Tying it All Together.

Tying it All Together.

Moon Glow is my latest painting of a Datura blossom or Jimson weed in full bloom. It’s fullness is unfurled during the moonlight hours and to me it mimics and celebrates the full moon.

If you haven’t been to this website lately, I invite you to take a look around. Things have changed and will continue to do so. It was time to bring my blog and my art and photography galleries together under one roof, so to speak. I was getting very scattered as this artist seems to do without even realizing I am doing it! Website for art in one place, website for commercial photography in another, and blog on another platform and shopping cart in another. Well the shopping cart is going to stay on Etsy, at least for now but to put my art, photography and my writings together seemed like a necessary thing to do. Although this site is mostly a showcase, you will be able to access the shopping cart for works that are for sale with just a click of a mouse. Here you will also be able to find out about my architectural photography services if you need them and you will be able to see some of my fine art photography as well. I have been making art a long time and have much to share and it really is time to put it all in one location. New things will appear constantly as I have time to add them, and hopefully I will have enough sense to post new items as they do appear!

I am also making some changes to how I physically show my work and sell my cards. I am creating a home studio gallery space which will be a permanent showroom to show and sell my work by appointments and through open studio events here in Ridgecrest. I want to focus more on showing in fewer places locally and find some galleries in other locations where my work can be appreciated beyond this valley (if you know of any that might be a good fit, please let me know). Websites are good for that, however they don’t take the place of seeing art in person. No matter how expensive the camera is or how good the photographer is, photographs of art do not capture it all.

OPEN STUDIOS CELEBRATION

My first Open Studio Celebration will be held November 15th & 16th from 10-5 and will be by invitation only. If you plan to be in Ridgecrest, CA at that time and would like an invitation (and your not already on my email list) please send me an email and you will receive one. There will be art, cards, treats and libations and I am thinking even a door prize!

I am very excited about having a gallery again and having it in my studio where I actually create gives me a chance to share my work process as well as finished creations.

It’s kind of funny to me how Fall seems to be the time of year that changes in my life occur. Maybe it’s because my birthday is in the Summer and that is a time of reflection which is probably the origination point of change which then takes time to incubate bringing it to Fall for the blooming of it. Well, whatever the reason. It’s time for change and so I hope you continue to follow along. As you know my blogs wander and ramble and touch on many things. So stay tuned for what comes next!

Have a Happy Day

Cheryl

A Day Trip to a Most Beautiful Place

A Day Trip to a Most Beautiful Place

Lone Pine, California is one of my favorite little Sierra Nevada town for so many reasons. The biggest reason has always been visiting the Alabama Hills with its unusual rock formations and the incredible view of Mt. Whitney that you have from there.

However yesterday I found a new happy place near Lone Pine to add to my list. The De La Cour Ranch which is a lavender farm where you can go and pick lavender, buy lavender products created right there on the Ranch, and wander around the ranch enjoying the views. They also have cabins you can rent which is something I may plan a painting trip around. Would love to spend a day or two watercoloring there.

 

 

Right now the French lavender is in bloom in both purple and white, and I picked an armload which I have gathered into bouquets, some of which I am enjoying and some of which I am drying for later projects. I also bought some of the English lavender blossoms which are apparently better to cook with (I have some recipes I want to try).

It was a little scary cutting lavender at first because it is full of honey bees, just busy getting drunk on the blossoms, but I soon realized that they were so busy, they didn’t even care about me! It was such a beautiful day! Our rare mid 90F’s weather here in the desert is something we are all enjoying this year. It is typically around 110F at this time of year and much too hot to be out on a late June afternoon!

 

 

After I finished cutting, I was ready to explore the ranch and take some photos of the beautiful flowers and landscape. My companion and I wandered down to the creek which is in full glory from all the snow melt in higher elevations. So peaceful, it was wonderful just sitting and listening to the creek waterfalls cascading down among the trees.

It is definitely a place I recommend visiting if you are traveling on US 395. The owners are beautiful people. We talked to Julie who shared much of her knowledge on the process of growing lavender, the history of the area and ideas for how to use lavender in your daily life to live healthier and happier.

De Lour Cour Ranch

It is a place I will return to again and again! Have a happy day!

Cheryl

A Day Off in the Mojave Desert

A Day Off in the Mojave Desert

I took Friday off.

When you work for yourself and love what you do, it is easy to work every day and burn yourself out. I have learned over the years that I need at least one day off a week and on work days, I manage to take time out to recharge throughout the day as well. I knew Saturday I would be working at the Farmers Market and Sunday I had a Real Estate photo shoot scheduled, so that would be a most of the day’s commitment for shooting and processing. So when a girlfriend invited me on a desert day trip for Friday, I said Yes!

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We were headed to Randsburg which is a little abandoned mining town which is now an off-road Mecca on the weekends as well as a stopover for many on their way to Death Valley. I used to have a gallery there, which only didn’t really work out because most of the traffic was on 2 wheels instead of 4 so they could not take a painting or photograph on the back of their bike!

We took a less traveled road to get there and since I have photographed so much of this area before, I concentrated my photos on new views.

We have had so much rain this year and it is still continuing, very unusual for our desert, and because of all the rain, our desert is getting nice and green. There will be wildflowers in abundance very soon, and then I will share wildflowers of the Mojave with you.

Today I have some beautiful vistas and some found object art to share. We have a lot of old junk left over from the miners, the sheepherder camps, as well as just junk that city people bring out and leave because they think the desert is a waste land. NOT!

We have many quirky artistic types out here and why not use what is around to create something fun and visually interesting. Sometimes they are memorials, and sometimes it’s just fun.

So I hope you enjoy these images and maybe they inspire you to come out and visit our desert and at the very least I hope they give you some inspiration to take a day off.

A big Shout Out to the RandsburgGeneralStore.com for the best patty melt and chocolate malts in the whole world!

Is it Spring Yet?

Is it Spring Yet?

Here in the desert, it is feeling like Spring. It’s still only 50 degrees, but that’s warmer than it has been and the sun is shining. So it makes us all very happy. Soon there will be wildflowers and that will be the only topic of conversation for most desert rats.  We get very excited to see what shows up because it’s different every year. I was out for a walk amongst the Creosote and cactus on Saturday and there are lots of new leaves popping up everywhere. Once we get some blooms I will post some shots. But today I am working in the office on a website for a client and later I will be doing more painting. Besides another larger painting, I will be working on cards as well.

I have started painting cards for Spring, So far I have 3 and they are Easter related, however, I was sketching ideas this morning and there will be lot’s of Spring oriented images I think. These cards are approx. 4″x6″ single sided with colorful paper on the back. They make people smile. Seems like it has been an especially brutal Winter, I’m ready for Spring how about you?

Have a Happy Day!

Cheryl

Switching hats is not always easy

Switching hats is not always easy

I have been wearing my geek hat a lot lately, figuring out online marketing, illustrating for a specific audience- hand-painted valentines- which were very successful, I must say. But now it’s time to think about other card holidays and other projects that require more creativity and I am struggling to get back into my painter and creator hat.

I also have commercial clients that need me to think about marketing strategies and upcoming photography gigs that will require a different set of skills. Very often I think how much easier my life would be if I would just pick one career path! But here is the deal, when you live in a small town and you have lot’s of skills, if you want to make a living as a creative rather then pushing papers full-time and art part-time, you learn to adapt. You take the gigs and do the enjoyable work and then move on to the next. AND you find time to make art that satisfies your soul in between.  I find that each skill and medium I work in feed the others and makes me have to learn to switch hats quickly. But sometimes I just need to breathe, to get out and take in the landscape and surroundings and forget about all of it.

Today we have snow on our mountains here on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada, and I am heading out to enjoy a day with friends. Yes, I will bring a camera and no I will not think about marketing. Pure enjoyment.

Happy Saturday, hope you have an enjoyable day.

The Captivating Magic of Making Art

The Captivating Magic of Making Art

I am wound up in the tendrils of a vine called Art.

I do not actually believe I am making art at this time with all my dot making, I am mastering a new technique and getting comfortable with the process. The art-making is coming, the imagination and the visualizations are once more starting to flow.

I like to make tedious art, I always have. I enjoy abstracts and flowing paint, however value, and light, and detail are the art that I am constantly drawn to, whether it is drawing, painting, or photography, or even digital for that matter. To me the story comes through in the minute details, layers of dots, lines, color, it all comes together to create the story.

Getting my mind to move in the direction of marketing, selling, accounting and all the rest of the details of running a business is like trying to extract myself from a Venus Flytrap. The struggle is futile. (Insert a laugh comment here). And yet, because I love the other aspects of the work that I do, I must. I must think about that marketing campaign for the new client, I must think about how best to show my work and market myself, I must think about the community activism I am involved in to create art awareness and community. I must because I love all these aspects of the skills and talents I have been given. I have read dozens of books on how to organize your day, I have tried dozens of calendars to try to reign myself into a schedule and yet I am constantly fighting the battle. I envy artists who have a partner that handles the sales, the galleries, the websites, and the workshop details. I would love to do nothing but make art, think about art, teach art. Maybe someday that will be my life, but for now, I just keep moving, I just keep learning and sharing and building connections and living the life I have been given. Giving gratitude for all the good that comes to me every day. I am a lucky woman and I know it.

Art, for me, is magic, it flows through my fingers like music flows from the hands of a musician, like motion flows from the body of a dancer. There are no good explanations of Why or How it only happens and that is what magic is all about.

🙂

10 Tips to Capture Your Best Vacation Ever

10 Tips to Capture Your Best Vacation Ever

Every year your vacation photos suck. The color is washed out, you thought you got everyone in the picture, oops, your second cousin Jim looked down just as you snapped the photo, or maybe you were amazed by the grandeur of that cathedral in France, all ten of them you visited. You tried to get the whole thing in and so it looks ¼” size and you ended up getting photobombed by a pigeon. And then on top of that, you took all the pictures on your phone and your phone died and now you don’t have anything but a distant memory of your best trip ever…

I am here to tell you that it can be different, you can get great trip photos with your phone and have those memories to share with all your friends and make your co-workers jealous.

Here are 10 tips to help you get better pictures.

    1. Carry your phone with you everywhere.
      Often the best pictures happen without planning, and you want to be ready.
    2. How does this camera phone work?
      Before you leave, spend a little bit of time exploring all the settings available on your camera. Learn how to use the timer for timed exposures so if no one is around you can still be in the picture. (It’s always nice to have proof that you actually did make it on the trip). Do you have a panorama setting or video capability? Do you need a selfie stick or maybe just a mini tripod that fits in your backpack? There are all kinds of add-on lenses now for phone cameras. Maybe you want a macro lens if you’re going to a botanical garden or a long telephoto if you’re going on a safari? Make sure you have enough batteries and a charger that works in the country you are traveling to. Also, make sure to have enough memory and a backup system if you are taking a laptop. Cloud backup may be available, but what if you don’t have internet? Be prepared.
    3. Tell a story
      Take a day or just a single event and capture moments that tell the story of it. Look for images that share the emotion, the wonder, or the details of the location or event you are experiencing.

Color of Local Life
Grandmother and her Grandchildren in Bulungula South Africa by Cheryl McDonald

    1. Look for a different point of view
      Sometimes looking down from a higher elevation or looking up from the ground or bottom step of the staircase, or closing in for a detail can tell your story and can also make for a more interesting photo than just a straight on shot. Is that Sequoia redwood massive and you want to show that? Ways to show the scale might include looking up the trunk to the sky or capturing your Uncle Fred next to the tree. You don’t need to get the entire tree in the shot. Just a piece of it tells the story of just how big that tree is.

SA_Capetown-51
Table Top Mountain in the distance at the Capetown Shopping Mall by Cheryl McDonald

    1. Look for color and drama
      Which could be local festivals or open markets. Look for colorful displays, costumed dancers or your girlfriend enjoying the best pistachio gelato ever at a sidewalk cafe. And that leads me to
    2. Food Photos
      Not necessary to capture every meal of every day. Unless of course, you are a food photographer for Gourmet and every meal you eat can then become a research write-off. Most meals are pretty boring. Capture the ones that fill the plate with color or the chef created an artful masterpiece, or if you just bought a dozen donuts at the best donut store in the world and you want to brag.
    3. Scenery and Location photos can be boring or spectacular
      If you’re going to a scenic location it’s important to plan the timing for scenic shots. The time of day can really make a difference in outdoor photography. There are apps for your phone that can help with that. Two I use are GoldenHour and LightTrac. Sunrise and the hour or 2 after or Sunset and the hour or 2 before are the best times of day for the most color and drama. Another good time for outdoor photography can be on a cloudy day. Clouds always add interest to the sky, but also the colors are clearer and stronger on cloudy days. Shooting in bright sun midday is the worst. If that’s your only choice look for contrast to capture, you can always turn it into a black and white after you return home.
    4. Capture moments of you and your party.
      This is where the timer and tripod or selfie stick comes in. Often you can find another tourist or local who is happy to take your photo, however, it is nice to have the option to be able to set it up and do a little more than a stiff pose in front of the fancy Italian fountain you discovered today. Taking candid photos of your group can be fun as well, just remember to be kind and don’t post those pictures of your boyfriend with food in his mouth.
    5. Get in close
      It’s not necessary to have the entire cathedral, why not capture the stained glass over the door, or your 5-year-old looking up to the ceiling next to that massive column? You will have a memory instead of a documentation photo like the one you saw in the encyclopedia.

JulianPieCo.
The “Pie Girls” at the Julian Pie Company in Julian, CA by Cheryl McDonald

    1. Capture the Local Flavor
      Where ever you go look for the culture that defines that location. Think about ways you can tell the story of where you have been. Maybe it’s events, or wildlife, or even those colorful characters who work in the places you visit. Often you can get candid shots, however, if you ask permission for a photo, you might also get some history or detail from your model about where you are or who they are. You just might make a new friend or gain some insight about the culture you are visiting.

 

 

 

Bonus Tip #11 is this, don’t forget to print your photos when you come home. Why not create a simple photo book with a service like Mpix.com or Shutterfly.com? Photos on phones or even hard drives can disappear and your trip is only just a memory.

Hope these tips help you take great photos and add some fun to your best vacation ever. Enjoy!

Here you can download a free pdf of these tips.