Nathan in the summer of 2010

One of the best parts about my new home in Hemet is that it comes with a garage that faces the North. That may not mean much to most people, but as an artist the words “Northern Light” make me all feel all tingly inside.

What’s so special about Northern Light? Well picture the globe, spinning on it’s axis… No, that’s way too complicated.

Okay, picture yourself at home, and note the position of the sun at different times of the day. In the morning the sun is obviously in the east and at sunset it’s in the west. Easy. But there’s more to it! Depending on where you are in the world, the sun is also a little to the south or a little north of you – just a little – all day long – but it’s an important distinction.

Since I’m in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is usually a little south – so the plants on the southern side of my house get more sun and the plants on the northern side get more shade. Fairly basic stuff, right? But, that’s not the fun part – the fun begins if you have a window on the northern side of your house – I call it make everybody beautiful light! No direct light at all – just lots of soft light bouncing around outside and illuminating the subject. Beautiful!

And if you have a garage facing north, and you raise the garage door? That’s like a big huge natural softbox, only better.

The only thing I like better is a garage facing west… You can get the golden glow of late afternoon, but because you’re under a big roof, there’s no direct sun, and so no squinting – it’s really really beautiful. But, the drawback with western light is that it’s not quite as flattering as northern light.

My nephew Nathan spent a little time in California on his summer vacation, and he volunteered to help me test in my studio/garage space.

Nathan // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Can you believe that light?! Beautiful! And Nathan is beautiful as well. When I saw this image, I felt like it’s a glimpse of the man he will become. He looks soooo mature here!

We also shot a little out in Winchester Valley, just for fun – and I’ll post those here as well. It was a fun day!

Nathan // Photo: Cheryl SpeltsNathan // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Nathan in Winchester, California. // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Bloom where you’re planted

There’s a phrase… “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” It comes from a poem written in 1785 by Robert Burns. He was plowing a field, and inadvertently turned up and ruined a field mouse’s home, and it was too late in the season for the mouse to rebuild his home – so clearly, despite all the mouse’s preparation and hard work, he was going to face a cold hard winter. In his poem, Robert Burns compares the mouse’s situation to his own life, and admits that whether you’re a mouse or a man, or anything in between, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men Gang aft agley” or as we commonly refer to it, “go awry.”

But what does “go awry” really mean? And why must it always have a negative connotation? Clearly the mouse’s situation was dire, so that’s different, but if my best laid plans go awry is it really such a terrible thing?

Yellow Wildflowers in Menifee // Photo: Cheryl SpeltsI had a great plan when I left San Diego County – I was moving to Los Angeles and live the glamorous photographer life! But somehow I never really got to LA. Let me rephrase that, I got there, but I got tugged back less than a month later for personal reasons, and somehow I never made my way back. Things evolved, changes happened, and my best laid plans seemed to be going awry, but I couldn’t really be unhappy about it. No matter what path you choose, good things happen – and they did!

There’s another phrase, “Bloom where you’re planted.” I don’t know where it comes from but the meaning is obvious – no matter where you end up, do your best, and live fully, and “bloom!”

My path took another turn recently, and rather than fight it, I’m embracing it! My Grandmother bought a house for an investment in Hemet, California – which is the town where she grew up, and the town next to where my Mother grew up – and we still have a lot of family in the valley. I’ve spent a lot of time in Hemet over the years, but I’ve never really lived there – but now I do! I’m going to be living in that house – and I’m going to prosper there – and I’m going to save to buy my own house. Sounds like a plan!

Blooming where you’re planted sometimes requires letting go of your “best laid plans” and that can be hard. But it can also mean opening yourself up to all the wonderful possibilities where you’re actually at – and that can be a beautiful thing!

So hey Hemet! I’m making my home here now, and I’m going to bloom like you’ve never seen – believe it!

Happy Labor Day!

Labor Day is one of the best holidays all year long… No presents, no decorating, no big elaborate meals – just a lazy summer day where you get to do exactly what you want to do. My kind of day!

Spinach and Tomato with Roast Beef Salad // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

And this is one of my favorite meals! A big spinach salad with some beautiful sliced tomato and beef – the kind of beef intended for fajitas – and a little raspberry walnut vinaigrette dressing. Absolute perfection!

Self Portrait Project

Cheryl SpeltsI’m starting a new section of my blog today – a new category – it’s kind of a secret section, because the posts won’t show up on the main front page of my blog, or in my main RSS feed. Anyone on the web can get to it, so it’s not a real secret… Just a section no one knows about, except for me. At least for now!

So what is this unknown, sort of hidden, and pseudo-secret section going to be about? Me!

I’ve been wanting to get back into doing more self portraits – maybe even making it into a project? And whenever I think about self-portraits, then I get into self-improvement mode – it’s hard not to when you spend time gazing at yourself!

Self examination almost always leads to self-improvement…

And wouldn’t it be fun to document the whole process? Not just the end product – the actual self-portraits – but also the changes and evolution and the goals and the dreams – all of it. Or at least the interesting parts!

Thing is, not everyone who comes to my blog is going to be interested in all that personal reflection – in fact, it would be safe to say that very few of my blog visitors would enjoy reading about all that. So I had to choose between starting a second blog, and keeping things totally separate, or I could just start a new category on my current blog, and hide the posts from the front page and the main RSS feed – and I chose the latter.

Here’s to my new project! Documenting a work in progress… As an artist I never know where I’ll end up with an open-ended project like this – but that’s part of the beauty of it – and if you find this section, and decide to follow along, I welcome you!