Christmas Music Booklet

Singing a Christmas CarolChristmas Is Not Cancelled!

I have put together a Christmas Music Booklet for carolling. It is full of many, many lyrics and some illustrations. Using the China flu as a political strong-arm to force us into isolation is just sinful at this time of year. Any attempt to make our entire population live in isolated fear should be considered a crime against humanity because that is what it is. Humans are social animals requiring interaction with others in our community to keep us from going insane.

Do you enjoy singing together at Christmas?

I believe that our Constitution still guarantees us some rights and one of them is the separation of church and government. Therefore, I intend to do Christmas carol “ing” this year. Common sense will be necessary and we are definitely not planning to kiss strangers, or spread colds. Observing normal courtesy’s… keeping spit and body fluids to ourselves and staying home if you are sick.

No you can’t have a sip of my hot cider!

Jesus Laughing chalk
working with chalk on black paper

This illustration is a chalk drawing of Jesus laughing, which is on the cover of the Christmas Songbook I last printed in 2011. If you have a copy of the old booklet, you will find that there are a few new illustrations along with more songs. At this point, the booklet has the lyrics for 74 songs. The file is not a free downloadable booklet, and I am requesting a $2 donation to cover printing costs. I have spent a lot of time researching lyrics, followed by typing and illustrating.

Christmas Music
If you are interested in getting copies of the CHRISTMAS MUSIC BOOKLET this year please send me a note, and I will include your quantities with the order? Please contact me by Nov 20th if you would like to be included in this order.

Games Kids Play

Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 05
Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 05

Games kids play. The amazing thing about this whole series of pictures is the changing facial expressions and reactions of all the people as they watched. Jenka affects the whole group and this game got the whole family going. In this first image you can see avid interest as Lottie selects which piece she is going to take.

Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 04
Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 04

With the middle of the column already pretty unstable, it was getting difficult to remove pieces without making it fall. Nerve racking. The boys are surprised at which piece she chose.

Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 07
Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 07
Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 08
Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 08

They watch the piece move. Look at the intense expressions while watching with anticipation (including a tongue).

Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 10
Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 10

She does it without having the blocks topple over and it blows Isaac’s mind.

Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 11
Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 11

Lottie is feeling truly triumphant! Yay! La Dee Dah!



Expressions Playing Games

Ben Jenka 13
Which one should I try?

Pictures that show youthful expressions playing games. Young people playing Jenka for New Year.

Ben Jenka 15
This one.
Ben Jenka 16

Even though the tower shakes, he keeps slowly pulling the piece out.

Ben Jenka 13
Stay up there, come on.
Ben Jenka 18
Whew! Got it.
Ben Jenka 19
I did it! Wow! Can you believe it!
Ben Jenka 20

What lesson does Jenka teach?

Trust that even if life places a task that looks virtually impossible in front of me, I can still succeed.

Photography Surprises

OCampo Wedding FOB 1 surprises
OCampo Wedding FOB 1


I love to find photography surprises when I am wearing my photographer hat! As I swung around to catch the “father of the groom” with “the stepmother” I got the first photograph shot. Then stepped in for a better one and captured an unexpected wonderful surprise. Four members of the groom’s family instead of two.

OCampo Wedding FOB brothers surprises
OCampo Wedding FOB brothers

Right Place & Time

In the space of a second just between the two shots, the view changed to include two more who are the groom’s brothers walking behind their father. This would be impossible to orchestrate. Can you imagine trying to capture this shot right when the shutter opened. Take 1,000,000,000. It was simply one of those photography surprises. Lucky me!

New Equipment

I was not an official photographer for the wedding but fully enjoyed being able to use our new camera, a Nikon 7500 to capture the “non-pro” shots of the day. There is no better way for me to discover equipment capabilities than just jumping in and using a camera or lens to get familiar with it. The proof is in the pudding then, cause it either works or it doesn’t.

OCampo Wedding Photographer
OCampo Wedding Photographer

I was able to just relax and capture what was going on all around in the background. What a fully enjoyable day, I didn’t have to stress, because Pat and Kim Flanigan already had a wonderful lady doing a fantastic job in that department already. Sorry, I don’t know her name, but if you need a photographer you should get this one who is pictured above!

It is an honor to be able to attend our grand daughters wedding (alias Colleen Flanigan) this weekend. We are so lucky to have people who love us, and include us in their lives like our family does. There is now a proud couple in our family, Juan and Colleen OCampo! We love you!


Photography Pet Peeves

I have identified photography pet peeves as I wade through the trending volumes of unprofessional photography available on the worldwide web.

Butt Shots!

butt shotButt shots are the worst. How many “butt-shots” do we need to see? Honestly, it pays to get on the other side of the table to photograph the birthday cake. How many backs of, heads and butts do we need to see before we can actually see the face of the birthday girl blow out the candles?

