Portraits of Emi with Colored Light | Baseline by Lauren Wessel

I love natural light photography— but sometimes, to think outside the creative box I use unusual setups or materials for portrait photography. To give these portraits a creepy, dark edge, I used several of Home Depot’s selection of basic colored light bulbs screwed into my softbox lights or as overhead bulbs in an unfinished basement. Emi was kind enough to model for my experiment, and together we created these spooky, Blade Runner-esque portraits.

A blood black nothingness began to spin.
Began to spin.
Let’s move on to system. System.
Feel that in your body. The system.
What does it feel like to be part of the system. System.
Is there anything in your body that wants to resist the system? System.
— Blade Runner: 2049
A blood black nothingness.
A system of cells.
Within cells interlinked.
Within one stem.
And dreadfully distinct.
Against the dark.
A tall white fountain played.
— Blade Runner: 2049

Travel + Landscape | New Orleans by Lauren Wessel


“The first thing you notice about New Orleans are the burying grounds - the cemeteries - and they're a cold proposition, one of the best things there are here. Going by, you try to be as quiet as possible, better to let them sleep. Greek, Roman, sepulchres- palatial mausoleums made to order, phantomesque, signs and symbols of hidden decay - ghosts of women and men who have sinned and who've died and are now living in tombs. The past doesn't pass away so quickly here. You could be dead for a long time.” ― Bob Dylan


I've always had a romantic idea of New Orleans-- you can blame my adolescence poring over Anne Rice novels, where the decadent vampires strolled the streets of the French Quarter or lurked in swamps... so when I finally got to visit the city, that's where my mind went. The French Quarter, the old cemeteries and tombs, and swamps. Of course, I also sought the music, the thrum of jazz and blues... but more than anything I wanted to come to terms with my fantasy of New Orleans in reality. I believe I succeeded-- below are photos from casual strolls from Bywater to the French Quarter, an old pharmacy, Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, and the Barataria Preserve in Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.

Travel | Spring in New Harmony, Indiana by Lauren Wessel

This spring, my mum and I returned to one of our favorite towns-- New Harmony, Indiana. We've visited New Harmony fairly frequently over the years, stopping into our favorite cafes, restaurants, and shops. The town is very walkable-- in fact, you have to try pretty hard not to walk the whole town during your stay. 

Founded by Harmonists, New Harmony is known for it's blend of art, nature, and spirituality. There are two labyrinths, an open air (roofless) church, walking trails along the Wabash River, and various historical homes and buildings significant to the founding of New Harmony. I won't try and summarize the whole history of the town, but you can check out visitnewharmony.com for more info!

Travel + Landscape | Ireland 2016 by Lauren Wessel

Story time: I first went to Ireland in 2012 to do a study abroad semester at the Burren College of Art in County Clare-- it was absolutely life changing and really kick started my travel addiction, and much of my art and photography is still influenced by the experience.

A couple years ago I convinced my mom to take a trip back with me; but unfortunately my grandfather died the day we were meant to fly out... so we rescheduled for spring instead of fall. It turned out to be the trip both of us needed and I was inspired all over again. Revisiting favorite-- sacred, to me and I'm sure many others-- places and discovering new ones!

We started in Dublin-- just in time to catch some of the 1916 Centenary celebrations. From there, we made our way through Counties Wicklow, Cork, Kerry, Clare, and Meath, visiting gorgeous landscapes, castles, and estates.

Travel + Landscape | Red Rocks and Sand Dunes in Colorado by Lauren Wessel

February 2017-- which seems a lot more recent than it is, in hindsight-- I went on a road trip with my mum from our home in Louisville, Kentucky, first to visit her sisters in Colorado Springs, then on to a friend's home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As much as I love road trips, I did not love driving across Kansas the long way! 

In Colorado we did a lot of exploring of old stomping grounds-- Manitou Springs, Garden of the Gods-- and discovering new places, like Manitou Cliff Dwellings. On our way from Colorado Springs to Santa Fe, we stayed a night in the town of Crestone and visited Great Sand Dunes National Park. The dunes are AMAZING. The tallest dunes in North America, they are a phenomenon nestled at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the "centerpiece in a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes, and tundra" (from the NPS website). We crossed the Rio Grande at some point, and I got a shot of the beautiful canyon-like layers it cut through the earth.

Sadly, I put my camera away during our Santa Fe leg of the trip, as we were doing a lot of walking and touristy activities (Meow Wolf, Santa Fe plaza, Georgia O'Keefe Museum, gallery hopping on Canyon Road, etc!). 

We took the southern route back to Kentucky, and got to travel Route 66 for a while, which is something I'm going to have to revisit in the future! The town of Tucumcari, NM by itself is worth a visit, though we only passed through... it's like a time capsule of amazing old signage and buildings. 

Photos from this blog can be purchased as prints! 

Here are a few shots I got on my phone of various road trip moments!

IG road trip.jpg

Thanks for reading/looking/scrolling!

Paintings | Gifts and Commissions of 2017 by Lauren Wessel

I've been lucky to get several painting commissions this year-- not all of which I was able to get a good photo of before they were given or sent off-- and I decided to get creative this holiday season with my gift giving and did a few paintings as gifts as well! I definitely painted more dogs this year than any other!

Hand Painted Holidays | Christmas in Anchorage Holiday Boutique by Lauren Wessel

Now that Christmas is over, I have some time to blog about what I've been up to! As my friends and family can attest, I have been quite the busy painter these past few months... Not with portraits (though I have done some and will touch on them in another blog post), but with holiday signs. Let me explain.

I grew up in Anchorage, Kentucky (as in... not Alaska), and attended Anchorage School for K-8th grades. Each year, they host a holiday craft boutique, bakery, breakfast with Santa event before Christmas. Since this was my first full year living back in Louisville, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and reserve a booth for the holiday boutique. At first, I thought I might show paintings or photography, but... not a lot of people want to buy those things around the holidays. I decided to make hand painted holiday signs on wood slices-- my mom had one she'd bought a previous year that read "The Weary World Rejoices" and she kept it up all year, for the uplifting words.

Logo for the "shop" bags

Logo for the "shop" bags

I got to work preparing and painting these wood slice signs... and ornaments... and coasters. A regular Elf in Santa's workshop! Additionally, with my marketing background I wanted everything to be branded and professional... so I designed a logo for the project, printed stickers, ordered boutique bags, tissue paper, and raffia...  I even made a website for them, click here!

I started marketing the signs a bit on social media, but then worried about not having enough inventory for the show and stopped-- which was a mistake. I have had the best luck selling the holiday signs to people I know, family, friends of my parents, etc! The holiday boutique came and went (as did my anxiety), and I was lucky to have a few people who purchased my signs at Christmas in Anchorage contact me for more after the event. By Christmas, I had sold most of the signs (I think I have 8 left?), most of the ornaments, and some of the coasters.

The booths weren't guaranteed to have walls, so I built my own out of recycled pallets! I had an even grander scheme for a pallet booth early on, but scrapped it as it would be too hard to transport and build on site. Really proud of my rudimentary engineering for the pallet booth, though. It worked perfectly and fit the aesthetic I wanted for my holiday signs! I even snuck in a selection of my photo prints, mounted and matted and packaged in cellophane bags for purchase. 

Would I do it again next year? Not the booth, necessarily. I think I could paint the signs and sell them online, maaaaaybe participate in a different local holiday fair. Definitely a learning experience!

Thanks for reading this long and rambling blog, and Happy New Year!

Ornament size wood slice as gift tag

Ornament size wood slice as gift tag