About Me

My photo
Somewhere in the Mojave Desert, California, United States
Gazing into this abyss called Life and wondering.....what's next !?!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Season of Reflection - Happy Solstice

I am a winter baby. This is my favorite event of the year - the Winter Solstice - a time to be still with yourself and your gratitudes and ground yourself for the next round. May this season of going within find you present, at peace, and enveloped in the warmth of all Life's Blessings...

(artist unknown)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Under the Tuscan Sun

Greetings dear readers....I've finally gotten around to thinking about writing again after a whirlwind many months of changes and adventures. I felt a little stumped on what to write about and post, but the blockage is slowly clearing after giving myself permission to just "be" instead of "do, do, do".... Italy, northern Italy in the Tuscan hills to be exact, was exactly what I needed. Born a European and a traveler, I needed to feel that earth beneath my feet again and experience the rich traditions of art and food and architecture and the people of my past.... What's really cool is that I am still in touch with nearly all I met along the way - including some generous and kind Italians who opened their home to me and shared a bit of their life.  The world doesn't feel so huge and cruel and empty (as much of the internet will tell you) when one travels and discovers that, while we may speak different languages and wear different skin, our hearts seem to collectively yearn for the same things...

Here is a brief glimpse of my adventures:

A view from the back of the 17th century villa I shared with kindred spirits for 10 days while learning platinum-palladium printing techniques, eating-eating-drinking-eating Tuscan food, making new friends, and nurturing my creative muse. Did I mention eating?

And this was our nightly sunset view, walking back up from the village center, looking across the valley towards the very mountain that the marble slab came from to create 'David'....

Yes, I was seriously considering buying this in the quiet little village that has withstood the ravages of time... Can you hear the church bells chiming? Every day, every hour, 'like clock-work'.  I miss those sounds....

Back in Firenze (Florence), Ponte Vecchio along the Arno River is a lovely mix of old and new. This was my view from our dinner table one sultry summer evening...

The quintessential find along the streets of Firenze...

The studio window we worked under in a musty, ancient cellar of the villa. It opened to a stunning view of the valley and village below us which we had no idea existed until the last night we were there to celebrate and show our creations from the week. That's how immersed in the making we were....

Breaking bread. Every morning, a handful of adults gathered around this table, waiting for the warm bread made every day just for us.  It was a gift of love waiting to be savored....

I have an afternoon date with a fellow artist friend today - to share my Italian adventure with. It's on her bucket list so I am offering encouragement to go for it. Life is fleeting and meant to be experienced outside of our dreams.

Thank you for staying with me.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The other side of transition

Never underestimate the work that goes on in life's transitional phases. When my last 'baby' left home in the fall for college, I thought I would just easily flow through that dreaded 'empty-nest' syndrome typical for so many parents, single parents in particular. I found myself simultaneously feeling stagnant and catapulted through either not quite knowing what to do with my 'free' time or having a staggering amount of opportunities and decisions to make.

In just a few short months, I planned and booked a trip to Italy with the sole purpose of expanding my artistic trade and developing a stronger portfolio, cleared out physical stuff, quelled out fair weather friends and acquaintances, and left my workplace of 18 years. None of which was a foreseeable blip on the horizon until I was standing smack dab in the middle of it. My life is nothing that I knew of it - kids grown up and gone, day to day habits have made a 180 degree to the west turn, the faces of friends.

I am standing in the middle of my dream.

I cannot tell you how revived I feel after the sudden appearance of these opportunities that were, until early this spring, faint whispers of ideas tucked deep in my gray matter and only visible in the quiet of sleep. Is it possible to dream our realities? It appears so... Change was asked for and I received, tenfold.

Next week, I leave on an artistic sojourn to Italy - Tuscan region to be exact. Firenze. Benabbio, Bagni di Lucca. Residing in a 17th century, Baroque villa with other photographer/artists - what better place but the birthplace of the Renaissance to nurture my artistic muse?

I look forward to a new and much needed twist to this blog site. Come back often for travel snippets and updates from new adventures...

A presto!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Capturing the love

Day 3 of the 3-pieces-of-art-a-day-for-5-days I have been challenged with.

This time I decided to post portraits I've done. Is that considered "art"? My photographer friends would say yes. There is always a debate about photography being "art". It's not done with paints or brushes or canvas or drawn by hand so many in the art world would argue it is not art. The word photography is made up of 2 ancient Greek words meaning "light" (photo) and "drawing" (graph). Drawing with light. The camera is our tool - our brush if you will. And the surface we place our images on - fine papers, wood, glass, fabric, metal, ceramics, and yes, canvas. Can that not be "art"?

It all started about 6 years ago when colleagues of mine asked me to take their family photo with another family they were close with. They were moving back east and wanted a memento. Since then, I've been privileged to photograph many families and artists. Each time, I learn something new - a different perspective, better ways to engage with my subjects, finding the right light, capturing a look, a feeling, a moment...

I think I enjoy making portraits for people because I have so few of my own with me in them. I'm always on the other side of the lens. When I was married, my children's dad would never take a photo of me with the kids unless I made a fuss of it. My memories of me with my children as babies on up are left in the photocells of my brain instead of a photo album or nicely framed print....

I get it when people aren't comfortable picking up the camera to take that memorable shot. We get distracted, busy, self-conscious. And then there are those who are comfortable capturing the moments but rarely get in those memories themselves. I'm here to help tell a story. The best part is seeing my client's faces when they realize they look pretty good in a photo or didn't really see a particular behavior in their child as they were trying to get them to behave while I was snapping away.

Either way, it's just fun.

