Sunday, September 29, 2019

Art Elements September Theme Reveal-Foliage

Another month has flown by and it's reveal time once again for the September Art Elements' theme challenge. For September Caroline chose foliage. What a perfect theme for this time of year. Foliage just happens to be a favorite of mine and seems to appear in quite a bit of my work. In the spring it makes me giddy to see the first sprouts of leaf buds on the trees. It seems to happen almost overnight that trees which have been bare skeletons for months appear with a full plumage of bright green leaves. Even though the fall is probably my most favorite time of year I am a little sad to see the leaves change colors because I know they will be falling off soon and winter is just around the corner. But the colors of fall are so beautiful it's hard to be too sad about it.

I wanted to do something a little different this month. There were so many options I was overwhelmed so I thought I would go back and see if I could tax my brain with some altered digital photography. I happen to take a LOT of pictures of trees, foliage and just about anything I find in the woods behind my house. I scrolled through 100's of photos that I have taken and chose a few to play with in photoshop.

About 8-9 years ago I took a mini photoshop workshop online with Susan Tuttle and then I took another mini course with Kim Classen. Kim used to have a weekly challenge called 'Texture Tuesday" which I participated in for about a year.  She would offer up free textures to layer with your photos which I had learned how to use in her class. Sadly she no longer teaches photoshop classes but she does teach quite a few other types of classes and she still creates textures for sale and also Lightroom presets for altering photos. Susan still teaches online photo editing but now it's geared to iPhone photography and editing with apps.

So here are some of my photos I altered in photoshop. It was a bit of a learning curve due to the fact that I really haven't done a lot with PS in years. It taxed my brain but after a few sessions I was able to remember all the tools, options and settings.
Taken on my walk along the river. I tried to create an almost painterly look with the trees. Played with hue and saturation and some photo filters to get the colors like I wanted them.

Looking up through the trees. Bumped up saturation and made the leaves around the edges darker with the trees in the background almost 'spring green'. Then I highlighted the large green leaves in the left middle.

Exact same photo as above but changing up the hues and saturation with some photo filters and textures.

Close-up of a fern. Changed hue and saturation, added some textures and filters.

A photo I took when we lived in IL. Leaves on a pond which makes a really cool photo without altering. This has a layer added with text and some more layers with added textures and the hues were changed along with some filters added.
I had so much fun playing with photoshop. I had forgotten how cool it is to alter photos. One day I would like to actually make some prints of some of my favorites. Or maybe note cards??

Okay, on to a few more foliage projects. If you follow the Art Elements blog you may remember when I stitched around some magnolia leaves and also doodled on them with paint pen/sharpie.
I decided to use them in a project that has been on the back burner for a while-an eco printed journal using papers printed with leaves and also some fabric printed with leaves. The fabric will be used as  journal covers.
Top left and top right are magnolia leaves that were stitched around the outer edge with buttonhole stitch. I used the same stitch to attach them to pieces of raw silk that had been previously eco printed & rust dyed. I also added some more stitching to the one on the left. Bottom left is another magnolia leaf that was edge stitched but I attached it to rust dyed paper with a fly stitch. The bottom right photo is a magnolia leaf that I doodled on with white paint Sharpie. I want to attach it to this eco printed page but haven't decided whether to hand stitch, machine stitch or glue it down. This leaf was not edge stitched and I am afraid it may be too brittle to stitch through now that it is thoroughly dry.

Since it is fall and leaves have already started to drop due to the heat and drought around here. I figured I needed to do some more eco printing with leaves before the opportunity has passed me by.
I tried some new techniques this time and some new fabrics I have never used before. Let me just say that the silk/wool blend fabric I bought from Dharma Trading is my absolute FAVORITE now!  I have always loved using raw silk noil because I always get pleasant results, but the silk/wool blend is amazing!1 It is very light but it really accepts the leaf prints so beautifully.
The above is silk/wool blend left side is the side the leaves were placed on and the right side is the shadow print from the fabric being folded over.  I placed an 'iron blanket' around this fabric which really helped create these rich dark brown prints.
This is also silk/wool blend but I did a quick dip in iron water before placing the leaves on. This fabric is so wide that I folded it in half and then in half again and you can see the iron water concentrated on the final fold which is a little upsetting but a learning experience. I do love these soft colors. It's hard to tell on this photo but the right side which is the shadow print from being folded over the leaves has shades of gold and pale green which are really lovely in person.

This is my go-to fabric:natural silk noil. I dribbled iron water down the center and spread it around with my hands and that's how I got splotches of dark gray around the fabric. Left side is the full piece it was folded in half lengthwise and it shows the dark print with shadow print on the left. Top right photo is a close-up of the right side and bottom left is close-up of the left side shadow print. I love the outline of the leaves. Also note that the bottom is very rusted looking. I rolled the fabric onto a piece of metal re-bar which adds more iron/rust to the fabric.

This was a previously dyed piece of dupioni silk. It was dyed with pale blue and tan dye, then I let it sit in a rusty bath for a few days. This piece was folded in half lengthwise and the right has the darker print from the backside of the leaves and the shadow print is from the top of the leaves where the fabric folded over.

