July 31, 2009

PNG Tutorial & "Freebies"

For Your Artful Pleasure!

Throughout the ages, women have always been fascinated with fashion, and several challenges have recently focused on that theme. Looking at these two women, fashion took a turn from the sublime to the ridiculous!

This week's images were found in the archives of the Library of Congress. If you haven't investigated this site, it's a wonderful source for old images. These fancy ladies, as well as many other pictures, are now in the Public Domain (You don't have to ask for permission before using those images in your artwork. Yay!) Going through their wonderful archives is like browsing in a flea market or going through old shoeboxes of pictures in someone's attic. If you'd like to visit now, click here, and happy hunting!

Thank You!

I just want to take a quick minute to say a deeply, heartfelt thanks to everyone who commented on my Three Muses challenge piece, "Dee & Me", this week. My sweet blog sisters, please know that you have touched my heart with your caring words. I am humbled and grateful. Huge "hugs" to all of you from me. :)

PNG File Tutorial
A Quick Explanation
(I hope!)

This week I've posted two versions of each image: The .png version, which has been digitally cleaned up, and the .jpeg version, which is the original photo. The original backgrounds have been removed from the .png versions so all you see are the lovely ladies. However, the .png files may be saved as regular .jpeg files. To help you understand the difference between each file designation, here's a quick layman's explanation of their differences.

Most of us are very familiar with .jpeg files. This is the traditional file used to download and save most pictures. Jpeg files are commonly used for printing. The BIG difference, is that .png files have had their backgrounds removed.

Digital artists generally prefer .png files, and here's the reason why. When you use saved .png files in your artwork, the background of the saved image is transparent and will disappear (even though it may appear to have a white background). It's as though someone actually trimmed or clipped the image and removed the background. Actually, that's precisely what's happened! Someone has gone the extra mile and has taken the time to digitally erase the background for you. For example when you purchase collage images from Etsy, the .png files are generally a bit more expensive than the .jpeg files because of the extra work involved.

The last thing I want to do is confuse everyone, but it's my hope that this explanation has been helpful.

This is a huge weekend for our family. I'm off to celebrate our son's birthday tomorrow and our 34th wedding anniversary is on Sunday. (And my Mother said it would never last! LOL) Wine, roses and cake are in my immediate future - It's going to be a great weekend!

Wishing you a weekend filled friends and family!

July 28, 2009

"Dee & Me" - Three Muses Challenge

"Dee & Me"
5"x7" Collage
(Click on a crown to see the details.)

The theme for the Three Muses challenge this week is "Inspirational People". You might be wondering, "Why fairies?" Well . . . I fairy-fied this picture of my sister, Dolores, and me that was taken in the mid 1950's for a reason. (Dee is wearing the blue dress, and I'm in the pink one.)

If you look closely at Dees' crown, it says "Wings" because she is one of Heaven's newer angels. (Her wings are yellow because that was a favorite color.) It'll be three years this October that I lost my baby sister to ovarian cancer. By the time she was diagnosed, it was way too late. Thankfully, The Good Lord was generous and spared her a long ordeal.

Dee's life has been an inspiration to many people. She was truly one of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet. She made people feel good about themselves and loved to laugh. (I adored her twisted, satiric sense of humor.) She tried to live each day to the fullest and always put other people's needs ahead of her own - even when she was sick. She was an awesome Mom and an awesome woman. She was the epitome of generosity and kindness. She led a quiet, gentle life and left behind a wonderful legacy of love. I miss her every minute of every day.

Tons of memories swirled and whirled through my mind, and quite a few tears were shed while working on this piece. This may not be the best piece of artwork I've ever done or the most original, but it's the most meaningful. Dee loved small children and fairies, and I'd like to think that I've made an angel smile.

Wishing you a day filled with heartfelt hugs!

PS - Give someone you love an extra hug today too! :)

Credits: The photo is from my Mom's collection; both of the crowns and the pretty roses are from Cassiscreations on Etsy; the wings are from Flickr's ArtsyFartsyQueen (Thank You!); the butterfly is from Dover Publications.

July 27, 2009

Crowabout Week #46

"Disco Fever"
5"x7" Collage
(Click on a disco ball to see the details!)

This week's retro Crowabout images are solely responsible for a huge disco revival in blogland, and I've mixed in a bit of 60's "flower power" for good measure! My mini-skirt days are over, and I've worn the "big hair" and the "Dynasty" shoulder pads; but I still like the Bee-Gee's music (Barry made me swoon!) and old John Travolta movies too!

My Techniques

With the exception of the scrap paper background, the intriguing lady (Thanks to my dear friend, June from Art Freebies) and the computer generated text, all of the remaining images are from Crowabout challenges past and present. Although I loved all of the images, I used five from this week's collage sheet.

All of the images were sized in a photo editing program, printed, carefully cut out and then glued to the flower power background. They were further enhanced with watercolor washes, pan pastels and Prismacolor pencils. White highlights were added with white acrylic paint, and the disco balls got a touch of glitter for their signature sparkle.

The girl's funky earring was created by stacking three multi-colored discs cut from a piece of sewing trim. A few images were given shadows with a smudged charcoal pencil and some were outlined and given more defination with a black Pitt pen. A silver metallic paint pen was used to finish the edges.

I hope you have a day filled with fun memories!

July 25, 2009

"Ooo-La-La!" - Sunday Postcard Art

4"x6" Postcard
(Click on the parasol to see the details!)

Madame Fifi couldn't wait to arrive in Paris to find the perfect outfit. She dreamed of a satin gown dripping in lace. She searched and searched for days. Finally, in an obscure designer's atelier, she found her perfect outfit. But, Oh, My! What was she thinking?!? It seems as though Monsieur Gilbert took the money and ran! Where are the fashion police when you really need them?!?


My Techniques

My Muse seems to have taken a bit of a break with this creation. (Maybe she ran away with Miss Fifi's designer!) Try as I might, my hands weren't accomplishing what I saw in my mind. It seems as though Miss Fifi had a fashion disaster and so did I artistically. But in the spirit of full disclosure, I've decided to give you a peek at my fashion road kill.

This week's Sunday Postcard Art's theme is "Fashion." My fashion disaster started with a digitally recolored background from Itkupilli, a black and white image from my collection and a snippet of digital lace from ScrapGirls.com. (FYI they have wonderful digital "freebies"! Check it out.)

After everything was digitally collaged, I added Twinkling H2O's to the background as well as faux postage and faux lettering stamped with purple Stazon ink. The grunge circles were created by dipping the bottom of a paint bottle into a puddle of antique white paint, and then using it as a stamp. Additional colors were added to the background with pan pastels.

Madam Fifi's colors were enhanced with watercolors, Twinkling H2O's, acrylic ink, acrylic paint and Prismacolor pencils. Further definition was done with a smudged outline of charcoal pencil. (FYI -I colored the lace with acrylic ink originally and didn't like the way it looked. So . . . I just kept adding Prismacolors until I was reasonably happy.) A gold metallic marker was used for the background dots and the edging; and, all of the edges were "dusted lightly" with tea-colored Distress Ink to add more depth.

I hope you have a day filled with personal satisfaction!

July 23, 2009

An Important Message & Blog "Freebies"

Say "NO" to Art Piracy!

You Are Cordially Invited To
Join the Campaign Against Art Piracy

Courtesy of Tumble Fish Studio

To Join the Campaign
Choose either or Both of These "Buttons"
Follow these Rules:

You MAY choose either or both of these images and copy them for the
sole purpose of displaying on your blog or website IF it is linked back to this flickr group: www.flickr.com/groups/stopartpiracycampaign
You may NOT use any piece of these images for your own artwork or any other publication or reproduction.
Click on each picture to save them for your blog use.


An Important Message

Generally, I post my "Freebies" on Friday. However, in light of a few unfortunate incidents, I thought I'd jump the gun with a special "Freebie" and some important information that touches each of us in our lovely art community.

During the past few weeks several artists have had work copied and used by other artists who displayed it as their own. It doesn't matter whether the entire piece was copied or a just tiny section. What DOES matter is that it's wrong to take other people's art to use as your own without the original artist's written permission. Taking what doesn't belong to you is stealing. Using another person's work and claiming credit for it is against the law.

Marsha Jorgensen from Tumble Fish Studio has started a campaign and education program regarding the subject of art piracy. Marsha has also created the first campaign "art button" (shown above) and has started a new Flickr Group - "Stop Art Piracy Campaign". You can read all about it by clicking here.

You don't have to choose a button for your blog, but you should take a moment to check out the important information about copyright laws and piracy on this important and relevant Flickr site. This is a subject that affects all of us, and many artists are participating in this important program. We'd love to have your support!

The "Freebie" this week is your choice of "blog button" for the campaign, AND this collage sheet that was created by me from the elements that I used to create my "button".

I've given you both the "before" pics and the digital "after" pics for your artful pleasure. Yes, you DO have my permission to use these images in your art (even if you make a piece to sell). However, you may not sell these images or reproduce them for distribution on a CD.

When you go to save the collage sheet, it'll open "large". I saved it at 300 dpi so it should be great quality. (Click on the lady's feathered hat to see the details.) It's all about "lawful art", so here are my credits:
  • The woodland path is a picture that I took at the NJ Botanical Gardens.
  • The fancy lady is from the public domain, and she was colored by me (on both images).
  • The little bluebirds are from Itkupilli.
  • The text was computer generated.
Have a supremely delightful weekend!

July 21, 2009

Two Challenges in One!

"Traveling Man"
4"x6" Collage
(Click on Santa's hat to see more detail!)

Just returned from my mini-vacation in the nick of time! The Crowabout challenge this week focused on "Christmas in July"! Woo-Hoo! I LOVE Christmas and wouldn't want to miss out on this challenge. And, my friends at Three Muses have posted the theme of "Incredible Journey".

This entry is for both challenges: Santa takes the most incredible journey every Christmas Eve. And, Nancy's Crowabout images provided Santa driving a car. How serendipitous!


My Techniques

A piece of scrap paper was drymounted to a 4"x6" piece of recycled chipboard from a cereal box. After each image was sized in a photo editing program, they were printed, cut out with scissors, carefully arranged and finally glued into their final position on the collage.

Eight of this week's images were used; and, all of the images are from Crowabout with the exceptions of the Christmas tree from Dover Publications, the pretty Christmas Fairy from Flickr's Lisa's Altered Art and the stars from my collection of goodies.

All of the images (including portions of the background) were enhanced with Prismacolor pencils, and in some instances, they were blended with a Prismacolor blending pencil. Shadows were added with gray and black Prismacolors, and more definition was added with a fine Pitt pen.

White dots were added to sections of the background with a white poster paint marker, and the gold edging was created with a gold metallic marking pen.

Hope you have a serendipitous day!

July 17, 2009

Vacation & "Friday Freebies"

For your pleasure!

I just can't resist children and pets, and thought you might enjoy these images from the public domain. Please note that I created and uploaded the first image of the little girl and her furry friend as a .png file for your artful pleasure. However, you can save it as a regular .jpeg file.

I love posting my "Freebies" as a way of saying "thank you" to you, my lovely visitors. It's also a way of paying back for all of the images that I've acquired over time.

For the past few weeks I've added some .png files to the mix. If you have an opportunity, I'd like to have your opinion. Please take a moment to leave a comment on this post to let me know the "Freebie" format that you prefer - either .png or .jpeg files. If you do leave your choice, thank you! I truly value your input.

Thanks so much for your visit today. I hope that you're enjoying these images in your art!


Vacation Announcement!

(Click on the fairy to read the "story"!)

It's been quite a while since we've had a bit of a break, and we're l-o-n-g overdue for some getaway fun. We're off to Western Pennsylvania and the land of the Amish for a few days, to visit my little brother (I use the term loosely, as he's 6'3" tall!) and his beautiful family. It's been at least a year since we've had an opportunity to see each other, and I'm really looking forward to our visit.

Along the way, there's sure to be an opportunity for some pictures, shopping and fun. I'll have limited access to blogland while I'm away and won't be "posting", but I will try to check in occasionally. (I just can't handle complete withdrawal!) See you in a few days - around Wednesday!

Have a relaxing weekend!

July 15, 2009

"Friendship" Photo Frame & Birthday Wishes

Altered Photo Frame
(Click on a bluebird to see the details!)

I've taken some time away from some challenges this week to get caught up on a few overdue commitments (artistic and personal) and thought you might enjoy a change of pace too.

a challenge comes along that just so darn intriguing, you can't say "no"! When someone in an art group that I belong to suggested altering a photo frame for a swap with the theme of "Friendship", I couldn't resist giving it a try.


My Techniques

The base of this collage is a standard 5"x7" photo mat, exactly the type of mat you'd find in any Michaels, Hobby Lobby or craft store. I traced the shape of the entire frame (inside and out) on a piece of scrapbook paper, cut it out carefully with an exacto knife and drymounted the cutout to the photo mat.

After "lining" the inside of the frame with a gold marker, flourishes were stamped with dark brown Stazon ink. Next, I resized the can-can dancers, bluebirds and flowers from Itkupilli in a photo editing program and created the text (aged with Distress Ink). All of the images were printed out, carefully hand trimmed with scissors and attached to the frame.

The entire background, as well as all of the images, were enhanced with layer upon layer of watercolor "washes". Prismacolor pencils were also used, along with Pitt pens for outlining and details. A touch of glitter glue highlights each dancer's bodice, and the white dots were created with a white poster paint marker.


Happy Birthday, Lynn!

A little bluebird of happiness came and whispered in my ear that it's my friend Lynn's birthday today! If you have an opportunity, stop by Lynn's beautiful blog for a visit ( Her Creative Spirit) and give her a bit of Birthday love! She's extremely talented, and you'll love her dreamy and romantic art - so "shabby chic". Many Birthday Wishes for a wonderful day of celebration and love, My Friend!

May your day be filled with friendship & love!

July 13, 2009

Crowabout Week #44 & A Surprise!

5"x7" Collage
(Click on the teacup to see all of the details!)

Don't let "Queenie's" blue-gray hair and quiet demeanor fool you. She was considered to be what was known as a "looker" in her day, and had quite a reputation for playing assorted risque parlor games - if you know what I mean!

They say she still has a few cards up her sleeve, but she's keeping quite mum about her past under that crown. After all, she's not a girl to kiss and tell. However, you might have some fun if you ask "Queenie" how she got her "bling"!


My Techniques

Loved, loved, loved all of the Crowabout collage images this week (Thanks, Nancy!) and managed to use ten of them for this collage with the only addition being the lovely jeweled crown from Flickr's ArtsyFartsyQueen.

In the interest of time, this week's collage was cut, pasted and composed in Corel Paint Shop Pro. After it was printed, the fun began. Here's a peek at what "Queenie" looked like before the "overcoloring" began.

"Queenie" Before the Makeover!
A Surprise "Freebie" for your Artful Pleasure!
(Please Note: This was uploaded as a .png file; however,
you may also save it as a .jpeg file.)

I began with several layers of watercolor "washes", followed by Prismacolor pencils and pan pastels. Shadows were created with a smudged charcoal pencil, and highlights were added with white acrylic paint. (That's why her pearls are so white too!) Finally, the polka dots and edging were added to the background with a gold metallic marker.

Have a day filled with wonderful surprises!

July 10, 2009

Friday "Freebies" & Lots of Thanks!

For Your Creative Pleasure!

Thanks to everyone who left such beautiful and encouraging comments on my last post (surreal art); you made my heart sing with your sweet words! As a way to thank you for your kindness, I thought I'd post "Sunflower Lady", a peasant lady and a background for your use.

FYI - I created and saved both ladies as .png files. You can save them as such, or you can save them as .jpeg files the way you normally would. Just click on each image, and when it pops up in a new window, select "save as".

"Sunflower Lady" was created from two images - the lady from the Smithsonian Collection, and the sunflower face from a flickr photo sharing group (Thank you, Takeabreak!). The peasant lady (from my collection) and the background of the fancy foyer are believed to be in the public domain. I hope you enjoy them!


Special "Thanks"

This week I've been blessed to be the recipient of a LOT of Blogland "love"! To Shelly (Blue Ridge Lady), Janine (Join Janine) and Kelly (News & Notes from the Happy Shack) BIG "Thank You" hugs right back to you! All of these gracious and supremely talented ladies have wonderful blogs, well worth the time to stop by and say "hello"! Thanks again, for the "love"!

According to their award acceptance "agreement", I must reveal seven things about myself, so here goes!
  1. Around 3-4 p.m. every afternoon, I must have a nice, hot cup of tea. It really doesn't matter whether it's winter or summer. Tea time rules!
  2. I love my deck (or porch). It's extremely large, and in the springtime I plant flowers and small shrubs in pots and place them all around. I can see this deck from the back of my house, and it has a fountain and a periwinkle swing (that looks marvelous when it snows). White lights are strung around the perimeter and adorn a few of the larger shrubs. To me, it's very zen. My little peace of heaven on earth!
  3. I always "talk" with my hands. They go a mile a minute. My father used to say that if someone tied my hands behind my back, I wouldn't be able to talk.
  4. It's not enough for me to look at something when I shop, I always want to "touch it". Doesn't matter what it is . . . I'm very tactile. If I see it, I have to feel it!
  5. My aura and/or energy field always attracts babies, old men and animals. (And, sometimes "fritzes out" electronic equipment!)
  6. Math sucks! To this day (and I'm postmenopausal) and for the life of me, I can't remember numbers or do fractions no matter how hard I try. If someone were to say a series of three numbers, by the time I walk from one room to another, I can't get those numbers straight (even if I repeat them over and over).
  7. Given a choice of movies, I'll take romance or a good comedy every time. And the "older" the movie, the better. I adore the old studio classics like "Topper", the Fred Astaire movies, and my favorite - "Gone With the Wind". The costumes and sets from this era are unbelievable. (I adored Edith Head!) And don't even mention Cary Grant, Gregory Peck and Clark Gable! Be still my heart!
Have a fabulous weekend!

July 8, 2009

"The Heartland" - Three Muses Challenge

"The Heartland"
5"x7" Digital Collage

When I saw this week's theme of "surreal art" at Three Muses, I felt like a fish out of water. I can't begin to tell you how uncomfortable I am with surreal art of any type. I remember being exposed to Salvador Dali's work when I was very young and found it to be deeply disturbing. Since that time whenever anyone says "surreal art", I get a bunch of fluttering butterflies in my stomach (and not the fun kind!) and immediately "close" my mind.

For the sake of growing new art wings, I decided to compose a totally digital piece and give it a whirl. Ozstuff suggested that we take a look at Maggie Taylor's work. What a pleasant surprise! (And not like Dali's work in the least!)


My Techniques

This entire piece was composed using Corel Paint Shop Pro. (No watercolors and no Prismacolors, Bev! She's "naked"!) The farm was a piece of an ad in a magazine that I scanned and saved to use for a background. The green lady is from the Smithsonian Collection, and the sunflower is from a flickr photo sharing group (thanks Takeabreak!).

I digitally erased the backgrounds of the lady and the sunflower, then merged the two images to create my hybrid flower lady. Flourishes were "stamped" with a digital brush.

Hope you have a sunny day!

July 6, 2009

Crowabout Week #43

"Mirror Mirror"
5"x7" Collage
(Click on the kitty to see all of the details!)

A beautiful frame, the word "Fairytale" and a butterfly were among this week's Crowabout images. The story of Snow White and the evil queen's "magic mirror" immediately came to mind, although I've given the fairytale a new twist. Who can resist a pretty kitty?!?


My Techniques

Six of the Crowabout images were used for "Mirror Mirror" along with the cute kitty from my collection, the butterflies from Itkupilli and computer printed text.

This piece began by enlarging and digitally recoloring two of the given images for the background in Corel PSP. The mirror, the butterfly and the kitty in the mirror were digitally cut, pasted and layered to form the background. After printing the composed digital collage, all of the images were enhanced the old-fashioned way with washes of watercolors, Prismacolor pencils and pan pastels.

The butterflies were sized in a photo editing program, printed and trimmed with scissors before being applied to the collage. Text was created in a word program and printed on a page of a vintage children's book that was first "washed" with acrylic paint and then brushed with distress ink.

The swirls were created with a stencil and white acrylic paint, and the green dots with a marker. A copper metallic marker finished the edges.

Have a magical day!

July 4, 2009

"Enchanted Nest" - Sunday Postcard Art

"Enchanted Nest"
4"x6" Postcard
(Click on this picture to see the details!)

One of my very favorite fairy tales was the story of the "Twelve Dancing Princesses". The twelve princesses would secretly escape from their guards each evening, swiftly wend their way through forests of bejeweled trees, and dance 'til morning. Upon their return everyone in the castle was baffled by their worn out shoes.

Although I loved the princesses, I've always been intrigued by the beautiful descriptions of the enchanted forest. I loved the sparkling branches of diamonds and the shimmering emerald leaves moving in the soft summer breeze as the princesses hurried by. If some of those trees had nests, I know that they would hold enchanted dreams guarded by lovely fairies.

Hence, my inspiration and entry for this week's Sunday Postcard Art theme of "nests".


My Techniques

My postcard began with a digital photo of a nest that was cropped in a photo editing program to fit the required 4"x6" size. The fairy was digitally cropped from her original picture and superimposed digitally on the background of the nest. Faux writing was stamped with digital brushes.

This is how my fairy began. (Feel free to use her in your art!)

All of the images were enhanced with layers of watercolor washes, Prismacolor pencils and pan pastels. A flourish was stamped on the right side of the nest with embossing ink and copper embossing powder.

A vintage page from an old book was "washed" with white acrylic paint and allowed to dry. After creating the text on my computer, I scotch-taped the painted vintage page to a sheet of plain white paper and ran it through the printer for the background of the text. White acrylic "dots" were carefully added to the fairy's dress, and the edges were finished with a copper metallic marker.

Have an enchanted day!

July 3, 2009

Happy 4th of July & "Freebies"

Happy July 4th Celebrations to All!

Wishing you and yours a safe and Fabulous Fourth! May it be filled with sunshine, family, good friends and many happy memories!Please use these images in your artwork. To my knowledge, all of them are in the public domain. The image of the little Liberty Girl was digitally cut from a picture that I fround in the Library of Congress . To save, click on each image and it will open in a new window. Then "right click" on your mouse and choose "Save Image". Enjoy!

Have a Fantastic 4th and a safe weekend!