Monday, January 25, 2010

Too Much Fun.........

©Dianne Poinski - color image

This Saturday is my second "Photographing and Hand-Coloring Flowers" workshop and since I had to move all my props, backdrops and lights into my studio anyway, I thought this would be a great time to have a little fun before I had to start preparing for the class.

I love setting up to make photographs of flowers. Digital photography has made this even more enjoyable. Since I don’t have to worry about the cost of processing film, I can shoot away.

I lose all sense of time and have been known to miss appointments when shooting flowers. One arrangement or even a single flower can take all afternoon to get right. I will change the composition, the camera angle, the lights, the vase and even the backdrop before I am satisfied I have captured the image I was looking for.

Using a reflector

I have to admit that I am not kind to my flowers or my space when I get in this mode. Most flowers only survive one day of active shooting. Stems are cut ruthlessly and thrown on the floor. Petals and leaves are plucked and tossed as well. You add some good music to this scene and it’s a wonderful way to spend a day.

Making a mess

This is the first time I have done a significant amount of photography in my actual studio. I shared in an earlier post about my longing for a place to store everything I used in that class so I could easily set up for another workshop or use myself. This way I wouldn't have to haul lights, backdrops and boxes of props up and down the stairs and in and out my car every time I needed it.

Well, after I moved everything into my studio for the last class, I was told I could use an empty studio as temporary storage! (Love it when that happens!) So last week all I had to do was buy some fresh flowers, then walk down the hall and retrieve what I needed, set it up and start shooting.

I will finish my current project in the next couple of days and devote the rest of the week to preparing for the workshop this weekend.

I don't really have to clean up my studio until Second Saturday so I plan to photograph some more in the coming weeks and have finished images to show soon………

©Dianne Poinski - color image

Friday, January 22, 2010

Originals?? - Part 2

Thanks for all the comments on my last post. In addition to writing about it here, I have also been asking for input from almost everyone I have talked to in the last few days. The consensus is – there is no consensus. Many people understand why I would limit my originals and just as many see no reason to limit them at all.

I was inspired by what photographer Daniel Sroka said in his comment. (Daniel creates beautiful images - you should check out his website.) Also, a related blog post that he wrote gave me a lot to think about.

I do believe my skills have improved since I first started and every time I learn something new, I get energized and excited about photography all over again. This has to change how I interpret an image – even if I have worked on it 5 or 6 times before.

I really believed I was going to write this post and announce I was going to drastically reduce the number of originals I made. I had already framed a new image and labeled the back as 1/3. My plan was to limit the originals to one of each size I offered. (I am still limiting that image to three because I sold #1 and I can’t go back now.)

Not limiting my originals was not even an option until I started this conversation. A couple of people even suggested I try to hand-color each image differently - more reason to simply offer them as one of a kind pieces. This would work for some images – a different color for my “Umbrellas” for example – but I think it would be more of a challenge to make significant changes in some of my landscape photographs.

©Dianne Poinski

I also started to do some research online. What did other hand-color artists do? Again – it seemed pretty much split down the middle. Some of them limit the number, many did not. I found what Amy Melious said on her website echoed what others were saying – “I do not number editions of my images, because I seldom do more than a few of any size. Often, I only do one. Also, because of the hand-work, they are each one of a kind. I use archival processes and materials to ensure lasting enjoyment of each piece.”

After giving this much thought, I have decided that I am not going to change anything. The truth is, most of my images won’t be colored 25 times but I am going to keep that limit anyway. The limited number of originals will be stated but not focused on. Instead the emphasis will be on the hand-crafted nature of each photograph I work on.

Special portfolios or series of images may be produced in very small editions, but for now, I will just leave things the way they are.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I have written before about my “originals” but I feel some changes coming on and I need to revisit that subject.

When I printed in the darkroom, each black and white print was hand processed – no two were ever the same. Add the hand-coloring to one of those prints and it was truly a unique piece.

That’s not really the case anymore. Once I have made all my adjustments and set my printer to the correct settings; the black and white print can be duplicated exactly every time it is printed. Now all that really makes each “original” just that – an original – is the hand-coloring. And that’s ok – because I can never duplicate how I apply the color to each print.

From the beginning, I have limited the amount of times I hand-color an image to 25. All 25 of these are considered “originals” but that has started to bother me. Painters only have one original, but what I do is a little different.

Maybe I should call them something other than “originals”. Another option could be – I don’t state a number – each one is an “original” so there is no reason to limit it – right? No….that doesn’t feel right. Like I said earlier, the starting point – the black and white print – can be duplicated exactly now, so I really feel the need to place some sort of limit to what is considered an “original”.

Then there is the act of actually hand-coloring the same image 25 times. How do I feel about that? Do I have the same excitement and anticipation on #12 that I had on #1 or even #4? I don’t think so.

The exception to that was when I switched over to digital prints and started hand-coloring with pastels. There were quite a few images from my film days that I had hand-colored using oil paints on darkroom prints. My favorite negatives were scanned so I could hand-color using my new technique. Everything about these images seemed brand new to me – but I kept the same numbering. If # 8 was the last print I colored with oils and the next time I colored that same image - I used pastels – it was #9.

