Friday, 22 February 2013
We have been out enjoying the snowdrops and there are other flowers spring to life here and there too.
Snowdrops always inspire me to complete at least one piece of art and I found some of those cut out rustic hearts online. I decided to draw on the wood in coloured pencil and it was easier than I thought. Now I just want to spray this with some weatherproofing and I shall hang it up in the garden.
Meanwhile, I have been spending a little time in the garden on the days where it has warmed up a little. It is still quiet out there but those little irises are making a bright splash of colour.
Have a lovely weekend everyone.
Sunday, 27 January 2013
1. The house got a bit of a clear out. As I write I now I have another large bag for the clothes recycle! Other things that had truly annoyed me for ages got thrown out and replaced.....it is a GOOD feeling.
2. I have read more than usual and some books that perhaps I normally wouldn't. One of which was The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh which I loved on many levels. Not only did I enjoy the story but, I loved learning more about flowers and their meanings.
3. I have used the time to cook again. So many things from scratch after treating myself to a slow cooker and I have really enjoyed seeking out new recipes.
4. I took more time to go out with the camera walking and take winter scenery!
5. I rationalised some of my on line presence that was becoming a chore. So you will see that Fine Art America has been removed from my sidebar.
6. I have contacted a stock photo company and passed their quality control and now have lots of photographs uploaded and key worded. Strangely the whole experience has been quite educational and has certainly provided me with some new photographic goals for the forthcoming year......as well as going through existing photos with a technically critical eye...........This also had the benefit of making me tidy up my existing photos. There were some that I had never even opened!
7. I have only made art when I felt like it...which hasn't been that often. I think my only production this month was inspired by the discussions of the portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge.
8. I have booked myself onto some wonderful short 3/4 hour courses which really appeal to me. The first one of those is coming up soon and is "Identifying trees in Winter".
9. I finished my sketchbook project and sent it off to Brooklyn. I look forward to the updates but, decided this year, I AM going to take more time out to update MY own journal.
10. In the recent bad weather I took an hour out very day to feed the birds and actually sit and watch them.
All in all, it hasn't been one of my most dynamic of months.....but, it has been interesting.
Tuesday, 4 December 2012
I have to confess, I do really enjoy this kind of thing. I love to let my imagination go free and Christmas provides free rein to be a little more creative than usual and of course unusually I have had the time.
So Christmas cards have been designed, my Zazzle store has had some serious input and a local magazine featured some of my cards too which was rather nice. Check out page 16, my old card making friends might be surprised that I have actually been doing some of those too ;) http://content.yudu.com/Library/A1zuvk/ShropshireReviewDece/resources/index.htm?referrerUrl=http%3A%2F%2Ffree.yudu.com%2Fitem%2Fdetails%2F648614%2FShropshire-Review-December-2012
I have also been featured as an artist and photographer on paint my photo...perhaps I better mind my p's and q's in this post ;) I have taken part in a challenge in the Coloured pencil facebook group which was using a beautiful photograph by Lori Fairchild. It was the first time I have used coloured pencil in ages.
I have been playing at graphic design in photoshop too for making backgrounds for some of my cards and I don't think you would believe how long that took! However, it has been of benefit because I have been designing a few bespoke ones for friends.
I have been working on some commissions for Christmas which I cannot show as yet but, here is one where I just had a few hours having fun with pastels.
But, am I prepared myself...you must be joking! I haven't written so much as a single Christmas card, no decorations, in fact no preparation cleaning either ;) So, if you are like me......I raise a toast "clink"...tomorrow maybe? haha
Friday, 5 October 2012
Initially, I just put a lot of my favourite photographs of Skiathos together with quotes and ordered a small paperback copy from Vistaprint. The software was easy to use although the lack of spell checker and not being able to see what I was actually writing because it was so small with the online program was problematic. However, when it arrived, I was pleased with the result, the photo paper quality was great, the print colour rendition was lovely and the binding was quite nice for a paperback. I ended up taking two of them to Skiathos as gifts for some friends who have been very kind to us. One of these friends has a shop and questioned if we could produce something maybe of a bit lesser quality, a little more cost effectively for the tourist market.
So, on our arrival home, firstly I looked into buying greater numbers of the book produced by Vistaprint. Sadly, when I accessed the site, only the very small photo snap books are now available. Therefore, I contacted customer services. The response was brilliant given that it was a Saturday and I had my answer inside an hour! However, Vistaprint have stopped doing photo books temporarily while they increase the quality of their product. Actually, as value for money, I was quite happy initially. Every day, I get an email from the company offering discounts on every product in the sun...apart from the one I want!
So, then I went looking a little further. This time I used Lulu because the pricing was competitive. Especially for what we were thinking of and the discount is good for multi buys. I spent a week creating a 30 page book. The online publishing tool was good and very easy to use. When adding text, it zoomed in large so you could easily see what you had written. As recommended by Lulu, I then ordered a proof copy. When it arrived, it was nicely laid out, the cover was lovely gloss and overall represents fairly good value for money. If I have one complaint, the binding is a little tacky. The print quality is not as good as the Vistaprint one either but, then the price tag wasn't so hefty either. Except.......
After viewing it for real, I had a couple of minor alterations to a couple of pages, only tiny tweaks but, things that stood out to me. After going back online and changing these, the price mysteriously more than doubled! To be honest at the time, I was incensed! Customer services took more than 24 hours to respond and told me to republish. After which, the pricing came down a little more but, even then the cost was half as much again as the original price! After puzzling for ages, I took a good look at the site and realised that in between the first copy and the second, the prices has been increased somewhat dramatically. I wished I had left it as it was, so much for proof reading! Anyway, customer services came back and offered me a laughable discount.....I was so angry, I almost removed it. However, that would be silly, if anyone uses the 20% discount from the Lulu homepage, it is still a very affordable book with lots of images and wildlife of Skiathos. It can be viewed here
Nevertheless, I am still looking around for something along similar lines because I have not been entirely happy with the Lulu experience!
My final experience was completely different but, I decided I wanted a book for our coffee table. For this one of course I was not thinking of commercial viability at all. This was a no expense spared one for us, with our memories and favourites. Having experienced two very different qualities already, I wanted a top of the range super glossy, large, hardback book where the binding lay flat. I came across Albelli who are doing a promotion at the minute of £15 off any photo book. I have to say their editing software was a treat and unlike both of my previous experiences you could see exactly what price you were going to end up with at every step of the way. The price updates as you add pages, photo cover etc in the corner of the software program.
Now, this one has arrived today and it will take pride of place.....The colour rendition is wonderful and I love, love, love it. I guess you get what you pay for!
Tuesday, 2 October 2012
The next effort was some flowers that I had taken photo's of in the summer. This time I made better use of "a little" masking fluid and made sure to leave some highlights. I also found that Inktense water colour pencils really provide a little vibrance and a touch of definition and I liked them whilst the paper was still a little damp especially. I also found that for tiny little highlights, you can gently scrape with a knife...once it is dry.
Thanks to both Mary for her company, time and patience and also Yvonne Ayoub for her generosity once again (giving up her studio and valuable painting time).