Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Revisiting "Is Balance Overrated?"

 I don't do this very often, but after struggling to find time to do a blog post I felt good about, I gave up and decided to revisit (and I guess "recycle") a post from June 2008. The funny thing is, everything I wrote back then, still rings true today.

While I had posted last week that I was finished with those 25 pieces for the 20/20 show, I discovered four of the pieces were not entirely "finished". Then there were labels and inventory. In addition, the two pieces for the Photo Oakland show will be delivered this week as well, so there were a couple of visits to my framers this week on top of everything else. 

So before I load my car with 25 8" x 8" pieces, here is what I wrote almost six years ago!

© Dianne Poinski

It’s not hard to understand why I love what I do. When creating new images, I find myself totally in the present moment, unaware of time and filled with an energy that is hard to explain. I also discovered early, that the hand coloring aspect of my photography was therapeutic. When my Dad was dying of cancer I would find a certain amount of peace and acceptance come over me whenever I sat down to work on an image. While that was one of my first experiences with that particular benefit, it was not the last. Like most people, I have had my share of “bumps in the road” but I continue to find healing through my work. 

Having explained some of the positive experiences I have had while working on my art and the passion I feel toward it, it’s no wonder that at times, working is all I want to do.

I have found though, that this sometimes obsessive desire to work does not always feel like a good thing. I find that when I am engaged in too many outside events and/or obligations I have a tendency to get grumpy. Many of these activities are considered very enjoyable by most people, including myself, but when I start to feel like working would be more fun than going to a party or to the movies with friends, I start to question my priorities and motives.

It’s a classic stereotype – the artist as a loner, anti social and introverted – but I believe there may be some truth to it. My need for solitude is not very far down the list after my need for food, water and shelter. If I go too long without time for myself and my art I become slightly depressed and irritable. It’s not pretty. My family and my good friends know this and they respect it.

But it’s hard to live like this and not feel guilty. My need to retreat into my studio has nothing to do with making money but it may look like that to someone who does not know me very well. There are many times I do things because I think I “should” not because I really want to. Compromise is part of living in society and participating in activities we may find “unappealing at the time” is what “adults” do – right?

I hope I don’t sound like I am complaining or whining but I am curious as to what other people, not just artists, do when feeling conflicted about choices they have made or about to make. How do we find balance or should we even attempt to? Is balance overrated?

But really, when it comes down to it, how can finding peace, joy and passion in what you do (and get paid for it) be a bad thing? 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I am finished! The pieces for the 20/20 show are done. Click here if you missed my earlier post about the show: "A New Project"

When I set up these 25 pieces to photograph, it was the first time I viewed all of them together......... and I think I am happy with the results. There is no rhyme or reason for the order of the images, I simply placed them all on the floor to take this picture.  Not a great shot, but it gives you an idea..................

As I neared the end of this project, anxiety started to creep in. Did they all fit the "theme"? Did too many of them look alike? Did I have too many "spring" images and not enough "autumn"? You get the idea.

As luck would have it, I happened upon a blog post written by photographer/writer David duChemin titled "Personal Projects" where he highlighted many of the reasons I found this particular project so satisfying. 

The first was "choose something". I find that having so much that visually inspires me can be very overwhelming. I loved having a "theme" which limited what I was photographing.

"Constraints" were also discussed. Knowing these pieces were all going to be square and had to stick to the theme, helped me focus in a way I found very enjoyable.

The third point he made was "be open". This was in context to seeing where following one constraint and using it as a "strong starting point", could lead you into another, possibly more satisfying direction. The short time frame I had to complete this project limited this from really happening for me, but it did give me a few ideas and a fondness for working this way, so stay tuned....

Creating a tangible item or as he put it "ship it", was the fourth point in his discussion. I think this is very important. If I wasn't creating actual pieces for a show and instead just had digital files living on my hard drive, I am not sure I would have even completed the twenty five images.

The best part of this, is I have a new "body of work", and experience working with new materials and methods. I will share more about the actual creation of these pieces in another post.

I am looking forward to seeing what these look like actually hanging on a gallery wall. I will share photos for those of you who can't see the show in person. 

Remember - the 20/20 show opens May 8th at Kennedy Gallery 1931 L Street in Sacramento.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Photo Oakland

I was excited to find out last week that two of the images I submitted to the "Best of Botanicals National Juried Exhibition" were accepted into the show that runs from May 22 to July 12.

