Monday, November 5, 2012

Sharing a Process

I have been in Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers class since last January, and I have to admit, I haven't been very good about doing the assignments lately.  Tonight I actually had the time and the ambition, so I tackled today's challenge.  Kim gave us this photo that she took recently:
She said she would like us to think about the process we go through when adding a quote to a photo, and then process this image with a quote of our choosing.

I don't usually choose a quote first and then try to find an image to fit it.  Instead, I try to see what overall feeling I get from a specific photograph, and then search for a quote.  Although I have several files of favorite quotes, I usually end up on Google, trying to find something that fits.  This image made me think about standing alone, but that didn't yield any good quotes.  So I just went with the word "alone", and found the quote I used below.  I also wanted to subtly blur much of the image, while leaving the woman in focus.  I did this by applying a Gaussian blur to the entire image, and then applying a gradient layer mask.  The fun thing was, when I then typed the quote, the gradient affected it as well, in a subtle way.  I also wanted to add a shadow to the text, to match the shadow of the woman.

I don't know if this made sense to you or not, but I hope you like what I did with the photo, as well as the quote I found!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Happy November

Today I realized that I have been taking lots and lots of pictures for various projects, but haven't played with any new pics in Photoshop.  So, in honor of November and the fading autumn beauty, I bring you a few Arboretum pictures from last week-end.

I'm going to miss the wonderful, warm colors.  So the challenge is to find the beauty in the winter weather.  It can be done, I'm just not looking forward to it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Nation's Capitol

We were on vacation for ten days and, although we've been back for four days, I'm still trying to catch up.  But here are a few pictures from Washington, DC.  This is the first time I've been to our nation's capital.  Three days were not nearly enough to see and do all that we wanted to, but it was certainly all my feet could manage!  I really enjoyed taking night shots, but most of them weren't the best, since I didn't have a tripod with me.  The capitol building with the reflecting pond is one of my favoritesl
This is the least blurry of my Iwo Jima shots, but from here it looks like real Marines, not a statue.
 Ahhh, the Washington Monument with the Capitol building in the background.
 And most everyone's favorite, the Lincoln Memorial.
The Korean War Memorial.  
 We had an awesome tour of the Capital, made possible by our Congresswoman!  Here are all four of us, not acting tired at all!
And here's my husband right after the tour.  I think he needed a nap.
We made some wonderful memories, but it's great to be back home.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


I had the pleasure of helping a friend lead a retreat over the week-end.  It was at a beautiful camp in Oregon, Illinois -- in a setting that was too gorgeous to do justice with photographs. (But, as you can see, I gave it a try anyway!)  Thirty women got together for  time with God, pampering, labyrinth walking, laughing and marveling at the beauty of God's creation during this colorful season.  Here's a few photographic highlights:  This little praying mantis flew right past us and landed on this slender stalk.  He even seemed to pose for me!
There were flocks of Cedar Waxwings gorging themselves on these yummy red berries.
 I think this is an eagle.  And look at the gorgeous color in the trees!
Such beauty our Creator blessed us with . . .
How was your week-end?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Be still my heart!

For a long time, I have tried to lure hummingbirds into our yard, with no success.  I've seen a few dart around the neighborhood on a few occasions, but have never been successful in feeding them.  BUT apparently my lowly, unappreciated morning glories attracted them, because I saw one a few weeks ago feeding on the fragile blossoms.  Excitedly, I put out my hummingbird feeder which, until now, had only attracted ants and bees.  To my great excitement, the hummers started showing up on a regular basis.  And finally this morning I had some time to wait patiently with my camera for them to appear.  They did not disappoint, and were flitting around me and even posing for pictures!  I can't tell you how excited I was!  But I can show you!

So, so, so excited!!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Since today was Sunday, Don and I decided to call it "Funday" and spent the afternoon just having fun.  We drove west, to the Fox River in Geneva and found a lovely park with a Japanese garden.  Here are some of the pictures we took.  Don took this one of me, and I like it!
 The next two I did some Photoshop experimenting a la Kim Klassen and her latest Beyond Layers assignment.  It gives the flowers a toned down, vintage feel.  I usually love pop and contrast, but these were fun to try.

 I think this gate one is my favorite.  It was a gorgeous day to be out!
 I liked this pagoda (?) and the way the water reflected the brightness of it.

Afterwards we stopped for root beer floats at A&W (in the frosty mugs - yum!) and then finished the day off with some deep dish pizza.

So how was your week-end?  Did you get to do anything FUN?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Librarian Talk and Blog Love

Usually I reserve my blog space for talking about artful, creative things that have been going on.  Today I want to shift a bit and talk about another of my passions (which has also become a vocation).  Reading has always been a passion of mine -- books are companions and authors become friends.  Even more so now that I am working as a Children's Librarian at our local library.  One part of the job that I have been loving is reading some of the best in children's literature.  Madeleine L'Engle once said  "You have to write the book that wants to be written.  And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children."  I'm finding that some of the best books I've read all year are the ones written for children.  For example, last week I finished the Newbery winning book by Sharon Creech entitled Walk Two Moons.    It is a sensitive, beautiful story, with wonderful themes throughout.  If you've never read it, it could be your next favorite read!

I don't want to forget to recommend my daughter's blog:  With Nothing but an Open Mind . . .  She just turned 21, is a senior in college, and is posting daily about her journey, her thoughts and her growing edges.  I'm impressed about the depth of her insights (and that's not just because I'm her mom!)  Anyway, check it out for some daily food-for-thought, inspirational pictures and a new perspective!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

So much going on!

It has been an exciting time, and so I haven't blogged in a long time.  The biggest, brightest news is that last night my daughter's boyfriend proposed!  We have a wedding to plan!  Exciting stuff!  Here's the artsy engagement picture we took this afternoon:
I also finished a couple of bookmarks I was working on for gifts for friends.  I really like the "P", but the "J" seems way too busy.  It's a lot of fun working with the gold leaf.  And now I guess I need to continue to practice because I may be working on wedding invitations.  :-)  I'll keep you posted!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Growing Pains (ugh!)

Another wedding brought a request from my daughter to create something to add to their gift.  It was last minute so it didn't leave me a lot of time, but I finally declared it finished and sent it off.

But I'm not really happy with it.  I can find a thousand things wrong with it.  But I'm going to post it just because I think it's all part of the learning process.  As Kathy Millici taught us, "Each time I practice, I get better and better."  Which means I need to do a lot of practicing.
On a brighter note, we finally have a hummingbird coming to our feeder!  Yay!  She is still too shy to get a good picture (I have to take it from the upstairs window right now, and it's pretty far away), but everytime I see her I get so excited!  Here's my best picture of her so far.
Happy last-week-of-summer!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fun with flourishes!

While at IAMPETH, I took a class with Kathy Millici of 24 Karat Design Studios on flourishing.  It was such a great class -- she really helped break down the whole process into understandable steps.  First she talked about visually pleasing angles for the flourishes and then she led us through a practice where we first just lettered a name without any ascenders or decenders.  Then we used tracing paper on top of it and a pencil to work on flourishes that would fit well together.  And here all along I thought that if I got good enough, I could just whip off flourishes without even thinking about them.  (Well, OK, I know that Kathy can do that, but how nice that I can work on the process at a slower pace!)

Over the week-end I was invited to a bridal shower, so I put my new-found flourishing skills to good use.  I took a few pictures as I went along, but they won't post the right way on this blog, so below is the finished product.  It just fit into a small square opening in a lovely collage frame that they can use for their wedding pictures.  It's not perfect by any means, but I really like the way it turned out.  (I forgot to take a pic of it in the frame -- next time!)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back from IAMPETH

I've been back for a week, but catching up with life has taken awhile.  In case you don't know, IAMPETH is short for International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting (at least that's the way I think it goes).  Each year they sponsor a week-long conference with lots of workshops, sharing, networking and fun.  This year the conference was in Milwaukee, so I was able to go!

One of my favorite workshops was with Harvest Crittendon, on Illuminated Letters.  Here's a few pictures of the process I used in creating a bookmark for my daughter, Karissa.
 I did leave out a couple of preliminary steps, but we first traced a basic outline of a letter from a historical alphabet.  This one is from the 1600's.  She then showed us how to add some of our own design elements to it.  We added real gold leaf to the open space and painted the base coat of color onto our letter.
 We added shading, highlighting and some extra touches and then went over the outline again.
 The end result is a pretty nice little bookmark!  By the way, my bookmark is made of calfskin vellum from El Salvador.  My room-mate for the week, Lucy, brought it for me!  I had never worked on vellum before, and it was great fun!
One final picture -- this is Lucy.  On our afternoon off, we visited The Domes -- a botanical garden in Milwaukee.  Despite the language barrier, we had a great time together!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Painting Experiment

A few weeks ago I was at the Chicago Botanical Garden and took lots of pictures.  The water lilies were especially enthralling.  I took this picture intentionally out of focus because I loved the splashes of color and the impressionist look.
 Of course I took another one in focus, and then I wondered what it would be like to paint this fairly simple scene . . .
I first tried watercolor.  There are things I like about it, but I wish I knew how to make the colors in the flowers pop more!
 Then I tried acrylic on a slightly larger surface.  There were things that were easier about acrylic, like the fact that you can paint completely over something if you don't like it!  And I felt the need to add a third flower just to make the space work better.
Any tips from seasoned painters out there?  (Besides the fact that maybe I should sign up for a class!)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

County Fair!

I must confess that, although I grew up in a small farming town, I didn't appreciate it.  Living in a town with only one movie theater and no shopping malls was boring!  So I attended college in the Chicago area and stayed.  Now I love all things country related -- locally grown produce and locally raised meat, fresh air . . . (oh no -- I'm starting to hum the theme song from Green Acres!)

Anyway, this afternoon I had a chance to go to the local county fair, and it was wonderful!  Here's a few images from our time:  We watched pig races,
 learned how farm kids did chores a few years ago,
 got the evil eye from a watchful cow,
 hung out in a butterfly garden
 and rode the rides!
It was a wonderful taste of the country for these city folks!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Keeping Cool in the City

When I was in Chicago last week, we walked over the the fountains at Millennium Park and had a grand time cooling off our feet in the water and watching all the kids playing and splashing.  Here's some of my favorite pics from that day.
There are two giant pictures of people at either end of the fountain, and at a certain time, water spouts out of their mouths.  It's a little bizarre looking.
 But the kids love it.
 The little ones were the most fun to watch.
 She had just a moment's peace before there were kids splashing all around.
And this little girl also found a moment to enjoy some solitude.
What a great way to enjoy a hot summer's day!  I hope you are finding ways to keep cool as well!