A Perfect Storm

About four weeks ago, at the boyfriend’s place, I received a call from my mother who told me that she and my sister found a kitten in our garage.  My mother was concerned because the kitten was just bones, and looked as if she had been neglected and starved for weeks.  I hurried home to see this emaciated kitten and I swear, when I first saw this poor thing she looked almost like a kitty skeleton with fur who was moving!  My sister and I ended up buying kitten Step 2 formula, and kitten food, and started feeding her about every hour a 1/4 cup of formula and kitten food mixed together.  When we took her to the vet the next day, she weighed less than 3 pounds at three months of age, and was dehydrated and malnourished (she needed some teeth removed), so we decided to foster her until she was plump and well-adjusted enough to be given a good home (at this time she fluffed up at any loud noise that came from anywhere, our dogs, cat, and even us if we startled her awake).  After a while, my sister decided that she wanted to keep the kitten and here we are with a beautiful new kitty.

My sister’s fiancé then wanted to name the cat and gave her the name of Storm, in honor of the day we found her, but like always, my sister and I wanted a cuter name for the kitten, and thus named her:

Stormy Weather!

As of now, she’s at a healthy weight, she’s very active and playful, and she’s inquisitive and very cuddly.  She even poses for photographs.

Copyright 2011 The Oracle of Dreams

The image was taken in our front foyer; her copper eyes were the highlight of the image. 

My Process:

    1. I used a Photoshop Action from night-fate stock on DeviantArt (she no longer has the action set up on her site-set 22 to be exact) to create a pastel like image but kept the integrity of Stormy’s eyes.
    2. I then created a fake bokkeh element with the Gaussian blur filter and layer masks.  I deleted the background of the image using the mask so I could blur the background fully. 
    3. Selecting the brush tool and opening the Brush Preset Options, I selected Scattering, set the spacing to about 250-300% set to both axes, Count set on a low number, and Count Jitter to about 10%.  All this was set to Pen Pressure. Set color dynamics to Foreground/Background Jitter to 30% at Fade, everything else is all at 0%.  And create a new layer set to soft light and the brush opacity to 25%. I then painted the round brush into the mirror to finish off the bokkeh effect. (Note: The colors I picked are in step 5!)
    4. After staring at the image a while, I concluded that the image would look better as a lomograpy-styled photograph.  So I made an oval of black around the edges of the image and Gaussian blurred the oval set layer style to Overlay for the light leaks. (I’m going to ask for a Holga for Christmas just for this sole purpose!)
    5. I ended up using a gradient tool (G) as a color filter with colors picked from PuglyPixel (Pink – EF7D8D and Taupe – E3D2C0) with pink as the foreground color and taupe as the background color.
    6. Using the gradient tool (G) placed it at a diagonal holding the shift button down and set the layer at opacity 65% at Soft Light to give the colors more saturation.
    7. I then masked the top color layer, and with a 50% Opacity Soft Round brush, I took out some of the color off the eyes of the kitten.


The Oracle of Dreams

Somethings were better left unsaid…

Recently, when someone notified me on DeviantArt, I was made aware of the fact that a site called art4love.com had stolen one of my images from DeviantArt and was selling the image at $300.

First thing that went through my head: “Geeze someone was really going to pay $300 for one of my crappy images!?!?”

Second thing that went through my head: “Why is someone stealing my art, and certainly not one of my best pieces, to sell to strangers saying that this art is theirs!!!?”

That’s when anger set in, I’m not the best artist in the world, hell, at times I really do not feel like I am an artist at all!  I just think of images in my head that go with a concept I like and a photo manipulate the images into something that is very similar to a collage and I create “art” out of it.  At times I even feel like I’m plagiarizing stock artists for what I do even when I follow their crediting rules, I am very religious about crediting stock artists, without them, I couldn’t possibly do what I do and I am militant about their wishes for the stock!  I also post on DeviantArt because I feel as if I receive great feedback on my images and I have made really great friends there and it’s only fair to post on the site where you get the bulk of your stock from.

In any case, I still feel as if I’m learning how to be an influential artist.  While my writings skills and not up to par after teaching social studies for years and conversing with teenagers (I swear I’m empathic when it comes to my grammar!), I know I’ll never be a writer, and with the art I created, I felt that if I got good enough and made an impact with the images I create, I could possibly become at least somewhat of a starving artist.

So when I received the email asking if the image that was found on Art4Love.com was mine, I was very dismayed at what was taking place.  I have yet to copyright my name, but I do water mark my images due to the fact that its just a safety measure for my art, but the image that was created was before people started noticing my work as a whole.  Now I’m concerned at what my next step will be.  I am contacting my uncle who is a lawyer (copyright one and family law at that) to see what I should do next, I know that a good group of artists on DeviantArt are creating a class action lawsuit against art4love.com, and I know that with out counsel from my uncle I do not know as of yet whether or not I’ll join the class action lawsuit or seek one myself.

I do know that I’ll be copyrighting my name once I talk to my uncle, that’s the first priority, even though I’m way too busy to be producing artwork at this moment, I do know that I want my images protected.  Second, I’m going to go through my some 200 images (give or take) and post watermarks on every single one of them.  Third, I’m going to go through and delete all the images that are not popular, and with those that are, I’m explicitly explaining my usage rules in case of art theft.

Live and learn is the message I made from this whole situation, I do know that I’m not the only one who’s been effected by this, but it is a bit distressing.  I’ll update when I get more information.  In the meanwhile, below is my original image from my archives, and the other image was screen shot from art4love.com.

This is directly from my site

This is a screen shot from one of my followers. Click the image to see my art in the bottom left hand corner.

Here's the close up

Following is the class action site with the list of artists who have been effected by art4love.com.



The Oracle of Dreams

Wedding 2012

Huzzah! My sister and her fiance have finally announced their wedding date…well…they had already set the date, but they have finally announced it in Save the Date (STD) form!!  Now, guess who they chose to take the photos and design the STD?

You guessed it! They asked me to help!!!

While I will admit, I am not the best at photography or designing, I did look up some great tips from several books and typography sites for what I was planing on working with and even though the photos and the STDs were not professional in any way, I am very happy with the outcome.  If there is any constructive criticism out there regarding the project as a whole, please let me know!!

The project began after we were brainstorming ideas for the STDs.  My sister’s fiance was leaving for base in another week, we needed to get the STDs out FAST!  We ended up agreeing that the best place to take pictures was in the middle of the museum district here in Houston.  We got several shots that we thought would be good for both a STD, and a nifty photo to send with the real invitations.  Below are several of the shots that made the short list.

In the end, with both my vote and my parents vote, my sister decided to go with the first photo in the series.  The reason behind my sister’s decision with the photo was because it reminded her of Winnie the Pooh where Christopher Robin and Pooh were walking together in the setting sunlight.

Not exactly the image, but you get the idea.

The image, to her, was to symbolize her and her prince walking into oblivion together, their happily ever after. The picture that is to accompany the Wedding Invitation, is going to be the fifth picture in this series (after some color correcting to get rid of the blue! I forgot to whitebalance the image after moving into the shade of a building).

My next problem was to create a STD that showed my sister’s idea and theme of her wedding, which is a mishmash of a variety of different Disney Princesses.  To conquer that mountain, I went to typography school, and spent a good several weeks trying to learn the rules and qualities of typography.  The most informative resource I found, was a site that I spent a good time reading , it’s called Ellen Lupton: Thinking with Type and its a great resource for those who need some introduction into the world of typography, it certainly helped me in deciphering the terminology of typography.  The site is based as an online companion to a book she already has out, I’m considering purchasing the book for future reference (Note: If you know of any other good typography references, please let me know in the comments below!).

After reading Ellen’s site, I spent a good deal of time working with fonts that looked great together, but added a bit of mystery and messiness that is my sister’s wedding (Note: Messy in a good way not bad). Seriously people, we’re thrifting bottles to decorate her tables for the reception!

Below is the result of my Sister’s Save The Date after several weeks of work! I know that seems long, but we’re still in the planning stages, I hope everything goes well!

I know it looks messy, but I am very proud of the way this looks, and if there is any constructive criticism out there please, let me know.  I know I can improve the way this looks, but aside from the fact that I am a newbie, I am very eager to learn more about typography.  Also side note, no amount of tweaking could fix the color of the website information at the bottom of the image.

Fonts Used:

Dreamers, What do you think of this STD?  Have you ever designed something and been so proud of it even though you know people said it looked like a big ol’mess?

Regards, The Oracle of Dreams