l s

Friday, August 31, 2007

Ups and downs and ups

Daniel came home on Sunday and settled in nicely. Mommy was readmitted to the hospital on Monday with pre-eclampsia, more common before than after childbirth. Very scary. She's home now, too, and doing well. Fortunately, Daniel is a relaxed and alert little guy, easy to care for so far. I'm getting a lot of work done on the materials the designer needs for the marketing spreads while he sleeps. My editor gave me a few extra days on my deadline, so I may make it after all. In the middle of all this I'm preparing a workshop for Louisiana, which I know will be fun and will give me a much needed break. Then I'll come home and have two weeks to finish up the book and hand it over to my editor. After the Montana workshop in October, I can settle into my role as nanny-granny with a sigh, but right now it's a little hectic.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, August 26, 2007

New baby

While I've been laboring on my new book, our daughter has been growing a baby. Daniel was born last week. He's adorable. Jenna is thrilled--for now--and mother and baby are doing well. Jenna stayed with us most of the week, so I've been incommunicado. With my book deadline still looming, it will be touch and go to baby-sit, do a workshop in Louisiana and finish the book, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I don't think it's a train.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Not whelmed, but overwhelmed

When I was working on my previous book, The New Creative Artist, several of the artists asked to submit their artwork digitally. The production department at North Light Books wasn't too happy about it, but they allowed it. Since that time, North Light has emerged into the digital world and now they provide authors with very helpful instructions for preparing their artwork both on film or digitally.

Now I understand why they were reluctant to go digital. Not only are the artists not up to speed on the requirements, many professional photographers don't have a clue how to shoot and finish digital submissions. About half of my artists for my new book (which, by the way, has finally been titled: Confident Color: An Artist's Guide to Harmony, Contrast and Unity) have submitted digital files. I provided an information sheet for each one and about half followed the directions. This is driving me nuts. I spent six hours yesterday sizing, fixing perspective, matching colors and working up a demo for an artist who used a professional photographer to shoot his work. I asked everyone who did a demo to use a gray card which North Light provided so we would have a good color control. So far, most of them "forgot to use the gray card." Today I worked with another demo artist who had her final work shot by a color lab. The color is so far off I couldn't believe my eyes. Yes, it has the color scale, but why should we have to use it? There's no excuse for such poor results.

I'm still trying to figure out why this is happening. The only thing I can figure out is that people are being way too casual about the benefits of digital photography. Sure, you can fix it in Photoshop. But if you use the correct settings, set up with a tripod and good lighting--and a gray card--you shouldn't have to Photoshop it to death. It may seem easy on your end if you're the artist or photographer, but please, pity the poor production artists who have to make everything look good in the book. Pity me, using the work of 45 artists and having to get everything in shape to send to the production editors.

Let's face it--slides and transparencies are on their way out. So-called "wet labs" are closing or transforming into digital labs. So if you're illustrating books or entering shows that allow or require digital entries, do yourself a favor (and everyone else) and either find a good (VERY GOOD) digital lab to shoot your images or buy a good (VERY GOOD) digital SLR and LEARN HOW TO USE IT PROPERLY. Oh, pardon me, am I shouting?

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, August 05, 2007


I know this isn't a new idea, but it's a first for me. Several students have shown up in my collage classes with out-of-date wallpaper books to use the colors and patterns in collages. A couple of weeks ago I stopped at a paint store nearby looking for paint chips and it dawned on me to ask if they had any old wallpaper books lying around. In the past it seemed that school teachers always grabbed them up and I could never get them. I got lucky and found three with contemporary designs for homes and two great big ones full of stuff for kids. Jenna and I had a ball today with these. She picked out pages she wanted and we took them to her special art place, where she drew colored pictures on the back of border prints that could be folded into fun cards for her friends. We cut out some of the designs for her to play with--a necklace, ring, bracelet and watch. We tore out a rainbow and cut a border to paste onto another bigger page. She took about half of her treasures home and left the rest to play with next time--but the books are filled with more pictures, so will be useful for awhile. It was great fun and I recommend it to parents and grandparents for an inexpensive, engaging activity for toddlers who love picture-making.

Labels: , ,