Thursday, December 29, 2011

Looking Back...................

I love beginning a new year! I am filled with hope and optimism and excited about the possibilities. Many years however, I look back on the past year with regret and frustration and this year was no exception.

The other day I was sharing with a friend my laundry list of unfinished projects and my failure to achieve a few of the goals I had set for myself. She was kind enough to remind me that while some of what I said was true, why not list what I did manage to accomplish and use that to measure my progress instead.

This is not my natural way of being in the world. I have a tendency to be more of a "half empty" type of person. My first thoughts always go to what didn't work instead of what did, but I am willing to mix things up a bit and try something different.

So with that being said, here is a list of what I am feeling good about as we approach the end of the year.
  • Almost 400 people downloaded my free "Intro to Hand Coloring" e-book.
  • I launched Photo Artistry Workshop and exceeded my estimate of how many people would join.
  • Moved my studio.
  • Had a successful 2 person gallery show with 20+ new images
  • Two images were accepted for licensing by Marian Heath Greeting Card Company.
  • Created a calendar.......finally (I have been wanting to do this for 10 years and actually made it happen this year!)
  • Decreased my debt by $1700.

©2011 Dianne Poinski 
 another "iPhone Instagram"........ 
Now for the more pessimistic view of the last year.........The funny thing is, most of these can be spun, twisted and viewed in a more positive light. Again, not something I am use to doing.........
  • You knew what would make it to the top of the list - the book. All year I said it was going to happen and it did not. Positive spin: As one very good friend pointed out, I did the work of compiling the images and designing the book, it's just not printed yet. I will have an update about the book in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned...............
  • My expenses were close to the same amount as last year. My goal was to reduce my expenses significantly and was disappointed at first to see that dollar amount not really change. Positive spin: Moving my studio contributed to part of that number and the scanning, printing and framing for the show in September was more than I thought it would be. You take those events out of the equation and I did pretty good.
  • Still in debt. Positive spin: The amount I owe is less than the amount I owed this time last year.
  • Some things did not go as well as I thought they would. No need to go into a lot of detail, but a couple of my ideas turned out to consume more time and energy than I thought they would. Positive spin: I gained a lot of clarity as a result and learned from the experiences.
I think I feel pretty good now...................I believe this is an exercise I should complete every year. This is also a something I can do every day. List what I am grateful for, and learn from the less than ideal situations.

Next week I will talk a little bit about my intentions for 2012. I will give you a hint; one word - "simplify".

So until then, best wishes for a new year filled with adventures, health and happiness!

2012 -  bring it on!!

    Tuesday, December 27, 2011


    If you have been anywhere near my Facebook profile recently, you know that I just bought my first iPhone - the 4S. I wanted it more for the camera than anything else, but I am quickly finding all sorts of wonderful and very cool things to do with it.

    Since getting this camera phone, my walks around the neighborhood take almost twice as long as they use to. Simple activities like playing backgammon or cooking now provide ample photo opportunities.  This was just as true when my only camera was my Nikon DSLR, but the convenience of having my phone with me most of the time, has me paying attention to my surroundings in a new and different way......much like when I first picked up a 35 mm Pentax film camera 20+ years ago.

    Selective Focus - Instagram

    Yesterday we were returning from San Francisco and the traffic was stop and go most of the way. My stomach was empty, but we had already decided to wait until we got back into Sacramento so we could eat at our favorite Thai restaurant. To take my mind off of my hunger, I started playing around with Instagram on some of the images in my "camera roll".

    The following images have only been processed in my phone. Instagram has settings for selective focus and comes with quite a few filters. A couple of these shots were photographed while on the HDR setting, but everything else was done with Instagram.


    McKinley Park Library

    Selective Focus

    HDR setting in the camera
    While I was having so much fun, my poor husband was navigating the freeway. A least he didn't have to hear me complain about being hungry. I forgot all about that until I looked up and saw that we were in Sacramento and would soon be pulling into the restaurant parking lot.

    If you are on Instagram, follow me and I will follow back - "dpoinskiphoto"

    Thursday, December 22, 2011

    Season's Greetings.......

    Wishing you every joy of this beautiful season...

    ©Dianne Poinski “Royal Gorge”
    Have a wonderful holiday and may your new year be filled with
    peace and health for you and your loved ones.


    Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    Kitchen Art?

    Last summer I received a phone call from one of the people responsible for the art that is sold in the "Williams Sonoma Home" store. She saw my work on my website and wanted to know if I had any "kitchen/food type" images. While I didn't have any I could send right away, I promised to get something to her in the next couple of weeks.

