, furniture, lighting, finishes and yes, my lost mind. I experienced incredible focus while employed for this position. Part of my job was to head to the Design Center in Washington, D.C. to select the perfect fabrics for every piece of furniture, window treatment and pillow for the Sunrise Retirement Homes. I would comb through 3 floors of designer fabric showrooms and come home with several bags (4-6) full of fabric swatches. I was really good a zeroing in on the right color, texture and price for the potential destination of this fabric. It was wonderful and unbelievably exhausting. I was so thankful the Design Center had so much to choose from in every showroom I entered.

If you are woman who wears earrings, you have most likely experienced this kind of focused, dutiful, and quest filled observation. Finding the perfect pair in a pile of many can require extreme patients, if you don’t have these beauties all laid out and organized. As I get older, I am driven to spending less and less time in this journey. Organization and general simplification of appearance help. I won’t even go into the frenzied focus involved in finding a LOST item.

Just this morning, I created a perfectly funny joke, complete with set-up and punch. This is always a great thing for my role as a novice stand-up comedian. I was busy at the time and didn’t stop to write it down with the thought of getting back to it without any great effort after finishing my busy work. Within a short period of time, I was shocked to find the joke completely gone from my mind. I immediately began to dig in to all of my sensual memory to try to capture that joke again. I remember having the visualization of me sharing it with a delighted audience. It was so concrete and yet not. I am still mentally standing here with all my doors open, on full alert, waiting for that little treasure to blow on in. Otherwise, I might have to make a joke about the one that got away like the fisherman’s fictitious big fish.

I trust my skills for observation and will report in the comment section below if it manages to come to me. I’m working on it. Tell me if you have ever experienced this kind of observation.  I would love to hear your story. I hope you are benefiting from my efforts to encourage your experiences of observation.

 

Feature Friday: One Painting, Many Stories "Ascend" by Mary Jennings

Upward

"Upward"Oil on Canvas12"x12"x2" In most cases, a painting has many sources of inspiration behind it’s creation.  It’s always important for an artist to share those stories with the viewer in order to deepen their experience of the art.

This particular piece of work, “Ascend” has a story for it’s creation and even more of a story after it’s creation.

I happen to love looking up (and down) spiral staircases.  I love the design and the craftsmanship as well as the destination in sight.  They afford you with your end in sight as you are going up.  Kinda nice to know when you are out of breath.  I am always out of breath.

Visiting the Arc de Triumph, Paris, France.

Looking up in the Arc de Triumph

This particular painting of a spiral was inspired by the view up the stairs leading to the top of the Arc de Triumph in Paris, France.  With every echoing step upwards, I was thinking about the history behind this small journey I was currently enjoying.

The day I finished the work, it was sitting wet in my studio when a visitor came by and was overtaken with the desire to touch it.  She was devastated that she had smudged some purple on the side of the freshly painted work.  I told her not to worry, the smudge gave it even more character.

“Ascend” has also been published with an article by Rev. Dean Miller of The Falls Church Anglican in Northern Virginia.  Here is the perfectly pared article in The Current, Nov-Dec. 2012 issue p.22. Note the name change of the art in this ARTicle to protect the innocent (I guess).

For a small 12”x12”x2”, oil on canvas painting, this work (for sale on Etsy.com) sure has quite a story to tell.....and climb.

I would love your feedback on my art in the comments below.  You are welcome to share this post or my etsy shop with a friend.  I would love to have my art and their stories passed around and even owned.