Sunday, 15 October 2017

I know I've been away a long time. The excuses are many. Among the most significant was that Photoshop course in May which took up so much of my time and seemed to send me off course a little, followed quickly by a very busy summer with many trips away of both short and long duration. Most of all though, I felt the need of a blogging rest. I'd blogged pretty much continuously for the last five years and had reached a point when I felt I had nothing new or worthwhile to say. Worst of all, writing a post had become a chore and an obligation (not sure to whom) rather than the pleasure I had felt in the past. 

On our return from our most recent trip away, I suddenly realised how much I was missing the contact with blogging friends and the sharing of thoughts and art work so I'm testing the waters and making a return, for the moment at least.

Since May, we've spent time in Scotland, had 3 weeks in France much of it with our daughter and her family, and then taken a recent trip to western Canada (first picture above) where I lived for two years in the early 1970s.

This last visit was something of a pilgrimage. It was a long planned return to old haunts on Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia and Alberta and a reunion with two sets of old friends, but also a chance to visit places I'd missed for some reason all those years ago. In total, we were away for 4 1/2 weeks and covered more than 2,500 miles in a hire car.

For the first three weeks or so when we were on the west coast, the weather was wonderful. Hardly a drop of rain fell and, day after day, the sky was cloudless and it was hot. Photography was easy ... but now I'm home, choosing from the myriad of photos (over 4,000!) is hard. I'm including here only a tiny taster of everything we saw.

There were jetties, and docks aplenty ...

The jetty at Alert Bay on Cormorant Island, BC

... harbours, boats, and reflections  ...

The harbour in Powell River BC

... numerous ferries ...

Ferry terminal at Horseshoe Bay, North Vancouver BC

... peaceful coastal hikes with wonderful sea views ...

Hiking at Rebecca Spit, Quadra Island BC

... panoramic ocean views ...

Looking west out to the Pacific Ocean from Amphitrite Point on the Lighthouse Loop trail, Ucluelet BC

... dramatic waterfalls on rivers of extraordinary length (why do waterfalls always look so insignificant in photographs?) ...

Helmcken Falls, Wells Gray Provincial park, Central BC - with Canada's 4th highest single vertical drop

... mountains everywhere, some higher than others but always dramatic and often snow-capped ...

Driving south on the Icefields parkway in the Canadian Rockies towards Lake Louise, Alberta

... glaciers, barren moraines and ... cold ...

The Athabasca Glacier, Alberta

... extraordinary colours ...

Grassi Lakes, Canmore, Alberta

... and glass-like reflections ...

The rather unattractively named but very beautiful Backswamp, Banff, Alberta

... and last of all, the ultimate place to enjoy a drink or a meal with good friends - the point of it all surely ...

View from our (definitely) unconventional accommodation at Heriot Bay, Quadra Island BC

I suspect there is much more to come following this last trip, now I've got going! While writing this, I've realised how much the blogging process helps me to reflect on things I see and do. 

Now I need to pick up my sketch book work and begin stitching ...

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Overlaying Shapes

More Photoshop fun ... This time overlaying shapes on chosen photographs and playing with opacity. First of all leaf shapes on a black and white image of shadows in a beech wood.

Then, the same trick on a complex black and white photo of machinery, but this time without changing the opacity.

You've guessed it, the Pixeladies are onto shape this week!

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Pixeladies 2

I have been so absorbed in the Pixeladies' PSE 3 course I posted about last time that I've hardly been near my blog this week. Also, apologies to all those whose posts I've missed. Once this course is finished in a couple more weeks, I will be back!

So ... an update of images, starting with the next steps for the tree outlines - now filled simply using the paint bucket tool in colour ...

Then, played with further using lots of layers, transparency, opacity and a range of brushes large and small between the original image and the drawn lines (getting the layer order right gave me something to think about!) ...

And, last of all, something different (but still trees!), this time with text and gradients, the latter both on the image and on the text itself (very tricky and involving hours of play). These consist of adding a wash of graded colour over the image - best done subtly!

Next week, we're onto shape. I wonder where that will take us!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Photo Tracing

Photo Tracing of my images in Adobe Photoshop to get the outline is something I've done several times in the past. I've always found the process rather frustrating because I was unable to draw a straight line (hand too wobbly) and didn't know how to get Photoshop to do this automatically.

I began a new course with the Pixeladies last Monday (PSE 3: Digital Designing). Having completed their first and second courses and found them most useful, I was in high expectation that they would solve this and many other issues I didn't even know I had. They have ... and they are ... and I've only just finished week 1 of a four week taught course. If anything, I would say that this course is even better than the first two so I'm delighted!

The first week has focused on line - all in black and white so I've felt really at home. On Day 2, we explored PSE's amazing range of brushes and their settings - very useful but in my case not very photogenic.

Day 3 addressed the photo tracing issue (and the drawing straight lines) and I produced this (without straight lines!):

Which resulted in this:

Which turned into this bit of fun when I used a choice of faux finish brushes (among others) in the negative spaces and then filled the positive spaces with black.

Useful play with a capital P!

PS Writing this post made me go back to my posts of 2015. I think I need to revisit some of those techniques and effects. Where are my handouts that I printed out so carefully?

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Sinchie 1

Great Western Embroiderers, the group I stitch with, generally has a group project on the go in which I try to participate. So, from time to time, I find myself producing work which is very different both in technique and in focus from the main work I'm doing at the time.

Now is one of those times.

The choice was made by the group to produce a series of Sinchies (the stitched version, not the Aussie food pouches for children!), one every two months. My offering for this first round today (yet to be finished off, I admit) is shown above. The plan is that these will eventually be joined together in strips to make a larger whole.

Two months ago, two colours were drawn out of a hat and we were asked to produce a small piece 6 ins by 6 ins (hence the name) in whatever style took our fancy. This time the random colours were pink and green and to start us off, we were provided with a small pack of fabric, threads and beads in these colours to use and to which we could add from our own stash.

I added among other things strips of silk sari fabric, together with spun sari offcuts and fibres. I chose to put all these fabrics under the embellisher (needle felting machine) and then to hand stitch over the top. Inevitably, the piece ended up as a landscape as such impromptu pieces generally do. It is my default response when I haven't done any preliminary sketchbook work.

This sort of exercise tends to take me strangely out of my comfort zone as it is usually so different from what I am doing at the time, but it's good for me to think about other things and to work in a different way - to a formula and within boundaries, rather than freely and to my own agenda.

Right now, this formula inevitably involves the use of colour ... so definitely different and therefore probably most beneficial!

Sunday, 7 May 2017

More cut-outs and more shadows

Playing further with tree cut-outs and their shadows has thrown up many thoughts and questions. Unusual lighting conditions when photographing produced unexpected results (this first image has not been manipulated for colour in Photoshop) ...

... which gave me scope to play with colour in the Photoshop adjustment layers (there were many colour variations of this image) ...

Both of these seemed to give an extraordinary sense of depth to the image ... interesting what colour can do!

I then cropped another image and converted it into black and white, as I so often do, adjusting the contrast levels in Photoshop.

Doing this for several images gave many opportunities for cropping, rotating and abstracting which gave firstly this ...

... and then this ...
and finally this ...

It was interesting that these last three images did exactly the reverse of the first two, flattening out the images and losing that intense sense of 3D. The reference to trees was lost and the process produced graphic images where shape and black / white / gray contrast mattered the most.

All idle play right now, but may lead somewhere later ...