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

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Poet Laureate

We would like to introduce the new Pieces of 8 Poet Laureate, Fay Picardi. Fay writes beautiful poetry and is joining us in our artistic endeavors.  Fay is an internationally published poet who has twice been selected as an artist-in-residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. She has been a Fulbright Scholar at the Sorbonne and a Summer Fellow in Poetry at the University of Virginia. She has studied with Anthony Hecht, Denise Levertov, and William Stafford, among others.

Appalachia and Kentucky have been the inspiration for much of Fay’s poetry. She has a privately published book, Kentucky Poems, and a chapbook , Nana’s Sunday Dance. 
Except for one month in Italy each year, Fay and her husband, John, live in Grant, Florida. She travels frequently to New York, Washington, and Philadelphia where she visits her two daughters, other family, and as many art exhibits as possible. Fay’s favorite pastime is spoiling her 2 grandchildren, Maddie, 2, and Jack, 4.
As you can see, Fay is one classy dame. She is also a lovely and fun-loving person and we are so happy to have her.
posted by Carmen

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sketch of Steve Jobs, 24x30

This is my sketch for my latest project, and it is no Daily Painting. This one is a brain-strainer. I am presently collaging it, and as a woman I know used to say, I am "plumb wore out." The effect I want takes a lot of deep thought. My brain needs a rest now, so I need to do a no-brainer activity. Watch a reality show? Play Angry Birds?

I've got it! A nap!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Something to Crow About: Join me in going Digital

Crows are in right now. I'm not sure why. But they are fun to play with. I photographed this crow on a table in the Everglades (see original photo below). He was carrying on quite a conversation with my one year old grandson Leo. Leo has a comedic grunting language all his own that sounded exactly like the crow. He and the crow seemed to be communicating, although Leo never let loose the cracker that the crow was requesting.

This photo was so easy to work with, I thought it might make a fun tutorial for anyone wanting to play with digital like I do. If you have Photoshop and are familiar with it, the following instructions provide a tutorial on making the above image. I'll repeat this in Elements soon and write that up. And Qiang's workshop gave me the idea to repeat the same exercise in Gimp. (Progress will be reported on that also at a later date.)

  1. Grab the starting photo below. (Right click on it and choose Copy Image or Save Image As.)

  2. In Photoshop use the Magnetic Lasso tool to select just the crow from the color image and click Copy (Control C).

  3. Paste (Control V) him into a new blank image window sized 8x12 inches and 300 dpi.

  4. Clean up around any edges with the Eraser tool if necessary.

  5. Choose Image>Adjustments>Black and White and slide almost all of the color sliders to the far right. You'll know if it improves the contrast by watching the lights and darks in the image.

  6. Choose Image>Adjustments>Desaturate. This will take all the color out. If you want to adjust light and dark some more, try playing with the sliders under Image>Adjustment>Levels.

  7. Now comes the part I like, playing with filters. You can choose any you like. With your Crow layer selected, choose Filter>Filter Gallery. I applied the Cross Hatch filter and then added Poster Edges on top of that. I'd give you the exact numbers, but I don't know them, I just watch the window and play until I like it.

  8. Right now the background is just white. I added a new layer, filled it with Gray and added a pattern to it using the Add a Layer Style icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. You can add one of your own patterns or one of the millions available on the net.

  9. Next, add a new layer beneath this one. Leave it blank. Make the above layer active and choose Merge Down. Why? So you can add another pattern! That's the fun part. Use a different blend mode to combine the two.

  10. Add a new layer and add a "table" for the bird to sit on. First draw a rectangle with the Rectangular selection tool. Choose a neutral gray as the foreground color and fill it with the neutral gray by clicking the Alt plus Backspace keys.

  11. Add patterns to it just as you did the background.

  12. Type the word Crow or any other word and choose a font. This is Castellar at about 250 points.

  13. Now add a layer between your crow and the table and with a soft black brush paint in some shadows. You can then make the layer as transparent as you want by adjusting the Opacity slider on the Layers Palette.

  14. To refine the bird, add a new layer above it and use a white brush and draw a few highlights around the eyes and beak.

