Category: Art

A Desert of Waves, a Wilderness of Water

Abstract Photo of the Sea

It seems I talk a lot about my writing creative process on the blog at the moment – which is quite natural as I’m working on a book. So, today I wanted to offer you an insight into one of my recent photo projects for a change.

A few weeks ago, I dreamed about huge waves crashing thunderously on a rugged beach. The full moon, high in the pitch-black sky, illuminated an alien landscape. 

No trees or shrubs, no dwellings, no boats. No people. No animals or birds (I knew this in my dream). An utterly deserted landscape, devoid of any life. Nothing but the huge rocks and the surf glittering like tiny diamonds in the moonshine. Nothing but the endless rumbling of the waves and the cold silvery moon. “A desert of waves, a wilderness of water” (Langston Hughes). 

The dream made such an impression on me that it haunted me for several days. I couldn’t get that desolate landscape out of my mind. So, I did what any artist would do: set to work. I wanted to capture that landscape in my mind in a series of photos, and I knew it wouldn’t be realistic photos from the beginning. The atmosphere called for something else.

As luck would have it, we live by the sea. So every day, I would go down to the beach and experiment with ICM (Intentional Camera Movement). The light, the color of the sea, the clouds, they all factor in. I knew how I wanted the photos to look like; I tested different settings and motions; I learned patience. And got the photos I wanted.

As an artist, you’re always struggling to create the vision in your mind in whatever medium you’re working in, only to fail when you do – more often than not. But this was one of these dream projects where I didn’t fail. I love how the photos turned out. 

You can see the rest of the photos in my photo gallery and buy prints in the online shop if you like them too.


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Happy World Photography Day!

Photography of pink bleeding hearts by Mihaela Limberea

August 19th is World Photography Day, an annual celebration of art, science, and history of photography.

Why August 19th, you ask? On August 19th, 1839, the French Academy of Sciences announced the Daguerreotype process, the first to obtain a permanent image with a camera. History was made that day, and the long road to photography as we know it today began.

The best way of celebrating it is to share your best photos with the world. The one above is one of my favorites, a close-up of a pink bleeding heart in my garden.

Happy World Photography Day!


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Writing Is a Job

Writing is a job-text on the background of a notebook.

Writing a book sounds romantic, gazing over the roofs of Paris in a chilly attic room, slowly sipping hot black coffee. Fluttering curtains in the golden sunset. Sometimes it can even be that. 

But writing is, above all, a job. It’s work and routine. Toil and exhaustion. 

You have to go to work like everybody else and do the time on the chair. It means having a set time and place – be it a home office, a café, or the kitchen table. So you put on your working clothes, sit down at the set time, and start writing. No exceptions, no excuses, just doing. Every day.

Sometimes the words will flow, pouring of you so quickly you can hardly keep up typing, the pages filling effortlessly. You’re a gift to the world. Working is easy and pleasurable, and you can keep at it for hours.

Other times, you stare at the blank page and can hardly resist the urge to run. You write a few words, decide they’re lousy, and delete them. You start again. How could you ever think you could write?


Time drags on. Lunch cannot come soon enough. Or any interruption, really. You’re almost glad if something breaks. Then, suddenly, you’re happy calling the plumber or the electrician for an emergency repair. Or grateful if the delivery man seems to have time for a chat. Anything to avoid looking at that blank page, the blinking cursor a silent countdown to an inexorable deadline.

But you keep at it, how uncomfortable you may be. You’ve learned discipline. You’ve learned that if you sit there long enough, something will happen. An idea, even a kernel of an idea, will appear, seemingly out of thin air. An image that triggers long-gone memories. Scenes from a distant past or a shimmering future. And you’re in again. In the zone where fantastic things happen and writing is easy.

If you’re not able to write, write about not being able to write. For a writer, everything is writing material. Even not being able to write.

Like this text.


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How To See the World Like an Artist

Lines. Black and white abstract photo by Mihaela Limberea.

”Seeing,” really seeing what you’re looking at, is an essential skill for a photographer. For any visual artist, in fact. Some people may have been born with it, while some may struggle. No fancy equipment can compensate for its lack, though. The good news is that you can learn to, as any art student can tell you.

