Basic Books

I love books. All kinds, any kind. I find them to be the one constant in life - everything else changes, but a favourite book is always a wonderful source of comfort and pleasure.

I will be adding a new folder to my gallery website, dedicated to art books we like and recommend. Meanwhile, here are some basic technique or reference books and book series I find reliable and a better read than others.

Lorraine Harrison's Artist's Materials: All the Materials You Will Ever Need to Make Art : a good basic presentation of all kinds of different art materials. It's not all-encompassing, since no one can reasonably do an exposé of every single use and/or availability of every single art tool, but this book does give you a good basic list to help you make some decisions at the art store.

The Encyclopedia of Colored Pencil Techniques is part of a series of art technique books. The series itself is mostly hit or miss (mostly miss), but I kind of like this one for a younger reader. It explains clearly and visually some basic ways of using coloured pencils, and gives some ideas on how to work on pencil techniques. Since I haven't yet found a book I love unconditionally for this medium, this is the one I would recommend borrowing from the library.

Another series is the Teach Yourself Visually: this one, I highly recommend, whatever your interest may be. I really like their basic Photoshop manuals as well as the ones in other fields of interest (like the TYV Knitting, it's great).

On the fundamentals of art and painting, Charles Dunn's Conversations in Paint is a terrific addition to any library. This is more than just a basic tome, it really is a pleasurable read - a keeper.

Stay tuned for more in the new year.


Not Too Late for DIY Redux

This one's for all you skeptics out there, who do not believe that something can be home-made (or home-assembled) and compete with store-bought "stuff".

Here is one of my small gifts, comprising of:
  • A cute mug (from Michaels- cost: around $3 with coupon and tax)
  • A cellophane bag with a silver twisty and filled with my Chai concoction (cost: around $0.50)
  • A printed recipe (no real cost)
  • Assorted gift-wrap trimmings (cost: around $0.10)
Grand total: $3.60. It did take me a while to get it done - the tea prep, the wrapping, etc..., but I think it looks nicer than a lot of similar things I've seen around the stores. So? Not too bad, eh?


It's Not Too Late For Dee Iye whY Presents

"Dear Santa, I am so happy that Christmas is almost here. Are you?" Pencil and marker and a bit of photoshop - © Y.Barrage, 2007

There are people out there who have everything ready for the holidays by now. Every single present has been purchased, wrapped and tagged; all invitations have been sent out and been replied to; festive meal menus are not only printed on parchment paper, but the food itself has been cooked and frozen in anticipation of the big day. I'm sure there are people out there like that.

Well, not me. This is when I start my shopping and/or scramble to come up with home-made stuff. So if you're like me, fear not, here are some really fun ideas that won't break the bank and won't take 3 days to prepare. And if you're snowed in like we are today, chances are you might even have what you need to come up with personalized presents already somewhere around your home. Bonus: most of these ideas are environmentally responsible, frugal and easy as pie. Or tea.

Lots of interesting ideas can be found on the Buy Nothing Christmas site. But I've also found a number of hilarious offerings online, including an exploding frog, a soda-lightful bath fizz, bath bombs and jellies. They are fun, quick and easily tailored to your recipient's tastes (and sense of humour), and your own creativity.

The Family Fun website has a long list of suggestions that can be made with or for children, but I found the following most adaptable: a Velvet Notebook, a project that can also be made by wrapping a blank notebook, a small sketchbook, or even a photo album or two in coordinated paper or fabric.
Home-made clay for both kids and grown ups, safer to use that store-bought play dough or modeling clay. For children, you can include some plastic cookie cutters that can be found for pennies almost anywhere. For a hobbyist, you can include clay sculpting tools, and a printed recipe for baked clay.
Another cute idea is called Bandages for the soul, a collection of quotes and sayings. A grown-up version of this might be creating a wall decoration with some favourite inspirational words - an inexpensive stetched canvas painted in a favourite colour, and the words carefully painted out. If that's too hard, then use a beautiful hand-made paper and ink or an art marker.
How about some Emoticon magnets, similar to projects I've already shown how to do here. Now these are really easy and not two can be alike.

