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Sleeping Bear Dunes 2012

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I like to think of this past adventure as being a trip of many firsts… In 2012 I learned about Sleeping Bear Dunes from one of my friends at college. When I heard it was located in my home state, Michigan, I knew it was a spot I’d have to check out and planned the trip during my Summer break. I was originally going to volunteer at the national park all summer then some things didn’t turn out, but in the end I think I got what I was really looking for. Though my time there became a 5 day vacation instead, I am really glad I went. Its amazing what a few days by myself did for my mind, body and soul.

 

The first day I was there I set up my camp, locked it, and went out to paint.  My painting didn’t turn out well but I still had fun on my first acrylic Plein-Air project.

When I got back to my site I realized that I was alone and had no one else to keep me from wandering within my mind. I have always struggled with being alone, but this time I really felt it. I decided I’d turn in before dark to avoid my fears when my neighbor, a woman around my mother’s age, called out and invited me over. I was really happy to have someone to interact with that night.

We ended up talking by the campfire, all night, about life and random things that we were going through at the time. To test our courage, we went out to the lake in the middle of the night and listened to the waves and met a couple that were looking at the stars through the app on their phone, which we thought was so cool. The night ended with us exchanging names and numbers and wishing each other a good night’s sleep.  The following morning she took off for more adventures, but to this day we are still Facebook friends 😉. Thanks again Stephanie! I’m really grateful she spoke to me that night. Meeting her made me feel stronger about continuing my stay.

The following morning I went to explore the Peirce Stocking Scenic Drive…

 

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I stopped at the first site by the bridge and wrote down a few of my thoughts about light and shadow. Then I went to see Glen Lake from the lookout point.

 

I think I found my love of silhouettes here…

I started to get hungry so I stopped off at the picnic area next.

This was my first experience with “the kissing tree” that I described in the previous post of my recent trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes.

I don’t know if the carvings were there before or after the joined growth, but I still have deep reflections about this tree. Out of all of the attractions at the scenic drive I think this lesser known spot is probably my favorite… I just hope no one else will continue to carve into it.

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I walked around the picnic area and saw these daisies. When I took their picture from above I couldn’t capture their brilliance so I thought I’d try something new and shoot them from below… again this has since sparked my love of taking photography “From Below.” A simple act of play and wonder brings forth new perspectives ❤ !

Just around the corner of the picnic area was the dune lookout.

I unknowingly followed a trail a little ways away.

It led to this spot, another perfect view of Glen Lake and there was even a bench shaded by the trees.

I had passed the “Dune Climb” on my way to the Scenic drive, but was pleasantly surprised that the trail I followed led to the top of the dune. I stayed there for awhile to watch families as they reached the top and felt slightly ashamed for taking a much easier route, lol. But hey, that meant I didn’t have to struggle climbing it later! lol. 

Around this time, my camera began to turn off because the batteries were running low. I managed to take a few more pictures by tricking my camera (by swapping the double AAs).

Pressing on I came upon the Lake Michigan overlook. This was my favorite actual site! 

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This spot was crowded with people, but I managed to take pictures around them. I really started to notice my loneliness creeping back at this point. Before the last site I stopped and wrote in my art journal.

 

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I think I hit a breakthrough with myself here and continued later, though I may have gotten a bit lost in my thoughts lol:

 

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I was starting to look at my struggles and find a way to work through them.

 

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The last stop was the North Bar Lake lookout. After seeing it from above, I went there the following day and found something interesting:

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When I was walking along the beach, I ran into this piece of driftwood! At first I thought someone had carved it and left it for people to find, but from any other direction it looked like a normal piece of driftwood. This strangely gave me the feeling that nature was guiding or watching over me while I was there.

The rest of my trip then became more about observing and studying the elements of nature.

 

I had a fire every night and became intrigued by the flow of fire.

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Every time I approached the beach, I noticed different patterns…

I even saw my first few stone hearts here.

dscf8984.jpgAnd left my first nature message for someone to find… I should have know the waves would take it lol, but this was when I learned its okay to let my creations go. Plus I turned it around as the lake saying “thank you, I accept your love!” lol.

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I visited lake Michigan many times, I went to: the Glen Haven historical village(top left), North bar lake(top right and middle), and by D.H. Day campground(where I was staying).

 

DSCF8869I made it a habit to get up for every Sunrise and be present for the sunsets.

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Oh and I think I found my love of photographing shadows here too!

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My trip came to a quick end on the fifth day when the weather started to look bad and I wasn’t prepared for stormy weather. I learned a lot about myself during those few days and of the importance of silent moments with nature. Though I had no idea what I was doing throughout the trip, deep down I think… maybe I did. Maybe this trip wasn’t about being a part of something like volunteering. Maybe a part of me knew that this “time” was about returning to myself.

I hope you enjoyed the post this week, it was a lot of fun to look back and write about this experience. It was a little scary to share my inner thoughts and parts of my journal but I’m glad I did! Have a wonderful week, and see you next Thursday!

 

 

 

Some Changes

I’ve been working on adding a professional Portfolio to the main page of unfoldingtheheart.com. It will be done by next Friday, the 18th, by 5pm.

That way people can go through my art, contact me for commissions or to purchase my previous art. These are a few of the buttons I’ll have to go into other pages. Which ones do you like or could use improvement? I haven’t done this type of website work before so anything helps, lol! Have a wonderful day and see you all soon, with a new look!

 

This will be similar to the main page. I have a few things to fix or redo.

 

This is just a base of the Art portfolio. These buttons will lead to the actual work.

 

 

Scattered but Working

This week has been somewhat productive. I kind of worked on a few different things instead of focusing on just the nature art.

 


 

I dabbled with my base drawing after a walk inspired me to create this gal.
 

 

And I tested different looks for the piece I’ll be donating to my Art Centers upcoming fundraiser. I’m leaning more towards the black spray painted frame and black outlines around the pictures. I think it looks cleaner and makes the pictures stick out more.

 


 

And lastly I played around with how I’d like the blog to be set up and what my logo will be for Unfolding the Heart. All I have to do next is try out both of these concepts on the computer.
 
I think I’m onto a good start. I’m gonna take a break from this Saturday’s post but will be back next Thursday as usual. See ya next week!

 
 

Art Within Heart

Today I wanted to write a post about my relationship with art and a few of the happy shifts that I’ve started. Recently I confronted a part of myself that hinders my art and working towards refining my skills. This part likes to bully my artistic self. In the book “the Artists Way” Julia calls it her Censor, and mine always brings up the thoughts: “I can’t create art if I don’t have enough money, I can’t make money off of Art, or at least not enough to make a living.”

 

The Problem

This type of thinking has always crippled me from doing most of the creative ideas that I have or I want do. “Because, why put energy into something that won’t give a good enough return back….but if I just had enough money I could do my art…”. Something deep down within me wishes that I would stop believing in these old and damaging lies.

Shifting Perspectives

So, a few days ago I decided to try and change. I got into my one of my art journals and started to write. The picture above was pretty in my book but I really wanted to emphasize the feeling of the phrase so I got even more creative and popped it into PicsArt ^_^.

I stumbled upon an interesting thought in the one below and played around with the thought of the word art being in heart.

After writing out affirmations, I also wanted to change my thoughts about art not creating prosperity. I went through a record book and added up all the art pieces that family, friends, and strangers have bought over the years and realized I have made more than I previously thought. Not necessarily enough to pay monthly bills but, if I really put forth effort to develop the forms I love most, it doesn’t seem as far away now. The last thing I wrote in my art journal is what sparked the idea of writing this post. “My heart defines my art.” If I continue to look at art in a better light, the future could be endless…. and this thought is enough for me to make my next push back into myself 😉 .

 

See you next Thursday! ❤ ~ Mandi

High Tides Begin to Recede


 

I’ve been working on this post for about a month, just like in the post Ebbs and Flows I wanted to share a deeper side of my emotional heart once again. I’ve noticed life is full of a wide diversity of emotions, and unless all are seen as a whole, its hard to pull back from the less talked about emotions of loss and emotional weight. Since the beginning of this year I have experienced both many times and often find that working on the blog during these times was too difficult. Though it has been quite rough, I feel a growth of understanding and gratefulness of everything emerging.

 

 

Earlier in the year I lost my grandmother, from my father’s side, to cancer. She left on the first day of Spring and something about that made her passing easier in a way. It was quick and sudden for our whole family. We had experienced the affects of cancer before, but it’s just as painful if not more to have to again. She was a matriarch to our family and all of us looked up to her independent and lovingly stern spirit. My mother always saw her as “mom,” and thought if back pain could be diagnosed into cancer then maybe she should get her pains checked out as well.

 

 

 Around the time of my nature walk , in April, we were waiting on the news from her doctor. A few weeks later the large mass in her chest was diagnosed as cancer. I was devastated. Cancer was back in the family again and this time in my best friend and mentor, my mother.

 

 

We did what we could to have fun to keep it off our minds, before and after her treatments. Its been rough but we’ve given it our best. Last month tension started to ease up when the Doctor said the mass had almost become non-existent. Today we got the great news, my mother is in remission! This endeavor is not over but now we are able to take a deep breath and relax. During times like these you really notice the importance of family, love and understanding. I don’t know what I would have done without my family and friends. Now that the emotional tides are receding I will appreciate each day even more than I did before. ❤ 

 

A Sudden Urge to Expose

I’m Ready…

This morning I happened to see a friend(on Facebook) was applying for the “Fall into the Arts” in our home town. For about 5 years now I have wanted to share my art, but haven’t felt ready or good enough to. Today the timing feels right so I’m putting myself out there. Only thing is now I don’t know where to start!

 

My confusion starts with what medium and theme should I choose? I have tons of Nature, Heart Photography, and Digital Anime to pick from. Could I group these all together? I think I might. If I say “Mixed Digital Photography” as a medium and as a theme I think “Love of Nature” fit well. This would be the first time I have exposed my art at an event and I’m kind of nervous. Does anyone have any suggestions or tips? What do you think?

 

Here are a few types I’d like to enter:

 

Nature Art Hearts

Nature’s Hearts

Nature Photography

Digital Anime

Small Acts to the Whole

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It’s been awhile since I’ve written more than a few sentences and dived into my feelings about life, but the movie “I Am” by Tom Shadyac just had me running to my journal with ideas and I had to share. I’ve been moved by this movie before, this time though, it sparked the question within me “What can I do to give back to the world?”

 

My first response was “I would like to show people that love still exists in this world and that it resides within us.” My second answer was “I would also like to show that we are all one with each other, the plants, the animals and the Earth.

 

I know these are some really big ideas I wish to fulfill. If I think smaller though I narrowed it down to, I’d like to create video clips or art to “show” these feelings. This is where I want to stop and think, “but I don’t have the resources or time to do this. I don’t even have a job that reflects what I want to accomplish. Where would I even start?” lol and now I feel stuck again… I just need to take small steps towards this dream. Maybe it’s the millennial in me that wants to save the world, but hey if I can make one small act to change how someone views themself with others and the environment, I will at least try.

 

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What would you like to give to the world? What would be your small acts?