Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Five Crazy Things: Motifs


Barbara: A personal motif isn’t something I used to think much about. In fact, my thinking about motifs at all may have sprung from some of you mentioning your own, or asking about what mine might be. Lately, I’ve noticed that certain motifs come up all the time, in fact, and that they certainly reflect who I am and how I feel. I thought it would be a fun “Five Crazy Things” to list ours here.

When I say “motif”, I’m talking about a design feature or element that particularly appeals to you or resonates with you, or comes up again and again in your environment (like in your decorating, clothing, or jewelry). Obviously, if you do have a meaningful motif or motifs, it might just be one or two. So let’s call this 1-5 Crazy Things!

1. Leaves. The leaf pattern has come up again and again in my jewelry or clothing. I absolutely love the texture of the leaf and it’s sensual shape.
2. In the same theme: the Tree. Many years ago, Deb gave me a “tree of life” necklace, and it’s one of my favourite pieces. The meaningful shape of the tree—both in design and in life—with its branches reaching upward and its mirrored roots grounding it below makes me feel at peace.
3. The feather. The feather is a wishful, quiet, almost not-there symbol. Subtle, beautiful, serene.
4. Gem-stones. Amethyst, rose quartz, jade. Not fancy jewels, but smooth, decent, solid, talismans.
5. Stones. Especially beach stones. Again, for their simple, steady, speckled smoothness. Calm and solid. Evocative of holding the sun’s warmth and the coolness of night. Somehow, absolutely somehow, something quiet living inside.

Deb: I don’t know if it is just because we are friends or if it’s because we are both true Cancerians, but I share many of these with Barbara.

1. Certainly the stones I collect from everywhere I go and place in a lovely bowl at my bedside. Sometimes the cleaning lady puts earrings on top of it or a safety pin and it makes me mental. It’s not the catch-all bowl, for heavens sake, it’s my stones. Always makes me laugh when she does this. 
2. Moons and stars shaped jewelry. Since as young as I can remember this has been my precious theme.
3. Things that are 3’s, my lucky number. I have 3 jewelry and a 3 ring which I just got for Christmas.
4. Pinecones. I am besotted with them and use them a lot in my decorating. They speak to my surroundings. Along those lines, I also have a big collection of Canadiana china and glasswear, trays and tablecloths. I love them so much.
5. Stuffed animals. My darlings. I have one which I have had from birth and I gently touch him once in a while, as any more handling will lead to his demise. He is frail in stature but so strong in his soul.  I have many wonderful Steiff animals that I adore. Yes, I am that stuffed animal gal. They have deep meaning to me.

54 comments:

  1. 1. Circles (especially celtic).
    2. Trees (I am a "tree-hugger").
    3. Wings (whether it be butterflies or my favorite bird the Great Blue Heron).
    4. Light (in photography, a candlelit room, a lighthouse, etc.).
    5. Handmade items from natural, renewable resources.

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  2. 1. Books

    2. Japanese Art - Asian decorative arts and antiques in general (not modern mange/anime stuff -- old style Asian art), with Japanese turning up in particular. For example, my favorite necklace is a Japanese coin from circa 1840 that I wear on black satin cord around my neck. The biggest print of any photograph of mine that I've actually framed to hang at home has a Buddha theme. I have had a fancy pair of dangly jade earrings since high school, and I still get a thrill anytime I wear them. I have lots of Japanese books and Asian china. Walking from the living room to the hall, I pass through a doorway in which is hung a maneki-neko noren that I got while spending Mother's Day 2000 in Little Tokyo when we lived in the Los Angeles suburbs.

    3. Old things that may not have obvious, mainstream beauty but are beautiful and enthrallingly intriguing to me in their history and shabiness: This includes the old wooden box lid with the missionary's sending information that I mentioned in an earlier post comment. The few photographs of my own that I have frame to show in my home are mostly of old, broken, almost haunted looking, historical sites like a hollowed out old farmhouse or my favorite which is of a shattered out window with a frilly curtain peaking through it. I also have a HUGE thing for ghost walls - the faded remains of old painted signs (1900's-1940's around here) on brick buildings.

