The past few months have been full of emotional attachments to people, places and things as I prepared to let go of my home in Miami; leave my daughter and friends; and return to my childhood hometown to start over yet one more time.
Once I was able to release my emotional attachments and stories about my possessions, especially my antique Steinway piano, everything else began to fall into place, albeit this place still seems to be in another dimension, or alternate reality. *
Time for full disclosure…
Our house/home/property which was in my opinion, absolutely perfect for our family and friends, and for me, became one of the heaviest possessions I’ve ever become attached to as well as the defining factor in my life thus far. It was pretty close to my dream home. After 8 years, the yard, gardens and neighborhood were just perfect but it had become painfully obvious that I could not recover from the financial distress that is overtaking much of the world’s population and I finally just stopped trying and accepted the impending foreclosure.
On Monday, November 19th, my home was sold through the foreclosure auction process of Miami-Dade County and on Wednesday, November 21st, I left Miami and headed back to Narrowsburg, the small town in the Catskill Mountains of New York where I lived as a child. My sister and Mother are living there in the home we grew up in and my Mom has had multiple strokes and needs around the clock care. My sister has her own business and I could be helpful to both of them, plus the obvious, I’d be damn close to homeless in Miami under the present circumstances. So… I sold everything that I could, gave away even more, packed my Honda mini van to the roof complete with 5 furry felines and all of the art and supplies I could jam into the van and at 12:06 pm pulled out of my driveway and did not look back.
My eyes were filled with tears and I had to stop frequently because I was sobbing and could not see through the tears. I managed to make it to Jacksonville that first day, and already, the mechanical challenges of Mercury retrograde had alternate plans for me. My intention was to drive for 3-4 days and get to my destination safely and without delays. The reality is, it took me a full week to make the trip due to multiple mechanical problems with the van and the consequent delays in getting parts.
*(note: I started writing this post on Dec. 1 and emotionally, was not yet ready to share because the emotional chaos, depression, and shame were too raw. As I progress in the new version of my life, the painful stuff is fading and easier to share. I’ll continue with a bit more of this story in hopes it may help others in the chaos of the financial manipulation of our lives. And I do believe that while I am ultimately responsible for my choices, I was/we all, are victims of predatory lending strategies.
TOTEM Nature Art " Ferns and Avocado Bark Devas" by Debra Cortese
I wanted to create a custom background image for some of my new blog pages and since I didn’t really have a specific image in mind, I experimented with many variations of nature’s textures and colors from images taken in my back yard. The deep contrast and texture of the bark on our avocado tree was one of my first choices. The energy of the bark is powerful, serious and grounded.
I tested several versions of the bark texture with different flowers and leaves, however when I added the fern frond, which is a prolific character accenting many areas of our back yard, it started to feel right!
Reflecting or mirroring images is one of my favorite techniques in revealing the hidden magic of nature’s energy. You never know what you will actually see when the pieces come together and this time was exceptional! After sizing, layering, adjusting shadows and opacity and putting them all together, a center column of totem devas appeared. Now, this is often exactly what happens however, the images in this piece are profound to me. Their appearance and positions tell a story about the forests (perhaps a bit of fortune telling) and the importance of global connections and interdependence of ALL living elements.
What do you see?
Yes, I am a nature lover. I am soothed, balanced, energized and inspired by plants, trees, leaves, and flowers. I love cloud watching and delight in hearing the early morning bird songs, and in observing the industrious work of honeybees and spiders. Even snakes are welcomed as they tend to the removal of some critters that would otherwise gorge themselves on my rows of tasty vegetables.
Looks like a China Bear?
Here are a few sample Totem Devas and if you click the images you can view larger versions. I welcome your comments and am especially interested in hearing your insights 🙂
Oleander Leaves Pattern ©2012 Debra Cortese Designs
People often ask where I get my ideas or how do I create the designs for my art and products. Ideas come from all over the place – things I read, conversations, dreams, observing animals, people, music, foods, etc. and at least 90% of my designs are inspired by some element of nature.
I try to walk every day during twilight (early morning or just before sunset) because the angle of natural light is more dramatic and magical during those times. Sometimes I don’t have the option of choosing a time of day, or my subject. This is usually when I’m creating a custom design. In this case, a client will request a design based on something that relates to their business, product or interests. When this happens, I need to do a lot of research to learn more about the client, the business or event that I’m designing for as well as their market or trends and, I always want to learn more about the stories or relevant information of my subject. While thislater part isn’t always necessary, it is one of the parts of the creative process that I enjoy.
Today, I’m sharing just the basic steps to creating a custom pattern. I was creating a custom design for a product that incorporates the anti-aging properties of the oleander plant. I used images based on the client’s resources and after about 8 hours of creative time and multiple variations of designs and colors, the 2 patterns that are shown here are my favorites.
I started with a photo image for each design. On the Oleander Leaves pattern, I found a detail area within the photo, enhanced it, applied my custom set of filters and then some more tweaking of contrast and colors, mirrored the image and resized it into the pattern as shown on the background and on the sample Oleander Leaves Business/Travel Tote Bag.
Oleander Golden Fractals ©2012 Debra Cortese Designs
For the Oleander Fractals design, I found a detail area of a sunlight kissed, field of oleander photo and enlarged, filtered and customized this into a very different mirrored pattern. I love the golden sparkle of this design and knowing that both patterns are created from pixels of the selected plant just makes my work that much more rewarding 🙂 This is an example of how my designs incorporate the energy of a specific nature element.
Both Business/Travel Bags are now available along with 10 additional designs:
See all of them now at:
To learn more about a custom design for your business, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 305-298-2023.
- Peacock Feather on Peacock Blues Hipster Bag by Cortese Designs
The Hipster is a convenient size, durable, lightweight purse with a 48″ adjustable shoulder strap. At just 9″ x 7.5″, with a zipper top and a back zipper pocket big enough to hold your iphone, this snappy little bag is perfect for everyday use.
I’m really getting into preparing design collections to exhibit at Surtex in May and am pleased that so many of my existing artworks can be updated and reworked into coordinating designs, patterns, silhouettes and borders! Also am definitely appreciating my graphic design and print production background. Always knew it was an advantage, but it really does give me a big edge for editing and adapting art for the licensing business.
Below are a few images of the creative process (Note: My favorite part, inherent in every step, is actually feeling the magic of nature’s energy as I’m working with the images)!
Here’s the original photo that all of my Orchid Cascade designs are based on:
“Photo taken by Debra Cortese at 2008 Orchid Festival
atFairchild Tropical Botanic Garden”
One of the first designs was ‘Orchid Cascades Reflection’ which has become
one of my top selling Cortese bag designs:
The last image shows the latest adaptations of Orchid Cascades – for fabrics,
gift wrap, journals, mugs, calendars, cards. I’d love to have it on a shower curtain!
© 2008-2011 Debra Cortese/Nature’s Energy Cortese Designs