Jes Lee

I found a game…

Ok, the truth is I didn’t blog last night because I actually found a fun game to play on my new little laptop. It is called Botanicula and it is quite adorable. I don’t often get into computer games, but this one held my interest for a while last night, and I kind of needed it.

Yesterday wasn’t terribly exciting anyway in the way of the art world. It involved a lot of photo sorting and a ton of updating Adobe programs on my new laptop. Such is the exciting life of an artist using Adobe!

There was also a bit of mentally preparing for my new project that will start next week, and mental inventorying of the projects that are due all too soon.

Today will be one of those normal day-job work kind of days, with a bit of photo work crammed in the middle. It will be busy, but at least the sun is shining and the weekend is very very close.

In the midst of my photo searching yesterday I cam upon a video I took at an aquarium last year. I’m not sure if it was at the Minnesota Zoo or if it was from when we were in Nebraska. That I will figure out eventually. But just finding it is making me want to go to the aquarium again. I could sit for hours watching the fish swim. There are a few of options kind-of close to us, but of course they aren’t cheap, so we don’t go very often. But I’m hoping to get back to one soon.

In the mean time, I watch this YouTube video on the biggest screen I possibly can and pretend I’m there. Dorky, yes, but it works.

The aquarium in Nebraska (taken with a Hasselblad, long exposure, Kodak Ektachrome)

Just a few ramblings

I have honestly not done a lot besides bike to work, work, and bike home from work today. Considering it was 94 degrees out when I rode home, I guess that is ok. Yes, it was one of the hottest days I have biked. But, it really wasn’t that bad. Try working in a kitchen in a restaurant in the middle of summer. Riding a bike on a hot day is better than that. You actually have a breeze as you bike downhill.

Moving on!

Yesterday I finally allowed myself to order some more film from The Impossible Project! (Having a couple of paying art jobs allows that once in a while.) And thanks to the magic ‘express shipping’ fingers of Annie I got my film in the mail today! I’m quite excited. I’m hoping and hoping and hoping that Mr. FN and I will get out for a little drive on Saturday and I will be able to have a little photo day. Fingers crossed!

I was also quite excited yesterday when Milkweed Books re-tweeted my little book review post! Maybe I will throw a book review when they are relevant to shake things up a bit around here…

I got three rolls of film back from the photo shop today and hope to get started scanning tomorrow. There are a few old car photos on those rolls!

Of course there is also work to be done for MCBA. I will be thrilled if the network at home holds out and allows me to work tomorrow! #FirstWorldProblems

Soon enough it will be time to really get to work on creating new pieces for the show in October. For now, I am enjoying playing and scanning.

But tonight, it is time for me to go to bed early, curl up with my steampunk-zombie book, and actually sleep.

Sweet dreams internet!

Nebraska – last summer. I am so ready for another road trip!

A little book review

I have had a hard time picking out books to read lately. I have just had a really hard time getting into reading anything I have picked out.

Milkweed Books announced that during Northern Spark if you tweeted a photo of yourself out working after midnight, they would send you a book for free. I often pour over the shelves of books that Milkweed has published (they sell them in the gift shop at MCBA where I often find myself killing time before a meeting or waiting for a print to dry before I can go home). Since I was working at MCBA all night during Northern Spark, the photo opp would be easy. So I tried it! A few days later, I got an email from Milkweed asking if I prefered Fiction, Non Fiction, or Poetry. I picked Fiction and hoped for the best.

They sent me a book called Orion You Came and You Took All My Marbles. The cover art alone was enough to intrigue me! I decided it was time to set aside the copy of Gravity’s Rainbow I was slogging through and give this a shot.

I finished it in 3 days. I have not been that pulled into a book in a long time! All I wanted to do was read!

Orion is a mystery about puppets and shrimp and a group of investigators who are also actors or want to be actors. The story is told through a lot of dialogue as well as the inner ramblings of Finley who wants to be as thorough as possible with her reports about the puppet case she has been assigned to. She can’t remember her past, but is slowly starting to. To tell you anything else would just seem silly. You should just read it!

I have never read a book written in this style before. Kira Henehan has a very choppy, fragmented way of writing this story, and normally I wouldn’t expect to like that style. But here, I love it! I am curious about her other work, and plan to hunt down more of her poetry and short stories. This is her first novel, and I hope to tears that she writes more soon! She is definitely an author I would like to follow.

*I did actually buy an extra copy of this book to give as a birthday present to a friend. I hope she likes it as much as I did!*

Being that I haven’t had the best of luck picking out books on my own lately, and Milkweed did such an awesome job picking out one for me, I asked them on Twitter what they would recommend I read next. They answered! They sent two suggestions: Things That Are by Amy Leach and In Red by Magdalena Tulli. I plan on buying both, and hopefully I can keep getting book recommendations from Milkweed and possibly a few other local publishers around the city! Maybe these little book reviews will become a semi regular part of this blog!

If you read any of the books mentioned here and want to chat about them a bit more, please feel free to leave questions, comments, feedback, and short reviews in the comments! No spoilers please!!!


Insert witty title here

I remember during my short stint writing for the school newspaper in college how we were always scolded not to title an article during layout night with anything like “title goes here” or “this article needs a title” or anything with a bad pun in it because invariably it would get late and you would forget to change that out with a real title and it would go to print looking stupid. But this blog post is keeping this title. Honestly, thinking of a title for a blog post is my least favorite part of blogging. I have a hard time thinking of a title! Especially now that I have been blogging everyday for awhile! Dear blogger friends, how do you keep coming up with titles??

Moving on.

As we always say, eventually things turn around, and the bad days are followed by good days, and the world keeps turning.

Today I started going on a 13.5 mile bike ride with my grandpa and his wife’s son. It was a gorgeous day! And because my biking company tends to take breaks a bit more often than I do (since this was actually an enjoyable bike ride and not an “omg I am late for work” bike ride) I brought a couple of cameras with (ok, 3 + my iPhone) and took quite a few photos along the trail. Results will be posted soon! It was a great day to be outside, and I enjoyed spending the time with my gramps and having an excuse to get out of the house for awhile with my cameras.

After that I spent the afternoon processing film scans on my new laptop. Oh man! Is this little laptop fast!! i am adjusting to the size – it is smaller than my old laptop, and it has a glossy screen instead of the mat finish – but what it lacks in those details, it makes up for in speed. It is so cool!

I have been focusing a lot on going through photos from the past year or so that I have not yet had a chance to work on. There are plenty of them! It is giving me a chance to compare cameras and film again, and see how much material I really do have to work from for the next shows coming up. It is fun work actually! While there are plenty of gorgeous summer days that I dread being cooped up inside working on my computer, I do really enjoy finding photos I had forgotten about, and finding film that I would like to use more frequently, and realizing how much I love a particular camera, etc.

There were good parts to yesterday. The main positive bit was that I managed to get to Wet Paint to buy a few art supplies. I now have a large mylar sheet which will assist me in screen printing! I also have a new medium to try photo transfers on, and two new journals to start collecting my next project in. I am excited to get started on it, and excited to actually tell all of you what I’m doing! (I’m not going to tell you yet though!)

Tomorrow promises to be a busy day, but I plan on getting a lot of exciting work done again, as well as finally being able to pick up my screen prints from the drying rack at MCBA! Yay!

Until tomorrow,

Nebraska, summer 2011. Among the cool photos I have been working on that I didn’t have time to work on before.


Some days it is easy to forget the reason why you decided to do something in the first place. If you are lucky, you remember that reason before the event is over. I guess I was one of those lucky ones today!

Mr. FN and I had a chance to go see the Back to the 50’s car show today. It was his first time seeing it, and we had a ton of fun! There will be many photos coming soon (when I manage to finish off a couple of rolls of film!)

Tomorrow is a long day-job type day. When I think about the next project I want to accomplish, I often worry about these long days, wondering how I will fit one more thing into them. But I know somehow it will work out. If I’m lucky tomorrow, I’ll have a chance to go buy a few supplies for this next project. It is always a great day when you can sneak in a little visit to your favorite art supply store….or just your favorite store ;)


Screen printing!!!

