Archive for the ‘creativity’ Category

Suzan – this is for you……

So, Suzan, you can see what your pupil has been up to tonight – I think we may have the beginnings of another one. Once I get Contribute, I will send these to you, but in the meantime, enjoy!

Not That I’m a Professional……

…but I did spend the money (with educational discount) and joined NAPP – National Association of Photoshop Professionals. And I’ve just spent the last hour exploring a bunch of video tutorials – especially on curves. Makes a lot of sense now, but like many things, I wasn’t ready for it before now. I had to play and see what I could do, and now I understand just what it does. Plus – I’m going to Photoshop World in Vegas, baby, in September!

Playing Around……

So I’m talking about what we’re doing, and if you have been following the blog, you know how this has been progressing. What follows is a sample from one piece – we have been saving pieces as we like them, even while we continue playing around with more filters and such. This one reminds me of a cold winter morning looking through ice crystals as the sun is rising.

Now here’s the original piece of fabric – can’t even tell the design is from this piece.

Here are two more variations of the same fabric – Rebirth and Rock Candy.

Lesson 4 – Photo Fixin’

I’m finally getting back to finishing up this Photoshop class. I am definitely feeling better this week, and for a Friday night, I’m doing pretty good! This lesson is on retouching, and unfortunately all the good stuff I have I “fixed” last December when I didn’t really understand what I was doing. So some of the photos are too small, have already been lightened, and other destructive edits. I did find one of my fabulous in-laws that I’m going to work on.

I think mom and dad are too light, there are problems with the sky, edges of the photo, and too dark for their mobile. So I started by trying to even out the blotches in the sky – which if you live in Arizona know that the sky is perfectly blue most of the time!

I was pleased with the results – a combination of brushes, clone stamp, and eye dropper for color. Then I decided I wanted to get rid of the antenna and house in the right background, as it’s kind of distracting. I eliminated the house by using the patch tool and then getting even color with the clone stamp. I increased the size to get to individual pixels so I could smooth things out and get rid of the antenna. Again I got down to individual pixels to make sure color seemed even.

Then I started to look at lightening the house. I had a heck of a time with the mask, since it has been a while since I did it. But after about 45 minutes of repeating steps, I finally figured it out. Now you can see the dust and the age on the picture. But I think it worked, and mom and dad didn’t get too light. I did some “noise” for dust, and seemed to “flatten” the sides of the house. I wasn’t too happy – but then I added a blur for a final effect to emphasize mom and dad, and now I am pleased with the final copy.

Then I felt I just had to crop the photo for a better effect.

Playing with Adjustment Layers

Another long week is done, and since I have huge amounts to do this weekend, I decided to play with Photoshop tonight and relax! I have to finish my presentation for the Mesa conference, including editing some new video – which I’m hoping I can do on my own – and if not, I can see Rich next Friday for help.

We’ve had a VERY good week for Marble-T. One of our eBay customers ordered a lot of remnants to repackage for the Houston Quilt Festival, and a woman in Australia ordered 10 fats of cotton and 10 fats of silk. So we have some nice money in for a change. And we also did a class proposal for Flagstaff, but I don’t think they’ll go for the price. That along with three visits to the chiropractor because of the auto accident, and it has been an extremely busy couple of days.

I am continuing to use this one flower for some work because there’s still loads I can learn just with this one image. Here’s the original.

This part of the lesson is working with turnng a photo into an ink drawing, which I played around with this summer. Now I followed all the directions, and I think it turned out well. I sharpened, and in fact I used the patch tool to remove some excess from the photo that I didn’t like. I can see how this will make it easier to apply certain effects, especially the pen and ink. I will continue to try this, because I really like the effect, since this is how I started drawing when I was a teen – lots of pen and India ink.

From here I tried some more filters. This is the charcoal – I am getting better at playing around with the setting within the filters to get effects I like. Along with pen and ink, I used to do a lot with charcoal pencils as a teen. I still have my sketchpad when I was doing cartoon characters in charcoal.

I wanted to see what the film grain looked like. Probably not a filter effect I will use a lot.

