Friday, December 12, 2014

Another Giveaway & Woot Entry

Double duty on the blog post once again. First, I've got a $10 gift code to Zazzle up for grabs, good on any purchase of $10 or more. It is valid through December 14, 2014, 11:59 PM, Pacific Time.

Here's all the fine print:

$10.00 discount applies to Zazzle orders with a subtotal (before shipping and taxes) of $10.00 or more when the coupon code is applied at checkout. Offer is valid until 12/14/2014 at 11:59pm PT. This offer does not apply to past purchases and may not be combined with any other Zazzle promotional or volume discount offers. This promotional offer may not be used on Zazzle gift certificates. Offer valid on only.

First person to email me at (you can click the request box to the right) gets it! I'll be checking my email as often as I can, but I won't be able to monitor it constantly, so it might take me an hour or two to respond if you're the first. I'll update this post once it's been awarded. Good luck!

And on to part two...

The folks at Woot are already craning their necks in search of Cupid and this weekend's derby is to design a "Sweet and/or Sour Valentine." I came up with something I'm calling "The Ultimate Symbol of Love." 

donut doughnut chewed to look like heart valentine card

I know what you're thinking..."Eww, the germs!" Well, there's germs in kissing too, isn't there? And if someone gives you a sweet chewed into the shape of a heart, you've got to assume that's on their mind. Or perhaps you'd prefer the idea of it without the actual germs. In that case, please vote for my submission.

Thanks for visiting and please come again!


Update: Though I had plenty of visits to this site, no one who came felt the desire to spend $10 at Zazzle and the code as now expired unclaimed. Perhaps the next time I offer one I'll be rewarded with making someone happy.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

How to Make a Hoodie Pillow

It's a busy time of year for me, one when I put my energy into making the holidays enjoyable for family and friends, so I haven't been doing a great deal art-wise. Instead of a new artwork, this post will fall into the category of "other creative endeavors" as I share a little life-hack I've come up with. I'm not entirely sure it's original, but I did come up with this on my own and have not seen it elsewhere.

I'm not a morning person and loathe dragging myself out of bed at the required hour, often in darkness. Having to trade a warm bed for shivers can make this an excruciating task. Having the clothes I'll change into already warm is a small consolation I can enjoy, and here's how I manage it.

1.  I start the night before with a hooded, half-zip fleece which I usually wear in the morning anyway. Any pullover with a hood should suffice. Spread it out like this:

2.  Next I fold my clothing for the next day into a neat pile that will fit onto the chest area of the fleece. Here I'm using a sweater and a pair of jeans. Socks and underwear would go between these.


3.  Now, bring the arms across the center: 


4.  Next fold the lower half up over the clothes:


5.  Finally, bring the hood down over the center square and tuck the bottom corners into it:


The result is a fleece wrapped pillow. Take it to bed with you... snuggle it, place it beneath your knees or whatever feels comfortable, but keep it beneath the covers and close to you.

When you get up in the morning, your clothing will be as warm as your bed! If you aren't getting dressed immediately, be sure to pull the covers back over them until you do, but don't wait too long because it will all cool down without your body heat to warm it.

Here's another set of pictures using a hooded sweatshirt:

Thanks for visiting and please come again!

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Dragon Hide Journal

The Woot Derby has been changing things up lately. For starters, they're now running TWO derbies per week. The main derby, for shirts, now begins on Monday which now regularly gives artists additional time to work on their submissions after the Thursday theme announcement.

Another change is that the 2nd derby (the one they'll run first after the theme announcement) will be for another product, and for some of these products, many of the restrictions regarding colors, halftones, gradients and photographs have been thrown out the window. For that I'm all "YAY!" because I love artistically editing photos.

This week the product is journals and I'm excited to be entering an edited photograph which I've altered to look like iridescent dragon hide. Here's a view of the full front (right side) and back of the design.

It Breathes Fire No More, artistically edited photo, dragon hide skin iridescent

The title is "It Breathes Fire No More," since, obviously, if his skin is binding a book, he's no longer in need of a breath mint. But as this is merely Photoshop work, no actual dragons were harmed in its creation.

I started with a photograph I'd done some editing on before and had used to create a patten with different colors. (I'm not going to show the original here now, as I'd like to keep the Wooters guessing as to what it might be, but by sometime on Monday when this derby ends, I'll update this post to display the original.)

This time, I first improved the overall lighting by making several copies and adjusting the levels (ctrl-L) to optimize each section, regardless of how bad it made the remainder of the image. I then masked each, and worked on the masks to reveal only the best portion of each layer, combining them into a single image to finish.

Working with a desaturated version, I added layers of color, mostly with a wet media brush and at low opacity, then changed the blending modes of these layers to "color" and "overlay." And voila! Dragon hide.

"It Breathes Fire No More" will be up for voting now through Monday, November 17, 2014, noon Central Time. Winners will be revealed and available for purchase on Monday, November 24th.  I hope you'll click over there to offer your support and check out what I'm sure will be a very interesting selection of art this week!

Thanks for visiting, and please come again!


