Archive for the ‘creativity’ Category

Work-in-Progress Wednesday – NUMBER 300!!

Yup, post 300! Over two years on the blog, as a record, first of all, of my Photoshop classes, and now as the creative journey. It’s really interesting looking back at some of the early work! I’ll have to track down a couple of links….At 500 posts I think I’ll do a BIG giveaway!

So I finally got to “unzip” pics of the finished quilt – well, almost – still have a top and bottom binding to put on. But I presented it and we took lots of photos of it on the bed. So here goes…

Needless to say, I am please and somewhat proud. I designed it from scratch, did massive amounts of free-motion quilting, and got it together so it looks really good on the bed! Now on to some new sewing adventures….

Also in progress – pics of the Sedona trip. Here’s a couple of Oak Creek – notice that wonderful tree and bark – and yes, the rocks really are that red!

Visual Delights!! (continued)

There were so many amazing visual sights in Sedona! The Lou deSerio Gallery has amazing Southwest art, including photography workshops – and a 15-year-old son who has been doing photography (award-winning) since he was three. He trained with Ansel Adams, and his black and white are spectacular. These images are from his site.

There were some amazing “leather” sculptures in one of the galleries. The artist is Pat Fetters, and I wasn’t able to find any info on her on line. She molds the leather to glass or plexiglas vases – the texture and colors were fabulous. You had to see these to really appreciate how wonderful they were.

Then there was the Golden Lotus Gallery – oh, my…..Nick Honshin is the artist – in what he calls Asian Fusion. His paintings are a combination of Asian influence – you could meditate to his paintings and never want to return. As his website states: “His art is inspired and flows from the sacred meditational space of the transcendental archetypal symbols of Christianity, Zen, and Tibetan Buddhism as well as the shamanistic practices of the world’s perennial philosophies. This fusion of the traditional with the modern highlights the natural harmony of the beliefs, symbols, & practices of East & West. The work reflects the transformation of Perennial Philosophies and symbols into Modern Mythic images of the transcendent moment.”

You simply HAVE to visit his site.

Those of you familiar with sumi-e – a Japanese water-art of brush strokes – will love the work he has done – snakes done in ONE brush stroke. Absolutely amazing!!! Unfortunately, the links aren’t working – but check out his site.

Loads of eye candy – Enjoy!!

Visual Delights!!!

Sedona is truly one of the magical places on earth. We spent three days there, and we explored a lot of areas we hadn’t seen before, including walking along Oak Creek. One of our friends, Steve DeVol, is president of Keep Sedona Beautiful, and he put together the following slide show which demonstrates this amazing beauty.

This is just a sample of the beauty – watch the slide show for MUCH more!

One of the things we love to do is prowl galleries, looking for spectacular art. Well, we certainly were not disappointed! Christoper Owen Nelson – WOW! Etched and painted plexiglass. We were stunned with his work – we just stared and stared – and had heart palpitations!

Not content with his work, we headed to another gallery – Visions at the Hyatt Shops. So many beautiful things!! Ulla Darni makes some incredible glass chandeliers – called the newest Tiffany.

Some amazing kaleidoscopes outside the gallery – the “table” moves – and the table is full of plants – a truly unique inside pattern!
Here’s glass, paintings, ceramics.

Another artist we loved – Eyvind Earle. Seurat meets Japanese lacquer – really gorgeous, you need to see them up close.

More tomorrow – just too many beautiful things to see!


Thursday Thoughts – On Dyeing

More of my friend Yvonna’s clay artistry. I’m sending her comments I receive from you, so let’s encourage her to get her blog up and writing about her pieces!!

Today’s thoughts are on my first attempts at dyeing fabric. I hope to post the photos when they are dry and ironed.I used Ann Johnston’s Color by Accident to get me started (this is something I have wanted to do for the last three summers – finally!). Things I have learned:

* If hubby helps you, make sure you don’t get dye on him.

* Regardless of how neat you think you are, you really aren’t. I now have red stones in the back yard and colored hands.

* That paper towel you use to wipe up dye? It will still stain your hands….

* Don’t try doing this in your inside studio, unless it REALLY is a “wet” studio.

* Make sure you have an environmentally friendly place to dispose of watered dyes. Check ahead of time!

* Take notes – like why the blue and yellow made brown instead of green. Turns out when they’re dry, I got my green….

* Deep and narrow, not wide and shallow – containers…..

* July in Tucson not the most optimal time to dye outside – do it VERY early morning.

* Make sure when you use your funnel and go from a larger container to a smaller one that you pour SLOWLY….

All that said, I turned out some pretty cool stuff. My yardstick for judging is “Would I buy this commercially if I saw it in a store?” I think I would. So here goes….

This is my favorite – reminds me of a garden….

So there really is a hidden purpose to all this – I want to marble on these, much like Marjorie Beavis – she dyes first, then marbles. I am trying to get some marbled “salmon” for a new piece for next year’s Fish Follies Show. We’ll see how it goes next marbling session.

Work-In-Progress Wednesday – A New Artist

The work in progress this week is my friend Yvonna, who has rediscovered her artistic side – and wow! Her clay work is absolutely amazing!! I first saw some of her work when we were still teaching together. She brought a salad to our school potluck in this gorgeous bowl that she had made. I tend to find pottery somewhat boring, but this bowl was truly amazing! She has been taking pottery classes at Parks and Rec for the last couple of years and just now bought her own kiln.

She started focusing in on texture in the clay – lots of natural textures: pine cones, cactus spines, leaves…and now she’s using old laces. I am having severe pot envy…..

I know one other clay artist, my digital partner Suzan, and her bowls are perfect, wonderful glazing and shapes – a wonderful serenity to her work. Yvonna is at the other end of the spectrum – her work shouts “Look at me!” I’m trying to get her to start writing her blog – Talking Clay – but we’ll have to push her….she just doesn’t think her work is that good. Au contraire!

So here’s some eye candy for the day – enjoy her work!

Top Ten Tuesday – A Week on the Web

I have spent the day so far at the computer, cleaning out old emails, answering emails, updating links – all the stuff you put off doing. However, there has been some amazing stuff I’ve discovered on the web this week – loads of eye candy! So sit back and enjoy!!

* This first is an amazing marbling video by a Turkish master. I was stunned by it – so different from anything I have seen, and so masterful in technique. I should live long enough to be able to do this!

* The Guild of American Papercutters – not a great website, but the gallery has some really amazing photos. I fell in love with papercuts when I watched a master in Shanghai create a lovely cutting of a girl, with just scissors and his own eye for detail.

* A wonderful artist – Harrison Howard from San Diego – vibrant paintings, some interesting Asian influences. His shell series are quite wonderful. I tend to really like vibrant colors (I think the school is “colorist?”), and these really do it for me.

* Clark Little surf photography – words will never do these images justice. The waves, the curls, the movement – you will drool at each image.

* Human Computation – another YouTube video. You know those made-up words we use for encoding to prove we’re really human? Luis Ahn explains how we are helping to digitize books each time we type them – really fascinating!

* The Scribbler – just downright fun to play with – your own scribbles, and you can upload them into an online gallery.

Art Licensing Info – an interesting resource as we start doing more marketing. Free download e-book on getting started with Twitter.

* 3-D Street Art – more street painting – really great stuff, with how-to photos. Couldn’t figure out how to get a photo to post!

* China’s Olympics Light Creative Flame – interesting article.

* The Power of One – a fabulous video – we can all be instruments of change for the better. Check out additional videos.

Photoshop Friday

I’m still playing with blending and filters and gradients. This is one of my favorite photos. This is the original, taken at the butterfly exhibit at the Tucson Botanical gardens. It’s a beautiful flower, just as it is. I like using the photos just to learn more of the techniques in Photoshop.

This is with a basic lighting adjustment, trying to lighten the leaves in the background. I have started focusing more on backgrounds and cropping, trying different filters to make the background more interesting.

With this I tried a filter just for the background, trying to add more interest to the background leaves. I also tried a color balance to accentuate the orange and yellow of the petals. Keep in mind I can turn any of these layers on and over at any time for different effects.

This is with a couple of filters to the background. I am practicing with the lasso tool and was able to put the flower itself on a separate layer and then work with the layer effects.

More playing with filters and gradients, going for an “other-worldly” look.

This would make really great fabric!

Let me know what you think – anything in particular that you like in Photoshop?

Photoshop Friday

One of the more interesting plants we saw in San Diego is this tree/bush – great green leaves that were VERY fuzzy, and stalks that were perfectly cubed – really unique – and if you look closely in this photo, you can see the stalk. The only adjustment I made with Photoshop was to lighten some of the shadows (the shadow/highlight adjustment feature, which works almost every time).

I have been experimenting with blending modes and finding some very interesting effects. The first picture is a photo of a palo verde tree. It’s pretty true to what it looks like in the backyard during spring blooming.

Now I added my first gradient layer and then played with the blending sliders. This is the copper/bronze gradient that I like, and I reduced the opacity in the blending mode – kind of a nice metallic effect.

This next one changes the angle of the gradient and allows more of the original photo to come through. I like the blue effect that shows.

This next is a gray gradient, and it gives a foggy appearance to the trees.

With this, I opted to try a patterned layer, based on a piece of marbled fabric. The fabric is originally orange, but with changing the size and adjusting the gradient, I got a “Northern Lights” effect. This one has potential, I think.

This last is my favorite, and I think has a potential “wow” factor. I need to redo it and blur some of the pattern lines so you can’t see the repeating lines. This is “Sunset,” and I really like how it worked.

Gonna try something new this weekend!
All photos copyright by the artist – write and ask for permission!

Saturday Special

This is absolutely, positively one of my most favorite digital marbling (TN) pieces. Suzan and I stumbled on this as we were laying with a deconstructed piece of marbled fabric. Here’s the process: I take a pic or scan a piece of marbled fabric and then play around in Photoshop until I’m happy with the result. With this piece, we took it down to a basic line drawing and then started playing around with gradients. We got a great background, but we knew it needed something more.

So we went through the photo library and found a great pic of a flower hubby had taken from our yard. Voila! That was exactly the focal point we needed.

This brings me to my Saturday Special. In an attempt to market myself and my art more strongly, I am investigating a variety of venues over the internet. This Saturday you can take a look at a few gifts available from Cafe Press. My “store” is quite small, and I look to change a few items on a regular basis. I’ve tried to price items so they would make great gifts for those who either have everything or need nothing! This photo graces a personal journal, making it somewhat mystical for your writings.

This flower image graces a small tile, a perfect gift for a housewarming. The basis of the design again is marbled fabric, this time inserted into flower images. I really like the “neon” effect of the flowers. This image will show up in a larger print down the road, because the detail in the flowers is intense.

I had so much fun creating this image, one of the first I successfully completed on my own. This is part of a “moon” series, and it also started as a piece of marbled fabric, deconstructed to a basic line drawing, with a series of gradients applied. I don’t think I could achieve the detail in this any other way. The piece just glows! This is available as a set of note cards, a nice way to maintain a unique social communication.

I am very interested in hearing from those of you who sell on line. Any tips or hints to share?

First time visiting Marbled Musings? Get an overview.

Photoshop Friday

I have finally been playing around with tutorials on the Photoshop site, National Association of Photoshop Professionals. There are over 1000 tutorials, a mine of activities to try. If you can work and teach yourself, this is absolutely wonderful. This is the original from a spring photo shoot at the Botanical Gardens. It’s already been cropped to emphasize the flowers. I decided to work just with gradients this time to see what would happen.

This has a nice other-worldly feel to it in the lower right corner. It has taken me a long time to get comfortable working with gradients. At first I started with a gradient on a whole image, and then I realized I could take part of an image, snap it to a new layer, and apply the gradient to that part only. With this flower image I decided to work with the whole image for a change.

I tried an additional gradient on top of this one and am generally pleased with the result. I like the addition of a little bit of blue in there. I have discovered that I can keep copying layers and apply more gradients on top of other gradients and then eliminate what I don’t like. The freedom to experiment this way is wonderful – not like the way so many of us learned art – we rarely started something over again, after all our efforts. This way, even with the effort, I don’t mind eliminating what doesn’t work. I realize I have still learned from the exercise.

For this last one I hid the other gradient layers and tried something totally different. I don’t think it’s as effective as the others. I like the play of colors, but I don’t care for the composition of the photo now – the emphasis on the flowers is gone. But I’ve learned….

Thursday Thoughts – You Are Amethyst….

(Photo credit

Anne of El Milagro Studio had a post last week on her basket of pearls, which got me thinking about amethyst. I had to search for a photo, since I had given away my last chunk of the purple stuff. I had a parent about 15 years ago give me a chunk of the stuff with a story attached, which I want to share with you – it’s quite meaningful.

If you look at the photo of the raw amethyst, you see a black goopy outer shell on the bottom, which is us at various points in our lives – unformed, untried, searching. The cystallized white part is us as we start to form, learn and obey rules, and start to figure out who we really are. But then there are all these imperfections in the stone that end up becoming this amazing purple at the top of the stone. Think about all your little quirks, all your background experiences. They form you into who you are now, that gorgeous purple- you couldn’t be the purple without everything that came before.

And – we return to the goopy stage often – graduations, turning birthday milestones, starting new jobs….we’re untried, we learn, we make mistakes, and then we emerge into something wonderful – our purple.

I love the amethyst as a metaphor for life, and I give the raw stone (not finished – loses its characteristics) to students at a milestone and explain the story to them. Every now and then I get a card telling me their purple is starting to evolve.

In the past few years I have started a love affair with stones, with no real purpose in mind for them except that they are gorgeous. The first Tucson Gem Show I went to (after living here for 6 years) I was astounded at the colors of the earth. Then I started going regularly with my friend Alison of Ambrosia Jewelry, who knows lots about semi-precious stones, and I was hooked – mostly because I found lots of stuff I knew she would like, and would end up in jewelry for me. I buy now if something speaks to me – one year it was tree agate – or if I see something that would work in a fiber piece. Both of the art quilts accepted into shows (my babies are traveling!) have numerous stone, bead, and glass embellishments. Now I’m thinking my tree agate would work for the base of the upcoming bamboo piece.

Here’s my stash (I need new containers, after all there’s a show in September)…

Most of what I buy is agate or jasper. The second pic shows some red glass that has marbling in it – should work really well in some of my volcano pieces. The third pic shows some reddish lava in the center. The fourth pic has crackelated quartz – which I love and is getting hard to find at the shows. I’m in love with all the stones for their colors and textures.

Work-In-Progress Wednesday

I think maybe I am on the mend. Today I actually felt normal (well, normal for me), and I wanted to accomplish some things. Picked up the commission quilt so I can finish it – did quick measurements and looks to be definitely a king-size without any problems. I hope to begin again tomorrow.

I want to get this quilt finished so I can begin again on some of my projects. I found that, except for my digital work, I don’t have much new fiber – well, nothing really. I do have a few unfinished pieces, and lots of fabric ready for ideas, but no new finished pieces. The bamboo piece from 5 years ago has started to call to me, so that will be next.

What you see to the left is the marbled fabric in a really good chevron pattern. When the piece came out of the tray, for some reason bamboo spoke to me almost immediately. I have a series of works on the website that are “woven” – strips of marbled fabric that have been quilted, embellished, and woven together. My Gaia 2: Beginnings piece is one of my favorites (known to me as Pele). I stumbled into this style quite by accident, and I do want to continue in this vein. You can see the major works on this website page, and I want to do more!! I want fiber!!

So I am going to work with this “bamboo” fabric as you can see from the strip below. I want to get lots of skinny narrow silk leaves to marble to add to the bamboo as a finishing touch.

We discovered a number of years ago a great way to get the most out of our marbling sessions, since the materials are so expensive. We lay ribbon along the edges of the bath to soak up paint, and we take apart silk flowers and marble them. Here’s a photo of the last bunch of flowers that went up on ebay. These are always a lot of fun to do and work as great embellishments. Ooooo, Anne – just had a thought – would these work in a collage for you? Would be happy to send some your way….

Now to get healthy all the way….

Momentum – or Lack Thereof….

Well, it’s not working out like I wanted – sick since vacation started, it’s bronchitis, no it’s not, yes it is, I don’t know, it’s an infection, it’s a virus….who knows? I kinda feel like I did when I had mono, a mere decade ago. So not much is getting done, due to no energy and sleeping all the time.

But a couple of thoughts: I remembered today why I don’t enter a huge amount of art shows. Once I’m accepted (which is great), then it’s the shipping costs….48 bucks for shipping to and from Colorado today – and let’s hope it sells. That would certainly make entering shows more worthwhile. So I think I need to limit myself to three shows a year, and try to be very selective of the shows to build the resume. Even better, arrange a couple of local shows – would at least save on shipping….Yvonna – we should approach the Gardens for a joint show….

I really miss the journaling aspect of my blog. A week without, stats have dropped, I’ve done a couple of things I wanted to for marketing, but then nothing else. We want to go away to the coast of California starting next Monday, so I don’t have a lot of time to work. I am very conscious of just how much summer there is available to me, so I want to be as productive as possible. I have had some fun with Photoshop, and here is the original shot of coleus I used for the tutorial.

Here’s a quick “stamp” of the new brush.

I also experimented with making a marbling stamp brush – that could be very interesting for some surface design work.

So – goals for this week: blog entries, work on commission quilt, a few new tutorials from Photoshop, call on December craft show to get scheduled, finish contest entries, and get the materials out to finish the bamboo quilt.

Top Ten Tuesday – Getting Here

I’ve been giving some thought to how I’ve gotten to this point in my art, especially since my art is taking some different paths. How did I come to getting fiber and digital art work into juried shows?

* I did a lot of cartooning and pen and ink drawings in my early teens. As long as I could “copy” something – have a pic in front of me, I could do pretty well. My high school art class didn’t do a lot for me, although I do have two pieces left from those early days.

* I started sewing my own clothes in college, thanks to a sorority sister with a sewing machine. I learned a huge amount, and thanks to invisible zippers, got over that fear left from home ec as a ninth grader. I did a huge amount of sewing during my years teaching in Hawaii – way cheaper than buying muu-muus.

* I bought a sewing machine (my second) when I returned to Vermont to teach, having donated my first purchase to the drama department at the high school. I signed up to take classes from Stretch and Sew, and that’s where I got into designing with their patterns. At that point I was sewing almost everything, including a 1970’s leisure suit for my husband….

* Embroidery was the next stage, and I finished a number of pieces, mastering some of the stitches. But I didn’t have the amazing skills of my mother-in-law Erma, who would look at a picture of a Hopi kachina and recreate it in embroidery. I needed a pattern!

* I was also doing a lot of crochet, learning how to read patterns, new stitches, and choosing good yarns. I could never get into knitting – always seemed too complex, and I didn’t have the patience. Crochet went much faster.

* From here it went into needlepoint and cross stitch. I finished a lot of framed pieces as well as pillows. But a fire wiped out all of it, and I couldn’t bear to do cross stitch again.

* I took up tole painting and realized it wasn’t for me. But I did learn how to recognize really good tole – it wasn’t mine!

* From here I took a beginning class in hand-quilting. I had made three quilts with the Eleanor Burns Log Cabin in a Day earlier, but I wasn’t happy with my fabric choices. I figured I would start with the basics.

* While in Vermont, I saw a book on marbling and wanted to try it for some quilts. Hubby really got into it, and we’ve been working on that since.

* While learning to marble, I also had dinner with the high school art teacher who had gotten back from Africa and put her photos into some great posters. I wanted to do that with marbled quilt patterns. It only took me 15 years….

Now I’m getting better at Photoshop, our marbling is improving, and I continue to learn from others about color and design. Just lots of fun on the journey!

How did your journey start?

PS – had lunch with my friend Yvonna – wait until you see her pottery and mosaics – OMG, unlike anything I have seen!

Work-In-Progress Wednesday – Doing Commissions

I’m working on a commission right now – this is one I am excited about and can live with, and I basically have free reign with it. That was not always the case when we first started marbling fabric.

In earlier versions of our website, we offered custom work on silks, cottons, and several other types of fabrics. We actually had quite a good business going, and rarely has to refund an order. Then we ran into the two years where nothing we did worked – the paint literally washed right off the fabric. We had to stop the custom work, as we had no control over what we were doing.

As frustrated as we got, we eventually realized that custom work put too much pressure on us as artists, plus we rarely had time to do any pieces for ourselves. After all, it’s our art, so why can’t WE have some fun with it. That ultimately seemed to be a good decision, especially since we “got our groove back” and were able to marble again.

We don’t marble as often, since we’re not under any deadlines, and when we do, we’re back to trying new designs and new fabrics, always looking for that next great piece to turn into a fiber art design.

“Ocean’s Bounty” (below) is on its way to Alaska, (photo doesn’t begin to do it justice!) and I’ll post photos of the commissioned work next week when it’s hopefully done – got a lot of sewing the next few days!

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