And this is not something you’d turn on and off; it’ll change the way you look and see the world. For example, the black & white abstract photo above …

… was converted from this.

It’s part of a terrace roof in the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Marrakech. As soon as I stepped out on the terrace and saw this pergola, I knew it would make a perfect abstract photograph. It was just a question of trying various compositions and angles until getting that ultimate photo that all photographs dream about when they press the shutter button.


How To See the World as an Artist

Simply put: practice, practice, practice. A few tips:

  • Similar to beginners, when learning how to draw, you need to let go of identifying various objects (a chair, a vase, a hat) and see the shapes, lines, and contours that make up those things instead.
  • Notice the play of shadows and light, the contrast, the textures, the colors, and the patterns they create. How complementary colors work well together, such as orange and blue, or red and green.
  • Look at things from a different perspective: taking a photo from a low angle can show the world as seen by a small animal or a child, or turn a flower into a towering tree.
  • Look at the works of established photographers and painters and analyze what you see. What makes that artwork good? What did the artist do? How? Visiting museums is a good start, and nowadays, you can do that online too (a good thing in pandemic times).
  • Practice, practice, practice. And practice some more. Learning any craft requires effort, perseverance, and dedication.

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To read more on photography, click here. Artsy has a good article on how to learn to see the world as an artist here.


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Spring Is Like A Perhaps Hand

  1. Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
  2. From Blossoms
  3. Wild Geese
  4. The Peace of Wild Things
  5. My Gift to You
  6. Departing Spring
  7. The Skylark
  8. What a Strange Thing!
  9. Although The Wind …
  10. The Old Pond
  11. Spring Is Like A Perhaps Hand
Close up of apple tree flowers. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
Spring is like a perhaps hand 
(which comes carefully out of Nowhere) arranging 
 a window, into which people look (while 
people stare 
arranging and changing placing 
carefully there a strange 
thing and a known thing here) and 
 
changing everything carefully 
 
spring is like a perhaps 
Hand in a window 
(carefully to 
and fro moving New and 
Old things, while 
people stare carefully 
moving a perhaps fraction of flower here placing 
an inch of air there) and 
without breaking anything.

By e. e. cummings (1894 – 1962), American poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright.


To read more poems, click here.



I Shall Be Content with Silence

Close up of a Japanese anemone. Black and white photograph by Mihaela Limberea.

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.

Ansel Adams (1902-1984), American landscape photographer and environmentalist known for his black-and-white images of the American West.


To read more quotes, click here. To read more on photography, click here.



Writing Is an Exercise in Humility

An Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) Photograph by Mihaela Limberea, in tones of green, lavender and orange
Intentional Camera Movement (ICM)* photograph of one of my flowers beds.

One thing anybody could tell you about me is my patience. Or lack of it. It’s a paradox, really. While I can be still for hours when stalking birds to take photos, for instance, most of the time, I have no patience. None. I’m the kid who ate the marshmallow immediately (and went looking for another one in the corridor; no nice waiting for me!).

Gardening has been a lesson in humility for me. It simply takes time for plants to grow, and a fully grown garden takes several years. Even then, it does take time for flowers to bloom or for butterflies to appear in the spring. By creating and tending a garden, you learn patience along the way.

After creating my first garden in Sweden, tending to another in Switzerland, and then creating a new one when back in Sweden again, I thought I’d mastered patience. 

Ha! So easily fooled we are! Especially by ourselves. 


Writing a book takes a lot of patience. Sitting at your desk day after day after day, toiling away a page at a time, with no end in sight. 

One day you think you’ve made good progress; you only have to keep going, and you’ll get there. The next day, nothing works. You write 500 words and delete 400. You start doubting yourself. Do you really have what it takes? Patience and perseverance to sit there every day and build a cathedral by yourself, one brick at a time? To compare the wondrous vision of the building in your head and the lone low wall in front of you that you managed to erect so far?

Someone said that the only thing you need to write is a good chair. That’s a good point. You’ll need a good chair because you’re going to spend a lot of time in it. Sometimes writing, more often staring in space or scouring the internet for the best slug repellent (true story!).