    In addition to the images below, I also photographed pears, peppers, apples and teacups. Given the time pressure and my knowledge of the limits of reproducing hand colored photographs, I worked on these in photoshop and submitted them.

    While there was interest, in the end they were not selected, which was fine. All along I kept saying how happy I was just to be considered, and besides, I had a lot of fun with the project.

    Inspired by their color, the cups in the first two images were originally bought not to sip out of, but to photograph. This seemed liked the perfect time to experiment with them.  I loved the idea of isolating just one, both with color and with depth of field.

    ©2010 Dianne Poinski
    ©2010 Dianne Poinski
    I do believe this was the first time I ever photographed lemons and strawberries.

    ©2010 Dianne Poinski

    ©2010 Dianne Poinski

    Like I mentioned above, I enjoyed the creative process of being given an assignment and then seeing what I could do with it. Maybe I will start giving myself assignments........................

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    Feeling Nostalgic......

    I am feeling nostalgic............not unusual this time of year, but it's not about warm and fuzzy memories of past holidays. It's about yearning for the days when being an artist was simpler.

    There was a time when my marketing consisted of sending out postcards and setting up on the street for an art festival. That was pretty much it. I had a website and a small email list by 2001, but I still relied mostly on direct mail to let people know what I was up to. Today however, doing that is cost prohibitive and instead, I rely on email marketing where I am happy if 20% of the people on my list even open it up.

    I may be wrong, but it seems that one of the fastest growing industries is the "helping artists sell their work" business. I have benefited greatly from many of the resources they offer (thank you Alyson Stanfield!), but these days it seems like every time I open my in-box there is another offer from someone who holds the "secret" to successful fine art marketing.

    In my attempt to follow the formulas given, I have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, I post on Flickr, and joined LinkedIn. Most of these experts also recommend a blog, but I started mine almost 4 years ago as more of means of connecting with others and a platform for sharing than for selling.

    I have written about this before, but I am amazed at the amount of material (and time) people have to post on all these different sites. I never feel I can keep up and have wondered what I was doing wrong. This constant feeling of not measuring up is starting to wear me down.

    This got me thinking about the "good old days"......... My routine for each show was pretty much the same. Have postcards made (or use the ones the promoter supplied) and mail them out a week or two before the show. Then I could focus on my inventory and get the van packed.

    There was also something about the lifestyle of being on "the circuit". I think in a previous life I was a gypsy and traveling from show to show, setting up in one town and moving on to the next, satisfied some inner desire to recreate that experience.

    Of course, as with all memories, it's easy to focus on what was good and forget about the more unpleasant aspects. Rained out shows, getting up at 3 am, van troubles, near heatstroke and noisy motels have not been creeping into my mind as much as recollections of good music playing while tearing down after a successful weekend or exchanging numbers with all my new friends.

    The Internet has made it possible to connect with people all over the world and I love that! But that same technology, combined with the economic uncertainties and the supply of knock off  art  available in Wal-Mart has made the business of being an artist a little more challenging. Which I guess is why we need more help navigating the art business terrain these days.

    I have chosen to accept the challenge and will continue to do some of what is recommended, but there are days when all I want to do is put on my large hoop earrings, hit the road, and pretend that Twitter never existed.

    Honk if you see me on the road................

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    Coastal Views

    I think this is going to be fun!

    In preparing for this week's "less words, more images" post I found myself going back through hundreds of  files.  There are so many images that have been waiting patiently for my attention, and this is the perfect reason to give them a little bit of love.

    Today I am sharing a couple of images I made along the coast. The first one is of Point Reyes, taken just a few months ago. The second one was made two years ago while driving north from Half Moon Bay. (Both on the northern California coast)


    ©2011 Dianne Poinski 
    Point Reyes

    ©2011 Dianne Poinski
    North of Half Moon Bay

    Friday, December 9, 2011

    Book Update

    Wish I had better news,
    but it looks like my book project is on hold indefinitely.

    I received my second "paid proof" copy on Wednesday and I was very disappointed. The first attempt didn't turn out well because of my tendency to ignore helpful instructions and I took full responsibility for this.

    This time however, I thought I had done everything right. I downloaded Blurb's color profile and "soft proofed" every image. They looked good on my screen (which I thought was calibrated), and assumed they would look similar in print, but instead most of the images were dark, a little contrasty and the color was a bit "off".

