Visual Inspiration- Week 1

Welcome summer ! I know that I promised myself and my fellow followers that I would post every Thursday and as beautiful as the intention was, Thursdays sometimes slip by on the river of summer livin’ and workin’.

And life is GOOD these days. I’m teaching full time at an art school that I absolutely love! Teaching seems to keep me from my photography and art but instead of trying to do it all (teaching, making art, traveling) I’m learning that I’m fulfilled and content with a few things and not all things. THIS is most definitely a slow learning process when you’re the type of person that I am. Taking on everything. Not wanting to pass up opportunities. Thinking that busyness equals being fulfilled and happy. It actually just makes me scatterbrained and crazy.

I’m learning to be happy by just taking on teaching right now…(oh and learning to swim.) I’ve made it a ritual to wake up early in the morning so I can read some pages of my book and finding moments to sit down, sleep more and listen to music more.

When the time comes, the art making will return.

Yet, in the back of my mind I still think of ideas. Instead of acting on them I write them down in a small notebook.  I have a book that I’ve started to collect ideas and images in for myself. I have written down photographers and artists that inspire me. I’m discovering artists who are making art that I connect to on a level I don’t completely understand. Why do I like this artist? Why do I like this piece of art work? Why does it speak to me? I guess, if it clicks, it clicks. Sometimes it doesn’t have to make sense but it’s fun to examine reasons and ask the questions.

So, I thought I would share some of my visual inspiration with y’all.

My first artist inspiration is Isa Marcelli. Isa is a french photographer. She has a small website of work and has images on flickr. There is not a lot of information about her or what her work means to her so all of her work is left up to interpretation.

Reading “Wabi Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers” by Leonard Koren I’ve been thinking more on the Japanese aesthetic of impermanence, nature themes and imperfect beauty. Isa has a series called “impermenance” and to me it speaks to these same ideals.

It’s so lovely to come across artists who focus on the same ideas, subject matter and concepts. Isa and I seem to share a love of hands and using hands in photography. I think that is one of my main reasons I connect with her work. It’s personal, the hands are her own. It seems she is trying better to understand herself through her work. I can understand that. She is a visual writer. When words fail, she and I turn to photography to create and make space for our poetry and stories.

It’s understated, quiet and intimate. She is not shouting from the rooftops. She is neatly and quietly presenting to us pieces of her life, her vision and her story.

Her photographs are poems. Read them, sit with them and roll them around in your mind.

Visit her artist website. It is full of beautiful images.

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From the series ‘Les adventices’ from

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From the series ‘Impermanence’ from

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From the series “Hiver” by Isa Marcelli

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From the series ‘Mécanisme de l’oubli’ by Isa Marcelli

Shadow Play

I recently started working on my collage work again. I like telling stories or attempting to create narratives through the collage work that I do. Sometimes i have a theme and sometimes I just experiment to see what can be created organically.

I created this one late night this week. I set up my gear preparing for a portrait shoot. Lights, background, and camera on a tripod.  But instead of standing in front of the linen background, I stood behind it and set the lights up behind me. This cast an large shadow on the natural linen fabric.

This sounds straight forward, but on a VERY warm May night on the east coast it involved tripping over wires and cats, sweating in front of large, hot lights and lots of frustration in getting the right position before the camera timer took the shot. Sweat and tears and then an hour of looking at the images and trying to combine them in an interesting way. It’s good practice for the creative mind but experimenting with something new is fun but can be incredibly frustrating!

So…shadows. I think I can see potential. It’s an idea. Something I need to perfect. I’m going to return to this idea this week and attempt to get some more shadow shots. For now, I simple share this collage.

“Gift” 2015.

Have a great weekend everyone! I’m getting ready for a weekend of work work work! How about you?! Hope you make it a good one!

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Week in Pictures – May in Pennsylvania


What a gorgeous week of weather here in Pennsylvania. This past week I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time outside.  I spent last weekend in a small town in central PA visiting some friends which was a nice slow down. This weekend I’m looking forward to planting in our plot at the community garden!

I’ve been revamping my photography website and adding some of my newer still life images. I’m proud of the way my site is coming along. Check it out!

I’d like to share some images from the past few weeks. I’ve been busy creating new photography postcards, editing new still life images and attempting to get my photographic work out into the world! It’s mostly a lot of “behind the computer screen” work so I hope to get it done so I can spend next week making photographs next week!

What’s inspiring you all lately? Drop me a note! Say hello! 🙂


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Morris Arboretum

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Patrick Dougherty: Stickworks

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Easter flowers

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Reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.

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Apartment hunting.

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Home still life

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Still Life Photography

Hello wordpress world! I’ve been a busy bee and have neglected my little bee hive blog of photography and craft . In an effort to return with a more consistent presence, I’ve decided to blog weekly every THURSDAY!

Look for me! I’m dedicated! I promise!


Happy Thursday. It’s Spring here in Pennsylvania and the weather is finnnnne. It’s been a relatively cool spring so these mid 60’s and 70 temps are more than welcome these days.

With Spring come rebirth and color and a lot of work. Teacher work. Photography work. Happy work. I have been subbing in at wonderful schools in the area and spend weekends teaching at an art center near by and in my spare time I’ve been sewing and photographing up a storm!

I’ll have to tell y’all about a book I recently discovered called “Wild Color” by Jenny Dean and Karen Casselman. “Wild Color” is about the processes of dying fabrics with natural dyes made from plants. This is so exciting to me to begin to dive in and really explore natural dyeing processes. It will be fun to adventure into natural dyeing techniques and I hope that you’ll share with me any knowledge or tips you may have.

Okay, the topic at hand!

I wanted to share with you all some still life photographs that I’ve been working on and experimenting with. I love styling my own table-scapes by adding mood, texture, color and the right light to showcase a certain curated idea or thought. Arranging and re-arranging objects that are sentimental along with natural materials collected from trips, adventures or right in my own garden is my newest obsession.

Enjoy these images I took this week in my ‘home’ studio. My studio ( simply a wooden table)  tends to move with the light and I’ll lovingly follow that sunlight depending on which window it’s coming through. So mornings my studio could be my living room and come afternoon my studio could be my kitchen. It depends and changes with the time of day! Way to be flexible! 😉

I was able to create these images in my living room while listening to Townes Van Zandt and drinking tea. Ah.

Oh, if I could only do it more often.

Enjoy! If you haven’t yet said hello to me, please do! I’d love to chat and discuss anything on the blog or something you’re working on or creating at your own home studio.

’til next time!


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still life 5


still life 3

Inspiration Wednesday! C|E|R|E|AL magazine- Travel and lifestyle

There is so much that inspires me these days and I wanted a way to share some of my daily and new influences with you! I was having a chat with my good friend Alia, from  Say Things with Color about blogging and artistic influences.

I am influenced every day by little things but also by larger things and these days by collaborative work by people working in different mediums and fields. I have been searching for blogs and magazines that are in line with my way of thinking and seem to line up with the way that I see the world. I am always looking for new ways to see and capture the world around me.

I was at Terrain at Styers this past Monday in Glen Mills, PA and found a new magazine to obsess over! If you haven’t heard of Terrain I URGE you to check out their website at least. If you are in Pennsylvania you should make a stop and pick up a sweet plant and admire the decor and gorgeous terrarium house with containers and plants for creating terrariums!

Terrain is a unique place that combines gardening, outdoor living and house and home goods focused around entertaining. They had a handful of magazines that they sell from outside sources. One magazine I discovered and fell in love with standing in the middle of the store was C|E|R|E|A|L. This magazine is a quarterly magazine about travel and lifestyle.


C|E|R|E|A|L also has a neat blog too and they even post their own inspirations which is….well…inspiring!

I love traveling and I love travel photography and sometimes I ponder on how I could showcase my travel photography in an interesting and unique way. C|E|R|E|A|L did this in a beautiful way on their website.

On their website they took four images from each city they visited in October and presented them in two column blocks. It is clean and smooth and gorgeous to look at and enjoy.


An image from C|E|R|E|A|L magazines Travels in October blog post. Check out their website and blog!

The thing that I like most about this magazine and what catches my eye in print and in photography in general is a clean, simple, minimalist…or edited look. I like that everything is taken into account in the frame when the photographers take their images. Each detail is thought out and considered. They seem to edit the composition before shooting to capture only what is necessary to tell a story.

It inspired me to think about my images from my travels to Alaska and which images work best with each other. How can I best tell a story of a place using just a few images side by side. I think this will be handy next time I am out shooting and thinking about how to tell a story about the place I am…in just a few simple, well thought out images.

Keeping it simple and elegant,


Alaksa. North and South.

Alaksa. North and South.

