Monday, December 14, 2009

Until Next Year.............


I find the end of the year to be a time of mixed emotions. I am amazed at how quickly 2009 went by, but excited about the possibilities for next year.

This past year was not without its challenges, but overall I feel very fortunate and grateful to have been able to continue to make art, share my ideas and techniques with other people and take an amazing trip to Paris with my family! These are just a few of the items on my very long gratitude list.

For those of you who read my post regarding my debt, I can now say with certainty, that I have realized my goal of not using any credit in 2009! This means that what I owe now is not more than what I owed at the beginning of the year. It has been many years since I have been able to make that statement!

So while I have achieved that goal, next year I will have to be focused on paying down more of the principal and not just the interest. I think I will say it here - in 2010 I will reduce the amount I owe by $ 5,000 or more.

I have decided to take the next couple of weeks off from this blog. My children will both be home for a few days next week and I am looking forward to spending time with them and other members of my extended family.

I will also be using this time to reflect on the passing year and begin to get a clear picture of what I want 2010 to look like. I have a few ideas and plans I will share here in January.

Until then, I want to wish everyone a beautiful holiday. Enjoy, laugh, hug and appreciate the people in your life.

See you in January....................

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rue Poulbot


Rue Poulbot ©2009 Dianne Poinski

I recently posted this new image on my website and thought it might be fun to show some of the steps I took to get to the final version.

This image, "Rue Poulbot", was taken in the Montmartre district of Paris. A beautiful and historical area, home at one time to many influential and important artists.

This is my original color photograph. Before I click the shutter, I usually have a general idea of the "feeling" I want to convey with the finished piece.

Of course the first step to creating a hand-colored print is to convert the image to black and white. Although there are many ways to do this, I convert by using the black and white adjustment layer in Photoshop CS4.

In addition to adjusting exposure and contrast, I also applied a soft filter to the original photograph. I have begun doing this to most of my images. I love the look and it goes well with the hand-coloring.

Something new I did for "Rue Poulbot" was the addition of some "texture". It's hard to see in these small thumbnails and I applied it very lightly, but it's an effect I want to experiment with more. The rough edge shown below is something else I have been adding to many of my new images.

I am showing the tone here, but I actually create that with my printer. I have the Epson 3800 printer which has an advance black and white setting, making it easy to create prints with variations of tone.

After I make the print, the final step is taking it to my studio and hand-coloring.

I enjoy the fact that my process only begins when I click the shutter. The decisions I make with every step leading up to the actual hand-coloring are critical ones. It is only when all the elements come together that I am able to create the image I set out to make in the first place.

If anyone has any questions about any of the techniques I used here, feel free to leave a comment or send an email.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Custom Work

I just proposed an interesting project to a client and wanted to share a little bit about it.

I was contacted last month by someone who had purchased some of my work many years ago. (Good reason to have all your contact information on every piece you sell.) She was interested in obtaining some new art for her living room and after looking at my website wondered what I could do with some of her travel photographs.

I am usually hesitant to work on a project like this but I realized that I could achieve a similar look and feel with her images by working on them in Photoshop. I was pretty sure the price I would quote for custom hand-colored photographs would be more than she was willing to spend, but if all she was really looking for was a style, why not give it a try?

I had her email me one of the images she was considering so I could work up a sample to show her. This is the original image:

©2009

After doing some work on it, this is what I came up as a rough proof – of course more work would need to be done for the final image, but I wanted to give her an idea of what I was envisioning.

©2009

While I have shunned digital hand-coloring for various reasons for my own work, it may be the best way to go for custom jobs. The main advantage to this is having the ability to email proofs as the image is worked on.

It’s very easy to second guess yourself when working on a piece for someone else. It was one of the reasons I stopped doing portrait work. I would spend hours hand-coloring, the whole time worrying that the customer would not like the way it turned out. Usually they loved the final product but in the few cases where they wanted changes, I pretty much had to start all over. I felt like I was barely making minimum wage on these jobs.

With the technology available, I can now get approval on an image before I have to print it. What is also exciting is this is not a project I could have done a year ago. I have learned so much about digital photography and Photoshop in the past year. There is still so much I want to learn but I really enjoy practicing what I already know, and with this practice I improve and learn more every day.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Online Galleries - Worth it??

Besides my website, I also have images listed on various online galleries. To be honest, I am not sure it is worth the effort.

Currently I am part of four different websites; DiscoveredArtists.com, Zatista.com, Soleyne.com, and Artfulhome.com. A couple of sales have been made as a result of showing on these sites, but I am still not sure it makes up for the time and money spent to participate.

So why have I chosen to show my work in places besides my own website? There may be a couple of reasons. One is the lure of increasing my exposure. This may be a myth however. I think I read somewhere that showing on different websites increases your ranking with the search engines. Not sure if this is true but it sounds good.

Playing the odds is also part of the appeal of listing on these alternative venues. There is always that thought that someone out there may stumble across one of your images because you were on one of these sites. The flip side to this is that you are usually only one of hundreds or even thousands of artists listed, all competing for that buyer that just happened by.

The costs to be a part of other online ventures varies. Most take a percentage of the purchase price. One of the sites – DiscoveredArtists.com has a multi-leveled annual membership fee that is based on how much they will promote your work. In addition they also charge a commission on sales.

Of all of them, ArtfulHome.com seems to be the most expensive. They began charging a $25 monthly fee to be part of their site last year. This adds up quickly. Why I agreed to this has to do with the tremendous traffic they receive, as well as the opportunity to be chosen to appear in their catalogs. So far nothing has happened has a result of having one of my images selected for their holiday catalog – but it’s not even December yet. They also take a 50% commission.

Besides the ones I have listed, there are many more online galleries out there, with more being added every day. I do know of artists having success on Etsy.com, but I have always wondered if 2D work sells very well there.

I think one of the reasons I wanted to write this post was to see how many other artists are showing their work on similar sites. So if anyone out there has a story to tell, please share it. I am curious to see if other artists feel that sales are possible on these sites or are online galleries just the virtual equivalent of "vanity" galleries?

For more information about listing on these sites, please click the links below.

ArtfulHome.com

DiscoveredArtists.com

Zatista.com

Soleyne.com

Etsy.com

Friday, November 27, 2009

Giving Thanks

Just a quick post on this day after Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) to acknowledge and share all that I am grateful for.

Of course the top of the list includes my family, my friends, my health and the health of all those I love. I also have extreme gratitude for all of you that have taken the time to read my blog, comment and share. I considered myself extremely lucky to have been able pursue my passion all these years and wish I could personally thank everyone who has encouraged, supported and expressed appreciation for my work.

To all my students who have found joy and passion in photography and hand-coloring – thank you. When I started offering workshops I no idea that teaching and sharing what I love would be so gratifying.

