Sunday, January 30, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Half Dome with Broken Pieces

Oh, how do I love the challenges at Inspiration Avenue! Often they force me to try something new or really put my thinking cap on - anyway, they are a challenge and sometimes it's a real stretch for me. This week I was mainly pre-occupied with One World One Heart which starts tomorrow - look for my OWOH-post then - so that the IA challenge was put on the backburner - until yesterday. The last bit was done this morning before breakfast. The challenge was "broken pieces".


I took a photo of Half Dome in Yosemite and converted it to Black&White in Lightroom. I had some scrapbook paper that I tore into pieces and reassembled it by gluing it to a gessoed canvas panel. Then I attached the photo and used the paper towel technique to apply some blue acrylic paint around the edges of the photo. Unfortunately, I applied a tiny little bit too much - and the top of Half Dome was covered with paint! Not my intention! What to do? Well, it took some courage, but I finally sanded it with a small piece of fine sandpaper - and look at the outcome! I'm really pleased how Half Dome now peeks through the paint. That was something very interesting to learn. I'm glad I did it. The last few touches were applying snowflakes, a quote and some more gesso at the edge of the panel - done. Not difficult at all (honestly, if I can do it, everybody can do it).

This also has encouraged me to go and convert more of my pictures into B&W or sepia. How convenient that I am currently taking the "Photoshop - the Essentials" class with Kim Klassen!

There are many inspiring and very talented artists who participate in Inspiration Avenue - please check it out.

Winter Wonderland A-Z: Mule Deer

In the winter, you can see them everywhere in Yosemite Valley



Friday, January 28, 2011

Sneak Peek Friday

First, I saw it on Diana's blog, then a few others until finally I checked it out on Jennifer's blog JRU Studio itself  - Sneak Peek Friday. You just show what you have been doing that week no matter which way you express your creativity - painting, photography, cooking, knitting etc. Since I want to be way more creative this year than last, this is also a good check-in for myself. I may not have something to show every Friday, but I'll try to turn up as often as possible.

This week I've mainly worked on my "door prizes" for the One World, One Heart bloghop that starts this Sunday! I'm pretty excited!! But - I cannot show the door prizes here before Sunday. However, I've also started another project for Inspiration Avenue which you can see here:


The theme is "Broken Pieces" and as you can easily see, my broken pieces is torn paper. So far I glued the pieces on a canvas panel, the photo of Half Dome will be added as well as - hm, I'm still contemplating that. I hope that inspiration strucks and I can finish this piece before tomorrow evening.

Winter Wonderland A-Z: Love

The Geek and the Girl



Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It's Another WOYWW Again!

Hello WOYWWers, yes, it's Wednesday again and I'm not saying here what everybody else says, just hoping all of you are doing fine and you're not too cold. We are having a very mild winter at the moment with lots of sunshine - I like it. Very different to the German winters...

Not much going on here, you can see that I just prepared all the stuff for my Valentine's class that I'll teach on Thursday night. It was a lot of cutting, but I'm done! Now I have to gather all the stamps and inks and sprays that we'll need in the class and off we go.

I'm pretty sure there are lots of desks that are way more interesting than mine this week, so check in at Julia's blog to find a list of participants and hop around the world.

Winter Wonderland A-Z: Icicles





Sunday, January 23, 2011

Whale Watching



Today we went to Bodega Head, hoping to see some whales. There were days when we never saw any whales and other days when we saw many. Today falls in the second category.

So this is the middle of January - I remember this to be winter - right at the Pacific Ocean. It is supposed to be cold and very windy. Instead, the sun is shining and there is almost no wind. Unbelievable...


I spent some time taking pictures of the waves that thunder against the rocks at the shore. I love the mist that hovers above the waves before they break. Seagulls were sitting on a huge rock right in front of me, others were noisily flying around.


Apart from the waves at the shore, the ocean was like a blanket which made watching for whales super easy. You just watch for spouts - when you've discovered one, you focus in with your binoculars and actually see real whales.

About two miles out there was an entire pod of whales, very likely humpbacks, playing around. A little bit further south we discovered another big whale who traveled south - probably a gray whale.

If you look really hard you can see the back of the whale

Everybody - there was quite a crowd - was excited, either looking through their binoculars or taking pictures.

 Kaefer and the Geek

The whale watching volunteers who are at Bodega Head every weekend from January through April (whale migration time) and sometimes even during the week if there are many whales, were happy to tell everyone about the whales and answer any question that would arise. They had some interesting stuff on their display table, like this vertebrae of a juvenile gray whale.


And even without looking for whales, it was just a gorgeous day.



Afterwards we went to the "Sandpiper" in Bodega Bay, our favorite restaurant there. Tonight I opted for the Fisherman's Crab Stew - messy but oh so yummy...

As you can see I already nibbled a bit before I remembered to take a picture...

So how did you spend your Sunday?

Winter Wonderland A-Z: Glow

Half Dome in Yosemite National Park


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fun with Photoshop

I'm currently taking Kim Klassen's Photoshop e-course - and I love it!!! All the information is still a little bit overwhelming at the moment. I'm glad that I've already worked with Photoshop Elements 9 before and therefore know some of the wonderful things you can do with it. However, I was always inspired by those images that are transformed with texture to make them more artistic and wanted to learn how to do it. After having taken Kim's free (!!!) Skinny mini class last fall, I knew that it was time for me to go deeper into this - and luckily just at that time she offered her Essentials class.

Yesterday I learned a lot about using textures, made tons of notes that I still use, but it's getting slightly easier. This morning I practised with some of my photos, and this is one of the images I came up with:

the original photo

the altered one

What do you think?

It's not perfect, after all I'm totally new at that, but I hope that with practising I'll get a better feel for it.

Winter Wonderland A-Z: Freezing

The branches of this tree were completely covered in ice.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Inspiration Avenue Challenge

I love the challenges at Inspiration Avenue. This week the question was "What is your favorite month?"

Well, regular readers of my blog probably know that since it also fits "my" color - it's October! I love that month - the warm colors of the changing leaves, crisp nights but still warm and sunny days, the abundance of tomatoes on the vine, the changing vineyards and the red wine, and last but not least, the best and funniest holiday, Halloween. For me it's the best month in the year, the one I always look forward to.

I haven't worked on canvas for some time, so I tried it again for this challenge. At the beginning I wasn't too excited, but the further I got the more I liked it. I painted the gessoed canvas with acrylic paint and "stamped" with differently sized bubblewrap using acrylic paint as well. I found these three autumn poems by Keats, Wordsworth and Brydgers in an old book that I had bought at a yard sale, tore the poems out and edged them with Distress Ink. Some foam stamps by Creative Imaginations decorate three corners and stamp the word "October" - it didn't show very well, so I outlined the letters with charcoal pen. Finished with a matted photo that I took last - well, October of course. I actually am very happy with the finished product because I think it shows what it is - October!

A Winter Tag

The theme of Tag Tuesday at Louise's Kard Krazy is "winter" this week.


I sprayed the tag with Glimmer Mist in patina, them stamped the snowman head (Inkadinkado) using Stazon timer brown. Laying a mask of the snowman on the tag I stamped the top of the trees (Northwood Rubber Stamps) with Distress Ink in peeled paint. Using Distress Inks wild honey and shabby shutters I added more color to the tag. Finally I stenciled snowflakes with Distress Ink faded jeans randomly over the tag. Removed the mask, added some ribbon - done. Fast and easy.

Winter Wonderland A-Z: Enchanting

A Visit to Vision and Verb


Today I am at Vision and Verb writing about Kaefer's upcoming teenage years.
Why don't you come over for a visit?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

WIZZ WOYWW

WIZZ WOYWW - that's actually not an expression of mine, I "stole" it from last week's WOYWW post of JoZart when she mentioned how fast the days fly by and there again, it's Wednesday and we show off our desks, together with around 100 other people around the globe. If you want to know what it's all about, visit Julia's blog to get a whole long list.


Nothing much going on my desk this week. I just spent a weekend in Yosemite National Park celebrating my birthday - Monday was a holiday in the US (Martin Luther King Day) which gave us an extra day in this beautiful national park - my favorite one! It has become a tradition in our family to spend this January weekend in Yosemite and play in the snow.

My desk is relatively tidy and what you see here is the beginning of a canvas for Inspiration Avenue - I can't tell more since some of you do their challenges as well, so you have to wait until Friday or Saturday when I will put the hopefully finished project on my blog. It's about my favorite month and if you look at the colors it shouldn't be too difficult to guess which one is mine!

Hope all of you are doing fine, and I look forward to stop by!

A Huge Thank You

My dear blogging friends,

Thank you so much for your lovely wishes for my birthday!! It was such a lovely surprise and so much joy to come back from my weekend trip and find all these nice comments.

You are simply the best !!!

I think with all these good wishes and encouragement I should be able to fulfill my birthday wish for this year - and beyond. To be honest, I feel all warm and fuzzy inside, because of you.

Half Dome eats moon

And if you wonder where I spent my birthday - we went to Yosemite National Park. We always call it "the national park in our backyard" because it's only a five hours drive over there, a piece of cake. We love this place with all our heart, and spending a winter weekend there is simple the cherry on top! We started this tradition several years ago, when I said I don't really need any presents for my birthday, but would love to spend the long weekend in the snow instead (how convenient that my birthday always is so close to the Martin Luther King weekend and therefore gives us the gift of an additional day off!). We missed it only once so far!

I will tell you more about this wonderful weekend in one of my future posts.

Winter Wonderland A-Z: Beautiful

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winter Wonderland A-Z: Awesome


Here in coastal California we don't have too much snow... well, actually none.

But I love the snow - most aspects of it. Not the driving, shoveling... but the beauty of it. And whenever I have the opportunity I take winter pictures with snow or frost. So I came up with the idea to have a little series of winter photos here on my blog, an A-Z - starting today.

Every morning you should find a new winter picture until we reach the letter Z. This is quite a challenge for me since I have to find the appropriate words - you know, if I can't come up with one in English I will put the German word instead. After all, Germany has lots of snow, and many of these pictures were taken there.

Enjoy - perhaps while drinking some lovely hot chocolate.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Thoughts on my Birthday


I’m 51 today.


Turning thirty and forty was no big deal for me. However, when I turned fifty last year, it dawned on me that more than half of my life was already over. How many years would I still have? Twenty? Thirty, if I’m lucky? And how was I planning to spend those years?

Those were the questions that occupied me for the first half of last year, and I only knew that I didn’t want to go back into an office job I didn’t enjoy, but do something where my heart was in it and that nourished my soul. I read books, I took my first e-course with Visionary Mom that helped me to name my dreams and formulate what I really wanted to do. Exactly around that time I started reading “Taking Flight” by Kelly Rae Roberts. She mentioned her blog in her book, and just out of curiosity I switched on my computer and visited her website.

Oh boy… She advertised her very first e-course, “Flying Lessons”. I read the outline and I knew that this was the course for me. This was exactly the answer to all my questions and my search. This was IT. I signed up the very first day – and it was the best thing I did for myself this last year and it has changed my life quite a bit.

I started my own blog without really knowing what I was doing. I “met” people in blogland who have become friends. I found enormous support and was amazed at what others were doing. I became serious about my photography, found so much inspiration that led me to try new perspectives, to take pictures of completely different motives than I did before. It was fun and incredibly encouraging. I made more art than before and I even showed it on my blog. It was a whirlwind.

Years ago I had stopped to make any New Year’s resolutions because I knew that I usually wouldn’t keep them. And honestly, who cares whether I loose ten pounds or not (actually I did over the past year! Without a resolution – but a lot of exercise). So no resolutions for 2011 either. But I have a few wishes for my birthday.

I want to be truly authentic. When I write or comment, it’s ME who spills out those words, my thinking and feeling. It’s not what I think others want to hear or read, but something that is ME no matter whether it is “popular” or not. It is okay to be different and to think differently. It is also okay if I can’t express myself perfectly. Everybody who comes to this site knows that I am not a native speaker, that some sentences will sound funny or weird. What the heck? It doesn’t matter. Being authentic means that I’ll be vulnerable. It needs a lot of courage, but I want to do this. Perhaps it’ll hurt sometimes, however, I can gain so much from that. It is perfectly okay to be imperfect.

There are other wishes – like doing more art, getting more serious about my photography, opening my Etsy store, read, write more and worry less, but being authentic is the most important one. Many bloggers had a certain word for the new year - my word for 2011 is

“authentic.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Winter Desert Trip (4): White Sands National Monument


White Sands National Monument in New Mexico was one of the absolute highlights for me during our trip. I had often seen pictures of this desert and wanted to go there for a very long time. I had always thought that it is similar to the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado, but when I actually saw this spectacular sandy area I realized that it is very different. The sand is very white and sometimes even resembles snow. It actually holds almost the same challenges for a photographer as snow does.

The sky was overcast when we arrived, but the closer we got to the sunset the clearer the air and light became. We stayed until after the sunset - it was windy and VERY cold, but those hours we spent there were worth every single minute. I would return in a heartbeat.



It almost looks like an oasis, but it's "just" the plants that can grow in the sand.



A dried seedpod of a soaptree yucca





Soaptree Yucca