Another really inexpensive idea, although not very quick, only requires your time and your printer. Why not research a particular topic that your gift recipient might be interested in, and compile a folder with all the printed information? Or even varied articles on current health news, political analysis, book and movie reviews - I know that I hardly have time to keep up and miss being able to browse magazines or newspapers for more than just functional information. Other ideas could include how-tos, free crochet and knitting patterns (Lion Brand Yarns and Bernat are great for that), easy recipes (check out Bobbie's other blog and a bunch of others I'll think of in a bit; or Canadian Living Magazine's Make-it-tonight collection). You can pretty up easily.

Finally, if you know how to bake - even if it's only plain oatmeal cookies or no-bake-rice-krispie-squares - why not bake a batch of goodies and wrap it up nicely? My kids love those kinds of presents - and so do their mum and dad.

Remember also that a lot of the pleasure of giving is that it comes from the heart. It's not how much you spent, or how many mall crowds you had to battle that counts, it's that you were thinking of that person when you were creating your gift. And hopefully, the good feelings you had in your heart became part of the present too.


Half-Tone Anyone?

I like playing around with the Color-Halftone feature in Photoshop to create mock comic book frames with a 50s feel to them. Here are two illustrations I’m quite happy with using this fun technique.

Albatros, Digital - © R. Koleilat, 2007

Bathing Beauty, Digital - © R. Koleilat, 2007

To give you an idea of how I get to my final results, here’s a quick demonstration.

To alter your picture, first select Pixelate/Color Halftone from the Filters menu.

Using an illustration (1) I made for a corporate client a while ago (extra points if you can guess what the theme of the conference was), this is what it would look like in Normal mode with 100% Opacity (2), with the minimum number of pixels available (4 pixels).

By selecting Fade Color Halftone from the Edit menu, you can tweak it by choosing Screen Mode with 55% Opacity (3), or Overlay Mode with 35% Opacity (4) or any other Mode you like.

I have so much fun with this – the resulting images remind me of the old comic books I used to memorize at my even older cousins’ creaky apartment.


Chai This Instead

Teacup, Digitized Photograph - ©R. Koleilat, 2007

Another idea for a simple, friendly present for the holiday - something you can prepare quickly, but will show that you care. And what is better than a warm cup of tea to share with a friend? How about a cup of Chai, this sweet and fragrant tea specialty from India? You definitely don't want to buy that from a store. For one, prepackaged tea bags are ridiculously overpriced, and they don't hold a candle to freshly made and brewed Chai. I know that because my dear friend Sonia taught me how to make the real thing - and I have been addicted ever since.

Here's what you need - you can get most or all of it from the bulk food store, any Southeast Asian or Middle Eastern food store, or even a good supermarket:

- Pick your gift container first, to determine how much tea you need to fill it with. A plain old glass jar, decorated with a personalized label and some raffia is usually my choice, but you can also fill a bag with the Chai mixture and pop it inside a pretty mug or teapot (2 gifts in one, yay!)

- Loose tea leaves, like Orange Pekoe, or Ceylon, enough to fill your chosen container.

- Loose Earl Grey tea leaves, about 1/4 of the amount of the tea above (you don't have to, since this is not authentic but I found it enhances the taste)

- Spices: I choose to add one stick of cinnamon, 5-6 cardamom pods, 4-5 cloves, a sprinkling of allspice berries and about 1/8 spoon of ginger (this is a very mild-tasting variation enough for about an 12-ounce jar of tea, you can add more spices to your taste)

Mix all of the above in the jar, and add this tea-making how-to:

Fill small pot with 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Spoon in one heaping tablespoon of Chai mixture, and turn off the heat. Let it steep for at least five minutes, and strain into teapot. Add lots of sugar and hot milk, find a comfy spot and enjoy.

Now this is definitely not the authentic method of making Chai - but I'm trying to save you from a caffeine attack! Here's how you can come close to the real deal - a lot more delicious, but too much for me to handle.

Fill small pot with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower heat, add a heaping tablespoon of tea, 1/4 stick cinnamon, two cardamom pods, 2 cloves, ginger and allspice to taste (optional), a lot more sugar than you would normally have in one day, and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Add very hot milk and simmer a couple of minutes more. Strain and serve. But if you don't sleep for two days after that, don't come knockin' - I did warn you!