Photography has given me so much and I know I look at the world around me with just a little more awe and appreciation than I use to. What a gift that has been. Here’s a little beauty that is on my street and makes me smile every autumn. It the most beautiful tree on the block:

Have a wonderful weekend and if you are shopping, try to shop local and if possible, buy handmade and sustainable gifts.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Different This Year....



Blue Ridge Parkway ©2009 Dianne Poinski

I finished my last workshop of the year on Saturday and it feels good. I enjoyed teaching these classes and it’s the only thing that made it possible for me to take the year off from art festivals - but I think I am ready for a change of pace. It’s similar to the feeling I had at the end of the show season every year.

I thought that taking a break from art festivals would be just that – a break, time off, a slower pace. It took me by surprise to find myself with just as many items on my to-do list.

In the past, after the shows were over for the year, I would usually just stop working. There were many reasons for this. Besides being just plain tired, I was busy trying to catch up on things that had been neglected around my house or reconnecting with friends I had ignored all year and - the break always coincided with the appearance of the red cups at Starbucks.

Every year I go into the holidays with the idea that “this time it will be different”. I won’t have my annual “meltdown” and I won’t be giddy with relief when January 2nd rolls around. To be honest – I have a reputation of being a “grump” (nice word) during this time of year. Like many people, I start to feel overwhelmed with obligations and attempt to please too many people.

I have been giving this a lot of thought and may have had a breakthrough (which is a lot more fun than a “breakdown”). Like I said earlier, I usually stop doing any real work at the end of the year. Could this be one of the reasons people feel like they have to tiptoe around me during December? It’s an idea worthy of exploring.

While I loved teaching this year, I have also felt a little frustrated with the lack of time for my own work – a common complaint of art teachers. With no workshops planned until the end of January, I now have some time.

I have a project that has been stirring around in my brain for quite awhile and I think it’s time to get started. Now – not “after the holidays”. I will share more later about my plans, but I already feel a new energy and a purpose and a reason to do something for “me” this year. There is a good chance that by doing something to make myself happy, the Christmas “grump” (again, a nice word) will take the year off.

I am not promising a Christmas miracle, just conducting an experiment. I will let you know how it goes………………

Friday, November 13, 2009

Going Forward

My black and white prints are framed and up on my studio wall.

This was a good exercise. I think it shook things up a bit and earlier today I was working on a different Paris image that I can’t wait to hand-color.

It’s funny how that works – I felt stuck, stagnated and frustrated. Working on these images as black and white prints and nothing more, made room for something. It felt like I had to take a couple of steps back before I could move forward.

Rue Suger ©2009 Dianne Poinski

I have ideas, visions, and excitement about what I want to be working on next. Not sure how it will all turn out, but I am willing to stretch a little and move out of the box I feel I have created. Stay tuned…………….

Monday, November 9, 2009

Second Saturday

This Saturday, November 14th is the Second Saturday Art Walk in Sacramento. Every month “The Artists Upstairs” (the unofficial name of those of us with studios upstairs from the Art Foundry Gallery) join galleries and other studios in welcoming visitors into their spaces.

Second Saturday has been around for quite a few years. It began when Michael Himovitz, along with his partner Chuck Miller noticed how other large cities had made an “event” out of gallery opening receptions. This observation sparked in them the desire to create a similar experience in Sacramento. In 1992 the first “Second Saturday” was launched and continues to be an important part of the Sacramento art community. To read more history, see this 2008 article at Sacramentomonthly.net.

The article touches on a little bit about the evolution of this event. The scene in midtown Sacramento on Second Saturday has developed into quite a party. I have mixed feelings about this. I love the energy of midtown and the chance for more people to be exposed to art, but I am not sure how many are there for that reason.

My studio is located in downtown Sacramento as opposed to midtown. While we enjoy a nice turnout every month, the numbers in no way compare to what they are seeing elsewhere. This is ok with me - the ones that do visit are usually there to experience art and talk with the artists.

Our local PBS station recently aired a documentary on Second Saturday that includes footage and information about the various activities available each month. Two of the “Artists Upstairs” were also featured – Taylor Gutemute and Merle Axelrad Serlin. If you missed it last week, you can still watch it on the KVIE website.

For those of us that participate in Second Saturday each month, the benefits are many. Every month is an opportunity for people to see my work, ask questions and maybe sign up to be on my mailing list. I have also had quite a few people register for one of my workshops because they found out about them on Second Saturday. Knowing that I am showing every month motivates me to make new work. We get many of the same people visiting each month - if I don’t have new pieces to show every once in awhile, they may stop coming. This month for example, I will be showing a few of my new black & white images from Paris.

Getting ready for Second Saturday includes making sure I have enough cards and other promotional material out as well as the "treats" I sometimes buy for people to eat when they visit. One priceless benefit of Second Saturday is that I am forced to clean up once a month, insuring that my studio doesn’t get completely out of control with tools and materials covering every inch of my workspace.

If you live in the Sacramento area and have never experienced Second Saturday, I encourage you to give it a try. Go to midtown and enjoy the energy and excitement that is generated there, or visit other areas for a more relaxing art experience. Of course, if you are anywhere in the vicinity of 10th & R be sure to stop by and say hello. I sometimes have candy………………



Friday, November 6, 2009

Autumn Stairs

I love this time of year. The colors are beautiful, the air smells good, and here in Sacramento the cooler temperatures are eagerly anticipated all summer long.

My image "Autumn Stairs" was actually one of the first black and white photographs I hand-colored. I had been printing strictly black and white images for a few years but had always been interested in hand-coloring. When I printed this image the first time, I liked it, but something was missing.


©Dianne Poinski

In my last post, I wrote about working on some of my new images as straight black and white photographs. This is quite the departure for me. Since I first hand-colored "Autumn Stairs" almost 15 years ago, I have hand-colored every image I have shown.

What happened with "Autumn Stairs" was the exact opposite of what I found myself experiencing with some of my new images from Paris. "Autumn Stairs" (in my opinion) is a much stronger image in it's hand-colored version. Again, this is just my opinion, but after my observations this week, I have been doing a lot of thinking about this subject.


©Dianne Poinski

One reason I believe most of my images work as hand-colored photographs is that I shoot with that end result in mind. Once I started hand-coloring, my photography changed somewhat.

I think most of my photographs could work both ways - hand-colored or not - and most of my images from Paris fall into that category. Discovering that it doesn't always work that way has given me a fresh perspective as I continue to edit photographs from that trip. Only good can come from a "fresh perspective".................right?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Black & White??


The Palace - © 2009 Dianne Poinski

With everything else that has been going on recently, I feel like my trip to Paris quickly faded into the background. I also feel frustrated by the lack of finished work from that trip.

When I got back from Paris, I quickly got to work printing, coloring and sharing images. These first pieces were all small prints that I worked on. Since that first burst of inspiration, I have only enlarged, colored and scanned two images - “Morning in the Park” and “Bateau à Giverny”.

For the last several weeks, in between workshops and other events, I have been combing through all the files from that trip and revisiting the ones I had already worked on, trying to find something that excited me enough to complete. I made quite a few large prints, started to color them, and with frustration, put them away unfinished. Something was missing, nothing was working. Why was this happening?

Two weeks ago, in another attempt to find something to work on, I kept coming back to a couple of images from our first day in Paris. Our plane had landed early and after unpacking and washing up, I grabbed my camera bag and walked over to nearby Luxembourg Gardens. As soon as I walked through the gates I took out my camera and decided to just have some fun.

One of the images from that day, “L'auteur Grec”, had caught my eye more than once. This time however, it hit me that the reason I had never printed it was because I could not see where hand-coloring would add anything to it. In fact I felt color would detract from the composition. Then I had the most interesting thought – what if I printed it and did not hand-color?

L'auteur Grec- © 2009 Dianne Poinski

At first I dismissed that idea – I have colored every image I have shown in the last 15 years. However, the more I thought about it, the more excited I got. I started looking at my other images with a different eye.

With this shot of inspiration, I am excited to announce that I am working on a body of work from my trip to Paris that will be black and white, toned, but not colored.

It’s been liberating to make this decision. Of course I still love hand-coloring and will continue to do it. Some of these new black and white images may even end up hand-colored some day. (On the flip side, some of them have already been colored but will be shown as black and white images.) But right now I am looking forward to stretching myself a little bit and I have a feeling I will have more to share about this experience…….

Friday, October 30, 2009

Checking & Comparing

I am tired of writing about money and my computer, but I feel like sharing an observation I had this week.

In my post about my hard drive crashing, I told the story about how I lost a year’s worth of Quicken transactions and I am no longer able to call up numbers with the press of a button.

Most of you also know that I chose to take a break from doing art festivals in 2009. A very large percentage of my income over the years has come from doing these shows, but on the flip side, most of my expenses (and my debt) are a direct result of my time on the circuit.

With the help of Quicken, I developed a bad habit this year. I found myself checking my “numbers” regularly. Comparing what I made and spent last year to what was happening this year. I believe I was using this information to convince myself that I had made the right decision about the art festivals. Since I have lost most of the transactions from this year I can no longer check those figures.

At first I noticed a little anxiety about this, but gradually I came to the conclusion that I have been spending too much time obsessing about the business side of things and not enough time thinking about my art. I am really embarrassed to admit this.

This realization has given me a lot to think about. Only good can come from this. Whether or not you believe in this sort of thing – I am convinced that losing my “numbers” was not an accident. It was a wakeup call and I am listening.

In a related development, something has gone wrong with my “Google Analytics” so I can no longer check how many people are reading my blog. Again, I think this is probably a good thing and possibly another sign that I need to stop checking, comparing and obsessing and just go take some pictures!

P.S. I wrote most of this yesterday. This morning I was also unable to check my website stats…………….. It’s Halloween – right?

Monday, October 26, 2009

You are Beautiful!

I am a walker. I walk almost every morning. When I started this, the main objective was to get in some exercise, but over time it has developed into a morning ritual that includes listening to my iPod as I contemplate and plan the day before me. Another benefit has been the seasonal visual delight I experience walking pretty much the same route all year long. I have learned to notice when the tulips start blooming in the spring, the hydrangeas in the summer, and of course the autumn colors this time of year.


A few weeks ago I purchased a digital point & shoot camera - the first point and shoot I have owned in 20 years! I mentioned in one of my posts about my trip to Paris that there was more than one occasion where bringing all my “equipment” was not practical, so I missed capturing moments that will forever be in my memory, but are hard to describe verbally. I don't want that to happen ever again - which is one of the reasons I bought this camera

This morning I decided to bring my new camera with the intention to record some of the sights I see every day – just for fun. I barely walked a block when I came upon this written on the sidewalk. What a great way to begin my morning! I was so happy to have my camera!



When I became more serious about my photography (and my camera bag became heavier) I think I slowly stopped capturing the everyday wonders around me. Having this little camera as my constant companion is helping me learn to seek out and record sights that somewhere along the way, I had begun to ignore.

My routine this morning was changed dramatically by the simple fact that I was really “looking” at my neighborhood instead of just walking to get some exercise with my iPod plugged in.

I will probably wait until the time changes next month to take my camera again. It was still pretty dark and most of the shots I took did not turn out, but I had a lovely time taking them anyway – and isn’t that why I became a photographer in the first place??

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Recycling - one more time

I promise this is the last time I do this.

I am still feeling overwhelmed and a bit grumpy about this accounting mess. I am also preparing for a class I am teaching this Saturday.

Instead of just messing up my self imposed schedule of blogging twice a week, I am posting a few links to blogs I wrote early on when I only had a couple of readers - with one being my daughter - thank you Nichole!

So here are just a few:

How Did I Get Here?

In Search Of........

The Fight is Over

Next week I hope to share something new I have been working on. That's the plan anyway.....................

Monday, October 19, 2009

Short & Sweet

For those of you that read my post last week - "Just Venting", you know that I am currently trying to recreate a year's worth of financial transactions because of a equipment "malfunction".

So I can get to work on that project, I decided to post a few links related to earlier posts I have written:

There is still time to donate to "A Camera for TMK". Thank you to all of you that have already donated!

There are 2 spaces available in my "Introduction to Hand-Coloring Ink Jet Prints" this Saturday. This will probably be the last beginning class I teach this year.

The response to my "Workshop in a Box" has been great. I have a few more kits that will be ready to ship out in a few days.

I hope to write more later this week, but for now - I have my new WD 1tb external hard drive installed, a bottle of ibuprofen on my desk and am ready to tackle this job. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just Venting......


This little piece of metal has been the source of many hours of frustration, anger and self pity. This is one of the external hard drives used to back up all of my images, documents and any data entered into my computer.

As a former bookkeeper and accounting major, I know the importance of keeping good financial records. All of my sales and expenses are usually entered as they happen. I pride myself on the fact that I can call up the information needed to fill out my sales tax form in seconds and have the return ready to file in a matter of minutes. That is…… until last week.

I started to notice last Thursday that my computer seemed a little “off”. After entering some transactions into my Quicken program, I went to back it up and was unable to. I was sure that this was a temporary problem that would fix itself after restarting my computer, but I was wrong and things got worse. Not only was I unable to back anything up, I could not even open my Quicken program.

To prevent panic from taking over, I called the “Geek Squad” (I have an HP that I bought from Best Buy) and made arrangements for them to come by the next day.

I was feeling optimistic as I waited for the “Geek” to arrive, but that feeling didn’t last long - turns out that my external hard drive had crashed. Normally this would not be a big deal because I use the external drive as a “back up”. This means that everything that is on it, is also stored somewhere else – usually the “C” drive.

After unplugging the hard drive, everything seemed to clear up - except one major problem still existed. For some strange reason, since I had installed that hard drive, all of my Quicken transactions were being run through the external drive – not my “C” drive. This meant that when I did backups, all the files were being recorded onto the same drive that they resided in. In other words – they were not backed up.

The “Geek” assured me that there was a good chance the files could be recovered. This was good news because the last transaction showing on my Quicken check register was from November of 2008!

I wish this story had a happy ending. A couple of days after I dropped the hard drive off at the store; they called to tell me that they were unable to retrieve anything off it. They said they could send it out to have it looked at, but depending on the problem, it could cost anywhere from $250 to $1000, and there was no guarantee of recovering anything! I told them not to send it anywhere and that I would be by to pick up the offending piece of hardware the next day.

I am not happy to report that I will be spending the next several days recreating all my transactions from the beginning of the year. I am going to start with the third quarter because the sales tax return is due at the end of the month.

In the scheme of things, a crashed hard drive is not a big deal. Sure, I won’t be working on any photographs for awhile, but things could be much worse. I just felt like venting…………..

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lighting A Fire

A few months ago I started toying with the idea of writing about what I had been teaching in my workshops. I thought it might make good eBook material. After a few false starts I did begin to write and even take pictures for the book. Every once in awhile I would sit down to work on it, but it was never a high priority. There always seemed to be more important things to do - items on my “to do” list that demanded my immediate attention.

Since I started teaching my hand-coloring workshops, I have had many people that don’t live in the Sacramento area, express an interest in learning this technique. I came up with the idea of a “Workshop in a Box”. This would be a kit that would have all the tools and materials we use in the workshop as well as written material that covered what I talked about in the class.

This is where the fire came in. What I had written so far on my “eBook project” was a good beginning, but in no way was it enough to guide readers through the process. Since I had already promised at least two people that a kit of some sort would soon be offered, I decided to just put it out there and see what happened. I sent out an email to my list and orders followed. Now I had no choice – I had to finish at least a smaller version of what I was considering to be an eBook, and send it off with the kits. And that’s what I did!

The first kits went out last week with instructions to give complete and honest feedback on what they received. I am hoping that with their help I can finish up a more complete and in depth version of the written material.

For those of you wondering what a “Workshop in a Box” is – here is a description.

Included in the kit:
2- art sponges; 2 – razor blades; foam core; Sofft applicator with 4 heads; eraser; 6 well plastic tray;
6 - Prismacolor Nupastel Sticks: Titian Brown; Light Blue; Rose Pink; Corn Yellow; Madder Pink; Sap Green



4 - Preprinted practice prints ready to hand-color. Each print will be made on a different type of paper. This is a great way to try out different textures and surfaces.


Vernazza ©Dianne Poinski - one of the prints included in the kit.

Detailed written material that includes everything discussed and taught in the live workshop. The written material can be sent on a CD or, for $15, sent printed and bound.

Email support is also included.

Price: $55 with CD; $70 with printed booklet - Includes Shipping (Domestic US only)

So if any of you are having trouble completing a project, just offer it for sale and see how quickly you find the time to work on it! Worked for me!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Art & Money

I debated whether or not to write about this subject, but if one person learns from my mistakes, than it’s worth sharing.

I did not begin taking pictures with the intention to make a business out of it. I was a stay at home Mom with little spare time but a strong need for a creative outlet. My first camera was a Pentax K1000 and after a few classes became comfortable enough with it to take decent photographs of my kids. Friends saw these photos and asked me to take pictures of their kids. Eventually friends of friends were requesting photos as well. At this point I began to charge for my services – more as a way to pay for my film, paper and chemistry, than anything else.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that taking portraits of children was not my passion. Besides, there were quite a few photographers out there doing a much better job than I was.

What I did love was making images of flowers, landscapes and architecture. I started to make greeting cards using these images and sold them through a local florist. A showing at a local gallery soon followed and then I began my venture into the world of art festivals.

I was in “business” and I was excited. As most of you know, photography is an expensive pursuit. As I developed my technique I discovered, (or so I thought) that I needed a better camera, new lenses, tripods, filters………………………Then, when I began doing art festivals I quickly found out that the appearance of your booth was very important - so of course I needed the top of the line panels, tables, rugs, print racks ……………..

For the first few years I used my minivan to cart my inventory and booth from show to show. This usually meant getting home late Sunday night, unloading everything, and then putting the seats back in so I could carpool kids the next day. What’s the solution to that? A dedicated show vehicle! A fellow photographer I met on the show circuit was upgrading his vehicle and offered to sell me his van. Of course this van needed insurance, new tires, new shocks…………….

When I first decided that I was going to turn my passion into a business, I did what every good former business major does – applied for a line of credit to obtain the much needed “capital”. The old “you need money to make money” line of thinking was front and center in my mind.

Soon a vicious cycle developed. Fees for art festivals are usually due in the winter - a time of year when I had little cash coming in. No problem - write a check out of the line of credit. The idea was I would surely make that money back when I did the show. But something was happening. My debt was growing larger every year. It felt out of control and it was.

This is embarrassing and there is no need to quote the exact amount of my debt – but let’s just say there are two numbers before the comma. It’s easy to look back and see where the mistakes were made. Many of the items on my “have to have list” were probably “wants” not “needs”. Sure it was nice to not have to unload my van after every show – but I could have. Could I have waited to purchase some of the new equipment I bought? Probably.

My debt was a huge factor in my decision to take a break from art festivals this year. I had to stop the cycle. I only had one goal this year - to make sure that the amount I owed at the end of 2009 was not more than it was at the beginning of the year. A small goal, but important. The good news is I have not used credit once this year! Next year I want to make a significant dent in the balance, but for now I want to enjoy what I have accomplished.

I know I am not the first person to share their story about the perils of using credit, but if one person reads this and thinks a little deeper about a possible purchase, than it was a story worth telling. My advice - stick to the basics and really listen to your heart to determine if a possible purchase is a “need” or a “want”.

I love what I do and would do it even if I didn’t make any money. Having this large debt has put some pressure on me though. Sharing this has made it real but I also feel like I have people out there that will cheer me on as I whittle away at what I owe. I believe this is the beauty of the blogosphere and the community it creates, and I love being part of it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Great Fun This Weekend!


©2009 Linda Erickson

My brand new workshop – “Photographing and Hand-Coloring Flowers” was this weekend and went off with only a few minor glitches. Everything went pretty smoothly, which was a relief. One of my biggest concerns had to do with the logistics of how it would all go together and for the most part, it flowed fairly well.

The day started with a very brief introduction and then I had them pair up to shoot at one of 3 stations I had set up. One station was for macro work, another one had a larger table and backdrop and the third was used for smaller set ups. Everyone had a chance to try each station.



I had created a few arrangements the day before, but it didn’t take long for them to start adding to and taking away from what I had put together. This was exactly what I wanted them to do!

The next step was to upload their images and have them choose one that I would print later that night. This step could have gone a little smoother. I had everyone shoot in raw - which for this class, I don’t think was necessary. Uploading those huge files took quite awhile. It was fine though. It was such a great group that everyone just sat around visiting and sharing tips and ideas about photography and life in general.

On Sunday I brought in their prints, ready to hand-color, and loved what they created!



I am pretty sure I will be doing this workshop again. A few of the changes I will make include fresher flowers, more props and smaller files.

Update - I have scored some storage space! It might be temporary, but at least for the time being, I can leave all my lights, backdrops, vases, etc. – upstairs by my studio. This not only means preparing for my next class will be easier, but I can also take my own floral photographs in my studio and not worry about schlepping all my equipment up and down the stairs!

Thanks again to everyone that participated. You were all wonderfully creative, patient and a lot of fun!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Another Experiment



October 4th, marks a year since I taught my very first class, so it seems appropriate to celebrate the occasion with another teaching experiment.

All this week I have been getting ready for my brand new workshop – Photographing and Hand-Coloring Floral Images. I have been bringing backdrops, lights, vases, and of course flowers - up the stairs to my studio.

For the past four years, any floral images I made were photographed in my daughter’s room. After she went away to college, it dawned on me one day that I had a spare room that I could make a mess in and then close the door. Shooting flowers is messy and most blooms are dead by the time I am finished. You can usually find petals, stems and leaves all over the floor – there is no time to clean up as you go. There is a short window of time before the flowers start to look as tired as I feel.

But its great fun and I love it! That is why I came up with the idea to have a workshop like this.

We will spend Saturday doing the actual photography and then I will print their favorite images that night. On Sunday I will bring the prints back so they can hand-color them.

Getting ready for this class has stirred up more ideas. I wish I had more storage in my studio. After seeing my set up here, I would love to make more photographs in my space. Up until now, the main use of my studio has been for hand-coloring, teaching and exhibiting. Something to think about……

Of course I am feeling a bit anxious because I have not taught this type of class before. It will be an adventure. I will report back on Monday……

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Small Part of a Larger Equation


Hydrangeas ©Dianne Poinski - Part of the first set of "published" images.

In a classic “being in the right place at the right time” scenario, I was given the opportunity to have my images considered for possible release as prints and posters by a major art publisher. This happened at one of the first art festivals I attended outside my local area.

It has been ten years since I signed my first contract and I have mixed feelings about the experience. When first approached, I was thrilled. I also naively thought fame and fortune would be coming next. Even though I was just starting out on the art festival circuit, I was already seeking ways to minimize the amount of shows I would have to do.

At the first meeting with the publisher I remember feeling a bit concerned about my “artistic freedom” as they described the “trends in the industry” and other information meant to guide me in choosing my subject matter. I reasoned that this was no different than being a commercial photographer and chose to treat the publisher as my “client”. I also learned that images should be submitted, and are usually sold as sets. A set can be a pair of related images, but usually four is the preferred number.

The first set of photographs I submitted were accepted and I was told they would be released in a few months. I waited patiently for my first royalty check and when it arrived, tore it open to find a check for $5.75! Not what I had envisioned. Eventually the royalty checks grew larger as more images were released, but never came close to being an amount I could rely on as a steady stream of income.

Soon after that first check arrived, I had the surreal experience of being in Linens & Things, shopping for a clothes hamper, when I came upon something that looked vaguely familiar. Those were my photographs! Framed and hanging in a major retail outlet! I would go on to experience this in Cost Plus and Bombay Company as well.

After the novelty of that wore off, I continued to work hard at producing images for possible publication. This became more difficult each time I set out to shoot. I started to get resentful - feeling like I had “sold out”.

The requirement that images be made in “sets” proved to be my greatest challenge. I would get excited about a shot I made, and then remember that I needed a “mate” to go with it. This usually felt forced and the resulting image never satisfied me like the first one did.

Just like everything else, the print publishing industry has suffered greatly in the current economy. I have not submitted anything to my publisher in over a year. I have a few images from Paris that I made a small effort to create a series with, but once again, one photograph always appears to be the strong one, while the others feel like a stretch. From a marketing standpoint, even if I wasn’t working with publishers, it’s a good idea to create images that can be grouped together - but I resist it for some reason.

I don’t regret working with publishers and will continue to send images when I feel they are appropriate. I know that there are some artists that have a strong opinion about this subject, but for me, it’s been a fairly positive experience. I still retain all rights to the original and it is returned to me to sell as I wish. It’s also nice to get monthly checks - even if they are sometimes small. Having my images made into prints and posters is a small part of the larger equation of getting my work out into the world. After ten years I am wiser and more realistic, but also grateful for any opportunity that makes it possible for me to continue making art.

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Empty Chairs & Quiet Paths"


Morning Fog ©Dianne Poinski

People often react to my work by saying they find it “calming” or “peaceful”. I graciously respond with “thank you” because my intention is to create images that evoke this kind of reaction and I am always thrilled when I hear I have accomplished that goal. I didn’t make a conscious decision to photograph this way, it just evolved.

It took me awhile to realize that a common thread among many of my images were scenes of empty chairs, quiet paths, and places one can imagine visiting when life gets a little too chaotic. It’s not a coincidence - because this is what I need. I need solitude, peace, and time away from fear and worry. By creating these images, I get to experience some of what I crave.

I have talked about this before, but I don’t function well when I am feeling overwhelmed - and it’s seems like that is a word I use often. Part of it is just the nature of being self employed. I have so many ideas and thoughts swirling around my head with nobody to tell me which direction to go in. For example, right now I am excited about a new class I am teaching in a couple of weeks. Then there are the new images I want to work on and the e-book I have been trying to finish for the last few months.

I am also under the false impression that in order to be successful as an artist you have to always be working. ”This is a tough business and there is no room for slackers.” When these beliefs take center stage in my head, you can usually find me drinking triple lattes with a to-do list 5 pages long. This sort of living and thinking is self destructive and not sustainable.

Autumn Stairs ©Dianne Poinski

What should I do when I start feeling this way? Maybe I accept the ebbs and flows of my energy and creativity and instead of feeling stressed out; focus on how grateful I am to be in this situation. When the ideas stop, that’s when I really need to worry.