And here's the original, a close-up shot of a Savoy Cabbage. I saw this and loved the texture, but in working the photo, I ended up inverting so that deeps and highs were reversed. Nature provides such beauty.

Savoy cabbage leaf close-up

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Giveaway--Today Only!

Who would like a coupon code for $10 to spend at Zazzle?

I have one for $10 off a minimum $20 purchase, but it's VALID TODAY ONLY (November 12, 2014), and I will give it to the first reader who emails me at (you can click the request box to the right).

Here's the fine print:

$10.00 discount applies to Zazzle orders with a subtotal (before shipping and taxes) of $20.00 or more and the coupon code **********  is applied at checkout. Offer is valid until November 12, 2014 at 11:59pm PT. This offer does not apply to past purchases and may not be combined with any other Zazzle promotional or volume discount offers. This promotional offer may not be used on Zazzle gift certificates. Offer valid on only.

I'll be checking my email as often as I can, but I won't be able to monitor it constantly, so it might take me an hour or two to respond if you're the first. I'll update this post once it's been awarded. Good luck!

Thanks for visiting and please come again!



The $10 code has been claimed. Congratulations to Chris! Enjoy shopping at Zazzle!

I get these offers every now and then, and I can't always use them myself. I'll be sure to offer them here again in the future when that happens.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Christmas, Bigfoot and Cookies

Everyone knows a Bigfoot fan. They range from those who are continually amused at the idea of such a novel creature to those who make forays into the wild to bang sticks and whoop out calls in hopes of a response. (I often wonder whether any responses are real or possibly another Bigfoot searcher.) Many fall in between, spending their weeknights glued to reality programs searching for elusive cryptids. I've got one of those.

It is in their honor that I created my newest design, "Christmas with Bigfoot."  He's overcome his shyness and is out for a walk, ready to spread some holiday cheer!

Christmas with Bigfoot sasquatch art

I uploaded the design in various parts so that I could arrange the elements (Bigfoot, trees, snow) most appropriately for each product. It was a bit more work than usual, but I'm quite happy with the way they turned out, with each differently shaped Zazzle products getting the best possible design arrangement.

Christmas with Bigfoot Pattern Wrapping Paper sasquatch artChristmas with Bigfoot T-shirt sasquatch art
Christmas with Bigfoot Necktie sasquatch art tieChristmas with Bigfoot Pattern Necktie sasquatch art tie

Christmas with Bigfoot Postcard sasquatch art

Oh yes, I did mention cookies, didn't I? That's why you're still reading. I haven't forgotten and no, Bigfoot did not run off with them. This post is a "two-fer," or rather, a "three-fer."

I've been fascinated with repeating patterns and how they work so well for products like wrapping paper. Using a photomontage technique, I baked a batch of my favorite Christmas cookies—rolled out, cut into shapes and sprinkled with colored sugars—then photographed them. In Photoshop, I then cut the cookies from their background and piled them into a repeating pattern, one with an assortment of shapes and colors, and another with only tree shapes. Here are "Christmas Sugar Cookies" and "Sugar Cookie Christmas Trees."

Christmas Sugar Cookies photomontage art repeating patternSugar Cookie Christmas Trees photomontage art repeating pattern

Don't they look appetizing? (I can testify that they were delicious and exploding with crunchy-vanilla-sweetness!) Here are just a couple of the Zazzle products on which they're available.

Sugar Cookie Christmas Trees tree skirt photomontage art repeating patternChristmas Sugar Cookies Blanket Throw photomontage art repeating pattern

Thanks for visiting, and please come again!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Tetris, Pointillism and the Eiffel Tower

"Not Playing to Win" -- Eiffel Tower Tetris art using pointillism

Sometimes my mind works in strange, roundabout ways.

Take the latest Woot Derby challenge, to create a design in one of four artistic styles, one of which was pointillism. Pointillism is a technique where a picture is formed from a multitude of colored dots. Under magnification, all you would see is dots. Stand back, and they seem to magically herd themselves into a wondrous image of subtle colors.

An outgrowth of Impressionism, one of the pioneers in this technique was Georges Seurat. For inspiration, I looked at his paintings, and was drawn to this one of the Eiffel Tower.

The Eiffel Tower by Georges Seurat

I thought about how I could use the technique and emulate this picture, but put a different spin on it. Square dots instead of round ones? Somehow that led to blocks, then Tetris blocks which could be used to build a structure and THEN... make the Tetris blocks out of dots. Yes, that would be interesting.

I didn't want to merely throw the Tetris shapes together like a puzzle; I wanted to be sure that if they were constructed in the course of a game, that the arrangement was viable. I started by making the shapes and constructing a tower by copying, pasting, arranging and rearranging. At first I thought I'd have just the tower and perhaps a pile of discarded pieces off to the side. But that didn't satisfy me, so I looked again at Seurat's painting and played around with adding the bridge and the tree to the side. The constant copy, paste and transform actions got old very quickly, especially considering that each paste created a new layer and it was difficult to keep track of which was which. So I printed out page full of blocks, cut them out, and played with them at the kitchen table for a while. Once I had a bridge and basic tree, I returned to pasting it together in Photoshop.

