Photo of the Day – Monolith

"Monolith" - Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

“Monolith” – Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

It is a rare occasion when you can get a clean shot of the sites in downtown Chicago without having to work around the throngs of tourists vying for the perfect shot. Yesterday, as I was in need of a number of shots for a collaboration I’m working on (details to come soon… you’re going to love this!) I made sure I was downtown by 5 am in hopes of not only getting the photographsI needed but taking advantage of the beautiful light the sunrise over Lake Michigan provides.

It was a perfect morning. The temperatures were crisp but not cold, the sun was just starting to peek over the horizon and, outside of a few runners, the promenades in the park were perfectly clear.

Over the next few days, I will share more shots from my early morning shoot. Today, we’ll start with the Neo Monoliths in Millennium Park. I remember when I first moved back up to Chicago, the first time I drove past the park I almost drove off the road when I saw a giant face blinking at me. In the summer, this spot becomes a hot spot for the kids (including the adult sized ones) to run around under the water that spouts from the sides and their mouths. Without the crowds, I was able to take advantage of the wonderful reflective puddles on the ground and the perfect line the buildings along Michigan Avenue create.

Worth every minute of sleep lost having to get up early to get downtown.




Photo(s) of the Day: Catharsis and Papillon

"Wisp" - Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

“Wisp” – Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

I have been in one of those mind-numbing creative funks again. I am convinced it’s a combination of lack of Vitamin D from the sun (it’s been rather dreary here in Chicago as of late) and the fact that my studio looked like a tornado had selectively ripped through it, sparing the rest of my pristine apartment but wreaking havoc on the one place I feel most at peace. Given I’m a full time artist who needs to create to eat, live and, frankly, breathe, that’s not exactly ideal.

The Eye - Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

The Eye – Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

I had all sorts of new ideas for my work, I even had new photographs and found objects I wanted to use, but, mentally and physically (more in the sense that the room was that messy I couldn’t get to my work bench without tripping) I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything. I was uninspired, tired by the mess, admittedly depressed and concerned, once again picturing myself asking, “would you like fries with that shake?” It’s funny how it works; it’s a Catch 22. The mess started because I got extremely busy and kept putting off organizing. Said mess grew to epic proportions and then started to chip away at my psyche, making me feel sad and uninspired, at times angry, and with no desire to clean, let alone create. So, I simply closed the door to the room and wouldn’t go in.

Opposites - Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

Opposites – Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

I am one who craves order. In my office days, everything was always perfectly aligned on my desk, to the point where people took great delight in “poking” my inner Milton Waddams by moving my stapler to various, completely illogical, locations on my desk. The only way I was going to get back to being creative was to override all the negativity holding me back and just take care of it.

Inspired by a friend, and fellow artist’s, desire to reorganize his own workspace, I set out Sunday to clear away the chaos. I would say, “it was that simple” but it wasn’t, however, once I got started it was as if someone was taking a broom and clearing cobwebs from my brain. As I worked, and the dopamine levels started to rise, I soon realized it wasn’t just the work space that needed to be “cleared” of negativity. (but that’s more for my journal and next serious “bestie conversation” and not so much for the blog) As I found various tools and supplies hidden by the mess, I got excited, I started to feel creative again, admittedly getting distracted more than once by my sudden desire to create. The more I wanted to create, the more I wanted to clean and, soon enough my studio, while not quite up to Martha Stewart’s standards, was back to it’s very workable organized chaos.

The Light - Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

The Light – Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

A funny thing happened when I was done. I worked. I created. I smiled. It was a weird rebirth; all of my creative energy flooding back to me. At the risk of sounding like I should be the lead in a Greek play, it was a catharsis for me. The book(s) I had been burying myself in stayed shut, the TV stayed off, the music went on and I spent the evening creating. It was beautiful. It was peaceful. It was cathartic.

I realize I have been posting photographs of butterflies along with my rambling and you’re probably wondering what they have to do with any of this. I have been wanting to go to the Butterfly Haven at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Center for the last several months and never did, mostly because of my slump. With the studio clean and a rejuvenation of my creative energy, what could be more fitting, and a better homage to Spring being right around the corner, than photographing a symbol of catharsis, the butterfly?

