Posts Tagged ‘Art’

Reflections – image + word


Sailing into the second half of Art Every Day Month, I’m going to post about an exhibit sponsored by the Arts Council of Kern ( on this link you can find the show poster and view it) that opens Friday here in Bakersfield.  It’s called Reflections image + word and features three photographers and three poets.  I’m one of the photographers and I also have a couple of poems in the show, but I wouldn’t dare to call myself a poet.

Here’s how it works.  The six of us assembled, talked, and then submitted poems and photographs to each other.  If someone felt pulled to a particular poem, that person would submit a photo.  If a poet felt pulled to a particular photo, that person would submit a poem.  The curator, Nicole St. John, chose the final entries and the show opens Friday.  It’s a wonderful concept and I think it’ll be a terrific show.  I won’t give the whole thing away, but I’ll post a couple of the poems and photos.

The first photo is by LisaAnn Lobasso.  She called it Another Farm Gives Way, but I put my own interpretation on it with the poem I wrote.


Usable by Susan Reep

Old, rusted, antique, as useless as typewriters.

Cast off but not discarded.  Yet.

Is that what happens to old things? To old people?

Her skin was trim, her body thin, but it wasn’t new.

Does old come when your body starts to sag?

If so, she was ok.  For now.  In image.

Being naked and feeling naked are different.

Being naked filled her with exhilaration, excitement, freedom.

She stood straight and proud.

Feeling naked exposed her from the inside out.

It all rose to the surface. Insecurities and doubts.

Her stride would break; she’d want to wrap her arms

Around her body to keep everything in, private.

Would it feel different to be walking in a new tractor store?

It may have been a bad idea to come out here seeking

The freedom of open spaces, the confidence of solitude,

The comfort of the farm.

It might have been better in spring when everything was new.

Well, not everything.  She’d still be in the midst of old,

Rusted, antique cast-offs.  Worse, they weren’t even important enough

To cart off.  Just cast off. Obsolete. A warning.

What good was her trim, thin body that would someday sag.

Better that form follows function.  It’s the use, isn’t it?

Being usable, not used up. Contemporary, not contemplated.

The new was sleek, smart, fast and firm,

But it didn’t tell stories.  The stories were in

The rust, the uselessness, the age.  The antiques.

What stories they could tell if they could speak.

Seeking freedom on the farm, the solace of solitude.  Not so bad

After all.  Because she could speak. She could speak for now.

She could even speak for others. She could speak for the future.

She could speak for the past. She could speak for her body.

She could speak with her body. Her new body, her slim, trim body,

And the saggy baggy body yet to come.

The one that would be full of stories.

Used up, maybe. But usable.

Little Girl with a Baseball

I submitted a photo that  Nick Belardes liked it so he wrote a poem.  The photo is one I took years ago and kept in the back of my mind, knowing someday I wanted to use it for something.  I think I’ve posted this before, but it never hurts to do it again.  Anything about baseball deserves a second posting, especially with such a poignant poem.


She will taunt you

When you’re ten years old,

And she’s three.

She’ll hold your baseball

Like it’s a mystery orb

And won’t give it to you

When you want it back.

When she’s fifteen,

And you’re Twenty-two,

She’ll only watch you

If you’re winning.

“It’s just a game,” you say.

You know that isn’t true.

And she never believes you anyway.

When she’s twenty-three

And you pitch your first game in the majors,

She’ll finally say you were meant to be

a ballplayer.

But she still won’t write you letters.

Or tell you you’re the best she ever saw.

When you start coaching AAA,

She’ll remember all those games

You once played.

You will call her up,

And she’ll say what you looked like

From the stands.

When she’s fifty,

She will hang photos

you didn’t know she had.

Like the time she had that magic orb

When she was three.

After the show opens, I’ll share some more.  If you’re in the Bakersfield area, the details are on the poster in the link.  I think you’ll recognize the photo on the poster.

Public art on Main Street, Grand Junction CO


So many cities struggle with public art – how to afford it, do they want it, how to choose the art, the artist.  Should there be nudes? Grand Junction, CO seems to have this figured out.  In a perhaps three-block section of main street, there are at least 30 public art installations.  And they’ve been there for at least five years, which is when I started visiting Colorado.

I’m simply going to post photos and you can look or not.  But I do think it’s interesting to see the kinds of art other cities are displaying.  Grand Junction seems fairly sophisticated in it’s choices, from whimsical to classical, from nudes to families.

There are many many pieces and I’m putting them all in  one post for a reason: to show the profusion of public art in a small area of a small town.  If it can be done in Junction, it can be done anywhere.

I have a strange perspective on the above sculpture.  It’s actually rather small.

And there you have it.  Thirty pieces of public art in one small space.  Plus the ones I didn’t photograph!

New Collage for Latination and a Peacock


I finally finished the collage I was making to submit for a show at Metro Galleries called Latination.  It has to be Latin-themed in some way, even loosely.  If you click on the link you can see more about the show, and if you click on the Gallery Info tab and then click artists, you will see me!

Anyway, here’s the collage.  It took me a long time to get this right.  It was the bottom right section that was troublesome but I think I have it.

Materials are paint on canvas, vintage fruit crate labels, and my own photos of the sky.

And just for fun I did a small painting.  It’s only the second one I’ve ever done, and considering I don’t know how to paint, I think it’s pretty good.  As art, it’s pretty bad.  But I had fun.  I copied a picture I took of a peacock.  If you click on the “My Photos” tab at the top, then enter the Animal Gallery, you’ll see the photo – it’s number G1-14.  You can also enter the Photo Gallery on the sidebar.

I am under no illusions or delusions that I’ll be a painter.  But since I’m not trying to be, I guess I can do what I want, no matter how crude it is.  I was just thrilled to get the color right and actually have it resemble a peacock!

That’s all, folks.  It’s hot in Bako now – we’ve had a good run this spring of wonderful, mild temps, but now we are in Bakersfield summer mode – over 100 degrees.  Funny how draining that is even when the house is air conditioned.  I’m not complaining, though.  I have a house and I have air conditioning, which probably puts me in the top tier of comfort around the world.  And I have the time to do things like try to paint.  It may all collapse on us one day, but for now I’m very grateful.

Not the Jabberwock


I have been so frustrated at not being able to work because of all this packing and moving, that I made a little time to do a journal page. I used an image of the Chimera of Arezzo, which we saw last  year at the Getty Villa in Malibu.  I also used a very strange bird called a Shoebill that we saw at the San Diego Wild Animal Park.  I do have more animal park photos in my animal gallery. And a tour guide company actually used one of a cheetah in its online guide.

The journal page turned out kind of funny.  I had the Jabberwock in mind because I kept thinking, O Frabjous Day! Callooh! Callay! from Carroll’s poem Jaberwocky, but the collage wasn’t developing very frabjously.  So for what’s it worth, here it is.

#CED2010: Home is Where the Art Is


Thinking about home.  Thinking about art.  Realizing that for so many of us, home is where the art is.  Yesterday I wrote about chasing the cobwebs out of my mind by getting the space around me in order.  I spent lots of time ordering the studio and I posted pix of that yesterday.  Whollyjeanne made an interesting observation about that post – she says she has a notion that physical space is often a reflection of inner space.  I’ve never thought in those terms exactly, but it makes sense of course  – because if we are lucky, we arrange our physical space to be that in which we are comfortable observing and existing.  It goes even farther than that however, because I think our physical space can be a reflection of what we would like our inner space to be – or perhaps how we would like our outer life to reflect our inner space.

Our house has always been full of art – my dad’s art (he’s actually a famous artist), my mom’s art (quilting), and then whatever we could afford.  Which wasn’t a whole heck of a lot.  But honestly, our walls have no blank space – art is everywhere.  Yet there was none of my art because I wasn’t making any.  I was generating an income however I could for years, then teaching seventh-grade, and when I was 60, I retired. (Thank goodness my husband is still working because becoming an artist is expensive.).

That’s when my inner space synced with my physical space.  The art was always in me I guess.  Photography always, for sure.  But all of a sudden my inner space started erupting with creativity and I started creating collages from my photos.  The whole art thing is so exciting that I ran off in all directions at once, but recently realized I have to pull in and create using my photos, which is where I am strongest and where my “artistic” roots are.

So, yes, home is where the art is.  Here are two of the latest things I’ve done.  When I was snowed in at the cabin I finished these, but with the sadness of the last week I haven’t had time to post them yet.  At least I’m pretty sure I haven’t since I came home to all that turmoil during which photoshop decided to quit, etc.  In fact, these are not the best scans of these canvases because I have been having scanner problems, photoshop problems, computer problems, phone problems (not that that has anything to do with art), missing tripod-part problems – in other words, it’s been a messy week.

I posted a small study I did in my art journal but I knew it wouldn’t be the final form, and indeed it wasn’t – this is.  Most people don’t like this.  I do.  I forgot to put a second coat on the background (acrylic) so I rubbed pastel all over it and then put omni-gel over it all.  I took the photo of the cans in a little country store, the Twin Oaks General Store, in Twin Oaks – a very small community on Caliente Creek Road in Kern County.  Had never seen Popeye spinach and it just captured my fancy.  The orange circle, the bowl of peas, and Plenti Grand are from vintage fruit and vegetable crate labels.

The background photo for this collage is a stop along Interstate I70 – and the giraffe I actually took eons ago at the Santa Barbara Zoo.  I found this photo during the infernal and still unfinished photo-organizing project.  So I thought I’d move the giraffe to an unfamiliar location – his inner space and physical space are no doubt suffering a  disconnect.  Perhaps he’s longing for the familiar.  Then I added some art paper embellishments but I don’t like the way the pink meets, or maybe I do, so I’ll either fix it or I won’t.  How’s that for decisiveness?

So that’s it for Home is Where the Art Is – and I made a completely ungrammatical decision to capitalize the last I!  This construct of Creative Every Day and monthly themes is proving most productive – nice to give a direction for thoughts to roam.

#CED2010: On bodies, reflections, footprints, and tripods


I’d finally warmed up yesterday after Tuesday’s freezing trek through the snow into my 39 degree cabin.  The sun was out so I ventured out also – but only onto the balcony.  I got caught up in the footprints I’d left from the day before.  Footprints as a record of our body’s movement and footprints as possible art also.

I found myself studying this random pattern of my footprints.  There seem to be three in a row heading toward the railing.  They are so close together and appear to be the right foot – where was my left foot?  Immediately I thought of how we try to fool people by pretending a one-legged creature has been there. Then there are the two that form an upside-down V.  How did that happen?  I know I wasn’t practicing first position in ballet.

I got interested in this pattern – it’s as if I were walking in two directions at once, met in the middle, and then turned and walked off.  I was loving this footprint thing.

I won’t be surprised if this one ends up in a collage somehow.  The left one especially reminds me of Planter’s Peanuts – anyone old enough to remember those? Maybe they still have them.  But I think there was a cookie with a waffle pattern like that.  Maybe there still is.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the cookie aisle – if Trader Joe’s doesn’t have it, I don’t have it either!

Funny, isn’t it, how us artists get obsessed with details and observation?  Because the next thing I focused on was my own reflection in the window.

Since January is drawing to a close, which means the Creative Every Day theme of Body is drawing to a close, I suppose I was reflecting on body.  I took a photo of myself looking into the cabin and merging with my art materials (above).  Body art.  Body as art.  Body making art.

Body in motion.  Looking dejected.  Walking away.  From what?  Or, with the divider in the sliding door, a  body going from one reality to the next.

Just thinking about a simple photo reminds me of all the ways in which almost anything can be interpreted, and how we interpret according to our own understanding and mood.  That’s something worth remembering, because another thing we do is jump to conclusions which are often wrong.

I realized, somewhat obviously, that I was on the outside looking in.  Did I want to get in?  Was I being left out?  Or just idly curious about what was going on.  I realize I was just taking my own picture, but it made me think about all the ways we can be on the outside looking in.

I like this photo a lot.  I was on the outside looking through.  Did I have to go inside but wished I didn’t?  So was I planning an escape out the other side?  Or was I blocking out something unpleasant about going in, or not being able to go in, so was looking past it?  Or was I just looking ahead.?  So many possibilities!

I took a photo of these two tree trunks, shadowed by the sun.  It was bright and beautiful.  And I went inside.

I’d been working on some watercolor exercises for practice, since I’ve just now started using watercolors.  It’s all such a mystery, too, since I can’t paint!  Doesn’t stop me from trying.  And then I looked outside.

In those few moments the sun had disappeared to be replaced by fog – no tree trunk shadows now.  It’s quite amazing to see such a rapid change – exciting too.  Today is all sun all the time, with snow melting and falling off the trees in big chunks.  So I finished off what had become a study of reflected bodies, which in a way reflects what’s inside our bodies – in terms of thoughts.

Because if we can be on the outside looking in, we can also be on the inside looking out.  That evokes its own kind of longing.

I like this photo a lot because I’m on the inside looking out but becoming one with nature.  I also notice that when I was on the outside looking in, it was all in color, and when I was on the inside looking out, it’s black and white – mainly because of the fog, but doesn’t that give us something interesting to reflect on?

The whole point is to think, isn’t it?  This stuff makes me think, contemplate, end up knowing myself and the world just a little bit better.  At least from my own perspective.  On my webpage, in the About section, under My Approach to Photography, I talk about seeing beyond the surface and finding the unexpected.


The plate that attaches my camera to the tripod has been missing since my last visit to the cabin.  I remember putting it somewhere – not in the usual place – so telling myself to remember where it was. I did the same thing with my iPod Touch and never did find it.  Also at the cabin.  Well, it’s PREDICTION time because I’m about to find the missing plate.  How do I know?  Because I finally ordered a replacement.  Two replacements, in fact.  We all know that means that within the hour I’ll find the missing part.  And then I can take some decent photos of work I’ve been doing for tomorrow’s post.

Best of Blog 09: What was your best web tool?


Gwen Bell organizes this “Best of” challenge so she writes the prompts.  Answering them is not quite like being a student because I can ignore them if I want to.  My seventh-grade students had to write several times a year on writing prompts the district distributed, and I sympathized totally when one would say, “I just can’t think of anything to write about!”

Now I find that I have to give an indirect answer to this question (what was my best web tool) to answer it at all.  I’ve been fairly gung-ho on internet stuff – Facebook, Twitter, etc.  I don’t feel I can fairly judge social-networking tools (not that anyone is asking me to), nor can I understand their impact on the rest of the world, if I can’t use them myself.  So it’s been full steam ahead.  I even caught the Google Wave!  But since no one I’m involved with is surfing the wave yet, and since I’m retired, it just sits there on my screen ebbing and flowing, mostly ebbing. (I have some invitations if anyone wants one.).  So that takes care of social networking/work productivity.

I have a web site and a blog, which means I have to understand Google analytics, AdSense, and the associated terminology – what a unique visitor is and so on.  I talked about my blog a few days ago – on my blog!  What I didn’t mention then is that the statistics drive you to get more unique visitors!  Grow the blog! Compete  with yourself!  And silly me, I thought someone might want to buy a photo from my web page. Ever the optimist – photos are a dime a dozen.

I’ve been writing on eHow (I’ve made $12 so it’s not a get-rich-quick endeavour) and eZines.  I have an etsy store, SusanReepPhotoArt (again, thinking someone might want to buy one of the still lives or something) and a Flicker account.  So I’m with it technologically.  Oh, and I have an iPod!  But I forget to listen to it.  And a BlackBerry which I love.

Although, you know what?  Now that my email comes over the BlackBerry, there’s no anticipation to get home and wonder what email I might have.  Just like email replaced the anticipation we felt when we went to the mailbox.  Anyway, I get it all instantly and I’m so used to having my BlackBerry in my pocket, that sometimes I think my pocket is vibrating when it’s empty.

Texting might just be my best web tool.  Better than phoning because you don’t have to worry about hearing the person (For some reason, I can’t hear well over my BlackBerry.  I don’t think I position it correctly.)  Texting is less intrusive, also.  And it can be secret!  Sort of.  As much as anything can be secret.  Not much.

So here I stand.  Or text.  Or tweet.  Or facebook.  Or or or.  I get the idea.  Technology is going to develop at lightning speed so I’ll still have to keep up.  I’m 63 and plan on 40 more years, so I can’t let it eclipse me.  (If my parents had not been so computer-phobic, the internet would be enriching their lives now at 91 and 86.)

I’ve gotta feeling, though, that folks in general are tiring of so much instant communication.  Facebook use, or frequency of use, seems to be falling.  I think we’re all realizing how much time it all eats up from our creative lives.  I checked out a link from whollyjeanne on twitter and bingo!  It was the push I needed to rethink my strategies.  Check it out yourself.  Although I must warn you, the item about hair dye is seriously misguided.  I intend to keep dying my hair for a long, long time.

#best09 Dec. 6 – Conference or Workshop that was Great? It was a Conference of One, a Workshop of Self, and a Community of Women


I went to no formal workshops and no formal conferences.  I’m retired and there was a recession going on.  (Had I been able to, I would’ve taken a National Geographic photo trip to New Mexico.) This year, 2009, was more about teaching myself than getting outside help.  Specifically, art.  Photography.  I realized I know more about photography than I thought I did.

That’s how knowledge is sometimes.  It sneaks up on you.  You do something for years and then all of a sudden, you realize you’ve learned something.  Writing the eHows and some articles for ezines was like a Conference of One – I found out what I know.  I’ve sold photos, I’ve exhibited photos, I can write about photos, yet I have trouble calling myself a photographer.  I’ve sold photo collages, I’ve had collages accepted into museum shows, had my own show at Metro Galleries, and been part of several others.  But I have a hard time calling myself an artist.

The photographer problem comes from the fact that even though I know the most important attribute of a photograph is having a good eye because cameras, even point-and-shoots do such a good job, I feel I ought to be more technically informed.  But numbers scare me.  Yes, it’s true, I have to admit it.  I start learning about f-stops and ISO and speedlite flashes and proportions and distances and my mind stops.  It might be self-induced, but I do think I am mathematically-challenged (actually, I know I am – if I hadn’t had an extremely high SAT score in language, I might not have gotten into college based on the math score).

I’ve already set a goal for next year and it’s to finally learn the technical stuff about photography.  It might be a private workshop – me and someone to tutor me.  I can’t do it in a class or a group because I’d need remediation right away! But I can and will do this.  Even though it terrifies me. Then maybe I can call myself a photographer without flinching.  I know I’m pretty good, I know I can exhibit and sell, but I want to feel more complete.

My Workshop of Self was art.  Something took possession of me.  I had NEVER used paint outside of childhood, except for paining some metal chairs. ( You can see how successful that was in terms of having the paint land where it was supposed to.  Actually, the link to my story has a photo which doesn’t look too bad – it’s reading the story where the incompetence is revealed.)  But I so longed to do something with a canvas!  I bought small canvases, acrylic paints and a few brushes and went for background.  I used some vintage fruit labels as collage material and wow! I actually did something that was accepted into a juried show!


Then I did another one.


These were even used as the show poster and I won some money!  My dad said I could call myself an artist -that my stuff was good.  He knows.  I encourage you to click on the link because he’s a pretty famous and amazing guy in the art world.  Anyway, my dad said my work was good even though I broke all the rules.  Not hard to break rules you don’t know.

So in my Workshop of Self I learned, I produced, I had a million ideas, and again, a lack of technical knowledge.  That doesn’t bother me as much as with photography though.  Because I’ve been learning from a community of artists in Bakersfield – BECA (Bakersfield Emerging Contemporary Artists).  These women are astounding in their acceptance and encouragement, their drive and passion.  I also have been learning from people all over the United States, the world really, in last month’s Art Every Day Challenge. I think it was only, or almost only, women who participated oddly enough.  It’s open to anyone.  These women were also encouraging and through their posts I learned so much about technique and materials and I got inspiration.

Now I want to go crazy and try all kinds of art forms.  I am going to do something with the head gasket from a Model A Ford my husband is restoring for this month’s Creative Every Day challenge of using recycled materials.  I have an art journal going.  I’m trying to actually paint something.  I painted a pear.  Poorly, but it’s a start.

So I take it back that I didn’t attend any workshops or conferences that wowed me.  Having written this, I realize I attended the best workshop of all – that of learning from supportive, talented people everywhere.  Wow.  The power of the Internet.  The power of Jen Raven who got me involved in BECA and Burn the Witch.  Me and all the enthusiastic young people who luckily don’t know their limitations, and because of that, they are going to exceed them.  I think that’ll be a goal of mine for 2010 – exceed my limitations by taking part in a workshop of willing teachers and participants all over the web.

For that I have to thank Gwen Bell for this Best of 09 Challenge – you can link to it from the button on the sidebar.  Because without this, I wouldn’t have discovered what I just wrote!