Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Wardrobe

Happy New Year, everyone! I wish you all a healthy, fulfilling and prosperous 2011.

I started this blog as a reminder that being positive is important to my mental health -- finding joy in the little things in life, and choosing not to dwell on nastiness. For 2011, I resolve to continue to embrace the things that make me happy: being creative, playing with my dogs, enjoying the company of friends and family.

A dear friend uses the expression "She has the same clothes to get glad in," meaning we all have a choice in how we relate to the world. We can internalize hurts and slights until they make us bitter or let them roll off our backs. The latter isn't easy, but I vow to put on my "glad" clothes every morning and greet the day with a sense of wonder and gratitude.

My new "resolution wardrobe" needs lots of fun accessories, and these are two that I finished in the last couple of days. I love bracelets with dangles, and what better reminder than something new and fun to wear. :-) I'd love to know if you made artful resolutions -- please leave a comment and have a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hippo Holidays

I did it! I finished my holiday gift list last night when I whipped up this ensemble for Mom. I haven't worked quite this asymmetrically before, but rather like it. It took a while to figure out how to attach the hippo dangle to the clasp (duh, a jump ring!). Wooden charm, silver, pressed glass, mossy agate and green zebra jasper.

Wishing all of you a merry holiday (whichever you may celebrate!) and a safe and prosperous new year. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dia de los Muertos

Isn't this a fun necklace? My sister loves "Day of the Dead" so this will be perfect. Quite a few of her students (kindergarten and first grade) are from Mexico so I bet this will be a hit with them, too. I haven't done wrapped loops in a while so the first few weren't very good, but muscle memory kicked in by the end. I have two little bits of chain left, so she'll get some earrings, too.

All of a sudden, my eyes are acting their age -- it is getting harder to focus on close-up work. I've never had to deal with that before since I was always near-sighted until I had LASIK surgery. Darn this getting older stuff!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Blast From The Past

Such an exciting photo, eh? :-) I admit that this pile of blocks doesn't look like much, but I have been working on them off and on (mostly off) for years. I started collecting fabrics for the original quilt in about 1994, but put it aside when the assembly was beyond my sewing skills. I put the top together a couple of years ago, and decided on a different border.

So what to do with the pieces I had already cut? Instead of sewing onto scrap fabrics at the beginning and ending of a line of chain piecing, I started making these "bonus" blocks. I had enough pieces cut that I could just grab a pair of lights and darks and start sewing without a lot of deep thought. I'm so used to doing that now that I get a little cranky when I'm in a rush and don't have a bonus block handy!

Now I'm looking for the perfect fabric to go in the alternate blocks. That is always a challenge when working with such scrappy blocks, so the hunt is on!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nature's Artwork

We've gotten over 6" of snow since last night and it is still coming down. The path I shoveled for the dogs this morning has an inch on it in just an hour! We're supposed to get snow every day until Christmas Eve, so I will be bonding with my snow shovel...

I love the way water freezes on the drain chains (they work better than metal downspouts in the winter). The ice takes on the contours of the links but almost offset somehow. Maybe it is just an illusion due to the refraction of light through the ice, but it is a great effect.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

All Chained Up!

I should have worked on a quilt today, but I needed a bit of instant gratification. This bracelet took less than a day from start to finish, so I figure that qualifies. I wove the chain first, then added the beads. Getting the tension right on the beads was tricky (it took 3 tries...). The bling from the crystals is fun, but the chain is more fluid without them. Now that I have the hang of it, I want to make the plain chainmaille version.

I hope you're all doing well and not too stressed by the upcoming holidays. I haven't started my shopping so that is tomorrow's project. We're due to get some warmer weather by the weekend so our snow is melting off fast. My little dogs love to play in the snow, except when they sink in... At least it is warm enough for a decent walk (no one of us like to spend much time outside when it is below freezing!) Cheers!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Woods Are Lovely..

Hello, All!

We're back from our annual holiday trip to see the in-laws in Wisconsin, and for once the weather was better there than at home! There weren't any arguments or meltdowns this year, and lack of drama is a very good thing... We did catch the family cold so the flights home were not fun (my left ear never cleared and now my sinuses are not happy) but a good night's sleep in my own bed did wonders.

I spent an hour shoveling snow this morning and still have more to do, but that's what my back can handle. The snow packed down quite a bit in a week and it is HEAVY. I let the dogs run around in the snow and they were happy happy happy! (they're the little mutts in the photo above). They are getting much better about coming when called, so they get to play off-leash more.

I got a chance to wander in one of my favorite antique co-ops and found a couple of great books (pre-1900 so copyright isn't an issue) -- one on botany and another that I think is German poetry. They're in bad shape so I don't feel bad about ripping them up for collages. A favorite bead shop closed but I did hit an interesting quilt shop (Quintessential Quilts in Reedsburg, WI). Quite a few of their fabrics are several years old (I haven't seen cotton at $8.79 in a long time!) so I stocked up on a few things for two scrappy quilts: a blue "laundry basket swap" that my sit and sew group is doing and prints for the "mud" quilt I want to do one of these days. I'll tell you more about those one of these days.

The dogs and I have agility class tonight so I'd better go get some work done. FYI--they're the agile ones, I work hard to keep up and not fall on my face! Agility equipment (jumps, teeter, dog walk, etc.) is referred to as "obstacles" for good reason!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shorebirds -- An "Everything But The Kitchen Sink" project

You haven't heard from me in a couple of days because I've been working on this. I tweaked the photo on Sunday and painted yesterday -- how fun is that!

The photo and various textures are free-to-use (Creative Commons) images tweaked in PSE 8. The mixed-media was done with Liquitex acrylic paints and media. I got a couple of ideas for textures from Sarah Whitmire's "Altered Journals" class through The piece is 9" x 12" on canvas board.

Layer 1 (shorebirds) by fontplaydotcom
Layer 2 texture by SkeletalMess overlay mode 35% opacity
Layer 3 texture by SkeletalMess hard light mode 55% opacity
Layer 4 texture by Paree' multiply % opacity
Layer 5 Contrast Color filter (Color Efex Pro 3.0)
Printed on Epson Enhanced Matte Paper on my Epson R1900 printer

Paints and Gels and Textures, Oh My! (from background forward)
  • one coat Liquitex gesso
  • full-strength soft body acrylics: vivid lime, brilliant blue, emerald green, phthalocyanine blue (green shade)
  • messy handwriting stamp with StaZon midnight blue
  • Liquitex Ceramic Stucco applied thinly with a palette knife
  • thin wash of lime and phthalo blue thinned 1:3 with water, iridescent medium
  • cheesecloth "dyed" with dilute phthalo blue, dried and adhered with matte medium
  • dry brush highlights in rich copper, lime/phthalo/titanium white
  • photo adhered with matte gel
  • embedded with Golden heavy body titanium white and Liquitex glass beads medium
  • highlights with slightly diluted phthalo blue, lime, emerald green
  • one coat gloss medium

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Paints & Gels & Textures, Oh My!

Hello, There! I've been playing with mixed-media on canvas for a class at The Stitchin' Post next spring. The canvas is 8" x 10" and the block is ~4" x 4". I used a variety of Golden Fluid acrylics, matte gel medium, light modeling paste, stamps, stencils, and cheesecloth. Some of the colors ended up being too bright, so I used good old Titan Buff acrylic to dull them down a bit and push them into the background. The block is foundation pieced.

My inspiration was an article in the paper describing how irregular English verbs have changed through time. Some scientists figured out that irregular verbs evolve at a constant rate over time -- the more infrequently used an irregular verb is, the more it is likely to be replaced by a regular form. The example used was the verb "help." The old past tense was "holp" (that's ugly!) which has been replaced by "helped". They figured out how long it would take certain verbs to change and that very high-frequency verbs like "to be" are likely to remain irregular forever...

I thought the article was interesting enough to clip and ended up using it as my background. I added more text using stamps and stencils and even wrote the alphabet in Sharpie marker (since I don't love my writing, that's mostly covered by paint and texture medium!). The twist block is done with a hand-dyed gradation to echo the evolution over time. It was a fun project.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Happy & Scrappy

I do love making scrappy quilts! Each block can be a stand-alone masterpiece (okay, that's a stretch!) or at least interesting all by itself. Combine them together and the resulting quilt is just so much fun. I think I've finally used up the last of the mottled dots print in the upper right -- that's been in my stash for 20 years, maybe more! I am making an effort to use up all those little bits and pieces so I have room for new stuff...

No More Itches!

Hello, My Pretties (complete with Wicked Witch cackle!)...

