Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Re-charged and ready to go . . .

Chris and I are back home from house-sitting in La Jolla and I can't wait to download my images and get to work on new work! So many exquisite textures I found to shoot, with so many possibilities. And so nice to be back and using my own tools, my own computer, seeing my work on a decent monitor, having access to certain software. It all begins today.

And the physical elements I collected to photograph: A big, thick 1908 Japanese ledger book, a packet of aged paper, a funky old rubber stamp, colored mulberry tissue paper, a marine chart from 1944, a bit of correspondence from 1831 (all sepia ink and that exquisite old-fashioned handwriting of the time), a heavily textured little wooden pear, an empty photo album with big black pages, etc.

We visited with relatives, friends, an ex-spouse, and became friends with a beach bunny from "Beach Blanket Bingo." We took short trips to the San Diego Botanic Garden, Little Italy, Solana Beach, the Gaslamp Quarter, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, and took numerous walks all over La Jolla, to art museums, galleries, nurseries, and, on the last day, had some solitary shooting time from sunset into twilight on the beach. Ahhhhhhh!

What to do today? Download my photos (in progress as I'm writing this), critique students' work in my current online class, put things away in the studio, and perhaps work on a book idea that's been swirling around in my head -- a physical, one-of-a-kind book. We shall see. Have to test out printing on the aged paper I got in Solana Beach. Is this a great day already, or what?!

Wishing you this same energy for whatever you love to do...

©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Taking a second look . . .

For the past two weeks my online class students have been working on finding and photographing automobile headlights and taillights. It's all about composition, mostly, trying to make something with balance, movement, a focal point, rhythm, etc. They've come up with phenomenal photos, some of them much better than these of mine.

Headlights and taillights ... we see them every day ... now's the time to take a closer look.

©Carol Leigh

Monday, October 21, 2013

But is it art?

Despite indications to the contrary, these are photos, not paintings. However, they ARE photos of paint on trains. So they ARE paintings. Or were. Or something . . .

©Carol Leigh

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Awake for a wake . . .

Wake off the coast of British Columbia, long after sunset. Ahhhhhh! ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Latest work: "Bus Art in Blue"

A number of years ago we came upon a bus salvage "graveyard." Oh, my! A veritable Disneyland for me, as you can imagine.  Naturally, I took a few photos.

I re-discovered one of those bus photos in my computer's "textures/paint" directory this morning and wondered what I could do to it. A little bit of tweaking here and there and I came up with this. What I really like is the complementary orange-ish streak at the bottom below all that blue.

If I never take another photo, I am set with photomontage "fodder" for the rest of my life. All it requires is rooting around in my archives and looking with new eyes and working with new skills. But to never take another photo? Ha! The next one could be the best ever and might send me in a whole new direction! Ya never know . . .

©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Just do the work . . .

Most of my photographic life I've worked full-time, fitting in my photography and writing wherever I could. Being a morning person, I would get up extra early to do my work. As a result, I wrote guidebooks, published newsletters, led photography workshops, marketed and sold my photos.

I am lucky enough to not have to work full-time now, but I still get up early and cherish those few hours when the house is still (not that it's ever loud), and I feel free to just play with my photos.

Lately I've been reading Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing, and yesterday I read where between the ages of 24 and 36 his routine was to sit down at his desk every morning and just write the words that were in his head, no matter what they were. The result was a book called Dandelion Wine.

I've taken a similar path these days where each morning I go into my photographs, choose a directory, pick a photo, and see what I can do with it. There's no pre-planning. I just see what I have and go with it.

The directory might be a grouping of texture photos that are all paint. Or it might be a directory called "San Juan Capistrano." It doesn't matter. I just click a directory, see what's there.

Today it was a directory called "mustard," and contained photos I'd taken in the Napa Valley a couple years ago of a mustard field. The photos are horrid. I should just throw them away. I was there in the late morning hours, the lighting was flat, and I was uninspired. Just before we left that scene, I wandered down the road and took a photo of a bare tree. How it got left in the "mustard" directory, I don't know, but this morning that tree photo appealed to me.

And that was the beginning of this picture. I tweaked the tree, added this and that, removed things, added more, and came up with this. It's unlike anything I've yet created, and I think that's why I like it. I like the warm feeling, the autumnal vibe, the weirdness, the starkness. And it's new! It surprised me. And I always like surprises in my art.

What's my point? My point is that if you just do the work, -- even if it's just a few minutes, a few hours -- on a daily basis, good things will happen. Just get up and do the work.

©Carol Leigh

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Latest work: "Proof XIV"

I bought some cardboard cards (very soft, very weathered) and the guy asked what I was going to do with them. How do I answer that? How do I explain what I do? And really, does he care? In this case, he did, because he and his wife are both artists. She creates steampunkish mixed-media sculptures and he makes jewelry (I bought a pendant that he made with a very small pulley, a garnet mined in Montana, and a tiny watch spring.) So yes, he was an exception. But for the most part, explaining my art is difficult for me to do. Even to myself!

All the elements in this photomontage are photographs I've taken of old papers, pages from vintage books, metal, leather, book covers, game boards, old portraits from the 1800s and early 1900s, and more. Sometimes my montages come together quickly. This one took about a week. ©Carol Leigh

Friday, October 11, 2013

Long exposures and the sea

Long exposures taken (1) from the Balboa Pier, (2) at Martha's Vineyard and (3) again at Martha's Vineyard. I'm loving the look! ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Industrial art . . .

I love wandering the back alleys, the seedier sections of town, salvage yards, rail yards, boat repair facilities, etc. to see what I can find. Here's what I found on a sidewalk in Cambridge, England, on a sidewalk in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and in a rail yard in Portola, California.

I've been admiring lovely vistas of aspens and mountains taken in Colorado (you know who you are), of beaches and sunsets in New England (including my own), and of overviews in Hawaii. But for some bizarre reason, I love these tiny bits of rust, paint, and broken cement. I mean, SOMEONE has to!

©Carol Leigh, struggling to see the big picture...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


It's an alphanumeric kind of morning... ©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Last days of summer ...

This little girl was so expressive in her enjoyment of the incoming waves that it was impossible to not photograph her. I used a slow shutter speed to blur things out a bit and also overexposed to lighten and brighten the scene. Photographed on Martha's Vineyard. ©Carol Leigh

Monday, October 7, 2013

Latest work: "Vortices"

It's been a productive few days. In this case, I had an idea in my head and, as usual, when I begin putting the pieces together, the result ends up bearing no resemblance to what I had "planned." And that's what I love about this whole process; any time I can surprise myself is a good time! The elements in this piece are all photographs, combined and altered, clipped and chopped, rotated and crunched. ©Carol Leigh

Latest work: "Papers"

A collage made from the inside cover of a book, specialty papers, gold foil, hand-painted papers, paper from a vintage Japanese book, and more. ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Latest work: "Walking in the Rain"

Something rather different for me, but something I've been thinking about for awhile. I had already photographed the components I needed, but it didn't come together until this morning. My concept was vague, but after a lot of trial and error, this guy popped up and I was surprised and delighted. Click to enlarge. Comments most welcome. ©Carol Leigh

Friday, October 4, 2013

Latest work: "L in the Water"

This morning I realized I hadn't done any numbers or letters lately, so I selected this "L" I had photographed on a fishing boat named "Lady Kathy." (My sister's name is Kathy and her husband remarked, "That's no lady! That's my wife!" Yes, weird humor tends to run in the family...) So then I began adding, subtracting, modifying the image until it turned into this, which I like. I like the blue color, the touches of rust, and the grey and white scratchy stuff. A good way to begin my day. May your day start just as creatively! ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Lost in the woods . . .

While on Martha's Vineyard, I got up before everybody else and went off through the woods to try to find the beach. I had a vague idea of where it was, but figured, how hard could it be to find? Luckily I had my camera and my cellphone with me.

I found what looked like a large pond and a canoe launch, but no "beach." I turned to go back to the condo, but paths and dirt roads tend to look different when you're heading in the opposite direction. I knew I was on the wrong path, but it seemed to be taking me where I wanted to go...

Luckily it was kind of dark in the woods, enabling me to take some tree "sweeps." Then I moved on.

I emerged on a road that had houses on it and up ahead was a group of children and a mom waiting for the school bus. Aha! I could ask mom for directions. But nope, the kids got on the bus and mom was back in the house long before I could get to the bus stop.

Swallowing my pride, I called the condo. "I'm lost. Come get me!" Hysterical laughter at their end. I found an address, they followed GPS coordinates in the car, and found me right away. Ah, technology — the camera for enabling me to amuse myself for awhile, the cellphone to call for help, and the GPS unit to actually find me, miles from where I thought I was.

Kind of a pretty picture though, isn't it? ©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Quansoo Beach

While on Martha's Vineyard, Chris P. took us to a delightful location: Quansoo Beach. As the sun was going down, I tried shooting some "sweeps" of the beach. It was amazing to see the difference it made as I faced west versus east. Toward the west the colors were vibrant and golden while toward the east the colors of the sky, the water, and the sand were darker, more subtle. The resulting photographs really emphasize the difference 180 degrees can make! ©Carol Leigh

Paint Chip Inspiration: Lincoln Park

The name of this paint chip is "Lincoln Park," so of course it made me think of peanuts . . .

I was mugged by a squirrel in Lincoln Park. My husband and I lived in Chicago for one (very long) year. We were sitting on a bench, eating peanuts from a bag. A few squirrels were nearby and, of course, we began feeding them. The bag was almost empty and we got up to walk away. One gangsta squirrel tore after me, ran up my bare leg, grabbed the bag and zoomed off, his henchmen in hot pursuit! I swear it was the same squirrel who stole all the yellow plastic flowers off my hummingbird feeder in Nevada City, but that's another story . . .

©Carol Leigh

Latest work: "Jimmy Plays With Boats"

Latest work on Fine Art America. ©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Paint Chip Inspiration: "Warm Welcome"

In case the type is too small to read:


Chris and I were on Martha's Vineyard last month with two dear friends. Said dear friends were invited to dinner at a local couple's house and we were invited as well. For me, it was a lesson in hospitality and graciousness. Two total strangers welcomed me and Chris to their home, where we immediately felt at ease and a solid part of the conversation and the laughter. In sumptuous but unpretentious surroundings, we were treated to great food, wonderful art, inspirational architectural details, books, music, and did I mention laughter? What fun, what ease, and what a "warm welcome" to the Vineyard. Thank you, Chris and Greg, for a wonderful evening.

©Carol Leigh

Latest work: "Slice of Sky"

Created using various photographs I've taken in Santa Fe, New Mexico. There's a southwest feel as well as a stark urban feel to this one... ©Carol Leigh