Sunday, May 30, 2010

Summer Lovin'

Although not official until June 21st, it feels like this is the first week of summer. As a child, Memorial Day Weekend signaled the end of school and the start of vacation. Most of the summer was spent on The Island, at the Sand Pit with family and cousins...water skiing, fishing, staying out past dark, playing games, and of course, cooking out with lots and lots of good food. Summer is different now but still my favorite season. I love heat and humidity. I love being in the pool. I love the lazy, relaxed feel of the season. Being in Florida, summer includes Hurricanes, but hey, it's a small price to pay to live in paradise!

This week in paradise saw the first sign of little ducklings...Mother Duck brought her five babies by for a bite to eat. They are so tiny right now but just adorable beyond words.

The warmth of the sun has brought the garden into full bloom with the Mammoth Russian Sunflowers finally opening up to reveal their finery:
In this picture you can see off to the left just how tall the sunflowers have gotten, currently about eight feet high! I have about six currently waiting for bloom. I've only cut two for the house and the rest will be left in the garden so the birds can enjoy the seeds.
While taking my self portraits, Charlie came out, grabbed the camera and told me to "work it" which made me laugh and be all embarrassed. Although his pics are always a bit blurry (poor guy), I love this one because it shows that true happiness and laughter he is always capable of bringing out of me:

The Stargazer Lily is in full bloom and the Mr. Lincoln Tea Rose which began blooming at the beginning of the month is still producing gorgeous, beautiful, sweet-smelling blooms in velvety red:
Even the trees are participating in Nature's fashion show: This Royal Poinciana sits at the end of my block and when I drive by it my heart lifts and fills with happiness.
And, maybe one day I will have one in my own yard as Charlie brought me back a seed pod from this tree today which he picked up during his run.

My heart also soared this week when I went to my mailbox and discovered a surprise package of goodies from my friend Phoebe:
It's always great to get a surprise the old fashioned mail! So, thank you Phoebe!

I ended the week with a Date Day with Daniel. We went to see The Prince of Persia, had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory and of course, shopped for books at Barnes and Noble.

This unofficial first week of summer was a good one, despite the fact that I was suffering from a sinus infection and had to get a cortisone shot for Tendinitis. Two small little setbacks in an otherwise perfectly beautiful week.  Life is good!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Creative Saturday: Photoshop Pinup

This past Creative Saturday was a Digital Art Day at Lita's! Lita worked on a photo manipulation piece of a beautiful Mustang racing through the early morning fog, as dawn began it's golden ascent. When I left her, she was still working on leaves of the background trees. I know how time consuming those leaves can be!
Once she finishes it, I will include a picture of it here at a later date. You can't rush art! :)
And...she finished it! Click here to see it!

For some unknown reason, maybe it's insanity, I chose to work on creating a Retro Pin-up from scratch. I restarted the sketch four times before I was happy with the outcome. I sketched it on my Wacom but I am convinced now it would have been so much easier to sketch it out on paper first and just scan it into Photoshop!
I made the background a bit darker for this blog, so that you can see the sketch but it's currently a very light shade of gray.  The background will eventually be trees lining a lake behind her, all painted from scratch.

Once the sketch was done, I began to define the shape by burning in shadows and highlights and then further painting in shades of gray.
This was quite a challenge and as far as I got the whole day. By the time I got home, my eyes were burning from staring at the screen for so long and my tendinitis was full-on flaming in pain. With a busy week ahead, it will be a while before I am able to work on it some more. I still have some defining of the shape left to do before I can start the fun part of adding in the color!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Walking Down Memory Lane

Oh how I miss London!  Usually I am there in the Springtime but not this year.  Instead I went the week before Christmas with my friend Jackie.  We had so much fun and it was great to be there when all the decorations are up.  But, now that it is spring and everything is blooming, I miss walking through Hyde Park, eating Ben's Cookies, taking in a play, browsing the markets and indulging at high tea.  Those times were made more special because I was spending it with family and friends. So, I decided to do a blog post and take a walk down memory lane.
Mom and I at 221B Baker Street, pretending to be Sherlock and Watson. :)

Fish and Chips at the Bear and Staff Pub in Leicester Square

 Loran and I at the Marquis of Westminster Pub in Victoria, celebrating Tween Day
(the day in between our birthdays)

Yummy!  Ben's, my favorite cookies in the world!

Ray, Jackie and I having dinner at ASK in Paddington

Jackie and I having High Tea at the Dorchester

Dinner at the Victoria Pub in Paddington with mom, Eric and Ryan

Mom and I having High Tea at the Ritz

Mom in front of Raffles, Paddington.  Our favorite neighborhood cafe.

Gina heading down to the Ministry of Magic. :)

At Buckingham Palace, happy to be back in London

Gina, Loran and I enjoying Champagne High Tea at Brown's.

A toast to London and to all the family and friends that have made it special!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fun with Photoshop

I'm anticipating this upcoming Creative Saturday with Lita, excited to get started on my next digital art piece. Debating between doing a Retro Pinup piece, a Watercolor or a Pen and Ink Wash and probably won't decide until the morning of.  In the meantime, I've had some free moments here and there to play a bit on Photoshop.
Nature photographs were my starting point.  Here I did an abstract Pink Carnation in Digital Watercolor:

I also took an image from my art journal of Morning Glories done in Acrylic and played with it in Photoshop:
Now, it went from being Scarlett O'Hara Morning Glories to Heavenly Blues:
Other than these few pieces, I worked on organizing my stock on DeviantArt and processed a few photos here and there but did not have much time this week to devote to art which is another reason I'm looking forward to Creative Saturday.  One whole day of just creating! Oh the Joy!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sun showers, Mojitos and a Clutch of Eggs

I wanted to blog several times this week but my tendinitis is back with a vengeance so I wasn't up for typing on the computer most days. My camera agitates the condition also, the lifting and holding of that big DSLR. But, I would rather just suffer the pain than stop taking photos! So, my week of exceptional and magical moments is getting condensed into one post and with little prose. Was your week full of exceptional and magical moments?  I bet they's up to you to spot them! :)

Had a huge thunderstorm earlier in the week but this time, despite all the heavy thunder and cracking lightening, it stayed sunny the entire time...the rain was heavy, loud, a torrent. But, the sun shined on as if to say, "you aren't ruining my day!"

The sun was low in the sky after the rain had stopped, a perfect time to head to the garden to capture glistening little beads of raindrop diamonds.

How about some Pink Diamonds?

On Friday, I accidentally ate some moldy food, had to rush my cat to the vet, tried to swat a mosquito and hyper-extended my elbow...the one already inflamed with tendinitis. So, when my husband said let's meet at the Outback for dinner, I didn't hesitate to give a very enthusiastic YES!  

I said yes, not only for the great (non-moldy) food but also for the delicious Mojitos! Give me two please!
I hadn't had alcohol since Jackie and I had champagne during high tea in London back in December so it didn't take long before I was loopy and flirting with my husband who was busy snapping pics of me with his iPhone, complimenting the "mood" lighting that sat above our booth.

Creative Saturday was a Traditional Art day and Lita came over to mess around with our oils and watercolors. The night before I had sketched this image of a Buddhist Nun using a doll owned by Richard Simmons as my reference and anticipating that I would paint it with watercolor the following morning.
However, I really loved the sketch and didn't want to ruin it with my horrible watercolor skills so I decided to scan it and paint it digitally first before I watercolor the original. We began the morning instead by working on the oil paintings we had started last month. Lita worked on her still life bananas and I added more layers of thin oil paint to my Girl with Horse.
There is still a lot of work to be done but I'm getting closer to adding details which is my favorite part.
After lunch we headed to the bookstore and picked up some books on Japanese and Chinese Ink Painting.  However, not having the proper inks, we used our watercolors instead and learned to make the four main strokes for Japanese Ink painting.
 I'm going to head to the art store sometime this week and pick up the proper equipment for ink painting and continue to study the two books I purchased and attempt to master the art of Japanese and Chinese Ink painting! I also messed around in my art journal using markers and watercolors to create a pineapple. I will add some words to this page such as "juicy" "delicious" and "sweet" before calling it finished.

Sunday was a very active day starting with a 3 mile run/walk followed by a 4 mile bike ride before heading out into the garden for a few hours to weed, plant and clear out some of the dead leaves and then finally a swim in the pool! The first swim of the season! Yay for pool time!
This being Mother's Day, it was appropriate that I found this in the garden hidden behind some pots:
Our first clutch of the season! I was getting worried because we haven't had any ducklings so far this year and usually by this time we have had two sets. Meadowlark (so named because she likes to sing) probably thought that the garden was a good place, close to where I feed the ducks and to the lake. However, it's also right next to the home of the Palm Rat so if she leaves them at night, she's bound to have one or all missing. I hope Meadowlark gets the chance to hatch her eggs. Here she is sitting on them:
Perhaps I'll be taking pictures of cute little ducklings soon!  Fingers crossed! Happy Mother's Day Meadowlark and Happy Mother's Day to all the Mother's out there including my own!
Me and my lovely Mom in Scotland

Have a great week!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Four Seasons

My latest digital painting attempt was to take an ordinary photograph of a single tree and transform it to reflect all four seasons. I followed a tutorial by Sam Hampton Smith. It took me about 8 hours of work and 25 layers.

The key to this digital piece was to divide the starting image into four quadrants and work on each quadrant separately. For Spring, Autumn and Summer, I created my own brush of leaves and painted them onto the tree using colors to match the season. Each quadrant had one or more color adjustment layers. Autumn colors were adjusted to reflect warmer tones, winter cooler tones. Spring leaves were more sparse, with light floral blooms dotting the outer edges of the branches. Summer leaves were full, thick, dark with a wide range of green tones. I added some of my own touches including the birds flying through the setting sun and a photograph I had taken of the full moon some time ago. The final step was to blend in all the hard lines and make final color corrections.

Living in Southern Florida only affords me two seasons, Spring and Summer. But, through the magic of Photoshop, I can enjoy all four seasons!