Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Comfort Zones.......


I did quite a bit of reading last summer, but there is one book I read three times! That is very unusual for me.

The book was "A Beautiful Anarchy: When the Life Creative Becomes the Life Created" by David duChemin.  David is a "world and humanitarian photographer, nomad and author". (I also mention David duChemin in this post: "Finished".) He has written other books that I have also enjoyed, but they did not get me thinking like this one did. Some of his books include basic photography knowledge, but he also writes quite a bit about attitudes, mindsets and all that emotional garbage that messes up my head when I am trying to create. This particular book is by no means just for photographers, which he states in the beginning:

"This is a book about the freedom to create - to live a life of unapologetic, passionate, daring creation - in whatever arena resonates best for you."

I don't know about you, but just reading that sentence makes me stop and wonder "how would that feel?" "is it possible?" and "I want that!". 

(I am sprinkling a few autumn "leaf" images throughout this post.........more about those later.)



©2014 Dianne Poinski



I highlighted the hell out of this book and thought I would share one of my favorite passages.

"The magic rarely happens within our comfort zone, but outside it, on the ragged, scary edge, where we have to fight like hell to keep from drowning in the unknown. This is where most of us create our best stuff, have our most adventurous thoughts and feel the most alive."

I know this one well. It would have been easy for me to stick with what was working for me.... hand coloring my photos and leading "hand coloring" workshops. When I say "working," I mean people were buying my art and paying me to teach them about it. But something was missing. I began longing to create images that in many ways were not possible with the techniques I was using at the time.

I have written at length about my fear of changing things up, but as many of you know, I have not let that stop me. I am constantly stepping outside my comfort zone in my attempts to try new ways of making what I am envisioning in my head, a reality. Many times it doesn't work, but the quest leaves me energized and eager to keep trying.


©2014 Dianne Poinski

While I was at the art festival a couple of weeks ago, I had many folks come into my booth that remember me from all the years I did that show, dating back to 1999. More than a couple of times, these people remarked that my work "looked different". Most seemed OK with that, but a few seemed a little uncomfortable. It was not familiar...........

I think I would be more worried if my work looked like it did back in 1999. Wouldn't you?

One thing that has not changed, however is the rush and energy I get out of the pure act of photographing. Twice last week I woke up to the silence and dampness that is our tule fog. When this happens, I usually brush my teeth, throw on some clothes and head out. I have found the days that began like this feel different. It's like I took a little vacation and escaped, even if it was just for a couple of hours. While this isn't exactly "stepping out of my comfort zone", I am breaking up my routine and, as a result, I have that sense of "feeling the most alive".

The photos in this post are from one of those mornings. I saw these wet leaves on this black, possibly marble, bench and was struck by the contrast. 


©2014 Dianne Poinski


I think I am going to reread David's book again............ I may have more to share about it later.

How do you feel when you step outside your comfort zone?


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Festival Recap..............



Wow..........it's been an intense week, but I did it! Completed my first art festival since 2011 and lived to tell the tale!

One of the first things I noticed (besides the sore muscles....) was it was much easier to prepare for an art festival when I was in the flow of doing them. I know that sounds like an obvious observation, but I forgot. Getting everything together to load my van for the show meant gathering from my studio, my basement, my garage and my home studio. Remember too, my studio is on the second floor, and there are no stairs.......yes I was tired!

But it was, for the most part a success, and I am happy I did it. 

What follows are a few photos beginning with my van, ready to leave for the Sacramento Convention Center.......


First time using this van for a show and it's clear that there is no "order".

You are required to bring all your "stuff" to your spot, then move your vehicle before setting up....

Five hours later.............


Shortly after opening on Friday


One of the goals for this show was to introduce my new work to folks who have been following me for awhile. The response to my photo encaustics was better than I could have imagined. So much so, that by the end of the day on Sunday, I only had a few pieces left! 

The only real glitch in the weekend was a major bout of insomnia and a possible virus that left me feeling extremely exhausted and definitely not 100% on Saturday. I went to bed at 8 pm Saturday night and woke up Sunday feeling just fine!

Good thing, because I have a Sunday morning ritual for this particular show. This ritual involves getting out early to score a parking spot, close enough to the loading dock so that at the end of the day, I can dolly my stuff back to my van and bypass having to line up for a place on the dock. Extra points if you can get one that leaves access to your side doors. I arrived at 8 am and found what I felt was the perfect spot! 


Right across the street from the loading dock!

After parking, I had plenty of time to walk over to Capitol Park and enjoy a quiet Sunday morning before the day began.





I am also happy to report the decision to get a smaller (and therefore less expensive) booth was a good call. Everything I said last week about it being easier to load in and set up was true. Sales were also close to what I did in previous years with a double corner booth. I was also very grateful for that decision when it came time to pack up and load out. So much easier!

Here are a couple of more shots of the inside of the booth.......










So......will I be doing more shows? Stay tuned....................





Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My First Art Festival since 2011!


Hopefully, by the time you read this, my van will be packed, and I will be almost ready to set up for my first art festival since 2011. If you have been reading my posts for a few years, you probably know that back in 2008, when I began this blog, I was what you called "on the circuit."

I traveled as far south as San Diego and as far north as Bellevue, Washington attending shows during "the season". My first art festival was in July of 1997 and by 1999, I was pretty much gone every other weekend beginning in April and ending in November. 

By the end of 2008, however, I was burnt out, and we all know what happened with the economy that year. It seemed the perfect time to "take a break".

This "break" for the most part, has lasted over five years, with the exception of a couple of appearances at the show I am participating in this weekend.

I have lost count of how many times I have had a booth at the Sacramento Arts Festival, but this year is a little different. In those prior appearances, I had a double corner booth. Pretty much the most expensive real estate in the show. As you can see in the photos below, I easily filled it up! 



Sacramento Arts Festival 2011


Sacramento Arts Festival 2011

Not only does a booth that size cost quite a bit of money, it also requires a ton of work to set up. I was younger when I started doing festivals and in many ways a little naive. Bigger is better - right?

This older, and hopefully wiser artist thinks a little differently these days. This year I signed up for what is actually the smallest booth available - 8' deep by 10' wide. Financially, it made sense, but I believe I based most of the decision on the lessening of the work involved in schlepping and setting up a booth.

I did, however, start wondering how I was going to set up in such a tiny space. I decided the best thing to do was have a trial run in my driveway, which I did yesterday.........


8' x 10'

I won't be able to show as much work, but that's ok. It also means I don't have to pack up and take out of my studio as many pieces as I did in prior years. (I call this being "wiser and older", not lazy!)

I will probably share photos of the complete booth set-up at the show next week. However, if you are local, stop by and see it in person! I am booth #330. Here is more information:



Click here to get a discount coupon: $1 off




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

Colorado.........

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!