In the meantime, I can celebrate all the wonderful experiences and opportunities I have, and when overwhelm begins to creep in, grab one of my black and white images, put on my iPod and start coloring. It works almost every time.



Solitude ©Dianne Poinski


Monday, September 14, 2009

The Boat

When I was in Paris this summer I went to Monet’s Garden for inspiration and history. I did not go with the intention to get any serious photography done. I assumed there would be too many visitors to the garden to make that possible. This was also a place where I knew I would not be able to use a tripod, so I grabbed just my camera bag and hoped for the best.

My infrared image of the boat in the pond was one of those “shoot from the hip, shoot fast and get out of the way” photographs. Once I got home and started editing images I knew this was one I wanted to work on.

I liked it, but I was disappointed in it too. The composition was not great – the boat should not have been in the middle of the frame. Also, in one of the shots, the boat is too close to the edge and in the other one, the top of the image was overexposed.

I made the decision to print and color the closely cropped one.


It was okay, but the boat seemed to get lost in the image.

So I printed another one and
made the boat much lighter so I could add more color.



My eyes kept going to the upper trees and not the boat, so once again I planned to make another print and this time darken the trees a bit.

While I was discussing this with Merle (an amazing artist with a studio down the hall – check out her website - www.axelradart.com) I realized that if the trees were the problem, why not just crop them out. We started using scraps of paper to see what that would look like and soon I decided that this image could be a square! I was very excited! Also, because I was cropping the trees out, I could use the image that had more room to the right of the boat. Two problems solved!


Bateau à Giverny ©2009 Dianne Poinski

This experience taught me quite a few things. First - perseverance. I was almost ready to give up on this image, but I don’t like to admit defeat until I have exhausted all my options. Second, I am so grateful to have people to brainstorm with. It’s one of the reasons I wanted a studio outside of my home and around other artists. I may have reached this conclusion on my own but there is something about having another set of eyes and someone who can listen while you think “out loud”, that makes it not only easier, but more fun.

Within a day, I had another one printed and after coloring it, had it scanned by Sacramento Giclee. By 6:00 Friday evening, before our weekend open studio, the original was framed and on the wall and limited editions prints were in the print racks.

I was very happy with the finished product and it seemed to be well received all weekend. Good thing I did not give up………………..

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My Studio & The Capitol Area Studio Tour

In celebration of the Open Studio Tour this weekend and Second Saturday, I am recycling an older post about my studio. This is one of my earliest posts so there is a good chance most of you have not read it. (To be honest - I am also crazy busy getting ready for this weekend so I am cheating a bit - but recycling is good - right?)

Anyway, for those of you in the area I hope you can stop by this weekend. More information about the Capitol Area Studio Tour can be found on their website - ccasac.org as well as on my website - diannepoinski.com


Original post from March 2008:

I finally got around to getting a couple of shots of my studio. I

love this space. I moved into this studio last November. I had a smaller space with my friend Lori Emmington who is taking a break while she completes her Masters degree. She is also a full time high school art teacher - not sure how she does it!

The light during the day is amazing. The downside to this amazing light is the heat that comes through the windows when it starts to get warmer. I am debating on whether or not to get shades for the summer. I really don't want to. A new vent for the air conditioning should be installed soon - maybe I will wait and see how that works before I decide on the shades.

Another advantage to having this studio is that I get to participate in Sacramento's Second Saturday every month. The galleries in town, including the Art Foundry Gallery downstairs, hold their opening receptions on this night. It's quite an event. Every month all of the studios upstairs are open for people to visit, enjoy and possibly purchase art.

The studio is where I do the actual hand-coloring of my photographs. That is all I do when I am there. There are no distractions like I had when I worked out of my studio at home. No email to check, no laundry to fold, no dishwasher to empty - you get the idea. I just put on my Ipod, start coloring and completely lose track of time. I love it!

If you live in the Sacramento area or passing through, let me know. Second Saturdays are very enjoyable, but visiting the studio when you can actually watch the process of hand-coloring can be fun too. Visitors are always welcome!

1021 R Street Downtown Sacramento

916.455.4988

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Missing Sausalito




The Sausalito Art Festival takes place every year during the Labor Day weekend. This year was the first year in four that I didn’t have a booth there.

All year long, weekends that I traditionally would have been at a show, came and went with my only thought being one of relief and confidence in my decision to take a year off. That didn’t happen this past weekend.

The Sausalito Art Festival is ranked among the top festivals in the country for a lot of reasons. It’s a beautiful show in a beautiful setting and people line up to get in. The entertainment is usually top notch and the Sausalito Art Festival is famous for taking care of their artists. In other words, it’s a very pleasant and usually very profitable weekend.

On Friday, which is set-up day, I found myself wishing I was there. Thinking about the other artists setting up, and missing the sense of excitement and anticipation you get before a show. Keep in mind I had a great weekend planned, which is one of the reasons why my thoughts surprised me. I began reflecting about this past year and started to think about my plans for 2010.

It is actually time for me to at least give some thought as to what to do next year. Applications should be arriving in my inbox and my mailbox soon.

Taking a year off was an experiment and it went very well. Sure, my income is significantly lower this year but the important thing is, so are my expenses. I am not exhausted and burned out and I actually created new work this summer – something unheard of for the last 10 years!

So how do I proceed? Slowly – that’s how. One decision I have already made as result of my experience this weekend, is that I will apply to Sausalito next year. There is a certain amount of stress attached to that decision because it is a difficult show to get into and photography is one of the most competitive categories. Just because you get in one year is not a guarantee you will get in the next. Waiting for that acceptance letter (now the acceptance email) can be torture.

So with that decision - I will apply and try to let go of the outcome. My intention is be there next year but I won’t invite everyone to my pity party if I don’t get in.

There is at least one more show I will apply to if for no other reason than to hang on to my primo location. I have had the same spot for the last 6 or 7 years and I asked the promoter if I skipped 2009, could I have my spot back the following year? He said “of course” but I don’t think he would have the same reaction if I skipped a second year.

So that’s where I am today. I don’t need to rush into anything and I am free to change my mind at anytime. Stay tuned.....................

Friday, September 4, 2009

Bridge 58 - The Story I Almost Forgot!


©1999 Dianne Poinski


This is a guest post by my daughter Nichole Poinski. After my last post she reminded me of this story about "Bridge 58". You can check out her blog at http://merci-me.blogspot.com/

Thanks Nichole!

Four years ago this month, I started the Early Fall Start program at the University of Washington. For four hours a day, I would sit in a basement classroom in the library, and with a small group of eight others, discuss the works of Emily Bronte. I could not think of anything I could like more. My love of escapism and literary theory bled into my social life, or lack thereof. I was not one to "party", nor did I enjoy the recycling of Chapelle Show jokes in actual conversation. I was a nerd, and I embraced it.

When the Autumn Quarter began, I met a girl who I had met only once during Early Fall Start, and had been in my roommate's class. She and I had registered for the same Freshman Interest Group, and would be taking all of our classes together that Fall. We connected and clicked. Her social butterfly tendencies balanced my bookish shut-in status, and I was sad to hear that she would be moving out of the dorm building we shared for Early Fall Start and into one across campus.

One day, as she and the rest of campus unloaded boxes and bags into the crawlspaces the University tried to pass off as dorms, she called me and asked me what my mother's name was. "Um, Dianne." I replied. "Is she a photographer?" She asked. Confused as to what this had anything to do with, I said, "Yes, yes she is." "I have a photograph of hers in my dorm room." I couldn't believe it, so I jetted to see for myself. Sure enough, "Bridge 58" was tackied to the concrete wall. She had purchased the print from my mother at a show in the Bay Area when she was a sophomore in high school.

It was this moment that told me I was where I needed to be. Two states away, my mother's imagery had found me. A year later, my friend and I moved in together, and decorated our student apartment with more of my mother's prints. We still live together, my mother's prints gracing our walls. Over the years, we've perfected the timing for telling the story aloud, and can almost feel the moment when the listener experiences the same serendipity we did, that moment of awe and gratitude that made the world seem at once so small yet so full of possibility.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Stories

They say that “a picture is worth a thousand words” but I think some people want a few words added to their pictures.

Last month during our Second Saturday Open Studio, someone stopped by to look at one of my new images from Paris. Since the trip was fresh in my mind, I had stories to tell regarding this particular piece. After they decided to purchase the photograph, they asked if I could write up the story I told and send it to them - which I did a couple of days later.

I began to think of other images I have that also have background stories attached to them. This is especially true for the photographs taken while traveling.

My image “Shrewley Tunnel” was taken in a village outside of Warwick during our trip to England 10 years ago. On our first day there I came upon a towpath that went under a train track and along a canal. I had my camera with me and as I came through the tunnel, I saw a lovely view. I set up my tripod, attached the camera and discovered that my batteries were dead. I usually carry batteries in my camera bag, but I had gone out with just the camera. It was ok. Since I was staying fairly close, I figured I would just try again the next day.

When I arrived for my “do over” I was met with a beautifully lit scene with a completely different feel from the day before. I believe that if I had been able to get the shot earlier, I would not have come back and captured the image that I did. “Shrewley Tunnel” has been one of my most popular images and the first to sell out as an original hand-colored piece.


©1999 Dianne Poinski

I tell this story quite a bit so some of you may have already heard it, but I thought it was worth repeating.


Transportation issues contributed to another image made the same day. That morning, we picked up a rental car and barely put 15 miles on it before we took it back. I knew it would be challenging to drive on the wrong side of the street while sitting on the wrong side of the car, but I had no idea how difficult it would be. Wanting to be responsible parents, we returned the car. There went my vision of traveling along the English countryside, stopping along the way to photograph quaint villages and beautiful landscapes.

Instead, we walked over to the tunnel, where with fresh batteries I made my photograph. Then, because we had nowhere to go and no way to get there, we spent most of the day walking down the towpath, enjoying the beautiful day and stopping every once in awhile so I could take a few photographs. “Bridge 58” was made a little ways down the path from “Shrewley Tunnel” and would have been missed if we had been driving around in a car.


©1999 Dianne Poinski

Art does not come out of perfectly executed plans and every once in awhile I have to be reminded of that. England proved to be fertile territory for that lesson and I will always be grateful.

Friday, August 28, 2009

K.I.S.S.

“Keep it Simple Stupid” is one of the first things you learn about composition. It’s also good advice when it comes to living.

A few months ago I signed up for Alyson Stanfield’s Blog Triage class for artists. As part of the class, it was recommended that we sign up for Facebook and Twitter. One benefit to social media is just that – it’s social and artists tend to isolate. I have really enjoyed this aspect of these tools but I have noticed some of the pitfalls as well.

Besides taking up precious time, I have discovered that Facebook and Twitter also leave me feeling inadequate and overwhelmed. As I read daily posts, I am constantly amazed at how much people seem to get accomplished in one day – and they have time to write about it!

Not only are they celebrating career successes, but they have time to go hiking, work in their garden and actually cook a meal! I don’t think anybody is making this stuff up. I truly believe they are doing what they say they are doing, but I keep asking myself - do they sleep?

I may be a little jealous but I am also curious. Why can’t I get that much done? I am very organized and accomplish a lot during a day but it never seems to be enough. The important stuff – the big ideas and dreams I have, never seem to make it on to my to-do list.

Facebook isn’t really to blame for my tendency to slip into overwhelm. I do it to myself. Not only do I want to photograph flowers; I want to grow them too. I would love to have a weed free yard and freshly painted walls in my house. A perfect day would end with a healthy meal, cooked from scratch and a brisk walk as the sun sets. Guess what? That’s not going to happen.

When the feeling of overwhelm stays with me longer than is comfortable, I tend to reach for one of my “simple living” books. These books remind me to slow down and focus on what’s important. Besides my family and friends, photography is very high on my list of what I value. I cherish the time I get to work on my images and try to protect that time as much as possible. But like everyone knows, life happens and I accept this, but I also know I need to prioritize and let some of other stuff go. I want to concentrate on getting the big ideas and dreams out of my head and on to my to-do list. This won’t happen if I keep believing that I can have it all and do it all.

This is a subject that has been on my mind quite a bit, but something happened this morning that freaked me out a little, and definitely got my attention.

I put a load of towels in the washing machine and after awhile heard a clanking sound. Strange, but I didn’t think too much about it. Later, when I took the towels out of the dryer, something fell onto the floor. It was a stone that is part of a larger collection of rocks with words of inspiration on them that I keep in my office – far away from the bathroom where the towels came from. The rock that ended up on the floor said – Keep It Simple………………………………..

Guess the weeds will keep on growing, and someday the walls will get painted. Takeout food can be healthy – right? I don’t have time to cook. I have better things to do………….

Monday, August 24, 2009

Comfort Zone - Part II

I have shared before about the times I have tip toed out of my comfort zone to face my fears and do things I may not have done before. One of those times was a few months ago when I had to be filmed introducing myself for CAworkshops.com. I wrote a post about it back then, but what I did last week was not tip toeing out of my comfort zone, it was vacating it completely.

