Gwenna’s Book

Bookmaking | One-of-a-Kind Treasures Gwenna's Book cover

Now that Gwenna is 2 years old…

it is her turn for an “Ama Book”. I had made one for Liliana at that age … and I gotta play fair!  Hmmm, what can I try this time?

Bookmaking. A one-of-a-kind family treasure.

I decided to combine both vector and raster file types for an imaginary, playful setting.

Cruising online through stock art files, I purchased a multi-layered Illustrator document to use as a backdrop. This file had many objects to play with and I extracted its objects (chair, bed, table, lamp, etc.) onto separate layers so I could move them around as I pleased.

Zoe and I both took photos of Gwenna’s favorite stuffed animals and exchanged them by email. As I silhouetted each character, it was fun to place the figures into this imaginary bedroom, suspended in the air as our cramped little Gwenna wails, “Roll OVER!” Then the objects and critters tumble all helter-skelter! Luckily, big sister Liliana is there to cushion their fall!

The cadence of reading this book aloud with it’s repetitive, count-down call-out is a child’s delight!

Taking the photos of the two humans was more difficult than any other part of this project.

The original idea was that Liliana and Gwen would be wearing matching pajamas … the cute ones that have penguins on the leggings and top. However, it seemed nearly impossible to have both sets fresh and clean at the same time …

Ready, Camera, Action!?

Not exactly … Coaxing both girls to pose and respond to my simple direction was hilarious and unsuccessful. “Sit still, please. Cozy up together … that’s good! Look at the camera, please?”

Tripod in place, camera settings adjusted, lighting not so good. Where’s Gwenna? Second try, hold still G!  Where’s Lil? Oops, need a diaper change. Oops, the light has shifted. Oh man, someone is tired … its nap time.

Well, for better or worse, I got the needed shots of both girls sitting upright in the bed. Liliana handled the photo shoot like a pro, posing in a variety of positions as though she was catching the tumbling critters midair! I improvised the rest with photos in my library. Their images didn’t turn out as bright and clear as I had hoped …

The most important thing is that Gwenna and Lili loved the book – and that makes me happy!




This book was designed in InDesign. Hard copies come from an online, print-on-demand publisher who I have used for a variety of projects. It is soft cover, printed on a bright white quality paper.  Here are a few spreads from the project…

Bookmaking | One-of-a-Kind Treasures Gwenna's Book, sample spread

Bookmaking | One-of-a-Kind Treasures Gwenna's Book, sample spread

An Artful Touch

An artful touch with Photoshop

Jesse Borrell Visuals was onsite for a shoot in Denver. The night featured the debut of Dominic Lalli’s Bluebird Quintet at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox. The mood was right, the musicians were psyched, primed to go on momentarily.

But somewhere in that very brief interlude between setting up the shot and capture, a man wandered into the frame…

When reviewing the shot later that evening Jess was rather surprised to see a slumped body in the alley below. WTF?! Perfect timing! Sorry man.  Not the shot Jess was after … but there was no going back.

A post-production fix

Jess knows that I get a kick from doing touchup work … and I owed him a favor. We have a handy creative give-and-take on various shared pursuits.

So I touched up the image. The wanderer moved on… I hope he found a warm bed.

Then I cloned the bench in place, repaired the light and shadow. While I was in there, I erased some of Jesse’s extraneous reflection in the window pane on the top left and dimmed the flash glare in the glasses of the man on the far right.

It’s all good … a light hand and a bit of Photoshop magic is a cure-all for what ails ya.


Creative Procrastination!

Here’s an interesting idea… PROCRASTINATE.

According to author and artist Austin Kleon, there is a tremendous creative benefit to practicing productive procrastination! Austin suggests that the work we do while we procrastinate may be the work we should be doing for the rest of our lives.

Austin encourages one to devote time to hobbies … to take time to daydream … to refill the source of our creativity with curiosity. He even admits that he never takes his shirts to the cleaners because he gets good ideas while he presses them!  Whoa. I like this idea – and I find ironing enjoyable too … although, I don’t do it much unless I allow myself to be engaged in a sewing project.

I have never related much to people who claim they are bored. I have too many ideas floating around in my head. I have many “side projects” that interest me. I admit though, that I often feel it necessary to earn time off from “real work” in order to do what is “fun”.

What does it take to shed a pattern that no longer serves you?

One morning a while back, I was soaking in a hot spring on a beautiful day. As I gazed up at the cloud cover moving swiftly overhead, I acknowledged that I wasn’t present in the moment. While everything was okay in my realm right then, I was consumed by grief over the state of the world. This worry was overwriting my ability to be grateful for the gift of the being at the hot spring, cheating me of a much needed restorative day.

Deliberately turning my awareness outward, I watched as a soft mist coursed across the sky. I felt small, reminded of bigger forces like love and forgiveness that can overcome the despicable acts of human cruelty that pre-occupied my awareness.

Recognizing the beauty of each day is an essential part of navigating the edges of reality. Putting harsh thoughts aside is necessary to regain balance and to find the strength to move on. So I will remind myself to daydream a bit more … and give my mind and heart a break.

Just “messing around” is my new goal for creativity. When I hit my limit on one thing I will allow myself to shift gears and do something rewarding.

Working solo during the course of my day, I hit roadblocks. So, put the damn phone down, walk away from the pulsing, flickering monitor. Walk around the lake. Roll on the floor, stretch, breathe. Listen to some calming music, and then return refreshed and to start anew.

Holiday Magic!

This angel ornament was made by my mother, Cecily Roberts Philpot. If there are angels among us, I know Cis is one of them.

Mom had a delightful, child-like, artistic sense. This angel is one of many that she made from dough and handpainted. She fashioned all kinds of tiny figures – bunnies, cats, puppies, people. And she loved fairies! There are not many dough babies left as many have dried out and crumbled over time. I treasure the precious objects that remain.

With so much strife across the globe, I pray every night for those who are less fortunate. I pray for understanding and tolerance, to reach out to build a celebration of our differences and to find a renewed belief in the essential goodness of humanity.

Whatever is beautiful, whatever is meaningful, whatever brings you happiness. May it be yours this holiday season and throughout the coming year.


What Truly Matters

Montage – Inverness Dance Party

Montage – Racing and skipping on a stormy day!

In my personal life, what truly matters is quality time spent with my family. Happily, this is a priority that we all share.

This playful and joyous image evokes the natural energy of a cold, wind-whipped California coastline and the splendor of romping on Drake Beach on Inverness!  Powerful medicine!  Three generations of strong-willed women exploding with heartful joy!



Montage – Zoe and Lili Go Flying

Montage – Zoe and Lili Go Flying

In this image, my dear ones delight in play, as mother and babe roll on the floor and I crouched nearby with a camera.

Such sweet, small, daily moments take on special significance when embroidered with sincerity and thoughtfulness. This montage consists of five different images and hints of fantasy destinations of imagination. Oh, how far we can go in play!


“When we as a society begin to value mothers as the givers and supporters of life, then we will see social change in ways that matter.”

Wise words from Ina May Gaskin – midwife, author, women’s advocate, sage.


More on Ina May Gaskin:

Montage Spiritual MidwiferyI have always admired Ina May. Now 78 years old, she is an inspiration. Her life’s passion has been to support the experiences of pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding from a natural and spiritual perspective, rather than the standard clinical viewpoint.

In 1971, Ina May, with her husband Stephen Gaskin, founded a commune called The Farm located near Summertown, Tennessee.

In Tennessee, she and her fellow midwives established The Farm Midwifery Center where she served as its Director. It was one of the first out-of-hospital birthing centers in the USA. By 2011, the Farm Midwifery Center had handled approximately 3000 births, with remarkably good outcomes. Ms. Gaskin herself has attended more than 1200 births.

The work of Gaskin and the midwives might not have had such impact if it hadn’t been for the publication of her book, Spiritual Midwifery. I treasure my own worn copy.

Considered a seminal work, this book made Ina May a recognizable entity, revered widely as a respected teacher in homebirth and midwifery circles. Spiritual Midwifery is acknowledged as a “classical text on midwifery” with a “lasting impact”.


More publications by Ina May:

  • For twenty-two years she published Birth Gazette, a quarterly covering health care, childbirth, and midwifery issues
  • 2003 – Guide to Childbirth was released and has since been translated into Italian, Slovenian, German, and French
  • 2009 – Guide to Breastfeeding
  • 2011 – Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta

In 2011, Ina May won the Right Livelihood Award “for her whole life’s work teaching and advocating safe, woman-centered childbirth methods that best promote the physical and mental health of mother and child.”

Barbara Katz Rothman, Sociologist and Author declared,

“It’s not just the making of babies, but the making of mothers that midwives see as the miracle of birth.”

Liliana, Lulu, Roscoe

The best part of being a grandma is …

I get to be a kid again!

I get to go to the park, ride bikes, bake cookies, and sew dolls!

My granddaughter Liliana has a new friend named Lulu. Lulu is a long-legged, pig-tailed cutie with polka-dot pantaloons and ballet shoes (of course).

Lulu has a friend, a little purple monster named Roscoe.

Liliana, Lulu and Roscoe get into lots of mischief!

Sewing the dolls was a lot of fun, although working with such tiny pieces of fabric for Lulu’s dress was difficult.

Once completed, I rigged up a suspension system and photographed Lulu and Roscoe in a series of airborne tumbling poses. My plan was to make a storybook adventure … an e-book and/or a printed version. I haven’t had the opportunity to complete this as yet, but give me time…

Got a minute to see something truly heart-warming? Check out the wonderful work of Amy Jandrisevits, a former social worker in a pediatric oncology unit, who understands all too well how therapeutic it is for kids to see their differences reflected in the things they play with — namely, dolls. She makes her own non-traditional Raggedy Ann dolls for children with disabilities. Each is handmade and looks just like the child it’s made for, matching their unique physical characteristics, medical issues, and ethnicity.

Lulu and Roscoe
Lulu and Roscoe
Lulu and Roscoe

My Passion = My Purpose

Right Livelihood.

My passion is my profession and my vocation and my mission.  I love what I do. And what’s more, I welcome the opportunity to create quality imagery for my clients.

That said, in order to stay fresh and inspired, we all need to find a balance between economy, efficiency, and creativity.

This article from Tricycle points out that it is a good thing to be “in two minds” about our work – to strive to maintain high standards yet also to be objective. Good work depends upon trust and honoring the time and patience that produces quality.

There is no question that friction arises. Keeping clear, open communication is critical so that our work is

“ …fully understood and rightly conducted, with all its tensions.”

My goal is to maintain a sane relation to my work life and to deliver the highest quality results.


Why Right Livelihood Isn’t Just About Your Day Job


Thanks to Hustle+Grind for the infographic that lives on my bulletin board. 😉

One Pot, One Planet

One Pot, One Planet

My husband is a great cook.

Yes, Bookmaking!!  Our favorite meal is so good that we created a cookbook about it!

Nicholas states, “Food is for nourishment, eating is for pleasure! Combine the two and create a healthy attitude about eating. Forgo stressful planning and shopping, and enjoy a delicious, savory meal.”

A One Pot Meal is a simple pleasure. Cook it once and enjoy it at least a second time. Find your nearest farmer’s market, purchase the freshest ingredients, inhale the aromatic herbs, enjoy the sweet labor of chopping by hand.

on-demand bookmaking is so creative!

I laid out the unique format in Adobe InDesign and published via Blurb. I prefer to create my own layout rather than use the pre-formatted ones. This method is more challenging but the result is worth the effort.

Text by Nicholas, edited by yours truly. Photographs by Nicholas, Jesse, me, and Tobin too! This book is a true labor of love.

Below are some spreads from the 54-page hardcover.

One Pot, One Planet page layout
One Pot, One Planet page layout
One Pot, One Planet page layout
One Pot, One Planet page layout
One Pot, One Planet page layout
One Pot, One Planet page layout
One Pot, One Planet page layout


Insider story: I was never satisfied with the “headless” cover photo and I planned to revise it, so I voiced my displeasure to the photographer (Jesse) and to the model (Zoe). This, of course, set off a wicked round of teasing from the peanut gallery …thus the series of out-takes below.  “Oh really, Mom?!”



A Wildflower Wedding

Bookmaking – The Dart Wedding book

Bookmaking. An honor indeed!

In September of 2012, Jesse’s friends, Caroline and Jared, were wed on a glorious autumn day in Madison County, New York. The subtle colors of early autumn dappled the landscape. A soft breeze rippled the cool waters of Lake Moraine. There was a festive atmosphere at Mitchell Point, as friends and family gathered together to honor the union of a very special young couple.

As their wedding photographer, Jesse captured the most delightful images of a charming afternoon, A Wildflower Wedding, along the shores of Lake Moraine.

Bookmaking – The Dart Wedding book
Bookmaking – The Dart Wedding book
Bookmaking – The Dart Wedding book
Bookmaking – The Dart Wedding book
Bookmaking – The Dart Wedding book
Bookmaking – The Dart Wedding book
Bookmaking – The Dart Wedding book
Bookmaking – The Dart Wedding book
Bookmaking – The Dart Wedding book
Bookmaking – The Dart Wedding book

I had the pleasure to recapture the day in this book, custom-designed in Adobe InDesign and printed via Blurb. This unique, 60-page hardcover contains more than 100 photos (only partially loaded in the viewport below). It portrays the continuation of a loving relationship and a joyful, trusting step into the future.

Threaded through the images are the lyrics from one of Caroline and Jared’s favorite songs, “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty.

You belong among the wildflowers, you belong somewhere close to me. Far away from your trouble and worry, you belong somewhere you feel free.


Liliana turns Two

Liliana's book

Book Design!

I had been graced with attending Liliana Satya’s birth in 2010, a gift I will never forget.

On Liliana’s first birthday, her mom and dad felt called to have a Naming Ceremony at Story Ranch in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where they were living at the time. Friends and family assembled under the massive Story Tree to chant and drum and call out her name, to acknowledge her presence, her gifts, her vitality.

That year, circumstances prevented Nick and me from traveling west, and I was so, so sad. To make up for missing it, I threw myself into creating a one-of-a-kind book as a gift for Liliana’s second birthday.

On the sly, I had taken photos of many of Liliana’s favorite stuffed animals, who are as real and animated to her as you or me. I also gathered photos of family near and far. I assembled a visual story of Liliana’s rightful place on the planet.

Liliana’s cover photo in this tiny green hoodie was taken by Joe’s mother Maryann. It was an early cellphone image that blew my mind. Her joy, her vitality, and presence were overwhelming to me. The image was very small in file size and could not be enlarged or it would look terrible … so I tucked tiny Lili in a rolling field of grass … and all was well in the world. It was perfect!

An on-demand four-color book.

Liliana adored her birthday book. She carried it in her backpack everywhere she went. She studied the faces of her family and friends – knowing she belonged and was cherished. I printed 30+ copies and distributed them to friends and family as gifts.

Now Liliana is almost 8 and she has a baby sister named Gwenna, who will be turning 2 in October. Guess I’d better get a move on! I wonder what will I come up with…

Stuffed animals
Stuffed animals
Bookmaking – Liliana and Gwenna in petticoats


Here are a few spreads from the 42-page, 6″x6″ kid-size book that includes Liliana’s grandparents, great-grandparents, loved ones, her beloved stuffies, trees, wind, clouds. I hear her name called out on the wind. And good energy and blessings surround her!


Liliana's Birthday book
Liliana's Birthday book
Liliana's Birthday book
Liliana's Birthday book
Bookmaking detail
Bookmaking detail
Bookmaking detail
Bookmaking detail
Bookmaking detail
Bookmaking detail