Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Limits or Freedom?

There are a couple of subjects that keep popping up in blogs and other places that I would like to discuss today. While photography is not usually part of the conversation on these sites, I have been thinking a lot about how these current topics relate to my never ending quest for focus, joy and delight in my work.

"Fear of Missing Out" or "FOMO," has become an epidemic of sorts in this age of social media. We are witness to (if we choose), the adventures, parties, meals and beautiful relationships of all our friends and even people we don't really know. How can I be happy sitting on the couch watching a baseball game with my husband when others are out there "living the life"?

It's easy..........if I stay present and pay attention to what feels good to me, then I can sit and celebrate my choices. But that's a big "if"......I don't usually operate this way.

How is this related to my photography? There have been times when I have been lost in the zone of flower photography only to look outside and notice fantastic lighting or magnificent clouds in the sky. All of sudden I experience "FOMO" and lose my zen-like state. Maybe I should be at the river or the beach.... anywhere but inside where I had been quite content just minutes before!

©2014 Dianne Poinski

Another topic frequenting the blogosphere these days has to with clothes. There are many out there touting the freedom of paring down their wardrobe to a set limit of items in their closets. The benefits of this are evident every morning when it's time to choose outfits for the day. Limiting choices can be very liberating.

I talked about this quite a bit while I was working on my 20/20 project. Knowing where to place my focus (pun intended) every day was extremely satisfying and made my life simple. Unlike these days, when I almost have an anxiety attack every time I open up my Lightroom catalog! So many little time.

©2014 Dianne Poinski

Earlier this week I picked up some cosmos at our local farmer's market. I took them to my studio, set up my tripod and once again, completely lost track of time. It had been a couple of months since I did anything like this. I forget how deeply "blissed out" I get photographing flowers. (I guess I could reread the many blog posts I have written where I state this very fact!)

As much as I enjoy many aspects of landscape photography, I know it doesn't fill me up the same way that shooting flowers, simple blossoms, branches or even river grasses does. The other part of this equation is, I also have more fun sitting at my computer working on these types of images than I do processing grand, more traditional landscape photographs.

©2014 Dianne Poinski

So............why do I fill my memory cards with photographs that I don't really want? Because I experience "FOMO", and to be very honest, it's usually about the "fear of missing out"...... of a print sale. I have this belief that people prefer landscapes to which I answer back (in my head) "so what!!". I have no proof* that this is true and even if I did, I want to become evolved enough to not care.

How it would feel to let that fear go? 

I may have had this same argument with myself on another post (or three or four). If so, I apologize, but I have decided to try an experiment. With today being the first day of the last quarter of the year, I am going to see how it feels to limit my subject matter for the next three months. Florals and I guess you could call them "intimate landscapes" (the branches, leaves, grasses, etc....) will be all I work on until New Year's eve.

So stay tuned. You can be sure I will be sharing my experiences with this experiment. 

*I did a little "Googling" and discovered a website that shows the Ansel Adams images "Rose and Driftwood" and "Dogwood, Blossoms" right up there in popularity with his famous "Half Dome" images! 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I Am Back!

After a summer hiatus, I have returned to weekly blogging. There were a few times when I wasn't sure I would continue, but after giving it some thought, I realized I enjoy writing and sharing what I have been up to. Finding my "why" was important. It couldn't be about marketing or promoting my work. It had to be simply because I wanted to! 

Many of you follow my Facebook page or visit my studio, so some of this update will be old news to you. Bear with me.......I promise I will new stuff to share soon!

Back in April I wrote about having two pieces in the "Best of Botanicals" exhibit at the PHOTO Oakland Gallery. "Wisteria" image won "Best of Show" and along with that, a $1000! I have never won anything like that, and as you can imagine, I was thrilled.