I am back with you after almost 3 weeks of intense itching. I had a allergic reaction to something and then my immune system went berserk, possibly because of the flu shot I had recently. Thanks to modern pharmaceuticals I am back to normal. Hooray!

I am working on quilts again, but thought I'd show you one last watercolor before moving on. My friend Rosemary Eichorn gave me the silly cat figurine above, and for some reason I decided to paint it. Hint to self: get a grip on perspective and shading before you try something quite so complex next time!

My version must be male, because he has severe five o'clock shadow! The original has black eyes, but the color I mixed ended up a deep violet, so his name is "Taylor" (he couldn't be "Elizabeth" with all those whiskers, now could he?). I know, that's a groaner...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Up To My Eyeballs...!

When I was a little kid, I was forever guilty of having eyes bigger than my tummy -- everything (on the dessert table, at least!) looked so good I wanted one of everything. I was only allowed to pick one, because that's what good girls/ladies do, but even early on I wanted more more MORE!

When the autumn class schedule came out on, I couldn't decide if I wanted to play with acrylic paints (Altered Journal class) or watercolors (Sketchbook and Watercolors Journal Style), so I signed up for them both. There is an element of serendipity in the way we've played with paint in the journal class, but I'm fairly familiar with acrylics and haven't had any big surprizes. Watercolors, though, are a completely different story! I don't have a feel for the medium at all yet, but I'm entranced anyway.

I've done more sketching/drawing in the past week than I have in years and find I enjoy it more than I expected. I've got a long way to go before I feel really comfortable doing it and able to capture what I see on paper, but it is good to get over the "I can't draw" mental block. In the class we outline everything with permanent fine-point marker, and then most people add frames or other decorations to the painted page. I like it when they do it, but my frames look yucky so I'm trying other things -- I'm not sure the "sketchbook" style is for me. I do like mixing colors, though!

As much as I would love to play with paints all day, I have to make myself get back to work on class samples for the spring term -- proposals are due in a week or so...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

America's Most Wanted... Skinny Quilts!

Wow! Our "Color Cascade" exhibit was the talk of the Pacific International Quilt Festival, and now we've been invited to display the quilts at another Mancuso show! The photo above led off C&T's blog entry about the show -- great work, Wendy & crew!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Welcome, La Nina

It isn't even November but we've got snow! It won't last long at this elevation because the ground is still too warm, but Mt. Bachelor was expected to get a foot or so... I'm sure I will be sick of snow by the end of winter, but it is fun to see now. Last year was an El Nino so very dry here, but we usually have a wet winter when La Nina comes to town. The reservoirs are quite low, so precipitation is a good thing (can you say "time to sew/paint/bead/play?" -- I knew you could!)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Raven's Journey

My latest altered journal. I'm still getting a feel for the painting step, but I do enjoy the messing around part!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

And Then A Miracle Occurs...

Start with a pretty lousy photo, add an amazing texture, wave your Photoshop Elements magic wand, and this is the result. A million thanks to DJ Pettitt for the mixed media texture -- I can't wait to make my own, but until then, hers is brilliant.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Help Me, Mr. Wizard!

Ever since I finished the blue-violet "Color Cascade" quilt, I have had a terrible time settling on a new project. There are a few things I need to get done fairly soon, but without an urgent deadline, I just can't decide. Beads? Fabric? Paint? Paper? Nap? Shop online?

While I was trying to figure it all out, I cleaned up my fabric closet. The mess isn't driving me crazy anymore, but more ideas popped up! Then I tried chocolate (got happy taste buds, but still couldn't decide!). Took the dogs for a walk to work off some of the chocolate, but no joy. I pulled out fabric for a scrappy quilt project but I'm not in the mood to cut yet. What's a girl to do???

While I was waiting for inspiration, I downloaded some free textures from Flickr and messed around with an image from Wikimedia Commons. An old friend is fond of corvids (crows and ravens), so I played with this incredible image of a raven with Half Dome in Yosemite in the background. The original photo was almost monochromatic (white snow, black bird, just a hint of blue sky) so I used a gray texture overlay and converted the image to black and white. I'm still getting a feel for how well subtle texture on the screen translates to fabric, so I may need to tweak the final image to capture the scratches. Not bad for just playing, though!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Adding Texture (Altered Journal, Part 2)

Fun Fun FUN! I used sequin waste (Punchinella) and two brass stencils to add texture to the front of my journal. I expected to use Golden Molding Paste, but we used heavy body Titanium White paint instead. Now that the front is dry, I'm going to let loose on the back (Sarah glops a lot more paint on than I did). More paint means more nooks and crannies for paint to pool in. That's next week's lesson so I have time to work on another journal between now and then!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Altered Journal, part 1

I've never done much with paper since I have enough fabric in my stash for 20 lifetimes of sewing, but on a whim I decided to take an online Altered Journals class with Sarah Whitmire. The surfaces of her work have such rich, deep color and I can't wait to learn how to do that.

