Autumn squashes

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Autumn is soon approaching and it’s that time of year for bright oranges, yellows, and browns. While it may seem weird to see a pumpkin in front of palm trees, it’s still an american tradition.

Title: Pumpkins and palm trees
Location: Ventura, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8


Squash is a unique vegetable with a similar profile to peppers. I found this particular one very appealing because it stands out among the greenery with it’s tree bark looking skin.

Title: Green and yellow Carnival squash
Location: Ventura, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8


This pumpkin has a pattern that can be best described as “paint peeling”, which makes it stand out among most other natural foods.

Title: Orange and white carnival squash
Location: Ventura, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8


Autumn is an exciting time of year for interesting fruits and vegetables, with a facete of different colors. Remember to check out the autumn produce at your local store!

Title: Autumn carnival squash
Location: Ventura, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8

Artist interview featuring Patty Andrea

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I would like to introduce you all to the wonderful owner of the Etsy shop Sapphire Island, Patty Andrea. She creates amazing minimalistic art inspired by the natural world around her. Lets get this interview started!
SammyPhoto: Walk us through the step-by-step process you use to create your art.
Patty: Most of the items in my Etsy shop are seashells I’ve found on beaches around the world. After the shells are cleaned up, I place them on large platters all over my studio and house, waiting for them to inspire the pattern/design that will work best for each shell. I usually paint part or all of the shells with a few coats of acrylic paint that I mix myself for just the right shade. Over a period of days (and sometimes weeks!) the design begins to reveal itself – I rarely just follow the simple path of plunking crystals and beads into the natural whorls and grooves of the pieces. I prefer a more organic feel to most things which is why I LOVE working with oyster shells that are not often the “darlings” of seashell collectors or artists. I have a collection of antique jewelry that I have carted around with me for many years, to foreign countries, various U.S. states and storage facilities that I deconstruct and incorporate pieces of into some of my pieces. Shells are so wonderful in that nobody really knows where they have been as they drift around in the oceans, sustaining life for various creatures. Add a bit of old jewelry that has been shuffled around for a while from place to place and you have a lovely, mysterious little art piece!

SammyPhoto: What are you favorite and least favorite parts of selling on Etsy?
Patty: Most artists have a tough time of getting their work visible . . . I love that Etsy has made it possible to get my pieces out there for so many to see. I think there are a lot of people who would prefer to buy unique, one of a kind items, so this makes it easier for both the artist and the buyer.

My least favorite part of Etsy would be photographing the items! I don’t mind writing the descriptions (most of my stuff has a story) but taking those pictures and making them really SHOW the piece in the best possible way, well, that has been a challenge for me. I will say, though, that you can find everything on the internet, so I have been learning photography and my photos are a lot better now than they were a few months ago when I first started!

SammyPhoto: Could you give us some helpful tips?
Patty: 3 Tips for Artists:
1. Do what speaks to you . . . I have tried to do things that I think people will buy, but they always turn out mediocre because I don’t really have any passion for it. Monetary motivation doesn’t usually work for art – if you can’t “feel” it, you probably can’t do it!

2. You will get frustrated with bringing your ideas to fruition. But keep at it, and somehow, in a dream, sitting on a beach or reading a book, something will click and you will figure out how to achieve your vision.

3. Don’t throw anything away – some day a light may go off on how to re-work it! I know some artists who love a good trashing and feel a release by destroying something they’ve made because they think it’s crap, but I’ve found it’s better to relegate it to a dark closet for a while than to wreck it. I have heard many regrets from those who have fatally axed their works!

3 Tips for starting on Etsy:
1. Figure out how to take good photos! Those pictures are going to be the biggest thing to draw someone into your shop. Etsy is very different from having your work in a gallery or boutique where lighting enhances the piece and people can pick them up, see your craft up close and feel the weight of it.

2. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect before you open your shop . . .jump in and do it! Certainly do your reading and research, figure out a strategy, but until you start, it’s hard to anticipate all the things you’ll come across that will need to be tweaked. You will make mistakes and not understand things, but there’s a wealth of information out there and sooner or later you’ll find the answers.

3. I am just learning how to use social media to gain views in my shop and I think it’s important to use it to your advantage. I am VERY new to it so I can’t offer much advice, but I am sure it is something all Etsy shops should be using – it’s free advertising!


SammyPhoto: How did you get into creating art?
Patty: I was always into interior design (as a kid, my bedroom was my “palette”; later, my husband and I bought and sold a number of homes) and found that if I wanted something that was “just right” for a particular spot, I had to make it myself. I’ve also been a bit of a hoarder of shells, rocks, beads and other bright, shiny objects so my collections just kind of led me into designs implementing what I had on hand. I have had some of my beads since the ’60’s (and still can’t quite part with some of them, but some day. . .) Through many trials and tribulations, I have discovered I am not a painter, I can’t draw and the idea of very large works scares me. But the thought of taking different things and putting them together to form something cohesive gives me great satisfaction.

SammyPhoto: Who inspires you?
Patty: Musicians and poets. They evoke moods and feelings, paint pictures with words. I played guitar in a few bands during my youth and was never very good at it. I’ve written poetry and was not good at that either (but I did fool some professors in college into thinking I WAS good at it!)

So, in lieu of doing what I REALLY wanted to do, I made a living the way most of us do, at jobs we don’t really like, fitting my creative time in when I could. Then, I decided to just chuck all that world behind me and figure out what would really make me happy. My husband and I got rid of most of our earthly possessions, moved to a remote beach along the Pacific at the edge of a Costa Rican jungle and started a fresh life of self-sufficiency (not to mention self-fulfillment!) It was the first time I had to create almost EVERYTHING out of nothing (instead of just creating SOME things out of nothing.) And though I had tons of shells back in the States in storage, Costa Rica was really where I found a need to create something out of them rather than just pile them in a bowl.

SammyPhoto: Where do you call home?
Patty: I grew up in an enclave of summer-only beach homes on the shores of Lake Michigan (my dad had winterized our home in the 50’s). My sister and I had plenty of playmates during the summer when big-city kids would come to their summer cottages, but after Labor Day, when the summer kids went home, we were kind of on our own. Our school was almost a mile and a half away, which was pretty far when you are a little kid (the quickest route, still over a mile, was through a large, scary cemetery.) Michigan winters are gray, bone-chilling events and creative invention was a necessity . . . we did all kinds of things to keep busy and most of that we made up as we went along.


SammyPhoto: Could you describe your style for us.
Patty: Though I love uniformity and balance, my mind works best outside the box. Most of my pieces are abstract and whimsical, which feels more natural to me. I do have a bit of OCD with high regards for messiness. Chaos is not all bad!

SammyPhoto: Could you share some of your hobbies with us.
Patty: I do a lot of reading and writing, and still play my guitar once in a while. I like to participate in art shows a few times a year and have had some of my art in galleries and beach town boutiques. I am working on some small sculptures, incorporating natural finds with vintage jewelry and glass beads . . . they are in the “dark closet” right now as I am working on ornaments for an upcoming Holiday show! I belong to an art league and volunteer my time to that when I can.

SammyPhoto: Does your art pay the bills?
Patty: Etsy doesn’t pay the bills yet, but I think I can make a nice little income out of it some day. I’m fairly new to the online world of selling, so I just have to keep working it. I do sell off line in shows and galleries. I like to do custom work for weddings, parties & holidays – some people just want what they want, in the colors they want it in. I have no problem with that.


SammyPhoto: Art school or self taught?
Patty: I taught myself in that if I needed something specific, I knew I would have to make it. I get a kick out of recycling things into useful (or just beautiful) objects. I think everyone has artistic abilities, they just need to figure out what they are.

SammyPhoto: Anything else you would like to share with us?
Patty: I love what I do and it never gets boring . . . there is always some new thing I want to try out. I feel pretty lucky to be able to do this now without having to work a “real” job to pay the bills, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have to do it when I was younger!

SammyPhoto: Thank you so much Patty for doing this interview! I would like to invite everyone to check out Sapphire Island on Etsy HERE and follow Patty on Twitter HERE

Rock balancing

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Rock balancing is a skilled art that involves balancing oddly shaped rocks on top of each other. While walking on the beach one day, I discovered a plethora of rocks being balanced and knew I had to capture it.

Title: Balanced stacking
Location: Ventura, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: lensbaby composer f/5.6


At the right angle, these rocks can look rather large but were no bigger than my hand.

Title: Rocks stacked like a tree
Location: Ventura, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: lensbaby composer f/5.6


As easy as it looks, rock balancing is very delicate and time consuming but the end result is beautiful.

Title: Simple stack
Location: Ventura, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: lensbaby composer f/5.6


Right after these photos were taken, the tide started to rise possibly taking out some of this beautiful rock art, but I’m glad I captured it.

Title: Freestyle balance
Location: Ventura, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: lensbaby composer f/5.6

After dark at the Ventura county fair

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I love the county fair, it offers not only many activities but various colors and themes as well. The ferris wheel is one of the most popular rides for a few reasons, it’s fun and very colorful.

Title: Big Top
Location: Ventura, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: Mamiya 55mm f/3.5


The big slide is like a rainbow with flashing lights, very fun to watch.

Title: Fast trax
Location: Ventura, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: Mamiya 55mm f/3.5


Swing rides always have interesting art all over them, this one happens to focus on the mountains of California. Perhaps to simulate what it would be like to fly through the cold mountain air.

Title: Sunset behind the swing around
Location: Ventura, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: Mamiya 55mm f/3.5


The swing in motion, glowing bright red as dusk sets.

Title: Swing around in motion
Location: Ventura, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: Mamiya 55mm f/3.5

Morning walk

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Shooting macro is one of my favorite ways to capture photos, and this pink flower is one of my recent favorites.

Title: Hot pink flower in bloom
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8 4x diopter


There is a lot of detail in macro photos, as you can see with this butterfly and it’s fuzzy wings.

Title: Morning moth
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8 4x diopter


Often times in nature you’ll find the most interesting color combinations like this purple and white flower, which really catches the eye in front of bright green grass.

Title: Macro flowers
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8 4x diopter


Catching the morning dew can be difficult at times, but today I managed to come across this three leaf clover with a few drops on it.

Title: Lucky clover
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8 4x diopter

Sneaker wave

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The remnants of Hurricane Iselle were showing even weeks after the storm ended with strong violent waves called “sneaker waves”. These waves have incredible force behind them forcing them to break at a high peak.

Title: Sneaker wave
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: lensbaby composer f/5.6


The wind was calm on this day, but the waves were absolutely violent, often turning foamy before hitting land.

Title: Teal blue pacific ocean
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: lensbaby composer f/5.6


Despite the illusion, these waves were easily 6 to 7 feet high.

Title: Coastal wave
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: lensbaby composer f/5.6


Witnessing the shoreline being taken over is quite a sight to see. At a moments notice there could be a wave with such large force it reaches the dunes, and at times these waves were breaking right at the hill causing a dramatic splash effect.

Title: Wave train breaking on the shoreline
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: lensbaby composer f/5.6

Look at the little things

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It’s time to take a look at nature upclose because there is more that meets the eye. In this case it’s a very thin film of silk that a spider has carefully plaid on this succulent.

Title: Simple succulent
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8 4x diopter


With technology at our finger tips, it’s easy to forget that nature has many colors to offer. For example this flower is a mixture of blue and purple, which is very soothing to the eye.

Title: Love in vain
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8 4x diopter


Snails are attracted to all kinds of plants, especially ones that are bright like this one.

Title: Snail on a yellow blossom
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8 4x diopter


It’s easy to miss but spider webs can be some of the most beautiful works of art that nature can offer. While it seems random, there is a purpose for the weaves and zig zags that spiders form.

Title: Shapes of a spider web
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8 4x diopter

Early morning macro

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These pictures were taken in the morning when the dew was fresh, and all the animals were starting to come out. I managed to capture this snail crawling over the grass, quite possibly looking for some food.

Title: Good morning snail
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8 4x diopter


The morning dew makes even the most common grass look absolutely stunning and vibrant.

Title: Morning moss
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8 4x diopter


Looking at snails upclose offers an insight into their daily lives, which can be at a slow pace and often hanging around grass or plants, but still very interesting.

Title: Little snail
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8 4x diopter


This daisy was a sight for sore eyes among all the bright greenery. The yellow contrasts the morning colors quite nicely.

Title: Bright yellow daisy
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8 4x diopter

Velella

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Velella’s are very unique sea creatures (Hydrozoa to be exact) that I found washed up on the beach recently. This one caught my eye instantly due to the range of colors from clear to dark blue.

Title: Sea raft
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: lensbaby composer f/5.6


As you can see, Velella’s are transparent at top with what looks like a fin, but is actually a wing that helps them sail across oceans. Sometimes they get stranded on the beach and have no way of getting back to the ocean.

Title: By-the-wind sailor
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: lensbaby composer f/5.6


It’s easy to miss a Velella at first glance but once you notice the vibrant blue bottom, it’s hard to look away.

Title: Purple sail
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: lensbaby composer f/5.6


This is what happens when a Velella is left in the sun for too long, it turns transparent and almost crispy.

Title: Little transparent sail
Location: Port Hueneme, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: lensbaby composer f/5.6

labor day at the beach

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Happy labor day! Enjoy some photo’s from my day at the beach.

Title: Beach lifeguard stand
Location: Ventura, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: lensbaby composer f/5.6

Title: Sweet blue sky
Location: Ventura, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: lensbaby composer f/5.6

Title: Labor day seascape
Location: Ventura, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: lensbaby composer f/5.6

Title: Square trees
Location: Ventura, California
Camera: NIKON D80
Lens: lensbaby composer f/5.6v