Archive for the ‘Classes I’ve taken’ Category

Photography with Ricky Tims

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

ERK!  Gosh it has been a LONG TIME.  I’m sorry!   I didn’t realize I hadn’t been here in so long.  As you might gather by my extended absence, I’ve been busy.  I’ve been prepping a new workshop that will debut in full in North Carolina in April (see my Teaching/Classes page for the workshop listing)–email me if you need a link to sign up, they’ve got an awesome online system, did a test-run of the class with a local group, have been working on a bazillion samples and writing an article for MQU (Machine Quilting Unlimited), did a quick trip to California because I’m now on San Domenico School’s (my old high school) Alumni Council

The lesson for Week 4 is to get a photo that is "sharp as a tack."

The lesson for Week 4 is to get a photo that is “sharp as a tack.”

AND …..ta daaaaaaAAAAA drum roll…. taking an online year-long workshop with Ricky Tims to improve my photography, Photoshop and Lightroom skills (the latter two were non-existent and I’ve improved to rank beginner).  So today I’ll share about week 4 of Ricky’s Photography class. In the next week or two I’ll get you caught up on the rest!

Earlier weeks focused (pun intended) on Selective Focus, Find a Line, and Windows.  We’ve also learned about organizing in Lightroom, using Photoshop, getting our copyright information into the metadata (basically digitally encoding it into the image so that if someone tries to remove the visible watermark, the copyright stuff is still embedded into the digital file/info..don’t ask me how, that is way above my pay grade!).

This shot was (duh) indoors, before I went out.  I think of this as "chaos, clutter, artist at work."  I've also taken some sketchbook courses online over the past year, and am learning to work more with watercolors.  I want to loosen up, have my art quilts be a bit more spontaneous (well, everything in my life pretty much could benefit from me being less of a control-freak).

This shot was (duh) indoors, before I went out. I think of this as “chaos, clutter, artist at work.” I’ve also taken some sketchbook courses online over the past year, and am learning to work more with watercolors. I want to loosen up, have my art quilts be a bit more spontaneous (well, everything in my life pretty much could benefit from me being less of a control-freak). Anyway, this photo is “tack sharp” from the closest edge the window and even into the view.  It was challenging because of the brightness outside, so I had to lighten the interior in Photoshop.

Since I’ve been crazy busy, I didn’t get out early enough this week to get the shot I wanted.   I got home from California between two storms, thankfully.  I got in before the “Big” Blizzard early in the week that dumped about 0-4 feet of snow—drifts around the house made it nearly impossible to figure how much we actually got.   Then yesterday, Friday, it started snowing again.  So I went out in the snowfall before it got too windy and thick to take pictures.  And took a few indoors, as well.  Eli will be pleased that I did NOT share the one of these with him trying to get out of camera range!

I totally love our view and took many photos.  I also learned a few things (some of which I knew but had forgotten) about taking pictures in "weather."

I totally love our view and took many photos. I also learned a few things (some of which I knew but had forgotten) about taking pictures in “weather.”  This is standing near the top of our driveway, looking down to the neighbors.  Our driveway is just this side of the line of dark green pines that partially obscure the neighbor’s house.

As for photography in weather,

  1. –a plastic bag around the camera  keeps it from getting wet from  melting snow
  2. –a lens hood to keep snow off the lens would have been a brilliant addition.  Next time.
  3. –a cloth (lens or cotton or linen) to wipe off the wet-from-snow lens would be good, too.  Fleece (my preferred garments in winter) don’t soak up enough water!
  4. –it is impossible to feel the timer button on the camera in gloves.  Why a timer?  Even with a tripod, if you are going to have a slow shutter speed (1/40 second or slower), using a timer helps avoid any wigging of the camera.  So gloves came off.
  5. –even if it is relatively warm for winter and snow (28 F, or about -1/2 C), even my fingers eventually get cold!
Looking West-Northwest to the pergola/walk-through to the big meadow.  There was a falling down fence when we moved in 4 years ago that is now pretty much fallen, but the posts are good snow-depth markers.

Looking West-Northwest to the pergola/walk-through to the big meadow. There was a falling down fence when we moved in 4 years ago that is now pretty much fallen, but the posts are good snow-depth markers.  I LOVE how you can see the streaks of snow falling in this shot…look above the pergola infant of the big tree.

A VERY large old apple tree (apples taste like yuck, but the deer and turkeys like them) and a huge birch tree on the stone wall/hedgerow between the big meadow and the downhill meadow.  Meadow is codeword for big open space that we don't mow but once or twice a season.

A VERY large old apple tree (apples taste like yuck, but the deer and turkeys like them) and a huge birch tree on the stone wall/hedgerow between the big meadow and the downhill meadow. Meadow is codeword for big open space that we don’t mow but once or twice a season.  This is where a cloth to wipe the lens would have been really useful.  But I like the photo so much even with the blots on it that I’m sharing.

The trees and scrub at the bottom of the big meadow; the driveway is to the right of these.

The trees and scrub at the bottom of the big meadow; the driveway is to the right of these.  Again, going for sharp through the entire depth of field–at least as sharp as the atmospheric conditions allowed.   Taken, as are all of these, on a tripod.

Eli is the only one (so far) to have tried out my Christmas snowshoes.  Got a quick snap of him going by just on the bottom side of the driveway--pretty much along the property line.

Eli is the only one (so far) to have tried out my Christmas snowshoes. Got a quick snap of him going by just on the bottom side of the driveway–pretty much along the property line.

So now I need to get to work in the studio…more samples to make for articles and classes!  Hopefully I won’t be AWOL for a month (absent without leave) before I get back and blog again!

 

 

tea and ink, creativity and watercolor

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Of late I have been busy with many things, one of which is Sketchbook Skool, an online cast of a gazillion students and, each term, six different teachers.   This past week’s lesson was with Brenda Swenson, and the use of single colors of watercolor on paper, letting them mix and play has been a revelation.  Since my last post, about the new Series 1400 of Quilting Arts TV, featuring little ol’ me in three episodes talking about making a quick bag as a gift, machine quilting, and correct needles/thread, was the last post, I thought I’d continue with the Series 1400 theme, creativity and inspiration.  (To see the information on the series and the ongoing bloghop, please click here to read about the series and visit all the creative, inspiring bloggers who just happen to be guests on this season!).

The completed sketch by me--contour drawing with fountain pen with non-waterproof ink and watercolor.

The completed sketch by me–contour drawing with fountain pen with non-waterproof ink and watercolor.

To begin at the beginning, we were to do a contour drawing, 3 minutes, of an item.  Then 6 minutes for two items, and 10 minutes for three.   Here’s what I did in my “everyday” sketchbook, which happens to be a Stillman & Birn Epsilon, 7 x 10 inch size.  This sketchbook has a hot press finish, about 100-lb paper; they are available at Binders Art Supply in Atlanta (google up the website) and Dick Blick (ditto), among other places.  I didn’t know where I put my Tombow marker (water soluble), so decided to use my Flex Nib (Noodler’s Creaper pen) fountain pen with R&K Alt Goldgrun ink (LOVE); both pen and ink came from the wonderful Goulet Pens.  (Note:  I’m not advertising, just anticipating questions!)

Timed contour sketches of fiestaware pitcher, tea-for-one teapot/but from my friend Marie many years ago, and a bottle of deAtramentis Roses scentted ink (heavenly color AND scent, also from Goulet Pens).  I used R&K Alt Goldgrun in my fountain pen.

Timed contour sketches of fiestaware pitcher, tea-for-one teapot/but from my friend Marie many years ago, and a bottle of deAtramentis Roses scentted ink (heavenly color AND scent, also from Goulet Pens). I used R&K Alt Goldgrun in my fountain pen.

Today, I rushed a bit and the pitcher is seriously tipsy, but I’m pleased, especially with the way the reds and black merged on the label on the bottle.   And the more I practice / make art, the more I am embracing  the idea that I do not need to be absolutely freakin’ perfect, that the wobbles and imperfections are what give something individuality, just as our handwriting varies from those cursive letters above  the blackboard back in second grade.

Here's the in progress, with the items behind the sketchbook on a dining table that I should have tidied before the photo but of course did not.  Truth in blogging.....

Here’s the in progress, with the items behind the sketchbook on a dining table that I should have tidied before the photo but of course did not. Truth in blogging…..

Notice the difference between this page and the one at the top–what a difference a little “framing” makes!  And I LOVE that green ink!

And for more inspiration, I just had to add this.  Last night thunderstorms rolled in, so of course we lost satellite signal and everything started to pixillate.  Immediately I tried taking a photo with my iPad (on which I was trolling FB or playing solitaire), but the camera just c ouldn’t capture the incredible colors.  So I dashed madly for the camera in the next room and got this photo at the last second before the picture returned to normal.  THIS is inspiration…aren’t these colors glorious?  I’m not much of one to enjoy abstract art, but this is enough to make you want to grab tubes of paint, several palette knives  and go to town.

Our pixillated TV screen.  Isn't this incredible?  The COLOR!

Our pixillated TV screen. Isn’t this incredible? The COLOR!

So that’s my life the past 48 hours (plus helping to hang the quilts for Maine Quilts, the annual quilt show here).  Art and inspiration!  And check out my previous post (link above) if you’d like to scope out the bloghop for the new Series 1400 of Quilting Arts TV, featuring yours truly in three episodes!

As for sketching and watercolors and contour drawings, I have a lot to learn, but it is so much fun, and it inspires me to make more art, including of the textile kind!

 

Welcome Albus, the 15000!

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014
An old/new project

An old/new project

Quite a number of years ago, before I taught at my first national-level show, I had a rare opportunity in about 2007.   Dianne Hire, author, teacher, quilter, artist, gardener, lives nearby me here in Maine.   Alas, she hurt her back–badly–just a wrong move picking up a light stick.   And she was scheduled to teach at her favorite retreat in just a few days.  She needed someone to drive her and help schlep all the teacher stuff.  Luckily for me, my name came up as one of two folks who might be able to help her.  The other person couldn’t do it, so I finally got to meet Dianne (we have a mutual friend but had never met) and in the one week of summer where I could take a break from Paul and the boys and go.  So I drove her to Paul Smith’s College (!!! Yep, can you believe it, a college with that name in upstate NY near Lake Placid) and got to sit in and take all her classes.   I began this project back then, but never finished it though I always liked it.

Another bit of astounding good luck:  I’ve been affiliated with Janome America in their artists and teachers program for a decade now.  Can you believe it?  I can’t, but they seem to be happy with me and willing to keep me on.   I had never really wanted or liked the high end machines that do fancy embroidery software etc.  Then at International Quilt Festival in Houston last year I taught a class in a room with Janome’s new top of the line machine, the 15000.   WOWIE ZOWIE is it a BEAST!  And much easier to use with all sorts of cool features.   Even more astounding, Janome is lending me one!   Here it is, newly set up in my studio:

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, because the Janome 15000 is of course the great White Wizard, the most powerful wizard ever

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, because the Janome 15000 is of course the great White Wizard, the most powerful wizard ever

I decided to finish the quilt above (I won’t show the whole thing because Dianne is working on a book with the pattern) as my first project on the machine so I could get to learn the machine and make friends with it.  THEN I’ll move on to the Embroidery function learning curve!  Here are some close ups of the fantastic satin stitching I’ve achieved on this beauty!  I was able to taper (adjust) the width of the stitch as I stitched to get smooth thicks and thins in the satin stitched line.  WOOT!

Satin stitched, quilted, then the applique was outlined to make it pop.

Satin stitched, quilted, then the applique was outlined to make it pop. The large motif in the center is stitched in the ditch, but the motifs in on the right aren’t yet outlined.  It really makes a difference!

And my border design

And my border design.  Here, the motifs on the right are outlined, the ones on the left are not.  The ones on the left kinda ripple.  By outlining, you really define and refine the shape.  Getting the tension just perfect was a bit fiddly.  I have found that the more complicated the machine, the more delicate they are in their settings.  Once you get them set, they are perfection, but you really need to understand your machine, be patient, and get to learn and know the way the machine works.  So often I hear students say “my machine won’t do that.”  Most of the time, I regret to say, it is operator error–not taking the time to learn and be patient.  So I am telling myself just that and hoping for LOTS of time in the near future to get to do that learning!

MASSIVE thanks to Janome America for their continuing generosity with me.   I hope to be able to give back to them and make some awesome, award-worthy quilts on this beauteous wizard of a machine!

Gouache, Birthday Boy, Snow, and Thread

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Just a quickie catch-up post!   I’ll have some great news to share in a couple of weeks about what has been keeping me busier than my usual busy.   But I’ve also managed to squeeze in a few other things.  First in date order is two online classes with the delightful, talented, and superlative teacher Val Webb (website here).   This winter I had planned to relax and take two of her classes which overlap by about a month.  Despite the fact that you can really do a LOT of work (and LEARN a LOT), I decided to take both.  First one is Drawing Dogs and Cats, second one is Fairies (or as I prefer, Faeries) in Nature.

My Luna-Boy faerie in gouache, about 9 x 6 inches.

My Luna-Boy faerie in gouache, about 9 x 6 inches.

In Val’s classes, you learn not only about drawing, but also painting, as well as various media and techniques.  The lesson above is for small children as fairies, with wings, and gouache (which I have never used).  There are some technical issues; basically, I need practice with the medium!   But overall I am quite pleased with my Luna-boy.  In the next photo, we worked with graphite to sketch a dog.  His right eye is a bit off (thank you for the feedback, Val! I knew something was off but couldn’t spot it until you helped), but I’m fairly happy with this one, as well.  I attribute all good stuff with these two to the quality of Val’s teaching!

Sweet doggie, in graphite pencil.

Sweet doggie, in graphite pencil.

This week is also number 2 son’s 16th birthday.  How the child can be 16, weigh more than me (wooohooo! finally!), etc., defies comprehension.  Clearly the calendar lies.  Eli’s request for birthday dinner:  my waffles and Joshua’s parmesan fried chicken, an exact repeat of what Joshua had in early November.  As it was the beginning of the wrestling season, Eli couldn’t pig out.  This time he could and did <<grin>>!

We will NOT think about the calories involved in waffles and fried chicken.

We will NOT think about the calories involved in waffles and fried chicken.

Thanks to de facto DIL Ashley for taking pics as I brought in the birthday cake:

The calendar lies.  There is no way my youngest is 16.  I realize I am old enough to be his grandmother, but that is irrelevant LOL!   Eli, we love you to bits and are so thankful you came into our lives (even if we were and are old and tired!).

The calendar lies. There is no way my youngest is 16. I realize I am old enough to be his grandmother, but that is irrelevant LOL! Eli, we love you to bits and are so thankful you came into our lives (even if we were and are old and tired!).

She also got this great pic of Thumper the 26-toed cat.  As you can see, our cats pay us no mind.  Sigh.

Thumper.  Sigh.

Thumper. Sigh.

And guess what it is doing today.  Again.  Sigh again.

One more time.   At least it isn't sleeting a lot, as was predicted, and the temperature is now down to freezing or just below.

One more time. At least it isn’t sleeting a lot, as was predicted, and the temperature is now down to freezing or just below.

At least it is pretty–the flakes where HUGE!  We were predicted to get a lot of snow, school let out early, and we are all expecting it to be cancelled tomorrow.  Then the weather service predicted less snow, more ice and lots of sleet.  That is actually a lot worse.  But we haven’t had any sleet here in Hope, though beyond the ridge of hills on the coast is may be sleeting.  Here it has been snowing for about 7 hours.  We’ll see what the morning brings.  We will also fill buckets with water as it is likely to be heavy, wet snow and power could well go out.  Again.  Sigh.

And to end of a fun note, this fall I will be helping curate (i.e. be the behind the scenes worker bee) the new SAQA Food exhibit, open to SAQA members.  Alex Veronelli, mover and shaker at Aurifil Thread, will be the juror.  Just today I received the Quilts, Inc., eInsider newsletter, which had this profile of him.  It’s an interesting read.  Enjoy.

Now I need to go start on dinner.  Oh whee.

Drawing Birds with Val Webb, Lesson 2

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

WOW…to say that I am happy is close to an epic understatement!  I know I’ve got plenty left to learn (like white feathers), but if you’d told me a week ago that I could produce this, I would never have believed you.  As a friend also enrolled in the Drawing Birds with Colored Pencil class said, I attribute this utterly to the quality of the instruction!   Who knew that if you just take it step by step, following Val’s instructions, that every single one of us that has shared a photo has been able to do this, and this well?   WOW!   Once again, here’s the link to Val Webb’s website.

This week’s lesson was first about eyes, highlights, and the “caustic”, the place where the light the creates the highlight in the eye comes out on the other side of the eye…a sort of “shadow” highlight.  Then we moved on to drawing this ferruginous hawk from a photo.   Holy Schmoly, I did it!

Completed colored pencil drawing of Ferruginous Hawk.  Instruction was for the head, hasn't yet covered white feathers, but I wanted to try anyway!

Completed colored pencil drawing of Ferruginous Hawk. Instruction was for the head, hasn’t yet covered white feathers, but I wanted to try anyway!  (and sorry about the shadow from my hand–new camera and haven’t yet figured out how to activate fill-flash!)

Here is where I began:

Starting out with the eye and beak, doing an underpainting/sketch.

Starting out with the eye and beak, doing an underpainting/sketch.  That’s Val’s instructional sketch on my laptop. 

In progress:

With the outline done and initial layer of colors applied.

With the outline done and initial layer of colors applied.

And the final with the photo for comparison:

I'm happy!

I’m happy!

Each week for 8 weeks, Val posts a lesson on her website.  You download handouts, watch videos on the website.  Access is for four months–for her Lettering class she made a DVD with the online videos which you could buy if you wanted.  The cost of the 8-week class is only $50–a major bargain!  Even buying the CD for an additional $24 kept the class in the eminently reasonable price range.  I hope that over time she’ll be able to make additional DVDs available, as watching her draw in real time is SO helpful!   Anyway, gotta run!  Chores need doing!