Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tree of Me...

Tree of me started as part of The Sketchbook Challenge for the month of April. The theme is "Branching out...out on a limb".
I'm also in the midst of doing a 40 Day Baptiste Yoga program about 'transformation'. With the sketchbook theme & the transformation program in mind I sat down to do some sketching. Sketching a tree was a delight since I've become obsessed with
trees, but thinking about 'going out on a limb' and the transformation process caused me to think about how this tree of me 'grows'.
My roots or gounding come from family, friends, yoga & meditation. My roots are also firmly planted in the creative process but for this tree I chose to put the creativity up in the branches (also I ran out of roots). My branches are my personal traits--good & bad. Again,
I chose the ones that popped into my head first
and also the ones that I need to be working on.
My largest branches are 'creativity & procrastination'. Why?...  Because I do believe I am a very creative person (most of the time) but my procrastination tends to over-rule my creativity! Those branches are big & thick. They have quite a few limbs branching off because as my creativity grows so does my procrastination... (note to self-work on the procrastination)
My 'inspiration' branch has many offshoots and lots of new growth because I'm always finding inspiration. I see it everywhere. I look at the clouds and see a painting or a quilt. I look at weeds and want to photograph them. I see rusty objects and pick them up knowing they will be used to dye fabrics and possibly to add to assemblages or even art quilts. I have no lack of inspiration! If anything my system is on overload with ideas & choices.
My branch of 'learning new techniques is an offshoot of the branch 'keeping a journal'. At the time I did this I was thinking that it sort of goes hand-in-hand. I am always gathering new knowledge through workshops & classes or by visiting other artist's blogs and I try to keep a journal of ideas & techniques. Every time I learn a new technique I play around with it in my studio or I doodle in my design book trying it out to see if I can use what I've learned and 'make it my own'.
But here's where the 'not following through' branch comes in...I have a book full of designs but when I go into my studio I get distracted because so many new ideas pop into my head that I hardly EVER use anything in my design book. I go off on another tangent and start a project off the top of my head. Sometimes it turns out better than what's in the sketchbook, sometimes not. That's why those branches don't have many offshoots. I need to grow the techniques I've learned, use my designs and FOLLOW THROUGH!
This brings me to the last 2 branches. The branches at the very bottom. The 'confidence (OR lack of)' branch and the 'taking risks' branch. These are the branches that could use a shot of Miracle Grow.
My confidence needs a big 'ole boost of fertilizer to help me grow a stronger branch and some new limbs. My 'taking risks' branch could use a good shot of nitrogen as well. That's sometimes my downfall.
I love to play with my art supplies and see 'what if' but then I'm so unsure of how it will be accepted that I don't ever show it to anyone.  SO, I need to go out on that limb; that limb of 'taking risks' and use my Miracle Grow to get those branches to push forth new growth. I would hope that if I can get some new growth on the 'confidence' branch that the 'taking risks' branch will follow suit.
Just last week I had to do something that involved my 'confidence' branch. I have a couple of art quilts that will be going out into the world for an exhibit. I was asked to send an artist's statement along.
WELL... I've never really written an artist's statement. Not a REAL one, just a small little blurb that didn't really say anything. I decided it was time to actually submit an artist's statement.
I found many good websites with instructions and samples. The best one I found was on Molly Gordon's website. She takes you through step by step. So I did it! Although my first artist's statement isn't as lengthy or deep as some, I still think it tells my story in a nutshell. So my first step out on the 'confidence' branch was getting that accomplished.  I felt better after having done it, somewhat like a certified artist!
It's just that I  have a hard time puffing myself up and blowing my own horn.
That's where the roots come in. My grounding--my strong base. I am learning to sink my roots deeper so that I can be stronger. Yoga is helping immensely as is meditation. They both bring clarity to my life.
I know through my 40 Day program of transformation that I will have more confidence.
(by the way, this is my second 40 Day program since Jan) I gained so much from the first time around, that I wanted to do it again!
With that said, I think it's time to go meditate and then head into my studio to see 'what if'.
Live your life creatively~
cathy

Monday, April 25, 2011

In and Around My House


I have decided to start chronicling the leafing out of my maple tree in the back yard. The first year we were here it was a beautiful specimen during the fall. Gorgeous reds with some gold veining, but during the past 2 fall seasons it turned from green to a brownish gold just before losing all it's leaves.  The early buds are a gorgeous shade of red right now so I thought I would keep up with the progress and take a photo every 2 days. This was taken last Thursday. Now it has discernible leaves rather than florets. I know the quote says flowering oak but I don't have an oak tree in my yard and I couldn't find a quote about maples. So...       The photo was layered with Kim Klassen's luminous texture x 2, plus her serendipity texture on top.


My daffodils are now in FULL bloom and they are bountiful. Again, the photo was layered with Kim's
luminous texture & serendipity texture with a bit of gaussian blur.


As I was driving home from yoga yesterday I saw this egret in the pond just down from my house.
We NEVER see egrets here. We have a ton of geese & ducks. We have a heron that drops by once in a
while and there's another pond near my house that has 2 swans, but I have never seen an egret except in the marshy waters at the edge of the prairie preserve several miles from here. I was so glad I was able to
get a picture of him/her. Wish it was closer. I was across the pond with no way to get closer other than my zoom lens without scaring him.  I layered the photo with Kim's luminous texture and also with The Pioneer Woman's edge burn action.


My silly dog Rocky was napping with his ear straight up. He looked so cute I grabbed the camera and as soon as I pointed the camera at him, he opened his eyes. He looks a bit scared!
Photo was layered with Kim's luminous texture and I used the edge burn action again.


Here's Emmylou. She's my sweet-little-bitch-cat. She can be a sweetheart when she's tired or hungry or
a total menace! Her eyes are golden rather than green. They look extremely golden in this photo. I tried to tone them down but she still looks wild! The photo was layered with Kim's luminous texture.
Can you see her tongue poking out a little bit? She's really cute when she's being nice!

I have been saying that I wanted to work in my sketchbook and I finally sat down and spent a few minutes on it. I will have another post later in the week showing my sketchbook pages.
In the meantime...
Live your life creatively~
cathy
p.s. remember you can click on the photos to enlarge them for better viewing
p.s.s. If you'd like to play along with Kim's Texture Tuesday photo group, just click the button below.

kimklassencafe

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Botanic Garden Fun!

Sunday I went to the Chicago Botanic Gardens for their annual Antique & Garden Show. All I can say is WOW! What an amazing show it was. I went to the Flower & Garden Show at the Navy Pier 2 years ago and was so unimpressed by it that I have not been since. The show at the Botanic Gardens was perfect! It had everything I love-antiques, flowers, artwork and more. I took my camera along hoping to get some photos of plants that were blooming in the garden but it was a bit chilly and VERY windy. I did however get a few shots.
Here is a view of some aspens surrounding the parking lot. Obviously, I played around with them in photoshop to enhance the sky and highlight the white trunks of the trees.
I have finally realized that I've become obsessed with trees. I've always known I loved them, but there's something about trees in their bare nakedness that I have come to view as a work of art. They are magnificent specimens of sculpture and form. Anyway, I could go on and on about them--maybe another post later on the pure beauty of trees...
Speaking of trees...below is a shot looking back towards the main building of the Botanic Garden. Did I mention I love trees? Especially willows-weeping willows to be exact. I love their color at this time of year when they are just starting to bud. The color goes from pale gold to almost chartreuse to grassy green in a matter of a few weeks.



Next photo is of a plant called 'Dogtooth Wattle'.  It was just starting to bloom a wonderful golden color that looks almost chartreuse in this photo.
I took the photo with the sun beaming in the right upper corner.


After these photos I was so cold and wind blown, that I finally went indoors to the Antique & Garden Show. I was there FOREVER.... So many wonderful things to look at.  I came home with a few things.
One is a HUGE hand hewn wooden trencher. That grew once I got it in my car. The plan was to put it beneath my sofa table but it's too big. So it's standing in the corner of my kitchen. Actually the intention was that 'one day' I will have a big huge kitchen with a big huge rectangular table and it will sit right in the middle...one day! Until then it will guard the corner of my kitchen. I didn't buy any other antiques but did drool a lot! I came away with many business cards.  I did buy some jewelry though. I just can't walk past jewelry and not look. This jewelry blew me away!  Obviously since it was a garden show it was nature themed jewelry. And did I mention my obsession with trees? Well, this guy's jewelry was made with real leaves! Sometimes he makes impressions of items then casts them, but most of the time he uses the actual leaves and coats them in copper. Here's a link to his website. I fell in love with a champagne leaf. Actually it's a grape leaf from the Champagne region of France. He collects leaves from all over the world to use in his jewelry. I bought the champagne leaf and also a little pair of gingko leaves. They are pins which can be used as pins or on a necklace. I also bought a little dogwood blossom pin, that fits perfectly on a bracelet.
This is a photo I took inside the garden show. These hydrangeas were gorgeous.

After those purchases I decided I best stop shopping and take some more photos. Since the wind had picked up and it was started to get chillier I opted for the 'Cactus House'. It was wonderfully warm inside there. And along with my tree obsession, I am also obsessed with agaves and echeverias. Many great specimens.






The above 3 photos are the only ones not altered.  Photo below is a blooming plant in the 'Cactus House'. It was altered.


The next shot is of a rather large round prickly cactus with some other blooming succulents growing around it.

What a fun day at the Botanic Garden. I have been telling my husband we should join and go there on a regular basis since it's so close. It's a great place to walk and take some great photos.
So before I left, I joined the Chicago Botanic Gardens. I will definitely be going back when the weather warms up and there are more blooming plants!

One last photo to show. We actually had snow here yesterday! I really thought that was all behind us and then WHAM! All those strong winds on Sunday while I was at the garden show blew in some cold air along with that fluffy white stuff.
My poor daffodils were weighted down with the heavy wet snow. Fortunately it didn't last very long.
The snow was gone by late afternoon. My daffodils recovered by last night and now today they are being pounded back down again by the pouring rain.
Lots of photos, still no artwork to show....maybe later in the week.
Until then....
live your life creatively~
cathy

p.s. The first photo above was altered with Kim Klassen's serendipity texture & sweet treat.
Second photo textured with Kim's warm sun texture, plus Texas Chick's 'Luminous' action & Pioneer Woman's 'Edge Burn'action.  Third photo was layered with Kim's serendipity texture x 2 as were the hydrangeas. The blooming succulent and the prickly cactus were layered with serendipity as well. Remember, you can click on the photos to enlarge them for better viewing : )

kimklassencafe







Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Oh Happy Day!

It's finally starting to feel & look like spring around here. Days are getting warmer-although tomorrow's temp will dip back into the 40's, today is gorgeous.  Sunny and in the 60's. My yard is coming back to life after a long winter's nap beneath the mounds of snow. The grass is greening up, my daffodils are just starting to bloom, the crocus are in full bloom and the trees are starting to form buds. I don't think I ever fully appreciated spring until after living here in the midwest. Now, it's a much anticipated arrival. The daffodils above are my 'Ice Follies' daffodils that were the first to pop up.
The geese & ducks have been back for weeks now and the robins arrived  a couple of weeks ago.
What a wonderful sound in the morning to hear the birds singing. They too are happy that spring is back.
I haven't been able to capture a robin with my camera yet, so this is a finch from last year. A rather plump little fellow or maybe a female ready to lay eggs?

I was further south over the weekend to visit my daughter. She's about 3 hours from here and the flowering trees were in full bloom.
I love these trees--Saucer magnolias. I always called them tulip trees when I was younger because the young buds resemble tulips. They are just gorgeous when in full bloom. This was a picture I took looking up at the blue sky through the branches.
The next photo is also a type of magnolia but the petals are smaller. I wasn't quite sure what type it was so I googled and found out it is a 'Betty' magnolia.

What a difference a few weeks make as far as Mother Nature goes.
The photo below is of a dreary, rainy day last week when nothing had bloomed.
It's a close-up of my river birch tree in the backyard. I also took a close-up photo of just raindrops on
the window and combined the 2 photos to create more texture.
 Photos above were altered in photoshop using Kim Klassen's textures (warm sun, sweet treat & silence). And the saucer magnolia also has actions by The Pioneer Woman added.
I hope to have some actual artwork to post here by tomorrow evening. Tomorrow is studio day.
If anyone is interested in playing along with Kim's Texture Tuesday, just click the button below to find out more about it.  It's so much fun! Warning--it's also very addicting...
Must get some actual work done--so until then.....
live your life creatively~
cathy
kimklassencafe
p.s. remember you can click on any of the photos to get a better look

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Texture Tuesday




kimklassencafe



So here I am again, playing with photoshop. I am quickly becoming addicted to this whole process.
Last week I mentioned that I had a quilt that had a deadline of April 4. Well---that didn't happen!
I realized last Wednesday night that in order to properly finish the quilt that I would never be done by Monday. Rather than rush the process and have the quilt be less than perfect I decided to give up on entering it into that particular exhibit. So I sat and researched what other exhibits & venues might be possible. I found quite a few that might be a good fit, so when I finally finish it, I will enter it somewhere else. I'm not going to pressure myself into finishing it quickly. This thing is going to take some time. And of course right now, I've got other things on my mind! Like playing with photoshop
and working in my journal. I have been wanting to get back to some collaging, sketching, doodling which I haven't been doing for a while because I had been focusing on fiber arts and fabric dyeing & printing. 
Soooooo, I plan to take a few weeks off from the sewing machine and the fabric dyes, to get my hands dirty with some paints, inks and glue. I'm plan to participate in the Sketchbook challenge finally as well as continue with the Texture Tuesday. I also have 3 necklaces that people have ordered from me that need to be made! Hopefully when I can drag myself away from this computer today, I will start on the necklaces and be done with those. 
Those of you who follow me, will also notice that I spent some time the other day working on changing the look of my blog. I felt it needed a lighter color for spring and now that I'm learning so much in photoshop, I also created a new banner from some previous fiber art of mine.

These photos below were created using Kim Klassen's warm sun texture, as well as other textures.
The first one is a fairly recent photo of my orchids. 


I also played around with the hue/saturation. In the original photo the orchids are almost a purplish color.

The next photo is an older photo taken almost 2 years ago. I took it through the window looking out at my neighbor's backyard. The deer were almost perfectly aligned. I couldn't have posed them any better.
I think it was a mom and her child.


Next photo is even older. Taken in 2006 in NY-Central Park. This guy was sitting under a bridge
playing his clarinet. The original photo isn't that great-a little out of focus but I really like it much better after altering it. The lighting in the background and the people/trees almost look painterly.



That's it for my Texture Tuesday. I will now head out to the garage and fire up my torch to make some jewelry!
Will post some photos of my sketchbook as soon as I get to that.
Until then........live your life creatively~
cathy