Happy Holidays!

The Season of Light is upon us once again, and I wish all of you the happiest of holidays!

2011 has been tough in some ways and amazing in most others. There is much to celebrate and be grateful for as we look back on another year gone by.

I confess, a bit like a kid, I look forward to each Christmas celebration with my family – although,  especially this year – we’ll have a FULL house with relatives and close ones joining us from as far as Arizona and a new addition with my now 5 month old nephew Benjamin.

My heritage is Swedish, and I’m fiercely patriotic to this small and wonderful Scandinavian country and the traditions I’ve been raised with. I’ve been blessed with relatives that give their all in the Swedish tradition of celebrating Christmas on the 24th of December. It’s great fun, filled with beautiful candlelight, music, fantastic Swedish cuisine, wine, toasting and singing with Akvavit at the dinner table (copious amounts actually :)), and much laughter.

I hope you all revel in celebrating with friends and family the traditions that are close to your heart this time of year. May there be peace, joy, health and prosperity as we enter 2012.

Merry Christmas, God Jul, and Happy Hanukkah!

Artful Impression – Siwash Rock

Today, I’m filled to the brim with appreciation for where I live. It’s mid-December…and it was a spectacular day here in Vancouver. The last few weeks have been pretty cold, but the sun has been out most of the time, whereas we’re normally accustomed to grey dreariness and rain, rain and more rain.

Today, I was in English Bay and walked half the seawall in Stanley Park with Shiraine. We hadn’t seen each other since I left Italy. Of course, we’re both missing Italy, but, conversation was geared towards, “Look where we live!”, “Days like this make you remember why we live here…”, “Can you believe how spectacular this is??”.

Both of us, armed with iPhones and point and shoot cameras, stopped in our favorite spots along the wall to shoot the views of the harbour – laughed at bobbing birds in the water, jostled with joggers and got sprayed by waves leaning too far over the wall while shooting…a day of play.

Siwash Rock has been photographed countless times, and it remains as one of my favorite spots in the city. I’m in the beginning stages of planning and working on a rather large project that will showcase Vancouver from my perspective in a “Close To Home” kinda way here on the blog. Here is my version of Siwash Rock today, in winter, as the sun was going down. Stay tuned for more “Vancouver goodness”!

Artful Impressions: Lone Board Paddler

More spectacular light from White Rock. I re-discovered this image on the weekend while going through my archives. This image was shot on my iPhone and processed in both Camera +, and then sharpened a tad in photoshop before exporting it out.

I took it in the beginning of September while hanging out on the beach front in White Rock with a friend. We were in the beginning stages of planning our trip to Italy. It’s a lovely memory, and also was a very peaceful sunset. It brings the feel of embarking on new adventures for me. Enjoy!

A.R.T.

It would be completely fair to say that I am a little behind on a couple of posts to do with two workshops I attended earlier this year. It went radio silent here on my blog over the summer, and only recently with my trip to Italy did activity here pick up again.  Truthfully, there has been lots happening – however, primarily on an internal level – and its those internal types of revolutions that always take time before they’re ready to be shared with the world.

Back in mid-June, I attended A.R.T., “Artist Round Table”, hosted by Ray Ketcham and Sabrina Henry in Port Townsend, Washington.

I knew Sabrina Henry before attending – we met earlier this year through a common friend prior to my embarking on safari in Kenya. The remainder of the participants I knew only through social media contact on Twitter. It was a real pleasure to meet everyone face to face as I knew instinctively that this was going to be a very good group. We were a wonderful motley crue of skills, interests, and creative focus.

A.R.T. was not a typical photography workshop per se. Rather, it was a weekend long conversation – the premise being to discuss and work on discovering our visual voice, in our creative endeavours, specifically – photography. It was conversation from the minute we met until we parted and, in-between, there were presentations from Wes Cecil and David Noble. Both locals in Port Townsend, David and Wes came from other creative mediums outside of photography, and they shared what they knew about being a creative and speaking from your authentic voice.

I had begun the work in exploring my artistic voice in my photography work in the recent year. I also have experience working with other mediums –  painting and writing – as other outlets of creativity. So, when Sabrina and Ray introduced this weekend conference, I welcomed the opportunity to participate as I was both determined and excited about shedding more light in this area for myself.

Despite my impatient nature and the frustration I have felt in wanting to just throw out a post outlining my experience from my weekend at A.R.T., this process hasn’t been something I have been able to use my sheer determination to push along like I am used to doing most other things in my life. In fact, if art and photography has taught me anything in this experience, it’s patience and slowing down.

So, this post has morphed several times over 5 months while I have endeavoured to put this experience into words. Truthfully, I don’t think I’m “there” yet – even still. This is about process…specifically, ongoing creative process.

One of the discoveries at A.R.T., like it was for the other participants, was the sense of community we found with each other. Being together with other like-minded creatives and sharing our dreams, doubts, and being openly vulnerable in a safe and intimate space, was a liberating experience. This environment helped us all dig deeper into our craft – much deeper than we’d ever explored previously. Each of us had our own unique breakthroughs, insights, and personal revelations along very different paths leading up to them. It was both humbling and inspiring to witness and be a part of. The other participants at A.R.T. have shared their own experiences and thoughts on their blogs prior to me – you can check them out HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

For myself, one of the most revealing and powerful exercises we did on discovering your visual voice was in David Noble’s studio. David works within several different mediums to express himself – he is an author, Bhutto dancer, and painter. It was during his Bhutto dance performance that we were permitted to take ONE photograph during his dance piece – and we would discuss our image with the group afterwards.

The power of this lesson revealed to me not only my visual voice but also the influences on my work, both of which I had struggled to “see” and understand in previous discussions. After seeing my portfolio prior to the workshop, Ray said that I indeed had a very distinct “voice”, that I photographed in a very “painterly” style in my use of light.

This lesson came to reveal itself to me in stages over a period of time after A.R.T. was over. Ray explained to me, right after the excercise, that the image I had shot for it reminded him of an impressionist painting – a specific piece from Degas. My use of light, the pose of the dancer, my exposure given the large windows at the back of the room. I couldn’t quite see where he got a reminder of an impressionist painting from – to me it wasn’t the least bit obvious – although to everyone else in the room it was. Now, I look back on this with a bit of a healthy giggle as I recall myself asking the group, “How do you see that???”, in unison they replied “How can you not see it??”.  I really was doing alot of “overthinking”,  even though I felt fairly familiar with Degas body of work. I did my best to open up and explore where he was going – but I’ll admit, I really struggled – and at times felt borderline resistant.

It wasn’t until I was at home a week or so later working on sketches for my art class, that I found my book on Degas and flipped through it. There, I found the painting Ray had referred to – this was one I had obviously missed from Degas’s body of work – the resemblance moved me to tears. I got it. I was admittedly stunned and overwhelmed as I began to process what Ray and the group had said at A.R.T.

Visual Voice Exercise

"Dancer Posing for the Photographer" - Degas

I took a sense of community and began in earnest to understand the influences in my work from A.R.T., but the real learning and “work” in uncovering a better understanding of myself and my voice as an artist since the workshop, has been and will continue to be an ongoing process. A.R.T. actually raised more questions than answers for me. One of the biggest questions posed to us during that weekend was  “Why photography?”. “Why do you spend so much time doing it?”, “Don’t you have anything better to do with all that time?”. These are questions I haven’t been able to answer with any definite clarity.

At present, I may not have specific answers for all of the questions that have come up, but what I have found is that the questions and living within those questions are more important. Living within the questions as I continue on my journey in photography opens up more resources that allow me to further explore who I am as an artist, photographer, and human being. The questions themselves may not be something to be solved or answered but, rather, lived with, and that “living-with the questions” and the curiousity is in fact a form of answering. Working from this place, takes you deeper and deeper into your craft and in life. Now, creating images or “making stuff” as Ray says, is from a standpoint of learning how to express what you want to say in your art – and it then comes straight from the heart.

It’s about the journey, not the destination. A.R.T. has definitely been a turning point in my creative life. A very powerful one. I still have many hard days in the process of creating my work, being an artist is not easy, as anyone on this path knows. But now, I am working through those times with a heightened sense of awareness, and a much better understanding of my creative process, which always brings me to higher ground in my learning.  Through A.R.T., I have a community of compassionate, generous, intelligent friends who are there to listen, encourage and support when the going gets rough. I know they’ve got my back, and I’ve got theirs.

For this, I remain deeply grateful. Thank you, Ray, Sabrina, Stuart, Chris, Anita and Matthew.

oxo Ellie

Le Marché St. George

Truth be known, I’ve mentioned this to a few friends, but I’ve been sitting on the need to write a post and share about the discovery of this gem of a café, until this morning, when I returned from yet another great visit. Today is the day.

My neighbour Jacqui introduced me to Marché St. George this past summer. It was like she couldn’t resist letting me in on a wonderful, well kept secret – “Hey, I found this fabulous café, we have to go for coffee there – you need to see this place!” Boy am I glad she did…

Located in a residential neighbourhood, on the corner of East 28th Ave. and St. George’s St., Le Marché St. George is housed in a renovated 100 year old building. From the minute I walked over the threshold, I was taken…I felt like I’d walked into a Parisian café and grocery. The rustic ambiance, the simple and sparse vintage decor, the fresh bread and selection of pastries, service on silver platters, the grocery portion that sells a variety of dry and gourmet canned goods, locally cured meats, artisan cheeses, organic produce, and a variety of international natural textiles…a feast for the eyes and senses!

Of course, doing what I do, I couldn’t help myself, I pulled out my iPhone and started snapping away…

Marché St. George has an informative blog that keeps you up to date on the newest events, products and news here. It has also received numerous mentions in columns and newspaper sections locally, and nationally including the Travel section of the New York Times – you can view that write up here.

I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out here several times, and interestingly, always with Jacqui. Because it’s situated in the midst of a residential neighbourhood, we’re almost always joined by other residents who frequent the café. This place seems to have created a strong community feel in this lovely environment that feeds both of us creatively. Juicy conversation, and ideas are rolling each time we sit down with a coffee here. I’m so grateful to have a unique place like this to go to…we need more of these types of places in our neighbourhood…

Please, check it out, I am sure you will enjoy it! And, Jacqui, thank you so much for the introduction and the wonderful times we have here 🙂 Here’s to many more! oxo

Artful Impressions – Coliseum Sundown

The sun was going down, it was a warm afternoon, and I had been wandering the streets of Rome all day with Shiraine, we were having a ball…up until about 10 minutes previous to this image, we were kinda lost…had no idea where we were – and loving it. One of the last streets we decided to explore revealed at the end of it…the Coliseum. Lost no more…

I “played” while photographing this beautiful building….testing out different apertures, shutter speeds, and panning while walking along the street just opposite it, as people, and the traffic whooshed by me…At the time I photographed this I didn’t think much of it looking at the results on the back of the camera…I was just happy to be playing – but the more I saw it while editing, I’ve really fallen for it. It’s one of my favorites from the trip.

There is sun flare, and not a stitch of this image is sharp, but it “feels” like Rome to me. I captured the feeling of a sun setting on an ancient building sitting right in the midst of modern daily life as people, traffic and time rushed by.

Artful Impressions

I’ve long thought about creating a repetitive post here on my blog that displays stand alone images. It won’t be a daily or weekly image post, as I’d prefer to call them “Artful Impressions”, and they may happen often or not so often, with or without a story attached to them. I’ve learned (the hard way) to have a camera with me wherever I go to catch compelling moments of light, beauty and inspiration – and that can be my DSLR, a point & shoot or even just my iPhone. I’ve gotten into the habit of shooting many a frame in my daily life with my iPhone and have created an image journal out of it. They say the best camera is the one you’ve got with you!

Yesterday, I had plans to spend the day in White Rock with family and friends. The sun was out, and I knew from past experience walking the pier along the water that winter light in this community is spectacular. I brought my DSLR knowing there would be some form of gorgeousness that would come up. Sure enough, that moment came – and luckily I was prepared. Taken at the very end of the pier, a crowd had gathered to watch this small plane fly by over the water, with the sun, the glistening water, and a seagull all perfectly positioned, I hit the shutter just as the plane was passing through the frame.

White Rock Winter Sun

I took this with my Canon 5D Mark II, ISO 200, F22 @ 1/500 in Aperture Priority Mode.