Please crop the crowd showing us their backs to focus on the recognizable face or focal point! Do the world a favor. Delete the photograph if it is only a shot made up of butts.


selfie Girl
selfie |ˈselfē| (also selfy)

noun (pl.selfies) informal

a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media: occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn’t necessary.

Really! I love the way that this definition ends by saying a new selfie every day is not necessary. Selfies are overused to document everyday activities and companions by everyone. They have now become a standard portrait method.

Have you ever considered that those closeup faces allow widespread facial recognition and location tracking?

Is big brother watching? Yes, you bet he is!

I do not consider the selfie as an art form.


An artistic image invites us in to feel, remember and become part of what holds our gaze. Those candid action shots that freeze the movement perfectly in the sports arena, or the thoughtful portrait that balances light and focuses with a memorable expression. Even the magnificent storytelling essence of an expansive landscape or event in history. Remembering, the importance of excellence makes me spat when I see a warped face in a group stacked together in a selfie!

Any image that we quickly glance at, see and move away from, does not fall into the category of art for me.

Certainly, a selfie’s facial distortion does not come close to the magical essence of the professional portrait capturing a storyline or personality elegantly.

Digital Photography

by jessica-cao-unsplash

We live in a digital photography age with almost every person carrying a cell phone camera on their person 24/7. A craze that has literally taken over our world. Unfortunately, this virtual flood of imagery is a deluge of poor-quality random images. A large collection of un-named, un-cropped, out-of-focus, and non-adjusted photography. Very little thought about producing quality images happens.  As observers, we suffer from an over-exposure to more than our “fair-share” of terrible shots.

Don’t get me wrong, professional photographers and artist’s do the same as most “trigger-happy” amateur photographers in the crowd.

Pros put thought into focus, background, and lighting before they click that shutter. In contrast, amateurs create volumes of images without any kind of adherence to tried-and-true photography methods. The result is poor quality images, lacking focus, and no having no meaning.

by Clem-onojeghuo-unsplash

We blindly stumble along with a cell phone in front of us. Becoming gamblers of photography, blindly shooting while hoping that luck will somehow prevail with an outstanding shot in the mess. Unfortunately, without any effort at improving our methods of photography, quality will not improve. Larger volumes, simply create a larger amount of “terrible shots”.

Amateur or Pro?

What are you? Do you have un-named sequential numbers for hundreds or thousands of images on your phone? Do you have to scroll through pages and pages looking for an image to share with someone? Can you search for a particular image by entering a name, place, or date?


The difference between an amateur and a pro is the ability to discern what is “good” and what is “not good”. A learned recognition skill obtained by the study of photography field standards. It is so easy to learn this skill on the internet. There’s no excuse to not educate yourself. If you know what is good, it is easy to get rid of the junk, and only keep the best. 

Quality levels of your photographs won’t change, if no effort is spent.

You can improve things right away by establishing a consistent routine of sorting, organizing, and saving your photography. Once you are set up to sort through, save and share your work responsibly, you will see a marked improvement. Instead of wading through a flood of bad shots, you can experience the magic of only scrolling through a few really good images.

  • keep only the best and discard any that are duplicates or out-of-focus
  • check resolution, exposure, and color adjustments prior to cropping, naming, and saving

Historic Photograph

Cordelia Canniff & son with her Mom
There must have been no age restrictions on driving back then.

Here is an example of a historic photograph for my family. These are my Great Grand Aunt, “Cordelia Canniff”, with her mother and baby. I know where I get it from, cause this looks like fun to me. Just wondering….

What are the age restrictions for driving back then?

Do you think the roads might have been a little bit muddy?


Photographs are a form of art that preserve views of our humanity. A visual form of historic storytelling. Each old photograph allows us a glimpse into life long ago.  Words could not describe the spirit evident in their faces. I am touched as I gaze at the noble facial structure of Chief Joseph‘s portrait. I bet that a lot of persuasion was required to get the Chief to allow his portrait taken. We are fortunate that the photographers were successful. Their perseverance allows us the ability to see his personality, dress and culture perfectly.

I used to be the only fool carrying a camera with me, during the “stone-age” of my youth. People would make fun of me for this fascination until I showed the great shots I got. This view is from the rim of the Kalaheo Side of the Kalalau Canyon in Kauai (Hawaii’s Miniature Grand Canyon).

Kalaheo Kalalau Canyon Rim

This camera habit is a life-long one for me. Here is a typical view of me with camera-in-hand in the 1990s. In modern day society, everyone carries a camera around in their cell phone so I am no longer the unusual person in the crowd.

Val with camera
1998 Val With Canon Camera

The costs involved in the use of the medium of film, nurtured a natural discernment of the importance of a subject before taking a picture. This narrowed down the volume of shots taken. Additionally, there were the considerations of the developing cost of the film and print which created another sorting of the images effectually  filtering the collection a second time. Buying a camera, and learning how to use it narrowed the photographers down to people with an invested interested in the field. This investment along with the costs involved in the film and development created a filtering process which greatly narrowed down public photography to the “most excellent shots in the batch”.

Estate sales, illustrate many avenues of photograph storage. documentation, filing and storage of shots is handled differently by each individual who points a camera. Some, simply leave volumes of unsorted and forgotten envelopes in boxes, while others carefully place shots into highly organized photograph albums. Some photographers take the time to identify each print with notes written on the back to identify the people, places and things being recorded. This printed method of history storage is dying. Boxes of photographs are being replaced with digital storage.

Photographs in a box
Photographs that we leave behind.

I find myself downsizing as I gradually go through and sort through the stuff collected throughout my life. I have inherited multiple boxes of photographic memories from deceased family members. These gifts have assigned me the onorous task of sorting through photographs from a time a long time ago. Discarding duplicates, un-identified, or out-of-focus shots in an effort to reduce the volume.

I scan, reasonably repair and post to my own family tree on Planning to scan and save to disk, then subsequently send originals to the most closely related family member still alive. Hopefully, I will not burden loved ones with having to go through a similar task when I am gone. My end goal is to have no boxes of photographs in my studio when I pass.

I appreciate the past relatives who had the good manners to let me know who and what I am looking at. Those Grandparents, Aunts & Uncles, Moms and Dads, siblings who took the time  to scribble an ID message on the back, are absolute life-savers for the person working on family history preservation. See my great great great aunt’s photograph,  who had been ID’d because of a little note on the back which allowed me to see who she was on the family tree.

Joe and Dora Fitts 1800s
Identifying our history is important, Joe and Dora Fitts 1800s



Jean and LawrenceMemories reside in a photo. Have you ever noticed how a single good photograph can instantly trigger teleportation right back into memory? Photography has had that amazing power for hundreds of years, allowing us the ability to recapture a memory.

This thought is elegantly presented by the lyrics in an old favorite song of mine, “Photographs and Memories” by Jim Croce. Songwriters are a special breed of artists too!

…Photographs and memories
All the love you gave to me
Somehow it just can’t be true
It’s all I’ve left of you…

I was processing photography from my camera on my computer this morning. You know, naming and filing or discarding them if it is out-of-focus or a duplicate. Then I opened a family folder and began touring the past and before I knew it, an hour had passed. There was some kleenex involved with the images found of people no longer here.

Above is a picture of my cousin Jeanie and her husband Lawrence taken years ago. They were just here visiting for a short time and I always miss them a lot. Some people are never around for long enough.

People change a great deal throughout their lives. Here is a photograph of my 3-year-old son trying a lemon. What a great facial expression!

Pat Sour FaceNext, is a shot of him and I took in the Colorado airport in his twenties. Sorry for the graininess of the second image (“low-res” cell phone) camera. Truly, time changes everything. Those two shots don’t even look like the same person, which is amazing.
Pat & Mom in Colorado





Raising Art out of Your Artist

Surprise in progress
Progress children’s portrait expressing surprise

We got kudos for individual creativity in art, teaching ourselves, and entrepreneur type creative ideas always. If my folks had not been encouraging in these ways, I would never have been able to follow this direction in life. They noticed the signs of artist tendencies in me from the beginning and encouraged me to practice and explore. Thank God our family tends to encourage creativity and guide us to educate ourselves in an entrepreneur sort of way.

Artist traits

I was one of those kids that lay on the ground looking up into the sky, seeing images in the clouds. I still like to do this. My earliest memories are of loving fishing on weekends with beautiful mountain walks. Discovering wonderful panoramic views with warm sun and bright mountain skies. Evenings spent coloring on a fold-up card table at my Grandma and Grandpa’s home. Skiing with my family and seeing some of the most gorgeous views in the snow from a very young age.

Have always doodled, consequently, getting in trouble in school for drawing horses in the margin of the test papers. There are many many scrap pieces of paper with eyes drawn in every position in my wastepaper packages. Noticing beauty around me, shadows and shapes, coloring, drawing and painting has always been a large part of my life. A pen or brush has always felt natural in my hand. The other stuff in life squeezes in to fit around the edges.

ART categories

As you go through this blog, you will notice that the “art” articles are divided up into different categories (listed on the right), allowing you the ability to search for a specific category of blog articles that may interest you.

I hope that this division into categories will make it easier for you to find the art subjects that you are most interested in reading about. Additionally, if you want a complete picture of the art I do please feel free to visit my traditional website also.

There are also the categories covered in my Blog about things I like to do Outdoors and Needlework . Outside activities including hiking, sports and gardening. My inside needlework hobbies of sewing or embroidery fill my spare time.


answer mystery painting

Okay, I will tell you then.

The mystery painting is actually the cover painting for my newest book project published by Michele Bourgeois an author in Canada who does Alternative Holistic Healing.

Where Your Mind Goes Energy Flows: A Self-Healing Manual for the Mind and Body“.

Some of my best art is in this book, check it out on I also did all the manuscript layout and design for publishing. I enjoyed reading this one. Let me know what you think of it please.