Montana Mountains

Montana Mountains Volume

It is hard to look at a product and know what is inside. There is more to a book that just the cover. We all know that. I would like to introduce you to what my “Coffee Table Books” really are inside the cover. Photos of a page or two will be posted in this website in the Gallery.  Coffee table books are meant to be something a guest might pick up while waiting for the hostess to finish setting a table for a meal. It is meant to be what I have done with them, bits and pieces of our lives; maybe somewhat like Granny’s old patchwork quilt that you remember lying on the bed. Photos that stir the senses, poetry that is a short story that has a rhythm, much like music or something that flows and whisks you away from the present scene to the one being offered in the book. These will be full of things to point you to a special season or life style or back to history and roots. Things you can savor and read quickly. Maybe something to make you smile or laugh just when you need it the most. The point of these books are to lift your day, lighten your load and heavy spirits if indeed they need to be lightened, sharpen your wit and perspectives, share with you things that you may never encounter on your own without the sharing of the journey.  If it accomplishes this it will be worth the time and effort put into it to make it the unique piece I feel it has become. There will be several volumes and several themes. Some may overlap with similar or same photos but all will give the book just what it needs to bring the flavor of the moment out crisp, clear and alive. Thank you for allowing me to share this introductory with you.


Janeen Gyps smile 6 5 03 rs mbEveryone asks me when I started being interested in Photography? Thinking back I believe it all started with my love for music. When I was very little, probably about 3 years old, we had radios then and no television in sight. We listened to Fibber McGee and Molly, Amos and Andy and such, for entertainment and laughter, but I loved music most of all and music is an art. My Mother said I could listen to a song a couple of times on the radio and sing it from memory. So maybe my love for the arts began there. Something that flows and goes inside of you that never stops. Much to the family’s chagrin I then learned to whistle. It wasn’t enough that I sang like a bird all the time, but then I began to whistle. My stepdad’s Mother was a bit superstitious and she told me this: Whistling girls and crowing hens, always come to some bad end. Nevertheless, I kept whistling and singing. I can’t remember when Photography gripped me but I remember loving to pour over photos, ours as well as other friends.  Even when I went into a stranger’s home, photos on the mantel drew me. I wanted to look at them and I studied them for hours asking lots of questions. They intrigued me. One older lady I met on occasion when we visited, (but really didn’t know her that well although everyone was called Aunt and Uncle in those days or Grandma), Grandma Hollaway, she had photos everywhere on her old antique furniture, all over her house. I used to long to go there just to look at her photos.  I was a child that could have been playing when adults were visiting, but I entertained myself looking at photos. So thus began my love for photography. It wasn’t until I was grown, married and had a family and a business, which held me back from doing the other art work I loved (Oil Painting,) that my husband purchased a very sophisticated camera and told me it would fill in for the lack of time I had for other arts, and he felt I had talent, which could grow, and I could continue to do what I loved, capturing something illusive and holding onto it for centuries to come.  Preserving memories is a priceless treasure.  I had been using an antique Argus 35 mm camera and I had been practicing, and I did love it.  Now I started all over with the Canon AE-1 Program model he bought me, and the fever began and so did the grueling work of learning more than just having the eye for a photo and burning film. New lenses, new equipment added, depths I never imagined existed in the real world of Photography. I wasn’t afraid to shoot shoot shoot and fail and try again. I burned film and I tried everything and I read everything I could get my hands on. I talked to others, and took advice, but mostly I worked by the seat of my britches and through grueling trial and error I progressed. I believe that nothing in life is free and everything worth having is worth working towards. I am not afraid to work either, and work I did .  