I could have taken that money and paid a few bills, but instead I decided to take Linda Robertson's "Wax Week: Mixing Media" five-day workshop in Portland! I needed a little creative shaking up, and encaustics (hot wax) is something I have always been curious about. (My cold wax "experiments" did not give me the results I had been looking for.....)

I will tell you right now; this is a tricky medium to work in, but I had a blast! 

The Greek word “enkaustikos” means “to heat” or “to burn.” Wax layers are fused with heat to bond them together. Simply put, photo encaustic is the term used to describe a photographic image treated with wax.

This quote by photo encaustic artist, Clare O’Neill pretty much tells the story:“Perfection and control in photo encaustics is impossible. The process is most satisfying if you can allow for the unexpected. The imperfection of the work is its own elegance.”

As someone who has called herself both a "perfectionist" and a "control freak" at times, I am struggling with this, but also embracing the challenge. 

Of course, I ordered supplies before I left Portland and have had the opportunity to play at home.

Recently someone asked me why I was experimenting with this process, and in light of the challenges I share above, I had to admit that I have asked myself the same question a few times. The answer I gave is that I like trying new things and creating something original. (Not the first time I have stated this in response to a question about why I am using a certain technique.)

I have a lot of ideas about where I want to take this latest experiment of mine. Until I learn more, I have been more or less glazing over with clear medium and after fusing that, I come back to add a little texture with brushes and other tools.

I managed to complete a few pieces in time for our "Open Studio Tour" last weekend. (The "dunes" piece and the sailboat, both went to new homes that weekend!)

Thinking about the future of my blog was not the only contemplative exercise I spent time on this summer. I am searching for my "why" in every aspect of my creative journey right now. Expect to hear more about that in the coming weeks......

P.S. I created a new "header" on my blog. If you are reading this in an email, click here to take a look: diannepoinskiblog

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Summer Breeze............

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” 
― Henry James

So Memorial Day is behind us and now we can look forward to graduation ceremonies, last day of school celebrations and the promise that summer holds for children and adults alike.

I miss that feeling of freedom I experienced as a child when June kicked in and it was only a matter of days until I could simply read all day and play outside until the streetlights came on. 

The other day while walking with a friend, the conversation turned to my art and the steps involved in making it and then offering out into the world. I think I must have sounded tired, because at one point she asked me if I had ever considered taking a break. Of course I had, but the voice of reason usually squashed the voice of the child who longed for more unstructured time. 

I decided to sit with this idea for a bit...........and then I made a decision. I am kind of, sort of, taking the summer off!

No, I won't be hanging out on the beach every day, but instead, I am going to simply do my part time job of studio/gallery manager and make art. In between, I want to kayak more, hike and bike on a regular basis and yes - go to the beach. I also plan to work in my yard, clean out a few closets and take more walks with my friends.

This also means that this will be my last blog post until September, and if you are on my email list, you will receive one more update in a couple of weeks, and then not another one until the fall.

I feel like regrouping and exploring some new ideas without the pressure of blogging about it and posting it on my website. I will however, still "mini blog" over on my Facebook page, so if you have not already done so, and would like to keep up with me this summer, click here: Facebook and "like" my page (it's also a good idea to click on "get notifications" as well).

One more thing before I sign off. After giving it quite a bit of thought and due to regular requests from some of you, I decided to post a few images on the "print on demand" site - Society Six.

The choice of images are based on some of my "best of" blog and Facebook posts. These images are not on my regular website and because of the shared overhead, the prices are also quite a bit lower than I can offer myself. Anything you purchase on the site will not be signed by me and due to licensing and wholesale contractual agreements, I am not able to post too many of my images on this site, but it might worth taking a look. Some of the images can even be purchased as tote bags and pillows! 

I may be adding to the site over the next couple of weeks, but then I am going to let it go and make some new art.

Here is the link: Society 6

I am so grateful that I can afford to take this break and am excited to see what comes of it. 

Have a fantastic summer and I will see you back here in a few months!

