What do you know about Trees?

Turns out, even though I photograph trees all the time, I know next to nothing! I started to rectify that knowledge gap on Friday when I partnered with Oregon State University Professor Emeritus Ed Jensen to teach a workshop on tree identification and smartphone photography. 

It might seem like an odd combination, but it worked well! Trees brought Ed to photography, which he uses as botanical illustrations for his books. Photography brought me to trees, which are a fascinating artistic subject. So here we met in the middle, and shared our respective passions with a group of interested participants. Fun!

Here are a few things I learned about trees…

I learned how the Ponderosa Pine pollinates. They are a wind pollinator. These are the male pollen cones which are releasing their pollen right now. If you barely touch them, yellow pollen streams away.


I learned why the Oregon White Oak, one of my favorite trees to photograph, grows with space between them. (They are shade intolerant.) I also learned why I can only get the really green leaf silhouettes of this tree in the spring.  As the leaves mature, they grow thick and waxy, as a protection from drought. Later in the summer, no light gets through the oak leaves, but right now they make an wonderful silhouette.


I learned about the Dawn Redwood, also known as the fossil tree, which was thought to be extinct until China opened up to the West in the 1940’s. It’s a deciduous conifer, losing its needles in the fall. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as deciduous conifers! I guess I’ve only noticed the evergreen variety.

And did you know the Dogwood flower is really only the part in the center? Those big “petals” are really more similar to a leaf. Here is Ed, showing us the flower in the center.


Isn’t that all interesting? And that is just a small fraction of what he showed us!  It makes me want to learn more about the trees I photograph. Ed has a book, Trees to know in Oregon, which I will be studying. As I learn more about trees, I may find new ways to photograph them. At least I’ll be more aware of what to notice and observe, which is always a good thing for a photographer. 

So, what do YOU know about trees? Have you ever looked closely at the trees in your area? They are a fascinating subject, for both academic and artistic study. 

Come visit me Saturday!

It’s here!  The first art fair of the season is tomorrow, Saturday May 2, from 10am to 5pm at the Memorial Union on the OSU campus. This annual fair is in honor of Moms Weekend at the University, but anyone can come. I’d love to share new work with you!

It’s been a crazy few weeks getting ready for this. 16 new large framed pieces, 150+ smaller matted prints and 300 greeting cards. Whew. My studio has been a disaster and we couldn’t eat at the dining room table for a couple of weeks because I had one project or another on it.


But it’s all worth it when I get to share my art with new people. If you are in the area, come on over! There are almost a 100 booths with handmade goods. It should be fun! 

What you Cultivate, you Create

“You reap what you sow.”

I think we’ve all heard that saying a time or two. This is true in all aspects of life… our relationships, our development and our art, too. I got up this morning to write a blog post and discovered I had no words to write. I haven’t done any of my “creative” reading lately, or written in my journal for a week. I hadn’t sown any seeds for a blog post, which come when I’m taking in new ideas, pondering them, playing with them to write something new.

But I have images! Oh, do I have images. I have some beautiful forest images, from my morning hikes. That’s where I’ve been sowing my seeds of creativity: Visually, on the trail.

I shouldn’t be excited or disappointed one way or another, words or images. The outcome is obviously clear, I’m creating where I’m cultivating. Whether it’s an attitude or an art, where we invest our time and energy is where we will get a payback.

The hard part is in internalizing that we can’t get that payback in all areas at once. We have to pick and choose where we focus our attention.

Where do you choose to cultivate?

Cultivate intentionally, because that is where you will create.

Join me on the trail using #morninghikewithkat

Do you like to hike, walk, or run in the mornings? Do you ever stop to take a photo of something interesting? If so, join me this summer on Instagram using hashtag #morninghikewithkat.

I’m trying to get out into the forest as much as possible as the days start to get longer and the weather gets better here in Oregon. The extra time I’m out of the house, along with the leaves arriving on the trees, mean it’s time to shake things up with my art. No more bare trees! Instead, I’ll be trying to regularly photograph and edit images from my morning hikes, and I’ll share them using the #morninghikewithkat hashtag on Instagram. I thought, wouldn’t it be fun if other people are doing that too?

So, what do you say? Are you in? Just add #morninghikewithkat to your image, and we’ll be able to meet up.

Whether its daily or weekly or once in a while, I hope to see you on the virtual trail!

Life in the Desert

When you hear desert, what comes to mind? Dry, sandy, sparse and prickly are the words that come to my mind.  After this weekend I’ve added blooming, living, and vibrant to the list.


I was down in Arizona for a girls weekend with my sister, mom, and some other friends. What a gorgeous time to be there! Beautiful sunny weather, not too hot yet, and the desert in bloom. 

It resets your impressions a bit, doesn’t it? There is this vibrant life there. The calls of the birds and the buzz of the bees filled the air.

Beyond just the spring bloom, I do understand why people want to live there. Since I’m always cold, the desire to be warm to the tips of my toes most of the year does appeal. But when I went for a walk Monday morning before leaving, I thought about what it would be like if this was my walk every day. For all that was in bloom, it is still a dry, sparse place.
And I realized, nope. I would miss the green, green forest.  I would miss the trees, and the trails. This image is from my hike yesterday morning, back home. Quite the contrast, huh?

I think I’ll hang out here in Oregon for a while longer. My husband, who hates hot weather, is relieved to hear that I’m not planning to drag him to live in Arizona anytime soon.

Liberate Your Art 2015 Blog Hop


The Liberate Your Art Postcard Swap has wrapped up another wonderful year! Here are the stats for the fifth year of the swap:

1290 pieces of art liberated
214 artists participating
12 countries represented

Every year, there is something new that the swap brings to the fore for me. This year, it was the idea that art knows no boundaries. Boundaries are a human invention. They are imaginary lines used to mark territories on a map, or they are imaginary lines in within the self that limit our actions. Some boundaries are good, but it’s amazing how many boundaries we gather up in our lives that artificially limit us. Art helps us to find the boundaries, push on them and break free.

Liberating your art is about pushing beyond the boundaries of fear and doubt.

Every one of you who participated this year is a unique, talented individual. You and your art deserve to be seen and heard. With that in mind, here is the 2015 video! I asked participants to send me a digital image of the art featured on their postcards for use in the video. About half of the artists sent me an image, so enjoy this amazing celebration of liberated art, realizing this is only a fraction of the artists who participated in the swap. If you can, watch it in HD. It’s gorgeous!

Thank you, thank you, thank you all for liberating such amazing art, making new connections and showing that art truly has no boundaries.

Now, it’s time to HOP! I have a special bonus for the blog hop participants in the form of a giveaway drawing! At the end of the blog hop, by random drawing from all blog hop participants, I will be giving away:

  • One copy of the book Good Mail Day: A Primer for Making Eye-Popping Postal Art. I bought two copies of this gorgeous book in the gift shop at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, DC last year, and I’m giving away the second copy to one of you!
  • One 6×9″ fine art print, matted to 11×14″, of this year’s Blog Hop image “Art Knows No Boundaries,” shown above. Having this image in your studio could be a reminder to continue to push those boundaries and liberate your art!

If you’d like to purchase your own 6×9″ fine art print of today’s image and help me defray the extra expenses I incur on behalf of the swap, I am making it available for purchase during the time of the blog hop. To order, click here if you are within the US and here if you are outside of the US. Postage is included in the purchase price. (Don’t worry, if you purchase the print and then win the giveaway, I’ll refund your money.)

Enough words from me… Let’s hop!