Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tabletop Tripod

I was thrilled with the gift MyGeek recently gave me: a table-top tripod for my digital camera. He came up with the idea totally on his own and it’s perfect.

I love my little Nikon Coolpix 2100. There are definitely newer models on the market but I’ve gotten such great photos out of this camera I've no reason to upgrade. (The pictures shown here were taken with a Treo phone camera, not my Nikon, obviously.)

The tripod is the Philips Tabletop Tripod with Ball Head at the unbeatable price of $8!

Completely collapsed, it takes up a space not bigger than 6″x2″x2″. The tripod legs have little rubber feet to keep it from slipping or sliding around. The length of the legs will extend from 6″ to 11″. The camera mounts to a ball joint that allows the camera to be set in an unlimited number of angles, including looking straight down! In this position, I can see in the camera's display screen perfectly to compose my shot.

It’s going to be great for shooting pictures of my artwork (carved rubber, greeting cards, tags, SPS cards, journals, etc.). Having the camera stationary, I can use the timer, which will help keep shadows out of the shot and limit blurring.

It’ll also come in handy on retreats when I have to shoot pictures of 100+ SPS cards. The biggest issue I have is blurry photos. I have to take a lot of pictures and I don’t have much time to do it. Now I can set up a “photo booth” of sorts so that my background and lighting are always set.

Thanks, MyGeek!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Tool of Product- Part 1

Part of our mission at SoulPerSuit is to help unpack some of the creative process. While putting together a SoulPerSuit card is a highly individual act, there are a few tools one can keep on hand to make the process less intimidating. (You've read that before, haven't you?)

One "tool" to bring with you is the understanding of what can be retained via the finished product of a SoulPerSuit card.

I hesitate to urge SoulPerSuit participants to focus on producing cards because I realize the temptation to hinge our self-worth on our productivity. Somehow our society has gotten a skewed view that the amount or quality of things we produce in this world has a direct correlation to our value as a person. The more stuff we have to show for ourselves, the better our chances of not being "voted off the island." And we certainly wouldn't want anyone to decline joining a SoulPerSuit group because they feel that can't make art- whether good art or enough art, or both.

Please purge those notions from your mind, that's not what "producing" in SoulPerSuit is about.

There is a downside to majoring on the process rather than product though. Many times SPS participants get a flash of inspiration or a direct application from the Lord about an area of their life, but things fizzle out because they don't take that thought to the next level. Making a SoulPerSuit card might just fit the bill.

Consider God's commands to the Israelites to build altars and memorials throughout their land. Was his purpose that the Hebrews have a first-rate collection of fine art? No, obviously not. These were piles of dusty stone set beside the roads, at the riverbanks, and under trees. Taking the materials readily at hand, the Israelites built these monuments as a reminder of God's work in their lives. God wanted them to have these visual reminders as places to stand and look and share the story of how God saved them, disciplined them, restored them, loved them. God knew their fickle minds and their faulty memories.

He knows ours too. And that is why we encourage SPS participants to make cards in conjunction with their time in the Word. If the Lord is making an impact on you, don't trust that impact your fickle memory. Don't allow the profound words He's saying to you in a SoulPerSuit study get choked out, blown away or dried up by the distractions of life. Do something to remember them, to keep them before you in a way that brings impact and focus. Do something that you can share with others. Get your ideas out in a SoulPerSuit card.

Here are a few samples of my personal SoulPerSuit card "monuments":

"Wherever the Good Shepherd has me is a green pasture."
- based on Psalm 23
Death, decay and deserts are all known to my Shepherd, I am never out of his hands or his plans
Magazine collage, playing cards, red thread
Hangs by my kitchen sink

The Matrix of Merrymaking
- inspired by the Sermon on the Mount
Reminds me of my need to fast and see with spiritual eyes
Playing card, gold wrapping paper, magazine collage
I use this one as a bookmark

-inspired by the book of Ruth
The loyal love that leads to redemption
Digital photograph of my kids in the backyard
This is the screensaver on my laptop

Next time I'm back, I'll share a few ideas about what SoulPerSuit cards are not.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Does God Care about Beauty?

Does God care about beauty as it relates to our worship environment? Jesus said that those who worship Him will worship in spirit and in truth. (See John 4.) So does that mean we should minimize the importance of external beauty in our corporate worship, opting for cinder-block ugly rather than spend money to create beautiful spaces? We Protestants tend to think so. Yet consider that God gave elaborate instructions for how he wanted the temple to look, inside and out. To give you a snapshot, here's what he said about Aaron's robe:

"And you shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. And there shall be an opening at its top in the middle of it; around its opening there shall be a binding of woven work, as it were the opening of a coat of mail, that it may not be torn. And you shall make on its hem pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet material, all around on its hem, and bells of gold between them all around: a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, all around on the hem of the robe" (Exo. 28:31-34).

I'm not suggesting we should spend millions on our churches while the poor languish. But beauty is a characteristic of the One who created the Cascade Mountains and autumns in Boston. And being made in His image, when we create beauty, we reflect something of Him.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Daniel Rozin mirror art

I'd like to introduce you to the art work of Daniel Rozin. Here is an exert from his bio:
Daniel Rozin is an artist, educator and developer, working in the area of interactive digital art. As an interactive artist Rozin creates installations and sculptures that have the unique ability to change and respond to the presence and point of view of the viewer. In many cases the viewer becomes the contents of the piece and in others the viewer is invited to take an active role in the creation of the piece. Even though computers are often used in Rozin's work, they are seldom visible.

Here's a sample of his work:

He describes this piece as follows:
Peg Mirror comprises 650 circular wooden pieces that are cut on an angle. Casting shadows by twisting and rotating, wooden pegs forming concentric circles surround a small central camera. The mirrored image produced in this work is activated by software authored by Rozin that processes video signals and breaks up imagery geometrically, seemingly pixel by pixel. The silently moving wood components in this piece flicker like jewels or coins in the spotlight, challenging our notions about what constitutes a “digital object”.

When you go to his site you can access Quicktime videos of almost all his pieces. Be sure and check out Shiny Balls Mirror and Video Painting Easel. This is another great example how that technology and art, in my opinion, are one in the same. I admire this guy as an engineer and an artist.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tips n' Tricks: Tracing on Opaques

For a recent SoulPerSuit card I was making, I envisioned a sturdy tree full of branches with roots spreading out to the sources of nourishment and vitality. I also thought it'd be cool if my tree could be metallic to symbolize how a Christian can be a reflective light of wisdom in a dark world.
I decided that metallic ink on black drawing paper was a good combination and began sketching a branchy winter tree on scrap paper.
Turns out I really liked the look and the balance of the branches I'd drawn, but there was a problem- my awesome tree was sketched on white paper, and I really wanted my SoulPerSuit card on black paper.

After noodling on things for a bit, I remembered a great trick my junior high art teacher taught me. It works really well so I wanted to share it with the world.

Taking regular, everyday white chalk, I flipped my tree sketch over to the back side and rubbed it with chalk. Making sure I covered all the drawn lines, I chalked the entire back of my tree.

My black drawing paper awaits.

I gently taped my tree sketch to my black paper, with the tree sketch now right-side-up so the chalked area is touching the black paper.

Using a ball point pen in a different color than my pencil (to make it easy to tell where I've already drawn), I traced all the lines of my tree. When I did this, the ball point pen acted as a stylus to force the chalk off of the back of my sketch and onto the black paper in all the areas I wanted lines.

The beginnings of a tree on black paper.

There are some areas of smudgy chalk, I know. That's typically where my hand rested as I traced with my ball point pen. Never fear, it's very easy to clean up with an eraser.

Once the tree lines were chalked on my black paper, I used metallic silver Windsor and Newton ink to brush over all of my lines. For this particular drawing, I used a variety of brush widths for the tiny ends of the branches all the way down to the fat tree trunk. They were just regular old round watercolor brushes dipped in the ink well and brushed on like paint.

My tree, partially inked.
Can you tell which part has the reflective metallic ink?

Chalk does not resist ink so I could paint right over it, and if there was a part of the tree that I decided not to ink (or thought maybe my chalk lines were too fat), I just worked around that area and erased my chalk marks after the ink was completely dry.

The finished product.

** I used the exact same method on the calligraphied words. My handwriting is not the neatest, so I chose to print my verse in a pretty font, chalk the back of the printout and use a pen as a stylus to get the beautiful font onto my piece of art. Then I carefully inked my lettering, waited for it all to dry, and erased the stray chalk marks.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Some Links

If you're the creative type (and you probably are if you've found our blog), below you'll find some links to artsy sites you should know about. (The blogs from the Arts Pastor and the one that follows I heard about from Erin.)

The Christian Pulse

Diary of an Arts Pastor

Stuff White People Like (just for laughs)

Newsletters from Speaking of Faith

Image Journal

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Announcement: The Next SoulPerSuit Group

The next on-line SoulPerSuit group is going through the book of Colossians, using Sandra Glahn's book, Cappuccino with Colossians.

We'll also be moving our discussion group over to ShoutLife, which has been compared to other social networks like MySpace and FaceBook. It's going to be a big experiment for all of us. We'll see how we like it for our SoulPerSuiting purposes. - a fresh approach to community websites.
If you are interested in joining the next SoulPerSuit group, keep your eyes right here for registration announcements.
The group is open to everyone, but in order to honor all the members of the study (and let them get a word in edge-wise), our group size is limited. So you gotta get in while the gettin's good.

Things you can do to do to gear up for the next SPS group:

- Open a ShoutLife account and familiarize yourself with it's ways.

- Check back here over the month of March for the details about how and when to register yourself for the next SoulPerSuit study group.

Until then... practice your split jumps like Mr. ShoutLife up there. Or not.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Gallery Update

Our beloved Rhonda has been hard at work updating the SPS galleries. She and I did a women's retreat together at the Billy Graham Center in Asheville, North Carolina (for Shandon Baptist Church). I spoke and she taught participants how to do SPS, interacting with the truth they were hearing. Their creations will inspire you: click here.