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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Make a mini-watercolor travel palette

mini palette
I can't remember now what got me started on this project, but I promised to pass on what I learned, so here it is. I used an Altoid mints metal container (2 1/4" x 3 5/8") and empty plastic half-pan paint wells. I glued the pans into the box using a hot-glue gun, which was less than $5.00 at WalMart (plus a bit for the glue sticks). I filled the wells with tube colors in a basic palette. You could set up different palettes for a variety of subjects and have a whole array of tiny travel palettes. The brushes in the photo were in the children's craft section and are a cut above most craft brushes. You could also trim off the handles of old watercolor brushes for packability. The whole kit--palette, an extra Altoid box for water, a brush and watercolor postcards, fits in a plastic sandwich bag.

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Time flies when you're sorting photographs

Wow. Where did the last ten days go? I've been glued to my computer and haven't even had time to blog. What's up with that? I've been obsessively getting my image files reorganized onto my new external hard drive and reconnecting the files to the new PhotoShop Elements 5 program. What a job! I probably made more work for myself than I needed to by uploading my backup CDs to the new drive instead of selecting the files to save, but I was hoping to find some that got lost over the years.

Early in my computing days I scanned photos into my computer, but after I bought my first digital camera--a Sony Mavica--in 1998, I never used film again. It was so easy to take a shot and download (upload?) it to my computer that I didn't even mind that the resolution was so low--way less than 1MP in those days. But, as with most things electronic, I upgraded twice and by 2001 switched to a Canon G1, then in 2002 a Canon G2, and in 2004 a G6. Love those Canons. The G-series isn't as small as a pocket camera or as large as an SLR (the Mavica was too bulky for me) but is small and easy to handle, fully featured and has great optics. Plus, I love the swivel LCD.

My first objective in 2001 (my justification for spending so much on the camera) was to become a better photographer. I got fantastic closeups of wildflowers in Ohio, Colorado and Massachusetts and at the same time learned a lot about botany. In 2003 I focused on (pun intended) photographing our new granddaughter and have taken literally thousands of photos of her. The camera loves her.

By the time I got all these photos saved to the new hard drive and entered into PSE 5, I had more than 23,000 photos. After working diligently and not getting anything else done, I've deleted most of the dupes and the duds. The number is now down to around 12,000. I could probably delete a few more duds, but I've had it with photos for now. I do love digital photography, though, and I'm looking forward to photographing some of my work for the new book. Next year I'll be judging a show that may offer digital submissions, which will be interesting, too.

If you haven't gone into digital photography yet, check out my article on my web site for some guidelines on selecting a camera.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Have slides, will travel

Have had a very busy week without much computer time. I've been on the go since a week ago Friday when I got back from the Dallas workshop. Still don't have the workshop web page made. That Friday night we went to a concert of the Poulenc Trio, a wonderful new group out of Baltimore that plays unusual music for piano, oboe and bassoon. Apparently the signature piece for that ensemble is by Poulenc. All the music in the program was wonderful, with the oboe and bassoon ranging from witty to somber. Worth rushing back from Dallas to hear it.

Following the usual weekend madness after a workshop--laundry, email, post office, shipping--I went to Monday watercolor class and we discussed their project I had prepared for them for last week while I was away. I had coated part of a sheet of Saunders Waterford paper with acrylic gloss medium for them to experiment on. Most of them didn't like it. It was interesting, because the class in Dallas loved the unusual appearance of the surface, which resists watercolor and has random texture very different from the watercolor paper itself. Fun to try and you may have some specific subject or style that it would work with. You can coat the sheet uniformly or with random big brushstrokes.

I got a call Monday night that the speaker for my Otterbein College Women's Club, which I'm president of this year, wouldn't be able to make it. I said I'd do a slide program, as I expected my slides to be delivered by UPS on Tuesday along with my other workshop materials. Oops. Next day I tracked my UPS packages and they had been rescheduled for delivery on Wednesday. So I pulled a chair up to my bookcase and searched among the slide programs for one that would work for a group of non-artists who are interested in everything. "The History of Color in Painting" was the one I decided and it seemed to go well. One gentleman had a nice nap, but the rest were attentive and a few asked questions.

Wednesday I had an appointment with the opthalmologist to check the status of my cataracts, which aren't yet a real nuisance. So I got a new prescription for my glasses to sharpen things up, I hope. The macular degeneration that runs in my family is evident but so far very slight. Not much I can do about that, I guess.

Thursday I met with my editor and designer at North Light Books about the new book I'm working on. The book is due at the publishers in September, 2007 for publication in August or September 2008. More on that at another time.

Yesterday I went to a meeting of the Tri Art Club of Dayton, which is a very old artists' group for women. It's a wonderful group. I had hoped to see a demo on oil pastels, but that presenter, too, had to cancel, so they asked members to talk about their art careers. It was interesting to hear how many different paths have led to their lives in art.

In and around all this activity I've been transferring my image files to a 200G external hard drive. I never dreamed that I could fill my 60G internal drive. My computer was getting so slow and had only 7G of free space. I figured while I was at it, I mize-well install Photoshop Elements 5, since my PSE 3 was misbehaving. Everything is working great, but my PSE 5 can't find some of my files on the new drive. So I'm working through thousands of files and backup CDs to get everything reconnected. This may take awhile.

Our big family day will be Christmas this year, when our three boys come home. Our daughter, nearby in Wilmington, Ohio, is having Thanksgiving, so I'll be doing pumpkin pie and sticky buns. Not too much pressure this week, but if I'm not blogging it's because I'm Photoshopping.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Those of you in distant parts of the world--have a wonderful week, too.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Creativity Workshop pix

Here are a couple of pix from the Southwestern Watercolor Society creativity workshop to wet your whistle until I can get the web page together, maybe tomorrow. This is such a great group. I got lots of pictures of the people and wish I had taken a few more of the art they produced. I get so involved in the workshop that I forget to take pictures.

The picture at right was painted on a sheet of rag watercolor paper that was pre-treated with a swirl of glossy medium brushed randomly on the page. The class painted and collaged into whatever happened with the resist quality of the medium and did some really neat stuff.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Back home from Dallas

Had a great time playing with a wonderful group of artists. Right now I'm in that twilight zone between workshop and real life that has an element of burnout to it, no matter how good the experience was. Trying to catch up on mail, laundry, correspondence. Ack! Will post pix later.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Southwestern Watercolor Society workshop

Today I'm off to Dallas to teach a four-day workshop--Adventures in Art, Color and Creativity. It has been fun expanding this workshop based on The New Creative Artist. On Wednesday I'm doing a program for the SWS and looking forward to meeting the cover artist for the book, Cheryl McClure. We met once in Shreveport years ago, shortly after we first became acquainted online with the Paint-L group. I'm taking a break from my computer, my phone and my studio until I get back. However, I will be working on a new book, getting ready for a full-bore assault on that job when I return. I'll be home on Friday. Catch you later.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

First Watercolor Lesson

Our Little Artist, almost four now, received a tiny kit of watercolor paints as a party favor this week. Her parents said she loved them and enjoyed painting pictures they printed out from the computer for her. Then they wheedled me into babysitting by saying Jenna was excited about painting with Grammy. Ha! So I picked her up yesterday and we painted together. Mostly she painted and I watched. She really does love it, but especially when I let her use my little pocket palette and small brushes (sable, no less). It took her about a fraction of a second to see the difference. I had some small, blank sketchbook pages that she puddled colors on and eventually she carefully made a big red blob that she said was "lips" and added three spots for nose and eyes. Her first watercolor portrait. I'm so proud!

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Robert Frost Poetry Award

I'm pleased to announce that a friend of our family has won the prestigious Robert Frost Poetry Award presented by the Robert Frost Foundation of Lawrence, Massachussetts. Rob Smith's poem, "Catbird", was chosen out of more than 650 submissions from poets representing twelve countries. Specifically, this contest seeks to recognize poetry written "in the Spirit of Robert Frost." This year's judge of the blind competition was Ben Mazer, contributing editor of Fulcrum Annual, a review of English language poetry.

Rob Smith has been writing poetry all his life, but only a few poems have been put forward for publication. His major literary works are two novels, Night Voices and Children of Light. Additionally, he has a novella/short story collection under consideration by a publisher. As a novelist, Rob tries to bring his sensitivity as a poet to bear on his characters and storyline. Winning the 2006 Robert Frost Award is a highpoint in his career. A long time admirer of Frost, Smith has presented public readings of the poet's work. Currently, Rob divides his time between writing and teaching Religion and Philosophy online for Wright State University in Dayton. Rob is a native of Youngstown, Ohio who attended high school in the Cleveland area. He holds degrees in religion and philosophy from Westminster College and Princeton Theological Seminary. He was our pastor for many years and officiated at our daughter's wedding eleven years ago.

Congratulations, Rob. Proud to know ye!

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