Monthly Archives: September 2011


Of Morning Glories and Metaphors . . .

I think you will remember my Morning Glory challenges this year? If not, you can find the story here:

Well, try hard enough and wait long enough and the answers always come. This is not the first blossom, but it was the first of many  - on the plants I started on my usual trellis.

I planted the rest in a giant clay pot, and put a metal tree in the middle for the plants to climb. And they did. . .

The vines worked feverishly because they knew they were short of time . . . and they became so swelled with intention that they forgot to make flowers, which is their real purpose after all. And if that weren’t enough, this tower of intention has become top heavy and keeps tipping over in the wind. That is not a blossom on the right, by the way. It is a metal star I put there to give the plants a hint of what a blossom should look like! It worked, and there are now blossoms at the top of the tower – finally!

But of course, I can’t consider all this without some personal insight . . .  Sometimes we get so involved with something, that we can’t see the forest for the trees, or the flowers for the leaves.

I treasure your feedback. It is a wonderful thing to have such a huge group of friends to remind me of that which I forget – and in such a kind and gentle way. And, it is also wonderful to be able to put an idea out there to see if it will fly – BEFORE investing a lot of time and energy.

Only two people responded to the free ad offer. Not 8. Just 2 (and thank you for your enthusiasm, you two).

I could feel disappointed about that, but I feel relieved instead. The Classifieds site is an idea I have been carrying around for more than a year – but not acting on – because, although I thought it was a great idea, I was afraid of what it would do to my “life simplification” project.

It very well could have ended up being a “tower of intention” that would make me tip over.

So, thank you for the answers – they are the right ones. Now, my brain is free to produce “flowers” (which is my real purpose, after all).

What Flowers?

It is not as if I am lying around eating bon bons and needing something to do. There are so many projects going on and they are all really focused on two things – making art . . . and writing/teaching.

The more I write, the more I like writing.

And now is the dawn of e-books – which are just like the PDFs we have been loving for years. Just a different perspective is all – and new ways for people to use them.

I have been shocked by the popularity of my Creative Drawing Workbook. People keep buying it, and seem to love it. So, a follow-up drawing workbook is in progress.

New Workhops also – Photoshop Elements Grade School – which many of you are eagerly awaiting after graduating PSE Kindergarten.

And More Mac Magic – for those who have completed The Magic of Mac, and want more.

Perhaps most exciting of all – I am writing a workbook series called “The Artist and the iPad”. My iPad has shaken my art world to its core. I have never been so excited – and so confused at the same time. I am working my way through 146 art Apps to find the best for our purposes, and figure out how they work along the way (most great apps cost hardly anything, but have no manuals or instructions at all).

The first Workbook will be about Art Journaling on the iPad.

AND – the books are being written almost entirely on the iPad – for the sake of purity – and because it is challenging and fun.

I am also very into painting the flowers in my September garden – and I am off to do that right now . . . Happy Sunday afternoon, everyone!


Please Help with Some Stuff . . .

This is the header for the advertising blog I have been thinking about for over a year now. It is a great idea but lots of details had to be worked out, and I have done a lot of waffling about how, when, why to do it.

The idea is that artists, craftspeople, and purveyors of art supplies, etc. can run an affordable display ad to let people know they exist, or that they have a new product.

Any artist can start a site or an Etsy Shop, or a blog, but unless you have a way to let people know you are there, they won’t come.

If we can start with my online following and get the word out to lots more people, we could create a sort of community resource for the creative community.

The idea is that you can run a display ad with a photo for $15. The ad includes one headline which you supply, one photograph which you supply, 100 words of copy which is about as much as the first three paragraphs of this post, and a link to wherever you want the interested reader to go.

Your display ad is actually a blog post, and stays on the blog until you want it taken off. Ad posts will age like any blog post, but will always be available when someone searches by category (Jewelry, for example). When you ad gets too old, you can afford to place another one.

What to advertise?

Your handmade artworks and craft creations.

Your Workshops or books you have published

Your blog, website, or Etsy shop

Your art supplies if you sell them, or if you just want to move along some of what you are not using.

Anything at all that would be of interest to other creative people.

Tis the Season?

Because the holidays are coming, it seems to me that this Fall might be a good time to Beta test this idea, because people need to find handmade gifts (and make some so they need supplies).

So, I have the blog site ready to go and I need to start it off with some ads. to make sure everything functions correctly.

I was just going to make some up, but I think I have a better idea.

I am giving away the first 8 ads FREE of charge – to the first 8 people who get their information to me.

Here is what I need emailed to me:

Use this email address:

A photo of your work or whatever you want to sell. Or it can be a photo of your site or the top of your blog or whatever you think will appeal to other creative people.

The photo must be 72ppi and no wider than 500 pixels. The photo should be attached to your email.

If you don’t know how to resize your photos, check this Techinical Tizzie post:

A headline for your ad (as long as a typical blog post headline.

100 words or fewer of copy.

Your contact Link

You will be notified by return email if you made the first 8 and win the free ad.

If you do not make the first 8, I will notify you when the Creative Classifieds site is ready, and ask whether you would like to purchase an ad.

This experiment . . .

WIll tell me if there is enthusiastic response to this idea. If there is, I will go ahead with it.

If there is not, I will get the idea out of my head and make room for others.

To PayPal or not to PayPal

I have been a credit card merchant for 18 years. I now accept Mastercard and Visa directly through the Shopping Cart on my website, and process all the charges manually through a real world terminal.

I am sick and tired of being ripped off by the merchant banks.

I have not accepted Paypal in the past because it would mean a separate and second way of bookkeeping, and for a long time, it was more expensive. But that is different now.

I quietly added PayPal as a payment option a week ago. 65% of orders coming through have chosen to pay through PayPal.

Very Important: You DO NOT have to be a PayPal member to pay with your credit card through PayPal.

The benefit to my customers is that they can use Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover, have the security of the PayPal system, and even pay directly through their bank account if they are a PayPal member.

The benefit to me is a savings of both time and money.

I am thinking of PayPal being the only payment option on my site, and I am just wanting to know if that would be a problem for anybody?

Do you know of any reason I should not make this change?

I will so appreciate your feedback on this issue.

Talk to me (and send me those ads!)






Sheer Heaven Travel Palette

Back in the day – before Sheer Heaven became better known for making inkjet transfers than anything else – back in the Summer of 2004 in fact, I discovered that Sheer Heaven made a perfect watercolor palette for traveling.

I was not an art journaler yet. That would not come along until two years later. I was still in a state that many of you will be familiar with – collector of blank journals and frustrated to still be an artist journal wannabe.

I published an online magazine then and wrote an article about this amazing discovery.

Several folks have asked me recently to republish this information, so I dug up the photos and here we go . . .

Two things about Sheer Heaven make this idea work. Sheer Heaven is impervious to moisture, and it has a lot of tooth.

Therefore, you can pile up a deposit of watersoluble pigment on the good side of Sheer Heaven – using either watercolor pencils, or watercolor crayons, which deposit more pigment more quickly – and take your entire color collection with you inside your journal!

To use the palette, you just moisten the patch of color with your waterbrush to pick up the paint. Sheer Heaven will act just like a paint pan. It will not warp or tear with the moisture, will not soak up the color like paper would, and the Sheer Heaven tooth won’t allow the wet color to spread or run on the palette.

You can even put away your palette sheets wet. The back side of Sheer Heaven is absolutely smooth, so any wet color that offsets on the back of the sheet above will wipe right off with a damp paper towel.

You can create specific Palettes on separate sheets . . .

Maybe you have a certain set of colors you use for landscapes or people, or a coffee toned palette you use in coffee shops. Maybe you want to group all your reds, or blues, on one sheet. The beauty of this system is that you can use as many small sheets as you want, arrange colors however you want, and repeat colors on different sheets.

The palettes work perfectly for most color sketching you want to do.

You can refill the color spots . . .

When your color runs out, the tooth of the Sheer Heaven will still be there, so you just scribble on more color.

You can dilute and mix colors easily . . .

The smooth back side of each sheet is perfect for diluting or mixing your colors to your heart’s content. You could even carry an extra sheet (recycle a transfer leftover) just to use as a mixing palette.

Best of all, you can carry as many sheets as you want in a simple envelope in your journal – or they can be tucked in a pocket if your journal has one.

I made this envelope from Sheer Heaven (using an envelope template I found online) and painted the palette on front using the color from the sheets inside!

If you don’t have any Sheer Heaven, here is where you can find it:

NOTE: Transfer leftovers can be recycled into palettes, Just use the trimmings that still have the surface intact. Part of the Sheer Heaven tooth does transfer with an image. That is what holds the liquified image together during transfer, in fact. But, you can use the trimmings to make palettes, because the surface is still there.

NOTE to my Travel Journal students: Use a Blossom pocket to hold your palette.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I just had the gift of another trip to Manitou Springs, Colorado. This time, my sister delivered her son for his senior year playing baseball for Colorado State, and since they drove his car from California, she asked me to come and get her in Pueblo. CO. Since Manitou is just forty minutes north of Pueblo, a Manitou weekend was a no-brainer.

At one of the entrances to the Garden of the Gods Park, there is a magnificent giant boulder, sitting impossibly on a rock formation. They call it Balance Rock, and at any one time, there are 50-100 tourists there – taking pictures of each other pretending to hold up this rock. My sister is a lover of this type of photo, so we stopped there too. It was very hot, but she scampered up the rock and waited for me to take her picture.

This was complicated by the fact that only one person can stand at the correct vantage point at a time and there were lots of would be picture-takers.

And the person currently occupying the spot was a woman who could not figure out what to do with her point-and-shoot, which obviously must have belonged to either the husband or son, who were both baking under the Balance Rock waiting for her to press that shutter and get their picture.

As MUCH time went on with no progress, the natives were getting restless. My sister was making faces and gestures in my direction which meant (when translated) “Take that damn camera from her hot little hands, and take the picture for her before we all turn crisp!!”

I hesitate to do that sort of thing. It’s like letting someone sneak into a traffic lane ahead of you or holding the door open for folks. The stream of recipients of your kindness just keep streaming, and where do you stop?

I had my “big girl” camera on my shoulder, and several of the strangers were making the same kind of faces and gestures at me as my sister was. But, selfishly, I did not want to spend the next piece of my life figuring out the buttons on twenty brands of pocket cameras.

The lady did finally hit that shutter with the help of another person in line who maintained that she didn’t know anything about it either. Our turn came, you can see my sister holding up Balance Rock, and all is well.

Later, I was trying to capture the haunted feel of the windows in a wonderful old blue building in downtown Manitou. To keep the windows squared up, I was shooting from across the street with a long lens.

When you have a long lens on your camera, people think you know something. A very sweet couple from Tennessee ambled up and wanted to know all about their digital camera. We chatted for ten minutes or so, and decided they needed a new camera for the wildlife they wanted to shoot (not right there in Manitou, although we did have deer and a bear cub at our hotel that morning – luckily, at different times).

It is estimated that 100 million digital cameras sold in the United States last year, and that does not count the ones in phones.

All of these cameras are magical in what they can do, and so few of these hundred million camera owners know what they can do or what to do with them.

It’s a good thing the cameras can take OK pictures by themselves or we would be truly overrun with bad photography.

Well, we are  overrun with bad photography . . . but it could have been a lot worse if the cameras didn’t at least know what they were doing.

How about you? Do you know much about your digital camera?

Here’s just a tiny bit of a quiz:

Do you know how to take that kind of photo where only the subject is in focus and everything else is a lovely blur?

Do you know what ISO is? (It’s the light sensitivity of the image sensor). Do you know how it affects your photos? Do you know that if you have your ISO set high and you shoot in bright daylight, you can blow your photos out to white?

Did you know that the camera’s flash should be avoided most of the time?

Did you know that all the blurry red flowers in your photos have nothing to do with bad focus?

Did you know that your camera will not focus within a certain distance from the subject?

Did you know that zooming in on a subject flattens the depth of the subject?

I could go on and on, but I won’t.

Do you want to know any of this stuff?

Tomorrow begins the last session for this year (and maybe the last live session forever) of my Art of Digital Photography Workshop, which I think is the best workshop you can take to learn all about your camera – and about photography. I could be more modest about that, but it would not be fair to the workshop.

If you would like to join us, you can click the Art of Photography logo in the sidebar, or this link:

Sign-ups are accepted through the first week of the workshop.

Now, here are a few more of my sister’s “tourist shots”.

You gotta love a town that has a giant school desk sitting by the side of the road, and Cass really wanted to sit in it, but her legs were not long enough to get her up there.

And here is Rainbow Cass . . . anything interesting and she is there!

And, this trip, I was determined to visit, taste, and photograph all eleven of the natural mineral springs for which Manitou Springs is famous. I will be sharing much more about this art project as it takes shape. Meanwhile, Cass got Mom in on this shot . . .

I collected water from all the Springs that were functioning. I will be painting each of them with their own water and some other interesting things.

I wish I could show you the video of Cassie hula-hooping in Walgreens. I will if I can figure out how to get it from iphone to You Tube or my Mobile Me Gallery.

She is fun on a trip – I am thinking of renting her out.