Monday, October 19, 2009

Self Healing

Thank God for Yoga.
It has been the only relief that I have had in the past week in dealing with some sort of rampant virus that has effected my back, neck and head. Thus, sitting at the computer or having a camera hanging from my neck has been difficult to say the least. And in turn, it's stifled my creative flow.
The only saving grace has been my Yoga practice. Any other form of my regular exercise such as running or kick boxing has made me feel worse but Yoga has made me feel better.
By connecting my mind, body and breath together I have been able to stay relaxed and calm through excruciating pain. Calming the mind is important when you don't know what the exact cause of the ailment is. My mind tends to lean towards the most horrific result..headache? Must be a tumor! So by connecting myself to the earth, I find peace in the pain.
The Yoga breath brings more oxygen to the body which speeds healing.
I've been practicing Yoga now for 10 years and it's like a comforting best friend that you can turn to when you need some relief from the everyday stresses of life. I can't imagine myself without her.
I'm finally feeling better, the pain subsiding day by day...just in time for my upcoming holidays! Now, let's hope I don't contract the H1N1 while travelling!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Falling Back in Love with Collaging

Ahhh...I have fallen back in love with Collaging. "Back" in love because there was a time where I collaged often and loved it dearly. Creating collage posters as a teenager, which included the heartthrob of the week cut from Tiger Beat magazine...Collaging together scrapbooks with pictures of my life, mostly during my 20's and 30's. Then, in my 40's, I fell back in love with Photography and collage work went the way of so many of my hobbies...into a drawer or closet, biding time until the spark of creativity struck again.
Film Photography led to Digital Photography which led me to discover Photoshop which led me to creating Digital Art which in turn led me back to Collaging. Life always comes full circle, doesn't it?
So here I am, perusing old vintage ads, paintings and photographs in the public domain as well as boxes of my own ephemera, pictures and collectible postcards with the hope that one image will start that avalanche of creative flow. My latest piece was inspired by a faux French Travel Poster stuck to a window at Epcot, DisneyWorld.
Paris, je t'aime (Paris, I love you) included 8 images, all layered carefully one atop another in Photoshop, masking, erasing, dodging, burning, using blending modes, opacity, curves and filters to create a seamless composition. I have hundreds of images of to pick the right ones for a collage? By being picky...matching colors, resolution and textures. Collaging is like getting can over accessorize and ruin the whole look. :)
I don't know how long this romance will last as my creative self tends to be finicky but for right now, I'm deep in love with Collage. :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Child's Imagination

Daniel and I share a love of books and Fantasy...we love Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.
So, on one of our "date days" we headed to the bookstore. An oversized kids book called "Mythical Creatures" caught my eye and an idea for a digital piece began to form.
I like to gather all the images for my pieces first...sometimes when I have them all open I realize they don't work together. Doing this step first helps me to visualize where everything is going to be placed into a scene, how the lighting and color is in each image and whether or not it will blend together.
I chose a forest for the background. After searching my travel stock, I settled on this image of a sunlit forest taken during my trek of Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland. Working on the background required adding in some additional trees to fill in some spaces and cloning out the branches on the ground and cloning in additional grass.
I next cut out the photograph of Daniel and a stock image of a tree stump and place both into their own layers. More work on the grass is done around the tree stump. Depth is created by using various shades of green.
At this point in the process, I add a Curves Adjustment layer to darken the background layer and take away some of the light coming through the trees. Knowing where I am going to place the dragon, I go ahead and create a shadow on the grass under where he will be. This is done using a grass brush in a deep dark green and adding the effect of a Drop Shadow. This way I get more depth than just using the burn tool.
A stock photo of a broken egg is cut out and placed into the grass. More grass work is done around the egg and additional areas of the image..pretty much until I'm satisfied. :)
I next created the glow by using Photoshop brushes found on DA and clicking the colorize box on Hue/Saturation and adjusting until I found a color I liked and that fit in with the rest of the image. Now it was time to add the dragon.
Searching stock photos, it took me some time to find one that I could work with. The difficulty was finding one that had the head in the right position. Everything else I could manipulate using the Warp Tool which I did as you can see in the final image. I also wanted to change the color, contrast and texture of the dragon. All of these things were achieved using standard Photoshop adjusments. I placed in a Curves Adjustment Layer to add a bit more overall darkness to the entire image and used High Pass Sharpening to sharpen areas of the Daniel and the Dragon.
I then copied the Glow Layer and place the copy above the dragon, lowering the opacity so that the dragon seems to be coming out of the glow instead of just in front of it. I erased the areas I didn't need and in addition erased some of the dragon using a Layer Mask on the dragon layer to bring the glow through and around the dragon.
Lastly, I flatten the image and run a filter over it to cross balance the color and give it a warmer glow. Viola! A child's imagination come's to life! :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Creating a Vintage Collage with Photoshop

