Peer-to-Peer Birch Trees and Deer

Peer to Peer Teaching

Ron Stocke Spokane WA workshop
Ron Stocke at Spokane Washngton Workshop

Peer to peer teaching is so very valuable. This year I was fortunate to be able to paint with Ron Stocke for a weekend workshop. His style of painting is so inspiring. It reminds me of the much freer painter I used to be in my youth. This inspired me to return to a freer style and quit trying to render picture perfect images.

Ron Stocke Spokane WA Workshop Demo
Ron Stocke Spokane WA Workshop Demo

Sharing Talents Peer-to-Peer

Similarly, I painted another day with a friend and fellow artist (peer), Becky Gromlich, at her studio where we did some birch trees together. During this one day workshop, she showed how certain steps can make this kind of tree painting so much easier. It was so very helpful, to learn this.

Till then, I never realized how much fun these trees can be to paint. Birches and larches are no longer things that I face with trepidation in a layout. She opened me up to painting trees more often with vigor. Here is one I did shortly after her workshop.

Wish You Were Here - Fall Birches J3318
Wish You Were Here – Fall Birches J3318, 10″w c 15″h watercolor on 140lb wc paper

Later, using these same skills I painted many birch trees using house paints in a landscape mural up at the 49 Degrees North Ski Resort. Using the same steps with a different medium.

Continued Experimentation

49 Degrees North Ski Resor winter mountain landscape mural
Winter mountain landscape mural at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort Children’s Area.

This watercolor entitled, Muley Deer C1919, sold at the SWS (Spokane Watercolor Society) Member Show last year. It was painted using the same kind of approach for the trees combined (Becky) with a freer style of rendering for the deer, learned from (Ron Stocke).

Muley Doe C1919
Muley Doe C1919 9″w x 12″h watercolor on 140lb wc paper.

Here is another watercolor entitled, Yellow Rose J3218 which is another example of the freer style of watercolor (Ron Stocke). It was inspired by a beautiful rose blossom I picked in my garden earlier that day.

Yellow Rose J3218
Yellow Rose J3218 10″w x 15″h watercolor on 140lb wc paper.

As an artist, I benefit a great deal from fellow artists who share, helping to expand my skills and creativity. Additionally, I have found that it is easier for me to learn from a working (painting) artist (peer) than a school teacher type of person.

Finding My Peers

The SWS group that I belong to surrounds me with exactly this kind of inspiring artistic talent. The Spokane Watercolor Society is a club full of amazingly talented artists, sharing friendship along with many watercolor methods that they know and it has been a wonderful blessing to me.  Artists always seem to need to strive for growth in all kinds of new avenues and this open friendly club provides a very healthy circle of inspiration to me as I grow.

Bloom in Spokane, Garden Tour

Spokane in Bloom Garden Tour 2019 is the most recent art show I participated, put on by the Inland Empire Gardeners Club of Spokane. It took place on June 15, 2019 from 10am-5pm and included 9 beautiful gardens on the south side of Spokane. South Hill has historic homes with gorgeous landscaping and gardens guaranteed to amaze you. Being an aspiring gardener myself, helped to make this show seem like a real attractive option to me.

Sam & Jane Joseph's home
Sam & Jane Joseph’s home

I was lucky to be scheduled to exhibit my art at the “Explore Seek Discover Garden” which is the creation of Sam & Jane Joseph at 1910 S Upper Terrace Rd, 99203. They were absolutely fantastic hosts!

 

The greatest part about this was the wonderful group of people who attended the event. They were a relaxed crowd, looking at all the wonderful plants and settings in each of the gardens. This event is well setup allowing attending crowds the freedom to take their time and experience each garden area. People were relaxed as they strolled around the gardens. It was fun to visit with them. We were all busy admiring our surroundings. There were shady areas to setup our booths making it a thoroughly wonderful show to take part in.

Bloom “ing” Sales

Original art pieces that sold along with prints at this show did seem to be garden related.

Spokane in Bloom is a show I highly recommend. The location was so beautiful, and the crowd so very friendly. I look forward to repeat showing at this event as many times as possible in the future.

Cosmos Blossoms

Cosmos bloom providing a great splash of color in our garden. Graceful lavender petals on slim stems. Being a type of wildflower, they are easy to plant and care for, love to be “dead-headed” and producing volumes of blossoms all season long.  More information about these “daisy-like” flowers is abundant on the internet, check it out. I typically look up any new flower or plant on the internet before I sow any seeds, looking for what to do and what not to do. These seeds were given to me by a gardner friend of mine and now I see why she likes them so much. It is almost like a new painting every day I walk down to the garden and see these graceful creatures.

cosmos blossoms 19
cosmos blossoms 19

Soft Lavender Petals

A lavender Cosmos patch borders around the strawberries this year. After seeing the graceful color display this year, I intend to plant a larger variety of colors next year.

cosmos blossoms 20
cosmos blossoms 20

Everyone Loves Them

The bees, butterflies, and dragonflies in our garden are constant visitors to the cosmos flowers. Similarly, the blossoms seem to attract artists too! I hover close, getting a multitude of photographs to paint from. The cosmos are such a delicate and shapely inspiration to me. There will definitely be watercolors of these beauties in the near future on this blog. I made a hand embroidered tablecloth earlier that reflects the attraction felt to these colorful flowers.

Hand Embroidery

Doing embroidery by hand, is painting with thread for me. Typically, spending hours each evening hand stitching “one-of-a-kind” family tablecloth treasures. Embroidery used to be a common pass-time, but it is becoming less and less common. I enjoy, hand stitching both patterns made by others and designs that I have drawn myself. Creating cloth treasures to celebrate special occasions with.

I wonder….

Will there be any family heirloom linens to pass down in the future?

This tablecloth started out as a garage sale score for me. It was part of a tablecloth painting kit, hidden, in a stack of sewing materials. I noticed a stamped pattern on it. Not being sure of what I was seeing, I unfolded it. Discovering, a stamped design with baskets and cosmos blossoms on every corner along with random flowers strewn across the center.

A perfect full size tablecloth with edges finish stitched, and no stains. Only $2. How could I pass it up? I couldn’t wait to get it home and start stitching.

Cosmos Blossom Tablecloth 01
Cosmos Blossom Tablecloth 01

Cosmos are a wonderfully colorful wildflower allowing for a wide assortment of thread colors. I chose “satin stitch” to make the cosmos petals with. Because, I wanted to have a vibrantly bright tablecloth in the end. Here it is drying on the clothesline at about 3/4 complete.

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This tablecloth took a year to finish embroidering as I sat in the evenings with the family.

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This tablecloth was used in my artist booth for the the Inland Empire Gardeners, “Spokane in Bloom Garden Tour” on June 15, 2019. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and got a lot of compliments about this tablecloth, many even asked if it was for sale.

How much do you think it should sell for if I were to sell it?

Goldfinch Bird Visits Garden

American Goldfinch
American Goldfinch

A beautiful American Goldfinch yellow bird has been visiting in and around our garden this year. He seems to enjoy the flowers & berries in the garden. I have been unable to get a picture of him, because every time I would notice him I wouldn’t have my camera with me. Darn! That little phone camera is absolutely useless in getting a good enough shot of a faraway flying munchkin, only producing a blurry spec in the sky to see. More detail is needed to be able to identify what a new bird specie for me, but I had my trusty real camera Nikon with a decent lens when he showed up yesterday. I got this and used this picture to find him in our reference book and we do have beautiful birds here.

No Longer a Mystery Bird

Peter and I have, “A Field Guide to the BIRDS of North America” by Michael Vanner. This great reference, lets us discover what we are looking at. Following is the  info on page 252 quoted. Get this book if you like to look at birds.

American Goldfinch
(Cardulelis Tristis)

Common across most of North America with the exception of the far north, the American Goldfinch is a familiar visitor to bird feeders with its striking plumage. It is gregarious and will often mix with other birds in large feeding flocks. It breeds relatively late in the year, building a small tightly woven cup nest of grass and plant fibers high in a bush or tree. This holds 3-6 plain blue-white eggs which are incubated by the female for 2 weeks. The young can fend for themselves 12-17 days later and juvenile birds are brownish with dark wings and tail. It eats mainly seeds, but will also eat berries and insects. It shows a particular fondness for thistles, which it eats and uses to line its nest.

Thistle absolutely loves our place, and we are constantly at-war with those voracious thorns. I am never sure if we are just loosing a battle or if we have already lost the war. Weeds, weeds, weeds. Thistle is a never tiring foe. Now, I fully understand why he loves it here so much.

Photography Surprises

OCampo Wedding FOB 1 surprises
OCampo Wedding FOB 1

Surprises in  Photography

I love to find photography surprises when I am wearing my photographer hat! As I was swinging around to catch the “father of the groom” with “the stepmother” I got the first photograph shot and then stepped in for a better one…. and captured an unexpected wonderful surprise. Four members of the groom’s family instead of two.

OCampo Wedding FOB brothers surprises
OCampo Wedding FOB brothers

Right Place & Time

In the space of a second just between the two shots, the view changed to include two more who are the groom’s brothers walking behind their father. This would be impossible to orchestrate. Can you imagine trying to capture this shot right when the shutter opened. Take 1,000,000,000. It was simply one of those photography surprises. Lucky me!

New Equipment

I was not an official photographer for the wedding but fully enjoyed being able to use our new camera, a Nikon 7500 to capture the “non-pro” shots of the day. There is no better way for me to discover equipment capabilities than just jumping in and using a camera or lens to get familiar with it. The proof is in the pudding then, cause it either works or it doesn’t.

OCampo Wedding Photographer
OCampo Wedding Photographer

I was able to just relax and capture what was going on all around in the background. What a fully enjoyable day, I didn’t have to stress, because Pat and Kim Flanigan already had a wonderful lady doing a fantastic job in that department already. Sorry, I don’t know her name, but if you need a photographer you should get this one who is pictured above!

It is an honor to be able to attend our grand daughters wedding (alias Colleen Flanigan) this weekend. We are so lucky to have people who love us, and include us in their lives like our family does. There is now a proud couple in our family, Juan and Colleen OCampo! We love you!

Bravo!

Broccoli Treats

Garden Treats Are Here

broccoli spears in strainer
broccoli spears in strainer

Broccoli treats greet us from the garden daily now. I just can’t get over how much better home grown vegetables and fruit taste, you would not believe how sweet the flavor is. Now, store bought broccoli is a somewhat bitter second place loser to me. We planted one packet of seed and all of them came up, so our broccoli patch is surprisingly bigger than planned.

 

broccoli patch
broccoli patch

Broccoli treats are not the only vegetable we have. The first vegetable was the asparagus which peeked their heads out while the snow was still melting. It is a crop we started years ago and it finally is producing quite well. We love it and next year I am planning to figure out how it is pickle it. Though we appreciate the treat of asparagus spears, we actually got a little tired of them before it went into seed production.

asparagus going to seed
asparagus going to seed

Nature Treat Shows

Gardens are amazing nature shows. Our garden was planted 2-3 weeks late due to tractor mechanical issues. For awhile we were worried that we would not have much produce this year, but everything is growing real fast in the warm days we have had lately with temperatures of 80-90 degree daytimes with 40-50 nights. Again it seems like a wonderful carousel of delicious garden treats as everything matures at it’s own pace.

I weed and water for my daily (almost) meditation. This physical effort is well worth it, for healthy food that tastes so phenomenally good.

two pea pods
two pea pods

The peas seem ready to begin picking tomorrow, so we will be busy shucking pods while we watch tv at night. Beans and zucchini are almost ready and lets not forget the corn tasseling or grapes forming on the vines. The most candy-like treats are all the berries and fruits which are gearing up to be our next garden treat. There are many more items. Blackberry, blueberry, choke-cherry, raspberry, elderberry, cucumbers, tomatoes…. followed by apple, and pears later.

blackberry hedge, apples
blackberry hedge, apples

 

 

Pet Peeves in Photography

I have identified some definite pet peeves for me as I wade through the trending volumes of unprofessional photography available on the worldwide web.

Butt Shots!

butt shotFirst of all, these are the worst for me. How many “butt-shots” do we need to see? Honestly, it pays to get on the other side of the cake. How many backs, heads and butts do we need to see before we can actually see the face of the birthday-girl blow out the candles?

Please crop the crowd showing us their backs to focus on the recognizable face or focal point! Do the world a favor. Delete the photograph if it is only a shot made up of only butts.

Selfie’s!

selfieGirl
selfie Girl
selfie |ˈselfē| (also selfy)

noun (pl.selfies) informal

a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media: occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn’t necessary.

Really! I love the way that this definition ends saying a new selfie every day is not necessary. Selfies are over used to document every day activities and companions by everyone. They have now become a standard portrait method.

Have you ever considered that those closeup faces allow widespread facial recognition and location tracking?

Is big brother watching? Yes, you bet he is!

I do not consider the selfie as an art form.

Artistic

Art is that image that invites us in….  to feel, remember and become part of  what holds our gaze. Those candid action shots that freezes the movement perfectly in the sports arena, or the thoughtful portrait that balances light and focus with a memorable expression, or even the magnificent storytelling essence of an expansive landscape or event in history.

Remembering, the importance of excellence makes me spat when I see a warped face in a group stacked together in a selfie!

Any image that we quickly glance at, see and move away from, does not fall into the category of art for me. 

Certainly, a selfie’s facial distortion, does not come close to the magical essence of the professional portrait capturing a storyline or personality elegantly. 

Digital Photography

Digital Photography

CellPhoneCamerajessica-cao-unsplash
by jessica-cao-unsplash

We live in a digital photography age with almost every person carrying a cell phone camera on their person 24/7. A photographing craze has literally taken over our world. Unfortunately, this creates a virtual flood of imagery documenting absolutely every moment of humanity. As the observer we suffer a deluge of random images circulating the planet on our social media connections. Unfortunately, many photographers utilize no sorting filters resulting in a large production of un-named, cropped, or adjusted photos. Most importantly, very little thought about producing quality images is occurs.  As observers of the flood, we suffer from exposure to more than our “fair-share” of terrible shots.

We’re All Guilty!

Don’t get me wrong, professional photographers and artist’s do the same as most “trigger-happy” amateur photographers in the crowd.

People aren’t utilizing good photography methods. Pros put thought into focus, background, and lighting before they click that shutter. The care taken is evident in higher quality. In contrast, amateurs create volumes of images without any kind of adherence to tried-and-true photography methods. The result is, many images with poor quality, lack of focus, and no finesse or meaning. 

Talent is forfeited if no thought goes into making the art.

girlCellPhoneClem-onojeghuo-unsplash
by Clem-onojeghuo-unsplash

We have become view mongers blindly stumbling along with a cell phone in front of us. Setting the camera to auto-focus, as we proceed to take as many shots as possible, passing up the achievement of creative work.  Are we simply gamblers of photography, relying solely on the law of averages? Blindly shooting, and hoping that our luck will somehow prevail with an outstanding shot. Unfortunately, without any effort at improving our methods of photography, quality will not improve. Even with large volumes, the truth remains that, we just create a larger amount of the same kind of “terrible shots”.

Do you fit into this category?

Are you an addicted photo gambler? Are your images un-named sequential numbers chosen by your phone? Do you scroll through pages and pages looking for an image to show someone?

Test it out…

cellPhoneGalleryhussain-ibrahim-unsplash
by hussain-ibrahim-unsplash

Is your phone, cloud or hard drive storage organized…

  • Can you search for a particular image by entering a name, place or date?
  • How many of the photographs, have a name or folder?

Discernment

In “Art and Photography”, the difference between an amateur and pro is shown by their ability to discern what is “good photography” and what “is not good photography”. A learned recognition skill obtained through the study of the field standards is what discernment is. With so many avenues to learn on the internet, there is no excuse not to educate yourself. Knowing what is good will allow a pro to not have un-identified hoards of shots in storage. Get rid of the junk, only the best are saved. 

A pro invests time, effort and money into learning methods to get good images. Investigation into what current photography standards are is important. Practice is how we apply education, improving our work. Quality levels don’t change, if no effort is spent.

Additionally, the  professional creative has to be able to locate, reproduce and share their work in a timely manner, requiring some method of identification. You can tell a pro by seeing how they practice organization of their images. Typically naming to save using the client name, event, and/or dates. Whatever makes it easy to find. By establishing a consistent routine of sorting, organizing, and saving, you will greatly improve the content of your “body of work”. Suggested organization steps include;

  • keeping only the best
  • discarding duplicates, and out-of-focus shots
  • checking  resolution, exposure, color adjustments
  • cropping, naming and saving

Taking the steps to improve storage of our collection greatly improves everything by making us re-examine our inventory of photography. Proper care requires checking our images, only then we find those needing adjustment or disposal resulting in a smaller  and better collection.

I am all for improving the flow of great photography.

Finally, instead of wading through a flood of bad shots, I’d rather experience the magic of only a few really good photographs.

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