Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Day Last Spring...........

©2011 Dianne Poinski "Wildflowers"

Last spring I wrote a post titled; "Doesn't Get Much Better Than This......" where I described a beautiful day photographing with my son. It has taken me this long, but I finally worked on a few of the images from that day.

Anyone serious about selling their work will know how important it is to have images that you can group together. This day presented me with many different variations on the same theme. The hills, the clouds, the trees, the flowers.......Whether you want to license your work or exhibit at art festivals or galleries, having two or more images that can be shown together will always prove beneficial.

I put together a video where I show the original color photograph, then after I have made some adjustments, including texture layers in Photoshop, I show the printed black and white image. Some of these were printed on Epson's new Cold Press paper, which added even more texture. I love this paper! I usually only use smoother papers, so this was an experiment. It's a different look and I am very happy with the way they turned out. After the black and white image, the final hand colored version will appear.

It was fun looking back on that fantastic day and it wasn't until I went to get the link to the original post, that I noticed the date - March 31, 2010; exactly a year ago. I tried to make something work with these images many times since then, but was never happy with the results. I think I was waiting for the right vision to pop into my head and then get the right materials to make that vision a reality. Love it when that happens!

Turn your speakers on and enjoy......
If you can't see the video, I also posted it on YouTube. Click here: A Day Last Spring

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Etsy - Another Experiment

In the post "My Sanctuary..." I shared my desire to renew my commitment to "hand" coloring my black and white photographs. In keeping with that intention, I opened an Etsy shop last week.

Etsy has always intrigued me. I love the idea of handmade and independent, which is what Etsy represents to me.

I found this posted on the website: "Etsy is more than a marketplace: we're a community of artisans and artists, creators, collectors, thinkers and doers." I like the way that sounds.

I am still adding to and promoting my Fine Art America site and my "store" on the ImageKind website,  but I have lost a little of the enthusiasm I had just a couple of months ago.

One of the benefits of both of these sites is, once you set up your "shop", (which is quite a bit of work by the way,) your job is done. (Actually, you still have to market it, but that's another post.)

If someone purchases one of your images, all printing, matting, framing and shipping is done through the website. Nothing else is required of the artist. Yes - this is a benefit, and I am thrilled if I make a sale, but I also like the idea of something to balance out the automated nature of that business model.

The first few pieces I have added to my Etsy shop are all original photographs, printed in the darkroom and hand colored with Marshall photo oil paints. These older images are priced very reasonably for original art. Newer original images, as well as prints will be added soon, but for now, I like the idea of using this site as a place to show the few remaining traditional hand colored photographs I have left.

I will be signing, packaging and shipping all the work offered in my Etsy shop. A few months ago that just seemed like too much work. I think I lost sight of one of the joys I get from selling my work to other people. The relationships that are formed are deeply appreciated and without that, I feel isolated and out of touch. I like the idea of putting a little note or other token in the package. It's the human element, the face at both ends of the transaction that feels more important to me right now.


I have come to the conclusion that experimenting and discovery is crucial when it comes to our art, but is also part of the process of figuring out our own authentic way to present and market it as well. Try a little of this and a little of that......A friend once told me "it's like throwing cooked pasta to the wall. Some of it will stick and some won't, but you won't know unless you throw it." So, I am doing a lot of "throwing" these days. You may want to duck..............

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Sanctuary.....

Like most of you, I am having trouble wrapping my head around the disaster that occurred last week in Japan. I feel deep sorrow for the lives lost and the devastation that will take years to recover from. In order to not feel completely powerless, I donated to a couple of the relief efforts, but it's not helping that much.

It's during times like these that I am not happy that my children live in other cities. If I had my way, they would be back sleeping in their childhood beds every night. I feel out of control and full of fear. So what do I do when I feel like this? Hand color............

It's interesting because I planned this post before Friday's earthquake. I have been feeling scattered and confused about my work and had just begun to get some clarity when all this happened.

It's well documented that I change my mind a lot. I will state a strong case for something one day and then a month later feel very different. I don't feel bad about this. I believe it's part of the creative process, but it may appear as "flakiness" to some. An example of this is back in May of 2009 I wrote a post titled "Slow Art". I was celebrating the fact that I was not rushing around creating inventory for shows that spring. Instead, I was spending my time hand coloring and creating new original images from older negatives. I was focused on slowing down and hand coloring.

Then last fall I wrote a post called "Digital Creations" where I shared my decision to also offer images I created only in the computer. Part of that decision came from wanting to make more images in a shorter amount of time, something I am not feeling very good about right now. While I did mention that I would continue to hand color, I felt a sense of pulling back from the one constant in my work for the last 16 years. Five months later and I am feeling very different.

Hand coloring gives me a sense of escape and grounding. I have a history of running to the darkroom and then the easel whenever life threw me a curve ball. Photography has helped me find joy and purpose when I felt sad, confused or angry.

I am already on my computer so much. Besides working on images, there is email, social media and of course - the news. While I can choose whether or not to watch the videos or read the headlines, I don't want to put my head in the sand and pretend nothing is happening across the Pacific.

©Dianne Poinski "Pond Reflections"
I am feeling fairly clear that I want to go back to putting most of my efforts into hand coloring black and white photographs. The inner geek can still revel in creating and manipulating images in the computer, but then it will be time to retreat to a different time zone and enter the sanctuary of light, music and my pastels.

But don't hold me to this.............

PS If you want to help out the victims of the earthquake in Japan, click here: Oxfam America

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

If it isn't Broken . . .

I mentioned in my post "No Rules or Expectations....", that I had been doing some experimenting with gesso. What was I doing and more important - why?

"What" is the easy answer - I was experimenting with applying clear gesso over a black and white inkjet print to see how pastels would react to that surface. I was also curious to see what would happen if I tried Marshall photo oils on the prepared print. The gesso would act as a barrier, making it possible to combine the oil paints with the cotton paper. I guess that answers the "why" part as well, but it got me thinking about the creative process and what keeps the fires burning.

When I first started my quest to find a way to hand color digital prints, I remember feeling energized. It was like I had a renewed sense of excitement about photography.  Not only was I trying out new papers, tools and medium, I was also jumping head first into the world of digital photography at the same time. It reminded me of when I took my first darkroom class and the joy I felt about learning something new almost every day.

That was a few years ago and the method of hand coloring I use and teach has been working great. So why am I am trying to improve on that? Because that is what we do..... The old saying "If it isn't broken, don't fix it" really has no place when it comes to creative pursuits. Searching for different ways of doing things is part of the process and part of the fun.

Since I do not have a painting background, up until recently I didn't even know if gesso was pronounced "guess oh" or "jess oh" (it's the latter if you are anything like me). Opaque white gesso has been used for years as a primer applied to surfaces before painting.  When I discovered that there was a clear version available I decided to do a little experimenting.

My first attempts did not go very well. Pretty awful actually. The gesso did not really appear to be "clear" and you can see my brush marks. When I applied pastel to the prepared print it did seem like it was easier to get a deeper and brighter color, however, the Marshall oil paints did not take to the surface like I thought they would. It was also pretty hard on the paper.

I have since heard that it might be better to apply the gesso with a foam brush - so that might be the next step. In the meantime, I am also playing around with SpectraFix, a pastel fixative made with milk casein. It's natural and you don't have to go outside to use it. Spraying it on the print (no gesso) also seems to be allowing for deeper color. I also discovered that if you apply your pastels before the spray dries, the pastels seem to spread in a way that reminds me of using photo oils.

So even though my current method of hand coloring is working just fine, I am excited about the prospect of changing it up a little. I think that renewal of passion is what keeps us searching and learning. I will keep you posted on how this all goes.......

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Three Years of Blogging

I started my blog on Leap Day, 2008. This means I won't have an official anniversary day until next year, but I feel like celebrating anyway. I wonder how people who are born on February 29th deal with their "day" missing three out of every four years.

When I wrote my first post I had no idea what I was doing. My daughter was my only reader, but I just kept plugging away. I am so grateful to those of you that found my blog and continue to stop by every once in awhile. It's been an interesting but satisfying journey.

Back then art festivals seemed to be a main focus and the thought of doing workshops had not even entered my mind. Who knew that in a few months our economy would suffer a huge meltdown and I would decide to take a break from shows and announce my first hand coloring workshop?

I thought it would be fun to "repost" what I wrote that day, so here it is:

Friday, February 29, 2008

An Extra 24 Hours!

It's hard to believe that tomorrow is the first day of March. All day I felt like I was getting this treat of an extra 24 hours. I wish I could say an extra day to "just enjoy" but like many people, it meant an extra day to "get things done". Starting this blog has been on my list of things to do since the beginning of the year, so it felt like the perfect day to begin.

Why do I want a blog?

I have become a great fan of many blogs out there. I feel connected to a whole community of artists, dreamers, teachers and risk takers and I want to participate.

I also want to begin to share my art on a more personal level. Hand coloring black and white photographs in the digital age has been both challenging and rewarding. I plan to share the frustrations as well as the inspirations and the techniques.

The business of being an artist is also a subject I would like to address. I have my first art festival of the year coming up in less than 2 weeks and I feel fear and excitement as the season begins.

I feel out of my comfort zone here, but I believe most personal growth takes place "outside the zone" so I am going to push past the fear and just do my best.

What more can we expect of ourselves?

I hope everyone enjoyed their "extra 24 hours"!