Welcome to my website and blog! I hope you get some enjoyment from viewing the photography and books on the site. Thank you very much for visiting.
As many of you know, I held an exciting, wonderful and successful Solo Exhibition of my artwork at the Husar Fine Art Gallery in Beverly Hills. Below is a beautiful and very creative video of the evening set to music, which you can watch by clicking on the box below. The video clip is only 2minutes and 12 seconds, so it doesn't take long to watch and it worth it!! (If you want to know more about my Exhibition, look at my prior blog by scrolling down a bit on this page where I go into more detail about it.) Credit for the videography is to Jade Collins-Parnell.
By Kay Kochenderfer-Toomey
Even being charged by a herd of wild elephants could not dampen my enthusiasm for this beautiful country. My husband and I have traveled there twice now and have loved it each time. However, getting there the first time was not so easy.
I should back up to the events leading up to the first safari trip my now-husband and I made to Botswana. At the time I was still practicing law and had an extremely heavy caseload with little to no control over my schedule. Taking off to travel to the other side of the world with little to no communication (i.e., no cell phone or Blackberry reception) seemed quite undoable. Plus, I was quite scared to go on the trip. Riding in an open-air jeep with lions, leopards, hippos, rhinos, and other dangerous animals all around just seemed -- well quite dangerous.
However, my clever now-husband had two strategies up his sleeve to convince me to go. One was to ask everyone we knew if they had been on safari and, if so, whether they liked it. Of course, everyone who had been on safari before, replied with an enthusiastic yes. The second, more long lasting and impactful strategy was that he bought a “fancy” camera for me for the trip. Neither one of us knew a thing about cameras at the time, but fortunately the salesperson had the foresight to recommend a 70-300mm telephoto lens, and that made all the difference.
When we landed on a small dirt airstrip in a six passenger plane in Botswana, I was absolutely stunned. Everywhere you looked, there were different types of animals -- some roaming around on the “runway.” What I did not see was a scintilla of human existence -- no signs, no trash, no fences, no telephone towers, no wires, no roads, no structures, no humans except the driver who picked us up to take us to our camp. I remember having the feeling that we had been dropped into an alternative universe. Not only did it feel like a magical, alternative universe, but it felt like we had time-traveled back to the beginning of time. It was pure, simple and amazing to see giraffes, zebra and impala roaming around the landscape as we made our way to the camp to settle in and eat dinner.
The next day when we went out on our first official safari run, thanks to our superb, uber-knowledgeable guide, we were very fortunate to find a leopard up in a tree with no branches against a gorgeous blue sky. This is where I took my first photos with my new “fancy” camera with the telephoto lens. I was absolutely amazed at the results. I was able to capture every single hair clearly on the leopard in the photos, as well as the gorgeous eyes and its cute pink tongue. That was it. I was hooked on photography from that moment on. One of the initial photos from this shoot is below.
For the rest of the safari, I took so many photographs that my husband and the guide were having fun laughing at me. I think they had more fun laughing at me taking photos than watching the wildlife. My husband and I fell in love with our guide and tracker, both of whom were incredibly warm, genuine, hospitable, kind and most importantly, incredibly knowledgeable in all things wildlife.
This came in handy the day we had a rather heart-stopping experience. It was on the third day, after I had finally gotten comfortable with the notion that if you are in the jeep, not talking loudly and not standing up, the animals just ignore you – including lionesses who, in our experience, were literally right next to the tire of our jeep for a while. It is as if you are not there. Well. . . . . not so fast. On this third day, we were watching a herd of elephants far in the distance. The jeep was stopped so we could watch them from afar. I was taking photographs of them and they were traveling across the area from where our jeep was parked. After a while, however, I noticed they changed direction and started coming directly toward our jeep. I was continuing to take photographs until I realized the whole herd of elephants was right on top of us (well, 5 meters from our jeep – we measured afterwards).
The lead elephant was pregnant and she was mad. The elephants were stomping their feet, raising and lowering their trunks and making a lot of noises to let us know they were unhappy. They walked part way around the jeep. Our guide keep saying, stay calm Kay. Hmm. I was not seeing a Plan B. We could not start the jeep and try to outrun them. Just starting the jeep would startle them enough to cause them to charge for sure. I did not see any guns in the jeep – and even if there was a gun, or two, I didn’t think it would help against an entire herd of elephants. Getting out of the jeep and running was obviously the worst thing to do. So, first I broke eye contact with the lead elephant and put my camera down. Then I bowed my head down, took deep breaths and waited and prayed, waited, and prayed, waited and prayed, and waited and prayed. After what seemed like an eternity, the elephants apparently just got bored with us and moved on. Whew!