    Here:
    http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q68/pepsibookcat/BeautifulDecay1_zpsb70813d2.jpg

    http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q68/pepsibookcat/Wind_zps0b35582e.jpg

    http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q68/pepsibookcat/LookingThroughTime_zps56796784.jpg

    http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q68/pepsibookcat/outtowardMO24_zps58cfb436.jpg

    When the railroad started tearing out the old poles on Highway 61 (yes, the Blues Highway) south of town a few years ago during the winter, I spent a few weekends keeping up with their progress until all the destruction had been wrought. Before old poles came down, I'd photograph the old telegraph and electricity glass insulators in situ on their poles. Then, once the poles had been ripped out, I'd bundle up, put on my boots and work gloves, and go climb down into the ditches by the train tracks and carefully rescue any unbroken glass insulators (I had to go with only unbroken so folks wouldn't get cut on them). The blue ones went to my mom. Several went to my best friend's sister. I kept a few. Over time, they've all gone to people who appreciate what they are and the history behind them (rural electrification, the telegraph, etc.). I had 4 boxes full, and they represented 1910's-1940's.

    Here:

    http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q68/pepsibookcat/insulatorsandhwy61s045_zps0b4f6ccf.jpg

    http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q68/pepsibookcat/insulatorsandhwy61s042_zps3a5215d6.jpg

    http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q68/pepsibookcat/insulatorsandhwy61s037_zps932931bb.jpg

    http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q68/pepsibookcat/insulatorsandhwy61s017_zps8599aed5.jpg

    http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q68/pepsibookcat/insulatorsandhwy61s011_zpse5ad0df4.jpg

    continued below...

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    1. Oh, Rigel, as you know, I LOVE your photos. Some of these I haven't seen. They are just so breathtaking. And, yes, peaceful in their "tatters".

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  3. 4. The ocean and all that's in it, on it, and at its edge.

    5. Buttons, beadwork, and sequins -- but I'm very particular about style and presentation. Think sari fabric. Also, think very intricate Christmas ornaments. The colors are almost always jewel tones. Think vintage. Also, think quirky.

    And, while I don't know that this is a motif, per se, I'm going to put it in as a #6 because it has, over the past few years, become an increasingly important theme in my life. I have steadily grown fascinated by and devoted to evolving my lifestyle in this direction (regardless of having or not having money).

    6. Self-sufficiency, thrift, DIY, homesteading skills (including urban homesteading and hobby farming), Great Depression lessons, being green, upcycling, WWII home front resource management for victory, country skills, etc.

    And, LOL, is crafting a motif?

    7. CRAFTING!!! :) :) :)

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    1. All good mottos as well as motifs! Touchstones, right?

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    2. Oooh, ocean! I don't call it a "motif" of mine, more that it means "home" to me. And relaxation. And... ocean.

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  4. BARBARA:

    Remember when you asked for prints of some of my photographs? I can't remember - did I mail you this one? I don't think so. Hmmm...

    http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q68/pepsibookcat/feather_zps0db3dcce.jpg

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    1. Yes you did! Truly one of my fave preciouses :)

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    2. OH MY! Rigel these are incredible!

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    3. I'll post the new painting links here soon!! So you could see them too Rigel! :D

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  5. Here. I should've just posted these! lol

    http://pinterest.com/winterlighthome/i-love/

    http://pinterest.com/winterlighthome/my-freaky-faith/

    http://pinterest.com/winterlighthome/my-favorite-books/

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  6. Anything Zen like Buddha's, Ganesh's, angels,crystals, stones I have bought or found, succulents, and little collectibles from my adventures.

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    1. I haven't made Buddha or Zen a motif yet, but am deeply drawn to them. Keep planning for my garden...

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  7. Aaahhh this is sucha Gorgeous subject. I resonate a lot with the both of your lists (I'm a leo but...Well, when doesn't this happen?) so count those as a part of my list too.
    Being an Artist myself I have many other motifs. I think my being spiritual and feeling that connected with self has a LOT to do with it too.

    1.Clouds. In my nature paintings or my photography. I always have the most subtle and delicious clouds.

    2. Moons and Stars or better said the Universe entirely. I feel very connected to all that is. And the first two paintings that I did without any references had the universe in them. The most relaxed Ive ever felt was the one time when I spent 2 hours just looking at the stars and the beautiful moon. (Its also the reason I love Doctor Who so much. Well that and David Tennant and Matt Smith.)

    3. Number alignment. ALL.THE.TIME. Come up every day, and very very often when I'm painting. Saw 2:22 in the elevator today and the time on my watch was 2:14 actually. But got in the elevator precisely at 2:22 according to its time.

    4. Trees and leaves. I find so much comfort in just observing the trees or hearing the gentle rustling of the leaves.

    5. Most important for me is, Light. And dont misunderstand I dont always mean light from OUTSIDE. I mean light within. I dont turn on many lights in the apartment because I am always comforted with the light I have within. I even catch glimpses tiny rays of light entering the apartment in the afternoon, or through the trees or on my face. I feel very connected to Light in the literal way and also very much in the philosophical way.

