Posts tagged ‘Photoshop’

2014: My Year In Review

2014 was arguably my most productive year as an artist.  I spent most of it being gainfully unemployed but I used some of that free time to my advantage.   Here’s the list of things that I did this year:

It Sure As Heck Wasn’t Blogging

In spite of my extra time, I was too busy to blog even though 2014 was chock full of blog fodder.   My last post in November was probably the first blog post in months.  Much of my free time was spent looking for a job, or creating art.  In spite of that I still managed to increase my number of followers and I am grateful for that.

Photoshop

I think every artist needs to learn some type photo editing program. There’s a lot of wonderful free online tools out there such as Google-based programs Picasa and Pixlr.  I used those for a time but eventually began working with Photoshop. It’s a robust program and you do pay for that robustness in a “a second mortgage” kind of way.  Fortunately there’s a cloud based program where you can pay an affordable monthly fee.

I learned Photoshop by reading “Classroom In A Book” that also comes with exercises that you can download from the web.  I’m no expert but I am more knowledgeable about a program that intimidated me for quite some time. Also it ain’t a bad thing to have on your resume.

Discovered New Venues

So this is the accomplishment I’m most proud of.  This year I decided that every month I was going to have my work shown in some venue in Charlotte.    I came pretty close to achieving this goal.  Here are just a few of the venues. Not shown is my artwork at my eye doctor’s office or at the Paper Cut Gallery.

Charlotte Art League: Featured Artist of the Month
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Manor Theatre
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Beatties Ford Road Branch Library
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Twenty-Two
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How did I find these places?  I joined local arts organizations, attended art receptions, and networked with other artists. Social media sights such as Facebook and Twitter were great sources for finding out about local art happenings.  The more you start making connections the more opportunities make themselves available.

Created More Work Than Ever

The reason why I’m slow at making art is because I’m a procrastinator, often found surfing the net, eating, napping, watching TV programs and online shows; or God forbid, if the weather is really nice, doing some related outdoor activity. I don’t have the attention span to spend long hours in a studio.  This year my behavior was still the same but due to the additional time, I managed to create about 7 works compared to 3 to 4 pieces per year on average.

Red Hoodie (SOLD)
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Ninja

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Breakthrough

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Three French Hens
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The Perimeter
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Still
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Good and Mercy Shall Follow Me (SOLD)
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Sold More Art

Okay so I still need a day job but I did better this year than the previous two years.  While I only sold two originals, I had more success selling prints. Showing and selling at multiple venues gave me more visibility.

Drew More Consistently

The key to improvement is to draw, draw, draw.  I currently attend life drawing sessions on a weekly basis and have done so for about a year.  I began working in pencil and then after being inspired by an artist friend who worked in pen, I started working in that medium. I find that I’m actually more comfortable in pen than with pencil and I am also becoming less tentative with my strokes.

recliningnude2    reclining nude1

I also started doing “Right-Brained Sermon Notes,” that are visual notes I take on the sermon for Sunday service.  This type of thing isn’t a requirement for a ministry, I just enjoy doing it.  Once they’re finished I post them on Facebook.  A lot of people like them and it’s even caught the attention of some of the ministerial staff.

Sermon Notes 5.25.14 Sermon Notes 5.18.14a Sermon Notes 5.18.14

Found A Job (Albeit Temporary)

It’s one of those things that’s both exciting and disappointing at the same time. As I approached the last quarter of the year I became more and more frustrated about not finding any work. Severance and unemployment only last so long and then, gasp, you start tapping into that 401K. Fortunately a few months ago, I landed a long-term contract position to which I am still assigned to this day. The downside now is trying to find the time to make art.  I know of a fellow artist who lost her job this summer and I have to admit I’m a little jealous because of the extra time she now has to focusing on painting.   It almost makes me want to get laid off again – almost.

That sums up my year!  Looking forward to more adventures in 2015.

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Using Graphics Software Sometimes Makes Me Feel Guilty

So over the past few weeks I have really gotten into this online graphics tool called Pixlr.com.  Pixlr.com is a cheaper alternative to Photoshop in that it’s free.

First, I do have some hang ups about using graphics  software for editing because it feels like I’m cheating.  To me, drawing seems like an organic process, so when I use the computer to correct mistakes or make enhancements, I tend to feel this sense of  shame.   I also wonder if it’s not my own set of high expectations that allow me to believe that I should be able to have the skill sets to produce work that’s either blemish free or that I should have the ability to correct errors on the spot.

Photographers edit and enhance their work all the time with computer software, especially now with the Instagram for the iPhone.  To their credit though,  they are creating their work through the use of technology, more specifically the digital camera.

In spite of my personal issues I do realize there is some value in using editing software.  When you have your work photographed, the camera’s viewpoint can actually be a little different than your own.  There might be some issue where the color is slightly off because of the lighting, or that the details of the subject matter don’t translate as well as they do  in person.  My picture, Nine Ladies Dancing was a perfect example of that.

My first introduction to making major editing changes happened with “Clean Heart.” I was messing around with another free online software program called Picasa.   Shown below is a picture of “Clean Heart” which I drew using oil pastel on a blue project board.

Later on I started messing around with the program a bit more and wondered, hey, what if I changed the color of “Clean Heart”?  Then I saw this one editing feature called  Glow under the Effects tab.  I selected it and it created  a sepia glow in the center of the heart.    I printed it out and actually liked it better than the original. The background is gray but it looks like it has this hint of light purple when printed.   The sepia center makes the subject look more alive.

So now I’ve been going back and looking at other pieces. I just finished editing Praise In the House which is my black and white piece.  I used the cloning tool to even out the skin tone in the faces since a couple of them were looking a bit streaky and blotchy. As I was doing this I was imagining myself at a spa, laying on a chair getting Photoshopped, where someone was cleaning up my blemishes using the cloning tool.  There’s gonna be some major money in that if that technology comes into existence!

Once I started editing however, I kept finding more things that needed to be corrected.  At what point do you stop?  I felt like  I was feeding into my perfectionist tendencies.  This piece was completed about eight years ago, so the control with the pen was not up to par.  In the end did it matter?  This is actually one of my more popular pieces.

And that’s probably what I want to avoid. I don’t want to go so far overboard that I  lose the identity and character of the work.  I don’t want it to be too perfect or  too technical.  Then there’s also the risk of screwing it up altogether.   I liken it unto a person who is dissatisfied with their looks and has multiple plastic surgeries to correct their “faults”  only to discover that the end results are even worse than their original appearance.

So how do you feel about editing with the computer? Feeling guilty about it or guilt free?

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