Wednesday, February 24, 2010


It’s been awhile since I wrote about my “money issue” but I thought it would be good to share some of the changes I have made recently.

The first one is, I have started to do some “bartering” work in exchange for partial credit against my studio rent. Since this is my single greatest expense, it’s been a huge relief to reduce the payment I make every month.

The most recent development is that I have agreed to do some freelance bookkeeping for another artist. It’s a perfect fit since I understand cash flow issues and the fragmented nature of the art business model. Just like most artists, my client’s revenue comes from multiple sources, making record keeping even more important and more challenging.

It seemed natural that I would try to supplement my income with my bookkeeping skills, but it’s also a charged subject for me. Does this mean I am giving up my art? Absolutely not! My hope is that this will free up space in my head so the creativity will flow.

Does this mean I have failed as an artist? Am I now a “bookkeeper” who does art on the side? Are people going to think less of me as an artist once they know I am also a bookkeeper? I know that the answer to all these questions is “no”, but there are moments when I question what I am doing. Why should I worry about a label anyway? It’s not really what we do – it’s how we live that is important – right?

As stressful as it can be, self-employment is what I always wanted. As a matter of fact, my first venture into self-employment was as a bookkeeper. I had business cards made up that said “Foothill Bookkeeping”. (I lived on Foothill Blvd in Sunland, north of Los Angeles.) Making business cards was about as far as I got though. Shortly after the cards were printed I got a great job and stayed there until the birth of my daughter.

It was a hard decision to go public with the details of my debt and I debated whether or not to share this latest development, but it feels right. The steps I am taking to reduce not only my debt, but the stress surrounding it, have become a large part of who I am these days - so it only seems natural to want to write about it here. I have had to let go of “how” things would work out and just take each opportunity as an invitation to experiment.

I will end with one of my favorite quotes –“ Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.” Helen Keller

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blossoms, Petals & Color...........

©2010 Dianne Poinski

I mentioned in one of my posts at the beginning of the year that I wanted to work on more “projects” as opposed to random shooting.

Well, I think I have been doing that with my flowers. I have an idea that I will share more about later, but for the last few weeks I have spent a small fortune on flowers and have enjoyed many hours of uninterrupted bliss - cutting, arranging and photographing a whole array of blossoms, petals and color.

The problem is, now that I am in this flow - I don’t want to do anything else. It’s one of the reasons why lately, I have been only posting to this blog once a week. The problem is, I have a lot to do and after I come out my “flower coma”, I fall deep into overwhelm and start stressing out. I guess it’s all about balance and maybe someday I will discover what that feels like.

Another observation I have made is, I find myself wondering if this is the right thing to be concentrating on right now. The committee in my head starts working overtime and throwing out questions like “what if people don’t want flowers – they want landscapes……….should I be outside photographing those amazing clouds…………….and haven’t tulips already been photographed that way?

©2010 Dianne Poinski

Trying to guess what photographs people will want is a waste of time and money. What difference should it make anyway? It reminds of when I was doing a lot of art festivals and I would do a show where it seemed like everyone wanted floral images. After that show, I would go back into my studio and make sure I had plenty of “flower” inventory for the next show. You can guess what happened – I would get to the next art festival and no one wanted flowers, they wanted European images! Next time it was oak trees or river images. This is a sure way to go crazy!

In addition to the fun I have been experiencing, the other advantage to sticking to one thing out of love and passion is that I am learning and (I hope) improving my technique and the way I am “seeing”. There seems to be a warm up period during each session and most of the time, it’s the final images of the day that I like the best.

I will have more than flowers to share soon - I am taking a day trip with my cousin next week to Napa and if the weather cooperates, you can be sure that I will be out there with my camera!

As this project unfolds, I will share more about it here, but probably wait to post finished images. In the meantime I will share some of the photographs in their original state or as work-in-progress. I am also seriously considering planting a cutting garden this spring......................

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


One of the first photographs I hand-colored was taken at Filoli Gardens about 16 years ago.

© 1994? Dianne Poinski

A few weeks ago I was cleaning out my files and came across some photographs I took in the summer of 2007 at Filoli Gardens. I had printed and colored only “Filoli Gate” from that day, but there were a few more that I printed and attempted to color, but soon got frustrated and put them away.

©2007 Dianne Poinski

These were all infrared images and I think when you have a lot of trees and not much sky or a body of water, hand-coloring is more difficult. The truth is, like some of my photographs from Paris, I had a few from Filoli that work better as black and white images – not hand-colored.

©2007 Dianne Poinski

Filoli is south of San Francisco and well worth the visit. I went on one of their special “Artist Access Days”. Once a month from April to September, the gardens are open after hours to a very limited number of artists and photographers. You need to register in advance because it usually sells outs.

Filoli was built for Mr. and Mrs. William Bowers Bourn, San Franciscans whose main source of wealth was the Empire Mine, in Grass Valley, California (another great place to photograph) . Mr. Bourn arrived at the name Filoli by combining the first two letters from the main words of his credo: “Fight for a just cause. Love your fellow man. Live a good life.”

The Bourns’ lived at the estate until their deaths in 1936. It was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. William P. Roth in 1937 and donated by Mrs. Roth in 1978 to the National Trust for Historical Preservation. The Filoli Center operates the 654-acre estate which is a California State Historic Landmark and listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

I plan to attend another “Artist Access Day” this year. When I was there in 2007 I only had my converted Infrared Nikon D80. This time I will bring that camera, as well as my Nikon D300.

Walking around the gardens, free of the usual crowds, is such an adventure. You never know what delightful scene you will find around the corner……..

Monday, February 1, 2010


Creativity: "Ability to produce something new through imaginative skill, whether a new solution to a problem, a new method or device, or a new artistic object or form."

I just finished cleaning my studio after my “flower” workshop this weekend. It was great fun and I loved the images they made.

I forgot to ask for permission to post some of them – I will try to do that next week.

I bring up the subject of “creativity" because when I first started to play with the idea of teaching workshops, I had some concerns. Aside from the fear that gripped me whenever I thought about it, I also found myself wondering if teaching would take up too much of my own “creative” time.

I believe this is a common concern and I could have used it as an excuse to abandon the idea entirely, but with some gentle prodding, I scheduled my first class and faced my terror head on. In the process I discovered that I love sharing my passion for photography, but see no reason to believe that teaching is going to interfere with my own creative pursuits. In fact, I am finding the opposite to be true.

In the beginning I observed that planning each class required a lot of creative thought. After each workshop, I reviewed what went right, what could have gone better and then carefully read the evaluation forms each student filled out. I started to look forward to the brainstorming I would get to do after each class.

According to the definition above, creativity is much more than the ability to make art. Creative muscles must be used regularly and I believe teaching these workshops has provided a wonderful opportunity to work those muscles.

My desire to be the best teacher I can be has motivated me to explore and educate myself. The past year has found me delving deeper into the history of photography, researching color theory and looking for ways to improve my Photoshop skills. Every time I discovered something new, I felt energized. I couldn't wait to take what I had just learned and apply it to a current project.

I realize this is still very new to me and there may come a time when I feel differently. For now I want to enjoy flexing my creative muscles as much as I can and use the energy and knowledge I have discovered to not only make art, but to also practice living creatively. I can learn to be creative when it comes to handling my finances, finding storage in my studio, or making dinner when there is nothing in the refrigerator. The possibilities are endless...........