Monday, September 30, 2013

Paint Chip Inspiration: "Crushed Seed"

If this is your first visit and you've not seen this "Paint Chip Inspiration" feature, let me repeat what I wrote last week:

This idea is not unique to me. It comes from Rachel Berger here:

She selected a paint chip out of a bag, one a day for 100 days, and wrote a short response to that color/that color's name. BRILLIANT! So I thought, I like color. I can write. I can doodle. I have paint chips. And I can scan. So here I am with my first sixth paint chip. . .

If the printing is too small, here's what it says:

The word "seed" in this paint chip makes me think of the California poppy seeds I scattered around our deck this year, how they bloomed and then re-seeded themselves. Hoping for a good bloom next year. Which reminds me of the most remarkable thing I saw from an airplane window a number of years ago. I traveled from Portland to San Diego in April. Looking out the window I saw a swath of orange that looked like a bag of Cheetos had been spilled on the land. It was the Antelope Valley at the height of the poppy bloom. Although I'd been there numerous times leading photo walks and photo picnics, never had I seen the aerial scope of the place. A view I will never forget.

©Carol Leigh

Internet = Despair or Inspiration?

Every morning I read Laura Lein-Svencner's blog (Lone Crow). She's a collage artist and I am happy to have one of her works on my mantel. Here's a link to her website:

She was talking about going online, looking at other artists' works, comparing her work to theirs, and momentarily feeling "less than."

I do this a lot, too. In fact, my morning routine is to get up around 4 or 4:30 and work on my own photomontages, have breakfast later with Chris, and then spend maybe an hour online, reading other artists' blogs as I sip my coffee.
"Wasp Waist" photomontage created this  morning.

I know what Laura means about feeling "less than." There's an incredible array of wonderfully creative art out there, from simple sketches to photographs to quilting to encaustic to collage to oil painting, etc. Sometimes I think, "Who am I kidding? Me? An artist? Look at what this person is creating."

Luckily, most of the time, instead of feeling "less than," I feel inspired. Look at that color palette. Look at the bones of that composition. Look at how she used image transfers. Look at that brayer technique. It's exciting and it's motivational, encouraging me to experiment, to incorporate, to continue creating in different ways.

I relate to Laura's "less than" feelings when I read about everything she does. She teaches classes all the time; she creates and sells calendars; she makes her own journals; she's making video tutorials; and she sells her work at art fairs. I feel "less than" because I don't do much of that at all, but feel maybe I should. (Well, except for doing art shows — did that in southern California and it was brutal — never again.)

But I digress. . . how do YOU use the Internet? Is it a source of inspiration or is it depressing? Do you use it to remain excited, be motivated, to learn/see new things? Or does all this surfing bring you down to an almost paralyzing low? Do you feel there's no point continuing on with your photography when you see others' amazing work?

My neighbor's a reader and we share books. She mentioned the other day that there are so many books out there to read that it's daunting. And my response was thank god there are a lot of books out there to be read because I know that in this lifetime I will never be bored, there will be no end to my enjoyment.

Cruising the Internet, comparing, analyzing, ingesting, studying, admiring — it's all good, and I believe it's good for you. So much creativity in one place — you cannot help but benefit from it. By pushing the "less than" feelings to one side, you make room for inspiration, which in turn makes you a better artist.

This has been a public service announcement . . .

©Carol Leigh

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Paint Chip Inspiration: "Purple Paradise"

Purple is the color of creativity and eccentricity, but darned if I can think of anything interesting to say about it. It's allegedly the favorite color of adolescent girls, and I have nothing to say about that, either. The L.A. Lakers uniform is purple, but, alas, they're probably not going to do well this season. What I will say is this:

Roses are red,
Violets are purple, damn it, not blue!

©Carol Leigh

It's a good day to . . .

. . . celebrate National Coffee Day at the Black Dog Bakery and Cafe in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts! You know you wanna! ©Carol Leigh


“Now then, Pooh," said Christopher Robin, "where's your boat?"
"I ought to say," explained Pooh as they walked down to the shore of the island, "that it isn't just an ordinary sort of boat. Sometimes it's a Boat, and sometimes it's more of an Accident. It all depends."
"Depends on what?"
"On whether I'm on the top of it or underneath it.”  —A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

While at Woods Hole and Martha's Vineyard, saw LOTS of boats. It was great.