(The above quantities assume you are sharing this lovely cuppa with a friend)


Laughter Being the Best Medicine

If you've been around this blog long enough, you've probably read about my friend and niece-in-law Hala's latest bout with leukemia. Since she never does anything half-a**ly, like her fantastic catering service Cocoa & Co, Hala launched a hilarious, witty, poignant and inspiring blog entitled "Halakemia" - a lebano-franco-english diary of her journey to recovery.
Inspired by Barb's last fun portrait of Hala, this is my take on Hala's latest baldie-portrait challenge. There's still time to join in the fun, and you can send Hala* or me your fun creations, you have until Sunday. Next week, all the portraits will be displayed on a "wall" in my gallery.
Love and laughter, faith and strength: This is what I think of when I think of you, darling Hala, you tough cookie you.
*Hala's email address is on her blog


Early Christmas Present For All Of You

Peace Doves, Digitized Drawing -
Copyright-free, Rima Koleilat-Barrage, 2007

This is my Christmas present for all my friends, bloggers and others. This is one present we're allowed to unwrap and use early, yay!
I drew this peace dove to illustrate my new motto, which you can see on the upper right hand corner on this page. I am offering these 3 different versions of the same image to anyone who would like to use them - on a blog, for non-commercial holiday cards, for artwork, or any other (non-commercial) good use. So feel free to copy it and use it well!

How's that for another DYI?... well, except that you have to come up with the "dyi" part yourself, hehe...


Cool Glass Beads

Here's my first idea for small DYI presents for this holiday season*: Another glass bead project. I love these little glass beads that are found in craft stores or dollar stores, usually with the floral supplies. And I love micro-glass beads even more - I actually found my little collection at a very good dollar store that has a wicked craft/scrapbooking section (don't tell anyone, but I even buy tiny canvases from there too - and funky paper and plain frames and boxes).

It's a lot of fun to create personalized magnets with them (I had a post about the how-to a few months ago, so I won't go over too much technical detail). This time, instead of just using pictures to glue on the underside, I decided to try some more dimensional designs on the surface.

I used Tacky Glue to make swirls or lines on the surface of the glass bead, then dipped it in the micro-glass bead container - easy peasy! You can also use ModPodge or plain white glue - they all dry clear and give an excellent result.

I also used dimensional paint with a few micro-beads on top (Pébéo makes lovely multi-surface puff paints with different textures - I used Pearl (in Pearl) and Crystal (in Turquoise) here).

Once the glue or the paint is totally dry, the micro-beads stay put - pretty much. You can try to cover them with ModPodge or some other finishing product that dries clear - but I don't think it's worth the bother myself. If you do try this project, let me know what your experience with that is.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Create a grouping of those with a theme - anything: different hues of the same colour, or use the same colour with different geometric shapes, 3 or 4 contrasting colours...
  • If you have the patience, create a magnetic alphabet set for an small child - or just the letters in their namem, they'll get a kick out of it.
  • Pack them in a pretty box with shredded paper for a unique present.
Hubby suggested we also try to string them up to create tree ornaments. I think I'll give it a try, they are so shimmery and delightful - they'd make lovely little presents. I'll show you if I succeed.
* Look at that, it's only the second day of December and I actually managed a post on this subject - yay me!


I Must Remember This...

♪A kiss isn't just a kiss
When it's from my chi-ild
This is my bliss, my apple pie
As time goes by...♪

Oh well, better a lame attempt at rhyming than nothing at all... My apologies to Dooley Wilson (and the lyricist).

I really wanted to try this new houndstoothy pattern on something -I scanned a wood cut-out I'm using on a crafty project (new scanner, yay!) and fiddled with it on Photoshop. I love this pattern, it's timeless - even though it reminds me of our ... shudder... school uniforms growing up. In French, it's called pied-de-poule = chicken feet...

Speaking of crafty projects, I'm getting a few ideas together for some DYI holiday presents (including the one above). Keep your fingers crossed, folks - or better yet, figure out how to add a couple of hours to my day so I can get these things done BEFORE the holidays...


Don't Just Sit There, BUY NOTHING!

Here's something we can all not do: buy stuff! How brilliant is this? For one day (23rd of November in Canada and the US; 24th of November internationally), BUY NOTHING.

Don't go to the mall, don't fill up your car, don't pick up a cup of coffee on the way to work, and don't get groceries on the way home. Use what you have at home or do without.

