What You Get Is What You See

In the last section of Raw Art Journaling, I use photographs as a starting point. I find something in the photograph that wants out, and let it out with pencils, markers, paint. You can do the same thing with words. Look at the photos below and use them as the starting point for writing. A photographic journal prompt. In this case, I wrote haiku, although you can use it as a journal prompt for a nature journal as well.


Water: smooth. Danger?
Frozen, biting, hot and cold.
Holding time in check.


Earth waits for water
Water waits for freshing wind
Wind waits for no one.


Light years cool fire’s heat
Less in the burning desert
Even the moon is hot


Dust hangs in the air
Reflecting heat and cactus
Glass is dust, is air

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The Fine print:
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–Quinn McDonald is the author of Raw Art Journaling.

Creative Plant Life

When you are new to a place, everything seems different. After a year, you don’t notice the very things that startled you so much in the beginning. Here are some things I may not notice in a year, but this year, I thought, “You’d never see anything like this in the East.”

bouganvillaThe bougainvillea are so saturated in color that when you see them against a blue sky, it seems that somebody is messing with Photoshop. But it’s not. The plants and sky are exactly this color.

Then there are trees covered in glossy green leaves and studded with bright oranges. There are also lemons and grapefruit, named because they hang in clusters, like giant grapes. But the contrast between the green shiny leaves and orange fruit is wonderful to enjoy.orange trees



*Palm trees are a great source of wonder for the newcomer. They need to be trimmed , and this must be the season to do it. After a trim, they look like they all have the palm-tree version of a faux-hawk.

faux hawk palms

But they do get bushy again. And when they are full and bushy, and it gets to be time to decorate the trees for the holidays, they put lights in them.

No confusing them with “O Tannenbaum!” but they are a sight to behold. At first I thought the lights were on stands, but nope, these are the real trees with palm lights. Not only are the trunks wrapped palm tree lights
in two shades of lights, but the center vein of each palm frond is striped in green lights.

Luminarias are favorites of mine. Originally, they were paper bags with a sovelful of sand in the bottom. A candle is stuck in the sand and lit, creating a warm glow. Now many of them are plastic instead of paper, or at least fire-retardant paper. In this case, almost two miles of them are placed and lit in the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. I was lucky enough to see how they extinguish them at the end of the evening. Volunteers holding 4-foot long devices that look like turkey basters come along, put luminariasthe pointy end in the bag and squeeze the bulb on top. It blows out the candle.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and speaker. See her work at QuinnCreative.com (c) All images and words, Quinn McDonald, 2007. All rights reserved. All photos taken with an iPhone.