29 December 2009

Graphics: Another Clipart to Colour Image

Well I was on a roll after my previous post on this same topic. Just a little creative play with graphics and it's so thrilling to see something magical evolve on your screen as a result. This was the original Dover clipart I started with...

Look to the previous post for links to the tutorial I used. For this clipart I've added a two-coloured background with a weathered, textured linen grain. Also, a few little brushed-gold brad elements.

28 December 2009

Liliums and Sunflower

I can sneek in a little from the garden now that Christmas is done. I'm often so tempted to add more 'flowers' to my blog but then it could innocently evolve into a gardening blog instead of a creative one.

In the leadup to Christmas I finally got to see the product of an 'end of June' planting out of some lilium bulbs. They'd been sent to me by a friend in Western Australia and I'd hardly imagined them to be so bountiful, so soon.

In early Spring I'd wanted for a mass of sunflowers against a trellised side fence. No luck with those because the slugs munched on them the moment they popped through the ground. So I tried putting a seed into a tub near the back door .............here it is now!

Sunny sunflowers, this one is Yellow Empress, are so cheerful and eye-catching don't you think? Will be saving the seed-head too, for the native parrots that frequent here (another post, for another day).

Graphics: Changing Clipart to a Colour Image

It was time to play again with graphics and the clipart I've worked with is from Dover.Tutorial used can be found here at Wouters Designs, or go direct to the tutorial link here.

I'm using Corel's PhotoImpact-X3 version, and have added a background of my own choosing. I found it at Shabby Princess; a wonderful kit donated by Urban Kiwi/2005. The alpha elements are also included; thanks to you Urban Kiwi.

Here is my Touch of the Orient ...

25 December 2009

Paper Cutting: Snowflakes

As it neared Christmas Eve, I just found some time to cut paper snowflakes (from Backstreet Designs), for the front entry. Ran them through the laminator and strung with fine cotton to the side-windows. Here's a pic. taken last night, on Christmas Eve for us.

Now it's Christmas morning, with an early snapshot.

Now it's time to make up some salads and get ready for family visiting today. The day will be much cooler than many before it, with the forecast for heavy rains starting in the late afternoon, and said to continue over several days.

23 December 2009

Poinsettias for Christmas

I’m fascinated that we can buy beautiful poinsettias at Christmas-time. They most commonly are so colourful here during our Winter months.

The fact that they’re a popular potted plant in the Northern Hemisphere for Christmas too when it’s so cold there right now .. (but we’re so hot)! The popularity of this brilliant plant, with such vibrantly coloured leaves, or bracts, has our nursery trades working hard to grow ours in controlled environments especially for Christmas trading; that’s pretty clever marketing. This interesting article on Gardening Australia explains the process.

We went shopping at the Bunnings Hardware this morning and couldn’t resist bringing this tub filled with two plants. It’s now sitting out by the front door, a great spot since it faces the South and gets good light, but no direct sunshine.

22 December 2009

Paper Candles: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Just recently on Yahoo group, The Scrapbook Lounge, Mike Strong passed on a great project for making paper candles. How simple, and so effective; imagine the many ways you can colour co-ordinate with your home using various scrapbooking papers, colours and textures.

Running ahead with Mike's concept, I've used paper doilys for my first candles. I can't wait to make more with other paper types, and I couldn't wait to upload a photo here. Even though it is daylight outdoors, I closed up shutters so's to get a pic. on it's way.

Thanks for a top idea!

You will find Mike's project and clear instructions here - just look for the Snowy Paper Candles post.

20 December 2009

Cardmaking: Christmas Cards

I've been missing in action, having fun working with Christmas cards (and others). Way too late in the year (and of course it'll never happen again), since I'd decided I wouldn't be making cards this year, and even had started sending store-bought cards.

Then I finally bought myself a Cuttlebug machine, after all other crafters have been using them for how many years? Some Nestabilities arrived next, as a result of online shopping from the U.S., and while learning to use my new-found treasures, I decided it wasn't too late to create for Christmas afterall!

These cards were created with About Art Accent stamps and backed with Peony Nestabilitie cut-outs. The Cuttlebug Swiss Dots folder has been my favourite for backgrounds; it seems to mimic a snowy effect all so easily. Like all other Cuttlebug owners, yes, I totally love mine too.

... And then, paper napkins provided the basis for many cards similar to this one.
Happy Christmas greetings to all who visit my blog; I hope you'll stop by often in the New Year too. I love to share with you my photos of creativity, what's happening in the garden, and others when I can.

