Thursday, April 30, 2009

Art on the Wall

I said I might post some more images of this room, and here they are. My kids are full of creativity and energy. (Actually a lot more of the latter . . .) They bring home wonderful pieces of art each and every day. My frig runneth over with crayon & marker drawings of our dog, skies and flowers, and multitudes of light sabers and Death Stars. My friend Miranda had this wonderful display method hanging on her wall, and I stole the idea for the boys' room. Just two curtain rods with the curtain clips to hold the art. Love this idea. And it's also nice because you can change out the pictures daily, weekly, or whenever you want a change. I gave a row to each boy, although my oldest's art dominates both. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Art of the Unused

I don't think I need to say much more than the title on this one. The clothespins dangled from the line all winter, and needless to say they are now useful only as art. If we were to use them now, they'd probably stain the clothes they once held tight (like mini alligators). But at least they still have a purpose here on the art blog. I loved the texture against the milky sky and trees. The lines of the straight-edged pins, some perpendicular, some askew, to the white vinyl-coated line, that was oblivious to the elements.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Art of Getting Clean

As stated in my previous post, it's Spring. And that equals dirt in my house. Dirt on the floors, dirt in the air, dirt on shoes, and especially dirt on my children. Under little fingernails, in hair, on skin . . . everywhere. So today after we had been out in the garden doing some pre-veggie-planting maintenance, we came in and jumped in the tub. After much cavorting and splashing and (thank goodness) scrubbing, my littlest wanted to linger. He sat in the centimeter of water left in the bathtub and slid around for a good ten minutes. He played with his toes and fiddled with the washcloth. Finally he was done. He was a new little man, with hair slicked back, toes and fingernails gleaming like white raisins. The masterpiece that is a clean child will not go unnoticed in my house.

Friday, April 24, 2009


This time of the early I get the itch to dig in the dirt. But it's still too early to start planting annual flowers or tender veggies. I love watching the little horns of my hostas pop through the soil and the buds on my shrubs and trees unroll. What a true wonder Spring is.

The first is of a Forsythia bush at work. I want one so badly for our yard at home. It is amazing. The yellow truly is that vivid. The next is of a lilac bud. Probably very near the one that I posted at the very beginning of this blog, covered with snow. What wonders a few weeks does!

Forsythia: ISO 100, f 2.0, 1/750
Lilac Bud: ISO 100, f 2.0, 1/1000

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fish Tails

I got to thinking about our pets today. Our yellow lab (pictured a couple posts down) has gotten sick and is at the vet for an overnight stay. We miss him. He is more a part of our family than we realize. That's what got me thinking about our fish. Now, seriously, you cannot cozy up to a fish. You can't pet a fish. You don't really tell your troubles to a fish. Well, at least in our house we don't do these things. But nevertheless, they are still our pets. We feed them, change their water regularly (try to), and enjoy them swimming so effortlessly in the water. So I figured I might as well give them their due time on the art blog. They are really quite amazing. Even though it might be a stretch to call goldfish art, I think anything that can breathe underwater without the help of some apparatus is pretty darn lucky. So featured here today is Fisher the goldfish, in artistic form.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Night Lights

I had a photo club meeting last night. It always inspires me. Even if we don't get around to the point right away. Even if we do too much talking and not enough critiquing. Even if we discuss histograms too much, and apertures and shutter speeds, and all that technical stuff. I always seem to take something away. One of our assignments was night photography. I sent in one of my concert photos that is posted here, down a couple of posts. But after I left the meeting I got on the phone with my little sister, the photography major, and she was telling me about the night photos she had taken recently. So instead of going home immediately (sorry honey) I parked the car and took some shots of the rain-wet street. Now, seeing as how I nearly never take night photos, this was kinda fun for me. I started by taking the typical street scene. But then I remembered my promise to myself to look beyond. So I forgot all about the sky and the lights and went right for the wet pavement. The stop lights were bouncing all this color, and twilight sky added a really cool blue hue. After about 30 shots I started the drive home. I didn't want to stop taking photos. It was entirely too cool and fun. {DISCLAIMER HERE: I DO NOT CONDONE OR ENCOURAGE WHAT I DID NEXT.} I took out the camera and sat it on the top of the steering wheel and set a long exposure. I wasn't looking through the viewfinder or anything, so I was still watching the road. I only took a couple this way since I knew I'd catch heck from my husband once he read this. But I thought the result was pretty sweet.

So my art today is titled Night Lights, but it also could be called Experimentation. It was so much fun trying something new. And even though technically there's a ton of camera shake, etc., I learned so much from my 15 minute experiment. I'll continue to try new things without the thoughts of failure flying through my mind. This is the place to do it, so you'll get to go with me.

Info: Odd combos here, I know but I didn't want a ton of noise, thus the lower ISO (my camera is OLD), and I also wanted those cool stars to come off the lamps, thus the smaller aperture. That meant long exposures and lots of shake (no tripod), but I wasn't worried about the shake. I was looking for color and motion.

17-40mm lens on both

Night Lights 1: ISO 200, f 11.0, 6 sec (Color temp shift a bit, added curves for pop)
Night Lights 2: ISO 200, f 11.0, 6 sec (focal length at 17mm, same adjustments as above)
p.s. My sister told me to set my white balance to daylight to make the blues pop. Very cool!

Monday, April 20, 2009


Today at work I got to view some great photos of galaxies and far away nebula. Seriously. There are some amateur astronomers that are going to be in our magazine this summer. The images were amazing. Blues, reds, pinks . . . all light years away. How can they possibly see that far away? Crazy. It got me looking up though, literally. Tonight when I was driving home from a class I noticed the gorgeous sun breaking through these cottony pillow-like clouds. After a day of sprinkles and a ton of wind, we were rewarded with a sunset that was truly brilliant. Art directly from God on this one. I was merely the one clicking away.

Clouds 1: ISO 200, f3.5, 1/1500. Curves, vignette, and a fun filter in my bag of tricks.
Clouds 2: ISO 200, f6.7, 1/350. Curves, vignette, and duplicated layer set to overlay.
Clouds 3: ISO 200, f6.7, 1/250. Curves, vignette, and a fun filter.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Glamour Dogs

As you may know, I work in the publishing industry. I am an Art Director for a regional magazine and creative shop. My husband, too, works in the publishing industry, but for a very different type of publication than mine. His is based on hunting and fishing mostly. So when he asked me to take some photos of our yellow lab Deuce for a point-of-purchase display I was happy to oblige. We drove down the road to our neighbor's house and (once again) I borrowed his field (great landscape and light!). His very handsome old dog Randall was there as well. So as the kids ran around in the field, I took some glamour shots of two old, but still beautiful dogs. Deuce is 11, and I'm not sure about Randall, but I think they give senior dogs a good name. And if you don't consider the beauty of the animal art, you've got to at least consider the loyalty. Good dog.

Friday, April 17, 2009


A really good friend of mine,and uber-talented as well –, makes outstanding images. I've noticed how he looks at things that other people don't even notice. Like the reflections in a puddle of water. A couple holding hands, or giving each other a kiss. You don't even see the flesh and blood people, but just their reflection in the mirrored pool. It is a step up in the artistic realm, to me. Most people would just take the shot of the couple, but he looks beyond that for the artistry.

So last night as I was enjoying the gorgeous weather, I saw my 2-year-old putzing around in the water in our driveway. He walked away and left his little sailboat to drift. I noticed the reflection right away. I took the shot and a theme popped into my head. So then I saw the trees in the same puddle. Then I glanced at the van and saw a few more. One shot in the side windows, and the other off the hood.

Looking for art in unexpected places is a pretty cool endeavor. So I challenge myself to keep looking for the unordinary. Push beyond the norm.

