Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Good things come in large and small packages

Two presents arrived on the same day this week. Two! And it wasn't even my birthday. A card and three little hearts from Carol D., for "no special reason, no special season," but because she's a deceptively nice person and she knows I love hearts. I was hoping they were candy hearts, but no such luck! The card and the hearts are now on a little shelf here above my desk. Thank you, madam. Your small gift means a lot. (How'd you like the "deceptively nice" zinger in there?)   :-)

And then from Kathleen A. in Maryland came a large box full of very cool papers from her personal stash. Handmade papers, soft rice papers, lots of lovely calligraphy, a veritable potpourri of material, including a little bag o' beads. She's feeding my collage habit and I'm feeling the pressure now: I have to create things worthy of all this paper. And I am. And I will. And I have been. And I will be posting the collages and offering them for sale in a week or so.

The beauty of these papers is that I can photograph bits and pieces of them to use in digital photomontages. And THEN I can use them again in physical collages. And THEN I can photograph bits and pieces of the collages to use in digital montages and, well, you see where all this is leading, don't you? To total INSANITY! But I mean "insanity" in a good way...

I took photos of the box as I slowly lifted out the papers so you could see how neat all this is.

I often feel I live and work in a vacuum here on the Oregon coast. This was a day that proved me wrong. And which I'll always remember. Thank you both. XOXO Carol Leigh

Tracing paper, pen, watercolor

I'm having major computer problems, so decided to post this sequence of photos that I did a couple of years ago. The photos are old, but the process is kind of interesting.

I put a piece of tracing paper on top of a woman's face in a magazine. I used a pencil to draw the shape of the face, the lips, eyes, nose, etc. and then went over the lines with a Sharpie marker. You can see, in the first photo, where I didn't do a good job of erasing the pencil marks.

I used very diluted watercolor paint to color the lips, the eyes, etc.

In the second photo, I changed the light balance in Adobe Camera Raw to "cloudy," which gave the picture a warmer, more golden tone. But it still doesn't look very good.

So I applied Topaz Adjust "Simplify" to the photograph and then cropped it. The "Simplify" feature in Topaz made the golden colors glow, smoothed things out in general, and gave the image a softer, more painterly, more graphic look. It's more polished than the previous two versions.

This winter, when you're stuck in the house because it's raining out, give it a try. Tracing paper, a pencil, a black marker, a magazine, a touch of watercolor, and then take a picture of what you drew. What do you think? ©Carol Leigh

Monday, August 29, 2011


Using a couple of  markers, I made some splotches on rice paper and then photographed them. Voila!

Reminder to my beginning photomontage students: the advanced photomontage class begins September 12th. Seven lessons in eight weeks, lessons that build upon and add to what you learned in the first class. Click here to register. ©Carol Leigh

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tree on the half shell

I photographed the tree in Memphis, Tennessee — home to some incredibly beautiful trees. The crow? She's local. The background comes from a macro photo I took of a freshwater clam shell I found along a lake in Arkansas and brought home. Never knew there was such a thing as a freshwater clam. There's a photo of metal in here, too, as well as some other things, but tree/bird/clam is pretty much the core of the piece.

Reminder to my beginning photomontage students: the advanced photomontage class begins September 12th. Seven lessons in eight weeks, lessons that build upon and add to what you learned in the first class. Click here to register. ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Up at the fishing boat docks, paint's always being spilled on the walkways. I loved the exuberance of this little section of cement. The lettering is mine. ©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Last of the summer colors

Summer's at its peak here on the coast, but you can feel it sort of winding down. ©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


There's a big fuchsia bush in the backyard that, at least on the side that isn't constantly being eaten by deer, is covered with red blossoms. This female Anna's hummingbird (I think that's what she is) diligently monitors "her" fuchsia bush from one of maybe three different vantage points from around the yard.

As I sat in a chair below her, she sat on a little twig above me, nicely backed by some very dark trees. In these two photos you can see her (a) yawning and then (b) stretching. Warm days and late afternoon sun will do that to you. ©Carol Leigh

Monday, August 22, 2011


It reminded me of a southern California Saturday night, the sound of a big helicopter circling, the spotlight playing out, focusing on SOMETHING down below. Listening to the scanner we heard that a 40-foot sailboat had run aground about 50 yards offshore and the Coast Guard was trying to figure out if the boat could be towed off the sandbar or if they should just wait for high tide. It was 10 at night, quite dark, kind of scary — for them, not us.

Jetskiers ended up removing the last of the crew and the wait for high tide began.

