Photo of the week

Has it really been a week since I posted my first Photo of the Week? Yikes, well okay then, here’s the second – my favorite photo(s) from this week, with some background …

Admiral butterfly feather collage

Admiral butterfly feather collage

Okay, obviously not a straight photo. It’s a collage from three photos I took this week. I started with my photo of a red admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta):

Red admiral butterfly

Red admiral butterfly

George and I trekked up Albany Hill to check on the monarch butterflies – starting around this time of the year they overwinter in the eucalyptus trees there. Last year we only saw a few, so this year we were very encouraged to see far more. Hopefully they’ll keep coming.  I didn’t get any photos of the monarchs because they were fluttering around high up in the sky, but there were a lot of red admiral butterflies flitting lower down and then landing to sun their wings on the duff. This one let me creep close enough to get a shot.

I blended that photo with a closeup I shot of a small bouquet in a vase on my windowsill. It’s a black and white striped hen’s feather next to a dried stalk of some soft pouffy grass.

Feather and grass

Feather and grass

I was struck by the conjunction of the lines and disparity of the textures and tones.

The third photo in the collage is another closeup of part of the same bouquet.

Silver dollar plant

Silver dollar plant

It’s the remains of a seed pod of a money plant (Lunaria Annua), also known as silver dollar plant. The plant has been slowly eroding, and I liked the juxtaposition of the frame of the disk with the empty spaces and few remaining tattered pieces.

I used the layer blending tool in Photoshop Elements to blend the photos. I liked a few of the different settings to blend the first two, but finally settled on the ‘overlay’ setting.  I then added the money plant and blended them all into the final collage.  When I make my blended abstract collages I usually take photos from different years – it was fun to use three that I shot on the same day.  Here are some of my other blended collages.  You can see that butterflies appear in many of them. What are your favorite subjects in your art or photos?

Digital collage on art board

How were the holidays for you? I had two 4-day weekends, bliss!  Between the nature walks that my husband and I took, a couple of holiday parties, and a lot of cleaning-up of my workspace, I only managed to get a bit of artwork done. While organizing my towering piles of craft books I unearthed an 8×10″ gessoed wooden art board and decided to transfer one of my digital collages onto it.

I had designed the collage a few weeks ago.  I started with a photo of a fallen tree with insect trails etched into it. I took the photograph on Albany Hill, a small local hill where monarch butterflies overwinter.  We went in November to see whether any monarchs were there. We only saw a few, sadly — we had seen many more there in previous years.

This is the photograph of the tree:

Fallen log

Fallen log

I blended the photo of the tree with a photograph of a fern that I took during a walk we took in Muir Woods.

Fern

Fern

In blending the photographs, I worked to make the colors vivid, and kept the fern image subtle so you only see a tracing of it.

Fallen tree fern collage

Fallen tree fern collage

I liked the collage, but put it aside and hadn’t decided what to do with it. When I pulled out the art board, I thought it might work well.  Before printing it though, I had an idea. There are a number of designs I have produced from elements of my photographs with a great kaleidoscoping program called Kaleider. I mostly use them for my Garden Design Fabrics that I sew into fabric vases, purses, light switch plates, etc.  I generally don’t use them in my mixed media artwork or digital collages, but I wanted to see if blending one of them with this collage might work.  I found one of the designs that had strong simple lines. Coincidentally, the one I chose to try first was a design that I made from a photograph I took on the same walk we took on Albany Hill, of another fallen log.

This is the kaleidoscoped version of elements of that photograph:

Log albany hill kaleidoscope

Log Albany Hill kaleidoscope

I very much liked the effect when I blended them!

Fallen tree fern collage with Albany Hill log

Fallen tree fern collage with Albany Hill log

Okay, enough explanation about how the blended collage came into being (people often ask me how I make my designs and it’s hard to explain without showing the originals, so I wanted to go into some detail here where I could show them).  On to my process for the transfer to the board. I’ve written much about using transfer artist paper (TAP), a polymer paper that I’ve had very good results with transferring onto several different surfaces.  This would be the first time I’ve tried to transfer onto a gessoed wood board. I printed the collage onto the TAP using the recommended settings: plain paper and medium quality. I printed it on the Epson Workforce 500, which I use for the workshops I teach. The durabrite ultra inks are pigment and have worked well with the TAP.  I forgot the first lesson of printing a transfer: REVERSE the image. Oops, but the collage is abstract so it didn’t really matter.  I placed the TAP on the wood board and began to iron it, using the iron’s highest setting. I could hear the transfer hissing a little, which I’ve come to learn means that it’s working. I peeled up a bit of the TAP and checked, and was delighted to see that the transfer was indeed transferring.  After a few more passes of the iron, the entire transfer had completed.  As with my other TAP pieces, there’s a very pleasing texture caused by the polymer.  To protect the print, I applied two layers of varnish and then went searching for a frame.  I unearthed an old wooden frame of exactly the right size that I had found at an estate sale. I think it complemented the collaged board beautifully! Here it is, see what you think:

Albany Hill digital collage

Albany Hill digital collage

Workshop : Inkjet transfer techniques

Inkjet transfer techniques : one-day workshop

Sunday October 25, 2009, noon to 4.  Canyon Trail Park & Art Center, 6757 Gatto Ave., El Cerrito.

Masdevalia orchid box

Masdevalia orchid box

Learn several techniques to transfer images and text to a variety of surfaces.  We will explore using inkjet transfers to enhance your artwork and to create mixed media, collage and other works.  You will
complete at least two transfer projects at the workshop.

Swallowtail butterfly tile

Swallowtail butterfly tile

For more information, or to pre-register, email me at heidirand@gmail.com.   You can also pre-register at the El Cerrito Rec Dept., 7007 Moeser Lane, El Cerrito, (510) 559-7000.


Lavender and rust art quilt

George found some wonderful french lavender and has been growing it for me in the back garden.  I took some photographs of the stalks in bloom.  Lavender’s not the showiest flower, but the scent and that incredible saturated color really make up for that …

Lavender in bloom

Lavender in bloom

Later in the day we went on an adventure, and I took some photos of an old piece of rusted machinery.  The images were so different I couldn’t resist trying to blend them, and came up with a blended collage that I really like:

Lavender and rust

Lavender and rust

I printed the image onto pretreated cotton.  I was very happy — the colors turned out beautifully saturated, very true to the original file.  I backed the printed fabric with two layers of batting and quilted with different colored thread, mostly at random, outlining the elements of the image. The sturdiness of the cotton and two layers of batting make the quilting really stand out.  The piece is only about 7.5 x 11.25 inches (18.5 x 28.25 cm).  I’m thinking of framing it within a wood frame that I’ll adorn. More later about that. For now, here’s a photograph of the quilted piece:

Lavender and rust art quilt

Lavender and rust art quilt

This is fun. The sun was streaming in my window as I was taking photographs of the quilt, so I taped it to the window and shot some photos — you can see the sun shining through the needle holes.

Here’s one last shot of a part of the quilt, you can really see the sun shining through it…

DSC_0064 smallNow the hard part for me, how to frame it. Stay tuned …..