Sunday, December 30, 2012


Stainforth Cigarettes prompt provided by The Mag 149


Puff puff your cigarette
Smoke yourself 
to death.

While remembering
the Marlboro man

Hold the Virginia Slim
Just so poised
to show off your fingernails.

Copy Marlene Dietrich
All the villains
 And heroes in black and white

Fill the bar and your lungs
in cloaking blue haze
of smoke.

The ashes and stale smell
your shortness of breath.

Puff puff your cigarette
Smoke yourself
to death.

J. Binford-Bell
December 2012

Note: I smoked. My father smoked. My sister smokes. When I was in college I went to the infirmary after my third case of bronchitis for the year. The doctor explained I had a choice - breathe or smoke. Breathing sound preferable. I worked for a construction company that was building tobacco plants in North Carolina. My not smoking did not go over very well especially when I filled the ashtray with M&M's as a subtle hint for the tobacco company execs to not smoke in my office. Obviously too subtle because it did not work. Hell of a waste of M&M's. 

I think I hate most the cleaning of ash trays. Hated it even when I smoked. So this was a difficult prompt for me.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Photo a Day Challenge

Window from the past by J. Binford-Bell

On January 1, 2012 I began the 366 Day Photo Challenge on my Facebook Timeline. That is a lot of photos but in truth I took a whole bunch more than that. Maybe thousands. So the problem got to be which of the ones I took was I going to post for a particular day. Some others that do the 365 day challenge (I began in Leap Year ergo 366) do it to inspire themselves to always have their camera with them. Having my camera isn't the problem - going through the photos I take and looking critically at each one is.

Apologies to Monet

And because I was taking so many photographs and  post processing many more than I posted it got me to play around more with my photos.

Terracotta pot by J. Binford-Bell

Shadows of faded glory by J. Binford-Bell

Reflected Glory by J. Binford-Bell

And looking for the unique perspective on familiar subjects from pots to aspens to buffalo to portraits like the one of my sister below where it is just her jeep and her coat.

Portrait of my Sister by J. Binford-Bell

Meeting of the Minds by J. Binford-Bell

Photographer and subject by J. Binford-Bell

Lawn Chairs in Winter by J. Binford-Bell

Many of the 366 photos that made the four albums on my Timeline made it to one of my blogs: Creative Journey or Sidetracked Charley. And some of them made it as copies into a folder on my computer designated as 366 Challenge. But I didn't take as much care as I should have. And in 2013 I resolve to do better.

I will be posting my daily photos by the month and on my fanpage Binford-Bell Studio. Some of the 366 this year made it there as shares but this year it will be the primary post location. And weekly on a Tuesday I will be posting the weeks photos here on Creative Journey beginning January 8, 2013.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Memories are Made of This

Portrait of photographer and dog

They say that human memories are tied to smells and sounds. Many of us are immediately transported back to Mother's kitchen at the smell of turkey baking in the oven, or back years before to the first time we heard Bridge Over Troubled Waters.

Photographers and painters are also visually hardwired. When I go back though my images looking for that perfect photo I want to print up for a show I immediately remember the place and who I was with and a whole cascade of memories associated with that particular photographic trip.

The wall without my sister

The photo above is my favorite out of a series I took on the 23rd of December at the Ring Ranch on the Valle Vidal. It was cold and we took the mile walk with the wind and through snow sometimes almost a foot deep in places. And every time I look at it I feel the wind and see my sister standing before the corrugated metal shed.

Locked up?

Even a complex series of locks and chains around old posts strung with wire easily cut reminds me of a morning spent at the Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge with my photographer sister and our three dogs. I do not have to have taken the picture of the dogs to remember them and their antics.

Tree with a View

Those dogs had to be on a leash if out and before this picture was taken my sister and I tried to get them on leashes and out of the car and cameras in hands to take a walk along a pond on the refuge. They got us so tangled up! We broke down in hysterical laughter, cameras forgotten but clutched tightly. No doubt we scared all the birds away. But it was us adults that were not quiet. Our dogs do not bark or chase. They have been with their photographer owners enough to know all about those things.

Here's Looking at You

So when we drove by this deer in one of the wooded areas they were totally silent as I took this picture. Or the one below.

Buffalo Bull on the Vermejo Park Ranch

So very many pictures and so very many memories. May you and yours share wonderful memories this holiday whether your record them in sounds, smells or pictures.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A long way to spring

Not quite home
Every week, Tess Kincaid on The Mag gives us a visual prompt to start our creative minds churning on a poem or snippet of a story. This week it was a car on a lonely wet road in the middle of the country. Some weeks the image Tess chooses is an immediate jump start and others I download it and promise to think about it. On rare occasion nothing relates and I just enjoy reading the poems of others.

This week what the prompt brought forth for me was how alien that wet country road seemed. And how wistfully I returned to look at it. Such a contrast to the world outside my window this week. And so instead of a poem or a word story I give you a photographic essay beginning with my snowbound equivalent of her wet country road.

A moment of clarity in storm of blowing snow

My front windows look out on the hill across the rural county road and my assessment of the weather and the roads is often based on the view: Shirley's car parked at the bottom of her long drive; her foot prints visible or not in the snow drifts she must trudge to get into her warm home; the bend of the Ponderosa Pines on the top of the hill; the height of the now drift at their feet; blue sky visible or not

There is a pond beside the road

If I decide to venture out there are places I must go. I always take the camera. There is a road that passes by a pond just beyond these trees. The hope is to stay on the road but it too is covered with snow and the wind whips the snow and obscures the view. I quickly decided it was a manual focus sort of day. And longed for the fire in the wood stove at home.


The snow has been so opaque at times this series of storms that the lens and sensors in my digital camera want to focus on the snow and not the illusion of trees behind the smothering fall of flakes.

A tree stand alone

The snow driven by a restless wind erases the forest and the mountains and the sky. A solitary tree stands alone having gone unnoticed against its previous background.

I wait for the end of winter. I long for wet roads and not icy ones. I even think longingly about mud and flood season. But if you do not get lost or freeze or stuck or drive over the pond instead of the road it is beautiful to behold. But please give me just one day of blue skies and still air between storms.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Been There and Done That

Red River Fine Arts and Wine Festival

I did arts and crafts fairs from their heyday to two years ago. I had refined my booth and my exhibits and was winning prizes and doing well if not spectacular on sales. And long before I quit fairs I could see their downhill slide. You can blame Giclee prints or reproductions from China or pretend artists that were just into resale or the downward spiral of the economy. Or just that they become more and more entertainment than shopping opportunities.

I gradually cut down from 10 fairs a year to only two or three. And each fair I was disappointed more and more often by the lack of quality or the jury process that let in items mass produced in Mexico. And I got more and more bored with producing those items between $90 and $300 that sold well at previous fairs. I got so bored I was talking of quitting painting altogether. But because of my investment in van, booth furniture and lights and an established reputation at big fairs I kept going. Than the van broke. Really broke.

Sometimes events take control and demand an agonizing reappraisal. The demise of the Blizzard Lizard was such an event. As I looked around for a vehicle large enough to transport me to fairs but still that I could afford I began to question the wisdom of leaving my studio which is open to the public and traveling to fairs that cost entry fees, travel expenses, etc. to chase an ever increasingly rare buyer that didn't ask if I made prints, while watching the "artist" in the next booth unpack things from Made in China boxes.

Artsfest 2010 was my last art fair. Sales were good but I had to beg help from friends to get all my stuff there and back. Fortunately it was local. And two weeks later a regular customer popped into my studio and in two hours beat my sales at the fair. I sold my fair furniture and bought a Corolla with double the gas mileage of the van and have not looked back. And I get to paint what I want though it took almost six months to pick up a brush again. I kept my artistic spirit alive with photography and my name before the public with Facebook and entering exhibits and winning prizes.

Yesterday I went to a fair with a friend who also quit fairs at the same time. The two years had made me a true fair goer rather than a fair participant taking a break. I was frankly shocked at the continuing downward spiral of the venue. There were some very fine artisans at this particular fair but artists were dwindling. And their booths were side by side with made in Thailand beaded necklaces and Christmas baked goods from the local church. It is hard to sell a $1999.00 hand woven blanket coat when beside you a "photographer" is selling $30.00 printed at Walmart photographs hot matted on foam core.

Most of the out of town artists had not traveled huge distances but they had braved a snow storm and some of the artists slated to be there didn't show up. And a lot of the potential buyers had stayed home. When I walked in with my friend I felt like a tuna entering a circle of hungry sharks. Or my youth visiting Juarez with my parents fending off vendors. And some of the artists were downright rude. This is typically the last fair of the season and no more chances for income are on the horizon until March or June. Been there.

The same argument can probably be made with my studio. The open studio event got shut down by the same storm. But I will not have to come up with over a thousand dollars worth of entry fees and booth deposits before spring. And the studio is a great venue for giving classes. Or regular buyers calling up and making an appointment.

It is sad to see an era pass but it is nice to know that you are still flexible enough to endure. I am not sure how many fairs I will attend as a buyer. I found it depressing. But I really had fun during the time I did them.

Binford-Bell Studio in Black Lake, New Mexico

Monday, December 10, 2012

Lost at Sea

Prompt provided by The Mag

Lost at sea

Our past 
in lines across a map
of years.

Our journeys
behind us
we look forward
to the unknown.

No map
we are lost
on a trackless sea.

J. Binford-Bell

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Keep to the beat

Object to be Destroyed by Man Ray
Prompt by Tess Kinkaid

Keep to the beat

Set by others
or animate objects
waltz time
or funeral dirge.

No rests
just tick tick tick
march tempo
or tango.

Make it march
I bowed to my partner
and exited
the floor.

I think I will sit this one out.

J. Binford-Bell
December 2012