Saturday, May 20, 2017

Calligraphic weed

Yesterday I spent a few hours just photographing textures. And then I saw the weed. I liked the way the leaves splayed out, looking almost like a Japanese Kanji character. And it looked especially nice against this textured wall.

The photo was taken in color, but I felt that the color took away from what caught my eye to begin with: shape and form.

I turned the photo into a black and white image, but it felt cold. I toned it brown, then dialed back the toning to give it this warm black and white look.

What you do not see is my frustration at leaving my tripod's quick release at home, so my shooting was hand-held. The weed was in a photographically inaccessible place. So I picked it and then looked for a good spot on a wall where it could stand out.

I had one lens with me -- 18mm-55mm. So in this shot I'm holding the weed against the wall with my left hand while (having set the lens at 18mm to get the entire weed), composing and focusing and clicking the shutter with my right hand.

It wasn't easy. But if it were, everyone would be doing it, right?

Answer: No, Carol. Everyone else would have remembered the damned quick release so they could do it properly with a tripod, cable release, and maybe even a reflector. Duh.

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Caution: dead baby bird, but not gruesome at all

(I've put three photos at the very end of this post, so if you don't want to see them, they won't be in your face right away. But there's nothing gruesome or disgusting about them -- no bugs, no injuries, nothing icky.)

This morning I was outside playing with an old Lensbaby lens (Lensbaby 2.0). I haven't used it in years, so I put it on the camera and went out for a walk around the yard to see what I could find.

I photographed flowers, hostas, the driveway -- fairly banal stuff. But then remembered some flowers I'd found the other day, so was heading directly over to find them. I looked down and saw a baby bird that had apparently fallen out of a nest. Looking up into the trees, I saw no nest.

Was the bird still alive? He looked so fresh and new. I reached down. He was cold, but not stiff. I turned him over. There was a puncture wound of sorts and some liquid was coming out. No sign of life. I picked him up.

So tiny. So cute with a little tuft of fuzziness at the top of his head. My only camera was the DSLR with the Lensbaby on it, and a macro filter on top of that. So I held the bird in my left hand while shooting with the right.

A Lensbaby, especially the older version, is tough enough to manipulate with two hands; one-handed is a real challenge.

I took a few shots and then, bird in hand, went into the house to get my iPhone. Back outside to take a few more images. I set him back down in the leaves and the flowers, sorry to see what had happened to him, yet marveling at this little guy, looking very much like a plucked chicken, just a few days (I'm guessing) out of the egg.

We have lots of robins right now on the property, zooming all over the place. I'm thinking this was a robin and that some other bird, perhaps a Cooper's hawk, maybe an owl, got hold of this guy but had a tenuous grip and dropped him. Very, very recently.

I understand if many of you think these are disgusting photos. To me, they are astonishing, sad, yet miraculous. I feel privileged to have held him for a few minutes, so soon after he had moved on.

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.




Slogging along . . .


The "art" thing has been a bit off of late. It happens. It's disconcerting. But I know it won't last. I just keep slogging along and eventually something will click.

And that's what happened here. A slog. But no click (alas).

From the mid-80s, when I became involved in photography, I worked full-time at a variety of jobs. Jobs specifically selected so that I could leave the work at the office and come home to do what I really loved.

So I would get up early, work on photography/writing, go to my job, come home and work some more on photography.

The up-early habit has stuck. I've made it my time to experiment, to work on photos, and just see what happens.

This is what happened this morning and it has potential, but the heron just isn't sharp enough. Even when giving it a sort of painterly look, it's not cutting it. There's an annoying shadow across his tail. And he doesn't really fill the frame.

I photographed him in Florida, many years ago, and so I like the colors in the top image, which give it a subtle Florida vibe. But then I also like the subdued browns, beiges, and greys in the second version.

The picture looks okay seen small like this, but when I blow it up to 100%, nope, the lack of sharpness ruins everything.

This is what I mean about "slogging along." It's fun, I'm learning things, but there's no click here. Not yet.

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.



Friday, May 12, 2017

Rust ...

"Rust is my happy color." --Carol Leigh, Artist

I published this picture and this quote on my Facebook and Instagram sites today.

Because it made me happy to write it. Happy to say it.

And because when I visit boatyards, explore the industrial parts of cities, or head to the docks, I'm giddy with excitement.

Yup, a few rusty screws and a camera and I'm a happy camper!

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Green!

View from the kitchen window. Green, green, green and the rhodies are beginning to bloom. Ah, spring!

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Another way of seeing one's work



A buyer from Vancouver, Washington purchased these three images as cellphone covers. Her comment was "love these beautiful cases." Very nice to hear.

But what startled me was (a) seeing my artwork cropped to fit into a different format and (b) seeing how they looked as cellphone cases.

I liked them when I created them. Never thought they'd be sold as phone cases. But yeah, they look pretty damned good!

Who knew?

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Latest work: "Red Seven and Stripes"


A few weeks ago I made this photomontage called “Red Seven and Stripes.” Today I noticed how much it resembles a piece I made three years ago called “Five for the Books.” I like to think that I’ve been evolving in my artwork, but obviously I’m fooling myself!

Here’s how I described “Red Seven” when I uploaded it to Fine Art America:

I make a lot of hand-painted papers for collage work and love putting them together just to see what happens. In this case, I used a paper full of stripes, a paper with solid colors, another with textures, and topped it off with a big red 7. Throughout my photographic career I’ve always been drawn to letters and numbers, so this one was fun to make and to add to my “Numbers” gallery.

And here’s how I described “Five for the Books” when I uploaded it three years ago:

Lots of texture and a big red 5 show up here in this photomontage. I combined photos of my hand-painted papers, added some paint splotches, some stained papers, and much more. I like the warm red and blue color combination and how the elements on the left, if you don't look too closely, appear to be books. 

It's a certain kind of person who enjoy images involving numbers and letters. Alas, that group is relatively small! So I'm always surprised when one of mine sells. Surprised and grateful that there are others out there of like mind!

A very long time ago, when I was just beginning in photography, I was showing some photos I'd taken to a photographer friend I respected. One of them was of some old wooden steps leading up to an old wooden doorway. To the right of the doorway was what remained of the address, a single "0" still clinging to the dark grey weathered wood. He paused. "What?" I said. "I'm just wondering why you took this." He obviously didn't like it, didn't understand it.

Luckily, I didn't take it to heart. (Except, obviously, I did, because notice how I've remembered the incident so clearly?) Numbers and letters have been a photographic passion for me lo these many years.

What's my point? Don't let someone throw shade on your artistic predilections. I hang around boat yards, dumps, back alleys, side streets, old fishing boats, fishnet storage facilities, bunker sites, etc. because those places feed my artistic soul. Others go to Yosemite, to wildflower-covered hills, to the coast at sunset for very good reasons -- sheer beauty. I prefer finding the beauty in decay, age, rust, peeling paint, weathered papers, and simple line and design.

Hey, it's a tough job. But somebody has to do it!

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Work in progress

A little under the weather, but the past few days I've been working on creating images for my handmade Kyoto book. It hasn't helped that my printer appears to be dying rather quickly and a new one may be in the offing.

The book will consist of a lot of antique Japanese papers as well as papers I've created -- stained, painted, folded, spindled, mutilated. Each page will be a collage of sorts, incorporating a photograph that I've stained with tea, coffee, ink, paint, etc.

This is an example of what I have in mind, sort of, for the photographs. But until I can print out the pictures, I'm kind of at a standstill.

The pages will be horizontal, about 6" high, 15" wide, made of a variety of paper types, bound together on the left. One side (the front) of each page will be a collage with photo; the reverse side also a collage, but a very simple one.

For this digital photomontage, I used a photo I took of a maiko (geisha) in Kyoto, heavily stained rice papers, ledger papers, etc. When I print the final version, onto rice paper, I will print it much lighter and then will hand-stain it with a sepia-toned ink.

My goal is a book that looks very old, very soft, weathered, stained and mysterious. As with most of the things I've been making lately, it's designed to be held, touched, very tactile in nature. Although this is a book, it's not meant to be a pristine portfolio of images, rather the photos will simply become a small part of the whole.

If I can just get the damned printer to work!

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Daily bit of creativity, #019: Faux Cyanotype Weeds

Just playing around a bit with some weeds that I scanned and then placed on paper I'd stained with ink. I kind of like how the brown paper and its stains look sort of like a blue sky and strange clouds.

Nothing ultra-spectacular, just a bit of experimentation to keep me from doing what I really should be doing!

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Latest work: "Kimono Package #5"

I seem to be going through a "stripes" phase lately, which is good. Better to have something solid to fall back on than nothing.

Anyway, I'm continuing to work on photos I've taken of a paper packet, an antique I got that was used to package a kimono. It unfolds four ways, giving me so many ways of shooting it.

In this case, I combined two of the photos and then added "stripes" from a variety of other photos I've taken of the same subject.

I'm going to continue working along this same theme for the rest of the year, in between other projects.

NOTE: Carol F. and Ann L.: I've made a rough draft of the first page of my Kyoto book and immediately see that I need to prep my photos specifically for this project. The picture I'm working on is of the Maiko, remember her? My picture is going to be stained, so I have to make sure that her face comes gleaming through and doesn't look dull, as it does right now. Am hoping I have something to show here this week.

And now we are off for a little drive up toward the Canadian border where there's a Japanese washi paper store I just found out about. Woo hoo!

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Latest work: "Mapping the Mountains"

I have the attention span of a hummingbird. So easily distracted.

I'm creating a variety of stained, painted, bleached, inked, folded, spindled, and mutilated papers for the handmade book I'm working on, but often I'll stare down at this pile o' papers and the way one sits atop another catches my eye. Aha! A collage!

So I begin pushing papers around, adding this, adding that, then bring them into the computer, add even more elements, and the next thing you know, this picture happens.

I've now uploaded it to Fine Art America and call it "Mapping the Mountains." Here's how I describe it:

Warm-colored aged and dyed papers, ink splatters, a page from an antique Japanese ledger, a hand-drawn circle, and more come together in this piece. I detect a sense of mystery, of exploration, perhaps an old map.

Will this ever sell? As usual, I hope so, but I never know. But if it does, then hooray, right? And if it doesn't? Well, then, hooray again, because I've made something original, something no one else has made, and something that pleases me.

And now, back to the handmade book. But wait! The tulips are blooming in the Skagit Valley right now, so it's off-island this morning.

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Daily bit of creativity, #018: Canisters

I posted this on Instagram and Facebook, too, along with this quote from a chef named Tyler Florence: "Fifty thousand dollars' worth of cabinets isn't going to make you a better cook..." The concept being simplicity.

Not that I cook.

But I'm good at finding pithy quotes!

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Daily bit of creativity, #017: Watering Can

I’ve always loved the lines — straight and curved — of this little watering can. It sits in my kitchen window. I used my iPhone to take this shot, of which I’m not totally enamored, but it’s given me an idea for a little project. A challenge. Can I take 10 decent shots of this guy? Gonna give it a try, using a real camera. We shall see . . .

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Latest work: "Depth Gauge Five"

Not too sure about this one, so I'm letting it "steep" awhile.

I photographed a rusty metal tank, a number "5" on a weathered depth gauge, and an extremely grungy painted wall to create this mashup of color and texture.

Sometimes these things come together so quickly, so smoothly and they look great. Other times it takes hours, and I'm still not sure. Which is the case here. We shall see. . . 

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Daily bit of creativity, #016: Japanese tray



I have this, for lack of a better word, "tray." I think it's Japanese. I bought it years ago at a flea market on the Oregon coast. I probably paid less than $15 for it.

Standing up as you see in the first photo, it looks like a heater vent on a wall. Boring.

In the second photo you can see some of the details on it. Cool stuff.

But what to do with this "tray?" In Oregon we had it up on the mantel, leaning against a rock background, and it looked good there, resting partly on a framed Ansel Adams print. No heater vent vibe in that location.

Here, however, it's a different story.

So I made a bunch of tag-like things, set the tray down flat, and then inserted a number of the tags into some of the slots.

It looks pretty good. Some people (Chris) say "add more tags." Others (CJ) say, "less is more." I'm not sure this morning. But I AM making more tags, just in case.

I have no clue. I like seeing the piece like this, with the tags and their strings sticking up. But there's a part of me that wonders, "what the heck IS this, and what's it FOR?"

I try to stifle that more critical side of me, to simply stand back, wonder, and enjoy seeing what I made.

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Nautical bits in Anacortes




I took Rich and CJ to one of my favorite areas to shoot yesterday. Luckily, they liked it!

Afternoon sunlight on the side of a ship created very cool shadows.

A thick rope was laid out on the ground, looking quite snakelike.

A window reflecting clouds and sky, bright yellow buoys, and galvanized metal are gradually being taken over by blackberry vines.

And finally this depth gauge caught my eye, the vertical column of numbers sandwiched between solid navy blue on the right and horizontal patches of metal on the left.

Fun day. Alas, we take them down to the airport this morning. It's been a week of laughing, relaxing, lots of exploring, laughing, reading, just hanging out, and did I mention laughing?

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Hello, I must be going . . .

Photographed at a nursery in the Skagit Valley. Crazy and fun days this week, with good friends Rich and CJ, power failures, lots of cooking, entertaining, going here and there.

And LOTS of new ideas for my ongoing Kyoto book. Off to Anacortes, more to come.

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Flowering trees in the Skagit Valley

Tuesday we all went over to the Skagit Valley to check out the tulips. Well, they're running a few weeks late this year, but there were lots of flowering trees as well as fields of brilliant yellow daffodils.

I concentrated on the trees, looking for lovely flowers and soft backgrounds. Shallow depth of field softened the backgrounds even more, and a bit of post-processing in Photoshop gave me the look I was hoping for.

A lot of times I take photographs with no preconceptions in mind. Not this time! I knew exactly how I wanted these flowers to look when I was done. Ta da!

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Latest work: "Game Board"


I was showing my friend CJ some of my "works in progress," images that just weren't coming together right. Rather than throw them out, I leave them in my "Works in Progress" directory, hoping that perhaps in time I'll figure out what to do with them.

Three years ago I was working on this concept. The colors caught CJ's eye, so I began playing with it. She made some good suggestions, I added a few things, and this is the result.

If either or both of these sell, you can be sure she'll be reminding me of her input! And then sending me an invoice . . .

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Daily bit of creativity, #015: Kyoto book paper/ink testing


I think I have a handle on the format of the Kyoto book, the type of binding I’m going to use, and am 95% sure of the paper I’ll make it from.

The process leading up to this point has been fun, involving a lot of experimentation with various papers, seeing what different inks and paints look like, how they react, etc. Here are two pictures of miscellaneous “testing materials” over on the work table.

So what’s the next step? The printer is still problematic. Once the ink cartridges I ordered come in, I’ll begin testing photographs once again.

In the meantime, I will begin creating pages, sort of generic pages, double-sided, page “sandwiches,” with one type of paper sandwiched between two others, all glued together. The individual papers are lightweight, giving the book flexibility, yet will be strong enough to take all the manhandling, the aging, the inking, the painting, the collaging, etc.

Do I really know what I’m doing? Not at all. Should I be taking bookbinding classes before giving this a go? Nah. I mean, how hard could this be?! Heh, heh . . .

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Friday, March 31, 2017

What I'm working on . . .


For the past 15 years or more I've been entranced with the military bunkers in the Pacific Northwest. I love their age, their solidity, their mystery.

And then there's the grunge. The dirt. The overall patina.

For someone like me, who loves abstract lines, forms, designs, and textures, visiting these places is akin to visiting Disneyland when I was nine.

I would like to make a handmade book featuring my photos, and I'd like the photos to be black and white.

Why? Because look at the difference here. My original photograph shows the way this bunker interior has been painted. It's powder blue, for heaven's sake! And the walls look smooth, well-kept. It's boring.

But see it in black and white and the vibe is totally different. It's appropriate. And look at all the texture we can see in the black and white version. Shadows become SHADOWS. Soft lines become stark and bold. And texture is revealed and enhanced, texture we might not have noticed at first. Now it's all in your face. And that's what I love.

Now that the weather's getting warmer, I'll be out there with my tripod, going from room to room, exploring, searching out elements such as this, composing, looking, looking, looking, creating.

And the goal is a small, handmade book. A book that will reflect the texture and grit and mystery of these cement remnants here in the Pacific Northwest.

Wish me luck! Am still working on the Kyoto book as well . . .

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Eight years of March blog posts








I went back to all my old blog posts to see what I was shooting/posting in March. Every March since 2009. These are the ones that looked good to me this morning.

This first one is a "drive-by shooting" taken as we were exploring some back roads in Oregon in 2009. Chris drives and I shoot out the window. This little tree just screamed "spring."

In March of 2010 I took a long-exposure shot of waves crashing on rocks in Seal Rock, Oregon coast.

I don't know why the picture of the gull and the sign makes me smile every time I see it. The gull seems to be trying to read the sign and I just find it delightfully absurd. Oregon refers to car break-ins as "car clouts." I'd never heard that term before. Taken in March of 2011.

In 2012, I photographed this snowy scene, again from a car window, as we traveled over a pass from California to Oregon. We were driving very slowly, enabling me to use a fast enough shutter speed to make sure the trees were sharply focused.

And oh, Hawaii in 2013! (Hello, Jan Hagan!). I walked around the back streets of Lahaina, seeing what I could find. Loved this door.

A bright yellow forsythia was in full bloom in March of 2014, down at the bottom of our back yard on Whidbey Island.

In 2015 I created a faux postcard featuring old drawings of parrots and some Russian postage stamps.

And then in 2016 I made a series of six images I called "Winter Rains." Yesterday I sold two 40" x 40" versions of them to a customer in Missouri. They should look really good as canvas wraps.

Feeling so completely un-creative today, so it's good that I have a variety of blog posts to draw from!

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

It's a good day . . .

. .  to be calligraphically cryptic! When the tides and the light are right, you can often see the interesting patterns that sand worms create on the beach. I don't know what this guy was trying to say, but he was doing it beautifully.

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Daily bit of creativity, #014: B2B2B





My back-to-back-to-back (B2B2B) book is finished. It’s the second one I’ve made. I’m not satisfied with it and so am probably going to make another, one with more continuity to it.

All the pages in the book are made from paper I use to clean my brushes, to experiment with rubber stamps, handwriting, inks, etc. Once the paper is “full,” I pick it up, roll it up, save it for something like this. I then put down a fresh sheet of paper on the work counter and the process begins again.

So what you’re seeing are a few pages from the book, including the front cover. The page in the second photo is made from a piece of paper I wrapped around some rusty things and let sit outside in the rain for a few days. I added the four little squares there on the left. The number “7” is a stencil I added after I’d cut the paper to size.

The people I’ve shown this to have all mentioned how tactile it is, how the paper looks old, is thick, and is actually kind of soft. The more this book is “fondled,” the better it’s going to get! So I have it sitting out on top of a wooden cabinet in the living room, just so people will touch it and flip through it.

I have two more projects I’m working on: a handmade book about Kyoto, and an assemblage piece of sorts that I’ll show you soon.

P.S. The colorful mobile I made last week is no longer hanging from a tree. It’s been relocated to the deck so that we can see it more clearly. The background still consists of green trees, so the “feel” is the same. Having fun!

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Daily bit of creativity, #013: Journal bits

When in doubt, draw cats!

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.