Wednesday, November 30, 2011

December Self Portrait

For the 12 Days of Christmas photography class I'm taking, the pre-class assignment was a festive self-portrait.  Since I collect Nativity sets, I chose the first one I ever bought (a egg shaped one from El Salvador) and a ceramic angel made by my mom.  I had intended to take one of me holding the angel holding the Nativity, but I liked this image much better. Although it's technically a self-portrait (that's my hand), I think it's a bit of a dodge not to include your face, so here's the other SP I took:
To take these, I hauled a full length mirror outside. This is a technique I've seen before, and I reallly wanted to try it. Since I was in a rush, I only got as far as the back deck. But I like the results, and some time I will take the mirror all the way out to the back field and beyond.
Got any good self portrait tips to share?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gypsy's First Hair Cut

Before and After:
What a difference!
It feels like we have a new dog. LOL! The groomer thinks she's probably a Maltese/Silky Terrier mix. Whatever she is, we love her a lot!

Comings and Goings

I'm in the middle of a very busy time for me - the semester is ending soon.  As a Professor, it means that examination time is coming.  I've been writing up finals, scheduling review sessions, answering questions from panicky students, etc. As a parent, I am pushing my kids to finish their terms strong and will soon be helping them study for their final exams.  On the other hand, this is my last week of actually teaching. So, I will not have to prepare four days a week and then perform in front of a classroom full of students (one of my classes has 100 students; the other 45). I have a much easier semester in the new year - just a practical skills class on alternative dispute resolution, which meets one day a week.
Also on the horizon is the start of my son's High School soccer season. I'm the "team parent," so I spend a lot of time helping the coaches organize the administrative side of things. 
And, oh yes, Christmas. I am going to be starting Cheryl Johnson's 12 Days of Christmas photography class on Dec. 1. I am planning to resist the temptation of Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas and Tim Holtz's 12 Tags of Christmas. 
I'm also hoping to do some art journaling during December, including some pages on which I draw. I found Carla Sonheim's great blog about drawing, and each Thursday she features a blob to use as the basis for a drawing.  On Thanksgiving, she posted this one:
Her only instructions are to print, turn the paper around and around, draw, color.  I haven't had a chance to get my paints out yet, but I did have a bit of fun sketching the bit of silliness on the top of today's post.  What do you think?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Blessings: Family

Just back from a very full Thankgiving weekend, filled with family and fun! We started the weekend visiting with my side of the family. That's me with my two sisters (Tricia and Cordelia), flanked by two of my nieces.
And my brother, Pete, with his beautiful family.
My younger brother, Tom, and his new girlfriend.
Finally, me, my brother Tom, sister Tricia, brother Pete, brother Carlos (who hosted), and sister Cordelia.  My brother Carlos lives in the house where we all grew up, and I'm sure my parents are smiling up in heaven, happy that we all still gather together to share the blessings of family.
We then had an interlude of this:
 Surrounded by one of our soccer families:
Henry's Juventus team (he's front row, left) played in a soccer tournament in San Diego. That was the main reason we traveled south for the holiday. The team went a disappointing 1-2 and failed to advance, but they did win their last game (of the tournament and the Club season) 4-2, and  Henry scored a goal. Plus, they had a ton of fun hanging out together and Henry enjoyed a tour of U.C. San Diego (where they played all their games). He's going to apply there next year - probably to the Thurgood Marshall or Eleanor Roosevelt colleges.
And then it was time to see Paul's side of the family, where we got to see his parents visiting with their newest great grandchild:
And, by the end, we were all dog tired (yes, Gypsy made the trip with us):
So, how was your weekend?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Tutorial Repost: Altered Houses

This weekend, I'm reposting a couple of tutorials. This one is on how to create an altered house. I developed for a blog hop I hosted a while ago. The starting point is a baggie filled with two pieces of mat board or card board (one square, one triangle), a variety of coordinating colored cardstock and patterned paper, a few images and a variety of embellishments. The rest of the tutorial describes what I did with these. Enjoy!
Welcome House Party guests and anyone else interested in altered houses!  Several people asked for a tutorial on making altered houses, so I thought I would walk you through the creative process I used to make this house, which I call my Beach Shack. I hope you find the tutorial useful. I started with an envelope of supplies, which included the following:
I began by looking at the supplies to decide what kind of house they suggested and whether I wanted to go with it or change it entirely.  I thought these supplies suggested a beachy, funpark kind of theme, and I liked that. [If I'm starting from scratch (without a bag of supplies), I usually start with a theme in mind and pull out supplies (images, paper, embellishments) which support that theme.  Or, I might start with an image that calls to me and then choose supporting papers and embellishments.]  The next thing I did was to think about any of my own supplies that I might want to add - things that had a similar feel and color scheme.  I pulled out a few things, including paint, ink, brads and some 1940's pictures of women in swimsuits:
From here, I basically proceeded to follow the three steps that I outlined earlier in my collage tutorial:  create a background; add an image; and add embellishments. You can find that tutorial here.  It's truly not so different than what your probably do in making cards or scrapbook pages.
Step 1:  Background. To create a background for my house, I considered a variety of different ways to use paper and paint to cover my house.  I started with these three papers:
I liked this basic approach, but I really wanted my beach shack to have a rustic feel, so I tried out my two paint colors to see if either would work:
The brown seemed too drab. I liked the blue, so painted the bottom half of the house blue.  I still wanted it more rustic, so I considered using either crackle paint on top of the blue or spritzing brown ink onto the blue.
Since my crackle paint was a little dried out (and also drab), I decided to spritz the bottom with brown ink.  I also used brown ink to ink the edges of all the papers and the edge of the blue. Then I glued the papers in place, and my background was done:
Step 2:  Images. I decided to use two images:  the elephant from the envelope and a 1940's woman doing a handstand.  I double-matted the elephant, single matted the woman, and placed them on the house:
Step 3:  Embellishments. When it's time to decide on embellishments, I usually try a few different variations to see what I like before I glue anything down.  I used a selection of things from the envelope and from my stash for my first pass:
I thought this looked pretty good, but thought it felt a little plain still. I wanted to add something else, and I realized I hadn't used any of the cool gingham ribbon from the envelope. I tried out the idea of putting some under the roof line or maybe some squares in the lower right corner of the house:
I decided I liked it along the roofline, but not so much on the house.  I decided to put some yellow brads in the lower right instead.  I adhered everything to end up with this:
I liked it pretty well, but I felt like it still needed one more element in the upper left hand corner of the house.  I rooted around on my desk and found a cream-colored star button with orange polka dots.  The orange pulled some orange out of the elephant picture.  I adhered the star with yellow brads, and my beach shack was complete! [Just to be sure it was complete, I toyed with the idea of adding something else (small shells, a flag on top, flowers), but they all made it feel cluttered.]
A few things about the design that I think work well.  The color scheme followed the gallon-quart-pint formula (where you use approximately 70% of your main color - blue; approximately 25% of your supporting color - brown; and approximately 5% of your third color - yellow) which often works for me. The vertical line of the brads reflect and balance the vertical image of the woman doing the handstand (she's a friend of my Aunt's, by the way), the star with the circular brads reflect and balance the picture of the elephant on the round ball.  Like many of my collages (or scrapbook pages or cards), there's a background, a title (live simply) and then three embellishments (tickets, star and brads).  Everything (color, images, embellies) supports the theme of a Beach Shack. I've never studied design, but I think this is why the house works for me to feel balanced and complete. Usually when I'm creating, I don't think consciously about any of these design principles, but I can look at the completed product and describe them (and I find it an interesting exercise).  If I'm struggling with a project, then I usually try to think about design principles to find out what is or is not working.
I didn't use everything that came in the envelope or that I pulled out.  Here's what I had left over (it's probably enough for another house - LOL!):
A few additional thoughts. There were other directions to go with the background and embellishments. For instance, I considered painting the roof brown or using a brown paper on the roof piece and then cutting some of the flowers out of the patterned paper to decorate it.  I also thought about cutting out some of the compass designs and using those as part of the background on the house or cutting little triangular flags out of the yellow paper. Any of these could have worked.  Second, if the theme suggested by the supplies in the envelope doesn't speak to you, feel free to substitute for any or all of the supplies.  Third, just play with the embellishments until you find something you like. As Paul Gardner said, "A painting is never finished.  It simply stops in interesting places."  I love my beach shack.  I think it's an interesting place to stop and spend a few moments. It might even be a fun place to have a house party . . .
I hope you found this tutorial useful.  If so, I'd love feedback as to what was helpful.  If not, polite suggestions as to what to add or delete are always welcome.  Party on!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Tutorial Repost: Collage ATC

I'm reposting a few tutorials this Thanksgiving weekend - enjoy!!
Since I started blogging, I've had a couple of different requests from people for some information on "how to" collage. So, I'm posting this tutorial with a very simple 3-step method for making a collage.  For my "canvas"or size, I chose to make ATC's.  An ATC  is a 2.5x3.5" piece of artwork. You can read more about ATC's in this blog post. You can choose any size of  "canvas" on which to collage.  I've collaged on dominoes, and you can see some of mine in this photo.  Or you can go larger.  I chose to work on two different themes for my collage ATC's - chosen from two of my favorite challenge blogs.  The Scrappy Tree is looking for "steam punk" ATC's.  Steam punk is a style that blends Victorian age images with explorers and marvelous machines.  You can read about their ATC swap here.  The Something Completely Different blog is featuring artwork associated with different letters this month, and this week's challenge, posted here, is to create something based on the letter "B." Once you've decided on your canvas and theme, you can start the three steps.
Step 1:  Background
You can choose almost anything as a background:  patterned paper, paint, cardstock, etc.  I started with these four backgrounds - two patterned paper (map), one spritzed with glimmer mist and one painted background:
Step 2:  Image
Since I was thinking "steam punk" and "the letter B," I chose two stamps that fit these themes: a Victorian Boy and a Victorian Hot Air Balloon.  Both stamps are by Club Scrap:
I then cut the images out and placed them on the backgrounds:
I decided to mat a couple of the backgrounds to give them a little more weight. The boy on the yellow painted background wasn't really working for me, so I decided to mat him:
Better, but it still wasn't working for me.  So, I decided to add more to the background.  Since Steam Punk incorporates a lot of gears and clocks, I grabbed a Tim Holtz gears & clocks mask and masked the background with black ink.  Much better!
Step 3:  Embellishments
Now you'e ready to finish off your collage with a few well-chosen embellishments.  Three is usually a good number to use.  If you look at my finished Steam Punk Boys, you'll see that for the one on the left, I added a spinner to his hat (1), the title "punk" (2), and a pair of photo turns (3).  Even though these are technically more than three embellishments (the title is four letters and there are two photo turns), the eye perceives them as three elements.  For the finished collage on the right, I added a hat (1), a strip of words (2) and a pair of circles (3).  My finished balloon collages are below.  The one on the left has a yellow brad, a spinner and a title.  The one on the right has a strip of tickets, a small Victorian conductor and a title.
There you have it! Three easy steps that can be followed to make a collage. If you go back and look at the photo of my collage dominoes or at any of the ATC's in my old post, you should be able to identify the background, the image and the embellishments. For those attending the house party, these steps can also apply to your house (I'll post more about that later).  I also wanted to let you know that the house party is getting rather loud and noisy.  The neighbors are threatening to call the cops.  So I'm going to cut off sign-ups pretty soon. There's only room for a few more before we blow the doors off this joint!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Tutorial Repost: Corner Stitching

This Thanksgiving weekend, I'm reposting a few tutorials. Let's start with a simple technique you can use on a card or scrap book page. You can see a page with this technique(and read an interesting story) at this link. Let me know if you use this technique. Enjoy the tutorial!
This week's challenge over at the Gingersnap Creations blog is "stitching." You can see a variety of wonderful projects at this link.  Since I'm sewing challenged, I decided to create this card with one of my favorite stitching techniques:  corner lacing.  When I want to use this technique, I start with a template like this one:
I use it to punch holes into the paper I will lace on. Then I pull waxed linen thread or other fiber in and out of the holes in alphabetical order.  It's quite easy, and I love the effect it gives.  Let me know if you give it a try; I'd love to see the results.

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Tomorrow in the United States, we will celebrate Thanksgiving, but many people make a four day weekend of it.  Some even start a day early and take off Wednesday as well. I have to work today, but I've been thinking about the holiday already.  The Thanksgiving tradition celebrates a feast provided by Native Americans to early American settlers to help them through the rough winter.
These days, the holiday is usually celebrated with a large meal, shared with family, on Thursday (often featuring a turkey). Many people start their Christmas shopping on Friday, and stores open early (anywhere from midnight to 4 am) for "Black Friday" sales (so named because the amount of shopping is said to help the store's sales enough to turn their annual profits from the "red" into the "black.") There's a lot of American football on television.
I love the modern parts of Thanksgiving which emphasize sharing a meal with family and friends. And I love the traditional part of Thanksgiving which emphasizes the idea of community sharing. I'll be enjoying some family time this long weekend and so will be away from my blog.  But, in the spirit of sharing, I'll be leaving reposts of tutorials I've done.  I hope you enjoy them.  I'd also love it if people would a favorite Thanksgiving memory in comments (or, for those of you who don't celebrate Thanksgiving, a favorite memory of community sharing).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Alice in Wonderland Cards

Quite a while ago, a friend of mine gave me an Alice in Wonderland card kit.  It had 8 card blanks and focal images, a good assortment of printed paper, lots of Wonderland charms, some ribbon and a whole bunch of tags. I kept the kit in my scrapbook bag and would work on them now and again at a crop or when I had a bit of time.
But today I decided that I wanted to finish them up and get them out of my project bag.  I had three left to assemble and then (to really complete the project), I added sentiments to the ones that needed them and put away all the left-over bits!
Very happy to have them complete - another project done and out of my bag. Yea me! 
I'd wanted to make them mostly birthday cards, but sometimes I couldn't find a birthday sentiment that would fit. 
I have two bins with about 100 completed hand made cards in them, with all varieties of sentiments - birthdays, new babies, graduation, get well, sympathy, thank you, father's day, mother's day, st. patrick's day, etc. - plus plenty of blank ones.  This is pared down from the four bins I had last year at this time! At Christmas time, I will bundle up packets to give to relatives as presents - mostly to my female relatives (because they appreciate them) to go along with gift cards (because I hate giving just a gift card without anything tangible). They seem to appreciate it! Would you appreciate a gift of handmade cards to send out? Have you ever given such a gift?
Today I am grateful for: a son who can drive himself places and all those adults who volunteer to coach (and drive) my children.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Let's Talk Drawing and Sketching

When I teach art journaling class, I encourage my students to draw on their pages. Nothing complex - simple shapes like hearts and houses.  Maybe a bird. But that's as far as I've ever taken my drawing, so I think it's unfair to push others to places where I am not comfortable  venturing myself.  But I've been thinking a lot lately about drawing and sketching. (I even drew the self-portrait above). So, I thought I'd open up the topic.  Do you draw in your art journals or other crafting? 
If so, why? What draws you to it? And how did you learn?  Do you have any great resources to suggest? Or blogs that feature drawing or sketching? 
If not, why not? Is it lack of interest? Lack of ability? Fear?
Here's a few cool links I have found lately:
Carla Sonheim's blog is all about drawing, and she has a very cool book that I would like to buy. I found her through this post at Alisa Burke's blog;
Jean of Blue Birds Living in the Meadow draws and paints in her journals;
Gloria it totally free and folk-arty in her drawings and paintings, which feature Frida and other Latina inspirations;
Pippa learned how to draw doodle birds and has established a wonderful business around it
Laurie in her Lone Black Bird incarnation occasionally draws and sketches.
Carrie at Rosalind Revival shares her Grandmother's Journals in posts like this one;
One of my blog friends went to Africa this summer and drew all kinds of wonderful sketches in her travel journal, but I can't remember who that was? Let me know if it was you!
I'll leave this topic up for a few days, as I'd love some input! ("Let's Talk" is a semi-regular series designed to inspire frank discussion and sharing of information on issues relating to photography, art and blogging).
Today I am grateful for: My work colleagues who are smart and interesting and, actually, a lot of fun.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ho, Ho, Ho

I recently found a baggie with 18 of these Santa images, which I stamped last year using one of the techniques from Tim Holtz's 12 Tags of Christmas series and some strips of vintage music paper. I even had a mock-up of something similar to the card on the left.  Another unfinished project. . . sigh.
 So, I found some appropriate red and green paper and whipped up these cards.  Felt great to get that project out of the unfinished column!
Today I am grateful for: those people who have confidence in me and, thus, inspire me to be better.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fun with Tags

I had a long day today and wanted to have a bit of creative fun to take the edge off the day.  So, I pulled out the counterfeit kit I made yesterday and decided to make some tags that I could use on my vacation pages.  I thought it would be a good way to use up some of the decorative brads I had and create some easy embellishments to go with pages about gardens, English countryside, villages, Cambridge and London.  I made five sets of three tags each, and I really like them!
What do you do when you just have a bit of time and want to be creative?

Today  I am grateful for: pretty paper and sparkly embellishments.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Counterfeit Kit: November

I haven't played along with the Counterfeit Kit Challenge in a while, but since I've been back in the scrapping mood, I decided to put together a kit for November.  I plan to use it to scrap some more of my vacation pictures from our trip to England.  I started with the "reveal" from the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog, here.:
It's the Autumn Splendor kit from Scraptastic.  I selected a variety of card stock in blues, greens, maroons and browns. The patterns tend toward florals because I'll be doing lots of gardens and countryside:
I added tags, journaling spots and alphas in coordinating colors:
And ribbon, brads and embellies in a travel theme:
I ended up really excited with my kit, and I wish I could just sneak away for a weekend with my kit, my photos, my trimmer and adhesive to see how far I can get.
And, if you're looking for some inspiration, check out the "tag you're it" challenge which the CKC blog just posted here.  It's what really pushed me over the edge to pull together a kit. 
Do you have any inspiring links to share?