I killed off all distractions on my computer, turned off e-mail and notifications, deleted games, and so on. Closed all programs, except for Scrivener (going off-road now, I know, but if you need anything to write, in addition to the said chair, you’d also need Scrivener, believe me! the best writing software, ever). And the internet browser. 

It’s a risk, I know. An internet connection while writing it’s an open invitation, a free-for-all buffet of distractions. 

I decided to take the risk. Looking up synonyms or the name of a bird I can’t bring to mind is worth it. Worse case, I’ll know more about the mating rituals of penguins or find the best slug repellent (I tend to be practical in my distractions; wasting time, yes, but at least I’ve got something for it).


So, I sit on the chair and stare at the Scrivener binder. Every morning. I try not to think about the number of days required to write a whole book. I try to have faith that if I show up every day, do the work, do the best I can, I’ll produce a book in the end. And maybe learn some patience on the way.

Writing is an exercise in humility. Day after day after day. Brick after brick after brick.

If you’ll excuse me, I have more bricks to lay now. Rome hasn’t been built in one day, and so on. Ta!


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  • If you’re interested in ICM photography, here’s a good guide.

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The Old Pond

  1. Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
  2. From Blossoms
  3. Wild Geese
  4. The Peace of Wild Things
  5. My Gift to You
  6. Departing Spring
  7. The Skylark
  8. What a Strange Thing!
  9. Although The Wind …
  10. The Old Pond
  11. Spring Is Like A Perhaps Hand
The Old Pond, with a close up of a pink water lily. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

The old pond: 
A frog jumps in,— 
The sound of the water.

by Matsuo Basho (1644 – 1694) was the most famous Edo period poet and a haiku master.


To read more poems, click here.



A Few Steps Further Down the Road

Deep blue sea. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

I work slowly but steadily on my book—word by word, pebble by pebble. In fact, I’m not writing that much at the moment, mostly research notes, as I’m working my way through the research books; and morning pages, of course. 

I read, I take notes, I read some more. Days blend into each other. My hand hurts. My head hurts even more.

Will I ever get there? The end product, the book, seems so far away. I try not to think about it; it’s so overwhelming at times. I feel I’ll never get there. It’s just so … much. Too much to think about, too much to read, too much to write. Like rowing a small boat across a vast ocean with only a flimsy map and an old compass to aid.

At times you may see something on the horizon. Maybe the coast, or maybe the gathering storm clouds. Hard to tell. You keep rowing, blistering hands on the oars and eyes on the horizon. The vision at the end of the ocean is the only thing that pumps your muscles and keeps you going long after you’re all spent.

Sometimes you see a sailboat, swiftly gliding away in the sunset, ahead of you. Tanned people with big smiles waving happily at you as you toil alone and exhausted in your rickety boat. You envy them, their seemingly effortless travel and happy faces.

Grudgingly, eyes off the happy vision, you grab your oars firmly once again and keep going. That’s the only thing you can do. Keep working, keep trusting the vision in your head. Work and have faith. Do your best and hope you’ll cross the ocean unscathed and find the treasure at the end of the rainbow.

There is a certain satisfaction in having done your best. Maybe your best is not good enough; you’re not always the best judge of that. Even so, you know that you’ve done the best you could at that moment. Right now, right here. You can try again, do better—step by step, day by day.

Happiness is this moment now, the sense of quiet accomplishment at the end of the day, the string of tiny moments, a task well done.

I put my books and papers away. Another day, another page, a few steps further down the road. Closer to the rainbow.


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Although The Wind …

  1. Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
  2. From Blossoms
  3. Wild Geese
  4. The Peace of Wild Things
  5. My Gift to You
  6. Departing Spring
  7. The Skylark
  8. What a Strange Thing!
  9. Although The Wind …
  10. The Old Pond
  11. Spring Is Like A Perhaps Hand
Trees and an old stone wall in black and white. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.

Although the wind

blows terribly here,

the moonlight also leaks

between the roof planks

of this ruined house.

By Izumi Shikibu (974–1034). Izumi Shikibu was a mid-Heian period Japanese poet and a member of the Thirty-six Medieval Poetry Immortals.


To read more poems, click here.