Extend - Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

Extend – Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

If you have a butterfly haven near you, I highly recommend going, if not for the beauty of these creatures then for the shooting practice. While you might be lucky enough to get a few who land and stay perfectly still long enough to get the shot, it’s more likely you are going to have to exercise your shutterbug brain to capture them either mid-flutter or mid-flight. I will note that butterfly havens are purposely kept very humid. If you’re going to swap out lenses mid shoot, I highly recommend doing so outside of the haven otherwise your lenses, and, with the lens off, your mirrors, will fog up. While it makes for a very ethereal shot, if that’s not what you’re going for, you will be disappointed.

Stained Glass - Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

Stained Glass – Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

So, with the studio organized, and once again feeling inspired, I am running through my list of places I want to hit. I have even been tossing around the idea of booking a trip to London ahead of my September trip to Spain and Portugal. Fish and chips, a Guinness and my camera. What more could a girl ask for? Funny what a clean workspace, and mind, can do…


Orange and Blue - Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

Orange and Blue – Tracey Capone Photography © 2013

Photo of the Day: The Right Place at the Wrong Time

The Windmill – Tracey Capone Photography © 2012

Before every trip, I sit down at the computer, Lonely Planet book open on the Kindle, and, through the magic of Google, Flickr and other wonderful online references, come up with a list of “must see” places that I want to shoot. For the most part, it usually works out extremely well and I end up with shots I was dying to take, such as the one from Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland, or of Chez Marie Cafe in Montmartre, Paris. I was even super excited to find the perfect spot to hop out of the car, drop to the ground and get this shot of the Route 66 marker along a deserted highway during my Route 66 road trip from Santa Monica to Tulsa.

Sadly, sometimes a list is just a list. Mother Nature, with her heavy rains and wind, might delay our trip, and we pass through a number of photogenic towns… in the dark. Or, perhaps, someone demolished the very retro, very cool Route 66 motel and sign that I wanted to see before I got there (you know who you are). Or, in the case of this wonderful windmill in Brennerville, along the trip to the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland, someone decides it’s the perfect time to restore it and wraps it up in scaffolding.

The point is, sometimes you don’t get the perfect shot. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it because it’s still a memory. Sure, I could spend painstaking hours in Photoshop, whittling away at the scaffolding until it’s nothing but a few unnoticeable, insignificant bars here and there. Maybe, some rainy day, I will spend the day “tearing down” the scaffolding, however, for now, I would much rather focus my energy on the other 700+ shots from the trip. For now, I would much rather look at the photograph, with all it’s imperfections, and look forward to the day when I can go back and revisit this beautiful scene. (preferably scaffold free!)

Enjoy! Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend!


Meet the Artist: Chicago Artist Scott Stoltman

“Pug” – Scott Stoltman © 2012

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know that I had started up a “Meet the Artist” series which, sadly, fell by the wayside when the old “ball and chain” (which I “lovingly” call my old corporate job) got in the way. Now that I have more time to devote to my blog, I am so happy to start up the Meet the Artist series once again.

Once a month, I will bring you an interview with a new artist, in various mediums, and allow them to tell you their story so that we all get the chance to know more about them and their work (and by all means, share with friends ;))

I love that I get to kick the series off again with someone who, I can honestly say, is one of my favorite people. I am so lucky to have had the chance to meet, and get to know Scott Stoltman through my space at the Andersonville Galleria.

From the beginning, Scott has been a wonderful sounding board, and cheerleader, and I never fail to leave the Galleria with a smile when I get a few minutes to chat with him. (please note- I am not a paid spokesman, Scott is really that awesome)

I was struck by, and taken with, Scott’s work the minute I saw it. His attention to detail is inspiring for me, even as a photographer, as it makes me pay closer attention to what I am shooting to ensure every part of the photograph has it’s own important role just like every detail does in Scott’s work. When he told me he was going to be putting his work back up at the Galleria, I was sooo very excited and I am equally excited to share a little more about Scott, and his work, with you.

How long have you been painting and drawing and what got you started?

After taking some time off, I began drawing and painting again about 6 years ago. When I was 43 years old I ended a 20 year career in the airline industry. Facing a midlife crisis, I needed to reinvent myself. I began drawing again and shortly thereafter, painting.

“Untitled” – Scott Stoltman © 2012

What did you do to gain knowledge and skill in your craft? What advice do you have for budding artists?

I took art classes throughout high school and then went on to higher education at the American Academy of Art in Chicago (I was only 17 years old). Upon completing my time there life took me in a different direction and I literally did not do anything artistic for 25 years.

When I decided to get it kick started again, I took a few continuing education classes at a City College to get my hand, eye, mind coordination in sync. I am a firm believer that in reality however, 90% of what you know as an artist comes from within.

[For budding artists,] if it’s something that you really want to do, stick with it.

(I couldn’t agree more Scott!)

Do you have a favorite piece and why?

One of my favorite paintings is “After Breakfast”. From conception to execution, I tend to be very mechanical in my approach to a painting. The idea for “After Breakfast” however, was a rare occasion of spontaneity for me. One morning after finishing my Cheerios and banana I looked down at the bowl in the sink and for some unexplained reason, I had to paint it. The result is a quirky still life that I’m proud to say won an award at the Illinois Watercolor Society member’s show in 2011.

“After Breakfast” – Scott Stoltman © 2012

What motivates you to do what you do?

Honestly, I’m not one of those artists that absolutely lives to create. It’s something that I can do, and pretty well at that. I spent a lot of years not utilizing my talent. I feel now it’s time to cultivate it to the best of my ability. I do have to say however, that when I’m in the “zone” (fellow artists will know what that means), the world simply does not exist.

If you had to shut down your studio tomorrow and couldn’t paint or draw, how would you express yourself otherwise?

I have no idea.

(I think that’s the best answer I have ever received to that question… short, sweet and honest but speaks volumes at the same time!)

Do you think artistic ability is innate or learned?

I certainly believe that a person can be taught the so called “rules” of creating “good” art. However, I think basic, artistic ability is innate. You either have it, or you don’t.

“Spring Has Sprung” – Scott Stoltman © 2012


Do you find yourself attracted to work similar to yours or different?

Focusing on watercolor specifically, my tastes vary drastically. I appreciate the technical ability of a photo realistic painting and the spontaneity and creativity of a loose impressionistic painting. To me, there is no “wrong” or “right” way to express one’s self.


Thank you Scott for taking the time to let me interview you! I am so happy to be able to share your work and a bit about you with my readers. 

Scott’s work is available here in Chicago at the Andersonville Galleria and select pieces are available at the Leigh Gallery in Lakeview. If you aren’t local and would like to know more about his work and what is for sale, please feel free to comment below!

If you know an artist, or you yourself are one, and you would like to be a part of my”Meet the Artist” series, please feel free to reach out to me at for details.

I leave you with one of my favorite pieces by Scott, “Waxwing. This one makes me smile every time I see it 🙂



“Waxwing” – Scott Stoltman © 2012

Photo of the Day- “Beyond”

"Beyond" - Tracey Capone Photography

My love of door photography well established, I thought I would move in to the realm of my other love, windows and shutters. I gave a sneak peek of that obsession when I introduced, “No. 45” and it continues with one of my newer pieces, today’s Photo of the Day, “Beyond” taken in Venice, Italy.

What lies beyond these beautifully rustic, emerald green shutters? Who lives there? What is their story?



Photo of the Day- The Walk

"The Walk" - Tracey Capone Photography 2011

Ever notice that when you’re doing something you don’t want to do you seem to have all the time in the world but when you’re doing something fun and exciting it seems like someone keeps hitting the fast forward button on the DVR of life? (a note- I’m old enough that I almost wrote VCR) As I’m running around like a crazy lady, getting ready to move in to my space at the Andersonville Galleria next week, framing up some pieces I’m donating to the American Cancer Society, fulfilling a custom order, pulling together some Etsy orders and, in between all that finding time to breathe, eat and sleep, I admit my blog got ignored yesterday.  That said, I am back with a photo of the day.

Today’s photograph, part of the “London Calling” series, is “The Walk;” a photograph of Big Ben and Westminster Bridge as seen from the other side of the Thames. I love this perspective as it makes the beautiful bridge look like it could go on forever.  While I’m not a big one on hitting all the tourist spots on my trips (I’d much rather be roaming off the beaten path) I do enjoy the area around Parliament in London. (alright perhaps not the area right around the ginormous McDonald’s near the London Eye but everywhere else).



Photo of the Day- No. 35

"No. 35"- Tracey Capone Photography

Warm honey tones and pale slate grey and blues make up today’s Photo of the Day, “No. 35.” There was something so simple but so inviting about this door and, despite the closed shutter, I loved the scroll work around the window, it felt homey somehow.

Taken in Montmartre, Paris, “No. 35” is one of the latest additions to the Parisian Door Series. (speaking of which, very happy that this instant collection of doors is off to a good home in GA…I hope they love them as much as I loved taking them)