Our first assignment was to prep our journals by roughing them up with a sanding block and giving them two coats of white gesso. Then we collaged cut and/or torn papers. I used some foreign text I got as a freebie from placing an order somewhere and pieces of torn scrapbook paper. Now I'm off to add texture with stencils and heavy body acrylics.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Just in Time Quilt Delivery

Done at last! This little quilt is part of our special exhibit at Pacific International Quilt Festival, and I finished the facings just in time to hand it over to the "hanging crew." It will hang vertically in the show, but I prefer it this way instead. It needs more quilting and might be 1/2" too narrow, but as I always say: "DONE is GOOD!"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Unexpected Inspiration

I played at my workbench yesterday, ripping magazines apart to create a collaged background. I started ripping from back to front since that's where a lot of articles finish (there's more black on white text there), so I missed part of an interesting article, but started paying attention in time to salvage this image.

The artist, Maria Sibylla Merian (1647 - 1717), was a naturalist and scientific illustrator. Her detailed observations into the life cycles of butterflies and other insects were significant contributions to the field of entomology.

I love the exquisite detail of her work (although I'm not particularly fond of bugs!) and decided to incorporate a few bits into my background. My original goal was a generic background that I could scan and print on fabric, but now the piece is morphing into something interesting on its own. I love those happy accidents!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Abstracting We Will Go...

I'm back from the Sue Benner retreat -- it was a fun experience but I struggled with some of the exercises. I used the photo above for all my work and enjoyed working with those colors, but my poor little brain doesn't make the jump from realistic work to abstraction very easily. It didn't help that several of our exercises were to be finished quickly. I need more time to process a new way of working and thinking...

Sue called our first exercise "bait and switch." We each fused 5 different pieces of fabric and then gathered in a circle. We had to let the person on our left take one of our five pieces of fabric and got one from the person on our right. Repeat in the other direction, and we ended up with 5 pieces, 2 of which were new to us. I had lime green, two pinks, a yellow and orange batik and a dark blue-green batik. Not bad, at least I had a range of values to work with. Then Sue handed us each a magazine photo and I got a hippo... My interpretation is very ugly (it looks like a potato-head cow in bright girlie colors) so you don't get to see it!
Our next exercise was to select an image to work with and do a quick paper collage. My first one didn't have enough contrast so I did a second with random text in the background. I don't know why I flipped the image, but for a quick exercise I like the result.

After that we started in on fabric. The first was supposed to be simplified but fairly realistic, and then we abstracted from there. My first one was passable, but it was all downhill from there! (nope, you don't get to see those, either). When Sue came around, she could tell I was struggling and she gave me a couple of specific exercises, and even did a quick sketch that I turned into this sample:

Not bad, although I only had one black fabric with me. Duh! I rummaged through the communal scrap pile and found a second black for the gills, but the detail is still hard to make out. With the right fabrics and a little more time it could make an interesting quilt.

At this point, I was still floundering and hadn't found a way of thinking and working that made sense. Then Sue showed some of her work and the light bulb went on. I fused a bunch of fabrics in colors similar to my photo and focused on a 1.5" x 1.5" portion of the image (my focus was on a little area diagonally down and to the left of the slug's head). I mentally divided it into a 4x4 grid and built a background fabric on release paper. Then I added little fabric "match sticks" to break up the grid somewhat and approximate the color/texture distribution in my little area. I added some "foliage" and a detail from one of the coral/sponge/gooey bits and this is the result. I did a happy dance when I got this one done and it worked!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Time to Play!

The car is packed and ready to go, but hubby wasn't here, so I had a little time to play. I coated a textured sheer fabric with Golden Clear Digital Ground, let it dry, and printed this image on it. The fabric came from an interior designer's sample book -- I've never seen a sheer like that in my local fabric store. I love the texture with the photo, although next time I might use a lower opacity for the image (so it wouldn't print as dark and crisp). Try clicking on the photo, I think you'll be able to see the texture.