Info (Curves, Saturation bumped on all, but that's it):
Boat Reflection: ISO 400, f 2.8, 1/500. Curves, Saturation bumped.
Tree Reflection 1, Puddle: ISO 100, f2.0, 1/180 (And I'm pretty sure I had a screw-on closeup lens on there...)
Tree Reflection 2, Side Windows: ISO 400, f 5.6, 1/90
Tree Reflection 3, Van Hood: ISO 100, f 2.0, 1/500

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sushi & Music

Oh man, did I have a great time last night devouring some culture! So technically this post is a day late, but I was too busy having fun to post. So really, this is for April 15. I'll post something later today or tonight to make up for tardiness. Anyway, back to the subject.

Last night I went to a concert in St. Paul with my sister and her boyfriend. Before that we went out for sushi, something we do not have in Brainerd, sadly. Now why is this art? Just take a look at the food! Even the composition of the plate is beautiful! Color, texture . . . TASTE! Love those little eel pyramids . . . so artistic. I highly, highly recommend Sakura restaurant for awesome deals and excellent food. But watch out for the sake. Hmmm. Jury is still out on that.

After dinner we walked (yes WALKED . . . gorgeous night!) to the concert and saw one of my favorite bands ever, DCFC. The show was amazing. I thought my little smuggled in point and click did a fantastic job of capturing the band in a dark venue.

So my art is pretty evident today. Sushi and music. Two forms of art I have really come to appreciate and crave. Expect to see more of it. I am addicted to both.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Grass Gone Wild

As I scoured the ground tonight, I was looking for something green. Some little sign that Spring has finally {finally!} arrived. Sure, I saw some fungus stuff on trees, and blades of grass poking through . . . but what caught my eye tonight was the stuff that was far past its prime. Dry browns and tans intermingled with the new green. An old leaf entwined in the grasp of last years out of control weeds. What really caught my eye was the way the sun was playing in between all of these intricate lines. Gorgeous, gorgeous light. If you can't tell, I love backlight. The really great rim of light you get that illuminates the edges of your subject. Ahhh. Spring is here, most definitely. Even though today I found it in shades of brown instead of green.

Grass Gone Wild #1: ISO 100, f2.0, 1/180. Layered duped and set to Overlay. General Curves.
(Don't you love the foreground on this one?)

Grass Gone Wild #2: ISO 100, f2.0, 1/250. Curves adjustments. A little saturation.

Grass Gone Wild #3: ISO 100, f2.0, 1/250. Curves adjustments. A little saturation.

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Grandma's Poem

My Grandma was a very clever woman. She could make necklaces out of old milk jug tubes, little village homes out of cockle burrs, dresses for my dolls out of scraps. She was wonderful. She also had a fantastic imagination.

My Mom told me about the time my Grandma wrote in to a contest for a jingle (I think it was for cereal/oatmeal or something?). My Grandma sang this song to me, as did my Mom, and now I sing it to my kids. I wonder if my Mom knows that I still remember it. I'm sure my Grandma does, as she is with my each time I sing to my kids when I tuck them in at night. It is my borrowed art for the day. I don't think Grandma would mind.

As I was walking to school one morn,
A birdie I did spy.
I walked quite close,
and what do you 'spose,
a tear was in his eye.
As I was standing and waiting there,
I'm sure he meant good-bye.
For summer was o'er and autumn near,
and winter on its way.
Well I walked on and the bird he flew,
where to I do not know.
But I do hope we'll meet again,
when gone's the ice and snow.

—Olga Schultz

Friday, April 10, 2009

Farewell Art

There was an out of control plant in my office. Well, not in MY office personally, but my editor's office. She had kindly asked a co-worker to help her trim back the plant. So, while my editor was out, we kindly took care of the plant. This thing was huge. Twisting and turning, bending toward the sun, and basically taking over her office. We didn't cut down the whole plant, just the parts that were wayward.

