Monthly Archives: October 2011

It’s not over til it’s over . . .

Oh my, what a week!

To make a long story short, DH took over a home furnishings consignment shop located next door to the Art Garden when the owner fled in the night this past July.

Mark is really good at spotting and collecting cool things, and wheeling and dealing (he was in the car business, remember?), so he has been enjoying that business. It is very humorous because the lease is a sublet that goes only through November, so we can’t cut a hole in the wall, and Mark has to go back and forth between the two stores according to where customers want to go. He recently went into the bank across our parking lot, and the teller said, “We know who you are! You’re that guy who runs back and forth unlocking doors all day. We stay entertained by watching you.”

So, with the end of that sublet coming up, we have big decisions to make, and in this lousy economy, they aren’t easy. To make it more difficult, the most desirable location in the center has just become available. We could combine both businesses in one, and be located in a beautifully landscaped courtyard between the restaurant and the post office. I thought we could change the name to “He Says . . . She Says . . .” –  because the store would contain both businesses. Do you like the name?

Do we want to stay in retail? That is the dilemma.

It is such a dilemma that it made me come up with this quote (which will shortly be a greeting card):

“If God gives you dilemma, make dilemma-nade.”

But in the middle of all of this, a Hummingbird has decided to stay late this year. First time this has ever happened, and I am amazed. She has made it through several below freezing nights – one with rain and a little snow.

I did research and found out they can survive whole Winters if they have a source of food.

I don’t know why she thinks this is a good idea, but I decided not to worry too much because Albuquerque is only 50 miles away and has a much milder climate.

Meanwhile, I have to keep the nectar in the feeders from freezing. It is not true that you keep the hummingbirds from migrating by keeping the feeders out – you should keep them out if there are still any Hummers around because they need the nectar to survive when there are no longer any flowers. (I’ve been researching).

This is the only way I can think of to keep the feeders from freezing – and it worked last night. The one feeder that was not warmed by a lamp did freeze halfway.

I also am setting out a couple of flowering plants from the garden room during the day, so my little pal can have some natural food. And of course, I am taking hundreds of photos of her (him?)

I will keep you posted.

And speaking of  photos . . .

The Creating with Photoshop Elements Workshop started yesterday and the students were so excited with the first lesson that they are already uploading some awesome “Polaroid Transfer” results.

Here is one by Helen Cowans (UK). The original photo she worked from is also shown on her blog – along with some great fabric work!

And here is one by Barb Bruemmer (Michigan) . . .

And I love how this subject worked for Gigi Kandler (California) . . .

There is something so romantic about the Polaroid Transfer. I have always loved them and am so glad there is still a way for us to recreate the look.

Yes, you can still get in on the fun. Here’s the link:

Happy Birthday, Cre8it!

Yep . . . count ‘em.

It has been ten years since I jumped onto the internet with both feet, not to mention heart and soul.

I had been using the internet since there was one, of course, but that is not the same as being a part of it – being a “content producer” as they say.

So, way back then, with my Sheer Heaven under my virtual arm, I launched

I followed barely discernible trails and blazed new ones. I did a lot of things before their time, like internet publishing under very tight constraints of file size and format. I sought to share my love of the computer as art tool when many artists were nowhere near convinced that was the way to go.

Unlike many other things, it does not seem like only yesterday that this all happened. I have vivid memories of every step taken along the “information highway”. Mile markers fly by, but you have to pay attention every bit of the way, because they constantly change the signs and the lane dividers.

And the constant change is good – invigorating, exhilarating, never boring, always challenging.

So, now I look at the next decade and see everything blossoming anew – in directions that would have been incomprehensible to most folks ten years ago. We are storing our stuff in clouds and making our art directly on tablets that are alive with magic – we are talking to our phones as well as on them. Borders bookstores are gone and the dead-tree-style book is in dire jeopardy for its economic future.

I read an interesting article about successful small business owners, and what makes them successful. I read it in a digital magazine that refreshes itself every time I open it – to become more and more about my personal interests according to the articles I read and like. Unbelievable.

Anyway, the major attribute of success, according to this article, is the ability to be flexible and adapt to the ever changing nature of your environment. I think, beyond business owners, that is the attribute all of us need – to survive our cataclysmic transformation out of the industrial age economy that has kept us safely in the middle class for most of our lives. There is no going back, and there is no staying put. No hiding places either. Just one direction to move and that is forward.

I am used to it, luckily. I have done nothing but adapt to change my whole life. I never worked for anybody except for a very few years in my 20′s, so I never felt safe in the old, settled system of things anyway.

