Sunday, May 31, 2009

Totally Awesome!

Doe With Twins
Jan Gibson

I just wanted to share a wildlife photo with you that I took with my new camera this morning.

First, a little background so you'll understand my enthusiasm. Our driveway is about a tenth of a mile long and has pecan trees on one side and pecan and peach trees on the other. It's a "far piece" from the back of the house (where I was trying to hide) to the area where the deer were under the pecan trees. Not only that, but it was getting ready to rain so the morning was pretty dark. As any photographer knows, the more extended the zoom, the more light is needed to get a decent photo.

This was a situation that my old camera would have refused to even consider taking a photo and would have laid down without even attempting the shot. With my new Canon, I not only got to take the pictures, but they actually came out fairly well. The fact that they weren't all perfect was operator error along with the conditions and not the camera's fault. However, Christine (from Creative Life Studio), an accomplished photographer, told me that even professionals take hundreds of photos to get that one that's absolutely perfect so I guess I don't feel too badly about these.

No, they aren't perfect, but I did get photos good enough to be used as painting references which has been my goal all along. And, I hope as I keep practicing, I'll get shots that are better and better.

Just doin' the happy dance here!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

After the Memorial Day Holiday

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day and gave more thought to the reason for it than to the food on the grill.

We had a quiet day which is always nice. We really don't like to go anywhere on a holiday because most of the time the crowds are overwhelming. However, we did go to Chapel Hill on Sunday and ended up going to Trader Joe's. It was the first time I'd ever been in one although I've heard about them before.

It too was very crowded which made it difficult to look at what they had available. We bought a few items and came on back home.

The country feels sooooo nice after a trip like that!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Introducing Chance


This is Chance, our male lab mix. He's just a month or two older than Coal and this is the first decent photo I've ever gotten of him! They both hate(d) getting their pictures taken and I probably got this one of Chance because I was ready for him when he came around the corner of the house. I also got it because this camera doesn't have the lag time that my old camera has so I snapped the picture and actually got it before he turned away. Don't pay any attention to his poor nose - this is the result of his last run-in with a skunk when he scraped his nose in the grass to rid himself of the spray. Unfortunately, it will sort of scab over but just doesn't seem to heal. I've tried numerous things including some ointment from the vet but nothing seems to work. I'm putting some Wounded Warrior on it now and hope that will do the trick. You have to be so careful since he'll lick it off but the WW is supposed to be ok even if they lick it. I just wish there was some way to get him to leave any medicine on long enough to do any good! I don't think I can bandage his nose!

Teresa from Blueberries, Art and Life had asked me abo
ut macro shots with the new camera. I had to go read the manual to find out about them but I'm pleased to say that this camera has both macro and super macro capabilities. I'm still figuring out the difference but I did take a couple of macro/super macro shots this morning and the feature works very well as you can see below. This is a macro shot. The super macro was a little blurry so I'm not posting it but I think that's operator error and not the fault of the camera!

One thing I found also is that there's an "aquarium" setting. I don't have an aquarium but I've tried to take pictures of various ones with my old camera and they were so blurry as to be unusable. So, I'm eager to find an aquarium and try this setting.

There are a lot of features to this camera that I may never use but it's nice to know they're there. Who knows, I may eventually figure them all out!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

New Camera & Thank You



I just wanted to thank you all for your support and kind words about Coalie's passing. And I wanted to tell you that I finally got a new camera. I have it out on a 30 day trial and if I don't like it, I can take it back.

It's a Canon SX10 IS and so far, I like it very much. It's a lot larger and heavier than my previous camera but I think it takes great photos. The camera does anyway, but I'm still learning the camera! lol

I've gotten some really nice shots of some of our flowers but I'm really impressed with the zoom on this thing! It has a 20x zoom and I extended the zoom completely and focused on a shadow in the area where we had seen the foxes earlier this spring. When I downloaded the photo, I could see that it wasn't a shadow at all but a weed growing in the hay grass. I could even tell that it was a broadleafed plantain! Think of the photos I'd have of those foxes if I'd had this camera back then!

I really think it's me and something I need to learn about the camera, but I cannot seem to get a decent photo of any of the wonderful birds we have here. I did get a good shot of a female bluebird but mostly, by the time I get the camera set, even on automatic, the birds have flown away! I need to learn to get the controls set quickly! It's just that the controls, such as the zoom and shutter, are in a slightly different place than they were in my old camera and working them hasn't become second nature yet. I've only had the camera since this past Sunday and a couple of days were very rainy so didn't get to play with it as I would have liked.

Anyway, if anyone would like to use the flower pictures above as a painting reference, please feel free. I've left them fairly large even though I had to resize them for the web and I did watermark them just to deter other uses. Please don't use them for anything other than a painting reference - they aren't public domain photos.

If you use them, I'd love to see what you do with them! I know Jeanette will be the first to grab one since flowers are a favorite subject for her to paint! lol

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sad News

I can't talk about it right now but I did want to let you all know that we lost our Lab mix female dog, Coal, this past Saturday evening. The post I did on her was one of the ones that has gotten the most response so I felt I should mention her passing. She was 14 years old and has been on heart medication for some time. Still, it's very hard to lose a member of your family. Perhaps in the future I can give her the glowing eulogy she deserves - right now, suffice it to say that she will be missed.

Monday, May 11, 2009

ACEO Painting Frenzy

All images copyright Jan Gibson

As you can see, I've been on an ACEO painting frenzy in the past few days. Most of these are watercolor with the little kitty being painted in gouache.

If I ever
finish my new website or find the right online sales site, these may hopefully find new homes! No matter, they were really fun to do anyway and even if I never sell any of them, I don't regret the time spent painting them.

Just in case you're new on the internet or to art on the internet or have been on an extended vacation and have missed it, ACEO stands for Art Cards, Editions and Originals. The cards have become highly collectible because they are affordable art. The only rule is that the size be exactly 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches. This is the size of one of the sports trading cards and ACEOs will fit into those plastic pages with sleeves used for those sports cards. Many people put the filled pages into a beautiful scrapbook or dressed up binder and used it for a coffee-table book.

Other people frame their little masterpieces either singly or several in a frame and hang them on a wall.

No matter how you display the ACEOs, collecting them is fun and you can get the art you like at very reasonable prices. ACEO prices start at just a few dollars and climb into the hundreds depending on the subject and popularity of the artist.

These little cards are also additive to paint even though it's much, much harder to paint small than it is to paint large. I've had a running contest with myself to try to pack as much detail into these little paintings as I would a larger painting.

Sometimes I win - sometimes I lose but it's always fun!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New Gouache Paintings

Cat in Gouache
Photo ref courtesy of Mendocino Animal Care
Painting copyright to Jan Gibson

Giraffe in Gouache
Jan Gibson

I'm still working on learning to paint with gouache and sometimes it seems to go well and sometimes it doesn't. Sounds a bit like life, doesn't it? lol

The cat on top was painted as if I were painting in acrylics using many layers and some brushes I bought that have jaggedy bristles and are supposed to be good for painting fur. They really are pretty good for that but it takes going over an area over and over using first one color then another until you get a fairly realistic fur pattern.

The giraffe was painted using more watercolor technique and I find I'm more comfortable with that method. Of course, that may just be because I've never really worked in acrylics that much and watercolor is much more familiar to me.

But no matter which method I use, I'm finding that I do like the gouache. I'm not so sure that I bought the best brand as I don't get that great a coverage when using lights over darks. It's not the bleed-through (I don't think anyway), but it just seems that the lighter colors and the white in particular are just more transparent than I thought they'd be.

Still learning so stay tuned as I find out more about them!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New Blog Award

Lori, from Twin Cedars Drawing Board has give me this lovely award that I'm to pass on to seven other people. It's always such a hard decision to make as there are so many deserving bloggers out there! Oh, my, where to start?

1. Brenda Thour

2. Christine at Creative Life Studio

3. Paulette at Becoming a Renaissance Woman

4. Lisa at Creations by LisaK

5. Carole at Reading Sully2

6. Vic at Art With a Pencil

7. Jeanne at Jeanne Grant

I hope everyone enjoys their award and thanks again to Lori for giving it to me in the first place!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Poppies and Web Pages

Red Poppies
Pastel on ColourFix
Jan Gibson

It occured to me that I've never done a complete pastel painting of a flower and I set off to rectify this oversight. However, it's not going that well and I just can't seem to get as excited about it as I should be. The subject is fine, my composition isn't and I just can't seem to finish it.

The problem is that I've gotten back into redoing my website, and I just can't concentrate on painting right now. I want to change my website to reflect the traditional painting media I now use instead of the digital medium I used when the site was first built. A lot has changed in the years since I first got a website and I've been hard-pressed to update my knowledge of web building technology in order to update my site.

I built my first website from scratch, hand-coding everything. Then I tried to give it a fresh look and revamped it again a year or so after it was built. Now it's been the same ole thing for several years but I'd lost interest in it as I became more involved in painting away from the computer.

But technology calls to me again and I don't think I'm doing too badly with it for an old lady who doesn't have any kind of computer training! The computers available during my college days were huge mainframes that took up whole rooms in large buildings and were used for business only. My first home computer was a little Tandy used for writing letters and playing games and we didn't even get dial-up internet out here in the boonies until after the year 2000 and have only recently gotten dsl!

But once we did get even dial-up internet service, I wanted to know all I could learn about web designing, web graphics and as much about the internet as I could possibly cram into this old head. It's been fun and I hope I'm keeping my mind "exercised" by learning all these new things.

I won't say I'm good at all of this; I have to admit that it's all a huge challenge and that's why it's taking me so long to get it all done. I'm still doing a lot of hand coding (and it's a real trip figuring out how to do some things) but I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and hope to have the site up in the next couple of weeks!

Maybe then I can get back to painting with a fresh mind uncluttered by html, xhtml, css, php and all those other letters that, like me, most folks don't understand! I just hope they don't add any more before I finish with what I have!