    After spending hours adjusting the images once again and literally placing another order around 11:00 Wednesday night, I realized that rushing to do this was not a good idea. I quickly cancelled the order and made the difficult decision to step back, pause and do some research before taking the next step.

    Page from the book

    In the meantime, instead of beating myself up over this, I am trying to accept that part of the problem may be the nature of the images I am trying to reproduce.

    I recently met a wonderful artist - Stacey Vetter (thank you Hannah!) and the subject of digitally reproducing images came up. Stacey's paintings, like my hand colored photographs, employ subtle, soft colors. We soon realized that the difficulties she was having were very similar to what I was experiencing. Mainly color shifts and color where there should not be any. It's like the scanner and the printer are looking for color and grabbing whatever they can - and it's usually not correct. For example, magenta hues show up in neutral backgrounds.

    I then began to recall how years ago, when I first had images licensed by Bentley Publishing Group, they mentioned the difficulties they were having with my hand colored photographs. This was back when reproductions were created from medium format film transparencies. I thought that once the technology improved it would be easier. I am sure it is easier, but there seems to be mounting evidence that the light use of color could be one of the problems.

    Reproducing bright and deep colors appears to be easier. Also, if my images came direct from the computer, thus eliminating the second generation of image created from the scan, I am sure the end result would be more pleasing. But I wanted this collection of images to be hand colored and am still committed to making that happen.

    The color issue also came up for me when I uploaded images to one of the many outfits out there making calendars from photographs. The first batch looked good - not great, but good enough for me to order 22 more calendars. Every calendar in that order came back with a green cast to them. It was at this point  I decided I would just make my own. This way I had complete control over the prints used to make the calendar......... which may be where I am headed with the book too and will soon be looking into the option of a "handmade" book.

    One thing I failed to mention is that self publishing with Blurb is expensive. Even with a 20% discount coupon, my cost for a standard size hardcover book is more than I would be comfortable asking people to pay. Not that I ever intended this to be a money making project, but if I don't feel right asking for enough to cover my costs, then something is wrong.

    I know that creating a handmade book could also be an expensive undertaking, but I think there is more of a chance the end product will be something I feel good about and that is very important.

    But then again...........I could go back and work on the images one more time and upload them to Blurb. I don't know and I don't have to make a decision right now. Yes - I am disappointed I missed my goal of having this completed in 2011, but rushing just to say I did that would be a huge mistake and one I am sure I would regret.

    I will keep you posted.............

    PS After putting together many calendars by hand, I tried Shutterfly and was very satisfied with how the two calendars I ordered from them turned out. I placed another order and I have my fingers crossed............

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Simply Sharing.....

      ©2011 Dianne Poinski

    Beginning today I will be posting twice a week, with one post featuring more images than words. To those of you who receive my blog in your inbox, I hope you don't mind the additional email from me.
    The main reason for this is simple -  I want to make and share more photographs. Most of these images will not be hand colored........yet. Many will probably make their way to my easel, but in the meantime I want to share what I have been working on, hand colored or not.

    Last week Sacramento enjoyed (at least I did) a couple of days of our famous tule fog and I was excited to get out there and photograph.

    After the fog, we had many days of gusty winds that blew off most of the autumn color. There is a very short window of time where we have both fog and fall leaves together, so I was grateful I had the chance to get out when I did.

    On the first day of the fog I went to McKinley Park. I posted a few images from that outing on my Facebook page.

    These four images were all taken the second day in another park by my house. I had a fantastic time and I am pretty sure I will be hand coloring a couple of these in the very near future.

    Too many words already...................time to share:

      ©2011 Dianne Poinski

    ©2011 Dianne Poinski

    ©2011 Dianne Poinski

    Friday, December 2, 2011

    7 Links Project

    I was honored to be chosen by artist Katherine Keane to take part in the My 7 Links Project.

    For this project each blogger selects one post to fit each of seven categories and then nominates up to 5 more bloggers to do the same, and so on, and so on, as a way of "uniting bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint venture."

    Here are the seven categories and my links:

    Most Popular:  Live a Life you Love  This is a recent post about Steve Jobs, tied in with a description of a short trip I took. I received a few comments, quite a few "likes", many emails and I even had a few people tell me in person that they enjoyed the post. 

    Most Controversial:  I am Disappointed This was a tough one because I tend to stay away from politics and other "sensitive" subjects, but this post about our "Second Saturday" event in Sacramento was one where I had strong opinions and felt compelled to share them.

    Most Helpful:  Hand Coloring - The Video This was easy - not only do I have a video demonstrating my technique of hand coloring, but I also include links to other helpful posts, including one about the papers I print on.

