A Sea of Green

Sometimes in the forest, I look up and feel as though I am under the surface. I can see where the term “canopy” in a forest comes from, because it feels as if there is a layer between me and the sky, sheltering me from the sun and rain. Who needs an umbrella or sunscreen? Not I.

For this piece, I wanted the leaves to be somewhat indistinct, forming a sea of green. All the better to highlight the shape of the trunk and the lines of the limbs, that gorgeous light sparkling through the canopy, and the feeling of being below the surface.

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It’s been a while since I participated in Paint Party Friday, so I thought this would be a great one to share. I’m wishing you all a fun and creative weekend!

Creating the Sun

It’s summer again, and I’m so glad. For about a week there, it wasn’t summer around here. A lot of rain and grey skies; muddy trails and wet dog. I wanted to wear my summer clothes – not my rain jacket – but didn’t have much of a choice.

I did have a choice in what I created, though, so I created my own personal sunshine through my art. Summer-y flowers and leaves in bright colors filled the bill. I could change my mood with a choice of brilliant oranges and reds, like this one…

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…or lemon yellow and lime green, like this image “Looking Up.” Ahhhh, hello sun.

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My husband complained that some of the colors were too bright. They hurt his eyes.

That sounds just about perfect to me. If they are too bright for you, just put on your sunglasses. I’ve achieved my goal, and created some sun.

Tis the Season

It is the season of beginnings, with new growth in a bright spring green. The season of glorious sunshine one day and pouring rain the next week.

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And it’s the season of endings, as graduates finish up their schooling and move onto the next phase of life.

I’m off to Colorado today with my pink suitcase in tow, heading to attend my nephew’s high school graduation tomorrow and celebrations with my family over the weekend.

I’m a bit in shock that I have a nephew graduating. That my younger sister will have a kid in college next year. Oh my. So many of the people I know are well beyond this place, but it’s a threshold that, for my family, pushes my generation into a new phase of life. One with adult children and empty nests. I can’t quite wrap my head around it. I’m not ready for it.

But off I go… because it’s happening whether I’m ready or not. ‘Tis the season!

Oh, and don’t forget: The May Photo-Heart Connection link up will open on Saturday, June 1. That, at least, I am ready for!

And then the rain came…

Ah, yes. Rain. I live in Oregon, and yet I forget about the rain sometimes. We’ve had a good run of not-so-rainy weather and you know how I know? I had forgotten about puddle paintings! Until yesterday, when I was walking into work and the reflection of trees in puddles on the parking lot surface caught my eye. Really, it’s not like it’s been that long since it was rainy. I think I just have a short attention span!

Last night when I looked at the photos I was inspired to create this piece:

And then the rain came...

And then the rain came…

I’ll show you how it came together for this week’s Paint Party Friday post.

It starts with the captured image of a tree reflection in a parking lot puddle. I now use ProCamera for capturing most of my iPhone images. I like that I can switch between 1:1 and other aspect ratios in app and can easily separate the focus and exposure when needed. The “Anti-Shake” shutter is also really nice for avoiding blurry pics when the light is low… like if we have an overcast day or I’m in a shady forest or something. (Um, yeah, that’s pretty much all the time for me anymore.)

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Then I pulled the photo into Snapseed to rotate and add some color and texture. I felt a bit blue yesterday.

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From there, it was into texturing apps to play with textures and see what happened. I liked this one, from Distressed FX. Hey, my blue turned to green! But I really liked the effect.

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I could have stopped there, but it was not quite as abstract and painterly as I wanted. So into the painting apps… Glaze, the Autopainter apps (HD, 2 and 3) to see what I could do with it. It’s interesting how some painting apps really work well for one type of image, and then don’t work at all for another. That’s the part about this whole digital painting thing that is full of play and experimentation. There is no precise process in this medium… it just doesn’t work that way.

Out of all of that play, I started with the output from Glaze as the base in Image Blender. I like to start with Glaze output as the base when I can, because the base sets the resolution for the final image. Since I save out of Glaze at the highest resolution (4096×4096), my final blended image is saved at the same resolution, which is larger than the native resolution of the iPhone 5 camera. This means I can print the final image as large as I might want.

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From there, it was just blending of the different images I had created while playing in the different apps. I really can’t remember what I was blending with what, or the blending modes I was using. That’s all play too! But I’ll show you the intermediate blends so you can see how it progressed to the final piece.

Blend 1:

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Blend 2:

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Blend 3:

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Final Image:

And then the rain came...

And then the rain came…

I love the abstraction of the final painting, the watery feel and the depth of color. Even though I started out in a blue mood, the green in this makes my heart sing.

I definitely don’t mind rainy days this winter. People have been wishing for spring, but I’m not asking for it to come yet. I am inspired by the reflections found in puddles, and the blank canvas provided by a grey sky. I’m getting out to hike regardless of the weather, or maybe because of the weather, as the rain and mist provides such atmosphere to the forest. I am grateful, every day, for this wonderful art form that inspires me so much.

Here’s a happy song that resonates with me right now. Enjoy!

Blending to Perfection

When you are creating, do you find moments when everything comes together and it just feels right? Your know your piece is finished. When you are new to a medium, it’s not as easy. You may not take something far enough or you may go too far, ruining something good. As you learn and progress, I think it’s easier to know when something is “done.” It’s part of the learning process, and our own style, to develop that feeling of done.

In mobile/digital art, I’ve learned that the name of the game is blending. Using multiple apps and blending them together, until it feels “done.” I had already started on this path, as I created some of my earlier pieces like Rain Painting and Winter Flowers. I had only touched the tip of the iceberg of what is possible with blending in those, however. I’m going crazy now. Today as I share one of this week’s pieces for Paint Party Friday I thought I would also give you a taste of the kind of blending I’m doing now, and how I created this one, called Under the Surface.

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Here’s the starting image, taken with the ProCamera app. I love it! You can easily separate exposure and focus, and switch between aspect ratios within the app, going from square to rectangular.

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Then the fun started. I’ve created this little matrix of images to walk through the process of creation, but it doesn’t even cover all of the steps. To be honest, I get so many layers going I don’t even remember the exact steps but I’m trying to recreate them to share.

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From left to right, top to bottom:

  1. The first step was into Snapseed, to shift the color a bit. This also added some texture and vignetting.
  2. Next I pulled that image into Distressed FX to add textures. The next three are the image with various textures added. You can’t add more than one texture within the app, so I save an image of each texture I like on the photo. Distressed FX also will do color filters in addition to textures, but I often turn that off and just use the textures. It’s become my go-to app for textures lately.
  3. From there, I start to blend. The center image is a blend of the different texture images I saved out of Distressed FX. I’ve starting using the Image Blender app for blending, because it is easier to use and has more blending options than Iris Photo Suite. When blending, I just play with the blending modes and percentages until it looks good to me. There is no logical sequence I’ve got for this step.
  4. Once I had a nice blend, I started to use the painting apps. I take the blended photo into the apps and play around with different effects to get some I like. Middle right is the “Aquarell” painting filter from Autopainter HD (a recent favorite) and bottom left is from Glaze.
  5. From there I started blending again, with the textured image and the painted images. Bottom middle is the new blend.
  6. I was starting to lose the colors, so I took that blend back through Distressed FX and added a filter or two.

From there, I did more blending with previously created layers to get the final result.

Under the Surface

Under the Surface

There were more steps and layers than these I shared, but it gives you the basic idea of how the final piece was created. There is a depth of color and texture in the final painting that is built through blending layers which won’t exist when you use a single app. It’s really the creative part of the process, and where the unique touch of each person will come in. I’ve started to learn the apps, what works on different images and how to achieve a certain look, as I play. Eventually I might develop a “style” but right now it’s all about play and exploration. Lots of fun!

The Beauty of Possibility

An open road. A blank canvas. A budding flower. All have one important thing in common – they are full of possibility.

Possibility is fun and open. Possibility is free and exciting. The delicious feeling of “possibility” happens whenever you stand on the precipice of something new and exciting. Something you don’t quite know the outcome, but you have hopes and dreams for what it may be. The hopes and dreams shape the possibilities that lay before you.

I used to be very goal-oriented. One of my favorite quotes was “A goal without a deadline is just a dream.” As if dreams were bad things. As if the only dreams that mattered were the ones accomplished.

Now I know better. Dreams are necessary. Dreams provide us with possibility, so that as our journey unfolds before us, we have a chance to see the branches and explore the options. We have the chance to say, “what if” and feel the possible outcomes.

A goal with a deadline is like marching down a path and not looking either way, at the branches and possibilities that become available. That’s not to say deadlines are bad things. I use them all the time to get things done. If you could see me working furiously behind the scenes to get ready for my trip to England in a few weeks, you would know I definitely use deadlines. But the whole trip started with a hope and a dream. Those dreams led to exploring possibilities. It’s not until you settle on one possibility that things can coalesce into a plan. A goal, if you wish.

We need possibility in our lives. It creates openness and space for new things to form. It keeps us fluid and adaptable, able to respond to what comes along. It allows us to see our dreams come true, because we didn’t decide the details on exactly how it might happen.

So dream. Hope. Allow the possibilities to unfold around you as you take a step into the unknown. Sooner or later, you might turn some of the dreams into goals. But for today, allow the dream and see the beauty of possibility.