Monday, May 31, 2010

King Tim Twinchie & Blog Question

Birthday month is winding up at Something Completely Different, and the theme for this week's twinchie was "crowns."  Through the serendipity of art, I happened to have this chipboard crown and this shrink plastic "King Tim" sitting on my art desk - right next to the last square of purple spray-inked plaster! Yes, seriously.  So, I trimmed the plaster and painted  its edges black, mounted it on a piece of 2x2" black cardstock, edged the cardstock in gold, painted the chipboard crown black (and then covered it with rock candy crackle paint) and then layered everything together!  The stamp is from the Tim Holtz line, and I always call it "King Tim." Happy Birthday SCD! Thanks for the inspiration this month.
On another  topic, yesterday, I put a little time into my blog, adding labels to about half of my posts.  Will continue the project to get them all labeled.  For you bloggers, I was wondering:
do you label your posts?
what are your most common labels?
is there a point where you have too many labels?
All suggestions/input appreciated.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Vintage Assem-dog (Photography Lesson)

It's aperture priority week in the Get Out of Auto Mode photography class I'm taking.  For my model, I'm using my Vintage Assem-dog.  He's an altered dog model (originally purchased on Dick Blick), which I created as part of an assemblage class I taught.  All photos are pretty much straight out of the camera (no brightening, sharpening, color enhancing, etc.), although I did crop them a bit.  The picture above was my favorite of the session, and I took it with my 50mm prime lens with the aperture set to 2.8.  This gave me enough blur in both the background and the dog to make an interesting shot.
I took two good photos at a higher f-stop and got crisper images, which I might use if I was trying to use the photo on an etsy page or as a clear illustration of the project.  The first one is at f5.6 and the second one is at f10:
The lowest fstop I can get with my 50 mm lens is 1.8, and I got this nice fade-away:
When I tried to get closer and still use a low fstop, the lowest I could get my f-stop down to was f5; I got this shot I liked:
One of the biggest things I learned was that, if I want to do this type of photography (not sure I do), the lens makes a huge difference!  My regular kit lens only goes down to f4.2 (focal length was 75), and here's the best shot I got with it:
I also played with the aperture setting using my telephoto lens. While I was able to get closer to the model, the lowest I could get my fstop and still focus was 5.3. The focal length was 160 (my telephoto goes to 200).  Here's my best shot:
I do like how the background went all dark!

Do you have any favorites of the photos above?  Are you a fan of fade-away, blurred art photos or do you prefer crisp all over?  I hope to do this exercise again taking photos of people  instead of my trusty assem-dog.  And I will probably use what I learned to photograph my other assemblage animals (one more dog and two cats).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Art Class Offerings (because I can't help myself)

The art journaling prompt this month at The Scrappy Tree is "Change," and I created this page with a quote about inevitable, unavoidable change from Anais Nin that grabbed me as soon as I read it:
"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful that the risk it took to blossom."
I used to teach art classes and stopped when my local scrapbook store closed. I've missed teaching, but never really found a good, easy venue to continue.  Until now.  My friend and art teacher, Connie Andrews, has taken the risk of renting a studio space for various people to gather and create art. I'm taking the risk with her because it is just too painful not to.  So, with a great deal of happiness (and a little trepidation), here are the classes I plan to offer for the next few months:

Art Journaling 1A:  Art Diary
Sunday mornings, June 13, 20 and 27. 9:30-11:30 am, with additional studio time available until 1:00 pm at no charge.  This three week class will give you the tools you need to get started creating an art journal as an art diary and to continue your journaling after class ends.  Cost for the three week class: $75 (plus a $25 material fee, which covers a fifty page artist book filled with handmade paper, a daily journal, and pens appropriate for art journaling).  Please bring gesso, scissors, a wet adhesive (glue, gel medium, etc.) and an assortment of paint brushes and acrylic paints. If you like, you can also bring an assortment of images and a heat tool. Due to the materials provided, the class is limited to six participants.  If you cannot attend any of the sessions, instructions will be available online and we may be able to schedule a make-up session.

Creating Cards with Ephemera
Saturday, July 24 -  9:30-12:00.  Come and learn how to use collage images, text and other ephemera to create visually balanced and aesthetically pleasing cards.  We will cover four designs/techniques, and the class fee includes materials to complete eight cards.  In addition, the class fee includes a wooden cigar box in which to package your cards, making them the perfect gift.  Please bring scissors, a paper trimmer, and your favorite adhesive.  Although I will have plenty of ephemera and rubber stamps, you are free to bring your own rubber stamps and ephemera.  $30.00

 Art Journaling 2A: Themed Art Journal  Plaster Gratitude Journal
Saturday, Aug. 14  -
 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Learn how to incorporate a variety of collage and journaling techniques to create a cohesive, themed art journal.  You will also be introduced to working on plaster wrap, one of my favorite materials.  Please bring gesso, scissors, a wet adhesive (glue, gel medium, etc.) and an assortment of paint brushes and acrylic paints. A pre-work handout will be emailed to those who sign-up.  
Cost: $50

Art Journaling 1B:  Art Journal as Creative Play 
Sundays, Sept. 12, 19 and 26, 9:30 - 11:30 am with additional studio time available until 1:00 pm at no charge.  This class will give you the artistic tools and confidence you need to start art journaling regularly as a way to engage in creative play and/or create a sketchbook.   Cost for the three week class: $75 (plus a $10 material fee, which covers a spiral bound journal  and pens appropriate for the course).  If you cannot attend any of the sessions, instructions will be available online and we may be able to schedule a make-up session.

The studio is located at 103-1 Harvard , Princeton-by-the-Sea.  It is in the same building as Elegant Cheesecakes and just down the street from the Maverick's Surf Shop.  Jeff Clark (of Maverick's) has very considerately put up lots of signs directing folks to his shop, so you can just follow those and then keep going for another block.

If you would like to sign up for a class, please email me at or leave me a comment below with your email address, and I will contact you to confirm everything.
Thank you all for helping my art dream to blossom!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Playing with Speed (Photography lesson)

Part of the assignment for the Get out of Auto Mode photography class this week was to shoot in "shutter priority" mode at a low and a high speed, to see the different effects.  I decided to complete the assignment at DS Henry's baseball game on Saturday. For the photo above, I set the shutter speed to 1/40 (the camera set F25 and ISO 400). I like the effect of the blurred bat and hands.  For the photo below, I set the shutter speed to 1/1250 to freeze the action and you can see the ball coming in clearly (the camera set F8 and ISO 400):
 It was a good experiment, but I had trouble getting a really clear focus for the higher shutter speed.  Frankly, I think I just do better shooting in "sports" mode.  For example, this pitcher:
So, the next day when I went to DD Clara's swim meet, I put the camera on sports mode and got this nice picture of her best starting dive ever:
I'm glad I learned about shutter priority mode and can definitely see myself using it when I want a blur; but, for freezing the action (which tends to by my preference), I think I'll stick with sports mode.  Do you think that's wimping out?  Or just being smart?  Do you prefer sharp pictures that freeze the action? Or pictures that give you speed and movement through blur?
By the way, if you come back tomorrow, you'll see a cool (IMHO) art journal page about change, and be able to read a big announcement!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Art for Sale & Show

A week from today, my local mixed media group will be opening its second annual art show.  I showed five pieces last year and sold two.  This year, I'm hoping to do about the same.  As an extra treat, DD Clara will also be showing this year, too!  If you're in the area, please feel free to stop by and browse the show.
Here are the two big pieces I plan to show:
And here's DD Clara's piece:
One of the reasons I started my blog was to catalog my art, but I soon realized that it was hard to get a good picture of my artwork.  I'm pretty happy with these shots, which I took in program mode as part of the week 2 assignment in Get Out of Auto mode.  I set the ISO to 400 and let the camera do the rest. 

Monday Art Journal Page

Are you exhausted from the weekend?  If so, here's a simple art journal page to get your week off to a fresh start.  It's in response to the Creative Therapy prompt "How has art saved you?"  Background is glimmer mists and pastels.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

An Adventure in Paris (SCD Twinchie)

Birthday month continues over at "Something Completely Different," as does their celebration of twinchies.  This week's subject is Paris.  This tiny (2"x2") bit or artwork features some images off a collage sheet I made of photographs I took in Paris.  The Notre Dame gargoyle is matted on plaster spritzed with Adirondack Color Wash (just like the other two SCD twinchies I made this month, here and here).  I have one more square of plaster left which I'll use for their call next week.  I wonder what the subject will be . . . 