Cabinet cards...photographic postcards...vintage photographs. Over time, many of these images end up unwanted showing up in estate sales, antique stores and even on eBay. But, like our own photographs, these images once meant something to someone.

There are people like myself who collect old photographs. I find it interesting, these unknown faces staring at me. What kind of life did they live? What were their thoughts when that photograph was taken? What tragedies did they endure? What happiness graced them? Vintage collages can give new life to an old, discarded photograph and turn it into something creative and artful.

Even if you don't collect old photographs, you can find several resources online where you can download free images for use in your artwork. I currently have a few available for use here in my Vintage Stock Gallery: Whether you are using my stock or someone else's, always remember to follow the rules for use.

Now, let's see just how easy it is to create a vintage collage in Photoshop using layers! First, choose a vintage photograph. Here is the one I used from my own collection to create my image "Exploration":

It's a fantastic find for a vintage photograph having a lone figure in front of this stunning monument. But, let's make it more interesting! One of the easiest ways to do that is to add a texture. You can find textures available anywhere..just look around..peeling paint? brick wall? pile of hay? You can begin to stockpile your own textures or visit a group like Textures for Layers on flickr and download some free textures but be sure to follow the rules of the original contributor regarding use of their texture and be sure to always give proper credit:
For "Exploration", I wanted a texture that had color since the original image is monotone. I chose one from flickr user bernhofen (who posted it in the Textures for Layers group) which is a photo of a corrupted Roman Fresco, perfect for this ancient monument:
When making a collage, there is no limit to how many images you can layer into it. I've seen digital collages with dozens of images compiled into one masterful piece. However, for "Exploration", I didn't want to distract too much from the original photograph so besides the texture I decided on just one other additional item. I chose a map from my own personal stock in keeping with the theme of travel and exploration:
Now that you have all your images open in Photoshop, let's combine them using Layers.
The first step is to make a copy of your original background layer. You can do this by going to Layer-Duplicate Layer-Background Copy. This way your original image stays untouched in case you make a mistake or want to erase something you did.
Next, let's make a new layer above your Background Copy. Click on Layer-New Layer and name it "Texture". You can also create a new layer by clicking on the icon at the bottom of the layer pallet. Click on your texture image and go to Select-All followed by Edit-Copy.
You can now click on your new texture layer and select paste to add the texture. The texture will cover the entire image so you will need to adjust Opacity in order for your chosen photograph to show through. For "Exploration" I didn't want it too light because I wanted some of the color to show through so I chose to lower the opacity to 60%. You can now choose a blending mode...when doing collages or working with textures, I tend to use the following blending modes the most: Multiply, Soft Light and Overlay. For "Exploration" I chose Multiply which gives more punch to the colors in the texture.
With the Texture Layer highlighted in the layers pallet, click on the Layer Mask icon at the bottom. Using a soft brush you can erase any areas where you don't want the texture. In my image I erased around the top of the figure so she would stand out a bit more.
Continue to add images by repeating the same step above to create new layers, adjusting opacity & blending modes and softening up or removing any hard edges by using a layer mask with a soft brush. For the map image, I used the rotate tool to angle the image before blending it in with Overlay set at 50%. By placing the map up in the top left corner, I balance out the composition. Any additional images added to this piece would throw that off. You still want to be mindful of composition when creating collages. Be creative but don't overpower your composition by placing too many images into one piece.
I hope you enjoyed this short tutorial and above all, remember to be creative and have fun!

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Moving Performance

This was not only amazing, but hauntingly beautiful, moving, sad. It really touched me today. I don't think you have to have lived through WWII to understand her story..the themes are universal. It makes me feel sadness for all those lost, for innocence interrupted, love split apart. Kseniya isn't an artist separated from her art, you can see what she feels in her display of emotion as she creates her piece. Stunning, to say the least.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Traditional Art

Ahh...traditional art. I so miss it. My time has been consumed these recent days with the newer medium of digital art. But that doesn't mean my love for the old ways has faded away. I still crave it at times. A quick oil study of some woods shows that I can still make time for traditional art. The image above took me just over two hours and although I am just a hobbyist at best, oil painting makes me *feel* like an artist.
The smell of the oils, laying them out on the pallet, the feel of them sweeping across the canvas, time fluttering by and my mind free of cares. Painting is not only a joy, but it is so relaxing, therapeutic, healing.
I'm reminded by these images of my Lime Still Life how nothing can become something all by one's own hand.

It's really exciting to see the final result and it usually motivates and inspires to do keep on painting...creating art...filling the world with beauty. Whether it's formed with a canvas and paintbrush or a computer tablet and pen, it is still art and I am still an artist. And I will keep on creating. :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Using Filters to Create a Look

I've recently become obsessed with using filters to enhance my photography. Both On-camera Filters and Photoshop Filters.
On-camera filters are rarely used anymore, even for Black and White photography as most digital cameras come with built-in features to turn your photos to b&w or sepia, to even enhance contrast and up the saturation. But two filters should be a must-have in every camera bag. One is a Polarizer which can cut down reflections on metal and glass. It can help even out nature shots by reducing reflections on water and sheen on vegetation. I use it alot when the sky is kind of hazy and dull. It can give a *punch* to the sky, making the blues richer. Here is an example where I used a Polarizer to achieve that blue sky:

The second on-camera filter I use is the Neutral Density filter. This helps control exposure on a bright day or when there is too much light reaching the sensor and you want to achieve a slow shutter speed. This was recently the case when I was in Las Vegas. Shooting night shots is a bit tricky because sometimes there is too much light coming from all the Neon glow around you. To help slow down the shutter speed I popped on my ND filter and was able to capture this image:

With this image, there were about 20 other people standing around flashing their bulbs at the fountain. That, along with light from the street and the fountain itself created a challenge with getting the shutter to slow down enough to capture the fountain and the golden light that was actually illuminating the area. Adding an ND filter cut down the amount of surrounding light and I was able to capture this image, keeping the mood and colors of the night intact.

Some photographers like to keep a UV Filter on their lenses at all times to help protect their lenses from dirt, scratches and damage. This one is a matter of personal preference. I don't use one as I feel it effects the outcome of the photograph but I know lots of photographers who never shoot without one and their images are still fantastic.


Here's where the real fun is! There are a gazillion photoshop filters out there and each one can create a unique look on your photograph. The following four images are all the same with the exception of having a filter added to the end result:

Here is the original, with no filter added:

This one has a Contrast Filter, upping the contrast between the highlights, shadows and colors: By using the Contrast Filter, you can create a more even, professional look on your photo.
The third image show use of a Vintage Filter:

In this image, we can see how the Vintage Filter muted the colors and added a yellow tint, making it look like an aged photograph.

Finally, here is an example of one of my favorite filters the Fog Filter:

By using a Fog Filter and adjusting the Opacity, you can create a "dreamy" image, one that appears to have a soft focus.

These filters are plug-ins for Photoshop and there are many sites out there that offer free filter plug-ins as well as demos of filter software. Here are a couple:

If you decide that Filters are for you, then it is definitely worth the purchase of a software that really gives you fantastic creative options, such as:

Mystical Tint Tone and Color 2.0 which has 60 filters creating over 300 preset looks:

I hope you all enjoyed this tidbit on using Filters! Now, go get creative! :-)

The Creative Artist

So, during the last four stressful months, the one thing that kept me relaxed and grounded was my photography. And, in that time, I discovered something. I am an Artist. My true love for photography doesn't come from shooting a picture, but rather how I can create something visually different, unique and thought-provoking from that picture. I also discovered that standard studio shoots and sessions don't interest me as much anymore. Yes, they are an additional way to generate income which can lead to better equipment and I probably wouldn't turn them down but doing so many over the last four months left little room or time for me to exercise my creative power. The silver lining to all that "work" however, was disovering my true calling. And that is the call of the Creative Artist. Having an image that I created hanging on someone's wall is so exciting. To know that it moved them enough that they want to look at it every day gives me chills! Taking my images and turning them into art is where my true passion lies and now that things are back to normal, I have been creating non-stop! It's been so relaxing, fun and satisfying! I plan on sharing alot of my tips, tricks and ideas here on my blog now that I have more time to write. I've recently started to create my own Photoshop Actions and brushes and will hopefully have those available in the upcoming months.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sami and her dolly


The Curve balls of Life

The last four months sure took their toll. Three weeks in the Highlands of Scotland, trekking 100 miles, mostly in rain, wind and even some hail. Returned home to ailing family members including my mother-in-law battling cancer and my father-in-law succumbing to it. One week later, after being sick for nearly two months, I finally discovered at the age of 44, that I was pregnant for the first time! Talk about a shocker. But, that was very short lived as just a week later we suffered a miscarriage. Together Charlie and I worked that out at home, alone, privately. I didn't want to go through it in a cold, hospital room with strangers. We both quickly moved on however from the ordeal because as everyone knows, life doesn't stop to pity you so you can't really take the time to pity yourself. And, I had to shoot a wedding while I was still miscarrying. That was difficult. It was a long, hard day and most of the time I felt like I was going to pass out. But, it was also, at the same time, alot of fun as I had Lita there to assist me. That weekend, our shelving system in the garage came crashing down onto our truck and my hubby sprained his ankle. *Sigh* We couldn't wait for May to be over with. Just a week later, my sister and 9 year old nephew flew in to spend 9 days with me. I took both of them along with Daniel (also 9) to Disneyworld for 5 days. That was exhausting to say the least! :) Once they left, I committed to my eBay clients to sell for them through the end of June. Finally, July rolled around and I thought I would have some free time but the month quickly filled up with coffee dates, lunch dates, birthday parties, photography workshops and ending with a trip to Las Vegas for a week. Now, a week in Vegas is about 5 days too long,lol. It was the end to a long, exhausting 4 months full of twists and turns. Things have finally slowed down for now...but soon, Bunco will start back up and two trips are in the pipeline, one to South Carolina with my friend Phoebe and one to London with my friend Jackie, all before the end of the year. I'll try to take this time to be more diligent with my blog as there are tons of things I want to write about. Hopefully, life won't throw anymore curve balls for a while!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Birthday Memories

I can't believe it's been almost a month and a half since I've posted to my blog. I have definately not had enough time to just sit, relax and write.
Today is my 44th year of life. And just a day after the talented actress Natasha Richardson died in a tragic accident at the age of 45, I am again reminded that no one knows how long a lifetime really is. For her, it was just 45 short years. It makes me want to continue to live each day that I am on this earth to the fullest, in the best possible light and with the most love that I can give.
I'm going to honor my birthday today with a walk down memory lane...a lane scattered with cake, balloons, family and friends, song, travel and in some cases, too much booze! :)
My childhood birthdays were always a celebration of friends and family. Parties at my house or my grandmother's house. There were always great grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings and lots of little friends around. The cakes were always unique and baked by my mother with love. Presents most of the time were Barbie related...and, I still get those occasionally 40yrs later! :)
5th Birthday party...known as "The Big Dance".

My 7th Birthday party with my friends

My 7th Birthday party at my Grandma's house

My 8th Birthday Party at my Grandma's house

Playing games at my 9th birthday party

16th Birthday Party

18th Birthday
The birthday's in my early twenties consisted of being at a bar or club somewhere. These were always with lots of friends, lots of dancing and way too many shots. Thus, I don't have many memories of those or even pictures! The best birthdays have been those I have spent delving into someone elses culture. The first of these, one of the most memorable and by far the craziest was with my friend Jackie in the South of France for my 29th birthday. We stayed at a Club Med near Grasse. That night was filled with champagne, laughter, dancing and a wierd-ass cake made of who knows what! I never laughed so hard as I have on that trip!
The most romantic birthday was my 34th, spent in Venice, Italy on my honeymoon. Since I was thirteen I had always wanted to partake in the Italian legend: "It is said that if two lovers kiss in a gondola, under the Bridge of Sighs, at sunset when the bells of Le Campanile toll...they will love each other forever." Charlie made it was everything I imagined and more. So romantic, so sweet and perfect. Afterwards we had dinner at a cozy restaurant overlooking the Grand Canal. A very special birthday that stands alone for the true happiness and joy it brought me.
The next birthday was such a wonderful one, filled with adventure and spent with my lovely mother in Dublin, Ireland. It was my 36th birthday and we had to alter our plans to visit Blarney castle due to a breakout of Hoof and Mouth disease. The Irish countryside was now off limits so we had to make do in Dublin. Now, that's not a bad place to be stuck...expensive, yes but full of fabulous sights, shopping and the greatest restaurants ever! We spent a rainy day shopping before heading to Jacques on Dame street. A cozy French restaurant that had the inside decorated so that you felt like you were at a sidewalk cafe OUTSIDE in Paris. It was quite amazing. The food was amazing but the best part was the complimentary shots of Flaming Sambuca they bestowed upon us as a birthday treat. The smell alone flipped my stomach so for my birthday, I watched my mom do double shots...hilarious! Needless to say, she was giddy all the way back to the hotel.
My 39th birthday was a rockin' girls trip to London. We started the evening with a pub crawl and ending at the Bull and Staff pub in Leicester square where a pub full of gay French football (soccer) fans bought us champagne and led the entire pub in singing Happy Birthday to me! It was quite the sight. Afterwards, we grabbed a bite to eat and I had the biggest Fish and Chips I had ever laid eyes on! We finished up the night by taking a red London bus back to the Oxford...laughing and just enjoying the atmosphere and good times. One of the reasons I love traveling with my friend Loran so much on my birthday is we end up celebrating for three days. The first day is my birthday, the second day we celebrate "Tween Day" (also known as "The one day Laura is older") and on the third day we celebrate Loran's birthday. For our 39th's, we celebrated TWEEN DAY at a pub where we indulged in Chocolate Pudding Pie and then her birthday was drinking champagne at sunrise in the middle of Stonehenge.
Tween Day! Loran's Birthday
My 41st birthday was spent with Loran and Kelly in Tuscany. We were staying in Florence and for my birthday we took the train to Siena. We had a fab lunch which included, this time, the biggest Calzone I had ever laid eyes on. We then climbed the bell tower to the top to take in the the amazing Tuscan views and the "Siena" colored rooftops of Siena. My birthday dinner was at this amazing restaurant in Florence where I had a Medici meal of Roasted Boar in a Chocolate Raisin sauce. This Italy trip we had my birthday in Siena, TWEEN DAY was spent roaming around Rome and Loran's birthday was spent touring the Colosseum, drinking wine next to the Pantheon and being serenaded by a wonderful Italian guitar player! This year, we will be celebrating a bit late but will be in the UK together and I'm sure we'll toast a few glasses to each other!
The view of Siena from the bell tower Tween Day in Rome!

Loran's Birthday dinner in Rome

Finally, my 42nd birthday was indeed the most adventurous. Two months spent in the UK with my mother! On my birthday we were in Somerset, England in the famous village of Glastonbury. It was the Spring Equinox and the TOR had the most magnetic lay lines running through it at any other time of the year. I took advantage of the energy levels by climbing to the top of it and sitting in the TOR for about half an hour, soaking in the views and recharging my body with the healing powers. My mom said I came "bounding" down the tor almost as if I were flying,lol. Afterwards, we had a wonderful afternoon tea spread at the Abbey Tea Room, across from the ruins of the Glastonbury Abbey.

As I fondly recall all the wonderful birthdays I have had, I must thank my mother for choosing to bring me into this world and for all my loyal and dedicated friends who make these birthdays ones I will never forget.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Betrayal

"The Betrayal"
Across the moorland ye rode far from me,
for a journey of war upon the distant sea.
I kept watch from a castle way upon high,
with each lonely breath a longing sigh.
Parchment delivered to my quivering hand,
love and devotion ye declared your stand.
Whispered words of love caressed my ear
and sang it was only I who ye held dear.
News of the arrival swept though town,
I ran to greet thee in my finest gown.
Without a warning my eyes betrayed
and in that moment heart was slayed.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Biking in the 'Glades

I had so much fun today with my friend Lisa, riding bikes 15 miles through Shark Valley in the Everglades. It was mid-morning so there were tons of gators sunning themselves everywhere including on the road.
The wind was crazy hard and I had a tough time pedaling the last 8 miles on my beach cruiser, while carrying my backpack full of lenses and with a basket full of stuff on the front of the bike. But, I made it and am feeling the burn tonight as I type this.
The wildlife was plentiful...Egrets and Herons, including Great and Little Blue's, Woodstorks and Ibis including the Glossy variety which I wanted to get a shot of but they were too far away.
There were Black Vultures and Turkey Buzzards and one very large Peregrin Falcon that swooped along side of us with such beauty and grace.
Although it was fairly dry, the signs of the forthcoming season of Spring were popping up. Green leaves peering out from otherwise dead branches and blooming Thistles showing off their perfectly rounded flowers in proud glory.
It was a day focused more on riding and conversation than photography but I did manage to come home with a few prized shots. And, I found a new place to retreat to when I am in need of nature.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Meeting

"The Meeting"
A quick composite I did for my little cousin Reagan who wanted to be turned into a faerie.
I used my "Lotus upon the Water" shot and combined it with stock photos of a cute froggy which I changed the perspective on so he was looking more upward and of a 3-D rendered Hummingbird. Added some wings, glitter and sparkles with a brush and viola...a lovely faerie scene! :)
Here is the before pic:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The 7th Sign

"The 7th Sign"
This is the second art piece in my Zodiac series. The final image was a bit different from my original sketch. Sometimes, when I'm working on an image I find the creative flow floats me in a completely different direction! That's one of the things that I love most about creating digital art. Since Libra is ruled by Venus, I knew I wanted the planet to be in the image. Of course I don't have any photos of planets so I used a stock photo of one. It was originally against a black background so I found a starfield stock image. There were lots of "universe" and "starfield" stock photos but I wanted to make sure I got Blue and Green in there which are two of the colors of Libra. I used the starfield, along with the image of Venus to create a photographic universe. The final texture was music which is also associated with Libra. I combined those three things together to create my background: Once the background was done I worked on the main image which is a portrait of myself wearing a wonky old paint-splattered sheet that I use on the floor when I'm painting. It was the only white sheet I had which reminded me I really need to invest in some fabric for photo shoots! Luckily most of the paint spaltters where beige or white so they didn't show up too much.This shoot was done blindfolded (as you know, Justice is blind), I was so grateful I had Lita to make sure the sheet was draped properly, I was positioned correctly and my hair wasn't all wacked out. I needed to turn the sheet into a gown which I did by using using a Gradient Overlay and then blending the colors together by following the natural folds of the sheet. I did this with the smudge tool at 51% Opacity. This took the most hours and I felt like a nit-picker..getting each fold to reflect the correct shadow and light. The brooch was a brush which I laid onto the image in three separate colors and adding white diamonds, also a brush, to the top of it. The scales were shot in an antique store in Kinsley, Kansas:

The most frustrating part of this piece was the exposure of the scales. Because I shot them at a different location than the image of myself, the lighting did not match. Trying to get them to fit into the image seamlessly was exhausting to say the least. After much trial and error, I finally got the exposure corrected but now the color was another issue. Copper is the metal associated with Libra so I needed them to be copper in color. I did this by using my "Copper Kettles" image strictly for the color. I overlayed the image onto the scales and then used Gaussian Blur to turn it to just a blob of color. I masked out what I didn't need. I did the same thing to add color to my cheeks and lips using my "Summer Fruit" image of watermelon. I learned this technique from a Gale Franey Tutorial. I am constantly in AWE of her work and am so grateful she is one of those artists who loves to share her knowledge. Here is the link to the tutorial:

For the pedestal I used this image that I took in the Roman Forum during one of my trips to Italy: I cut out just the pedestal using the Pen tool (Thanks to Lita for showing me how easy it was to use!) and scaled it into the image. I matched color to the rest of the image, upped the contrast a bit and added some music texture over it. I then laid in the Lithros Pro text.

The final touches were to add the Zodiac wheel which was done with a photoshop brush, dodging some of the background, my hair and skin and to up the brightness and saturation to make it pop. Everytime I create a new piece I learn something new. On this piece I learned how to use images strictly for their color and how to use the Pen tool. I also learned when a piece is done, for me anyhow. If I stare at it for a long period of time without wanting to fix anything then it's good to go! :)