Arranging paper Tetris pieces 2Arranging paper Tetris pieces 1

The next step was to "trace" the design using only dots. I did use the "snap to guides" feature to keep the outlines of all the blocks straight and orderly. And since I was using only cyan, magenta, yellow, black and white, I played around with combinations of dots in varying densities to get the color shades I wanted. Here are some close-ups, the second showing green, orange, purple and dark blue (clockwise from upper right).

Close-up 2, "Not Playing to Win" -- Eiffel Tower Tetris art using pointillismClose-up 1, "Not Playing to Win" -- Eiffel Tower Tetris art using pointillism

I’ve titled it “Not Playing to Win” since creating such a configuration in Tetris (if one were fortunate enough to get the right pieces and know where to place them) would quickly lead to the loss of the game. Still, I imagine it would be worth it and that reflects my attitude about the designs I create for the derby.

Submission for "Not Playing to Win" -- Eiffel Tower Tetris art using pointillism

This design will be up for voting on the Woot Derby now through October 16, 2014 at noon Central Time. If you've ever purchased anything at all from, you are eligible to vote. Thank you for your support and be sure to check out all the wonderful designs... I'm sure there will be some excellent artwork on display this week.

Thanks for visiting and please come again!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Autumn Kaleidoscope

Often when we describe something colorful, we call it a kaleidoscope. Remember those things? Put a tube to your eye like you would an old-fashioned telescope and gaze at chips of colored glass reflecting into a mesmerizing pattern. Turn the barrel, and it would change, folding from one design into another.

Autumn is a colorful time as the green of the trees first dulls, then transforms into bursts of orange, red and yellow. For people like me who dread the fading of warm weather, the warm colors are a comfort and encouragement that I can make it through another round of cold weather.

The theme for this week's Woot Derby is Fall and Oktoberfest. They suggested making pies for them (and perhaps that would have curried some favor), but shipping one and keeping it fresh would have been problematic. Instead I was inspired by the kaleidoscope and created a design as I imagined one would appear if it were filled with jewel-like leaves.To make sure my representations were accurate, I searched for leaf models from various trees--maple, oak, birch, hickory and locust. I sketched each of these including some acorns as well, painted on the colors and arranged them over a 1/6 segment of a circle (there's your pie, Woot). I trimmed away anything that extended beyond the pie slice, then copied and turned it to fill the other slices, reversing every other one. And voila—a kaleidoscope of autumn color.

I actually began this design for Woot's Fall themed derby last year, but was unable to finish it in time. Another reminder that seasons change, and if fall comes again, so will spring and summer.

Autumn Kaleidoscope Woot submission -- digital art colorful fall leaves relfected

This entry will be up for voting now through next Thursday, October 9, 2014 at noon Central Time. I'm grateful for your support!

Thanks for visiting and please come again!

Monday, September 15, 2014

You're Spending Christmas with Who? Yes.

It sounds like a line from an Abbott and Costello sketch (and yes, I know it should be "whom"), but for Whovians everywhere, it makes perfect sense. The annual Christmas special has become a traditional way to wrap up the holiday. A glass of eggnog and the BBC are a delightful pairing.

So are we liking the new guy? After four weeks I, for one, am quite happy with Peter Capaldi's version of the iconic character. The new Doctor is a delightful curmudgeon with a streak of eccentric social oblivion, yet remains true to his core values. His attire is both understated and snappy, and the new TARDIS interior has the flavor of traditional elegance with a streamlined, modern flair.

Happily, none since Six have attempted to repair the chameleon circuit, and we still have the classic blue police box exterior we've all grown to love. It's an image that inspires dreams of adventure and a better world, and one that many of us enjoy looking at in our daily lives.

With that in mind, I'm happy to announce (as promised a few weeks ago) a new Christmas police box design in two variations... with and without snowfall.

Police Box with Christmas Lights & Snow Police Box with Christmas Lights

In making this design, I placed each of the bulb colors on different layers then added a glow around them using Layer Styles. It would not have been possible to make the glow the same colors as the lights had they been on the same layer. It's a subtle embellishment, but one I think contributes to the overall impression of warmth. I also added more glow around the top light and the whole than I did on earlier versions.

Police Box with Christmas Lights Close-up 1; layer styles glow Police Box with Christmas Lights Close-up 2; layer styles glow

"Police Box with Christmas Lights" and "Police Box with Christmas Lights & Snow" are available on wrapping paper, greeting cards and a great variety of other Zazzle products including MORPHING MUGS!...because what's better than a police box that appears and disappears as your beverage changes temperature?

Police Box with Christmas Lights & Snow Wrapping Paper Police Box with Christmas Lights & Snow Charm Police Box with Christmas Lights & Snow Candy Tin
Police Box with Christmas Lights Scarf Police Box with Christmas Lights T-shirt Police Box with Christmas Lights Morphing Mug

Several other versions sporting a holiday wreath  and a non-holiday version are also available. Delight the Whovian on your gift list or bring home a little blue box cheer for yourself.

Thanks for visiting and please come again!