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  • Writer's pictureLinda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Two Years of Excerpted Inspirations!

[This week, the good folks who bring you this blog are sharing our thoughts on completing two years of Excerpted Inspirations:]  “Friends of Deborah's Tree, Liz and I, with Page's support, have completed two years of Excerpted Inspirations.       A year ago, I thought I would run out of favorite quotes from favorite stories, but it turns out I haven't yet.  I'm dipping into the same favorite books and finding more nuggets in them, and also widening and deepening my conception of what constitutes spiritual inspiration.  I am happy to share some of my favorite quotes from male authors, especially George MacDonald.   Liz's artwork and Page's photo archive have added a wonderful dimension, and I have enjoyed contributing my own artwork on occasion.   I am enjoying the way Liz's art style has added a touch of whimsy and innocence to our offering.  I can easily picture doing this for another year at least, with Liz and Page on board.   We'll see where the journey takes us in the coming months.”       -Linda Simonetti Odhner”       “When I began this Excerpted Inspirations journey with Linda, I had no idea how it would feel to be here together two years later with 104 inspirational posts up on our blog.  How does it feel, you ask?  I can tell you now:  it feels like growth.  Illustrating the inspirations over the past two years has been an incredible challenge for me, one that has taken me on a variety of unexpected adventures and trained me in at least a few new techniques.  In pursuit of an inspirational photo, I’ve crawled under a plane at an air museum, staged a fake fancy dinner at a wedding venue, dressed someone up as God and had him wait on a bench for an antique train, and even crept around a literal graveyard just as the sun was setting.  To craft an eye-catching illustration, I’ve churned my own butter, sewn my own nun costume, and built a picture frame large enough for a child to climb through.  I’ve painted in acrylics and watercolors and pixels.  I ‘ve learned to use a Cricut machine and craft my own collages.  I’ve combed thrift shops, dollar stores and Ebay listings for small, photogenic items, and searched my image archives to unearth photos taken in my own fading past.  When it first came out, I even tried out AI—though with the amount of digital editing required (to give people the proper facial proportions and number of limbs/fingers) ultimately decided it’s just easier to create from scratch.           But lest my job sound too easy, I should probably disclose that my adventures (as is common for adventures generally) haven’t been 100% safe--  I’ve inhaled a chemical-smelling whiff of baking polymer clay while making Queen Mab’s diminutive carriage-driver, been burned by hot glue while sticking eyeballs onto a faux-fur Proginoskes plushie, and been bitten by ticks while capturing the inspirational beauty of nature in the Pennypack Nature Preserve.  In the weekly race to match a picture to one of the bank of quotes Linda has so carefully selected, every media and avenue for artistry has been fair game, even when a little risk was involved.  I’ve even appeared in a few inspirations myself—wearing a string of pearls or a Star of David, standing behind a pane of rippled glass, or sleeping next to a pile of books.  My mother, father, niece, and friends have also been willing to appear in some of my photos in order to help me meet my deadlines, for which I am tremendously grateful.  I also have to thank my fellow artistic contributors Linda and Page, who have generously offered their art and photography from time to time, so that I could have a break.  Though there have been the occasional bumps along the way, be it with missed typos, legibility problems associated with nested quote marks, doctor’s appointments on deadline days, or the occasional unexpectedly controversial image of Joan of Arc.  But happily, through it all, the inspiration train has kept on going and going.  As long as Linda keeps discovering new literary inspirations, the weekly arts and crafts rollercoaster here will continue.  In fairness, I can’t promise that every illustration will be to everyone’s taste, or that it will always be amazing, or even good.  One thing I’ve had to let go of is my attachment as an artist to how I want something to look.  Even AI isn’t yet able to read what’s in my mind, and often subjects, paints, materials and ultimately pixels have a mind of their own.  I’ve learned that while sometimes this ruins a plan, other times it turns out even better than what I’d imagined.  So I can promise, that as long as we go on, I will continue to do my best.  I hope you (anyone reading this) have enjoyed these inspirations, and will continue to do so in the future.  Namaste!”       -Lisa S. (Liz) Kufs

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