Thursday, January 28, 2010


Another artist who caught my attention at Photo LA is Alchemy Studio...actually, a collaboration of artists Carol Panaro-Smith and James Hajicek. In their extraordinary work, photogenic drawings, where plants are exposed in contact with hand-coated light sensitive paper, are combined with mixed media to produce art that is both organic and mysterious. Carol and James are dedicated advocates and instructors of antiquarian photographic printing processes, and Carol teaches both photo-based mixed media and artists' book workshops at the community college and in their  studio in Phoenix, Arizona.

Although no workshops are currently scheduled, you can keep up with Carol via her blog.

(Artwork by Alchemy Studio can be purchased through Kevin Longino, a private dealer specializing in contemporary photography.)

Monday, January 25, 2010


(Click to enlarge)

Took this shot a few months ago in Cambria, one of my favorite little towns along the Central Coast. It was a romantic getaway...and while the romance got away, this image endures. Adding a meaningful quote and some subtle journaling enabled me to encapsulate the memory in an evocative way. Translating life's experiences into art is organic, authentic, and cathartic.

This type of photo fusion using digital layers, including textures and masks, will be the subject of one of my upcoming video workshops.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Went to Photo LA last Sunday and had a chance to catch up with some of my favorite photographers' newest work. Foremost among them is Brigitte Carnachon, whose sensuous handpainted images of flowers and nudes have long held me sway. Her latest body of work, "Floating World," is equally mesmerizing with a romantic, mysterious quality of time gone by. Inspired by poems written by Japanese women throughout the ages (and whose names are calligraphed in red), each image is a testament to the beauty of the natural world.

This is my idea of photo fusion at its most subtle yet most powerful.

(Ms. Carnachon's photographs are available through Kevin Longino, a private dealer specializing in contemporary photography.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


And here she is darlin' daughter (and my favorite model)!


In honor of my daughter's birthday today, I thought I'd share a photo taken of me and my husband back in the day by our good friend Reed Fenton. Yep, we had lots of did Erin when she was born!  I won't tell you the date, but let's just say it was long before Cindy Crawford and Demi Moore graced the covers of Vanity Fair!


In one of my former lives I was a court reporter...mostly personal injury deposition work. When someone is involved in an accident, they're asked to describe what happened in as few words as possible on the insurance accident form. The following quotes were taken from these forms and were eventually published in the Toronto Sun newspaper:

"The pedestrian hit me and went under my car."

"In my attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole."

"I had been driving in my car for forty years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident."

"I was sure the old fellow would never make it to the other side of the roadway when I struck him."

"The pedestrian had no idea which direction to go, so I ran over him."

"I saw the slow-moving, sad-faced old gentleman as he bounced off the hood of my car."

"The telephone pole was approaching fast and I was attempting to swerve out of its path when it struck my front end."

"The other car collided with mine without giving warning of its intentions."

"I was thrown from my car as it left the road. I was later found in a ditch by some stray cows."

"The guy was all over the road; I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him."

"Coming home, I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don't have."

"I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over the embankment."

And my favorite:  "An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my vehicle, and vanished."

I hate it when that happens!

Monday, January 18, 2010


Indulge your love for photography, alternative processes, and handmade or decorative papers...create mini folios and fill them with a collection of some of your favorite images transferred onto watercolor paper. Give them as gifts, sell them at craft fairs, or set up an online shop at

Mine are Polaroid image transfers, but you can use Bonny Lhotka's alcohol gel transfer process, or just print your images on a nice toothy fine art digital paper like Somerset Velvet or Museo II...maybe tearing them against the edge of a ruler instead of cutting them to add the look of a deckled edge.

If you'd like detailed instructions for making the folio, say the word and I'll send them to you!

Friday, January 15, 2010


Just got back from the desert...went to Joshua Tree with good friends and fellow photogs  Jeanne and Steve Gadol. Although I love the soft neutral tones of the desert palette and the stark landscape, I just couldn't seem to find "my shot." Then I remembered a lesson from my photographer teacher Bob Ware at Santa Monica College way back when...he had us choose a 10-foot square area, anywhere, and shoot an entire roll of film there, making each shot count.  It forced us to really see, not just look, and to use concepts of composition and depth-of-field to each shot's best advantage.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I thought I'd share my very favorite technique for making invitations and announcements. This is the only technique that appears in both of my books, in Keepsake Photography as a wedding invitation and in Baby Face as a birth announcement (featuring a photo, shown here, taken by Jimmi Johnson).

Letterpress printing, a technique in which a raised surface is inked and pressed into a sheet of paper, is labor intensive and requires not only a letterpress but a high degree of skill and craftsmanship. But by combining the right fonts with a heavyweight textured digital paper, you can create a faux letterpress effect with similar appeal. In both examples I used Arches Infinity Textured paper (355 gsm) and Letterpress and P22 Cezanne fonts. Although the Arches Infinity line has been discontinued, it can still be found; a comparable substitute is Museo II (365 gsm).

To add the letterpress texture, type the text as a Photoshop layer. Go to Layer>Layer Style> Bevel and Emboss. Select Emboss, choose 'down' as the direction (which creates "debossing"), and adjust the depth and other settings until it looks good to you. I like to keep it fairly subtle. Colors other than black look best because the shadows show up better...for instance, a nice dark brown. Aside from the Letterpress font, try Bank Gothic, Adobe Caslon Pro, Copperplate, Lithos Pro, Mrs. Eaves and Papyrus.

Monday, January 11, 2010


There it is in black and white, right there on my list of New Year's Resolutions:
- take a photo every day
- print it on something, anything
- apply mixed media (journaling, paint, encaustic, collage, etc.)

Okay...I could pretend I didn't see it, or forgot about it, I could even cross it out. But why not JUST DO IT, starting today. Maybe I'll be like Julie in "Julie & Julia"where she challenges herself to cook all the recipes in Julia Child's cookbook and documents it in her blog.

Instead of actually taking a photo, I decided to "take one" from my archives (hey, that's fair!), and this one caught my attention. I remember being inspired by the beauty of some vegetables I had just picked up from the farmer's market so I had placed them in my grandmother's old Bauer bowl, set them on a bench outside the back door, and snapped a few shots.

Here's the original...bor-ing, and not at all what I had in my mind's wonder it's been in hiding:

A few tweaks via Photoshop layer masks, then printed on wood...ah, now this is how I remember it, a dreamy summer's day, and a still life outside of time, outside of place:

This and more coming up in my video workshops...stay tuned!

Friday, January 8, 2010


Isn't it great how you just never know when someone special is going to come into your life? I took a booth at the WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Photographers Int'l) Expo in Las Vegas a couple years ago to introduce the Auratone process to that industry. It was a great experience and I met a LOT of wonderful people, but one person stood out. Her name is Alyssa "Nicol" Ragland, and I'd like to introduce you to her.

Nicol has an aura of warmth, curiosity, and sensitivity, and she's an amazing photographer who brings those same qualities to her work, whether travel and documentary related ( or nuptial (

During a recent trip to Tanzania, she had the opportunity to spend an extended period of time with the Hadzabe tribe, numbering fewer than 1,500 and the last functioning hunter-gatherers in Africa. Her photos are a testament to the trust she obviously instills in those she photographs, and these are a people who have plenty of reason to be distrustful. Learn more about them, and her documentary project, on her website.

On a much different note but also one close to her heart, last month Nicol joined 19 other women in a group exhibition entitled CORE: Art & Design of the Torso showcasing mixed media dressform mannequins. Here's a photo of the piece she contributed...many of the photographs she included were Auratones she had made...yet another very imaginative use of the process.  I love it when "my students" surpass their teacher in pushing the boundaries of the medium!

If you've made any Auratones you'd like me to feature in an upcoming post, let me know!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


As I left home one morning not too long ago, my attention was drawn to the ground. There, a fallen leaf lay filled with dew drops sparkling in the gray light of the morning like jewels. I just had to run back in and get my camera. On closer inspection, the subtle colors, the intricate detail, the masterful composition -- everything was just so perfect, and now I have this image to remind me to slow down, observe, and enjoy those little things in life that can really make the day come alive.

Monday, January 4, 2010


My granddaughters provide near constant inspiration, but getting a photo of the two of them without it looking too "posey" can be tough, especially since one of them (usually Hana, the youngest) insists on making faces whenever I grab my camera. Ya gotta love 'em!

Anyway, looking thru last year's archives, I found this example where I used the magic of Photoshop to bring my mental picture into focus and thought I'd share it here...this is just one of the techniques I'll be teaching in my upcoming Photoshop video workshop. Well, actually it's several techniques involving Layers and Masks and Filters...oh, my!  

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Ever notice how artistic people are often multi-talented? I think it's because basic concepts like composition, balance, contrast, and unity are intrinsic to all creative endeavors be it photography, painting, cooking, sewing, music...well, the list goes on and on. So once you become comfortable with those concepts in one field, you can often switch gears and apply them to another.

I've recently discovered Suzi Blu, signed up for her "Petite Dolls" video workshop, and have fallen in love with drawing! I got sidetracked before I got around to finishing  the background here, but that's something I have to look forward to. Although this has nothing to do with photography, all roads seem to lead back there for me as that is where my heart lies, so it will be interesting to see where this goes. Or maybe it's purely for the joy of it... now there's a novel idea!  At any rate, if you want to have fun learning to draw whimsical figures and how to use all manner of art media in the process, Suzi's new semester starts now...sign up and become part of an eclectic and supportive online art community.

I also discovered Jenny Doh's latest in a long and impressive line of creative endeavors, "Crescendoh "... very cool, art for the greater good, and I'm eager to get involved. Inspired by one of her projects, I just sent Jenny an email about what for now I'll just call "the pencil project"...will share more soon so be sure to stay tuned! This is one of my decorated pencils featuring an Auratone photo of my favorite Buddha figurine and an origami-folded pouch.

Friday, January 1, 2010


In this new year, I'm going to be myself. Well, who else could I possibly be, you may ask? To be perfectly honest, I was trying to be someone I'm not. I guess I wanted to be the Martha Stewart of photography arts and crafts. But you know what? I'm just not that polished. And I'm not all that comfortable speaking in front of groups, let alone on television. I have sooo much to share, but I much prefer being behind the scenes, behind the camera, behind the work table, behind (or would it be in front of?) the keyboard, continuing to come up with innovative ways to use your photos and expand your creativity, to be more YOU!

They say there's an artist in each of us who desperately wants to come out and play. I'm in the process of rediscovering the playful child in me who has not been tainted by the criticism of a parent or an art teacher, or by the constraints of broad  commercial appeal. I'm getting more and more enjoyment out of combining photos with mixed media than ever before. The real joy comes from the freedom of expression, and I really want you to experience this same joy.

To that end, I've decided to change gears in terms of my workshops. Soon you'll be able to download videos of my workshops and work in the comfort and convenience of your own home or studio, and at your own pace. And once you access the password protected workshop, it will be yours to view again and will never expire. Stay tuned!

If you're new to me and what I do, please be sure to check out my website and my shop where you can order how-to kits, books, and more.

I'm continuing to navigate the waters of social networking in order to reach more of's seriously daunting for me but I'm determined. For instance, I just added the "Follow" widget to my blog (ta-da!), so please follow me! And I'm committed to posting more frequently, and okay, maybe with fewer words (as a close friend suggested). Or not. Feel free to offer tips and suggestions. I also added a Photo Fusion page to my Facebook account (although it's not ready for public viewing), but I have a question...why should I have a website, a blog, be on Facebook, and also Twitter? Isn't that overkill???

Happy New Year!