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    1. 6. Ganesh!! (Thanks Madge) He has always made me feel safe and protected and I always paint Ganesh. And I have atleast 30 small cute idols of ganesh at home right now. People gift me Ganesh idols because he means that much to me! I'm an Atheist otherwise but there is something very powerful and spiritual about this cute elephant man that I cant deny!!

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    2. Aw, lovely! Completely see this.

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    3. Even since I went to India and Japan I have a real love for calm and Ganesha gives me that. Also, forgot to mention the number 3. Love that number.

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    4. Me too! Madge I totally agree. I have always felt a sense of connection and trust about Ganesh! If you ever wanna know more about him. Lemme know , I know some sweet stories :)

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  8. I might have to come back to this, seeing as only one is coming to mind right now, but it's something that's impacted me recently.

    I don't really know how to describe it, but that really DEEP, POWERFUL feeling that sort of moves you...you get it after you see/hear/listen to something really DEEP and POWERFUL. For instance, when I first read Return of the King Kelly warned me that the beginning was really dark. And it was! I literally felt like I was heavy, burdened, deeply saddened...I had to put it down for a few hours before I could pick it back up again. In my life I honestly can't remember something touching me that hard. For the first two weeks or so after The Hobbit came out I basically listened to nothing but the soundtrack nonstop; the music just got to me and took me to a better, more peaceful and beautiful place. Just now, I was listening to a Scottish band I've gotten into, and one of their songs "Boy" is written from the perspective of a father whose son has gone off to war, but the mood is the father is almost lamenting the loss of his son. What's more is that the frontman of this band also has a son and I imagine that he probably had some of the same reactions that I did. And then I thought about all my friends with kids and, of course, those still relishing in the deep hurt of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Just really moving stuff.

    Sometimes I like that moving motif...really does remind me that I am a living, breathing individual. :)

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    1. This is beautiful, Holly. Really really moved me. And I didn't even realize the "pun" there until I wrote it. So yes. Moving movement music movements. Great motif.

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  9. My five things:

    1. Stars- I have always loved looking at blanket of stars at night especially in the summer. My kids too love it when they were little we used to lay on the front lawn and look at them in the summer. One of the many things I miss
    2. The map of the Ponderosa of "Bonanza"- I've already discussed how much the show was an escape for me as a child. There's something about that map and the anticipation when I was little that it was about to catch fire and those Cartwrights would be riding up to the camera. Silly I know
    3. Horses-pictures, images whatever. They have been a part of my life since I was born and I feel a certain kind of connection to them. I used to be able to tell them my secrets and my fears and they listened without judgement. It's true what they say; they get into your blood
    4. Pictures- I love looking at pictures of special times forever frozen in time. I treasure them and revisit them often, especially when I'm feeling stuck or depressed. I think it's one of the simple ways that we will forever go on.
    5. A cross has always been a powerful symbol for me being raised Catholic and being that my father's religion was very important to him. When he was suddenly gone I clung to anything that reminded me of him. Even today I wear a cross that I will hold in my hand whenever my faith is tested
    6. NY Yankees symbol (sorry Dawn) I have been a fan most of my life and went to many games at the old and new staduim with my kids. Another nice memory

    I snuck another one in there! XOXO

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    1. Great list, Mary! I don't think #2 is silly at all. In fact, I think it is so so apropos. Your other ones have such meaning too. My favourite part of each day is when I walk my dog out for his last pee-break (I have to walk him out or he'll bark) and I do that perimeter scan of the sky. Just a great way to refresh the brain for bedtime.

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    2. Yeah, you already know, so I'll keep quiet. :)
      (For those who don't get it, I'm a true Bostonian and diehard Red Sox fan. The Yankees are our nemesis.)

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  10. 1.Starfish. Love anything to do with the ocean. Which is why they are in my décor, jewelry and lots of things I make.

    2.Sea glass. Love all the colours of sea glass. Could gaze at it all day.

    3.Fabric. I am obsessed with fabric. I always tell myself, I will just order what I need for a project, but somehow my fingers wander. I end up ordering more. I always find something to do with the fabric.

    4.Lighting. I don’t know why I love it so much. I love lamps, lanterns, string lights, you name it. You will see a variety of lighting inside and outside of my house.

    5.Hawaii. My love for all things Hawaii is endless. It is my favourite destination. My collection runs the gamut from antiques to kitsch. It really does give me a happy feeling.

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    1. I love sea stuff too, Heidi. Interesting your fabric one. Like Rigel's list, it has a textural element that almost implies more touch than sight. Great motif!

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  11. By the way Deb, just got around to reading your part. I have a stuffed dog I've had since I was 7. I can't sleep without her. :)

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  12. 1) Colour, I don't have a single white wall in my house. My favorite is one wall in my kitchen which is an almost blindingly bright yellow, it brings such life and warmth and brightness to the room. First few brush strokes were a little unnerving however.
    2)plants/flowers I need to have a little bit of life in every room.
    3)Trains, talk to my husband about that one....
    4)Stones, I do it too, I have a big hurricane lantern on my dresser full of stones and rocks that I've picked up. I can't help myself, we go somewhere and I will have at least one rock come home with me. Even the big rocks in our aquarium are hand picked from Kenora.
    5)Water, I love fountains and little bits of watery things hence the aquarium I guess. My favorite plant is my lucky bamboo and I think it's more because of how the rocks look under the water rather than the bamboo itself.

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    1. Trains, huh? Yeah, I get it. Also the water feature note: another thing I want to do around here.

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  13. 1. Zebra print. I have a hat and gloves, steering wheel cover, and I just found a bottle opener shaped like a flip-flop and the part that goes over your foot is zebra print.

    2. Leopard print. I have brown leopard print jeans, and I just got a rainbow leopard print comforter for Christmas. Something about these patterns really appeal to me.

    3. Fruity scents, whether it be candles, body wash, or air fresheners. They're not as cloyingly sweet as say, vanilla, and cookie, or deeper ambers.

    4. Bright colorful pictures. I do paint-by-numbers, and they're all very colorful. Paintings I've bought...same thing, and then there's my comforter, which I mentioned above.

    5.Flowers. However, we can't keep any live plants in the house (particularly carnations, which I LOVE). Our cats love them, too, and go to great lengths to get to them and snack on them. :(

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    1. Bonus: Old world maps, the ones that have that brownish tint to them. I have a globe and a few jigsaw puzzles. LOVE them.

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    2. Jigsaw puzzles! Maps! yes. As for flowers indoors -- I wish I could keep them alive. Outside, my garden is lovely and vibrant, inside, everything dies. Soooo sad... PS love me some animal print too!

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  14. I don't really have motifs that jump out at me. For me, it's colours. Anything in the yellow-orange-red-hot pink sunset spectrum speaks to me, and then the emerald-teal-aqua-turquoise-ultramarine-royal blue calls to me as well. The image is much less appealing than the colour it appears in.

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    1. Actually, I've changed my mind. Bamboo is a theme of mine, be it paintings of bamboo (Japanese or Chinese style) or things made of bamboo. Just beautiful!
      Also, cranes (the bird not the piece of machinery).
      Lastly, how about dragons? Chinese dragons. (Can you see the Asian influence?)

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    2. I love your colour-spectrum motif (you inspired a colours blog for next week, so thank you!), but this is also an excellent addendum. Bamboo I have a lot of as trim, etc. love it.

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  15. Not sure if I will get five but here's my list:
    1. Hearts. My one tattoo is a heart for my Dad's mom and I have another heart on my necklace I always wear from my Mom's parents with a little saying on it. <3
    2. Winnie the Pooh. Thats my other tattoo and also with Deb I have a stuffed Pooh I keep with me. It usually stays in my bed :) I even take it to college with me :)
    3. Sciency Nerdy Graphic tees. My daily wardrobe usually consists of some sort of graphic tee with a funny or nerdy pic and saying. My Batman and StarWars ones are my favorite.

    that's all I have for now. :)

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    1. Hey, that's plenty! I really wasn't sure how many people would be able to list 5 motifs. Surprised how many have. Your list is also adorable!

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  16. here are my 5 .

    1: diamond not the precious stone just the shape . every time i doodle i draw a lot of things based on a diamond design.

    2: the claddagh . i had a claddagh ring which i got back in 1990 in Galway in the west of Ireland and a few years later my mom give me a claddagh bracelet and necklace . i love the symbolism . this is an explanation if you don;t know what the claddagh is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claddagh_ring
    sadly my ring broke a few months ago . not bad considering i had not taken it off in roughly 20 years !

    3: denim . jeans are the only trousers i wear !

    4: stars and the moon . even though i am not an astronomer i love to look up at the pattern of stars in the sky . i also love to look at the moon . what shape it is and how big it is in the sky . we have a crescent moon at present

    5: i agree with Deb . i love my stuffed bear collection . i have 10 . 2 of whom i am donating to dad .

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    1. "2 of whom you're donating to dad", that's so perfect. I'm sure he will treasure them. Interesting about the diamond doodle. Do doodles have symbolic meaning? Also, even though the claddagh has no particular "meaning" to me, it still means a lot to me and I love it. Are you getting a new ring???

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    2. not at the moment Barbara to be brutally honest the finances have taken a battering over the last 12 months and as much as i love the ring it is too expensive to replace .

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  17. 1. Keys. I have tons of antique-looking keys around my home and jewelry with keys and all sorts of key decor.
    2. Books. I am a self-proclaimed book nerd and as such I look for decorative pieces that have something to do with that. Plus, I have books in every room...
    3. Film-inspired stuff. I love movies and I love collecting bits and pieces of stuff that remind me of my favorite movies. I have posters, jewelry, clothing, even pillow cases.
    4. Guitars. I can't play one but I have always been drawn to them. I have some adorable inflatable purple guitars on my wall, I have guitar key chains (which I bought many of because the money went to aid in bringing art into schools), and I have some guitar picks.
    5. Winter. I love winter. One of my favorite necklaces has a snow flake on it. I have winter decor all through my home. It's always been my favorite season and I love the cold. I like to have the constant reminders of my favorite time of the year.

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    1. Yes, me too with the books! #4 reminds me of something a read in the paper yesterday -- apparently if a guy's profile pic includes a guitar, girls are much more likely to trust him!

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    2. Wow! Didn't know that about the profile pics. Well, I don't think I would trust a guy holding a guitar more, but I would probably be more attracted to him!

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  18. I thought of one more: Black and white photographs. In the gray is where the real beauty lies.

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  19. OOoh, Steph. I am FEELING your list! :)

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  20. So interesting to read everyone's lists! It really does paint a clearer picture of people when you hear what they choose to surround themselves with.

    1. turquoise- the stones in silver jewellery, or the colour in clothes/decor. I am obsessed!
    2. butterflies- my aunt gave me a butterfly book when I was 3 and I've been in love with them ever since. She passed away a few weeks ago and said that she would come back as a butterfly this spring and visit me and the baby in our garden.
    3. old old china- decorative plates/vases/tea sets. Mostly English and floral.
    4. reflections- since the age of 15 i've loved painting reflections in water, and so my house is absolutely covered in the ones I havn't been able to sell.
    5. anything morroccon/turkish/middle eastern. The amazing fabrics/rugs with vibrant colours and stripes and geometric patterns, the intricately patterned tiles, beautifully carved wooden furniture. It clashes with my old english china but I dont care!

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    1. To your point: this is very evocative of you. I was just saying to my daughter that these lists really help to bring myself into focus for me, but that it also helps bring others into focus as well. It might only be a reflection of where that person is TODAY, but then it becomes like a "photo album" of a time in a life. Really moving.

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  21. Oh, boy have I been thinking of this. I came with a very short list :)

    1. My passport (I show it off) ;)
    2. Travel tickets

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    1. OK, can your list be any more perfect though???

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  22. Souzan from Vancouver, BCJanuary 16, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Wow, you and I have a lot of motifs in common, Barb! That could practically have been my list! Though I admit I don't really think in terms of motif that consciously, but here is what comes to mind now:

    1. The Ocean; I love the ocean. I love water, in general, and am a strong water element as a person. It comes up in my artwork a lot too (somewhow everything I do...kinda...sorta...seems like the ocean)

    2. Leafs; you stole all my words Barb! I would include the whole tree actually, with this.

    3. Gem stones; again, thief! I love them all in general, but would say that Amber, Jade, and moonstones are my biggest loves

    4. Organic shapes and earth tones; It got to the point that I had to make friends and family promise not to let me buy any more green... I love organic shapes, and am not often fond of symmetry

    5. Full, round figures; this is more a motif in my artwork, but my classmates used to tease that 'Souzan only designs for fat people' because I would draw most of my characters incredibly rotund. What can I say? Full people are just so much more engaging to draw!

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    1. Interesting that we have so many motifs in common. But your last one is the one that intrigues me the most. So love it!

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  23. Awww...

    1. Beach stones. I love to collect them, and I never grow tired of looking at them. I always wonder what they have experienced in their stony life.

    2. Butterflies. Obviously. I love them! That's why I got a tattoo. Such fragile, sweet creatures...

    3. Water. I love water...rivers, seas, lakes...

    4. The sun. Especially sunrise and sunset. Beautiful.

    5. Poems, sayings, quotes, prayers...

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    1. And your gorgeous butterfly creations, Becki! Lovely list. Thanks for sharing.

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