Illustration Friday - Glow

Illustration Friday - Glow This week's Illustration Friday topic is "Glow". This was created using the SketchClub app on the iPad. I saw Unihorse's wonderful Sketch Club app vector tool tutorial and have been experimenting with it.  It's a lot of fun, but takes a little getting used to.

SketchClub has a recording feature that can record your painting as you create it.  you can see a video recording of some of the work with the vector tool I did for on the "glow" painting on YouTube here.


Tutorial - IPad And ArtRage for Help with Painting Design Decisions

painting in progress before putting into ArtRage app I like using the iPad for decision making when I get stuck on where to go next in the painting process in acrylic painting.  This technique can be used for any art medium. I  I use either the ArtRage or Procreate apps.   In this tutorial, I am using ArtRage.

To get the painting into the iPad, I take a photo with my iPhone or iPad of the painting trying to get close enough so the painting covers as much of the painting as possible.

I open a new painting in the ArtRage iPad  app.  Below is a screenshot of the ArtRage interface with a new blank painting.  As you are working, the row of tools and the color picker will disappear when you click on the active tool and color giving you more canvas to view and work with.

ArtRage canvas with blank document

Then I import the photo of the painting into ArtRage.  Click on the second to right bottom icon to import the photo.  It comes into the program as a tracing image at 40% opacity.   To see the painting at full opacity, click on "Convert to Paint" under tracing options.  Tracing options is the third icon from top in the same bottom icon.  It looks like three horizontal lines one below the other.

painting brought into ArtRage -click on "Convert to Paint"

Then click on the eye icon , and the painting will show at full opacity.

click on eye icon

I add a new layer above the painting so I am not working directly on the painting. The fourth icon fron the right on the bottom of the ArtRage interface is the layers icon.  I paint on new layers, keeping objects and new painted effects on separate layers.  This way I can turn on or off the visibility for each layer to see what I like or don't like.

Adding new layer to paint on

I generally use the watercolor or oil brushes, but may also use crayons and color pencils.  Each brush has several settings for different paint looks.  You can change size and properties of each brush by clicking the two left bottom icons.  Both control different brush properties.

For this painting, I was unsure if I wanted to add a planter and flowers.  I added a planter on the floor.  Then I added flowers and a plant -- all on separate layers.  I turned on and off the visibility on the various layers and saved versions or took screen shots of the various versions.  Although the added objects will not look the same when added to the painting, they are similar enough to help me decide if I think they will be good additions.

trying out pot and flowers - each object is on separate layer

Here is the finished painting.  You can see that I did add the planter, but not the flowers and plant.  I also experimented with adding layers of color to certain areas and did so on the painting itself.

finished painting


Oona Ellibeans in Ellifolks Etsy Shop

Oona Ellibeans, a little whimsical mohair doll is now available in my Etsy Shop.  You can see her here.

Oona is hand dyed and shaded.  She has a super big mohair head, a crooked smile, and a ffluffy mohair skirt.  Oona sports cotton floss pigtails.  her eyes are vintage mother of pearl buttons.  Oona has hand dyed wool felt arms that are thread jointed.  Her legs are purple hand dyed wool felt.  Please come visit her!

New Acrylic and Digital Painting Prints in Etsy Shop

Circus Dreams

Circus Dreams

I have added two prints to my Etsy shop"Circus Dreams"started with an acrylic painting for the background.  It was scanned into my computer and transferred to my iPad.  I used the paint app, Procreate to create the rest of the imagery.  Then I used two photography apps, Halftone and Blender to get the final image.

The second print, "Girl with Saucer Flowers", is a digital print made on the iPad using the paint app, Procreate.

I like to use many layers and a variety of brushes to get depth and complexity in my digital paintings.  I'd love to have you come take a look.

Girl with Saucer Flowers



Still Blooming!

hydrangea tree  

We finally had our hydrangea tree (paniculata hydrangea) pruned this summer, and it went from a drooping on the ground messy-looking thing to a lovely little tree that reminds me of something from a fairy tale. Out in the garden, I was delighted to see several other blooming plants. We bought some small, low-growing roses that have been blooming all summer. The white astrantia is still blooming a little. Our torch lilies (kniphofia) bloomed twice this summer. And the sedum Spectabiles are blooming now - their regular time to bloom.

