Monday, March 30, 2009

Artfest Bound

Well, I’m finally packed for Artfest and off at the crack of dawn. The picture on my blog today is on the front of the little booklets I’ll be trading with other people there. (This year’s theme is sea monsters).
I’m really looking forward to seeing Brenda and Martha, and participating in the three workshops I signed up for: Wax the Casbah with Judy Wise, Lynne Perrella’s A Face in the Crowd, and Spontaneous Intent Clayboard with Mary Beth Shaw.
I swore when I came back from Artfest last time that I wouldn’t do any painting classes if I went again because of all the supplies involved. But here I am with a truckload of paint ...even though Jeanne encouraged me to exercise restraint. Hopefully I’ll actually be able to finish something and then share it with you.
See you next Monday and have an artful week.

P.S. If you live in the Toronto area, don’t forget to visit the One of a Kind show to see Carmi's new fleet of book assemblages and cards. Check out her blog for pictures and more information.

Friday, March 27, 2009

We’re in ATC Quarterly!

Today got off to a great start when I received my copy of the Spring 2009 Artist Trading Card Quarterly. I’d written a piece on our group of Toronto area traders, and it was exciting to see so many of our talented participants published in my favorite zine.
Beverly Dalton, Colette Copeland, Daniza Benic, Diana Yee, Susan Venditti, Katie Maksym, Kris Fenwick, Ludgera Mueller, Marissa Decepida-Wong, Martha Brown, Mary Ambrose and Sandy Camarda all have their work featured in this issue

For more information on Artist Trading Card Quarterly, check out editor extraordinaire Ronna Mogelon’s blog.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Moo Challenge #47

Because of everything I have to do this week for Artfest—and Emma is taking me to Las Vegas for Easter weekend too—I hadn’t planned on participating in the Make a Moo or Two challenge this week. But how could I resist the postal theme?
For several years I was an active mail artist and participated in shows all over the world. Unfortunately it was one of the things I had to put on hold to write my book, but I plan to get back to it when I have more time. There’s something so satisfying about sending and receiving mail. I also loved making my own artistamps. Hmmm …maybe it’s time to get my perforator out of the garage and start using it again.


I’ve been thinking about everyone going to Artfest tonight and wondering if they’re as excited—and anxious—as I am. My guess is they probably are.
I’ve always found packing for major trips stressful because I’d just like to transport everything I have there and not have to make any decisions about what to take. Plus there’s the whole will-my-luggage-go-missing thing, which I hate. Not that it’s ever happened to me, but the last time I went to Artfest, one woman’s suitcase didn’t make it and it was awful for her. We all pitched in and gave her supplies, but I never did find out how she managed without clothes and important things like a hot water bottle.

At the moment I have little piles of stuff organized everywhere and I’m just hoping everything will fit into my suitcase. I also have all my trades done—80 little booklets—and some idea about what I’m going to do in the three painting workshops I’m taking. Because I usually spend several hours contemplating a piece before I begin, I have to get some of that out of the way or I won’t be able to finish a thing.

Monday, March 23, 2009

For Irene

When Irene left a comment here the other day saying she missed my weekly ATC, I realized that I haven’t been indulging in that particular pleasure for a while—so girlfriend, this one is for you! To create my ATC, I superimposed one of my favorite old photos onto a vintage book cover and then played with the Saturation and Hard Light blending modes in Photoshop. The book itself is called Spirit and Life and was published in 1896. Apparently it was a popular compilation of church music and you can download it for free from The Graphics Fairy. If you’re interested in images like this, you might also want to check out another free site: The Vintage Moth.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Sunset

John took this picture of the wonderful sunset on Wednesday night. He has been documenting the sky off and on for a few months now, and each photo is different because the sky changes so quickly.
Speaking of skies, if you love the work of Joseph Cornell, there’s a new book out on his work by Kirsten Hoving called Joseph Cornell and Astronomy: A Case for the Stars. I haven’t read it myself, but I did flip through a copy in a bookstore recently and the art is amazing. It’s definitely on my to-buy list.

There’s something so inspiring about the sky in its many incarnations, and I’m sure that’s why Cornell was moved to express this in his art. I think this quote by Rumi says it best: The universe and the light of the stars come through me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Moo Challenge $46

Hermine is the guest hostess over at Make a Moo or Two this week, and her challenge is to incorporate a jigsaw puzzle piece into your moos.
Even though I had trouble coming up with something I liked, I found this challenge really appealing. There’s something about a jigsaw puzzle that intrigues me—maybe because life is like a puzzle, and we’re trying to fit the pieces together to make sense of it.
In any case, I used the custom shape tool in Photoshop to generate the pieces I used here. But if you want a whole photo to look like a jigsaw puzzle, there are a couple of ways of doing this.
Use the Texturizer tool in the Filters menu. For a complete step-by-step tutorial, check out the Photoshop Talent website.
Download Panos Puzzle Effects which installs as a Photoshop action. There is a lite version that’s free, or you can buy the one that creates a more complicated looking jigsaw.
I prefer the results of the Panos action to those of the Texturizer tool because I think it looks more realistic. But if you’re a Photoshop user, you might want to try both and see what you think

Monday, March 16, 2009

More Polaroid Fun

Azirca emailed me recently to tell me about Poladroid, a simple program you can download that turns your photos in faux Polaroids.
It’s easy to use. All you need is a picture saved as a JPEG. You just slide your photo into the Poladroid icon and wait for it to “develop.” Then, right click on the picture, and a message comes up asking you if you want to save it to your desktop. Click the message and you’re done.
Once it’s saved, you can post it to your blog. Or if you want to add something else, you can import it into Photoshop like I did here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

1,000 Journal Pages

If you keep a journal—or would like to—how can you resist a book with the title: 1,000 Artist Journal Pages? I knew I certainly couldn’t. Dawn DeVries Sokol had the mammoth task of organizing journal pages from 175 artists into a workable format. And the result? Wall-to-wall-eye candy.
While it is wonderful to see the pages produced by so many talented journalers, I found it hard to stay focused on the art because there’s just so much of it. The journal pages are lined up like soldiers, and there’s no text to give you a breather. I was also frustrated by the small size of most of the pictures because I wanted to see more detail.

But don’t let the lack of a dynamic presentation prevent you from buying this book. It’s worth owning simply because you’ll have a window into the wide range of journaling styles that are out there. I found by approaching 1,000 Artist Journal Pages as a survey, rather than an experience, I found plenty of stuff here to inspire me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

One thing or another

Back in January, Ginger—that fount of Blogland wisdom—posted a picture of a chickadee put together using vintage Letraset type. I was thinking about this when I started working on this spread for my process journal. I don’t know whether or not you’ve ever had the opportunity to work with Letraset, but when I was preparing camera-ready artwork years ago, I found using it was addictive. Even though spacing the letters properly could drive you mad, there was something so satisfying about the crisp look of the finished type.
I still have a stash of old Letraset. But the letters were too large for this layout, so I found a sheet of instant lettering I’d bought at the dollar store and used that instead. At least I tried to, but the letters just wouldn’t rub off. (Guess that’s why they call it the dollar store!) In the end, I cut out a chunk from the sheet and used tiny bits of double-sided tape to keep in place. I quite like the effect, and think it might also work with a light wash of paint over it. It’s funny how the intended use of a material can be transformed into something else.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Moo Challenge #45

The theme at Make a Moo or Two this week is fruits and vegetables. Since I love both, I knew I would enjoy this challenge. Narrowing down my choices took a while though. As usual, the shape of the moo format dictates what you end up choosing, and I finally settled on three apples and an asparagus forest. I liked the red and green complimentary color thing going on, but something was missing. The Muse of the Harvest perhaps? So I Photoshoped her in, and she seems to feeling right at home, no doubt day dreaming of tasty salads and fresh fruit.

Friday, March 06, 2009

You can do it!

Yes, I’m living proof that you can finish what you start even if you’ve been dragging your heels—or whatever the artistic equivalent is—for years.
Back in 2006 I started what I call a “process journal.” By this I mean a place where you experiment with different techniques. Things went pretty well there for a while, and then for no particular reason, I suddenly ran out of steam.
Of course you can’t finish everything you start. In my opinion, some things are just meant to go belly up, but when you only have 16 pages to go in a journal, they keep nagging away you to finish them. The longer you leave something, though, the harder it becomes to deal with. (I don’t like to think of art making as a chore, but let’s face it, sometimes it really is).
Finally I decided I had to tackle my creative mountain—well, it was more like a small hill really—and I felt surprisingly intimidated. My usual way of doing things is to graze through all my supplies and gradually distill them into elements I want to use. But I know from experience how easy it is for me to get caught up in caressing my art materials, so this time I just grabbed a pile of stuff and told myself that’s what I was going to work with, no matter what.

Now I’m feeling quite pleased with myself that I actually managed to do it. In fact, I felt so energized by the experience that I actually started a new and larger process journal. But anyway, the point of me telling all this is to encourage you to finish something that’s been hanging around annoying you because I know you can do it!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

My Blogiversary

When I woke up this morning, I realized that yesterday was my third Blogiversary. Yes, I started posting to Artopia Update on March 3rd 2006, and I’m still here!
While I was having my morning tea, I thought about all the great reasons there are for continuing to be part of Blogland:
1. You meet wonderful people and make new friends.
2. You get to share part of your life with your readers, and in turn, you share part of theirs.
3. You’re inspired, uplifted and enriched by what your fellow bloggers post.
4. You learn all sorts of fascinating details about topics you never would have come across—but wanted to.
5. Your sense of community is enlarged and becomes elastic because you have a fleet of soul mates available to you 24/7.
So, dear reader, thank you for visiting Artopia Update and here’s to Year Four!

Monday, March 02, 2009

A Digital Polaroid

Is anyone still using a Polaroid camera? I have one somewhere, as well as an Izone, but it’s getting harder and harder to find film for these instant cameras. If you work with Photoshop and want an effect that simulates the look of a Polaroid frame, you can download the one I used for my pigeon at Action Central. It’s called Andrea's Polaroid 89 Border and mimics the look of peel-apart film. The file actually comes in layers so you can slide your own picture in as I did here. Most of the freebies on this site involve actions, a Photoshop technique that allows you to automate certain tasks you do regularly. But you don’t have to know anything about them to use this particular frame. Just download and enjoy!