Monday, January 26, 2015

Flying Geese Quilt : Birds on a Wire


I finished this quilt last weekend.  There are certain classic quilt patterns on my bucket list that I want to make : Flying Geese was one of them.   This was a kit from Connecting Threads a few years ago.   I love that striped border fabric. 

I used the 1-seam method for making the geese.  It creates a 3D goose block with little pockets behind the triangles.  Here's a video from Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson explaining the method :

All those colors Ricky Tims is using make me want to dye up some new fabric and make more geese!  Color and Drama!   But I'll save that for another day ...

Batting : Hobbs 80/20 Cotton/Poly batting.  The same one I always use.  I love how it crinkles up and makes my quilts look antique after the first wash. 

It look me a long time to figure out how I wanted to quilt this quilt.  I took some notes in my Sweet Leaf Notebook Journal for Quilt.  I had forgotten about that whimsical feather there ...

For the Geese, I did this loop-de-loop pattern which tacked the geese down but not completely.  You can still get a finger into the pockets :
Sketched with DoodlePro App

Doodle Pro t

For the light sky part of the blocks, I did an echoed triangle around the shape.

For the yellow sashing, I did this "Bird's Eye" pattern.  Not sure where I picked it up anymore.  It's become one of my standards for this kind of shape.  I used it on a tea leaves quilt a while back ...

For the borders, I thought it needed some feathers.  You can't have a bird quilt and NOT add quilted feathers, right?   I practiced various feather patterns on a white board and paper to get them into muscle memory before attempting it in stitch. 

Auditioning various feather patterns. 

This is how they came out.  I used matching threads -- the Thread Art Polyester (with a nice sheen) embroidery thread worked great!  Not hard to get the tension right either.

 Here's a shot of the quilting from the back.  This fabric is more peaches and oranges -- think summer and sunsets.  But I adjusted the contrast so the stitching would show up better.    Still some threads to trim, I see!

The only thing left to do is the label.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Little French Bulldog : Texture Play

Not at all my style, but I wanted to practice using the cutout / texture masking technique that Rodney Brown and Jai Johnson posted earlier.  Jai's wonderful textures are perfect for this kind of thing!   It makes it look like a bona fide portrait of a distinguished person (dog nation included).

The subject is actually a statue of a little French bulldog that our French relatives have in their apartment (One day Thoma hopes to have a real one!)  My sister does have one in Japan.  So this light-hearted pet portrait goes out to both of them--and French Bull Dog lovers everywhere. 

Here's the original photo I started with.

Photo Processing layer-by-layer :
1) Background image - French Bulldog (Layer off)
2) Jai Johnson Texture  Old Masters 5 - Normal blend mode - 100% opacity
3) Bulldog shadow with blur - Multiply 37%
4) Bulldog cutout - Normal 100%
5) Copy Layer 4 - Soft Light 22%
6) Jai Johnson  At the Sea Texture, masked off of dog - Soft Light 100%

(This does not reflect the actual progression of steps to arrive at the final image, but it is the final set of layers.)

Sharing with The Texture Artists Facebook Group.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Texture Tuesday : Lion of Lyon

"Wherever there is light, one can photograph." -- Arthur Stieglitz

I've been thinking a lot about Light in Photography these days.

I read a book last summer about a photographer in the early 1900s.  He said something about Light being the medium photographers worked with ... 

As a photographer, "you must see what others cannot ... In our world of shadows, there is no black and white, but a thousand different strokes of light."  -- Moses Levy in  The Museum of Extraordinary Things.

There was  more to it than that.   I wish I could find the exact quote.  I'm pretty sure I highlighted that passage, but I can't figure out how to get the Kindle to show me those passages.   The photographer character had been influenced by Arthur Stieglitz who at the time had elevated photography to an art form.  The book was The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman.

Last May, we were visiting family in Lyon, France.  I never realized what a beautiful city is is ...  Mostly we just passed through the Airport and train stations on to other destinations.  But this time, we stayed for a few days.  After that visit, I named it The City of Light.  Christian's cousin lives in the old part of the city, along the river.  Many of the old (medieval) stone buildings are painted a beautiful golden color, designed to reflect light, and make more light where the shadows might otherwise take over.  I took a few pictures of the stucco just to capture that color and texture of the city. 

I'm also amazed at the way our modern tools can help change, improve, or create something new in a photograph.  No  longer is it just capturing what you see.  Light Room as a software program can do some amazing things.  I'm not entirely comfortable with Light Room and tend not to use it regularly--I've "lost" several images with LR in the past, so I tend to use other tools, like Picassa.  Maybe that will change in 2015 : Year of Light?

For the processing, I thought I'd use RadLab to change the Light effects in this overall image.

Photo Processing on this image in PhotoShop Elements:
Layer 1) 2LO Winter Storms 6
Layer 2) Lyon Lion (original) - Darker Color Blend Mode 100% opacity
Layer 3) Pareeerica Ale Texture - Soft Light 87%
Layer 4) Kim Klassen's Golden Hour Texture - Multiply 23%
Layer 5) Rad Lab (Oh Snap! - Punch Out - Lights Out - Antique Tone)
Layer 7) Reflected Light in Lyon (My Own Texture) - Soft Light 23%
     > Merge Layers
Layer 8) Run The Coffee Shop's Dandelion Wine Action (minus the last 3 layers)

 This photo gives you an idea of the beautiful reflected light all over the old city of Lyon, France.

Here's the original.  An overcast day at the city summit.

Sharing with Texture Artists FaceBook Group and Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Texture Tuesday : Light House Study in Topaz


Here's the image worked up in PSE and Topaz Impression :
Layer 1) Background image with minor fixes
Layer 2) Copy Layer 1 - Hard Light Blend Mode - 100% opacity
Layer 3) Jai Johnson's Peach Kiss Canvas Texture - Multiply 100%
Layer 4) Nancy Claeys Just Peachy Texture - Multiply 22%
Layer 5) Kim Klassen's Flourish Magic Texture - Screen 31%
Layer 6) Merge Layers (as opposed to flattening- this way I don't lose the layers)
Layer 7) Topaz Impression - Chiaruscuro filter (played with settings, and moved the glow point to behind the lighthouse tower, lessened the vignette effect, among other things)
Layer 8)  Kim Klassen's Flourish Magic Texture - Screen 59%

I only have a few days left of the free trial, so I thought I should play a little more.  I had this worked up in PSE alone, and I have to say, Topaz did improve the overall image.  I might have to purchase it afterall.  We'll see ...  I'm working out a workflow for

Here's another play at it [Sheila, this one's for you--It's as close as I'll get to actually sketching this subject!] :

Here's what I did on this one for a much different feeling :
Layer 1) Background image > Topaz Impression - Soft Sketch 2
Layer 2) Copy Layer 1 - Soft Light Blend Mode at 63% opacity
Layer 3) Original Image - Multiply 34%
Layer 4) Nancy Claeys Kimberly Texture - Soft Light 100%
Layer 5) Copy Layer 4 - Multiply 29%
Layer 6) Jai Johnson's Peach Kiss Canvas Texture - Soft Light 17%
Layer 7) Kim Klassen's Flourish Magic Texture - Overlay 29%

Here's the Georgia O'Keefe version (above).  I left it large so you can see the smudging especially on the tree branches.  It does a nice job of creating a painterly effect.  I let Topaz do most of the work on these last 2. 

Here's the Turner Storms 2 filet in Topaz.    It's really neat to look at these close up.  They do look like built up layers of paint.  It's pretty neat -- if that's the effect you're looking for.   I left these images large so you could zoom in and see the differences close-up.  Ok--I'm "this close" to purchasing Topaz Impression.  Just waiting for the coupon that I let pass me by so far.

By this time, I worked out the workflow for using Topaz :

Layer 1) Background Image (cleaned up a bit)
Layer 2)  Copy Background Image > Topaz Impression > Turner Storms 2
Layer 3) Nancy Claeys Just Peachy Texture - Multiply 20%
That's it!

Here's the original image, not far from my house.   Nice sunset that night with a little haze across the water.    Many evenings while we're walking the dogs, we see photographers set up to shoot  this scene at sunset.  It's a favorite local subject.

I cleaned up a few things  on my original (I love the spot-healing tool in PSE!  It's a miracle worker!).  I removed the stop sign.  Yes--it's such a popular photography spot, the owners had to put up a sign to warn about their security system and no-trespassing stop sign to keep people out.  It's situated at the mouth of a River as it empties from a large Lake.  A suitable place for a Light House, but it is a private residence.  Once in a while, we get to see the Fresnel lens doing it's work--but not this night.  Perhaps it was too early?

And now for the musical portion of today's meditation on Light Houses :

Yeah--This song never fails to make tears well up in my eyes.  A sad story--even the Light House was affected by the tragedy.  Yeah for anthropomorphism!

And then I think of how happy Una was living with her Aunt and Uncle at the Light House in Ahab's Wife -- a much happier Light House Story.   Still one of my all-time favorite novels.

Here's another song (a happier one this time) : Vienna Teng's Harbor
(I am so glad she decided to follow her bliss in music and not computer science!  Enjoy!)

"The Light in me will guide you home." -- Vienna Teng

How's that for a day's "light" work?
Thanks for joining my on year-long study of Light, my one word for 2015.