Art Quilt Retreat

I'm off to the Sister Art Quilt retreat with Sue Benner. As always, I'm sure I won't have what I need, even though I have everything on the supply list. Isn't it always that way--the perfect bit of fabric is at home! I'll post pictures soon...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cognitive Dissonance

I can't remember the first time I came across the term "cognitive dissonance" -- perhaps in a marketing class in business school. Wikipedia defines the term as an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously. At the time, I understood it intellectually, but not from a visceral, personal perspective. That is definitely not the case any more!

For a while now, I've wanted to work in a more abstract/less representational manner. I don't know why, exactly, except to see if I can do it. That's where the dissonance comes in: I think in terms of images and end up being most comfortable portraying and using those images. I don't want my work to look like a scrapbook or a messy, disjointed collage, though, so then what??? I hope that next week's art quilt retreat with Sue Benner will help resolve the dissonance, but I'm a little worried that it will mostly bring frustration and tantrums!

I included the photo above because it is more about texture than portraying anything in particular. I started with a close-up photo of a rusted metal buoy, added more texture, played with blending modes and color, and ended up with this. Is it abstract? I honestly don't know. I could get all philosophical and say it represents aging or global warming or something similar, but it doesn't, at least not to me. It is all about texture and color, and I love it for that. Where it goes from here, who knows???

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Clean Studio is a Sign of...

Some people work well in a chaotic mess, but not me. I tidied my studio up yesterday and feel better already! A pile of fabric moved to the closet (which still needs work, but it is out of sight so it doesn't make me crazy...) so now I just have blue-violet staring me in the face, but it is a nice, polite stare, not an in your face crazy stare! My new books are put away, most of the counter is visible, and I'm ready to rumble. See ya!!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Run Faster! Jump Higher!

We had a very wet weekend here in Central Oregon, and normally that would be quilting weather. Not a chance, of course! Our first agility trial was this weekend, so the dogs and I were out in it all day yesterday. When it was even wetter today and my back cramped up, I decided it was time to go home for a nap on the couch instead!

I wasn't sure how Wookie would react to all the dogs and the hubbub of a show, so I just entered Yoda. That turned out to be a "good news, bad news" kind of decision. Wookie really wanted to run and wasn't fazed by anything, while Yoda only "came to work" in half our runs. When we ran well, we ran really well, and when we didn't, we really didn't! He is much faster than Wookie but less focused on me -- when he sees his favorite equipment, he takes off. He ran the dog walk twice on our first run and would have run it again if I hadn't called him off and convinced him that the tunnel really would be fun, too. :-) Even with all that, we got third place on our run and had a good time. Silly dog! He's already gotten more ribbons than I have for my quilts!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Extra! Extra! Blog All About It!

Remember my long, skinny violet quilt from ages ago? It and its "Color Cascade" cousins are mentioned in C&T Publishing's blog. Check it out and let me know if you see it at PIQF (Pacific International Quilt Festival).

Monday, September 13, 2010

No Whiners Allowed!

I've been moving a little slowly the past couple of days but didn't want to whine to you about it (how dull is that, right?) I've gotten a lot done, but you don't want to see boring pictures of my bills, do you??? :-)

So I decided to start a new tradition -- when I finish a quilt project (label, hanging sleeve), I will post my label here. Ta da! I know, I know, took ya long enough! (I posted the picture of the quilt back in February!) This will be part of a special exhibit at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, CA in October. If you go to the show, take a picture of the exhibit and I'll send you a present...

Good news -- my family is coming up for my b-day party!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy (Early) Birthday to Me...

My "Big 5-0" is rapidly approaching (sigh...) and I'm determined to prolong the festivities as long as possible. It took me this long to get here, might as well enjoy the ride. Ha ha, if anyone wants to send cupcakes, I'm quite fond of chocolate... :-)

Instead of indulging in unneeded calories (which I dearly love but my waistline doesn't need!), I treated myself to TWO presents: Digital Art Studio: Techniques for Combining Inkjet Printing with Traditional Art Materials and Color Efex Pro 3.0 (plug-in filters for Photoshop). Happy Dance -- I can't wait to read and play!


(remember "Tradition" from Fiddler on the Roof? Sing my new "obsession" song with me -- same tune, new words, louder and most definitely not on key!!!)

