29 March 2011

Hipstamatic = The Best Reason To Own My IPhone!

The mailing envelope
I had waited to renew my Verizon contract in the hope that they would offer the IPhone at some point. Of course, it finally happened and I was chomping at the bit to place my order.  I am not a big phone chatterer and although I am a lover of all things Mac when the Iphone finally arrived I had to second guess myself before I spent the money on the IPhone. As things turned out, with my discount for re-upping my contract, getting the Iphone was not any more costly than getting any other phone that I would have been likely to choose so I bravely brandished my plastic and ordered the "phone of my dreams". I managed to find a cover that was the perfect "it" green of my dreams too. A loverely package.
When you open the mailing envelope this is what you see - well, minus my photograph!
What I had no way of knowing at the time was that the best reason to have my IPhone was not using it as a phone at all. Yes, it does that quite well - Verizon works the best in my area and I am pleased with the ability to actually be able to answer a cell call at my house - which I was not able to do using AT&T. The best part of the IPhone is an app that I have fallen in love with. This app is old news for long time IPhone users, but for me as a new user, it opened a whole new world of funkalishish photographic delights. The app is Hipstamatic  (available at the app store). It's a fun, funky and retro-ish camera app that allows you use a variety of "films", "lenses" and camera "bodies" to take retro inspired photographs. You can mix and match all of the films and lenses to create some truly unique images.
Aside from loving the capabilities of this app - I am also loving the retro inspired print service that's available at the Hipstamart. Your photos are printed in a classically retro 4" X 4" format on high quality photo paper. The marketing thing that is going on at the HipstaMart is crazy good. The photos arrive in a very cool square mailing envelope that opens up to reveal a framed photo. I am so tickled by the whole process! The 5 megapixel camera in the IPhone is better than the first digital camera I owned so you can get decent quality images. The prints are available in three sizes (the Hipstamatic app allows you to choose between a lower or higher resolution so you can think about what size print you might want to have before you take your photo). I ragerly wait for each new Hipsta film and lens release. The story behind this amazing little app is rather touching too. To read about it go to the website - or to Face Book - just search for Hipstamatic.
In other areas of life everything is perking along. Changes at work. Our Administrator of 29 years has resigned and I am feeling like the earth beneath us is unsettled - change can be good - but not without emotions high and low. The weather is typically Spring - which equates to very unpredictable. I am ready (or is my back that's ready mostly!) for some warmer (though far from hot!) more settled weather. The hummingbirds arrived at our house a bit earlier this year but their numbers increased right on time - Saint Patrick's Day. Spring sounds are filling the air - the return of song birds that Winter in other climes and the peepers at night. I love this part of the Spring - the sounds and the scents of new growth and potential.

I'm feeling all kinds of unsettled thus far in the week. Mercury going retro-grade soon, multiple changes at work and general feelings of inadequacy and the frustrations at the physical limitations I now seem to have all combined in trying to wreak havoc with my cerebral functioning - but I know it's only in my head (teehee) and that it will pass as soon as the sun returns! I'd best be going to do something creative - that always lightens my mind! Have a good week.

28 March 2011

Spring Theme ATC Exchange

This exchange is for the Roses On My Table art group.I have been having an exhilarating time learning to use Photoshop more effectively. There is lot to learn and I have a long to go, but it is slowing filtering into my brain. I find that I like relative simplicity in my cards. When I try to do too much to them them seem to come out just overdone and a bit awkward I think. There are some people who use lots of things on the cards with wonderful results - but I can't seem to do that with much finesse. One of the reasons that I want to learn PhotoShop so much is that this is my 'comfort' zone - or will be one day!
Front and back of the card

For these cards I combined 5 layers using images from one of my paintings and one of photographs. I printed them out on cotton - like a pale ghost image -and then painted each one with watercolors and ink. This is a very comfortable way of working for me and I truly enjoy the process. I am also almost always surprised at what happens - I like the serendipity of working this way I guess!
The haiku from Basho is one that I have always liked and makes think of sitting under a tree during a balmy full moon in Spring - breathing in the newness of the plants - and the scent of growth.

22 March 2011

Art Journal Auctions!

