Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Milkweed No. 2 is headed to Australia

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

I’m delighted to share that my most recent art quilt, Milkweed No. 2, has been selected to be in Brenda Gael Smith’s current exhibit, A Matter of Time, and is en route to Australia!  Brenda is giving us all sneak peeks at the artworks in her blogpost series called “Just a Moment”  here.

Milkweed No. 2 has been juried into A Matter of Time and will be touring in Australia, New Zealand, and possibly points beyond in the coming two years. I'm thrilled---just wish I could fit inside the envelope and travel with it!

Milkweed No. 2 has been juried into A Matter of Time and will be touring in Australia, New Zealand, and possibly points beyond in the coming two years. I’m thrilled—just wish I could fit inside the envelope and travel with it!  Click to view a little larger.

Apparently I mostly forgot to take in progress photos (!!!) while I was making Milkweed No. 2, so I will share one or two in progress shots from the making off Milkweed No. 1 (which I have not yet shared in public…stay tuned for that in a few weeks) in this and in a second post about my process.

As usual, I began with an idea (more like an obsession with milkweed pods) and dyeing fabric.  I had plenty of batiks and some of my own hand-dyes but needed more for the sky.  I decided to dye some cotton duck for the backing, as well.

Backing and sky fabrics I dyed specifically for my two Milkweed quilts.

Backing and sky fabrics I dyed specifically for my two Milkweed quilts.

I use the cotton duck as a stabilizer.  It helps reduce shrinkage and the artwork hangs beautifully, although it isn’t as easy to handle under the needle as a lightweight fabric.  It is worth the trade-off!  I wrote an article about my process for Machine Quilting Unlimited and blogged about that here.

The top side of the cotton, is on the left. The right side shows where the dye pooled on the bottom (cloth was dyed flat on a surface).

The top side of the cotton, is on the left. The right side shows where the dye pooled on the bottom (cloth was dyed flat on a surface).

Next, using Mistyfuse (by far the softest hand, easiest to use, never “ages out”) adhesive / fusible web, I prepare my fabrics for collaging.  My video workshop (here on my site and available as a download here from Interweave) shows this part of the process, plus a lot more.  Anyway, I use my “stash” of fused pieces, but always end up adding more bits for a given piece.

Sorry about the shadow on the left---here I've got fabrics out for fusing and am sorting them into colors using carry-out dish lids (that I've been using for at least the past 7 years! that restaurant has been out of business for eons)

Sorry about the shadow on the left—here I’ve got fabrics out for fusing and am sorting them into colors using carry-out dish lids (that I’ve been using for at least the past 7 years! that restaurant has been out of business for eons)

Next, I start the fusing process.  In this shot, I’m working on the sky for Milkweed No. 1 (larger, landscape orientation), but I used exactly the same process on this piece.

Working on the sun-glow in the sky. This is totally a collage process. I tend to cut chunks to go into the various trays, then use as is or submit while collaging.

Working on the sun-glow in the sky. This is totally a collage process. I tend to cut chunks to go into the various trays, then use as is or submit while collaging.  The drawing you see is a piece of paper underneath my non-stick ginormous press sheet with my sketch.  I ordered this one from Valerie Hearder in Canada, but Mistyfuse now sells the Holy Cow Goddess sheet which is 36×48 inches.   Really helps with my process–I just cover the entire “big board” and get to work.

I then did a bit of surface design including stenciling and screen-printing using thermofax screens (details in my next post).  Finally, I quilted my piece.  Aren’t the colors just glorious?  And yes, bright purple works in a seed pod!

Quilting on one of the milkweed pods, using variegated thread from Superior Threads.

Quilting on one of the milkweed pods, using variegated thread from Superior Threads.

A second detail shot that shows some of the sky--I just love those days where there is a bright glowing spot in the sky where the sun is behind the clouds.

A second detail shot that shows some of the sky–I just love those days where there is a bright glowing spot in the sky where the sun is behind the clouds.