Friday, May 21, 2010

All About Me: A Thoroughly Modern Woman

Welcome to my All About Me post. Perhaps you came my way on the blog hop via Mel at I Speak Melsh or maybe you're just one of my regular readers.  Either way, welcome to the All About Me blog hop!  Over twenty women, all around the world, took up Mel's challenge to create a project based on a Big Picture Scrapbook workshop called "All About Me," and she organized us into a blog ring.  If you get lost or want to learn more about the project, you can always return to Mel's blog at this link.  Otherwise, just follow the links provided at the bottom or each post to see everyone's work
 My album is housed in this cool box above.  If you open the box, you'll find the album and a picture of me peeking out from the bottom:
I used the Studio 45 Domestic Goddess line to create an album with some of my favorite things as a modern woman.  I wanted to focus on the things that define me as a woman in 2010, using some vintage looking papers that focused on femininity. You can click on the images to enlarge them and read the journaling. I hope you enjoy my project:
And here's what the back looks like:

This was such a fun project!  I'm really happy to have taken pictures of these things, and  I'm sure it will be fun to look back at them in ten years and see how things have changed!
Ready for another one?  Head on over to Scotland to visit Liz at Life at the Gables, by clicking on this link.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"She" is an inspiration

The book She, by Kobi Yamada, is full of inspiring quotes about women.  In the past, I've used the quotes as the basis for a tag swap and a fat book stamping technique class that I taught.  I'd forgotten about it until recently when I found it while tidying up.  It seemed liked a good starting point to complete this little minialbum project from the Club Scrap Sonoma Collection.  I think it would make a nice graduation gift for someone special.  Here are the inside pages:
I took these pictures on portrait mode as an assignment for the Get Out of Auto Mode class I'm taking, and I like the bokeh in the background.  Want to be inspired by some other amazing women?  Come check out the All About Me/My Favorite Things blog hop starting tonight at 10:00 California time and going on for the weekend.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Bit About Me

This is the street where I live.  You can't see our house because it's hiding on the left behind some trees (the white car is parked in front of it).  You can get a sense of the semi-rural area where I live (a small town called El Granada on the San Mateo County coast, about 20 miles south of San Francisco).  There aren't any sidewalks, and the street is only semi-paved.  At the end  of our block is an entrance to a protected open space called Montara Mountain.  I took this picture in landscape mode for the Week 1 assignment in the Get out of Auto Mode class at BPS.  For those who asked, I'm liking the class so far.  This week, we're exploring the various pre-set icons on digital SLR's, and I do feel like I'm learning much more about how to use my camera.  For instance, landscape mode makes blues and greens pop, automatically shuts off the flash, and can be used to photograph nearby objects, not just objects that are far away.  All news to me, and all useful information.  I feel like I learned something about the close-up mode this week, too.  I still need to complete the portrait mode and night-time mode assignments for this week, but I expect I'll find those pretty helpful as well. I'm getting a lot out of the class because it's at exactly the level I was hoping for, and I'm willing to go out and do the assignments.  I would also add that there was a bit of confusion early on about the assignments and the galleries, but the teacher and BPS were responsive and reorganized the galleries to make them better.
In other news, Mel tagged me and asked me a few questions.  Here they are with my answers:
1. Where in the world did you spend your most memorable day ever, and what did you do?
  About a year after DH Paul and I were married, we took our first trip to Europe.  After spending three weeks driving around Spain, we took an overnight train to Paris.  We took the metro to our pension only two blocks from the Eiffel Tower and dropped our bags.  Then we bought a Cuban cigar, lit it and smoked it while we wandered around the Eiffel Tower.  And laughed.  We felt so worldly and sophisticated. And young and happy. And in love. In Paris.
2. What is your favourite time of year, and why?
  I love summer because I get to sleep in and don't have the pressure of a set schedule.  Plus, I get to watch my girl at the beach and my boy playing baseball. And we often take a fab summer holiday.
3. What is your favourite time of day, and why?
  Mornings, after the kids are off to school and before I have to go about my work-work, I sit in bed with my computer on my lap and the cat purring by my side.  I cruise blogs and get a little me-time.  Just like right now!
4. What food would you find it very hard to do without?
  Cheese.  I love cheese . . . it's fast, it's full of protein, and it's oh so yummy!  Especially with a glass of wine.
5. What colour makes you feel happiest?
  The combination of yellow, blue and white always makes me smile.  For just one color, orange.  It's a bright, funny color that kindof makes me want to laugh because it's so ridiculous (but not too ridiculous like purple).
6. What's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to you? (Or the most recent nice thing?)
All the comments you guys made on the Challenger baseball photo post really touched me - especially when Elizabeth said I had a heart as big as my talent.  That just made my toes tingle.
7. What's the nicest thing you've ever said to anyone else? (Or the most recent nice thing?)
I recently spoke at a memorial service for a young mom in my area who passed away from cancer, leaving a 12 year old and an 8 year old.  Even though I blubbered through my remarks, everyone really appreciated what I had to say.  I think it's really important to speak at memorials because I know how much it means to the family.
8. Who would be guest of honour at your dream dinner party?
 Bruce Springsteen.  Love his music, love his politics.  If he started playing his guitar, I might have trouble keeping my clothes on, though.
9. What's your favourite bird?
 Red-winged blackbird.  They show up here in the spring, and I love the flash of red you get when they fly by!  Plus, I remember reading about them in the opening paragraph of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (which seemed like a very profound book when I was in college).
10. What word or phrase do you find yourself over-using? 