Heart Rock
Last year I participated in a traveling journal exchange. through Blissfully Art Journaling . The plan was to auction the books (Moleskine) at the end of their travels through ArtlLand and donate the proceeds to charity. Well, they are finally listed on EBay! You will find the links and other information below thanks to Altered Arts Blog. This is a a very talented, great group of artists and women. There were pages specifically left blank in the book so that that the new owner would be able to add their own art work or thoughts. This is a chance to enjoy the work of some terrifically talented mixed media artists.

I participated in the "Love" journal and, believe it or not, one of my pages (below) is highlighted on the EBay page. Have a look at the auctions, read about the selected charities and consider placing a bid!
One of pages in the "Love" journal
The following information is from Altered Arts Blog"

"...In January 2010 a small group of artists agreed to participate in a collaborative art journaling project. The idea was for each artist to create three art journal entries based upon a theme – one was about “Love”, the second was about “Friendship” and the third was left “Open”. Each artist was asked to include an introduction page and two art entries about the theme of the journal they chose to work in. Each journal contains 36 different art entries. All three journals traveled throughout the United States and Canada for about twelve months. Two have returned safely and the third is slowly limping home – it ran into a few unexpected road blocks along the way, but will be traveling again soon.

It was proposed that these journals be auctioned off and the proceeds from each sale donated to a charity. The Love Journal would benefit a children’s charity. The Friendship Journal would benefit a women’s charity. The Open Journal would benefit Bernie Berlin’s no-kill animal shelter - known as "A Place to Bark". ..."

Here are the links -
Love Journal = http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=330544745796&ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT

Friendship Journal = http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=250792003391&ssPageName=ADME:L:LCA:US:1123http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=250792003391&ssPageName=ADME:L:LCA:US:1123

21 March 2011

Camp Burton Quilting Retreat on Vashon Island

The sign that greeted our arrival at CAMP BURTON
I had such a superlative retreat weekend that it's difficult to know where to begin the tale. It will take some sifting and sorting; organizing of thought and photos. I thought I would just share some photos at this point and go into more details in future posts.

This outing was organized by two forces to be reckoned with. Two delightful Barbaras. Barbara Gonce of Lopez Island and Barbara Snider of Friday Harbor and Seattle. There were 15 of us culled from the islands and the mainland - and two lovely women from out-of-state who arrived as guests of other participants. The location, Camp Burton on Vashon Island, has been around for a long time - I may be mistaken but I think it started in 1909- or was it 1921? Well, one way or the other it has been there for a long time! The newest area is the retreat center where we stayed. It's right on the water - sweeping views wherever you look. The sewing area was only steps away from the sleeping area  and the "food center" was a short walk away - also right on the water and new, new,new! Heavenly!
Partial group photo without me. We never seemed able to get the entire group to stand still at once! I think some of our members were out shopping at one of the world's largest quilt shops when this was taken. More on the shop in a later post.

Partial group photo with me
I'd never been to Vashon Island. We took he ferry from our island to the mainland and then went through Seattle to get on to the Fountleroy ferry  which, after a balmy 15 minute jaunt deposited us onto Vashon Island. It took us an astounding easy 1:40  to travel ferry dock (mainland) to ferry dock (Seatte). The quick 15 minute trip to Vashon compares to our 1+ hour trip to the mainland. My friend, tour guide and most excellent driver was Janet Wright. She's the one who keeps me in line, tells me what events I need to attend with her and, generally, organizes me into some semblance of 'normal'. How can you thank a friend that does all of that and still cares for you?! Thank you dear friend - for tackling the challenge that is me!

The photos from  -here on were, unfortunately not loaded in proper order - so captions may explain what you're looking at. As I mentioned, there will be future, more cohesive, posts about all of the good things we found on Vashon coming up. Vashon Island is really an arts friendly community - even the people who work in the stores dress artfully - I think our island has become rather homogenized in contrast. We've lost our funk and entered a rather bland phase here. although the exquisite, natural beauty that we enjoy is, perhaps, enough in some ways. It's a pity too. however, since our town used to have so much more 'flavor'. Vashon was somehow exhilarating  for me- all of the arts, crafts and generally "in tune" people we met were/was a delight.
This photo was taken form the car on our way back north yesterday. The Seattle skyline entering downtown was sparkling and I couldn't resist taking a photo of the con trail behind that building!
Another photo taken on the way home yesterday. The daffodil fields were just starting to paint the landscape brilliant yellow. Snow still lingers in the surrounding mountains and the swans were dancing in flight over the fields. It was breathtaking and exhilarating!

