Month: March 2017 Page 1 of 2

ArtPlay Homework

While I just finished an advanced class on brushes with Anna Aspnes, I am concurrently enrolled in A Year of ArtPlay 2017. One of the assignments for the ArtPlay class was to create a page blending multiple images. This page actually reflects my learning in both classes. I am delighted that these classes build on one another.

These are four of the photos, captured in March at Lauritzen Gardens, that I blended together to create my composite.

First I began by placing artsy paper 1 from ArtPlay Palette Hygge above solid paper 1. Starting with an artsy paper made page design easier. In the layers panel, note that I used a layer mask to blend out part of the dark brown stain so that it wasn’t so dominant. I also stamped with gray on a new layer over that part and added a gray overlay on color at 100%.

Next, I placed transfer 1 above the corresponding part on the artsy paper and clipped my first photo to the transfer. I adjusted my image with levels adjustment layers, one on screen and the other overlay. Then I clipped the closeup of the plants and blended it into the shelf. It is on normal at 50% Above those layers, I placed another copy of transfer 1 on soft light at 100%. For blending, I am using a brush set that I compiled from some of my favorite AnnaBlendz Artsy brushes.

Next, I added the head of the statue, attached an inverted layer mask and brought back in just what I wanted with brushes before giving the image a drop shadow as well as a gray overlay with the styles menu.

On the right, I placed the vertical photo of the stone wall, attached an inverted mask and again used brushes to reveal parts of the photo. One of the brushes I used was brush 12 from ArtPlay Palette Hygge. I also added brush 2 to my abr file of favorite blending brushes. I adjusted the light with a screen adjustment layer and glow 5 from WarmGlows 2.

Note: For blending, I created a new .abr file with brushes from Anna’s AnnaBlendz Artsy brush sets. For my file, I selected the brushes from Anna’s blending series that were simpler in that they look like primarily one texture. I am also finding that when I load the brushes from a palette I am more likely to use them and discover new favorites to add to my favorite brush abr file.

I decided that my scene needed someone to enjoy it. I found this photo of Kate that I’d taken in January 2016 sitting in about the same spot. In a way Kate’s curls reminded me of those on the statue.

I roughly extracted her using the Quick Selection Tool on an inverted layer mask and added a shadow. I added two levels adjustment layers: the first on screen and the second on overlay. I also placed another copy of the closeup photo of the plants, blending out the edges on a layer mask as needed.

Finally, I placed the layers of file 5 from MultiMedia Hygge No. 1 on the right below Kate in the layers panel. I added a phrase in the heart with the type tool. On the left, I created a cluster with a button from ArtPlay MiniPalette Cherish, a leaf that I copied from the multimedia file and thread 3 from ButtonThreadz No. 2. I am hoping that with the gray button and the gray moss in my photo that I’ve picked up enough gray. I also placed four glows to correct the color and simulate the light above my granddaughter.

Do I like it? Yes. I especially like how much what I have learned about working with brushes shows in this layout. It’s hard to see the texture in these screen shots. While this won’t go in this year’s book, I am going to put it in an album after printing.

Watercolor Painting

It was too cold and wet today to play at the park after preschool, so we painted this afternoon. I’m teaching Kate some of the things that my sister Glenda has taught me about working with watercolors. Notice that she has all her supplies lined up: towel, paints, mixing dish and water cup.

Kate began by saying she was going to paint the sky. She has the most intent look on her face when she’s painting, a mix of joy and wonder. It should be that way when a girl is painting I think.

Pushing the pump on the spray bottle to wet the paints is still a little difficult for Kate, but she’s persistent.

Kate mixed purple and orange in the mixing dish today. She knows how to rinse her brush and wipe it on the towel before choosing another color. Glenda is going to be very impressed.

I put my camera in manual mode with the ISO at 6400 and the aperture f/2.8 and focused on her eyes to compensate for the low light coming in from the window. I think my little camera does a good job with a high ISO on a cloudy day.

Budding Photographer

Logan, one of my grandsons, asked to use my camera on our trip to the Henry Doorly Zoo on Thursday. I handed it to him with instructions on how to move the focus point with the joystick and then press the shutter button half way down to verify focus before taking the picture. Later, after I sent him copies of the pictures he made, he told me he’s going to take up photography as a hobby. I’m delighted of course because I love making photographs and telling stories. I want my grandchildren to enjoy this hobby too.

