Saturday, January 31, 2015

Five Things

I've been doing some catching up on blogs and thinking about my creative plans for this year, and here are five things that have caught my eye:
1. A series on photo organization on the Simple as That blog. Check it out here.
2. An art journal workshop with a prompt a week, sponsored by Journal 52.
3. A list of prompts for sketching. I found them on Danny Gregory's blog, but he describes them this way:
The EveryDay Matters Challenges were created by a great artist, Karen Winters who continues to post new ones on a regular basis. Thanks, Karen!
4. I became totally obsessed with the podcast, Serial. And it's led me to download many other podcasts. They've taken me away from reading, but at least I can do other things while listening to podcasts. Over at DPS, I found this terrific list of photography podcasts that I can't wait to check out. 
5. The "little moments" app by Fat Mum Slim and her photo a day challenge (I participate on instagram at #fmsphotoaday). I love that she's out of Australia; her happy, sunny color scheme; her quirky style; and the community of people who participate (I was happy/surprised to find many long time blog friend participating). Here's a link to where Chantelle announces its launch.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thoughts on Still Life Style (Be Still 52, #3)

Wedding Bud Vase
Only three weeks into the course, I can already tell that Kim Klassen's Be Still 52 is going to be a winner. This week's lesson was jammed full of all kinds of information and ideas. I chose to focus on two things from lesson #3: beginning to define my style and working with different textures in backdrops. I spent about two hours this morning shooting still lifes! I've got about 50 images still to process and cull through, but I wanted to share these first three with some thoughts on still life style. Kim shoots a lot of flowers, and I went out to the yard today to see if I could find any. I found one bud on my hydrangeas with which to work. "Wedding Vase Bud" is one of my favorite photographs from this morning's shoot. I like the focus, the cropping, lighting, and sense of peace. It is also very much in the same style as Kim's still life work.
Winter in California
Here's another of my favorite photographs from this morning's session. It features the same hydrangea bud, but this time positioned on one of my favorite props (an old wash board) and shot out doors on my back deck. This one feels much more like me - there's more saturated colors, a bit more quirkiness and more energy. It's still heavily influenced by Kim, in terms of focus, cropping and subject (the hydrangea), but it feels much more like me.
Boy's Life (taken on my ipad; unedited)
And, finally, here's one I took in my studio yesterday afternoon when I was digging out my washboard and looking for various props to include in a still life. It kindof fell together, and I really liked the composition. I didn't have my camera with me, but I had my ipad and decided to try taking a photograph with it. I really like the end result. It's go a bit of a journalistic feel to it. It tells a story. It feels almost like a mixed media/collage version of still life. Something that is very much me and hardly any Kim at all.
I don't think there's any right or wrong here. Just some thoughts on a journey which I am enjoying very much. If you take still life photography (or any photograph), do you have a style that you can identify? Which of these three photographs appeals to you? For long time readers, which one do you think is the most me?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pairs #4: One Pond, Two Stories (Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt)

Mermaid's Pool (#1 Reflection in Water)
Koi Pond (#8 A Fish)
I stopped by a seamstress friend's house the other day to drop off Clara'a letterman's jacket. She's sewing the sport patches on for me. When I entered her front gate, I noticed her beautiful little pond, and I thought the reflections would be perfect for Item #1 Reflection in Water for the Winter Photography Scavenger Hunt. Once home, I realized they also made a nice pair for Helena's weekly Pairs photography meme and also qualified for Item #8 in the Scavenger Hunt - a Fish! 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sketchy Thoughts for Monday

I'm continuing my sketching practice this month, using a list of prompts from Athena. 
For the black and white prompt, I decided to try sketching Luna again, giving myself permission to do something that is more like an illustration that a realistic rendition.
I'm finding that what I really enjoy is working with my water colors, adding them to my basic sketches. I also find it important to start with a reference photograph but then let go and create an image that feels right to me.
For yesterday's prompt, I used the Frank Lloyd Wright quote which I feature on my blog and illustrated it with a Wright-inspired design.
There's about one week left in January, and I will keep sketching for the rest of the month and then probably look for another prompt list because I do find this a nice artistic outlet that I can do while watching television or listening to the radio. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Thoughts on Still Life, White Space and Light Room

I am taking and enjoying Kim Klassen's Be Still 52 photography course. This week, one of the ideas was to focus on creating a still life photograph with lots of white space. Long time blog readers know that I struggle with this concept. But, this week, I took a few deep breaths and managed to make peace with the concept in these photographs of an old Brownie camera that Clara's track coach gave me as a gift.
I am finding that I really enjoy setting up Still Life photographs . . . thinking through what props to use, what type of background, fiddling with my camera settings (so far, I've been using my fixed 50mm lens exclusively), finding the right angle, looking for the best light. 
For me, the missing element is still post-processing. I used to have PSE on my computer and a serviceable handle on how to use it. But that computer is long dead, along with (I fear) those brain cells. It seems like Light Room might be the best way to go these days, and I am slowly resigning myself to learning how to use it. I figure that the class is 52 weeks, so I have plenty of time to learn it.  Because I think all three of these photographs, but especially the last two, could be improved tremendously with some added texture. 
Thoughts on still life, white space and light room really appreciated - as well as feedback on these photographs.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Be Still 52 Week #2: In Search of Quiet

It's awfully hard for me to find a quiet moment in my house. I'm loud. My daughter's loud. My husband always seems to have the television on for background noise. I'm currently obsessed with listening to the podcast "Serial."
And then there's the puppy, who barks and plays and requires verbal correction. 
So, I had to put on my thinking cap and work hard to address this week's prompt in the Be Still 52 Class on Finding Quiet.
I looked about the house for items which symbolized quiet and thought through a color story to fit the mood. 
I managed a few photographs that I liked before all hell broke loose again in my house of noise. I'm really enjoying this still life practice and welcome all feedback on my photographs . . . it can be as simple as which one you like best or as complex as suggestions for better angles or crops. Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pairs #3: B&W and Living Color

I spent some time recently taking photographs of the dogs with my iphone. I took a cute portrait of Luna and then turned it to black and white using instagram. I thought these two photographs would make a good entry for Helena's pairs photography meme. I'm afraid there will be many Luna entries in this meme this year. I hope you don't mind.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Be Still 52 - Week #1: Beginning Thoughts

I signed up for Kim Klassen's Still Life Photography class called "Be Still 52." I really enjoyed learning about Still Life photography last year in Cheryl McCain's Frugal Still Life Photography class and decided I wanted to continue that journey. Kim Klassen's class is a year long! I usually have trouble sticking with a project that long, but I'm going to give it a try.
I have enjoyed classes taught by Kim before and follow her blog. As she describes in the class registration link posted above, one of the reasons she started a still life photography practice was because it helped her through the life-altering experience of having a husband diagnosed with lymphoma and going through treatment with him. As long time blog readers know, that resonates hugely with me having "been there, done that" with Paul. (Yes, you get to be a bit irreverent when you've lived the experience).
So, for the first photograph for the course, I decided to honor our common journey and photograph the rosary which I brought to the hospital with me during Paul's treatment. I'm a pretty badly lapsed Catholic, but during certain moments, sitting in the hospital, seeking peace, I felt the need to pray. And to say the prayers of my childhood. So, I dug out this rosary that I had inherited from my Aunt Vera. And brought it with me to the hospital. 
I still keep it in my purse. The links have broken a bit and I rarely pull it out to pray. But I still feel its power to calm me, to bring stillness and peace when I need it. So I continue to carry it with me, recognizing the importance of peace and stillness in my life.
And, now, I am glad to have captured its essence and its story in words and pictures. Thank you Kim. I'm looking forward to what comes next . . . 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Sketching: Hitting my Stride

I'm making it a priority this month to make time to sketch, in hopes of deciding whether sketching is an art form I want to continue with or give up on. I'm working with 31 prompts posted by Athena (you can see them in the left side bar on my blog).  I managed four more sketches this week (see my sketches from last week here).
The sketch up top is my favorite. After sketching lightly in pencil, I added black and brown stabilo-all pencil before water coloring. I really like the finished effect. 
I was also pretty happy with these two sketches:
For all of these, I let go of the idea of trying to create an exact replica and instead focused on creating art which looks more like an illustration. That made me happy. For the caydanlik, I added my own color and pattern to a tea pot with the requisite shape.
My least favorite sketch for this week was based on the prompt for a recently received gift:
I love the watch Henry gave me for Christmas, just not my rendition of it. I'm glad I'm undertaking this sketch challenge. I feel like I am developing my sketching style. I also like the way I photographed my sketches this week. So glad to be using my big camera more regularly this year.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Pairs #2: Diagonal Views

Over the weekend, I looked up and captured this beautiful  sky with my iphone camera. And then I turned around and looked down to see this:
I call this photographic pair, "diagonal views" and am linking up with Helena's Pairs meme.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Me on Monday: Polka-dots and Shadows

Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt Item #11: Polka-dots
Monday morning, sitting at the kitchen table in my comfy robe, pajamas and Uggs (which I wear as slippers). Joining in with Sian's "Me on Monday" meme.
How was my weekend? For me it was a:
Paul visiting L.A., so just me and my girl (plus all the animals) weekend;
a teaching the pup to walk on a leash
Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt Item #18: Shadow
Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt Item #18: Shadow
and giving the pup her first bath (plus brushing and nail clipping) kind of weekend:
Also, a starting a new eating plan, grading exams and doing laundry kind of weekend.
How was your weekend?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

One Photo, Twenty Words: A Quiet Morning

Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt Item #4: Breakfast
Enjoying my morning cup of coffee; gathering eggs from the hen house. This cracked one will become my breakfast. 
Joining in with Abi and her monthly photo meme encouraging people to share one photo and tell its story in just 20 words.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Reconsidering my Art Work: Sketching

Day 6 Prompt: A Seed or Pod
One of my goals for 2015 is to reconsider my art work to decide what I want to do more of and what I want to let go. I've been dabbling in sketching for the last few years and still haven't decided if I love it or not. I found a list of 31 prompts for sketches in January at Athena's Creative Journey, and I decided to use the list to practice sketching. I'm not planning to sketch every day, but do want to give sketching an honest try. You can see the full list in the left hand column of my blog.  During the first week, I managed three sketches. I think my most successful sketch is for day #6 (above). It's based on one of my photos that I'm using for the postcard swap.
Day 1 Prompt: Something you can't bare to throw away but probably should
At first, I wasn't sure what to do for prompt #1, but I do have this really ratty pair of purple socks that I sleep in. They need a good throwing away, but they are really comfy! Here's the picture I used as the basis for my sketch.
I'm not wild about this last sketch - our puppy Luna is much cuter than this. LOL!
Day 4 Prompt: An animal
I think what I learned this first week is that I don't like sketching something that needs to be too realistic. I'm looking forward to continuing to sketch this month and will let you know how it turns out.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My "E-Bay Moment" Collection: Egg Coddlers (Pairs Photo Project)

Wintertime Photo Scavenger Hunt Item #16: A Collection
I don't have an E-Bay account. I've tended to avoid the online auction site because it seems too complicated to me. Kindof like Etsy. I'd like to sell art work on either (or both), but not enough to actually learn how the system operates.
But I have a friend, Faye, who is an E-Bay expert. She lives in Eugene, Oregon, where my son Henry goes to school. Sometimes when I visit Henry, I stay with Faye. She is an excellent cook and is particularly well known for her fantastic breakfasts. 
Her breakfasts feature wonderful scones and, often, coddled eggs. I loved the eggs so much that I decided I wanted to get some egg coddlers, so that I could make them on my own. 
It turns out that the best place to purchase egg coddlers is on E-Bay. So, Faye told me to go to the E-Bay site and find some coddlers that I would like and she would help me figure out the process. It was so much fun to scroll through page after page of beautiful coddlers, trying to decide which ones to purchase. I had planned to just buy one set, but, in an "E-Bay Moment" quickly purchased three different sets for a total of seven coddlers!
I could see how E-Bay could become completely addicting. I love my collection of egg coddlers and thought they would be a good thing to photograph for Item #16 on the Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt. I also thought it would be a good first entry in Helena's "Pairs" Photo project. I'm calling my pair: "Whole" and "Part."
Do you make coddled eggs? Do you do E-Bay? What about Etsy? 
Are you playing along with the Wintertime Scavenger Hunt or Helena's Pairs Meme?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It's Time to Pick the Post Cards!

Kat Sloma, over at Kat Eye Studio, hosts a wonderful post card swap every year. I've participated three times now (see all my related posts at this link), and I have always really enjoyed it. You send five post card and receive six in return - they include mixed media and photography. It's so much fun to get art in the mail! 
I also really enjoy perusing my photographs to decide which to include on my post cards. Here are the five that I have chosen for this year:
I find that it takes some effort to find photographs which I like and which I think will also look striking on a post card. I like this selection because each one will show well on a 4x6 post card and because it showcases the variety of different types of photography that I do. 
If you would like to participate in this year's swap, there's plenty of time. The post cards aren't due to Kat until March 14, 2015. You can read more about the swap here. Have you participated before? Are you going to play along this year? If so, have you chosen your design yet? Either way, let me know which of my selections is your favorite. I may just send you an extra!