©Carol Leigh

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Paint Chip Inspiration: "Desert Caravan"


The first workshop I ever led was to Death Valley. The travel agent, who had set it all up and who was to travel with me, making sure all went well on her end, called me the night before to say she couldn't make it, but that "you'll do fine." Sure. Me and a busload of 28 photographers.

At sunrise we were all out at the sand dunes, doing our thing. Everybody got back on the bus when they were supposed to. Except for Norm. Where was Norm? I looked out the window, saw a speck on top of the tallest dune. That was Norm. That was the day my hair began turning grey.

©Carol Leigh

Friday, September 27, 2013

Latest work: "Bits and Pieces"

Created using my photos of antique Japanese book covers, torn papers, vintage Japanese postage stamps, and more. Gotta say I like the blue/brown combo going on here. ©Carol Leigh

Paint Chip Inspiration: "December Sky"

Today's paint chip is a pretty color blue . . .

A winter in Bucks County, Pennsylvania when I was 15... lots of farms and fields and beautiful bare trees, limbs stark and bold against a pale blue sky. ©Carol Leigh

Latest postcards . . .

These are the latest two I've created and posted in my "Faux Poste" blog here:

©Carol Leigh

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Paint Chip Inspiration: "Tomato Bisque"

Hmmm... two similar paint chips in two days, both food related... (Yesterday's paint chip was "Raspberry Couli.") I pull the chips blindly out of a bag, so it's not like I'm selecting these things... Chris says my doodle of a tomato looks like a little cherry tomato. I'm thinking more like a red blueberry...

And my writing about this paint chip:

I remember Mom making me tomato soup when I was young and how she would crumble a few Saltine crackers on top. Stir them into the soup and I had a satisfyingly thick, goopy mess to eat. Loved it!

So what about today? If it was so good then, why aren't I crushing Saltines into my soup now?

My palate has changed. Saltines? They're an affront to the fresh basil that now goes on top. My memories of Mom's comforting tomato soup remain, however, called to mind seeing this "Tomato Bisque" paint chip.

©Carol Leigh

Abstracts anywhere . . .

In my quest to show we can create unusual abstract images no matter where we are and no matter what's in front of us, I offer you this.

On a ferry en route to Martha's Vineyard, I looked up to see these black funnels standing boldly against the sky. What caught my eye were their stark forms, strong black and white shapes, and a repeating pattern. I also liked the diagonal line the funnels made. I took a number of shots, the rest of them showing a plain blue sky, no clouds. But I like the clouds because there's a subconscious implication of funnels/smoke from funnels. And there you have it: a totally weird and unmarketable photograph, but one that pleases me greatly! ©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Paint Chip Inspiration: "Raspberry Couli"

This idea is not unique to me. It comes from Rachel Berger here:

She selected a paint chip out of a bag, one a day for 100 days, and wrote a short response to that color/that color's name. BRILLIANT! So I thought, I like color. I can write. I can doodle. I have paint chips. And I can scan. So here I am with my first paint chip and my first bit of scribbling.

My handwriting is cool, but it can be challenging to read sometimes, especially in this low-resolution image, so here's what I wrote in response to my first paint chip, a color called "Raspberry Couli."

I used to think that fruit in salads was just wrong. Cover something so sweet and delicious all on its own with some sticky, fatty, spicy salad dressing? ICK. But then I tried mandarin orange slices in a Chinese chicken salad with a clean Asian/sesame dressing, and yum! And then a salad with toasted pecans, dried cranberries, and spinach with a light raspberry vinaigrette and now you're talkin'! What does this have to do with "raspberry couli?" Well, nothing, really, except that some people do put raspberries in their salads. ICK.

©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Latest work: "Rowboat in the Summer Sun"

Chris and I just returned from a week's vacation on Martha's Vineyard — a very lucky opportunity that was a year in the planning. We spent our time with two wonderful friends. And yes, I took a few photos . . .

I can't just plow through them and quickly post online, but will instead be taking it slowly, quietly, seeing what I can do with what I have, and will, from time to time, post a few.

I particularly like this photo, taken the first day on the island. I like the expanse of water, the simplicity of the rowboat, the high horizon line, and the slant of the shore. I gave this photo a painterly sort of treatment, adding this and that, taking away that and this, until I came up with what (to me) looks like a dreamy, lazy, hazy day of summer. I hope it gives you the same impression. ©Carol Leigh

Little things . . .

If I'd been asleep, I'd have missed it...

