Thursday, October 11, 2018

Emotional Regulation: Mindful Action, Breathing, and Centering

Centering is an ancient visualization technique that is popular in Aikido -- the Japanese defensive martial art of "spiritual harmony." It teaches you to focus on the here and now, taking power away from outside concerns and negative thoughts, and helping you remain stable and grounded.

Aikido trains your mind to control your body's reactions using the concept of "ki." This holds that all physical and mental power comes from the flow of energy around your body. Energy is lost when you are tense or stressed, but Centering redirects negative energy in a beneficial way.

Think back to a time when you were feeling stressed or afraid. What physical reactions did you experience? Tense muscles, rapid breathing, sweating palms, and a racing heart are all common reactions to a stressful situation.

Now, imagine that all of these feelings are the result of energy flowing through your body. Centering uses your mind to redirect this energy to the center of your body, giving you a sense of inner calm.

The technique was adopted as a power-enhancing tool by sport psychologist Dr Robert Nideffer in the mid-1970s, and he outlined it in his 1992 book, "Psyched to Win." It was also championed by performance coach Dr Don Greene in his 2002 book, "Fight Your Fear and Win."

When Centering Is Useful

You can use Centering to improve your focus and manage stress before a speech, musical recital, exam, job interview, negotiation, or sporting event -- whenever you need to keep a clear head in difficult circumstances.

Centering can also be useful in more common situations. If you need to gather your thoughts before a difficult conversation, or if you have to deliver bad news, use Centering to channel your nerves so that you can communicate clearly, compassionately and effectively.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Claude Glass (Black Mirror)

Claude Glass

Claude Glass

William Gilpin

 Claude Lorrain

Seems like a gimmick -- but I still want one...

A "Claude glass" (or black mirror) is a small mirror, slightly convex in shape, with its surface tinted a dark color. Bound up like a pocket-book or in a carrying case, Claude glasses were used by artists, travelers, and connoisseurs of landscape and landscape painting. 

Claude glasses have the effect of abstracting the subject reflected in them from its surroundings, reducing, and simplifying the color and tonal range of scenes and scenery to give them a "painterly" quality.

They were famously used by picturesque artists in England in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries as a frame for drawing sketches of picturesque landscapes. The user would turn their back on the scene to observe the framed view through the tinted mirror -- in a sort of pre-photographic lens -- which added the picturesque aesthetic of a subtle gradation of tones.

The Claude glass is named for Claude Lorrain, a 17th-Century landscape painter, whose name in the late 18th Century became synonymous with the picturesque aesthetic, although there is no indication he used or knew of it or anything similar. The Claude glass was supposed to help artists produce works of art similar to those of Lorrain. William Gilpin, the inventor of the picturesque ideal, advocated the use of a Claude glass saying, "they give the object of nature a soft, mellow tinge like the colouring of that Master." Gilpin mounted a mirror in his carriage, from where he could take in "a succession of high-colored pictures -- continually gliding before the eye."

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Organic Simplicty

Frank Lloyd Wright

Robert Doisneau

"Organic simplicity might be seen producing significant character in the harmonious order we call Nature -- all around, beauty in growing things. None insignificant." -- Frank Lloyd Wright, 1931

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

View-Master Master Artist: Florence Thomas

Florence Thomas

Florence Thomas

Florence Thomas

Florence Thomas

Florence Thomas

Florence Thomas

By BK Munn

Most fans of the tiny fantasy worlds glimpsed through the lens of a View-Master viewer are probably unaware of the name Florence Thomas. Thomas was the Portland, Oregon sculptor employed by the makers of the 3-D viewer to create miniature dioramas of fairy tales and pop culture scenes which she then photographed for reproduction into the iconic circular white reels that have delighted children and adult collectors for decades.

Thomas produced her first reels for View-Master in 1946 -- a series of Fairy Tales and Mother Goose rhymes that are still in circulation. 

According to one source, Thomas "developed special methods of close-up stereo photography and modeling which is now in common use by major motion picture studios" (John Waldsmith, Stereo Views, 1991). 

She created scenes of such detail and attractiveness that you feel you could step inside and look around a corner at a complete world. 

Besides the Fairy Tales, these worlds included versions of the Frankenstein and Dracula stories, scenes from the comic strip Peanuts, and 3-D versions of animated cartoons like The Flintstones. 

Amazingly, all of the puppet-like figures were sculpted from clay and the scenes were shot using a single-lens camera (not a stereo camera) that was moved on a track to get the stereo shot. 

Sometimes the models were moved slightly between shots to enhance the 3-D effect. 

During her heyday, Thomas appeared on television and radio to satisfy the curiosity of the children who consumed View-Masters by the millions in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, she is largely forgotten except by a few collectors.

Florence Thomas

Florence Thomas

Florence Thomas

Florence Thomas

Sunday, September 16, 2018