I have had two obsessions this week -- getting my dogs ready for our first agility trial, and messing around with textures in PSE8. The former leads to happy dogs (CHEESE! HOORAY!), while the latter leads to happy Kathy. They are both good things!

Someone on the Stitchin' Fingers Digital Designers group had a pointer to a tutorial on adding textures in Photoshop, and I've been going nuts finding free textures and adding them to photos ever since! One site that I like is Lost and Taken -- the textures are free for both personal and commercial use and don't require attribution. Be warned, the zip files are large...

I really like the way adding texture can transform an ordinary photo and particularly like creating a vintage look. I have always been a fan of the excess of Victorian era, especially crazy quilts, where enough is never enough! (I'm glad I didn't live then, life generally stunk unless you were wealthy, but for a hand-embroiderer and collector of fiddly bits, it was heaven!)

Anyway, I've decided to work in a faded vintage/sepia palette for my Pt. Pinos Lighthouse quilt. I grunged up the photo of the light tower (original shown earlier this month), and this is a companion photo. I layered an antique damask overlay with several other textures, and the fabric texture peeps through in some of the lighter areas (click on the photo to see the larger version and look at the bottom edge of the window frame). It was a cool, overcast day, and the textures warm up the final image, while adding a few scratches and age marks. Fun fun fun!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Quilter's Milestone

Finished off my first box of freezer paper today! None of it has seen the inside of my freezer, but lots of paint, templates, etc. Had to run out and buy a new box -- think I'll put today's date on it so I know how long it lasts. :-)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sewing Frog Says "Rip-It, Rip-It!"

This is my friend Patty's birthday block. She provided the dark blue batik and gave us the theme "Midnight in the Garden." Since she's a devout Christian lady, I made a palm leaf block. Or should I say, made and re-made and made again! I started with a fat quarter of the teal green and ended up with scraps since I made a few mistakes. That's what I get for rushing.

First I had the dark and light mixed up and had to start over since there is no way I was ripping out all those tiny foundation-pieced stitches! Then I cut piece #3 too short and had to start over. The third time was a charm -- I hope she likes the block after all that!

Pumpkins and Onions and Stuff, Oh, My!

With apologies to The Wizard of Oz... :-)

This book arrived in the mail this week and I've enjoyed reading it, in spite of myself! Even though I have a huge fabric stash and extensive collections of embroidery threads and beads, I don't have a "magpie mind" -- I like things neat and tidy. Collecting bits and pieces of stuff makes me crazy, and scribbling with the sewing machine, well, we won't go there... So why do I want to drop everything to make a 3D piece like her papier mache boxes???

The same for the pumpkins in the Sept./Oct. issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. I'm not particularly fond of Halloween, and the big pumpkin kind of gives me the heebee geebies, but I really want to buy some plaster cloth and try covering something! What's up with that???

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Color, Magical Color

FedEx brought the "Complete Color Index" by Jim Krause today and I'm having great fun looking through it and playing with colors in PSE8. It is a boxed set that comes with two paperbacks featuring over 2600 color combinations. Each color combo has up to 4 colors in differing amounts; the entry includes the RGB and CMYK values for each color. Enter the RGB value in the PSE Color Picker and that color is available for use in brushes, fills, etc.

Rummaging around on my bookshelf produced a similar series called "The Designer's Guide to Color Combinations" by Leslie Cabarga (the image above is from the sequel featuring global combos). What I like about these is that the sample combos are a little larger (44mm x 52mm vs. 20mm x 29mm) and feature up to 8 colors. The Global book features artwork (ads, beaded bags, paintings, wallpaper, etc.) from around the world -- it is useful to compare the color swatches (with each color shown in the equal amounts) with the actual item and see which colors are most prominent.
Okay, Kath, what's your point? Why should I bother with any of these? :-) If you're anything like me, you have favorite color schemes that you use again and again, but what if we wanted to try something different? I'm not a huge fan of pure, bright yellow (it is fine in children's quilts...), but I love some of the palettes in the scan above. Any one could easily be the start of a palette for a scrap quilt, digital composition, beaded bracelet, etc.

(I bought all these books with my own money and no one is paying me to say anything nice about them!) So there...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Who Wants a Present???

