The idea behind the Paint The Barn in Winter group is to render an image with a particular photo as the genesis. An artist may produce an entirely non-representational piece, or a colorist piece, or what have you. This past month we have been working on this iPhone photo of my barn in a snowy landscape. In a few days, I will post a second challenge photo. Not my idea, by the way. More than one person was interested in having my permission to paint from the barn photo, and so I opened it up to the whole world to participate. The results have been great, with about 40 artists participating so far. Here are some of my favorite images from the Paint The Barn In Winter group.
Let's look at blog banners. Photoshop is a popular tool for making these, and banners and designed graphics add a great touch to your blogs. I can't tell you how to make them, but I will post a video I found that gives an adequate start to your efforts. After the video, I'll mention some easier methods I have found.
Whenever I want to find a quick recipe, or for any other "how to" task, I now go to You Tube. Sometimes finding the right tutorial is elusive, and I think this is especially true of Photoshop tutorials. I learned my Photoshop skills by taking an online course for about thirty dollars, and it was money well spent. I'd link you there, but I think she quit running the course. If anyone has a good course they run or know of, let me know and I will share that here. Also, if you have saved any good tutorials on You Tube, I'd be happy to link those as well.
Thanks, Jennifer, from GoodEye Vintage, for this video. My extra tips are to open your image in its file, right click that and select "open with: Photoshop," and this is quicker than browsing from Photoshop. Also, in selecting background and text colors, I use the eye dropper and find a color from my artwork or photo.
I don't copy and paste photos into the new banner background. Instead, I open all the content and view multiple files at once, then I drag and drop like making a puzzle. For instance, I'll open a banner sized at about 800 x 200 pixels, then I will open a photo; select the Arrange Tool, which on my version is in the absolute upper left of the page, next to the pse icon. Now I select the jpeg, and then the Move Tool, and drag the photo jpeg to the banner. Instead of stretching the text, I prefer to crop the banner to achieve a fit. How to get the text to overlay the images? I work with layers, which is the critical knowledge you need in Photoshop, and then I very carefully go around the letters with the Eraser Tool. There must be an easier way, but that's my solution.* Linda Rosso, of Mill Valley, CA, has a new blog about plein air painting and art marketing is also her area of expertise. I follow her new blog, and I liked her footer signature block so much that I went into Photoshop and designed one for my blogs. I know The Colorist gets a lot of random traffic, and this is a good way to provide an introduction within each post. Plein Air Liason, by Linda Rosso.
* Artist Gary Huber informs me that I should try a setting where the text background is transparent. Goodbye Eraser Tool! I tested his solution, however when I opened the text layer it was transparent by default. Go figure. At any rate, the solution does work and you need to work with Layer and Arrange, then push the picture to the bottom layer. Also, another tip: remember to merge or flatten your finished image.
Amedeo Modigliani (July 12, 1884 – January 24, 1920) has been the subject of a couple of feature movies. Mostly, they cover his love life, which lacked no drama. I take that back - the more recent flick, Modigliani, 2004, by Director Mick Davis, is also very much about the artistic process. Critics and the public hated it, but I loved it. The metaphor of his grand premier compared to a bloody mugging in the snow is rich, and I liked the way he consulted his boyhood self from time to time. Watching the 1958 film, Les Amants de Montparnasse, in French, is a nonsensical treat for me, since I don't understand the language. I had a couple scenes posted before, but they have vanished from YT. Try to find it sometime and enjoy. Tragically, both the first director and the star died during and shortly after the making of this movie. Here is a You Tube of his paintings streamed to some music with an Italian title about love's consequences. I like to watch these with the digital projector on the big screen. Maybe some of his great style and visual grace will rub off on me.
With my world full of snow, I have taken to drawing in a serious way. I have quit a lot of pastel works in storage, and with a head full of ideas I want to make hundreds more. Anyway, I felt the urge to simplify and sharpen the charcoals a bit. This one, posted above, devolved from a finished pastel! My children are snowed in from school, and my wife is down with an awful virus of some kind. My time is not very plentiful, but I do get to the studio almost daily. Maybe today I'll wear snowshoes to get there since yesterday I was plunging to the knee in snow! Another bother is that we have misplaced the battery charger for the Nikon camera and will have to order a new one. So, no new photos of pastels for a while, even though I have probably 20 or more to show.
In other studio news, I am forming an idea for a large work and it may take two over-size sheets of La Carte that I have squirreled away for a special occasion. I'm imagining them just mounted together, seam and all. If Degas did it, I think I may try the same. I know I could unroll some Wallis, or even get a piece of Gatorboard that big, but the dream I have is for La Carte. Another fun pastime has been virtually framing art in Photoshop. Here is one that worked well.
Niall O'Neill, at Artists in Pastel, writes a blog that fills a very unique niche. It proposes to review the websites of artists who work in pastel. I like the global reach of his blog, and the eclectic manner that he ticks one pastellist at a time off his list. If you think you know all the active pastellists in the world, think again! You will discover much to keep you inspired at this wonderful blog. Hint: if you don't have a blog or a website, how will reviewers find you and expose your art? See the post on my websites, art, and bio here. More grand benefits of exposing your art on a blog are contests and events. In that vein, Katherine Tyrrell has been busy with the Making a Mark award series which offers readers the chance to nominate and vote for the best artwork posted that year in several categories, such as landscape or nature. Other awards are also given, such as the best book published by an art blogger and one for "stickability," which highlights consistency in posting art. In the realm of art events, my page at Facebook, Paint The Barn In Winter, has been a popular place where many artists have rendered a scene based on an iPhone photo I took while skiing out to recover our stuck van. When the event concludes on January 15th., or perhaps a little before, I will post some of the artworks that I want to highlight. You never know what will happen next around the interwebs!