As you know, every year Amber Lotus publishes my images as calendars. Last year we had two sizes, the regular large wall calendar and a new mini-sized version that was very popular. I thought I'd let you in on a little behind-the-scenes peek at what the poor art editor has to deal with every year.
Since writing my latest book, I've been focusing on making more substantial Faerie houses that are finely crafted and built to last. I am building up a collection of these houses in my studio so that eventually I will have enough for a fine art/craft exhibition (already one may be headed to an exhibition in Berlin - more on that in another post) somewhere down the road.
Having these houses on-hand means that I get to photograph them in a variety of settings when it comes time to make the images that the calendar company will want to select from for their publications. We work 2 years in advance so the images that are being selected now won't been seen until 2019....except for you who come to visit my blog!
I thought you might enjoy seeing how the same house can be used in several different settings and have very different looks depending on those settings. Let's get started!
The Golden Cottage was a house that I build specifically for a tutorial for my book. In the book I show how to make this house step-by-step.
Now that it is finished I can take it with me to various locations and create some magical images with it. Here are four examples of how the same house can look in different settings:
1) This is the location that was selected for use in the book in addition to the tutorial. It was high up on the side of a mountain nestled in an alpine forest where the trees were no taller than about 10 ft high. Since the mountain is shrouded in mist a lot, there was a dense carpet of moss everywhere under the trees. It was a very magical place and the white "Peace Pipe" plants were already there. I did bring in the red bunch-berries and the Blue Gentians and some of the ferns as well as the purple flowers on either side of the cottage. I loved how this house looked in this setting and the book art directors did too. But I had more versions to offer the calendar editors....which made their job so much harder!
2) In this version the house was set up in a corner of my rock garden. When the sun came around thru the trees overhead, it lit up this little corner with lots of color, so it seemed like a good spot to tuck in this house for another shoot. This time, the little footbridge was added to guide the eye towards the front door. The calendar editors liked this version as well... but wait! There's more!
3) In this setting I had ventured again up into the mountains to one of my favorite little lakes and I discovered a fallen birch log on the edge of the lake that was a gorgeous setting in the early autumn sun. The log was narrow so I had to build a little moss-covered platform big enough to hold the house. I added a few twigs with fresh birch leaves that had turned a glorious gold color to help separate the foreground from the background. The two fungi are natural and were growing on the tree branch as it sat over the water.
I had to do some acrobatic antics to hold a reflective device AND click the camera (which was on a tripod in the water) because the house was lit too strongly from the side by the bright sunshine which meant that the front of the house disappeared into dark shadow. The reflective device is a big circular hoop with fabric stretched over it that is used to bounce light into shadow areas. But in the slightest breeze it is a handful to hold as it is nearly 5 ft in diameter. So taking this shot involved getting the focus right in the camera, then setting the timer, and while the 10 seconds were counting off, getting the reflector positioned properly before the shutter released....phew! I take a LOT of photos because most of them are not so great given all the variables....but when it DOES work..... AHHhhhhhhhhh......
And finally, before the snow began to fall, I had one more place to take this house for a late autumn shoot.
4) During this session, Derek Muirden was shooting some video for his Mountain Lake PBS story on the book's release and we found this gorgeous little setting in the late October sun right beside the road near my home. I had brought with me some colorful leaves and had found the red berries in a nearby swamp. The ferns were some miniature ones I had from my windowsill garden. It all worked out beautifully and my poor editor now had to decide which ONE photo to use in her calendar selection. You'll have to wait to see which one she picked! :-)
Now, I have a special request of you. In Amazon, one of the online places where my book is selling, there have been a few people who have written some "negative" comments. It is rather unfortunate that people who don't understand what this book is about go ahead and order it and then give the book bad reviews because it was not what they were looking for. This isn't exactly fair to my book but I cannot change or remove the reviews once they are made. One lady didn't understand what the book was and also managed to order two copies, which she did not want. Her disappointment then got transferred into a "negative" review of my book and sadly, those low ratings drag down what had been a high rating. So, I need your help if you have the time.
The book needs some more positive reviews with more stars in the reviews to help lift the total ratings up. If you have the chance to do this, I would be very grateful. If you happen to live in the US, send me a link to your review and I will send you something. You don't have to write much, just a single line will do but the important bit is the number of stars you select for your rating as these stars are then averaged to get the total star rating we see at the top of the page. Thank you so very much in advance to anyone who can take a few minutes to help me out.
I will have more examples of houses in multiple settings to share with you in future posts so stay tuned! But for now, I'm getting ready to go make some artwork for and with the solar eclipse that is coming on Monday. Where I live we will not get a total eclipse this time (but we will in 2024) so I am looking forward to seeing crescent-shaped sun dapples during the peak event. I plan to do some land art to celebrate the special moment....if any good photos come of it, I'll share them here with you, of course! I hope that anyone living near the path of totality will make the effort to go and see this rare event. The last time I saw a total eclipse was when I was a teenager and it was an incredible experience....don't miss it even if you have to travel an hour or two...it is well worth it!
It has been a challenging and bountiful summer. I cannot believe it has flown by so fast. I've been on a deeply interior trajectory while at the same time building my work projects quietly and with weather that has not been entirely helpful.
Also, sadly, the drama of the world has impinged greatly on sensitive spirits such as my own... it is hard to know how to stay present with our own efforts when so much turbulence threatens to tear our sense of "home" however large or small that me be, apart. Since much of what I make, creatively both in object and in photograph is all about "Home" all this sense of a fracturing world has been difficult to ride out.
I am sorry to have been so absent from my blog. The truth is, I have been mostly in overwhelm mode. I found that all of my creative energy was required for my work. Once I have finished processing the best photos I'll be pleased to share many new houses and images with you as a result of my heads-down focus. Also I simply needed to attend to my little set of responsibilities which compared to the world's dramas made me feel that I had little to say to the world right now.
But I found a beautiful piece of writing in some of my old journals a few days ago that speaks so eloquently to our times, that I thought I should share it here and now with you as part of my re-entry (hopefully) back to my blog. Here it is....the DESIDERATA from Max Ehrmann......enjoy!
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember
what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive [The Divine] to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
I had planned that my next blog entry was going to be about the new feline that has taken over the job of "supervisior-in-chief" here. He's been an unexpected arrival and a welcomed addition to my little homestead, but that story must be set aside (for the moment) because some fresh news has just crossed my desk: My book has just made an important New York Times book reading list!!! I was utterly humbled and surprised to get the notice from my publisher that this had happened but the article is online now and will be coming out in this Sunday Times print edition. I'm blushing more than a little to think that my labor of love is being noticed by none other than Dominique Browning. Thank you so very much Ms. Browning and New York Times!
And to celebrate I think I'll just pause for a moment and share a recent landscape image from my 'backyard'. This sublime sunset happened earlier this month as I was driving home for a day with my Mom. The location is the southern end of Lake Champlain looking northwards, up the lake and is a very special location historically and also to my family personally. I will hopefully share that story another time...for now, I'd like to just bask in the beauty of this world and the gratitude I feel that my book (and my work) is making a contribution, however small, to enriching people's lives in a positive way.
It has been a long, slow, cool spring here. It feels like its been weeks of endless grey, misty days with very slow warming. It's a challenging time of year because we are all so ready internally for spring to be here, but it takes the land and waters time to warm....and it takes even longer when the sun is shy and veiled. Still, the mists on the lake have been magical.
Because of the cool and chilly spring, it has taken an unusually long time for the green to arrive and for the flowers to start looking fabulous, but the wait has been so worth it. I don't think I can ever recall the Crab Apples and other flowering trees looking so magnificent as they do this year. Now it is a mad scramble to try and make some Faerie houses to take advantage of these spectacular settings before they vanish in the next rainstorm.
Because the last month had been remarkably grey and wet, it was not very conducive to good early spring work or image-taking. However, I did manage to get lucky on a few occasions when I was trying to take advantage of a local phenomenon that I've known about for many years but never could manage to time it right....someone in our neighborhood has planted an incredible abundance of Daffodil and Narcissus bulbs along the boundary edge of their property and this year it was just stunning.
These were taken on a typical late April afternoon and while they look fantastic en mass like this, for my photography with Faerie houses, I needed a brighter day and morning light as these all faced east. I got very lucky the next day with a calm day that had some openings in the cloud cover. It was hard to pick a spot to set the house up because all the flowers were so beautiful!
I did find a good place finally and brought some mossy bits with me to create a little scene with a large house I had made this past winter. I'm pleased with how the shots came out and here is one of the best ones:
Everything comes and goes so quickly in the spring...after getting just a few good sun-filled moments like this one, the big grey clouds rolled in and the rains began again. I'm glad I took my chance on that morning as the flowers are all mostly gone by now.
This house is one of my personal favorites. I wanted something that has a slightly Scandinavian feeling. The entrance-way took nearly 3 full days to make just by itself. It is all made with peeled Cedar twigs. The working door has an inset window of a leaf-shaped glass bead which looks gorgeous when twilight comes and the lights are turned on. I am waiting for a better location to do a night-time shot but here are some views of the same house I took just after the house was completed:
As you can see there are a LOT of windows in this house, all twig-latticed and framed inside and out. The house features a lot of spiral detailing and the roof is one I've wanted to try for years...the shingles are made from golden birch bark and because it is a rather large house, it took quite a lot of bark to make all the shingles! I'll have more views of this house later as I want you to see how it looks on the inside and in the twilight with the lights on. Next time I'll introduce you to the new "supervisor' around here. Its a great story. Right now I must get out and play with the Lilacs and flowering Crab Apple trees...it s a tough job but someone has to do it! Have a lovely week-end!
I know it's been rather quiet here...lots of things taking me away from the computer which has been why you've not heard from me of late.
However I wanted to just make sure that if you have been thinking about getting my Fairy House How-to book, you have just a few days left to take advantage of the great 40% off discount being offered by the publisher.
To get your discount, use this link and when you click on the purple "buy in US/Canada" button you will be taken to the shopping cart page. Just enter FAIRY40 in the promotional coupon box to get your 40% off.
This offer is only available on this page and is good only for a few more days, then it will expire on April 30th, so get your copies now at a really good price. Also, if you order more than $50 you'll get free shipping which is always a nice bonus on top of an already great bonus!
Thanks to an observant fan, I've learned that currently my publisher has run out of my books at their warehouse for shipping, so they have (temporarily) stopped taking orders on their website . (For an author this is a nice problem to have as it means that the book has been selling well, thanks to YOU!) I've been assured by the publisher that they will have more copies in their warehouse soon and when that happens, they will reactivate the "buy it now" button on their webpage and you'll be able to get the book at 40% off by entering the code FAIRY40 at checkout.
To help ease concerns, they have extended this offer till the end of APRIL!!! So, check the page above, and when the buy-it-now button appears, you'll be able to take advantage of this generous offer.
I've just uploaded a new video to Youtube. It is the slideshow that I made for my lecture at the Vermont Flower show last week-end. It features a look thru the seasons at some of my faerie house creations and shows a few glimpses of my new book and how it can help anyone who wants to try building their own faerie house from natural materials. The video is just about 16 minutes long, so grab a cup of your favorite beverage and take a mini vacation into an alternate reality; the magical world of Fairy Houses.
What fun we are having at the Flower Show! Here's a photo of my booth this year:
This has been such a great experience! So many people have come out for this event and it has been truly humbling to meet so many fans and supporters in-person. What lovely people they all are too!
Today I gave my slideshow presentation and I have to admit, I was terribly nervous...but all the hard work appears to have paid off and I saw a lot of warm and welcoming smiles later as folks who had been at the talk came by the booth.
My sister Tracey has been amazing to join me in this adventure and her assistance has been invaluable in countless ways.
It's hard to believe that tomorrow is the last day. If you happen to be in the area, I can recommend the display gardens which this year are stunningly creative...and almost twice as big as it has been in years past. The chance to see so much creative cooperation in action is always such an inspiration!
Hope to see you there! I'm in booth 37...please come by if you can, there are some amazing things to see and learn about. You won't be disappointed!
There is so
much to catch you up on that I hardly know where to begin!
DATE! I will be showing at the Vermont Flower Show in just a little over
a week! The show is from March 3-5th and you can find out more from their
website by clicking HERE. The Vermont Flower Show is a fabulous tradition and
this year is going to be even better. I'll be in booth 37 if you want to find
me and I'll be giving a lecture/slide show on Saturday, March 4th at 1:30PM. I
will have signed copies of my book for you to purchase, calendars, greeting cards and many of my
actual Faerie Houses on display. Also my sister will be joining me in my booth
with her gorgeous 3-D garden paintings on canvas.
Thanks to the generosity
of my publisher, there will be several copies of my book to be given away
at the show as door prizes. Can’t make it to the show? Don’t worry… I will have
a raffle drawing for a signed copy of my book after the show is over for all my
online fans! I will post the details here on my blog and on my website shortly.
mentioned, my generous publisher has also made available JUST for my fans a VERY SPECIAL sale
discount for my book which is in effect NOW and will be in effect till the end
of March. This is a serious sale, 40% off! To get your book(s) at this amazing
price, you must order them directly from the publisher on THIS WEBPAGE and use coupon code FAIRY40 to get your
discount. Be advised that all orders over $50 will give you free shipping too!
( the total order is calculated after the discount is applied) Now is the best time to stock up as this is a very generous deal for a very limited time.
For my fans in the UK and Europe, please be aware that there is a distribution center in the UK so your shipping prices will be quite reasonable. You can find out the rates HERE on their shipping information page.
If you want to
show your appreciation to the publisher for this generous discount, (and help me too) please
consider writing a review in an online location of your choosing. These reviews
REALLY make a difference to help other customers feel confident about getting this
book. I will be announcing a free give-away soon for all those who do write an online review so keep your information if you do post a review as it may come in handy shortly! (more info on this later in March)
anyone would like to get a personalized bookplate for their book, I will have
those available shortly. There is a tiny charge to cover the printing and
mailing costs of the bookplate. There are two designs to choose from and I will
give more details about this program soon. (after the show)
going to be interviewed on a lovely radio program next month to talk about my
book! I can’t wait to be able to talk about my process and reason(s) for making
this book. The program will be recorded and available as a podcast. I’ll give
you the details when I have them.
Fifth (I told
you there was a lot of news!) I’ve got several new houses to share with you….here
are some sneak peeks at a few detailed, close-up images just to pique your
curiosity for now….more images and stories about the houses to come soon (again, after the show).
Enjoy! And I hope to see you at the Vermont Flower Show starting March 3rd!
This towering masterpiece is one of my most complicated and detailed houses to date. It has two separate lighting systems for added drama at night. It has a small footprint is so that it can perch on limited spaces such as atop a mantle-piece or a narrow bookshelf.
The roof of the house is made from hundreds of individually cut pieces of Golden Birch bark and the roof is removable.The numerous spiral-shaped ridge finials and over-all roof design give this house a decidedly Scandinavian flavor. I will show more details of this house soon.
The Yuletide cottage design literally came to me in a dream. In the dream I was walking thru a wintry forest and saw this small house up ahead on the path. As I got closer I saw that the door and windows were crafted in the shape of Fir trees. After I awoke from the dream, I quickly made some sketches. Months later, I was finally able to work on creating this very special cottage.
The beauty of this house is difficult to capture in photographs, but I will have to try. I am waiting for the chance to shoot it in an actual snow storm, if possible since that is the way I saw it in my dream. The house does light up and has some really magical features (such a fireplace with a fire in it!) which I will share with you once I have some better pictures. Stay tuned...things are very busy here and I'm looking forward to sharing a lot more stories and images with you soon!
This message is going out to all the folks who read this blog in the US who are concerned about a) the loss of local control over what happens in their communities and b) anyone concerned about the rapid deployment of cell towers here in the US.
I know, I know...this is supposed to be a blog about environmental art....but here's the thing: we are rapidly giving up our rights to protect the environment we love. The FCC is currently taking public comments on its latest plan to take away local, municipal, and state governments from being able to oppose the deployment of the newest assault on our environment: mini cell towers called DAS.
For those who don't know, studies in Europe show that the radiation from cell towers is damaging to dairy cows, bees and humans. More studies need to be done. More than anything else, citizens need to be able to decide for themselves whether they want this technology in their neighborhood or not.
Unfortunately, I only just found out today that the window for public comment closes today, Feb 6th, 2017.
If you are a US citizen and concerned about electromagnetic radiation and its harmful effects and/or if you are concerned about the Federal government's usurping local control over issues that directly affect your family's health then please click HERE to find out more about the process and follow the directions on how you can leave a public comment.
If you cannot click on the link, then try this:
http://truthandfactsneverlie.info/urgent PLEASE act by midnight tonight if you can... we are losing our ability to govern our local communities with regards to how industries can pollute our neighborhoods with excessive electromagnetic radiation and we must fight back. If you are unfamiliar with how radiation from cell towers can affect humans, animals and plants, I urge you to look into this for yourself. Some good resources here here:
Just a quick note... Amber Lotus, the lovely company that publishes my Faerie Houses wall and mini calendars has just announced a huge sale.... 50% off! Click HERE to go to my Faerie Houses calendar page.
And equally important, they have also just announced that they have sponsored the planting of 90,000 more trees! What a beautiful statement of support for the planet's ecosystems! You can read about it HERE.
At Long last the book is now available and I'm already hearing reports from very happy readers that they are delighted and impressed with how it looks and reads. The book is a substantial, seriously good collection of inspirational images, tutorials, tricks, tips and secrets finally revealed! It is sized at 8.5 x 10 inches and is 192 pages. I've written an expanded look inside which you can read exclusively here first by just scrolling up to my header and clicking on the BOOK line to see all the details.
And to get you really in the mood, here is a sweet little video giving you a glimpse inside.... enjoy!!! Click HERE if you don't see the video right away below...
When I was growing up we lived in a rural part of Vermont with acres of woodland forest and meadows right out our back door. This was the place where I first connected with nature in a big way and because we were a four-season family living in a four-season world we found many ways to enjoy each season as it came and went.
When we were old enough to ski (cross country only because we could not afford alpine equipment and lift tickets) my Dad started a lovely New Year's tradition. He would set up a ski trail several days before and then on the night of New Years eve he's go out first and light luminaria along the trail. Then we'd all go out and follow in his tracks thru the still, crisp night. The luminaria were spaced so you could just see the next one off in the distance as you passed the one closest to you. Skiing in the dark (we did not have headlamps back then either) was sometimes a scary experience, especially if you were small and still learning to ski. If the weather was stormy we could not go because it was too dangerous for small children but often the New Year's Eve weather would be perfect: crisp and clear with no wind and out on the trail in that sacred stillness one felt that the world was filled with magic and enchantment... which of course, it was!
It was the only time we did this so it became a very special ritual. The trail began at our house and ended at our neighbors house a few miles away. Their family would have joined ours at the beginning of the evening and we'd ski the trail together. When we ended up at their house there would be hot chocolate, cookies and spiked egg nog for the grown-ups and the count-down to midnight.
I wish we had photos from those nights but back then digital cameras did not exist and even though my dad was a professional outdoor photographer, shooting at night, in winter was usually beyond the limits of his equipment. But what he gave us every New Year's was a renewed connection with Nature and Magic and tonight I am missing him AND I'm grateful for what he has given to me and my family by creating this memorable experience for us all to treasure and share.
Wishing you and yours all the very best for the New Year!
Welcome to the enchanted world of Environmental art and Faerie Houses sculptures created by Sally J Smith. Here you will find photos of the artist's unique art-forms and hear some of the stories from behind the scenes as she shares with you her creative process.