As I was taking the remains down toward the river (literally), I saw the art in the leaves. So this is my memorial to the plant that gave a good many years to the office above me. And plus, my editor is a regular on my blogs, so she can come and visit her plant whenever she likes. It is now immortalized as art in the form of a photo.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Art in Eyes

I remember when I was about 17 years old waitressing at this little restaurant in my home town, and a customer commented on my eyes. Up until that point I had never even really looked at them before. He just said something about how I had this pretty rim around my irises of a lighter color that he had never seen before. When I was in college I met this handsome, dark-haired, blue-eyed guy named Trent. He told me how pretty my eyes were every time the light hit them just right. So I married him. Little did he know that the old guy in the restaurant had laid some ground work for him. I guess he knows now. :)

Long story, but I guess that's where my fascination with eyes started. They are just so amazing to me. When you look at them closely you see this whole nebulous-like world in them. Just so cool. My kids have great eyes. Not sure if they get any of it from me, or if it is all my husband, but wherever they get it from, it sure makes for great art, don't you think?

Oh, and just for fun, the kids hanging upside down on the couch. Their eyes look great, even in black and white to me.

Will's Eye: f3.5, 1/250, ISO 800
Sean's Eyes: f3.5, 1/250, ISO 800
Monkeys: f 2.0, 1/500, ISO 800

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Beauty of a Bubble

My daily routine is usually just that—routine. Get up, get the kids and the hubby up and out the door, go to work. Get home from work, throw a load of laundry in, dig up something for dinner, do some dishes while said dinner cooks. Well, tonight I just happened to take a little extra time with the dishes. Have you ever noticed how absolutely cool bubbles are? The iridescent shine and rainbows that play on them are just way too neat to pass by. In my sink, I found some art tonight. But wait! That's not all. Since I was on the theme of bubbles, I looked over at the churning pot of water boiling, getting ready for the spaghetti noodles to slide in. "Hmmm. I wonder how those bubbles would look in a photo. I sure hope I don't ruin my camera in the process . . ." Trent peeked at the image when I was just opening it and he thought they looked like clouds. The texture is liquid, but soft. A totally different kind of bubble art, but still art to me. Let me know what you think!

Dish Soap Bubbles: f1.8, 1/250, ISO 400. Screw on close up lens +4. Curves.
Boiling Pot Bubbles: f3.5, 1/15, ISO 400. Just some general color adjustments. That's it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Food Art

Recipe link:

I have an ENORMOUS sweet tooth. So that's why I see this scrumptious post as art. And since I made these with my own hands (and a spoon of course), these are my version of food as art. I was truly debating taking a photo of my coffee, since I consider coffee to be art in a cup, but alas, the chocolate won again. Maybe another day coffee will be my muse. Oh, and by the way, these are Chocolate Revel Bars (gooey chocolate and oatmeal). Delicious.

ISO 800, f1.8, 1/180 . . . Saturation bumped a little, sharpen a little. That's it. No need to mess with this little beauty.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pink Eye, in Black & White

Today my youngest son woke up with a new eye color . . . pink. It is a rite of passage being a daycare kid. One gets it, the whole lot of them do. So, as we sat at home this Monday morning, I just noticed how beautiful he was. I notice that a lot, but today with his jammies still on at 11 a.m., sitting in the window light watching cartoons, I didn't even notice the pink eye. I just noticed how utterly stunning baby cheeks, baby lips (note the big pouty lip), and baby eyes are. Even if they are a little pink. Sigh. He is the art that I made (with a little help from the hubby). Wow. Kids are amazing.

70-200mm IS lens, f2.8, 1/60, 400 ISO. Converted to BW in RAW, Curves and some high pass sharpening.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bye, Bye Nursery

Today's art assignment came in a different form—paint. And no, not a beautiful painting or great piece of art for the wall. It was done with a sponge pad and 2-inch angled brush full of "Swamp Fog" Dutch Boy paint. Yes, my boys have been past the pastel yellow and blue stage for quite some time, and I finally got the nerve to paint over the nursery decor. It was kind of sad, in a way. This was one more step in the no-more-babies-in-the-house ritual (seems pretty final!). So what you see here was my art for the day. Although it's not complete (I'd like to add a mural of some type to the walls . . . frogs maybe?) I figured since it took most the day,I'd share it with all of you. Hopefully more to come on this project in the future.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Little Gentleman

