Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's about time

I have been having so much fun with my online classes this fall!  My "text and image" class with Jane Davies has just concluded -- and Jane is such a wonderful teacher that I immediately signed up for her next class on self-portraits, which starts on January 2.  I think there is still room so by all means, check out the class description and join if you are interested.  

The final assignment in my current class was to create a series of small pieces that suggest a story or common theme, but leave enough room for the viewer's own interpretation.  I learned a lot through this exercise:  On the one hand, I prefer to work on a larger scale because there is greater scope for playing with color and texture, which is what I love the most.  On the other hand, I really enjoyed the smaller ATC format because it was easier to find useful text at this size from old books or newspapers.  I discovered that I like working on several pieces simultaneously because there is always something to do next, even when you are waiting for other things to dry.  Finally, it reinforced my sense that ideas need time to percolate before being expressed.  I had been mulling over this assignment for days, so when I had time to work on it, everything just flowed. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


What amazing weather we've been having here in Connecticut this week!  People were outside in shorts and t-shirts in November!  It feels like time is on some kind of a weird fast track:  it's spring right now, following our 8 inches of snowy weather last month... now I'm ready for summer!  Well, that's just a fantasy, I know, but I am grateful for this short respite from the cold.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday here at home, so "gratitude" is the perfect theme for Texture Tuesday.  Make sure you visit Kim's site to see some really amazing work!
Textured with Kim Klassen's "Chamomile" (color burn @100% and soft light @100%)

I know I've said this before, but my family does NOT appreciate textures.  My husband says this looks like the serving knife has rust all over it.... The pie was delicious, in any case.
"And then some" (soft light @100%, multiply @100%) and "Thursday" (soft light @100%)

Our centerpiece was beautiful, too.  I love how the textures really saturate the blooms here:
"Phoebe" (overlay @100% and color burn @100%) and "And then some" (multiply @100%)
I've been trying to get more intense colors from my photographs, and have been playing with creating high dynamic range images by combining several different exposures of one shot.  This one isn't a great composition by any stretch, but I love how the colors came out, even without adding any textures:
hdr image -- four different shots, blended on soft light mode
original images:  over- and under-exposed

I am grateful for all the wonderful aspects of the day:  the food, the flowers, the weather.... but in the end, the most important thing of all is having family to celebrate with.
My parents

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Shooting on "blur" at Grand Central

Sunday was such a glorious day!  The weather was unseasonably warm and sunny -- perfect for photography.  My husband and I spent the day in New York, taking a class from the Digital Photo Academy, entitled "Composition in the Field:  Grand Central Station." Our instructor, Morgan, combined technical information on using the camera in low light situations with practical tips on composition and style. It was the perfect level class for us, giving us hands on experience of techniques that we had only read about, but never worked with before.  Both of us were feeling energized and excited about using our newfound knowledge, and were getting lots of great captures.

Except.... that in the hustle and bustle and noise of the city, I kind of forgot to listen for the "chirp" of my autofocus.  I must have accidentally moved the setting on my camera to manual, and the result was that I lost most of my images to blur.  [Sigh.]  And there I was, thinking all day that I really needed to visit the eye doctor!

Here are a few shots that escaped the blur... I'll salvage some more for next week.

This one is great for using the heavier textures; there is a lot of empty space just begging for layers of meaning (see my post earlier today, on why I love layers)
Processed with Kim Klassen's "Warm Grunge" (soft light @100%) and two layers of
"Scripted Autumn (soft light @100% and multiply @100%)
A beam of light illuminated the ticket window just for a moment, and I was there to catch it!
One layer of "Phoebe" (soft light @100%)
Outside, a taxi driver was walking down the line of waiting cabs:
Three layers of "Phoebe" (soft light @100%, overlay @28%, and color burn @14%)

Linking up to Texture Tuesday -- be sure to check out all the wonderful submissions over at Kim's site!

Monday, November 21, 2011


I should know this about myself by now -- I do not do my best work in a hurry. This is true in all aspects of my life. If I rush through dinner preparations, the meal is lackluster. On the other hand, if I follow every step mindfully, the results can really be spectacular. The same thing is true of my art. I find that if I try to finish a journal page all at once, it ends up flat and dull.  It takes layers of color and texture to convey a sense of meaning.

That is why I love Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's "30 Days in Your Journal" online course. Julie's style is wonderfully forgiving -- anything goes, just try to spend a little time every day on your art (but no guilt if you can't!) By eliminating the pressure to "finish" anything at one sitting, the ideas you journal about can percolate over time, and you can make serendipitous connections that would have eluded you otherwise. I am behind in the assignments -- my trip to Houston kept me from my studio -- but that's the beauty of this class:  it's self-paced!

Here's my current page:
I guess you can tell my favorite colors!

As if this wasn't enough, I am simultaneously taking Jane Davies' online "Text and Image" class.  Jane is the queen of layers, and her painterly style is so inspiring.   When I work on my assignments, I go into the "zone" and time just doesn't exist anymore... I don't want this class to end!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Past and Future

I love to participate in Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday, but I've been so busy lately that I haven't had a chance to go out and take any pictures.  So for this week's submission, I am relying on my archives.

Here's a shot that I took of my daughter about ten years ago (hard to believe that my baby is now a senior in high school!) All I had to do was add one layer of the challenge texture, "Phoebe," and instantly the colors popped.  Now that's my kind of texture!
My daughter, Sam, textured with Kim Klassen's "Phoebe" (one layer in soft light blending mode @100% opacity) 

While I don't have a lot of current photos to play with, I have been dreaming of the images I will capture next summer.... we are planning a hiking trip in Ireland, combined with a stay in the Italian countryside.  These are probably two of my most favorite spots on earth, so there's lots to dream about!

Here's a cottage on the west coast of Ireland where we stayed several years ago:
Textured with Pixel Dust's "Grunge Surprise" plus  Kim Klassen's "Golden", "Warm Sun" and 2 layers of "Crackerjack"
And here is a picture my husband took in Bologna.  (I forget the recipe, since I textured this awhile ago).  I know my husband took the shot because it's the view from a tower, and I do NOT go up that high without having walls and glass between me and the sheer drop below....

I can't wait to see what everyone else comes up with!

Friday, November 11, 2011


I had the most amazing time at the International Quilt Festival in Houston last week.  It was my first time there, and I was in fiber heaven.  My mother, who is also a quilter, came along too, and we had a wonderful girls week out.  We even made time to visit my son, who lives in Houston, and as a result we were spared those drab hotel meals I heard so many attendees complain about.  Every night we went to a restaurant that was featured on one TV show or another.  I had no idea that Houston was a culinary destination, so all the good food was a surprise bonus!

This was just a tiny section of the huge convention center.  I told myself I didn't need to buy anything because I have enough quilting and mixed media supplies to last the rest of my life.  HA!  I'll give you three guesses on how long that resolve lasted.....

I took a wonderful class with Leslie Tucker Jenison and Jamie Fingal on Friday.  We were about ten students in all, and we spent the morning playing musical chairs, collaboratively painting two canvases. Here are the final products before we cut them up in the afternoon (I am the second on the left):

We were fascinated by our hands:
Here are some detail shots of the canvases.  I love the random exuberance!

In the afternoon, we divided the canvases and made mini quilts.  Mine is the one with all the triangles on the second row, right side.

On Saturday, my mom won a spot in Make It University's Sketchbook Challenge class (I enjoyed the chance to sit down for an hour)!  Here she is having fun and learning about monoprinting on gel plates:

I'll close with a picture of my mother's latest quilt.  This is a Ginny Beyer pattern that she tweaked to suit her own taste.  She has been a sewer all her life, but only recently decided to make quilts.  I have to say, I am in awe of her skills!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Living in the eighteenth century

The Halloween snowstorm left much of the northeast in darkness.  Heavy, wet snow is not meant to sit on tree branches that are still in full leaf!  Connecticut has been pretty hard hit, with power lines down everywhere and schools closed.  So, for my Texture Tuesday submission, here is my taste of eighteenth century living.  Make sure you visit Kim's site for all the other textured wonders:
Processed with 3 layers of Kim Klassen's "And then some" (color burn @100%; screen @20%, texture left only on the edges; and soft light @100%)
We were luckier than most, because we have an AGA, the world's most amazing stove.  This kept the kitchen a little warmer than frigid, and allowed us to cook most of the food in our freezer before it defrosted.  Fetching water and heating it to do dishes was not so much fun, though!

Living for a few days in another century reminds me of my ongoing dilemma.  I am pulled between rival interests: some days I am wild and modern:
 mandalas painted on fabric (left) and a painted glue-resist piece (right)

a day of painting, scribbling, drawing, and printing on fabric

"snap happy" bag made from my fabrics.  The piecing was inspired by Alisa Burke's book, "Sew Wild"
Some days I want to live in another era:
hand-pieced tumbling blocks, all ready to put together in a quilt

vintage stars, also all ready to go
(you can see that the "putting together" part is not my favorite part of quilting!)
We got our power back yesterday.  I think I like it here in the 21st century!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sunrise with Jackson

I get up early every morning to let Jackson out, and sometimes my breath is caught by the beauty of the sky.... So, my submission for Texture Tuesday this week is a photo I took of the sunrise this morning.  (I posted a similar photo here).  Hard to improve on the original, I must say! Hold your mouse over the image to see the version without textures.  Hannah of Honi-Soit was kind enough to guide me through the process.  I couldn't get it to work at all week, but it seems to be working fine this time.  Thanks again, Hannah, for taking the time to give me a hand with this!
Processed with Kim Klassen's "Serendipity" (color burn @50%) and "Yesteryear" (color burn @40%)

I started playing around with the blending modes, and I really like how this version reminds me of a nighttime seascape:
"Serendipity" (color burn @50%) and "Yesteryear" (difference @100%)
Gratuitous Jackson pic
I am looking forward to some photo ops later this fall -- and I'm especially thrilled because my husband has decided he wants to get back into photography, too.  We are taking a class from Digital Photo Academy at Grand Central Station next month, among other things.

But for now I've been immersed in my quilting, and it is wonderful to be back at the sewing machine.  I also attended a wonderful workshop in NYC on art journaling techniques with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer and Nathalie Kalbach, and started another online course on text and collage with Jane Davies....not to mention that I am heading off to Houston for Quilt Festival in a week or so!  I will have to remember to take a few breaths here and there.

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's all relative, you know

I was going through my photos from the World Wide Photo walk again (...yes, I know I've used them a lot lately), and I decided to use this one for my Texture Tuesday submission.  

It struck me that I am older than this car, but the state of Connecticut has classified it as an "antique."  Hmmmm..... what does that make me?

I used Kim Klassen's "Scratches" (soft light @100%, and again @39%, plus one inverted layer on soft light @44%), "Thursday" (overlay @100% and color burn @25%), and "Yesteryear" (color burn @38%)

A workman who was here the other day told me that my house is "older than electricity!"
First I converted the photo to sepia in PSE, then added "Mayzee" (overlay @74% and color burn @33%), "Scratches" (color burn @38%, soft light @40% and multiply @70%), and "Canvas Back" (soft light @49%)

SOOC (I cannot get the mouseover code to work, much as I try!)

Yet for all that, I feel like a spring chicken...I guess it's all relative.