Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Texture Tuesday

It's Tuesday and that means it's time for Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday. It's the free and easy edition, that means our photo should have at least one of Kim's textures. During the fall festival I wrote about here I saw this overturned boat - it has been there for years, and every time I take a photo of it.

Here's the recipe:

- turned the photo into black and white with the gradient map
- brushed back the color onto the boat in the layer mask
- some hue/saturation adjustment
- added Kim's texture "shadesofnovember" in blending mode color burn at 100%
- added a layer mask and brushed away most of the texture except on the boat and the rocks in the foreground

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The BIG Painting

When we moved into our new house we had to renovate the downstairs bathroom since it had some dry rot. We replaced the shower, got new tiles throughout and painted it in a rather neutral, "shy" color. It definitely needed some bold color, especially since there is a big blank wall over the bathtub. We almost never shower down here and do not use the bath tub, so we thought I could paint a really big canvas and hang it over the bath tub.

Deep breath. I had never worked on a big blank canvas. My biggest size so far had been 9x12. Suddenly I was confronted with a 30x40 inches big canvas - and it was frighteningly blank.

So I thought instead of staring at this huge area of white I just start by splashing some color on it and see where it takes me from there. I started out with some yellow.

From there on I added more color, pretty randomly at first and then with some more thought behind it. I used different tools to apply the paint - this stipple brush, brayer, credit card, bristle brush, paper towel, my fingers (no, I am not left handed; I paint with my left hand here because I am holding my camera in my right hand).

Finally, the entire canvas was covered in color.

Some parts I like a lot, like this green area where I created a pattern with the edge of the credit card.

I also like the yummy texture on some parts.

This is how far I got in my first "sitting". I had hoped to get back to it today, but totally failed to do that. By posting about it here I hope I have the motivation to continue working on it and show you the progress.

This little guy was my companion while I painted (I painted outside because I needed a lot of space):

Friday, October 26, 2012

Be Bold. Be Real. Be YOU.

Recently I have searched for mixed media videos on YouTube for getting some inspiration when I felt a bit stuck. There is a lot out there, and one video I watched was a real inspiration. This one is by Artyshils and she calls it "Mixed media tutorial for you all to try at home" - which I did. I watched the video first and then, a day later, made my own version from what I remembered. It was quite different from what I usually do, but I enjoyed trying this out - I had never thought about painting a blue face or eyes like these, but I did, and it gave me a lot of "fodder".

I did this in my art journal and I'm pretty sure that eventually it will evolve into a painting on canvas or wood.

I'm linking to Paint Party Friday which is one of my favorite link ups and also to studio JRU which is another favorite although I haven't linked there for a very long time.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fall Festival

Warning: there is a photo of a snake further down in this post - if you don't like to see images of snakes you perhaps shouldn't read on. I don't want to scare you.

Recently I haven't written a lot on my blog. It seems that in the normal routine of life there isn't really anything interesting to share with you. Kaefer is going to high school and is loaded with tons of homework; the Geek has his work, was sick for a few days and also has homework for his college video class. And I am frustrated with my shop since it is very slow, creating a lot to stock up, and otherwise try to get my garden winter-ready. Normal stuff.

But yesterday, we finally did something as a family again, broke out of the routine and had some fun. We went to the fall festival that happens on two weekends in October in one of our regional parks that are closed to the general public for the rest of the year (you need a special permit to get in there). 

This is not your usual pumpkin patch. Of course, there IS a pumpkin patch, and you can get there by a hay ride. It is fun, but yesterday when we finally were ready to go there the weather had changed and a rather chilly wind was blowing. We decided to pass on the cold ride up there.

I liked the little ranger dolls that were sitting in bird houses all over the area. They were "supervising" the festival and leading the way (they were sitting on top of the signs). 

I also liked this fun cow that was residing right in from of the nighttime creatures barn - or, as we called it, the "creepy crawlers" as this barn was full with rattlesnakes, spiders, tarantulas, cockroaches. Our family likes places like that and think them rather fascinating, although I often feel goosebumps on my back. But I still go inside and look at these creatures - they have the same right to live, don't they?

As you can see, not every animal inside was "creepy". This tortoise enjoyed its watermelon. They can open their mouth really wide and have a huge red tongue - if you look closely, you can actually see it.

I'm not a huge fan of snakes, but for some inexplicable reason I have a certain weakness for albino Burmese pythons. They have such sweet faces - perhaps some of you remember the picture of the albino Burmese python I took in the San Diego zoo who had such a cute face as well. This one was no exception. A Boy Scout was carrying her casually around his neck and torso. I couldn't do that, but I petted her. She was curious of the Geek's camera!

This sign next to the turkey vulture exhibition made me laugh out loud (I know I'm odd, because I like these birds as well). 

And of course, a nighttime creatures barn has to have at least one owl, this one being a barn owl.
Super cute.

Outside the barn were craft booths and pumpkin seed spitting competitions. 
You could make corn husk dolls, very popular with little girls.

Of course there was an Indian village with an exhibition on obsidian (think arrows) and spirit animals. I bought a little coyote (I truly think the coyote is my spirit animal).

A Native American canoe - quite a piece of work.

The longest time Kaefer and I spent with the horses. This one, a Tennessee Walker, was a rather feisty mare who gave her name "Spice" ... well, spice. She was beautiful and loved being petted.

Of course, there were lots and lots of pumpkins...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Look Up - Texture Tuesday

This week we "look up" at Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday. I took a photo of the Navajo Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park I posted here a few weeks ago, but this time it looks a bit different.

