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"........