In addition to Botswana, my husband and I have been on safari in South Africa and Zambia, both of which are amazing as well. During the safaris I have been on, I have taken thousands of photographs. In between the trips, I studied the art of photography intensely. I immersed myself in the world of photography and my motto became “Photography Feeds My Soul.” Recently I was asked by a store that carries some of my photography products – the David Orgell store in San Marino, California -- to create a safari theme line of products for them, which makes perfect sense in light of the fact that when you first walk in the store, you see large, gorgeous silver leopards and jaguars. I wanted to create something very creative and unique for the project, in addition to the documentary photos from my safari trips.
I worked very hard and created a series of unique, magical-looking images. I took some of my photos that I had taken in Africa and then worked on them in post-processing. I used a number of techniques, including textures, brush strokes and other techniques to make the images have a magical and “painterly” look. I had several of these images printed on canvas and included them in some of my Exhibitions. The combination of the relatively rough texture of the canvas, combined with the “painterly” techniques I used during the post-processing of the images resulted in the final, printed images looking like paintings when you see them in person! Very cool.
One of the favorites in this style is my “Zebra Quartet in Lavender,” which is an image that started with a photo I took in Botswana of four zebras "posing" in unison for me. In post-processing, I put them in a field of lavender against a beautiful colorful background. It may sound unusual, but it is a beautiful, creative image that has turned out to be very popular. You can see this image below.
If you have not been on safari, I highly recommend it. Take it from someone who was 100% opposed to it initially. I owe a big debt of gratitude to my husband for his persistence. Not only was the trip amazing, but I ended up discovering a new life passion in the process – photography. In a “truth is stranger than fiction moment,” my husband told me years later that when he bought the camera for me he had a feeling that somehow it was going to end up being very important for me. I think I married the right man!
Here are a couple of additional photos from my safari trips. You can also see more on my website in the “Safari” gallery. Happy viewing!!!
I had a wonderfully successful Solo Exhibition of my artwork at the Husar Fine Art Gallery in Beverly Hills on May 18, 2019. I was thrilled with the amount of art I sold at the Exhibition!! A huge thank you to everyone who attended -- and an even bigger thank you to everyone who purchased my artwork. Below are still photographs taken on the Opening Night by Jade Collins-Parnell. Later I will also have a video with music of the Opening Night and I will circulate that when I get it. In addition to the Exhibition, the Gallery also served as the location for the filming of an interview I was requested to give about my artwork, to be aired on national TV on Fox Business. Once I know the air date, I will circulate that information as well.
I elected to have the City of Hope, a leading research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases, to receive a portion of the proceeds from the sale of my artwork. In addition, I donated my "Silver Guardian Angel" piece of artwork to the City of Hope. I also am donating a number of my photographs to the "Art for the Heart" Project founded and run by volunteer and former patient of City of Hope, Chuck O'Shea. Chuck spoke during the Opening Night and explained that the Project provides hospital patients with artwork for their hospital rooms -- and provides them with the opportunity to change the artwork in their rooms every week. After Chuck spoke, Steven Rosen, the Provost and Chief Scientific Officer of City of Hope came up and spoke eloquently about the amazing work of the City of Hope. In addition, my wonderful friend, Ginger Bauer, purchased a piece of my artwork, the "Leopard on the Lookout," and turned around and donated it to the City of Hope. Having the City of Hope involved as the charitable beneficiary to my Exhibition made the event extremely meaningful to me.
I am extraordinarily grateful to my husband, who gave me massive support throughout the entire process of putting together this Exhibition (which was no easy feat). Thank you to Ruth Collins, Senior Producer at Spotlight TV, who worked tirelessly to help put the Exhibition together, Audis Husar, owner of Husar Fine Art Gallery for allowing me to use her Gallery and for her great work in helping me put the Exhibition together, Nadia Kelm, Assistant at the Gallery for her great work, Law Estate Wines, for their generosity in donating wine for the Opening Night, the Empty Vase for donating the most amazingly beautiful huge floral arrangements for the Exhibition, Whole Foods for donating food for the event, Chuck O'Shea for speaking at the event, Steven Rosen for speaking at the event, Candice Rosen for her support and enthusiasm for my artwork, Scott Archimbaud, Associate VP of Community Philanthropy and Engagement for helping with the Exhibition and if I am missing anyone, it is not intentional.
