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When Words are Hard to Find

March 21st, 2016

When Words are Hard to Find

Several times during life we meet people who have lost someone they love. Their pain is on their outside and on their faces, and we want to say some words of comfort. It's hard to know what to say in situations like these. We can feel their pain and loss, but the words are missing. What do you do then?

CONDOLENCES!
A woman I know refuses to take the word in her mouth. "It's too cold and impersonal," she says. "When I meet someone who has lost a dear one I give them a hug and ask how they are," she continues.

When I think about it I somewhat agree that it is perhaps a little inadequate. We wish to say more, and we want to say the right words and express genuine compassion. With a short "condolences" you have done just that, and it's better than nothing, but sometimes it can feel a bit insensitive and neutral. I like the sound of "I'm so sorry for your loss” a lot better. However, in spite of this sentence being milder and more personal, even these words get stuck in the throat.

WHAT EXACTLY DOES THE WORD "CONDOLENCES" MEAN?
Condolences comes from the Late Latin word condole which means "to feel severe pain, have pain or suffer together." It means that we share the pain, and we use it to show compassion and empathy for the bereaved in the grief and loss.

A HANDSHAKE AND A HUG
A handshake and a hug say as much, and there are no "correct" words that can take away the pain. Not many words can be completely wrong either. What is important is to show the person in grief that you are there if he or she should ever need you. Grief has to be dealt with in their own way over a short or long time. Warm thoughts expressed with a hug or a condolence card with pre-printed text is a nice way to show compassion.

OTHER WAYS OF SHOWING SYMPATHY
Here are some more suggestions for what to say or to write on a pretty card:

- Our deepest sympathy.
- We want you to know that our thoughts are with you.
- Compassion and concern in this difficult time.
- Words are insufficient, but we are thinking of you.
- Thinking of you!
- We share the sorrow with you.
- Our thoughts are with you.
- We send you warm thoughts
- Our thoughts are with you. May you find comfort and strength in the good memories.
- We are with you in your grief.
- We mourn with you.

Relaxing Art should be Mandatory in All Institutions

March 7th, 2016

Relaxing Art should be Mandatory in All Institutions

When you visit someone at the hospital or go to your dentist’s or doctor’s appointment do you ever notice what’s on their walls? Is it beautiful art that you can escape into or is it a collection of human body charts? Are the walls adorned by the doctor’s list of hourly fees?

Most of the waiting rooms I have visited have ugly abstracts, often brown or grey ink splatters that are disturbing rather than decorative. If they actually have something pretty on the walls it’s usually from IKEA, and you soon get bored as you have seen it many places before.

I believe art in hospitals and institutions as well as in waiting rooms should be relaxing or cheerful and energizing. Something with positive energy! Most of us are a little nervous in such settings and would appreciate a chance to escape for a moment. Art lets us do just that.

Art as therapy is a great way of getting information from a patient about his or her personality and experiences, but I’m not so sure that mental institutions should hang art made by the patients on the walls. Although the act of painting has a positive effect on the patient himself, the result may not always work that way as art on the wall for other admitted patients to see. It can actually be perceived as very disturbing, especially if the colors and other elements in the image are of a stressful character. One patient’s hallucinations painted on canvas might not be good medicine for other psychiatric patients.

Blue and green tones are proved to be calming, and images of water are most likely to be appreciated. Someone told me that patients in a mental institution destroyed all the images on the walls except those of water. In a nursing home the sound of running water kept the residents from trying to escape. Imagine how a combination of the sound of water along with images of water would work!

In my opinion calming and relaxing art should be mandatory in all hospitals, institutions and waiting rooms as well as in prisons. And I’m sure the employees would appreciate and benefit from some energizing art in their own areas. Beautiful art should be available to everyone, and it doesn’t have to cost millions. Buy from the living artists! The dead ones don’t need the money!


This post has also been published on my blog on Wikinut.

How to Cope with Creative Block

January 18th, 2016

How to Cope with Creative Block

I’m sure most of you have experienced it. You sit and stare at the screen, but nothing happens. Your fingers are not moving, and neither is your mind. It feels empty.

Writer’s block, or creator’s block as I would like to call it, happens to every creative person. But what is actually happening? Are you really out of ideas or is it something else?

When it comes to my photography, I never run out of ideas. There are too many things to shoot and too many great artists to get inspiration from. I also have a notebook where I write down ideas as they occur in my head. What I sometimes lack is motivation and guts to get started on a new project.