I had a difficult time finding just 3 for this challenge post. If I were to review all my files again, I'm sure I'd pick 3 different ones. But, here they are - genuine, spontaneous moments of people who have graced my life...

#1. Photo bomb! I love this one. Largely because I know how tough it was for us to create a serene moment with just dad and mom and soon-to-be-born baby. This says it all about the joys and challenges of growing families, and it all spells Love.

#2. The boys in this family are a bit older and taller now. The natural way they all posed tells volumes about their relationship with each other. It warms my heart with hope every time I meet a family so deeply connected and in love with each other...

#3. My most recent portrait shot just last December. One big family divided into 4 smaller family units. My first photo shoot of this size. The challenge was a flat gray-overcast day with occasional peeps of sunlight - just enough to wreak havoc on my settings; black shirts and jeans;  and one person with shockingly turquoise blue hair. It was fun. I like the classic, timeless black and white treatment we agreed on for this shot. The color version was neat, too, but if you want to highlight the faces, classic black and white pulls out all the distractions of busy scenes and brings it all together.

Okay, so there are only supposed to be 3 art shots a day. I have to sneak this one in. These spunky little girls were a hoot to capture. Always animated. Always moving. We had a most beautiful fall day at the preserve. Sisters. The little one emulated everything the older one did. I hope they always stay this close.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Weather makes us giddy.

So, I've been challenged by a fellow artist to post 3 works a day for 5 days.

This is Day 2.

Going back in the archives, I am sharing (again) some unique desert weather shots. I know I've mentioned this many, many times - but, we desert dwellers get really giddy whenever there is any kind of precipitation - especially drizzle/rain accompanied by fog. Fog is a super unusual occurrence in our desert. This year, we've had literally days and days of it. Once for 3 days in a row - the pea soup kind. Of course, I was teaching on those days - not conducive for chasing great fog shots. But I did manage to go out and play for an hour after school, before dark. There is something eerily special about standing out in the desert, enveloped in the thick quiet of fog. The best part? The smells! Oh my. Sage, desert lavender, cedar, pinion pine, creosote - all mixed with granite (yes, rocks have smells) and wet earth.


This shot was taken in January, 2 years ago. Not photoshopped or altered at all. This is what my camera captured. Yes. It was that thick. If you look closely at a print of this, you can very, very faintly see more vegetation in the background. There are hills back there and a dip between them with views to the valley below. Only 20 feet or so from the car, my daughter said I completely disappeared. I dreamt this shot many years prior. When I woke up to fog that morning, I knew I had to find that dream...

And this shot was taken just a few months ago. We had 3 days of thick fog in a row. This was day 2. I remembered to bring my camera with me to work that day and dashed out as soon as all the students left. Black Rock Campground, part of Joshua Tree National Park, is just minutes up the road from my school. I spent an hour mingling about, breathing in deeply. The fog would recede; patches of blue sky emerging. Then, without warning, I'd suddenly find myself totally surrounded by fog thick enough to barely see the bushes ahead of me. I lost my car - couldn't tell which direction I needed to go to get back to it. So, I simply stood in one spot, light waning for the day, praying the fog would lift just enough for me to get back to the car before blackness took me. I was too excited to get out and play in it with my camera to remember a headlamp. I will next time....

And, finally, my 3rd art shot for Day 2, another foggy day sometime between the first 2 shots above - late winter, maybe last year. The fog had receded to the distant hills. We pretty much had just a brief morning of it that day. There is a quiet melancholiness about this. I remember my ears ringing to the point of discomfort, so utterly still it was. When I printed it on a cold pressed, fiber-based matt paper, it had a more blue cast than this - which I actually like. It's hanging in my son's apartment near the beach now - a reminder of home.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Look closely

Looks like there is no slowing down in 2015. Thought I'd pop in and let you all know what's been up in my absence.

Besides the throes of a working girl, getting over a lively holiday season, and spending spontaneous fun-time with my adult kids, I'm preparing for my works to hang in the local county courthouse offices; planning a trip to Tuscany; prepping for a photography class I get to teach in Joshua Tree National Park; and playing with polaroid film and sun sensitive papers. I've finally finished up a slew of portrait shoots over the holidays so now I have time to hunker down and hone a body of work that has been dancing around in my head for months.

I've been such a hermitess lately - work > home > dog walk > work > groceries > home > dog walk  > work > family > work... Ever have those times when you just hole up for long periods of time and people start to forget about you?  I like to think of it as reflective, decompressing, creative incubating time, but need to remind myself, force myself, back out into the public realms to reconnect with people I do enjoy and care about. Then again, I am a solid introvert so that time is quite necessary.... Many people don't understand it. They assume you are being a snob, a bitch, moody...pick a demeaning adjective, it gets flung. You may have felt it yourself from time to time - the need to explain yourself because few 'get you' or are capable of seeing the depth beneath the quiet, sometimes aloof exterior.

Oh well. Toby loves me, no matter what I'm doing or not doing... even without treats ;-)

For my spring show, I am thinking of hanging a body of work depicting one of my favorite desert subjects: patina and rust. There are enough snapshots and thoughtful captures of joshua trees, boulders, and sunsets. I don't care to shoot them, preferring to enjoy the scene with my own eyes as the light dances on the mojave sand or a well-captured scene from someone else. I've always liked taking pieces of a whole - those more interesting parts overlooked because we are so distracted with the whole scene or just too 'busy' to look.

These look great in printed on fiber based matt paper. Very rich and organic. I always see something different each time I observe. I'm looking forward to seeing them hang on the courthouse office walls this spring.

What does your imagination tell you? Look closely.....