I displayed a wide variety of artwork at the Exhibition in terms of subject matter, style and materials.
For example, I displayed two of my Water Music Series pieces at the Exhibition, which are digital composites where I take photographs of musicians and then put them in a gorgeous ocean setting. These were large size (20"x35") and printed on canvas, which made most people think they were paintings. I sold two copies of one of these pieces at the Opening!
I also had a number of my safari photographs, all of which sold at the Opening - and one of which sold three copies. I made each of the safari photos very creative in post-production, adding textures in some of them. My "Zebra Quartet In Lavender" is an example where I took the photo of four zebras in Africa fortunately with their heads all bowed down in unison for the shot - and then in post-production, I added brush strokes to the image and a texture layer and then put them in a field of lavender to add interest to the image. For all of the safari photos with one exception, I printed them on canvas and they looked like they were paintings - as was observed by many people at the Opening. One of my safari pieces, the "Zebra Portrait" is one that I took in Botswana. It is a close-up of the face of the zebra. In post-production, I put the zebra's face on a solid black background, which makes the zebra, with it's black and white strips "pop." I then had the image printed and framed it with a white mat and a black frame. I sold three copies of this image at the Opening Night.
I also had some abstract work on display at the Opening and sold my "Red Passion with Silver Frame" piece of artwork. In addition, I had a number of floral images, some of which I had taken at the Huntington Gardens. My "Bird Admiring Yellow Water Lily" piece is one where I took two photos and merged them to achieve focus of both the bird and the lily. I then added a texture to the image to make the image more interesting. I printed this on metal (24"x30") with a flush metal frame. I sold two copies of that piece of artwork at the Opening. I also sold my "Pink Water Lily with Dragonfly," with I also took at the Huntington Gardens and to which I added a texture similar to the earlier piece. The two pieces are companion pieces and are both printed on metal. One of my doctors also has the "Pink Water Lily with Dragonfly" in her office. And, the hair salon where I go purchased four of my water lily images printed on metal and they are hung along a wall, which we affectionately refer to as the "Water Lily Wall."
In addition, in the theme of nature, I displayed, and sold, my "Matai Waterfall" piece of artwork at the Opening. I took this photograph in New Zealand. My wonderful husband drove me miles and miles and miles to find this waterfall and then hiked in with me to the falls and then found a rock to sit down on to read his book while I set up my tripod and worked on taking the photos of the waterfall. I was working with a neutral density filter to be able to keep the shutter open long enough (without impacting the rest of the issues for a correct exposure) to achieve a silky smooth look to the water as it cascaded down the fall. I think I had the shutter open on this photo for between 20 to 30 seconds.
I also displayed my "Silver Guardian Angel" and my "Golden Guardian Angel" at the Opening. These are not photography, but rather drawings that I made by hand using PS. I love angels and I had been wanted to create an image of one for a long time, but could not really figure out a way to do so with my camera, so I just decided to draw one. The first one I drew was the "Golden Guardian Angel." That turned out to be my husband's favorite piece of artwork that I have ever created. I had it printed on very high quality Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Metallic Fine Art Paper and framed in a white frame with white matting. Then I created a companion piece, my "Silver Guardian Angel," and had it printed and framed the same way. I am donating my "Silver Guardian Angel" piece of artwork to the City of Hope.
I also displayed a number of my photography books at the Opening, and sold several of those. In my photography books, I use my gorgeous photography and then match meaningful quotes to appropriate photos in the books.
I also create greeting cards, tote bags, coffee cups and other items from my photography, which can be purchased at https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/kay-kochenderfer.html.
Happy viewing. If you like what you see, I would love to have you make comments by clicking on the word "comment" at the top of this blog to the left under the title of the blog "Opening Night of My Solo Exhibition."
Golden Guardian Angel
I really love angels and wanted to create some artwork depicting angels. I am a photographer and was having difficulty coming up with ideas for how to depict angels with my camera. So I decided to draw an angel by hand in Photoshop. As it turns out, the image, which I have titled Golden Guardian Angel, is my husband's favorite piece of artwork that I have created. Everywhere we went, he wanted me to show it to people (the image that I have on my iPhone). So, I decided to have it printed out for him (16x24) and framed (20x28). It is printed on very, very high quality fine art paper - Hahnemuhel Photo Rag Metallic paper, which has a relatively thick texture and a metallic shimmer to it, which is perfect for the gold image -- particularly the wings, which look like they have bits of gold in them. The frame is a sleek white wood frame and the matting is white. It is really gorgeous. The image of the Golden Guardian Angel is show below.
Silver Guardian Angel
Since that turned out so well, I decided to create a companion piece titled Silver Guardian Angel. This image has a sweet look to it, whereas the Golden Guardian Angel has more of a bold look to it. The Silver Guardian Angel is set on a silver textured background with an angel in a white flowing gown. Her arms come down in front of her and she is holding a red heart. The red heart stands out brilliantly against the predominately neutral silver and white tones of the remainder of the image. I have also had this piece printed out and framed in the same way as the Golden Guardian Angel. Both angels will be in two of my upcoming solo artwork exhibitions - one on May 18, 2019 at the Fine Art Gallery, located at 8670 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, California and the second on December 7, 2019 at the Walt Girdner Gallery, located at 27 S. El Molino, Pasadena, California. The image of the Silver Guardian Angel is shown below. The framed wall hangings of both angels, printed as described here will be limited editions 1 of 5.
I also have made some greeting cards from the angel images. The cards are printed on pearl metallic paper, which gives them a shimmery look, which is perfect for the angels. I have used the following language at the top of the right page inside: "May your guardian angel watch over you and your loved ones, and bring you love, joy and protection." There is plenty of room under the quote to write your own personal message. For an added overall elegant look, the Golden Guardian Angel cards come with gold metallic envelops and the Silver Guardian Angel cards come with silver metallic envelops. If you have any interest in purchasing one or more boxed sets of eight of the Golden Guardian Angel cards, the Silver Guardian Angel cards or a mixture of half and half, please email me at [email protected] so I can create them for you. I can use the language above or customize the cards to put any language you would like in them. These cards can be very versatile at any point in time of the year - as a get well card, a happy birthday card, a mother's day card, a father's day card, etc. However, they would be particularly good for Christmas or Happy Holiday cards. If you have an interest in having me customize the cards by adding "Merry Christmas from the Smith family" or "Happy Holidays from the Jones family" or something similar, I can certainly do that. Just let me know. Prices vary depending on the volume ordered. I watch out for price reductions from the printing vendor I use so I can pass on savings.
Inspirational Quotes About Angels
In addition to loving angels, I love quotes. I collect quotes and I use them in my books and greeting cards. I give thought to matching the photographs I take with quotes that think appropriately match the subject matter of the image. Here are my top ten favorite quotes about angels. I would be interested to hear from you as to which ones resonate the most with you - and whether you have other quotes about angels that you like and would be willing to share.
1. "There stands an angel by every person at birth to guide him through the mystery of life.” - Greek Proverb
2. "When life's arrows are bombarding we thank you, God, for angels guarding.” - Fred Bauer
3. "While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondr'ing love.” - Phillips Brooks
4. "Outside the open window the morning air is all awash with angels.” - Richard Wilbur
5. "I saw an angel in the marble and I just chiseled until I set him free.” - Michelangelo
6. "How many angels were there? One who transforms our life is plenty.” - Anonymous
7. "Everybody knows that an angel springs from each good deed.” - Martin Buber
8. "Where love abounds, angels hover overhead.” - Anonymous
9, "Angel is the only word in the language which never can be worn out.” - Victor Hugo
10. "Music is well said to be the speech of angels.” - Thomas Carlyle
I have recently become very interested in creating abstract art. I have always been attracted to abstract art and if you look at the artwork in my home that I have purchased from others, I notice that it is almost all abstract. So in my work, I have been moving more away from pure representational photography (although I still do some of that work) and toward more creative and unique styles that end up being more abstract in nature. I end up using a combination of digital art and photography to create the abstract work I have been working on lately. Set forth below are some examples.