Thursday, October 21, 2010

Persevering Through Photoshop Elements; or I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!

I spent the last week immersed in trying to learn Photoshop Elements. I mean totally immersed, stopping only for meals and a few hours of sleep a night. I don't think I would have really comprehended it had I not vowed to do that. A couple of years ago I discovered GIMP, another image manipulation software for graphics editing and a close facsimile to Photoshop, but unlike the hefty price tag for Photoshop, GIMP is free and downloadable online. I spent a couple months tryng to understand the software program but it was hopeless and I was intimidated. A few hours here and there wasn't getting me anywhere. Finding tutorials online that were basic enough for me was not an easy task. There was even a downlodeable how-to manual to help me acquire the necessary knowledge but I was missing the basic understanding I needed - so nothing made any sense to me.

Then I heard about Photoshop Elements, a smaller and much more affordable offering than Photoshop which included all the most widely used elements of Photoshop, without the extras, that a lone artist like me would not need. Soon I had it installed on my computer, and there it sat for 2 years. I was terrified to open it. Now I had paid for it, I was financially invested in it, and I couldn't afford to fail again. If it was so much like GIMP and I couldn't master that, what made me think I would grasp Elements? So I tried to ignore it but it kept calling me. There were techniques, like layers, that I wanted desperately to acquire so that I could broaden my art work. Finally I couldn't wait any longer. A week ago I decided to dive into Elements and resolved not to quit until I had a handle on it.

Day and night I persevered. There were times when I felt like crying but I wouldn't let myself give up or even discontinue for a time. I knew if I walked away from it again I would never go back. And I wanted overwhelmingly to use some of the tools and techniques that were there just waiting for me. I reached the point of frustration where I had gotten with GIMP and felt there was just some one thing I was missing - if I could just discover what that was, I knew I could achieve it all. I just had to keep trying. Time and again I went back to my fellow Melange Team Etsy mixed media artist friends online with my questions and they were always there with encouragement. I read over a hundred online tutorials for Elements, some of which were exceedingly helpful but many that were really useless. I bookmarked the ones that I felt would help me the most so that I could listen to them over and over and eventually hopefully they would make sense. I was waiting for a eureka moment, but it never came. Instead, to my astonishment there came a slow subtle confidence from doing it over and over. There came a point where it was all making sense, I was finding the instructions understandable and wondering why it took me so long to fathom. My resolve and determination had paid off. I realize there is still plenty for me to learn with Elements, but I now have a handle on the basics and am also confident that I will be able to achieve whatever it is I want to do with it.

I am sharing wth you here a few of my recent results of my exploration with using layers in Photoshop Elements. I feel like I am at the beginning of a new adventure, but at least now I am starting out able to speak the language.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ghost House by Robert Frost

I Dwell in a lonely house I know 
That vanished many a summer ago,
And left no trace but the cellar walls,
And a cellar in which the daylight falls,
And the purple-stemmed wild raspberries grow.

O'er ruined fences the grape-vines shield
The woods come back to the mowing field;
The orchard tree has grown one copse
Of new wood and old where the woodpecker chops;
The footpath down to the well is healed.

I dwell with a strangely aching heart
In that vanished abode there far apart
On that disused and forgotten road
That has no dust-bath now for the toad.
Night comes; the black bats tumble and dart;

The whippoorwill is coming to shout
And hush and cluck and flutter about:
I hear him begin far enough away
Full many a time to say his say
Before he arrives to say it out.

It is under the small, dim, summer star.
I know not who these mute folk are
Who share the unlit place with me--
Those stones out under the low-limbed tree
Doubtless bear names that the mosses mar.

They are tireless folk, but slow and sad,
Though two, close-keeping, are lass and lad,--
With none among them that ever sings,
And yet, in view of how many things,
As sweet companions as might be had.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Three Witches from Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.  
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights hast thirty one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.  

     Double, double toil and trouble;
     Fire burn and cauldron bubble.  

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,  
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

     Double, double toil and trouble;
     Fire burn and cauldron bubble. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Little Ghost by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I KNEW her for a little ghost
That in my garden walked;
The wall is high -- higher than most --
And the green gate was locked.

