April 18, 2011

First Digital Collage

Posted in Art, Beginner's art, Collage, Digital art, Digital collage, Learning art, Photoshop, Techniques (art) at 12:38 am by amateur-in-art

I recently attempted my first-ever digital collage, and considering it’s my first attempt, I’m pretty satisfied with how it turned out!

copyright 2011, amateur-in-art

I made this using Photoshop Elements 8. Here’s the rundown.

I used several large brushes to create the background, using several different layers, and modified their opacity.

I used a random number generator to get 6 different numbers. I used these numbers to randomly select artwork from 4 different Dover clip art books: Empire Designs; Greek and Roman Designs; Art Nouveau Designs and Motifs; and 1268 Old Time Cuts.

I created a different layer for each image. The first image I used was from the Art Nouveau book – and that image is actually not so obvious in the finished version. It is the large shroud-like area in the center background. I faded it way out so that there was just a hint of the image left.  After that, I added the other images. With the two women, I made a few minor adjustments, filled in their images using the paint bucket tool, and modified each layer’s opacity.

Finally, I added the text, using the Papyrus font.

I am very much a newbie with Photoshop, and just wanted to jump into something, so I’m pretty happy with the way this one turned out. I really liked using the random numbers to select the artwork, because it forced me to figure out ways to unify the work, even if the images were disparate.

It was a good way for me to play with layers and opacity. I really appreciated how changing opacity enabled me to add a lot of depth.  One part that I might change, if I had both more time and expertise, would be to erase the part of the tablecloth that shows through the head of the woman in the lower left. I’m not sure the best way to do something like that, at this point, but I’m sure I will learn. I may come back in the future and try to work on it some more, but for now, I’m leaving it and moving on.

I still have very little time for art making, but I do like doing this, digitally. It certainly keeps my kitchen table clearer, and my fingers cleaner, and is a great way for me to be able to come and go from a project with ease.

© 2011, amateur-in-art

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July 9, 2010

Fascinated by Scrap Paper

Posted in Art for beginners, Beginner's art, Crafts, Papercrafts, Techniques (art) tagged at 9:41 pm by amateur-in-art

Oh yes, I know I know, it has been months and months since I posted.  I haven’t been idle – just no time to post.

But I caught myself staring once again at some scrap paper that I have made, and thought I would share it here, along with a couple of other items from my miscellaneous pile.

First, the scrap paper.  I had read somewhere, I think online (and my apologies for not keeping better track of where I get my suggestions from) to simply use a scrap of paper – preferably something fairly heavy duty like watercolor paper – and use it as a sort of canvas to be used when you end up with extra paint on your brush, or when you are watering down and cleaning up your brushes.  At first, I thought, oh, no biggie. But now that I have been using it for a few weeks or months, I’m starting to really like the way it looks. I believe the original source also suggested this method as an excellent way to create deeply textured, multi-layered backgrounds for projects. I’m not done with it yet, but I can see how it can be used that way.

It’s really not that visible here, but I have also used several different types of acrylic mediums on this – “Opaque White Flakes” (visible within the turquoise at left); “Lava Gel” (the stuff that looks like pepper on the lower right); and probably one or two others. Don’t think I’m a serious artiste, though, just because I can say “acrylic medium” – I’m the artistic equivalent of a child playing with flour in the kitchen. I may know what flour is, and may even know it goes in a cake, but what to do with it, or how to get it from “flour” to “cake” – I haven’t the foggiest.

That being said, I do like how this piece of scrap paper is shaping up. None of it has been deliberate or intentional – just totally random, most often, as I am cleaning up or changing colors.

Anyhow. I thought I’d also share a couple of scrap papery items that I, on a whim, stamped – and love the result! When saving these images on my computer for posting, I had to call them something, so I called them “Joy Blurts” – and I kind of like the ring of that. Here’s what they look like:

And here’s similar scraps, before stamping.

Wow – these look even cooler after scanning – better even than in real life!  These are super simple.  Just take 2 or 3 crayons, scribble on paper until paper is full of color – no white showing through.  Take watercolors of a similar or contrasting color and wash over the crayon scribbles (visible as specks on the yellow sections above). Voila! You are done!

To stamp, I used black pigment ink and heated with a heat gun to set.  That had an interesting effect as well, as it seemed to get rid of the waxiness from the crayons on the paper, but left colors and everything else unchanged.

The above scraps were originally scribbles on a much larger piece of paper – it was cut up into smaller squares as part of an exercise.

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© amateur-in-art, 2010

July 13, 2009

Soul Journal – Day 22 – Self portrait

Posted in Art, Art for beginners, Art journals, Beginner's art, Fun & frivolity, Soul Journal tagged , at 1:01 am by amateur-in-art

Today’s assignment was to write a “today I feel” prompt, then go to work with finger painting!  (latex glove recommended!)

I used gray gesso to start on top of my writing and it really blocked things out too much, even when I mixed it with some white to lighten it. The pictures aren’t worth posting here.  Then I put on the background, using 3 colors – green, blue, and pink.  I just squirted the colors right onto the page and then smeared around with my fingers. I was hoping they would not blend so easily so I could have some pretty solid bands of straight color, but it did not work out that way.

Then it was time for my “self portrait”. I cannot draw or do anything like that, so I went with the basic stick figure. In the end, I decided that was fine because stick figure is equally childlike as finger painting, so I decided it was a good match. The stick figure has a balloon in her hand although it looks like something otherwise unidentifiable. I also filled her out a little bit, giving some substance to her body, to help show that she was a grown woman, and not a child.  Because it was finger painting and kids  often include their pets, I added a cat on the bottom left, but he looks kinda funny. (love the fluffy tail, though!)

SJ-Day22

Then Sarah told us to add personal symbols or things that were important to us. I definitely wanted to add a cardinal, and I think he didn’t turn out too bad, considering he was finger painted. I also added a book (ha ha – the black thing that looks like a sad butterfly).  At this point, I still had some black paint to use up, so I did “fingertip dots” around the edges of the pages – and I like the way that part turned out.

I’m not much for self-portraits, because I can’t draw other people, let alone myself, but I did like the finger painting aspect of this, and I esp. like my cardinal.  I think this would make a great photocopy page, to reuse in the future.

I believe we’re almost coming to the end of the Soul Journal Journey, at least, the initial one with Sarah. I had no idea it would take me this long, but I have really enjoyed the trip and the things I have learned about myself, and about art and art making, along the way. I really liked following along in Sarah’s blog, Caspiana.

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© amateur-in-art, 2009

June 30, 2009

Soul Journal – Day 21 plus – Secret Superhero

Posted in Art, Art for beginners, Art journals, Art samples, Beginner's art, Soul Journal tagged , at 9:27 pm by amateur-in-art

On Day 21, Sarah gave us two options. A scribble misfit character or a “secret superhero.” I really enjoyed doing the misfit exercise, so I thought I’d try my hand at the secret superhero, too. I have to say that artistically, I’m much more disappointed with this outcome than I was with the misfit. My scribble character turned out kind of weird, and the end result is “only OK” – but hey, that’s alright. I still like the exercise, and there are parts of my end result that I like.

Once again, I started with a scribble on the right hand page, then played with the scribbles in my mind until I started to see a character. I saw a small head, what looked like a fist in the air, and some flowing capes. In the end, after I traced it and gave it firmer edges, it ended up looking kind of like a grasshopper or insect head, on sort of a fish-like body, with a cape.

SJ-Day21plusRbrain

It is a weird scribble-character. But I knew from the very beginning, though, that I wanted my “secret super hero” to be my Right Brain. I’ve been reading some lately about left/right brain stuff, and realize I am way way WAY too left-brained. Left brain is logic, order, linear, and yes/no. Right brain is creative, carefree, and amorphous.

Given their characteristics, then, I think these two pages turned out about right. I really like my brick building on the left. And I like its simplicity. I did this probably a week or so ago, and am just now getting around to posting – I had forgotten that I wrote on the door “No solicitors or new ideas!” That made me laugh. I even put a little lock on the door! I made the address 123 because anything else would be too creative for my left brain and it would want that logical sequence.

Although I’d prefer to have a different-looking character for my right brain superhero, I like the overall feel of these two pages, and I think the free form, color, and just general weirdness of my right brain character does a pretty good job of summing up what the right brain “looks like” in a metaphorical sense. I really enjoyed this scribble prompt – but have to admit I like my “misfit” results better than my superhero. But a good time had by all, nevertheless. Both really kind of helped “stretch” me – and that’s a good thing!

P.S. I realized just now as I am posting that Sarah’s original prompt was for a “sad superhero” instead of “secret superhero.” Oh well. I like having a secret superhero. It works for me!

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© amateur-in-art, 2009

June 13, 2009

Create your own stamp from 3-D objects

Posted in Art, Art for beginners, Beginner's art, Crafts, Learning art, Rubber stamping, Techniques (art) tagged at 12:26 pm by amateur-in-art

I came across this technique in the book, Altered Book Collage by Barbara Matthiessen. She calls it “monoprint background” – which of course, it is – but I think of it more as a stamp. It is an easy and simple way to get some really cool looks. I think of it as sort of “negative stamping” – where the item or object is ‘blank” and the background has all the ink or color.

Get a block of fairly thick foam. I found a garden kneepad thingy at Target for $1 and it worked just fine!

Lay out the 3 dimensional objects you wish to use to create your stamp and put them on a sturdy surface.

Heat the foam using your heat gun.

**CAUTION: As always, use care and precautions when using the heat gun, do not get it too close to the foam, yourself, or flammable objects, and to be on the safe side (because I don’t know what kind of chemicals might be released when the foam is heated) – I would advise having good ventilation. Mathiessen also gives no caution about fumes, but foam is synthetic so who knows what kind of chemicals might be present. Always be safe, whatever you do! If you attempt this procedure, you do so at your own risk.

When the foam is hot, press it down on top of your objects. Remove. Let foam cool.

Voila! You now have a stamp that you can use with ink, paint, or what-have-you to make a really cool impression! Better still, when you are finished, you can heat the foam again to “erase” the initial impression and reuse the foam to create a different stamp using different objects.

BlueKeyStamp

The blue impression and the pink foam "stamp".

Lessons learned:

It is best to have all objects be the same approximate thickness.

Very thick objects may be difficult to remove from foam when you reheat to “erase” it. For instance, I was able to “erase” the keys in the foam – but after two tries, my locks still have not totally “disappeared.”

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© amateur-in-art, 2009

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