It won't be hard, I promise. In fact, you will feel hugely contented and smugly superior (you're allowed this one time). Or maybe you will just feel like your neighbour down the block feels every day - the one who has no choice but to buy nothing because she has nothing.
So please, buy nothing on that November day (and any other day you choose). But do think about what it means to live in an overfed, overpampered, overstimulated society. Talk about it with your children, your friends, your coworkers.

Don't you love this? All you have to do is NOTHING, and bam! you've done something!

Une idée de génie - Pendant une seule journée en novembre (le 23 en Amérique du Nord et le 24 pour le reste du monde), n'achetez absolument rien. Rien: ni le journal, ni un petit café, pas d'essence et pas d'emplettes non plus. Aidez cette journée sans achat à faire boule de neige, parlez-en avec vos enfants, vos amis, vos collègues. Petit à petit, on peut tout changer, promis-juré.

For more info/Pour plus d'infos: http://adbusters.org/home/ - This is where I got these gorgeous "posters" from. They are free to download, print and distribute. Wonderful.

Miss me? I missed you too - Sorry I've been incommunicado for so long, but I loved all the personal notes and the affectionate wishes sent my way. I promise I will be making it up to all of my friends (bloggers and civilians) very soon.


More Blog Action Day

Blog Action Day Exhibit at Maraya Galleries

I've added all the information I had about the various artists and contributors to this wonderful page, including links to websites if applicable. If there are any corrections to be made, please let me know about them (hope I didn't get any of the countries wrong).
By the end of the day, I hope to have also finished the links to the larger images, so viewers can click on each piece and get a more detailed look.
Suggestions? Comments? Criticism? All are welcome, please let me know what you think



I've posted all the brilliant contributions at Maraya (still need to add a few hyperlinks and some text, please do not freak out if yours is missing, it will all get done before the 15th is technically over). I am too pooped to write anymore (it's past midnight my time) but I'll be back in the morning (or the afternoon).

I am so proud of this collective work - you guys are the coolest on the planet.

Here's my measly contribution - needs work, but it's food for thought at least.


A Big Thank You and An Even Bigger Apology

I want to thank all the wonderful artists who have created something for Blog Action Day. More on that tomorrow.

And a profound apology for not keeping up (especially after nudging everybody into action kind of hard). All the artwork that I have received will show up on the website, promise, cross my heart, and hope to ... uh... trip and fall - and with the proper acknowledgements and links to your various sites (and info about purchase too for those who chose that). I've just been a little overwhelmed by other stuff around here at Casa Insanity. Hopefully, things have started calming down, and I can create web pages that will upload correctly.


Random Thoughts and Irreality Bites

My blogger friend Andi has posted this video clip on her blog. It has nothing to do with art, but everything to do with beauty - more accurately, the contemporary twisted perception of it.


Whether you are a mother or a father with young girls, a young woman yourself, or neither, don't think that the crassness of the beauty/fashion/diet industry doesn't affect you personally. It does, if only because it reflects the desperation of a society gone mad with the obscenity of greed and the perversion of reality. More on this subject later. Maybe.


Le New Look

Still working on updating our website. It's taking forever, but once I finished designing the logo, I decided to go ahead and just upload a few pages at a time, instead of finishing the whole website. I'll be talking about the changes here and would love some feedback as we go along.

For now, I'm still waiting for participation in the Blog Action Day artwork project - So far, only Neda and Alfonso have submitted their collages (you can see them in the home page slides).

Que pasa, people? Saving the earth is not inspiring you to come up with something? or, gulp... not worth your time? Time is running out - hurry up, vamos, allez, yalla, andare, пойти

J'ai decidé de telecharger le "new look" de notre site, Maraya Galleries, sans avoir tout fini. Trop de travail à faire - je ferais tous les changements petit à petit. J'aimerais bien discuter des étapes à entreprendre pour en faire un site agréable à visiter, et donc, j'apprècierais énormément tous commentaires, idées et suggestions à propos du design et du contenu du site.

A propos du contenu, que se passe-t-il avec votre participation au Blog Action Day? Jusqu'à présent, je n'ai que les collages de Neda et Alfonso à mettre sur le site. Eh bien? Allez, allez, le temps file, il n'y a plus que quelques jours pour finir votre projet. Le monde attend!


Walk, Walk, Walking/Un Kilomètre à Pied

Wednesdays* are International Walk To School Days.
(Learn more here)
Let's shrink that hole in the ozone layer, shall we?

N'oubliez Pas:
Tous les mercredis*, c'est la Journée internationale pour Marchons vers l’école
(Pour en savoir plus, cliquez ici)
Faisons notre part pour assainir l'air que nous respirons
* Bon, d'accord, ce n'est pas chaque mercredi, mais pourquoi ne pas le faire quand même?
Oh, all right, it's not every Wednesday, but why not make it so?


Bobbie's Who Da Man Tag!

A girl's best friend, Cookie design by H. Audi - Cocoa & Co

How do you like this gorgeous cookie, designed by Hala Audi for her Valentine's day customers at Cocoa & Co.? I think it's a perfect illustration for this post. As if you needed to know more about my exciting life :-P
1. Who is your man? Zan's Da Man, better known to you guys as artEzan
2. How long have you been together? Over half our lives
3. How long dated? Many years!
4. How old is your man? His next birthday is in a few days, I’ll ask
5. Who eats more? Depends on whether there’s chocolate in it or not
6. Who said "I love you" first? Uhhh….
7. Who is taller? Him
8. Who sings better? ♪He was a singer in a baannd, obladi-oblada ♫
9. Who is smarter? D’oh…
10. Whose temper is worse? Hehehe…
11. Who does the laundry? Hahahahaahha….
12. Who takes out the garbage? ….oh, stop, my ribs are hurting…
13. Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? The cat
14. Who pays the bills? He brings home the bacon, I forget to do the paperwork
15. Who is better with the computer? ♪Anything he can do, I can do better♫
16. Who mows the lawn? We believe that letting the lawn fend for itself will make it stronger in the long run.
17. Who cooks dinner? Pizza Hut
18. Who drives when you are together? Mostly the owner of the car we’re in
19. Who pays when you go out? Go out! Hahahahaa… what a concept!
20. Who is most stubborn? Definitely, absolutely, categorically, indubitably not me.
21. Who is the first to admit when they are wrong? Well, since I’m always right…
22. Whose parents do you see the most? Not his
23. Who kissed who first? Sshhh, my dad is reading this!
24. Who asked who out? We were best friends, so it sort of happened naturally
25. Who proposed? He did.
26. Who is more sensitive? Boohoohoo
27. Who has more friends? I … don’t know
28. Who has more siblings? He has gazillions of siblings and assorted relatives
29. Who wears the pants in the family? Depends on the weather, sometimes we like to wear shorts


4 Things Tag

Au Soleil, Digital - © R.Koleilat, 2007

Debi! Do I blame you, Bobbie or Frances for this? But since I am so darn flattered you still remember who I am (and even better, you still LIKE me), I won't blame you. I love Bobbie beyond words, so I won't blame her. Guess who's left? Hehehe....
  • Name four places you have lived: Beirut, Austin, Oklahoma City, Winnipeg
  • Four foods you like: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Midnight Snack
  • Four places you have been on vacation: Côte d'Azur, Florida Keys, Romania, Muskoka
  • Four places you would rather be: cuddling with my kids, hugging my mom, talking with my sister, at the beach.


We Can Do It Together/Ensemble, on peut tout changer

Thanks to Jin for turning us on to this very worthy cause, and to Neda
for coming up with this terrific challenge -
Merci, Jin et Neda
Time to get those creativity muscles in gear, folks.
This challenge (this time I am calling it a challenge) is in honour of BLOG ACTION DAY, which will take place on October 15.
This time, I am not giving you a specific image to work off of, nor am I asking you to practice your digital image manipulation skills. You can if you want to, but you don't have to stick to that one venue.
The rules are simple for this Action Day Challenge:
  • Come up with an image to promote the environmental cause of your choice.
  • Write one line of text to accompany your image.
  • Any artistic medium can be used: you can do a painting, a collage, a photomontage, anything that you feel comfortable with. These are only suggestions, not guidelines.
  • Submit only ONE entry please. Seriously, I mean it this time. Here's why:
  • Once an entry is received, it will be displayed on the home page of Maraya Galleries, in a slide window. (This is a lot of work to set up, and I want to be able to do it before the 15th of October, so have a heart, people, send me your best one, don't ask me to choose for you - this one will be for all to see, not just the blog readers)

What are you still waiting here for? Go on, gather your materials and your best ideas and get going with this - you only have 17 days left and counting. Oh, and remember to tell your friends about this too - bloggers and non-bloggers, young and old, everyone is welcome.