Note: You can find pictorial directions for making Christmas cards using Paper Napkins, in my latest Helium article here.

01 December 2009

Favourite Flowers near Christmastime in Australia

Certain plants in flower now are a true indication that Christmas in nearing. We get to see many of the oh-so-beautiful Jacaranda trees growing here; generally on larger properties, but many too are in suburban yards.

Being a native to Brazil, the Jacaranda thrives in sub-temperate zones. I went back to this lane-way behind the shops on two days to get these photos. The first day was grey, and that shows in a close-up of the flowers a bit further on.

Just a short distance away was an Australian native, Illawarra Flame tree. The flowers weren't fully opened up but isn't the colour spectacular?!

Back at home now, and here's some of the beautiful hydrangeas flowering close to our front door. They're such an easy plant to grow too given they have shelter from the hot sun, and good watering. I bring big bunches of these indoors for Christmas day.

Further reading on these plants is in my articles at Helium: Growing Hydrangeas and also, Christmas in Australia.

09 November 2009

Hunter Valley Gardens, Part Two

To follow on from a recent post, I wanted to share another five photos to round off this visit. Yes I could've swamped my blog with garden photos; I love taking photos of anything in flower, trees and their barks, landscapes etc. To narrow down lots of photos to just a few is difficult.

From both sides of the Japanese pagoda ..

Inside the small chapel, across the lake.

Topiary horses depicting those on the Brokenback mountain range nearby.

And the finale' - a cool retreat under the weeping willows.

08 November 2009

Playing with Graphics using PhotoImpact

For the past few months now I’ve been slowly re-working my way through the Beginners Workshop (for PhotoImpact). The opportunity to learn how to use Ulead’s Photo-Impact for graphics manipulation, is available to all.

Volunteer mentors are assigned to each student to assist when needed, and more good news too is, that it’s a free workshop. If you’re looking to learn how to do creative things with your digital photography, PhotoImpact offers a most versatile and cost effective means to make it happen.

Having been through the Beginners Workshop six years ago, over time and with new interests taken on, I found I’d lost touch with some of what I’d learnt back then. I’m loving that I can re-aquaint myself again with the fabulous graphics creativity that can be achieved with PhotoImpact.

Two favourite projects within Level Two (there are 96 projects over three levels within the workshop), have been those from a most talented tutorial writer, Wouter Demoet. If you visit Wouter's website you'll find a comprehensive listing of the most wonderful tutorials available, and so much more.

First is Mitred Corners Frame that I’ve applied to a Fred Mullet rubber-stamped image, working with watercolours on watercolour paper. Suddenly this image was able to fit wonderfully in my Mitred Corner project application.

Second was a Plate Tutorial and, remember a post I’d just recently added with photos from Hunter Valley Gardens? Well, the violas are from a beautiful mass planting there too. I loved their delicate colours especially with an added watercolour effect.

You can check out the array of wonderful forums on PhotoImpact International site.

If you'd like to try PhotoImpact for yourself, just visit the Corel site, where you can download a free-trial of their latest version X3.

25 October 2009

Paper Cutting: Birds

It's been a long time between paper-cuttings. I'd finished this first one a little while ago but had been saving it till I could complete another to make enough substance for my next paper-cutting post.

This is a Dover Royalty free image; the silhouette of branches and the tiny birds is subject matter I'd like to work with more.

Next, a paper-cut showing one of our Wattle birds on a nest. Since it is our Spring-time, it's all happening still. Ironically, as I was standing beside an open window this morning cutting this out, a regular visitor to our garden .. the Wattle bird, was "singing" it's raucous song. It really made for an appropriate backdrop for my cutting session.

One Spring we could hear Mum Wattle bird making quite a commotion and found that one of her babies had fallen from the nest. Actually the baby bird was quite some distance from the nest when this photo was taken. As luck will have it we knew where she had been nesting and Des was able to get a ladder and put the little bird back in there.

So I'm adding this pic to finish off my paper-cutting post; it was a story with a happy ending that was timely to share with you.

19 October 2009

A day out: Hunter Valley Gardens

These gardens are set in the beautiful Hunter Valley of N.S.W., a location renowned for it's abundance of the very best of vineyards.

The construction of Hunter Valley Gardens, created by Bill Roche, started back in 1999 and were completed in 2003. Walk your way around 8 klms of pathways and see wonderful formal gardens which include an Indian mosaic garden, Chinese Moongate garden, an Italian grotto and a delightful Oriental garden. The maintainence of the gardens is seen to by 20-30 horticultural staff.

