Jes Lee

Day 32

Just a photo tonight.

I don't have much else left in me besides a photo.

It  has been a long day.

Tomorrow will be a much more thoughtful, slower paced day.

For now, this:

Until tomorrow,



Day 31

I've completed a month's worth of blog posts here! Pretty amazing…

There are many many times when this blog has kept me up way too late at night, but I am enjoying sharing all of these things. 


Today was more of a general "getting stuff done" kind-of day. I accomplished quite a few little things, just not much that I can show here so you could be impressed. 

I did have another one of those "light-bulb" moments, which has of course added ideas and plans…

Today, being a Tuesday, of course had a large chunk of time devoted to pottery. Tonight I finished trimming and finishing two covered bowls. Will they survive firing? Who knows! I hope so, but the main thing I am excited about is it is the first time since I have started working on pottery with my dad that I have finished a piece that consisted of two parts fitting together. I realize that this is because I have been practicing, almost always one day a week, for quite some time. 

As I posted last night I have created a couple of successful Polaroids with my Sx-70 camera and the Artiztic film. This is  because I have been practicing with it, trying different settings.

For this project, I want to have a few traditional silver gelatin prints in the show. I realize that to do this, I need to practice printing more. I know what I'm doing, I know the technique, but it has been awhile since I have seriously printed in my darkroom, and I know I need practice. 

So, that is one of the things I am going to try working on in the upcoming months. It is a great time to start getting in to this because, honestly, it is really hard to be in the darkroom all day when it is sunny and warm and gorgeous outside. It is much easier when it is rainy and cold out. I will try to post scans of the images I print. If you see one you really like, speak up! I am very willing to sell prints, and will price them quite cheaply. Every little bit helps me buy more supplies!

I did get two rolls of film scanned in tonight. Here are a couple of images, fresh off the scanner:

They are both from our little road trip over Labor Day weekend to Mundelein and Madison.


Until tomorrow.



Day 30

I had an amazing weekend.

We spent more time with the Combat Paper project and the Warrior Writers. Good things are happening (see previous posts if you don't know what I'm talking about!).

I also managed two pretty successful polaroids with my new Sx-70. 

I would like to put some polaroids in my upcoming show. They just need to be the right ones. I'm thinking I'll know it and everything will fall into place when I see the right images.

For now:



Day 29

Today I finished the Holgapalooza entry (it was due today!), worked a lot, and hung out a lot more with the awesome people with Combat Paper and Warrior Writers. John came with to hang out with them tonight. My quilt was hung on the wall. After all these years, it was awesome to see it touched by so many people. I believe John and I both are forever entwined with these two organizations now, and I am excited to see where those paths will lead in the future. 

I worked on processing a few more Holga photos in the process of completing my entry. They all have interesting qualities. You may see them somewhere else soon.


I'm hoping to catch up on some much needed sleeping and dreaming this weekend. I doubt that will happen, but I can hope! Perhaps Monday someone will let me sleep in around here!

Until next week.



Day 28

There are times when you are doing something, and suddenly you realize that you are on your path. That you are doing what you are meant to do, at least at that very moment of your life. It is overwhelming, and you realize that you will go to great lengths to be able to continue doing what you are doing, but you feel a sense of purpose.

Today was an art day for me. In so many more ways than I expected. 

I started out volunteering at Banfill like so many normal Thursdays. After my shift was done there, I went to MCBA where I volunteer to take photos of their exhibits. There are many times I go and there are other workshops and things going on in the classroom while I am there, and today there was a flurry of activity. I soon discovered that it was the Combat Paper residency during the Week for Peace event. Since MCBA thought it would be good to have some photos of the creating, I got to nose around and check out what they were doing, and I got to meet some amazing people.

First of all, Combat Paper is doing a very amazing thing. Veterans have a chance to come to a supportive place, and in a very cathartic way, to take their military uniform, cut it, destroy it, run it through the beater, and then turn the resulting pulp into a beautiful sheet of paper, a fresh, creative start. Taking something that stands for destruction, and turn it into something of their own. For some it is an awesome experience. For others it is very bittersweet. Watching it was happen was so powerful. I was honored to be able to take some photos of them working. 

As they were cleaning up for the afternoon, I got a chance to talk to them, and ended up telling them a bit about my Waiting Ribbons project and the quilt I ended up making as the last piece of the show. The quilt used up John’s duffle bags and many of his uniforms. They asked if I could bring it, so I’m planning on bringing it tomorrow. I chatted with one of the artists for awhile and discovered that he was over in Iraq at the same time John was. We talked a bit. It is so hard to describe, but there was so much that wasn’t said, that was just understood. You felt that way with everyone there. It was amazing. He gave me a book that they are bringing around on their tour called Warrior Writers: Re-Making Sense. He told me to share it with John. I know it will be hard to read. I am anxious to start though. I got pretty choked up when he gave it to me. Honestly, I cried most of the rest of the time I was there, finishing photographing the exhibit and driving home. 

It was, and still is very emotionally overwhelming. I am honored to have been able to meet them and to see what they are doing, and to have them ask to see what I made. As I was leaving, I realized that being an artist really is what I am supposed to be doing. I love what I am doing, I love taking photos, I love volunteering at MCBA, and it keeps leading me to so many different things. It is so hard to describe, but as I left, even though I was crying, remembering  a lot of feelings I hadn’t for a long time, I had this huge sense that everything was as it should be. 

Many times, as an artist, you doubt yourself, you doubt what you are doing, you doubt that it can make a difference, you doubt that it will be seen or heard or felt or read, or touched. You doubt that anything you do will matter.

Today, I didn’t doubt.

There will be other days that I will doubt, and I hope that I can come back to this post and remember the feelings I had today.

For now, I’m going to enjoy this feeling as long as I can, knowing that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.

The rest of the evening I spent with my husband and some very wonderful friends. We walked around the Walker Art Center, saw The Quick and the Dead exhibit, wandered the sculpture garden at night, had a wonderful dinner with lots of conversation and wine. 

Everything felt right. 


Day 27

Tonight I did a couple of polaroid self portraits. 

It makes me think a little of the analog character in my dialogs…which is still pretty non-existant, but that will be fixed later. 

The self portraits have been an interesting aspect to add into this project. I haven't tried them much since college. 

In a nod to all of my photography art history lessons where we discussed Cindy Sherman's work (she is one of my favorites) I did not attempt to hide my shutter release cord.

I realized a bit too late that there is quite a bit of dust on these scans. I will fix that and repost them here again, but for now, I don't have the brain power to fix all of the dust spots. 



Day 26

Today was not a good day for photos. In fact, by noon, I was so upset with my computer that I couldn't stand to look at it to work on anything more. I had also by that point in the day had enough other things go wrong that I decided that working with photo chemicals was way more hazardous than usual. I did manage to get a few new pottery pieces thrown, one of which might end up being the piece a friend commissioned, but we'll see how it dries. 

This doesn't mean that I didn't think about this project though. Actually, I thought about it quite a bit, and decided that I was going about it a bit too one-sided.

The overall idea of this project is the combination of analog and digital. I do feel like that is coming through in the work – through the processes I use,  and the fact that in the end, the show will incorporate digital prints and traditional silver prints as well (possibly some polaroids and/or emulsion transfers…I'm not ruling anything out at this point). What I feel is too one sided is the dialog. 

Most of the dialog I have been writing lately is either from a character that lives in the digital world, or from another character who is talking about the character in the digital world. I have not written a lot about the analog world, or about a happy medium between the two. Today, I started thinking about why that might be. My best guess, is that right now, I am fascinated by the digital world. I have connected with so many new friends, and re-connected with so many old friends, found many inspiring people, and gotten great feedback about my work online. There are even family members that I have connected with a bit more because it is easy here. I don't see it as a bad thing at all. I do realize though, that it has been quite awhile since I have gone without the internet for an extended period of time. In fact, the last time was probably when our power was out for a week, and even then, I could still go online when I was at work. So, I'm going to do an expirament for my project.

Coming up in about a week-and-a-half I have a weekend long trip planned with some girlfriends. We are staying in a cabin, hiking, and just hanging out in general. I have no idea if we will have internet at the cabin, and I decided that for that weekend, it won't matter. From Friday morning, to Monday morning, I will not be online. I am hoping that this will allow me to hear the voice of my character living in the analog world a bit more, and make things a little less one-sided. Yes, I will still have my cell phone with me, and yes, I will still have my ipod for music and in case the book I might read a bit of that weekend happens to be on there. I am not giving up digital conveniences completely, just the internet. Ironically, I have already decided that I will be leaving my digital camera at home for this weekend trip. I already have a ton of pictures of Duluth, so I am bringing only a few rolls of film, but many packs of Polaroids. I haven't taken any Polaroids up there yet, and I think this trip will be a great time to do it. 


Sometimes, we just need to remind ourselves how to listen. 


Day 25

Today, my goal was to just keep working.

There are a lot of expectations and deadlines that are coming up right now, and I wanted a day to just chip away at as many as possible. I never get as much done as I want to, but I always seem to think things will go faster than they really do.

I did accomplish quite a bit though.

All of my negatives are scanned in. 

Zain's pictures are done and a link has been sent to his mom :) 

Zain is the little, cutie-pie son of a very sweet friend and her cool husband. 'Little Guy' as I will always call him, made a very dramatic entrance into the world, but he seems to be settling in now. I was very happy to get to take photos of him, and I hope to keep it up as he grows!

I finished about 15 prints (out of the 130 I need!) for a project that is due towards the end of October. It will be part of a publication being put together by Minnesota Center for Book Arts and I am working hard to be a part of it! The publication will go along with their exhibit None of the Above that is in their galleries now. If you can, you really need to see it. It is great!

I also scanned in for you two photos I took on Saturday with my new camera. I got a ND filter for over the lens, so the exposures come out right during the day time.

They are not at all the best photos I've taken, but I'm getting the hang of this medium. It is challenging in different ways than film. I really like it!

Until tomorrow…


Day 24

Some of you may already know this…

Today my new camera arrived in the mail!

It isn't new, really, but it is new to me. All of it's quirks and idiosyncrasies are yet to be discovered. It has many secrets, for now.

I think we will get along well.



Day 23

Some days you need to just take a walk, let yourself get lost, even if you are getting lost in your own backyard. 

That is what I did today. I found places I didn't know were there. I cleared my head a bit. Of course, I took pictures.

There is more film to be developed soon, but here are the polaroids I took today. All of them were taken using my Hasselblad 501c/m using a Polaroid back, and my favorite Silk 125i film from Polapremium.

Some days you just have to take a walk.