So nice having color in the yard this time of year!


sedum spectabile
sedum spectabile




Wookie, Whimsical Mohair Panda in Etsy Shop


Wookie, a whimsical mohair panda in now in my Etsy shop. Wookie is made of sparse hand-dyed mohairs. He has one glass eye bordered with a wool felt flower and one orange vintage button eye ringed with a red embroidered circle. He is about 4 3/4" tall and is wearing a linen cord collar with a rusty jingle bell.

You can see Wookie here. Please come visit if you get a chance.  Wookie has been adopted.




New Print, Meadowland, in Etsy Shop

I just added my first print of one of my paintings to my Etsy shop.  The original is an acrylic/mixed media painting on hot press watercolor paper, done in many layers and incorporating pencil and water-soluble oil pastels, too.  I will be adding more prints shortly.

I have to thank Mindy Murphy Lacefield for her wonderful online class, "Paint Your Story".  If you get a chance to take it, I highly recommend it.  She really gives you the tools and encouragement to find freedom in your art.


Trip to SOWA Open Market - Indie Craft Fair and Artisan Foods

We spent a fun Sunday afternoon at Boston's SOWA Open Market. SOWA -- "south of Washington Avenue" -- is a trendy,rejuvenated Boston neighborhood that is home to lofts, galleries, and boutiques. (Note: the square photos in this post were shot with iPhone's Hipstamatic app which can make atypical, but fun shots.)


The SOWA Open Market is open on Sundays from May to November. There two parking lots full of vendors. One has artisan foods such as Grillo's, a local company that makes delicious hot or regular Italian-style pickles among other marinated items. There is a vendor With homemade French style macaron cookies in several yummy sounding flavors. There are cheese artisans, a bread company, and fresh herbs and produce.

Walking through an archway and down a walkway lined with shops takes you to another parking lot with craft artists' booths and food trucks. Here we found a vintage map dealer with large local maps that look wonderful framed. There was a craftsman who made cool, funky vases and glass from vintage soda and beer bottles. There were booths with clothing remade from vintage items and several jewelers. We bought a pair of bird print earrings for our daughter.

The food trucks looked interesting and ranged from barbecue to Thai food. The food truck lines were long, so we decided to skip them that day.

The walkway between the two parking lots is dotted with shops. You will find people shopping, walking, eating lunch, and just relaxing.

A bonus Is the indoor flea market with vintage furniture, accessories, and clothing. It is on the block between the two parking lots. I found a sterling mechanical cat charm to take home with me.

Next time time you're spending a summer weekend in Boston, I recommend you check out SOWA Open Market.


Blending AutoPainter App (or any App that Reduces Resolution) with Original Photo – Tutorial

After much frustration trying to figure out why I could not successfully blend a version of a photo that has been worked on in certain apps with the original photo, I found these apps actually reduce the size of the photo when they save it. Then when you try to blend the altered image with the original image, they can't be aligned.   Although some of these apps create wonderful effects, their low resolutions decrease their usability. One such app is AutoPainter. Here is an easy fix for the problem. In this tutorial, I will be using AutoPainter, but the process will work with any app that reduces the photo resolution when it saves the photo.

I will use this photo of Boston townhouses and make a painted version using AutoPainter.

townhouse photo

Tutorial - Blending Autopainter Version with Original Photo


1. Apps:

  1. AutoPainter HD, AutoPainter, AutoPainter2, or AutoPainter 3
  2. PhotoSize (Danny Goodman)
  3. IResize
  4. Image Blender

2. IPAD or IPhone

3. Photo in Photos app Camera Roll


1. Open AutoPainter. Click on folder icon at bottom of screen. Select photo. Select artist style (or art style if using AutoPainter2).  Here I have selected Benson.

photo in AutoPainter

2. (optional) If you want to mask area to retain more detail, click on the brush icon. You are taken to a masking screen, where you can use the brush to roughly mask in areas. You have a choice of three brush and three eraser sizes. When you are finished with the masking, click the check mark on the bottom right of the screen. You are taken back to the painting screen.

AutoPainter blending mode

3. Then click the green circle icon with triangle. The program will start the painting in the style you have chosen. You can click on the "X" icon at the bottom of the screen at any time to stop the painting process if there is a stage you like. Here I let the program completely finish its painting.

AutoPainter rendering started
Here AutoPainter is further along in its painted rendering of the photo.
AutoPainter rendering further along

4. After AutoPainter is finished with its rendering, click on the down-facing arrow icon at the bottom right of the screen to save the altered photo.

AutoPainter rendering finished

5. Now open PhotoSize. Choose original photo and write down the dimensions. Then choose AutoPainter photo and notice that the resolution has been reduced.

original photo in PhotoSize
AutoPainter version in PhotoSize

6. Open IResize. Click on Photos at top left of screen and choose the AutoPainter version photo.

AutoPainter version in IResize
7. Click on Resize. Clear out numbers in height and width fields and type in the values from your original photo. Click Resize and Save.
Resizing AutoPainter version

9. Because you have resized the AutoPainter version of the photo, you can now go into Image Blender and both photos will be the same size for blending nicely. Click on the square box on the bottom left of the screen. Then select the original version of photo or the  resized rendered version for the bottom layer. Click on the square box on the bottom right of the screen to add the other version.

AutoPainter version in Image Blender

9. If you want to mask part of the top layer or move it, tap the screen to bring up the pop-up mask/arrange window. Click on mask or arrange to go into the masking or arranging mode. In the masking mode, you can use an eraser to erase areas where you only want the bottom layer to show. In the arrange mode, you can move and resize the image. Here I am leaving the top image image as is.

Image Blender showing mask/arrange window

10. As you are working in Image Blender, you have more options. If you click and hold on the screen you get another pop-up window with copy, switch, and flatten options. You can switch the top and bottom layers, copy the image you have blended on the screen, then flatten the layers. Then you can add a third image or add the copied image by clicking on the bottom right square. One of your options will be to select from pasteboard. That option will add the copied version. For this image, I am leaving the photos as is.

Image Blender showing copy, switch, flatten pop-up

11.   Moving the slider at the bottom of the screen will determine the opacity of the top layer. Moving it to the right will make the top layer more opaque. Moving it to the left will make it more transparent. Clicking on the Blend button at the top left of the screen gives you many different blending options. You can go down the list selecting them and saving the versions of any you like.

Image Blender showing blending options window

Here is my finished blended photo incorporating the original photo and the resized AutoPainter version.

Blended photo



ToonCamera - playing Around With the iPhone

I recently got an iPhone and have been trying out lots of photography apps.  A new favorite is ToonCamera.  You can shoot movies or take photos in a few cartoon and sketch styles.  There are also basic adjustments you can make to the styles.  The view finder shows the cartoon style, so you can see what the finished image will look like as you shoot.  A very fun, easy-to-use app reasonably priced. Here is a short video I shot of our dog Chloe.



Homeschooling and a Journey to College

Performing on Unicycle As promised quite awhile ago, here is my final homeschooling post.  (Our daughter is now a sophomore in college.)

Our daughter was homeschooled from age three all the way through high school. She knew she wanted to go to college at an early age, so although our homeschooling style was very unstructured and eclectic, we made sure she covered the requirements she would need to get into college. We kept records of any projects she did, outside classes she took, and requested letters from teachers describing the classes and how our daughter did in the classes.

We joined a homeschool support group when our daughter was three, and at one time belonged to three groups.  We did most activities with one group, but went on field trips and occasionally joined in on  activities with the others.  We also joined a homeschool co-op when she was nine and attended one to two days a week for several years.  Our daughter had the opportunity to teach a Circus Skills class there.

