Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Painting and a Charcoal Girl

As usual (it seems) I'm late for Paint Party Friday. But at least I have something I can show, I actually finished a mixed media painting in two days and also tried my hand on charcoal again.

This girl with the giraffe neck was inspired by Jeanne Oliver's class "Creatively Made" that I am taking at the moment. I'm learning a whole lot of new stuff there, and I thoroughly enjoy it. In this mixed media painting I played with molding paste and charcoal. The texture of the molding paste - I used Golden's light molding paste - is fun, and I added some pan pastels to it after it had dried. It's on a 4x4 canvas.

Girls/women is a subject I love to paint and draw. This bird girl is made with charcoal, and I mainly did it to practice drawing faces. Then I remembered one of Lisa Wright's girl who had some color in her hair and face that you usually don't see and which I liked a lot. So I tried that and added some blue to my girl's hair and face, some red and yellow (I used pastels for that). It is interesting and I quite like the effect.

Please visit the other highly talented artists at Paint Party Friday - such a wonderful way to see some inspirational artwork.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My First Try of an Abstract

As many of you know, I love Bonnie's Photo Art Friday challenge. What I particularly like about it is that Bonnie's ideas really challenge me and often enough get me out of my comfort zone. One of those is to create an abstract, using three of our photos and at least one of her textures. Oh boy!!! That was way out of my comfort zone - and it shows.

These were my three photos:

I "merged" them into one image just like Bonnie told us in her tutorial, and then selected a filter "cutout". After that I added Bonnie's texture "abstract scratches" in blending mode "difference" at 75%; then added her texture "Monet's music texture" in blending mode "vivid light" at 67%; some levels and saturation adjustment and I felt I was done. I really didn't know what else to do.

Do I like it? Not really...

Perhaps I did chose photos that don't work very well for this project (probably). I wish I knew how to blend the edges of the photos more, so that the photos merge better. I don't like that you can still see the rectangle shape. I have no idea whether and how that is possible. Perhaps someone can tell me?


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Vision and Verb

I'm over at Vision and Verb today, wondering where the years have gone and how old I really feel.
Please come and visit.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Just enough

This year I'm taking Kim Klassen's e-course "Beyond Layers" which will be a yearlong journey. I am quite excited about it and wonder where this will get me. This past week had been very busy, so only today I started to work on some images for the course.

This week's theme was "just enough" - simplicity in photos. Something I admire and I want to achieve with a good part of my pictures, but so far haven't always been very good at. I looked through my archives and found two images that I once edited a bit (you can see them here and here) and today edited again.

First I did some levels and hue/saturation adjustments. Then I added Kim's texture "awaken", blending mode soft light at 72%. After a brightness adjustment I first eliminated the yellows and cranked up the saturation adjustment.

With this image of a light hanging from the ceiling in a mosque in Cairo I also started with some levels adjustment (this is a scanned slide). I added Kim's texture "papergrunge" at 100% soft light, then copied it, multiply at 74% and did some hue/saturation adjustments.

It was fun editing some images I already had processed in a certain way and now try a different approach. This can get pretty addicting.

Is anybody of you taking this course?


Friday, January 20, 2012

Girl With a Big Heart

Fridays is one of my favorite blogging days because it means Paint Party Friday and Studio Sneak Peek! I love these weekly get togethers because it keeps me painting and working on new art pieces - or finishing some.

This girl was still a work in progress last Friday, but now she is finished - she's the girl with a big heart. I really like how she turned out, especially since I've always been afraid of painting faces. She's far from perfect - all my work is like that - but I think she has some soul.

I would like to do a painting of a mother and daughter and am practicing this with charcoal. These two I sketched on the backside of some paper that was lying around (you can see the text peeking through on the bottom) - I still have a lot of practicing to do! But how much do I love it!

Please come and visit the other artists at Paint Party Friday and Sneak Peek Friday; every week there is some wonderful work to see and find a lot of inspiration.


Thursday, January 19, 2012


Bonnie's challenge for this week's Photo Art Friday was something that connects to the number 3/three. Not only will you see three of my photos here, but each shows three of something - deck chairs, sail boats and trees.