    Most surprisingly successful: Virtual Tour of my Studio  I was surprised by the positive response to this video I made of my old studio.

    Post I am most proud of : Doesn't Get Much Better Than This  This post was about a perfect day with my son. I love sharing about joyful experiences.

    Most Beautiful Post:  Peonies and a Poem A beautiful poem by a studio visitor inspired by an image of some peonies I was working on.

    The next step was to nominate other bloggers to take part in the project. I do love the connections that occur in the blogosphere and was delighted to receive positive responses to my invitation to participate. To show the strength of the connections, a couple of the bloggers I asked, had already been approached by other people. (You can only participate once.....)

    I invite all of you to check out these four bloggers:

    Rhiannon Connelly: Starry Blue Sky    I mentioned Rhiannon in a post I did back in 2009 about Polaroid SX70 processes. I love her work and her blog is a lovely combination of technique and travel journal.

    Kim Manley Ort: Be Inspired Blog I was introduced to Kim's work and her blog last year and find her images to be calming and her writing inspirational. She reminds me to seek the beauty in the everyday.

    My studio mate JJ Jacobs: Coming Abstractions  I am looking forward to reading about JJ's new adventure - full time artist and self employed entrepreneur.

    My daughter Nichole:  Live Rhythm I think her tag line says it all: "Meditations on intentional living and creative consumption." Her blog is fairly new, but I am sure in no time she will have enough posts to easily link to the 7 different categories. And she's my daughter....did I mention that?

    So there you go......this was fun! Have a great weekend!

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Outside My Other Door........

    Last week I wrote about how the simple act of picking up my camera and taking photographs in my backyard lifted my spirits and reminded me that the simplest things can bring the greatest joy.

    The next day I went to my studio and delighted in seeing our little "backyard" in a display of seasonal disarray. I was reminded of how lucky I am to have this space....... but it is only one of many things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving.

    The love and support of my husband, the health and happiness of my children, and friends that put up with not hearing from me for months, are high on the list of things I am grateful for.

    I have said it before and I know I will say it again, but I am thrilled beyond words to be able to do work I love and I appreciate all of you who take the time to read my blog and cheer me on when I need it most. Thank you!

    In the spirit of this much loved American holiday I want to remind everyone to take a moment to notice the simple things that bring you joy and show those you love how much they mean to you. I like to think that this is what Thanksgiving is all about. It's not just a day to mark the beginning of the holiday shopping season. The whole "Black Friday", shopping at midnight thing is disturbing....but don't get me started.........(remember Dianne, focus on what is good).

    So before the celebrations begin, I would like to wish everyone (even if you are not celebrating Thanksgiving) a day filled with love and good food!


    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Right Outside My Door.....

    I am tired....................I think the last couple of weeks did me in. Seven hours of set up and three days of "being on" for an art festival one weekend, and then days getting my studio back to together in time for our "Open Studio" event last week, have all contributed to feelings of frustration, some confusion and a longing for something that I couldn't put my finger on until today.

    In between preparing for a workshop I have this Saturday, I have been taking advantage of our fairly mild weather by chilling out in my backyard and walking around my neighborhood. These mini retreats helped remind me of one of the benefits of being a photographer. Constantly being on alert for beauty, color, light and mood make it possible to celebrate my environment no matter where I am.

    The other wonderful thing about having photography as my main source of expression is it doesn't take much to turn an otherwise mundane, normal Thursday into a day that ends with delight and satisfaction. This energizes me and helps turn even the grumpiest of moods completely around, much to the relief of those closest to me.

    So what did I do?

    I have been viewing with envy, autumn images from other photographers who took the time to venture out into the mountains and hills and come back with breathtaking shots of glorious crimson red and golden fall foliage. A day trip for me this week was not an option, so I did the next best thing.....went out to my backyard. The simple act of picking up my camera, crouching down, looking up and appreciating what was right in front of me, helped dissolve the dark cloud that had been hovering over me all day.

    The important thing to remember is it was the "doing" and not necessarily the end result that made me smile. These are probably not images I will go out of my way to show, but I love that they represent a slice of time on a beautiful November day right outside my door and I took the time to enjoy it.


    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Meet Leslie Nicole

    As many of you know, I participated in an art festival last weekend and am busy trying to get the studio back together in time for our open studio event this weekend.

    Instead of missing another week of blogging, I decided to share a portion of an article by Leslie Nichole that I posted on my Photo Artistry Workshop membership site.

