Sunday, April 24, 2011

Outside: birds in spring

Well, Happy Easter!

Maybe since it's technically Easter Sunday as I begin typing this at 2am EST — I'll get around to coloring some Easter eggs today. It just wouldn't be me if it wasn't done at the last minute.

Truth be told, I've been sick. I seem to have acquired some sort of cold. I never seem to just get the sniffles, no, every cold has to be some sort of hacking / coughing nightmare with a sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and a fever. I slept for 11 hours today... and believe me, I did not wake up feeling well rested. I think I want to go back to bed.

Anyway, the weather seems to have decided to coordinate with the way I feel. It's cold and rainy and dull, and rainy, and then it hailed... You know, c'mon, weather — it's April, could you act kind of springy already? Could we have some sunshine and some calm skies.

Anyway, before I was hit with this virus, I wandered out and took some photos. The red-winged blackbirds are holding steady to their territory in the marsh. And yes, that third shot is a sandhill crane — believe me it is not a Canada Goose. We have Sandhill Cranes and Great Blue Herons in these parts — so when a giant bird flies over I always have to pause and wonder which one it is. Sandhill cranes fly with their neck fully extended. Great Blue Herons fly with their neck tucked back to their bodies.

The last three shots were taken in the backyard. The bluebirds have returned (sometimes we wonder if they really ever leave). They're scoping out territory in the backyard and waiting for warmer weather. The pussy will has been waiting to bloom. It got all fuzzy and cute... and then the weather got cold. Hell, it even snowed one day. Yes, there was the magnolia bush out back covered with buds which were blanketed with snow. Really, weather, c'mon, enough with winter already.

It seems to be warming up, so hopefully I can ditch this cold... particularly by Friday - because that's the Art Walk. If you're anywhere near Tecumseh, Michigan: Friday 29 April 2011 is the annual Tecumseh Art Walk. I'll be at Timeless Stitches, so if you're in town, then please stop by. The event is 6-9pm. Hopefully this year it doesn't rain!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Picture Story: spring sing

Technically, I was on vacation this week. Vacation, as it turns out was mostly about sleeping and not having to wake up at the sound of an alarm clock. Plus it was about getting some work done on some projects that I have been procrastinating on for a long long time. I am a hell of a procrastinator. But, I did finally take all the snowflakes down — my winter decor consists of my ginormous collection of plastic / resin glitter covered snowflakes (see this post for my hilarious prediction).

Anyway, now I have to hang the butterflies and the hummingbirds... which I just haven't quite gotten to yet.

In the mean time — a picture story: spring sing.
I finished this illustration in the spring of 2009 (see last graphic), but I probably technically started it around 2005. This first graphic is actually a painting. It was painted with acrylics with details done in prismacolor on illustration board. The original is actually 11X14 inches. But via the magic of a scan and a size format change in photoshop it became an 8X10.

What I actually did was I flipped the image horizontally, and then lightened the resized copy of the painting in photoshop and then printed that and drew an outline around everything. Then I scanned that outlined copy and adjusted the file until all I had was the outline on a white background.

When I have an inked copy, then I make a sample fill of every part as a separate layer. So I fill all the tulip flowers with one color, all the petals with one color, the grass, the tree trunks, the leaves, the sky, and the clouds. Because I am going to use scans or paintings or drawings, or digital photos to actually fill in the those parts.

This is a size reformatted portion of a scan of an 11X14 acrylic painting called "geranium sunrise." It's what would eventually become the background of "spring sing." Of course, I had to reformat it 8X10, and then I would go on to lighten the entire painting by creating a layer of white, playing with its opacity and then merging that to the layer of the scan of the painting.

The yellow warblers that appear in the painting were drawn separately. They were drawn with prismacolors. That drawing was scanned, and all the white space was removed. The clouds were created using the paintbrush in photoshop, and then using a layer fill style over the background. The sheet music that appears in the background was scanned, and then manipulated using the warp tool so that it is wavy instead of linear.

The leaves of the trees were created from a digital photo that was manipulated and resized. The original image is actually of maple leaves on the ground. The tree trunks were created from a layer I created by layering several different colors with several different brushes and then using filtering effects in photoshop.

The grass was also created from a photo. It's actually a picture of the grass in my neighbors yard (and this particular photo has been used in a number of my illustrations when I need grass, which I always think is kind of funny since my neighbor will mow his lawn on a diagonal and this shot is clearly of some grass that hasn't yet been cut) . The tulip flowers and leaves were both taken from the same scan that was used for the background.

And through the magic of layering styles all these things come together to create the illustration. You can see the finished piece here in my "sarahkdesigns" shop on Etsy.

If you're anywhere near Tecumseh, Michigan: Friday 29 April 2011 is the annual Tecumseh Art Walk. I'll be at Timeless Stitches, so if you're in town, then please stop by. The event is 6-9pm.

I hope everyone is enjoying their spring : )

Saturday, April 9, 2011

paper bowls & nbc green is universal contest

So, a couple weeks ago I went on a handmade recycled paper bowl extravaganza...
And I think I made 36 bowls. At least, when I counted the ones I had finished that's the number that I came up with.

Bowls are a process. First the paper has to be torn and soaked in water. Then that has to be blended. Then the paper has to be strained through a screen, then that has to be pressed into a mould. Then, using a wash cloth, as much excess water as possible needs to be pressed out. Then they need to be left alone for a few days to dry. Once they're dry - they need to be painted on the inside, and then that needs a day to dry. And then they need to be painted on the outside, and that takes at least 2 coats and a day to dry... and then the tree needs to be painted.
It's a time consuming process I suppose.

So, anyway, they're all finally done. They've been painted, signed, and dated, and titled...

There's always something strangely anti-climactic about finishing a project. Because, well, now they all sit in 2 piles in my office... as if to remind me that I need to photograph them in order to list them. So, while they're done, there's still more to do.

But they're done. So, now it's time to move onto one of those other 3-5 projects I have been procrastinating on. Ha.

Anyway, there is a contest over at NBC:
Because they're promoting recycling, upcycling, and reuse. So, this is my entry:
(that one is also my favorite... well, one of my favorites)

Anyway, I encourage you all to register & vote ; )

Oh, and in the event that no one has ever seen these before - I sell the bowls in my "sarahknight" shop on etsy. You can find them here