Although homeschooling is legal in the U.S., the various states and even towns have their own homeschooling regulations. Our town's public school did not allow homeschoolers to participate in any classes or activities, so she could not take AP classes there. We were able to find online AP classes for calculus, history, and English literature. Our daughter took junior college or university classes in English, math, science, history, and language and took SAT subject tests or AP tests in those subjects. We found out that taking the PSAT test specifically in October of the junior year of high school was a requirement in order to compete for the National Merit Scholarship.

For more about our high school homeschooling see post, Homeschooling a Teen.


If your child has a goal of attending college, do research to find out what your child needs as requirements for the goals she/he has. What we did that worked for us:

1. Start gathering information early.  Books and homeschool support groups are wonderful resources.

2.  Keep good detailed records of any and all classes and activities that could possibly come under the heading of homeschooling. Think outside the box.   For example, a trip to an art museum could go under "Art" or "history".  Playing regularly scheduled basketball with homeschool friends counts as P.E.  Playing games such as "Yahtzee" and "Hare & Tortoise"" teach math skills. I kept a record for each year subdivided into "subjects".

3. Call colleges and talk to admissions offices. Ask specific questions such as which they prefer for high-school science classes -- AP classes online, but without labs or lab classes at a local junior college. What do they require for languages? Are AP tests important? How many SAT subject tests are required and are there any specific ones they want applicants to take?

4.  Utilize the College Board. It's a huge wealth of information.  We signed up to be able to use all the resources.  You can check out information on various colleges, find out test dates for SATs, APs, SATIIs and register online for most tests.  They have practice test questions and AP course and exam  description downloads.  The store has an online study course our daughter took - much cheaper than the Kaplan tests, for example.  We also bought AP recent exam books and other study material for the exams.

5. Have child take SAT subject tests right after she has finished taking the equivalent of high school requirement for each subject even if it is in 8th grade. Most colleges require 2 - 3 SAT subject tests. Some schools have a preference or even a requirement for specific ones.

6.  If child is interested in competing for the National Merit Scholarships, find out the date as early as possible and make sure she is signed up before the deadline to take the required PSAT test in October of her/his junior year in high school.  There some schools such as University of Oklahoma who offer free-ride scholarships to National Merit Scholarship finalists.

7.  Take outside graded classes and subject-specific standardized tests if possible.  Our daughter took outside graded classes every year during high school.  Colleges like to see outside class grades and standardized test scores in addition to independent work done at home.  (Our daughter took the National Latin Exams and the Le Grand Concours {National French Exam})

8.  Join a support group.  It's great for socialization and comradeship for both child and parents.  We had our own science and math fairs, history days, and just fun board game days.  Families can also get together to work on projects or study subjects together.

9.  Get out of the house.  We went on field trips to historical spots, science centers, art museums, factories, farms, the Perkins School for the Blind (a fascinating tour at the school Helen Keller attended -- we even got to try writing some braille.)  During the summers we went to the beach or a swimming park with our homeschool group.  We played volleyball together at a local park.  During the winters we went swimming at an indoor pool, played in a gym, went ice-skating.  We did rock climbing.  Some families in our group even organized group skiing lessons.  Any work and/or volunteer experience is also invaluable.

Good luck on your journey!


Kelly Kilmer Workshops and Art Journaling

tape journal Last week (December 29 and 30) I took 2 days worth of Kelly Kilmer art journaling workshops at Ink About It, a rubber stamp store in Westford, MA.  Kelly was a wonderful teacher and the classes were great fun.

I learned how to make two simple journals with 40 pages each.  One was made of a smooth 140 lb. paper and had decorative tape covered cover pages. (See above.)

The second journal was a hardback journal with a sewn signature and a variety of papers used for the pages.

hardback journal

We made each journal in a very short amount of time which was very liberating.

Inside of hardback journal with collaged and journaled page

The rest of the workshop was spent working on some of the pages.  Kelly had inspiring ideas on designing journal pages and also a ton of writing prompts.  We tried out lots of supplies (many were new to me) -- various pens, decorative papers and tapes, stamps, and transparencies.  The way Kelly paced the classes so that we worked very quickly without too much planning  made art journaling seem like a doable rather than an overwhelming process.

Inside page of tape journal with collage and ink drawing

Collage page with journaling