Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Clutter-ectomy!

I hope everyone's holidays were wonderful, and that you will have memories to last till next year.  Unless you just ate too much food and were glad to see the relatives go home.

I had to work my day job through the holidays but things were low key around here, so no one missed me.  My days off came two days after xmas and it has been a vacation!  Well, not the sun tan and iced tea kind, but any time off is a holiday for me.

I have given my house a "clutter-ectomy"!  I have been cleaning out drawers, cupboards, closets, and shelves.  I have several boxes of stuff for donation, and organized the rest of it in to plastic bins, drawers and cubby holes.  I rearranged one small room just for the craft supplies and tools I use indoors.

In the dining room I cleared out the space under the counter where the recycle bins, deck chair cushions and other clutter used to be.  I added the portable cabinets you see in the photo and can store things inside - out of sight!


On the counter I placed two matching shelf units for books.  The huge wall mirror takes up a ridiculous amount of space, but it will stay for now - makes the room look bigger anyway.  I can still use the counter top where you see my bread machine, and eventually I will place the toaster oven, blender and juicer there.

While it's not a remodel project, it was a major reorganization and I will not show you before pictures of the clutter and dark rug that were there, but it was a feat.
The best part of this project was that it cost me nothing - nada.  I already had the cabinets and shelving.  I just needed a little elbow grease and a lot of inspiration!

What after holiday projects are you working on?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Plans for the New Year!

(imported from my former photo blog)
I have emerged from my meditations and marketing courses and books with a new vision!  2012 will be the beginning of a new trend in marketing for me, perhaps in creativity as well. 

I am beginning 2012 with four new series of limited edition prints.  I know you photographers gasp when thinking of "limiting" anything we do, but alas, I feel the time has come.  When they sell out, I will just have to create something new! 

I am limiting these to 100 per image, any size.  I know, risky, but what fun!  Of course I may also be laughing at the end of the year when some of them don't sell, but that's the fun of it I think.  Everyone likes something different, and I am always intrigued at what my public likes.

So I will be getting these up sometime in January, available only here on the blog, so stay tuned.  I first need to get the Girasole page up, which is coming,  am just waiting for a few new prints to arrive so I can photograph them.

Meanwhile, you can still purchase greeting cards of the limited edition prints on my site at Fine Art America, www.jenigray.com .

The series are:  1) The New World.  2) Pop Series.  3) Looking Glass Series  4) 2012 Series.

Have a terrific holiday everyone and a successful new year!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Art & Photography Part II

(imported from my former photo blog)
Upon further reflection from my first post on this subject, I have more to say about this.
 I'm thinking the mediums need sub-mediums.  Let's explore them just in photography.

At one point I was calling my work Evolution Medium while I was creating the 2012 Series.


These images literally evolved from my original photographs.  I would add color, effects, more color, more effects, until I got something I really liked.  Perhaps it was the dark days of winter that lead me to this, but the end result was a collection of light and color that intrigued me.

Another project I created was The New World series.  In these I would keep as much of the original image as I could so it would be recognizable to some degree by the viewer, then I just added distortion effects.
Like this one:


The scenes are realistic but they still have movement.

A good picture is just a pretty scene until you overhaul it.  Having said that, many viewers prefer a pretty scene, and there are some amazing ones out there!

So maybe that pretty landscape is realism and the tweaked post production is abstract; creating the art after the image.

So what do we call these new mediums?  And who are we, the ones creating it?  Are we artist-photographers, or photography-artists?  Are we digital artists?  Or post production artists?  Edit-artists????  I welcome some feedback on these ideas or if you have found yourself in a similar quandary..

Friday, December 9, 2011

New Pioneer Holidays

This year I am advocating minimalism.  Not the fun or the magic, just the stuff.

I am using the same artificial tree I have always used, rotating the ornaments (I have several sets to choose from), putting up a few of my favorite decorations and only buying gifts for the grand-kids.




Outside I have a few fun things I like to put up every year too.



My favorite decorations are my hippie Santa I've had for years, my ceramic lighted tree that is now 35 years old and my elf that is now 50 years old (doesn't he hold his looks well??)



I hang the holiday cards from a jute cord along the ceiling beam.  This way I can just keep adding to the row.


I think the important thing to remember is that this is a holiday of many faiths, traditions and beliefs, but we can all celebrate it together in our individuality.

I especially look forward to the winter solstice!  A very magical time for plants and wildlife.  This is my new year, a time I put troubles behind me and look to the future.  Not to mention the days start getting longer and more light is always appreciated!

What are your traditions for this time of year?

Return of the Hand Written Note

(imported from my former photo blog)
The rebel in me wants to title this:  Ban E-Cards!  But I thought a more diplomatic approach might be best.  What I really want to say is "Please buy real holiday cards this year - preferably locally, and by artists".

I think this is one terrific way to stimulate the economy.  Look at how many people benefit (profit) from this gesture.  Paper suppliers, printing companies, the postal service, and most importantly the artists who created the images!

Just think, you buy the cards, use your own handwriting to communicate to family and friends, put a stamp on it and mail it yourself.  What a service!

We are all so automated these days;  texting, emailing, anything that will free up our time.  I get that, but what about the personalization of a real tangible card, hand written by you?  What does that say about you?  That you care enough to send the very best - or however that phrase goes.  You care enough to take that time for that person or business to say, hey, I'm thinking of you.

I also think this is a perfect holiday for real artist made cards.  Make them yourself!  Or buy from an artist you know.  I am using my own images this year, a great personal gift of my art, a 5x7 card that can be framed!  The gift of art with a personal message, not to mention a great marketing tool.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Infra-Red Photography

(imported from my former photo blog)
I recently acquired a new accessory, an infra-red filter for my digital SLR.  What a fun toy!  (I amuse easily). 

I followed the instructions from my favorite book written especially for my camera;  "Nikon D40 / D40X Digital Field Guide", by David D. Busch.

A little tricky as you are literally shooting blind, the filter is black - and nothing is what you see through the view finder.  It's OK, I've had years of film photography, which is kind of similar in that you don't know what you're getting till the film is developed, relying solely on your technical capabilities.  

I tried several long exposures on the tripod out in the front yard.  I set up the image and focused it before attaching the filter.  Luckily, digital cameras have a viewing screen which gave me the feedback I needed to proceed further.

Of all the images, this one stood out for me, was in focus and a good example of the filters performance.


This is the initial image, in the camera at 8 seconds.  I had to convert it to grayscale in the computer software to achieve the next step.


Which is this.  I think it's kind of fun.  Black sky, luminous evergreens.  No other post production, but I am tempted to play with the contrast.

Disclaimer:  This is in no way intended as a technical explanation of infrared photography, or a tutorial, only my brief experiment with it.

Art & Photography Part I

(imported from my former photo blog)
Are you an artist?  Are you a photographer?  Are you an artist-photographer?  I have been thinking about this for years.  I see some assumptions by art lovers that art is a painting or sculpture, for instance, and photography is a portrait or landscape. 
It's much deeper than that however.  With the dawning of digital photography came post production editing and manipulation.  Now the photographer is an artist.  How do we fit in?  What do we call ourselves? 

We have to be gentle with the masses, for they know not what we do.  Let them admire our works and contemplate how we did it, but don't be discouraged by their lack of knowledge.  There are still a lot of people who don't even know how to use the computer, let alone the functions of PhotoShop. 

Perhaps we can just revel in our mystery.  Although it might not be a bad idea to have some kind of explanation about how we came to the finished product.  Keep it brief though, as the attention span is limited.

I do think we need more labels, however, subcategories for our mediums.  I believe any kind of creativity qualifies one as an artist - "one who creates art" as Webster's New Dictionary defines it.  So perhaps we can find our own labels within the generalities.

An example of this is my beloved "Girasole" image.  This has been admired and purchased as cards, prints and on metal.


This image is first a photograph, later digitally manipulated with color and layers. 
Perhaps it is the happiness of a sunflower that attracts people, or the use of color.  All I know is that it makes people feel good.  Which is why I create anything in the first place, because it makes me feel good.

It's a fantastic time to be an artist, we are everywhere, recording and creating and sharing our vision with the world.  The internet has allowed us to share our work with the entire planet!  Our success is unlimited!

So am I an artist?  Or photographer?  I prefer artist-photographer.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Outta My Tree

(imported from my former photo blog)
Oh the things that obsess the creative mind. 
I took the camera out recently to experiment with the settings.  (I have had it for years and am still figuring it out!).  I had some good challenges for color this day.  I shot the fall leaves, blue sky, white clouds and reflecting water.  After about 86 frames I was burned out.  But, I got some interesting perspectives.









These are totally organic, no post processing or tweaking.  I did however use all manual settings, color, black and white, and some for vivid color. 
I'm trying to learn how to think "digital".  I'm such an old school film buff, still living in the dark ages I guess.
Next experiment is with infrared.