Stretching To Wake Up

Drop the mask - © R. Koleilat, 2007
I've been thinking about things my doppelganger/separated-at-birth-twin Frances has been musing about - mainly how hard it is to reconnect with those parts of ourselves that require us to do the unthinkable: relinquish conscious control over what we want to do. This applies equally to my two intellectual passions: artistic expression and therapeutic exploration, which I believe are two sides of the same coin.

My "thing" has always been what can be generously termed as illustration, my medium of choice pencil and ink. But because these are unforgiving media that require focus, space and time, I've found myself less and less able to indulge... Paralysis and ankylosis ensued.

Wait, there is a happy ending to this sad story!

Now that I've been blogging, instead of worrying about what I cannot or won't do, I find myself enjoying "drawing" again - with, you guessed it, Photoshop. Such a convenient tool - no space or paper or babysitting required. And your point is, Rima? I hear Frances saying - well, if something looks too scary to do... do something else! And my point to all my friends that I've been corresponding with and discussed the "impossibility" of doing something "artistic": let go, let loose - things happen when you stop planning and thinking and measuring and comparing.


More Random Knowledge and Kinda-Useful Information

Warning: This bit is for those of us who come to blogging from a non-technical background. Programmers and know-it-alls will find this utterly laughable. All right now, settle down, stop laughing.

I just realized that, when posting, it is much easier to type some things in html format rather than cut and paste from my word processor. Case in point: the copyright symbol used to drive me nuts. No more: html codes for symbols and accents are pretty intuitive. For most of these, it's the ampersand symbol (&) followed by text, like copy or reg, and ending with a semicolumn.

The html code for copyright © is (type it in) ampersand copy semicolumn.
For registered trademark ® , it's (type it in) ampersand reg semicolumn
For trademark ™, ampersand trade semicolumn
What do shoes have to do with this? Nothing, except that I was thinking of my armchair-ridden sister, viciously felled by her tripping high heels.
Tripping High Heels - © R. Koleilat, 2007


Random Knowledge and Useless Information:

Chartreuse green (the colour) is named after the liqueur created by the French Alpine monks, les Pères Chartreux.

quatre, sept, onze -
©R. Koleilat
In the 18th century, a Chartreux monk from the famed Farina family of perfumers, created one of my favourites, the "4711".
There are also very gentle, beautiful, blue-grey cats with golden eyes that are called Chartreux. They were brought into and bred in Europe from Syria.


Wondrous Imagination, Wonderful Image-ing

Diane has gotten us used to her cornucopia of creativity - but I was still startled at the beauty that she infused these images with, part of our Lily Pad "series".
Look at the energy in these two:

Dancing with the Lilies

Square Dancing Lilies
How delightful and appealing is this one below?
Lily in the rain
Finally, this awesome and very cool tryptich:

Lily at dusk
Lily at first light

Nightlights Lily

Last but not least, Audrey's delightful contribution is on her blog with explanations (click to see the larger image to fully appreciate the fine detail)
They're not up on the website just yet, but they will very soon be taking their rightful place in that mini-pantheon of imagination and creativity.

So, thanks everyone - it's been a wonderful first experiment. I know you've enjoyed this as much as I have because you've said so - so sharpen those ...uh... mice? and get ready for the next one. Coming soon to a computer screen near you...


Bloomin' Marvelous

I still have a bunch of lilypads to post here and on the "wall", one from Audrey and a few by Diane, but until I do (and I will, be patient - I work slowly), enjoy this funky bloom by Debi:

SoulSista Lily - © D. Cates, 2007

Debi's steps:
I used the circle selector to select spots all over the non-flower part of the image.

And then I gave it a "Twirl".

I selected water pieces using the magic wand and gave them a "Ripple."

I doctored up a few of the obscured waterlily petals with paint and smear. (Not as good a result as I would have liked.)