  15. For fun, add a layer beneath the bird and paint some feathers poking here and there.

Of course, you don't have to do what I did with it, you can just have fun with the crow image. For example, below I turned the same image into a memory for a scrapbook page for Leo.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Day 3 of Qiang Huang Workshop

I stopped in again on the final day of Qiang Huang's Oil Painting Workshop at the Artist's Guild in Melbourne. This time many of the paintings had already been put away and others were still in progress. (The photo above is a still life set up to paint.) Qiang was giving a presentation on using various tools like Gimp (free) and Photoshop (very expensive) for preparing photos of your artwork and on how to use the internet for marketing. I heard lots of comments about what a great class it was and what a wonderfully patient and brilliant teacher Qiang is. Hope he's back again next year. If he is, we're sure to announce it on this site so stay tuned. Following are a few photos I managed to take.

Above, a student painting in progress of the beautiful still life at the top of this post. Below, another still life and two of the student paintings in progress.

Below, Qiang presenting his process for preparing photos of his paintings for marketing purposes.

For those of you who would like to know more about Qiang and his work, here's that link to Qiang's blog.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Day 2 of Qiang Huang Workshop

I stopped in on the Qiang Huang Oil Painting Workshop in the Artist's Guild in downtown Melbourne at the end of the day today. Some people had already packed up and left so I couldn't capture all of the exciting paintings. Qiang did another wonderful set up and painting that is captured above. He demonstrates in the morning and then assists the artists with setting up interesting arrangements and then guides them as they paint. Wonderful and intense all at the same time.

Here is a picture of Qiang captured as he was putting things away at the end of the day. If you would like to know more about Qiang and his work and future workshops you can visit his blog at Qiang Huang.blogspot.com.

Following are some photos from the day of both the beautiful arrangements, the paintings in progress and some artists still at work to give you a feel for the day.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Day 1 of Qiang-Huang Workshop

Today, I stopped into the Guild to take photos of the first day of the Qiang-Huang Workshop. Qiang is an amazing oil painter and this is his second workshop held in Melbourne. If you are not familiar with Qiang and his work, stop by his thoughtful, updated almost daily, enlightening blog at Qiang-Huang.blogspot.com.

Since many of the Pieces of 8 are oil painters and followers of Qiang we are well represented at the workshop by Mary Warnick, Dennette Schweikert, Carmen Beecher, Phillis Holland and Cindy Michaud. And for that reason, I'm hoping to capture pictures of each of the three days.

Here are some of the photos from today, starting with Qiang's beautiful setup and the demonstration piece he completed in the morning hours.

Below are just some wide shots of the Guild which really is an amazing place when you fill it with such wonderful artists. I'm not only in awe of Qiang and his demo, but of all of his students and their paintings from today.

I hope to capture more tomorrow.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Altered Books Exhibit March 6th

Three of the Pieces of 8 (Kathy Garvey, Cindy Michaud and newest member Fay Picardi) have altered books for the exhibit opening at the Satellite Beach Library on Tuesday, March 6th. Each artist who accepted a book was challenged to turn it into a new work. Each alteration was unique.

From within our group: Cindy took a book of poetry by Keats and turned it into a charming notebook containing cutaways and her lovely drawings, Fay converted a book about Queen Elizabeth into an actual replica of her, complete with Elizabethan collar, and my AA Road Book of Ireland became gilded pages of my feelings on Ireland and a box to contain the very special Gazetteer.

This was a first for all of us and we were amazed at how much time required to alter a book. We also learned a lot about the process and felt it would be a wonderful project for schools to take on. Our books were all collected from a library in Great Britain by Paula Steere (http://www.paulabooks.co.uk/), a well known handmade book artist who spearheaded this project. But all libraries have books available that would otherwise be sent on to recycling and it would be lovely to see any local schools take on a similar project.

The opening is at 6:30 p.m., March 6th, in the large program room outside of the main desk area of the Satellite Beach Library. Please come if you can to meet all of the local artists participating. We'd love to meet you. This is the only time for hands on access to the books before they are placed into a glass shelf at the Library for the remainder of the month.

Check out an advance announcement and beautiful pictures by Maria Sonnenberg for Florida Today at http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012302290001.

Hope to see you there.