This postcard started with the poppy seed packet and grew from there. I found the bird (it was red!), which led to music for the bird to sing, etc. I selected a few more fun images, printed the resulting digital collage on photo fabric, hand-stamped the green doodle in the bottom right-hand corner, added some hand embroidery and a glitzy crystal flower and there you have it!

I've never done a give-away, but it sounds like fun -- we all like to get cool stuff in the mail, right? :-) Assuming that I could wave a magic wand and plop you in front of a post office anywhere in the world (to send this card, of course!), where would that be and why? Please post a comment and I will select a winner this coming Sunday morning between 9 and 10AM PDT (or as soon as possible after I get back from walking the dogs!). Cheers!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

More Back to School Fun with PSE8

I got some great texture photos at Pt. Pinos, and wanted to create a texture brush using one of them. I modified the steps for PSE8 (instead of full Photoshop) from a Bittbox tutorial (I used guided edit to change to black and white). The process was easy and my brush is very cool.

As an aside, a brush can be up to 2500 pixels wide or tall, which is slightly larger than a standard 4" x 6" postcard (resize the brush to 2410 pixels, and it fits perfectly on the 6" dimension, with a little extra on the 4" side).

When I showed the original nudibranch photo to my photo group, they didn't realize the background was an encrusted substrate (translation: lots of colorful junk growing on a rock!). Some of the background was a little too bright as well, so I used my brush to tone down the brightness and add a little bit of organic texture so the background looks more "real." I also used the Liquify filter on the critter to add little spikes and fluff up the gills even more. It still isn't abstract, but I LOVE it!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Photo Field Trip

A group of us went to the Pt. Pinos Lighthouse in Pacific Grove, CA for a photo shoot. What a nice group of women -- so much fun to share creative energy and interests.

It was a gray day so the sky doesn't look like much. I got some great photos of textures around the grounds -- a rusting buoy, lichen on a gnarled tree, bright pink "naked lady" flowers. I'm sure you'll see some of the photos in my art work soon...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back to School

A long time ago, in a lifetime far, far away, I studied marine biology and invertebrate zoology at San Francisco State University. It was definitely a learning experience: I discovered that I'm not a field scientist at heart and I get brutally seasick. Eventually I got a real job and moved on to other things, but I still love my little sea beasties, as long as someone else takes the photos!

Fast forward a couple of decades, and I'm collecting images for a workshop with Sue Benner called "Driven to Abstraction: Developing Abstract Imagery." I'm looking forward to the retreat but it will be a real stretch, since I am pretty darned left-brained. When I work from photos, I tend to want to use those same colors and keep the color placement fairly true to the original. That doesn't sound abstract, does it? :-)

As a warm-up for the retreat, I thought I'd play with some photos in Elements. The idea is to see if I can "goo up" the photos enough so they feel more abstract, but I don't want to obliterate them quite yet (the way the Liquify filter would, for instance). So here goes...

Nudibranchs (shell-less mollusks) are some of my favorite critters because they come in outrageous colors and fantastic body shapes. I did some internet searches and have come up with a great selection of photos to play with. The image above is by Chriswan Sungkono and was taken in Indonesia (Wikimedia Commons). The background is wonderfully colorful and "mushy" as it is, but the sea slug really stands out.

I made copies of the background image and tweaked them with the Watercolor, Posterize and Crosshatch filters. I like the way the filters worked on the background, deepening the shadows, but they had much less impact on the critter than I expected:

It is fun to revisit the past, this time more creatively (no actual dissections involved!!!) I doubt Photoshop even existed when I was in grad school, and I certainly wouldn't have guessed I'd be working with my little invertebrate friends in this way. Stay tuned for more fun!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Playing In The Poppies

This has been a fun little project -- a fabric postcard in decidedly unnatural colors! We (members of my sit and sew group) each picked one or more vintage images from the "Dancing Poppies" collage sheet by ArtChix to be used in an item to be shown at our September meeting. I picked a seed packet, and since I have the original file, I can play in digital land!

I created a 4" x 6" postcard blank in PSE 8.
Layer 1 is a mint-green leafy digital scrapbook paper from Designer Digitals.
Layer 2 is the seed packet image, cropped. I applied the "exclusion" blending mode, and the colors got oh, so cool! Not a bit of red in sight.
Layer 3 is a brush with vintage handwriting from Scrap Artist in a color selected from the image.

The image is printed on photofabric and ready for embellishment and backing with fast2fuse. Not too bad for a hour's work on a night when most of my brain cells were elsewhere!