Liberate Your Art 2015 Postcard Swap is here!

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It’s here for 2015! The Liberate Your Art Postcard Swap has officially opened for the 5th Annual Swap. Can you believe we’ve been doing this for five years?? And it’s just as fun every year!

If you are not familiar with the swap, here’s how it works: You create postcards printed with your artwork on them. Any type of artwork, all mediums are welcome. You send me five postcards, and you receive six back — from five other participants and one from me! It’s a fun and easy way to learn to reproduce your work and to get your art out in the world if you haven’t done it before. There are also lots of ways to connect with the participants and increase your network, like the Facebook Event group, the Participant List and the Blog Hop. I’ve got more ideas, too!

Last year, we had just over 200 artists from 10 countries participating. Do you think we can increase that this year? I think so, but I need your help. I need you to share, share, share about the swap! Blog about it, post it on Facebook, tweet it. Use #liberateyourart on social media. Send everyone to the swap landing page to get more info and sign up. Working together, we can get the word out!

To get all of the details, sign up for the email list here. Already on the list from last year? Great! Check your inbox, because I sent an email yesterday to kick things off.


Ready, Set, Go! Let’s make the 2015 swap BIG!

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The Final Photo-Heart Connection: December 2014

Nothing is ever black and white.

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It isn’t, is it? We think it could be, it should be.

Right or wrong. Easy or hard. Fair or unfair. Always one or the other. Black or white.

We’re on the edge of another opposite today: Old or new. The year is changing, and we like to think that we get to close down a chapter of life and start fresh on this one magical day of the year. As if multiple “ones” on the calendar give us something new, something white, to work with.

It’s not that easy, is it? Not that black and white. We bring our selves into the new year, and we are chock full of shades of purple and blue and vibrant orange. Our histories and our wishes and our beliefs color us a rainbow of shades that are with us wherever we go.

I think that is a good thing. It’s what makes us who we are. Do we really want to live in a black and white world? Out with the old and in with the new? Starting over every January 1?

I don’t. No blank slates for me. I’ll just continue from where I’ve been wandering along, thank you very much. Trailing my pink suitcase and my turquoise scarves. Painting the world in unlikely colors because that is so much more interesting than black and white.

It took too much work to get here. I don’t want to start all over again.


Here we are at January 1, and the last Photo-Heart Connection. I’m back from a bit of a creative break. The last week has been a blur of travel and sickness and family visits. Not a planned break, but a break nonetheless.

I thought writing this last post I would feel a bit nostalgic. I thought I would wax poetic on this practice and what it has meant to me. But it doesn’t feel like an ending, or a beginning, but a continuation of the journey I have been on all along. Time for the next step.

Do you have a last Photo-Heart Connection to share with us here? If you do, share a link in the comments. Or just share a comment on endings or beginnings or continuations of the same. No rules here, because nothing is ever black or white. Not really, even on New Year’s Day.

Registration is Open!

Registration is now open for a new mobile photography workshop series I’m doing in the spring. Take a look and register soon, because there are already people signing up and last fall these classes filled up to capacity.

I’ve been loving the half day workshops, where you get enough information to go off and play but not enough to be overwhelmed. This series builds from basic photography to artistic edits to advanced techniques, giving you a few weeks in between workshops to practice with the material so you can absorb it better. There is something new for everyone in this series, even if you’ve taken one of my Intro or Smartphone Art workshops before.

If you don’t live close enough to take advantage of the series, never fear! All of this content will be in my book (coming out next year!) and I’d love to teach the 1 or 2-day versions of the series, known as Smartphone Art, in a town near you. Drop me a note!

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Mobile Photography 1: Introduction
Corvallis, Oregon
March 7, 2015
1pm to 4pm

Learn to capture great photographs with your smartphone or tablet. You always have your mobile device with you, right? Why not make it your primary camera! In this half-day course, you’ll learn how to get the most out of your device’s camera along with the basics of creative photo editing. The class will be taught for both iOS and Android devices, and no prior photography experience is necessary. (Note: This is the same class as Intro to Mobile Photography, offered last fall at The Arts Center, and Intro to iPhoneography, offered through Corvallis Parks and Rec.)

Cost is $40+apps. Register through The Arts Center.

Mobile Photography 2: Artistic Alterations
Corvallis, Oregon
April 11, 2015
1pm to 4pm

Explore the possibilities of creating interesting and unique art by altering photographs on your iPhone or iPad. In this half-day workshop you will learn the secrets of sequencing and blending apps to create art with depth and interest from your photographs. The class will be taught for iOS devices running the latest version of iOS.

Prerequisite: Mobile Photography 1, Intro to Mobile Photography or Intro to iPhoneography

Cost is $40+apps. Register through The Arts Center.

Mobile Photography 3: Advanced Blending
Corvallis, Oregon
May 9, 2015
1pm to 4pm

Blending is where the magic happens! This half-day workshop will dive deep into the methods and sequences to create incredibly interesting effects through blending multiple photographs, backgrounds and textures. The class will be taught for iOS devices running the latest version of iOS.

Prerequisite: Mobile Photography 1 & 2 or Smartphone Art

Cost is $40+apps. Register through The Arts Center.

Winterrupted (A Mobile Tutorial)

I invented a new word with the title of this piece: Winterrupted. I bet I don’t even need to define it, and you could use it in a sentence like this…

We are traveling for the holidays and I hope our trip isn’t winterrupted.

See? I’m liking this word.

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I’m liking this piece too! I spent waaaay too long on it Tuesday morning, with a lot of false starts. I thought I would share the sequence of the final edit, and also give you an idea of how unrealistic it is to expect to just move through an edit directly, in so few steps.

First, it started with this image, captured in ProCamera. Hello bare trees! It’s so good to have you back. Now we can have some fun with editing.

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I cropped it in Snapseed, and also increased resolution in Big Photo.

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Next, into Mextures for a color filter.

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And then into Autopainter for an artistic effect. Remember, in Autopainter you can stop the process before it finishes, which is what I did here.

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I’m loving the colors at this point! I want to get the detail of the branches back in, so it’s into Image Blender to blend back with the cropped version above.

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I’m enjoying Decim8 again lately, I think it’s the combination of the geometric effects on the organic lines of the trees. I played around with a few effects, finding two I liked:

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These two were blended in Image Blender, to get to the final image: Winterrupted.

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Looks like a straightforward sequence, right? Of course, when I’m at the end and can trace the steps backward, it is clear. But look at how many steps were really in this process. Each image is something I tried, something a little bit different:

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The same image, the same apps, but lots of variations in sequence. There were problems with the image in the original sequence I tried. As I got further along in the edit, the upper branches became too dark and muddy and there were some blobby spots appearing in other locations, both of which required me to go back and try again. And again. I loved the colors and how they varied with the effects, so I knew I was onto something good. I kept working it until it came together. Good thing I was able to work without winterruption. ;)

Don’t ever get to thinking that mobile photography and editing with apps is a slam dunk. I’m not just tapping a button and getting a finished result with this kind of process. It’s messy and experimental and can be frustrating at times. But the mess is part of the fun, and getting a finished piece you are happy with in the end, like this one, makes it all worthwhile.

From Mechanics to Understanding

Do you want to know the best way to learn about your art, your process, your self? About why you do the things you do, the philosophy and motivations behind your work? It’s a very simple answer: You explain it to others.

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I’ve discovered this secret quite by accident, through writing and teaching myself.

I always tell people that I teach because when I love to do something, when I’m enthusiastic about an idea or a process or an art form, it just bubbles up outside of me and I have to share it with others. I love the “a-ha” moment when someone gets it. When I see the enthusiasm catch in someone else and they run with it, in their own direction, I stand by with pride.

I thought that’s why I teach, but I’ve recently realized that is the second payoff in teaching. The first comes in the creation of the materials. In the process of distilling the ideas, of determining how and what my students need to know to move forward, I learn about myself. I learn why I do things the way I do them. Why my process works for me, what the important pieces are and how they work together.

For me, the time and effort I invest to clearly explain something to others is also time invested in understanding myself.

Last week, I finished the first draft of my upcoming book. (Woohoo!) It’s rough, needing a lot of editing and examples and work, but it’s enough for me to see myself more clearly already. You would think that writing a how-to book on iPhone photography is all mechanics, but it isn’t. You can’t teach without a framework, a reference philosophy that guides the intent and organization of the materials.

I had mechanics before, now I have understanding. That understanding will feed more ideas, more creativity, stronger connection to heart and soul. I already feel them brewing.

Have you found the same thing? Maybe it’s not through teaching specifically for you, but the simple act of explaining your ideas to others. In communicating about your art, you gain a deeper understanding of your self. Try it and see. Don’t worry if it’s awkward at first. It gets easier with practice. You refine your thoughts through the give and take of conversation, of question and answer.

When you understand your self better, you create and communicate from a place of confidence. You can say, “This is who I am, what I do and why.” You are less shaken by the criticism of others, less prone to periods of self-doubt.

Want to practice? Explain why you create the art you create to me in the comments below. Link to a blog post if you need more space for gathering your thoughts. Let’s get your conversation going, so you can improve your understanding and confidence too.

The Dark Time

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It’s the dark time of year. I’ve got few opportunities to photograph, leaving and arriving the house most days in the dark, and even less motivation. A couple more weeks until the solstice and then we’ll turn the corner on daylight. A couple more weeks and maybe I’ll turn the corner on this malaise that’s come upon me.

I think I get this feeling every year, in December. This melancholy. This desire to check out of normal life and curl up inside myself for a little while. To go dark.

Does this happen to you?

I came across this article on Brain Pickings, about how melancholy is good for creativity. Maria Popova, the article author writes:

… I am also of the firm conviction that access to the full spectrum of human experience and the whole psychoemotional range of our inner lives — high and low, light and darkness — is what makes us complete individuals and enables us to create rich, dimensional, meaningful work.

I believe this too. So I’m allowing myself the dark time, knowing that the light will come again.

It does every year, without fail.