an everyday photo, every day | photography • art • poetry

woods

Earth Day

"You're my best frond."
"You're my best frond."

“You’re my best frond.”

A few years ago I used an online calculator to test my “carbon footprint”. I was off the scale—the bottom of the scale, lower than the test measured.

So give me some sort of sustainable laurel wreath, but I don’t really deserve one since I haven’t made much effort. Most of what gave me a good score has been through what others have sometimes considered strange habits that I’ve maintained all my adult life: piling up stuff—cardboard, batteries, construction materials—until I can make one trip to wherever I can recycle them; avoiding packaged foods by cooking most of what I eat from fresh materials, most of that from my organic garden complete with compost bin to mix vegetable scraps and coffee grounds, scrap paper and dryer lint to turn into fertilizer; salvaging older and used materials in maintaining my home and car; using age-old cleaning methods instead of packaged cleaners; walking or riding my bike instead of driving when I can, etc., etc.

But the creative burden…

Good for me. It’s not so difficult to maintain a daily lifestyle that doesn’t overburden the environment. More difficult, in fact sometimes impossible, is keeping my life as a creative person as green as possible. It’s been a constant frustration that I have very little control over the manufacture of the art materials I purchase, and in many cases those materials need to be made from chemicals I’d rather not think about in order to create the effect I envision. Oil-based block printing ink, for instance, is made from petroleum, and cleans up with turpentine—I cringe each time I use it and try to minimize the amount, but nothing else prints as well from a block or is as durable when printed on fabric. The pigments in my pastels, watercolors, acrylics, the fibers in my drawing papers, the cotton in the yarn I crochet…I can and do make decisions on the purchases to find the most sustainable products, but often there’s no alternative.

The chemical-free digital camera

Which is why I am grateful for the digital camera, considering the amount of chemicals that went into developing and printing all my film through the years. I gave up on my own darkroom years ago because I just didn’t want those chemicals in my home, but someone somewhere else had to use them if I didn’t.

I did not find the change to digital easy, and floundered my way through several little point and shoots and lots of research until I found the magic combination that produced photos much like my beloved Pentax K1000, the battered old fully-manual SLR I purchased just out of college, the one that taught me about photography and over the years became an extension of my eyes. My Pentax K10D has all the same manual controls available, I can use all the lenses and filters I collected for my K1000 and every day happily shoot more photos than I ever did before, knowing that I can simply download them to my computer with no use of chemicals whatsoever.

So on Earth Day I celebrate both the earth, in a few galleries of the photos I’ve taken, and this advance in photography that allows me to take thousands of photos and view them without anyone taking a bath in volatile chemicals, including the air, soil and waterways where everything ends up no matter what we do.

Enjoy the galleries in Nature Walks Around the Lower Chartiers Watershed.

Happy Earth Day!

. . . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

Advertisements

The Enchanted Allée

winter sunset with trees
winter sunset with trees

The Enchanted Allée

The rows of sycamores leads me off into the colors.

Below is a gallery of all the winter sunset images.

. . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


The Road Home

winter sunset
winter sunset

The Road Home

Who wouldn’t follow those swashes of color?

Below is a gallery of all the winter sunset images.

. . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Winter Waterfall

waterfall in the woods
waterfall in the woods

Waterfall Woods

A little bit of a waterfall along the lower trail in Kane Woods was ice free and a destination on a darkish day. The woods are very interesting on days like this, quiet, still. It’s a nice visit.

. . . . . . .

NewFSFBadge-1

I am adding this to this week’s “Five Sentence Fiction” with the keyword of “offering”.

I can hear a trickling sound, so loud in the quiet of the woods it seems to move about between the bare trees where honeysuckle and wildflowers had bloomed, now empty of leaves and flowers and berries it is full of detailed interest of branches and vines, and a light cover of snow. I follow the sound along the path down and down and down into the ravine and walk along the frozen slip of a waterway where I can hear it gurgling over the rocks and gravel under the ice. Tall trunks of trees rise straight up around me, and far above me their barren canopy of twigs melds with an unyielding overcast sky. In the dimming light I find at a bend in the little stream that a portion of ice has opened, offering a space for the water to flow freely if only for a short while, and the hushed gurgling becomes laughter as the water runs recklessly to the end of one rock and leaps off, and then another, splashing, without a care that it will soon slip under the ice again. On a brighter day it might have been the laughter of children, even of myself in these woods as a child, but in this quiet space the music is the moment.

. . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Original Art: Dusk in the Woods

pastel painting of woods in snow

“Dusk in the Woods”, pastel, 31″ x 24″, 2006 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

A fitting way to send off the year, with a painting of the “blue hour”, “l‘heure bleue“, that time of transition, and though it really is a painting of the woods in snow this painting is still connected to my felines in a very deep and special way, and to many other things.

. . . . . . .

That “blue time of day”…a quick walk in the woods after a heavy snowfall as the sun set on the distant horizon, bare trees like sentinels. This time of day always carries a certain melancholy for me, as if a deep instinctive part of me realizes the sun is about to leave and may not come back, just as our ancestors did. The moment stands in all its quiet beauty along Robinson Run in Collier Township, on a trail running parallel to the Panhandle Trail, where I visit frequently for photos, art, writing and meditation.

Every once in a while I do a painting that comes straight from the heart, and there is, of course, a feline connection with this painting as well.

I wandered onto this scene one Sunday evening after a visit to my mother, who lived in a personal care home not far from the trail. Visiting my mother and visiting the trail were intertwined for a decade, and Sunday visits were often a day on the trail with a late lunch to visit and rest when done, or a visit followed by a meditative evening walk. On this day I left my visit after a quick, heavy snowfall had evenly blanketed everything, but the squall and the clouds cleared just before sunset. Instead of heading home I was drawn to the idea of a walk in the quiet after the snow. I left the main trail to wander a familiar path through the silent trees while the stream babbled along at my side.

pastel painting of woods in snow

Detail of stream and snow.

I came to this familiar clearing with its perfect expanse of unbroken fresh snow just as the sun was disappearing behind the fringe of trees, on its way below the horizon, and I stopped. At this time, just before twilight, the last of the sun is casting direct light, but it’s also reflecting off the atmosphere creating that wonderful rich intensifying shade of blue. You can see, at the lowest point of the trees above the stream, the slight bright spot which is the sun about to set.

pastel painting of woods in snow

Detail of sunset.

With snow, the blue of the sky is perfectly reflected, and the snow itself is bluish, and the slight misty haze among the trees from the humidity of the snowfall casts a bluish haze as well, but you can still see the gentle highlights on every branch, every rise in the snow.

But the beauty wasn’t just in the woods and trees, but in the sky above as well, that wonderful tangle of branches overhead. I studied the different branches on the sycamores and maples, how much more detail I could see the farther up I looked, each branch and twig with its own little blanket of snow.

pastel painting of woods in snow

Detail of sky and branches.

I had only my tiny original 2MP digital camera with me, not intending to spend creative time there, and knew there was no way such a small thing that didn’t even have a zoom could catch the details of this scene, but I snapped a few photos anyway. The scene only lasted two or three minutes before the sun was completely gone and the blue snow lost its luster. I set an intention to come back to do a painting, difficult as that would be at this time of day when the light changes so quickly, but I could set up the painting and get everything in place, and be ready to catch that special light. But by noon the next day the snow had melted significantly. I waited for similar conditions through the next month and the next winter with no significant snowfall around the right time, about 5:00 p.m. in late January, or early December as the time of day, angle of the sun and quality of light would be about the same before and after the solstice.

By early February in 2006 I couldn’t wait any longer. The scene and the painting I visualized haunted my thoughts. It had to be painted, and I decided I’d have to do my best with my photos. I began with my main reference photo and a few detail shots I’d taken of the stream and tree trunks and pieced them all together.

Reference photo for Dusk in the Woods.

Reference photo for Dusk in the Woods.

You can see the difference between the reference photo and the finished work. I wanted to catch the spread of land between the stream and the bank on the right side all the way up to the slope rising on the left but still have a section of sky at the top and that wonderful unbroken snow at the bottom. I knew I wanted a fairly large painting, but wanted to keep it within the limits of standard mat and glass sizes for framing. I had no pastel drawing paper the size I needed so I prepared a piece of illustration board with several layers of pastel ground, sanding in between, and planned out the scene. I removed a section in the middle of the scene and its trees and debris in the snow, leaving enough to get the feel of the denseness of detail. I wanted the feeling of the scene, not every last detail. And I made those decisions using my own memories of scenes like this and the full force of the emotions I was experiencing at the time.

two old cats

Stanley and Moses curled together at my easel.

My precious Moses was nearing her end as I worked on this, me all through the night at my easel, her at my feet, every day losing a little more physical control as, at 19, her body just began giving out. My art helps carry me through difficult times as well as good times as I can lose myself in creating the painting and the scene itself, let go of everyday life for a bit to let the magic work itself without the assistance of my logical decisions, and returning with new observations. I needed a project as big as this to bear the process of Moses’s loss, and to maintain my strength and calm as I walked the last part of the journey with her.

I painted the basics of the painting using my photos, getting everything into proportion and perspective, working out my palette. I had developed my own technique with pastels to maintain brilliant colors like the snow when necessary and to enhance deep rich colors like all the trees to maintain their dimension; I use these same techniques in all my pastel paintings to a certain extent, and most definitely in my pastel portraits. Pastel is not entirely opaque, your eye can actually perceive layers of color and works the colors together, so I choose a complement to the apparent top color, sometimes more than one color complement. For instance, underneath all that blue snow is a layer of pale yellow, the brown and tan trees are purple.

pastel painting of woods in snow

Detail of woods.

Then I put away the photos and work from my heart as I do with all my larger paintings, portraits included. I remembered not only that day in the woods by many days all through my life in the woods. I pictured the sycamores with their mottled bark, the maples with their fringed upper branches, the soft drifting of snow as it covered all evenly. I listened in memory for the babble of the stream, and actually needed three tries before I heard it in my painting as well as in memory. And the arc of the sky over the valley, the shading from the pink and yellow of sunset to the darkening blue of dusk in the sky, most of all, I waited to feel the calming quiet of the woods, not silent because of all that lives there, but a hush. Nature knows how to rest.

The feline connection

It may not come across here, but at a larger or full size most people sense a feeling of transition and light despite the dusk, and I credit being able to capture and convey that sense to Moses and that time between us. And though I had taken the reference photo nearly exactly a year before, on January 30, 2005, I also realized this was one of the places I had been the afternoon on January 31, 2006, just a few weeks before I began this painting, when I ran through those same woods during the January thaw watching the return of life knowing the cold would soon return and wrote “Things I Found in the Woods” about Moses, and actually one of the places I stopped to write down the first notes for what would become the poem. It’s all in the painting.

"A Rosy Glow", pastel on velour paper, 10" x 10", 1996 © BernadetteE. Kazmarski

“A Rosy Glow”, pastel on velour paper, 10″ x 10″, 1996 © BernadetteE. Kazmarski

I will always connect this painting with Moses, and those late nights when I disappeared into this scene in order to paint it from memory, and when she awoke and looked up at me with a deep and soulful expression I knew we were sharing the same figurative path.

I felt very tied to this painting on so many levels. Initially it was not for sale, then I priced it way above what I knew it would ever sell for to make sure either no one would want to buy it, or the purchaser was truly serious about it. The couple who did purchase it had been the ones who worked very hard to conserve this very spot of land, live above it at the top of the hill  and are friends of mine—I told them the price they saw was a “fake price” and we were all very happy.

“Dusk in the Woods” was the signature painting at my first annual poetry reading and fine art show at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, Paths I Have Walked. The theme was, literally, the paths I’ve walked all over this valley since childhood, and the inspiration they’ve given me and because much of my poetry is about literal and metaphorical paths, it is also the title of my first self-published poetry anthology.

Where to find this artwork

I sell this image as a 5″ x 7″ greeting card, and I also have a range of prints on paper and canvas, including digital prints from 8″ x 10″ to 11″ x 17″, and highest quality giclee prints up to the full size of the painting, 31″ x 24″ that are so well-done that even I have to look a little more closely to tell it’s not the original. I offer canvas prints from 16 x 12 to 32 x 24 that can be hung as is or framed like an oil painting. Please visit this post in my Etsy shop for all the possibilities. And occasionally I have the image imprinted or used in another product such as a woven cotton throw or a keepsake, so you can search my shop for “Dusk in the Woods” to see if any other products are available.

Deb Chebatoris of Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation purchased a framed print of “Dusk in the Woods” to hang in the room where we say goodbye to our precious animal companions, feeling it conveys that sense of transition, that darkest day of the year which, in time, will see the return of the light and the coming of new life as we heal from the grief of our loss. I have personally appreciated studying it more than a half dozen times as I say goodbye to one of my cats.

Each reproduction goes off with a bit of Moses and me.


Take a look at other featured artwork and desktop calendar posts.

Each month I feature a piece of feline artwork from the archives to the present day, discuss its history and process, and set it up as a free downloadable desktop calendar for just about every electronic device available.


Click here to see daily sketches, click here to see daily photographs

click here to see other artwork featured on The Creative Cat

or visit Fine Art and Portraiture on my main website.

If you are interested in a print of this image, check my Etsy shop to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.

See other winter art, landscapes, florals and other subjects

Click here to visit Fine Art and Portraiture on my main website.

Also visit my Etsy shop to see what’s available in my Landscapes and Still Lifes Gallery.


.

. . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Snow, Overexposed

snow scene
snow scene

Snow, Overexposed

Letting my camera have a little fun.

I had left my camera on manual settings for low light, and when I began photographing the snow yesterday I still had those settings. The photos were mostly white with some specks of this or that and I was about to toss them, then decided to take a look at them on my computer. I increased the contrast, and this is what I got. I couldn’t have done this if I’d tried.

From November 27, 2013

. . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

 


“Winter Sunset Reflections”

"Winter Sunset Reflection", 7" x 17", pastel on black paper © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

“Winter Sunset Reflection”, 7″ x 17″, pastel on black paper © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

It’s not winter yet but the trees are bare and today’s afternoon and evening sky were completely free of clouds. Just after the sun dropped below the horizon that pure blue of twilight smoothed the sky but for the glow above the horizon. I knew it was coming and hurried to my favorite place to watch the sunset, on a hill with a long view of the landscape, then traveled down to the valley to the Panhandle Trail to see this sight once again.

I painted this scene for my August exhibit “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons of the Panhandle Trail” during Rock the Quarry, the annual fundraiser for the Panhandle Trail.

I decided to do this painting at pretty much the last minute, though I’d been visualizing it for years. The scene is one I’ve often seen along the trail on a winter evening. This painting was done from a photo I’d taken one of those winter evenings on the trail, a clear, cold day with a cloudless sky at sunset, the sky reflected on Robinson Run. The velvety darkness of the land contrasts so completely with the brilliance of the sky and its reflection on the water and, simple as it is, it’s always been one of my favorite images.

I used black Canson charcoal/pastel paper and only painted the areas of light and finally achieved what I’d been visualizing.

PURCHASE THIS PAINTING, AND SEE MORE ART

This painting is available for sale, framed, in my Etsy shop, along with prints.

You can see other paintings from this exhibit here.

. . . . . . .

If you are interested in purchasing this painting or any other originals I have posted here on Today, please contact me. I will also have prints of this painting after the exhibit.


Award of Excellence for “Snowfall”

pastel paitning of snow
pastel paitning of snow

“Snowfall”, pastel, 11″ x 8″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I submitted three paintings and I learned that I’d won an award in the South Hills Art League annual juried show. Above, “Snowfall”, which I’d shown in my exhibit “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons of the Panhandle Trail”, won in the second highest award category, “Award of Excellence”. Of the three pieces I entered I’m surprised this one was a winner, but I like snow, so why not? The original is for sale, framed, for $250, as well as prints for $25.00 each, which I will add to my Etsy shop after the opening reception tonight along with the other two paintings.

If you are local, please join us tonight:

Opening reception Saturday, October 11, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Exhibit open Friday, October 10 through Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Galleria Of Mt. Lebanon
1500 Washington Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15228

Below is the story behind the painting, and below that are the other two paintings I entered in the exhibit.

It isn’t always eternal summer on the trail, though memories might make us think so. Winter is my favorite season to paint. I love the subtleties of color and shape with snow in the air and on the ground, and on the trail I am often all alone with the quiet of a winter day, or a gentle snowfall.

In this case, I was glad for the time alone and quiet, and my art materials. This is from several years ago, one of the sketches I’d actually done in the front seat of my car during a late winter ice and snow storm, with a personal connection. I’d moved my mother to a personal care home in a neighborhood adjacent to the trail and often combined visits to the trail and visits to my mother. She didn’t care at all for trails, but she thought it was pretty cool when I would pull up in front of the home on my bicycle in shorts and a tank top to visit and cool off and eat my lunch on a summer afternoon when all the other daughters were in jogging suits driving minivans. Though my mother suffered from a number of heart and lung conditions she was overall well but weak, though she often suffered from mild dementia; visits could be troubling.

So it was this winter day when I had driven there. The roads were cleared but the trail was not, still, I wanted a dose of nature after my visit and knew of a spot close where I could pull up next to the trail. Not a mark was in the deeply fallen snow, and I decided I would not be the one to leave mine, it was just too perfect. The snow was falling too heavily to work outside my car, so I angled my car just right and sat in my font seat and began a sketch, then decided I should leave before the roads grew worse.

I’d always intended to finish this off, adding some bare trees fading into the distance in the heavy snowfall, but I think there was a reason I stopped at this point, and I think it captures this snowy afternoon and my conversations with my mother as it is.

. . . . . . .

A Bend in the Road (sold), prints available

pastel painting of woods on back road

“A Bend in the Road”, pastel, 14″ x 22″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

 The Swimming Hole, $350

pastel painting of three kids in swimming hole

“The Swimming Hole”, pastel, 17″ x 8″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

. . . . . . .

If you are interested in purchasing this painting or any other originals I have posted here on Today, please contact me. I will also have prints of this painting after the exhibit.


Backlit Bouquet

wildflowers in evening woods
wildflowers in evening woods

Backlit Bouquet

I photographed this scene for the obliquely backlit combination of bold yellow coneflower and delicate wormwood, but all the varied patterns and shades of green in the background, silhouettes, shadows, blurs and bokeh, were too interesting to crop out.

Your beauty
delicate, ephemeral, eternal;

had I not chanced by
as setting sun journeyed deep into the autumn woods
to touch your face
you would still have been
as beautiful.

verse ©2014 Bernadette  E. Kazmarski

That is the first draft of a new poem, written just now after I posted this photo. We’ll see what it develops into some time in the future.

September 7: I have an edited version of this poem in progress…once I’d written the rest, I found I just didn’t need those two first lines, they felt heavy and formal, and without them I found I could reorganize the lines of the poem, especially that really long one that I couldn’t split before. I also changed the word “journeyed” to “reached” because it was more of what I’d intended, remembering the sunlight that day as it moved down toward the horizon and reached and touched different spots deep in the woods. Added a comma too.

Had I not chanced by
as setting sun
reached deep into the autumn woods

to touch your face,
you would still have been
as beautiful.

 

. . . . . . .

If you are interested in purchasing this painting or any other originals I have posted here on Today, please contact me. I will also have prints of this painting after the exhibit.


My Booth Friday Night

My exhibit Friday night.

My exhibit Friday night.

Last night was a lovely night–a little warm and humid but well attended, lots of visitors, the rain held off until after we left and I’ve sold a few things already! I had wanted to share this photo on social media last night but simply could not get enough of a signal so I’m posting it here. Hopefully I’ll be able to share today–after a foggy, soggy morning has turned into blue skies with pretty puffy clouds.

Looking forward to a great day during Rock the Quarry in my exhibit “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons of the Panhandle Trail”. Take a look at other paintings from this exhibit.

. . . . . . .

If you are interested in purchasing this painting or any other originals I have posted here on Today, please contact me. I will also have prints of this painting after the exhibit.