Also sharing with The Texture Artists FaceBook Group and Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday.

Visit my Light Board on Pinterest (other people's stuff), exploring all aspects of Light.
Visit my Flikr Photo Album on Light (my stuff).
Visit my You Tube Play List for Light (mostly music).

Thank you for sharing my Light Journey.  ;-)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Liberate Your Art Post Card 2015 : Possibilities

I just ordered my postcards from for the 2015 Liberate Your Art Postcard Exchange.  If I had waited a few weeks, I probably would have gotten a coupon or discount, but I wanted to get the order in and done.  They should arrive later this week.  Hurray!  I can't wait to see these images in print--birthed into the real world from a previously only digital existence.  Like witnessing the birth of new stars!  Ok--well--maybe not quite at that level, but it's still pretty exciting for a dabbler artist like me!

This is my personal invitation to YOU to join us for this annual post card swap.  Here's your big chance to see your stuff in print, and to share it with other artists around the world.

More details (including due dates in March) at Liberate Your Art 2015.  

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Word Cloud Explorations in Light

Wordle: Light Kindled

Word Cloud made with Wordle.  I was having way too much fun with Wordle!   Of the word cloud generators I tried, Wordle is by far my favorite--and worth installing the Java applet.  I encourage you to play, too!     I love how some of them came out formatted like poetry--scroll down to see more examples.   

Word cloud made with WordItOut

A Word Cloud is a wonderful way to visually work out a pile of ideas.  It can help bring order to chaos.   For this one, I used WordItOut, with text from The Free Dictionary's entry for Light.  This was my warm-up, so to speak.  But it seemed to be missing many of the words/terms/ideas that I brainstormed myself (and too many references to smoking cigarettes), so I went back to the drawing board with my own list and went wild with Worlde.  The funny thing is : They were pretty good, and then I added the word connection (think : fiber optic communications with or without the fiber optics), and that seemed to bring it all together!This one came out looking like a scratch board where the color comes through and pops with that black background.    Or Christmas Lights on a dark night ...

Here are a few more Wordles to show you what's possible : 

Wordle: Light on White
  Wordle: Light on White 2
  Wordle: Light on Black
 Wordle: Light on Black 2
  Wordle: Light on White 3
  Wordle: Light on White 4
  Wordle: Light on Black
  Wordle: Light Poetry

Wordle lets you choose color palettes, fonts, and general formating of the words.  Or just hit Randomize until you get something you like.   I saved them to the Wordle Public Gallery.  I didn't quite figure out how to save them to my own files, or rotate them when it made sense.  I can always go back to them later.  

Thanks for joining me on my Light Journey.  Smiles!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

2015 : Year of Light

For the past few years, instead of new year's resolutions that don't stick, I've been adopting One Word to carry me through the year.  It's more like a year-long meditation to see how my everyday relates to that One Word, with the idea of creating a better world around me, and a better me.   Most years, my One Word has become a very close friend and companion.  That's why it's important to pick a good one--one you want more of in your life; one that inspires, and kindles your passion. 

Past words have included Story, Open-Hearted, Love, and Bloom.  This year, I chose Light, for the simple reason that all the other words I considered were wrapped up in or came back to this one.  Light was bigger and encompassed so many other ideas.  It's a big, juicy, multi-faceted, many-layered word that will keep me thinking and creating and meditating throughout the year.  All roads lead to Light!

This One Word has really kick-started my creativity.  I have plans-plans-plans ...  Stay tuned!

In devotion to the study of LIGHT this year :
     A new journal (in paper), but you're likely to see entries from  it here
     A new Pinterest Board 
     A new Logo to mark the Project [See above ;-)]
     A new Picassa and Flikr Photo Albums documenting this year-long study
                Maybe a Light 52 Photo Project?
     Quotes about Light
     New blog posts to share my discoveries and Light creations

I love it when a plan comes together!

My sister, Mande, recommends this class by Ali Edwards : One Little Word.

If you'd like to find your own One Word for 2015, Susannah Conway has a wonderful 5-day class to help you Find Your Word.    It's FREE!  Join us for a wonder-filled Journey ...

May it last a lifetime!

If you're wondering how I made the Light Logo at the top of the page, here's the recipe in PhotoShop Elements :
Layer 1) Background Texture from StockVault's Free Texture Friday
Layer 2) I made a PSE Brush out of Susannah Conway's Mandala 1, and stamped it down
Layer 3) Light Text : Papyrus Font - Soft Light Blend Mode at 100%
Layer 4) Copy Layer 3 - Soft Light 87%
Layer 5) One Word Text : Papyrus Font - Soft Light 74% - I wanted it to be just a whisper behind my chosen word.