Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Sucks!

This isn't quite a tradition in the respect that we don't remember to get the candy canes and oranges every year, but I have been sucking orange juice through candy canes as long as I can remember. This year, my son, Todd, remembered and got huge naval oranges and handmade candy canes from PCC. We didn't know if the handmade canes would be porous enough to work but they were like straws from the very first suck. Our visitors, Danny and Cindy, thought the experience worthy of becoming one of their Christmas traditions. It truly engages all of the senses.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Printer Fixed(?)

This will just be a quick update on my HP8250 printer that was giving me fits. I came across a website:
that had some recommendations for dealing with the "Out of paper" problems that seem to plague this printer. While I haven't used the Brute Force idea of cutting a hole in the bottom of the printer to access the problem areas, I'm keeping my mind open to the idea. One of the ideas was to buy a product to clean and recondition the rubber rollers (the ones inside the printer that are a pain to get to) rather than use alcohol. As the owner of a lot of rubber stamps, I should have already thought of alcohol being a no-no. And I have a stamp cleaning liquid that reconditions the rubber and really works well so I just used that. And at least for now, it is feeding the paper and letting me get a few last minute Christmas gifts done.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Christmas Present

While I was working on my last post, the mail came. This treasure was in it. It is a book of Pam McClung's recent ATC's and other art work. She had told me she was having a company send me something. The publisher is and I looked it up immediately because they totally did Pam's amazing art justice. It is a gorgeous book full of beautiful artwork. I told Ken, when he asked what it was, that it was a bleeping wonderful book from Pam. And I don't talk like that very often.

Journal Frenzy

So I don't know how to string these pages out so that I can write beside the one I'm referring to, so it's good they all have dates.
After Kei Chi and I did our journal pages using Suzi Blu's assignment/formula I was ready to do more. I had just gotten Holly Harrison's book Mixed-Media Collage and it contains a fairly thorough explanation of Teesha Moore's journaling process. She uses lots of things cut from magazines and calendars, so I gave myself the job of tearing up all the magazines I had gotten from the Friends of the Library sale. They were travel, scuba diving, and womens magazines and I tore out everything that appealed to me and recycled the few pages that were left. I had started file folders of found images several years ago when my magazine stash got to be too much so I sorted by those categories, added a few extra categories and after a very crazy day had a workable system.
As I was chalking up a spread in my moleskine journal in yellows pastels, I remembered that I had started an art journal a couple of years ago referencing an article I found on the internet by Teesha Moore - How I Journal. At the time I didn't much care for what I had done (January 10, 2006) so even though I had readied four pages with acrylic paints, I just put it away. Maybe some of you just grab any old paper and start journaling; I am always, always fearful of God knows what! So I found the old journal, smeared some pastels on the painted pages and like them a lot better. I sprayed all four (three old and one new) with fixative and actually started on the old aqua page first because I liked it the least. And therefore had less to ruin, I guess.
Over the next three days, I did four spreads. Maybe I will get familiar enough with the process to work faster. As of now, I am in awe of those journalers who say, "Do a page every day. Just set aside thirty minutes to work on it." I am trying to let the images I choose to juxtapose speak to me and figure out what they are saying later. It's the same procees that Kate and I were trying to use for the "soul collages," although I still prefer to think of them as "soulless collages." And although I am thoughtful of the words I add, I truly hate my penmanship skills. I much prefer all the glorious fonts I can use in digital collage.
Pam, the one with the window (December 16,2007) I couldn't find words for but realized later that it has things it in that we both enjoy.

Printer Woes

Last week, my Hp Photosmart 8250 printer, which I have used and really liked for just about two years, started giving me an error message, "Out of paper." It wasn't out of paper, so I fiddled with it for about an hour to no avail. It wasn't an hour I had planned to spent with a sick printer so my mood went south. I had also gotten one of these printers for KeiChi as a Christmas present at the same time and her printer had stopped being able to feed slick photo paper about a year ago. The coincidence of the problems sent me to to look at customer reviews and I found that this printer has had paper feed problems for many people. I also found out that HP has been less than interested in resolving the problems, giving some customers a kit to clean the rollers, charging some customers about $35 for a kit to clean the rollers, and offering to fix the problem for other customers at a price about equal to a new printer. I can't vouch for the truth of these claims; it's just what I read in the customer review section.

I did not attempt to call HP since my last call to their service center was a disaster, but emailed them instead. The rep who answered my enquiry claimed he was ready to own my problem and told me to make sure the paper was in the printer lined up correctly, not too many sheets, blah, blah, blah. All things I had checked during the "bad mood" hour. He also told me how to clean the rear rollers (he said they might be "dust coated") so I got out an old lint free washrag, and wiped at the rollers. They were fairly dirty, and my white rag got a few brown spots on it from the rubbing. However, there was no visible coating of dust and I know dust like George Hamilton knows toasted. Just for my own gratification, I left the cover off the back of the printer, plugged it back in, and attempted to print something again. I could easily see that the paper was getting nowhere near the rollers I had just cleaned. I deduced they had nothing to do with the problem and emailed him back. The next morning I received an email from him as a follow through. He was wondering if any of his solutions had worked. I sent my email again, complete with my actions and deductions, and am awaiting a reply.

I don't suppose that there will be a good resolution to this problem. I don't plan to drop the printer(s) from a very high window or throw them in front of a moving semi, per some suggestions in the Amazon customer reviews, but I am also not inclined to pay Staples to recycle them since I paid them two years ago for two printers I had hoped that we could use for a very long time. I have written this whole rant without even mentioning the hundreds of dollars worth of HP ink cartridges I have used. I know Staples will miss that business and it might even be worthy of notice by HP. I don't know if this will make me feel any better - I just think that planned obsolescence is one of the evils we should rail against.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Art Journaling 101

My husband Ken and I and our daughter-in-law Kei Chi spent Friday and the weekend making Christmas cards, mostly stamping but also using some photos of last year's snowstorm and some computer editing . This was the first time that Kei Chi had much success with the paper play which I love so much. When I showed her some of Suzi Blu's art journaling videos we decided that was something we might attempt together also. We didn't vary at all from the formula Suzi suggested since it was Kei Chi's first art journaling experience and the mix of art materials was new to me. The first thing we did was write down all the excuses we had to not do the journals, and when I ran out of excuses I wrote that my dog didn't like art journals. As we worked, he would not stop barking at us so KeiChi said that he really didn't like art journals. Consequently, he got scratched into my background. We had a good time and I hope that we will continue to do some art journaling together. I really enjoyed the enthusiasm in the Suzi Blu videos and think she could inspire almost anyone to try to make ART.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Fool and I

This is another tarot sized image. I started with a photo of a road and one of the sky. After I put in the doorway, it got a little Oz-like, so I added the castle. I thought, "What's a fake tarot card without a Fool?" and I made him the guardian of the gate. At that point I was getting feelings of being trapped inside the picture so I added the pouty girl and her little dog to express those feelings.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Queen of the Night

Interest in vampires comes and goes and usually I am completely unaware of the cycles. I read a lot of Anne Rice in the 80's, boring my teenage boys with "discussions" of how she integrated world history into vampire legend, but then a particularly gory movie with Nicholas Cage and the seeming endlessness of it all made me lose interest. This year, I started watching "Moonlight" and learned about the manga/goth?? inspired ball jointed dolls which somehow I had totally missed.

So when I started working on this amazing blue night shot I got a couple of weeks ago from the back deck, I put in some architecture, a fashion shot and one of those bjd heads and suddenly she was the Queen of the Night. Since those are also one of my favorite tulips, I had to get those in there too. The atmosphere is from duplicating each layer, appying a stamp filter and changing the mode to multiply to get rid of the white.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Kate's White Soul

Kate finally found the collage that she made while I was in Davis visiting her. But only after she stopped looking for it. I know that's the best way to find something that's been stashed for safe-keeping, but usually I am too wrought up to stop looking. One of my favorite techniques for finding something is to start putting things away. My studio is often messy enough that that approach can last for at least half an hour; it calms me down and has such a nice side effect. And many times, I do find whatever was misplaced. Although, the quicker I find what's missing, the less cleaning I get done.

One of the reasons I enjoyed working on these collages as opposed to my usual Photoshop collaging is that we had to accept the images at the sizes we found them. It was a restraint that was quite liberating. When I am able to put the polymer clay, tools, trays, and paint away in December, I think I will probably do more of these. In the meantime, folder after folder of virtual images don't take nearly as much room to manipulate as folder after folder of paper images.

Kate's White Soul was minimally adjusted to offset the loss of contrast in scanning.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

ATCs from Old Family Photos

I have accumulated many old family pictures - inherited, begged, borrowed, or stolen. I love making ATCs with them using whatever technique for backgrounds I have found on online Photoshop tutorials. The first one (yellow background) is my great grandmother and her sisters, I think. The aunties one is from a photo of my father's very special sisters. The "Wonder" image is my husband's sister, Carol (also very special). My brother and his son are in the next ATC, and the last one is me. That photo was one I had never seen until last year when a dear cousin sent it to me. I like it a lot and will probably use it until the emulsion wears off.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Full House

This was an insomnia inspired work. It doesn't really illuminate the friendships that I have with these two, other than to show that all of us are almost holiday babes. The queen of leaves is an almost Halloween babe, I am an almost Valentine babe, and the queen of shamrocks is an almost St. Patrick's Day babe. As reasons for enduring friendships go, being able to remember someone's birthday ranks right up there.

Each card was digitally put together ATC size before the whole was assembled. Being new to this idea of being on display, I find that I am thinking a bit more of who I am pleasing rather than if I am pleasing myself. And while I enjoy taking some new creation and showing it to a friend, I haven't ever been much concerned with anyone else's opinion of what I do. My husband says I love everything I do, and he's right. But this process seems more outer than inner, more revelaton than reflection. I know from looking at other people's blogs that this isn't true for everyone, and maybe the feeling pasts. For now, I'm excited at the prospects and awake almost every night at 4 am thinking of what I would like to write about next.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Collaging with Kate

The first image is the collage I made from the magazine and calendar pictures that Kate and I spent hours tearing out. We were both a little shy about starting to collage while Cheryl was there, but after she left we each did one. I don't have Kate's scanned but she used a lot of black and white images. When I got home, I scanned mine into Photoshop, cleaned up the edges I hadn't trimmed closely enough, did a few image adjustments, added the text I wanted but couldn't find in the magazines, and resized it into a tarot card size. While I'm not all that comfortable calling these soul collages, I do like personalizing them by completing the phrase "I am the one..." and this semi Fairy Tale collage (I admit it, I'm stuck) gave me a funny way to end the phrase.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Book Round Robin

For the last seven or eight months, a group brought together by Kate Markey, my sister, has been working on a book round robin. In early October, I went to Davis, CA to celebrate the end of the project and to look at what the six of us had accomplished. Each participant chose a theme, created or readied a book form, worked the first pages, and then sent the book along to have each of the other people add their magic. The skill sets and styles were wide and deep, and the finished books were truly wonderful. This post shows what I sent out and what I got back.

My theme was Fairy Tales Real or Imagined. I used a largish board book, stripped the glossy part of the pages off, and lightly gessoed the pages. My cover and spread were done as digital collages in Photoshop, with stamped and photographic images. At times I used real images laid over the stamped images to create depth. These are the print files because I couldn't deal with the glossiness of the printed pages. The spread was a tunnel with four layers.

Autumn's Two Pages
Autumn Labbe-Renault does it all. She makes papers, she stamps, she collages. And now she can say that she has done scenic stamping. She did a lovely job. Here's lots more of Autumn's work.

Stacy's Spread
I didn't get to meet Stacy Goldenberg and I would have liked to. I enjoyed her attention to detail and the composition of her pages. I really liked her book form which was a "Pooh" book disassembled and immaculately reassembled in an accordion structure.

Deatra's Painting
What can I say? Deatra Cohen's painting (in this and all of the other books) is so imaginative and so accomplished. She brought along other books she has written and illustrated and they were all equally witty and charming.

Cheryl's Collages
Cheryl Lundstrom created two more of her amazing collages for my "Fairy Tales..." book. After our brunch, Cheryl talked Kate and I through her free association method. We spent several hours tearing images out of magazines and calendars that just appealed to us and later each of us put a collage together. More on that later.

Kate's Story
Kate Markey, my sister, stamped her images, scanned them into Photoshop, and then told her version of "Once upon a time..." which included a busy but very hip fairy godmother.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Halloween star book

This was a birthday gift for a friend whose birthday is October 29.