Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Peonies & A Poem

The text message simply said “Your peonies are here at Trader Joe's.”

A good friend of mine who knew I was waiting for the arrival of these luscious flowers, alerted me to her discovery early one morning while grocery shopping. For those of you who don’t know, Trader Joe's (a wonderful chain of grocery stores) is a great place to pick up flowers to photograph or to make an arrangement for your dining room table.

One morning I was there and a woman just started piling bouquets into her basket, prompting me to ask her if she was a florist. “Yes” she said, confirming my belief that this was indeed the best place to buy flowers.

But that is not the point of my story…………..There is a very small window of time where peonies are available, so I made sure I bought a couple of bunches as soon as I could. That very same day I went to my studio and photographed these deep pink flowers as they slowly opened up.

I was pretty excited, but not as excited as I was a couple of days later when I walked in and found this:

The flowers had not only opened up (exploded was more like it), but they had changed colors to a beautiful pale pink. A few hours later I had more images to edit.

I usually print an image to work on during our monthly Second Saturday open studio event, so in June I had this piece on my easel.

©2010 Dianne Poinski

I had a delightful conversation with a man who had come to view the show in the main gallery and wandered into my studio while waiting for the doors downstairs to open. He explained that he had been asked to write a poem for a dear friend that had passed away. Her favorite flower was a peony and he had referenced that flower in the poem. If I was interested, he would send me a copy. I was touched that he was willing to share that with me and I looked forward to receiving it.

A few days later an envelope arrived and in it was not only the poem for his friend, but one he wrote the next day with the note: “Dianne: Your use of color inspired the poem.”

Believing that art is meant to be shared, here is the poem (in the thank you card I sent, I did mentioned that I would be sharing this):

Pastels & Life

Waiting for an image to appear and disappear: and to dissipate into a pebble of snow, into a vacuum of space (like a wind swollen with glare).

Waiting for the horizon, and for eternity’s light to dissolve the cries of violence and forlorn anticipations.

And for words like the peony flower, to decorate the history of time, so that the palm can stretch beyond it’s fingertips and design a meticulous yawn, coloring the sheen of your hair.

Rudy Gallardo; 6-13-10.

I will always think of this poem whenever I view these images, and am truly inspired and grateful for that serendipitous encounter. Art inspiring art! Love it when that happens!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Poppies - At Last!

Every spring I notice the oriental poppies blooming and wonder if this will finally be the year I add this flower to my collection of images.

Poppies are usually hard to find as a cut flower at the market or anywhere else. Short of sneaking into someone’s yard in the middle of the night, (which I must admit I have considered) I wasn't sure how I would obtain one of these exotic blossoms to take into my studio and photograph.

Of course you can shoot them in their natural setting, but they are such a delicate flower that even the slightest breeze could blur your photo. Besides, I like to take what I call "flower portraits" using natural light in a studio setting.

As soon as I saw the poppies springing up all over town, I decided that this time I would find a way to get that flower photographed. So I did what I could have done many times before - I bought a plant! Every year I have thought of this, but for whatever reason, usually a lack of time and commitment, I never followed through with it.

If you read last week's post, you know that I declared publicly that I was finally going to self-publish the book of floral images I have been wanting to do for years. This focus is helping me accomplish things that I would have normally procrastinated about until it was too late - like buy plants!

Armed with a new determination, I went to the nursery and found a plant with a few healthy flowers as well as some very cool looking buds.

I took the entire plant to the studio and took a few photographs before cutting the flowers to use in a still life setting.

Once you cut the poppies, it's a matter of minutes before they start to look very depressed, so I had to work fast.

Then I did something I am very proud of - I took the plant home and planted it!

It has been great having a poppy plant - if you take care of them, they keep on giving! More than a few times, I have gone out and cut flowers, rushed to the studio and played with them until they could no longer stand (literally).

What really makes me excited is that I actually did something I had only thought about before. For me, art is all about having a vision, an idea - and then doing whatever it takes to make that vision a reality. Doing this gives me a little more confidence in myself and my photography and that feels great!

Here are just a couple of examples of what I have done so far with the poppies. I am still editing hundreds of photographs of various flowers, but am very excited about my first poppy images!

©2010 Dianne Poinski

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Don't Tell Ed.............."

©Dianne Poinski “Magnolias”

“Don’t tell Ed”………..that’s what my friend Renee said as we clumsily cut down the magnolia blossoms in this photograph. From the ladder she handed them to me while I said “thanks” and rushed home to photograph the delicate blossoms. There is a very small window of time before magnolias begin to wither and become very unphotogenic.

Renee (and her husband Ed) lived down the street and I think about what she said every time I drive by and see that tree (which I believe suffered a bit from our “pruning”).

The last time I had a best friend that lived down the street was when I was 6 years old. It felt much the same. Seeing each other almost every day, feeling comfortable enough in each other’s homes to open the refrigerator and look around, and occasionally even getting irritated with each other.

Renee was a very talented floral designer and greatly supported my photography. Besides climbing up trees, she also took me to the wholesale flower market and let me store the flowers in her professional cooler between photo shoots.

Renee was also sitting in my kitchen and was there to comfort me when I got the phone call that I my father was dying and that I should get on the next plane to North Carolina. When my mother died suddenly a few years later, she was there to finish and deliver corsages I had volunteered to make for all the girls in my daughter’s 8th grade graduating class - and her kids did not even go to the same school!

So you can probably imagine the despair and disbelief I felt when we learned in 2002 she had stage 4 cancer. She fought a brave battle but lost it in the fall of 2003, leaving behind two beautiful young daughters as well as a grieving husband.

Why am I telling you all this? Because Renee is the reason for this “project” I have been referring to for the last few months. After I recovered from the shock of her diagnosis, I decided that someday I would create a book of floral images to celebrate our friendship and her love of flowers (and maybe even raise a little money for cancer research).

This idea has been in my head for 8 years and it’s time to stop thinking about it and do it. The technology is now available to self publish such a book and if anybody has had any experience with this, I would love to hear about it.

So now you know why I have been shooting all these flowers and why I decided to take a little break from teaching workshops. I need you all to hold me accountable and I may even ask for a little editing help when the time comes. I will also use this blog to chronicle the process and keep you all up to date.

I feel a little nervous putting this out there, but it feels right (and now I know I have to do it!)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Link for Video

I guess the video was not embedded in the version of my blog that gets delivered by email.

If you missed it - here's the link: View From My Window


Traveling by Train

I just got back from a short trip to Southern California. I took the Amtrak Coast Starlight which is a very long and scenic train ride. I loved every minute of it! For 14 hours I read, dozed off a little and gazed out the window.

Since I wanted to travel light, I only brought along my point and shoot camera which I was delighted to discover had a video feature on it. Check out my very first YouTube video! (I apologize for the ad. I wanted music so I used a "YouTube track" and that is one of the trade offs. You can click to make it go away)

I enjoyed taking photographs just for the sake of "taking photographs" and not with the intention of making art or anything else. (I love doing that as well, but I felt very free and creative this weekend.) Besides the few I am showing here, I also took pictures of my brother and his family. This was important since I have shared before how few pictures I have taken of my family and friends since I got serious about photography.

All of these photos were shot from the window of the train.

Besides the relaxing train trip, I was able to celebrate with my brother the funding of his new project "Kaboing TV".

On Saturday I had the pleasure to meet in person, Katherine Kean and see some of her beautiful paintings. Katherine and I met last year when we were both taking Alyson Stanfield's Blog Triage Class. It truly is the beauty of the cyber world when you get to meet face to face someone you have only known through comments on each other's blogs and various emails. By the way, I love seeing her new paintings as she posts them on her blog, but seeing them in person was such a treat. Absolutely beautiful!

The most important part of the trip however, was spending time with my two young nieces, Daisy and Casey. It had been too long and part of my "slowing down" plan includes just this sort of experience. Besides going to the movies to see Shrek, we also spotted two dolphins swimming close to shore while eating dinner in Malibu!

Train travel, family, friends and dolphins................perfect way to spend a weekend. I hope to do it again soon!