Here's the "recipe":
- Levels and hue/saturation adjustment
- new layer
- gradient map, turn to black and white
- layer mask, brush back the red color of the rock by using the brush tool
- "kk_elevate" in blending mode multiply at 100%

I love black and white images with some color. Wonderful to play around with.
What about you? Do you like black and white pictures?

Friday, October 12, 2012


It's Friday again - we're ready for the party!

So this week I did something similar as last week - I made a sketch first of this girl with the flowers growing all around her. Then I took the sketch and transferred the girl onto my canvas that I had covered with papers and then painted over with fluid acrylic paints.

Although it is the girl from the sketch, she looks different on the canvas, especially after I filled in her face with watercolors and pastels. I am currently working on the flowers and see what else I want to put into this painting. I've called it "enchanted".

This weekend you can see lots of art made by wonderful artists - all you have to do is going over to Paint Party Friday where you'll find a long list of these talented people. It's always worth a visit.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Textured Birdbath

For this week's Texture Tuesday over at Kim Klassen Cafe I tried something new - new for me at least.

Several months ago, Rinda sent me some book pages that are printed in the old German style. I scanned one of them and then used Kim's texture "vintagetexture" to make the book page more vintage and use it as my texture.

The photo of the birdbath is really boring and not even good. But I love this birdbath. So I did a levels adjustment and then blended it with "my" texture in soft light at 46%. Using a layer mask I removed the texture from the birdbath. Then I added one of Bonnie's texture "evelyn inspired" in soft light at 100%. Again, I used a layer mask to remove the texture from the birdbath, and in a final step I made a hue/saturation adjustment.

Here is the original photo (I would do a bit more adjustments to this photo first if I had to do it again):

Quite a difference...

Friday, October 5, 2012

Three Mermaids

For some time, a mermaid was wandering through my mind, with long beautiful hair and a bit of a melancholic expression on her face. I wanted to paint her, but as usual I felt a bit intimidated, thinking I can't do it.

So in order to get things started I thought I just do a sketch first, for my eyes only. I got the idea while reading "Daring Adventures in Paint" by Mati Rose McDonough (highly recommended). Mati Rose writes about making a sketch first and then transferring it to whatever you want to paint on. I was hoping that this would take away some of the fears I had - and it did.

So I first made a rough sketch of a mermaid - just drew it on regular computer paper (this is how I use up paper that is printed only on one side).

Then I transferred it into my art journal. I didn't transfer the face features, I wanted to create a new face because I didn't really like the sketched face. The background in my art journal is painted with acrylic paint, and the mermaid is mainly made by using watercolor pencils, watercolor crayons and pastels.

Finally the mermaid turned into a "real" mixed media painting on a wood panel. As you can see I used the same sketch, but attempted a different face, this one being my favorite. I think she has the slightly melancholic expression I wanted to achieve. Her mermaid tail is at a different angle and looks much more natural. Again, the background is painted with acrylic paints over torn book pages and the mermaid is created with watercolor pencils, watercolor crayons and pastels. All in all I am quite happy how this painting turned out.  It made its way into my Etsy store.

If you want to see more great paintings please check out Paint Party Friday for a gathering of wonderfully talented artists.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Dirty Job

Processed with Kim Klassen's texture "kk_coolgrunge"
The house we bought in April came with a huge lawn in front and beside the house (it’s a corner lot). In my world, “lawn” and “California” just don’t go together very well. A beautiful, lush lawn needs a lot of water; however, water is very precious in California and not something you waste just for “curb appeal”.

So I decided to get rid of the lawn. I could have rented heavy equipment and get the job done in a weekend. It would have been messy, noisy and very disruptive. However, I was looking for the softer, more organic way. More laborious as well.

One afternoon in the summer, my daughter and I measured the lawn and realized there were almost 1900 square feet that I planned to turn into a bee and bird haven. That was quite an intimidating number. But thanks to my sometimes overwhelming naivety, I kept on working on my project.

The next step was getting enough cardboard to cover those 1900 square feet. We already had a huge amount of cardboard thanks to our recent move, but by far it wasn’t enough. So I developed a new, temporary hobby: dumpster diving. My daughter was deeply embarrassed and wouldn’t get out of the car when I discovered a promising full dumpster next to a big store. My husband, however, joined me in this new kind of how-to-spend-the-evening, and we had several “dumpster dates”, hanging out behind the big box stores. The local bike shop became our new best friend.

When I had enough cardboard, I called the compost company for the delivery of 20 cubic yards of “gardener’s gold”, beautiful smelly compost.

Then the “real” work started – I watered the already dead lawn, spread out the cardboard over it (a job of several days) and watered the cardboard thoroughly before, in a final step, I layered the compost on top of it.

The cardboard will eventually break down (that should take 2-12 months) and attract earthworms who then will work the soil. I put out a layer of 3-4 inches of compost, a back breaking job. Of course, right after the delivery of the compost we had a heat wave which allowed me to work only in the early morning hours. Usually, I was out there by 6:30, shoveling away and often helped by my daughter, and had to stop by 9:30 at the latest. Besides working on my project, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet the people in my new neighborhood, who jogged and walked their dogs at this time of day. Almost everyone stopped to ask me what I was doing.

Now the compost is evened out and I’m waiting for the rain, already planting in my head – mainly natives and drought tolerant plants. In my mind I see birds picking the seeds of the spent flowers and hear the busy humming of happy bees.

 I can’t wait to start planting.

Cross-posting at Vision and Verb, a global gathering of women of this age. If you have never been to Vision and Verb why not check it out now? It's one of my most favorite sites in blogland.

I'm also linking to Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday - another great site to check out.