The Beauty of Collaboration

Currently I’m working on an anthology that will be entitled A Bridgetender’s View: An Anthology on Gratitude. But there’s no way I could do it alone. Anthologies are a lot more work than I realized! Many dear friends are taking part. Deborah Drake is my catalyst, my publisher, my editor, my web designer, my coordinator, and so many other things I could go on forever. Amy Sassenberg is doing the photography. Bronte Polette is creating the cover and making all the photos format friendly. Vicky Cabe Autry did the separator graphics which I’ll also be using on the website and my business cards. Amelia Torres wrote the foreword.

I just love collaborations. When you create something together, it becomes even better than the sum of its parts. It’s kind of like preferring a savory stew over a raw potato and a couple of carrots. And it’s fun because as everyone contributes ideas, it inspires even more ideas within you.

This is not the first time I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with someone. I also create fractal art under the name Serenity Questi. (You can see some of my work here.) In the virtual world of Second Life, I met a wonderful artist who goes by the name of Treacle Darlandes, who runs the St@rt gallery, and she has for many years taken my fractals and worked her magic on them, making vases, sculptures, and art in motion among many other things. If you are familiar with navigating Second Life, you can check out her virtual gallery here.

In the meantime, here are some pictures of our collaborations. These photos don’t really do them justice without the movement and the three dimensional feel, but it will give you some idea of the amazing things that can come out of collaborating.

So relax your grip on your creativity. Let others take ownership of a portion of the final product. You’ll be amazed at the results. Give it a try!

I Am Not A-mused

The muse has deserted me. I find I have nothing to say. At least nothing worthy of you, dear reader. So instead I will leave you with the product of my collaboration with another muse from long ago. Here are some of my fractals.

These (without the writing), and other fractals of mine can be purchased in many forms, including mugs, cards, prints, puzzles and business cards, under my artist name, Serenity Questi, here.

Not only would your purchase of one of these things honor me greatly, but it would help me pay off my dog’s $730 dental bill. Just sayin’.

Digital Art

A friend of mine sent me a link to an artist on fiverr who can take a photograph, such as this one,

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and transform it into a digital watercolor, like this.

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That’s pretty nifty, for five bucks. I love the result. I’ll probably have him do some more in the future.

But this made me think of one of my pet peeves: people who don’t consider digital art to be art. I’ve yet to see any digital art in a museum or an art gallery. As a fractal artist myself (you can see my work here) this frustrates me to no end.

Granted, we are not using paintbrushes or charcoal or clay, but we come up with a concept, make aesthetic decisions, and use a computer as our tool. The things we produce are unique and have style.

And why is using an already existing photograph and making something different out of it, as this artist does, less worthy than, say, a collage or mixed media work? I’m even willing to open a can of worms and say that things made via Photoshop are works of art. You’re making artistic decisions. Often the results can’t be exactly duplicated. It’s creative. That, to me, is the essence of art.

A pox upon artistic snobbery, I say!

Virtual Influence

I just got a flu shot. I usually wait until I see it marked on my calendar on October 1, but one of my friends in the virtual world of Second Life mentioned they were already available. No time like the present.

As I got into my car and drove to the pharmacy and then got the shot and came home, it occurred to me that my actions were being influenced by someone in Second Life whom I most likely will never meet face to face. It is almost as if someone in the cyber world were sitting at a keyboard somewhere, directing my movements. Highly disconcerting. Maybe I’m the avatar and my stunningly attractive cartoon character is the real thing. I could live with that.

Then I began thinking about all the other ways that Second Life, Facebook, and even comments from this blog have influenced me over the years.

  • I have met four of my virtual friends face to face, and those were all amazingly gratifying experiences.
  • I often get book recommendations from friends on-line, and that has given me hours of reading pleasure.
  • Some of my favorite “go to” people for advice are people that I’ve never, or very rarely, been in the same room with.
  • Second Life gave me the courage to be a fractal artist, and now I sell my work on Zazzle, in the form of prints, mugs, cards, and business cards, among other things.
  • The feedback from people who have read my blog has caused my confidence to soar.
  • Unfortunately a hostile comment from a troll can also put me in a foul mood.
  • I would have felt a great deal more isolated when I moved across the country to a city where I didn’t know a soul if it weren’t for my on-line friends.
  • Some of the ridiculous stuff I read on Facebook has caused me to strengthen my moral, spiritual, and political convictions.

My on-line contacts have made me laugh and cry and love and trust and get angry and learn… in other words, to live fully. And for that I will be forever grateful.

The virtual me.
The virtual me.

Layers

The other day I made the mistake of Googling the name of someone I intensely dislike. I wish I hadn’t. She has always been hostile toward me, and extremely territorial. To cope with her I kind of imagine her as an evil Martian with neither heart nor soul. That way her behavior somehow seems understandable and therefore a lot less hurtful.

But this Google search turned her back into a human being in my mind. Her wide open Facebook page showed me that she has friends. Not many, but some. And she enjoys the outdoors just like I do. Another Google hit lead me to believe that she also enjoys international travel, just like I do. In addition, I discovered that she owns her own home, and thanks to Google earth I see that it’s in a quiet, quaint neighborhood, and she takes pride in a well-kept lawn.

We actually have a great deal in common, and I hate knowing this about her because it makes her hostility even more incomprehensible, and it causes me to have regrets. She could be a friend. I sure could use one. Instead, what I get is an angry troll whose presence in my life is something I’m forced to tolerate.

It just goes to show that people have layers. You may think you know someone, but there is almost always much more to them. It’s never a good idea to rely on simply the surface stuff. Take the time to delve deeper. You may just be intrigued.

Check out Layers

This is one of my fractals, “Layers”. You can buy it in the form of a greeting card, mug, print, puzzle or business card, along with nearly 600 of my other fractal products, here.

Little Shards of Emotion

When I was around 17 it was decided that I needed my wisdom teeth removed. Unfortunately three of them were so deeply impacted that the dentist had to saw away parts of my jaw to get to them. Needless to say, the healing process was no picnic. But what they didn’t warn me about was the fact that for the next 6 months or so, I would occasionally eject little shards of bone at random moments. It would always bring me up short. “Ptooey! Where did that come from?”

I have noticed that at various times in my life I’ve had the emotional equivalent of that experience. During times of great stress and/or great change, certain issues will rise to the surface and take me by surprise. Fears or insecurities I didn’t know I had. Anger that I thought I’d long since gotten past. Gratitude for things and people I had been taking for granted for ages.

When I start reacting in ways that even I can’t predict, it’s time for me to take a deep breath, step back and really think about the true source of my emotions. Often the current situation is simply reminding me of something from the past. And the older I get, the more past I have to draw upon.

It’s important for me to keep in mind that the question of where something came from doesn’t just apply to little shards of bone. And answering that question when it comes up is the key to understanding, coping, and moving on.

Shards

This is one of my fractals, “Shards” and can be purchased in the form of greeting cards, mugs, and prints along with almost 600 other fractal items here.

You Do the Math

Was math invented or discovered? This question is by no means original with me. (Very few thoughts are.) But this is a topic I find endlessly fascinating.

Think about it. Pythagoras came up with his theorem, Euclid proved that there were an infinite number of primes, and Einstein informed us that E=mc squared, but all of these things are really descriptions of events that had been occurring in the universe all along. One can find countless articles about how Fibonacci numbers and the Golden Ratio appear in nature.

It is often postulated that the best way to communicate with aliens from outer space would be through math. What more evidence does one need that math is considered universal? It isn’t as if different cultures have different mathematical beliefs.

As a fractal artist (my work can be found here), I’m extremely conscious of how often fractals occur naturally. Broccoli, sunflowers, tree branches, blood vessels… they’re everywhere. Math is everywhere.

Is this evidence of a higher power or a grand plan? Or is math simply the scientific language we use to understand the world around us? If so, I probably should have paid more attention in Algebra class.

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[Image credit: hqscreen.com]