Friday, April 28, 2017

7 Ways to Abstract a Photo - Off the Wall Friday

Nina-Marie Sayre
Created by taking A few birdhouses   - Changing Scale,  #2
Have you ever wondered how someone abstracts a perfectly normal photo into something so amazingly wonderful that it puts the original to shame????

Yeah, me too!!!

So since, I've been on this journey of abstract art as of late, I thought I would brainstorm some ideas on how to abstract a photo.  Not all of these will work with every photo, but they definitely will get the ball rolling!

Nina-Marie Sayre

Nina-Marie Sayre
The Curves, Using #1
  1. Trace over main lines in the photo, then repeat those lines once or twice - varying the distance between the lines.  
  2. Chose an interesting part of the photo.  Crop it and Enlarge.  Use that part or Crop and Enlarge again.
  3. Take inspirational photo (or painting) - Crop interesting elements out of it  - changing the size of them at will.  Rearrange into a new composition.  (See my Edward Hopper inspired piece below)
    Nina-Marie Sayare
    Edward Hopper Inspired Collage #3
  4. Take a photo and turn it into grey scale.  Pixilate it into lovely blurriness to create a value study of the photo.  Create from there.  Here are my examples.
  5. Take a Photo - Cut it into squares - Rearrange the squares - trace out the main elements and
    lines.
    Nina-Marie Sayre
    Photo manipulation on Photo Elements - #6
  6. Take Photo - put it into a Photo Editor - start playing with skewing it, erasing elements, rotating it - add layers - take away layers - then trace the most interesting part
  7. Trace out main shapes of the photo - Exaggerate the shapes - make them into any shape - organic or geometric
Nina-Marie Sayre
Created with #2 - Crop, Enlarge, Crop, Enlarge




Be Warned - Brainstorming abstract ideas is VERY addictive.  At some point, you'll have to stop and evaluate the ideas.  How do you do that?  Well the same way you do any other composition that you've done.  I  usually run it through my Good Keys to Composition Test first and then make sure the pieces is saying what I want it to say and evoking the mood I want it evoke!  If it passes all of that - THEN I start pulling fabric out.  With abstract pieces - its always good start with an unexpected palette.  For once let color start pulling its own weight!


So while I've been playing with photo manipulation. . . . .

What Have You Been Up to Creatively?


Friday, April 21, 2017

Simultaneous Contrast - Off the Wall Friday


13 years ago, Cynthia Corbin said to me, "Why are we talking about color choices.  Put some fabric up on that board.  You make Visual decisions Visually".  She was right then and she's still right now. Even though, I'm a planner and I've gotten into the habit of planning out a specific palette, that doesn't mean I truly know how all the colors are going to look together until I see them together.  I mean, the color wheel says they go together -- so they should right?  Well, yes and no.


How colors appear is relative to what's around them.  So yes they all "go together"  but how they appear when you pull them from your stash might not be how they ultimately look when you get it into your piece.

 And THAT's what the topic of Lesson 7 was in Katie P-M's Online course - Simultaneous Contrast.



Actually, I did understand this concept, but never gave it a second thought when I was designing a quilt.  Once I created this piece, I definitely have a better understanding how an awareness of the  simultaneous colors involved can effect the out come of a piece.  Its just one more tool in the toolbox  of color that you can use to set the mood of your piece.

In my latest lesson, I could  see how the cheerful, bright ORANGE I chose for the palette muted out as the values of its complementary BLUE.  Because of that effect I could use it create depth in this piece.  The shapes graduate up from dark to light leading the eye up ..... going from a complex grounded feel to an a more airy simple feel at the top.

For that matter, You can see how orange appears totally different when you put it against other colors.


The second part of this lesson was working on simplicity giving homage to the Modern Quilters Movement.  So the piece had to be simple AND show simultaneous contrast.  Let me tell you - doing something simple - does not mean that getting the composition is easier.  It took me 10 long hours to get this piece done and its not even quilted.  sighhhhhhhhhhh

On to Lesson 8  - the last one!!

So What Have Been Up to Creatively?

Friday, April 14, 2017

FotoJet - A Review - Off the Wall Friday

Focus Function used
The Before
Recently, I was approached by FotoJet to give  a review of their photo editing site. Although the site can be used free,  they graciously gave me a year premium subscription to try out their editor and see what I think.  Since, after upgrading to Windows 10, I have not been able to find a photo editor to my liking, I agreed.  The photo editor that comes with Window 10 is totally useless to me (although I'm sure other's will disagree).

Now first a word about my editing.  I do have Photoshop Elements, but to tell you the truth, I don't find it user friendly enough.  What I was looking for was a good photo editor that you could easily crop a photo, adjust the exposure and coloring of it, and once and while add a special effect or two.  Photoshop Elements was not intuitive enough for my casual use and I was constantly reminding myself where everything was.

Photo Editing and Filters used
The Before
FotoJet is definitely intuitive and really you don't need a tutorial to use it.  It has all the normal cropping abilities as well as  slide scales to adjust exposure.  The color adjustment also works on a sliding scale.  I absolutely love the Sharpen and Dehaze adjustments too.  There are plenty of filters, too (even more with a premium membership).

A couple of weeks ago, I paid a visit to the Erie Art Museum, to see the latest exhibit.  As always, I had my little point and shot camera.  I took some pictures so I used them to play around with editor.



 So far, what I liked
  • Ease of Exposure and Color editing
  • Where the OPEN and SAVE buttons are
  • How easy it is to resize a picture
  • The gorgeous  overlays and filters
  • The many fonts in the TEXT mode
What I don't like
  • No space to save on the site - photos need to saved to your hard drive
  • You have to work on one project at a time from start to finish 
  • the Auto Enhancer wasn't really helpful ( but really are any of them?) 
Color Splash and focus functions used
The Before



This week I only have tested out the Photo Editing Feature.  It also has an extensive collage and design section which I want to play with.  Over the next few weeks, I was thinking of giving my blog
a nice spring makeover.  I hope the results are as good as this week's!!

So if you are looking for an online photo editor that is easy to use, I would recommend FotoJet.


So What Have Been Up to Creatively?

Friday, April 7, 2017

An Evening with William Wegman - Off the Wall Friday

Left Right, Black White
Tonight, I was lucky enough to get to hear a lecture given by William Wegman, of Weimaraner dog fame.  It was such a great lecture because he started with the first photo he ever took and then told about how he started taking pictures of his first dog - Man Ray - named after the Surrealistic artist.  The lecture then traveled us through this man's 50 year career and gave us a glimpse into his creative process.  I was sad when it ended.

Something that really struck me, that I didn't really expect, was that you could tell how genuine Wegman is.  He is so unassuming about his work and you could tell he did it to explore some need that was within him.  If people like it - that was good - but he was going to do it either way.

So as I was watching interesting poses of dogs go by I had these thoughts. . . . .

  1. Nobody can dictate what art actually is
  2. There will always be someone, somewhere that likes the art that you do
  3. Don't be afraid of your "What the Hell" moment  - it might turn into a series of a lifetime
  4. Make art with what you know, not with what you wish you knew
  5. Make art with what you love.
  6. Don't be afraid to change how you make art

#6 is from the fact that while Wegman has continued to enjoy widespread success with his series of Weimaraner Dogs (and obviously loves them), he has taken up painting and collaging ."Apparently, some people like them and some people don't", he off-handly said.   You could tell that it didn't really matter to him one way or another.  He found the need to take up painting again - so he was going to do it.  He also, was kind enough to show us his work  - some more successful than others and how he is improving in the media.

All in all a great night!   I highly suggest you take some time and look through this man's body of work!  Amazing!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Kathy Loomis at Quilting By the Lake - Off the Wall Friday

Quilting By the Lake 2011
 I love Quilting by the Lake.  I mean, I really LOVE it!!  Being at the annual quilt conference each year is really my idea of a perfect vacation.  Now I realize that most people's idea of vacation does not consist of schlepping all their stuff onto a college campus, spending 6 nights sleeping in a strange bed, sewing 12 hours a day and taking the risk of creating in front of perfect strangers.  BUT, mine IS!

After 15 yrs at the conference held in Syracuse, NY, I have a routine.  I always arrive early on Sunday afternoon to unpack my classroom, then my dorm room, go grab groceries at a nearby Wegman's and THEN sit down to pick out NEXT year's class.  I know that sounds funny!  But what can I say?  I'm a planner.  You can imagine my surprise when I saw that our very own Kathleen Loomis was going to be teaching this year during second session!  I thought - Hey  - I know her!!

Onodaga Community College, Home of Quilting by the Lake
So I thought it would be fun to ask her about it!

Kathy, I've been reading your blog for years and love it!  Can you tell my readers a bit about your back ground?

I retired from a career in journalism and corporate communication and decided I would become an artist.  Since I only knew one art-like skill – quiltmaking – and time was a-wasting, I have mainly worked in that medium ever since.  I learned to sew as a kid and made my first quilt (self-taught) in high school. 

Improvisational Strip Piecing


I didn't know you were teaching nationally.  Have you've been doing it long?  What kind of classes do you teach?

I don’t make a big deal out of marketing myself as a teacher because I don’t want to spend my whole life on the road – heck, I’m retired!! -- but I love teaching and will do it for anybody who invites me.  I’ve taught for groups in Florida, Boston, Philadelphia, Kentucky, Indiana, at the Crow Barn, and overseas in Japan, Germany and the Czech Republic.  

I’ve done classes as short as three hours but my favorites are the longer ones.  I don’t teach projects because my cosmic goal as a teacher is that nobody should ever have to use other people’s patterns.  Most of my workshops start with a specific technique but the real learning starts when people have to make decisions about color and composition.  I can be their guide, help them get the self-confidence to make those decisions, and show them ways to think those problems through.

Vendors at Quilting by the Lake


Can you tell us a bit about the classes you are teaching at Quilting by the Lake this year.  What can a student expect?

At QBL I’ll be teaching two workshops: two days on improvisational strip piecing and three days on fine line piecing.  In the first one, we’ll make strip-pieced panels and then cut them up and rearrange them into finished compositions.  There will be a lot of discussion and experimentation with color selection, and then on the second day, lots of work on the wall with discussion of  design principles.

Fine Line Piecing by Kathleen Loomis
In the second one, I’ll teach how to piece very fine lines, and then we’ll explore two different ways to use that technique in a quilt.  One way is large-to-small, where you start with a large piece of fabric, slice it apart, and piece it back together with a very fine line in between – then you do this again and again and again, like drawing lines across your paper with a ruler, with the intervening spaces getting smaller and smaller.  The other way is small-to-large, where you start with tiny modules and piece them together into a finished composition.  Again, we’ll end up on the design wall working with the basics of balance, repetition, all that stuff.

Quilting by the Lake 2016


A lot of times, I get people telling me that they are afraid to invest time and money into a national conference.  Why do you think its worth the investment?

I’m a huge believer in workshops, having been a student for 16 weeks with Nancy Crow over the years, as well as with many other teachers.  Let me count the ways.   You get away from the laundry and the husband and the social engagements and all you have to do for a whole week is sew and think about art; it’s so much easier to focus on your work without all those other distractions.  The facilities are great, with a big empty table all your own, good lighting, design walls, ironing boards everywhere, and somebody will always lend you a spool of black thread if yours runs out.  You hang out with other people who are keen on the same things you are, with lots of time to talk, share, learn, show-and-tell, bitch, moan and celebrate. And of course, you get to work closely with a teacher who has been there, done that, and will help you get there too.
  ( I would add that this is EXACTLY  how I feel - spending the week with a bunch of people that know the difference between a quilt and a tapestry and what you do does not normally involve yarn is priceless! - NM)

Thank you Kathy!!  I hope this has inspired you to take the leap to going to a national conference!  It certainly changed my life and it could change yours!!  

Quilting by the Lake is running  July 16-28, 2017.  Please visit the webpage for information on the full range of classes.  There are still plenty of great classes open for all levels and interests!  

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively?

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Value of Black & White - Part II - Off The Wall Friday

 Black and White #2, Kay Sorensen
Figure/Ground Study #3, Sandra Palmer Ciolino


So with my latest lesson on value, I've fallen in love with the monochromatic palette of White through Black.  I admit, I never thought I would.  I mean with all the gorgeous colors in the world why stick to only Black and White?  Not to mention, SHOW OF HANDS, who here became a quilter because it was just an extension of coloring left over from childhood?

That all said, I had a thoroughly fun time doing my latest Project, Cropped.  Katie asked us to crop a photo and recreate it in only black, gray and white paying specific attention to the values.  Once I got the crop right (thanks again for all the help), the piece wasn't too hard.  But I do love how it came out!




                                                  
Legends Never Die, Maria Dlugosch
                                         


Cropped, Nina-Marie Sayre


Here's my self critique -
  • This is a diagonal cruciform composition using a monochromatic palette
  •  A visual pathway is created though the quilt, with the darkest of darks leading the eye
  • There is plenty of variety of shapes as well as negative space to rest the eye.
  • The palette chosen reflects the nostalgic mood of the piece.
  • The photo has been cropped to show a more interesting portrayal of  the original.
  • The focal point - although having contrast - could have even more emphasis.  Is it the O or is it the W? Or is the star?  UGH?!  (there is always something isn't there!)






Star Dreams of Snow, Kari Anderson, @andersondesignworks

Zen, Beth Schellenberger


Still I don't know what was more fun with this piece - doing the actual work to see the finish product or researching all the signs!  With all the new super bright In-Your-Face LED signs out there yelling at us to "Like Us on Facebook" - I really do miss these retro masterpieces  of an era not so long ago.

Anyways, before I get even more melancholy, Cropped has started me looking  at what other quilters have done with this particular palette.  And let me tell you - there is some AMAZING work out there.  A few artists have granted permission to share some here!  I have included links to their online presence so you can check out the rest of their truly fantastic work!

Nicole Dunn


I hope this has inspired you to take the plunge in the monochromatic gray scale world.  Without Katie to nudge me in that direction, I might never have tried it!  So glad she did!!

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively?

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Value of Black and White - Off the Wall Friday

Final Crop
I want to say a big thank you for all the comments and suggestions last week on which sign to pick.  Smart move of the month?  Ask women smarter than yourself for their opinion.

 So I especially want to give thanks to Glen, who said  " I would crop a bit further even." She was right of course - they needed to be cropped MORE.

Margaret, who said, " I think they must be very challenging to crop, because our brains don't want us to leave out any of the lettering...so we focus on keeping that in the picture instead of cropping for shape."  

O-M-G!! How smart are they??  So did end up going back - cropping for shape & composition.  The lesson is on value so I really needed to make sure I included enough areas to play with value a little.

Work in Progress
Once the crop was done properly, the lesson itself wasn't too hard.

  We are to use a monochromatic palette of black.  To tell you the truth, I really should have had this done last weekend.  What I ran into trouble is that, I just don't like fusing patterns down perfectly.  I don't think I have the "precise" gene one needs for that kind of work.  Also, I'm not thrilled with working with fusibles.  I know they are perfect for this kind of project.  But spending an afternoon glueing your piece down is NOT fun to me.  Once the drawing was done, values of the fabrics picked out - it was like all the fun stuff was complete and I just had to glue it all down.  Sighhhhh - I know - I'm whining!!

What I did have fun with was delving into the world of high contrast fashion in my research for this project.  Who knew it was such a trend?!!  Mixing patterns of black and white is VERY now - VERY in.  It does make for interesting outfits!!

So I'll buckle down and finish this up!!  Thanks again for all the help everyone!!

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively?