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Filtering by Tag: education

New England Colors; Kyle Finn Dempsey and the Art of Photographing Autumn

Ben Ashby

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Photographer Kyle Finn Dempsey is one of the bests when it comes to documenting the changing colors of New England. We are continually inspired by his work. We sat down with him to learn more about shooting the best shots of autumn's many colors....

 

"Fall feels like a dream in New England. It's not about big grand views here, but about little nooks and crannies and a vast variety of colors."

 

My name is Kyle Finn Dempsey and I live in the hills of Western Massachusetts. I go by the name Huck because my best friend and I were (and still are) a modern day version of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. We've always called each other that, and if you spent an afternoon with us, wandering around the forest barefoot, it'd all start to make sense. I grew up along the Westfield river and and currently live in the same area. I will never let go of my spot, it's my zen and I plan to keep it in the family forever. 

 

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Fall feels like a dream in New England. It's not about big grand views here, but about little nooks and crannies and a vast variety of colors. There's not many other places in the country (or world) that you can find so many different trees who's leaves change color at once. The colors I show in my photos are very real. Of course I put my own spin on them with my edits, but when you're on a fall drive here, you're going to see colors you won't believe. From rich golden yellows on the birch trees, bright red oak and swamp maple leafs, bright orange sugar maple, orange & gold beach leaves and everything in between. Sometimes the colors are so bright they look fake in person. It's seriously jaw dropping.

 

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My favorite places to shoot in New England for the fall are southern Vermont and right near my house in western MA. Southern Vermont always turns about a month early, and is very swampy, so the colors are extremely rich and vibrant. All near me is small valleys and winding backroads, which are my absolute favorite places to explore and shoot. I love traditional New England fall scenes as well as finding new ways to share fall that not many people have seen. Each Northeast state has his own unique flavor to offer, along with classic scenes that come to find when you think of fall. If you want guaranteed color and good views, try the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

 

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One of my favorite towns near me that celebrates fall very well is Ashfield, Ma. It's an incredibly quaint little town with a lake in the middle, a rope swing and a beach, a pizza shop and and an old fashion hardware store. There's always something going on, and in the fall, they have a fantastic little festival in the common lawn. Local crafts and garden vegetables, local music and everything else you can imagine that fits into a small town fairytale. The singer Ray LaMontagne actually has a home in Ashfield. It's one of Massachusetts biggest hidden gems. Keep that between you & I.

 

Peak season is generally right around mid October, though it depends on where you are and how the season is developing. In Southern Vermont, peak was probably October 5th. Here in Western Ma, we're just past peak, and its Oct. 22nd. I'm heading up to southern Maine tomorrow to stay in a tree house, and from what I've heard they are pretty much at peak.

 

I became a photographer when I was 19 or so. I used to rap and make music videos, and I got a camera so I could do all my own media by myself. I didn't seriously start shooting until I was a junior or senior in college. I'm 25 now, and I've been doing photography and video work full time for about 3 years.

 

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Tips for capturing autumn- Check near swamps, rivers and ponds. Try shooting with a drone if possible to find unique formations from above and go places that no one knows about. Drive down backroads near water sources and see what you find. Some of the best colors happen in the places you least expect. Also, overcast and rainy days are will enhance the foliage by about 50%. Sometimes it looks like there's no color on a bright sunny day, and then the next day it rains, the colors shine bright and you're like "WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED!?"

 

— @KYLEFINNDEMPSEY

 

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A Handmade Holiday

Ben Ashby

A Handmade Holiday

The History + Art Behind Vintage Valentines

BY JEN O'CONNOR || EARTH ANGELS STUDIOS

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Valentine’s Day is a decidedly handmade celebration. How can it not be when love is so personal, friendships so treasured, and the traditions of the holiday so old, that a simple love note penned from the hand seems a most apropos gesture of the heart?

 

At one point or another, we’ve all ventured to fashion a Valentine card. Bits of construction paper, the frill of a doily, markers, crayons…these are the things of school days’ crafting that have survived memory and time. They’re still present at the most technologically advanced of today’s grammar schools and likewise, in our habits of dashing off a love note festooned with a doodled “heart” or an “x” and an “o”…or two.

 

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We learned early on, the gesture of a simple card is perfect, if the sentiment is true. Valentine’s Day is best celebrated when we're given the excuse to express sweet feelings in a few, well-chosen words, or with the help of a more-clever writer’s imprinted ditty or eloquent dedication.

 

And while there are a legions of commercially produced Valentines onto which you can add that personal flourish, something given by hand – however simple, charms the recipient. Indeed since Valentine cards predate postal service by centuries, those most traditional among us still hand deliver cards – a gift in themselves -- with envelopes unsealed, simply tucked in as etiquette dictates all hand-delivered correspondence should be.

 

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A Peek at the Sweetest Holiday’s History

 

While there is little reliable information to confirm one Saint Valentine, the most common of histories describe him as a Roman priest imprisoned and killed for marrying Christian couples. That said, we have acknowledged February 14 as the feast day of “Saint Valentine” since the 1400s. This feast day has grown in fact and fable, history and tale, and has long been associated with the declaration of courtly love.

 

The first statements of love in honor of Saint Valentine’s Day, were said to be sung or recited and are referred to as poetical or amorous addresses. Handwritten notes emerged in the 1400s with the very first written Valentines attributed to the imprisoned Charles, Duke of Orleans, in 1415. During his time of confinement in the Tower of London, the besotted young Duke passed time writing romantic verses for his wife, far off in France. More than 60 of his heartfelt poems have survived and are preserved among the treasures of the British Museum.

 

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So how did Valentine greetings become tradition in a time when reading and writing, paper and pens were not the things for the common man or woman? Love finds a way.

 

The tradition of putting forth heartfelt sentiments continued as it could among Western Europeans and by the Eighteenth Century exchanging written Valentines was in vogue among the educated and wealthy, and an emerging tradition among those with less means.

 

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Hands Dyed Blue

Zachary Kilgas

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“Having an indigo vat is like babysitting a sleeping baby who sleeps through almost anything, but when you do wake it up you have to keep it warm, fed, and any movement you make could agitate it. Oh, did I mention that baby reeks of ammonia?” Alyx Jacobs said.

Alyx, in the simplest terms, has a kind face. The curves of her cheeks are soft and her dimples give the impression that she’s the type of person who’s always smiling. (I’ve had the pleasure of knowing her for years and know this to be the case.) Her arms and legs are decorated with all sorts of tattoos — from a rendition of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” that sits tucked away on her inner bicep to a large mum that descends intricately down her thigh and calf.

Since I’ve known her, I’ve marked Alyx in my mind as one of those people who seems to ooze a creative sense of self. After almost a year without seeing each other, we reconnected over coffee and she told me about a new obsession — indigo dyeing and quilting.

When I first met her she was still a student at the Kansas City Art Institute. She’s since graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design major + in Fiber.

“In the graphic design department, I was creating simple, yet intricate designs. Then I went down a path of taking sustainable clothing classes, which led to the natural dyeing. Kim-Eichler Messmer, my quilting teacher, is the one who introduced me to natural dyeing and quilting. I was lucky enough to show my quilts with her after I graduated,” she said.

Over time, Alyx explained she was drawn to the tactile nature of quilting.

“I always found a way to integrate thread and yarn into my paintings,” Alyx said. “My mom was so surprised when I chose graphic design as my major because she assumed I would always be working in the computer. Which wasn't completely true, but I did need more variation in my education. I signed up for a quilting elective somewhat randomly.”

Quilting, and natural dyeing lead Alyx to Athens, Georgia to study with an indigo farmer.

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“I wasn't sure what to expect. Donna picked me up in her little Mazda 3, with her indigo tattoo proudly displayed on her wrist. Her house was simple and tucked back into the woods off of this road about two hours away from the airport.”

All week long, indigo was the core of all activities.

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“Every day, we would wake up early to get the vats ready, whether it was making concentrated indigo to start a new vat or heating up the vats so that we could use them later in the day, indigo was always our first priority.”

Her experience in Georgia exposed her to more than just dyeing.

“The whole experience was an introduction into this beautiful, simple, wholesome life. Donna had a garden where she grows medicinal herbs for homemade tinctures and veggies. I fell in love with the lifestyle.”

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Indigo dyeing is something Alyx spoke about fondly.

“Indigo dyeing is definitely a labor of love,” she said. “It really forces you to take a moment to stop and think — to be mindful of the process and how much time and effort you're putting into one piece of fabric. It is really easy to take advantage of going to a fabric store and buying any color of fabric that you desire without even batting an eyelash, but when you have to dip, wait, let oxidize, dip, wait, let oxidize, fully dry, wait more, etc. to build up color, you really appreciate the colors that you're getting because you've spent the time with each dip.”

When I look at Alyx’s quilts, I see modernity, but her hand-stitch shows a more delicate nature. Alyx’s choice of hand stitching is a tribute to the slow nature of indigo dyeing, and the long history of indigo. The traditional style of Japanese quilting she practices is called Sashiko. Sashiko is a traditional way Japanese farmers would mend their work jackets. Indigo is also traditionally used to overdye fabrics throughout time in the Japanese culture. Her deliberate use of these small white stitches takes time and love to hold the layers of indigo-dyed linen fabric together.

Alyx does add a touch of modern to her quilts. During her time with Donna, she explored a new idea: screen-printing with indigo dye — an art that hasn’t been fully explored.

I asked her what was next; what were her long term plans? With her dimples showing in full force, she smiled about a recent wedding proposal and a new last name, telling me not to worry that he fully supports her blue-dyed hands. Beyond that, she was happy not to have an answer.

“This is always an interesting question,” she said. “I didn't know the answer to it when I was a lost high schooler going into art school, and now that I've graduated from college, I still don't necessarily know. People have responded very well to my quilts and it makes me so happy to just have people interested in them. I am currently working as an admissions counselor for KCAI. In this position, I get to travel the country and talk to young artists about their future in art, and that is what I love to be doing. Luckily, quilts are very easy projects to travel with!”

See more of Alyx's work at here.

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