PS I will still be working in my studio and participating in Second Saturday events, so if you are in the neighborhood, stop by and say hi!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Well I am happy to announce I am not "floundering" anymore! All it took was a grocery store bunch of flowers to get me going again.

This is how it started:

A closed up bunch of peonies

I brought these to my studio on Saturday and went about taking care of some other things. 

On Sunday I came across an article about "time management" and a system that was all about blocking out time to do certain activities in advance. I thought to myself, "this is what I need to do". So from __:00 to __:00 I do ____________, then on to the next thing. You plan your whole day/week/month like that. Very effective - right? So I looked at my calendar and did a quick filling in of tasks and when I would do them.

Before going into my studio Monday morning, I stopped at the store to pick up some more peonies (their availability is very limited). I found some that were a little more opened up and with a ton of potential for luscious blooms. 

So now, not only did I have some already photogenic flowers in hand, but when I walked into my studio I was greeted with an amazing display of bursting peonies.

You know what happened next - the calendar might as well been literally thrown out the window. I have spent the last two days shooting, and loving every beautiful second of it!

I was reminded once again, that the muse doesn't work with calendars and cares little for time management.  So many times I have thought I was going to do one thing and ended up photographing instead.....because there was fog, or there were great clouds or blooming flowers or __________.

In addition to the hours I have been photographing, I of course could not wait to process some of them. Just one more thing I had not planned to be doing..............

Here are a couple from the first batch of peonies:

©2014 Dianne Poinski

©2014 Dianne Poinski

The second bunch had a little more color:

©2014 Dianne Poinski

©2014 Dianne Poinski

I was having so much fun yesterday, that I walked over to the farmers market and picked up some other flowers that are begging to be photographed as I sit here writing this.........everything else will have to wait!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ebb and Flow.........

I am floundering a bit. This happens every time I finish a project. I spend weeks being focused, deliberate and productive and then as soon as I am finished, it all goes out the window.

Completing the 25 pieces for the 20/20 show felt great. I learned a lot about working with these materials and I love that I now have a fairly large body of new work. 

This is how the pieces were arranged in the gallery.
I won 3rd place!

When I am in the middle of a project, everything else becomes something "I will do when I am finished with this..........." Now I have a long list of those "when I am finished....." items to deal with and so many of them are unrelated, so focus seems impossible right now.

For example, when I sit down to work on an image, I find myself jumping around from file to file, not really having a vision for what I am trying to create.

I know this is normal, but it's uncomfortable. I want to be back "in the zone", "cruising along", "going with the flow"...... but instead I feel like a manual transmission car being driven by someone who has never heard of a clutch. 

Cleaning and organizing my studio usually helps put me back on track, but because I just moved, it's really not that messy.

I have a few lunch dates planned with friends that were on the "when I am finished with this...." list, so that feels good, but I think I need to just ride this out. It's all part of the creative cycle, a necessary part...........right?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fog and Roses............

I love photographing in the fog. Here in Sacramento we get "tule" fog in the winter. This is a ground fog primarily found in the Central Valley of California. The "official" time frame for tule fog to form is November 1 to March 31. Rainfall and other precise conditions are needed in order for this fog to occur, so given the drought situation here, we had very few foggy mornings this past winter.

A couple of weeks ago we had some spring storms roll through town.  Around this time, I discovered roses blooming in an alley in my neighborhood. I made a few images with my iPhone one day, then went back with my Nikon the next and photographed just as the rain was beginning to fall. I got in a few shots, but the combination of the rain and no tripod, made for less then ideal conditions.

Here is one of the iPhone images, heavily processed through so many apps, I can't remember which ones:

©2014 Dianne Poinski

That evening as I was reviewing the few Nikon shots I made, I thought to myself, "I really need to go back there with my tripod". 

The next day, I woke up early even though it was a Saturday, and before looking out the window, I knew........... It was foggy! 

This does not happen at the end of April! Remembering my desire to go back to the alley with my tripod, I quickly got some clothes on, grabbed my equipment and headed out the door, (I must add without even a drop of caffeine in me!).

The alley was quiet and beautiful, but what struck me was the juxtaposition of the blooming roses against the fog! You never see this in Sacramento. At the coast - yes, but not here! My next thought, was I need to get to the Mckinley Park Rose Garden! (Sorry about all the exclamation marks. There is always a sense of urgency when shooting in the fog. It sometimes lifts as quickly as it arrives.....)

Luckily it wasn't that far away and I was not disappointed when I arrived. 

All the conditions had lined up perfectly. If there is fog, that means there is no wind, a recommended and much desired condition for photographing flowers outside. Also, as an added benefit to it being early on a Saturday morning, I had the whole garden to myself!

What follows are a few (ok, more than a few.....) of my favorite images from that morning. 

©2014 Dianne Poinski

©2014 Dianne Poinski

©2014 Dianne Poinski

©2014 Dianne Poinski

©2014 Dianne Poinski

©2014 Dianne Poinski

As you can imagine, I had a blast! I had flowers AND I had fog! My two favorite things to photograph! Doesn't get much better than that........except it did!

A winning SF Giants game with my husband AND my son later the same day!

Roses, fog, baseball and spending time with one of my kids! I went to sleep that night feeling so very grateful, lucky and excited about uploading files to my computer the next day (which I did as soon as I woke up!).

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Revisiting "Is Balance Overrated?"

 I don't do this very often, but after struggling to find time to do a blog post I felt good about, I gave up and decided to revisit (and I guess "recycle") a post from June 2008. The funny thing is, everything I wrote back then, still rings true today.

While I had posted last week that I was finished with those 25 pieces for the 20/20 show, I discovered four of the pieces were not entirely "finished". Then there were labels and inventory. In addition, the two pieces for the Photo Oakland show will be delivered this week as well, so there were a couple of visits to my framers this week on top of everything else. 

So before I load my car with 25 8" x 8" pieces, here is what I wrote almost six years ago!

© Dianne Poinski

It’s not hard to understand why I love what I do. When creating new images, I find myself totally in the present moment, unaware of time and filled with an energy that is hard to explain. I also discovered early, that the hand coloring aspect of my photography was therapeutic. When my Dad was dying of cancer I would find a certain amount of peace and acceptance come over me whenever I sat down to work on an image. While that was one of my first experiences with that particular benefit, it was not the last. Like most people, I have had my share of “bumps in the road” but I continue to find healing through my work. 

Having explained some of the positive experiences I have had while working on my art and the passion I feel toward it, it’s no wonder that at times, working is all I want to do.

I have found though, that this sometimes obsessive desire to work does not always feel like a good thing. I find that when I am engaged in too many outside events and/or obligations I have a tendency to get grumpy. Many of these activities are considered very enjoyable by most people, including myself, but when I start to feel like working would be more fun than going to a party or to the movies with friends, I start to question my priorities and motives.

It’s a classic stereotype – the artist as a loner, anti social and introverted – but I believe there may be some truth to it. My need for solitude is not very far down the list after my need for food, water and shelter. If I go too long without time for myself and my art I become slightly depressed and irritable. It’s not pretty. My family and my good friends know this and they respect it.

But it’s hard to live like this and not feel guilty. My need to retreat into my studio has nothing to do with making money but it may look like that to someone who does not know me very well. There are many times I do things because I think I “should” not because I really want to. Compromise is part of living in society and participating in activities we may find “unappealing at the time” is what “adults” do – right?

I hope I don’t sound like I am complaining or whining but I am curious as to what other people, not just artists, do when feeling conflicted about choices they have made or about to make. How do we find balance or should we even attempt to? Is balance overrated?

But really, when it comes down to it, how can finding peace, joy and passion in what you do (and get paid for it) be a bad thing?