Apr 21, 2009

Little things . . . .

Little Thing #1


This is a simple 3 1/2 x 5 collage using a face and sky background from LandofEnchantment.etsy.com (Elements No. 1), a body from lisasalteredart.etsy.com, crown from whymiscalmusings.etsy.com, and wings from greatmusings.com, legs and shoes were scanned from a catalog and also altered. All pieces were slightly altered digitally before printing, were then carefully trimmed and all but the sky were

Little thing #2 - The number one question I get asked is about the hand-coloring I do. I've had people suggest I teach classes or write a book. It would be a very short confusing class or a very short 1 page confusing "book". I did not invent hand-coloring, of course. In fact, my grandfather was a studio photographer and my grandmother hand-colored all of the portraits before color film was perfected. The first few portraits of me as a child were colored by her. She died long before I knew I would want to know more about it. People have been hand-coloring photographs for a very long time and many, many do it far better than I and I have no idea what they have used over the years. I use a combination of Pan Pastels, chalk pastels, colored pencils, chalk pencils and ink markers, sometimes even watercolor markers or pencils - dozens of brands and kinds and no one thing in particular. What I use depends on the image I want to use. Some face images are darker or have more pollution than the neck or arms or legs I want to use and I may have to use several different combinations to get the closest match I can. Ink markers are difficult to use - you need a steady hand and have to be careful not to overlap or it will create streaks. I use all kinds of markers, even sharpies sometimes. Micheal's sells a couple of sets of photo markers that work well if you are careful not to overlap. The fact is, I can't explain how to do it anymore than many of you could easily explain exactly how you make your backgrounds or do your lettering that I can't do! Learning that sometimes you have to use yellow when it seems so wrong to change the tint of the grayscale before you add a peach color over it so the face won't look so blue. Knowing that sometimes you have to add gray over peach to tone it down. One key thing for me is a good sharp image to start with. I have to hunt and hunt for clean sharp faces that I can lighten and darken or change the contrast digitally to make it easier to color.

Which brings me to a little controversial complaint in searching for images. Little Thing #3 - I do not undertstand images sold in PDF files only. Some of you know how I feel about this. I spent nearly $50 on digital images today alone. I have spent hundreds over the last several months. I spent a long time on Etsy and the internet looking for images today that came as jpg.s. I found some but over and over today I read seller's descriptions saying "to protect the integrity of our images, they will come in a pdf file that cannot be unlocked or manipulated in any other program". In other words, you can print them out and that's it. I just don't understand this. I don't understand why I end up with more hot dogs than buns or more buns than hot dogs either, but that's another post . So many things to say.
  • First, it kind of takes the fun out of ALTERED ART to be stuck with an image that can't be altered, interpreted in size or color in any way other than how the seller wants it to be used. I think they expect you to just print it, cut it out, slap some glue on the back and call it a day.
  • Usually they make images for ATC's , inchies, dominoes, and other small formats. Rarely do I work in any of these sizes, ATC's sometimes. I want to be able to use an image in an 8 x 10 piece or 9 x 12, certainly 5 x 7.
  • I want to be able to make the head larger and legs longer and the arms shorter. I want to be able to make it wider and skinnier. I want to be able to make it ghostly pale or mysteriously dark.
  • I also don't want to waste ink printing out hair or hats or clothes or body parts or backgrounds or the same image in a few repetitive sizes that I'm not gonna use.
  • And, are people really happy with the idea of using images that are going to look exactly like someone else's?
  • To me, it's kinda like me saying to customers when they buy my artwork . . . "To protect the integrity of my work, you may only hang this piece I've toiled over in a light oak frame with scroll work on the corners over your couch facing North IF you have orange carpet in your house because that is the only way I think it will be well displayed." And NOT to compare me or my artwork to them, but what if Lynyrd Skynyrd said "You can only listen to Sweet Home Alabama if you promise NOT to sing along or dance since we know you don't know how to do either one well"
Now, in their defense, I know many image sellers spend a great deal of time cleaning up and fixing vintage images for resale. I do appreciate and marvel at that work. I do not possess the skills or knowledge to do that. Maybe that is part of why this frustrates me so. I see these beautiful images that I can not use. I think they must simply be afraid people will alter the images and resell them.
  • If someone really wanted to do that, they could print the sheet, scan it and alter it anyway. Bad people will always find a way to be bad.
  • I don't understand the "protect the integrity of our images" part. Why make images for altered art artists that can't be altered?
  • How else is it hurting the seller if the image is altered?
  • Wouldn't it create more business if images could be altered so that artists could have a huge variety in their work and therefore return to buy more images they can alter? Or be inspired by another artist's work, purchase the same images and create something completely different using the same image? Who wants their work to look like someone else's?
Just a bit more on purchasing images. I have gotten so close to purchasing some and then read the fine print. Some image sellers do not allow you to use their images in anything other than original works of art. In other words, you cannot make an original piece using their image and then sell prints or postcards of that work. You can't use it in CafePress or Zazzle or any of those places without paying more money for the use of that image. Just be aware and read the fine print. If you've followed me at all you know I am reasonably careful about copyright and giving credit for images that I use so I just wanted to pass that along so you don't get in trouble. Okay, got all of that off my chest after many months of biting my tongue. I don't mean to stir a pot nor do I mean anyone any ill will, I just don't get it! Wishing I could wave my magic wand and make the world a little more perfect.

Little thing #4 - To show my EXTREME appreciation for the flexible, wonderful, reasonable sellers that I have purchased images from and that I love to use and have made money from, I'd like to share with you some of my favorite places to purchase images. No doubt you have seen them listed in my work descriptions . . . .

(they are linked if you want to click on them)
justlilies.etsy.com (first place I've found that sells png.s which can be transparent!)
(*I tried to make each listing a different color or all the same color and, as usual, my blog has a mind of its own and colored them how it wanted to. I really need to learn to write html)

Little thing #5 - and maybe my favorite thing to share tonight. I ran across this blog the other day looking for boat images. I didn't get any images here, but I did find a delightful project that I intend to get involved with. Paper Boats.

photo copyright Lynn Taylor

Be sure to read about this project! It is a very cool one to be involved with. I will be organizing a send off of boats in early June if you are interested! (details to follow soon)


Joanne B Kaar said...

Thanks for spreading the word..every little helps.


June said...

Hi my friend. I read a few of these but not all your little things as short on time so will be back.
In the meantime i wanted to first say i ADORE your new one and that we seem to be in the same frame of mind as i am just about to post a similar themed collage on artyretreat :)
Secondly .... I love to colour and alter photographs in a similar way but you have more than a flair for it, you do it PERFECTLY ... mine never look that good lol.
Ok and lastly ... onto the pdf files .. i do know what you mean and i have made downloads and do make downloads for sale in digital that are plain old jpegs .. i am currently working on a set.
BUT .... I also have a MASSIVE collection of photo's.images,backgrounds,vintage,and more that are totally free to just click and save to your pc .. they are on my art freebies blog but you need to look through all the archived posts for the ones you want as i post new sets every day.
They may be useful Marsha. They are collected from myself, old postcards, wikmedia commons, art freebies members and other sources
Hope some of this helps
I will be back later to read more of your great posting :)
Hugs June xxx

Taluula said...

Wow that was a lot to read, but hey I know where you are coming from, and thanks for all the little tips.

Your latest piece is, as always, wonderful and those boots are a hoot.

Bravo my friend.

Terri Kahrs said...

Love this little fairy's shoes! Long post, but extremely informative. Hmmm . . . small print ?!?! Very interesting!

Leslie said...

Thanks for the "nuts and bolts" post! I enjoyed it. And, since I am one of the people who marvel at your hand-coloring, I am interested to know that it is a DNA-thing with you! It's nice to know that it can't be explained simply or that it comes to you intuitively. It confirms my belief that your color sense is magical!

Cathy Mendola said...

Love you little things! Particularly the art piece. Thanks for sharing about the hand coloring as I firmly believe you are the best there is when it comes to hand coloring! But the other little things are so fun and interesting to read. Your blog always makes me smile. I love it when you get "up on your soapbox" about something!

crafty capers said...

Oh I love those Doctor Marten Boots (being a Doc Marten wearer myself!) Thanks for all the image links. Lisa's Altered Arts and paperstreet are amongst my faves too. Kate :-)

whymsicalmusings said...

My dear dear Marsha. How wonderful to share your coloring techniques. I knew it wouldn't be easy to explain. It is you with the talented hands and the mixed variety of pens and the inspiration that make your works so unique!
And it is you that shares so freely, how much I appreciate you and your wonderful insight. I love the way you ponder over things. Things I to have pondered over but rarely find the right words to share with others. And that is why I find your blog so inspiring, your wit and talent so enjoyed. Have a magical day my friend.

Randi said...

I do similar hand coloring in my art, and it's interesting to read about how you do it. Thanks for sharing! As for the PDF files, I was going to suggest printing and scanning, but you beat me to it! As you said, there is always a way. Thanks for the list of suppliers...I'll check them out!!

aliceinparis said...

I hear you on the PDFs
LOVE the paper boat idea. Charming. Funny that the cottage is displaying boats from Nova Scotia...a school in Cape Breton!

Karen Mowrey said...

Wow, what a post! What I don't get is what makes the images belong to that person...Did they know the images personally and take their own pictures? How do "they" get ownership? I have always been confused so I never use printed images from the computer, only what I have in my vintage books and ephemera. I also have had a bad printer too and smudgy ink and paper or something which adds to me not wanting to even use online/computer images. I am very impressed with what you do with your images. I am also still giggling about the hot dog thing and the Skynyrd thing!