What inspires you? Drop a note to say hello! 

October Mini Session

It is October and with October comes cooler weather, beautiful colors and a reminder that winter is on it’s way! This means that the holidays are right around the corner! This is a great opportunity for you to get those portraits taken with plenty of time to print and send them out to all your loved ones!

I am running a special this month. 45 minute session in one location with 8 beautifully edited images to print and use! This is a great deal so contact me today and as long as you book in October I am willing to schedule our session in the first week of November.

You can follow me on facebook at

Instagram account is tessadownsphoto. Follow me to keep up with new posts and specials!


Weekly Photo Challenge- Adventure!

I took this photograph while sitting on the deck of a boat touring Glacier Bay in Glacier Bay, Alaska. It was mid July but mid July back home on the east coast is not mid July in Alaska.  It was so cold that most people went below deck and my crew hung out on top taking in the amazing views. How could I go below deck with so much to see!?

An Alaskan adventure… on a boat…. heading towards giant glaciers. Quite a trip!

I’m participating in Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. This week’s theme was “Adventure.” Further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses can be found here!



On Glacier Bay. July 2014

On Glacier Bay. July 2014

Soups and bread and cookbooks! Oh my!

Hey all!

I spent this past week preparing for autumn by searching / researching through cookbooks for great soup recipes. I love soup and it’s a wonderful, warm food I associate with home and cold months (though I found some GREAT chilled summer soups!)

I love the change of the seasons and as much as I adore summer in all of it’s splendidly hot glory… Autumn brings with it beautiful colors, cooler temperatures and comfortable days spent outside.

I’ve been baking my own bread lately. It is the only way I consume bread these days. I like to know what’s going into my bread and there is a zen quality about baking bread; waiting for it to rise and bake.

I’ve been harvesting my summer garden as well, collecting flowers and kale, potatoes, tomatos and herbs. I’ve been finding ways to incorporate these ingredients into the bread and into soup which is even more satisfying for me to cook using veggies and ingredients I grew myself.

I’m currently sitting in my car, waiting at the bus stop and researching how to make wild yeast bread. Can’t wait to try this method again!

So, since I’m not at my computer, I’ll share some recent food images of soups and breads that I have made. I have a baking tutorial that I will share soon!

Enjoy the weekend !

Are you finally diving I to the world of baking and cooking like I am? Share your favorite recipe with me and maybe I could do a tutorial or I could even link your post on my site!

Let’s create a community of people living and eating creatively!



Kale, chickpea, sausage and chicken soup.


New potato and garlic soup.


Homemade French baguette

Digital Collages and Designing Book Covers.

In my personal time I like to design book covers for books. These are a few that I’ve put together using some of my personal photographic collage work. My collage work is always digital and the images are pieced together using photographs of mine with the intention of telling or  creating a story. The stories are constructed by pulling ideas and stories from literature, art history, world history, mythologies, music and film. I also create collages that pull from personal and family histories.

Onto the books! These are excellent and I must say heavy reads and you should totally read them!

Benediction by Kent Haruf– Haruf is a much-loved author of mine. His books are, at the heart,  about simple and honest people living their lives in the best way they know. His books remind me of Raymond Carver stories, in their quiet manner and stark scenery and language. There is so much humanity in Haruf’s writing and he is able to capture dialogue and the way people communicate in such an honest, real way.

Eventide by Kent Haruf is a story about people. Simply put. One review says the following about this book and I have to agree it sums it up simply. “Eventide unveils the immemorial truths about human beings: their fragility and resilience, their selfishness and goodness, and their ability to find family in one another.”

The Road by Cormac McCarthy is  a well-known book thanks to the movie that was released in 2009. This is an post-apocalyptic  story about a father and son and the obstacles they face on a daily basis. I read this book when I was much younger and didn’t enjoy it. I should read it again to see if my opinions have changed as I’ve aged.

Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor. If you have not read this book or any of Flannery O’Connors’ stories, do yourself a favor. However stark and striking and mostly depressing, O’Connors’ writing is one of a kind. More often than not, O’Connor  leaves you flabbergasted, staring at the page in wonder at the way she ties ideas together or at the characters she creates in her short stories. Her haunting characters remain with you long after her stories end and Hazel Motes (the main character in Wise Blood) is certainly one of those characters.


I ask you readers…..what are your favorite books? (I’d love some ideas for new book designs to work on; )




the road