I’ll be back in a few days with more on the processes using paint!   Remember, visit A Matter of Time here and the “Just a Moment” previews blogposts about the various artists and artworks here.

 

 

Photography in 2016–the new Ricky Tims 52-Week Challenge

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

Hi all: the best news first:  you can now sign up for this class in its 2016 version at Ricky’s new website https://www.photoclassforyou.com/

Anyway, for about the past half the year, I’ve been sharing each week’s lesson results with you here on my blog. My photography education this year began this way:

In December of last year, I saw Ricky’s post on Facebook announcing a photography challenge for 2015.   I promptly signed up, knowing that I needed the push to learn more about my DSLR and really USE it, since it is heavier and more complicated than my Panasonic SuperZoom.   I’ve always loved photography, and the class also included learning to use Photoshop (PS).  I was a bit leery, since PS used to cost a fortune–like $300+.  But now Adobe sells it as a subscription of $10.54 per month with a free trial month (or is it two?).  So I figured over three years that cost equals each edition of PS but in manageable monthly payments.  Now that I have used it, I wouldn’t be without it.

These mushrooms/toadstools in the yard are HUGE—at least 6 inches across when opened.  They seem to scream “ do NOT eat me!”  Smart sharpen, slight adjust to brighten.

One of my better recent shots.  Right click to see larger. These mushrooms/toadstools in the yard are HUGE—at least 6 inches across when opened. They seem to scream “ do NOT eat me!” Smart sharpen, slight adjust to brighten.

Now you can sign up for NEXT year [2016 R. Tims photo challenge part 1 sign up and info] to take a similar version of this course (Ricky has re-formatted it from 52 weeks in one swoop into a 26 week and two 13 week segments).  He asked for blurbs, I was happy to provide, and I’m so pleased he included my testimonial on his new website for teaching photography.

Right click to see larger.

Right click to see larger.  Here’s that hotlink again to take you to the page pictured above.

Your photography skills—composition, knowing your camera, and processing—will grow exponentially over the course.  Best of all, each lesson’s scope is a do-able “bite-size.”  If you have more time, you can go deeper, learning from fellow students’ work.  Recently, I took my son’s Senior (HS) portrait and the comments were “looks professional!”  That’s thanks to how much I have learned this year.

Here are a couple more of my recent photos that I think represent what I’ve learned.

More autumn decay with blueberry barrens, decaying stone wall and birches in autumn in Maine. The usual edits:  smart sharpen, tiny bit of vibrance, crunching levels.

More autumn decay with blueberry barrens, decaying stone wall and birches in autumn in Maine.
The usual edits: smart sharpen, tiny bit of vibrance, crunching levels.

 

Eli's choice for his yearbook photo.  They also do something utterly cool...see next photo....

Eli’s choice for his yearbook photo. They also do something utterly cool…see next photo….

Foto Friday, Week 44: Panorama

Friday, November 13th, 2015

Hi all!  Just a quick post to share last week’s quick effort at our Ricky Tims’ 52-Week Challenge lesson on how to “stitch” together photographs in PhotoShop.   Honestly, the software does all the work.   The photo below was created from five photos taken of the view from our house, then I did a few edits to get the colors captured to equal what it really looked like.

Did the panorama merge. Lightened the very deep shadows on the lawn, the row of scrub along the stone wall and the small woods on the left. Minor enhancements to get it to look more like it really looked to the eye (had to meter for the bright spot in the center) with the low 3 pm-ish afternoon light. This is the view from our house/lawn! We live in a town called Hope (Maine), and in the distance can see the towns of Liberty and Freedom (along with Appleton, Morrill and other spots). On a good night the Milky Way runs over us and is visible. The far ridge is probably 40 miles away to the North. The only drawback is the house faces North, and we have woods on the other three sides, so getting early morning or late afternoon “golden hour” is problematic as the sun is behind the trees or hills. We have wild turkeys, porcupines, skunks, foxes, deer, birds of all sorts, and a sheep farm behind us.

