Life Through Kaleidoscopes

One of my favorite memories from childhood is the inexpensive cardboard kaleidoscope that used to arrive in my stocking at Christmas, or that I could save my pennies and nickels for and buy at the local dime store (yes, I am that old!).

“Kaleidoscope #1” smart phone art © 2012, Lynne Medsker

I’d not really thought about them for several years until I discovered a digital program that would create kaleidoscopic art. Even more sophisticated and detailed than the beads rolling in the bottom of a tube, I have created more of them than I’d care to count. Yet it just wasn’t quite the same! To my surprise as I browsed the toy aisles, the kaleidoscopes that used to be so readily available are much harder to come by these days!

“Kaleidoscope #9” smart phone art © 2012, Lynne Medsker

Finally, on a short vacation to visit friends in Florida last March, I discovered one in a gift shop full of fun ticky-tacky souvenirs that I’ve seen in those shops since I was a kid.  An appropriate fate for something so old-fashion and low tech I suppose. I was ever-so excited to find them, although they weren’t exactly as I remembered.

“Kaleidoscope #8” smart phone art © 2012, Lynne Medsker

These had large, clear, dome-like lenses on the end of the cardboard tube and you didn’t rotate the piece on the end to change your design, you rolled the entire tube around. But it somewhat satisfied my quest and I happily paid an outrageous price to bring one home with me. It immediately took up residence in my art studio.

“Kaleidoscope #16” smart phone art © 2012, Lynne Medsker

Although different than I remembered it’s fun to look through because, as you are viewing the patterns it creates, the background you’ve pointed it at is part of the design. It was especially fun during the summer as flowers bloomed and into fall as the leaves changed. I’m waiting for a nice blanket of snow to see how brilliant the design will be on an all-white background!

“Kaleidoscope #2” smart phone art © 2012, Lynne Medsker

I continued to cruise toy aisles and other spots where I thought I might discover a kaleidoscope but didn’t have any further sightings until a trip up to Michigan late this summer. Again, in another tourist gift shop, I spied them. LOTS of them! In different sizes and shapes. Kaleidoscope nirvana!! I passed over the odd design I already had at home and looked through each and every different color, size and design they had. This time I bought TWO!  One, pretty much exactly as I remembered from childhood, followed by a shorter version that had a sort of “stained glass” effect on the end cover instead of the traditional semi-opaque white film covering.

Kaleidoscopes in the studio © Lynne Medsker

They have taken up residence with the first one in the studio. I play with them occasionally, share them with young visitors, grandkids and anyone else that seems remotely interested. When I purchased the first of the three I had tried to take photos through it using my point & shoot camera. The attempt was less than successful. 😦 I don’t recall if I tried to use the phone I had at the time but inspiration hit last week that, since I’d recently upgraded, perhaps my newest smart phone would work. I won’t say it was the easiest task, and the percentage of useable images was probably right around 50% BUT, when it did work – Wow!

“Kaleidoscope #7” smart phone art © 2012, Lynne Medsker

Holding both the kaleidoscope and the phone in my left hand (and trying to keep them lined up in the proper position) while trying to turn the tubes and push the image capture button with the other hand was a feat in itself. I tried it standing, sitting, laying, propped up and a few poses in between that I can’t even describe! But I really didn’t mind the contorting, once I’m in the “photo zone” I rarely pay attention to much else but the images I’m creating.

“Kaleidoscope #12” smart phone art © 2012, Lynne Medsker

After my photo-making craving had been satisfied I began to weed through all the images, deleting the ones that didn’t turn out well, along with several duplicates. Since they were already in my phone I decided that I’d do some digital enhancements to my favorites before I uploaded them.  In addition to the eight that I’m sharing with you today I have another eight that I’ll share in the near future.

“Kaleidoscope #14” smart phone art © 2012, Lynne Medsker

I hope that you have enjoyed the images, my story and perhaps a few memories of your own as you read this! I’d love to hear about them, regardless if they are about a kaleidoscope or some other favorite childhood memory – be sure to leave me a comment. 🙂

Until the next time just picture me browsing the “retro” toys, on the lookout for the next piece to add to my collection!


