Parents make a huge impact on their children’s lives. That’s one of those things we say and deep-down believe. But there are those days — we’ve all had them — when we think, “I’m talking to the air here. I don’t think what I say or do is making any appreciable difference.”
If you’re having one of those days, think about Karen Powers, a nature photographer from Richland, WA. She is walking proof that mom’s words matter:
“When I was younger, my mom gave me an Instamatic camera as a gift,” Powers remembers.
“At summer camp I took a picture of a waterfall. Later, after the film was developed, there was a similar photo in our local newspaper.
“I still remember my mom saying that my picture was a lot better than this one in the newspaper. Well, I don’t know if she was biased or not. But I believed what she said, and that gave me confidence.”
Powers went through high school with that Instamatic. Years later, she “wore out” her first digital (dslr) camera, a gift from her husband. She launched a business doing senior portraits, wedding photography, and images for stock photography before concentrating her energy on fine art photography, with an emphasis on flowers and birds. Unsatisfied with the camera alone, she began experimenting with “developing” her images into artistic representations by incorporating digital enhancement using graphic and illustrative software.
“By using brushes and editing techniques in the software, I fell in love with the process and endless possibilities,” Powers says.
“There is a huge learning curve, but the possibilities are absolutely limitless. After processing, each piece is a truly and completely unique piece of art.”
Powers’ studio is both outside and inside, and it all starts outside, either in her garden, where she is constantly growing new varieties of flowers to photograph, or in the mountains, through which she bikes to find wildflowers, or public and private gardens in the region. In the winter and early spring, she photographs birds. A bird feeding station outside her kitchen window attracts smaller birds, while river walks open up the world of waterfowl and birds of prey.
“I’m frequently thinking about how light is falling, and what a good composition would be for a certain plant.
“Typically, I look out the window, see what’s blooming, grab my camera, and go. I follow the bloom schedule of the flowers around my garden. Iris, tulips and rhododendrons in early spring; roses, calendula, daisies, dahlia, and on and on in the summer.
“I think it’s safe to say that if it’s blooming, I would love to capture it.”
Flowers in the Studio, Too
And then it’s time to move to her indoor studio, a large room in her home with two floor-to-ceiling windows that look out on an atrium filled with flowerpots and plants. An oak corner desk houses computer and digital tablet. Another desk is space for matting prints, practicing calligraphy, and dabbling with watercolors, her latest foray for enhancing photos. Her artwork covers the walls. A bookshelf groans with volume after volume on flowers, flower arranging, wildflowers, flower identification, gardening, birds, art history, and photography.
“Finally, there are comfortable chairs that provide a space to just sit and ponder.”
An emerging element to Powers’ work is reprography, the process of reproducing, reprinting, or copying graphic material by mechanical, photographic, or electronic means. Working part time as the reprographics specialist at a local church, Powers has access to five separate copier machines, a Riso (mimeograph printer) machine, and an Epson large format printer.
“This has been a tremendous opportunity to apply my knowledge of digital art and to learn the geeky side and the technicalities related to the printing side of creating artwork.”
Honoring the Creator
All the observation, learning curves, research, floral and bird identification, and, ultimately, the capture of images on film and subsequent enhancement, have a central goal: that of creating a work that honors the work of the original Creator. Powers believes that God has created much beauty for us to behold as a reflection of who He is, and as an artist, she celebrates that beauty.
“He is so gracious and loving that He gives us beautiful sunsets, majestic mountains, and the most intricate, delicate flowers to top it all off.
“I try to capture some small bit of that stunning beauty to bring honor to God, the original creator.
“My desire is to share the beauty I see all around as well as a sense of peacefulness.
“I want to show viewers a place where they can step out of the traffic and rest.”
Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.