So how do you cope? In my mind there are only two options: Do something totally different for a while or start working on the project!

When you leave your project alone for a moment at least you get something else done. Having other chores on your mind might even be the reason for your block! Do some exercise or housework or take a walk, get out of the house or wash the car! Staring at the screen won’t get you anywhere, and is a total waste of time! You’ll just end up surfing the Internet, checking your friends’ Facebook status and waste even more time.

If you choose to work on your project don’t worry too much about the result. Just scribble down words, paint circles or whatever your mind leads you to. This will keep your energy and creativity flowing. Also give yourself some credit for trying! The final result may not be what you planned and expected, but it is totally yours! It reflects YOU, and your efforts may have lead you to do something much better.

Cheers to creativity!

How to Write a Newsletter

January 13th, 2016

How to Write a Newsletter

Staring at the screen……………

Writing the headline for a newsletter.

Pondering: Memories, in cabinets, on the wall

Must have some music – easier to write with music.

Playlist – random order – KC &The Sunshine Band – Shake your booty

One of the best disco bands – doing dance moves.

Mouse settings are wrong – adjusted – must figure out why it happens every time I restart the laptop.

Time wasted.

Writing a couple of sentences.

Dance moves to Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”

Oh, a new email alert!

Opened it – “Win a trip to New York” – Yeah, right!

Dance moves to Train’s – “Drive By”

Studying the living room – Need to wipe off the table and rearrange the pillows on the couch.

Ben Howard – “The Wolves”

Staring at the screen.

Concentrating hard.

Writing vividly for 5 minutes.

Alison Moyet – “Invisible” – Great memories to that song! Used to work at a disco.

Thinking hard again.

Daughtry – “Life After You”
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Robin Thicke – “Blurred Lines” (absolutely) –

Writing, writing, and………………………DONE!


Does this ever happen to you?

2016 - What do you want?

January 7th, 2016

2016 - What do you want?

The holidays are over and a new year has just begun. The transition from one year to another is often the time when we reflect on the past year and make plans and set goals for the coming year.

What went well last year? What did not go well, and what would I change? Did I reach any of my goals? Did I manage to stick to my plan?

What went well
- I increased my sales of photographic art. I’m still far from being able to make a living from selling my photos, but at least I sold more last year than the year before.
- I went far beyond my comfort zone by agreeing to appear on a local TV channel.
- I was invited to participate in exhibitions in New York, Miami and Hamburg. I could not afford to attend, but it's nice to be invited, and perhaps one day .......

What did not go well
- There has been much illness among family and friends. Cancer, MS, and other diseases have hit people at a very young age. Some are now gone, while others continue their struggle. I know there was nothing I could have done, but these things have caused some thoughts about my own health. I have become more thankful that I am healthy and will try to live as healthy as possible ahead. There are no guarantees, but why gamble with your health? It is the most important instrument we have!

What I would change
- I should ask for more help and stop believing that I'm a super woman and can do everything myself. I should also try new methods to reach out to the right audience with my images, because I will never give up the dream of making a living from selling my artworks! NEVER!
- I want to spend more time with friends.
- Travel more! This is an annual new year’s resolution of mine along with having more fun than I did the previous year. I want to see some new places every year, shoot more and experience more.

My goals in 2016
- E-book
- Creative fun (blog)
- More blogging
- More pictures
- Try to make time for a new hobby
- Learn something new

Will I manage to do all this? Probably not, but at least I have the the spirit, and that’s a beginning. I think it's important to set some goals and get started without having to feel like a loser if you fail. You are allowed to try again!

Happy New Year! Just do the best you can! And remember; You can’t fail if you don’t give up!

Ten Reasons not to Send Christmas Cards ....and one reason to do it.

November 8th, 2015

Ten Reasons not to Send Christmas Cards ....and one reason to do it.

An important part of the Christmas celebration is sending and receiving Christmas cards. At least it used to be. Beautiful cards with dreamy images of how the Christmas spirit should be dropped into our mailboxes. Images that conveyed a peaceful and pleasant atmosphere. The cards somewhat belonged with the Christmas decorations in our homes, on the mantelpiece, on a string, on a desk or on top of the TV.

Nowadays it doesn’t seem so important. A lot of people can’t be bothered to go out and get the cards, put a stamp on them and mail it. So here are 10 reasons not to send them:

1) It’s too expensive. The cards are expensive and stamps are expensive.

2) It takes too much of your valuable time.