While I was working with fresh leaves I created some more pages for my eco print journal. I used sheets from an oversized sketch pad, tearing the sheets into quarters. I tried a method I have never tried before. I normally steam the stack of papers with a weight on top to press the stack firmly down. This time I wanted to try boiling in water that had some rust particles in it, some acorns, a few onion skins, and avocado skins. I sprayed the papers with straight vinegar, then placed leaves that had soaked in vinegar water between the pages. I used ceramic tiles to place the pages between but the tiles were smaller than the paper so trying to get them firmly pressed & tied with twine was difficult. I decided to wrap the whole bundle of pages & ceramic tiles in fabric that had soaked in iron water. Then I tied it all up and dropped it in the pot with all the onion skins etc. I boiled it for about 3 hours. Some weird results along with some cool results. The pages look smokey and also have an underwater type pattern on a lot of the pages. Some leaf prints are very subtle, some are very abstract and some like the sweet gum leaf in the upper left is 2 toned. I got a lot of green to greenish-gray prints from the leaves along with some dark gray/black prints. These will all be going into my journal. So be on the look out for a blog post over at Art Elements for my eco printed journal.

Papers printed with leaves.

Once I am done writing up this blog post I am headed outside to gather more leaves. I have a few more pieces of fabric begging to be printed on.

I am looking forward to seeing all the guests and AE member participant's foliage creations. 

Here's the list:



AE Team

Cathy  You're here!


  1. Such amazing uses of actual foliage, first with your edited pictures and next with the fabrics! I also use photoshop, but never to add texture and art. Maybe I should re-think that as I really love how yours turned out! And the eco-dyes....WOW! Such inspiration.

  2. I am blown away by the beauty and amazing variety of techniques you have shared in your post. I especially like the eco prints and fabric added pieces. I love jumping from dimension to dimension and into the eco images. Gorgeous!!

  3. Love what you have done this month. Your eco prints are stunning. I did some ecoprinting too, on a wool gauze which was a first for me.

  4. I liked the photos a lot, but the fabric pieces and prints, just wow!! So beautiful!

  5. Amazing what you created with your images in PhotoShop - they look like paintings! I am in serious love with that fern leaf! Love the leaves on the fabric - that is so cool!

  6. Gorgeous work Cathy, I absolutely love your photos. I think it's a shame we never really print any of our pics any more. It's a lovely idea to create something with them. Thanks so much for taking part in the challenge.

  7. OMGosh - where to begin?

    I love all of your projects, but I am just enthralled with the ecoprint paper. The results you achieved from boiling the paper just blows my socks off! I can see that it would make wonderful journaling paper, but it would also be fabulous framed and hanging on a wall.

  8. Cathy - everything is so amazing! I love the photos and your eco printing, and sewing on leaves - who knew? Wonderful!

  9. I love what you've done with the photos, especially the blue fern. I use a free Photoshop-type app. on my computer (not an Apple) called Gimp to edit/size photos for listings. Sometimes I like to play with the saturations, etc. and especially the effects. I'd like to see more altered photos! Alysen.

  10. So brilliant using filters to play with your photos (my brain tends to overcomplicate things - and this is simple idea has escaped my brain for years. I used to love using my Hipstamatic app and think I will open it today and get some photos!).

    Your work is always so beautiful Cathy! I love all of the eco printing you do - that seems like something my brain would turn into scientific with the different pH levels and all the variations that go along with it. I want to try it to see the magic - but I know I would have to tell my brain to just enjoy the process and not worry about the details. Thanks for sharing your artistic journey :)

  11. I love your silks. They are just beautiful. I love seeing the different effects that you achieved with Photo Shop. Enjoyable!

  12. These are just beautiful. Thanks for sharing

  13. Your eco dying is always beautiful and the stitched leaves are gorgeous but I'm really taken by the altered photography - it gives the images such a soft ethereal quality so appropriate to the subject matter. Well done.

  14. Very nice! I love the altered photos, you seemed remember the program really well and they turned out great! I am intrigued by the Eco prints... I had to google it and it’s pretty cool! That is amazing what colors you got from the leaves! The prints on the silk were my favorite of all of your pieces.

  15. So cool seeing what you did with your photos. Since my hubby took up photography and started using PS, I have a new appreciation for what it takes to get photos the way you want them and to use some cool effects. That fern is my favorite!

  16. Your altered photos are surreally beautiful. Those stitched leaves are awesome. And the ecoprinted fabric is sublime. Beautiful interpretations all.

  17. The photoshopped pictures look really great. You could printed then on linen or cotton paper or even gloss boards and use them as cards for the holidays. The eco printed fabric and journal is really cool as well.

  18. You have amazing Photoshop skills. Your leafy pics are beautiful! Eco-dyeing. I’m going to have to do some reading on this. Your pieces are fabulous.

  19. Cathy, I love your digital experiments - they've resulted in pretty awesome pictures. The eco-printed fabrics surprised me - I'd not imagined that the prints are this rich. However, it's the eco-printed journal that I love the most - it's a beautiful idea to work on, and I'm looking forward to seeing more on it.

  20. While the stitched magnolia leaves and fabric prints are really amazing, the altered photos are the ones that I loved most - they look like genuine pieces of art!

  21. Wow oh wow oh wow!!! I love everything you made for the challenge! The altered photos are gorgeous and I can see them in someone's home (like mine) as canvas wall art! And I'm over the moon in love with your eco-printing. I've been thinking about dabbling in that for a while and I think you might have pushed me over the edge. Your fabrics are breathtaking.


Wishing you peace, love & chocolate!

Art Elements September Theme Reveal-Foliage

Another month has flown by and it's reveal time once again for the September Art Elements' theme challenge. For Sept...