Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Highclere Castle

This is the revised page one of my digital altered book. I like it MUCH better. I tried to use the diagram that was given in the original book, but it just didn't do much for me. After a lot of time spent trying to get that page to look decent, I was just never satisfied with it. I want each page to show the splendor of actual castles and my original page one just didn't work.

I've got five pages finished. I am really happy with the way the book is progressing. I'm itching to start the haunted castles next, but I've got to concentrate on this one. I think I'll have more than enough images to fill it out.

One thing that slowed me down today was internet connection problems. I could rant on and on about that, but enough said. Some days just aren't going to go smoothly and it's up to me how I handle that. I'm trying to maintain a positive attitude and continue with the plan for today. I'm back online now and that's what matters. How's that for accepting adversity with a smile? ;)

Speaking of positive things, I've got more beautiful papers to scan in today. I found some gorgeous paper with French text written on it, some very frilly girly paper with crowns and diamonds (total whimsy), and a real different sort of background paper with a chalkboard effect. It will be interesting to see what I can come up with to add to these.

I'm investigating the pens and tablets that are out now for computers. I've got my eye on a WACOM tablet. I'm still in the investigation stage, but it looks like a lot of fun! There are so many choices out there when you really start looking. It's a little overwhelming. We'll have to actually go see a few of these in action. After all, my birthday is coming up next week... That's all for today. Will keep you updated on these and other events.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wonderland Dreams

This was a digital collage I put together yesterday after coming across this gorgeous Alice in Wonderland paper at I think I must be going through my second childhood because I can't get enough of the whimsical images I seem to constantly come across!

This one was one of many that came up when I searched under the word "fantasy." I am usually looking for fairies and art of that sort to use in my collages, but I was delighted when this little guy popped up! There was also a digital kit of elements to go along with it. The designer's username is Tempus Fugit and she has a blog full of beautiful freebies at .

The little doll at the bottom left was one of my images. I decided to give him some playing cards which are repeated in the bottom middle image of Alice and the frog at the door. They are each holding the same playing card. The black and white image of the girl and the tag that the rabbit is holding are part of the Alice kit. The rest of the goodies are mine that I've collected along the way.

I've been reworking page one of my Castles and Palaces digital altered book. I completely threw out what I had done. After looking at it and living with it for awhile I decided it wasn't what I had in mind. So I have a much better alternative now. I will post it tomorrow. I was also fortunate enough to find some beautiful castle interiors for the inside of the book. I've added my little fairy ladies, all with gold gossamer wings. The pages are coming along nicely now. I'm just about halfway through with the book. I've already got another idea for the next one. It's going to be the same book but they are going to be haunted castles. I already have a ton of images for that one. Now I just need to create some haunting people to put into them.

I picked up the latest issues of Somerset Studio and Artful Blogging today. Those are always fun to page through and they are so full of inspiration. I was thumbing through one of Stampington's other magazines, I think it was Somerset Life and came across the most unique idea: using doll clothes in art. It sounds strange, but the finished pieces in the magazine were really cool! Who knew you could make use of old doll clothes. They are so cute, too. Hmm... the wheels are turning.

There was also a little booklet on altered canvasses. You know, those blank canvasses you get at the craft stores? You paint those up however you want, and then decoupage your own papers, images, etc. to match your decor. How cute those were. I have more than my share of blank canvasses stashed away in the closet of my studio. So, there's another idea to remember for those. I have a project notebook that I jot all of these wonderful ideas down in, otherwise they would be lost forever. That way, I can get to them in my own time. More to come tomorrow...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Spontaneous Collaboration

HOME (by Ramona Davis)

I'd like to live in the kind of house
with plenty of windows
so my muse can see the beauty
of the trees
and the creek across the way.

I'd like to live in the kind of house
where the floor creaked slightly
as old ghosts came out to play
and sip coffee
they'd like my cappuccino best

I'd like to live in the kind of house
whose haunts come from the past
and not from me
where freedom dwells and my life is my own

I'd like to live in the kind of house
that I could call a home.

Published March 27, 2008, by PoeticJava

At the Artella website we have bi-weekly contests that are meant to inspire both artists and writers. The latest contest was called Spontaneous Collaboration. The challenge was to find a piece of art, either written or visual, from the gallery or blogs at Artella and to issue a response to it, either in writing or visually.

I love the poems of Ramona Davis. Her blog is called PoeticJava and she usually posts a poem a day. Not only is she very prolific, she's an awesome poet. The link to her blog is .

I had already altered the above photo in another post, but after reading her poem I was inspired to alter it again, using the ghosts that she mentions in her poem. I especially liked the line as old ghosts came out to play. This brought to mind children and dolls and frivolity. I thought I would add vintage dolls to all of the windows and the little fairy girl balanced on the gate; all of these images would be a memory of times past that took place in this house. Again, I just love this house! As soon as I saw this photo in the Artella Daily Muse it grabbed my attention and has been haunting me ever since. I imagine I will find more uses for it in the future.

This challenge has brought forth a lot of very good responses. Someone even chose one of my pieces of art to write a poem to! I was very flattered when I saw her poem. Her blog is called Ophelia Blooming and the link to the collaboration of her poem and my art is .

I hope we do more of these collaborations; they are fun and inspirational!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Fairy Castles and Palaces

Here is the before version of the cover to the book I am altering. Now, with a little embellishment, here is what I have done so far:

I'm pretty happy with it. There are always things I want to change after it's finished, and I may still do that. I do wish the fairy showed up a little better. I couldn't make her too big or she would be as tall as the door. That is not what I had in mind!
The first two pages are somewhat complete. On page one, I've used the old black and white photo that was included in the book. It needed a lot of help in order to stand out, but I think I've done it justice. Now I am on the hunt for some photos of the interior of a castle or palace. Once I can find something suitable, then I'll be able to place my own people and elements inside the photo.
Speaking of that, I found out the term used for the kind of art I am currently obsessed with. It's officially called altered photography. I found a very nice book by Angela Cartwright on various techniques for altering both digital and traditional photos processed from the lab. This will be a great resource in the future.
Page one will be posted tomorrow; the before and after versions. Stay tuned...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Whimsical Follies ATC

This was a fun card to make. All of the images are so whimsical. I came across the cutest project book called Fanciful Paper Projects by Sandra Evertson. It is full of images to copy and directions on how to make your own fanciful art. This little girl, the jewel in the bottom left corner and the background papers are all from the book! It is so much fun to look through, you feel like a kid again.

I have started on my next digital altered book about the castles. I finally have the title in my head. The original book was called Romantic Castles and Palaces Described by Great Authors. I changed the title to, Fairy Castles and Palaces Described by Isabella! I finished the cover and the first two pages. I am still tinkering with the all of these. I'm always making little changes here and there when I look at them the next day. I'll post the latest version of the cover tomorrow.

I was lucky enough to use some beautiful photos of actual castles in Ireland that my BFF Sharon took while she was over there. Thank you, Sharon! You will see these in the next book. They are awesome. I always knew I wanted to do something with those photos when she sent them to me. I embellished these with a great scrapbook "stack" tablet called, appropriately enough, Fairytales. There are some really nice papers in there. These are the real deal, not digital, so I had to scan them. They are just too pretty to actually use! They have glitter on some of them, and just looking at some of those papers you feel transported back in time. They are gorgeous, and I got them for 50% off!

The digital book also comes with a few pictures of very old castles and I'll incorporate those as well. I'm trying to branch out with this book and use more of the book that's given to me. With the last one, I immediately covered up every page with my own papers. I felt that was how I wanted to proceed with that one. This one, however, does have more to offer that can be incorporated into what I want to do.

I had to learn a lesson in patience lately. I was distressed to see that when the Artella website posted my book in their gallery, along with all of the other beautiful entries, it had the wrong cover! Gasp! I contacted them and told them about it, and they said they would get right on it. It was a nice enough cover, it just wasn't mine. And the cover IS your first view of the book. Being the obsessive-compulsive personality that I am, I checked the gallery periodically (too many times, truth be told) over the next couple of days to see if the correct cover showed up and there was still no change.

I am not a patient person; ask my family. Even before the instant gratification of the internet and blogging and publishing things instantaneously, I have always been very impatient. So, I kept prodding them to please fix my cover. I wasn't rude, but they could probably tell my frustration. Anyway, it all worked out and it got corrected. I felt badly about pestering them about it, and posted a thank you in the forum naming the employees who really helped me out with the problem. I must remember to take a breath, calm down. Things have a way of working out; maybe not immediately, but they get there!

OK, enough about that. Stay tuned for the book cover tomorrow which is still subject to last minute changes...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Angels Among Us

Here is my latest ATC. I have been thinking about angels and fairies alot lately. I really believe that there are angels watching over us. This was the most serene picture! I loved it and thought it would make a nice card. I added other bits of ephemera from my collection. I love the colors, too.

The little girl seems to be unaware of the protective presence behind her, just as we are when we are able to escape a near-miss accident or some other danger. After the shock of what could have happened, we often say that someone must have been watching over us.

As for the fairies, they are so cute, how could you not believe! We'll just leave it at that...

I came across a bookbinding machine yesterday and had to have it. Have you seen all of those custom hardbound books that you can send away for using your own pictures? This machine gives you the hardback covers and the machine to bind your pages to the covers! So you make your own books using your own paper and images. No sending away to have someone else bind it. It's the same nice hardback cover, too. The covers come in landscape and portrait. Oh, the possibilities with this...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

French Country Home

This picture of a house in the French countryside was posted on the Artella website in their Daily Musepaper. I just love this scene! I added the iron gates, the stairs off to the right and, of course, my little ladies.

The Daily Muse used the picture as a writing prompt. It asked you to write about what emotion the picture brought out and any other thoughts you would have if you were to visit this house. I think the house evokes a very peaceful feeling. Situated out in the woods, it's a very calming scene to me. This would be a place I would love to come to and just relax, wander the woods, take some photos and do some writing. It looks like it would be nice and cool there nestled in the trees with all of that lush greenery surrounding you. Who wouldn't want to just burrow in?

I decided to put one of my ladies on the steps reading a book; a perfect spot for that! The other has been relaxing in the courtyard which I imagine is off to the side of the house. I really loved the house and wanted to give it a few little flourishes.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fairies at Rest

Everybody has to rest sometime! Even these little ladies. I am gathering more images for my next digital altered book (DAB) and I think I'll find room for some of these little ones. You can click on the picture and see it full size. I love the foggy background. Maybe I can find a place for this scene outside one of my castles...

Today is a gorgeous day here. The earthquakes settled down and there was no more activity after the two mild ones yesterday. Even though they were mild, everyone around here agreed we didn't want to experience any more shaking.

I mailed off my ATCs and now await my trades! In the meantime I have to start thinking about the next ATC swap with the theme Sherlock Holmes. That will be a fun one to start gathering images for. As usual, when they are finished I will post them here.

Btw, I won 3rd place in the DAB contest at the Artella site! I entered it because I wanted there to be a variety of books to look at. I was honored to place 3rd in the contest! It was a lot of fun, and I think there will be more contests to come. I'll keep you posted.

Now I'm off to explore outside today. Too gorgeous a day to spend too much time at the keyboard!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Last Minute ATC

I decided to do one more ATC for the batch to send. This one had the pink/purple colors I like and that remind me of fairies and all things mystical. Now I have to rush off to the post office and send these things off.

We had a small earthquake here this morning at about 5:30 a.m. My husband and I weren't quite sure what had happened. It sounded like something rolling down the roof, and then it sounded like thunder far off. The bed made a shuffling sound; it's hard to describe. I thought my cat had gotten up inside the box spring again and was trying to get out. That's what it felt like; like something running loose under the bed.

Then, awhile ago, at about 11:30 a.m. I was up here on the computer and the desk started swaying left to right. My monitor was tipping toward me a little. The house literally shook. The windows rattled. I headed downstairs and then it stopped.

I saw on the news that a 5.2 earthquake hit Illinois this morning. No word yet on this most recent tremblor. It was stronger than the one this morning. We don't usually have earthquakes here. I hope this isn't going to continue.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My ATCs are Finished

Here is the first card I did. I liked it so much that I'm sending out two of them! I used various digital scrapbooking kits and other elements from my collections. I liked the way it turned out and the colors are some of my favorites.

The theme of the ATC (artist trading card) swap was There is Magic in the Air and I naturally thought of fairies, since that is where my mind is artistically at the moment. Here is the second card. It's very similar to the first, but the background is different. I'm also sending two of these.

Here is the third card. This is something totally different from the first two in colors and it's more of a three dimensional card. I liked the graphics and the purple (my favorite color) really stands out in it.

Here is what the back of the cards look like. Under the words created by I stamped my name in a fancy alphabet stamp set I haven't used for awhile. I forgot about it, and now will have to start using it again.

Well, now I just have to get these things in the mail. I will get 4 in return and will post them here when I receive them. I'm trying to stick to all of these deadlines. I have also started on my next digital altered book. The book I have to work with is called Romantic Castles and Palaces. I'll play with the title and as I progress will post my work here.
More to come later...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

View at Castle Ruins

My next digital altered book will be about castles and this little lady will be in it. I loved the photo of the castle ruins and decided to embellish it a little. I'm still working on the night forest picture. That one is a challenge. I'm not as adept in Photoshop as I'd like to be, but I'm learning and these little exercises are good practice. If you click on the picture you can see the larger view.

I think I will incorporate some of my little fairies into my ATC cards which I have to get completed this week. Procrastination is my middle name! The theme is Magic in the Air, so I'll have plenty to work with. I have to mail these off, though, so I need to get on them and leave my little fairies for a few days...

Just thought I'd check in with my latest little lady. More to come...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Forest Fairies

Here is my latest addition to my fairy series. I found the paper and the bling all from Madame Mim and Milla Designs. I have amassed quite a gallery of ball-joint dolls' heads, bodies, hair, etc. and am able to mix and match them to create my own dolls! I just loved the face on this one and found a body that seemed to suit her fine.

My problem was what to clothe my dolls in once I had them created. I found a website that sells designer gowns and this one looks like it suits my lady nicely. I was able to size it down for her after a bit of manipulation. Seems to fit her fine now.

I'm having a good time with this series. I'm still working on the night forest one I mentioned in my last post. I can't quite get the right body for my doll head. Still looking. More to come...

Friday, April 11, 2008

New Projects

This is what I've been working on the last couple of days. I am still playing in Photoshop and now I've tried to bring a little magic into it. I just love fairies and mystical creatures! This is my attempt at merging real photos with magical elements and still have them look realistic. I'm not quite there yet, so this is my experimenting ground.

I am going to do another digital altered book, and yes, the next one will be about fairies and other mystical beings. There will be plenty more where these came from. I've been reading about the techniques that are used in trying to achieve this kind of artwork. I have alot to learn, but I'm coming along.

I also want to make a traditional altered book along the same lines. Wait until you see the next installment. You are not going to believe this next page. I still have to get a few more elements, but I have a good idea of what it will look like. Think about a magical forest at night and the creatures that inhabit it! That's where it's going.

More to come shortly.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Butterfly Fantasy

Update: My digital altered book has been added to this website! Click on the link at the sidebar to the right in the blue box under My Digital Altered Books and check it out! You'll notice I changed the front cover just a little. I wanted a little more color to pop out. I think it was an improvement. And yes, there will be more books to come!

Today I was playing with my favorite image of the little fairy girl. You will see her in my digital altered book in a few places. This beautiful background watercolor was a freebie given by Ratmomma, a member of the Artella website. She had a bunch of freebies on her website which can be found at . Check them out!

I am in a springy, playful mood today; probably still giddy from finally finishing that book! Now I move on to my ATC swap and must find some backgrounds for those cards. This project is not digital. It will be done the old-fashioned way: real paper, matte gel, cutting, etc. But I really enjoy that, too, so I'm looking forward to going through my stash of papers and other objects. The theme for this swap is magic. That should be pretty inspiring and I've already got a few ideas in mind.

I want to get outside today, so I'll keep this short. It is a gorgeous day; a continuation of the warmest weekend we've had so far! I want to get out there and enjoy the sunshine and maybe take a few pictures.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

More Pages of my Digital Altered Book

I wanted to include a couple more pages of my digital altered book before I move on to my next challenge. The page shown above is from the inside cover of the original book. I wasn't too thrilled with it, so I used one of my own digital papers to cover it up. I did like the shading of the blush color at the bottom of the page, so I kept that in. The paper I used blended perfectly with this color. Here is my altered view of the above page. This is the inside page when you open the cover:

I think this is one of my favorite pages! I got the zig-zag stitches (which happened to be the exact color of my paper) and the same cherish words I used on the front cover in a digital ephemera pack from I scanned the definition of cherish from my dictionary and enlarged it and pasted that in. The back cover of the original book was just the bare blue-green color. I added these digital enhancements:

I really like the finished look of each page. I should be receiving the URL for my completed book sometime in the next couple of days. When you click on that link you will be able to turn each page with your mouse. The pages actually flip back and forth like a real book. It comes complete with the sound of a turning page.
I am already looking for another one to do. All of this information can be found at the Artella website (see the link in my sidebar) in their Artella Shops. Just click on the icon for their shops at their main page and you should be able to find the link for their digital altered books there. The deadline for the digital altered book contest at Artella is tomorrow at 6 pm Eastern. Soon after that all of the entrants' URLs for their books will be posted at the Contest forum in Artella. I can't wait to page through everybody's entries. Now I have to get serious about my ATC (Artist Trading Card) swap. I have to create 5 of these and send them off. I will get 5 different ones from other artists in return. Artella has a forum for swaps. Check it out for details.

Nothing else new to report today. I see that my lilac bush is sprouting little buds. Hopefully it will bloom this year. Last Spring we had a late frost and it didn't get the blooms it usually does. I can't wait to take photos when it decides to bloom. I see the daffodils are finally starting to come up. We have beautiful blooming trees in the Spring here. As soon as they start to flower I will post the pictures. Sorry for the spacing in this blog post today. For some reason the formatting is not working.

Friday, April 4, 2008

My Digital Altered Book Cover

I am almost finished with my digital altered book! I just have one more internal page and the back cover to finish and then I can submit it to Artella for their book conversion software.

OK, here's how it works. The image you see above is what you get to start with. I happened to pick this book because I liked the title. There are about 30 titles to choose from, so you can usually find something you would like to work with.

When you get the digital kit, you get a front cover (like the one shown above), a back cover to match, and eight pages from inside the book. These are all taken from actual books that the copyright has expired on. All of the images are in jpeg format and you can alter them however you want. All you need is an image editing software package like Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

You can find tons of digital ephemera kits online at scrapbook sites. They are very cheap (about $2). You can also create your own ephemera by scanning objects like ribbons, frames, whatever you can imagine as a decoration, on your scanner. Then, save the images in a png format to make them transparent so you can place them into your pages. Any ephemera kits that you buy will usually be in png format for this reason. You can change the color of your ephemera using your Hue/Saturation setting in Photoshop. You can also alter the size of any frames, ribbons, etc. so they will fit your images perfectly.

Here is my "altered" front cover:

I liked the title of the book because of the dolls reference. My idea was to translate this into our kids, a.k.a. our "living" dolls. The pages on the inside of the book are all altered with my own digital papers and all of my own family heirloom photos. The ephemera on the cover was all purchased from, except the little heart at the bottom. That came from Artella shops.

The photo above shows my mother's little brother, David, as a baby. He died shortly after this photo was taken, I believe. She named my brother David after him. As for the photo on the right, I'm not sure if that's him. Maybe my sister can comment on this one.

As you can tell, I'm really excited about this little project. When I get the completed book converted into a digital book I will leave the link posted here on my blog so you can "turn the pages" and read my book! Artella has the rights to these creations, but I can post my link here and you can still view it. I'm under the gun to get this finished, though. I am entering the contest on the Artella website. Hopefully there will be alot of entries and books to thumb through when these are finished. The deadline is Sunday at noon.

If you would like more information about this project, just click on the Artella link on my sidebar. It is explained in much more detail there. I just wanted to post my progress on this. I will let you know when it is finished.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mom!

This is my favorite picture of my mom. She would have turned 68 today. I miss her so much! She died four years ago April 4. It's hard to believe it's been four years; they have gone by so fast. She loved to go to Florida every winter. In this picture she is tanned and just looks really happy. I love looking at this photo.

I have tried to keep busy today, working on different projects. I'm making some progress on my digital altered book, but have a lot more to do before the deadline of April 6. I will check in on my dad later tonight and see how he's doing. We all just cope the best way we know how.

I just wanted to honor her birthday today and tell her I love her. So, Happy Birthday, Mom!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Hear Me Roar!

Well, this is my theme for these past couple of weeks: frustration! Actually, this is a photo of my cat, Beanie, yawning, but it looks like she could be roaring. I'm in a cycle of frustrating ups and downs and I figure it has to break sometime soon. Maybe the fact that it's April Fool's Day will break the spell. Who knows.
All I can do is keep on plugging along and hopefully all of these disappointments and obstacles will go away. I am making progress on some fronts, though, and it's always good to keep your positive energy out there in front of you.
I am almost finished with my first mini-art quilt. I am still making some adjustments using Photoshop. But you have to know when to let go and move on to the next project. I like to keep tinkering with photos and backgrounds and colors, etc. but that usually keeps me from finishing something. I have learned a few new techniques and can't resist applying them to my photos. However, I must focus on finishing this piece!
Also making headway on my digital altered book. That is turning into a more complex project than I thought it would be when I signed up for it. When it's complete, I will post its link here.
So, I have allowed myself this brief intermission to ROAR out loud all of the frustrations of the past couple of weeks and now can get back to work.