Monthly Archives: January 2012

Sunday Morning Coffee #10

You know, I just love guerrilla photos. Because they are so haphazard, you feel free to mess with them, and because you mess with them, they become interesting details instead of just a boring picture of an object.

And the other thing is that they take you back to the moment in a powerful way. I think that is because they are frozen moments, not snapshots. I took this shot of my coffee mug in my motel last year in Green Valley, Arizona. I was waiting to meet up with Vesta for our first day at the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show. It was a moment full of anticipation – which I think is on my top 5 list of favorite feelings. When I look at this photo, I am there.

My Guerrilla Photography WHENEVER Workshop can get you going.

I will be having another of those moments in a week or so when I will be off to Arizona again.

Clearing some FAQs about the iPad Studio Workshop . . .

Wonderful reaction from you all – already a good sized Group of good people. Many of you will know each other, and you all will make new friends.

I have been asked several times whether the Workshop is ok for the first generation iPad. Yes. indeed. I use a first generation iPad. I may move up when they put a better resolution camera in, but other than a 1.4 meg camera and a little speed, the iPad 2 is not very different. They all run the newest operating system.

And maybe the most frequent question is whether you can take this workshop with some other brand of tablet. Sadly, the answer is no. Even though there are a few Apps out there that have a version for other devices, this workshop is about the iPad – which is not like any other thing no matter what they tell you. No App does it all, so this workshop is about using many Apps and many functions of the iPad to create a virtual studio in which you can create with many media. That just can’t be translated to any other tablet.

Creativity Around Your Neck . . .

I am not sharing this video because I am a fashionista. In fact, I am the anti-fashionista. I started my uniform of black shirts and blue jeans long before Steve Jobs did. I can remember attending a Halloween party in the 70′s (I hate costumes) as a “bruise” – black and blue – get it? Folks did not think I put much effort into that costume, but I did stick a couple of Band-Aids on my shirt for good measure.

Anyway, on rare occasions, I have to dress up a tiny bit – parties at the gallery, holiday stuff, etc. I add some very arty scarf to my black shirt, and I’m good to go. I have some fabulous scarves and got two more for my birthday (yes, I am another year older, sigh). One was from my sister and she sent along a link to a great video on 25 Ways to Wear a Scarf. Don’t worry about catching all the details. At the end of the video, you can click on any of the 25 versions to get a how-to video. The scarf techniques are keepers, but the video production itself entertained me to the point that I missed a lot of the scarf tips.

Unfortunately, YouTube now has commercials, but you can delete them after a few seconds. Below the video is a link to Wendy’s website for a look behind the scenes at how this video was done.

Low Commitment Projects

No sooner do I finish the post about art taking lots of time and energy, than I find this website called Low Commitment Projects.

Artists Brittany Powell and Tae Kitakata had adjacent studios at art school and got paired on a project by their instructor. They were strangers, but became good friends through a constant exchange of ideas and inspiration. When they left school and returned to Oregon and Hawaii respectively, they missed that communication and contact, so they started this website to, as they put it: Make stuff happen with little time and energy. They intend to put up a project each Monday in 2012 – alternating Brittany one week, and Tae the next.

I love these projects (see the Sandwich Art and the little folks hanging from balloons).

I was going to stand corrected – maybe great things can be done with little time and effort.

Then I thought about it. What do these two consider little time and effort!? How long do you think it took to do these projects?

Social Media . . .

The mother of all buzz-phrases, right?

I tried Twitter and Facebook back in 2009 I think it was. I thought it was silly and quit.

But when you hear from business advisors for the umpteenth time that any online business not using social media is doomed, you figure you may as well try again.

It is a good way to get the stuff out there that I find during the week and don’t save for Sundays. Twitter, at least, is a good place to find and network with other people who are involved in the same things. And Pinterest is new to me but I am trying to figure it out.

You can find me at Twitter by searching @jessicawesolek (no spaces)

Facebook – search jessica wesolek (with the space)

And here’s the Link to find me on Pinterest (searching doesn’t do it there for some reason). It finds another Jessica Wesolek who I do not know.

I will get the buttons to make it easier as soon as I have time.

iPad Studio 2012

I really cannot tell you how excited I am to make this announcement. I have struggled long and hard with just how I could share what I have learned about creating on my iPad in the past year. I wanted to do it in just the right way, in the right sequence, format, etc. I want us all to experience this joy together.

I have learned how the iPad can contain my WHOLE studio – how I can do almost everything I do in my studio on my iPad and not tell the difference in the end result. (I haven’t figured out how to bind a handmade book yet, but who knows – grin). But I can do everything else – including my beloved Art Journaling!

I have finally hit on the most fun, most user friendly, most exciting workshop format there could be – outside of us running away to Hawaii together and doing all of it on the beach!

The best way to explain it to you is the way I have already explained it on the Workshop description page:

Come and spend 2012 with me becoming an iPad artist/artisan!

At least read all about it!

Sunday Morning Coffee #9

You never know where you will find art that appeals to you. This is a mural in The Flying Star Cafe in Santa Fe. I love it. Maybe it is the mosaic effect of the brick, or maybe the magic is in the little stars?

I love cups and saucers anyway – one of those things I constantly find myself sketching and painting.

What I am going to do when I grow up . . .

Being a pioneer these days is a rough business.

Compared to crossing the plains in a covered wagon, breathing oxen exhaust, not so much, I suppose, but challenging nonetheless.

The thing about a world of constant change is that you have to keep changing – constantly.

Our whole way of life is changing – at a rate that spins the head, and you can either spin out of control, or figure out on a weekly (or daily) basis, how you can best adapt to the moment.

I launched my internet business and online “brand” in 2001.

Of course, nobody knew I was there, so I started a Yahoo Group called New Idea Exchange that grew into a wonderful community and stayed lively for many years.

I published free magazines – made of HTML web pages because PDFs were not a familiar thing to most folks, and internet download speeds prohibited that file size anyway.

So, I published CD “books” (PDF files), on Photoshop techniques which were very popular, but most of my audience did not really embrace digital art at that time. I also spent all my time burning CDs.

I can’t remember exactly, but sometime around 2005, a couple of big things happened. A reader discovered that Sheer Heaven made great transfers, and I started teaching online workshops on photography. I also started blogging.

My love of Art Journaling came along in 2006, and I started teaching it in January , 2007.

Things took off in directions I had never expected. Sheer Heaven became popular worldwide, and my workshops grew and grew.

Though time was a precious commodity, in 2009, I went back into the retail business, because I love the connection with my community, and I love sharing a joint project with my husband. Gives us lots to talk about. I never wanted us to be one of those couples you see at a restaurant table, who have nothing left to say to each other, and enjoy(?) their whole meal in silence.

Sheer Heaven stays strong because there is nothing like it. There is nothing like my workshops either, but *everyone* now teaches workshops, and the competition for students’ attention and tuition is intense. I also do not have the time to be as present in live workshops as I was, or to deal with juggling the scheduling. So, you have seen me move many of my workshops to a WHENEVER basis so you can have them when you want them.

Now, it is 2012, and I am beginning the second decade of my online “brand”. I am sitting on ten years worth of “content” – most of it lost in archives and file formats that are no longer viable, although the information is as valuable and wonderful as it ever was.

Through blogging, I have learned that I love to write.

eBooks are the biggest thing on the horizon.

It makes sense for me to be an ebook publisher.

Though I will share much more detail as we go, my goal for this new decade at Cre8it is to embrace my inner “author” and share what I know (old info and new) through ebooks published under the Cre8it “brand”.

This time, the content will not go away, but will be readily available in my virtual “bookstore”.

I am very excited about this, and am actually working on three books right now – two new and one exciting rewrite. My Creative Drawing Workbook has been a constant best seller, but it needs lots of company in the Cre8it bookstore.

As we said yesterday, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I have to learn to allow the time it takes to make this a great new era for Cre8it. I will certainly be letting you know when each new book, workbook, or mini workbook is ready. Hopefully, you will love this idea as much as I do.

And speaking of good, inspiring books . . .

I want to share two with you this week that appeal to me on several levels, because they are not just books, they are interesting ideas which you can put to work in your own art journals, and they both deal with doing something you love – to solve a life challenge.

Lee Crutchley is a British Artist/Illustrator who had had enough one day, sold all his belongings and traveled around the world for a year or so. When he got back home, the recession had hit, and he realized that he would not be able to get a job any time soon. Rather than sit around and mope, he decided to use drawing (something he loved), and quotations he had been collecting since childhood (something he also loved), to keep his creativity in healthy shape during the downtime.

Everyday, he illustrated a Quote in his Moleskine Sketchbook. He started posting these pages on a Tumblr blog, and picked up a following, which led to this book . . .

Filled with 152 pages like this . . .

For some reason, you are allowed to read the entire book online before deciding whether to add a signed copy to your collection . . . enjoy!


I am going to start adding illustrated quotes to my art journals! I have also collected quotes and poems my whole life, and even made books illustrating them with found pictures – way back in college. Hmmm – I wonder where those books are?

Obsessive Consumption . . . .

Kate Bingiman-Burt found herself with some pretty huge credit card debt – and no idea how she got there. Friends asked her where the “diamond tiara” was that she must have purchased for that kind of money.

So to keep track of her “obsessive consumption”, she started drawing something she bought everyday. She started doing that in 2006. She now has a very successful art career, a blog, gallery shows, signature products, zines, and a book on Amazon which I highly recommend. It’s sort of a biography of an artist told through purchases.

Obsessive Compulsion on Amazon

Here are some sample drawings . . .

You will so thoroughly enjoy exploring Kate’s website, blog etc. that you best plan to spend some time there . . .

I LOVE creative problem solving, and the fact that art careers can be built online through doing what you love.

Notice that neither of these were “quick and easy”, but the results were certainly worth it!

Don’t you feel the urge to go draw something you bought today – or yesterday? What a great art journal page starter.

Hurry Up and Create Something!

Does anything about that headline strike you as wrong? I hope so.

Once upon a time, I had a TV in my studio.

It was back in the day of craft shows on cable – Aleene’s Creative Living was the most prominent. I had never been involved in crafts, and was trying to learn as much as I could about stamping and paper arts.

I learned a lot, but the thing I remember most was that every project was “QUICK and easy”, and “took no time at all to do”.

This was an idea that was very foreign to a person who was used to painting and illustrating. Art takes TIME.

Now, I was a graphic designer for a long while, and that work is done on deadline – but never “quick and easy”. In fact, most of the stress of that profession is meeting those deadlines  - producing work that can’t be done that fast because it has to be done right. Creating takes time.

There are a few things you can create  in a moment or two – like a smile, a prayer, or a nice compliment.

But not art.

The whole point of creating in the first place is the experience of it – the joy, the curiosity, the self-talk, sometimes the frustration.

Rushing through any experience means we don’t catch most of what is going on. So, if you are not going to savor any of the experience of creating something because you are racing a clock, then why do it at all?

We once had a relationship with an “artist” who was pretty much a pampered diva with a rich husband. We would never have had the relationship at all except the rich husband offered to expand our gallery space, and pay for the difference if we would “represent” his wife. Wife had decided one day to be an abstract artist – no training or background in art – just loved smearing paint around. She would brag about how she could do 6 or 7 “paintings” in a day, working on them all at once. She didn’t even realize that by saying that to prospective buyers, she was devaluing her work. Who wants to spend thousands on something that took the painter 1/6 or 1/7 of a day to produce?

Much of the value of art to people who appreciate, purchase, or receive it, is the amount of time and effort that was invested to make this beautiful thing.

So, we should not be in a hurry to make our art – even if our time is limted.

Suppose you have only an hour per day that you can devote to creating.

I believe it would be better to take weeks of those daily hours to create something that is the best it can be, than to limit yourself to projects that can be done in an hour.

What do you think? Should our creative time be the one time we can take our time?

Honoring Your Art . . .

Well, that wasn’t a long lunch at all.

But the amount of processing I have been doing since last we spoke is truly amazing. I needed to think through some things, and am still thinking through some things, and I will share that which will be of any interest to you.

I read an article recently about whether having a day job that has nothing to do with art, is a better thing for your art, than having a “day job” that is about art.

Go ahead and read that again. I’ll wait.

I know that many of you work all day at a “job” that is completely removed from your creative activities. You can hardly wait to get home for the evening, or for the weekend, to jump into your artistic endeavors. You may even dream of quitting that day job so you can devote yourself full time to creating.

And I know that others of you have no day job and make your living from your art in one way or another.

I fall into the second category. I have not had a “job” since I was a youngster. That has been wonderful.

But, there is a downside.

Sometimes, when you create for a living, there is no creative energy left at the end of the day to apply to the art of your soul. The art you do for you.

When I share favorite artists with you on Sundays over coffee, you may have noticed a theme. The art I most admire is that which has obviously taken huge devotion of time and energy. Think of the book carvings, etc.

I have a friend who is a fabulous artist, and who explores different media. I don’t mean in the slap-dash way that the magazines are full of – I mean she really EXPLORES the media. For example, when she became interested in oil painting, she learned to stretch her own canvas and make her own traditional gessoes and pigments. She would then disappear into her studio for days, not hours, and emerge with the awesome work that devotion produces. And, a big smile of satisfaction. (Yes, Judy,  am talking about you!)

I long for that kind of time to allow that kind of devotion. Over the past two weeks, I have allowed myself a little. I loved getting lost in the art process.

And it came to me when I had time to think, that I am one of the FEW artists I know who does not have a personal website for my art. Just never been time to create one.

So, I decided it’s time, and I created one. It is not finished – only the jewelry link works right now – but if I wait to share until everything is ready, it never will be. These types of websites are works-in-progress that are never really finished anyway.

I will be adding a photography gallery, of course, and paintings, journal spreads, handmade books, and who knows what else. It will be about what I produce when left to my own meanderings. Some things will be for sale, some only for show because they sold already, or will never be for sale.

I struggled with how “serious” I wanted the website to feel, and with making it uber-simple. I have a strong “whimsy” component to most of what I do, but I do take my personal art very seriously, as “cute” as it may be sometimes.

I’d like your feedback on whether the website fits my personality, and as a reward, you get to see a few pieces of the new jewelry! Click on Jewelry, and then Sterling Silver Collection.

Here’s the link:

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Out to Lunch . . .

Because I don’t want you to think that anything bad happened to me, I need to let you know that I am taking a break.

I have seen some of my favorite bloggers do this, and I really never understood why until now.

Sunday morning, I sat down to devote my usual 2 hours to putting together an entertaining post – and nothing happened. I tried again that afternoon and nothing happened again.

Nothing is still happening.

I am temporarily out of blogging gas (hot air?).

I have been in my studio happily creating jewelry for three days, so my creative energy is not low. I feel fine. I think I am just at a place where I am re-evaluating the way I spend my time, and what I get out of it.

As I mentioned, my New Years resolution was to love every moment. Right now, I am loving making jewelry.

This hiatus may only last a day or two, or a week or two. I have no idea because it never happened before – in eleven years! I’ll be back as soon as I figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

Keep smiling . . .


Tech Tuesday #2 – Texture

Every Tuesday will not contain a Photoshop/Elements lesson because I could not put that kind of obligation on myself, but I was fooling around with this today and I thought I may as well share.

I found a website where a Brazilian designer gives away a texture each Tuesday.

I thought that was nicely coincidental.

Here is the link:

There are quite a few Textures on that page to choose from, and she has many more in the archives.

What do you do with textures?

That is a good question, and I can give you a couple of answers. Your own creative instincts will give you plenty more, I am sure.

I downloaded this Texture from the site.

Although the Textures offered are 300ppi, the size is only about 2 inches wide. So, you must Resample the image to match the size of the photo you want to use it with. Both the Resolution and the width must match.

The best photos for this effect are ones that already have some personality going on – personality that will be enhanced by the texture.

I took this Sun Face photo in Indiana back in 2010. The lighting was not ideal but I like the color and the concept of a “sun” in shade, and the crescent moon shape of the shadow spoke to me as well.

This photo is approximately 8 inches wide so I sized the Paper Texture image to match.

The next step is to drag one file into the other.

(If you do not know how to drag images into each other or to deal with Layers, you need my Photoshop Elements Kindergarten Workshop).

When you drag one file into the other, it will come in on a Layer of its own – above the original.

So, there are a couple of choices to make that will yield different results.

I first dragged the Paper Texture to the Sun Face file. I selected the Paper Texture Layer and changed the Normal Mode to Multiply. This results in only the parts of the Paper Texture that are darker than the photo to show.

I really liked what happened here. You can fine-tune the effect with the Opacity Slider for the Paper Texture Layer.  I used Save As to save this image without affecting my two original files.

Then, for a different look, I opened my original photo again and dragged it over to the Paper Texture file (which was still open). This time the photo is on top of the texture.

I played with the Opacity Slider for the photo Layer to allow some of the texture to show through (about 70% Opacity for the photo in this case). This creates a much softer and muted version . . .

And, it’s a little too muted for me, so I used the Unsharp Mask Filter at 165 (Radius of 2.3) to create this version which I like a lot better.


Here is a comparison of the original and the two textured versions, so you can see the very different reults of the two methods . . .

With the variety of Textures provided by Tuesday Total Textures, and all the images in your own stash, it could be awhile before you run out of interesting art images!! You can create your own textures by taking photos or scanning things too.

A Gift for You . . .

Recent versions of Photoshop and Elements have maddening workspaces which lock your photos up in a framework of clutter – making it VERY difficult to work with more than one file open and see what you are doing. I can’t stand it, so I put together a little PDF on how to slap that workspace into shape. You can always put it back the way it was, but I don’t think you will want to.

Hang on to this PDF. Next time I will show you how to read PDF files as iBooks on your iPad and maybe your Kindle or Kindle App (if my sources are correct, you can do that now. You could not do it before, so that would be a happy addition).

Have fun!

Sunday Morning Coffee #8

Hard to believe these New Mexico skies. I wanted to find a sunrise shot – the whole “dawn” of the new year idea, but when I came upon this photo – actually shot at 6pm – I had to share it just because it is so pretty.

So, here we are on another New Year’s Day. You may recall it is my favorite holiday. I love the “starting over” feeling it brings, with the idea that anything is possible.

The concept of time is a funny thing. Nothing is really erased from 2011 at all, but it feels as though, by drawing a “time” line in the sand, we can choose to leave some of it behind.

I read something on Seth Godin’s Blog that made me stop and think . . . before the transcontinental railroad, he says, every village had its own time. There were no time zones, and no reason to be time-coordinated with anyone else, because there was no real communication over distance. Each town figured out when noon was – by the position of the sun, one assumes, and set their clocks by that.

There are scientists out there trying to create a new calendar for us that makes more sense. One version would even add an extra week to each year.

So, when it comes right down to it, time is a manmade concept that doesn’t mean much at all.

Yet we allow it to run us ragged.

In my opinion, there is one unit of time that does make sense, however, and that is the present moment.

This one.

Right now.

Savor it because it is delicious.

That is my resolution for 2012. To live in each moment and enjoy every one of them.

You should spend your time doing what you love. But if you do what you love too fast, you can’t appreciate how much you love it. You can’t even remember what it was like doing it!

And why do what you love too fast?

You will never get it all done – and what would you do if you did?

So . . . no reason to hurry. They could just add a week to each year anyway and that would give you plenty of time to catch up.

New Year’s Eve. . .

Until last night, my most memorable New Year’s Eve was the one we spent in the emergency room (until 5am), because a cut on Mark’s finger started heading for blood poisoning territory. I didn’t say the most fun, I just said the most memorable. We don’t get out much.

If the story of my life had chapter titles, I would love this one . . .

Celebrated New Years listening to Country Music at a Chinese restaurant, and not on Chinese New Year.

When our friend, Lulu, who owns the best Chinese restaurant in Santa Fe, invited us to her New Years Eve party, we hesitated – only because we do not normally go out on New Years’ Eve. Too rowdy, and in New Mexico, your chances of encountering a drunk driver are pretty substantial. But when Lulu explained that the evening would include a concert by her 16 year old granddaughter, a country singer from Texas who sounds like a cross between Dolly Parton and Jewel, well, you know the whole thing sounded too interesting to resist. And it was. Great food, great music, and a couple hundred of Lulu’s closest friends, some of whom are now new friends of ours.

All this and home by 10pm! No drunk drivers encountered.

Book Art Lovers . . .

This is a fine, five minute video produced by PBS as part of their “Off Book” project.

And, you may enjoy the whole series by PBS, which covers shorts on art topics from Etsy to Steampunk. The videos can be found on YouTube here:

PBS Off Book Series

Lists, Lists, Lists . . .

At this time of year, there is an abundance of lists. The Best 10 Whatevers of 2011, the Worst 10. The most probable 10 or 50 Whatevers that will happen in 2012. You know you have seen them EVERYWHERE.

But people continue to love them. I must admit to loving them too. They lead me to places I didn’t know I wanted to go.

Anyway, there is a blog that is not seasonal at all, but is totally full of lists of everything you can think of. This should keep you busy if you need something to do this afternoon . . .

Happy Happy New Year, Everyone!