Time Well Wasted

I made this handsome demotivational poster at www.despair.com
(bird pic from wetcanvas.com)
You can create your own too, just follow the links!

Andi had a post about this hilarious website, a geeky and witty take on the ubiquitous, mediocre, and gag-inducing motivational industry posters and cards.

Since I am at the bottom of my creative cycle (meaning my mind is an abysmal blank), I think it's only fair to share these fun sites with you. After all, it's right there in my header, the bit about "fun finds" - so why should I be the only one here spending endless hou.., uh, minutes playing online?
So, in no particular order of preference (all games are free if you play online):
  • MSN Games has a new version of Scrabble here
  • Speaking of Scrabble, a legitimate cheating tool is available on the official website here
  • My all-time favourite time-waster is Alchemy (here)
  • Of course, it would be unforgivable not to mention the grande dame of all dilatory games: Bejeweled2, equally favoured by 7 and 47-year olds (or 48) in this household
  • Finally, since this is supposed to be mostly an arts-oriented blog, and since the original Miltos Manetas create-your-own-Pollock page doesn't seem to be functioning, here's another smaller scale one created by an artsy blogger here

Have fun, folks - and if you have any suggestions for wasting even more valuable minutes with silliness online, by all means, don't be selfish, share with the rest of us procrastinators.


Darn, I'm stumped

Gossip, Greed, Envy, Bigotry (Mixed Media) - ©R.Koleilat, 2007
I promised myself that I wouldn't post anything that's unfinished - but I'm stumped with this. Oh, well, I could always pretend this is a demonstration of some technique in progress... yeah, that's the ticket...
Anyway, I'm still trying to play around with image transfers using an acrylic medium. I started with the image transfer on a small canvas panel (4"x5"), then started experimenting with various tools.
I used my battery-operated eraser (love that one, I've had it since university) to take away further layers of paper and leaving only the faintest outline of the image. Unfortunately, I did this after I had covered the body in black, resulting in very uneven layers to wok over.
Because of the textured surface, laying in a wash didn't really work (background mostly), so I tried markers instead (black body, hair, contour, face and accent highlights).
Still, I needed to find something more interesting, texture-wise: the canvas is pre-primed, and some of the marker ink will just sit there.
I used a little bit of acrylic paint (mostly the flesh tones), but I get frustrated with acrylic on such a small surface. So out came the oil pastels. And here we are - I did all I could with this concept, and it's turning out to be just that: a concept that didn't translate very well. Heeelllppp!
Suggestions? Please?


Lift Up Someone's Spirits Today

This is my friend and niece-in-law Hala, she of the scrumptious edible artwork (read about her here). She's in hospital this week - again - and as you can tell from the bandana, although the head gear is very becoming, this is no walk in the park for her.

So this is my request, dear gang of photoshoppers and others, can you help me cheer my friend up?

Use this portrait below to create something fun and send it along or display it and let me or her know about it. This is her blog: http://hala2.blogspot.com/


Sticky Fun With Gel Transfers

Image transfers using an acrylic medium as a base is one of those artsy-craftsy things I had some vague notions about, but never actually tried to do. Until I found a great gel medium made by a canadian company called Tri-art which said right there on the label that this product is perfect for photocopy transfers and so I decided to give it a try. Only I didn't use a photocopy, and didn't exactly follow the directions.

This is what I did - I cut out a coloured photograph out of an old magazine, to fit the size of a piece of white cardboard I had laying around. Using my fingers, I covered the cardboard in what I thought was a thin layer of the gel. I must have put too much gel, because as you can see in the bottom left corner of Image 1, the magazine paper fell apart as I was trying to smooth the surface out.

1. Glued-on image with parts rubbed out.

I put the image face down - of course - on the cardboard, so that the gel medium can bond to the ink and transfer the image on to the cardboard.
Once dry - a couple of hours later, I used a bit of water to rub out the paper off of the cardboard.

Once all the paper was rubbed out, I wiped the uncovered image with a dry cloth to take away traces of pulp and moisture, and came up with a really good image transfer - a lot better than I expected.

2. Transferred Image

Except of course, for the part where there was too much gel pooled under the image that I couldn't save.

I waited a little more for the thing to dry, but I think I should have been a little more patient and waited a few hours before applying colour to it.

I first tried outlining some of the branches with gel pens, but it didn't work well at all. I then used a fine-tipped marker, but wasn't very satisfied either.

I then used a little gouache, and found the results quite uneven - the gel medium would suck in some of it, and repel the paint in other parts, but not necessarily to very good effect. After that dried, I went over it with some wet watercolour pencils, and some oil pastels - much more satisfying.

3. Final result

It's no masterpiece, and not really my own work - but it is a really fun technique, easy to do and with endless possibilities. You don't have to use this particular brand, any acrylic gel medium would probably achieve the same result. I've even read somewhere that acrylic paint would bind to the ink the same way. . Julie (Mrs. Lost Luggage) shows a close-up of one of her works using the glass bead gel made by Golden (this one you can find in any craft store in N. America).

I'm going to try making a painted collage with it next. So, go on, give it a go sometime. I'd love to see you experiment with this technique and show us the results*.

*If you don't have a blog, but still would like to share your work, you can email me your creations and I'll show them here.


My Homework

"At the bar", Digital - ©R.Koleilat, 2007

Since I've started using Photoshop a few months ago, I've been befuddled and intimidated by a lot of the more advanced features - like layer masks. I never understood how this worked until Sue O'Kieffe very generously demonstrated how easy it is (once you know what you're doing that is). I really couldn't believe I would ever use this layer mask feature before I read her clear, complete and straight-forward post.

This is what my first application of Sue's Photoshop tutorial. I used these two images (the original photograph is from wetcanvas), and followed clear Sue's step-by-step. I even used all the tricks she talks about (X and B and [ ] *).

All through this exercise, I used different brushes and the airbrush tool, changing the opacity and the pressure of the brushes, until I liked it the final effect.

I then flattened all the layers, and applied a few more artistic filters. Easy peasy.

Try it and see for yourself.

*don't know what I'm talking about? Go read Sue's post about it.

(Texte français suivra bientôt)


Joining In the Fun

La Baigneuse - © Jin, 2007

Untitled - © J.Logan, 2007

I haven't updated my links yet, but two of the amazing women I've met through this fired-up artsy-fartsy blogosphere sent me their contributions to the Old Door and Bathing Beauty Workshops. Go check their sites in the meantime, you'll be bowled over like me (Julie hasn't sent anything but I don't want to wait until I update the right-hand column here).

Julie's Land of Lost Luggage - Yes, she's as witty as her blog title
Joy's This Joy of Arts - Brilliant collages and musings
Jin's À propos du sable - An exquisite visual artist, friend of Alfonso Brezmes (need I say more)

J'ai encore beaucoup de détails à finasser dans ce blog, y compris le gros boulot d'ajouter les textes en français et surtout pour rafraìchir mes links. Et trouver mon dictionnaire, héhé...

En attendant, je présente les contributions de deux nouvelles amies dans cette fofolle et fabuleuse communauté d'artistes-en-ligne que nous avons créé ici. L'exquise Jin a créé cette superbe baigneuse pour l' atelier digital de Bathing Beauty, et Joy cette porte ludique pour l'atelier Old Pisa Door. Julie n'a rien envoy&e;, mais elle est craquante dans son blog et son art.


Create Your Own

Your own Photoshop brush or pattern, that is. It is all very easy, and to make it even easier, I'm including a pictorial to go with this very small step-by-step tutorial.

1. I painted this pattern, using different colours for the background and foreground.

When you define a brush, Photoshop will only use the shape of the brush you're creating, but will reproduce the pattern in its original colour.

2. I then chose Define Brush from Edit to create my new brush.

3.You will find your newly defined brush (and pattern) at the end of your existing list of brushes or patterns

4. You can see how, when used as a brush, the shape of your brush will appear in the colour (s) you've chosen

5. Using the same design, I also created a fill pattern by clicking on Define Pattern in Edit.

6. When you use this new pattern, it will be appear as in the original design.

See? Told ya it was simple.