On Sabbatical

"watch me leave", digital - ©R. Koleilat, 2007

Sweet Irene gave me the idea to go on sabbatical - an elegant way to announce that I probably won't be posting much in the coming few days.

Hey, don't turn that dial yet, I'm not done.

I won't be writing a lot of ingenious, fabulous and seriously cool stuff as usual, but I will, however, keep updating the Bathing Beauty workshop wall. Eh...Maybe write a couple of things here and there too.

You see, I really do need to stop futzing around, and get down to business. My business that is - I have been much too slow in bring the needed changes to my gallery site, because I've been on, well, futzing around speed and have shirked my responsibilities as an art-patron-entrepreneur-something or other.

Voilà, c'est tout - don't worry, I'm not disappearing entirely; I'm not cruel enough to deprive you of my incomparable company for more than a few days. I'll be lurking in the shadows and checking up on YOU!


Summer Kiss-Off - Digital Art Workshop 3

" Bathing Beauty" - from www.wetcanvas.com image library

Despite my best efforts to stall, summer is almost over. I didn't do 1/3 of what I promised myself I'd get done. Wonder if I can cram 2 months worth of work in 5 days?

So here is a befitting kiss-off to the hazy-lazy and decidedly crazy days of summer: a bathing beauty waiting to be reinterpreted in our Digital Art Workshop series.

Since I'm in ultra-slacker mode, I won't rewrite the supposed rules for your participation. However, in case you'd like a good laugh while completely disregarding them, you can still find them here.

To see the previous workshop results, click here and here.

Good sailing everyone!
(and while you're at it, check out hubby's poetry challenge - there's a prize!)


Update on Photoshop Instruction (and PSP too)

After having posted the previous links, I remembered an excellent, clear, basic Photoshop tutorial online. It comes in several parts and can be downloaded or printed out. (There is no need to print out the exercises, you can come up with your own).

It even shows how to create your own brushes or patterns, which is a lot of fun too.

A good basic beginning at:


This one's not bad either but not as good or detailed: http://iit.bloomu.edu/vthc/ps.html

As for PaintShop Pro, I don't use it myself, but if you do, this seems like a pretty good site (I'd say print it out, probably easier to read off of the page):

Random Thoughts and Lucky Charms

Lucky Charm - ©R.Koleilat, 2007

I had this conversation with my 4-year old yesterday - verbatum:

Ms. Smarty-Pants: "Let's pretend I put this on my blog"

Moi: "Your blog? What's a blog?"

Ms. Smarty-Pants: "Some place where you make yourself look prettier than what you are".

Out of the mouth of babes.

My cheat sheet:


All You Have To Do Is Try

Not one to follow any rules, not even my own, I've decided to display all of Irene's contributions to the Door project, not just the 3 I limited everyone else at. No fair, I hear everyone crying, how come she gets more?

Settle down, kids - First of all, I really couldn't bring myself to pick and choose from her work. Second, you have no idea how happy I was when someone who says she's a total digital art novice decided to join and came up with ALL OF THIS! Kind of like how I felt with Bobbie and Frances and the lilypad.

I have to be true to my heart: Irene is hereby getting unfairly rewarded for a) being fearless, ; and b) showing us some kind of incredible imagination for a supposedly non-artist.

So here it is, the completed wall with everyone's weird and wonderful creations. I haven't finished reorganizing the website, so you can't click around in there to find our workshops yet - link directly to that page here. Enjoy!


Life Gives You Lemons

Life gives you lemons - © R. Koleilat, 2007

Grab a cup of joe, people, this is a long one. If you have any complaints, let it be known that I blame Neda, Debi and Irene for this. Beverly a little bit too. But not Frances, or Fawzan. Well, maybe Fawzan a little.

I first started blogging a long, long, long time ago – last March in fact, so not long in the hours and days sense but in more esoteric ways. It was at the urging of hubby, financial wizard by day, watercolourist the rest of the time. He had been blogging himself for a while, partly to force himself into a discipline of creating works, whether sketches or full paintings, through this online artist diary.

I love what he does on his blog, he’s fearless about showing his work process, warts and all. He doesn’t fear criticism, and uses others’ input in a valuable, constructive manner. That’s admirable, considering how fragile artists’ egos are. Believe me, I know, because I have to deal with them not only in my family, but in my fledgling online gallery.

I hadn’t really done any blurfing* (thanks for that one, Julie!) prior to blogging myself, and didn’t really know what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect to connect (in all senses of the word) with such amazing, warm and wonderful, creative people so easily, so intimately, so rapidly. I’d read about how virtual reality is a space where anonymity is key, but what I’ve found is exactly the opposite: this is the one place where you choose to be yourself and you choose to show yourself. It is a different kind of reality, one not as encumbered by familial or social constraints, obligations and other ritual (although there is ritual involved, but that’s for some other post).

My blog was supposed to be a vehicle for helping me stretch out a little bit – I had started a newsletter for the gallery, but found it a little constraining: the format, the subjects that would be suitable, the style. Plus, to be honest, it wasn’t being read by that many, and with all the effort that went into it, I wanted more. I felt that there were so many interesting, little and big discoveries out there, a lot of enjoyable and silly/funny tidbits, not really suitable for a “serious” art website. I enjoy writing, and I enjoy the creative process of it all, and this was going to be a fun thing to try.

But most of all, I secretly wanted to emulate dear hubby, and find a way to force myself to get back to my own long-dormant, atrophied artistic self. Early on in this blog, I tried to get back to sketching and drawing, but found that whatever had been immobilizing me was not going to go away so easily. I really, really wanted a graphic for each post. I knew that this was the only way to have some discipline both in keeping a good-looking blog, and getting those creative juices flowing again. When I kicked dear ol’ sister out the blog window (so she can take flight by herself, not because I’m a meanie), I couldn’t rely on her bottomless trove of goodies anymore, so I had to find something quick and fairly presentable (I do have some standards).

Struggling with pen and paper was out of the question at that point, I would’ve had to run back to my old therapist to resolve that one and I wasn’t about to try and fix it this way. Not then, at least. And not before I win the lottery either. So I turned to digital art (with a small a, Irene).

And lo and behold, I found it! It being my little vacation, and my new doodling tool. Since I’d also like to do more design work – I’m tired of creating commercial/corporate logos, illos and designs for cheap-to-free for friends and acquaintances – this was also the perfect combo: exercise my digital design skills AND illustrate my posts.

Now you can go about your day, buoyed and enriched by this profoundly important bit of knowledge. There’s a lot more where that came from but I have to stop now. Be warned though, I’ll be picking this up again later this week, and giving you even more fascinating things to read. I need more tea now. Today is a coffee-free day for me. Endless source of compelling info, me.

* compound word of (pick one):
A) blah and smurfing
B) blue and morphing
C) block and turfing
D) blog and surfing


More Ways to Waste A Sunday Aft

If you were marooned... asks hubby.

Come play along, it's fun!


Someone's Lurking...

Untitled - © W. Beydoun, 2007

This is Wissam's contribution to the Door project, and here are his steps:

  1. Step one: clean the picture of the bicycles by cloning, smudging
    and copy, paste.
  2. Step two: insert a drawing. Work on it a bit
  3. Step three: lightning effects for a dramatic look.
  4. Lens correction to give the picture a different perspective

I hope I followed the rules... (I am not good at this)"

Hmm, I beg to differ..

Top And Tail - 2 Things challenge

Can I still participate in an old 2 Things Challenge? My friend sent me these pics of my cat and her kid, and they're too perfect to pass up. I know, talk about not following any rules: not only am I ridiculously behind the times, I'm also using someone else's photographs. But it is MY cat.


Random Thoughts and Favourite Texanisms

Texas - © R. Koleilat, 2007

In honour of my darling sister's safe return, here are some of my favourite Lone Star State-isms, y'all:
  • Busy as a one-armed paper hanger - Bobbie W.
  • Even a blind chicken'll find the corn sometime
  • Whatever makes your boat float - Seven-11 cashier on Lamar
  • I'm fixin' to go now - my old boss
  • You can have my girl, but don't touch my hat - Lyle Lovett
  • The clash of ideas is the sound of freedom - Lady Bird Johnson
  • Keep Austin weird - Everyone there


Grown-Up Meme Game

For Debi: Moi At the Apple Farm, Oct. 2006 -
That's the best I could do at short notice, we don't want to scare the little kiddies

So many topics to deal with, so little time... Consequently, I will, in typical Rima fashion, settle on an escapist break, a (sorta) grown-up version of this unoriginal but still-funny online meme game, where you get to answer prying questions with just one word. I promise to not psychoanalyse.

Here are my 23 questions. If you'd like to play along - and please don't let me feel ridiculous by leaving me to twist in the wind by myself - copy the list, and put in your own answers like I did below. It's slightly less cruel than, say, asking (no, daring!) you to post a portrait. Or, if you're really, really brave, you can combine both.

  1. What is your favorite object?

  2. Do you have music on right now?

  3. What is the state of your hair?

  4. What is your favorite drink?

  5. What do you fear most

  6. What is your favourite season?

  7. Who did you hang out with this weekend?

  8. What are you not good at?

  9. What is the weather like?

  10. What is your favourite cookie?

  11. Do you have a real wish list?

  12. What is your favourite thing in your house?

  13. How did you grow up?

  14. What aren’t you wearing?

  15. What is your kitchen specialty?

  16. Where is your ideal summer spent?

  17. What is your favorite colour?

  18. What do you love?

  19. What’s your favourite word?

  20. What’s missing?

  21. Where were you in 1993?

  22. What’s your favourite timepiece?

  23. What are you not?

My profound answers:
Do you have music on right now? No
What is the state of your hair? Desperate
What is your favorite object? Laptop
What is your favorite drink? Tea
What do you fear most? Time
What is your favourite season? Fall
Who did you hang out with this weekend? Friends
What are you not good at? Lying
What is the weather like? Hot
What is your favourite cookie? Sablé
Do you have a real wish list? No
What is your favourite thing in your house? Antiques
How did you grow up? Worried
What aren’t you wearing? Shoes
What is your kitchen specialty? Eating
Where is your ideal summer spent? Beachfront
What is your favorite colour? Turquoise
What do you love? Peace
What’s your favourite word? Serendipity
What’s missing? Peace
Where were you in 1993? Montreal
What’s your favourite timepiece? Absent
What are you not? Hypocritical


Venetian Charm, O'Kieffian Wit

Leaning Toward Venice - © S. O'Kieffe, 2007

With her usual mastery, this is Sue's vision of the Door (remember, the original image is titled Pisa Door) - AND she sent steps along. Marvelous woman. Now read and learn. She even calls features by their correct names.


  1. Duplicated image.

  2. Created a selection using rectangular marquee of right side of building.

  3. Copied and pasted it into new layer.

  4. Merged visible layers (Ctrl+shift+e)

  5. Moved selection to left side of new layer.

  6. Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal to create symmetrical image.

  7. Set colors to default. Filters>Sketch>Photocopy.

  8. Set blending mode to multiply.

  9. Set blending mode of building to Hard Light. (This feature is possible in CS3)

  10. Created adjustment layer.

  11. At bottom of layer palette chose photo filter/cooling filter.

  12. I wanted to put image on a slant. Transformed image (Ctrl/Cmd+T). Edit>Transform>Skew


  1. Chose photo of ocean water and adjusted size of image to correspond with image size of building

  2. Created symmetrical image of ocean as described above in step one

  3. Dragged image of ocean onto image of building

  4. Transformed image as described above to follow slant of building.

  5. Set blending mode to Lighten.

  6. I wanted it to look like water was running out from under the door and down the street, so I created a mask and set color to default.

  7. Using black I painted out all parts of the ocean I didn’t want visible. The nice thing about masking is you can undo anything you want by painting in white. BLACK CONCEALS AND WHITE REVEALS


  1. Created reflection of building in water following steps in Part 1, step 1, except created a horizontal selection and flipped the image vertically

  2. Created a clipping mask over layer with water. Clipping masks only affect one specific layer at a time and are created in the layer palette by holding down the alt/option key while selecting the desired adjustment.

  3. I chose hue/saturation adjustment, and adjusted colors to hopefully reflect a more Mediterranean color.

  4. I still wasn’t happy with the results of how the water looked. First I chose a color in the color palette that was a turquoise green color and chose it for the foreground color.

  5. Then I went to Filters>Sketch>Photocopy, applied the filter and set blending mode to multiply. This is a handy technique I use in many of my mandalas, too, when I want to create a bit more depth in my images without it looking too much like an illustration.


  1. Final adjustment. Created hue/saturation adjustment layer at top of layer stack. Set hue at -12/Saturation at +57

Sue has also very generously attached a copy of her layer colour palette and wrote this about it: "Things will look a bit different because of the specific features in CS3 I used that eliminates the use of multiple layers. It’s a great and long overdue feature, and as far as I can tell so far the best thing about the newest version of Photoshop."

Marvelous, marvelous woman.

(Check here for the "Wall", including Diane's modern/urban-dream take, and freshman Irene's very first attempt at digital imaging)


Doors of Opportunity

Pisa Door Prison D'or - © N.Doany
Thanks for this one, sister mine - especially since I know how tough it is for you to find the time to play.
"When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window" - Maria von Trapp

Cat From Outer Space?

I seem to remember a movie like that from eons ago.

Anyhoo, here's Fawzan's first take on the Door (I don't know what to make of the writing on the window, but I know where he got the idea of the green light from...)

What are they doing to you? - F. Barrage

I'm starting to hang things on here. (For the previous workshop, check here.)


Frustration Update

No luck on the web editor front, still not able to upload anything. Plus my second printer is kaput.

I really wanted to provide a link to the completed Lily wall, and a good start on the Door one, but short of smashing my computer (a colleague used to call it a confuser) against the wall, I'm stumped. It's obviously going to take still longer to see a refurbished Maraya. I'm looking forward to building a much more interesting site, with a lot of reference materials, and hopefully more workshops and more artwork. Fun, fun, fun. Frustrating, frustrating, frustrating.
Meantime, I did the last version of the Door (previous post) late last night, I was kind of groggy and forgot the steps. There weren't that many anyway, and most of them are uninteresting:

- I drained the colour, then did a tan-ish duotone, then went back to RGB.
- I also used the Cloud (or was it Difference Clouds) feature in the Render Filter in low opacity in Overlay (I think).
This sort of washed-out quality is not hard to achieve, and you can experiment until you find an effect you like.

Now for the interesting part: how did I put that light in the window? Easy peasy. I used the Lighting Effects option in Render - to illustrate, here's a quick example (disregard the esthetics, focus on the tutorial please)

Image 1: Plain

Image 2: Lighting effect applied in Flood Light Style, Spotlight Light type with a yellow hue

Image 3: Flashlight, Omni , white hue (I used something like this for the window light effect)

Try it with anything you have - lights on, lights off. On, off. On, off. On, off. Hehe.



I'll try to explain the steps tomorrow - right now, I feel as sleepy as...


Open the Door

Red Door
For my first altered image, I took a page from Debi's book - for the last workshop, she had achieved such a delicate result by laying down almost transparent layers of the original image and fiddling with these layers. I thought I'd try it, and I just love what it helped me come up with.

First, I copied the original image, but cropped, to a new file, with low opacity. I also turned it to Grayscale so I could use the Duotone feature. For this first layer, I chose two hues of red.

Second, I created another layer, copied the image again in low opacity, but left it coloured. This is such a great trick, it really feels like you're laying a vellum on top of an image. I then repeated the process with a third layer, just like the first one, but with purple Duotone, to give more depth to the colours which were now rich and juicy.