I think I know where I am going with this and I will probably write about the changes I want to make in my next post, but I am curious what others think about this subject…………

©2010 Dianne Poinski

Another street scene from Paris - I finished hand-coloring this in December.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Me at the Mill Valley Art Festival September 2000

So I think I have made a couple of decisions. As most of you know, for the first time in over 10 years I did not participate in any art festivals in 2009. I took the year off and concentrated on developing workshops and selling out of my studio instead.

I am convinced too, that taking that break helped me achieve my goal of not incurring any more debt in 2009.

So now it’s 2010 and the applications have been coming in. I was hoping for some sort of very clear and/or audible sign as to what to do this year – but that didn’t happen.

I have been giving this a lot of thought and trying to notice my emotions surrounding this issue. In addition I have to look at this as a business decision and try to separate my emotions from the facts (something I am not very good at).

My heart, my body and my mind have agreed that it’s not time to dive back in and hit the road. Not yet………. I am however, applying to two shows this year. As I discussed in a post last year, I will apply to Sausalito, but try not to be too attached to the outcome – and the Sacramento Arts Festival – so I can keep my corner real estate.

Making this decision frees up some space in my head to move forward with my plans for this year and gives me the chance to gain even more clarity about what I want to do when I grow up……………….

Unrelated to all of this – my thanks to photographer and hand-color artist - Bob Keefer for mentioning me in his blog. You should check out his site - Beautiful work! Thanks Bob!

©Bob Keefer

Monday, January 11, 2010

Take More Photographs!!

First of all, I want to apologize to those of you who receive my blog posts by email. It seems an old post sent itself over the weekend. Not sure what that was about but – sorry!

In my last post I listed my “aspirations” for 2010 and the first one was “take more photographs”. This is probably the most important activity on the list – which makes sense if you consider yourself a “photographer”.

There is another simple reason why “take more photographs” is number one on my list for 2010 – it makes me happy!

You may recall an earlier post I wrote about my annual “holiday grumpiness” and how making art in December would probably help relieve some of that. Well - it worked!

The best example of that was on December 19th – the day of my husband’s annual Christmas party in San Francisco.

I woke up that morning excited about going to San Francisco and happy we would get a chance to visit with our son who lives there – but I wasn’t thrilled about the party. The more I focused on that thought, the more irritable I became.

Fearing that a progression of this mood could make for a unpleasant weekend, I decided to be proactive and asked if we could take the “scenic” route to the Bay Area so I could stop and take pictures. Sensing the mood that was brewing, he quickly said yes (smart man!)

We stopped at Steamboat Slough in the delta and I spent quite a bit of time there with my camera and my tripod. I have already shared a couple of images from that day but here are a couple more – watch for some of these to be converted to black and white and hand-colored soon.

©2010 Dianne Poinski

©2010 Dianne Poinski

Needless to say, by the time we got to San Francisco I felt creatively satisfied and very happy. Even if I had not gotten any decent shots – it didn’t matter – it’s the act of searching for scenes, looking through the viewfinder and clicking the shutter that does it for me. That’s all I really need.

In keeping with that intention and remembering what it does for my mood, I have also made it out on a couple of our recent Sacramento foggy mornings. Again - I plan to work more on these, but still wanted to share.

©2010 Dianne Poinski

©2010 Dianne Poinski

I feel so lucky to have such a simple way to feel good – especially important during the winter months. Besides, I love the light and the mood of the landscape this time of year and plan to get out there as much as possible................

Monday, January 4, 2010

Looking Back - Then Forward

©2010 Dianne Poinski

I am back from my little break. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. Every year I find myself ready to get back to a routine and love the fresh start a new year brings.

Following the lead of some of my favorite bloggers, I am going to make a couple of lists. Before planning and dreaming about the new year, I think it’s a good idea to reflect a little on the past year. I think it’s especially important to focus on what went right – accomplishments, joyful moments etc. – and to label the less stellar moments as “growth experiences” and not “mistakes”. Performing this little ritual helps me feel gratitude and confidence as I get ready to make 2010 the best year yet.

So with that in mind here are my lists:

2009 Highlights:

· Paid cash for all of my business purchases in 2009.

· Turning 50 in Paris!

· Added more workshops to the list of classes I teach.

· Made many wonderful new friends as a result of these workshops.

· Decided to have professional scans made of my original hand-colored photographs.

· Found a “tribe” - I love the connections I have made online with people here in Sacramento and all over the world!

I could keep going but I think I am ready to look forward.

2010 Aspirations (I don’t like words like “goals” or “resolutions”)

· Take more photographs!!

· Pay my debt down by $4200 ( I changed this from my last post – my intention is to pay $350 a month on the loan)

· Be more conscious about my business expenses and how I spend money.

· Have a cash reserve at the end of 2010 of $5000.

· Continue to offer workshops and come up with ideas for new classes (I am taking suggestions).

· Try to stop worrying about what other people think about me and what I write about in this blog.

· Work on “projects” instead of random images – more on this later.

· Practice feeling gratitude every day.

· Most important – Have Fun!

Looking back on this list I am afraid there is too much emphasis on money, but the truth of the matter is, if I am able to get a handle on my finances, I believe it will free up the parts of my brain that just want to create and make art. The stress, worry and feelings of irresponsibility have taken their toll on my imagination and spirit.

So there it is – putting things in writing is pretty powerful. I would love to hear what other people aspire to in 2010. We are all in this together – let’s make life special every day.