The human family is now in our own chrysalis. Our Butterfly is soon to be born. You and I are the “imaginal cells” directing that birth.—Carol Lynn Pearson
Given their power to instantly tell a story, ignite curiosity, provoke emotion, extend intuition, or inspire debate, images need little explanation for their purpose in augmenting a blog post. Using an image post as one of your regular features can give you and your readers a breather from text heavy posts.
Let’s start with an aside on synchronicity and the creative process before we get to our blogosphere riches (the examples of stellar blog post and image pairings). Writing and creating artwork to explore the inner world have always been priorities for me which is why mask making figures in my courses on blogging. While pursuing my MFA in the heartland, I spent weekends either roaming the cornfields or rubbing shoulders with a wonderful group of spiritual creatives from astrologers and tarot readers to assemblage artists and painters (working part time at the beautiful crystal and gem store—The Vortex, sadly no longer in existence–sealed my fate). During one playful meditation group, we envisioned a store where you could shop for all aspects of product aligned with your astrological sign (from cloaks to gems to flower essences to jewelry, bath potions, scarves and more).
Thanks to Mary Cash (I discussed her blog earlier this year in The Ex-Boyfriend, The Blogosphere and Why Your Blog Title Matters I discovered threads of the spider woman, Numina, where the universe, so many years later, mirrored back to me images of women emerging, it seemed possible to me, from the fantasy astrology store. You must peruse these beautiful photos of the “Masks of the Elemental Powers!” See especially “Diane Smalley as ‘Mariposa’ (Imaginal)” and scroll to the very end for the group photo (photos by Jerri Jo Idarius). Mask-maker/writer/blogger Lauren Raine, MFA, has also written a book based on her work: The Masks of The Goddess.
Let’s next look at a blog using an image related regular feature, All Art Fridays. Whenever I need an art infusion, I visit Writing Without Paper (blogger host is Maureen E. Doallas, another She Writes find I’ve been following for some time). Each of Maureen’s All Art Fridays posts are generously littered with images and videos; visit last week’s All Art Friday post to hear the voice of Wolfgang Lieb speaking on the use of pollen in his artwork—a gorgeous stream of words about his process of gathering pollen from the meadow for days on end. Also scroll through Maureen’s other regular features which include Thought for the Day and Saturday Shorts. What sort of regular image related feature could you run on your blog?
Videos embedded in a blog post double as powerful stills, as is the case with this Ted talk by Sue Austin used by Barbara Ann Yoder on the site Yoder created to support and inspire writers (“What speaks to your imagination? How do you stay strong?” she asks on her home page). The opening video still is of Sue Austin on her side in a field of deep blue, tranquil despite wheelchair, her arms gracefully aswirl in what you recognize as the sea, air bubbles ascending from her mouthpiece. The image delights and startles and the video cannot help but move you as Austin addresses “the value of difference,” and “new perspective” and the metaphor (and reality) of her underwater wheel chair as a portal for transformation: Sue Austin’s Deep Sea Diving in a Wheel Chair. Consider spending some time hunting for videos related to your blog content to point your readers to, or if feeling game, make one of your own.
Images can be used of course to create content. Post them and allow them to draw out your associations. Sarah la Rosa, blogging at her strange angels has in her home page side bar the category “Resonances.” When you click on each image, you are taken to a page to read an outpouring of associations and ideas attached to each image. Or check out, Opening to grace in the waiting room, a post circling the concept of “allowing” in a rush rush world and accompanied by a beautiful image of a blue mermaid by Patricia Ariel (an artist originally out of Brazil). “I think of my work as a ‘heart talk,’ a bridge of colors and energy, a mirror where other souls can see themselves reflected, understood, and sheltered,” writes Ariel in her artist’s statement. I could fill pages linking to the sites of artists—which brings us to Pinterest and Tumblr where you can find blogs of image compilations. Here is Patricia Ariel’s image bank.
Another variation is to pair an image with already existing text, as does Krista Tippet on her site, On Being. Each evening of the work week, according to the site, Tippet, “pair[s] an incredible image with inspiring words and wise sayings” as she does here in Slivers of Light During These Dark Days from Writers, Dancers, and Freedom Fighters.