    I came across Leslie and her work about a year ago when I found her site French Kiss Textures. I had become very interested in using textures in my work and loved the images she was sharing. We started talking via email and she shared that she had a background in hand coloring and that the way she approached her work with textures was very similar to the steps she took while hand coloring.

    She very generously volunteered to share her experience and inspiration and wrote the following guest blog post. Go to her website if you would like more information about her work.

    Be sure to check out the photo of her hand coloring table......brought back a lot of memories for me.

    Meet Leslie Nicole:

     Leslie Nicole was a professional hand-colorist in San Francisco. She has given demonstrations and workshops for Kodak and has been a guest instructor at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco. In addition to her fine art photography, she has hand-colored for other photographers and clients. Her work has appeared in posters, greeting cards, retail stores, magazines, catalogs, and advertising. Today, she is the founder and creative director of French Kiss Textures, a resource for photographers and artists.

    Thank you Leslie!

    ©Leslie Nicole

    Back in the days before Photoshop, I was a hand-colorist. Today, I photograph with a DSLR and then manipulate my images with Photoshop filters and textures. This was a natural progression and I often reflect on how the techniques are quite similar.


    In the late '80's – early '90's and there was a bit of a "nouvelle vague" for hand-coloring. It was quite popular in art, editorial, post cards, etc. I photographed mostly B&W with a 120 Rolleicord camera, printed (usually) on matte paper and hand-colored with oils, pencils and dyes. I worked at a professional B&W photo lab, so I had easy access to the best darkroom equipment.

    hand coloring table in 1990 with an image in progress

    The finished image was used for the Fortunes Catalog
    © Leslie Nicole

    Digital Imaging

    Around 1992, when desktop publishing—as it was called then—hit in full force, I was asked to start the digital department in our lab. I knew nothing about computers! This started what would become a long side trip first into digital imaging and then graphic design. I went freelance and then I worked in the design departments for many companies. In 2000, I opened my own design studio. I had all but stopped creating art. It was too hard to find the time to go use a darkroom. I had a decent digital compact camera, but I just used it for snapshots of my dogs and flowers in my garden.

    Bringing it together

    I always knew I would eventually close the circle from my journey into design and, enriched by the experience, come back to photography. In 2007, I bought a Canon 40D. In 2008, I moved definitively to France. I suddenly had the time and equipment I needed to work again. I started experimenting with how to continue my artistic photography digitally. While I had done some digital hand-coloring for jobs in the past using Photoshop, I thought that it made sense to try out Corel's Painter. I played with that a bit, but when I discovered textures, it clicked.

    I had been away from photography for a few years and was totally unaware of the texture movement. After a year of intensely photographing, I wanted to share my images. I joined RedBubble, and soon after, I stumbled onto the work of Jessica Jenney. I was stunned! I had no idea what this artist was doing, but I knew that it was the missing key that linked my style to the digital age. I then started seeing other artist's work that used textures and launched myself into learning all I could about textures. As I already had a strong base in photography, Photoshop, and hand-coloring, I caught on pretty quickly.

    ©Leslie Nicole

    Texture As Paint

    My approach to using textures has been pretty much the same as hand-coloring. I use the textures as paint. I don't think I was fully conscious of this until writing this post, but I can see now that taking the next step to creating my own textures was natural. I used to paint my own backgrounds. Sometimes I would literally paint a background, photograph and then hand color it or I regularly photographed against white to paint after. The digital process gives me more freedom to create actual texture. The things I did to create texture in hand-coloring! Once, I let the paint partially dry and then took steel wool to the surface, I sometimes used pumice powder to rub away dried paint. I've even used glitter sticks and Conté crayons. I've glued on old stamps and torn pieces of paper.

    In my textures, I'll photograph actual paintings or create new textures from photographing patinaed walls and metal gates, or scanning old documents and books gleaned from flea markets. I'm like a visual magpie, constantly collecting things to either photograph or scan. I rarely use these as is, but instead break them down into brushes in Photoshop to combine. I use the same sensibilities I used in hand coloring to create a balance of color. It would perhaps be more accurate to say I create backgrounds.

    ©Laura Aldridge Photography
    Hand Colored by Leslie Nicole
    Note: This hand-colored photograph of the little girl is by photographer, Laura Aldridge. I always loved working on her images. I hand colored a number of her images for projects such as greeting cards and the inserts to frames for Mervyn's department store.

