Monthly Archives: January 2014

In the Dark

The other day, I did a deep clean of all my office drawers and shelves. Threw out old retirement fund statements (I didn’t know I still had a retirement fund), expired receipts. Organized the random reams of paper I collected over the years. And then, in the midst of all that paperwork, I found these, crammed into an overflowing binder.

Black and White Photos

They’re prints from my first and only film photography class. I took it with the beautiful and exacting Jenny Fine, who pushed me to make prints five, ten times until they were right. I learned so much about photography from her and the class, but what I took from it was the physicality of the artistic process. Entering the dark room, positioning your negatives. Transferring the print back and forth through the chemicals with my hands (I think you were urged to use tongs, but I never did). I loved to burn the edges with my cupped palms, framing the prints with a moody vignette. And then you emerge with something that wasn’t there before.

Black and White Photos

These photos were taken with Cate, a fellow writer and artist, in early spring, when it was impractical to wear a thin vintage dress. But like a sport, she did. She traipsed with me through the woods, wearing all white, and we reenacted the original, darker themes of the original Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale. At the end of the day, there was one last click to the camera, and it was back to the dark room, to see what it was we’d created.

Plant Life

Green stories photograph

Nearly everyone in my family is a gardener, but I’m unable to keep most plant-like things alive. And then we bought our house and it seemed to need some indoor greenery. So we got the easiest plants to maintain from our local garden shop. The ladies there took pity on us and taught us some basics, and only laughed a little when I picked out the tiniest watering can in the world to take home. They told me that plants are easy. Natural.

Now, eight months later, I wouldn’t say these plants thriving–that seems too optimistic–but they are alive. Mostly hydrated. Wilting only a little.

My good friend, who is a great gardener and once gifted me a lovely potted plant that I promptly let die, gave me some advice when she was visiting. She told me to pick out all the dead or dying leaves from the soil. “That way, all the energy will go to the new growth,” she said. She gently pressed a leaf between her fingers.

Here’s to new growth, and to all my sagely friends and family, who despite everything, continue to believe in my ability to nurture all sorts of things.

Twigs of January

I’m trying to find the beauty in this rather dreary month. At the start of a new year, the flash and sparkle seems to fade almost immediately.  There are resolutions, long lines at the gym, grey and muted skies. Yet. There’s also this: a spindly branch, backlit in the early morning, knobbed and gnarled but still, a sign of spring to come. A gift from January, made into a  wallpaper for your desktop and i-devices.

Wallpaper Image

Click the links to download:  Desktop | Tablet | Phone

All but the Corsage

We went to prom.

photo of Thao and Dan in a prom pose

Well, we went to a charity event that had a photo booth.

prom photo of Thao and Dan in front of a glittery wall

And here we are in Napa, last New Year’s Eve, in front of the most glittery wall you have ever seen. We’ve become pretty comfortable with these poses.

I looked up and down, I promise you, but I can’t find any photographic evidence of my prom, my ACTUAL high school prom. But let me paint you a picture. Florida; spring of 2003. Me and my date in a white Chevy Lumina. Thrumming music, gallons of Bath and Body Works body spray. Dinner at Carrabba’s, meeting friends at the beach afterwards. Sand in my black clutch and a dress with so many sparkles that I found them the next day in my armpit.

I’m one of those obnoxious people who really loved high school. I didn’t necessarily always like who I was in high school, but I loved the ritual of it all. My husband didn’t feel the same way (“What? You weren’t living in a Freddy Prinze Jr. movie?”), so it’s always interesting for us to compare. And, you know, relive all of the poses.

The Many Moods

When I start work with a client on a bigger project, I build mood boards or a collaborative pinboard, depending on the project. I really enjoy the process of clarifying the brand through colors, imagery, and texture, and sometimes it’s really surprising to see what comes together on the page. Recently, I started on a very fun website project. Here’s a small section of the mood boards I presented–the color palettes:

three color palette options for a website mood board

And she chose option number 3! I can’t wait to share more as the site progresses.