This page will be part of a two page spread about our trip to the zoo. This side will focus on Logan’s story while the other side will tell a different story about my photography that day at the zoo.

Below is the photo I captured with my iPhone while Logan took photos in the Desert Dome with my camera. It was just a snapshot attempting to capture a story, but I didn’t think it was clear enough as is. I decided that I could use it to create a brush that I would then stamp on my two page spread. To get the photo ready, I exported it from Lightroom and adjusted the levels before applying another black and white preset. Note: I could also have done this in Lightroom.

Once I had the layers on a new 12×12 inch document, I used a layer mask to clean up the edges around my grandson. Then I used the Marquee Tool to outline him and defined just that portion as a brush. I stamped my brush in black on a new layer and again over the original in a lighter neutral to lighten the tone. I duplicated the copy and changed the blend mode to linear burn at 100%. I masked out a portion of the original brush layer so that it would not be too dark.

Below my brush layers, I placed transfer 3 from ArtPlay Palette Anaphora as well as brush 19 from ArtsyStains No. 1 to contain and anchor the stamped image. I erased parts of the transfer and brush directly on the layers.

I dragged the frames from template 15 in Project Template Album No. 2 onto my document and clipped my photos to the frames, adjusting as needed.

Next, I placed most of the layers from psd transfer 4 of Artsy Transfers Anaphora on the right edge to fill in the background behind the framed photos.

For a title foundation, I stamped brush 5 from eAVintage Cameras No. 1 on a new blank layer. I lined it up with transfer 1 from ArtPlay Palette Anaphora before stamping. I used two different stains on layers above to add color to the camera brush. I gave the transfer a color overlay at 48% in the styles panel to give it some color.

Finally, I placed transfer 7 just above solid paper 1, both part of ArtPlay Palette Anaphora. By the time I complete the other side for this two page spread, I will change that transfer. Think of it as a placeholder for the moment while I decide which brushes to use in order to fill in the area across the gutter for a two page spread. The color is right, but I need to adjust the shape.

I still can’t get the dual brush to work with two colors. That is why I simply added color by stamping on individual layers. The Advanced Brushes class has changed the way I’m working with brushes. As Anna put it, my art is evolving!

You Can Take My Picture Here

Although the outside temperature was 36° at the zoo, inside the Desert Dome it was perfect for a few photos of my grandchildren. These four little people are my most difficult subjects to capture, so I’ve been trying to develop strategies to induce them to corporate. I might have found a new one today.

“Stop Grandma,” said Corbin, “you can take my picture here.”

This is Corbin, my youngest grandson. He set the precedent for photographs today by stopping at various points along our walk in the Desert Dome to pose and tell me I could take his photo.

Logan, my second grandson, was interested in learning how to take photographs. So I handed him my camera and watched him hang it on his wrist the way I do.

I showed him how to move the joystick to set his focus point, press halfway down and then take the picture. I promised to send him this bird shot that he made so he can share it with his classmates.

I actually have quite a few shots of Corbin as he wanted to stop frequently for his picture. I see my dad in this boy.

Once Kate saw what Corbin was doing, she decided she wanted her picture taken. I hope you notice that she’s given the lizard her pink beads to wear for this photograph.

Kate’s looking a lot more like her mother now.

In the lower level of the dome, Corbin wanted more photographs. I explained to Corbin that without light, I couldn’t make any photographs. However, I did find enough light from an enclosure to capture Logan again.

I have to be a bit creative to capture Owen, my oldest grandson who is twelve. He will do odd things, like cover his face or turn around, which make photographing him difficult. I’m patiently hoping that he outgrows his current quirk.

Yes, I made some casual snapshots while my grandchildren were interacting with one another. In this shot as we were leaving the zoo, Kate couldn’t get down from the polar bear without help. She wasn’t at all certain that Owen or Corbin would get her down safely. It was Logan who finally helped her down.

For the most part, I shot in manual mode today. Auto ISO wasn’t working for me the way I wanted, so I estimated what I could use for the ISO and then adjusted the shutter speed in 1/3 stops with a dial on my camera when I needed to adjust the exposure. I think the technical aspects of photography are getting easier. I’m looking forward to encouraging Logan’s interest in photography.

I enjoyed my photography most today when my grandchildren told me exactly where I could make their photographs. However, the real question is, will this strategy work on our next outing together.

Easy Book Project

One of my goals this year is to improve my photography, but I wasn’t sure that I wanted to add the stress involved in creating a book for the photos I made just for the purpose of learning. However, my flower book project is proving to be one of the easiest projects I’ve ever tackled. I shared my photographic efforts for these flowers in another post, Photographing Cyclamen.

(Note: I photograph in both jpeg and raw with my FujiX-T2. I import my photos into Lightroom and made any adjustments to exposure that I need within Lightroom before exporting them to Photoshop to create scrapbook pages.)

To begin this page, I created a new 24×12 inch document in Photoshop. I then placed my focal photo on the left using the guide lines to align it on my page. The photo was large enough in terms of pixels that I didn’t have to resize it much.

On the right side I placed solid paper 6 from ArtPlay Palette Artsy. That covered the unneeded portion of the photo without deleting any of the photo so that I could still adjust it’s position later if needed.

After determining the orientation of the photos I wanted to use, whether portrait or landscape, I selected FotoInspired DoubleTemplate No. 39. I dragged all the layers above solid paper 6 and reduced the size to about 85%. With the large photo on the left, I like the extra white space. I changed the font in the text box to accommodate the resizing.

I exported the other photos from Lightroom to Photoshop and clipped them to the template masks. If I still needed to adjust the exposure of any photos, I adjusted it with the Camera Raw Filter.

To the text box mask, I clipped another copy of the background solid paper on 100% as well as artsy paper 2 from ArtPlay MiniPalette Cherish on normal blend mode at 50%. On a new layer above the artsy paper, I stamped brush 8 from the mini palette in a color I selected from the photos.

Below the masked photos, I recolored three layers from FotoInspired EdgeTemplates No. 4. I also stamped brushes from ArtsyPaint No. 3 on three new layers in a pink from the photos as well as another brush from the mini palette. Above those layers, I placed lace 1 and lace 2 from ArtPlay Palette Anything. I gave the lace pieces a small shadow. For a little more dimension, I placed a button and tacked it down with a thread from ArtPlay MiniPalette Gelid. I used the same font that I used on a previous page, Photo Art, for my title. I think I will continue using the same font throughout this book.

I love this opportunity to focus on my photography and to create a simple book with the photographs.

List of Brush Strategies

If you’re taking Anna’s Advanced Brushes class, then you know that the assignment this week is to try one or more of the techniques that Anna demonstrated in a layout. Next week, we’re going to be looking at more brush techniques in a new DigitalART project. Incorporating some of the techniques that Anna shared has been quite a challenge for me. I tried to choose those strategies that I am more likely to use on a regular basis as part of my process.

First, I loaded WallTextures No. 2 into Photoshop and selected brush 2 to stamp on a new blank layer. I changed the blend mode to linear burn and masked out part of the brush with a layer mask. For this page, I used only .abr brush files rather than png brushes.

I clipped a copy of a photo to the brush.

Next, I selected a few brushes from the AnnaBlendz Artsy brush series to begin compiling an .abr file of my favorite brushes. I also added some stains I’d incorporated into another .abr file to my brush panel. I used those brushes to reveal parts of two copies of the photo of the cyclamen lining the path by stamping on inverted masks. The first copy is on normal blend mode at 100% and the one above on overlay at 100%.

Before beginning this page, I experimented making my own brush from the cyclamen petals in a photo. I distressed my new brush. I used my new brush by rotating the brush tip as I stamped on an inverted mask as well as two AnnaBlendz Artsy brushes that I changed in the shape dynamics part of the brush panel.

I dragged those layers to my new layout and placed them below the wall texture brush in order to fill in the flower bed. Two lower layers are on normal blend mode, another layer is on overlay and the top layer is on soft light. I duplicated one more copy of the photo that I had clipped to the wall texture brush and used brushes to contain my blending. That’s a concept that Anna explained last month in aAYear of ArtPlay.

To create a background, I created another brush from a photo of a door and brick wall using the strategies Anna demonstrated in class. I chose a color from the color picker and stamped my new brush on a new blank layer. Then I erased parts using a brush with the eraser tool. I’m divided on whether I prefer a layer mask or simply using the eraser tool to delete parts of brush layers. A layer mask makes it easy to make changes. However, the eraser tool is quick, especially for distressing. I can see benefits to using both strategies. Above my door and new brush, I stamped brush 4 from WallTextures No. 2. I used the eraser tool to modify the brush layers.

Below my door, I stamped brush 7 from WallTextures No. 1. I erased parts with the eraser tool. I added gold paint 2 from ArtPlay Palette For the Record to the edge of the door. Between my door layers, I added glow 2 from ButterflyGlows No. 1. I changed the blend mode to color burn at 45%. I think using the glows for adding color is easiest for me at the moment.

To finish my page, I placed a butterfly from ArtPlay Palette Studious and adjusted the levels of the butterfly to increase the contrast. Then I clipped two copies of a photo and adjusted it’s position. I tacked the butterfly down with a thread from UrbanThreadz No. 4. Next, I added a title to my page and splatters from Artsy Transfers For the Record to create a visual triangle of black.

Finally, I added solid paper 4 from ArtPlay Palette Sugar and lightened it with a levels layer on screen blend mode at 45%.

What strategies did I use on this page?

  • used .abr files rather than png brush files
  • clipped a photo to a brush
  • stamped brushes on inverted masks
  • made adjustments to brush tips in the brush panel, i.e. shape dynamics, scattering
  • blended photos with brushes on layer masks, i.e. contain image to improve the blending
  • created my own brush presets from photos
  • distressed a brush layer with the eraser tool

These are all techniques with which I want to develop more expertise. I’ll watch the upcoming lesson next week and decide what else I want to add to my list of strategies.


Finding My Style

I like to think that I’m an artist with both my camera, a Fuji X-T2, and the scrapbook pages that I create, at least I feel that way when I am making photographs or playing in Photoshop with Anna’s designs. My process objectives for scrapbooking are rather simple: choose the photos that speak to me and write the stories of those photos, stories that I want my family to remember. After giving some thought to what I wanted to share about myself as a member of Anna’s creative team, I decided that you might like to know more about where I am at in my journey towards developing my own scrapbooking style, not that I’ve finished the process yet.

In preparation for this post, I created a grid page with some of my favorite layouts over the years that I have been digitally scrapbooking. (Note that I never scrapped with paper.) The layouts pictured above span my early efforts at creating artsy pages from 2011 until the present. After finishing the grid, I made a list of common elements I noticed on these favorites. This is my list of the elements common to those pages.

  1. focus on photos
  2. include blending and extractions
  3. include journaling
  4. relatively clean and freeform overall appearance
  5. adapt one of Anna’s templates or paper designs
  6. color on neutral solids

Below are some examples of what I mean by the terms I used to describe my style characteristics.

Focus on Photos

I have always been the family photographer, with a little Instamatic when my children were young. I placed those often somewhat blurry photos in albums, chronologically, along with some older family photos. Fast forward to the present, I am currently capturing memories for my family with a mirror-less Fuji X-T2. When I don’t have my Fuji with me, I use my iPhone. The old photos in those albums have all been digitized now and labeled with keywords and captions in Lightroom.

I really do believe that as my photography skills have improved, so has my scrapbooking. That’s why I continue to take photography classes and practice. It is much easier for me to create pages if my photos are the best that I can make.

At times, I apply an effect to a photo either in Photoshop or with a plug-in from Topaz Labs just for the fun of experimenting, but I always come back to the basic photos. I sometimes combine a photo with an artistic effect with photos straight from my camera on a layout.

Blending and Extractions

What first drew me to Anna’s artsy designs was the concept of blending. In the fall of 2011, I enrolled in a course with Jana Morton just to learn how to blend. This layout combines both blending and an extraction, two techniques I love to incorporate in my pages.

With additional classes and practice, I have learned to work comfortably with the Pen Tool, the Quick Selection Tool and masking. Most of my layouts include at least blending and often extractions as well. This recent layout combines all six elements of my style: blending, extractions, color on neutrals, journaling, focus on photography, adapting a template and a clean free form design.


Telling stories about photos is important to me. My dad used to tell me stories about his childhood. I only wish I had them in writing. I know he’d love this medium of combining photos and stories. I include journaling on the majority of my layouts as is the case of this layout with two old school photos and journaling about an influence in my decision to become a teacher.

I gave the background photo on the page below an effect with a Topaz Labs plug-in, but the other photos and journaling are consistent with my style.

Clean Freeform Design

I like the relaxed, free form shapes of Anna’s designs. I like that I have the freedom to create clean pages as opposed to a more grunge or art journaling style with her designs. On this page, I used some of Anna’s brushes, transfers, twigs and texture to create art with flower photos. There are a few splatters, but overall, the white space and content create a clean look.

Adapt a Template or Artsy Paper Design

I often rely on the design of Anna’s templates and/or artsy papers to create my pages. They are a design learning tool for me. After participating in several of her classes, I know much better now how to adapt them to fit my needs so that my pages look unique. You probably can’t readily see the specific artsy paper on the layout below because I combined two papers and transfers, nor the templates’s basic design because I adapted the small frames to accommodate my blended focal photo.

I am working more with Anna’s templates to create two page spreads that I publish in books. This has been part of my learning in Anna’s classes, and adapting them is something that I’ve adopted as part of my style. The templates fit with my objective to share photos and tell stories.

Color on Neutrals

I use primarily neutrals for the backgrounds of my pages so that the color in my photos pop in contrast to the background. As I create double page spreads for my books, I am finding that I don’t have to use only one paper throughout the book. It’s cohesive enough for me to use lighter backgrounds and blend in sections of artsy papers when desired.

I do work with darker backgrounds, but I generally prefer lighter backgrounds especially since I am creating more two page spreads for self-published books.

You might consider creating a grid of favorite layouts for yourself if finding your personal style has frustrated you as a scrapbooker. After taking classes, experimenting and imitating the work of others, I often wondered about who I was as an artist. I didn’t want to be someone else. I tried to reflect on my pages while I learned, what I really liked, what skills I wanted to develop further, what was fun to create, what was important that I include on my pages. Believe me, there have been a number of my pages that I have not liked in the process of developing my own style. Knowing what characteristics I value in my style gives me more confidence when looking at new trends, the art of others or class content. It’s not that I won’t change with new learning, rather it’s more that there are style elements that just feel right for me as an artist.

Photographing Cyclamen

This is my favorite capture of the Cyclamen blooming at Lauritzen Gardens this morning. I don’t know if it is the leading line running from lower left to upper right, the pink and white color or the soft background blur of the photograph that appeals to me. I captured this with my 60mm f/2.4 macro lens.

The instructor, Will Fields, wanted us to work with a longer lens today in order take advantage of the compression in longer lenses that contributes to blurring the background. My 60mm f/2.4 macro lens was the longest lens I had with me.

In California, Cyclamen were a winter flower for me. I used to put them in pots on my front porch.

The photo below is probably my second favorite because of the leading lines in the photo and the repetition of the pink on a small Magnolia tree in the background.

The blooms on that Magnolia were just coming into full bloom. I used to have a Star Magnolia until it died following a recent cold Nebraska winter. Thank goodness I have a place to go to photograph a few favorites during the long, cold winters here.

I worked in manual mode today, first with my 35mm f/2.0 lens and then my 60mm f/2.4 macro lens. My work with a course specific to my Fuji X-T2 a few weeks back, recommended by Adryane, really paid off today. I knew my buttons and dials.

My instructor suggested that I look at the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson when I mentioned how much I preferred working with my 35mm single focal length lens, equivalent to a 50mm lens, rather than the 18-135mm zoom that I have. Following a quick search, I’ve already learned that Cartier-Bresson, a French photo journalist, photographed with a 35mm Leica in black and white. When needed, he used a 90mm lens. Will recommended that I research Cartier-Bresson as well as some other famous photographers. So in addition to practicing with my camera, I also have some on line homework.

It’s important to me that I develop my skills both in photography and Photoshop simultaneously this year. I am currently enrolled in two scrapbooking classes with Anna Aspnes. In an effort to continue improving my photography skills, I’m going to enroll in another upcoming photography class on Monday to be offered at the Gardens. I’m loving this dual focus this year.

More Brush Practice

While I was walking around the lake a couple of weeks ago, I came upon a man tossing sticks into the water for his dogs to retrieve. I wouldn’t want to be those dogs. The water was cold, but the dogs seemed to love the play. He was so pleased when I emailed him some prints of the photos I captured, telling me he didn’t have photos of his dogs.

To create this page, I began playing with the transfers and overlays from MiniArtPlay Palette Gelid, stacking several along the right edge above a solid paper.

Then I continued to practice with brushes in Photoshop. As part of my participation in Anna’s class, I have decided that I will upload the brushes included with each artplay palette rather than use the png files. The more I practice with the brush panel, the easier it will be to use brushes as part of my process. (Note: this isn’t a complicated page, I’m more interested in developing new habits at the moment.)

I placed my photo above a solid paper, overlays and transfers. Then I clipped an inverted mask to the photo by pressing the option (alt) key and clicking on the add layer mask icon at the bottom of the layers panel. My photo disappeared. Next, I stamped brush 6 from Countryside Brushes No. 2 with white as my foreground color twice at 100%. Yes, I love this brush set! I changed the blend mode of the brush layer to multiply. Where needed, I stamped brush 2 from AnnaBlendz Artsy No. 4.

In aA Year of ArtPlay’s February class, Anna talked about the idea of containing an image. With a brush from MiniPalette Gelid, I stamped below the dogs with a blue sampled from the water. I don’t think I would have done this using just png files. This is another reason for having the brushes preloaded in the brush panel. I also added a fotoglow from WarmGlows No. 3 below the photo to simulate the sun’s direction.

Finally, I placed a wood word art from Scenic WordART No. 1, tacked it down with a stitch from MiniArtPlay Palette Gelid and added a few sentences for context about this photo. Yes, I could have done more with elements, but I’m more interested in learning to work with brushes, i.e. what’s going to be most convenient. So I’m happy with the simple look of this page.

MiniArtPlay Palette Gelid will be available beginning Friday with a $20 purchase for the birthday sale at Oscraps.


One Idea Leads to Another

This layout was inspired by content in Anna’s class, Advanced Brushes, as well as her class, aAYear of ArtPlay. After finishing the videos from lesson 1, I sat down to play with some of the ideas from class. All I wanted to do was practice so I would remember some of the new information. I didn’t intend to create a new page. However, the brush play led to another idea that I picked up from the February lesson of aA ArtPlay. Before I knew it I had created this layout with one photo, a new brush from Countryside Brushes No. 2, Artsy Transfers Moorlands, MultiMedia Leaves No. 6 and ArtPlay Palette Moorlands. Sometimes, artplay is like that, one idea leads to another and then another.

I will admit that I tend to just use the png versions of Anna’s brushes, well except for her AnnaBlendz brushes. After uploading the new brushes, I stamped brush 4 on a new blank layer and clipped my photo to the brush. I chose this one because I thought the watercolor look of the lower part would work with the water in my photo and I liked the dominant horizontal line in the brush. There is also a pretty texture on the left that is a little hard to see on the white background. I did enlarge the brush a little with the bracket keys before stamping it on a new layer.

Then I placed a duplicate copy of the photo, linked to the original, below the brush and original photo. I added an inverted mask to my duplicate and stamped with the same brush, using white for as the foreground color, on the black mask. I changed the blend mode of that photo copy to multiply. To fill in the upper space, I used a brush from AnnaBlendz Artsy No. 5. The blending brush I chose is quite open so I left my opacity at 100% and stamped in the area above the lake to bring back in the trees and bicyclist.

Next, I dragged the layers of file 1 from Artsy Transfers Moorlands. I turned off three layers and adjusted the color with a hue and saturation layer to work with my photo. I love the flexibility available with psd layers of Anna’s transfers.

I then placed a fotoglow above the photo layers and changed the blend mode to overlay at 40% in order to lighten the area around the bicyclist.

Finally, I added the psd layers of file 4 from MultiMedia Leaves No. 6 and adjusted the color of the leaves with a hue and saturation layer. With a subtitle below a word art from Scenic WordART No. 1 and another copy of the fotoglow on normal at 50%, I finished my page.

I am not going to add any journaling, after all, this layout was just supposed to be a few minutes of practicing with class material. Now that I have finished a page, I will print it for an album and remember how much I enjoy on going learning. I’m already looking forward to the next lesson in Anna’s Advanced Brushes that comes out later today!!!



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