Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Gifts of Autumn......

"I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers"
~L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

©2014 Dianne Poinski

Everywhere I go, I want to photograph the gifts of autumn. My walks, parking lots, peeking over fences, and my own backyard.......

I don't think this year is any more vibrant, colorful, crisp or cool than past years, but my desire to capture it seems stronger for some reason. 

No need to analyze it, I can just enjoy it and hope it lasts as long as possible!

©2014 Dianne Poinski

“Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile."

©2014 Dianne Poinski

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
Albert Camus

©2014 Dianne Poinski

"Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead has never watched
 them dancing on a windy day." Shira Tamir

©2014 Dianne Poinski

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."
~F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Permission to Experiment...........

Things seem a little crazy right now. I am in the middle of preparing for my first art festival since 2011 (more on that later....), my team is in the World Series and I have become obsessed with mastering this latest experiment of mine...... photo encaustics (you can read more about that here: "I Am Back!").

This "obsession" is kicking my butt. I am learning so much, but of course I want to be pass the "learning stage". The biggest problem right now is thinking I have to have a cohesive body of new photo encaustic work to show at this art festival..... which is only two weeks away!

It's the "cohesive" part of that challenge that is messing with my head the most. For the last month I have been experimenting with different papers, techniques, paints and tools. I have been all over the place and am stressed out because I think I "need" to settle down and choose a direction.

I keep asking myself "why am doing this?". "Why can't I be happy just making images with my digital camera and Photoshop? (which I do love, by the way...). "Why have I picked such an unpredictable medium?"

I have discussed at length my desire to create "original art" from my photographs, but I have also realized that I haven't changed all that much in the last twenty years. When I started photography, instead of shooting color film and sending it off to be processed and printed, I used black and white film and made my own prints in the darkroom. One of my favorite black and white films was infrared, which also happens to be extremely unpredictable. I also enjoyed making Polaroid transfers and emulsion "lifts".......again, unpredictable and very frustrating at times.

So back to my preparation for the art festival.......I may have finally accepted that it's silly to think I should expect myself to have all my new encaustic pieces look like a series or even be the same technique. This is the time for playing, for experimenting, for having fun!

Something happened yesterday that proved just how much I am holding back and not letting go. I picked up the wrong brush! A mistake was made! And I liked it!!

My husband went to Korea on a business trip last month and brought back a stamp that he had made of my name in Korean characters. I had this idea of stamping it on a piece of tissue paper to add to an encaustic piece. Almost like a signature.

I had this one piece that I wasn't happy with. I used tissue paper to make the print and the fact that it wasn't inkjet paper, meant the image was more than a little rough. I used a file from my 20/20 project to make the print with a border of white around the image. It didn't take long to realize that white shows every single piece of lint or dust that has lodged itself firmly on the wax covered paper. 

close up

This piece had these two strikes against it when I decided to try adding the "signature". I placed the small piece of tissue paper on the corner of the image then grabbed a brush that I thought only had clear encaustic medium on it........but I was wrong! It had blue pigment on it. A quick swipe of the brush and my first thought was "at least this was a practice board". A little fusing and then I stepped back and began liking what I saw.

wish that had been green pigment on the brush instead of blue.....

It was a little bit of a "happy accident", but it was also more than that. I realized that I need to view all the pieces I am working on now and for the next few months, as "practice boards". My desire to make work today that I deem "perfect" with an imperfect and unpredictable medium is sure to make my life (and the lives of those around me) pretty miserable.

So with that.... I give myself permission to experiment, make mistakes, embrace imperfection, loosen up, and stop trying so hard to "get this". Who knows what could happen??

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What the World Needs Now..........

Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

― Howard Thurman

Me on Whidbey Island 2013

Everyone knows that digital photography has increased the number of photographers out there in the world. Throw in those increasingly amazing phone cameras and yes - everyone can now be a photographer. As someone who began with film and spent countless hours in a darkroom, I will admit that when I come across interviews of successful photographers that mention how they first picked up a camera in 2011, I get a tiny bit resentful. 

Something happened last week however that totally changed my perspective and brought me a moment of such intense clarity that I am still celebrating!

Almost every morning I take a 20-minute walk to get my "quad Americano", usually taking the same route. This has become such a routine that I see the same people on their walks, and we now nod and wish each other a "good morning" in passing.

One day last week, I was feeling a bit crabby and decided to walk down a different block.... for no particular reason except to shake things up a little. While on this walk, I began seeing things that I would have missed if I went down my normal streets. Out came my iPhone, and I began snapping away. 

©2014 Dianne Poinski

I walked back with my coffee and ducked into an alley to complete my trip home. Once home, I decided to enjoy my coffee under the trees in my backyard.

©2014 Dianne Poinski - Alley

As I sat there getting properly caffeinated, I realized the crabbiness had dissipated and been replaced with what I can only call joy. I also knew the source of this joy came not from the four shots of espresso, but the act of seeing and then creating images from the everyday scenes found in my neighborhood.

©2014 Dianne Poinski

Now this is where it gets interesting...............while sitting there, I began thinking that if creating images makes me this happy, then why would I not want others to have the same opportunity? So what if the number of photographers has increased by numbers so large they can't be counted? Does it matter if many of the photographs made might not win prizes at a local camera club competition? No........what matters is throngs of folks are out there seeing and looking, some for the first time in their lives! Everyday objects now appear as art and people are having fun and creating joy in their lives and the lives of those around them.

And that can only make the world a better place........right? Thank you Howard Thurman for presenting this same idea so eloquently (and with far fewer words)!

©2014 Dianne Poinski

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


I promise there won't be too many "how I spent my summer vacation" posts, but I did go on a couple of adventures, including a trip to Colorado in June.

The reason for the trip was to attend the wedding of our niece, but it was also a wonderful family get-together. Not only did we get to visit with relatives on my husband's side of the family, but my children and their "others" (as they were affectionally called) came along as well.

The wedding took place outside of Breckenridge at an elevation that took a little getting use to.

Here are a few photos from the trip.........

The bride and her father........

My children and their "others"......

Wedding site, a couple of hours after the ceremony

My son still shoots film!

View from the deck of the house we rented

While this trip was technically a "family vacation", almost every morning I would venture out on my own with my camera and tripod (huffing and puffing....see the part about the elevation above). The light was beautiful, and I found plenty to photograph, but my favorite images were of the wildflowers.

©2014  Dianne Poinski

 ©2014 Dianne Poinski

 ©2014 Dianne Poinski

Just one of the highlights of my summer...........memories and photographs were made with family and friends, and I am extremely grateful! 

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!