Lying in bed this morning at 2:45, window open, listening to softly falling rain, I heard something in the distance. A flock of geese, calling gently to one another as they made their mysterious migration south.

The world turns, the rain falls, the geese fly south. A mystery. A reassurance. A feeling that things are as they should be. That all is well with the world at 2:45 in the morning.

Wishing you a day of delightful mystery.

©Carol Leigh

Friday, September 20, 2013

Abstracts anywhere . . .

In my quest to show we can create unusual abstract images no matter where we are and no matter what's in front of us, I offer you this.

Looking like a pastel mountain range, these toothbrush handles were a perfect subject. I just lined them up, put something colorful in the background, and emphasized their translucence. Voila! Art and dental hygiene in the same day! ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, September 19, 2013

On seeing...

"All the technique in the world doesn't compensate for the inability to notice." --Elliott Erwitt

 "You can't shoot what you don't see." --Carol Leigh

 Just about all my online photo classes concentrate firstly on seeing and then secondly on technique. There's always technique, but to me, it's all about how to see.

Last call for my "Developing Your Creative Edge" class, which begins on the 27th of this month. For more info, please visit my website. I would love for you to be a part of this!

 Carol Leigh

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It's a good day to . . .

. . . watch for signs of fall. Have you noticed it? There's a subtle change in the air. The sun has begun moving more toward the south. The days are a little shorter now. Autumn is slowly moving in . . . ©Carol Leigh

Monday, September 16, 2013

It's a good day to . . .

. . . take the day off! ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Latest work: "Concrete and Silk:

A combination of various photos, merged, blended, and combined again. And again. And ... ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, September 12, 2013

It's a good day to . . .

. . . get a sense of direction. ©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New online class begins September 27

Just a reminder that my latest online photo class begins September 27 and runs through November 15th. There are ten people signed up so far, including three brand-new folks, so it's going to be a good mix.

I've got four different lessons set up, and, as usual, they revolve more around seeing, composition, line and design than technique, although technique sneaks its way in all the time. No special equipment needed; you could do all the lessons using a cellphone if you wished! The registration fee is $85 for this six-week class.

If you'd like to be a part of the fun, here's the link:

©Carol Leigh

Wiser than some photographers I know . . .

Overheard at a car show this past weekend . . .

Dad: "Oh, I should have brought my camera!"

Daughter, age 8: "That's okay.We always have the camera in our head."

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Latest works . . .

I've been experimenting lately, searching for a slightly different slant, and I'm liking how these latest Oregon coast images are looking. They've got depth and softness, texture, and subtle colors. As a result, I'm looking at a LOT of my images, seeing which ones might lend themselves to this technique.

And the technique? Ha! I thought maybe I had something locked in, a series of steps that would apply to each image I selected. But nope, each one requires a different set of layers, background images, and bits of software. And, really, that's a good thing because it keeps me interested, keeps me experimenting, and makes creating these pictures a joy rather than becoming a bore.

Art seems to be a series of problems to be solved, and once the problem is solved, then what? Well, we move on to the next problem, don't we? This ain't no assembly line. This ain't no push a button and voila! it's done.

A stock photographer (and a successful one) once commented that he wished he could just put subjects on a conveyor belt, shoot them as they went by, and then submit them to his stock agency. I find his photography mediocre, uninspired, and dull. But, because he's prolific and because he's competently shooting things that other people aren't, he's doing remarkably well. Doing well shooting snapshots. On his way to the bank...

What's my point? I'm not sure, except to say that it's the newness, the experimentation, the problem-solving that keeps me interested in creating more work, not to mention the sheer delight of being somewhere, especially somewhere new, camera in hand, just looking, looking, looking, exploring, wandering. The thought of "conveyor belt" photography makes me shudder.

Hope you enjoy seeing what I'm doing. (Although a friend commented that there was something sort of "Kinkade" about this look that gave me pause!) So, until I feel the need to begin solving other problems, these sorts of images will continue for awhile. Fair warning!

©Carol Leigh

What's on my bookshelf . . .

"I wrote at least a thousand words a day every day from the age of twelve on." --Ray Bradbury

If Ray Bradbury could write 1,000 words a day, then we can take at least one photo a day, can't we? It's never been so easy . . . we have DSLRs, point-and-shoot cameras, cellphone cameras, cameras in our iPads . . .