And, I think that's it. I was inspired by Frances' 70s Slick Lily.
Well, I'm inspired by all of you - this has been fun, and for the sophomore project, I'm looking for something a little more difficult to work on. Tune back in...


Why I Miss Living in Montreal So Much

Sigh! Isn't this just so... This is St-Eustache, a small town not too far from Montreal and it's typical of those "discoveries" one makes in this corner of Canada.

Saint-Eustache Flower Shop - © L. Jabry, 2007

This charming photograph was taken by my old friend (and talented photographer) Louie Louay, who used to sit on the schoolbus behind me and lend me his Agatha Christies. Centuries and many universes ago.

On another note, I'm still not done going through the Lily Pad images that I've received - man, you guys are good! And prolific... Just taking a break ... still haven't finished my new book, so please don't tell me how it ends.

More Bounty

Sue has sent some amazing interpretations of the Lily Pad that I've already "hung" on the wall - Go check them out right now!!


Ladies and Gentlemen...

While waiting for more entries, enjoy these Interpretations of Lily Pad on the "Wall":
I think they look stunning, don't you?
There's plenty of room for more...
Participants: Bobbie, Debi, Diane, Fawzan, Frances, Neda, Rima, Sue

You're Having Way Too Much Fun

Ok, slow down, you guys, you're having way too much fun with this digital art exercise! Just kidding, don't slow down - I'm still waiting for the rest.
This is Lily's Puppy who lives in her Pad, according to Neda

I already have 8 entries besides mine (and YES, you're allowed more than one) and I'm having a hard time keeping up with y'all! So please pardon me if I'm late in commenting or posting - the good news is, all the entries look terrific on the "exhibit wall" that I'm preparing.
It is so fantastic to see how everyone's sensibilities are expressed and translated - technical know-how notwithstanding. It doesn't seem to matter whether you've done this once or a thousand times - all the "experiments" are darn blooming good.
You'll be able to see most of them in the next few hours - since I haven't heard otherwise, I'm assuming that it's ok for me to copy the images you've all created to my own website and the new page is coming together nicely.
Oh, I'm so happy ... but I have to go now, I have a date with Harry.


Lily Pads, Takes 3 and 4

I'm working on a "wall" to put up all our different takes on the same image. It's fascinating to see what everyone "sees" in this. I'm having so much fun with this - still waiting for the others, but we did give ourselves a couple of weeks. Tick-tock, tick-tock... Oh, and we're allowed more than one entry.

Frances was the first to post hers, and she's come up with a very lovely result (see here - pay especially close attention to the title of her post, it is so perceptive and astute, and so profoundly true...). She's also listed her steps. Thanks, Frances.

Below are two more takes on the Lily Pad exercise - one by Neda (guess which one); the other by Fawzan with the very modest title of Modern Manet, but with no explanation. Still waiting - Let's hope they remember to post their work on their own blogs, and include some explanation for the rest of us mere mortals. What can I do, I share a gene pool with one and a mortgage with the other, eh...

Lily's Pad © N. Doany, 2007

Addendum: This is Neda's email this morning:

Here's my submission to you, o venerable one....oops, wrong email address..
Uhum.. here's my submission to the digital altered collage:

I used Dad's old laptop to do this project so I was limited in my choice of technical options (and I would not know where to start if I had a more sophisticated tool anyway). I used the archaic "Paint" program which is basically a glorified cut-and-paste software. Here are my steps:

- After scanning the lilypad picture, I traced certain elements (the flower and the delicate branches) and I cut them out and pasted them on a white background.

- I inverted the colors of the original image and cut out the branches and twigs which had turned into a mauvish hue.

- I then played around by laying the original and the negative cut-outs until I achieved a sort of a basic structure: the 2 flowers in the center and the branches.

--I noticed that the branches looked like little doggies (...)so I flipped" the left side of the design and I made it face leftward.

-- I cut out the flowers petals and I added them to the design. To me, they looked like pink leaves.