"sort of", "just", "kind of", "guess" - I guess I'm just kind of equivocal.
Looking to learn even more about me?  Come back late Friday night or first thing Saturday California time for the "All About Me" blog hop that Mel is putting together.  Here's a peek at my project:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Stamping on Text

I picked up some magazines off a RAK table over the weekend, and both the April/May 2010 Stamper's Sampler and the Spring 2010 Take Ten featured cards where the main image had been stamped on text.  I was so inspired that I made several cards.  Two of my favorite are above.  I think this design speaks to me because it's a way of incorporating ephemera into cards.  I will definitely try this technique in my art journals, too.  I also made this happy card, drawing inspiration from the May Inspiration Challenge at The Scrappy Tree:
What do you think of this design?  Definitely let me know if you give it a go!
Mel tagged me with some questions, and some of you have asked about my reaction to the Get Out of Auto Mode class.  Those are both on tap for tomorrow.

Monday, May 17, 2010

8-8 Photo Story

There's been an interesting thread floating around in blog land lately - I saw it most recently on Mel's blog.  The idea is to go to the place on your computer where you store your photos, open the eighth folder, and choose the eighth photo.  Then tell its story.  Here's what I found.
March 26, 2007 
Surprise, Arizona
One of the things on my "bucket list" (or things you want to do before you die) had been to go to baseball spring training with my son.  Because we both love baseball.  And because I love him.  So much.  I knew it would be a special time together.  
When he was twelve years old, we finally flew together to Arizona to enjoy a long weekend at spring training.  On this day, we arrived at the stadium early and asked if we could upgrade our tickets for anything closer, and they put us here.  In the second row! 
It was baseball heaven. And this photo of DS Henry taking it all in brings it all back.  Which is really nice because he's being a bit of a snarky 15 year old these days.  Thanks for the reminder of a sweeter time.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A bouquet of flowers for you!

Birthday Party month continues over at Something Completely Different, and they're featuring twinchies this month.  I submitted one with a butterfly theme last week, and here's my submission for this week on the theme of flowers.  I used the same background - plaster, sprayed with adirondack color wash.  I was drawn to a slightly subtle "take" on the flower theme.
Meanwhile, in the Get out of Auto Mode photography class I'm taking at BPS, one of the assignments was to take pictures of flowers using close-up mode.  I was pretty happy with these two shots:

When I took wildflower pictures on my nature hike a few weeks ago, I liked the flower pictures taken in portrait mode best.  To get pictures I really liked with the close-up mode, I found that I really had to fill the whole frame with whatever I was photographing.  I'm still working on the other assignments for the first week of the class.
Finally, here are two photo cards I made with some of the prints from my wildflower walk.
Hope you enjoyed this bouquet of flowers!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Very Special Photo Shoot

Our local Little League has a Challenger Division for players with physical or developmental disabilities or other special needs and "buddies" who want to teach them about baseball.  They asked me to come take team and individual portraits for the division today, and I agreed.  Here's two of my favorite portraits from the day:
A few action shots I took:
Two pictures that just touched my heart:
And one of the new friend I made today.  She loves having her picture taken and told me that I was the best "camera girl" ever:
I was a little anxious before the shoot because I wanted to do a good job and wanted to make sure I respected everyone's capabilities.  I found a website with some good tips here.  I didn't have time to focus on camera settings, so I put the camera on "sports mode" to avoid a flash and put my focus on connecting with each player and trying to capture his or her spirit. I was lucky to have an overcast day where I didn't have to worry too much about the light.  On the whole, I felt like it was equally successful to the photo shoots I do for the middle school sports teams and think that the families will like the results.