I spent the evening (5 hours to be exact!) screen printing with Laura Brown at Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Screen printing is one of those things that I have always wanted to try, but have always been a bit afraid to just jump into. Mostly because you need screens and emulsion and ink and those things add up to be a lot in ‘buy-your-own-supplies’ land when you just want to see if you like it or not. The members of the Artist Co-op at MCBA were offered a free workshop awhile back so we could get a feel for the screen printing process and the studio space and hopefully get a few more of us interested in the medium. I got a little taste of it, but never felt like I had the skill to really work on it on my own. Laura Brown was lucky enough to participate in this amazing residency program where she learned a lot more about screen printing and was willing to share some of her knowledge with me in a trade we worked out. It was amazing! Not only do I have a pretty cool set of prints drying in the racks at MCBA right now (4 freaking colors I might add!!) but I totally feel like I could go back tomorrow or next week and create another set of awesome prints. We thought about stopping after two colors, but because my dear Mr. FN was willing to go out and bring us back pizza and beverages, we kept working for 5 hours and finished the whole run of prints. The best way to learn a new medium is just by doing it, and by doing an entire project all at once. Just stick with it. That process is now engrained in me! I am so excited to try it again.

I have said before that a lot of my summer will be spent experimenting. I am working in the darkroom more again, planning to work more with toning darkroom prints, and after tonight I am planning how screen printing could enter into all of this. Another layer. I can’t wait to get started!

As soon as I have my prints back from the drying racks, I will post a better image of them. For now, here is this! This image came from a photograph I took in Japan when we were there in 2009. I separated the colors by hand, tracing each color onto a different piece of paper, and used that to expose the screens. Then each color was printed one on top of the other, creating some over laps and some little bits that are off, but those variations are part of the process and I love them!

In the drying rack!

A little up close – the best prints were a bit buried on the rack. You will see a photo of an awesome one soon! Also, we spent a lot of time mixing the perfect pink for the mouth :)

The photo this came from! This was a billboard in Dotombori, Japan – not far from Osaka.

Until next time!



a day

A day with an early start.

There are very few things that will get me out of bed before 7am. Even fewer things will get me out of bed before 6:30am. One of those things is my dad hosting the annual Back-to-the-50s registration breakfast at the restaurant.

So by 10am this morning I had already waitressed for 1 1/2 hours, taken almost 3 rolls of film full of photos of old cars, and gone shopping with my mom. Around 12:45 I made myself more coffee and a breakfast smoothie to try to trick my brain into believing I hadn’t been awake for that long…it didn’t work…

I did manage to create a new box for my book series, scanned in some film, uploaded a few photos to Flickr, applied to a film festival, finished a project for a friend, and got an image started for an epic screen printing workshop session tomorrow night. I am amazed at everything I managed to get done today! Really, I am amazed at this entire week. I feel better after doing this, and I have learned a lot about my distraction level and how I work best. I think this will help a lot this summer.

On we go! I’m very grateful for another good, productive day and I am very ready to head to bed and read. Goodnight world!



Some days are quiet

Today was a day-job work day.

I biked to work despite the threats of rain and storms, and somehow missed getting caught in anything during both my ride to work and back home.

It is challenging to get a lot of artwork work done on these days. I’m wore out by the time I get home and I’m ready to just crash. But I realize that what I end up doing is really more similar to “studying” instead of “practicing”. What I mean by that:

Tonight I have not touched any photos, film, processed anything, scanned any images in, nothing. I have, however gotten my Adobe programs set up on my new laptop so they will work (this is actually quite a bit of work. Adobe doesn’t make it easy to switch computers!). Biking lets my mind wander a bit more than driving does. Today on my bike ride I continued thinking about the next project I want to work on, and I think I am a little bit farther in figuring out what exactly it will be. I have been working on that for a while now, but today I feel closer. I have also been reading and reading always has the potential of helping with creative ideas and putting us in the right “zone”.

So today has been a study day, and honestly, it was a good one.

Tomorrow is an early morning. The Back to the 50’s car show starts tomorrow and I will be up very early to help at work and take photos of the old cars and stuff like that. And then eventually I will make it back home and continue with my artwork week and everything will be as it should. In the mean time, I am looking forward to this weekend, but seriously dreading getting up before 7am.

On we go.