Thursday, October 22, 2009

Etsy feature & new work

Etsy featured my name block photos on their Facebook page a few days ago. Soon after, I had two new sales, which I wanted to share with you (above).

Friday, September 18, 2009


When my five-year-old son found out that I wanted to do a "Tortoise and the Hare" photo, he wanted to be involved. He decided that he would help by making a backdrop. This image is the result of our collaboration! I think it adds a nice energetic quality. The actual painting is much bigger than I could fit in the picture.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Starting school

So, my kids have started school and I have a full seven hours to devote to my own work! Of course, I need to walk/run with the dog, do laundry, etc. The rest of the time can be devoted to creating and seeing what I can do with some uninterrupted time to take pictures and add them to my Etsy and 1000 Markets shops.

When I see my son's crayons and paper out on the kitchen table, I do have a pang of missing him, but I know that we still have our evenings and weekends. What I am grateful about is that I have devoted the better part of the last 10 years to caring for my kids, teaching them, taking them to the zoo, the science museum, the library and the park. I am left with no regrets that I didn't spend enough time with them. So, even though I feel a little lonely without my sweethearts here, I am going to make the most of the time that I have and create. I've posted two new photos that I made this week with many more to come.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Paste Magazine @ Etsy

A guest editor from Paste Magazine recently did some guest editing at Etsy and chose some animal-themed items for an event as well as this gift guide. My photograph, Steadfast is in that gift guide! What an honor!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Studio re-do part 3

My lights have arrived! I'm now the proud owner of a set of three small tabletop lights which I will be using today on a custom order. We have hung the roll of paper on a dowel and then from chains on the ceiling. The photo shows what it looks like with two of the lights on. I now have a place to work on a consistent basis. Hooray!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Studio Re-do, Part Two

All of the painting things, buckets and boxes have been moved to the side, the floor has been mopped and I am ready to put up the table. I tend to be a perfectionist, so I'm fighting that by not getting every single thing into the perfect place before I can work here. If I can just start with a workable space, I will later move out more things that I'm not using and get it more organized. I did get my roll of seamless white background paper in the mail and bought a dowel to hang it on. My new lights were shipped five days ago and I breathlessly watch every UPS truck go by my house. Oh, yes, wait a minute Mr. Postman! Is there a package for me? I'm hoping that with new lights, I will be able to reduce my dependence on Photoshop to correct lighting issues. Can't wait!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

studio makeover phase 1

These are my "before" pictures (thank goodness, right?!). I am remodeling my "studio" space to be a mini-studio for taking photos. I have bought a new set of lights (they are en route), a fresh, new roll of seamless white paper and am gearing up to recreate the space. As you can see, the walls are black. We painted them black a few years back because this was my darkroom where I used to hand-print black-and-white wedding and portrait photos. A few years later, I decided to get back into painting with oils and made a few landscapes in this space. I haven't made a new painting in a year and have some unfinished ones here. Now, because of the work that I've been getting through Etsy, my real need for the space is to create a mini-studio. I've been using part of my daughter's room and a roll of big, white paper on her floor to make my photos. What I would like is a more permanent space, where I can leave the paper set up and continue work easily from one day to the next. I also would like for my work hours not to be limited by her bedtimes! So, this is phase 1. More to come !

Thursday, July 2, 2009

family party

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

summer berries

A summer morning and some of the berries are ripe and some are not quite yet. Every day we get a new little batch picked by small hands.

Later, we made it into sorbet (in the $20 ice cream maker from Aldi). My son helped. It was only: raspberries, plain yogurt and some powdered sugar. So simple!

Friday, June 19, 2009

For the baby docs

I have had such a positive response to my children's name block photos that I decided to do a new line of photos that would be right for decorating a pediatrician's office. I thought of it last night, came up with some sample images today, listed it on Etsy and have had two inquiries about it today. I have all sorts of animals but thought some might not be right because no one wants to be a pig or a lion might be too predatory (and have the opposite of the desired effect on the children). So, the sample images are of gentle animals who children might feel calmed by seeing in the waiting room. I am always happy to answer any questions, just send me an Etsy conversation.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Etsy's Yart Sale

Just to let you know, I'm participating in an Etsy-wide sale, the Yart Sale. The word is a combination of "yard" and "art". I'm offering free international shipping today until Sunday.

Father's Day

This photo was featured today in The Storque: Etsy Finds!

I'm never quite sure what to get my Dad or my husband for father's day. This year, I will be taking our family to a German restaurant so that my husband can get all of the traditional sauerkraut and sausages that he can eat. That is his wish, and that's what were gonna do! My tradition with my Dad is that I send him a card, but always write in it something that I am grateful that he taught me or a good memory that I have of him. One year, I wrote to him about playing "horse", a basketball game. Long after my brother had lost patience with his little sister trying to make a basket, my Dad stayed with me and let me shoot and shoot until I got the hang of it. Most of my (underhand) shots slammed against the barn door and went flying back at me, but eventually, I got the physics of it right and made a decent shot. My Dad is a natural teacher. He was a professor of engineering when I was growing up and just always had the heart to stick with his students until they "got it". Thanks, Dad!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tips for photographing children - part 1

(c)2009 Jennifer Dennis Potter

The most important thing to watch for when photographing children is the light. It is also the trickiest thing to learn to see. I want to offer some simple ideas to keep in mind about light.

-Time of day is important: children have delicate features, so you want to keep light soft. Photograph in the morning, before the light is bright, or in the evening. This also reduces the "raccoon effect" of dark shadows in the eyes.

-Reflect the light: photograph your child on a white blanket, either inside or outside and turn off the flash. You can also buy a piece of white foam core or poster board (or a professional reflector) and have someone else reflect the light into the child's face. This gives a soft light.

-Turn off the flash: most bad photos of kids involve flash. Use it for events, when you want to capture a moment when your child is moving (like a soccer game or dance), but turn it off for a portrait. If you have a professional flash, you can diffuse it with a small soft box designed for flashes.

My next post will be about photographing children: location.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What Nourishes You?

I ask you this because I love to hear responses to things I post. I'm so interested in what truly works for you in your life.

I've been thinking about this question a lot lately. I used to be able to get away with offering myself junk food, little sleep, no prayer, no time walking in the woods. In short, I have sometimes lived a spiritually and even physically impoverished life. I can only get away with that for so long before I find that my need manifests itself in other ways.

I just left a very part-time job that I had a lot invested in emotionally. I wanted so much for it to be something that it wasn't and wasn't going to be. It was a job of deprivation. I would walk in and feel a wave of fatigue wash over me. I would try to ignore that this job was never going to be what I wanted it to be and even what it needed to be, but that was always there. So, I left.

So, what nourishes you? Because you have to answer the question sooner or later. You can pretend to be cool, pretend to not desire something deeper, better, more, but the need will be there. I will answer for myself. What nourishes me: time with my family, time in the woods, on a beach, with a paintbrush or a camera exploring, time to pray, meditate, read, time to explore a library, dig in the dirt, to knead dough.

It is not so hard to be fed, but to let go of things that don't feed you can sometimes be hard. I've let go and will see what's next.

photo/text: (c)Jennifer Dennis Potter

Thursday, April 2, 2009


This is my latest custom "child's name" block photo. It's for a baby-to-be by the cute name of "Brooklyn". The mom didn't think I had any rabbits available for the photo since there are none currently in my shop, but I'm glad she asked because I have three! My son recently got a little Schleich rabbit hutch and two extra bunnies for his birthday. I thought that using all three of them in the photo gave the sense of a new family, with a mom, dad and a baby.

Bunnies are also so "Spring-y"! Welcome, Spring and welcome to the world, Brooklyn!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Paper Route

I started a little 1 day/week paper route with my daughter so that she could begin to earn some spending money. When I was her age, I did chores around the house to earn an allowance. I felt motivated to do them and wanted to earn the money. My daughter is a different creature than I was, however. She needs a lot of down time at home after doing homework (and has more homework than I ever had)and doesn't do a lot of chores during the school year. But, she IS motivated to do the paper route. We work together to fill the plastic bags with papers and store ads and the next day, we each take one side of the street and cover our route. It gives us a sense of shared mission, we get a good deal of exercise and it gives her a sense of responsibility beyond homework. What was the first work that you or your kids did?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I am enjoying a wonderful book called The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland. It's about a Canadian woman in the early 20th c. who is a painter. She has Native Canadian friends and paints Native Canadian themes, which alienates her from her Victorian sisters and most of the people who show up to and critique her art shows. She isn't rewarded for her work until fairly late in life and by that time she has almost given up hope that anyone will respond to her work.
I respond to this book in a very personal way. I love painting, drawing and photography. I also share the protagonist's deep love of the forest and being in the woods (but don't envy her the mosquito bites that she gets in the far north). It's reminding me that no matter how practical I try to be, the deep desire to create will still be there and will keep asking me to answer that call.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