Third, I used the Dry Brush in the Artistic Filters over and over, calibrating it slightly differently and using the Fade function in Edit every single time. I can't be more specific, because I couldn't keep track, I just fiddled with it until I liked the end result. I think I did the Dry Brush thing about 3 or 4 times.

Finally, I used the Smudge tool to erase the lettering on the store awning and the plaque on the door, and filled the pipe that was still showing on the right with the same colour as the wall.


Just like Frances, I also felt that this image just called for some "antiquing" (love your title, Frances!). For this one, I used the Find Edges option in the Stylize tool in Filters, but edited it with the Fade option, and chose to go with Multiply instead of Normal with about 50 percent opacity. I repeated this step about 2 more times, and felt happy with the final, sketchy, inky look.

I've learned about GIMP a little bit this week - it's a free download and a lot of people swear by it. I think I'll save my next attempt for that new tool, as soon as I figure out how to download it.

Finally, as soon as my *%@!*&?!!@! laptop cooperates, you'll be able to see the new "wall" up at Maraya Galleries, as well as the completed Lily Wall (done but refusing to upload). Sometime before the end of this decade. Along with the new logo (not done yet) and the new features (still cooking). And more. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed. I'll just go rest my head now.


Time To Play Again! Digital Art Workshop Deux

C'mon! Time to get back inside! Disentangle yourself from that chaise-longue, toss that frozen margarita (or better yet, refresh it), kick off your Crocs and sit down to a new digital exercise.

You wanted more of a challenge, so here it is:

Pisa Door, by Ban Sidhe - courtesy www.wetcanvas.com

I found this copyright-friendly image on a terrific art site that hubby suddenly remembered to share with me, http://www.wetcanvas.com/. It's a fantastic resource for artists and wannabes like me, thanks in no small measure to its bottomless image library - by far the best source for public domain images I have found in my research.

To participate, all you have to do is copy the image to your computer - it's a fairly large file, so you may want to resize before saving it. Then go to town with your digital creativity (creative digitality?)
Now for some rules - I know it's a ridiculously optimistic request on my part since no one ever listens to me, but please remember to:
  • Modify the image in any way you like, with any digital art program you prefer. You can use the whole image or only parts of it for the final result - your choice.
  • Use at least 4 steps/effects, like artistic filters, layers, cropping, whatever – Opening and saving your files are NOT actual steps, and do not count as such, sorry. If you don't try at least 4 stages of modification, I will need a written note from your mom. I'm doing this for your own good. (You know that you can ask me for help on anything, so no excuses). Take your time, you have about two weeks.
  • Explain your process as well as you can - even if it's just to list your steps. We all want to learn from each other. Well, I do, and I did learn at least one new thing from each entry last time.
  • 3 submissions max, please and thank you! I know it's hard to stop once you start, but I'm old and slow now, and I get easily backlogged. I still haven't finished uploading the last few Irises to the website.
  • Send me a copy of your finished product, or allow me to copy it from your blog, so I can "hang" it on the Maraya Galleries website (no one can copy it from there). The artwork from last time looks so very lovely on my "wall" (http://www.marayagalleries.com/workshop/5.htm).

That's it. Now, ready, aim...

Better Late?

Smile - ©R.Koleilat, 2007

I'm always trailing behind. I've always been the last one out the door, the last one to walk into the restaurant, the last one to hand in the assignment - and now I'm the last one to catch up with everyone else online.
I know this little mutual-admiration society of ours has already moved way past all the well-deserved pats on the back - especially the really prolific artists who seem to have a fire in their belly and, thankfully, cannot slow down the creative flow or the rapid-fire posts (you know who you are, Diane and Neda and Sue)... but I'm still here, distracted by summer days, hubby's vacation and toads in the creek (see Fawzan's lovely watercolour of yesterday's park visit here).
And now that I've finally gotten around to it, a round of applause for me too please as I proudly display the following award logos generously bestowed by Neda and Diane respectively (they like me, they really like me!)

Find out who created these awards, and why, here.