Cirrus Clouds

The sky was amazing today! Cirrus clouds from horizon to horizon.

Elder House

That’s the balcony off my bedroom – and the view from Elder Street.

Cirrus Clouds

Cirrus Clouds

Cirrus Clouds

I could look at these clouds all day. Every way you turned, it was like an abstract painting in the sky. Just beautiful!

The last three images were shot at the gas station as I was filling up my tank – and paying $4.09 a gallon. First time ever I’ve paid over four dollars. Thank heaven for a beautiful sky to distract me…

Studio Update: The Inside!

I got some more painting done this week, so I figured it was time to finally shoot some pictures of the interior of the studio. It’s not officially done yet – there are still little tasks I want to complete – but it’s pretty close! Close enough for photos, anyway…


This is my favorite part of the whole studio – and it’s what you see when you first walk in the door. The big images are gallery wrap canvases – exactly the same as painters use – only these are a photographic image. Canvases like this are really hot right now – and I can have them made in just about any size you can imagine. More on those on another day!

The couch is over a hundred years old – I bought it last summer from a family in Point Loma – their great aunt had brought it with her from the East Coast, and it was custom made for her family in 1904. I’m totally in love with it, and at some point I plan to get it reupholstered in white Matelasse – but for now I’m enjoying the green. It’s not a color I would have chosen, but I really like it!

The one thing I don’t like is that outlet right in the middle of the wall – but you know, it’s awfully convenient at times… I’d like it better though if it was lower on the wall – like low enough for the couch to hide it? Maybe someday!


Backing up a little, here’s a wide view – and you can see one of my skylights. The table in the foreground is also over a hundred years old. The grandfather clock was made by my grandfather, for my grandmother and as the oldest grandchild I inherited it. It needs to make a trip to a clock doctor – it’s not working right now – but if you walk by it, the chimes shimmy in it, and it’s a pretty sound.


From this view you can see the front door – and the backside of my cute little sign. And the LCD TV where I show my work…


Another view of the LCD TV and the fireplace – and yes, I’d love to hide those two cords… Give it time, and it’ll happen!


And this is my work area. I designed and made the desk and the black table in the corner – they both use legs from and from there it was just a matter of doing the math, to get the size and shape and mass I wanted. I had a very specific picture in my head, and couldn’t find a desk that fit – so I made my own!


And this elegant sideboard – circa 1885, or earlier – is my favorite purchase in the past year! I actually designed the whole studio around it. It doesn’t look it in this image, but it’s absolutely massive – taller than I am, with a nice high counter perfect for wrapping up packages and doing other tasks you need a counter for. I would love to get all the clutter off it, and let it just sit there, elegant and beautiful, but the truth is I use it and work at it and it’s very functional. Some of that clutter is going away in a week or two, but it will never be just a pretty piece of furniture – it’s a working counter and storage area!


And here’s the final corner. I can and do shoot inside – with natural light from all the windows or with studio lights. So I’ve hung a rod between two antique cloak hooks, and I’m able to hang fabric to use as a background. Right now I’ve got five different fabrics I can use, and I plan to replace them occasionally – so I have something new and fun to use!


And finally just my desk – with some sun flair! The rest of the images in this post are so straight and documentary in feel – can you blame me for wanting to have a little fun? And the light and the colors reflect how I feel about my desk and computer. I feel like I make magic here at times – so why not shoot it the way I feel it?

So that’s the studio part of the studio! If that’s all you’re interested in you can stop reading now. But if you’re like me, and you like seeing how other people live, I have a few more images you might be interested in…

Whenever I go to a show at an art colony or anytime I’m in an artist’s loft, I’m mostly interested in the art, but I’ll admit it – I also love to see how they live. I want to see where the bed is, and what the kitchen is like. Because it’s usually not like your average house – it’s a chic loft with paint on the floor and interesting people wandering in and out, and it’s intriguing! I don’t live in a loft – it’s just an old farm house – but I do have some paint on the floor still, and interesting people do wander through occasionally…


The bedroom…


The bathroom, complete with the famous red clawfoot tub!


And my tiny kitchen, which I designed and built myself. I have a dishwasher, a great toaster over, one burner, a crock pot, and a refrigerator/freezer – but no microwave. And I don’t miss it at all! And I do plan to call an electrician at some point and hide those cords too.


And to end the tour, I’ll include this photo of my front door at sunset. If you come to visit me in the early evening, this is what it looks like!

Studio Update: New Signs!

After painting my front door, I installed my new signs, and compared to the painting, hanging signs was a breeze. And I think they look lovely. I’m VERY pleased!

You can see both of my new signs in this shot – the main sign at the foot of the stairs, and at the top of the stairs, you can see my front door and tiny little sign…

Another angle of the main sign.


And my tiny sign on the door. It’s only ten inches across, but for this door and this logo it’s the perfect size! I designed it myself, printed it out, and lived with it for a few days before ordering it, to be sure it was just right – and it is. In fact, it’s even better since it’s installed.

Thank you to Jim’s Sign Shop for all your help – you rock!

Elder House, Fallbrook, California

Elder House, Fallbrook, California // Photo: Cheryl SpeltsI’m planning to shoot some images of the exterior of my studio once I get my new signs, but I thought I could at least show Elder House today! You can see the stairs leading up to my front door, and the large deck, and the wonderful skylights that flood my main room with soft beautiful light. And in the image below you can see my little balcony, and the edge of the deck.

Elder House has an interesting history. According to an article that appeared in the Village News in 1998, it was built as the result of a competition between three local men in 1883. They each were to build a house for under $3000, and the one who built the best house would win. One of these three houses, described as a “beautiful, ornate home,” was built on Juniper Street, and later moved to West Elder. It didn’t win the contest, but it is the only one of the three still standing.

Elder HouseI’m not sure when this photo was taken, but it’s a fairly early shot – probably from before the house was moved to Elder Street. The staircase on the side of the building is long gone, and the house has been extended on both sides, at some point during the last 100 years. But the bay window downstairs and the tiny balcony upstairs look almost exactly the same today as they did when the home was new.

There are stories that one of Fallbrook’s first newspapers was located here. In the 1980’s it was a popular restaurant, then in the early 1990’s a construction company was located here, and in the late 1990’s it was first Fallbrook Country Day School and then The New School in the early 2000’s. And now it’s the home of Fallbrook’s Village News downstairs- and I’m very lucky to have the upstairs!

Elder House | Fallbrook, California

If you’d like to read more about The Building Contest in 1883, go to:

Edited on 6/23/2011 to add…

Grandma's House Restaurant

Even though I no longer have my studio in Elder House, I’m still interested in it! And I found this old postcard featuring Elder House, circa 1970! Evidently it housed Grandma’s House Restaurant at the time – and it looked a little different 40 years ago. The spindles on the railing on the second story deck and balcony are much narrower – and more authentic for the time period. The wider style in place today is charming, but I like the 1970’s version! And it’s hard to tell for sure, but the window on the top story, on the far right, may be the original narrow Victoria-era window. At some point it was replaced by a wider window – which lets in more light – but isn’t quite as authentic to the period of the house. And the staircase on the far right, is clearly different – it seems to be oriented east/west, instead of the current south/north.

But perhaps the biggest change is that there was no porch area in 1970. There’s a tiny little landing, leading to the front door, with a tiny railing – a very simple entrance for such a big house. Today there’s a covered porch that’s still small by most standards, but definitely a lot grander than what was there in 1970!

Other than that? Not much different! Even the color isn’t too different. It looks blue in the photo – and it was gray when I first came to Fallbrook – and now it’s a nice warm tan – but still all in the same vein – a nice medium tone, set off by the bright white railing and black trim. It’s a good look!

Map to the Studio

I’ve added a map to my new studio, on my website – it’s a pdf file and it’s very pretty! So if you’ve ever wondered where I’m located? Or if you need to know how to get here, it’s a simple as clicking on this link!

Map to the Studio

My first ad and a quick blurb…

My first ad ran in the local newspaper yesterday, along with a brief mention of my new studio. Very cool!

Village News Article

Village News Ad

New Photography Studio Open

FALLBROOK — Cheryl Spelts, a fine art photographer specializing in fresh and modern portraits and beautiful weddings, opened a new studio in downtown Fallbrook this week. The studio is located upstairs from the Village News at the historic Elder House.

It’s a space that is filled with light, making it perfect for beautiful, natural light portraits, which suits Spelts’ style of relaxed, modern portrait photography. The grounds of Elder House are the perfect backdrop for the outdoor portion of a photo session. Location shoots and wedding photography are also available.

Spelts’ Web site,, features samples of her work and a regularly updated blog.

Spelts is available by appointment only. Please call (760) 728-4282.

Studio Update

The studio is so close to being done! Floor, desk, shelves, cabinets, lights, more lights, fireplace, lots of appliances – I’m technically not renovating, I’m just “redecorating” – but it’s still pretty intense!

The new bamboo floor is installed – I did the first half myself, then hired a couple of guys to help me finish it the last day. It sounds so easy to just slide a wood floor together, but it’s harder than it looks and includes measuring, cutting, gluing – so lots of steps. I did a better job on the section I did alone, but it all looks great – even the parts that aren’t perfect!

My brother Michael installed the chandelier. I’m totally in love with this light fixture! It’s wrought iron and has drop crystals – but instead of cut glass crystals like a traditional chandelier, they’re rounded and very modern looking. Once the chandelier was up I had to get the wrought iron curtain rod and window scarf up on the window next to it, so I could see now how that corner finished. It’s one little corner – but it’s done – and it’s beautiful!

I just finished building a wall – a real wall with 2×4’s and dry wall and joint compound. It feels great to see something so permanent and know that I did it myself. I’m also building my kitchen counter – and that is truly an adventure because of the limited space I allotted for that area. It wasn’t a big priority for me, so it got a tiny corner, and it’s been tough making it all fit. But I think I’ve got it figured out. As long as I have room to get food and drinks ready for a party, I’ll be happy. Because I plan to throw a lot of parties – very soon!

I’ve also put together my little fireplace, and a little cabinet for the kitchen. And I have boxes with shelves and a chair – waiting to be put together.

My biggest project still mostly undone is building my desk. You can see the wood desktop I put together in the middle photo, leaning against the boxes. I wanted a very simple desk – almost a table actually. I don’t like clutter on my desk – and I didn’t want drawers. And I wanted real wood. Well all the desks I saw that I liked were over $2000 – and since what I want seems so simple, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try and build it myself? So I ordered some big farmhouse table legs online, and I had the perfect shade of pale blue paint custom mixed at Joe’s Hardware, and I glued together a bunch narrow boards to form the top of the desk. All that’s left is to put it all together!

And I had to include a portrait of my current best friend! I hate saws, I really do. I’ve been having dreams about cutting off fingers, etc., but.. this guy is so fast, so helpful, and because of him I’ve been able to do sooo much! So I’m grateful, but I’ll still be happy to say goodbye in a week or so…

A Red Clawfoot Bathtub

Yesterday on a whim I drove over the Elder House and rounded the corner just as a group of people were heading up the staircase to my new studio – so I called out and Julie called back that they were on their way up to uncover the bathtub. Totally perfect timing – it was meant to be.

First, you have to understand how much I LOVE clawfoot tubs. There’s nothing else like a big iron tub. They hold the heat, they hold a lot of water, the water is deep – they’re just heaven! And, on top of all that, they’re usually the most beautiful thing in a house. The only thing more beautiful is a great staircase with a carved wood banister – and even that is debatable.

So I was already excited, but it was particularly exciting because I’ve always heard there was a clawfoot tub up there, but who knew if it was true? And now I was going to get to witness the uncovering. And just as important to me, it was thinking about that rumored tub that made me realize I could actually live there – so in my mind the lure of that tub is what led me to my new studio. So yeah, I was excited!

And it’s beautiful! It needs to be resurfaced – I’ve done some research and it’s about $500 to get the work done – but well worth it!

And it’s red. That totally cracked me up!

I was under the impression that it had been covered up for twenty years – and it certainly looks that way! The reality is it was only covered a few years ago. But with a little professional help and a few days to cure, it’ll be a beautiful tub again.

New Studio!

I’ve rented a studio! I don’t get the keys until the first of July, but it’s definitely worth the wait. And you’ll never guess where it is…

I was totally prepared to move to Riverside and had been looking at old houses – and seeing some really cool places. I even fell in love with a beautiful house on Pine Street with walls that were two feet thick. It had hardwood floors and a balcony on the second story that was beyond gorgeous. I’d have done just anything for that house – but it was gone by the time I got the realtor on the phone. Houses that special go fast…

The problem with seeing a place that fabulous, is that if you don’t get it, then everything you see after seems not quite as good. Even really cool places just seem lacking in some way.

I wasn’t excited about anything else I was seeing in Riverside, so I decided to take one last drive around Fallbrook, just to see if maybe there was something that I’d overlooked. Some wonderful spot perfect for a studio with great light, that was located downtown… I was NOT expecting to find anything – I’ve lived here forever and I know every corner of the downtown area – but why not take one last loop?

And then I fell in love again!

I’ve always loved Elder House – it’s one of three big old Victorians in the downtown area. One of three houses I affectionately refer to as My Victorian on Vine – it’s the house I leased in 1997 – the home of Fallbrook’s first doctor, Dr Pruitt, built in 1895. I’ve always had a not-so-secret hope that someday I’ll live there again. It sits on top of a hill on a double lot, and has the most beautiful staircase of any house in Fallbrook. The second Victorian is a Stickley on Brandon – I’ve never seen the inside, but I’ve heard that it’s been in same family for many many years. Very cool! And the third is Elder House, an old farmhouse-style Victorian right in the middle of downtown.

Elder House hasn’t been an actual residence in a long time. It was a restaurant in the 1980’s and it housed a construction company when I first came to town. For most of the last decade it’s been an elementary school. Two years ago the owner of the local newspaper bought the house and will be moving her staff there soon. But it’s a big house, and I knew she intended to rent out part of the space to other businesses, so over a year ago I had a conversation with her about renting the old dining room – a great room with a fireplace and three walls of windows overlooking the stream that runs through the backyard. Really too small for what I wanted, but a great room…

So Elder House was in my mind for a long time. Not quite right for me, but very very cool. But as I drove by that night, I remembered that I’d always heard there was a clawfoot bathtub upstairs – hidden under a wood cabinet – and the plan just came together. I’d been looking for a great old house in the surrounding area that I could have clients come to – or a great space downtown and I’d live elsewhere – but a live/work studio downtown is the most ideal situation – and I assumed unattainable in Fallbrook. Thankfully I was wrong!

So today I handed over a check and signed a lease. I am so excited! And I can’t wait to see that bathtub!