Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Picnik update: PICMONKEY!

Could it possibly be?  
A (literal) update to my beloved Picnik?
drum roll please...

Created by Picnik Engineers!!
Easy to use!!
Even better options!!
Sleeker design (though I do miss the cheese)



I'm so glad I publicly whined about the loss of Picnik, because several people have now clued me in to Picmonkey!  It's very simple, and if you are used to Picnik, it has many of the same (or most important) photographic (and artsy fartsy) tools that I love.  As mentioned in my previous moan, ( am pretty skilled in Photoshop, but Picmonkey has all the great one click effects that make this site quick and easy to get the look you want.  

Way to go Picnik!  You've won my endorsement yet again and even more so for going out on your own, again, and giving the people what they love!

Here is just one photo I used to play around with on picmonkey to check out the site.  

Raw photo on the left, Picmonkey version on the right.  

Monday, April 16, 2012


Well well well.  It's about time!  Did I finally finish the encaustic piece that I've been blogging about since last summer?  Could it really be?  

This post includes my progress over the past year.  Did it seriously take me a year to complete this piece?  Well... yes.  And no.  I say no only because I worked on this piece in spurts here and there where time and space and materials aligned (which unfortunately was not as often as I would have liked).  


Previous posts about this encaustic project:

The first stages of the piece, July 2011.
PRE-POST (aka Prologue?)
I've been DYING to post about this piece!  And, I'm sure you have all been waiting so patiently on pins and needles to see the very elusive encaustic.  Well, folks, here it is!  

I wanted to post and update everyone on my progress along the way, as I tend to do for most of my projects that take longer than... a day.  So I texted my friend (whose son this gift is for) and asked "Do you think it is possible to post my progress *BUT!!*"  The one thing I asked of her?  "YOU CANNOT READ MY POSTS!"  

Now that you are reading this post, and (SPOILER ALERT) the piece is in LA at my friend's house, you can guess what her answer was.  

If we go back to my previous posts about the encaustic process, I talk about mostly about using encaustic and my experiences of the process rather than the artwork as a whole.  Here, I am posting some progress photos so that you can visually join me on this little venture in encaustic. 

Detail of the wax texture
The first thing I did was to design the collage using Photoshop.  I gathered the images I wanted to use, scanned, manipulated, checked on opacities, changed colors and saturation, etc. Because I designed it in Photoshop first, I was able to print out many of these images the exact size and on the correct material for it's purpose and placement.  For example, the W wagon flashcard was printed on vellum for it's transparency and vintage feel when the wax was melted onto it, and the rabbit watch was printed on clear transparency in order to see directly through it.  

I'd like to mention the items that I included in the collage.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love vintage images?  Ok, I'll drop the sarcasm.  As you can see, I worked really hard to find some vintage images that relate to my friends and their son, and to childhood in general.  I know that I've said this is a baby gift, but really I want it to be something that he will grow with as well.  Hence why these vintage images look more mature than what you might imagine in a typical baby's decor.

In the first process photo, you can see the pieces more clearly, before adding more layers of images and wax.  

The Ground
The next step in the process was to decide on the ground.  A ground is the base layer for the artwork.  You can see it more easily in the earlier progress shot above.  
  • Map of Southern California:  They now live in (and West was born in) LA
  • Textured natural paper including some that had very heavy fibers that I literally tore and pulled by hand to make the threads more tactile

Meanings and points of interest
Near completion, October 2011.
From there, I want to point out the items that I chose to include in the collage that layered on top.  This was especially tricky because I really love the map of california underneath, so it was important to have just the right placement of objects.  (Even now, the photos don't do the encaustic wax justice- in life you can see the map still underneath those translucent layers.)
  • Eagles v. Packers Poster (my fav item): Mom's a big Packers fan, Dad's a huge Eagles fan from Philly- I found a vintage poster online in which the Eagle is trouncing the packers... 
  • W alphabet card:  W= West
  • John Deere:  Mom is from Iowa... enough said.
  • 3D Race Car:  just a fun Boy's toy, handmade by Patrick Sanchez (thank you!) and "antiqued"
  • Wonderland Rabbit:  from Alice in Wonderland- just such a classic story with a classic character/image
  • Nursery Rhymes page:  interesting illustration and flourish/embellisments makes a great addition to the ground
  • WEST Scrabble Pieces:  Handmade pieces to spell child's name
  • Humpty Dumpty:  is sitting on a piece of foam core (wall?)
  • Block:  Handmade and illustrated with various images-Number 6 for the 6th month, June, in which West was born, Aa for April (Mom), Tt for Terry (Dad), a monkey, and my signature underneath
    • Side note:  the block is very much 3D
  • Train:  Another classic (stereotypical?) boy item
  • W:  W= West
  • Boy on rocking horse:  How could I resist this Sears Catalog image?  

Finishing touches
There are a few tweaks I wanted to do/add to the piece, but mostly, I'm spent some time working on addressing the edges of the piece. I had not taped off the edges (live and learn), so I had wax dripping down the sides of the piece. This does look really cool, except, it does not look like a finished piece (for the aesthetic I'm going for). Right now I'm working on melting the thick wax down to a smooth, translucent layer.

Travels to L.A.
Bunny sending love to LA.
The last thing I worried about? Shipping. 
But maybe I should be worrying more about what happens during the LA summer! Ugh. I guess I have a teensy bit more work to do before I place my "FINISHED" stamp on it. Maybe before West turns 12?
One benefit of holding on to the piece for a little longer than expected is to spend some more time looking (and not looking) at the artwork. I find that when I have my own artwork sitting around where I live, I can't take my eyes off of it. I would love to say that it is because "I just amaze myself at how amazingly talented I am" (of course), but really it's because I keep critically thinking and analyzing the piece. I don't mean critical as necessarily bad, but rather taking some time to have space from the first moment of creation to objectively (as possible) decide if the choices I made along the way were visually good (or at least aesthetically interesting) choices. From there, I can tweak and add or just at least have time to let it settle before I say, "MMWHA! Complete! It's a masterpiece!" (I did say that I am indeed amazingly talented, right?) But honestly, it just gives me some time to accept this piece for what it is before parting with it. It is, after all, a piece of my creativity, my soul, my intentions, my love... and it is going to a very special little guy. So, as you can see in my little photo to the right, my daughter's bunny wanted to say goodbye and send a special little smooch on to LA as well. 

A closeup using angle to illustrate the varying 
sheens and textures that the encaustic
surface (and collaged items) creates. 
This TIME also gave me a chance to see if any of the wax would pop or sink or stick.  Annnnnd, a little tuck here and a little burnish there- done!

Now, I have FINALLY shipped the piece to LA. I first wrapped the entire piece in several pieces of wax paper. Then, I used our handy-dandy cling wrap to "shrink wrap" the artwork , using balled up wax paper in between in hopes that everything would stay cushioned and secure.   

WA-LA!  And there you have it.  Will I be making more of these encaustics, you ask?  INDEED!  Stay tuned for further posts.  

I placed the completed collage above my daughter's crib
to visualize how it might look in a child's bedroom.