Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chalk it up

Brynn is taking an art class this semester at Bemis Art School downtown. I'm SO glad she is. When my dad and his wife asked me, "What should we get the girls for Christmas?" I am so happy that I answered, "Why don't you pay for them to take an art class?" instead of, "How about a Wii game? Or anything Disney?" Because both of those would inevitably end up annoying me, but art classes...well, that's an investment in my kids' education. So the grandparents paid for an art class for the girls to take during spring break, and I decided to sign Brynn up for an additional class during the winter quarter.

I'm so impressed with the work Brynn's been doing in the class. The first week they did some Picasso-ish stuff (the class title is "Little Picassos"). Then they did some other abstract-ish work which included rubbings made off of the bottoms of their shoes which they cut into the shape of a fish and added to an undersea scene that they'd painted. It was pretty spectacular work -- especially for a six year old.

Last night, unfortunately, the instructor was sick and nobody called a sub for her (artsy people need a non-artsy administrator to keep things moving, don't you think?) so the class had a random sub whose specialty is clay, but he still managed to get some great work out of Brynn. She was apparently quite annoyed that the sub spent lots of time telling them what to do and didn't give the students enough time to work. Glad to see she's inherited my impatience. Here's what she did last night. Two desert scenes in marker and some kind of chalk -- I think they are fabulous! I like that the suns in the two pieces are different looking -- that she's not just doing one kind of drawing and sticking to it. I especially love the sun's nose, the difference in the texture of the clouds from the background and the flower on the cactus in the first piece. In the second piece I love the flying turkey and the hairy cactus. Because, as Brynn told me this morning, "You know, no two cactuses look a like." Right. Thank you, smarty.

Click on the artwork to see it full size.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why did I wait so long?

It was all I could think about this morning. As I was fussing with the annoyingly stuck lock on Brynn's bike. As I was waiting for Callie to pick out a snack to stick in her backpack. As I was passing the poor preschool mom who got pulled over for speeding on her way to school. All I could think about was installing Lightroom on my (newly augmented) computer and playing with it. Because I've been waiting...almost a year...to get Lightroom. And with my education discount it only cost $100 (as opposed to the sticker price of $300). So why did I wait so long? Maybe it's the whole "I'm a mom and don't want to do anything nice for myself" attitude that caused me to wait. Lightroom rocks. Of course, I haven't figured out how to integrate it perfectly with iPhoto yet, and I'm not willing to give up iPhoto now that it has the awesome new face recognition ability, but I do want to use Lightroom for editing. After playing with it for about fifteen minutes, here's what I came up with:







And that was just fifteen minutes. If only this were my job, I could spend all day playing with it!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Baby books hang over my head.

At first I journaled. Then I filled up a fill-in-the-blanks baby book. Then I started throwing everything "baby" into a drawer labeled with each kid's name. Then I went digital. I journaled and added photos. And fun colors and fonts. And digital yellow sticky notes from Dad. Eventually I switched from low-tech digital to high-tech digital and got serious about digital scrapbooking with Photoshop Elements. I even talked my dad into getting me a large format printer for my birthday one year, so that I could print my 12x12 layouts. And that was great, until Epson quit making 12x12 paper. Instead they were making it 11.75x11.75. Well, that's not what I really wanted. And I didn't want to print to bigger paper and trim it. Too much work. Yes, I hear the irony in that as I type, as if the rest of the scrapbooking process isn't too much work, also.

Then I started blogging. And I still scrapbooked from time to time, but it was so much easier to record thoughts and events here. But now Brynn's in kindergarten. That seems like a point in a kid's life which deserves...well...an official baby book. Instead of bits and pieces scattered among hard drives, books, and drawers. Right?

So here's my current plan. I'm re-formatting her original layouts, the ones I did that covered from her birth through when I started using Elements, giving them fun backgrounds and formats similar to the ones I made later. I'm re-formatting old blog posts that have to do with Brynn, entering them in Elements so that they resemble the originals I made in Elements. And then I'm going to save them all as PDFs and upload them to...well, I think...final decision is still yet to be made, but I think I'm going to use a service called My Pic Tales. It is a company that makes photo books like the ones sold by Snapfish, Shutterfly, and others, but it's geared toward digital scrappers like me. And, as photo books go, I think the prices are reasonable. In the past my favorite book company has been Blurb, and I still think they have great quality and offer great service, but they don't offer a 12x12 book. And, really, don't you think five years of babyhood deserves a 12x12 book? So far, Brynn's book is up to 54 pages (which is actually 27 pages, 54 sides) and I have only gotten through four of her blog posts. The rest are all pages I wrote before I started blogging or concurrently as I blogged. Many more of blog posts to reformat. Needless to say, you may not hear from me as often 'round here.

My Photoshop Elements skills are not great, but if I get this book finished I will think of it as quite an accomplishment. Then I will make a book for Callie and then I will never scrapbook again. Unless I get really fast and efficient at it.

Here are a few (unfinished) sample pages out of Brynn's book-to-be:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Special Time with Daddy

Yesterday Callie and I went to the zoo for "Special Time with Daddy." Brynn was having a play-date at a friend's house, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to have some 1:1 time with my either really grumpy/really happy daughter. She had a couple grumpy moments (when I told her I didn't have enough money for the pony ride and carousel ride), but in general she enjoyed our time together.

The zoo also gave me a chance to experiment with my "new" camera. Since Hillary purchased the 40D recently, I got the Rebel as a hand-me-down. I've set the rule to only take pictures on manual mode, because really... automatic options are for wusses. Two weeks ago I couldn't even get a picture to come out. I'm no Hillary yet, but happy with my recent photography improvements.

Here are a few straight-out-of-the-camera (no editing) examples: