Photographs, a Historic Art Form

Photos

Cordelia Canniff & son with her Mom
There must have been no age restrictions on driving back then.

Here is an example of historic photography in my family. These are my Great Grand Aunt, “Cordelia Canniff”, with her Mother and child. I know where I get it from, cause this looks like fun to me. Just wondering….

What are the age restrictions for driving?

Do you think the roads might have been a little bit muddy?

History

Photographs are a form of art that preserve views of our humanity. A visual form of historic storytelling. Each old photograph allows us a glimpse into life long ago.  Words could not describe the spirit evident in their faces. I am touched as I gaze at the noble facial structure of Chief Joseph‘s portrait. I bet that a lot of persuasion was required to get the Chief to allow his portrait taken. We are fortunate that the photographers were successful. Their perseverance allows us the ability to see his personality, dress and culture perfectly.

I used to be the only fool carrying a camera with me, during the “stone-age” of my youth. People would make fun of me for this fascination until I showed great shots I got. This the view from the rim of the Kalaheo Side of the Kalalau Canyon in Kauai (Hawaii’s Miniature Grand Canyon). 

KalaheoKalalauCanyonRim
Kalaheo Kalalau Canyon Rim

This habit is life-long for me, here is a typical view of me with camera-in-hand in the 1990s. In modern day society, everyone carries a camera around in their cell phone so I am no longer the unusual person in the crowd.

Val with camera
1998 Val With Canon Camera

Filter the Volume

The costs involved in the use of the medium of film, nurtured a natural discernment of the importance of a subject before taking a picture. This narrowed down the volume of shots taken. Additionally, there were the considerations of the developing cost of the film and print which created another sorting of the images effectually  filtering the collection a second time. Buying a camera, and learning how to use it narrowed the photographers down to people with an invested interested in the field. This investment along with the costs involved in the film and development created a filtering process which greatly narrowed down public photography to the “most excellent shots in the batch”.

Identifying Stored Images

Estate sales, illustrate many avenues of photograph storage. documentation, filing and storage of shots is handled differently by each individual who points a camera. Some, simply leave volumes of unsorted and forgotten envelopes in boxes, while others carefully place shots into highly organized photograph albums. Some photographers take the time to identify each print with notes written on the back to identify the people, places and things being recorded. This printed method of history storage is dying. Boxes of photographs are being replaced with digital storage. Cloud, phone, tablet and disk .

Photographs in a box
Photographs that we leave behind.

Getting quite ancient myself, I find that I am focussing on downsizing, and minimizing everything. I gradually go through and sort out the stuff collected throughout my life. Within my household, I find that I have inherited multiple boxes of photographic memories from deceased family members. These gifts have assigned me the onorous task of sorting through photographs from a time long long time ago, electing to discard duplicates, un-identified, or out-of-focus shots in the process. Reducing the volume, but, still preserve the best and most important.

onerous |ˈōnərəsˈänərəs|

adjective

(of a task, duty, or responsibility) involving an amount of effort and difficulty that is oppressively burdensome: he found his duties increasingly onerous.

 It is important to try and pass down family history. I scan, reasonably repair and post to my own family tree on https://www.ancestry.com. The plan is to scan, then save to disk. Subsequently, pack up and send originals to the most closely related family member still alive. Hopefully, I will not burden any loved ones with having to go through a similar task when I am gone. End goal is no boxes of photographs in my studio when I pass.

Thank you to my relatives with manners and consideration!

I appreciate the past relatives who had the good manners to let me know who and what I am looking at. Those Grandparents, Aunts & Uncles, Moms and Dads, siblings who took the time  to scribble an ID message on the back, are absolute life-savers for the person working on family history preservation. See my great great great aunt’s photograph,  who had been ID’d because of a little note on the back which allowed me to see who she was on the family tree.

I suggest that the same consideration should be taken with digital files documenting family history that we are accumulating. We should be removing duplicates, bad shots, and storing them in retrievable methods.

Joe and Dora Fitts 1800s
Identifying our history is important, Joe and Dora Fitts 1800s

 

Memories in a Photo

Photographs & Memories

Jean and LawrenceHave you ever noticed how a single good photograph can instantly trigger teleportation back into a memory? The camera was a magical invention. Photography has had that amazing power for hundreds of years, the ability to capture a memory.  This thought is elegantly presented by the lyrics in an old favorite song of mine, “Photographs and Memories” by Jim Croce. Song writers are a special breed of artist too!

I was processing photographs on my computer this morning, you know, naming and filing or discarding if it is out-of-focus or a duplicate. I opened  a family folder and instantly began touring my past and, before I knew it, an hour had passed. There were some kleenex involved with the images of people no longer here or are far away. Here is a picture of my cousin Jeanie and her husband Lawrence taken years ago. I feel these people are never around for long enough. They were just here visiting for a short time and I miss them a lot. 

People change a great deal throughout their lives. Here is a photograph of my 3-year-old son trying a lemon. What a great facial expression! 

Pat Sour FaceNext, is a shot of he and I taken in the Colorado airport in his twenties. Sorry for the graininess of the second image (“low-res” cell phone) camera. Truyly, time changes everything. Those two shots don’t even look like the same person, which is amazing.
Pat & Mom in Colorado

 

 

 

 

Back from Social Media Break

Social Media

First of all, disconnecting from social media has freed up about an hour a day for more important stuff to get done in my life. Being “social media free” is a good way to figure out priorities for me. I am back from a 6 week break, sabbatical, from the social media world. It has been refreshing to be “social media” free. I narrowed my involvement down to once-a-day for phone messages, texts and did not peruse FaceBook posts. 

lady texting
lady texting

Actually breaking away from thinking (obsessing) about FaceBook or checking my phone for messages. There are times that I need to return to the less busy existence where I simply get up and do my work or chores without interruption (bombardment) of tons of minutia that social media produces. This break has made me notice how much of a distraction that my phone or computer screen can become, and things go a lot better without that distraction for my spirit.

I have noticed a large majority of people only live on the fringe or border of their lives as they stare into their blue screens. They are only glancing at their lives going by on the side as they check into their social media sites. What a waste.

I walk through the grocery store seeing children trying to talk to a parent who is fully engaged with their phone? Is that phone screen more important than your child?

At a restaurant, you see a couple who looks like they are on a first or second date. Are they both looking at their phones instead of each other? How important is your date’s company while sharing this meal?

Hours of Phone Gazing

I certainly could not care less about seeing what you have found to share during your phone gazing today. Please don’t share what you have spent hours scanning through FB to find, unless you think it is truly worthwhile information to share. The fact that a male whale ejaculates 40 pounds of sperm and only 10 pounds enters the female, is not in that category for me. A dear cousin of mine shared that with his FB world today. Hmmmm, really? Please don’t use up my time with useless trivia.

Sharing with friends & family.

Having thousands of friends on FaceBook does not generate happiness. Numbers do not fill our hearts. It is the quality of friendships in life that makes my spirit soar. Having friends who get to actually see each other “face-to-face”, or at least want to do that (if to far apart) does make life worth living. I prefer communicating with another human being face-to-face whenever possible.

Friends and family are the people that are more important than any text message, phone call or FB event. I don’t respond to my cell phone while I am lucky enough to be spending time with them. I leave my phone off during dates, or meetings. A cell phone is a tool that I pay for to be able to make calls, look up info on the internet, and find directions when I choose to. I can return calls and texts later on at my discretion.  I am not a slave to my phone, and I don’t have to immediately respond to it. It is only a tool.

Blue Screens Rule

cell phone crowd
cell phones in the crowd

Above all, it is amazing how many people walk around with their phone in front of their face 24/7. If you enter a doctors waiting room, not a single person greets you. There are no welcome nods. All are looking at their phones, ignoring all the other people in the room? 

 Mindful living is something all of us could improve on. Does anyone pay attention to life going on around them now? Not much detail is noticed about life around you as you gaze into a blue screen. The outlying life in the peripherals is a sad and blurry missed scene.

cell phone texting dangers
cell phone texting dangers

Police detectives probably just hate interviewing witnesses now. Gazing at the blue screen and walking down the sidewalk, if a high speed chase were to go by and/or an accident happen right in front of you….

How much help would you be able to provide?

  • What happened?
  • What did the driver look like?
  • What color was the car?
  • What was the license number?
  • How many people were in the car?
  • What were they wearing?
  • Was there a gun?
  • What hand did the gunman use?

Finally, I don’t intend to miss my life or only notice it in the peripherals by allowing myself to be distracted by the endless trivia of social media. I have only one chance to live my life and I plan to be present and live it to the best of my ability, in the here and now.

Retirement Woelk Style

RetirementPete06

What does retirement Woelk style, look like? This World’s Best, trophy holding, Woelk just retired…. completing 31 years at Kaiser Aluminum Trentwood, Spokane Washington plant. Friday was his last workday. He has 4 weeks of vacation before his “real” retirement starts. So, he is actually “on vacation” so, this is really his first week of vacation. Doesn’t look like vacation to me, does it look like vacation to you? Hmmmmm.

RetirementPete05 RetirementPete04

In all honesty, I am glad he is getting the tractor fixed because we need it to finish getting the garden in, but honestly, this is NOT how I picture  retirement or vacation. Not even close.

RetirementPete03 RetirementPete02

This Machine Has Needed This

Every nook and cranny of the machine has been inspected, cleaned, greased and put back together and now he is taking apart the front-end to find the noise it made. Hopefully, it will stay fixed all season after this thorough go through. This is a Kubota we bought from Ann and Dan when they moved to Arkansas. I pray for safety and protection for him every morning. We own stock in Band Aid and Tylenol now.

RetirementPete04 RetirementPete02 RetirementPete01

Retiring Woelk Style isn’t Normal

Who Cares? I’ve never really cared much about normal anyhow. I’m Just As Guilty As Pete…I am working in the garden this week. Got the strawberry patch transplanted and spaced so they are not overcrowded. Hoping to be able to replenish the strawberry jam, strawberry syrup and strawberry juice this year. Un Huh! I will put up the before and after pictures of that in later posts.

Will get on the berry bushes and fruit tree bases clearing next so that they stay healthy and should be ready for when the tractor is back together and ready to plow and disc the rest of the garden so we can seed. We already have the other starts in the house waiting to go in.

But, I already had steamed asparagus for breakfast this morning. Yummm.  Our roses are budding, fruit trees are blossoming,  iris are getting ready to do their thing. Love the warm weather and the hummingbirds, life is great in the fast lane here in Elk. Never thought this ski bum would say that, did ya? Neener neener neener!

7 Hummingbirds J1516

Seven Hummingbirds J1516 Painting Sold

7 Hummingbirds J1516
7 Hummingbirds J1516. 22″w x 30″h watercolor on 300lb. watercolor paper. Seven Hummingbirds surrounding a tree covered with Honeysuckle blossoms.

This painting of seven hummingbirds has found a new forever home with a colorful artist friend of mine who now resides in California. Knowing who is taking her, makes me feel real happy about sending her on her way. Some paintings are harder to let go of.

Have you ever not been in a hurry to sell a painting?

Bright little hummingbirds capturing my heart in honeysuckle vines. This painting has taken a place at the base of my stairway to greet me each morning for a couple of years. It brings me a smile every day.

I brought it in to an artist critique and there was criticism expressed of the sky being too bright and the layout having too many birds possibly even becoming distracting. I returned to my studio deciding no, I liked it, proceeding on the same track. Many birds is fine with me as I love to discover hidden characters in a painting, as I gaze at it longer.

This watercolor has been hung in two shows, winning a prize at the Spokane Watercolor Societies Juried Membership Show at the MAC in Spokane 2017. It was pictured in an article about the show in the Inlander.

Here is a walk down memory lane of the creation of this piece of art. I did a series of 14 gradual lesson posts on my “Artist Spare Time” blog about painting this in progressive steps, here are the links to those  posts below;

First Six Steps

#01

#02

#03

#04

#05

#06

Steps 7-14

#07

#08

#09

#10

#11

#12

#13

#14

Seven Hummingbirds at the MAC

If you would like a painting similar to this I love commissions and this is one of my favorite subjects to paint. Thank you Maudelle and Ron, I hope she gives you joy like she has given to me.

