A couple of posts back I suggested that you might scan items that you find and use them as papers and elements.   My sister, Joni, and I have a dog-boarding business, and a few weeks ago one of our clients (a couple) vacationed in Japan. They very kindly returned with a box of Japanese candy for us that was made from rice and fruits.  I had left the wrapper sitting on my desk when Joni meandered in and asked, ‘What should we do with this?’  I realized how much I loved the paper, didn’t want to toss it, and said with delight, ‘I know, I’ll scan it!’  So I scanned away, found it a new home in my specialty papers bin, and today it is the background of today’s image called Indulge.

Here is the wrapper.


The other papers.

And the elements.





Love this stitched motif. Stitching often provides a wonderful textural accent


I began with a new white layer set to 12 x 12 inches with a resolution of 300.  Onto that I layered the candy wrapper and the orange paper set to the blends and opacities shown above.

The lovely Asian woman came next, and I had some fun with her in applying a blend mode I have never before used.  For this project I didn’t want her bright colors, so I set her to black and white, grouped her with the flower/butterfly motif, and set her to a color burn blend where she became just as I’d imagined.

Next came the crinkled paper that I duplicated and placed in the top right and  bottom left corners with the white/gray splotch layered over that and placed in the center.  I placed the tree stitching and watercolor-splotch-with-text  left and right center respectively.

The final touches included a bright orange origami bird, the various texts (I found a very cool free Asian-like font for these on my favorite font site, a few white specks, and then I signed off on it.  Here is candy wrapper art to show that art potential exists anywhere and everywhere.


I’m sorry to say that I took screen shots of the PS panels before I had renamed some of the layers, but here they are for basic info.  Feel free to leave any questions in the comment section.   And don’t forget.  Have a great week!


Nature Listens

The pure magic that is winter is the theme today in a piece entitled Nature Listens, which will be available on Etsy in a day or two.  Beginning with the finished piece I’ll follow with its deconstruction.  At the end it will be my utmost pleasure to offer  2 more  holiday-themed files free as a way of thanking you all for following along.   

Comparatively few layers and elements make up this piece, and with the understanding that you have a basic understanding of Photoshop this tutorial will hopefully be easy to follow.  So let’s begin.


Here are the papers and textures.



white-circle-texture white-scroll-texture


The layers were set in the order shown; first the clouds, then the landscape of firs, and finally the falling snow.  It’s always best to play around with the order of layers, blend modes and opacities to get just the look you’re after. 

Here are the elements (and how I love these clusters!).   The bare trees are in the foreground,  and I chose to place the skater and the village off center.  I rotated the dove horizontally and placed her in the upper right corner. 




Added the text and signature, and it is now a fait accompli!

For those who would like to take a closer look here are the PS panels.  The first is the panel showing the layers that have been grouped.  The second and third are the original working panels. 



And here are the files as promised.  I see this as a photo mat for a holiday photo…


and this as a scrapbook page or for framing.


If you can’t retrieve these files directly from this post leave your email address in the comment section, and I’ll send them to you.  Enjoy!






Keeping up with 2017

We have two new 2017 wall calendars in our Etsy shop that I’m excited about and want to preview here as this might just be the perfect time to order one. 😉
Each calendar is large (14.25 x 11 inches) and printed on sturdy high-quality paper with vibrant full-color.

The first we call Ice and Fire, a nature photo calendar that includes stunning images from Iceland, the High Sierras and the Colorado Rockies.  These amazing photos were taken on trips that my sister and brother, Joni and Craig, made this summer, and I think you’ll find this calendar is a page turner.

Here’s what it looks like.

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Secrets & Dreams is an art calendar that showcases my art work, and here’s a peek at it.

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So here they are.  Take your pick!

Have a great weekend.



Grab life by the handlebars

Today I have an upbeat project to work through with you today, and it all begins with a magical transparency that I got as a freebie from E-Scape and Scrap and made by one of my favorite designers, G & T Designs.  When I first saw it I thought, “Na, I don’t want that; I’ll never use it.”  I did download it though and came across it while I was looking through backgrounds.  When I saw it that time I fell in love with it and thought it absolutely perfect for this project.  I had to flatten the image to post it here, but the original is a transparency where the windows have been masked out.


The theme of the finished piece I hope elicits the joy and freedom of biking, and it’s called Grab life by the handlebars.  It has many layers, elements and groupings so let’s get started with some of those.

Below are the papers used in addition to the main background and all of the elements.





I began with a new white layer in PS size 12 x 12.  To that layer I added the butterfly layer that I duplicated twice putting an oil paint filter on one dupe and a find edges filter on the other.  Blending mode and opacities are shown above.  I then formed a group from those three layers.  The main layer was added along with the white crinkled paper and the brown overlay to add some color.  I quick-selected the window area, created a mask for the butterfly group, and painted out the part of the butterfly group that appeared in the window.

The photo behind the window is a free image found on Creative Commons, which I duplicated putting a find edges filter on the dupe.  The original photo was set to multiply mode with an opacity of 55%, and the dupe was set to multiply with an opacity of 75%, so the photo actually looks more like a drawing.  I made a group from the photos, and again I had to select the window frame and mask out the parts of the photo that overlapped.  The red bike was placed in the window frame.

Then it was time for the really fun stuff.  I composed a yield sign that had a ‘To Bikes’ sign (made with the small brown paper and text) and a Bike Route sign clamped to it, and I made a group from these elements, so they could be moved around as a whole.  I took the lines of stitching and cropped out the line I wanted, which I placed along the bottom edge of the brown overlay to make it look like a road, and placed the blue bike, to which I had added a basket of flowers and made a group of them, onto the ‘road.’   The yellow tricycle tries to keep up behind it. 

The birds flew in next…a bluebird on the window sill, a hawk in the sky high above and some little birds on a wire.  I only wanted one line of the birds on the wires, so I set the blend mode to darken, which hid the white background, created a layer mask and painted out all the other wires and birds.  This I tilted a little and added the text, ‘Be free. Be happy.’ above tilted at the same angle.

Under that text came another line of text, ‘Grab life by the handlebars,’ with an underscoring of twine and some black hearts, all grouped and then one more text line ‘and FLY’ also grouped.

Finally I added the red hearts in the upper left and another line of stitching across the top.  Just because.  And here’s how it looks.  


Makes me happy.  And I hope you like it too.

Tip: In the previous post I talked about collecting all the images, backgrounds, and elements you can get your hands on, and I forgot to mention the very simplest of all.  Scanning.  Scan fabrics, leaves, flower petals, your own scribbles & doodles, anything to which your imagination takes you.


The Hour of Silence

‘Dawn is the time when nothing breathes, the hour of silence. Everything is transfixed, only the light moves.’

 Leonora Carrington, 1917-2011 
British artist, surrealist painter and novelist. carrington

Tip: Before I introduce a new piece today I want to say a word to photographers who are interested in taking their work into the realm of the photo artist; a place of creativity, individuality, and sometimes if we’re lucky, a little magic.

The very first order of business is to become a collector- of papers, textures, elements;  anything that might bring life to your piece.  I literally have hundreds of papers, textures and things as well as my photos.  Many textures & backgrounds can be gotten free by googling ‘free photo backgrounds.’  Free images can be found at   When I’m looking for something new I purchase papers & kits, and one of my favorite places is  You’ll find many sales and occasional free items, and this is a great site for scrapbookers.  

Once you’ve collected images and elements the next order of business is to organize them into folders.  I have folders for Papers & Textures, which I have sub-divided into categories of Colors, Edges-Frames-Overlays, Splotches, Scribbles, Scratched Surfaces, Brushes & Text, Clouds-Moon-Stars just to name a few as well as folders called Critters, Botanicals, Patterns-Graphics-Icons, and Victorian-Steampunk. 

‘The Sound of Silence’ is the title of the piece I’ll be working with today, and we’ll start with the finished image and work backward.



The image begins with a gray speckled paper, which I duplicated twice putting an impressionist painting filter on one layer and an ink-watercolor filter on the other.  Blend modes and opacities are shown on each.




Once the base layer is in place I add a very nice grungy gray/blue background and a sunspot.



A photo I  took on the Okefenokee swamp is cropped, reversed horizontally, duplicated, and blended in luminosity mode at a 50% opacity.  The duplicate is given a sketchy watercolor filter, blended in soft light mode with a 75% opacity.



Next come the flying geese and the text.


The text was blended in hard light mode at 40% opacity.


The final touches include the addition of a gorgeous blue/brown background and a starry background.


Finally the panel layer from Photoshop.  The layers were not originally placed as they are here, but this is the final stacking before the image is flattened.


Have a happy week. 

It’s all Greek to Me Part 2

Been working most of the day to catch this piece up from where we left it in the previous post, and below are the animals I foretold would be trotting into this scene (along with a birdcage for the two little ones).


 All of these are .png files (already extracted/isolated).


Now we have this:


Finally we’ll create some drama with the following overlays ordered and with opacities as shown below.


Here are the layer panels and all that we finally have in this royal house.

Beginning here

Beginning here

Ending here

Ending here

Now called Une Maison Royale.


Till next time!


It’s all Greek to me

The following piece is a work in progress that I’ve been developing for several days now;  thinking, decision-making, and imagination accounting for a large part of that time (as is always the case).

The current working title for this exaggerated view of ancient Greek life, culture, and beauty is ‘The Royal Household.’  I wanted to work with a classical woman (Greek or Roman), and I had in mind to place her in another background from my abandoned places collection.  

I looked for a free image of this mythical beauty, found the one below, and knew immediately that I had something great to work with.  It also became apparent that she wouldn’t work in one of those abandoned buildings. 


In my collection of backgrounds I found the image below, which was perfect in two ways, its classical theme and the window area between the columns.  And what’s so exciting about the window you might ask?  Well you can place a photo or another background layer behind it, and it will show through the window as if looking out from the portico.  Love it!

Here are the columns into which everything will fit.  They are not well-defined when enlarged, so I duplicated the layer and put an ink outline filter on it, reducing the opacity to 20%, and keeping the blend mode at normal.  I then made a group of these two layers, so they could be worked on as one entity.  




Cloud layers, a photo glow image for sun light, and one of my photos from the countryside around Stonehenge were placed behind the columns filling the window area; normal blend mode with opacities shown below.



Next came the masked version of m’ lady, and now I think I see some wild animals coming into this picture.  A pretty image but nothing out of the ordinary.  I’ll be working to change that though!



That’s it so far.  Back to the drawing board!