Jes Lee

A scattered little fall day

I have felt a little scattered today, but in a good way. My mind keeps going off in different directions, adding different ideas to my many lists, and generally keeping me staring out the window, thinking.

I won’t complain too much. It has been awhile since I have felt like I could allow myself time to do that!

I dropped off the artwork for my show today. It feels really nice to have that task done! I think I even have an outfit picked out for the opening reception on Friday too! I’m feeling quite on top of things!

It was a gorgeous fall day today, and while I am trying to limit my time outside so my allergies don’t get the best of me, I have to get out a little bit. A few of the trees in our back yard have gotten bright leaves finally this weekend and they have been so pretty to look at today!

It is warm enough to try and get out kayaking today, and I’m hoping we’ll get out for a little bit this evening. I am also feeling a bit daring and thinking I might bring a better camera with my in my kayak. . . something more than just my cell phone!

A few of the ideas that have been floating around in my head today:

– the next set of books I would like to work on. I don’t have solid ideas on content yet, but I have started thinking of bindings I would like to use. In particular I would love to do an edition of coptic bound books. I may start working on new prototypes soon . . .

– starting a food blog. No, I don’t really need another blog. One is at times more than enough for me to keep up on. But, with the fact that my food allergies seem to have come back full force on me again, I have become a bit obsessed with food and cooking and baking and recipes and substituting ingredients and things I can make and eat that won’t make me feel like crap the next day. I would like to keep notes of the things I come up with somewhere. I don’t know if a blog is the right answer, or if I should just keep another journal, but the thought has been bouncing around in my head today.

I’m sure there will be something brand new on my mind tomorrow!


Today will be a quiet day of work.

I am definitely looking forward to it.

A day where I can just dig in and cross many things off of my to-do list.

On my list is framing the very last piece for my new show. I can’t believe I am finally at that point! It seems like it has been such a long time coming.

I also pre-ordered the Paper Darts volume 4! I love this publication! If you are looking for fun distractions during the day, follow them on Twitter! Maybe if I get my work done early today, I’ll sneak out to their publication party tonight!

Have a great day friends! May we all have a productive one!

Could this help?

I apologize, this post will be quite lengthy and rambling. But it needs to be said.

Maybe it was just a grumpy day on Twitter. I am not the type to argue on the Internet. It never does much good anyway. But something that happened today made me think. I retweeted a post from NPR picture show for a photo essay written about a festival in India honoring the Hindu deity, Ganesh (one of my favorite deities to study in college in my India Art History courses). The photos were colorful, bright, and of course make my desire to travel to India that much stronger. It showed people celebrating with exhuberance what this deity stands for: new beginnings. The essay talked about the photographer, his stay in Mumbai, making sense of India’s crowded, over stimulating streets through his camera lenses. He talked of taking photos with his cell phone, digital slr, and a medium format film camera. There was a note in the article that all of the photos for the essay were taken with his cell phone camera. So what, right? The best camera is the one you have with you at the time. The photos still captured a story, I still enjoyed looking at them, they still made me smile.

I checked back in to Twitter later in the day. I don’t ever expect any responses on things I post, or any discussions on things I retweet. But in reading through my timeline I saw that a few of the photographers I follow were picking apart that photo essay for the simple reason that the photos were taken with his cell phone camera. ‘Why not with his medium format camera he had mentioned? Why are journalists using cell phones?’ I wanted to scream. Why dismiss an entire essay, pick it apart, and practically spit on it because of the tool that was used to take the photos. Yes, I prefer film as well and I would honestly love to see more photos this photographer took while he was in India, the whole collection, and I will be looking for it. And yes, I am especially curious what he photographed with his medium format camera, and what kind of camera it is, because I have a special love for medium formats. But the best camera is the one you have with you. When did that stop being enough?

And why, I wondered, am I so upset by this? And what can I do? Admittedly, I have been in quite a funk lately, and am probably just more sensitive to things people say. (Please don’t worry, I am quite fine, quite far from doing anything rash, and constantly surrounded by friends and family and a husband who have all been wonderful and help me a ton and I know this huge funk is only temporary.) Admittedly, being the age of 30 has not been the easiest for many reasons that have everything to do with life and coincidence and nothing to do with the number. So is this reaction just part of my funk? Or is it adding to my funk?

I have decided it is time for a bit if experimenting. I have adored Twitter and the community there since I opened my account years ago, but like with any social media, the happiness degrades with time. Is it time to step away from Twitter? Maybe. But not completely yet, and here comes my experiment. For one week, I will not read to “catch up” on Twitter. I have various things that auto post there (Flickr photos, blog posts . . . except seemingly when I update my blog from my phone, which I find myself doing quite frequently, and Instagram photos. I will respond to messages friends send, but I will not read through and get into discussions in my timeline. And I am not replacing it with Facebook. I will remain on there as little as I already am. And in that week I will focus on my blog, and my artwork (particularly for my upcoming show!) and taking photos with any camera I have and posting them and see how I feel after that week.

Please don’t take this as me saying all of Twitter is bad or discouraging. It isn’t. I have made friends with some very wonderful people on there around the world who are always very positive and supportive. But the bad news and pessimism often speaks louder than the positive, and perhaps this is what I need to avoid right now for my own mental health.

I want to be the type of person that encourages everyone to take photos regardless of what camera they prefer to use. It is time for me to focus.

Fall photo shoots are fun!

I am deep into finishing work for two large October shows, and getting work ready to sell at the holiday festivals that are rapidly approaching. But that doesn’t mean the rest of the photo sessions stop! Fall tends to be one of my busiest times, and this year seems to be no exception. I am not complaining at all!

Tomorrow I have a photo shoot scheduled that I am quite excited for (wait until you see the sneak peek photos from this one)! It will have me up and going quite early in the morning, but I will survive!

Next weekend I will be meeting up with a little family that I adore seeing every fall.

These are the times when I look forward to afternoons spent on the computer processing photos!

Today I am waitressing – my day job. There are a few errands this afternoon to get more supplies for artwork projects, and plenty of things to keep me busy. My mind is full of plans and details, but I think it is a good full today.

Where do I start?

Looking back, I’m not sure how to even begin to describe this week. Hard doesn’t seem to even begin to describe it. Yet, I managed to survive.

There are many things on my mind this morning, but none of it is cooperating and forming words. Perhaps I just need more coffee.

Tuesday morning this was posted. A friend to many and a member of our instant film group on twitter died this month. She had been fighting breast cancer for a long time. I chatted with her here and there on twitter – she was so sweet and always had something kind to say. There were times when we wouldn’t hear from her for awhile and it was usually because the chemo was tough and she wasn’t feeling well. It had been quite awhile since we had heard from her. I tried a few times to find out more, but never did. I’ll certainly miss her and her avatar appearing in my twitter timeline with new photos and anecdotes.

It has made me think a lot this week about the relationships we have. The internet has added so much to that. I have friends all over the world now, and many that I feel just as close to as some of the people I know in real life. It is amazing, and very cool, and at the same time a bit sad. When things like this happen, you don’t always have a real world connection to find out any more about what is happening, or where they have gone. That topic has been covered many times in William Gibson cyber punk novels, and I don’t think at the time I really understood the depth of it. I do now. I don’t think these relationships are bad, quite the opposite actually. It is just different.

On a different end of the thought spectrum, I was thinking a lot last night about applications and deadlines, and this application came up. You apply to have a photo show in a shipping container. The show lasts a few days. This is another point where a tiny part of my brain screams at me that here is another part of a William Gibson novel that I am living in (yes this happens frequently)…though I don’t think any of his characters went to or had art shows in shipping containers, but it would fit with the plot in a few books. I wonder where they set up this village of art-in-a-giant-box, and why don’t more artist’s do it? Are there often that many shipping containers that aren’t being used to…ship things? What would it take to set up an exhibition of these?

Big thoughts for a sunny day.

Time for me to go work.


I didn’t expect to end up with a new iPhone today. (Thank you AppleCare!)

I didn’t expect to fall in love with kayaking this summer.

I didn’t expect to keep up with my journal project (I have quite well! . . . just not with the scanning portion).

I didn’t expect to be so fascinated with NASA and space this month (RIP Neil Armstrong…I’m still curious about those Hasselblads that are up on the moon…maybe you could check now…)

I didn’t expect a lot of things this summer, but I think it was much better that way. When you don’t expect things, you can’t be disappointed when they don’t happen.

I’m looking forward to what is coming next…with no expectations!

leaving nests

This year for the first time since we moved in (9 years ago!) I put a hanging basket of flowers on our deck. It wasn’t long before a family of house finches decided that little basket would be the perfect place for their nest, and they moved in. Mr FN and I watched as baby birds appeared, and started learning to flap tiny wings, sometimes hovering just above the flower-pot, before landing for another nap and meal. I watched as much as I could to see the moment when the baby birds finally took their leap of faith and flew away. Yesterday morning after settling in for a work day, I looked and saw that the baby birds had finally figured out how to fly, and were off in the world somewhere now. The mother finch came back a few times, sitting on the edge of the pot, and looking at her empty nest for a while before flying away, as if she was saying good-bye to the home she built, and going on to the next one.

After she hadn’t returned for a few hours, I took the basket down to look inside. I am amazed at how perfect and neat their nest is…though perhaps I am just too used to seeing sparrow’s nests. It is still this amazing, perfect little form, that held up to four baby birds stomping around in it, and me watering it a few times before I figured out my flower-pot was inhabited.

Last night we went out with friends for a little “going away” party. Two friends are going on a two-week trip to Africa and they leave this week. We chatted about how scary it can be at times traveling far away, how hard to plan, the difficulties of language barriers and cultural barriers and how you wonder if simple things (such as your hotel reservations) have actually gone through and if you’ll have a place to sleep when you get to the other side of the world. But, through all that, you finally leave home, take your leap of faith, and somehow all of those things work out. Yes, there are plenty of times that bad things happen on vacations that never should have to happen, but those times aren’t the majority. We just hear about them way more often than we hear about the good times. Taking that leap of faith and planning and leaving home for any time is hard to do when you don’t always know what you will find at your destination, but it is almost always worth it.

I can’t wait to hear about their big trip and the adventures they will have. And I can’t wait to plan our next big adventure, to buy the tickets, stand on the edge of the nest, and leap.




….and that is why I love where I live….

After a semi-regular-morning-session of Wii Fit, I watched a pretty epic storm roll through. I watched for a while, and recorded a bit of it.

I moved on to an intense session of photo editing and negative scanning. It wasn’t long before the sun was beaming and I started getting a little stir crazy. I decided it was time to go test out one of the other Kodak Brownie cameras I have. I loaded up a bag with that camera plus a couple other with mystery rolls of film in them and headed out to the nature preserve behind our condo building. I found out that the nature area is larger than I thought! There are more trails back there than I realized! I finished off two partial rolls of film and one test roll in the Brownie, as well as a few instant shots and a few cell phone photos. I’m taking my sweetie back out with me on Saturday. He didn’t realize that area was that big either. I know I only scratched the surface.

I received an email from the wonderful people who own the house/gallery I have been invited to have work at during Art-a-Whirl. It was full of information like postcard pick up dates, artwork drop off dates, and that they have room for more artwork than I imagined they would and I need to get going on making more……..

I’m still looking forward to it. There will be more info about that here soon.

My sweetie and I headed off after dinner to the Rogue Buddha gallery in NE Minneapolis for the last of the Pocket Lab Reading Series hosted by two good friends of mine. We had a wonderful night listening to four poets we had not heard before (we even bought a book from one) and talking to artist friends and poet friends. We walked to the 331 Club and chatted more over drinks. It amazes and inspires me seeing the people I have the chance of working along side in this city.

On the way back to the car we walked past a shop called iWare that has me thinking about how I need to schedule an appointment with the eye doctor, and debating again if I should ask about contact lenses, or stick with frames.

I came home to see sitting on the table where I left it, my book for The Sketchbook Project. A daunting task….there is something about blank journal pages….but one I am excited about trying! I have until January to fill this up with new work. Then it will be photographed and added to their digital collection so anyone in the world can check it out and look at it on their computers, and it will be part of a traveling exhibit that will be going around the US. No pressure!

I loved today, was overwhelmed by today, had a couple of scary OMG moments today, but days like these, days that are filled with community and friends and art, are awesome.

On to tomorrow.

8 years and a photo project

For some, the Christmas season starts the second the calendar pages turn to December. For some it starts earlier. The hustle and bustle, the parties, the dinners, the gifts, the nic-naks, the decorating, the lights.
For me, celebrating Christmas doesn’t start until today, December 22nd. Eight years ago today, on a bright cold morning (much like today, except there was snow on the ground) we were in Buffalo, MN welcoming home the soldiers of the 353rd, and I would actually have my husband home for Christmas. December 22nd was the day he got to see our home, the day we started working on being married and living together full time, not only on weekends (like we did while we were still in college) and not with thousands of miles between us. He was then, and will always be, my best Christmas present.
So often I feel that through the month of December I am only going through the motions of the holidays – decorating, shopping, wrapping, planning meals. It isn’t until the 22nd comes that I finally feel like I know what I’m doing, and have a purpose.
This year seems even more poignant as it is the official mark of the end of this war, and many other soldiers are returning home. It is bittersweet as we quietly welcome them home, watch families who are having a magical holiday celebrate, watch others wait, know that there are still many other soldiers out there in other ‘war zones’, and many more still who aren’t coming home to celebrate.

Life is a series of experiences that change you, make you grow, and learn things you maybe never thought you would. 10 years ago, I had no idea any of this lay ahead of me, for us. 7 years and 2 months ago, I was celebrating my 1 year wedding anniversary with my mom and aunt and friend, thinking I would spend Christmas without my husband as well. 8 years ago today, everything changed and I am so grateful it did.
So, today is my Christmas – our happy homecoming day. And even though I don’t think about it often, I realize I can still remember that day so vividly.
It is with all of these thoughts swirling in my head today, that I am starting a new photo side project. I have been wanting to do a 365 photo project for some time now. I have in fact tried it in the past and have not been super successful. Today I am trying again. Today I start documenting one year in our journey. One year of snap shots of where we are. Every day and every year is a journey, and I’m excited to see where this year takes us. The technical details: yes, this photo series will be of digital photos, at least as far as I can tell. I’m planning on taking all of the photos with my iPhone to make the uploading and posting part easier, and to get myself better acquainted with my iPhone camera. These will not be the only photos I post over the course of the year! There will be many more photos, and many many film photos. In fact, I am trying to be a bit better of posting photos to my Flickr account, particularly of all the film snapshots I take of my friends and family when we are out. The photos will be posted everywhere I can post them – here, Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, and most likely eventually in a special gallery on my website. The more I post them, and the more feedback and interaction I get with them, the easier I think it will be to continue and remind myself to post a photo daily.
Today’s photo will be posted a bit later.

For now, I am off to get my work done for the day – printing photos for a show, processing photos for a job, and a bit of holiday cleaning. I want to be done with work by the time my husband comes home from his job, so we can celebrate our happy homecoming day.

Until next time,