Hummingbirds video

Pete got a high def camera for his 30 years at Kaiser so we have been fiddling with it filming the hummingbirds. It is so fun! The previous post had a link to the video but when I tested it last night it didn’t see to work so I thought I’d put it up again today with a smaller file so we wouldn’t have to wait so long for it.

You know, old folks fiddling with technology. Please let me know if you have any problems with this. Thanks!

The Hummingbird Kids Are Back

7 Hummingbirds J1516
7 Hummingbirds J1516. 22″w x 30″h watercolor on 300lb. watercolor paper. Seven Hummingbirds surrounding a tree covered with Honeysuckle blossoms.
7 Hummingbirds J1516

Hummingbirds Arrive

The kids are back, noisy and darting around outside making a hummingbird heaven. Hence, witness the bright colored flashes of neon birds everywhere. We have already started to spend inordinate amounts of time outside watching them. Because, our deck is a buzzing hummingbird haven. How could this not be? Honestly, we are surrounded by forest and natural honeysuckle vines everywhere.

Spring is wonderful.

These birds are just amazing fliers, including abilities like; jet propulsion frontwards, backwards, sideways. They are also quite communicative, listen to them chirping, buzzing like in Start Wars, and scolding each other. Flitting in and out in a second. We do this hummingbird event all summer long, every year, check out other posts here. It almost seems like they need anger management sometimes.

Hum Bird YouTube Video

Here are some amazing clips put together already:

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Okay, three quesses at what subject will be next for this old artist, now that the children are back home. LOL.

Crocus Plein Air

The previous post was photographs of the first crocus buds appearing 4.14.2019, following these are the first plein air paintings in a new sketchbook of these purple & white buds. A new 50 page 7″ x 5″ 130lb watercolor sketchbook inspires sketching to begin. 

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I have not done this kind of on-the-spot painting in a while and the blossoms seem a little rough. Next, here are some shots of the bright blossoms today. Check out the sleepy, little fuzzy guy in the blossom. Bzzzzz said the bee. He really is lethargic in the cool spring air but already covered with pollen. 

Aren’t the colors vibrant?

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crocus blossom with a bee
Crocus with a bee

Happy Easter…. from me to you, with crocus plein air sketches in the yard today.

Crocus Blossom sketch paint 01
Crocus Blossom sketch paint 01
Crocus Blossom sketch paint 02
Crocus Blossom sketch paint 02

First sketch seems a bit mushy but the second one is getting to be a style I could really come to love. Let me know what you think….

Purple Blossoms

crocus 11 purple blossomsFirst Purple Blossoms Appear

The first bright purple blossoms peek their heads out for me, as crocus planted last year along the driveway come up. All that work from the previous year rewards us with spring flowers, that I love. They are such welcome splashes of color after a period of cool grays. Pete and I took some pictures to allow me to come back in to the studio and paint them, instead of getting frosty outside. After all, the temperatures are not balmy yet.

crocus 01  purple blossoms crocus 06  purple blossomsI look up the name crocus and find that they are a part of the iris family. Really? Who would have thought that? Thank goodness for the ease of using Wikipedia, soon I will forget how to turn the pages of a dictionary.

Focus

Here is a deep artistic concept, check out these two photographs. They are a perfect example showing how a different “depth-of-field” or “focus” totally changes an image. It almost seems as though these two pictures were taken at different places, but they were not. Only the focal point changed. Clearly, where we choose to focus our attention is really important. Think about that all throughout your life.

Where do you focus your attention?

crocus 10  purple blossoms crocus 09  purple blossoms

The fleeting beauty of the crocus in early spring is a short term glance at the wonder of nature. Finding that crocus is part of the iris family kind of explains why I was drawn to them in the store last year. Since the first time I saw them, iris have been a favorite of mine. Their sturdiness, prolific qualities, combined with their limitless supply of color and combinations never cease to amaze me. If they are one of those bright flowers that give a wonderful perfume, that is even better.

I will do plein air sketches from the blossoms and post them with pictures as things progress, in the next few days. In fact, my focus artistically is leaning heavy to plein air….. I confess.