And yet I did not think of that
Till after she was gone --
I knew her by the broad white hat,
All ruffled, she had on.

By the dear ruffles round her feet,
By her small hands that hung
In their lace mitts, austere and sweet,
Her gown's white folds among.

I watched to see if she would stay,
What she would do -- and oh!
She looked as if she liked the way
I let my garden grow!

She bent above my favourite mint
With conscious garden grace,
She smiled and smiled -- there was no hint
Of sadness in her face.

She held her gown on either side
To let her slippers show,
And up the walk she went with pride,
The way great ladies go.

And where the wall is built in new
And is of ivy bare
She paused -- then opened and passed through
A gate that once was there.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Little Green Orchard by Walter de la Mare

Some one is always sitting there,
In the little green orchard;
Even when the sun is high
In noon's unclouded sky,
And faintly droning goes
The bee from rose to rose,
Some one in shadow is sitting there
In the little green orchard.

Yes, when the twilight's falling softly
In the little green orchard;
When the grey dew distills
And every flower-cup fills;
When the last blackbird says,
'What - what!' and goes her way - ssh!
I have heard voices calling softly
In the little green orchard

Not that I am afraid of being there,
In the little green orchard;
Why, when the moon's been bright,
Shedding her lonesome light,
And moths like ghosties come,
And the horned snail leaves home:
I've sat there, whispering and listening there,
In the little green orchard.

Only it's strange to be feeling there,
In the little green orchard;
Whether you paint or draw,
Dig, hammer, chop or saw;
When you are most alone,
All but the silence gone...
Some one is watching and waiting there,
In the little green orchard.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October is Domestic Abuse Awareness Month

Statistics tell us that 85%-95% of all domestic violence victims are female ~ that over 500,000 women are stalked by an intimate partner every year ~ that 5.3 million women are abused each year ~ that as many as 324,000 women every year experience domestic violence during their pregnancy ~that 1,232 women are killed every year by an intimate partner ~ that domestic violence is the leading cause of  injury to women ~ that women are more likely to be attacked by someone they know rather than a stranger ~ that on average more than 3 women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in the U.S. every day. Domestic violence kills. Make it STOP!

Statistics from:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Christina Rossetti, Poet, Sister of the Pre-Raphaelites

Dante Gabriel Rossetti's work featured women in the conventional Victorian perception of either the virginal  unspoiled Madonna or the fallen woman or temptress in need of rescue by man. Never is she a player in her own right but merely the object of the viewer's gaze alone. His sister, the poet Christina Rossetti, an admirer of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, was equally captivated by medievalism and fantasy, and frequently used women in her work as did her brother, however the similarity ends there. Christina's poetry depicted women as the victims of men  and the avengers of those victims. Her fallen women are not saved by men but by their own resolve or by the assistance of other women. This remains the fundamental question that separates the two siblings work - who was it that maligned or mistreated the woman; and who was it that should deliver them their freedom and well-being?
Christina Rossetti sketched by her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

The Pre-Raphaelites desired to instill in the art of their period a new sense of realism and symbolism, an appreciation for spiritual love, and a fascination with medievalism and British history and mythology along with their concept of the beloved. There is often love but never an expression of pure joy. Beauty is prized but it never overrides the difficulty of life. Christina's poetry likewise depicts love without happiness; love which is often painful, unfulfilled, challenging and always wronged at the hand of men. After the death of her brother Dante Gabriel, Christina lived as a recluse at home concentrating on her religious life. She died of cancer on Dec. 29, 1894.

In An Artist's Studio by Christina Rossetti

One face looks out from all his canvases,
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:
We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
A nameless girl in freshest summer-greens,
A saint, an angel -- every canvas means
The same one meaning, neither more nor less.
He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him,
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:
Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

More Jane Morris, a Favorite Model of Dante Gabriel Rossetti

In the previous Rossetti post I originally misidentified a painting as Rossetti's when it was actually one belonging to the next artist on my list to profile here. So I removed it from the earlier posting but it will appear again under the correct artist. In doing the further research to straighten that out I came upon some additional photos and paintings of Jane Morris (1839-1914) which I found interesting so I am presenting them here.

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