Did the panorama merge. Lightened the very deep shadows on the lawn, the row of scrub along the stone wall and the small woods on the left. Minor enhancements to get it to look more like it really looked to the eye (had to meter for the bright spot in the center) with the low 3 pm-ish afternoon light.
This is the view from our house/lawn! We live in a town called Hope (Maine), and in the distance can see the towns of Liberty and Freedom (along with Appleton, Morrill and other spots). On a good night the Milky Way runs over us and is visible. The far ridge is probably 40 miles away to the North. The only drawback is the house faces North, and we have woods on the other three sides, so getting early morning or late afternoon “golden hour” is problematic as the sun is behind the trees or hills. We have wild turkeys, porcupines, skunks, foxes, deer, birds of all sorts, and a sheep farm behind us.

Since this photo was taken we have had wind and rain and wind, so we are no in the bare, brown and gray phase of the year.

The great news is that Ricky has opened sign-ups for a repeat of the 52-Week Challenge for 2016.  I’ll blog about that in a couple days, but since this is my second post today, I want to take a bit of a breather!

Foto Friday, Week 42 (out of order): HDR = High Dynamic Range

Friday, November 6th, 2015

To my utter astonishment, our younger son (who at best tolerates grimly my taking photos of him), ASKED me to take a photo–his Senior Yearbook Photo!  Knock me down with a feather!   I had thought he would use his school pictures photo:

Eli's annual school photo. The usual.

Eli’s annual school photo. The usual. Boring.

So while I was at taking the senior/yearbook photo, I knew it would be a crazy-busy week so I took a series of photos to do an assignment called “High Dynamic Range” where you merge 3-5 (or more) photos to account for the fact that there is strong light and strong shadow in one place.

This is the photo I ended up submitting for the class. I is a "merge" of four photos. Can I say Photoshop is remarkable?

This is the photo I ended up submitting for the class. I is a “merge” of four photos. Can I say Photoshop is remarkable?

The above photo is “composed” of these four photos (which despite my attempts to place them are going where they want…sigh):

(c)2015-SarahAnnSmith.com-5895

First image, very over-exposed so you can get detail on the right side

Second image/exposure

Second image/exposure

Third Exposure, darker. Not as blown out on the left, but the right side of his face is hard to see.

Third Exposure, darker. Not as blown out on the left, but the right side of his face is hard to see.

Fourth exposure: right side detail is very hard to see.

Fourth exposure: right side detail is very hard to see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We decided that as lovely a backdrop as the maple tree was, the light was simply too harsh.  Eli suggested we go down by the arbor/cut-through to the big meadow.  He thought he could lean up against the post and it would look more natural.  Turns out there is too much bittersweet, but the photo turned out great!

Eli selected this shot, which used a fairly shallow depth of field (to blur the background) and was taken from a tripod.  I can confidently say there is NO WAY I could have gotten such a good shot (with minor post-production/editing work) when I began this class in January.   YEAH!  I’m learning!   And Eli is happy.  And will now return to grumbling when I take photos of him.  <<grin!!!!>>>

Eli's choice for his yearbook photo. They also do something utterly cool...see next photo....

Eli’s choice for his yearbook photo. They also do something utterly cool…see next photo….

Happy boy, happy dog!

Happy boy, happy dog!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s it for now!

 

Foto Friday, Week 43 (out of order): Halloween

Friday, October 30th, 2015
The image of a thousand edits!  I combined four images:  a photo of the moon, two different photos on my iPhone of the willows shot on a misty dog-walkies and the flash fired, and the bats are from a silhouette of my hands, seriously edited.  I’ll post more info below including a link to the orignal images in my Flickr November album.

The image of a thousand edits! I combined four images: a photo of the moon, two different photos on my iPhone of the willows shot on a misty dog-walkies and the flash fired, and the bats are from a silhouette of my hands, seriously edited. I’ll post more info below including a link to the orignal images in my Flickr November album.

Normally it doesn’t matter if I post my photo a week late, but since the theme was Halloween, and since I’ve actually done this at not-the-last-day, I’m doing week 43 today and I’ll fill in with week 42 next week!    And oh…if you haven’t been around, this is part of the year-long 52-Week Photography Challenge class I’m taking online with Ricky Tims.  This composite image was something that I would NEVER have been able to do at the start of this class! I used four photos (two of the widows, one of my hands, one of the moon).For anyone interested in how I did it, here you go (Long!)

This week’s theme was Halloween.   Apparently Ricky had planned on Hands, then changed it to Halloween.  But the “use hands” didn’t get edited out (until someone asked about it and he said typo!).  By that time I had this hare-brained idea for my weekly submission.  Our challenge was to do something creepy for Halloween (or otherwise Halloween-y) using what we’ve learned.   This may be one of those instances that Ricky refers to as “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”   Oh well!  It was a fun flight of bat-ful fancy!

1. Darken photo of moon. Select to the right of the moon extending area quite a bit to the right. Use content aware fill to “reposition” the moon.

(c)2015-SarahAnnSmith.com-6148

Bottom layer. Photo of moon. NO idea why I’ve got those odd spots–the moon equivalent of a sun flare?

2. Take first of the two willows in the night mist photos (shot on iPhone, which used last and showed those cool streaks in the mist). Since the photo was square, add a layer and paste. Add another layer and paste again, so that the two images overlap. Use soft-edge eraser brush to blend the two photos. Some Dodge and Burn to even out the overlap. Flip horizontally.

First of two photos taken on my iPhone a couple months ago.

First of two photos taken on my iPhone a couple months ago.

3. Take the second of the two willows-in-the-night-mist and repeat the above process in Step 2.

Second willows photo.  The mist is going a different direction, and I like the layering that happened.

Second willows photo. The mist is going a different direction, and I like the layering that happened.  Notice I flipped the photos horizontally to have the weight of the willows balancing the brightness of the moon.

4. Reduce opacity to about 30-35 on both willows layers.
5. Merge down layers so the four willow layers end up as one (or was it two) layer(s).

MoonMist

The first layer of montaged willows over the moon.

6. Spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to make assorted masks work to let the moon shine through without overlaying leaves. Give up and use an enormous, soft-edge dodge brush to lighten the layers over the moon.
7. Dragoon hubby into taking shots of my hands as a bat (after google searching). Set up light and tripod/camera etc first.

The original photo of my hands.  Had a photography (for quilts) light shining up to get a sharp silhouette.

The original photo of my hands. Had a photography (for quilts) light shining up to get a sharp silhouette.

8. Remove background around hands. Reduce opacity, use burn tool to knock back highlights on my fingers.

Background removed.

Background removed.

Edit out arms using a large hard-edged eraser brush to create wing scallops.

Presto chango, let there be a bat.

Presto chango, let there be a bat.

9. Create multiple layers, using “transform” to scale and rotate to edit the “bat.” Mull over whether to have one or three bats. This is seriously one of those “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” moments. Still not sure about one versus three. But after HOURS of edits, I’m going with three!
Time for lunch and other work!

The image of a thousand edits!  I combined four images:  a photo of the moon, two different photos on my iPhone of the willows shot on a misty dog-walkies and the flash fired, and the bats are from a silhouette of my hands, seriously edited.  I’ll post more info below including a link to the orignal images in my Flickr November album.

The image of a thousand edits! I combined four images: a photo of the moon, two different photos on my iPhone of the willows shot on a misty dog-walkies and the flash fired, and the bats are from a silhouette of my hands, seriously edited. I’ll post more info below including a link to the original images in my Flickr November album.

So that’s it!  My Flickr album for November is here, and for the page with all my albums is here.