between fire/smoke

between fire/smoke from Jane Fulton Alt on Vimeo.

“between fire/smoke” is an unfolding visual and textual journey through a landscape of liminality – leading to a place where all that is unresolved is imaginable…

Jane Fulton Alt – images, text and unique mixed media encaustic
Teresa Pankratz – structure and design

Printed and hand bound by the artists

Detailed description:
The limited edition artist’s book is hardcover, bound in light grey (“smoke”) Iris book cloth with silkscreened titling. The structure incorporates left and right covers with a magnet closure which, when opened, situate the text block as the center panel within a triptych of white space (Canson Ingres end sheets). The opening portion of the text block includes 4 sections (alternating between single and double-page construction) sewn to an exposed internal spine with a modified continuous pamphlet stitch. (Single-page sections are archival pigment prints on Hahnemühle photo rag; double-page sections are archival pigment prints on Niyodo Japanese paper). The attached back section of the book is an adhesive binding mounted on an internal “frame” constructed of laminated 4 and 8 ply archival Rising White mat covered with Niyodo Japanese paper. Unfolding left and right are, first, two three-panel archival pigment prints on Hahnemühle photo rag, followed by a series of four text and image single-page archival pigment prints on Niyodo Japanese paper. The final unfolding reveals a unique, mixed media encaustic mounted (on black Stonehenge) within the internal frame. The book is housed in a slip-case constructed of an archival pigment print on pearl gray Murillo by Fabriano.

Dimensions, closed: 8.5” x 8.5” x 1”.  Edition of 18. 2013.
For more information, please email me

Book Updates

I always try to plan for the expected...because it usually happens. This morning I hoped to make a dent into creating the unique encaustics that will be encased in the limited edition, artist made book,
 I was working away and the heat gun began to smoke and the coils on the inside turned an angry red...pretty scary. The studio smells like a burn but happily, I unplugged everything and found myself with time to update the blog.
I can hardly believe it is almost spring. The sun just came out after 4 days of grey, snowy, wintery days and it feels wonderful. One thing I love about living in Chicago is that nothing lasts forever, the seasons are in constant flux which keeps things interesting. 
 I have been spending the last 2-3 months preparing files for my upcoming book, The Burn. It will be published by Kehrer Verlag is will be released this coming fall. After great struggle, I finally decided to write the book  essay with the help of many eyes and ears. It was a true collaboration.
 Natasha Egan of the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago helped me to sequence the work. Her first question was ..."what would you like the first and last photograph to be?"
Everything else fell into place after that. It was an amazing process to see how her keen eye could sort thru 60 some photographs and restore order and grace to the work.
 Walker Blackwell of Latitude ran some proof prints for me. Once the final design decisions are made, he will make another set to send to the publisher for color corrections. I turned all the proofs and text over to  Renata Graw and Jeremiah Chiu of  Plural, a design firm in Chicago. I can't wait to see what they come up with!

 And now I am focusing on a very exciting new venture, creating a limited edition handmade artist book with interdisciplinary book and paper artist, Teresa Pankratz. Teresa has created an amazing structure and design for this book, which is really more like an art object. It  is pure poetry.
I am really thrilled with being able to make / create this with her and look forward to the actually assembly of the book.  The unveiling will be this coming May 17th...stay tuned.

 All of art making is a labor of love and I feel so luck to be in the throws of the creative process.

Gregory Crewdson : Brief Encounters

 It is not often that one has the opportunity to see the process of an artist's practice. A new documentary that was just released on Gregory Crewdson offers the viewer insight into what drives Crewdson to construct elaborate sets for the one moment of narrative. It is a stunning documentary and not be be missed.
 I love the fact that the film follows Crewdson over several years and shows the influences on his art from  his childhood into the present day. His father took him to a Diane Arbus show in NYC when he was 10 years old. Exhibitions in NYC of Cindy Sherman and Barbara Kruger were important in forming his work while he attended  graduate school at Yale. His father was a psychoanalyst and had an office in the basement of their home. Crewdson grew up knowing there were "secrets" contained in the office, not unlike the "secrets" contained in the orchestrated images he constructs.
Beneath the Roses, a stunning body of work, taking 8 years to complete.  I think he may have started it after a divorce (they did not go into this much in the documentary).  I can't help but wonder
how much of the longing and sense of disconnect that permeates his images over those 8 years was an outgrowth of his own pain...
The film is playing at the Gene Siskel Center in Chicago this weekend. If you don't live in the city, look for it playing near you.

Mark Rothko ~ The Formula

                                 Mark Rothko ~ From a lecture at the Pratt Institute, 1958.
The recipe of a work of art—its ingredients—how to make it—the formula.

Burn No. 29 © Jane Fulton Alt
1. There must be a clear preoccupation with death—intimations of mortality...Tragic art, romantic art, etc. deals with the knowledge of death.
2. Sensuality. Our basis of being concrete about the world. It is a lustful relationship to things that exist.
3. Tension. Either conflict or curbed desire.
4. Irony. This is a modern ingredient—the self effacement and examination by which a man for an instant can go on to something else.
5. Wit and Play..for the human element.
6. The ephemeral and chance...for the human element.
7. Hope. 10% to make the tragic concept more endurable.

I measure these ingredients very carefully when I paint a picture. It is always the form that follows these elements and the picture results from the porportions of these elements...

Beasts of the Southern Wild ~ The Movie

Beasts of the Southern Wild was a tour de force. Many people spend a lifetime trying to give expression the "all of it." I came out of the theater last night speechless and profoundly touched. New Orleans, Louisiana, life, death, and art all rolled into one. BRILLIANT! Clearly the muses were at work during it's creation. It is a most eloquent expression of what it means to be alive. See it...and see it NOW!

Commencement Advice

There was a wonderful article in the New York Times this weekend with excerpts from various graduation speeches that were delivered this season, titled Familiar Faces Offer Advice, Idealism and Humor.
Northwestern University Hat Toss

MR. GAIMAN “Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do: make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. I.R.S. on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil, or it’s all been done before? Make good art.”

soooooooo, go ahead and make some good art this summer!

Nina Katchadourian

I have been traveling a lot this month so thought it appropriate to introduce the work of Nina Katchadourian. Her creativity is inspirational and hysterical. I love thinking of her making these images in the tiny bathroom lavatories as she is flying thru space.

Seat Assignment: Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style

In her words...

Improvising with materials close at hand, Seat Assignment consists of photographs, video, and digital images all made while in flight using only a camera phone. The project began spontaneously on a flight in March 2010 and is ongoing. At present, over 2500 photographs and video, made on more than 70 different flights to date, constitute the raw material of the project.

 While in the lavatory on a domestic flight in March 2010, I spontaneously put a tissue paper toilet cover seat cover over my head and took a picture in the mirror using my cellphone. The image evoked 15th-century Flemish portraiture. I decided to add more images made in this mode and planned to take advantage of a long-haul flight from San Francisco to Auckland, guessing that there were likely to be long periods of time when no one was using the lavatory on the 14-hour flight. I made several forays to the bathroom from my aisle seat, and by the time we landed I had a large group of new photographs entitled Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style. I was wearing a thin black scarf that I sometimes hung up on the wall behind me to create the deep black ground that is typical of these portraits. There is no special illumination in use other than the lavatory's own lights and all the images are shot hand-held with the camera phone. At the Dunedin Public Art gallery, the photos were framed in faux-historical frames and hung on a deep red wall reminiscent of the painting galleries in museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Improvising with materials close at hand, "Seat Assignment" consists of photographs, video, and digital images all made while in flight using only a camera phone. The project began spontaneously on a flight in March 2010 and is ongoing. At present, over 2500 photographs and video, made on more than 70 different flights to date, constitute the raw material of the project. 

Nina's website has many interesting projects to explore. The site of a creative mind.

I will be traveling for the next week and a half...thinking more about what is possible when in transit.
Stay tuned!

On Collaborations

Thank you for all who have participated in the Creative collaborations. It has been really fun to organize and see creativity at work with the multitude of interpretations. I have decided to include all 3 rounds in this post as a finale.
Enjoy the show!
Original file
Charles Mintz

(look for the hands by the top of the ladder)
Fran Forman
Nelson Armour
The Wall I Saw
Patricia Nolan
Writing on the Wall

original file

Fran Forman "The Elephant Not in the Room"

Tyler Hewitt (Tyler shares his creative process on his blog)

Panos Lambrou

Bill O'Donnell ~ Many Rooms

The creative collaboration has morphed into a fundraiser for the upcoming Ragdale benefit . All of the former residents were offered a choice of 3 images to "remix" and those will be available for purchase at the benefit. Some of the images have been posted on the Ragdale Facebook page, where I saw Bill O'Donnell's amazing interpretation of the landscape photograph.

Original file of the view from the Ragdale house overlooking the 
 prairie landscape in Lake Forest, Illinois.

Here is Bill's rendition of the image. He "nailed" the Ragdale experience for me. Many artists have taken their inspiration from the surrounding landscape. I asked Bill if I could feature his intriguing work after I checked out his website.  What follows is his Many Rooms portfolio...


Divine Number

 In Bill's words...

"These pictures are shot in a rusting tin dollhouse. At once both implausible and convincing enough, the setting is a fitting laboratory for the questions treated. The pictures address three formal concerns of the Western philosophical tradition:

Knowledge, Conduct and Governance"



"How do we know what we know?

How might one live a virtuous life?

What is the relationship between the individual and society?"







  "Through the use and reuse of a limited set of props, I’ve focused on the fragile nature of accumulated wisdom, the acquisition of some moral compass and the difficulty of negotiating the threshold between the public and private domains."




                                      Bill has also been the beneficiary of a Ragdale residency.

 I can't say enough about the organization and how it has contributed to so many artistic endeavors. I am including some information about the upcoming "unveiling" of the Ragdale house, designed as the summer home of Arts and Crafts architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, and one of the most complete examples of a turn-of-the-century retreat.  The party/celebration is going to be a blast.  If you live in the Chicago area and care about the arts, please consider attending what promises to be an amazing evening.

May 5, 2012       

Kick up your heels at this annual fundraising event with ragtime music, roaring 20’s décor, a silent auction and the grand re-opening of the Ragdale House, following a year-long $3 million restoration.  Ragdale House, the summer residence of architect Howard Van Doren Shaw’s artistic family, has been painstakingly restored to its 1926 condition. The evening benefits the Ragdale Foundation, the non-profit artist residency that has provided artists with time and space to pursue their creative work in an uninterrupted environment for over 30 years.  Funds raised at the benefit will support the residencies of writers, visual artists, composers and interdisciplinary artists.  For further information, click HERE.

If you can't make it to the benefit, consider applying for a residency. The deadline for fall residencies is May 15th. Click HERE to learn more about the application process.

Cynthia Greig ~ Nature Morte and Representations

Another Fotofest find! I am so happy to share the work of Cynthia Greig, expanding our notion of what, exactly, is a photograph!

In Cynthia's words...

"To what degree are our beliefs and realities based on appearances and misconceptions? Nature Morte and Representations consider the malleability of identity, and the potential for reconfiguring the physical and imagined boundaries we impose upon the world."

"I’m fascinated by the persuasive power of the photograph, and its unique role in negotiating what we believe to be real or true. I make images that embrace both the limitations and possibilities of photography as a way to challenge our expectations and create a shift in our perceptual experience. Exploiting the camera’s monocular point of view, I examine the deceptive nature of appearances by confusing two distinct methods of representation—photography and drawing—encouraging the viewer to look beyond the surface and the presumed transparency of the photographic image. Drawing directly onto the surfaces of whitewashed objects with charcoal I create and photograph the resulting hybrids of three-dimensional drawings. Whether focusing on the fading familiarity of manmade objects made obsolete through time, technology or taste, or the temporal nature of the organic substance of fruit, the images meditate on the intersection of identity and representation, and the physical and perceptual process of transformation. The accompanying videos further explore time’s capacity to unfold and reveal the illusory nature of appearances."

Nature Morte is opening at dnj gallery this coming Saturday, in Santa Monica. Details follow:
April 21st - June 2, 2012
Artist Reception: Saturday, April 21, 2012 from 6-8pm
*The Artist will be in attendance*
2525 michigan avenue, Suite J1
santa monica, california 90404

iphone photography ~ Lori Pond

While at Fotofest I met a wonderful photographer, Lori Pond, who was showing some of her iphone photographs. I did not see anyone else (in the 4th session) showing work created with the iphone. Many of us carry around iphones but few have been as creative as Lori. Along with the images, Lori has generously shared how she created each image.


Steps: This image was made at the Self-Realization Fellowship Center in Encinitas, California. Founder Paramahansa Yogananda built a pool overlooking the ocean that he used for his daily exercise. After his death, the pool was drained. I used the Plastic Bullet app for light streaking and moody color palette.

Lights: I was eating dinner outside in Encinitas, California on a balmy night last summer. I looked up and saw these lights and wanted to remember the experience. I used Plastic Bullet for the color streaking, star filter look, and saturation.

L1: At an artist walk years ago, I bought a beautiful ivory carving of a woman's hand, complete with carved mehndi designs on the back of the hand. It was made into a necklace, and I loved wearing it. One day the little finger broke off at the first joint, so it felt weird to wear the necklace after that. So, I kept it in front of my computer with the palm up. I decided to make a kind of still life self-portrait out of it, so I put an L Scrabble tile in its palm, then photographed that with the iPhone. I made another image of my arm with the iPhone. I blended the two images together to make my self-portrait. I used the app Big Lens to create the special effects around the sides of the image.

Ironing: This is a view of my laundry room, which I've seen thousands of times since I moved into my current house in 1994. It never occurred to me until I was carrying my iPhone everywhere to make an image of of this room. I think I make a lot more varied images now, because I DO carry my iPhone everywhere. An oft-repeated saying goes something like this: "The best camera is the one you have with you."
The vignette comes from Big Lens, which also provided the Lomo filter, bringing a 70s look to the image.

Canelo: This is Bill Steen's backyard in Canelo, Arizona. He builds straw bale housing and holds workshops on how to build them. I was taken by the light at dusk on his property. Everything turned gold. I used Vintage Scene to put some texture into the image, and Photoforge to enhance texture/contrast/brightness of varying parts of the image.

El Profeta: While in Mexico for Dan's workshop last December, I noticed while driving around the state of Sonora that there were a ton of roadside shrines. Shrines to family members who had died in traffic accidents, shrines to the Virgen de Guadalupe, you name it. I started to look out for them, as some of them are quite striking. I used Big Lens to create selective blurring in the image, and King Camera to create the texture overlay.

Watch Out For Clouds: I saw this fisheye mirror on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, where I work on the "Conan" show. These mirrors aid the many truck drivers who deliver sets, lighting, wardrobe etc. to various parts of the lot. (There are many narrow alleyways and vision is very obscured.) I was walking by this mirror at lunch one day, and saw the reflection of the sky in it. Since I had my trusty iPhone, I couldn't pass up this photo op! I used Photoforge to emphasize brightness in certain areas of the image, and to create a vignette around the edges.

Underwater: This is my most recent image, using the front camera to take a self-portrait. I had just downloaded an app called Power Cam, which I used to create the texture on my skin and take away color. I also used Power Cam to create the water ripple effect over the face. Power Cam actually plays this water ripple effect almost like a movie, and you simply stop the movie when enough ripple has accumulated. I've worked in TV graphics for 25 years, so to see this on my PHONE just blows me away. It used to take a whole room of computer equipment to make something like this happen!

Self Portrait: With the Slow Shutter app, I can create light trails with my iPhone. For this image, I layered an in-focus exposure over an exposure using Slow Shutter to create my hand movement. I also used Dramatic B&W to de-saturate and grunge up the image a little.

Pogo: I recently collaborated with abstract painter Barbara Nathanson on a piece called "Nothing in the Entire Universe is Hidden." It was shown in January as part of exhibit "VS." at Gallery 825 in Los Angeles. One day, while standing in her studio, I glanced down and saw her 14-year-old dog peacefully napping. I used Photoforge to create the bicolor wash over the image, and Pic Grunger for the texture/frame.

Overhead: When I flew to Mexico last December on my way to an iPhone Artistry workshop with Dan Burkholder, I went crazy making images of my view outside the plane's window. I used Photoforge to enhance the contrast of the image and to put a bicolor wash over the image.

So impressive! If anyone has favorite iphone pix you would like to share, I would be happy to post. Thanks, Lori, for your inspiration!

Creative Collaboration ~ Remix #2

Round 2 of the creative collaboration ~ remix. For those new to this project, I have offered out a photograph to be reinterpreted and reprocessed in any way. It has been amazing to see the creative sparks fly.

A little background on the image.... the Red Chair file is a photograph of a very special space where the creative muses visit ALOT. It is the living room of the Ragdale house where many accomplished writers, poets, composers and visual artists share their work, so it is not surprising that wonderful compositions grew out of this digital file. (You might consider applying for a residency by checking it out HERE).

I am so appreciative to your participation, either as a creator or a viewer, because you need both in the art world.

So...feast your eyes!

Again, the work is in chronological order.

original file

Fran Forman "The Elephant Not in the Room"

Barry Hughes

Michael Werner

Joyce Westrop

Tyler Hewitt (Tyler shares his creative process on his blog)

Jane Fulton Alt

Ray Carns

Panos Lambrou

Yvette Meltzer

On Inspiration ~ Excerpt from Wislawa Szymborska’s Nobel Lecture December 7, 1996

"I've mentioned inspiration. Contemporary poets answer evasively when asked what it is, and if it actually exists. It's not that they've never known the blessing of this inner impulse. It's just not easy to explain something to someone else that you don't understand yourself. When I'm asked about this on occasion, I hedge the question too. But my answer is this: inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists generally. There is, has been, and will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It's made up of all those who've consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination. It may include doctors, teachers, gardeners - and I could list a hundred more professions. Their work becomes one continuous adventure as long as they manage to keep discovering new challenges in it. Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it's born from a continuous "I don't know." ….. This is why I value that little phrase "I don't know" so highly. It's small, but it flies on mighty wings. It expands our lives to include the spaces within us as well as those outer expanses in which our tiny Earth hangs suspended."


I have decided to continue this project monthly. I will be posting a new file at the beginning of each month. Feel free to jump in whenever the spirit moves you! If you are reading this and are not a photographer, feel free to work with the file in whatever manner you see fit...a haiku, prose, paint, collage...use your imagination to take the image to a new place.

The next image I am offering out was photographed in Mexico. I fell in love with the walls and was deeply moved by the space. Let your mind and heart wander. Be open. You never know where or when the inspiration will arrive at your doorstep, but I know it will arrive if you are paying attention.

Just email me at and I will send a larger file to you! Return your remix by the end of April in a file size of 72 dpi, the longest side at 1000 pixels along with your website and I will post in the beginning of May. Please keep in mind that this is just for FUN! Keep your judging mind to a minimum and just let your imagination wander. Experiment, explore, expand. Approach it with what you know you love and see what unfolds.

Happy Spring!


These photos were taken this season from the Burn. I have been working on this project for 5 years. It seems like each season offers its own challenges. I am finding it physically very taxing and often, after 2 hours in the field I feel like a wilted flower. I am not sure where I am heading with the work but I suppose that will become clear over time.

I found myself playing with The Red Chair image (from the current creative collaboration project) and enjoyed the process of letting things surface without much thought. My creativity slid by my conscious mind which was such a gift. John Loori, the author of The Zen of Creativity writes about this state...

"In no mind there is no intent. The activity, whatever it may be, is not forced or strained. The art just slips through the intellectual filters, without conscious effort and without planning. In the instant there is intent there is expectation. Expectation is deadly because it disconnects us from reality. When we get ahead of ourselves, we leave the moment. No mind is living in the moment, without preoccupation or projection….hesitancy or deliberation will show in our art when we leave the moment."

Collaboration with Luis Alberto Urrea

There is something in the air. After I called out for the first creative collaboration, I realized that I had, in fact, just completed a collaborative project.

Two summers ago while traveling in Mexico, I was reading The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea. (buying the book after I heard Luis do a reading at a fundraiser for the Ragdale Foundation).
While in Mexico City I had an "thin" experience on top of the Teotihuacan pyramid, where something magical revealed itself to me. When I returned home and contemplated the event I decided that instead of making photographs I would create an installation, influenced in part by those precious moments on the Teotihuacan pyramid and the magical realism contained within the book.

"Every second, even the worst one, is sacred."

I returned to Mexico again in 2011 on the annual Frontera Grill staff trip. This time I was drawn to the altars that are found in the markets, homes and virtually everywhere, where the sacred and the everyday merge.

I have always been fascinated by retablos, devotional paintings most often created on tin. I decided to create my own version of "offerings" that referenced the retablo. My attempts to write the text fell way short of what I felt in my heart. Then, one day a thought entered my mind... wouldn't it be amazing to collaborate with Luis Alberto Urrea?! It was like a lightening bolt hit me.

"Cooking is prayer. Eating is prayer. You never stop praying."

Well, the rest is history. We met. I shared my vision for the work and sent Luis the images. He sent back text he thought might work with the photographs. I was able to match the text with the pieces. In my wildest dreams I would have never expected it to work out as well as it did.

"Everybody knows that being dead can put you in a terrible mood."

"Plants are a big responsibility--how many have you spoken with?"

"Everything speaks, Child. Everything is singing."

"Love is the color when hopelessness catches fire."

"God has a worker's hands. Angels carry hammers, not harps."

"Life is so tart it stings the mouth--add sugar."

"Water is like the soul, free of sins--every glass is the universe."

"It never hurts to cook The Maker a snack."

"The work of the healer begins with the nose--they smell life."

I hung the work this past weekend in the entryway of Frontera Grill in Chicago. They are made of copper (thanks to my generous roofer who cut the pieces), paint, gold leaf, resin, milagros and xerox transfers. The pieces are much more vibrant in person. There is a "real time" luminosity that changes depending on the light falling on the work.

"Tortilla--made of sacred corn, light and rain. Round as the sun itself. You eat a miracle."

If you are in Chicago or passing thru, consider stopping by to see the work in person AND have a delicious meal!

Frontera Grill/Topolobampo/Xoco
445 North Clark Street Chicago
Lunch hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday to Friday
Saturday Brunch: 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Dinner hours: 5:20 to 10 p.m. Tuesday; 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
(312) 661-1434

On Creativity

There was a wonderful article in the Wall Street Journal today on How To Be Creative.

"... creativity is not magic, and there's no such thing as a creative type. Creativity is not a trait that we inherit in our genes or a blessing bestowed by the angels. It's a skill. Anyone can learn to be creative and to get better at it. New research is shedding light on what allows people to develop world-changing products and to solve the toughest problems. A surprisingly concrete set of lessons has emerged about what creativity is and how to spark it in ourselves and our work.... For prompting creativity, few things are as important as time devoted to cross-pollination with fields outside our areas of expertise."

Interesting! I was thinking about the Creative Collaboration project and the feedback I received from the photographers who participated. Kirstianne Koch wrote about her experience on her blog....

"... It was such an amazing process for me and really gave my creative process the nudge it’s been needing. I have always loved ‘making’ images. From the moment I learned how to make high contrast masks of my negatives and use registration pins in the darkroom, I have been making composite photographic images.

Kristianne Koch ~ What Path Will She Pick?

Making images from piecing together several images has always been a part of my repertoire. Currently, I am interested in doing this to tell surreal stories. I am fascinated with quirky and offbeat imagery with a beautiful quality to them. It’s this balance of the eccentric and sublime that gets me excited about making images. I see this thread woven through all my favorite photographs.

In this image for the collaboration, I saw the light in the image and the first thing that came to mind was this image I had previously taken of a taxidermy coyote. I had him in the piece for weeks before I could visualize what else I wanted to say. As soon as I started researching Little Red Riding Hood (even though I used a coyote and not a wolf-flaw #1), I had Maliea on board. She actually put the wardrobe together for her part so that was another fun aspect of the collaboration. She walked the path for me happily and with enthusiasm even though she really needed to be sitting on the toilet. She is such a method actress that she put that aside to get her performance done “before the sun set on the last day.”

I couldn’t just do another version of Little Red Riding Hood, however. I wanted it to say something more personal. So when I remembered the bluebird I had photographed out my office window a year or so ago, I realized that the story was starting to unfold. The wolf (in coyote clothing) represents distractions from your chosen path and unhappiness in life. The bluebird represents happiness and joy and hope. It’s my wish that Maliea reaches the path of happiness and hope before the wolf swallows the bluebird and forces her to go down the wrong path.

It was so good for me to just put this work out there without any judgement and hesitation. I committed to it and sent it on it’s way."

It is important to approach art making with a sense of play...and to suspend the judgement. There is a lot to learn from allowing ourselves to tackle things we have not done before. To begin with a "beginners mind." We don't have to do it right or perfectly. What is most important is that we learn from the process.

So with that I invite you to play with The Red whatever you will with it. Paint, draw, write, just reconfigure any which way you could even build a paper airplane with it! JUST DO IT!

from the Wall Street Journal article...

"It's this ability to attack problems as a beginner, to let go of all preconceptions and fear of failure, that's the key to creativity."

Click HERE for details on the next Creative Collaboration.

Creative Collaboration ~ The Remix #1

"To compose a subject well means no more than to see and present it in the strongest manner possible." -Edward Weston

This post is the outcome of collaborative efforts by many fellow photographers whose creative spirit is exemplified in their unique depiction of the original photograph. Each person started with the same digital file. (see details of the challenge HERE) The multitude of interpretations is something to behold and very exciting to consider. Each rendering of the original image offers something new to the viewer. What is taken with the camera is often just the jumping off point of the final artistic expression. We can learn from each other's creative process. What are we bringing to the raw material? How do we go about pushing it to another level? What is our process? What are our thoughts that accompany the transformation of the image?

This has been so much fun to organize. I have been so inspired by your imaginative "remixes" and am very appreciative to all who participated. There is a wealth of very exciting ideas presented, offering much food for thought. Given the response to this project, I have decided to offer another round. Look for details which are contained at the end of this post.

And now...

(chronological order)

original unedited file

Wills Glasspiegel

Mark Regester

Adrian Davis

Aaron Hobson"walking the moose"

J Wesley Brown
Please go HERE to see the image animated

Chuck Mintz "They Threatened to Close Saint Colman's So We Moved it to the Sticks"

Kristianne Koch "What Path Will She Pick?"

Mark Hickman


I would like to try this again as it has been so amazing to see the creative process in action.
I went thru my files and found another image that has many possibilities for interpretation. Feel free to work with the file that is on this blog or email me at and I will invite you do download the larger file from my dropbox account. Then just return your rendition of the photograph to me by April 1st at 72 dpi, 1000 x 1000 pixels maximum, your name in the file and your website (if you have one) and I will post it.

Here is some advice on the creative process from Rainer Maria Rilke...

“Everything is gestation and bringing forth. To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one's own intelligence and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity: that alone is living the artist's life. Being an artist means not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide.”

Once again, have fun with it!

A Creative Collaboration

So I heard about this singer who collaborates with other people to create songs. I was intriqued with the idea and decided to try something similar. When I was taking photography classes, one of the assignments was to take someone else's negative into the darkroom and come up with a print.

Well, I have decided to try something similar, only this will be with a digital file. If you are interested in participating, I will send you the original file. You can do whatever you like to the file. Then, at the end of the month, you will send me back a jpeg of the file and I will post all the photographs.

So here is the first image. I took this while in Louisiana and think there is lots for room for creative experimentation. Please email me at for the larger file.
I will also post this project on my sidebar so you can access the project anytime.

A few thoughts about the project...NO JUDGING! Just have some fun with it! Feel free to alter it in whatever way you want. Experiment all you like. Push the boundaries.

When you are finished, please send back a jpg 72dpi 1000 pixels wide with your name in the title by February 29th along with your website if you have one and I will be sure to post.


Jennifer Hudson

"I just wish I could take the pain from your body, and put it into mine." How many times have we felt this with our loved ones?
What is so incredible to me is that Jennifer Hudson has actually created a body of work that was inspired by this thought. Jennifer was in the Critical Mass Top 50 this year and her work is haunting and mesmerizing. Her imagination is fertile and we are all the beneficiaries.

In Jennifer's words...

"Medic is a sensitive, intricate glimpse into human relationships during times of need and recovery and a complex, heartfelt exploration of sacrificial love. The work began wholly on one sentence whispered by my husband while we were enduring deeply frightening times together. He held my hand, lay close to me and said softly "I just wish I could take the pain from your body, and put it into mine." I have been fortunate to know incredible love all my life, but at that moment I became suddenly and intensely aware of the magnificent power that exists between people who care for one another. When I was anxious and fighting to fall asleep each night, I began to invent miracle machines; contraptions that heal, deliver hope, legacy, remedy, and redemption."

"Each image from Medic is a thoughtful invention, strange and tender, revealing facets of the delicate human heart. In ten isolated chambers we are witnesses to emotional happenings, exchanges, confrontations, and life decisions. I became particularly fascinated with illustrating the depth of a love relationship by portraying only the individual in many images, exploring the weight of partnership, the sacrificial life perspective, and the burdened, selfless decision-maker."

"In some chambers, we witness life changing moments; mercy, healing, humbling choices, memories recorded and legacies written. In others we see an exchange; affection, tenderness, and sacrifice. In the making of this work, I sought to begin to understand some of the most rare and beautiful relationships in the world, to expose their most frail, vulnerable moments, times of great intensity, and most cherished inner workings."

"Medic is a dark and sentimental collection of stories about great tests in life, purpose, and the most painful, but also the most glorious times to love."

Jennifer has a wonderful blog with more of her work AND an amazing video where she describes the creation of the space in which she photographs this amazing body of work. Click HERE to see it.

Thank you, Jennifer, for putting our heartfelt thoughts into the visual realm.