My neighbor came over today with her 1-year-old little boy. Cute as the dickens. [I don't think I've ever written "cute as the dickens" before... but it surely applies to this guy!] She had an adorable outfit for him, ala little golfer. Hat and all. If the photos aren't considered art, at least the subject matter is. What a perfect bundle of rosy cuteness.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Art Under the Deck

We got some sun today! But unfortunately, I sat at my desk all day. It seems as though the only time I've had the past couple of days to get out and do my artsy endeavor is when the sun is nearly down. Good thing for me that the light of the setting sun is probably some of the most beautiful light of the day. Case in point, it can transform even the grungy underside of my deck into a sparkling wonderland. The first photo is evidence. Icicles drip onto the obnoxious aqua blue swimming pool that yearns to be filled. It sits tucked in the corner near the lattice work that hides other summer yard products, waiting to be used. Little do these dormant items know that they are the perfect backdrop to a photo that will immortalize the last remains of winter. Ha ha!

When I ducked out from under the deck I saw a small strip of earth uncovered near the base of the house. The brown, deadish looking weeds looked so lovely in their tangled mess. Repeating little oval leaves connected by long strings. Kind of gothic. Almost like a little lace doilie. I liked it.

For someone who considers herself a portrait photographer, I sure am taking portraits of odd subjects, huh?

On to the info:
Blue Summer Icicles: f 4.0, 1/125, ISO 200, 17-40mm (little to no adjustments, just a bump in saturation)

Weed Doilie: f 4.0, 1/30, ISO 200, 17-40mm (Convert to BW, ran a fun action called "gothic glow," but toned it way down, added original back on top and took the opacity down.)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Finding Beauty Under the Table

Today my little sister Britt came to visit, so I took the day off. We were planning on taking the day to shoot (she is a photography major). Wellllll, we sort of got side tracked. Plus the day was really quite unpleasant. Cold, windy, very gray (terrible light). So we pretty much spent the day indoors. But while we were making dinner tonight I spotted something under the table. Granted, it was on the patio table outside on the deck, but it was pretty interesting. All of the snow we got on Tuesday was melting through the grid work of the iron and making these cool little chandeliers hanging from the underside of the table. So even though I didn't venture very far for my photos today, it was pretty cool finding beauty under the table.

Table on Ice #1 - Lens: 50mm with screw on close up lens +4, f 1.8, 1/1000, ISO 400, no flash
Table on Ice #2 - Lens: 17-40mm, f 4.0, 1/60, ISO 800, no flash
Table on Ice #3 - Lens: 17-40mm, f 4.0, 1/60, ISO 800, w/on camera flash (shielded by my hand)

All had a Hue/Sat adjustment. #1 had a blue layer set to overlay, plus some burning with curves at edges. All also had some sharpening.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools' Day

Today is April 1st. April Fools' Day. I am wondering if God has a sense of humor. He must, seeing as how he just dumped 10 inches of heavy snow on us. I bet he's just chuckling away. "Boy. Those guys thought they were on their way to Spring! Ha!" Well, if nothing else, it makes for some beautiful subjects. Today's art is another photo (which I'm guessing you've figured out will probably be the good majority of what you'll find here). It's a lilac bud on the gigantic lilac bush we have here at work. It so wanted a little warmth and sun, but alas, instead it got a good old coat of white.

I've included 2. I want your opinion. To crop or not to crop? I like the space given on the un-cropped version, but I love that you can see the little snow crystals on the second. What do you think?

Info on "New Snow, Bud":
f 1.8, 1/750, ISO 100, 50mm lens with those cool little Vivitar screw on close-up lenses again. I used a +2 and a +1 together today. Those babies are tricky. I tend to shoot rapid fire with them since if you even breathe you're going to be out of focus...

Hue/Sat adjustment, Curves to burn a little. Sharpened up the bud a little. That's it.