tightening our belts without feeling the pinch

When I decided last summer to try to reduce our grocery budget, I wasn't sure how to do it without turning the whole family against me. They were used to a having foods around that they liked, but didn't need to have "name brand" items. Since July, our food budget per week is about 1/2 of what it used to be. So, let me share with you what worked:
1. Shopping at Aldi. When I compare Aldi's regular prices, they are about what a really good sale price is at any of our other supermarkets. I buy almost all of our groceries at Aldi and the quality is as good or better than other stores. Most dinners that I make cost around $5.
2. I bought a bread machine from Craig's list. Bread costs about 80 cents/loaf from the machine and it fills the house with a wonderful aroma that everyone loves.
3. Cooking more from scratch.
4. Buy more basic cereals. Things like raisin bran and corn flakes are cheaper than Honey Bunches of Oats and other things that I used to buy.
5. Baking cookies. My five-year-old loves to help to bake these and we really are creating some nice memories together as well as saving money and cutting back on preservatives and other ingredients that we don't want from packaged cookies.
6. Freezing yogurt pops. We blend strawberries, powdered sugar and plain yogurt and freeze with a popsicle mold and stick.
7. Planning meals. I used to wonder every night what was for dinner and who was going to cook it. While I have a fairly limited repertoire (which the kids basically like), I plan carefully, buy carefully and know what we're going to have. I don't plan night by night, but have a set of dishes I can choose from that day.
8. Using the produce I buy. Because I'm planning more meals, I actually use the produce I buy because it has more to do with a particular meal. Not perfectly so, some things still don't get used, but I'm much more conscious of what I am using.
9. Use leftovers. Either for lunch or I will have leftover night on Sunday, which I like to take as a day of rest, anyway.
10. Garden more. We have raspberries, apples, herbs and plant various things each year. This year, I would like to make a greater effort to garden more and maybe even learn how to can (I freeze raspberries and applesauce for the winter).

I hope these ideas are useful to you. Feel free to leave other ideas in your comments.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My friend, Courtney recently had a baby and I made this personalized block photo for her. Her mom hosted an "afternoon tea" for her this past weekend and it was so much fun. Kind of like a baby shower, but with lots of different teas and antique teacups to choose from, cakes, scones, little sandwiches. I found an 11 x 14 frame at Target that had a white wood border and a white 5 x 7 matte opening which was just perfect for this image. She was really touched when she opened the gift and almost cried. I absolutely love giving personal gifts was so delighted to meet Elle.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Even on the bitterest days

I walk with my dog even on the bitterest days. He needs it and I need it. We get to the trail and he is like a young puppy again, sprinting around, off leash. We are sometimes the only ones there. At times, I need to leash him, which he will submit to, but he would so much rather run free.

At home, he lies by the heater or hovers around the kitchen, hoping for things to be dropped, but on the trail, he is free. He puts the need for heat and the need for food on hold and just runs.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Join in, help out

This is my "sticker" for the pledge that I'll be doing today at Starbucks. I'm pledging to put in 5 volunteer hours in my community. What do I do already? I volunteer to do videotaping for a group called The Black Pioneers of Niagara Falls. They are a group of African American citizens of the Niagara Falls area who have incredible stories to tell of their migration North in the early 20th century. I've done some editing of the dvds and a presentation with some of the co-founders of the group. I also bring food to our church food pantry and my kids love to get involved in this. It really has brought about some discussions about having and not having "enough". My kids now realize that some people in our city don't have enough to eat.

I need to do more, though. Of course, I should put in more volunteer hours, but this will get the ball rolling. You have until the 26th if you would like to get involved, too.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sometimes, before my son goes to sleep (he is 4), he talks about God. Tonight he was talking about how, after we die, we live with God. He said "I know it will be good, but I can't imagine any place nicer than here."