Butterflies in January?

Ann at Fret Not Yourself put up the link for Kaleidoscope of Butterflies and that gives me an excuse for a somewhat, but mostly not related post.

After a year of doing the weekly Made on Monday challenge, I found I was ready for a change of pace. Right now, there are a lot of people doing daily art, daily writing, or one thing or another on a regular routine basis. It’s very popular and arguably good advice for people who want to improve their art. As much as I enjoyed the MoM challenge, and as proud as I am of myself that I completed the whole year (and then some), I also chafed at the restraint more than once along the way.

And I’ve tried doing a sketch a day in my sketchbook, but darn it, I just don’t always want to. Same with keeping a journal, which I have attempted on and off since college.  I never developed that habit despite the fact it’s been in vogue for most of my adult life.

I follow Kathleen Loomis’ blog Art with a Needle, and have enjoyed her daily art adventures very much, but none of them are particularly in my wheelhouse. However, early in January, she did a post about an online class in Photoshop Elements, which is a program I have been itching to obtain and learn. I love taking photographs and even more I love messing with them. So, I checked out the web site for the course at The Pixeladies. This is a course in the basics of PSE, but with a focus for quilters (or really any other artists). What a blast! I like the platform, and the instruction is complete, clear and do-able, in small chunks. I am already beginning to see how I might be able to use PSE to create my own fabrics, thence my own unique quilts.

We learned how to do some very useful things, in the way of correcting deficiencies in the photos, adjusting light and contrast, straightening horizons, improving sharpness. But it’s the random surprising results you can get by combining filters and adjustments that is really fun for me. I made a nine patch out of a screen grab of some Kaffe Fassett stripes fabric:kaffe-stripes-1

I practiced adding quilting lines to a work in progress that’s not yet ready for prime time. I created a layer that was just some design lines based on an underlying photograph that I have been contemplating rendering in cloth.

I posterized my cat, Beastie!

beastie-2-poster

And for my final exam, I worked up three different versions of a very bad-looking photo I took of 100 shell buttons arranged on my cutting mat.

buttons-for-web buttons-ink-outlines button-grid-glass-blocks-with-distortion buttons-cutout-abstract

I like that last one best by far. I’m enrolled for the PSE Essentials II course and am looking forward to that. There is so much packed into this program that I would never have figured it out for myself, given a million years of trial and error (which is how I usually learn new programs). So I’m stoked and thankful to Kathleen Loomis for the hot tip – this is actually something I might do on a regular basis (but maybe not daily).

And finally, did someone mention butterflies? Here’s one of the images I produced during this course, from a photo I took some years ago of an almost ubiquitous butterfly in Costa Rica called the Banded Peacock.

banded-peacock-poster

LInking up with Kaleidoscope of Butterflies! Happy Groundhog Day!

 

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