Janet at the wheel on the way South - the farm truck may have been filled with potatoes.

Sentinel trees and majestic mountains on a clear day.

The beach right at the Fountleroy ferry terminal. Not bad huh?
Here we go - ferry to Vashon Island. All aboard.
The smiling face on the left is Camp Director Kathleen. She has been with the organization since she was 10 (as a Camper) and has worked her way up to the Director position. She's capable, friendly, funny and makes your stay the best it can be. The lovely lady on the right is one of the best cooks (all healthy too) that I have ever run across. She wowed us all with the most amazing delightsThree times a day there was healthy, delicious food placed in front of us. Well I had to skip some meals because I just can't pack that much good food in every day !  We did manage to snag some of her recipes.... and we may share them. One for a uber great pilaf with rice and red quinoa, another for the best pancakes I have ever had - made from oatmeal and a sesame tahini dressing to die for! We all loved her fez!
The landscaping on this amazing acreage was so beautiful and we were lucky that everything was just blossoming. We saw Western Blue Jays (we don't have those on our island) and a variety of spring song birds. I had to sit on the deck in the sun a few times just to listen to them all sing!
I couldn't figure out what this round(upper left) thing on the top of a cupola was/is!

I fell in love with this elegant tree that greeted us on the walk to feast!

Enjoying the sun while I sat / stood on the deck.

Every little drop of water entranced me

and every little twig

and rocks shaped like hearts (hint- upper left)

The view from the deck - and from the windows of the sewing area. I think Kathleen said that waterway is called Quartermaster Harbor

This is the view from the windows in the feasting hall

Ah! The daffodil fields once more. This is one of the most entrancing little jaunts I have been able to enjoy in a long while. It was perfect from start to finish

My back has taken a hit from the trip and I am, at the moment, walking like a  feeble 90 year old. I hope that rest and heat will repair the damage of driving, walking more than I have been, sleeping on a mattress that was not too good and lugging more than superfluous amounts of supplies. A friend suggested getting an air mattress and I think I will do that for the future. I almost could not crawl out of bed yesterday - and it freaked me out a bit too! I am SO pleased to have been able to partake of this wonderful retreat with an eclectic group of gracious, talented women who inspired me and with whom I hope to enjoy this retreat next year too!        
More tales to follow. You might not want to miss the one about this most amazing quilting shop- Island Quilter. It had more than 7000 bolts of material and the ENTIRE line of Kaffe Fassett fabrics. The only thing that they don;t carry is reproduction fabrics and they are still a bit short on notions and threads. Otherwise, if you can;t find what you want here - it may not exist! They are working on a better website - so my link is their FB page. I have lots of photos of the place to share soon though.


16 March 2011

I Thought All Gesso Was The Same !

Just a really quick note today. I am off cavorting with some friends - so there will be some fun updates coming up. I wanted to mention a product that I tried today ....

I always thought that gesso was, simply, a tool and, although I do try to use the best tools that I can afford, I never considered Gesso to be a tool that would be of significantly different quality. In the past I have generally bought either Golden or Liquitex gesso and was always happy with the coverage. BUT....last week I happened to be ordering a few watercolors from Daniel Smith  and, since I  was low on gesso , I added a quart of 'Daniel Smith Brand Gesso' to my order. I just tried it  today- and I am here to say that there is a difference in gesso! The DS brand gesso is so darn smooth - and  it imparts a delightful , silky smooth surface. It's available in more colors than I ever thought possible too. I have only used white. I was pretty surprised at the smooth consistency and with lovely, smooth surface that it lays down on the paper. Not as toothy as other brands... I'll be playing on the pages during the next few days. It will be interesting to see if the smoothness is boon to paints and pens.

The usual disclaimers prevail...I am in no way affiliated with Daniel Smith - and I purchased this product myself - and am glad I did !

13 March 2011

Birds Indigo

When Linda posted the latest ATC challenge theme of "Indigo" on Arts In The Cards Yahoo group (our blog is here) I wondered where to take the theme. I had taken a natural dyeing class last year and, during the three day class, we had an indigo vat going. At first, I thought about using some of the resultant fabric for this theme challenge. 

Then, as I daydreamed about what to do, I began to listen to the birds. The outdoor sounds change with the arrival of more of Springs song birds and I  thought about the Indigo Bunting. Although we don't have this bird here in the Pacific Northwest I remember it from life before I moved to 'the island'. The Indigo Bunting became my interpretation of Linda's theme. To me this little songster also heralds Spring and sunlight! To make this card I used a combination of 4 different photos, Derwent Inktense pencils, inks, stamps and a hint of metal. In a nod to the earthquake tragedy in Japan I had to add some oriental characters. My thoughts are with the people of Japan. This incident really does highlight, once again, the fact that, like it or not, we've become a global economy and a global "family". The havoc that occurred in Japan will affect all of us in one way or another - electronics, cars, energy, planned vacations.  Mother Nature appears to be reminding us of her power - we've had so many earth quakes lately.
I had already decided that I was going to use PhotoShop to work through whatever my theme choice became. I really do believe that I learn by doing - and by making mistakes -so I am using each opportunity I get to work through one PS technique or another. I've been working diligently to teach myself more about using PhotoShop. I knew that I needed to buckle down , slow down and concentrate. Read the directions slowly and carefully and work through things step-by-step. PhotoShop is one of the things that I really do need to slow down for in order to learn how to use it well. Using the 'Teach Yourself Visually' book has helped me tremendously. I have a long ways to go but plan to enjoy the ride! I've wanted to teach myself more for many years - just that the time was always off for one ,ostensibly good, reason or another. I guess the time is now- and I am enjoying it quite a bit thus far.

A portion of the back of the card
In the course of making these cards I also discovered what I consider to be the best ATC blank ever. I stumbled on US Artquest's website and ordered a few of their products to try. Their ATC ArT CanVas is a perfect combination of heft and workable surface. They are a tad pricey - but if you can try them they are worth it. As with many other things I search and 'audition' products until I find what works best for me. Who would think that adhesives were a big deal? I had always thought that 'glue was glue was glue'. Until I tried US ArtQuest's PPA (perfect paper adhesive) Matte. I'm not at all sure why I like this stuff so much. It looks like any other white glue but I like the consistency and it works like a dream on all of the surfaces I've tried it on so far - paper, cloth, metal. It has a really true matte finish (they also offer a gloss). I guess it's similar to Golden Matte medium but it seems to hold a bit better. Maybe it's all in my imagination? The usual disclaimers apply - no affiliation etc etc etc - ad nauseum. I also have to credit ArtQuest's customer service. They actually emailed me to reconfirm that I wanted the small size of a product. There was a give-away going on and they wanted to make sure that I had not meant to get the larger size...of course I HAD meant to order the larger one and I really appreciated the time they took to ask the question. Thanks Julie from ArtQuest.  Customer Service is important to me and, I think, indicates the quality of a company.

08 March 2011

Evidence That I Am

Evidence That I Am
I've always enjoyed the monthly challenges (a/k/a Crusades) that one one of my favorite artists, Michelle Ward, poses on her website for the Green Pepper Street Team. I haven't participated in awhile - and I am also behind in my New Year's commitment to stay current with the "Sketchbook Challenge". I do have hopes of becoming current with both places though!

This month Michelle posed the challenge: Series: Evidence; A Forensic Self Portrait. The concept really intrigued me. I have lots of ideas floating through my head based on this theme but this is the one that popped out first.
I used inks, acrylics, gesso, decorative papers  (some supplied by Michelle), stamps and pens to create this page. I had no idea where it was going when I began and I hemmed and hawed before deciding that it was "done". It's the first of what I think may become a series though. A warm-up maybe. Self portraits a very interesting concept I think. We did something like this when I was in photography school many years ago. At that time I created a rather staid self-portrait that included the things that were meaningful to me at the time : airplanes, plane tickets, passport and maps. What a difference the years can make ! Yeah !

07 March 2011

Time Skitteredd Away From Me Again!

This photo? Just because I love her!

It amazes me how one small jog in life can throw me off these days! One weeks gets fuller than usual with the stuff of 'life' and I seem to get farther and farther behind.  Remember when I mentioned that I was planning a 'pithy' post? Well - here it is.