This picture - originally a slide, like the two others as well -was taken at the beach in Brighton, England. It was a windy, partly cloudy day, and almost no one was sitting in these chairs. However, they had something very optimistic about them the way they were patiently waiting for guests to lounge there despite the English moody weather. The texture applied here is Kim Klassen's "warmsun", blending mode linear burn at 50% and copied once with some adjustments (levels, saturation, brightness).

With these sail boats - shot at the coast of Cornwall, England - I went a little bit bolder. The picture was taken in the evening with the sun already gone, but the clouds were still pink and the mood was nice, but quite dark. The original picture is a little bit dull, so I thought some "pepper" can't hurt. I first applied Bonnie's texture "dappled dawn", blending mode exclusion at 90%; did some hue/saturation adjustments; applied Bonnie's texture "mauve magic", blending mode color dodge at 25%; some more saturation and brightness adjustments; and finally I cropped the photo a little bit more. I'm in love with the color!

Finally trees - of course! Again, we are in the Swabian mountains in Germany on a cold winter day, a very cloudy day I should add, the original photo is just dark. I cropped it down to three trees; did a levels adjustment to brighten it up a little bit; applied Bonnie's "edited acrylics" (one of my favorite textures) in blending mode pin light at 85% with some saturation adjustments. I only used a part of the texture, the upper left hand corner, and I thought how interesting it looks when you drag out the texture.

What I really like about these challenges is that I try something new - blending modes I usually ignore, or playing around with the texture first before applying it. Every time I realize how much I still have to learn, but I love, love, love it.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Late for the Party

Oh my, I'm late for Paint Party Friday - again! But better late than missing it again. I didn't have much time to paint this week, but at least I started a new girl and I hope that I can get her finished over the weekend.

It's an 8x8 canvas. The heart was my first attempt to work with molding paste, and I love it. I'm also more daring now with faces, I've practised a lot and slowly I get a better grip of it. Shading is so important for faces, and I enjoy doing it. I wonder where this girl will go from here - at the moment I'm envisioning butterflies in her hair and a bird on her shoulder, but who knows whether this will really happen?

I would love you to check out Paint Party Friday - there are over 70 talented artists and it's a joy to look at their artwork.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Photo Art Friday

For this week's Photo Art Friday we were asked to create something with one (or more) of  Bonnie's textures that are available for free on her blog. Please go and check it out - her textures are awesome.

A few of her textures are more abstract, and since I had seen them the first time I wanted to use them, but never quite knew how. I'm not much wiser now, but I gave it a try with this photo, that has been on the back of my mind for quite a while. It's my favorite tree on the Schwäbische Alb (Swabian Mountains), about an hour's drive from Tübingen where I lived in Germany.

It was taken as a slide, and about two or three years ago I scanned it and saved it to my computer.

Inverted the photo
Hue/saturation adjustment
Bonnie's texture "Happy Day" at blending mode color burn at 54%
Hue/saturation adjustment

Probably you can do way more with that... but I like it the way it turned out. It gives it an "icy" feeling.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Lake

Today was my first visit to the lake this year. By now you know about my weekly walks around the lake with my friend Jo. I've shared many pictures with you. For Jo and me the lake has become a synonym for a good time together where we share with each other what is really important to us, when we talk about our dreams and fears, about motherhood and our children (our daughters have been going to the same schools since 5th grade - that's how we met). It's also the time when we can vent, be it about our husbands, our kids' school or politics (not necessarily in that order) and simply know that the other exactly gets what we're trying to say.

The lake is also the place where we share our mutual love for nature. It was during a walk with Jo when we discovered the nest of the Great Horned Owls. She is a real expert in everything nature, and thanks to her I can name so many birds and native plants now. We crawl through some brush, hoping to see a bittern (we did). We can stand forever and watch the Great Blue Heron, egrets and Green and Black Crowned Night Herons. I can now recognize some birds by their sounds, like the kingfisher (not difficult) and, of course, the red shouldered hawk - a pair of them circles over our house almost every day.

