Saturday, January 11, 2014

Reading round the world

Last year our bookgroup traveled to Russia, Afghanistan, Liberia, Haiti, England, Egypt and China. Quite a bit of that involved time traveling as well, to the eras of Henry VIII and Cleopatra, to colonial America and France during WWII.  We all look forward to our monthly peregrinations, to discovering little-known corners of the world and participating in the lively discussions that follow.

We began this year with a return to Afghanistan, and next month Burma is our destination.  Here's our literary itinerary for the year, if any of you would care to join us, virtually (we're hoping to have a bookgroup blog online soon) or in person here in Dallas.

You can find our 2013 books here and more information about the bookgroup plus our 2012 books here.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Illustration Friday - Reflect

The one-week time frame on Illustration Friday topics means you have to get thinking and starting doing, a good thing, right?  It also often means, for me, that come Thursday evening, I'm still working away furiously, trying out this and that on a composition that just hasn't quite come together.  Or I end up calling it done when I know that being able to look at it with fresh eyes in the morning would probably help me improve it.  All so I can link to the topic on the IF website. 

Thus it was this past Thursday when I hit Save for the final time a bit after midnight and prepared for the rigamarole of uploading to Flickr, posting on my blog and linking to Illustration Friday.  Only to discover that the topic had already been changed!  And that after IF had been so lax lately in changing topics promptly; the last one had been up for over two weeks.  Well, does it really matter if I submitted my work offiically?  It's not a class, it's not a contest; I only get the satisfaction of knowing that I did it and that anyone browsing the submissions for that topic might decide to have a look at mine.  It's not the first time I missed the IF boat, but I do think the deadline is a good motivator. Unlike, say, making a garment that you want to wear, it's easy to let projects that have no purpose other than exercising your creativity just peter out or get put aside and never taken up again.  So I thank IF for encouraging me to put paid to each "assignment" I undertake, and, hopefully, for engendering self-discipline, which I believe is ever more important for us – ahem – older individuals.


I wanted to illustrate both the sense of "reflect" as the act of thinking back or contemplating, as well as the physical mirroring of an image, as in water. My starting point was the silhouette, created from a photo of myself, in a "thoughtful" pose. Next I layered three textures from Lost and Taken as well as a photo shot through lace curtains out of one of my windows. Then I simply started trying out assorted graphics and parts of photos. ( At one point I had a bunch of butterflies, which seem to be my default decorative elements when I'm stuck.) The green vining foliage are some brushes I had downloaded some time ago, probably from Deviant Art, but I no longer remember their exact source. And finally, I selected the photo of the trees and creek which is at a lovely park here. All done in Photoshop, of course.  Linked or not, I'm glad I made the effort and pleased with the result.