Friday, June 28, 2013

Handcrafted Photography........

When I first started selling my work, my business cards said "Dianne Poinski  Handcrafted Photographic Images". Later on I would shorten it to "Handcrafted Photography". At this time I offered only hand colored photographs, so it made sense to emphasize the "hand made" nature of my work.

Upon the advice of a friend who felt that anything with the word "craft" in it could conjure up images of knitted toilet paper covers, I changed it to simply "Dianne Poinski Photography". This worked because as you know, eventually I would also offer photographs that were not hand colored and even prints of images made with an iPhone!

I have been hinting at this for awhile, but I have been feeling a little squirrely that there is very little about my work these days that can be considered anything but a product of hours at my computer or staring at my phone. Of course this also requires training and skill and I have a lot respect for the masters in this field, but personally, I was finding it less than satisfying.

Which now brings me to what this post is really about............

I have been hearing a lot lately about photo transfers with color copies and have been experimenting with this technique on and off for the last couple of months. I started getting frustrated because none of the methods I was trying seemed to work. My stubbornness kicked in however, and I became determined to keep at it until something did.

Up until last week, I was not interested in any of the methods that said "let it dry 24 hours....". I did not want to wait that long! As most of you know, patience is NOT one of my virtues.

Well guess what? Waiting 24 hours seems to be the ticket!

My intention all along was to try to create something that was completely original, unique and a "one of a kind" piece of art, out of the images that were being made in that so totally awesome and amazing technological wonder called an iPhone. Two ends of the spectrum.................

I have also been reading about the concept of "Wabi-sabi". The Wikipedia definition refers to this as "a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection." In my mind, that doesn't happen a lot in Photoshopped images. (Actually, the "impermanence" aspect of wabi-sabi could be applied to digital images......crashed hard drive, no back up..........)

You will see now, just how "imperfect" these transfers are.

Transfer on watercolor paper

 I experimented doing them on paper and canvas...............

Transfer on canvas

Here is a little bit about the process:

One requirement for this method is you have to use color copies, not inkjet prints. You need a mirror image to place down, so after reversing them in Photoshop, I made prints and went to Kinkos. (I may just bring a flash drive next time.......)

The next step involves a "pouring medium". I chose this one by Liquitex.

Using a foam brush, coat your substrate (in my case paper or canvas), and the front of the print with the medium. 

Place the print face down on the substrate and smooth out the bubbles with a brayer or other object.

Let it dry for at least 24 hours.............ugh!

Using a spray bottle, wet the piece and carefully start rubbing the paper off. (This is actually the toughest and most time consuming part.........)

This image of the Golden Gate Bridge was transferred onto hot press water color paper.

As you can see, it is so not perfect, and that is part of the charm. I can transfer this same image over and over again and it will never turn out the same way twice!

This is still a work in progress, and as I learn more I will share what works and what doesn't. I am not sure if I will only apply this technique to iPhone images, but for now, it is this blending of extreme technology with of the idea of original art that has me so excited. (Ask the brave people that stepped inside my studio the morning I completed my first semi-successful transfer. I had to share it with someone and I was downright giddy!)

I plan to play around with adding pastels or even acrylic paint (if I am brave enough....) to these transfers.

There are a couple of other "experiments" I am working on that involve prints of my DSLR work as well as iPhone images.

I will end with a couple of my favorite closing lines......"the possibilities are endless" and "stay tuned"......................

PS....if any of you have experience with this or other transfer techniques and have hints or suggestions, please leave a note in the comments section. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Project 52 - Week 25

Project 52 - Week 25

©2013 Dianne Poinski

Almost every morning, I walk to get my quad Americano (do not judge me......) and pass this house with a lovely flower garden in the front. These daisies seem to say "Good Morning" and last week I took quite a few iPhone photos of them.

There is something special about this house.................. A few years ago, the property surrounding it was purchased in order to make room for a new school that was being built. They bought up all the other houses on the block, but this woman refused to sell hers. She had been there for many many years and did not want to leave. So they built around it............(I may not have all the details exactly correct. The bottom line is, hers is the only original house left on the block.)

There is a fragrance that emanates from this garden that stops me almost every time I walk by. The sweet subtle scent reminds me of my grandmother's house and memories flood in. I feel comforted, and begin breathing and walking a little slower. 

As much as I am sure it was a logistical nightmare to build around, I am happy that this woman still has her home, and hope she and her family enjoy it for many more years.................

