Saturday, June 28, 2014

It's a good day to . . .

. . . think about boats! Hope your weekend is sunny with scattered breezes. ©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Working on a personal style . . .

Rebecca Crowell is a painter with a blog. What does that have to do with us as photographers? It’s all art. It’s all creativity. And concepts regarding painting are often valid as well for photographers.

Link to Rebecca Crowell’s blog:

For instance, does your photographic work have an underlying theme to it, or is it all over the place? You go out to shoot and you return with a photo of the neighbor’s cat, a tulip, a crow on a wire, a swing set, and a birdbath.

What’s your theme? What’s your underlying idea? What are you communicating?

Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe variety, seeing, recording in a haphazard manner is your joy. If so, then go with it and exult in your ability to do so.

But sometimes we want more. We want discipline, boundaries, a project. Maybe we want to put together a book. Maybe we want a gallery showing. Maybe we want to create a photo essay. Maybe we want to work on a style.

Rebecca Crowell, in a recent blog post, said, “As an instructor I work with many artists who are on the path to finding a personal style, and who struggle with (to quote the singer Joni Mitchell), ‘the crazy you get from too much choice.’ "

For painters there are so many choices: oil, watercolors, acrylics, mixed media, abstracts, color combinations, portraiture, Impressionism, boldness, softness, etc.

For us photographers there’s color, black & white, monochromes, portraiture, close-up, photomontage, painterly effects, bird photography, sports, abstracts, sweeps, swoops, and swipes, color combinations, etc.

What the heck do we want to do? Well, whether you’re a photographer or a painter, the answer might be to narrow your focus, as Ms. Crowell says, “. . . what helps a lot of people is to focus down, to set parameters, create in series with defined boundaries, and in the beginning take one step at a time.”

Remember my “Parts is Parts” class? The focus was incredibly narrow. Create ten good photos of one thing. And so we saw lovely photo essays of subjects such as an oak table, a guitar, a parasol, a piano, an old camera, even a power saw. We focused. We looked — really looked. We experimented. We had boundaries. We created art.

We’re all into photography for various reasons. But if we wish to create a solid, cohesive body of work, we often need the discipline of narrowing our view, concentrating on one thing at a time, setting limits and making this a project, a goal. Once done, then what’s your next project?

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

©Carol Leigh

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Latest work: "Coastal Solstice"

Acrylic on paper with a bit of digital tweaking. ©Carol Leigh

Friday, June 20, 2014

Postcards received and sent . . .

Because of the Internet, and because she is fun and supportive, I feel I have a friend in Australia. So when I mentioned I enjoy receiving postcards and send them in return, Jo Murray surprised me with this card last week, which is a print of one of her collages.

In return, I sent her the postcard below, an original collage which I hope arrives at her house intact.

What I like about Jo's work is how I get the feeling she's not afraid to play, to just put things down on canvas or paper to create something that at first just seems crazy, but ends up being cohesive and strong. There's a sense of freedom in what she does that really appeals to me.

So thank you, madam, for being a little part of my life. And thanks for the card.

©Carol Leigh

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Latest works: "Seaworthy" and "Piscatorial Perambulations"

I use all sorts of backgrounds in my photomontages, and here you see one that's compliments of National Geographic Magazine.

About four years ago I was playing around with a technique wherein you spray pages of National Geographic with an organic cleaner called Citra-Solv. The pages of the magazine stick together and after about 30 minutes or so you pull the pages apart to reveal how the ink has smooshed and moved and created interesting patterns. (I may be wrong about the waiting time, so don't rely on me for accuracy, but there are lots of tutorials online that show you how to do this.)

Anyway, I was on a binge! Magazine pages were drying all over my kitchen and the scent of Citra-Solv, which smells pleasantly like oranges, became really annoying by the end of the project! Once the papers were dry, I stashed them away to be used in collages.

Which brings me to this guy.

I pulled out the Citra-Solv papers the other day and noticed how this pattern reminded me of bubbles in water. Which made me think of fish. Which reminded me I'd cut out an illustration of a fish from a vintage fish identification book. I photographed the fish cut-out. Photographed the magazine page. And then I blended the two together.

Want to see another version of this same fish?

This time I used a different background, but one that was also created using the Citra-Solv/National Geographic technique. I liked the overall texture. I also liked how the fish (same fish as above) reacted with that texture. I then added a couple of fishy stamps from Iceland, another from San Marino, and made a postcard. (Yes, you and I see the fish stamps and think "island," as in "Catalina Island." But nope, it's pronounced "Iceland." Which actually makes perfect sense.)

So there you have it. Same fish. Different day. And if you ever see postage stamps that simply say "island" on them, you'll know they're actually from Iceland. Amazing what you learn here, isn't it?

©Carol Leigh

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Latest work: "Preparing to Leave"

I have a number of favorite locations along the Oregon coast where I can find all sorts of cool scratched metal to photograph. I used a number of those photos here as well as some of my photos of painted metal and hand-painted circles to create this piece. In a way, it sort of looks like a prayer flag, doesn't it?

What appeals to me are the dusty blue and grey colors combined with the soft browns. To me, it's quite relaxing. And I would LOVE to have a long silk scarf made from this picture!

It looks good as a square, too, so I created three different versions out of the same image. Bonus!

©Carol Leigh

P.S. Because I never really liked the name of this image, I've changed it to "Silken Circles." But because I linked to this blogpost from Facebook, I can't change the name here! I did change it at Fine Art America, and that's where it counts, so all is well. I think.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

New(ish) Online Photo Class . . .

Four fun, easy (yet challenging) lessons designed to get you out there looking, composing, and creating.

The class runs for six weeks (July 18-August 25, 2014), features four lessons/assignments, and substantial critiques of your work. 

You have two weeks to complete each assignment. Submit up to three images for each assignment and receive a critique of each one from me as well as comments from your fellow students.

You'll find this "summer school" online class refreshing, fun, informative, and challenging. Any camera will work: cellphone, iPad, DSLR, etc.

Here are the names of each lesson/assignment:

The registration fee is $85. You can sign up at my online store here: 

Need more information? Contact me at carol AT carolleigh DOT net 

Want to talk to me live and in person? (541) 563-3834.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Taking liberties . . .

As I was preparing this photograph to be uploaded to Fine Art America, I found I was taken more with the graphic forms of my composition (gotta love those repeating vertical and horizontal lines) than I was with the original colors. I wondered how I could punch up the shot to make it bolder and brighter.

I turned to Topaz Adjust 5, which has a variety of filters designed to do all sorts of cool things. As I was scrolling down the selections, I accidentally clicked "Solarized Dreams." Now, I NEVER use "Solarized Dreams," but in this case, I loved the screaming complementary colors of blue and golden orange. So I selected that.

Then I wanted to soften the photo somewhat, make it a tad more painterly, so I chose a filter called "Venice Paint." That filter maintained the colors, enhanced them a bit, and also softened the overall look. I'm happy.

But then, as is my wont, I wondered how the photo would look cropped down to a square format. And I like that, too.

So there you go. That's how I spent the first hour of this lovely morning. It's going to be a good day.

©Carol Leigh

Monday, June 9, 2014

Latest collage: "A Touch of Red"

You may be wondering, "Sheesh. Doesn't she do photography any more?" It's sort of taken a back seat to collage work, hasn't it? But I'm not as good at making collages as I am at photography, so I'm working steadily, day by day, beginning at 8 a.m., on making collages. My goal is to create 50 of these little things, 4.75" x 4.75" and maybe at the end of that project I will be much better, much faster, more creative, and a lot looser than I am now. We shall see.

In the meantime, I have indeed been photographing, but the results haven't been charming me lately. Once the winds here on the coast subside a bit, I'm going to work on a project I have in mind. The weather's been good (which means it's not raining!), but I can't really have a lot of wind for what I'm wanting to shoot.

Apropos of nothing, Fine Art America sold three of my photos today, to three different people, which is great. Just yesterday I was grousing that FAA hadn't sold any of my stuff in the past week and then boom! A good day today. Maybe I should grouse more often . . .

This collage was made using some of my hand-painted papers, some ink-painted Japanese paper, and a little touch of red decorative paper.

©Carol Leigh

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Unauthorized use of one of my photos . . .

{Update: This has all been resolved most amicably all the way around with no ill-will and no hard feelings. And isn't that the way it should be?}

This evening I discovered that a company's commercial blog used one of my photos at the top of one of their blog posts. The photo is one I took in July of 2012 and which I uploaded to Fine Art America in September of 2013 and which has sold once.

My photograph of old paintbrushes and paints appears at the top of a blog post; right under my photo is an advertisement.

I wasn't contacted by this website asking permission to use my photograph. They just took it. And that's what bugs me and that's what hurts.

This website apparently receives payment to have ads from major companies appear on their site. So they're getting paid for their work. They're using my work to make their site more appealing. I sell my work for a living, yet they did not ask me if they could use or if they could license my photo.

Do I know for a fact that they're getting paid to run ads on their site? No. But it doesn't really matter. What matters is the concept of taking my art to make their site look better without asking.

I took numerous screen shots of their page as well as the page where I believe they snagged my photograph. And this is the e-mail I sent to them this evening:

Dear Anjana Love Dixon,

Regarding your post of October 22, 2013 -- “The Passion of the Artist” -- I noticed you used a copyrighted photo I had taken of old tubes of paint and paintbrushes.

I first published this photo on my own blog in July of 2012.

You did not contact me to request permission to use my photograph on your commercial blog. If you had, I probably would have granted it, but since you did not, please remove my photo from your website.

I certainly would not copy one of your articles and publish it in my blog; I expect the same courtesy from others regarding my photographs.

Thank you.

Carol Leigh

I'm posting this here because most of you are photographers and perhaps many of you have encountered the same situation. There are all sorts of legal measures I could take, but I'd just rather ask them to remove my photograph from their website and then hope that they'll think twice before taking someone else's work to decorate their words. I'll let you know how it turns out.

©Carol Leigh

Latest collage: "Getting the Word Out"

An old Japanese postage stamp, a page from a vintage Japanese book, and a background of envelopes (the "security" patterns we often see inside junk mail envelopes) form this collage. To me, it's all about communication -- envelopes, postage stamps, chopped-up stamps, etc.

All of these collages are quite small -- 4.75" x 4.75" -- and are enabling me to struggle play with the entire process without the fear of a huge blank space in front of me demanding to be filled. Small steps . . .

©Carol Leigh

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Postcard-o-rama . . .

Yesterday from Fay H. came an envelope containing three vintage postcards. Not ony were the fronts very cool, but the backs -- the handwriting, the content, the one in French -- were equally wonderful, if not better. So I'm sending Ms. H. a handmade collage postcard in response.

Lovely surprise from Fay, as well as a handwritten letter. How very retro of her! And I love it. On many levels.

Here you see the front of one card from China and the back of another card, from Switzerland, written in French. Woo hoo!

©Carol Leigh

Friday, June 6, 2014

Continuing collage work . . .

Every morning now at 8 I'm in the studio making something. I created these three collages using hand-painted paper, inked rice paper (thank you Kathleen A.), and some beautiful red and gold paper (thank you CJ).

I worked on all three of these at once, using similar papers in each one.

The buttons/beads were given to me by Kathleen A. (I'm channeling Blanche duBois in "Streetcar Named Desire" in that "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.")

I'll be starting on another set of collages today. Wish me luck!

©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Postcards received and sent . . .

My friend June sent me this lovely "storyteller" postcard from Arizona. She says it's hot there and for me to "send fog."

So I sent her a collage postcard that I made using some of my hand-painted papers as well as some papers that Kathleen A. had sent me. Part of my message on the card said, "I've attached fog all over this card and hope it cools things down considerably." I'm sure she'll feel hugely refreshed when she receives it . . .

©Carol Leigh

Beauty . . .

"Every day I discover more and more beautiful things. It's enough to drive one mad. I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it." -- Claude Monet

©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Wanting to do so much . . .

I have so many ideas in my head that I end up completely overwhelmed into inaction. I tell myself it’s better to have too many ideas than not enough, but sometimes I wonder.

Here's what I want to do:

I want to make more physical collages. I want to create a series of photomontages. To make artist books. To make photo books. I want to play with image transfers. To make artistic wall hangings. I want to re-start my photo-a-day project. I want to create more faux postcards.

I want to create an online class in contemplative photography. To create painterly photographs using various paint programs. To work more with black and white. I want to create e-books. I want a Gelli plate. I want to paint more. To make bowls made of paper. To paint pumpkins and photograph them.

I want to do a blog post listing all the creative ideas I come up with in a week. I want to do more long-exposure photography. I need to clean my cameras’ sensors. I need a rigger brush. I need to do more with antique keys — I have a whole jar of the damned things. I want to create a series of mini-collages. I’ve done three so far . . .

See what I mean? I feel like woodpeckers are pounding on my head. All. The. Time.

The result is that I’m excited and enthusiastic about doing all this stuff, but where to begin? I end up sitting on the couch with my iPad looking at Pinterest and other people’s blogs about what THEY are doing, which gets me all stoked up, but then depressed that I have all this talent and I’m not creating very much.

So then I read a blog post by Leo Babauta, who has a blog called “zenhabits.” Here’s a link to the post:

He suggests telling someone I’m going to do something. Then carve out time to do it, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day. He recommends starting small. Then really commit — post your intention on your blog, on Facebook, on Twitter. Tell 100 people about it.

So, here’s my plan: Concentrate on one thing: collage. Spend at least 30 minutes a day working on physical collages. Thirty minutes is easy. (I did two hours this morning and thought it was just one hour.) I have the papers. I have the substrates. I have the tools.

I would love to make a series of 50 collages, each 4-3/4 x 4-3/4 inches square. By working small and by working on perhaps five at a time, I will eventually teach myself how to use this medium.

By committing 30 minutes (or more, if I feel like it) daily, I will become more familiar with the materials I have, how to manipulate them, how to affix them, and how to quickly come up with and execute a composition.

And at the end of this project? Well, I will have created a lot of images to upload to Fine Art America. I might have enough to create a self-published book. Maybe an e-book. Maybe I can sell the collages.

And I will have photographed the collages in various states of unfinished-ness so that I can put them into the computer where I can add, change, transmogrify, and otherwise alter them to create even more salable images. The image I posted the other day — “Bayshore Sunset” — is the result of one of those physical collages that I photographed and then altered in Photoshop. Here’s the link:

So that’s the plan, Stan. I’m announcing it here in my blog and will also post it in my oh-so-forgiving alumni group. There. I’ve got my 100 people covered.

©Carol Leigh

Faux Check

I had this old check and decided to play with it a bit, adding an orange Internal Revenue stamp, some red documentary stamps (also courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service), various rubber stamp images, and a vintage engraving of a bovine-like animal (which is why the check is made out to the North Branch Lumber Cow). Yes, this is rather weird, but it was fun to put it all together. ©Carol Leigh

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Latest work: "Bayshore Sunset"

I created this using photographs of my hand-painted papers. I never know what the final result will look like, but when I saw a bay and a sand spit appear, I knew I had it. The scene looks a lot like where I live here on the Oregon coast where the Alsea Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. ©Carol Leigh