A little background on CAworkshops.com - this a new venture started by two of Sacramento's top photographers, Jeff Burholder and Ginny Giles. The description on their website explains their vision: “Together they saw there was a need to help others in their desire to learn the craft and art of photography, and late in 2008 they combined their efforts to create an online community to inspire, educate and create a sense of community for the art-form of photography. CAworkshops.com is not only an online community, but also has hand-on one too; with on-location workshops and programs that too help to inspire and grow the photographer’s vision”.

I was honored to be invited to participate and was under the impression that at the beginning, it would be more of a vehicle for introducing and offering live workshops here in Sacramento. I knew there was an online component but thought I had awhile before I had to worry about it. I was wrong. The tutorials already posted on flash, exposure, depth of field and filters should have been a clue as to what was to come, but I think I was in denial.

A couple of weeks after I returned from Paris, Jeff emailed me about scheduling my “video tutorial”. Now I have taught my workshops quite a few times, but it’s not the same thing as teaching while being filmed. I decided the best way to do this was to be prepared. I wrote a detailed outline and started practicing because even though I know the material, and I am repeating myself here, explaining it in front of a video camera is not the same as talking to a roomful of students.

So last Wednesday, Jeff and his assistant Dani, came to my studio and set up all their equipment, put a mic on me and then they were ready. The preparation I did before hand helped keep my nerves at bay a little, but I also have to give Jeff and Dani a lot of credit. They were patient and encouraging and helped make me feel as comfortable as possible.

The tutorial was filmed in two parts with the first part being more of a description and explanation on preparing to hand-color and the second part a demonstration of the technique.

Pretty soon we were finished and they packed up their equipment and I celebrated! I did it! It was over!

Now for some people this probably wouldn’t have been a big deal, but as the kid that sat in the back row praying she would never get called on in class, you can bet this was a big hurdle to jump over.

I am not sure when my tutorial will be online and I am pretty sure I won’t watch it, but I hope to continue to stretch myself like I did. In doing this, I believe my comfort zone will grow and hopefully allow for many more new experiences and opportunities. I will keep you posted!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Inspiration

After taking my first darkroom class and discovering my passion for photography, one of the first things I did was buy a book, then another one, and another………………………….. I wanted to learn everything I could and this seemed like the best place to start.

I found that besides useful information, what these books gave me was inspiration. This was especially true after I started hand-coloring. I probably have every book ever written on the subject. Most of these books, though written by one or two photographers, have sections where they featured the work of other hand-color artists. This was usually my favorite part.

I purchased most of these books before “surfing the net” was a common phrase. Soon after my first dialup modem was installed I started searching for the websites of these and other artists. I discovered that many of them were teaching, had books out, a few were on the festival circuit and all of them seemed to have a steady career doing what they loved.

I soon realized that in addition to inspiration, the work of these photographers gave me hope. Hope that making art your full time pursuit (I can’t really call it a job) was possible.

Over the years, with the help of the internet, I added more photographers to my list of "favorites". I thought I would share some of these websites with you.

Most of these artists hand-color their photographs and many of them work with infrared images, but what they all have in common is that their work and their careers greatly influenced and motivated me. I hope they can do the same for you.

So in no particular order here a few of my favorites:

Jill Enfield

Thea Schrack

William Vanscoy

Elizabeth Opalenik

Brigitte Carnochan

Paul Kozal

Kathleen Carr

I would love to hear about artists that influenced, inspired and motivated you!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hand-Coloring Inkjet Prints

I have been getting a lot of requests for tips on my technique of hand-coloring inkjet prints with pastels, so I thought I would just share a little bit here.

Here are the tools and pastels that I use. When I first started experimenting I would make a powder out of pastel sticks and then apply that. The powder allowed for the detail of the photograph to come through the color. I was very happy when I discovered Pan Pastels which has eliminated the job of having to make the powder. The applicators and art sponges also come from Pan Pastel.



Use a piece of matte foam core or a paper towel to wipe off excess pastel before applying it to the print. I also recommend using a daylight balanced light when hand-coloring. If this is not possible, take your print to a window or outside every once in awhile to check on your color.

I also suggest that when hand-coloring an image for the first time, make an 8 x 10 practice print and try different colors and make notes that you can go back and refer to when you begin your “official” print.

Begin in the middle of the print. Start with the darker areas and carefully apply color. Use a very light touch. It is easier to add more color than to take it away.

You want to think of this as a layering process. Apply the pastels with the applicator and then use the sponge to gently spread the color more evenly. Use a rubber kneaded eraser to gently lift and blend color. Apply your base colors first, usually the darker colors. Use the tones of the black and white print as a guide. After that, come back and add lighter color as highlights.

Start studying nature. Look at all the colors in a leaf. It’s not just green. It has greens, yellows, blues and peaches. Use this knowledge to improve your coloring skills.



I know this only a small amount of information but I wanted to share it anyway. The most important thing is to have fun. Hand-coloring is a personal expression and there is really no right or wrong way to do it. Just enjoy!


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Comfort Zones

"Do not resist events that move you out of your comfort zone, especially when your comfort zone was not all that comfortable." -- Alan Cohen


It’s been almost a year to the day of when I announced my first hand-coloring workshop. It was an idea I thought about, but not too seriously, until the bottom started to fall out of the art festival circuit I had been on for over 10 years.

I was tired, frustrated, disappointed and scared. I knew I needed to make some changes in the way I did business, but at first did not know what direction to go in.

The decision to hold a workshop was not an easy one to make. I was terrified, but I created an email with information about the class, hit “send” and then held my breath. Within a couple of hours I already had two people signed up. My first reaction was “sh#%, now I really have to do it!" That class filled up pretty quickly and I soon had a waiting list and another class scheduled.

I wrote about that first workshop in an earlier post so I won’t go into to detail, but let’s just say I was soooo happy when it was over with.





Fast forward a year and I have now taught this class about six times, as well as a more advanced version of it twice. I have made changes based on things I learned from previous classes and as a result, get a little more comfortable each time I do it.

I have also discovered that I really enjoy teaching! I have formed a lot of great relationships with people that have taken my class and I love seeing students discover their own creativity, sometimes for the first time.

In the last couple of months I have been trying to come up with ideas for other workshops. One idea that I tossed around was a two day class on floral photography. This would be in a studio setting where on the first day we would work on setting up and then photographing flowers, and then on the second day, each student would hand-color their favorite image from the day before. I was a little nervous about such an undertaking and was debating whether or not to set a date and make an announcement, when I came across the above quote. So again, I hit the “send” button and held my breath. Well, as of the other day it has sold out and I am excited about the ideas I have for teaching this new class.

I am a big believer of stepping out of your comfort zone once in awhile. It’s how we grow. At first, I thought I was offering workshops as a way to supplement my income, but teaching has opened up a whole range of different opportunities for me, some of which I hope to share in future posts.