I am also lucky to know what I love in life. That is a big help in finding the trails to follow – or where I should blaze new ones.

So, I am now re-imagining what I want to be doing for the next ten years (and more). And I will be sharing all that with you as I figure it out. As it figures itself out, I should say. There are some things I am *very* excited about and I hope you will be too. Stay tuned.

I wonder what you – my students, my customers, my readers, my friends, would like to see me do? Any ideas will be entertained – and entertaining. Except if you would like me to go away and shut-up, of course. That one is not likely to happen.

Meanwhile, I must share this video since it says so much about fundamental change in our lives these days.

This one year old toddler cannot figure out why a magazine does not work like an iPad. Probably not the best parenting, but interesting none-the-less.

A Magazine is an iPad that does not work

Creating with Photoshop Elements . . .

If there were no such thing as a “last minute”, I wonder if I would still be a procrastinator.

If it can be put off until tomorrow, I put it off for a hundred tomorrows. Especially anything that has to do with numbers.

And thus, my yesterday was turned into a miserable experience because I had to finish and file my income tax.

Anyone who owns their own business knows how much fun a Schedule C can be, and tangling with TurboTax is not for the thin-skinned nor faint of heart.

I could hire a tax person but I would have to get it all into explainable shape anyway, and then try to explain to somebody what the heck I think I’m doing. I don’t explain that well.

I did have an audit once and right in the middle of my trying to explain to the guy why my check register had those “codes” in it and what they meant . . . he abruptly ended the audit and said he was sure everything was ok with my return. He needed more of a sense of humor, I think, but it worked out well for me.

Anyway, that was yesterday.

Today, I finished preparing my newest Photoshop/Elements Workshop, called “Creating with Elements”. It’s a six lesson workshop and all brand new.

You have to have some basic operating knowledge of the software, or have completed my PSE Kindergarten Workshop. All techniques and projects are explained step-by-step, but I don’t go into re-explaining the basics behind them.

You can use Photoshop to take the workshop, of course, but the illustrations will be Elements 9.0 screenshots.

I have been having a lot of fun creating with Photoshop lately – More ideas for the gallery, and working out some of my favorite processes. So I thought I would share.

Like Cyanotypes, for example. I grew up with blueprints because my Dad was an architect. Maybe that is why my favorite color is blue? I love the colors and the mysterious ethereal look.

But creating a real one these days is a bit complicated. If you do it the traditional way, you have to wear goggles and a mask. mix chemicals in water, and then mix those solutions in equal parts, paint them on surfaces, and work in semi darkness, etc.

So, I would rather fake it with PhotoShop, and I thought you might like that too.

And I always loved Polaroid transfers, but you can’t get the film anymore, (I know they are trying to bring it back), and real Polaroid Transfers are limited to watercolor paper and a tiny size.

I have been trying to duplicate that look for years (does anybody remember my scanning through acrylic method?) and never quite got it right. But this new method is the closest I have ever seen.

Anyway, if you feel like creating art gifts for the holidays . . . or just for the hell of it, this is the perfect workshop for you!


Creating with Photoshop Elements

Where Woman Creates . . .

It’s that time of year again: our first freeze. I knew it was coming all week so I did have time to get ready, but it did take every moment of the week, and I am never really ready.

The first thing was to completely clean out the garden room to make sure it was spider and other-bug free. All the dust, from doors and windows open for the summer, had to be returned to the great outdoors.

Then, the gradual process of trimming plants from the garden, spraying them with horticultural oil, and moving them into the garden room.

Eventually, it turns into a wall of flowers because I can’t seem to let any of them go. Bad enough to say good-bye to those planted in the ground, but if they are in containers, I just can’t resist keeping them.

And I am so excited to have figured out how to hang art on the stucco. The garden room is stuccoed inside and out, and I am afraid of drilling into it. I picture cracks in the walls and splinters of stucco flying through the air. Very scary. So I have yet to hang any of the art I bought especially for that room.

Then I had one of those ideas that causes husbands (even those who aren’t so darned handy themselves) to look at you with *that* look. You know the one I mean.

Anyway, ignoring that input, I used E-6000 to stick metal picture hanger hooks to the stucco. Had to tape them in place until the E-6000 cured. Otherwise, they slid down the wall, leaving snail trails of goo.

I actually had my own doubts about this one – but it worked. By the next day, I could not pull the hooks off the wall and they held the not-so-heavy artwork just fine. . .


This beautiful piece is by Chris Weathers, an amazing paper sculptor who now lives in San Miquel de Allende, Mexico, and does her paper casting on old ruined building walls. We have collected her work for years. This is my fifth piece and it is perfect for a garden room.

I never pick flowers, but last night I thought my Cosmos and Daisies could be lost to frost, so I put a few in vases.

Both the Cosmos and Daisies made it fine through this first freeze, and so did my last couple Hummingbirds, who really should be on their way to Central America by now, but can’t bear to leave the garden. I was so worried about them last evening that I put warm sugar water out in case that would help. We are due for another week of warm weather (at least), so it’s not over yet!

And here is my lovely reading corner with my most precious and prized garden quilt – made for me by Jerrie Hall.

I know the hose is not lovely, but it represents the life blood of the room, and is in constant use, so there is no point in hiding it away. On the shelf above the rocker is my Bose Sound Dock, which turns my iPod into a killer stereo.

Hope I haven’t bored you to death, but this is totally ALL I have done this week, so I thought I would share.

Workshop Announcement . . .

A couple months ago, 34 students took the Travel Journal Workshop, and had a great deal of fun creating their travel journals from trips past, present, or still to come.

Many more folks wanted to sign up, but had scheduling problems.

So, Travel Journaling is now a WHENEVER Workshop. No more scheduling conflicts.

The link for more info in in the sidebar and here:


What a heart breaking loss . . .

Although my graphics firm did marketing materials for Apple Computer way back in the 80′s, I never actually met Steve Jobs.

Yet the intensity of my grief at his passing feels like the loss of a dear friend. Someone who was a hero to me.

No one has had a greater impact on the path my life has taken. And his gifts just kept coming. in fact, I have only recently stated that the iPad has changed my art life once again.

I can’t imagine a greater gift to the world than bringing the magic of the information age to every person, even if they are not technically inclined.

I felt compelled to go to the Apple website tonight and had to smile at the perfection, the simplicity, of this home page. It’s so Apple. Steve would be proud – in fact, he probably designed it.

My sense of grief is exceeded only by my sense of gratitude that this man lived, followed his dreams, and enabled mine.


Connecting the Dots . . .

There  have been many, many books written about creativity. Some recent ones advocate the throwing-things-at-paper-and-see-if-they-stick theory of awakening creative ideas, but most of the books I have read were written for the design industry, and took a more serious approach to the subject.

If you have never sat and torn your hair out for a logo idea at four in the morning, when you have the client presentation at nine, you have missed one of life’s more dubious pleasures. But suffice it to say, there are times when you have to understand where creative ideas come from, so you can force them to come.

OK, so you can’t force creative ideas to come, but you can set yourself up to invite them, ask them politely, and hope for the best.

The creative process is really about you making a previously unthought of connection between things that are not already connected in the way you just thought of.

Interpretation: One thing leads to another, and putting them together leads to new things.

This usually brings on a DUH! – V8 sort of head slap, and then the question: “WHY didn’t I think of this before? And why didn’t anybody else?” It is so obvious once you think of it.

So this is an example of that:

Thing One:

I just dredged the Sheer Heaven Travel Palette idea out of the archives and republished it.

Thing Two:

I have been painting flowers and trying to duplicate some colors in Nature. I often use Daniel Smith watercolors for this because they are earthy. They are so earthy in fact that the color charts on their site only vaguely resemble what is in their tubes.

So, awhile back, they came up with a very creative idea to sell sheets of paper containing little dots of their colors so people could test them.

Thing Three:

While buying tubes from their website, I saw that they had put the sheets on sale – drastically – and since I was disturbed that there was very little blue in the recent tubes of Blue Ochre and Sodalite I had purchased, I bought them. (Sorry – the sale ended as fast as it started.)

When they arrived, I have to say I was a bit disappointed that the dots were so small.

Thing Four:

Let’s see . . . Sheer Heaven Palette + I want bigger dots of Daniel Smith paint.

Right! Why not put dots of tube paint on a Sheer Heaven Palette instead of limiting that idea to watercolor crayons and pencils? You could carry more paint and more colors!

I tried it. I let the dots dry overnight, and it works just great . . .

You should let these dry before putting them away, but if that is not possible – cover them with another piece of Sheer Heaven – with the slick side down toward the paint. If any color sticks to the Sheer Heaven backside, it can be easily washed off with a damp paper towel.

Is this not luscious looking? It xplains why children eat paint and woman wear lipstick, doesn’t it?

New WHENEVER Workshop . . .

With the Holiday gift making season coming up, I have moved the Five Easy Pieces workshop to WHENEVER status. Turn your photos into gallery quality gifts with very little time and effort . . .

And I even reduced the tuition by 10%