From the many photographs I took on our recent outing, I'd love to share so many showing various parts of the gardens. When I was browsing over the photos for this entry I decided to make it just .. a "Touch of Pink" theme.

I'll share more images from the Hunter Valley Gardens, on another post, at another time.

03 October 2009

Paper Cutting: Creating your own

Since I can't draw, my way to try and design an original paper cut is by working with my photo-editing/graphics programme, PhotoImpact X3. With an idea in mind, and some bits and pieces found on royalty-free Dover cd's, I'm able to build my own "compilation" if you like. The result is nothing like the images that I took parts from.

With your graphics programme you can re-work the proportions of any shape to suit the design you have in mind, even erase parts you don't want to keep. Then, with some added path-shapes you can paste extras on to eventually build your very own design.

If only I had an inherent drawing/sketching gene, but this is the closest I can get to making my own images. If you paper-cut your own designs, I hope you'll share your method of creating your own here with your comments.

21 September 2009

Crazy Patchwork with an Ocean theme

Today I unearthed an old stitching project. I think back .. and it must have been nine years or more when I was so enthused with Crazy Patchwork.

I loved working on this block at the time, playing with colours, imagining the ocean floor and what I could add to bring it to life. Sadly it is still ‘just a block’ and I'm still not sure what it could've potentially turned into.

I’m glad though that I could resurrect it and share here. Embroidery used to be one of my passions; I’m not sure how it got away from me! Maybe “one-day” I can pick it up again.
If you enjoy stitching, patchwork and embroidery; all those things can be rolled into one by creating a Crazy Patchwork block with a theme of your own.

Further reading on Crazy Patchwork in this Helium article I've written: How to Make a Crazy Patchwork Block with a Theme.

19 September 2009

Kookaburra in our Garden

I could hardly pass on sharing some pics of one of the kookaburras that frequent our garden every now and then. This morning we saw him fossicking in the garden for a bit, and then he flew around the house and sat on the retainer wall there.

We watched him from the window nearby as he stretched his wing and fluffed up to soak up some morning sunshine (thought no-one was watching!) Perfect moment for Des to go get the camera .. and these photos were taken from our side of the window too.

Turning back time now, with a search through my archived photos, I'm going to add a couple more pics with a kookaburra. These were taken November '04 when we would hand feed them (not anymore though).

We had just returned from a bush-walk and found that a kooka' was sitting and waiting out the back for feed-time. I tipped off my sun-hat and stepped out; this explains my "hat-head" profile, so you can stop laughing.

I wanted to show you how trusting a bird can become, if it means food.

17 September 2009

Paper Cutting: Willows in the Garden

I've been head down, butt up working with this Dover design since my last paper-cutting post. I loved the movement in the willow trees surrounding the pedestal and YES, it was very fiddly to cut.

Once I've gotten so far into a paper-cut though, there's no backing out. Why give up on the hard yards? The end is always in sight, and with it comes the satisfaction of seeing those hours evolve into a rather special paper portrayal of something that you just had to try your hand at.

I did deliberate whether to back with white or not, but decided the sage colouring married up nicely.

12 September 2009

Paper Cutting: Valentine

Yes I know it's a long time since Valentine's day, but anytime is good enough to cut a new design that takes your fancy.

From Ellen Brown's collection under the Valentines theme, this is Valentine with Fringe. I loved the bunnies under the tree and the birds etc. Ellen has a great selection of intricate Valentine designs with a vintage feel. There's many more there I want to try.

Thanks again to Ellen for sharing great designs for personal use, through her Paper Cutting Designs site.

10 September 2009

Australian Native Flowers

Today we visited the annual Flora Festival at Kariong, on the Central Coast of N.S.W. It's a place we love to visit each year for the fabulous floral displays; such a feast for the eyes.

Sharing with you some of our beautiful native flowers. Since many of my readers are from other countries, I'm sure you will enjoy seeing these, almost ... up close and personal.

The large pink flower to the left and bottom right, is the floral emblem for our state of New South Wales, and it's the Waratah. The most commonly recognised Waratah colour though is a deep, dark red. This beautiful soft pink is a hybridized variety. The little five petalled tiny white to soft pink flower is Geraldton Wax, a native of Western Australia.

These are all from the fabulous Banksia family; aren't they just magnificent?

More Banksias, and a stunning gumblossom on the left.