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  • a happy, ordinary, middle-aged, suburban woman who paints odd pictures, gardens in a straw hat, lives with the love of her life, is owned by one cat and the ghosts of several others, and walks a little funny 'cause she has a fake leg. She started this website because there's more to life than what we lose, and we need to let each other know what's possible, even if it's only a happy, ordinary life.

November 2011

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Hmm, pretty! ;) No, I'll play: the first photo has more sense of translucence (not sure I'm actually seeing the translucence of the petals, but I feel like I might be), which is a nice complicating element; the first photo also has that twist of a darker pink, maybe the remnants of an older blossom? More depth from that, in both color and maybe a 'temporal' depth... Also, the green leaves on the second one are sharper, larger, and their clean edges and shiny surfaces might add to the way the second one is a "burst"?

Fun! thanks!


Interesting. I hadn't even considered how the leaves play a part, but I can definitely see what you describe.

Yes, that twist you mentioned is an older flower. The new ones, when there are new ones, are also dark, but tight and bright like lipsticks popping out of green containers. And yes, I think that does add a little insinuation of time into the picture, working the same way as a true haiku, which is inherently more striking than just any seventeen-syllable string of words because it has that same reference to time and mortality built in.

Thanks for playing!

The Goldfish

I hate to be all logical baout this, but I think this is Pythagorus at work...

Your focal point in the first picture (centre of the flower) is almost exactly a third in from the right and a third down. That rectangle has a ratio of about 1:1.6 (roughly phi).

The right-angled triangle whose hypotenuse would connect the centre of that flower with the stamens of the flower to its left would have sides of a similar ratio 1:1.6.

And indeed, you can join up that right-hand stamen with the top side and you get yet another rectangle which is approximate 1:1.6.

These proportions (which repeat themselves in a smaller scale on the flowers and leaves because this proportion is abundant in nature; it is connected with the Fibonacci sequence and all that jazz) combined with softer light, an increase in contrast and therefore variation in colour...

Your second picture is just a picture of a pretty thing; it's composition is nothing special. So it's not a fluke the first one is beautiful; you made it that way.

But it is a very beautiful picture all the same. :-)


Ha! That's hilarious. Allow me to explain.

Whenever anybody starts talking to me about Fibonacci or the Golden Ratio or Pythagoras, I tend to stick my fingers in my ears and sing "LA LA LA." Why? Because (a) I was traumatized by geometry at an early age, and (b) whereas classical and Renaissance painters strove to employ this ratio for deliberate appeal, I strive not to. I want my eye and my instincts to be informed by experience, but also to stay spontaneous.

BUT. Look, I asked. I invited analysis. I should've known that Pythagoras and Fibonacci would come swarming in as soon as I opened *that* door. I've been so busy ignoring them all these years, though, that I completely forgot their existence.


I'm glad you enjoyed the photo(s), for whatever reason. (And now I desperately want to crop that second one to see if I can make it more emotional.)


I like both photos but the first one 'sings' whereas the second is just pretty. The singing is an elusive quality that might be part mathematical (as goldfish alluded to) but might also be a combination of several elements: the light right, the contrasting colors, the play of textures, the right framing with other elements (leaves and the photo frame itself).

The other day I was trying to describe myself as a photographer. I was tempted to say that I'm a nature photographer, then I thought more about it and said that I'm a flower photographer. But then I thought about the little critters that I shoot and added them into the description. But then I abandoned all of the specifics and said my photos depict the intimacies of the garden. I like to think that they have an emotional quality that's bigger than the images that they portray. I think your photos have that emotional quality, too. Sometimes I see silence in your photos, and peace and joy. The overarching sentiment seems to be that of discovery. Perhaps that's not what you've intended, but that's what I feel from them.


The second one is just 'pretty flower', but the first makes me feel wistful.

I think it's the fact that the flower just has those tiny little bits of golden sunlight on it that suggests sunset, or a breeze arranging some leaves just so. Either way, something fleeting. The light won't ever be exactly in that place again, the flowers are at a brief peak of beauty, maybe the perfect summer day is ending.

I like the Goldfish's ideas too. I guess science and emotion have to work together for something like this.


Funny you should mention this. I, too, have wondered why some of my landscape/miscellaneous greenery photos make me feel soemthing and others are just "pretty". You mentioning the lack of perfection made me think further and I wonder if it's that very lack of perfection which contributes to the emotional impact?

Specifically regarding your photos, I think the dimness, the shade contributes to the sense of calm comfort. Or maybe it's that the shade and the different elements (the darker pink, the other cluster of flowers behind it) makes you slow down, even if just for another second or 2, to see all the aspects of the picture.

Food for thought. Thanks.


Jana, I love your description of yourself as a photographer who captures "the intimacies of the garden." Very nice, I think, and apt.

I also love that you see discovery in my photographs. Thank you for telling me that. You know how awhile back you said you were working on the question of how to live without fear and asked your guests what big questions they were mulling over? Well, I couldn't answer, because here at the Sara Arts home studio, it's just all questions all the time! Discovery is kind of the point, you know, as well as pleasure. I'm gratified when I can share both.

Which brings me to Miss Prism. And my, isn't it lovely to see you here! You must be feeling better. I'm so glad. I'm also tickled to see you here because you are the one who taught me the "la la la" thing -- in the very context of ignoring your science brain! ha! -- and every time I use it, I think of you. I even thought of you when I typed it up above.

I come from a background of both science and art, and one of the many questions I ponder is the precise difference between them. We are both observing closely. We are both interested in taking things apart and putting them back together again, recording what we see, trying to see it differently, and recombining everything in various ways. We are both very concerned about Truth & Beauty, and even if when we don't start out that way, we end up there.

See? Every time I try to make a distinction, it falls apart. But there is a difference -- right? Between science and art? Isn't there? But what is it?

Ha -- more pop quizzing. Sorry.

Lene, agreed about "imperfection." That curiosity -- okay, it's really another obsession, honestly -- about when imperfection might possibly be perfect after all is the reason I put "too" in quotes. I wasn't trying to be precious. I was sort of expressing a chronic argument my brain has in my eye with my heart. (Not as painful as it sounds, as I'm sure you understand.) How can there be too much or too little light if the result works? Except where pure decorativeness is the single goal, do we only know something's working because it makes us feel something besides "Mmm, pretty"?

I think maybe we do.

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