Now this fresco one is interesting, especially since in art class we looked at a video that talked about restoring frescos damaged by water in Italy. I borrowed an idea from the professional development on Wednesday and did a “word splash” based on words used in this video. With my seventh graders, I had huge success with their attention to the video – lots of questions on their part about restoration of art. Led to some good discussions. Fresco means fresh in both Spanish and Italian – now I understand why they were named that – because of being painted on wet “fresh” plaster.

The pastel effect is something I just can’t get a handle on – this is not a material I am used to working with. But the effect is interesting, if a little pronounced. I almost would like something less obvious.

The sponge is a cool effect. I am thinking of using sponges next week with the kids and developing some texture painting.

I tried the sumi-e because it is a Japanese effect that has similarities to marbling.

And the final one was on water paper, just because I wanted to see what it would look like.

A productive evening – and I even marked five sets of papers and recorded them during the school day!

Playing with Hue and Saturation

Well, I just started my Photoshop work again with LaunchPad C- it’s so good to be having fun again! I have done so little art for me in the last six weeks that this is a welcome break. The first lesson is on using hue and saturation, so I chose a simple flower photo Dean had taken this spring of a garden in our apartment complex.

I thought it was an okay photo – really liked it! But…then I started playing around with the sliders on layer adjustments, specifically hue and saturation. Here it is in blues.

Huge difference in effect. Here it is in red.

I wanted to try something a little more delicate, so I went for the yellows. Here’s two samples.

Then I just worked with a variety of hue, saturation, and lightness.

Still pretty darned pleased. But then I went back to the original adjustments from LaunchPad A to see the effects. This first is levels only.

Then I played around with just the curves adjustment, and I was really pleased with the results. One of them is so delicate, almost like a glass flower.

Definitely am glad I am taking this, because I’m going to have some fun again!


One of the things I did last year at the start of the calendar year was to try and do some sketching every day. I succeeded for about three months, and I learned quite a bit. First, I don’t do well trying to do large background scenes. Too much to concentrate on, and I would have trouble with proportions. Second, if I started with one particular line and worked from there, I could get a piece I was happy with. Third, my inner critic really liked the eraser. Fourth, people are still a long way away for me. And fifth, I could experiment with different pencils and edges – not all pencils are number twos, and pencils do some really cool things.

I used to do a lot of work as an adolescent with India ink and pens – the old-fashioned kind that you would need to load each time you did some strokes. Quite an unforgiving medium, yet one I really enjoyed – until I was told I didn’t have the talent to make it as an artist in New York. At 12, who knows what that really means?

So I was tentative with the pencils, and by the end of the three months, I was choosing subjects more easily, and erasing a lot less – and using the edge of the pencils for interesting effects. But mst of all I proved to myself that I really could “draw.” That was probably the point of the exercise for me, and I could see how much freer I got as I practiced. Could I have done a sketchbook any earlier? Maybe not, for I was still so bound by the image “having to look like something good.” Now that I’m older, I do it for myself. Maybe though the discipline of sketching every day would have helped me get to that spot earlier. I don’t know – I think I would have turned off to art even more.

Here is a rose in bloom, the basic with some shading. It occurred to me as I was beginning my Photoshop work that I could use my own sketches and add color, rather than actually working with colored pencils – which still put me off, unless I am doing something “poster-like.”

I worked with a small brush and some pink – kind of like the effect.

Added two more pinks to the mix. You can see just how tentative I am – this could use some practice, and I think I could get much better at applying color.

On Going Back to School…

There’s more trepidation than usual as summer draws to a close (yeah, the beginning of August, and “summer” is over….) for the start of the school year. Some of it is new school, some of it is lack of decision making, some of it is still having to move classrooms, and some of it is the loss of free time. As usual, I’ve noticed that I get more “artsy” productive as I begin to run out of free time, when I could have done so much more over the last 10 weeks. This has really become a habit, and it’s one that needs to change.

I’m productive for a short spell, as I’m aware of running out of free time. Yet I can’t get myself started earlier, and I can’t sustain the impetus beyond the first week of school. Not good as an artist. I did get lots of loose ends done as we spiff up in time for holiday shopping, and yes, all of that was needed. But I’m still not making any concentrated new art.