Sunday morning we could see the boat was still there, masts swaying back and forth, so we went down to the beach, took some photos. A few hours later the boat was gone, freed from the sand, and on its way up to Newport to check for damage.

Not exactly an episode of television's "Deadliest Catch," but a little bit of nautical drama here on the coast. ©Carol Leigh

I surrender!

Elena and I have been having a friendly little "bird war" going on, with her most current salvo looking really, really good. I figure I can outdo her in sheer quantity, but not necessarily quality, so I'm posting these three and then am retreating, waving a white flag!

But it's probably not quite over ... She'll be here in a few weeks, attending our Oregon Coast workshop, and since there are a LOT of crows around here, well, you know what's going to happen . . . ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Catching up

It seemed like such a good idea at the time, but when packing my suitcase to leave Sanibel Island last year, that big bag o' shells I'd collected/purchased weighed a ton. And have I done much (photographically) with them? Nope. Except for this one and these, and this, I've not made the most of these oh-so-cool subjects.

I handpainted a background texture and used it to create a soft, warm look for this shell. Now, just 4,261 more shells to shoot... ©Carol Leigh

Friday, August 19, 2011


Kathleen A. generously supplies me with strange and wonderful papers from her stash. I photograph them before I use them in physical collages. On the left side is a photo of one of the papers she sent. On the right is ink on rice paper that I created and then shot. I put red ink on a rubber stamp "6," stamped it onto the rice paper, and then included it here in this piece. Bet you can't find it!

Why a "6?" Because there are six circles. There originally were nine, but I lopped off three from the right. Naturally, I then had to flip the "9" to make it a "6." Glad I wasn't working with four and eight... ©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

They don't all look alike . . .

Okay, if anyone's to blame, it's Elena — she started it! I posted a photomontage of a bird I photographed in Santa Fe. Elena, Miss Smartypants, who had photographed the same bird, did her magic to it and posted it on her blog.

Well, the competition began. She then posted a photo of some birds carved on a door in Chimayo, New Mexico. I photographed that same door, concentrating on a different panel. Here's the link to Elena's version, so you can easily see what we both did. It's now official: Bird Wars 2011. What will she come up with next? Or is it my turn now?

To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, "a dove is a dove is a dove," except in the eyes of Elena and Carol. ©Carol Leigh

Poppy pod (again)

Poppy pod... Number 14,739 in a continuing series! ©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Carnival body parts!

©Carol Leigh

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Poppy pods

The opium poppies have bloomed and formed their pods. As they dry out on the plant, I clip them off, sprinkle their seeds back into the soil (not unlike shaking a salt shaker), and then bring them into the house to photograph.

Strong winds earlier this year knocked the plants over and so we tied them up. As a result, some of the stems are bent very, very strangely, and look kind of cool.  Just goes to show that if life hands you some strange twists, best thing to do is keep striving upward. ©Carol Leigh

Friday, August 12, 2011

Summery color

This bird was isolated out of a very large mural painted on a garage door. The background detail is from a nearby sidewalk as well as a roofline. All from Santa Fe. Great colors, no? ©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More summer colors

It's sunny here, windows are wide open, cool breezes — perfect for summer colors such as these. ©Carol Leigh

Monday, August 8, 2011

Right place, right day

Another little trip up the bay to Toledo to check out the annual car show — this time we got the date right. Beautifully soft, overcast lighting made the cars look even better. Nothing like a car show to encourage one to concentrate on simple lines, simple shapes, bright colors, and an occasional dog. ©Carol Leigh

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Art in unlikely places

The more you train your eye to see, the more you concentrate on the smaller scene rather than the big picture, the more abstract "art" you're going to find, no matter where you are.

I gravitate toward train tracks, back alleys, old buildings, salvage yards (places my mom warned me about) and can find lots of images like these.

Here you see I've found torn tape and rust on a dumpster, a metal door painted blue that is slowly aging, a hinge on a metal box of some sort by the tracks, and finally a Mondrian-esque look on a big old electrical panel.

Color, texture, line, shape — they all come together in these images which are, to me, quite pleasing.

What I find interesting is that if we were to see the top image of the dumpster and the bottom image of the electrical panel as paintings in a gallery, we would think "of course." And we wouldn't wonder "what is it?" Once we know it's a photograph, "what is it?" usually becomes our first question.

Do I have a point? I think so. I think that if we can turn off the "what is it?" questioner in our heads as we wander about with our cameras, the more we're going to pay attention to color, texture, line, and shape, and the more these sorts of abstract images are going to jump out at us, begging us, of course, to turn them into art. ©Carol Leigh