I've decided that I simply have to learn more about using PhotoShop. That pursuit had has been eating up some of my time. It's all easy when you know how I guess but something as simple as not knowing the correct term for what I want to accomplish can cause me to spend hours researching  what "it" is in my books. I spent an hour or more this morning trying to figure out how to restore my 'workspace' which I thought of more as different sort of 'tool bar'.  I finally invested in a "Teach Yourself Visually PhotoShop" book and that I can at least follow. I love the "Teach Yourself Visually" series and own quite a few on various subjects. They seem to offer books about anything you might want to learn and they are always written by experts, logically thought out and and brimming with photos and visuals! Perfect for someone like me. I've been using PS Elements for some time and, have chosen  using it over PhotoShop because, in some ways, it's easier. I decided I might as well invest the time in learning PS even though my edition of it is a bit older. There is so much to learn! I wish I could afford a class - but maybe I can teach myself enough to get by if I can just keep myself on track and not get sidetracked as I am wont to get!

I've also been doing a lot of ruminating recently as well- about both paths taken - as well as those I did not take for one reason or another. I've been considering the careers I chose versus those I turned away from - there again for one reason or another (my father saying I couldn't support myself making  art being the one that seems to stick in my craw the most). There were so many things that interested me - so many paths I could have taken a stand to pursue rather than being more or less cowed into believing that someone else knew best. 

Some of the things I had considered doing at one time or another include - but are not limited to:
  • Archaeology  - this would not make money either. I have, however, retained my zeal for history.
  • Make Up Artist - again, a difficult business to get into and not a money maker for most.
  • Perfumer - I've always loved scent but never really knew how to pursue that avenue.
  • Book publisher/editor/seller - there is no good reason that I should not have pursued this one! I managed bookstores and worked in a library. I think I was just too young and stupid to recognize a good thing !
  • Artist - the one thing I have aspired to my whole life - well, at least since I can remember. Money was the concern here as well. I did grow up near to the NYC art scene and became 'turned off' to the SoHo gallery scene. It seemed to me that many artists - in order to get a career going - almost demeaned themselves in their quest to procure a patron and gallery time. I knew I would do well in that environment. That much hasn't changed - I am still not a good self-promoter!
There are so many sub-categories too that I could have pursued had I known  that options even existed - or how to pursue them. My preparation for adulthood was, more or less, find a rich man and marry - and then stay married no matter what so that I could be 'well-off'. I loathed that whole concept and, quite obviously, did not 'obey' the dictums, but neither was I aware enough to realize that I could plot my own course without the blessing of anyone!

I've lived my life choosing to believe that we all do the best we can at any given moment  in time and that my failures were not the result of not having guidance from my parents. They too were doing the best that they could at the time. Lately though, I have wondered what life could have been like had I had parents who did try to foster my interests and provide me with guidance. I think I have been thinking about this because I now know two families that are raising their own children in an atmosphere of loving guidance and acceptance (one of these is my nearly lifelong friend Maria) whose whose four daughters are simply amazing individuals and give me hope for the future). There is no telling where these young people will go. They believe that they can do anything and everything and, indeed, they can. What a wonderful thing to be able to believe in yourself and your abilities wholeheartedly! What a gift!

At times I feel that life really is a conundrum. As I age I value myself more. Had I felt as empowered  and (relatively speaking) as self-confident when I was young as I do now (not that I feel an over abundance of confidence even now mind you!) and if I had more nurturing and guidance, I know that I would have had the spunk to turn my face to wind and become the person that I thought I wanted be. Of course there is a great amount of pleasure in knowing - even if it's a little late in the game - that I can now, at least, become the person that I wanted to be then. Whatever happened - or didn't happen - in my life it's gratifying to feel that I am, belatedly, the captain of my own ship

This week on one of the blogs  I follow (FemCentral - The Virtual Institute For Women) the question was posed "do you value yourself as a woman?" I read it more as "do you value yourself and your abilities?" The 'challenge for the week' became : "What will you do today, next week, in the coming months, to demonstrate that you value your feminine?" 

For me this question is going to be what will I do today, next week, in the coming months, to demonstrate that I value myself and my talents?  I am still working on my answers. How about you? I'd love to hear what your thoughts are on self confidence and following your your own path!