Friday, June 21, 2013


I know, like everyone else, how good walking is for your health and well being. Last year when I was doing my Project 365, daily walks became part of my routine because I found so many of my "pictures of the day" while roaming my neighborhood.
It seems like this year I have been too busy to make walking a priority, and as a result, have far fewer images on the camera roll of my iPhone (and may have even gained a few pounds......)
This all changed a couple of weeks ago.
My husband in an effort to incorporate more exercise into his daily routine bought himself a "Fitbit"Some call this a glorified pedometer and maybe it is, but when he got his, I saw a change and a determination to meet his daily goal of 10,000 steps. (It also tracks sleep, but I have no idea how that works.......)
I had to join in on the fun and received mine a couple of weeks ago. I love a challenge and once I set mine up, I most certainly found myself getting back into the habit of a daily walk.
And you know what happened next................I started feeling inspired and noticing beauty all around me again, which of course had to be photographed.
Since I have been spending more time at my studio, walking around Capitol Park has become one of my favorite routes. 
During my walk on Tuesday I noticed people looking up into the sky. What they were looking at was a "Solar Halo". While many people were trying take photos of it, I do believe I was one of the only ones almost laying down on the ground to get the shot I wanted..............(and I am grateful no one took a photo of that!)
©2013 Dianne Poinski
Capitol Park also has wonderful magnolia trees, many of them with blooms low enough to photograph.

©2013 Dianne Poinski
And every park needs a beautiful rose garden...................

©2013 Dianne Poinski

These next few images were made on a walk I did closer to home:

I love it when I find flowers blooming against dark fences or walls..................

©2013 Dianne Poinski
Another "against the wall" shot.........................

©2013 Dianne Poinski
And, as is common practice on my photo walks, a "looking up" shot.

©2013 Dianne Poinski
I wish it hadn't taken an geeky device to get me back into walking everyday, but I am not going to beat myself up for that. All I know is that I am doing it and it feels great! Looking for "photo ops" is just a little icing on the cake.
Have a great weekend and get out there and enjoy your neighborhood!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bursting With Possibility............

Bursting with possibility............That was what I was thinking when I saw this "just beginning to bloom" agapanthus.

Again, one of my favorite ways to take photos of flowers outside is when they are planted up against a building. This was made at a church around the corner from my house, and while the wall itself had texture, I added a little more with the new "Mextures" app. (Trust me, you will be hearing more about this one.......)

Project 52 - Week 24 (really??)

©2013 Dianne Poinski
iPhone only..........

Friday, June 14, 2013

Studio Time......

I am writing this from my studio..........................This should not sound that unusual, but for the last five months I have been working 90% of the time from home. This is not how it use to be...........

I wrote last week about how I was missing the time I spent hand coloring. This also translates into missing time hanging out in my studio, interacting with other people and in general feeling less like a hermit and more like a part of the rest of the world.

As much as as I enjoy my home and am not very social by nature, it's not easy working alone and feeling isolated so much of the time.

I started noticing an upswing in my mood the week before a workshop. The time I spent setting up and preparing for the class at the studio felt good. Then on the day of the workshop, my space was filled with laughter and authentic conversation among the students while they expressed their creativity and made new friends.

I explained before how the work I was doing in the weeks leading up to Surtex was all digital, and since my main computer with the calibrated monitor, the 8 GB of RAM and the terabyte hard drive lives in my home office, that is where I have been.

But that is about to change........................

First of all, I bought a very cool glass desk at the Goodwill for $25 and moved my laptop and extra monitor into the studio. This space use to be declared a "tech free" zone, but if I am going to spend any length of time here, it is pretty much a requirement that I have access to a computer. While this set up is not really ideal for working on images, other work (like this blog post) can be done.

My studio has two very large windows which fills the space with amazing light, but (and you probably know where this is going......) the heat that builds up in the summer can almost be unbearable. 

Once I made the decision to spend more time in the studio, I knew I would have to get shades or something to block the light. Those went up last week and have already made such a difference!

I also knew if I wanted to get back to doing more hands on work, the studio was the place to be, not home. Besides hand coloring, I have other projects I am excited to get started on, all of which will result in original art and require a place I can mess up and leave that way if I want.  (And I have already begun! More about what I am doing here later.............if it works!).

Because I am still required to create digital files for so much of the work I am doing these days, the next step is to get a second computer in the studio that can handle large files and allow me to spend even more time away from my house.

I am not ready to declare regular hours and will probably never get to that point, (I have tried before.......I just don't roll that way) but the odds of finding me working in the studio will greatly increase with this new approach. (And you can always contact me if you want to come in....)

I will keep you posted on how this experiment plays out...........and if you are local and happen to be in the neighborhood, stop by. I always welcome visitors!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Project 52 - Week 23

Project 52 - Week 23

Every June I eagerly anticipate the arrival of the peonies at Trader Joe's. It has become a summer ritual.

I sometimes receive text messages from friends who know I am patiently waiting for those beautiful blossoms to appear in our favorite store.

Last week as my husband was headed out to do some grocery shopping (yes, I am very lucky.....), I asked him nicely to pick up some peonies if they were available.

I was very happy to see some peeking out of the grocery bag as he brought our week's groceries into the house.

This was made with my iPhone, using only window light. I played around with the new "Mextures" app on this image and also used Snapseed and Old Photo Pro.

©2013 Dianne Poinsk

Friday, June 7, 2013

Can't You Do That in Photoshop?

I had a feeling this might happen. The Photoshop marathon I just completed has me yearning to be back at my easel, hand coloring my prints. 

There are many reasons why I have not been hand coloring these days, and I am sure I will be talking more about that later, but for today, I thought I would share the artist statement I wrote when all of my images were hand colored.

It's been a couple of years since I wrote this, but I am putting it out there for me more than anything else. I feel like I need to be reminded and guided back to a time when I worked slower and more consciously.

So here it is:

Can't You Do That in Photoshop?

Every once in awhile I get asked the question "why do you hand-color your photographs?” This is usually followed with "why not just take a color photograph" or "can't you do that in Photoshop?”
So why would I go to so much trouble to hang on to a tradition tossed aside once before with the arrival of color film and now again with the faster and more efficient techniques used by most photographers today? Here are a few of my favorite reasons.
  • Hand coloring is relaxing. I put on my iPod and get lost for hours. I discover details in the photograph that I might have missed if I had only been looking at the image on my monitor. In this way, hand coloring has become a meditation of sorts.
  • What I create is an original work of art. For the most part, the look and feel of hand colored photographs can now be duplicated in Photoshop, so creating a certain mood is no longer one of my reasons for hand coloring.  In my "darkroom" days, even if I was not hand coloring, the black and white print itself could be considered an "original".  Every print was individually hand processed and even if the conditions were identical (which they never were), it was hard to reproduce exactly, the tones and contrast that appeared in a previous version.  Now, as long as I am consistent with my use of papers and inks, each black and white print I make should look like the one before it. Hand coloring gives me the opportunity to make the photograph a one of a kind piece.
  •  Hand coloring gets me off my computer and into the studio. This is a big one for me. I have totally embraced digital photography and I love what I can do in Photoshop, but it's very easy to sit down and realize 5 hours just felt like 5 minutes and everyone else in your house is asleep.

As I become more proficient in Photoshop, I am finding all sorts
of ways to express my creativity and realize my vision for the
images I make. It's exciting and I love it, but for the reasons I give above, I don't plan to ever completely give up hand coloring my photographs. I find it to be the perfect blend of tradition and technology.

Hand coloring helps me feel like I have slipped into a slower
and simpler time zone and it feels good. I hope viewers of my work feel the same way.

So....... my head is swirling with thoughts about photography, my experience with it, my history with it, and my passion for it.

Another shift appears to be happening and I am sure you will be hearing more..........

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Taking the Time...............

The forecast high temperature for this Saturday in Sacramento is 108!! I am not ready for this...............

This sudden thrust of summer, makes my "Week 22" image a little more special.

I have mentioned this before, but it is rare here in Northern California to experience any sort of "weather" from about May 15 to October 1. Blue skies dominate and bore me to tears.

It was a special treat last week to not only have a few sprinkles of rain, but to have puffy white clouds briefly appear in the skies above Sacramento. I was still in "catch up" mode and my to-do list was a mile long, but I didn't let that stop me.

Wanting to capture what may be the last clouds we see until next fall, I dropped everything, grabbed my Nikon and headed to the American River Parkway, not far from my house.

I believe this is one of my favorite things about photography....

If I were not a photographer, would I have even noticed the beauty outside? And if I had, would I have taken the time to venture out and enjoy it? Or would I have simply stuck to my list and carried on?

I may never know the answers to these questions. All I know is that my "Project 52" had to come from the series of photos I made on that special afternoon in Sacramento.............

Project 52 - Week 22

©2013 Dianne Poinski