By Rachelle Moore
Do you think the world is too much with us? William Wordsworth thought so at the beginning of the 19th century when he was lamenting the growth of materialism and the loss of the appreciation for nature. What would he think about this post industrial world? Globalization. Digitization. Not only do we have our own personal pain and trials by fire, we can be entertained by the pain and victimization of others.
Does the material world seem out of control, and personal mid-life crises seem to be on the rise? We know the term “mid-life” is fraught with misconceptions. We have crises at every age level.
So, is the material world too much with you? If you answer YES – Good! Are you thinking about a moderate life crisis? If, YES – Good! You are ready for the life altering realm of art and an appreciation or greater appreciation for the world of nature. Let’s give Wordsworth some support here.
Art is therapeutic for just about everything. I became my own therapist through art and I didn’t charge myself by the hour. During a dark period of my life, I decided I needed to build up my ego by conquering one of my major fears:swimming in water over my head or where I can’t see the bottom. So I learned how to scuba dive (I’m now certified at the rescue diver level.) Yes this is drastic, but drastic is what’s needed. Scuba diving enlarged my world – reefs, exotic fishes, Caribbean islands, gorgeous men in skin tight wet suits. Most important for me was that diving led to a new hobby – photography. My life crisis persona became that of an artist. To an artist, the world can never be too much with us. Too many of us, the world is a dynamic wonderland.
If scuba diving is too extreme, try snorkeling with a cheap underwater camera. You won’t even notice that the backs of your legs will look like the inside of a can of Hunt’s tomato sauce. A few photos will open up a keen interest in the underwater ecosystem. I felt exhilarated when I captured the image of a graceful manta ray and a close up of a huge turtle with little yellow fishes in the background. Included here is an image (My Sweet Lord) of the statue of Christ in John Pennekamp Park in Key Largo, Florida. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate this stunning statue turned reef.
After numerous underwater pictures, I got a cheap digital land camera and looked to the sky for my next conquest. Many of us are so busy with our daily life responsibilities that we only notice the sky on rare occasions. Here is an image (Sunset) of a sunset at the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. I continued to take pictures and explore new worlds with a camera. Even when I discarded the duds (plenty of those) I was amazed at what I had learned.
One day at work (now we all know the phrase “one day” signals a major change in our lives) a colleague asked me to learn Adobe Photoshop so I could do more work on my organization’s Web site. After explaining the basics of imaging software and Photoshop in particular, my response was, “You mean it’s a toy?”
I immediately saw a new creative opportunity for my photography. Is it a challenge? Yes, but not impossible to learn on your own. My self help art therapy sessions went into high gear. My first thrill was loading my images into the camera and retrieving them in Photoshop without pulling my hair out or freezing my hard drive. My second thrill was manipulating and changing the images into something else entirely. If you want new challenges in your life as a therapeutic measure try photography.
When I moved to Hawaii on retirement, I bought a very expensive digital camera with a telephoto and macro lenses as a gift to myself. One day (here I go again with the “one day” business) my neighbor saw my framed photos and invited me to enter the next village art show. When I stopped laughing at myself for thinking that someone was calling me an artist, I accepted.
On the day of the show, when people started to arrive and browse the collections, I felt like I did when I went to 100 feet during a dive in the Caymans.Was I going to get out this alive? Well, of all things, one of my Photoshop manipulations (Ethnicity) sold. One of the more accomplished artists at the show came over to me and said, “Congratulations, you are now a professional artist.”
No psychologist could have done what this experience has done for me. Art is therapeutic because it provides new worlds to explore, conquer, and appreciate. You can discover and hone skills you never thought you had.
The artist who congratulated me at the show is now my instructor. I was so inspired by her watercolors, I thought I would try to learn something new again. I’m now taking lessons in drawing and watercolor painting. I probably will never include my primitive watercolors in an art show, but that’s not the point. The point is I’m drawing and painting, and again seeing the world from a totally new perspective.
Ethnicity –this is a combination of 4 pictures in the form of a collage, the background is the bark of a tree, the figures are some items I have around the house. The background was manipulated in the gradient tool, and the colors were significantly sharpened.
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White Vase – the only thing real here are the flowers, I constructed the vase by grading a new file with black and white colors, then distorted the pixels until a bowl was formed, then I inserted the images of the flowers.
Ring Of Fire – the contrast was adjusted to make the flames brighter; the blurred effect was caused by using the sport action mode on the camera.
Reflecting Palms - I lightened the image to show the palm leaves which are underwater.
Rachelle Moore is a media and culture enthusiast presently living on the Big Island of Hawaii. She taught media and culture courses during her 38 years at Binghamton University where she served as a research librarian, instructor and faculty master for Mountainview residential college. Moore graduated from Le Moyen College and earned graduated degrees in Library Science and Anthropology from Syracuse University and Binghamton University respectively. The Endicott, New York native’s research interests still include the impact of digital media on culture and human development. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her two children and three grandchildren, travel, photography, scuba diving, and watercolor painting.