    Hand-coloring and textures are both disciplines that take time. Time working on your image. Time playing with technique. You have to have the temperament for this. For me, the time is relaxing and meditative. The discoveries exciting. The most important ingredient of all in being successful in these methods is to love the process. I guarantee you that if you enjoy the work and put in the time, you will master the process and find your own vision.


    Laura Aldridge Photography

    Jessica Jenny:

    French Kiss Textures:


    Leslie Nicole:

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Workshops & Art Festivals......

    Book update:  I received the first copy of "simple grace" this week and wish I could say "here it is!", but I am not ready. I need to make a few tweaks and a couple of decisions before taking the next step.

    After placing the order for the book, I spent the rest of last week getting ready for my first hand coloring workshop in the new studio. The new space presented some challenges and it had been awhile since I taught. I had a rhythm and a routine in the old studio and I was a little worried about the transition to the new space.

    I discovered that it doesn't really matter where I teach as long as I go into it with the desire to share my passion and have fun at the same time. I made the decision earlier to reduce the number of students in the beginning class and I loved how that shifted the group dynamic and gave me a chance to spend more time with each student. It also gave everyone room to spread out (which they took full advantage of).
    Level II Workshop

    The other change I made was scheduling the Level I class on Saturday and the Level II class on Sunday. One of my students (visiting from Michigan) came for both days of instruction and said it was a great way to retain and reinforce what she learned.
    I am looking forward to my first "Level III" workshop next month and then a "floral photography" class in February. I am also planning a show featuring the work of four of my students early next year. I would love to have the studio become a hub of activity with more workshops and community events. My studio mate JJ Jacobs, has plans to offer workshops as well. 

    Now it's time to get ready for the Sacramento Arts Festival, the only show I am doing this year.  I should be scrambling to get ready, but I think I am tired of "scrambling". There always seems to be "something to get done". I decided that in addition to a few new items and framed pieces, whatever inventory I have in the studio should be enough for the show.

    I was hoping to have a book to display, but decided that rushing to do that was probably not the best idea. (I believe this is a sign of maturity....)

    The challenge will come next week however. You may remember how we decided to use my pro panels in the new studio so we could avoid tearing up the lathe and plaster walls. Well, next week those panels need to be loaded in the van, along with boxes of prints, tables and even lights that I will need to get down off the tracks. After the show is over, the studio has to be put back together in time for Second Saturday......... but I don't have to think about that right now.

    Studio with pro panels

    Over the years I made many friends on the show circuit and quite a few will be at this show as well. I look forward to seeing familiar faces as I make numerous trips with my cart, back and forth from the loading dock to my booth spot. The energy and excitement during set up can be pretty contagious, but the recent economic climate has dampened that enthusiasm a bit. It's ok. It's all ok...........

    Sacramento Art Festival
    Judging from the pieces on the panels, this was a long time ago.......
    My intention is to have a good time and hopefully meet new people. Of course I would like enough sales to at least break even (ok - I will be honest, more than breaking even would be awesome!), but my attitude will play a key role in how the weekend unfolds. Whatever happens, I might as well try to enjoy myself. What have I got to lose?  

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Five Things I Discovered While Making This Book......

    ©Dianne Poinski
    As I patiently (not really....) wait for the first copy of "simple grace" to arrive, I want to share a few thoughts and feelings that popped up while I was gathering the photographs that appear in this book.

    The collection of 41 images, all made in the last fifteen years, were created using two different processes. Because of this, the book is split into two parts.

    The first part represents the period of time I shot film, printed in the darkroom and hand colored with Marshall oil paints. Digital images, hand colored with PanPastels, are featured in the second half.

    It was fun to look back and see where things had changed and where they had remained the same. Here is a list of 5 discoveries I made along the way:

    #1 - I have always liked to photograph the backs of flowers................
    ©Dianne Poinski

    ©Dianne Poinski

    #2 - I really like this blue vase..........................

    ©Dianne Poinski

    ©Dianne Poinski

     #3 - You have a much broader array of flowers to photograph if you are not doing art festivals from March until October. Looking over my older photographs, I noticed a lot of tulip, hydrangea and orchid images. These flowers could be purchased in most stores during the winter months of January and February - which is when I did most of my shooting "back in the day". I was too busy getting ready for shows during the spring and summer to notice the wide variety of potential subjects available, not just in the stores, but all around the neighborhood. The list of flowers missing from my portfolio during this time include: peonies, sunflowers, morning glories, poppies, echinacea and fresh roses from the backyard (you cannot compare store bought roses to cut garden roses - EVER).