Good libraries were in, and Internet was not, in those days. I had a good library. I soaked it up like a sponge and my love grew for this art of Photography. I rarely looked at the world without looking through a lens and when I wasn’t looking through the lens in actuality, in my mind’s eye I was. Sometimes I would make a tunnel with my hand so I could see how it would look through the viewfinder of a camera.  I took hundreds or even thousands of shots without camera in hand or film, and savored the growth that led me back to do it for real the next time. Some prime shots were lost because I did it without the equipment in hand, but I learned just the same. Two cameras later and lots of equipment in my bag, lots of film and negatives to deal with – next enter the digital world. I started out easy and decided I would do it for just me. I was selling some of my work and entering competitive exhibits with some success by that time with my old Canons, but so what? Time for a new leap of faith?  Times were changing and film cameras were about to become a thing of the past. I seem to be prone to leap and start all over from zero.  I figured I could go back to zero and take baby steps and  just enjoy it, even if I never “got it down”, so what did I have to lose but time sweat, blood and $$$? I purchased a Sony Mavica (which now is obsolete) and I started all over in a small way.  That was when my good friend Judy Frasch whets my appetite by sharing her new camera and convincing me I had it in me to grow up from baby steps into the Nikon D-90, with the same drive, vision and work I had put into the old film excursions and she was sure I could master it. She believed in me and it was something we could share.  Little did I know what she was enticing me into and little did I understand the digital world I would be getting into.  The struggles I passed through, to where I now feel able to venture out again and produce affordable quality work for someone to enjoy is indescribable by pen, tongue or computer keys, so I will spare you that. I will confess that there were times I wanted to trash it all and give up, I am too old for this I told myself, but “self” argued, “you aren’t a quitter, so “self” kept plodding and the love rose up and the fever pitched higher, until I bought another Nikon, a conglomeration of new lenses and lighting equipment, took some on line courses, and hounded my friend Kelly Buck to death ( my Professional Photographer friend who never gives up on me even when I am pretty thick headed and set in my ways) In spite of the obstacles and the labor,  today I am still growing, still learning and I hope by sharing it even on this website it will bring pleasure to others and encourage them to endure the struggles to grow and do what you love and then gulp away the jitters about sharing it. It is all a process.  I hope I can continue to grow  forward to keep producing quality pieces of real art, to share here in this manner; pieces that others will consider an honor to display on the walls of their office or in their homes.  My mentors, and best cheering section were good friends, Arlene Penhallegon, Judy Frasch, and Kelly Buck who stood by me, bearing the load of critiquing, guiding, encouraging; propping me up again and again. However, it was my best friend, cowboy, and husband who believed that I could do anything I set my mind to, and nudged me to go out there and try, he is the one that really did the first ground work towards the major leap into the Photography world. He was my first mentor that got me past the “gulp” and “gulf” that separated me from something I so enjoyed, yet shrank away from.  He taught me that to fail is to fail to try. I think he would be glad to see me taking the steps I have taken. I can see his blue eyes sparkling and saying… GO FOR IT.  Now I am sharing with those that want to see what I love and where I have evolved. Those who want to see my life through my camera lens. ENJOY even as a visitor, please enjoy. Publicly I want to thank Arlene, Judy, Kelly and others that have continually encouraged me to keep on keeping on.  (Janeen Jackson, BarJ3 Productions)


My wonderful Catahoula fur friend

My wonderful Catahoula fur friend, Wolf River’s Gypsy. My first serious attempt at Pencil Sketch

