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: