Jes Lee


When I get busy putting together a new show for a gallery, or trying to finish a book project, I often forget to give myself a break, and don’t take care of myself enough.

Over the past 2 1/2 years, having a steady yoga practice has taught me how important self-care really is, not just for me physically, but mentally as well.

Sometimes it is still hard for me to listen, and the beginning of my summer break was no exception. I skipped yoga class a few too many times in favor of long days in my studio, and I was getting burned out, overly stressed, and sick.

Memorial Day Weekend came around and I was a mess. But thanks to plans we had made with friends, I was forced to have some down time and get back into a normal, slower routine.


Among other weekend events, we joined a couple of friends at their family’s cabin for the weekend. I’ll write another post soon dedicated to the photos I took while we were there. But this was the turning point. Sitting in my kayak on a lake is one of the most peaceful places I have found on this earth. Getting back home after our time there, I started falling back into the rush and craziness of getting work ready for my upcoming show…until I forced myself to stop, and remember these moments.

I started a small challenge of seeing how many times per week I can make it to yoga class during this month. This past weekend I went to a new class for a style of yoga I have not tried before, and I loved it. I’m going to go back as often as I can before my day job starts up again in August.

After forcing myself to slow down again, I am making much more progress on getting work ready for my show. I install everything on the 23rd, and I am almost ready. I can’t wait…I am very proud of the work I am making now.

More about that to come soon.

Moving right along

This week I get to share with you that my #Mississippi book is now also included in the permanent collection at the Minnesota Historical Society! It is so exciting to have that book travel so many places, and be seen by so many people. I never dreamed that would happen!

I have been busy the last few days editing film scans of photos from our trip last month, and working on a new series of artwork. I have more plans for this year, though it is a bit too early to share them now. It is an exciting and full year, in all the best ways!

If you follow me on Instagram, I’ll be sharing many film photos from our trip this week, as well as a couple of work-in-progress photos from the artwork series I am working on.

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2016 goals and photos

I have no resolutions this year, except to keep up what I figured out best last year.

I have goals though.

  1. Yesterday I started a new photo 365 (366 technically) project. This one using my FIL’s old Nikon F20 camera, with my cell phone for back up and documentation. Once I get the first roll developed, I will begin posting both images here.
  2. To post more often here.
  3. To put together the best series of images I can for my show at Banfill this summer. Basically, to do my best.
  4. To read/listen to 52 books this year. I love reading, I always have. It is so easy to let that go when there are other things to be done. Last year I started listening to audio books during my commute to work. Between the books I listen to, and those I read, this should be a reasonable goal.

Once again John and I were fortunate enough to start this year in a different county, visiting friends again in Okinawa, Japan. Today, I am slowly inching my way towards completing developing all the film I took over our week-long visit, and the task of scanning all of those images into my computer. It isn’t a bad way to spend a frigid cold day! I will slowly be sharing these photos here as well as my normal social media haunts, as I get them sorted through and edited.

Oh, but what I would trade to be back there.


Made Here launch and on to summer

The Made Here MN launch party was Wednesday night…and it was amazing!

I enjoyed meeting the other artists, catching up with a few I have known. We went on a walking tour of all the installation sites, ending with a lovely continuation of the party at the new Mayo Clinic Square. It was so much fun! I loved the chance to catch up with friends and fellow artists I have not seen in a while, meeting new, interesting people, and seeing a slice of the creative energy that exists in this city. I have said it before, but being a part of this installation project has been amazing and exciting for me!



photo taken by Shannon Hady!



Photo taken by a lovely tourist walking the bridge at the same time!


We parked on the other side of the river, and had a lovely walk back to our cars at the end of the evening. I love the view of our city, and especially our river at night.

Escapes, the site-specific image I made for my Made Here installation is now up in my Etsy shop in print form.

This was one of the last big events I have planned for this summer break from work. I have thought a lot about the directions my work is going in, and what is next. More musings about this in another blog post. I still have a lot to work out in my head…but the future is bright.


Photo walks

Best parts of today:

I had to pick John up from work today. I arrived early…but just happened to have my Hasselblad in my bag with me. I enjoyed a short photo walk along the river while I waited for him.

After a trip to the Farmer’s Market, I spent time making pottery with my dad. I created a new pitcher today. It reminds me of the saki pitchers we saw in Japan.



When you are working for yourself, the weekend doesn’t always mean what it does to the 9-5 people. While I don’t always have “weekends off”, I do still look forward to them. Right now I am looking forward to three days with long stretches of studio time!

I already broke my rule of ‘at least one print run done each day on this new book’. I didn’t print anything yesterday. But I will more than make up for it this weekend! Yesterday was busy with plenty of other things, including a yoga class for me, and printing at MCBA.

These prints do not look like much….in fact my printing technique definitely needs work (more to do with the type of plate I am using vs. the type of plate I really need to be using)….but I am still so excited. These prints show that the plate exposure times I am using are within the correct range for this printing technique! I have worked hard on this over the winter, and I am so excited to finally have results like this! You can actually see a flower in the print! And you can actually tell that there is detail in the flower! And there is actually a defined background square! It really is the little things in life! More to come on this soon, I hope!


I am quite far behind with developing film from my 365 film photography project. But I am still working on it. Not every day is easy to get my film camera out and find something worthy of the cost of the film. But I am finding that more often than not this process is becoming another type of meditation for me.

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I am quite content with the idea that now I am just collecting images of this year, that it doesn’t matter that it takes me awhile to develop and upload them, that now the simple act of collecting is what I need to be doing…another act of meditation. Last spring began a pretty tough journey for me. After a year, I’m finally beginning to feel like I more in touch with myself, and everything that has happened and changed, and better able to cope. I am finally feeling more towards the top end of things, instead of the bottom. It isn’t easy to think about or talk about all of this. The past year I have dealt with a lot of major life changes of all types, and the emotional turmoil that came with many of those. I can recognize now that I was dealing at times with depression. Looking back now I can see that one thing that helped most often was these little meditative practices I have found. Writing in a journal daily. Taking photographs daily. Creating daily. And definitely going to yoga classes. In the beginning of 2014 John encouraged me to find a yoga center I liked and go to classes. Taking that time has made a huge difference. Last weekend, I was helping out a friend during a studio sale. She and the other artists there create amazing jewelry, and are great to hang out with. Of course there were many new sparkly pieces that I wanted, and plenty that came home with me. There was one piece that I ended up with that was quite different. This one called to me – yes, that sounds cheesy, but it did. It was a collaboration piece between a friend of mine and another artist. 2014-04-29 08.09.00

This is a Buddhist Mala wrap. There are 108 beads. It is typically used for meditations, chanting, and prayer. The colored beads and charms have various meanings….these particular colors stand for clarity. The moon charm, for wishes. I have worn it every day since.

As the meanings were explained to me, many things clicked in my mind, and the realization of this journey, my meditations, everything seemed to make a bit more sense. I don’t know where any of this will lead, but I feel like I understand my tools better now.

And now that the sunshine is out, I’m heading down to the basement to my studio to develop film! Ha! Somethings don’t change :)

Until next time,



printing and gluing, printing and gluing…

….that seems like all I have done the last few days, with a bit of waitressing, and one day of skiing with John thrown in for a bit of variety.

It is Tuesday night, and it already feels like it has been a long week. Yesterday was divided pretty evenly between working my day job and working on a project for my box making class.

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Today I spent the day printing on one of the sweet little etching presses at MCBA. I had John drop me off on his way to work, and pick me up on his way home. I printed the entire time I was there (except for some time spent trying to tame a plate with a “rebellious¬†spirit” – named that by my friend Erin), and a bit of time for lunch. I am learning this new printing process quite well, and I’m sure I will be able to print in my sleep by the time I am done with this project. I’m heading back to their studios Thursday for another full day of printing.

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Tomorrow will be another day full of my day job, and more work on my box in the evening.

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I love what I am doing. And there is something amazing about turning off the computer, and other social media things, putting on head phones, and cranking out prints. Much like being back in the darkroom in college. This is a lot of work, and this show that is going up in June is a big challenge for me. I know I have said that before, and I have a few friends that I’m sure think I’m a broken record or something. But the work I am creating for this is a lot different from what I have done before. It is challenging me in a lot of good ways! But it is a long process.

So, one day at a time, breaking down each big project part into little parts and working on those one by one, step by step,…

…and looking forward to the weekend, just a bit!

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365 project catch up day

It has been very quiet around this blog lately. That has mostly been due to how busy I was preparing for Craftstravaganza. (There is a post on that coming very soon!) In the mean time, here is the catch up on my 365 projects!

April 24th
Instant 365 #26
A cold day, looking up at the bare trees. Spring will be here someday!
(I already posted the cell phone pic for this day.)

April 25th
Instant 365 #27
Spring! At least it felt like it that day! We spent the evening on the new patio at Psycho Suzie’s with friends.

April 26th

Instant 365 #28
Sunshine and another deck photo.

Cell phone 365 #28
This was actually inspired by tweets from a couple of friends, but still very appropriate for the day. I spent 10 hours working on getting prints laid out in my portfolio to present at Craftstravaganza and was surrounded by notes and paper scraps.

April 27th
I don’t know what happened to me this day. I just didn’t have a cell phone portrait.
None of my instant photos turned out either. I guess it was just a blank kind of day!

April 28th

Instant 365 #29
Ok, so I take photos of my deck whenever my instant cameras haven’t been working particularly well. It is easier to go outside where there is better light and make sure it is just the conditions you were trying to take a photo in that weren’t that great, and that there isn’t actually something wrong with your camera!

Cell phone 365 #29
What else do I do before a big event but dye my hair again? :)

April 29th
Instant 365 #30
The Fine Arts building where Craftstravaganza will be taking place.

I don’t seem to have a cell phone 365 from this day either…

April 30th
I don’t have an instant photo from this day. The biggest reason being I didn’t bring any instant cameras with me to Craftstravaganza, and I left and came home when it was too dark to take a photo with the films I had loaded. 

Cell phone 365 #30
Craftstravaganza and Roller Derby day!  I took this at the convention center while we were watching the derby.

May 1

Instant 365 #31
Yeah, I know, another deck photo….

Cell phone 365 #31
in bed by the light of an iPad

May 2nd

Instant 365 photo #32
Ok, I promise, no more deck light photos after this!

Cell phone 365 #32
There had to be a self portrait with my bff :)

May 3rd

Instant 365 #33
The silhouette of the by Alexandra press at MCBA.

Cell phone 365 #33
some bedtime reading.

May 4th

I can’t find the cell phone 365 photo from this day! However, I did take an instant self portrat:

Instant 365 #34
Hello! And May the Fourth be with you ;)

I’ve been having some issues with my cell phone which I think is to blame for a few of those missed days (I only remember completely forgetting one self portrait!) but I’m not going to dwell on it. I’m going by the photo # count, so it will just take me a little bit longer to get to the 365 mark!

Until next time,