I don't enter a lot of competitions, but there were two factors involved in this one that caught my attention. The first one was, the exhibit itself is a benefit for the San Francisco Botanical Garden. The entry fees and a percentage of sales will be donated to them. I love this place, so that was definitely a factor in my decision to enter.

The other reason, (and this is usually a main consideration when deciding whether or not to enter something), was who the juror was. In this case, the juror was Harold Davis, a photographer whose work I love and am inspired by. 

Here are the two images accepted:

©2014 Dianne Poinski
This dogwood image is from last year, but I changed it up a bit recently. A square version of this is included in my series of "Branches, Blossoms and Leaves" for the 20/20 show.

©2014 Dianne Poinski
I believe I posted this wisteria image a few weeks ago, (it's also part of my 20/20 series) but thought I would share it again anyway...............

The other thing that made entering this a no brainer, was I don't have to ship the pieces. Oakland is about an hour and a half away from Sacramento and there are a few people I will try to visit while I am there. 

If you live in that part of the world, the opening reception is on June 7th and Harold Davis will also be speaking that day. I know I am looking forward to that!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Old School............

As many of you know, I was an ace bookkeeper on my way to becoming a first rate accountant, when I discovered photography. (Funny how it is so much easier to flaunt my accounting skills than it is to even say "I am an artist.") Back then there was no such thing as Excel spreadsheets or computer accounting programs. It was all done manually. The satisfaction felt after adding up each ledger page (on a ten key adding machine), and seeing a zero balance at the bottom of the tape, can only be understood by a bookkeeper nerd like me. 

But times have changed and there are many tools available now that are designed to make our lives easier - right?

Last week I decided that in order to effectively handle my new responsibilities, I should get automated. I already use my iPhone calendar which is synced to my computer, and I love that, but I still enter appointments and events on my white erase monthly calendar that hangs in my office.

The first thing I did was install Evernote on my computer, and then synch it with my iPad and my phone. Digital "notebooks" were created and task lists made. I thought I would feel great about all this, but I feared I was missing something.

Keep in mind, the "system" I had been using for years enabled me to be organized and fairly productive. This system was simple. Every Sunday, I would list (on paper) what I wanted to accomplish during the week with a few "probably won't happen but I don't want to forget" items at the bottom of the page. I also had a daily calendar that listed my appointments and any due dates. 

Now, not only was I feeling a little overwhelmed and unorganized with this so-called "digital productivity" system, it was also in direct conflict with my recent attempts to stay off of my phone as much as possible. I had begun to notice that every morning while I was waiting for my quad Americano (please don't judge me....) I would look around and almost every person standing there was looking at their phone. You also see this behavior at restaurants, sporting events and most other public spaces. It makes me sad..... so I have been making a very strong effort to keep my phone in my pocket when in those types of situations.

After only a few days of putting these automated systems in place, I bailed on it and pulled out a couple of my favorite things - a binder and ledger paper (I have had this pad for probably 20 years!).

Manual spreadsheet!!

After I did this, I felt myself relax a little and go back to feeling somewhat in control of what I need to do and when I need to do it!  

More important, it feels good to stick to my commitment to stay present and engage with people instead of checking my phone!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


First of all, I want to thank all of you that sent congratulatory notes and words of encouragement after my post last week about my new position as "studio manager". I am still wrapping my head around the whole idea, but knowing that it is very much a "part time job" with plenty of time to still do my own work, is making the shift easier. The support I have received from the other artists has been amazing and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity!

Spring has most definitely sprung in Sacramento! It is such a visual treat to walk in my neighborhood this time of year. I also walk as a meditation and get some of my best ideas while exploring the streets and alleys in my city.

If you follow me on Instagram (dpoinskiphoto), you already know that one of my favorite hashtags is #onmywalk.

As much as I sometimes want to simply walk and think, I couldn't resist pulling out my phone more than once during my strolls this week. 

Everything seems to be blooming at once. The dogwoods, tulips, calla lilies and now even roses! Everywhere I look, I see beauty. The added benefit of cloud cover this week (nature's soft box), made shooting even more fun!

Here's just a taste of what I have been seeing:

©2014 Dianne Poinski
This is in someone's front yard!

©2014 Dianne Poinski

©2014 Dianne Poinski

©2014 Dianne Poinski

I apologize again to those of you still experiencing endless winter. Hang in there!  If it makes you feel any better,  know that soon I will be complaining about 110 degree days!