-- I cut out the flower pistils (sp?) as added decoration.

--- And I have to confess: I really did not write everything down so I am doing this list from memory. Sorry

Thank you for offering us this lovely project. I have to say that this is my first official digital entry and I am thrilled that you were my mentor :)

Modern Manet - © F. Barrage, 2007


My Lily Pad

I chose this copyright-free image so we could have a simple, but not too simple first exercise. I like the subject (I love lily pads, and this one is quite handsome), the quality is great, and it’s such a generic picture, with no baggage – perfect for dressing up.

To me, this lily pad needed to be stripped down to its bare essentials – the lines. I didn’t want to use any special brushes or effects that wouldn’t be available to everyone, so I stuck with what Photoshop had to offer already… which is plenty.

I made myself take notes, so this process ended up a little bit self-conscious, I must admit. I wish I had the patience to take vignettes of each step, but I don't. I might in the future, if I decide to incorporate something like this on the gallery website. But that's another post.

Lilypad © R. Koleilat, 2007

Ok, now - explanations: (NOTE: I'm updating this as needed from the comments)

First, under Filters, Stylize, I chose Find Edges, edited with Hard Light Mode at 74% opacity. This really bleached out the photo, and gave me colours I liked as a base.

I then went back to Filters, Artistic, and chose Cutout to give the image more of a hand-painted look.

I then selected the water feature with the Magic Wand, and filled it with the Satin pattern in the Paint Bucket feature at about 22% opacity, in Overlay mode. I prefer the Overlay mode for most “fills”, and generally reduce opacity for most everything for more subtle effects.

I then selected the lily pad leaves individually, and filled them in Overlay mode with the purple pattern, in some places with 22% opacity and others up to 84%.

I also cropped the image to get a narrower frame, because it was looking more and more like a Japanese print from the 50s. Which is why I went back later, and added an extra Layer with a vertical "brushed" signature and stamp.

Finally, I selected the centre of the flower, and did a Gradient overlay in a diagonal line with the Radial Gradient option, at about 25% opacity, with the violet-to-orange option (with mostly the orange showing up).

So, here are my six steps – I didn’t go overboard like I normally end up doing, because there was no need for any additional tweaking. I liked the lily like that and wanted to focus on its elegant shape, without all the distraction in the background.

Waiting for Harry

Pas sorcier 1&2 - © R. Koleilat - 2007

I See Cacti People

Debi has turned us on to Picnik, a terrific online, free site for editing pictures and general goofing around. In answer to her last post, this is what I saw...

I had forgotten my password (you don't need to sign in to play with Debi), and this is the quote they sent me with my new password:

"Better by far you should forget and smile than you should remember and be sad."
- Christina Rossetti.


Here We Go! Our First Digital Altered Image Workshop

(I didn't want to mention Photoshop in the title, just in case you want to use another graphics program).

But here it is: A simple, but not too simple, image that we can use to flex our creativity muscles.

  • Copy the image or open it with your program (I'll be using Photoshop), and do something with it... anything goes.
  • I've left the image as is, it's large and has a high resolution, so feel free to alter the size as well to fit your needs and your computer's capabilities.
  • Most importantly, try to remember (or write down, Rima) the steps, so we can appreciate the final result even more. Minimum alteration: 4 steps!
  • Comments and critique are part of the deal - it will help us all get comfortable with this medium, and see things from different perspectives.
  • Post the results on your blog or send it to me at rima@marayagalleries.com and I'll post it here instead (or as well). It would be nice if we could put them all side by side on one page on the Gallery website too - let me know what you think.
  • Time frame? oh... about 2 1/2 weeks?
  • Good luck everyone ... and hey, let's be careful out there...


    Now and Zen, Again (for Frances)

    Can something old be new again? You bet.

    I found a brand spanking new reprint of an old classic at the library: "The Zen of Seeing", by Frederick Franck, a book originally published in the early seventies. The book itself is a very lovely creation - it's not typeset, but handwritten (as all love letters should be, Franck tenderly explains) and illustrated with wispy, minimalist (well, zen) drawings, all by the author himself.

    One of my favourite passages in this book touches on what I've been musing about here - that the innate artist in all of us is so easily silenced by those invisible shackles we collect through our individual lives. Here's what he said (capitals are the author's own):

    "... WHO IS THE MAN, THE ARTIST?... HE IS THE UNSPOILED CORE OF EVERYMAN, BEFORE HE IS CHOKED BY SCHOOLING, TRAINING, CONDITIONING UNTIL THE ARTIST-WITHIN SHRIVELS UP AND IS FORGOTTEN. Even in the artist who is professionally trained to be consciously "creative" this unspoiled core shrivels up in the rush toward a "personal style", in the heat of competition to be "in". " Indeed.

    (This quote can be found in the introduction to the paperback edition by Vintage, NY, 1973).

    Now how to get out of a creative rut? or how to get some inspiration if you have no idea where to start?
    I just remembered that there is such a thing as public domain images - images that one can use as a springboard for inspiration without worrying about the ethics of copying/copyrighting/cheating...
    So I went looking on the internet (love ya, Google) and found an endless supply of sites that offer treasure troves of "free images". I'll be exploring this subject more in the near future, but in the meantime, here's an example of what one can play with. I didn't have any illustration for this post and was not in the mood to pick up pen and ink to do some zen-inspired drawing (I'm going through a terribly dry spell, but that's another story...).

    So I decided to look around for a picture I could use, and found this nice one of a bamboo plant reflected in the water.

    On Photoshop, I cropped it, used "crosshatch" to give it a sketchy feeling, changed it to B&W, infused it with muted colours, skewed it and added some "noise" to make it look like an old picture of something vaguely asian. Obviously, one of the points I am also trying to make here is that it doesn't have to be good - but it's good to practice!


    The Queen of Everything Sweet

    My dear friend-niece-in-law Hala Beydoun, and the titular Queen based in Beirut (so far), has sent me this picture of how a teapot cake should actually look like. So, for your viewing pleasure and while waiting for her to finally launch the Cocoa&Co website (so we can ORDER her divine confections)... ta-daaaa!!


    I Won! I Won! I Won!

    I won the lottery! No, not that one, silly!

    I won a wonderful collage from Belinha's Papelustro site collection. Isn't that wonderful? If you are a faithful reader of this here blog, as well as my sister's, you'll recall that she talked about this giveaway in a comment. All we had to do was pick a favourite, and wait for the winner to be announced. And cara Belinha chose me! Yaay me! Yaay Belinha!

    I'm so in love with her witty, whimsical, funny, cute, beautiful collages. It was really hard to pinpoint a favourite, but I'd always found myself drawn to "Pretty in Pink", and I hope to be able to share it with everyone here soon. In the meantime, you can admire Belinha's funky creations here.

    To celebrate, let's share this calorie-free cake. (Yeah, it's kind of wonky and melty, and it didn't taste that good really, but the kids loved the teapot shape. And the Smarties.)


    Who Let The Cat Out?

    Fauve © R. Koleilat, 2007

    I did actually. Then spent the whole night waking up and going downstairs to see if she'll come back in. She did, eventually - at 5:32 am but with such dramatic scorn, I almost felt guilty. What I did feel was groggy (and very resentful) this whole drizzly, grey, sticky day.
    Thankfully, the house was full of kids so after throwing heaps of junk food at them to keep them occupied without me, I made this to reconcile myself with Blossom (who spent her whole day sleeping in my bedroom).
    Funny thing is I didn't set out with this cat in mind, but as I finished and looked at it, I realized that it could only be about her, my little savage beast.



    Hey, everyone! It is now safe to go back and check artezan, now that there's a (quite lovely) new watercolour there.