Dancing and Cussing

It occurred to me that I should probably say something about how I work and my 'process' of doing things, and by things I mean creating art.

I've long since been disabused of the notion that I have to do things a particular way to be considered a serious artist.  I'm pretty serious about my work without having to hold myself to the rigorous standards of other people.  In my art, as in all things in life - while outside input is well and good, it's what I feel that matters most.

My work is generally a slow slog with random bursts of speed.  I try to work every day, even if I feel like I have a block or am otherwise disinclined.  Sometimes the best way is to push straight through it.  This is the way I work with pretty much everything, from home repair and large crochet projects to art and writing.  Books are sat down in the middle with bookmarks, video games are played and saved, all to be returned to in good time.

When shooting, I try a lot of lenses, take a good number of shots and then sit back and sort it all out. When painting, I get an idea and set to it, then step back.  It works for me.   Now I have a better idea of which techniques and tricks work best for me because in the past, I had no idea what I was doing so I tried them all.  Books were read and tutorials were watched, the effort expended to get to a new level of artistry and understanding.

Sometimes I get to the point where I dance, because the work has aligned so perfectly and magnificently that it is better than any hope I had  for it at the beginning.  I dance in my chair, I point at the screen (or canvas) and sometimes, there's jumping.  There's almost definitely a woohoo! of epic, Homer Simpson-esque proportions.  I am jubilant and triumphant.  I have accomplished something awesome.

Every so often, I fail.  I try again, but the piece I was working on just won't do what I want.  I am unable to effectively communicate my thoughts to the paper, and it resists my best efforts to do so.  It isn't right, the colors or angles are off, and it gets past the point where I can save it.  That's when the cursing starts.  While rationally I know that no experience is a total waste, some experiences are bad and the product even worse.  They make you curse in frustration as you work, in defeat as you shake your head and put them away.

Let me share with you a dance:  This is Almost

These are slightly decaying flowers in a old glass bottle, sitting on my couch.  Not bad, eh?  I took this to test out my new pancake lens, which continues to be one of the greatest investments I've ever made.  I made it black and white, but it lacked punch.  I added a red-toned texture, but it still wasn't quite right.  The original shot had this great contrast of white and green that was missing, but it lacked the depth of the black and white.  In the end, I copied the original, layered it over the black and white to add in the green color and made it an overlay, then turned down the lights on the picture as a whole.  It looked like this when I was done - Commence dancing.

As for the flip side, let me share with you something that made me curse: Untitled Nebula

Full disclosure - I don't know when I started this.  It looks like I was trying to interpret a real region of space, but I don't know what inspiration I was using.  When I reopened it, I tried to work with it again, but it wasn't coming out.  It isn't truly a bad painting, but not at all interesting or something that I would have started in the same way now. Before I called it quits, I worked on adding depth to the gas clouds, since the star field was already laid down.  But in the end, none of it worked for me, not the colors, not the stars and not the shape.  I'm sorry darling, but you make me cuss and we're going to have to part ways.

So there you have it - the mystery behind my artistic process.  It is slow and there are mistakes.  There is dancing, and some foul language, but mostly there is learning and trying new things and scrapping old techniques that don't fit any more.  A process of refinement, and always in progress.


Sunday Snaps

Sunday was a gorgeous day here, and I got out for the first time and took some pictures in the park nearby.  Unfortunately, I hadn't been out for very long before the pollen started to sting my eyes and render them blurry, so the shots were few.

I liked the color on this little flower, nestled in the grass.  It's nice to have warmer weather on the horizon.

There are a great number of projects that need my attention right now, and sadly most of them aren't art related.  My house is gone from just disorganized to chaotic, so that must be remedied.

A Bit of Good

This week was a rough one, wasn't it?  I'm still trying to get my bearings from all that has happened.  There was a bit of good late this week - I purchased a pancake lens for my camera.  I'd heard about the image quality before, but it is simply wonderful in the few test shots I've taken.  I can't wait to take more with this!

Lens are one of the few things I am comfortable buying for my camera right now.  I don't feel like I know enough about flashes or filters, and I'd like to change that.  There's so much to learn, but I've come far too.  There was a time when I didn't know how to use the manual settings on my camera!  At least I've had fun finding my way.

Image from Adorama - where I purchased my lens
I'm branching out - this week I did some soul searching, and I've decided to do more connecting on and offline.  I've been reading and working a good deal the past week, just trying to get myself together and see what the next best move is for me.  My new business cards came from recently, and they've got four of my photographs on them - they look great!

Were you able to see the aurora?  Last Saturday there was an aurora, but it was foggy here and I had no visibility at all.  I would have liked a glimpse, but I guess I'll have to settle for the ones in Skyrim.  Perhaps I'll try my hand at painting one soon.  It would be interesting to try it with watercolor.

Take care,



Boston - City and Airfield

I grew up in Boston, in the best possible way.

I'm from the midwest originally, but I went to college in upstate New York, and after a year in Americorps back home, I moved to Boston.  Well, I moved outside of Boston to serve that year, but the majority of us moved into Boston right after that - all in our early twenties and feeling the allure of the city lights calling us.

Back in those days I lived in Jamaica Plain and slept on a futon.  But it mattered little, because I was where I wanted to be, even if I had to work 80 hours a week in retail to get there.  It was exciting being in the city, I met people, went out to eat, worked and went to parties - normal stuff, but it somehow seemed grander in Boston.

I got what I considered to be my first real job at a Boston institution - Filene's.  I loved working there.  It was one of the single best working experiences of my life, including working for myself.

My husband and I met in Cambridge.  We went for coffee one day, which I didn't drink at the time but for whatever reason when someone offers me Turkish coffee, I can't say no.  To get to the date, I had to borrow a T pass from my roommate, because even though I was living in the city, I had begun to work outside of it.

Closer to the race site used to be a store where I worked at for months.  I loved working in Copley Square.  I hated the (now closed) store I worked it, but the people were great.  I've worked through a race day before, and they rope off the streets early.  I don't remember how I got around the barricades, but I know the police had to escort my store manager around when she got caught on the wrong side.

That street is the same street they parade down in Boston for just about everything, when the Patriots win the superbowl, when the Red Sox won the world series for the first time in 86 years.  I lived in Boston then.  I attended concerts, listened to WFNX, and took my visiting dad to the Cheers replica bar down at Fanueil Hall.

Yesterday, I was so very horrified to see the news.  I don't live close to Boston anymore, but I grew up there.  It will forever be part of me.  My heart goes to Boston and the visiting people that were there for the marathon.



Here's my first attempt at making a texture with words - Blushing.  I will try again, but for a first attempt, I am pleased with this.  It was made with watercolors and edited in Lightroom.

For whatever reason, the previews on the download are much darker than the file itself, so refer to this shot instead.  Blushing is a texture with bits of script around three edges, a little grit and an antique feel to it.

Blushing can be acquired through the purchase of my textures set Dramatis, through my etsy shop.

I used Blushing on my picture Wonder.  To add the texture, I used it twice, once as a soft light layer and then as a multiply layer on top of the other.  I rotated the second layer, to make it seem like there was more text in the piece.  Here's the result.


So Blue

A new texture!  This is an acrylic texture I made, with tones of sky and sea in mind.  It's been a while since I worked with acrylic paint, and I forgot how fast it dries!  It was a departure from the watercolors I've been using lately, but I am glad to get back to using them.

Here's So Blue used as a texture on an edited photo.  I really liked the way it came out, making the sky much more painterly than it was before.  I added the texture so blue as a soft light layer and adjusted so it wouldn't overwhelm the picture with the short strokes.  I think it adds a great deal to the photo, the obvious brush strokes making it more visually interesting.  Feel free to use with your photos and share the results.


Orange Heat

Here's another texture I made; this one is called Orange Heat.  Made with soft pastels, this is meant to infuse bright, lively bursts of yellow, orange and red tones into a picture.

This time, I wanted to try Orange Heat on a fall picture I'd already edited and texturized.  This is Seasonal Closeup - Autumn with Orange Heat applied to the already edited photograph.  I rather like the result.  Orange Heat was applied as a multiply layer on top of an already flattened picture.

Also, right now there's a promotion going on at Society 6.  To buy the original edit of Seasonal Closeup (or any of my other prints) with free shipping, click on this link.


Using Olive Black

Here's yesterday's texture in use:

To create this look, I changed the photo to a basic black and white, added the texture as an overlay and added some light, to make the greens more vibrant.  The background was turned black and white to remove all the other colors of the branches - the browns and reds that didn't fit.  They worked nicely in black and white, and the branches that had been green accepted the green of the texture layer nicely.

Have fun!

Olive Black

Here's another texture, this one is a dark green with a black wash made with watercolors.  I like this, because it reminds me of the evergreen colors that return to a brighter hue after hunkering down for winter.  Like Spring Green, this texture is available for purchase with the Dramatis texture set through my etsy shop.


Using Spring Green

Here's an older picture of mine I used to demonstrate the texture I posted yesterday.  The picture is rather old - this is from when I first decided I wanted to be a photographer and was experimenting with my Pentax.  I rather liked the subject, this old statue in the ground, and it was taken at during springtime.

I desaturated the photo, then adjusted the opacity before adding the texture as a multiply layer.  Then I turned up the light so that the foreground wasn't too dark.  The texture is great for adding green and yellow spring tones as I did here, or can be good as an overlay to make the photo overall brighter.

I've made two more textures that are in various stages of drying.  There's another pastel texture and a watercolor.  I hope to make a total of five for this spring set, and I'll post them just as soon as they are ready.


Spring Texture

A while ago I got a account for free, with a generous amount of space.  I wanted to try my hand at making textures, since I use them so often in edits and photography.

Here's my first offering, a yellow/green combination that is spring inspired.  Spring Green can be purchased as part of my texture set through my etsy store.