Oh Happy Day!

new supplies! (c) Lynne Medsker

I can’t speak for other artists but I can say that, for me, seeing the FedEx or UPS truck pull up to the house with a delivery of fresh art supplies is one of my happy moments. Oh, the possibilities that lie within the protective layers of cardboard. The smell of fresh paint, the texture of paper, canvas or wood surfaces to create upon…mmmm, heavenly! As I’m always exploring new mediums and techniques often there are undiscovered avenue waiting within these boxes of fun. Maybe a new tool, new media, new surface…I love the anticipation that comes with opening each box, unwrapping each item and finding its proper place in the studio.  Some don’t even make it to their assigned spot but go directly on the work table. 🙂

The overwhelming thing that the process reminds me of? Being a child again, sorting and packing treasured school supplies for the first day of school…especially that precious new box of crayons all shiny, with their wrappers intact, smelling all wondrously waxy and looking glorious in their unbroken newness. A new beginning, a fresh start, all compliments of Crayola.  Most years it was the box of 16 which was an improvement over the standard eight colors. If you were lucky enough to get the box of 64 colors with the built-in sharpener in the back of the box? Wow, you were the envy of your classmates!

What are the happy moments in your life? Do you notice and treasure them?

Wishing you all 64 colors & more,



Seems like lately I’ve just been bursting at the seams with new ideas, creativity and artwork!  It feels good to have things flow so easily. That’s not always the case with making art so I am making the best of it while I can!  I’ve got so many new projects going that I am excited about but I wanted to share this one with you while it’s fresh in my mind.  Tonight I sat down at the computer to do some photo editing for a recent photo shoot but first got sidetracked and created a few new photo/digital art pieces instead.  (That tends to happen when I should really be doing something else!)

We traveled to southern Indiana yesterday to spend the day visiting my parents.  It is a place that is full of memories, and always seems to be so visually stimulating to visit.  They live on a lake in a house that they built, it stands where we once had a summer “cabin” that we would retreat to each weekend from spring to fall.  They bought the old cabin when I was only four years old, so I have many, many memories of my time down there as a child, teenager and as an adult.  Although things have changed, when I am there much still feels the same.  It seems like each time I visit I can’t help but pull out my camera and shoot images around their property.  I literally have folders full of images that I’m never quite sure what I’ll do with once I’ve taken them.  But this time it came to me that I am repeatedly shooting photos of my mother’s beautiful flowers in bloom and of the many rocks that they’ve collected and have placed around the outside of the house.

The rocks particularly bring back memories of long walks “up the creek” to splash in the cold water on a hot summer’s day, chase minnows & crawdads as well as to rummage through the rocks along the path and in the creek.  My dad would carry a large bucket and often fill it with geodes of all sizes which he would tote back to the cabin to add to the others that he had already collected.  If you’ve never seen a geode they aren’t particularly excited to look at from the outside.  But the inside, well the insides can be quite spectacular.  And getting to the insides can be an adventure in itself!  Depending on the size and hardness of the rock sometimes you are able to give it a good smack with a hammer and it will crack open, displaying all sorts of beautiful formations of quartz in a variety of colors.  If the hammer didn’t work we would fling them onto the concrete step and hope that would do the trick.  I’m sure now days all kinds of safety gear would be required just to get to the inside! Although I remember bits & pieces of shattered rock flying through the air, I can’t recall any of us ever being injured.  At least not permanently! 🙂

After returning home from our visit with yet another batch of photos (including many of the beautiful geodes and flowers – again!), I decided that this time I needed to create something instead of leaving the images in a file, in a folder, tucked away on my computer.  In just a short time I had created four new pieces!  I can see expanding on these quite easily to add many more images to the collection.  For each piece I used between three and five different photos to create the new image.  I even have some them printed, waiting for mats & frames so that I can take them to an upcoming show.

Here they are:

“Mommas Flower, Papas Rocks”


“Mommas Flower, Papas Rocks, 2”


“Mommas Flower, Papas Rocks, 3”


“Mommas Flower, Papas Rocks, 4”#4

Thanks for reading my little blog, I’ll check in again soon!