Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lights, Camera, Action!


Photo by Joe Poinski

Once again this week I vacated my comfort zone and lived to talk about it.

A couple of months ago I was invited to become part of a new venture called CAworkshops.com (the website isn’t live yet – so no link) to teach hand-coloring. CAWorkshops.com will offer photography workshops on a wide range of topics.

We were told that one of the first steps would be for each instructor to film an introductory video explaining who they are and what they will be teaching. Eventually these videos will be part of the website where students can view the classes and then register for them.

When I learned early in the week that my day to film was Friday, my initial reaction was “no way”, “sorry, can’t make it”.

A little background might be in order. For the last ten years I have been participating in a local art festival where the promoter has worked extra hard to bring in the media to publicize the event. Now, for the last five or six years I have received a phone call a few days before the show asking if I would be interested in being interviewed by one of the TV news stations and every year I have said – you guessed it – NO!

No - to free publicity. No - to having my work seen by a large segment of the buying public. Yes – to playing it small. Yes - to safety.

Many people have expressed disbelief when they learn that every year I pass up this opportunity. It’s just that the thought of having to speak on camera terrified me.

This week I knew I could not say no. I don’t want to be that person anymore. I am not that person anymore.

So on Friday morning I packed up my courage and kept reminding myself how good it was going to feel when it was over. I was very nervous and we had to stop the filming quite a few times as I stumbled over my words. However, by the time we were finished, I actually found myself having a little fun!

The best part of the day was going home knowing once again I had done something extremely scary and it felt great. I was proud of myself.

And then I took a nap……………..

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Choices


Since I was feeling that my blog wasn’t serving me or anyone else, I had a choice. Quit writing or do something about it.

I chose the second option. I enrolled in a 4 week class taught by Alyson Stanfield and Cynthia Morris called “Blog Triage” with high hopes it will give me the boost I need to continue this adventure called “blogging”.

Our first assignment is to describe exactly who we want reading our blogs. This issue is one of the reasons why I decided to take this class in the first place.

When I first started posting, I felt like I wanted to reach past, present and future collectors of my work. Give them a little peek inside my studio, the world of art festivals and every once and awhile, a peek inside my head. I also wanted to use the blog to educate people about my process and share why I am so passionate about what I do.

A lot has changed since I wrote that first post. When I started this blog early last year, my main source of exposure and sales came through my studio and participation in art festivals here on the west coast. I had no idea that a year later I would be taking a complete break from these festivals and instead focusing my energies on teaching workshops about hand-coloring.

With this shift in focus also came confusion about who I wanted my blog audience to be. Should I be writing with an emphasis on what I was teaching in my classes? Would this be a good way to promote my workshops? I am now feeling that this approach would limit what topics I covered. (I just figured this out while writing this. The class is already proving to be beneficial.)

So who do I want to reach with my blog?

• Other photographers – I am especially interested in photographers who are curious about hand-coloring but also those who struggled with the digital transition but have now come to embrace the technology that is available.

• Past collectors of my work – One thing I will miss about not doing the art festivals this year is connecting with people that have been supporting my work for a long time. I love it when they stop by my booth just to say hello and we get a chance to catch up. It is my hope that I can keep this connection going through my blog.

• Future students and/or collectors – I would like my blog to help people feel more comfortable about contacting me about a workshop or asking for more information about one of my images.

• Other creative types – Making art can be very isolating and having this way to stay in touch with the outside world is very appealing.

The other part of this assignment is to write about what we want to gain from blogging. This is a little easier for me to describe and can be summed up in one word – confidence. Blogging for me is a very scary act. I am really afraid of putting myself out there in the world. As a matter of fact, most of my friends don’t even know I have a blog and those that do, found it by accident while they were on my website.

I believe that the more I write about what I do, the better teacher I will be. Also, any confidence I gain writing about my work should increase my confidence in speaking about it, which I have learned is a very important skill to have if you want making art to be your full time career.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Walk in the Neighborhood

A moment. I have been practicing appreciating the present moment and on this morning there were several “moments”. It rained the other day and during my walk I noticed the dogwoods blooming, the azaleas, the Japanese maples and the last bows of the tulips. All of this viewed under the diffused light of a cloudy morning.

After taking the same walk all winter, to see the neighborhood come alive with spring is something I think I savor not because I am a photographer and practice “seeing”, but because of the sheer freshness of the colors.

I also believe that a deeper appreciation of the beauty of spring comes from the knowledge that it is fleeting and will soon be gone.



Friday, April 3, 2009

Originals

One way I differ from other photographers is that I offer both "originals" and "reproductions" (sometimes called "prints"). This is common practice for painters but unusual for photographers unless of course you are adding something (in my case color) to the photographic print.

When I first started showing and selling my work, all I offered were originals. These pieces were all fiber based darkroom prints that I hand-colored with photo oil paints. They were considered "original" because each version of a particular image came out a little bit different. It was at this time that I began limiting how many times I hand-colored an image. For some reason the number I came up with was 25. I have had quite a few images sell out of the 25 originals including this one - "Sand Dunes".



It didn't take long to figure out that in order to have enough inventory for a show I would probably have to consider offering "reproductions" as well. To produce my "prints" I take a black and white photograph and hand-color it. Then this "original" is scanned and a print made using archival, pigment inks on acid free, 100% cotton paper. Depending on the size, these prints are offered in editions of no more than 250.

Recently I changed the way I make my originals by taking advantage of the technology that is available. I now process my black and white images in Photoshop and print them using the same paper and archival inks I have been using to make my reproductions. These black and white prints are still hand-colored but instead of oil paints I now use pastels. The amount of time it takes to hand-color has not changed. Creating an original from start to finish sometimes takes weeks to complete, which is why there is a fairly large price difference between a print and an original.

So while the process has changed, the end result is the same. A one of a kind, original image.