    ©Dianne Poinski

    #4 - I wish I had a scanner 15 years ago. Many of my early images were never photographed. It wasn't until decent scanners became affordable that I was able to document finished work quickly and easily. Quite a few did make it into the copy stand and photographed, but just as many did not.

    #5 - Finally, scheduling a gallery show is a great motivator. If I had not had that show in September, I might still be photographing, hand coloring and saying "maybe next year".  Instead I am waiting for the FedEx truck with anticipation and a little bit of fear.

    By next week the book will have been delivered and I might even be ready to "put it out there". It will totally depend on what this first copy looks like............

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    simple grace

    I have a title......simple grace.  The book I have been talking about forever has a title!

    I asked for some help with this and Sara Minor (who does amazing work by the way), mentioned the word "grace". I liked it, but the word "simple" kept popping up in my mind. Both words represent qualities I am drawn to in my work, and the simple beauty and grace, that most flowers possess, are reasons why they have long been a favorite subject to photograph (and paint). 

    "Simple" also fits because it evokes in me feelings of peace and calm. It's how I want to live my life.

    So I put the two words together and I am feeling pretty good about it. 


    Deciding on a title was one of the last major hurdles I had to deal with. I have been collecting images for months (years?), and 
    writing text the last couple of weeks, and then on Monday, I decided it was time to finish this project......and I will.

    There are quite a few images in my computer and in my head, that I would have liked to have finished for the book, but I think I was also using that as an excuse. I could have kept saying "I need more images" forever. It was time to say "enough"!

    The first version will be ordered by Sunday night. It is looking pretty good on my computer screen, but I am sure there will be a few "tweaks" to make after I have the finished product in my hands.

    I am excited, but also a little sad. I have been living with this idea for so long it feels like a comfortable companion. I am not afraid of running out of projects, but this one has always held a special place in my heart and it will feel strange to have it behind me.

    But it's not finished yet...........................and I am not finished talking about it.

    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    Live a Life You Love.........

    The idea for this post came before hearing yesterday that Steve Jobs had lost his long battle with cancer. He was only 56 and his contributions and legacy will live on, but his passing is a strong reminder of how precious life is and how important it is to live a life we love. The basic premise of his commencement address at Stanford in 2005 said it all - "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life."

    So how is this related to what I want to share today? What it boils down to is I had more time to "think and be"  in the month of September than I have had in a long time. The intense pressure I put on myself while getting ready for my gallery show gave me little time to eat, much less reflect and ponder.

    Initially I was very uncomfortable with the time I had on my hands once the show was hung. Now what? All summer I had direction, purpose and a strict deadline - all of which was now gone.

    My knee jerk reaction is to get busy with something else, but I felt overwhelmed by my options. Luckily, I didn't have to sit with that dilemma very long because my husband and I had plans to go to the coast to celebrate our 30th anniversary, and my daughter was coming home for a couple of weeks as well.

    So, after the opening reception and open studios (all on the same weekend), I pretty much took the rest of the month off and it felt great.

    My husband and I spent a few days in Jenner, CA which is where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean. In this small town, cell phone service is basically non-existent, and forget about wi-fi.  This adds up to the perfect recipe for one of two things: a panic attack at the thought of being disconnected from the rest of the world or a chance to embrace the opportunity to connect with the person that bore the brunt of my animated outbursts of doubt and fear in the days leading up to the show.

    Guess what I chose? Besides kayaking in the fog with my husband (and loving every minute of that), I was reminded that I have an extremely awesome life, something I forget when my life gets too busy. The deep quiet I experienced that weekend was just what my soul (and my marriage) needed. Having the ability to photograph from the deck of our room on the Russian River was just icing on the cake.
    2011 Dianne Poinski (Russian River - morning)
    I am grateful to Steve Jobs for his vision, but during a time when I had no way to use any of his inventions, I found myself filling up with peace, gratitude and the understanding that life is meant to be enjoyed and lived to to the fullest. We all know this on some level, but it helps to be reminded. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes the loss of someone young, passionate and brave to help us remember........ and that is what happened yesterday.
    2011 Dianne Poinski (Russian River looking west - sunset)
    I would like to end with this passage from that Stanford commencement speech:

    "......You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle......." Steve Jobs 1955 - 2011

    If you have never seen or read the transcript of his talk, click here: Stanford  It's a very powerful and touching speech.

    I would also like to dedicate this post to Sylvie Wheatley, who passed away this summer at a young age as well. She was a student of mine, but I felt like we became friends. She would visit the studio with her husband Bob, and their joy and excitement for life filled the room. Again, a reminder that life is short. There is no time to worry about the little things. As the popular saying goes........"Live, Laugh, Love"........

    Thursday, September 29, 2011

    JJ Jacobs

    As most of you know, JJ Jacobs and I have been sharing studio space since May. We met a couple of years ago when we both had studios in "The Building" and I have been inspired by her passion and energy ever since.

    I have mentioned JJ many times in my blog posts, but today I am excited to share an interview that she so graciously agreed to do. Scroll down to learn more about what inspires JJ and see more of her wonderful work.

    ©2011 Judy Jacobs "Encore" 30" x 24"
    What is your primary medium for creating your art? Have you experimented along the way with other techniques and/or materials? I mainly use acrylic paints & products but I used to use oils, watercolors and gouache. I like the versatility and quick drying time I get with the acrylics and can use various mediums and/or water to achieve oil & watercolor-like effects – plus the quicker drying time allows me to make more art!

    What are your favorite subjects? Color is the driving force behind my work, and using a variety of color I like to paint landscapes, cityscapes and non-representational abstracts.

    Who/what has inspired you? Georgia O’Keefe was influential to me – I admire her perseverance and tenacity as well as the way she pushed the “norm” with her subject matter and compositions.

    When did it first hit you that you wanted to be an artist? I’ve never really thought about wanting to be an artist – I’ve always been one and can’t imagine not having art in my life.

    What has your path been like? School, art related jobs, freelance, commercial...... I went to private schools through 12th grade and took every single art class ever offered at my school. I ended up going into real estate which paid the bills nicely but left my creative side empty. About 12 years ago I started fusing glass and making lampworked beads which revived my passion for art and began painting again about 3 years ago. Now I am painting more than doing glass work and pushing the creative boundaries more than before – all while working part-time at the real estate job. I’m praying for the day I can afford to be “working” full-time at my art which I hope will be very, very soon.

    How would you describe the current direction of your work? Any changes on the horizon? My paintings are becoming larger and more vibrant. I’ve always used a lot of color but am being less restrained than before; and I’m getting away from thinking too much while I paint! Instead I have been following my intuition and just sort of letting my feelings take over the brush strokes, composition and color selections… doing this my colors seem to flow together naturally and I’m able to get to that point of saying “I’m done” much quicker than when I over think the process. Here are two examples of some recent “intuitive” paintings:

    ©2011 Judy Jacobs “Gypsy Wind”  30” x 24”
    ©2011 Judy Jacobs “Wild Child”  24” x 36”

    Were you supported in your efforts to become an artist? Yes & no. Growing up with a creative mother, I was always encouraged to paint and color and to use my imagination. When it came time to go to college though, my parents wouldn’t support my desire to be an art major which led me into a long career in real estate instead. I managed to take quite a few college art classes at night and workshops from artists whose work I admire – and don’t regret having the business acumen I acquired during my real estate career. Without the business knowledge I am not so sure I would be doing as well in my art business as I am.

    What are some of the challenges you have faced in your career? Probably the biggest challenge I’ve had in my art career has been building my self-confidence as an artist. I sometimes wish I had pursued an art degree but then I wonder if I had gotten a BFA or MFA if I would still be doing art at all. The other challenge I have is striving to maintain a healthy balance between doing my art and maintaining a social life – I find I can get inside my head too much and tend to become a hermit of sorts.

    What brings you the greatest joy? I love watching other people making a connection between a work of art that they see and how excited they get when they tell me or another artist about how the piece relates to them.

    How would you describe yourself? How does that come out in your work? I’m generally a happy person who likes to laugh a lot and I try to express those features in my work. When I’m feeling sad or upset about something I may go ahead and paint something just to work through the feelings but in most cases I’ll paint over the piece at a later date. When the earthquake happened in Japan a few months ago I couldn’t stop thinking about the horror those poor people must have been experiencing and painted “The Darkest Hour” while watching the news. This painting still makes me feel sad when I look at it because it reminds me how I was feeling when I created it. Yet another friend of mine loves it and told me it reminds her of the sun setting behind the mountaintops and how it lights up the buildings before nightfall. Go figure 

    ©2011 Judy Jacobs “The Darkest Hour” 24" x 36"
    Any words of wisdom you would like to share? Never, ever ever stop creating and always follow your dream, no matter how scary it may be or how frivolous you think it might be! Life is meant to be lived with passion; and when that passion dies so does the spirit. (Love this! DP)

    Thank you JJ! And thanks for being such a great "studio mate"!

    To see more of JJ's work go to her website: