Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Summer Camp

A Few Of My Works In Progress
       Need a boost to your creative engines?  Lost your whimsy? Try hunting on YouTube for it. I've mostly used YouTube for plumbing fixes.  But over the summer I took an advantage of generous artists, willing to share their talents and techniques for free.   I began the summer knowing I would not have much in the way of quiet time with a teenager at home. So I decided to attend "Craft Camp" via YouTube.   Lack of exciting local classes and library shelves light on "crafty" books, I turned to the very cheap, ie free, craft classes on line.   It didn't take long before I felt as giddy as a Pokemon Go player catching a Pikachu.   Each new channel, filled with inspiration and information, got my creative energy flowing on my own camp schedule.

I suggest:
  • Follow YouTube's suggestion on your search. Watching a video brings ups a bunch of new suggestions
  • Change up your search criteria.  Start out with a broad search. After you've watched a few videos, include specifics search criteria that will give your skill building some depth
  • Subscribe to your favorite channels. 
  • Watch channels even if you think you won't ever try the craft. Inspiration can be found in many places.
  • Companies that manufacture art materials have very informative sites.
After weeks of "YouTube Camp,"  I had notebooks filled with instructions and ideas.  I felt the joy of being a kid discovering new ways to be creative. I made some fun stuff.  I found papier mache was a great way to learn sculpture. And I have loads of ideas for future projects.
I am so grateful for the free tutelage. Maybe my next project will be to create my own channel.
See ya on the screen!

Some favorite  channels :
      https://www.youtube.com/user/UltimatePaperMache  ~papermache
     https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXJrmqUYTtQ224N0QcUcnYw  ~Polymer Clay
     https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGbxOeCBuGSsKvt4g9lEv3A    ~Book Making
   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQOKYjvA0xYeHXAnQCmTlIQ     ~Felting

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Color Me Happy~How?


A page from Color Me with Kat McD. 

 I've been diligently working on creating an adult coloring book through Createspace with Amazon. The process was a bit of a learning curve, but I'm so happy with the results.  Always looking to re-purpose artwork and with the piles of my Day of the Dead line drawings growing, the adult coloring book craze could not have been a better fit.
  Here is what I had to learn:

  • How to clean my artwork very well in Photoshop
  • How to increase the stroke size for the line work
  • How to save files to PDF - 
  • How to design a cover with the help of great artist friends

Here is how I did it ~ for Createspace in Photoshop

Scan/Clean
      Scan interior art at high res 1200 dpi,  grayscale.  Clean with magic wand, erasure tool - delete all
         the white .
Stroke
        Select white, inverse to the black lines and go to stroke, add 1 or 2 pixels
Interior
        I used MS Publishing Layout. Keep in mind your gutters and bleed.  I kept all odd pages blank so            that markers won't bleed into images next page. insert each image to new page.
PDF - on mac MS
        Save cleaned Photoshop files as tiff, then change dpi, Save As 300 dpi png
            This was the most frustrating part to figure out.  To Save this interior file as a PDF, go                              to PRINT and  click on the button left labeled PDF. Here you can save as a PDF.
Cover
      Design your cover so that it is clear when viewed as a thumbnail.
       Create a template that includes bleeds and page count. Get friends to critique it.

I hope this helps those of you who are working on publishing your artwork into a coloring book.
I just got my proof and love the quality.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hooray! Yay! Oh Happy Day!

     I'm so proud! I've completed my first Adult Coloring Book, Color Me with Kat McD!    It's filled with cats, dogs, blossoms and birds.  All inspired by the Day of the Dead.

You can find it on Amazon at:  http://www.amazon.com/Color-Me-Kat-McD-Dead/dp/1532721013?ie=UTF8&keywords=color%20Me%20with%20Kat%20Mcd&qid=1461161284&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

    Color Me Happy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Video Game For Me? Never Alone.

   Well crafted characters, beautiful artwork and an intriguing story make up a perfect book for me.  In some instances,  they even exist in the video games my son plays.  He knows the  only way to get me to consider a purchase, or to watch him play, is to sell those aspects of the game to me.   Have to say, it will keep me interested for at least a few minutes.  So, while I am no video game aficionado, I am going to recommend one to you.
     While binge watching/listening to The New Yorker Presents, (seriously addictive)  in my studio, I perked up when a story came on about a video game called Never Alone.  http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/never-alone-video-game-help-preserve-inuit-culture
     Developed by the Cook Inlet Tribal Council of Alaska and E Line Media, to keep Inupiat's rich story telling, language and history alive and relevant.  The artwork that inspired the game, along with the melodic language is almost meditative.  It's storyline imparts the important message, that we all are in this together.  A universal truth quite evident in the harsh environment of Alaska, but one that would serve all of us to remember.   I may have to take up gaming, or, at the very least  own this so that I can explore the beautiful universe and traditions of the Inupiat people.  My son better watch out, I may be beating him at a video game yet.
Check it out for yourself. http://neveralonegame.com/

Monday, February 8, 2016

Organize Your Ideas

     We had a great January Westsider's SCBWI Schmooze/Mingle/Schmingle meeting to start out the new year. We discussed goals for the year and beyond.  How do you keep track of your short term/long term goals and new ideas?   Thanks to our Schmingle coordinator, Suzy Engelman Block, who gave us the simple idea of using a folder and some post-its keep us on track.  

     Post-its are great for rearranging priorities, for adding and subtracting from your idea/goal folder.  As soon as I open my folder, I see the art and writing projects I want to tackle first or remember a promotional idea, etc.  There are so many colors and style of Post-it's, you'll easily be able to find what works for you.  


If you’re like me , you have these items in your studio already or can use whatcha got on hand to do the job.  Get as fancy as you like, or keep it simple.  Here is how I made mine.   

I used:
Poster board
Vellum – enough for four pages.
Linen book binding tape, but duct tape or artist’s white tape will do.
Clear Con-Tact shelf liner for my cover ( I use this for everything. Even covering my studio table.) It’s easy to remove (NOT FROM PAINTED WOOD) and replace when it gets dirty.
Label maker
Post-its of various sizes and colors

1, Cut two pieces of poster board for front and back cover
2. Cut one piece of poster board for center “page.” 1/8” smaller in the width
3. Tape the front cover to the center page with book binding tape.
4. Tape the back cover to the center page with book binding tape
            This will give you a folder four pages.

5. Decorate your cover.  Collage works great.
6. Cover with clear Con-Tact (this is easier than you think and makes it easy to wipe clean)
         Cut Con-Tact slightly larger than folder when opened. Lay Con-Tact out and set folder on it.                Smooth with a credit card or fingers. It’s easy to reposition.
7. Cut 4 pieces vellum slightly smaller than your cover and pages.
8. Hinge tape them to the top of each cover/page.

9. Create labels to name your pages.

            My folder is organized: with Art/Writing/Promo for three of the pages with a fourth page for                      “FUN” misc art projects.
            Each of my four pages includes: a NOW sheet of vellum and and LATER page on the poster board under the vellum. Post-its are easy to transfer,add or remove.  I find this set up easiest for me to “see” in an instant what’s I need to work on. It’s also super simple to add your ideas to the "later" pages.  All your idea & goals in one place!


Happy Goal Setting and Organizing!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Fear or Love- The Year I Choose

On a recent visit from my brother, Chris, he asked me to go with him to see Marianne Williamson speak. She was very inspiring and one part of her talk really resonated with me. She spoke about how we can choose to see the world through fear or love.  I've always struggled with anxiety. Fear has accompanied me most of my life. After meditating on that choice, to see through love or fear, I had an epiphany.   Fear hadn't been my passenger along life's journey. It was driving me.  Where ever it wanted to go, In a vehicle with very dirty windows.   

"Seeing" through fear and not love, has  distorted everything.   And I've spent all this time not seeing my life, my art, my family clearly.   In reference to my artwork, I wasn't seeing it with any truth.  How can people tell you that they love your work and you kind of scratch your head and say, "huh?" They are not looking at it through a filter of fear. They are looking at it through love.  

Here's to 2016!  The year I choose.  Here's to taking the wheel with a new pair of windshield wipers! 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Postcard Printing Problems

The woes of black and white printing.
      Can you see the difference between the card on the bottom and the card on the top?  When I sent this file to Vistaprint, (shout out to Vistaprint, who reprinted these for free)  it appeared to me to be a solid white background. My monitor did not show this square of grey on the bottom card. (I pumped the contrast for you for this photo)   I thought a black and white promotional mailing would be a bit easier to prepare than color postcards. No calibration of monitors that are off. No RGB to CMYK disappointment.   But, surprise, surprise there is always a way for the simplest things to become complicated.  What shoulda, coulda, woulda to do?

1. Print the card on your own printer before sending off to printing house.  The light from my monitor is enough to obscure this small amount of gray. The print out proof would have shown me an obvious problem.

2. Use the eye dropper tool in Photoshop with the info box open.  This will show exact percentages   of color (even tiny amounts of black)  anywhere in your image. Even if they look pure white on screen.

    What I did wrong:  I took a greyscale image and then added a couple of layers with truly white backgrounds for the text and added width of the card.  That art layer did not have a pure white background.  Once I added the other layers with truly white backgrounds, I should have seen the difference.  But my monitor did allow. If the grey would have covered the entire printed piece,  it would really have looked fine to send out.   Next time I will be sure the background of any greyscale image is pure white using, the lasso to select and delete, bump the levels or using curves.  Lesson learned!

Promotional mailings may be the first time a client sees your work.  We want them to say, "I want to see more!" Not, "I wonder how that happened?"