Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Blue Christmas Tree

For the past few weeks I've been quite stuck in holiday mode. I can't seem to get to anything that isn't holiday themed. My favorite element of the holidays is the Christmas tree. I suppose that's why many of my designs are related to the tree.
My latest tree design started out in my head as something quite different than the end result. I had it in my mind to create a Christmas tree from leaves, so I went to my PSP program to the leaf picture tube. After choosing the one that best suited the look I wanted, because I wanted it blue instead of green, I used the colorize option to change it.
I then set about "building" a tree by copying and pasting each leaf, one by one, on a new image.

It had a certain something, but I wasn't entirely happy with it; so off to my Corel Painter 4 program it went where I applied the detailed watercolor auto-painting feature.

After creating a snowy landscape in PSP, I copied the tree and added it, but just couldn't make it work somehow. Ultimately deciding it was the lower edge that was not working, I trimmed it then copied and pasted that onto the background. I added a few little twinkly ornaments to the tree and declared it finished. It's now on several different products in my Zazzle store, including this greeting card.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Harlequin Kitty

It's true that I'm a bona fide, dyed-in-the-wool cat lover bordering on crazy cat lady. That's why when a friend suggested the notion of a cat dressed as a jester or harlequin, I couldn't resist the idea. It burned in my brain until the next morning when I broke down and started on it. I knew it was going to be a daunting design and, honestly, I wasn't sure my talents were up to the challenge. At this point I have to confess this kitty was strongly influenced by the wonderfully whimsical cats created by the great and glorious Edward Gorey.

I did a basic outline in my Corel painter program with the thick and thin pencil tool starting with the cat's face. It was love at first sight. After that my infatuation with this smiling kitty drove me on. After the basic sketch was done, I began coloring in with the the tapered gouache brush. I like this brush and use it quite a bit because I find it fills better than some of the others and is easier to control. Anyway, on I went filling in each little diamond on his costume by hand. When the painting was finished, I sent it to my PSP program for the tedious task of cleaning up the edges. I then copied the image and added it to a background I had created using some of the stock Paint Shop patterns. At the end my eyes were red and bleary and my back was aching, but I think he was worth the pain. He's now happily dancing on several products in my Zazzle store.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thinking out loud

It's no secret to anyone who knows me how much I love my Wacom tablet. Since I got it a few months ago, I've quit using the traditional forms of media almost entirely. This brings me to a couple of questions: Is digital artwork valid as art and will it eventually replace art in conventional media? Because I create all my work digitally lately, I never have a physical finished work - nothing you can hold in your hands. Of course, I can always print it out (or have it printed out), but then is it still an original? One generally thinks of a printed image as just that - a print. Even if it's a one off, it's still a print. Although most of the work I've done lately has been more in the realm of design that's meant to be added to the products in my Zazzle store; I have done a few paintings and drawings that I think could easily stand on their own, but they only exist on my hard drive. How does that impact their relevance? Does it impact their relevance?

At this point, the number of artists that use strictly digital media is probably relatively small, but this is the digital age. I suspect more and more artists will begin turning to digital. After all, who can resist the lure of dozens of different pens, brushes, paints and most any other medium you can think of right there at your fingertips? (Not to mention any color you want without having to blend or deal with the hassle of cleaning brushes.) Will art galleries eventually be filled with artists' work who have never so much as touched a real paintbrush or pencil? Maybe. Maybe not.

All I know is that, either way, I will keep happily using my tablet and hope that my computer doesn't crash.

Friday, August 20, 2010

And people try to tell me I shouldn't take naps...

After not having slept well the night before (as usual), I was having an afternoon nap. At some point I woke up with a design in my head. I had to fight to stay asleep as this image kept popping into my head. When I did wake up finally, I couldn't immediately get to my tablet as I had a few things to do. I had to keep "repeating" this image in my head for fear it would be forgotten and lost forever.
After the various chores were finished, I sat down to create my "dream design". I made three simple leaves using the digital airbrush - one in lime green, one in Barbie pink and one in pumpkin orange. Then, with the thick and thin pencil, I added a curved line to represent the twig from which the leaves were growing and a few quick lines for veining on the leaves. When I woke up with that relentless image in my head there was something at the end of the twig, but I have no idea what it was and it seemed superfluous anyway. This was the resulting design:I added it to several items in my Zazzle store. For all but the cloth products, I turned it 90 degrees and added a tone-on-tone beige striped background.

Now I think it may be time for another nap. Ya never know. ;-)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Another example of inspiration being where you find it.

While my husband and I waited for our entrees to come at a Chinese restaurant the other night, I noticed how pretty and graceful the lotus flowers were on our plates. I took out my phone and, so as to not look completely weird, discreetly took a picture while pretending to be typing a text.

A couple of days later I used one of these flowers as the model for my latest design. I decided on red instead of blue and used the simple watercolor brush in the Corel Painter 4. The resulting image is at left.
I only hope I was able to do justice to this beautiful Asian symbol.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Inspired by a fragrance

We inherited our house from my husband's grandmother. It was built in 1903 and it has been in his family since shortly thereafter. It's not anything too grand, but it's solid as a rock and it's all the house we need. In the back yard of our fine old house is a fine old apple tree. It's either a second or third generation grown from a cutting off predecessors that had to be cut down. The apples are mostly green and a little too tart to eat right from the tree, but fantastic for cooking. Granny always called the apples "Maiden's Blush", named for the slight pink tinge they tend to get on the side that gets the most sun. The tree produces so many that we are never able to use even a fraction of them. All summer long our yard smells of fermenting apples and the bees fly around drunk.
This was the inspiration for my latest painting. In the Painter program, I started out with the broad watercolor brush but wasn't crazy about how it was going, so I switched to the new simple watercolor brush. It worked much better for what I was trying to achieve. It has a nice grainy quality that gave the apple a more realistic texture. To be honest, I reached a point when I wasn't sure it was identifiable as an apple - more like a yellowish-green blob. That's when I added the little stem. I think it helped. I've added the finished yellowish-green blob with a stem to several Zazzle items. :-)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Okay... so I cheated a little.

Still in my creative slump, I decided to just play around with different tools in the Painter program as I often do when I'm out of ideas. This time I chose the variable size hose using the nasturtiums setting. After trying a few things that I was not happy with, I ended up simply making a single row of the flowers. I then applied the pen and ink auto painting to them, followed by the detailed watercolor auto painting. So it isn't entirely of my creation, but close enough to call it my own. It looks particularly nice on the mug and t-shirt.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

For tree huggers

I've been rather creatively dry for the past few days. When that happens, many times I will just start playing with different brushes in my paint program and eventually something usually transpires. That was the case with this painting of a naive tree. I started with the grainy dry brush. I really like the way it "runs out" of paint at the end of the stroke. (Funny how I don't like when that happens when I'm using real paint.) Anyhoo, that's the brush I used for the outline of the tree and the branches. I then went back to my old standby, the Seurat brush, for the leaves. My love affair with the tablet and painter program continues.

Friday, July 2, 2010

One of summer's pleasures

There isn't much I like about summer. I've never been a "fun in the sun" type of gal. Summers in the south are generally so miserably hot that you don't find me outdoors much between July and the end of September. One of the things I do like about summer is daylilies. I love their bright, cheery colors and their graceful dancing in warm breezes. It's almost as if they know their time is fleeting so they have to show their best while they have the time. (Hmm...maybe we could all take an example from that.) Anyway, it was these transient beauties that were the inspiration for my latest digital painting. I painted it using the gouache brush tool. It was my first time using it, but I like the effect. I've added the painting to a number of items in my Zazzle store.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Flutter by little butterfly

Discouraged by a lack of sales from - or seemingly even interest in - my store, I sat down to design last night with quite a bit of pessimism. I knew it was going to be something with a butterfly, but wasn't sure what. I used a photo my husband had taken last summer of a black swallowtail for my model. Using the airbrush tool in Corel Painter 4, I painted it in a soft yellow and added a few brownish-orange accents. With the same shade, I used the round tip pen tool to outline the butterfly and add a few more highlights. I then applied the watercolor illustration auto paint function giving it the nice, sort of undefined look. I used the variable angle image hose to add the flowers then finished with pairs of lines above each wing to imply movement. I'm quite happy with the outcome proving that I can still enjoy creating whether I believe anyone is looking or not.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sometimes where you start out for isn't where you end up.

Believe it or not, this design started off to be a fan. I created the pleated red damask pattern intending to make it into some kind of fan shape. I tried a few different tools and that wasn't working out so I went in this direction instead. After I had added the pattern with the little love hearts to the bottom half I still thought it looked kind of incomplete somehow. Back to the damask pattern I went using my favorite tool - the kaleidoscope (I'm addicted to kaleidoscopes) - and came up with the pretty, dimensional-looking flower which I placed on the line between the two patterns. This is the note card I made from the design, but I also made a postcard, a stamp, stationery and a "save the date" card of which I am particularly proud. Now I guess I'm glad the whole fan thing didn't work out. :-)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A little bird just flew in

Sometimes I worry that the day will come when I finally run out of ideas for designs. Fortunately, yesterday wasn't that day. I had been thinking about doing a design with a bird for a while, but couldn't come up with anything. While I was watching something on t.v. last night I saw a woman wearing a pin that inspired this. In PaintShop I used one of the preset shapes to create the flower. I found a photo of a bird that I liked the shape and position of and used him as my model for painting in Painter 4. After I finished painting him using a watercolor brush, I sent him over to PaintShop where I used the bucket fill tool to add the pattern to his wing. Then, I cut him out and pasted him as a new layer on top of the flower. After a few more adjustments - voila! This button is just one of several things I put him on. The more things I added him to, the more I liked him. I hope other people like him too.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Accidentally topical

I had a photo that I took years ago on a trip to the Outer Banks of a warning flag that was at the end of the walkway leading to our rented beach house. I always liked the photo, but just didn't quite know what to do with it. So, last night I scanned it into my computer (because, yes folks, it was an ACTUAL photograph) and started contemplating what to do with it. After pondering that off and on for a good bit of the night, I gave up and went to bed. This morning I finally came up with an idea. This is the result. Was it worth it? We'll see. I added to a few items on Zazzle. It wasn't my original intention, but I thought it was an appropriate tie-in with the horrible disaster going on in the gulf right now. Maybe it was subconsciously in my mind all along.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Zazzle items

And this mug is one of several different items I put the Impressionist painting on.

The creative process (modern version)

I created this impressionistic image through a process of several steps using a combination of Corel Painter Essentials 4 and Corel PaintShop Pro.

First, I painted this field and sky using the Seurat brush in Painter 4 (only turned 90 degrees).

Then, in PaintShop I took this old family photo and cut out the lady (g-g-aunt Sue)

and pasted it onto the painting of the field. I painted Sue's features out (sorry, Sue) with the same Seurat brush to create the look of the back of a woman with blond hair. (below) Finally I used the Impressionist auto painting feature to create the ending image. (The one at the top of this post.) Ah, the wonders of modern technology. I wonder what Monet would say?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Art and a love of antiques

Whenever I can combine my two passions - art and antiques - it makes me doubly happy. My love of antiques came from my uncle who was an avid collector. I even have a small antiques business that I call "My Uncle's Attic". This digital painting of an antique tole painted coffee pot on an old wooden side table was done from a photo I had taken at his house as we were settling his estate after he passed away in 2007. It ended up having a nice old world look - almost like a Vermeer. I've added it to several items in my Zazzle store, including this print.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Final result

The finished product - one of them at least. I made several products with this same image, each with a different quote. (This just happens to be one of my favorites.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sometimes it ain't easy

Been struggling all night with an image and just can't make it happen. These are what I've come up with so far. Not thrilled with either. It may not be meant to be. Sigh.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A fine old tree by an old brick church

I've done a lot of genealogical research for my family. In the course of doing that research I've been in dozens of cemeteries. The photo that this image came from was taken at one of my very favorite church/cemetery spots. It's an 18th century Lutheran church stuck way back from the beaten path in Wythe County, Virginia, but what actually struck me was the enormous old tree next to the church. It completely dwarfed it. So, I took this shot and it's been sitting in my files until now. In the good old Corel Painter program I did the match palette function with an artist I really like named Dadd. I then used the auto paint function with a fine camel brush. I've added this to several items on Zazzle. I'm just so glad I finally got to do something with the photo of that amazing tree.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Yet another cat creation

Obviously, cats are one of my favorite subjects - especially my own cats. This was done from one of my favorite photos of our kitty, Olivia. In the Corel Painter 4, I used the match palette effect from a Matisse painting, then auto painted it using the impressionist brush. I then went back in and used the soft edge cloner to sharpen her face. (And it's such a good face.) This is the resulting image. I'll be adding it to some Zazzle products within the next few days.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Another artist

Since I seem to be creatively dry at the moment I figured it would be a good time to share the Zazzle store of one of my favorite artists. His work is simply brilliant. The mood he can evoke with just some simple lines and his use of color are genius. And he's a very nice person to boot. I think you might be able to tell - I'm a fan. This is just one example of his beautiful work. There's more at:
sword42's Store at Zazzle

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

This time I did a cat with flowers.

Last night when I sat down to do a design I told myself I was going to do something other than a floral. I was halfway through this cat design before I realized it was flowers again! Oh, well. I really liked the way it turned out anyway, so I added to a number of my cat lovers products. My percentage of all sales from the cat lovers section will be donated to animal charities.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

More flowers

I've added more florals to my Zazzle store today. This time it's a watercolor painting created from a photo I took of our Clematis vine. I really like the way it turned out on the mug, though.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Another Wacom creation. I painted this freehand with the pen and tablet then applied the match palette function in the Corel program using a Picasso I had in my pics files. I then auto painted it with a tapered camel brush (I think). Adding it to some Zazzle items is next.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

So the husband went and surprised me with a Wacom tablet yesterday. I've been having a lot of fun with it. This is the result of my first real attempt at using it. It's a tracing of a photo I took several months ago of one of my favorite pieces of antique pottery.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

This blog feels a lot like I'm talking to myself most of the time, but I'll keep doing it and hope for the best.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Finally added a new line of products to my nurses' store.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

This is a sketch I did today then messed with in Paint Shop. I'll most likely be adding it to some Zazzle items. It was inspired by a photo of the amazingly talented Mark Hollis formerly of the '80s band Talk Talk.

English Garden Maze Tote Bag from

English Garden Maze Tote Bag from

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I set a goal to have 500 items in my Zazzle shop by the end of the month. This business card is that 500th item.

Our neighborhood lost a sweet freeloader of a kitty this week. I made this card in her memory. The paw prints are hers.

Friday, May 28, 2010

My newest design. I'm really happy with the way it turned out - especially on the tees.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Animal Adoption Products

Animal rescue is a cause that is very near to my heart, so today I created a few products to (hopefully) encourage others to adopt animals who need homes the most.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Traffic to both my Zazzle stores has steadily declined over the past few days. Need to find some more ways to promote.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

First sale from my new store. I'm a happy gal.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Here it is

I launched my new Zazzle store last night. It all about nurses and nursing. Here's hoping it goes well.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Had an unbelievable sale on Zazzle yesterday. I sold twelve of these shirts! It's from an original mixed media drawing I did a while back. I guess it's time I stopped complaining about not having any sales. :-)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Not feeling too creative today, but I am thinking there might be new Zazzle store on it's way. Hmm... ;-)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A peaceful moment

I wrote this poem this morning during a moment of quiet reflection then added it to this image I had already created. I think it turned out right well.

Monday, May 3, 2010

And a little something for Father's Day

Patirotic gear

This is my newest design. I worked on it for (literally) hours yesterday. Now I can't decide if I like it or hate it. Hmmmm... Either way, there it is.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

New Zazzle tie

Made this tie yesterday and I think it turned out just beautifully. I'm quite happy with it.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My original artwork:

Something new on Zazzle

This is my first attempt at a wedding invitation. Think it turned out okay.