Archive for the ‘Portraits’ Category

Six images. These really are better viewed at full-sized.

In which we consider some of this lovely flower’s nom de blooms.

It’s not too much of a stretch to understand a name like “wild carrot” for this flower (check out the taproot,) but “Queen Anne’s Lace?”

Legend says that Queen Anne, wife of James I, was challenged to create a lace more beautiful than any flower. The drop of purple in the center of each flower is said to represent a drop of blood that fell when Anne pricked her finger as she worked.


Not a botanist,  but I always thought the faux bug at the center of each flower was this clever creature’s way of luring other insects to her blooms. (“Hey, look! What’s that guy doing down there? I want some, too.”)

Please let me point out that I could have made churlish reference to the Queen’s bloomers, but I have far too much couth for that sort of word play.


The next shot delights me for both the capture of the flower and the tri-colored background. This was a perfect confluence of a patch of the Golden Glow, a bed of white daisies, and a green lawn, all flowing together and blurred nicely by that f2.8 60mm lens.


Had I been consulted regarding alternative names for The Queen, I would have called the almost-flowered version “Maude.” While the Queen sways regally in even the mildest of breezes, these ladies-in-waiting with their curls stuffed up under mob caps, bob and dance attendance around her, knowing that they will soon have their own moments in the sun.



Tomorrow: Fields of Queens

Right now, the fields and ditches, prairies and roadsides of Wisconsin are blanketed in waves of Queen Anne’s Lace, also known Daucus Carota, wild carrot, bird’s nest, and bishop’s lace. Whatever name she’s going by, she is an elegant white presence throughout my flower gardens and I am leaving her undisturbed since I find her to be easily as beautiful as any domesticated plant growing there.



Queen Anne’s Lace is considered an invasive species, having been imported from Europe. What I just learned is that this flower is the forerunner of our domestic carrot and its taproot can be eaten because it is…wait for it…a wild carrot. Cool! Not only a beauty, but one that can feed us as well.



The “bird’s nest” name comes because the flower gradually turns in on itself, forming a tight fist full of seeds.


The fields behind my house are thick with the plants and the slightest breeze keeps them in constant motion.  Frankly, I can’t get enough. When I am done admiring them from my window or patio, I am forced to grab a camera and go to pay my respects, up close and personal.

More tomorrow.

Friday evening will find me at the Center for the Visual Arts in Wausau for the reception and opening of the 25th Midwest Seasons Show. This is the fourth year in a row I have had work in this show and I am very honored to have been juried in again this year.

The juror chose a favorite piece of mine: All Summer in a Day. Generally I grumble about writing an artist’s statement for shows, but for this picture, I was eager to explain the title, the circumstances…the whole thing. While it’s likely no one read it,  I was glad to have the opportunity to express in words what I was trying for in my photo.



The title of this piece, All Summer in a Day, comes from a favorite short story by Ray Bradbury about a planet where it rains incessantly but for one brilliant afternoon every seven years.

I took the photo mid-afternoon on Labor Day, 2014, at Green Bay’s Bay Beach Amusement Park.

It had been raining lightly on and off all day and in a few hours, the park would mark the end of its official Summer Season. The next morning would mark the official start for area schools. But balanced delicately on a cusp between those two events, a “right here, right now” moment if I ever saw one, was a never-ending slice of Ferris Wheels, Bumper Cars and cotton candy rich enough to hold all the joys of an entire summer. Children and adults streamed through the park, oblivious to the occasional showers, intent only on getting to the next ride.

I caught the man and woman gazing up at the Ferris Wheel in one of the afternoon puddles. The only manipulation that I did with this photograph was to rotate it so that the scene was not upside-down.

For a link to the CVA site, click here:


I have many many things to do this week, things that are written in thick black magic marker in the “non-negotiable” column of my Gotta-Do list,  so this afternoon it was of paramount importance that I grab a camera, a spaghetti squash, a polished black surface and two dish towels, elbow a stack of newspapers off the dining room table and sit down to do some portrait work.

I am assuming this is the way you, too, deal with pressure, mais oui?






Someone rediscovers her 60mm lens.

I needed a photo of some “luscious food” to submit for a themed art show. So, with a comfortable margin of nearly 24 hours before the deadline, I hauled an armload of fruit, two cameras and three lenses downstairs to my light table. This took several trips.

In a spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you that before I could set up this little shoot, I first had to move many, many piles of last season’s clothing and random bed linens that had chosen to camp out on said table. On the plus side, I found a cache of corduroy pants from last winter that had gone missing and four yellow napkins I thought I’d lost forever.

And there was much rejoicing.

 Four kinds of apples and two varieties of pears took their turns on stage. I posed them, spritzed them with water, draped chiffon around them and worked some soft lighting. Nothing.

God help me, but I played a little Barry White just to put those Granny Smiths in the mood, but they were not taking a shine to each other.

I was okay with this pear couple, but not crazy-in-love.

pear pair

When I couldn’t conjure anything more than tepid chemistry among the assembled models, I finally abandoned my sultry fruit plan and moved on to abstract portraits of citrus fruits.

And I’m fine, but not rock-my-world fine, with a couple of the citrus shots. Cathedral window, maybe?

orange slice1

and this group portrait:



(As a bonus, my light table is now smelling citrusy-fresh… though I must remember to mop up the juice puddles before I toss my clothes and linens back in their haphazard stacks.)

On my last trip upstairs to see what other foodstuffs I could play with–slices of pepperoni! half a jar of peanut butter!–there it was. Lovely ripe cantaloupe lounging patiently on the counter.

google melon

Google-map of Stonehenge? Satellite picture of an Aztec temple?

I don’t think it qualifies as “luscious,” but it was my favorite of the afternoon.

You will be pleased to know that the other models found work in an ensemble dinner theatre production that I staged later in the evening, titled “Wabi Sabi Fruit Salad.”

And it was luscious.


Moving away from the street side, public face of the orphanage to the back side of the building: less ornate, more utilitarian.

Less scary.



The plywood has weathered to an exotic tribal pattern. I like it.



Of all the shots I took of the orphanage, this last is my favorite. Family portrait? Urban life? There’s that, but I also like how all the shapes line up and balance, with the pigeons being a pure bonus.



Kathy, from The Copper Llama Farm, sent me a really nice note about my post earlier this week that featured her “gals.” The llama with the multi-colored hair is “Confetti” and the Renaissance beauty is named “Vanilla Chai.” Had I been consulted, my vote would have been for “Lucrezia.”

Am I the only person who thinks “Dolly” would be an outstanding name for a llama? Or, are you all thinking it but afraid to say it out loud?

“Matty told Hatty about a thing she saw

 Had two big horns and a wooly jaw…” 

20130703_Harper FarmII_0298

Relax. No horns.

When I drove out to Jean’s farm last week, my friend Jeanne-with-an-e came along and rode shotgun, because god only knows what dangers lurk just behind bucolic pastoral scenes, gamboling lambs and the gently rolling farmland of Wisconsin.

Since both Jean(ne)s are fabric artists and readers and people that like to hang around and eat muffins while other people are out taking pictures, they had plenty to do when I was off with my cameras. Before we made the trek back to Green Bay,  Jean was eager to introduce us to The Copper Llama, a yarn store/llama farm/little slice of wonderful right outside of metro Clintonville. While the pair of Jean(ne)s shopped for yarn, I introduced myself to the gals in the yard.

20130703_Harper FarmII_0346

20130703_Harper FarmII_0302

20130703_Harper FarmII_0307

Maybe I’ve watched too much of The Borgias, but this next portrait is pure Renaissance beauty:

20130703_Harper FarmII_0305


For more about The Copper Llama, you can visit their website here

For more about today’s credits, please consult the opening credits of “Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail.”  It goes without saying that you own a copy.