The best way to improve your photography is to take at least one decent photo a day. And post it somewhere where people can see it. Posting keeps your motivation going. And, even if you last just 30 days, it's fun (and instructive) to look over that small body of work. It may motivate you even more, who knows?

The best way to get better at something is to do something . . . every freakin' day!

©Carol Leigh

P.S. This Zen in the Art of Writing by Bradbury is a terrific book. It's not something I sit down and read cover to cover, rather something I read a little bit, put the book down, a few days later read some more, etc. And so much of what he says about writing applies to art in general, such as, "...if you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer." What if we were to substitute some words, saying, "...if you are creating without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half an artist?" That Bradbury guy might just be on to something . . .

Saturday, September 7, 2013

It's a good day to . . .

. . . be oxymoronic with a photo of "new rust." ©Carol Leigh

Friday, September 6, 2013

Latest work: "Bandon Lighthouse"

This is one of my favorite lighthouses on the Oregon coast, perched at the mouth of the Coquille River in Bandon. When I was working on this image, I had it blown way up on my computer screen. Imagine my surprise when, way out in the distance I could see a bald eagle perched on a driftwood log! Because the picture has been completely redone, the eagle can no longer be seen, even as a white speck. But you and I will always know she's there... ©Carol Leigh

Latest work: "Looks Like a Duck"

Created with my photographs of old Japanese book covers, Kanji lettering, old currency, torn papers, postal cancellation marks, and more.  ©Carol Leigh

Who are your friends?

I'm reading Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing and this snippet caught my eye (and my heart):

"Who are your friends? Do they believe in you? Or do they stunt your growth with ridicule and disbelief? If the latter, you haven't friends. Go and find some."

This is the kind of thing I wish I'd understood thirty years ago!

Carol Leigh

Thursday, September 5, 2013

It's a good day to . . .

. . . celebrate yourself! When I created this photomontage of pen nibs, I made a quick note in my journal because I was so jazzed with the result. I didn't plan the montage, it just seemed to come about automatically. I love it when I surprise myself. Have you surprised yourself lately? And did you celebrate it? ©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Link: One more good reason we need physical books in our lives . . .

Yes, I have (and use) a Kindle, but to me nothing beats the feel, look, and smell of a real, live book. Books offer such possibility . . . each one's a gift, a surprise, a secret revealed. Here's one more secret some books offer us: paintings that are revealed only when the pages of the book are fanned out somewhat. Here's a quick video that shows you what I mean — much better than I'm describing it:

Carol Leigh

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Latest work: "Yaquina Head Light"

Inspiration comes from a variety of places. Yesterday we had the pleasure of escorting Bridget C. and John around our neck of the woods for a couple of hours. We went out to Yaquina Head Lighthouse and they were shooting like crazy. They went down to the beach and I remained above, looking at the lighthouse, wondering what I could do that they wouldn't. I knew their photos were going to be very good. How could I make mine different? I shot from a different angle than I'd seen them shooting, and from farther away. So far, so good. But what next?

I've been inspired seeing what Jan Hagan's been doing, creating painterly-looking images. I don't know how she's doing it, what she's using to do it, and right now I don't want to know, don't want to borrow/steal/copy/be influenced by her techniques lest I become a pale copy. But she does inspire me to experiment a bit with what I have at hand, just to see what happens. Well, this happened. And I love it. I like the light, bright, summery effect I achieved, the painterly quality, and the texture. So it's my latest offering at Fine Art America.

Heartfelt thanks go to Bridget and John for pushing me to be better. And to Jan for encouraging me to play, experiment, and come up with something new. It's been a good couple of days.

©Carol Leigh

Monday, September 2, 2013

Nixon's the One

I'm in a creative mode at the moment, putting all sorts of things together, hence this Nixon image, made from a photo I took of a torn poster on a wall in Portland and a photo I took of stamps on a package I received in the mail. Yup, just because I can . . .

©Carol Leigh

Latest work: "Regular Mail by Air"

Another in a seemingly endless series of faux postcards...

This one is made using my photographs of stamps, stickers, foreign currency, torn papers, rusty circles, and a whole lot more.

It's interesting... as I was finishing this piece, Chris walked in and was looking over my shoulder. He had some excellent suggestions, which I implemented. He then said, "I can see how time gets away from you when you're doing this. I've been here more than half an hour, but I'd say it was only ten or fifteen minutes." Welcome to my world!

Prints available via Fine Art America. ©Carol Leigh