At least I have figured this out and put it into writing – maybe that will help me move ahead.

I did do about an hour’s worth of quilting yesterday on the ice piece. The quilting is soothing, yet at the same time boring. I love quilting the chevron pattern, but I keep thinking about when it will be done and I can look at adding embellishments. It seems like I will be quilting that forever, and yet I can get a huge amount done in only 30 minutes. So again I need to change the mental mindset of what it will take to finish this piece. And I still need to finish the dress I started…….

This will be a hard year at school – there, I’ve said it. I am trying (somewhat successfully) to just let go of a lot of loose ends concerning the start of school – like no technology set up, computer not having internet, no books. But I kept telling myself that I can do this. I just finished “Good to Great” about businesses, and I am trying to see what I can do to implement those steps. I think I’m approaching a Level 5 leader, I know my hedgehog concept – the best possible learning environment, attitude, and skills to help all my kids succeed. I have looked at the Stockdale Paradox – I can do a great job with the kids, but the reality is the test schores are low and test scores are the focus this year.

Stay tuned….

On Marketing…

As I mentioned yesterday, I sent in a request in response to an offer of a free web critique, as a way of jump-startng more marbling and marketing efforts. I still have a huge business map taped to the back of the studio door, with lots of ideas on it, some of which will never happen, and some of which just need a push. We need to prepare for a demo we are giving in September, and this time we will not make the mistake of not bringing product with us to sell. And we will take pictures, have sign-up sheets, and all the other marketing pieces that need to be there to increase sales.

Part of each of the next three marbling sessions is to get materials ready to take to the demo – like scarves in preparation for holiday buying. But once again, we don’t want to just be making fabric – tough on us and lacks the creativity. When we were doing all those fat quarters for the fabric rep and the kaleidoscope guy, it was the same old routine and patterns, and we did not enjoy that. I have several pieces already backed and waiting for quilting that would make great art pieces. Just have to get to it.

And the whole idea behind the Photoshop classes is to get to a point where I am ready to create t-shirt designs. I did go online yesterday to search about creating a CD portfolio – and the site with the most amount of helpful info was the Apple site on a tutorial for iLife – which I have on my laptop. So I just need to sketch out what needs to be done and get it created. At least I know how to do a slideshow, as that seems to be the main feature. I updated the website, so all our credits and shows are current.

I have also been reading some stuff about publicizing blogs – since the two comments I have gotten on here have been spam. Have to find out about RSS feeds, and how to get other people to read this blog. Minor details… least I have a record of my work this year.

The other thing I was thinking about was my sketching – but more on that later.

Just so you know – we can marble on cross-stitch Aida cloth – didn’t want too many entries going by without pictures. This was for a special order over a year ago.

Bursts of creativity…

We are getting ready to marble in the big tray again this weekend, and we really seem to be gearing up to do some serious work. We were shopping for embellishments today, and considered trying to marble some other fabrics. But then we reminded ourselves we really don’t want to do mostly production – we want to start getting in to some serious art.

Hence the website makeover, correcting and adding little pieces. In fact, I signed up for a free critique by a creativity coach for the website.What seemed to be the kick in the pants we needed was a visit this weekend to our favorite gallery in Prescott, Van Gogh’s Ear. Our work would be marvelous in that gallery. We have plenty of pieces ready to go, from small to large, but I need to learn how to do a CD portfolio for submission. Lots of loose ends there.

And I have completed a HUGE number of loose ends over the last few days, as I get ready for the new school year. I want to be sure that I have time to myself for art. Today we bought some embellishments, and I want to continue to work at the three pieces that need finishing touches, plus the Berg piece. And I want to take the next course in Photoshop. I need to clean the studio table to get ready for the marbling tray, so there will be several days that I can’t sew – but I can work on my Mesa presentation, as well as some more math loose ends, so I can sew in a few days.

On Being a Web Nerd….


I first started a web page around 1997. Seems like ancient times from this perspective. We had interviewed a “web designed” who wanted $3000 for the site. No way could we afford that. So I spent $100 and bought PageMill and taught myself. A rather steep learning curve, if I say so myself. That version went through several modifications. Then we added secure ordering – with encryption software for credit cards. How times have changed.

Eventually there came a point – probably about three years ago, when I knew I no longer wante to maintain the site and I wanted to change the look to a more professional site and not spend the time myself learning how to do it. Hence Saltwater Systems. Suzan gave our site a very professional look, and now I just do simple changes. Finally got a trial version of Contribute so I can add links and do revisions.

So I know enough to be dangerous – but then, we’ve been on line for 10 years. Probably even before some of the biggies. Maybe we need to have a ten-year sale…..

Glacier 3

I started doing a lot of the quilting last night. I wasn’t totally happy with one of the threads, so today I went to Joanne’s and bought the multi-blue Sulky I had pulled – I just didn’t have enough left from another project. This thread worked much better – I changed the tension a little and lengthened the stitch length. Everything started to smooth out, and the piece began to take on a lot of depth. Here’s a small section.

This will take a lot longer than I had originally thought, as I am quilting most of the lines. But I like how the piece is looking, with that amount of quilting. I don’t normally use the walking foot; in the past it really hasn’t seemed to help, but with the gentle curves in this piece, it has been a great help. I can handle the fabric more easily through the machine. It will be interesting to see how the various stones will work as we progress.

Glacier 2

There is something very satisfying about quilting marbled fabric, especially this pattern. This is a traditional chevron pattern, and it is the basis for many more complex patterns. I love the lines to this pattern, and they are very easily quilted – almost a zen-like feel with the sewing machine. Use the walking foot and then just quilt.

I’ve been doing a lot of quilting with the stone, freeform, and chevron patterns, although the Pele piece on our website is much more complex. Quilting the nonpariel and wave patterns really take some thinking and some very slow free motion to get the stitching accurate. I need to set some more pieces with those patterns.

As I was quilting last night (to John Denver’s greatest hits – good quilting music), I was thinking about the decisions in this piece. I used the light gray about every three inches to hold the fabric in place. The stitches pretty much disappeared. I used the darker gray to accent the black in the piece. Then I started with the variegated rayon, and those stitches really popped. I may decide to actually stretch this piece and frame it when done, so that there aren’t any ripples in the fabric.

Once again I found myself judging the piece based on some beginnng quilting lines. Nothing fantastic yet, but I have just begun. So I need to put the critic to bed and out of my mind.

Adding to a Piece of Art…..

I finshed a piece almost two years ago – a piece I called Low Tide. I was pleased with it to begin with, but the more I looked at it, the more I felt it was missing something. The original is a piece of linen that was marbled in a traditional stone pattern. i used a multicolored silky thread to do the quilting, emphasizing the rocks you would see at low tide. Then I found some really wonderful yarn that looked like foam, and so I sewed that along the piece and that brightened it up – but it still wasn’t enough.

Over the nearly two years I looked for beads and found some multicolored stones that reminded me of shell pieces. I knew they were destined to go on the piece. When I finally started to rework the piece this summer, I found I had a great set of small blue beads that would be perfect. And then I realized I wanted some glitter to reflect the “sunlight” on the water. I have this great glitter in two colors that worked perfectly. Now I am really pleased with the piece. Within the month I will get these new versions up on the website.

Crater photos – Redux

I have gotten hooked on reading Catherine Coulter, as I wanted a break from some of the more intense non-fiction I had been reading. Her FBI series is well-plotted – and some nice escapism. But I did get back to working with another photo from the Sunset Crater trip. This was taken at one of the remains of a village at Wupatki, another section of the national park. Here’s the original:

I decided to crop and focus on one little section of brick, just to see what would happen. Then I looked at levels.

I had some fun with Curves, just moving that line in any ole direction. I keep seeing a mouth with teeth in this particular section.

Gradient fun as always, now that I see what to do! I superimposed a pattern I created from a piece of marbled fabric.

I love Invert – this one looks like an x-ray.

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