I enjoy looking back and remembering my roots. Roots are important. Where did it begin? I couldn’t draw stick figures worth a whoop when I was small. I loved art and admired others and longed to be talented. I felt it would be so nice to just capture something, hold it and share it, but I couldn’t get the job done. I wandered around drooling over others doing it and figured it was talent, a gift (and it is) and I made excuses for not trying it because my attempts were pitiful at best and early on. I was shocked and even appalled when my close friend Jeanie Marshall in Flagstaff Az.  suggested that I could and should learn to oil paint. ME? I laughed big time on that one and told her there wasn’t anyone on the earth that would take me on in that field. She said she would be glad to give me the basics and get me started. This is an accomplished artist telling me this? I wondered if it might be the end of a beautiful friendship if I took her up on it. She coaxed a bit and I finally decided to take a “why not” attitude and give it a whirl, leaving her an escape gracefully if we both failed miserably. She helped me get started in basic things and helped me buy supplies, being a good sport about it all, patient and very easy to work with. I watched her paint and she watched me slap mud on canvas and off we went on a very fun and wild, crazy, incomprehensible, eventful journey. One thing she said to me that has helped in many areas of my adventures of life, “Some people are talented, some just work hard to achieve, the talented ones often do nothing with their talent and the achievers can soar to great heights and great accomplishments because they want to do it..”  That hit the right button for me. She described me to a T that day. I could work, I could toil, I might be able to achieve. Oil is forgiving and can be changed at any time and layers of paint isn’t going to damage anyone or anything and so I finally relaxed and I turned out a few good pieces. I had my own studio and bits and pieces of time to put into it.  I came and went (as time allowed) from the studio projects and flow happened. When I sold my first piece, I was thrilled. I gave some as gifts and kept some for myself. Life progressed into busier than busy and then we sold, moved from Arizona where this began with Jeanie and I. I now had no studio and a new ranch to settle into, with a drive and desire lurking all the time to be painting on canvas. Don’t give me a can of paint and a paintbrush to fix up my place, if it isn’t on canvas, I hate it. During all this interim I turned to Photography because I didn’t need a studio and it was fast and a lovely form of art. I still missed bringing something to life on canvas and I still do, but time and no work space is not the way to do oil painting, at least for me. One of my ranch dog’s here on the new place lay dying and I needed to have something to do to occupy my mind and time while I sat beside her tending to her needs. Just prior to her taking ill, a cousin that visited me on my new property, who was also an accomplished artist selling his work, saw my art work  on the wall, prompting him to mail me a special pencil and sketch pad telling me to do something with it. I bet he could hear my laugh all the way to Alaska. However, one day when I was pretty worried about my dog and needed to be near her, I picked up the pencil and sketch pad and grabbed a photo and decided to try my hand at it. I messed up a couple of starts but went at it again and in a few hours I had a nice pencil sketch (one I could share without hanging my head in shame) finished.  There was my Gypsy before me on sketch pad. Then I remembered a pencil sketch I did of a calf one time that I was caring for and I went and looked at it. It was rough and made this one look better than I thought. I had progressed.  That gave me hope and it reminds me of a portion of one of my favorite poems that I love, written by Emily Dickinson: Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all. (Thank you Emily for leaving this inspiration behind for many like myself, so long long ago).  I sent the scanned copy of my very first serious pencil sketch to my cousin Larry Phillips in Alaska and he really surprised me with his positive reaction. He said he wasn’t expecting anything like that and encouraged me to try again. Next I did one of my daughter Hollye’s dog, that we lost to cancer, and from there I started doing more. Elk, bird, cabins, dogs. Testing it out. What I loved about it was I could do it without a lot of workspace, and it was easy to pick up and put down. I began to advance and others were positive in their response to my work and not just friends, many encouraged me to share this publicly. Finally my first reprints were out and ready to be sold. It is the piece called “Don’t Give Me the Boot”.  Numbered reprints up for sale on this website, and it has a message all its own. All proceeds go to our dog rescue efforts. Who would have believed my journey would evolve this way? It was a journey of work even as Jeanie had said it would be, but again a labor of love. I found it very relaxing in time, and I could get lost in the moments with it.  No man or woman is an island unto themselves, there are mentors and those that encourage, guide, help along life’s pathway. None of this was stepped out into in my youth.  If we even succeed to achieve we have someone behind us that nudges, advises, inspires, aids and in doing so not only teaches us the ropes, but builds confidence and courage. I have talented artist friends that are full of talent and it flows for them naturally, but those that have excelled have been those that work to achieve, working hand in hand with natural talent. I tip my Cowgirl hat to them for I know how hard they have worked to make their talent flow to the public, to be a success. I have a little glimmer now. They have inspired me and this is my way in this blog of saying THANKS!