Thursday, June 30, 2011

We, The Youthful Sinewy Races - Ethan's Portrait

Ethan's portrait came together quickly once I decided what I actually wanted to do. The fact that Ethan is very clear on what his favorite pieces of literature are made it easy.

Most people in my class like it best, so far.

Here's what I started with.

A Man, A Cat, Some Cows, Sheep, Horse and 1800 Pounds of Angry Bull

In the late afternoon yesterday I began to work on a portrait of Larr. I tried to give a sense of his personality and interests.

In the background I have included the Declaration of Independence, some gears, a dial and a few geological textures. I like how it turned out. The challenge here is to make it look like it is part of a series that will be made up of images from our family members, but not too similar. It is a fine balance

This is the original photograph.

In the evening we attended the local rodeo. It was quite an experience, especially for Malik who is a student from Washington, DC. I was so taken with what was going on that I did not bother to preview my photos. Luckily, I ended up with a few good images.

It was interesting and impressive, but I am glad my son does not want to do that - so many possibililties for injury.
(Those photos will come soon.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Doing Photoshop without Seat Belts or Creating on the WIld Side

This is what I spent my day creating. I am pretty happy with it. Doing a self portrait was a little challenging.

This is the photo that I began with last evening. By the time I had figured out what I wanted to do, I was anxious to get started. We shot about 70 images mid evening and I had a good start when I left the digital studio at around 10:00 p.m.

The idea that I started with is different from the image that I ended with - but that is how art is.

The image of Larr and Toby went much faster.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Magic at the Ranch - Frustration, Joy and Little Reminders of Things Forgotten

I get into ruts - I think we all do. It is true in how I spend my time, what I expect of myself (and others) and especially in my art. I find myself getting stuck in the same place, albeit a place of joy for the process and the creation, but stuck nonetheless. And that is one of the main reasons I am here at Anderson Ranch. I am here to reconnect with who I am outside of my roles of mother, wife, teacher, care giver, counselor, etc. I need to remind myself what doing art does for me in my emotional life. I am here to find the potential within myself that I have not made a priority of. Today was a wake up call.

We spent the morning doing stuff in Photoshop. I am thrilled with that. That is one of the places that I get into ruts and routines. Our morning activities reminded me to seek out and explore more. Our instructor, David Julian, did a wonderful job. He had end products and then had us reproduce them to learn/relearn the steps. He has PDFs with photos so that we can self coach those parts that we need to repeat. And we had great discussions.

After lunch we went to Ashton, an old mining town in which some of the buildings have been preserved. It was cool to go there, but frustrating as well. Larr and I spent time together so that I could learn how to use his DSLR. It never occurred to me that perhaps I should have spent sometime on how to use the tripod. It seemed obvious, but I spent a great deal of time, and some frustration, trying to figure out how to make it do what I wanted it to do. Then one memory card became full. I switched it out to a new card and then the camera would not work. I tried to look up the code in the manual, but found the index soarly lacking. I was frustrated with the camera and the tripod. I did not let that go too far as I know I will be back.

The joy came in finally figuring out what I want to do for at least one project. I tried to make myself sit with being happy with just going through the creative process, but I also knew that I want to create something finish. I want to go full circle. Today I finally figured out what I want to do and that made me very happy.

For our project there were two suggestions. One is to make a document about the history of the location, a personal history, etc. Another option was to create a self-portrait. I decided on the self-portrait and then had to hope that I could make myself comfortable with that choice. I don't like pictures of myself most of the time, but I also know that I have to move past that, so I did. Our awesome teaching assistant, Sara, is a recent graduate who wants to be a portrait photographer. I sought out her help knowing that I trust her to help me not look like a dork. I am thrilled with the photos she took and got underway in the lab this evening. David attended an excellent lecture given by one of the other teachers and then checked on Sheila and I in the lab. With his help I got to a place in the project that I feel good about.

In my dream of a perfect outcome I would create a set of images that would go together; one of Ellie, another of Ethan,one of Larr and one of myself. I thought I would want funny photos so I had him send me some. He quickly sent me plenty to work with. I hope that I can get them done. I would love to go home with a completed set. I have a plan and I think it is a good one. I will go into the lab before the class begins tomorrow morning the duplicate those same step on the other photos. That will cement my learning and free me up to focus on the next steps. I have inspirational images and a teacher to help me find my way. The frustration I felt earlier in the day has been replaced with joy and a sense of excitement for what is to come.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Come Walk with Me - Anderson Ranch, Part 1

As I said yesterday, this is indeed a magical place.

Here, let me show you:

Just beyond the gate you would be welcomed into the Dows Barn where you check in, buy stuff in the art store or tour a small gallery.
alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5623085776237325826" />
The Finger Library is housed in the Powers Ranch House, just up the stairs from the Fischer Photography Center where I am taking my class.

Across from the Dows Barn Administration building you will find the Maloof Wood Barn. In the evening an inviting gentle yellow glow beckons you to mediate on the possibilities that lie within - within its confines and within yourself.

From there you can follow the pathway down towards the two ceramic studios, the kiln building and a court yard. I will share those with you on another day.

Off in the other direction you would find the Patton Print Shop and the Fischer Photography center where my class takes place.

Tomorrow, if time allows, I will take you venturing onto another part of the campus.

Welcome to the Magic of The Ranch

After our introductions to our instructor, David Julian and the members in the class, we began to get to the technical parts of taking photos. We talked about composition (rule of thirds, symmetry and the importance of shadows as well as reflections). That was fallowed by a discussion of the consideration of a sense of time in images that are illustrated through light, exposure effects and panning for speed. This lead naturally to a discussion of the three main elements of a camera: aperture, shutter speed, ISO.

Our first exercise was to work on dealing with shutter speed / aperture settings. I wanted to try and begin to understand how to take those amazing flower photos like Larr does - the ones with the shallow depth of field.

These prayer flags hang in the ceramics lab. I really like them.

Lupines - one of my favorite flowers. The wind was blowing and that meant that the top of the flower was not in focus. I will likely give it another try.

These interesting bead hang in part of the clay room. I suspect that it is where hand building with clay takes place. I thought they were really interesting, but very hard to photograph as the light was funny. I will try this one again.

I'd like this Columbine to be more vibrant, but I am happy with how it came out.

Aspen Leaves in the sunshine - an iconic image of life in the Rockies.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Arriving at Anderson Ranch Art Center

(Pictures will be coming soon.)
It is an unusual evening. I am sitting on the porch of the cafe' at the Anderson Ranch Art Center in Snowmass on the eve of my first day at an art workshop on imagination and photograph. I am on a borrowed computer. The air has a pleasant, crisp quality. I am wearing a head lamp so that I can see the keyboard.

My family sent me off in a cheery mood. My husband made sure I had the needed maps, cleaned all of my windows so that I could enjoy the views to the fullest and removed the Thule from the top of the car so I could drive with less wind drag. He even went over the list of stuff to make sure that I had not forgotten anything. Ethan did various errands without complaint, seemingly happy to make sure I could get underway quickly. Ellie was a sleepy head and simply wished me a good time.

I arrived in the late afternoon after a long drive from Denver to Aspen. The trip was lengthen by the advent of a semi truck rolling at a major intersection in Glenwood Springs, blocking traffic in both directions. I was not bothered as I was at least waylaid in the middle of Glenwood Canyon - one of the gorgeous places in Colorado. It has already been in interesting drive. I was passed by a few cars that were wrapped in carefully constructed plastic coats with strategic cutout where the windows and lights were located. I imagine that they were all part of a test drive across some part of the country. During the hour long stand still in the canyon I continued to listed to "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" in anticipation of seeing the last installment of the movies. I read the book when it first came out, but have since forgotten most of it.

It is a magical, almost surreal feeling to be here. The campus is set on a gentle, slopping hill. The various buildings are all made of wood and each has its own architecture. There is a building devoted to each discipline. I am smitten by the look of the extensive wood shop. (I may even go back to snap a few photos - there are such wonderful textures.) Next to it sits the ceramics studios. One sports a patio with kick wheels lined up with a great view of the surroundings. The other has external beams decorated with various ceramic pieces. Another wall has a ton of mugs and small sculptures. I would imagine that there is a tradition to leave something of yourself behind.

I am rooming with two lovely young college students. One from California and the other from New York. The rooms are tiny and full with two bunk beds, but they are also comfortable. None of us intends to spend much time in them anyway.

The cafe is situated next to the dorm. It has walls of windows that are build from what looks to be garage doors so that they can and indeed were, raised up to allow the sweet mountain air flow through. For the evening meal we sat with our classmates and instructors. Our class was short a few participants. The meal was lovely. We had beef stew (or lentil stew, if you like) herbed baked potatoes, roasted asparagus and salad. For dinner we had an apple crisp with just the right amount of sweetness.

Following dinner we had an optional guest artist lecture by Gary Simmons, whose art is very interesting. His installations are intended as an experience. While he has several distinct styles, my favorite is his chalk art. (You can learn more about him here.)As he spoke he invited questions. One person asked a somewhat controversial question to which he replied, "We are all artists here, so I can answer that one directly..." I loved that. I can't think of a time in my life where I have ever had such an experience as this one.

Just imagine it - five days at art camp where I am housed, feed, taught and given time to create. What a lucky girl I am.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saying Good-Bye to Our Beloved Reisha

Reisha Lynn Welshon
April 30, 1997 - June 23, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Blueberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars

Blueberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars
via: Sweet Pea's Kitchen Blog

For the Filling:

3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoon cornstarch

For the Crumble and Crust:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar ( I used about half the amount of sugar as was called for.)
1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest
3/4 cup butter, softened and cubed
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked.) Butter the parchment.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook blueberries, lemon juice and lemon zest until fruit is tender, about 8-10 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Stir into fruit mixture and continue cooking until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes, until thick. Scrape berry filling into a medium bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse together flour, oats, brown sugar, butter, baking soda, salt and vanilla extract until thoroughly blended and resembles coarse crumbs.
Reserve 1 ½ cups of the mixture and set aside. Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hands or the back of a large wooden spoon to push the crust into an even layer at the bottom of the pan.
Spread the blueberry filling evenly on top of the crust. Sprinkle the reserved 1 1/2 cup crust mixture evenly on top of the filling.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan every 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days.

Yields: 20 bars

Source: adapted from Baking Bites, originally adapted from Land O Lakes

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How to See Your Mother, Even After She is Gone, Or Eleanor's Garden as Seen by Her Son

Red Poppy



This is our third summer without Eleanor, my mother-in-law, but she is still here. Here in the plants she so lovingly choose, planted and nurtured.

Some miss her enough that they have not returned. Eleanor was an extra ordinary gardener who could coax some plants from other environments to take root here, but they left the summer she was no longer with us.

"Queen of the Pararie" Astilbe

Bronze Fennel

But oh, the beauty of those that stayed. My husband has such an artistic eye that he captures their moment on the stage.

This is one of the many things I love about my husband. His ability to see beauty, to pick out a single thing, from a sea of fauna and an explosion of color.

Purple Iris

He notices what many people would see, but not take note of.

I love the fact that I see that same talent blooming in my daughter, too.


And then there is Ethan and his bees. The bees are happily at work. If you stay out of their flight path, they are fine with letting watch while they work.

These bees realized that it was getting too hot in the hive so they opted to hang outside for a while. After all, everything must be perfect for the queen.

The other hive had some sort of disease and had to be shut up for a while. Ethan may replace some of the artificial comb and open that hike up for business.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Colorado Star Ball - Saturday (the Big Event) and Sunday (Competition!)

Saturday at the Colorado Star Ball was a big one. The kids had classes and a big, over the top glitzy evening (where you didn't have to wear your dance shoes, or any shoes, for that matter).

Saturday's classes included a Rumba class, core rhythms and "Mambo Mysteriouso". I think Ellie enjoyed them all. The core rhythms class was the most popular with the kids, hands down.

People watching continued to be great. I was really fascinated with all of the ways you can do a person's hair. This woman had wonderful hair. Many women had the whole rhinestone thing goin' on.

The evening program featured famous world class dancers competing. It was exciting and the ballroom was packed, even at $70 a ticket for adults. Men wore their tuxes. Women came in gowns, some of them ball gowns, some were formal party dresses. After a long day of dancing many people did not wear their shoes, but those who did wear shoes wore really lovely ones. I hung out with Laura, Kate's mom. She admired the shoes, I admired the hair does, we both enjoyed the dresses. In the earlier part of the evening we left the Westin and went to see "Bridesmaids." It was quite funny, but very raunchy. It was a good thing I saw it with an adult instead of one of my kids. It was sort of a "The Hangover" but for girls.

By Sunday the formerly preppy group was draggin'. Some of us worried that the kids would not have the energy for the competition. They had two foxtrot classes and a swing class. The swing was a great way to cap off the dance camp part of the ball. In between sessions they put up their hair, put on their make-up and their outfits.

When their time came to perform, they were on. You could not tell that they were so tired.

The finale'.

After the session was over many overly tired kids straggled home. Grandpa Don took Ellie and I out for dinner at the Hibachi restaurant.
I knew it would be a fun treat that Ellie had not experienced before. Our cook, Angelsan, was very funny.

By the Sunday evening, everyone that came back after the dinner break had worked themselves into a very silly mood. It was catching.

During the dancing the group started to notice what the men were wearing. Somehow the topic of a sparkley man-scarf came about. When the champion dancer from Costa Rica walked by they engaged him in a discussion. He was friendly. We had to take a photo, of course. That made one of the kids happy since having her photo taken with champion dancer - that's one off of her bucket list.

Here's the "Gun" show. The dance coach, Marodi, wins hands (okay, well, arms, really) down! You kids gotta work those muscles!

You may not be able to pick your friend's nose, but it looks like you can borrow a hunk of hair to give yourself a mustache.