Or post an image and compose haiku. As does Peggy Christian of Backwoods and Beyond: A Montana Naturalist Takes to the Woods (a fellow AROHO retreat connection). Here are a few examples to check out: Awkward Beauty with its haiku question pitting grace vs. the wild, Sucker Hole with its play on the words and perfect diagonal sky window, Unexpected Blossom for the crystalline flower image, and this last example, more like a prose poem, Cloudspotting. Notice too Peggy’s blog structure: the poetry of her categories, which she calls Pieces of the Story: Cloudspotting, Field Notes, Ground Truthing, Haiku, The Cabinet of Curiousities, The Herbarium, Wanderlusting, Wayfinding, Woodscraft and Lore and more.
I wrote about collaborative blogging previously in Trickster Angels: Collaborative Posts and Synthesis Blogs , but here is an example of two women using images to inspire poetry, prose musings, or offered to stand alone at Seductive Banter (See Artes de Calle ). The duo (Ujala Sehgal and Rachel Jill Papernick) describe their blog “as a friend-based project with no definitive goal, but to amuse and be our muse.” Read rest of their About. And another two woman duo (Samantha Citrin and Rachel London) at Free bird run a bookstore by the same name. Here is the blog where they post photos of what they find inside books.
I’ll close with one last example tied to synchronicity. While working on this image post here, I assigned my blogging class an “accessing the heart through art assignment” (meant to plumb the personal connection one has to a work of art followed by revision with an eye towards the public/private reveal). Before I could find a decent live Web example, I had to drive my son to school. I returned home to an email from a friend with a link to a website by writer and interior designer Floriana Peterson. Right away I discovered her post Bar Agricole. Grounding her description of the architecture of the bar with art, Floriana’s post is a beautiful example of the personal and descriptive with its lovely rhythm of personal and private.
We enter her post via the image of bright square portal of sky flanked by the billowed glass curtain of a skylight sculpture. Next we see an image of three of the skylights in a row, and then finally, the bar itself. It is a gentle descent from sky to the ground, and by the time we reach her words, we have been set up for the poetry of interpretation by the poetry of the photos as Peterson goes about describing the associations the location gives her: “Sidewalks in Trieste have railings just so passengers don’t get blown away. Roofs of the houses are covered with extra bricks, so tiles don’t fly away. It will take your mind if you’re not careful.”
I covered interview post variations earlier this year, but Floriana’s questions in Cork Models (addressed to Dieter Collen, maker of the architectural models featured in the post) were so tempting they begged inclusion: In what era of history would you choose to live? What is your favorite building of all time? What is the last great architectural object you’d make a model of? Where would you go if you could go on an unexpected vacation? Also notice that she includes a photo of the model alongside a portion of an image of the actual location for contrast. The post opens with the image stack, so your eye has had time to delight in the models before you read her words about them. You may not even at first have recognized them as models.
In closing, I’ll extend Floriana’s question by asking you, what kind of photos could you take on your next vacation to pair with a series of blogposts? What alternate history might you create for your life in images? How can you enhance your blog with imagery? Tell us your favorite use of imagery you’ve come across so far.
*May 3, 2013 addition: (Thanks to Maureen from Writing Without Paper for the reminder here on image citation and permission). If you are not the originating artist or photographer of an image, remember to secure permission before you use any image; when you do secure permission, be sure to include credit and citation for the image.
Maureen E. Doallas is the author of Neruda’s Memoir: Poems
I found the opening quote on imaginal cells on Goodreads, in a review for a book by Deepak Chopra, Synchrodestiny: Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence to Create Miracles. I haven’t read it, but love the concept of synchrodestiny. Here’s the quote on Goodreads: “According to Vedanta, there are only two symptoms of enlightenment, just two indications that a transformation is taking place within you toward a higher consciousness. The first symptom is that you stop worrying. Things don’t bother you anymore. You become light-hearted and full of joy. The second symptom is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life, more and more synchronicities. And this accelerates to the point where you actually experience the miraculous” (quoted by Carol Lynn Pearson in Consider the Butterfly).
Incidentally, Carol Lynn Pearson wrote the screenplay for the movie, Cipher in the Snow.