* Carmen Beecher * Cindy Michaud * Carol Schiff * Denette Schweikert * Donna Vines * Mary Warnick * Kathy Garvey *Fay Picardi * Jean Thomas

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Palate is a SELL OUT!

If you were lucky enough to purchase one of the limited-edition cookbooks, "The Artist's Palate," around the holidays then you will be very interested to know that we are sold out!  Yep, every single book is gone and we've had requests for more.  But alas, we are on to other projects so if you missed getting your own copy you will just have to borrow one or wait for next year when we unveil something new.  Our goal was to share the wonderful recipes we enjoy on our annual retreat, show you the variety of art our gang produces AND put a few bucks in our "kitty" for some education or supplies.  Mission accomplished, thank you all.  The feedback is that they made great gifts for friends throughout the holidays.

Quite a few of us are involved in a collaboration with quilters which will open in March --  we'll share the details here so you don't miss this free event.  The winter has also prompted us to dabble a bit and we've been experimenting with polymer clay, hand colored photographs and collage....it helps regenerate the idea-bank to go play in someone else's sandbox for a while! And you can bet we have had lots of discussion regarding our next great "gift-able" idea to be unveiled at our annual studio tour next December.  See you there!

Cindy (for all the Pieces)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cleaning House

Now that I have finally caught up on some things and it is well into the new year, for resolutions anyway, I am tackling some photo projects. One of these is to go through old art photos and get rid of them or save them to a disc.  This is really a good thing to do because you can see changes in your art and your interests as time goes by.
This photo is a hand colored black and white I did of Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, MA.  I haven't done any hand colors photos for a long, long time but my interest has been piqued by some new techniques a fellow artist alerted me to.  Seeing these photos reminded me how many wonderful ways there were to express yourself and how many talented people there are out there willing to share their talents and knowledge.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Orange Blossom Photoshop Experiment

In Home Depot a few weeks ago, buying paints to redo a bathroom and, as always, toured the floral department. They had lovely orange trees in bloom and my camera captured a few blossoms. When I had some time to play with Photoshop this week, the blossoms were my first choice. Usually I like to experiment with my favorite filters on the entire image, choose the filtered version I like best and use that to continue whatever I'm going to do with the photo. This time I decided to keep all of the filtered versions and then mask them to each other with different blend modes. So there was a little piece of each showing that I enjoyed just playing with. (For anyone interested, the filters were Graphic Pen, Colored Pencil and Photocopy. The blend modes were Pin Light, Hard Light and Luminosity, although probably not in that order.) One circular masked area was a little dark so I copied a section of the original blossom into it. After lots of other blends and experiments that I decided against, I took the original image, copied it above all my other layers and added a gradient mask to reveal the layers underneath. I've decided it still needs something and plan to go hunting for an orange grove to photograph so I can blend it into the bottom right of this image. Anyone have a picturesque orange grove?

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I am having a painting give-away on my Etsy sites.  Every time you purchase a painting from CarolSchiffStudio or my other site, CarolOnEdge, between January 1, 2011 and March 31, 2011 you will win a chance in the drawing.  Now I would like you to think that I will sell several hundred paintings during that time, but the truth is the number will probably be under 25-30.  So your chances would be very good of wining the free 6x8" painting which is a $99. value.  This is my way to thank those of you who support my Etsy sites and original art.  I will announce the winner on April 1st.  No Joke!  Good luck!!

It's just a bunch of carrots, but it  reminds me of one of my favorite meals, Beef Bourguignon. With another cold front on it's way and the possibility of more freezing temperatures, a day at home with a meal simmering in the slow cooker sounds like a win/win situation.  Give it a try!

Purchase here
'Just a Bunch of Carrots'
4x12, oil


2 TBS olive oil
8 slices bacon, diced
4 lbs beef chuck roast cut in small cubes
Pepper 8-10 carrots peeled and sliced diagonally
4 yellow onions sliced
4 large cloves chopped garlic
4 cups red wine
2 cups beef broth
3 TBS tomato paste
1 tsp thyme
1 1/2 lbs sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup flour

Mix flour with salt and pepper.  Dredge beef cubes, then brown in olive oil.  Put in slow cooker.
Saute bacon, onions, garlic, more salt and pepper until slightly brown. Add to slow cooker.  Add the red wine and enough beef broth to cover.  Add the tomato paste and thyme. Cook on approx 8 hours, until meat is very tender.  During the last hour, saute the mushrooms and add them to the stew.

Delicious smells will permeate your home all day.

I like to serve this with home made mashed potatoes or salad and crusty bread.
Think of me while you are enjoying this.
Carol Schiff

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Collage Time

After many delays I am starting a new collage project.  I have most of the design done but need to do some practice pieces to get the feel of the process itself and see what my larger collage would look like.  It is a lot of preparation but the getting messy part is lots of fun.
I have taken two wonderful workshops with Derek Gores and stumbled upon a very different but equally as wonderful artist, Elizabeth St. Hillaire Nelson.  Her process is completely different and I hope to use a combination of both styles to complete my final collage.  Elizabeth has a great blog www.ElizabethstHilaireNelson.blogspot.com  take a look, I know you will be impressed and love her work.
This is a pear I did to get the feel of working with the glue, paper and the tearing of the paper.  I think it will be an interesting, fun project and hopefully a beautiful one. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Just Playing Around

I like to take a simple doodle and then play with it in Illustrator and Photoshop just to see how far I can go. (Maybe because I'm trying to learn how to stop before I kill the entire design with pattern before I ruin the composition like I often do when I paint.) So here's my first doodle of the new year. The Illustrator version was just called Broken Vase. (Not sure why I love a nicely shaped vase with a break, but all my doodled vases seem to have them.) Once I added a scene to the window in Photoshop, I decided that the flowers were thinking of escaping so the Photoshop version became Thoughts of Escape.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Keeping a New Year's Resolution or two

I'm fairly new to the Pieces of 8 and one of my New Year's Resolutions was to start posting to this blog. It took me a while, but here it is! Another resolution was to submit a design to something online. The above is a fabric design submitted to Spoonflower.com for one of their contests. This contest was called Large Botanical and just required that the image use the assigned color palette. It took me a while in Illustrator and Photoshop to finally get it together and submit "Moonflower" above. Two resolutions down, only about 30 more to go! Joining the Pieces of 8 has definitely been an inspiration. Can't wait to go paint today.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Well, we are sort of back, dribble by dribble.  Some of the pieces were scattered to the four winds and some stayed home but we all had lots of shopping, cooking or company over the Christmas holidays.  We are slowly getting back into it.  We have only had one day together in a long time so our postings are a little slow but we are all excited to be back.
Even though is is not as warm as it usually is in sunny Florida, it is a heck of a lot better than most places, especially Northern England where my sister Barbara is visiting this winter. She took this photo in back of the house where she is staying.  She was taking the dogs for a walk along the moors and stopped by the church cemetery for a peek.  She is a wonderful photographer and I just love this photo, it is full of hard, cold, softness.  I had to share it.