Friday, April 30, 2010

Great Book you may find interesting...

Found a nice book on Creativity the other day at Barnes & Noble - "The Creative Edge" by Mary Todd Beam. I went there to look for something on printmaking and ended up enthralled with this volume instead. I began reading it last evening and I can't wait to try some of the fun exercises. Full of good tips and ideas to prod your imagination and get you out of an artist's rut :-) She has included several other artist's works and methods along with her own, providing a simple variety of styles and tricks. It is reminding me of things I'd forgotten... as well as some things I'd never tried, or even thought of. Can't imagine anyone not enjoying the inventive vibes found within. She is also the author of  "Celebrate Your Creative Self" and is featured in the video "An Acrylic Journey: From Trash to Treasure" both of which I hope to check out eventually.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Armenia Mountain PA Wind Turbines

Photo by RLHall, ArtfulExpress All Rights Reserved

I have been exploring Armenia Mountain by car or by foot at least once a year since before I was old enough to drive. For some reason I had some curious interest in the place, even before I knew that it was the area of highest elevation in the region or that my direct ancestors where amoung the very first group of settlers to bushwack their way from Springfield Mass to what was then Bradford Co PA.

This was very dense wilderness at that time full of many dangerous animals including Rattle Snakes, Panthers and Bear, not to mention the Native Americans who claimed the lands as their own. My Brooks family settled on Armenia Mountain, their settlement maps are still available for veiwing and if you tromp through the overgrown woods you can still find the old stone foundations and boundary lines marked by ancient stone walls still partly standing. Exploring a little deeper into the forest, underneath fallen trees and thorny brambles you can still find the small cemetery where my Great Grandparents, and their Parents and siblings are buried. Under all the overgrowth, simple spring bulbs still flower among the weathered and broken grave stones. Several of these men became translators, learning the Native languages and befriending the Indians. And it is said that in our line flows some Indian blood. Even my paternal Gandmother Brooks still claimed that she had Indian blood coursing through her veins and that her appearance attested to the fact.

There are a few dirt roads through the area which is mostly in Tioga Co PA now. A few country houses dot the roadsides here and there, but it is still mostly secondary woods with some fields. Naturally I was concerned when it was decided that a Wind Farm was slated to be installed on the mountain area. Would they clear all the forests and destroy all the old foundations and cemeteries? I am very much in favor of a more environmental approach to energy production. But these thoughts, and concern for the wildlife in the area and the possible ruination of a large natural resource caused me to research the Wind Turbines and the affects their presence would have on the land. Residents voiced complaints that the visable turbines would dominate and mar the natural landscape, and there were fears that the noise and vibration from these huge machines would deter from the normal quality of life far around them. The safety of the underground path that the electricity would take to the collection machinery came into question. The project was approved despite many objections. And my research met with conflicting statements and emotions, none of which could be definately proved. The installation seems to be completed now and I took a ride last weekend to see how the final results appeared to be and how they might have affected the environment. 

The first thing that I noticed was that the turbines were huge, and though they had an alien quality to them and certainly do not blend in with the natural surroundings - there is a kind of mesmorizing beauty about them. The many turbines are scattered along the mountain ridges, but unlike the windfarms I've seen in NY where I live, the wooded areas are largely left intact and the turbines are seperated from each other by large chunks of natural landscape. It was difficult to get close enough to them to hear the noises or vibrations they make. The historic foundations and cemetery sites that I was worried about were left undisturbed. When I spoke to area residents and asked them how they felt about the changes, they mostly just shrugged their shoulders or simply said 'They're here'. I heard no belligerant complaints. Though I had no conversations with any of the residents who's land was leased by the company, I assume that they are somewhat pleased to be compensated for the use of their land though I don't know if their proximity to the turbines might sometimes be close enough to be irritating. All in all, it doesn't seem as bad as I imagined but I intend to continue investigating the situation as it unfolds. Most residents in my area of NYS are fighting against the construction of wind farms and I find myself thinking that I would much rather welcome wind turbines than the Natural Gas drilling that has begun taking over the area, both here and on Armenia Mountain.       

Celebrate Earth Day Every Day !

This small Earth Day Craft reminicent of a circus tent was created mostly from a trashed paperback book, it's pages shaped, folded and cut, with the bits cut from the cover & cover page serving as flags strung on a bit of string used for last years garden stakes. Other recycled materials used were an old greeting card for the signs, toothpicks that had been previously used in making other projects and paper beads made from can labels. This 'tent' is only a half circle with the book cover serving as the backing. A full circle could be facilitated with the use of two books of the same size fastened together. A taller or multiple level form could be made by placing two or more on top of each other.

I have used this same idea to make paper birthday or anniversary cake party decorations, with small tissue roses serving as the decorator frosting. Or you could make cute christmas tree shaped table decorations, tree toppers or fanned out style diamond, bell or ball shaped hanging party decorations, which could be painted or glittered for a pretty effect. They are fun and don't take long to make, and can be from simple to more intricate designs. Kids especially like to fashion animals out of them. It's a great way to save money on decorations, and recycle as well.

I am a book lover, so I would never ruin a good book. But I do use old telephone books, books that have missing pages or have gotten too wet or bent out of shape to read. The book used for the above project was in especially bad shape and didn't come out as neatly as usual. But 6 yr old Jayde and I still had fun with it!   

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Work Sold ~ Sea Sponge

Macro Photography 'Sea Sponge' by RLHall, ArtfulExpress

A very close view of the delicate fibers of a sea sponge glowing with golden light and a beautiful natural abstract quality.

You can purchase image prints here: