Month: September 2016


Fall isn’t here yet; it still feels like summer. I’m seeing lots of Monarachs. Yet, I know fall is coming with its beautiful color that makes me smile, certainly my last smile as I don’t like winter. The weather man said more fall like temperatures will arrive next week. I can’t wait. I just wish that fall lasted all winter long. In anticipation of the arrival of fall, I created this page today with one landscape photo from 2014 and another of a butterfly that I captured last Saturday. Our fall color won’t arrive until October.


I made the original photo on October 20, 2014, 2014-10-20-173915a day with no wind so that the smooth water reflected the landscape along the edge of the lake. I had set my camera at f/11 in aperture priority, 1/500 sec and ISO 1000 at 24mm. This is straight out of the camera meaning I made no adjustments in Lightroom before placing the photo on a new blank 12×12 page in Photoshop.

I have a Photoshop plug-in, Topaz Impression, that can recreate paint strokes in the style of different artists and mediums on photographs. I chose a Degas style first and then layered an overpainting at 75% above the Degas layer. Note: Degas’ scenes of Parisian life, his off-center compositions, his experiments with color and form, and his friendship with several key Impressionist artists connect him with the Impressionist movement of the 19th century.

Next, I placed the psd layers of mask 2 from Autumn Romance FotoBlendz No. 1 a little off center on my page. I adjusted the size of the photo layers and clipped them to the fotoblendz mask. However, the duplicated copies clipped to the leaves and texture of psd mask 2 are the original photo. Note that having a psd file of the mask, allowed me to move one copy of the photo over to fill the mask.


Next, I added two files, 4 and 6, from GoldLeaves No. 4 above the mask to add more depth to the mask. I rotated and sized them to fit over the leaves on the mask layers. To coordinate the color with my photo, I added a color style to each as well as glows to highlight. The leaf on the right is on normal blend mode at 35% opacity. The leaf on the bottom left is on color burn at 35%.


Below the photo layers I add brush 8 (recolored) and overlay 1 from ArtPlay Palette Autumn Romance. This creates a visual diagonal line across my page.


Next, I created a cluster by extracting a butterfly that I photographed last week and placing it on a leaf from ArtPlay Palette Woodland. Below, I placed most of the layers of file 3 from JazzedUp LoopDaLoops No. 1.


Finally, I added word art from Autumn WordArt Mix No. 1, journaling and a few splatters to finish my page.


One take away for me after experimenting with this page is that I can create visual tension on a “centered” page design by placing a mask off-center, adding texture with a brush only on the right edge and nestling the  journaling in an open space created by the mask. Also, I think the dimension on this page with the butterfly extraction, title and gold leaf on the right mask edge create a visual triangle. I don’t have to repeat similar elements, i.e. buttons, to create a visual triangle. What do you think?

Back to School

Having enjoyed teaching elementary school for so many years, I looked forward to the beginning of school each year. I always thought that the mothers of the kids I taught did too. However, as a grandmother, I don’t think I could have captured a photo that better illustrates my grandchildren’s individual feelings about going back to school than the one clipped to a fotoblendz mask on the right. Times have changed, but years from now, I think they will enjoy this page.


On the first day of school, I photographed each of my three grandsons. Two weeks later I photographed Kate on her first day of preschool. I knew I wanted to extract each of my grandchildren for this page, but it took a few days of just thinking before I had an idea for a background with a school theme for the extractions rather than a background from the two different locations in which I took the photos.

I stamped a brush from Anna’s set, Old School No. 1, so that it looked like books in a bookcase on new layers above solid paper 1 from ArtPlay Palette Studious. Then I selected a mask 5 from FotoBlendz Overlays No. 9 by pressing the key command (control) and clicking on the layer thumbnail of the mask. With the marching ants still visible, I then highlighted the brush layer and clicked the add a layer mask icon. I made adjustments to my new mask with a brush from AnnaBlendz Artsy No. 3.


Often when I am photographing my grandchildren I hurry. Often there isn’t time to carefully think through exactly what I am going to do with the photos. Sometimes I forget what I previously did in the rush to capture something. I had photographed the boys at their home before dropping them off for school. On Kate’s first day of preschool, I asked her to look at me as she hopped around on my lawn so that I could take her photograph before we got into the car for the trip to school.

That one factor, the lawn, created a problem for extracting Kate’s feet. Plus, I had inadvertently cut off her left foot in one of my favorite photos with my in camera framing. After extracting each child, I solved that problem by adding a bit of grass using a layer mask so that everyone was standing on grass. I gave everyone three shadows: one custom, one color and one standard shadow to create more realistic depth.


For the right side, I combined two templates from Travel Template Album No. 2, specifically template 8 and 14 in order to accommodate the vertical photos I wanted to use. I try to make the accommodation process as simple as possible for myself by combining frames and masks rather than recreating what I need. From template 8, I placed the two vertical frames, thread and text box as well as two textures, an art stroke and stain. From template 14, I placed the two vertical frames on the right with the text box below, the fotoblendz mask, thread, textures and stains. I duplicated one of the small frames and moved it into the open space.

Note: I find it easiest to bring over the frames I want to use and group them together. Then I drag over the masks I want and the background brushes, textures and art strokes.


With the extractions and basic templates completed, I added transfer 4 from Artsy Transfers Studious behind Owen, duplicating and recoloring one of the stains. I also added brushes and transfers from ArtPlay Palette Studious below the template layers as well as a button and thread. I tucked file 3 from MultiMedia School No. 1 behind the frames but in front of the fotoblendz mask.


Yes, the extractions took a little extra time, however when combined with an opposing page that is easy using a template, I think the total effect of this two page spread will make a nice addition to this year’s book. Actually, the more I practice extracting, the better my skills are getting.


Stop and Simplify

As I was adding keywords to the photos that I imported into Lightroom yesterday, I remembered photos from August with Kate and her dad together. That sparked an idea for a two page spread for the book I am creating this year. However, I also need a simple way to scrap some of the photos I capture so that I am not overwhelmed with the task of creating a year long book. I often remind myself that not every page I create for this book needs to be an elaborate piece of art.

I can’t think of an easier way to scrap groups of photos than with templates from one of Anna’s albums, for example Travel Template Album No. 2. With last year’s book, I learned that templates with simple white frames and artsy fotoblendz masks worked well with the other pages that I created.


I opened template 7 from the album and dragged all the layers to a new 24×12 inch document. Although I am not ready to finish the right side, I created a 24×12 inch document because it is so much easier to work with the two pages together. I will use another template from the same album for the right side.


The page came together quickly since I didn’t make many changes. I enlarged the journaling space and darkened the fotoblendz masks with a brush from AnnaBlendz Artsy No. 3 so that Kate’s face was more clearly visible. I added brushes from Farm Animals No. 1 and No. 2 just above the paper. With a button and threads, I finished the page. Making changes will be easy when I am ready to finish the other side.


I am working on another page for my book that’s taking a lot longer to finish. Stopping to create a simple two page spread with one of Anna’s artsy template album pages actually encourages me to persist and not feel overwhelmed with a year long project.


Simple Pleasures

Simplifying life is a common theme on blogs, many offering guides for decluttering and finding meaning in life by owning less. I’m all for the idea that I don’t need to complicate my life with things that I don’t need, things that take time to clean or space to store. Simplifying also applies to how we use our time. As I spent time with my son and granddaughter today, I thought about simple pleasures.

Four year old Kate loves going places, but it doesn’t have to be far or expensive. Everyday she spends with me she asks, “Where are we going today?”. Riding the ferris wheel with daddy and looking for animals at Scheels delighted both of us today.


It doesn’t matter if it’s going to rain either. A little girl can still walk with her daddy to the lake and eat a cup of chocolate ice cream with sprinkles at DQ.


I haven’t written a guide on simplification, but if I did I would include an entertainment section for grandmothers. I think I would title it “Simple Pleasures”.

Heart Art

Sometimes, I make photographs without any thought about creating a scrapbook page. 2016-02-21 131136I captured these glass figures in February at an exhibit of 32 glass sculptures by Craig Mitchell Smith in the conservatory at Lauritzen Gardens. I don’t always initially see the possibility in a photograph for creating a piece of art. However, I remembered this photo when I opened Anna’s new palette, ArtPlay Palette Plumeria. A friend suggested that the figures looked like ghosts. I think wraiths might be more apropos for this page since they appear to be dancing above the water. The artist called this sculpture “Gravity Landscape”, but I don’t quite understand that title. I also wonder what the artist intended by placing a heart inside each figure. At any rate, this is one of those artsy photo pages created without a story in mind, but simply for the joy of experimenting.


I began by placing solid paper 3 from ArtPlay Palette Plumera on a new blank document. I rotated it clockwise in anticipation that by using a fotoblendz mask the texture above it the paper would show through my photo.


Next, I placed mask 2 from FotoBlendz Overlays No. 9 and clipped a copy of my photo to the mask. I added a levels adjustment layer on color burn at 20% above the photo. I love that the transparency of the mask reveals part of the paper below.


In order to get the figures to show more on my page, I extracted them from another copy of the photo using an inverted mask. I added a vibrance adjustment layer at 45% and a levels adjustment on soft light at 50%. I gave my extraction a small drop shadow. In this case, the extractions also created depth by making the figures pop from the background.


I placed one transfer and an art stroke from the new palette above the original photo. I masked out a part of the art stroke. To recreate the look of water, I added stains from Artsy Layered Template No. 233, two additional transfers from ArtPlay Palette Plumera and an overlay from ArtPlay Palette Heart No. 1. I changed the blend modes of three, one stain to darken, one transfer to multiply at 40% and the heart transfer just above the paper to overlay.

(Note: templates are a great source for not only stains, but journaling boxes and frames as well.)


Finally, I placed artstroke 2 below the extractions to balance the black on the other side. With two more hearts, word art from Art WordArt Mix No. 1, a button (recolored slightly), a thread from ButtonThreadz No. 1 and journaling, my page was finished.


Sometimes, I surprise myself with what I can create with a photo, an artplay palette and a little experimenting with blend modes in Photoshop. I will print this one just so my family will know that on occasion I deviate from my normal style simply for the sake of experimenting with art.

Just Five Things

Tuesday morning Kate and I played at the park, digging in the sand to make a dandelion cake. I had my iPhone with me, so I practiced holding the camera so that I didn’t distort my granddaughter’s face or limbs. That’s one thing I don’t like about my phone camera, how easily the focal length distorts a body or face. That distortion is most visible in the photograph of her on the swing.

Kate loves sand play and doesn’t seem to mind getting dirty. I really began this page experimenting with a possible photo treatment that would emphasize her messy look. I used the new ArtPlay MiniPalette High 5 by Anna Aspnes to create this page. It is available beginning September 2 for free with a $15 purchase during Anna’s sale.


Experimenting with a watercolor action and some filters available in Photoshop can change the look of photos. I wanted to emphasize just how messy Kate got playing in the sand. I prefer clipping a new adjustment layer to a photo rather than going up to the image menu because I like the flexibility of being able to change the settings. For this photo, the composite created with the watercolor action is on normal at 75% opacity. The threshold adjustment is normal at 35%, the photo filter on normal at 100% and the levels adjustment layer on screen at 35%. I placed another copy or the original above the adjustment layers on color burn at 25%.


For the rest of the page, I simply added layers. Below the photo layers, I placed solid paper 3, an overlay with tape and a transfer. I changed the blend mode of the transfer to multiply at 100%.


Above the photo layers, I placed a sand transfer from ArtPlay Palette Salty Living, two copies of transfer 2 from MiniPalette High Five and an art stroke. The bottom copy of the transfer is on color burn at 100%. The top copy on normal at 50%.


Next, I created a title using two elements from the free mini palette along with a charm from ArtPlay Palette Swell. I recolored the “things” word art by giving it a color overlay in the styles panel. I used the psd version of Jazzed Up LoopdaLoops No. 3 and switched out the button. Adding a list of ingredients and journaling finished my page. I love the grunge look on this page; Kate was a mess with her hair curling wildly and her clothes covered in sand by the time we finished making a dandelion cake.


Anna Aspnes’ High Five Event celebrating her five years at Oscraps begins September 2. Mini Palette High Five is free with a $15 purchase.

Then and Now

In celebration of Anna’s Five Years at Oscraps, members of the Creative Team (and Anna herself), are looking back at their art practice and sharing FIVE things they’ve learned or ways they’ve grown over the years. Team member, Linda Davis shares her thoughts in an excerpt from her blog.

At the same time that Anna is celebrating five years at Oscraps, I am celebrating the beginning of my journey playing with Anna’s designs. September marks five years of art play for me. On Saturday, September 25, 2011, I posted my first layout, Fall Hydrangeas, in Anna’s gallery at Oscraps, a layout that I created with designs I bought at the first sale at the opening of Anna’s Store at Oscraps.


Back then, I didn’t know a lot about how to work with Anna’s designs, but I was drawn to Anna’s freeform shapes and the concept of blending. The page design for my hydrangea page above was actually a lift of another page in the gallery. In the five years since that first post in Anna’s gallery, I’ve continued to learn how to work with Anna’s designs.

The page below reflects some of my learning over the last five years. I like to think that my style has continued to evolve with my on going learning. However, I don’t want you to think that this has been a smooth, even ladder of growth. It’s been a bumpy road. There are layouts I created early in my art play that I still love. There are also layouts that I’ve actually deleted from my Oscraps gallery; they are waiting on my computer for a redo.


Using a more recent page, Peonies, I want to share five strategies that I’ve learned about creating interest on a page over the last five years.

  1. Asymmetrical page design creates tension and that contributes interest on a page. On my 2011 layout, the focal photo is in the middle of the page. Yet, on the page with the peony blooms on the right third is a far more interesting placement for the focal photo in comparison to what I did with the hydrangeas. In addition, the way the background mask is divided enhances the rule of thirds.
  2. Mix photo treatments, i.e. watercolor, with standard photos on a single page. In this example, I applied a watercolor action to the background photo that I clipped to the mask. However, I created the extraction from photos as they came out of the camera.
  3. There is nothing quite like the depth and dimension of an extraction to create interest on a page. It has taken me several years to develop my extraction skills not only flowers but people as well. Remember to ground an extraction and to add a custom shadow. On this page, the threads serve to ground or attach the flowers on my page.
  4. Add elements, i.e. threads and buttons, for more dimension. The weight isn’t the same on both sides of my page, but the button and thread balance the bouquet in the mind’s eye.
  5. Stamp brushes, i.e. splatters, texture or stains, on your page. I like splatters so much that I’ve created a brush set of different splatters from Anna’s artplay palettes and templates. I continue to add to it. I also like the look of photos clipped to stains in the background, especially after changing the blend mode.

Yes, I’ve learned a lot in five years. I hope to continue to develop my art play skills. Take advantage of the sale marking Anna’s FIVE Years at Oscraps. Anna also offers classes now which will definitely help guide you as you play with her art.






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