Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Beyond Layers Day 29 : Brave : Part 1

The bravest dog I know ...  This is Maggie.  She came to us when she was about 5 years old.  (She's 11 now.)  The woman who runs the local Human Society knew I was looking for a big black dog after my old one died.  Two months later, she called with Maggie's hard-luck case.  This dog was in such bad shape, they didn't feel she could stay at the Shelter.  She was so depressed, she just wanted to melt away into the ground. And she was terrified of EVERYTHING.  Could we foster her, train her and get her ready for adoption?  I went to meet her, armed with turkey hot dogs cut into pieces as treats.   She was so depressed and inhibited, she wouldn't even let herself enjoy them, wouldn't even go for them, much less a pig ear.  Can you believe that?  What dog doesn't love pig ears?   After all that, she passed the aggression test with flying colors : Not one ounce of aggression in her.  That's why I decided to take her on. If she had been at all nasty, I would not have endangered my family--we'd seen that before too, and it's just not worth it.

When we got her to our house, we had to house-train her, among other things.  An 85-pound dog (She was underweight) who wasn't house broken?  Fortunately, she picked that up in a few days.  Thankfully!  The Shelter people and the Vet suspected she had been in a back yard puppy mill, where her only purpose was to churn out puppies.  Newfoundland puppies can sell for $1,400 a pup, so she was someone's cash cow.   And they probably didn't feed her much when she was young so that she wouldn't grow as big as Newfies tend to get.  When we got her, she was getting over another litter of pups.  It was obvious she was never socialized.  It still upsets me that those people never bothered to get to know her--She's the sweetest dog ever!

She was still afraid of everything.  It was weeks before she would come out of her box to spend time with the family, and then just for very short times before she was overwhelmed and retreated to her box.  It was 6 months before we could go for a walk down the street.  She was afraid of open spaces, so the park was out of the question for many months.  Sidewalks were scarey.  Cars terrified her ...  Even in our back yard, her favorite spot was the porch--I guess it was kind of like a dog house, or a crate.  We finally had to block that off to force her into the rest of the back yard.   We have another dog who could be considered normal : Purdy helped Maggie learn to be normal.  Maggie is a dog's dog, and she was very interested in Purdy's every move.  One day, after about 2 months, my husband caught them playing in the backyard.  This was a break through for Maggie to let loose like that.  He videotaped it and sent it to me at work.  I couldn't believe it!  She was making progress!  Of course I fell in love with her, and we decided to keep her. 

Another summer day, we had corn on the cob for supper.  We must have taken a break before clearing the table.  Maggie came out of her box when she thought no one was looking, approached the dining room table and helped herself to a "spent" corn cob.  I was thrilled!  This was an act of bravery and boldness like we'd never seen from her.  Normally, we don't feed our dogs at the table, so this was unusual for us, too.  She was finally coming out of her shell!

She's still shy, doesn't like to be photographed any more than my Beyond Layers classmates ;-)  These days, she has a light in her eye, and a spring in her step--until we bring out the camera.  Still--she's the bravest dog I know.  The Humane Society staff can't believe she's she same dog when we walk down the street.  It's a complete turnaround.  Maggie is one of the JOYS in my life.  Her fur is so soft, it's a luxury for me to come home from a stressful day at work and be able to scratch her chest, or rub her ears.  Now she leans in for the attention.  She's good for me, too!  I'm so glad she decided to stay with us.  She's got a good life now.  ;-)

As for the processing on the photo at the top ...  I started working with this image back on the black and white with a touch of color lesson.  

Layer 1 : Background Layer
Layer 2 - ?    I think I used one of the Free Actions from Pioneer Woman for Black and White.  Unfortunately, there's no signature as to which action I used.  It might be one of the Coffee Shop BW Actions as well.  I know now that I need to take better notes about things like this.  It was weeks ago that I was playing with these.  Then I brushed out the BW treatment on her collar so the color there would show through. 
Layer 3 : Playing Around Texture by Nancy Donaldson; Multiply Blend Mode at 50% opacity
Layer 4 : Text.   Gingerbread House Font at 250 pt.

This version uses several RadLab Filters (while I still have the free trial) :  EZ Burn, Lux-Soft, and Obvious Glasses.  It lightens her up nicely.

Here's the original photo of Maggie straight out of my camera.  As you might imagine, she's a difficult dog to photograph because she's so black.  This image sitting on the snow on a sunny day worked out quite well. You can see some red highlights in her fur.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dyeing Day : New Sun Dress

I dyed up a new sun dress from Dharma in recent weeks.  
The light spots on the backside is dappled sunlight.  It's actually a much more even distribution of color than it appears above.

Using my Candiotic Tables, I picked a color, weighed the dress/fabric, calculated how much dye I would need and mixed up the colors.   Good practice!

Here's a detail shot to show the variation in the colors.  
It's really quite subtle, but pleasing.   I got this by scrumpling the dry dress up into a plastic bin, adding the dye solution, and then the soda solution about 10 minutes (or more) later.  I was able to take advantage of the hot weather this summer and batched it on the driveway for a day.  Worked great!  The bin would not have fit in my dye kitchen microwave.  So mental note : Dye dresses and clothing (larger pieces) in summer to take advantage of the heat.   The dress came out very well--with complete coverage.  Although in my mind, I was thinking they'd have more color separation.  Upon reflection, I should have pre-soaked the dress in soda solution for the color separation effect as demonstrated in the color swatch samples.

Upon further reflection, when I've done the parfait dye method, I don't use so much dye.  That way, some places on the fabric come out white, adding to the texture. 

Although I took meticulous notes, there was a minor disaster in the dye studio where I left the stick blender in the mixing vessel.  It looked like it would remain standing and be fine.  I stepped away for a second and the whole thing tipped over, spilling 3 cups of dye all over my notes, all over the counter, and floor.  What a mess!  My notes are no longer readable, so I'd be guessing if I told you what color I picked for this tranquil blue-green.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Beyond Layers Day 27 : Making Time for Me


On our recent Trip-of-a-Lifetime to Alaska, I captured this image of Columbine growing next to a house in Haines.  (Nice little town.  If you go, be sure to stop in at Sarah J's for lunch.  I had the BEST EVER Chipotle BLT on a Croissant.  She really has a knack for putting flavors together! Delicious!)

Since starting the Beyond Layers class, I am much more cognizant of leaving some open space in the composition so I can add text or some other message later in PSE.  I used to just crop things down to the featured subject.  End of story.  Now the possibilities are more wide open.

This week, Kim encouraged us to take some time for ourselves, and turn it into a visual record of the moment.    Sunday mornings, I have a few hours to myself where I can create, sew, make stuff, or do whatever I want.  No chores. No expectations.  No boys clamoring for my attention.  This was a tough lesson for me that I learned after I had my son. He was a demanding little critter--There were days my husband would leave some toast in the toaster for me, and I couldn't even get up to fetch it because the kid was always nursing or sleeping or otherwise needing my full attention.   He would cry if we put him down.  And he didn't nap by himself for more than 30 minutes at a time.  Ugh!  I was so busy taking care of this new baby that I couldn't take care of myself.   Those were tough days for me, and I couldn't wait to get back to work where I could actually be productive.   Nope--I'm not the nurturing one at our house ; My husband is.  I nearly had a nervous breakdown back then.  

Around that time, my sister asked me to make her wedding dress.   I had to hatch a plan to get that job done.  My time at work belonged to my employer; My time at home was all baby and husband.  Or sleeping.  My sweet husband helped me carve out some time where he took the kid and left me be.  In his words, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."   He could see that I needed some time for me, and he made it possible.  (Yes, I got a good one!)  For 10 years now, I have kept that sacred creative time on Sundays.  I usually don't leave the house on Sunday.  I do chores and errands on Saturday, or during the week.   I listen to a couple of radio shows (This American Life, and To the Best of Our Knowledge, Once Upon a Time podcasts) so that the intellectual side of my brain gets some stimulation while I'm working my hands and visual brain.   These days, those morning hours have stretched to cover most of the day on Sunday.   I am so blessed!

People wonder how I can be so productive with all the things I do and make.  This is my big secret : Take the time to do it.  Make that time sacred.  It is important to replenish the well of creativity, and for me that means making / taking the time to create.  Truthfully, my mental health was at stake when I started this ritual.  I'm grateful that I had the support and infrastructure to make it work.   Thank you, CL!

Here's the processing layer by layer on the top photo :
Layer 1 : Copy Background
Layer 2 : Hue Saturation Adjustment (yellows mostly)
Layer 3 : KK's Flourish Texture Overlay blending mode at 17% opacity
Layer 4 : KK's I Am Texture - Soft Light at 45% opacity
Layer 5 : KK's Sunkissed Texture - Soft Light at 56% opacity
Layer 6 : KK's Wonderful Magic Scripted - Soft Light at 62%
Layer 7 : KK's Perfect Wonderful Brush / stamp - Multiply 100%; text color picked from flowers.
Layer 8 : Color Fill Border at 80%

I kept adding layers and textures and playing with it.  I wasn't happy until I added Kim's sun-kissed texture.  Although I made some adjustments to the yellows in the flowers, I realized the background needed some warmth.  Sun-kissed did the trick!

Here's the original photo, straight out of my camera.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Beyond Layers Day 25-26 : Self Portraits


I know a lot of people seem to really be struggling with this lesson, but I had a fun time with it.   Many people are uncomfortable being in FRONT of the camera lens.  Too self-critical?  Low self esteem?   Yeah, I've been there, too.   Whatever it was,  I must have moved through it already ...

When I was pregnant 11 years ago, I was NOT one of those beautiful mothers who glowed.  The hormones of pregnancy wrecked great havoc with my skin.  My husband finally bought a roll of black-and-white film (remember film?) to capture those moments, and tone down the redness in my skin at the time.  That helped a lot. I felt jolly and content, but my skin was erupting and protesting.

My husband takes more of the people pics at our house.  I've been to enough funerals to know the ritual of combing through the family pics to choose images that will be in the photo montage at the funeral.  I won't always be here--I know that.  But to deny my loved ones taking a photo of me?  It's for them, not me. Will they wish we had more pics of me after I'm gone?   I wonder if Beyonders thought of it that way, they'd be more willing to allow themselves to be photographed?  Our loved ones see beauty in us that we're blind to ...  So Beyonders, when I added Kim's "You are already amazing" affirmation, I'm talking to all of YOU on this journey with me.  Do the assignment. You'll be glad you did, even if you are hiding behind something.  This is your chance to come out and shine!

I took a lot of pictures for this lesson--and deleted most of them.  Don't you love digital photography!  It was good practice figuring out the pose and spacing, lighting, etc. That in-and-of itself was a useful exercise.  In the end, I decided to go with this picture, cropped from a larger photo a few years ago.   I actually used this image in 2010 to do a 4-color fabric portrait in fabric.  So I guess you could say I was already familiar with it.   I remember it felt weird to be working on a picture of myself, but I'm over it now.  ;-)

The beauty of PhotoShop Elements is that if you don't like what you see, you can alter it.  I played around with some of the free Actions out there for PSE and came up with the different versions in the collage above.   Some of them hide my gray hair, some of them smooth out my skin nicely ...  All different, but pleasing effects.

Top Left : Pioneer Woman's Black Beauty Action
Top Right : Coffee Shop's Raspberry Tea Action
                   The image at the head of this post also adds Kim Klassen's "Amazing" brush/stamp
Bottom Left :  Coffee Shop's Irish Breakfast Tea
Bottom Right : Coffee Shop's Green Tea Action
No extra textures on these.  the b/w effect was enough, I think.

Here's the original photo the self portrait came from.
We were doing some flower pounding that day.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Beyond Layers Day 24 : Pastel Processing

I have to admit, I had a hard time with this assignment, at first.  I'm all about clear communications, vivid, full, saturated colors and sharp images.  Pastels make me a little uneasy ...   Maybe that says something about me?   This style has a definite vintage feel to it.  Dreamy.  Faded memories.   Maybe that's it--fear of loosing those memories, wanting to keep them bright and vivid, instead.   Heck, I dream in technicolor.    Not like this ....  Hence, I looked for a quote that wanted to escape this dream state.

The image at top was partially rendered in RadLab.  Kim recommended a 30-day free trial if we were not already familiar with it.  Yes, the process went much quicker with this handy tool.
I used the following RadLab filters stacked one on top of another : SuperFunHappy - Flora - FlareUpFaded - SuperFunHappy(again).   I did not change the levels for each filter, but used them all as given.  (Actually, I did play with them, but eventually decided to go with the default settings.)

Layer 1 : Copy Background
Layer 2 : Rad Lab Filters Stacked (SuperFunHappy - Flora - FlareUpFaded - SuperFunHappy(again)
Layer 3 : Feathered Frame with color fill. Normal blend mode; 100 opacity.
Layer 4 : Text   GingerSnap and My Underwood.  Normal blend mode 39% opacity.

This is a simple recipe compared to the first round below ...

Let's call this one the manual version.  A similar effect, but it lacks the glow and warmth of the RadLab version above.

Layer 1 : Copy Background Layer
Layer 2 : Smart Blur Filter (added last)
Layer 3 : Add frame and color fill; Multiply blend mode at 100% opacity
Layer 4 : Levels Adjustment; Screen blend mode; 82% opacity
Layer 5 : Hue Saturation - Normal blend mode; 100% opacity
Layer 6 : Frame with color fill - Soft light at 56%
Layer 7 : Kim's Now Texture - Soft light at 100%
Layer 8 : Duplicate Layer 7 - Multiply at 49%
Layer 9 : Text - GingerSnap and My Underwood fonts.  Soft light at 100%
Layer 10 : Duplicate Text Layer.

Whew!  That took a couple hours of experimenting.  Doing and undoing.  I tried a few layer masks to erase some of the effects and texture on the flower reds, but it didn't seem to give me the desired effect, so I deleted those layers. 

Here is the original photo of orchids taken at my Mom's house.  Recognize this, Ma?


Sunday, July 08, 2012

Beyond Layers Day 23 : If Not Now, then When?

The lesson this week was about overcoming procrastination.   I know there are things I should be doing (like eating more vegetables), but there are also things I want to stop doing.  Pull back the reins on some things I've been doing to make time for other things that seem more important and fulfilling.   Or even just RESTING.  Relaxing and stop doing so much.  That would be a big change right there!

Here's the recipe for this week's image:
Layer 1 : Copy background of original photo
Layer 2 : Lost & Taken Texture Colorful Grunge 2 ; Overlay blend mode at 100% opacity
Layer 3 : Copy Layer 2; Multiply at 45% opacity
Layer 4 : Copy Layer 3
Layer 5 : Brush / Stamp of text provided by Kim Klassen for Beyond Layers.   Normal blend mode; 100 opacity.  Color chosen from the star bouquet.

This is the original photo taken at my parent's house a few weeks ago.  My Gramma had this star bouquet that I thought was kind of neat.  It had potential ...    The wall in my mom's sewing room is neutral enough to take some decent still life photos.   One of the first edits was to flip the image horizontally.

Quite a difference in the before and after shots, isn't there?


Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Beyond Layers Day 22 : Frame It

This week's assignment for Beyond Layers is to practice framing our images with tools found in PhotoShop Elements.  I used this picture of a sunflower taken a few weeks ago in Denali Park, Alaska.  It struck me that this flower was growing up through rocks, and what strength that takes to survive under such rugged conditions.
Added a Layer of Kerstin Frank's Cerulean Texture, Soft Light Blend Mode, Opacity 73%
I think this one uses the Drop Shadow edging, but its pretty subtle.  Or maybe this is the image before I started playing with frames.  I think I lost track ...
Technique 1 : Setting the background color to white, then using the Crop tool (with Option Key) to extend the canvas beyond the image.   It's possible to choose and change the color of that background.  Although I was selecting other colors, I couldn't get any but the first to stick.  That pale blue frame was picked from  within the image.

Technique 2 : Use the Retangular Marquee Tool (instead of Crop Tool) within 1/4-in of image edges; then Select>Inverse; R-Click > Choose Feather at XX pixels for a soft edge. 

In her class video, Kim demonstrated 3 methods for adding a frame.   It seemed easy enough, but I couldn't help thinking there's probably an even easier way ...

This frame for this one was rendered in Picassa with 1 click and a few sliders.   There must be Actions and Frames galore frame an image quickly and easily.  More to explore ...


Sunday, July 01, 2012

Candied Fabrics Lesson 8 : Naturals Triad - Shades Tints and Tones

 I finally finished up the labels for the Candied Fabrics Lesson 8 : Tints, Shades & Tones.  
I used the Naturals Triad.

 Here's the color wheel with all 18 "pure hues."
I was actually using the other color wheel, but I neglected to take a picture of it ...

 Here are all the color swatches for this lesson, laid out, and ready for fusing.

 Here's a closeup of the labels.  Since this is what's been holding me back all these weeks, I finally decided to print them to regular paper and fuse the paper on the wool background.  This will never be washed, so it should be fine.   My printer is just a plain old HP Laserjet.  Not the kind that prints well to fabric.  Although I could have done it with my own handwriting, I wanted it to look a little more refined.  And so, problem solved!

Here are some of the blues. Isolated for the fun of it.

Finally done!  Now all that's left is to go through the Conclusion lesson.
Then I'll be able to dye whatever I want whatever color I desire!
I just happen to have a few blank dresses from Dharma.  
Now the hard part is deciding what lucious color(s) do I want?
Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

If you like what you see, sign up for Candy G's online class : Sign up here.  The class is designed to work at your own pace, so you can sign up anytime.  It's worth it!

Beyond Layers Days 19-20 : 5 Days of Color

The Beyond Layers assignment for this week was to focus on 5 Days of Color : Green, Yellow, Pink, Blue and Red.  Except for Blue, these images from my personal archives have very little additional processing beyond basic edits like cropping and color correction in Picassa.  Enjoy!

I wasn't happy with the original blue flower breathe image, so I made another attempt at Blue.  I'm much happier with this one!

Recipe for Blue :
Layer 1 : Original Photo - from the harbor at Kenai, Alaska
Layer 2 : Copy of Background
Layer 3 : Kerstin Frank's Prisma Texture - Soft Light Blending Mode at 100 Opacity
Layer 4 : Duplicate Layer 3 - Soft Light Blending Mode at 64%
Layer 5 : Boost Blues (in Picassa)