3) You’re into green thinking and want to save the planet. No paper, no trash, and save the trees!

4) Cell phone greetings are so convenient.

5) A real card can get lost in the mail.

6) You’re fed up with the crass commercialism of Christmas and want to cut down on gifts, so you might as well cut down on greeting cards too.

7) Everyone’s on Facebook, so why not just post your Christmas greetings there?
Everyone else does it.

8) For one of the above mentioned reasons, you didn’t get one last year.

9) The stuff you did this year and wanted to share with your friends and family has already been posted on Facebook.

10) Christmas cards are old fashioned.

REALLY?

There is only one reason for actually buying and sending a Christmas card:

YOU DO IT BECAUSE YOU CARE!!

You put some love in an envelope and send it to the people you haven’t seen in while and the people you care about. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Love and traditions?

Get the cards, (you can buy them online so don’t even have to go outside) make a cup of tea and make this a relaxing treat for yourself. Enjoy it and remember how you feel when you open an envelope filled with Christmas joy!

What the Hell is She Doing?

October 26th, 2015

What the Hell is She Doing?

I’m in this networking group of entrepreneurs who challenge and help each other succeed in different business areas. Last week I was challenged to focus on just one subject in my photos instead of running around and shooting everything I see as I normally do. I decided to make a series on my rainbow colored umbrella. I love the colors and thought it would be fun to experiment a little. As some of you may have noticed I already have gallery here http://randi-grace-nilsberg.artistwebsites.com/art/all/all/all/umbrella+series with the first umbrella images I took.

Well, today I took the challenge a little bit further and went to the seaside to shoot by the ocean. I started taking a couple of photos of the umbrella in the coarse sand on the beach. A small boat with two men drove by. Since sound carries very well over calm water I could hear every word they were saying: “What the hell is she doing? Taking pictures of an UMBRELLA?” Right then I laughed inside, but now I wonder what they would have said if they had returned two minutes later.

I had this perfect image in my head of the umbrella floating upside down on the water. From thought to action I flipped the umbrella upside down and leaned out to let it into the water. The ripples from the boat were helpful and pushed the umbrella towards the shoreline and me. I ran back to the camera which was ready on the tripod and got my shots.

THEN, for no reason at all the underwater currents changed direction and pushed the umbrella further and further away from me. I tried to throw rocks into the water to make the little waves bring the umbrella back, but that was a fruitless move. The umbrella was picking up speed and getting out of reach from where I was standing safe and dry on the beach. It all happened so fast that instead of thinking I acted and just walked out into the cold water and grabbed it. It’s late October, and normal people don’t get in the water in October. Not in Norway! So glad the two men in the boat didn’t return at that awkward moment when I was in water to my hips rescuing an umbrella worth 5 dollars!

At least I do what it takes to get that perfect shot! Just saying…….

Have a good one, all of you!

Randi-Swims-With-Umbrellas

My First Sale

September 4th, 2013

My First Sale

A Little Sunshine Story

I love Twitter! I used to love Facebook until I realized it was more of an arena for bragging! You know, I bought a new car, my husband brought me roses, we’re going on a vacation to Hawaii and that sort of stuff. Not what you want to read when you’re on the downhill yourself.
I’ve met so many new and great people on Twitter, people who support each other’s interests and retweet one another to help promote music, art or business.

I try to sell my art here on FAA/PIXELS, and a few days ago I had my very first sale thanks to Twitter, or rather thanks to the wonderful people out there.

One of my followers bought a piece of my art to give to another follower of mine just to show both of us her support. A writer in USA bought a Norwegian photographer’s art and gave to a composer in Canada! How wonderful is that! Twitter connected three creative persons living in three different countries! Being in the middle of this interaction truly makes me happy and the world a little smaller. 

Art for Charity

July 30th, 2013

Art for Charity

I support charity! At least sometimes, when I believe in the cause. When my kids were in junior high I was in front to raise money for school trips to Germany and Poland to see the concentration camps Auschwitz, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrück. I think it’s important for young people to learn something about the hard facts of our history, especially for those living in a free country like Norway.

The importance of diving into these terrifying whispers from the past, was confirmed when I saw how these teenagers learned to stick together and care for each other during the trip. Feedback from parents telling me how their kids changed from being careless and spoilt to individuals taking responsibility and caring for others added to my conviction.

In addition to numerous hours of voluntary work like stocktaking in grocery stores, selling lottery tickets, moving furniture, picking up garbage along the roads, freezing our butts off while selling waffles outside the shopping mall in the winter etc, etc I had greeting cards made from some of my photos. I sold them to the students at a price close to self-cost, and the kids sold them with a profit.

The good thing for me was that people soon learned that having a bunch of cards at hand was not only good for charity but also very convenient for themselves when they “suddenly” remembered an upcoming birthday or other event. I bet some of you still go to the store on your way to the party just to pick up a card and then write the message in the car. I have done exactly that so many times!

Many parents and customers came back for more cards when the fund raising period was over. Good for them and good for me!

I have also given away small framed prints for school lotteries. Another idea is to encourage clubs and schools to buy affordable art for charity auctions or even give away a print or two. If the print is a piece from a series, even better! This might trigger the winner to buy another piece from you.

It’s all about promotion. Sometimes you have to pay to get paid!

A Photographers Dilemma

April 29th, 2013

A Photographers Dilemma

I love to travel! What better way of developing the creative eye is there? New places, different people, different landscapes and inspiration everywhere you look. I see only one problem: I get to the right places, but not at the right time!

I go to Central Park, NY in the summer when I actually have an image in my head with one of the beautiful benches covered in snow. I go to Niagara Falls in the summer and go home with an untaken photo of the falls in the winter.

I’ve seen stunning photos of West Virginia fall foliage, but went there myself when everything was green. Nothing wrong with West Virginia in the summer, the beauty can take your breath away at any time of the year, but I want to do MY thing with the autumn colors!

I’ve seen the Cloud Gate Monument in Chicago on a bright sunny day, and I got my photos. Now I keep wondering what it would look like in the rain!

Grand Canyon is a chapter of its own. I was in awe long before I got out of the car. The Skywalk was incredible. Overlooking the Grand Canyon is the most amazing thing I’ve ever done, but still………..

I want more! I want to see the sun rise and set. I want to be there when the colors are showing off at their best. And where the heck is Antelope Canyon??

As a tourist you may be happy when you can say that you’ve been there. You have proof from a snapshot of yourself with the landmark or famous building in the background.

Traveling as a photographer’s is slightly different; There’s no “been there, done that” if you’re a photographer. You have to BE THERE AND DO THAT” for a long time to be completely satisfied.

Seeing beauty just gives you an appetite for more. You wish to go back to complete what your creative mind demands of you, and that’s the photographer’s dilemma!

Is it ok for other people to steal your ideas?

April 6th, 2013

Is it ok for other people to steal your ideas?

Are you offended if you see a copy of your own idea? Is it ok for other people to steal your ideas?

Of course it is! If you’re guilty of inspiring others you have it coming, and you should be proud that someone else values your work so much it’s worth living up to. Copying other artists’ work has been done for ages. Painters have always done it. Musicians do it all the time. But, they will never become the original. Many guitar players can play the guitar just as good as Jimi Hendrix, but nobody plays Jimi Hendrix like Jimi Hendrix!

Your work is always you work, but if someone adds something good to it, you can learn from it, and if they make your idea look bad, you’re better than them.

Someone once copied a wedding photo I had taken, fixed it, signed it and gave it to the bride and groom as a present. At first I thought boy, has he got the nerve! Putting his name on MY photo?! Then after a closer look at the image I thought: Thank goodness he put his name on it. Coz there’s no way I would want my name on that horrible excuse of a wedding picture. He had totally destroyed it, softening the edges and cropping it in a way that left the couple’s hands floating with no arms attached.

I see photos here on the FAA all the time that I wish I had taken myself. All I can do is learn from them and try to add something that comes from within my own heart and creativity.

Learn from the masters and be a master! Also try to give some credit to the ones who made the art that inspired you. You would like that yourself, wouldn’t you?

PS: I have a confession to make: This photo was very much inspired by someone here on FAA: Bill Cannon. Thanks for inspiring me!

http://fineartamerica.com/featured/rock-and-roll-woman-bill-cannon.html

From Masterpiece to Crap and back

March 31st, 2013

From Masterpiece to Crap and back

Come on, you’ve all been there! You gather your gear and get out there with your mind full of brilliant ideas about a stunning image whether it’s a painting or a photograph. When you get to the spot of your choice, it’s just not what you were expecting. The place is crowded with people, the swans have disappeared, the sun shines too brightly or it doesn’t shine at all.

What do you do now? Pack up your gear and go home to sulk? Yeah, that’s one option. Another option is to take the day off, give your brain a break and enjoy life. Close your eyes and feel the wind touching your hair. Maybe that’s what you need to get inspired.

Or, you can give yourself a challenge! Don’t leave until you have taken 100 photos! If you’re not a photographer, make some sketches! Erase the image in your head and look around! There are thousands of photo objects everywhere you go, but sometimes it takes a little more work to see them.

I once took one of Darlene Hildebrandt’s challenges (http://www.herviewphotography.com) and locked myself in the bathroom with my camera and only one lens. I didn’t come out until I had taken 100 shots. I started off with more or less lousy snapshots as my creativity first kicked in after about 40 shots. After 100 images my shoulders were aching, but the photos had improved tremendously, so I had enough decent images to work with. I cropped some of them and put the best ones together in this collage.

See? Challenge your creativity and you’ll get results. Good luck to you!

The beginning

March 31st, 2013

The beginning

Once upon a time I browsed through a glossy magazine looking at some photos. The magazine was an old issue of National Geographic handed down from a neighbor. My attention was drawn to a photo of a big red apple hanging from a tree. The photo was obviously taken in late fall or early winter as the apple was partly covered in snow. I was in awe from the beauty of something I in my young age never thought could happen. An apple with snow on it! I think this moment of discovering unknown beauty was significant for my arising interest in photography.
My cousin who was a year older than me, bought her first camera with money she got for her confirmation, and I could hardly wait for my own confirmation. I knew exactly what to buy when it was my turn. Meanwhile I continued looking at the photos in the magazines our neighbor gave us dreaming of my turn to bring some great images into the world. I was 15 when I could afford my own point-and-shoot camera with 110-film.
The good photos didn’t come overnight, but I continued producing as many snapshots I could afford to have developed at the photo store. I kept in my heart the dream of taking perfect pictures like the one with the apple, but when I uttered my dream to others they told me how difficult this was and that I would need heaps of camera gear. In other words this would be almost impossible to accomplish. How I wish they would have had the knowledge to tell me what I have learned over the years: It is not the camera that makes the photo, it’s the person behind the camera! Know the camera’s limitations and you’re good to go. You get as good as you want to be. You can become whatever you want if you want it enough. Now tell your kids that!
It has to be said that I never became a National Geographic photographer, but I still remember the picture of the apple, and I do know how to take a similar photo. All I need is an apple and some snow!

My First Decent Photo

March 31st, 2013

I remember the first decent photo I took. I mean the first photo you could actually tell the content of. It was a picture of my brother. He was about one year old and sitting in his stroller waving at me. I was nine. We were in Workington, England visiting my grandparents, and someone gave me a small camera and some film.

On this journey I learned more than not to shake my camera while shooting. This was in 1970 and old England was struggling. Jobs were scarce, and there was not a lot of money on people’s hands. Still there was this urge to take care of each other and help each other out.

My grandma took me to the market to buy vegetables. She introduced me to a man who sold eggs from a booth. He used to know my mother when she lived there. His sad face brightened up when he was told that I was her daughter, and he gave me two eggs. I got the impression that he used to have a crush on my mom. It seemed important to him to give me something, just any odd thing he could afford to give away.

Further down the line of market booths my grandma met another friend trying to sell her goods, and she gave me two tomatoes, one for me and one for my brother. I had never received gifts like these before, but they taught me something about helping each other and caring even when you’re struggling in a fight of your own.

I still have the photo of my brother in his stroller (I’ll post it when I find it), and it always reminds me of this strong memory from the trip to England. If I knew how, I would paint a picture of the woman handing a little girl two tomatoes from her booth . Unfortunately I am not a painter, I will have to settle with the image that occurs in my mind when looking at a totally different picture.

Creative Mood

March 31st, 2013

Creative Mood

I’m in a creative mood today. My mind is halfway into this blog post and halfway into new ideas for a photo shoot. This affects what I should be doing; concentrating on the cupcakes I’m making for my daughter’s 21st birthday. They do not turn out the way I want them to because of my lack of focus.

A creative mind does that to you sometimes. Kicks in when you don’t have the time to dive into your fantasy world of creativity, and before you know it you’ve lost a great idea. Keep a notebook people, and keep it close to you at all times! Write down a few words about your ideas and use this for inspiration on that day when the absence of ideas strike you with that scary empty mind from artist’s block.

The keywords I wrote down today are:

BUTTONS – I need to do something on buttons.

WHAT IS A GOOD PHOTO? – New blog post