Friday, August 27, 2010

Guest Blog Post: Deborah Downes

An Internet friend and fellow artist and writer, Deborah Downes is the author of today's blog post. Additionally, Deborah has allowed me to feature a photograph she made in Italy, Perfect Ending—one of my favorite images of hers. It simply steals my breath. What follows is a portion of a correspondence Deb sent me in response to some writing I had sent her. I was so moved by what she expressed that I asked her if I could feature her response on my blog.

If you  would like to see more of Deb's work, please check out her work posted at JPGMAG.

Deborah Downes
About Deborah Downes: I am a global nomad, working on ways to weave together tales and pictures of my life as an American expat (20 years and counting). Currently I live in Italy and I’m writing a book about the two times I lived in China. During the year I spent in Shanghai, I went through a sea change of sorts, resulting in a major shift in my writing and a great new love, photography. When not overseas with my husband, I'm usually at our home in Garland, Texas, near our daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters.

...Now I long to go to the Badlands. Can sure see why it was like a religious experience for you. I’m certain it would have the same effect on me. I felt something similar my first time at the Grand Canyon. Flurries fell off and on during our drive there. Low lying clouds moved slowly across the sky as we approached on foot the lookout where I’d either get my first glimpse of the canyon or more of the kind of dark snow laden looking clouds above us. A bitter gust of wind slapped my face and threatened to penetrate the winter coat my aunt lent me. I ducked my head and moved towards the vantage point like some character in a book fighting the elements for a lost love. 

At the lookout I stood a few feet from a middle-aged blond woman saying something in German. She was the only one there besides my uncle, aunt, and me. I followed her gaze, and shivered over the view before us. Moving low lying clouds caressed upper faces of the canyon. Lower ones cupped snow against sheer drops of contrasting shades of reds and browns. Then suddenly an opening appeared in the clouds letting in a shaft of brilliant light that made everything it touched look as if it glowed from within. The German woman and I looked at each other at the same time. We both had tears our eyes; we both held our hands over our hearts.

I read on facebook you’re going through a kind of photographer’s block, following your trip to the Badlands. Perfectly understandable considering you going from the drama of that amazing place and all that you felt there to home and all that’s familiar. If it weren’t for my granddaughters, Sasha (9) and Ashlyn (5), I’m certain I’d be caught up in it, too, following the sensory and emotional stimulation of Italy. Sasha and Ashlyn not only inspire me to photograph them, but see things in the Dallas area through their eyes. Being with them helped me through a bad case of writer’s block.

Perhaps interacting with a child or children, or just attempting to see familiar things, places, and people through the eyes of a toddler (a writing exercise I experimented with, resulting in some fascinating and fun prose) would help you through this dry spell.

Other things that helped me get through my bad case of writer’s block included trying new forms of creativity and interacting with creative and upbeat friends.

Hang in there. I’m certain you’ll get through this. 

Warm regards,

Perfect Ending. Image by Deborah Downes.
While living in an old farm house in Italy, I’ve come to realize I’m a country girl at heart. I’ve experienced connection, continuity, sensual pleasure, spirituality and peace through photographing the same countryside subject from different angles, at different times of the day, and during different seasons, such as this gravel road that leads to my current home away from home. I captured this image of that road as mist glided across it and the sun performed an unforgettable light show the morning of the day my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters left Italy and returned to their home in Dallas.


  1. I was with Mom when she took that photo. It was an incredible morning. I just wish we could have stayed in Italy instead of returning to Dallas. The girls constantly talk about going back.

  2. Wow Kim. What a moment that must have been. It is such a moving image. You have a very talented mom:)