But I also love to walk around the lake on my own. Very early in the morning is my preferred time, when I'm almost alone there except for a few other photographers and bird watchers. At that time - especially now in winter - the sun is not even over the hill and there are interesting big shadows on the lake. Thursday before Christmas I even saw six otters playing in the water. I had heard about them, but never seem them until that day. There's also a bobcat roaming around the lake, but so far I haven't seen it. Sometimes I see deer, and one morning I discovered a muskrat near the shore. In the summer there are snakes, mainly gopher and garter snakes, sometimes a California king snake, but they are very shy. And, of course, a lot of birds.

Walking around the lake alone always gives me a good opportunity to contemplate things that are important to me. Like my Etsy shop. This is the time when I think of new inventory and ponder about a new file system, so that it doesn't get too chaotic when tax time comes along. I think about blogposts I want to write either here or on Vision and Verb. And sometimes I simply dream - of places I want to travel to, goals I want to achieve. In my mind I'm designing my garden in a different way. I try to figure out how to save more water. And how to be more budget savvy.

It's a good place for me, the lake. A place to relax and refresh. And truly a place of my heart.

Do you have a place like this? Would you like to share?


Monday, January 9, 2012

Being Authentic

During the first week of the new year when I visited blogs I read a lot about words for the year, intentions and commitments. It inspired me to ask myself whether I have a word for 2012, and if so, what it is. In 2011 I was late with my word - I actually waited until my birthday which will be in a week.

This first week of 2012 was weird. On the one hand is was wonderful because Kaefer didn't have to go back to school until today. I love it when she is at home. On the other hand this week brought back the dark memory of last year's first week when Katie with her fiancé Jesus and four members of his family were murdered. It hang like a shadow over that week. I thought a lot of their families, Katie's parents and her younger brother who were left behind and how they have been dealing with this incredible loss. I admire their courage and their good spirit. Although I wasn't particularly close to Katie, I considered her a friend and loved her quirkiness. All of us are still struggling with the horrible events.

But with the start of a new week it feels like the shadow is lifting. Some years ago, I have stopped making new year resolutions, because to me it seemed they were all doomed to fail. And usually they did (at least in my case). But I do like the idea of choosing a word for the year and let it be some kind of a guide.

Last year's word I chose was "authentic". Over the months I often wondered whether I lived according to that word. Often I felt I was only lukewarm in my attempt to be authentic, that I held back too much. However, I stopped doing things of which I felt they weren't me. I let go of people who drained my energy and let me spin around in circles, getting hurt. I no longer cared living up to expectations of others.

But there still is a long way ahead of me. When we wrote down our intentions for 2012 over at Vision and Verb, my pen simply spilled out "remaining true to myself". Being authentic. There you have it.

My new old word for 2012.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

A favorite piece of photo art from 2011

After a few weeks of break we're back at Bonnie's Photo Art Friday. For this week, Bonnie asked us to share one of our favorite pieces of photo art from 2011.

Oh the choices. There were so many that I really like, but I have already posted them here and I don't want to bore you with repeat photos. However, I found one that I edited in PSE from an older slide that I took sometime in the early nineties. The texture I used is Kim Klassen's "kkluminous". It is not my best photo art, but I love the mood in it and it reminds me of the times when I was still living on my own and bought myself some fresh flowers at the farmers market every weekend. This must have been taken in May or June, the time when peonies bloom in Germany. Dark red peonies like the ones in the photo belong to me very favorite flowers. They look wonderful by themselves, but are absolutely stunning when you pair them with blue delphinium or purple lupines.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Family Fun Faces

In one of my last posts I mentioned that I'm taking a class by Carla Sonheim about drawing and painting faces. "Faces 101" has turned out to be a real fun class. Carla is so nice to make the worksheets available for the entire family, and Kaefer and I completed some of the assignments together. We laughed a lot while doing this. Later, the geek also joined us, but he asked me NOT to post his drawings. The first day of the class turned into a real family fun activity.

First Kaefer and I did some blind drawing on a "warm-up" worksheet. Then we got into the more serious stuff. We had to draw each other using our non-dominant hand.

My drawing of Kaefer:

Kaefer's drawing of me - simply charming, right? 

Then we both drew the geek. Here's Kaefer's take: 

and here's mine (he doesn't even look close in both drawings): 

After all this was accomplished the next assignment was to paint eight faces with watercolor. Kaefer skipped this one, but I again had tons of fun. These two are my favorites: