Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit

Leave a comment

Challenges of a Solo-prenuer-Photoshop

As a solo-prenuer artist, that is, an artist who wears all the hats in this business, I spend part of my week creating and producing art. The other part of my week is spent on the business side. This includes

  • maintaining my website
  • writing blog posts
  • writing & submitting teaching proposals
  • writing three e-newsletters
  • marketing my art
  • photographing my art
  • wrangling with Photoshop
  • doing the accounting

and several other things that I’m sure I’m forgetting. Some have said that an artist should spend at least 50% of her time on the business aspect. I can probably count on one hand the number of artists I know who spend at least half of their time on the business aspect. It isn’t easy because we really want to devote most of our time to the creating and making art.

Speaking of hats: Here is a fun one that I tried on at the local consignment shop.

Blue Church Lady Hat

The Hard Numbers

I’ve gone through several iterations of tracking my time. Coming from the health field where we had to track our hours, I started out tracking my hours each day; start time, stop time; start time, stop time. It was flipping tedious. Okay, I’m being kind. It was anal and it made me feel like I was never being productive enough. How could I be productive when I was fixated on documenting my start & stop times?

Then I tried splitting days in half. Half the day on art, half the day on business. I had learned that morning was my best time for artwork. So I’d start the day making art and then switch to business stuff after lunch. That didn’t work out very well for me. I’m more easily distracted in the afternoon. That meant while I sat at the computer, it was waaaay to easy for me to get distracted with other stuff online.

Finally, I decided to split up my week. Most Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are dedicated to studio time. Tuesdays and Thursdays are for art business tasks. It works most of the time. If you work at home, whether as a small business owner or a telecommuter, you know that life and other obligations have a way of tossing our “best laid plans” out the door. So flexibility is key. And so is not beating the crap out of yourself if your schedule gets trampled.

Today’s Challenge

Do you use Photoshop?

The main reason I wrote this post was to share my current challenge as I work on the business side of, um, the business. I am a bit befuddled by Photoshop. I have Photoshop Elements 6 for my Mac. Earlier this year, I took a wonderful online web design class hosted by Susan Lumoto of DAM. In the class, we learned how to create a website using WordPress templates. Pretty cool stuff, aside from the challenges of working with plug-ins.

I haven’t touched my test site in several weeks. I’m ready to get back to it. My first challenge is to create several images featuring my artwork. Specifically, I want to create a JPG that would include 3 images. The 3 images would have a white border. Then those 3 images would be placed onto a black background of a specific size.

Here is one practice JPEG I created and tried out as the new header for this blog. This gives you an idea of what I’m talking about.

After making the image above, I realized that 3 images is a better number as it allows some room around each image. I don’t like the squishy feeling of the header image.

I’m getting better at making the white border, thanks to my friend Natalie, as you can see here:

Image Before White Border

First White Border Attempt-Splotchy

Improved White Border

Image with White Border on Black Background

So here is my problem. I edit & crop my photos in Aperture first, then open them in PS Elements to add the border and create the background. If I edit the JPEG using the image and/or canvas resizing options, I get something smaller than I desire and lose the white border. If I crop the original image in PS before adding the border, I get something much larger than I want (and crash Photoshop.)

I think I may have to use the re-size options on the original image first, then add the white border, and then move the image to black background.

What do you think? I’d appreciate your suggestions. I feel like I’m making this harder than it needs to be. Of course, that is part of the playing & experimenting. But I seem to be missing something in this process.

Please use the dimensions of the header as an example. The header image is 760 x 190. What size should my images be in order to fit into a header that measures 760 x 190? How would you create a header image with three JPGs inside a black background?

Thanks for your input. And thanks for stopping by.


Photoshop Vignette Experiments

I’m finally starting to teach myself how to use Photoshop Elements to create digital art. This is one step in moving toward my vision of creating digital art cards, prints, and Spirit Messengers inspired by one source.

I bought the book Digital Expressions by Susan Tuttle to use as my guide. So far, so good. I started at the beginning of the book with the lesson on creating vignettes. Vignettes are created by darkening the edges of a photo. Vignettes may give an image an eerie or mysterious quality. Vignettes remind me of old Victorian photos.

Here are a few photos of my experiments. You’ll see two pictures; how the original image looked before the vignette and how it looks after with the vignette effect.

Victorian Boys Before Vignette

Victorian Boys with Vignette Effect

The vignette here is kind of subtle. You can see a slight difference between the two images, especially on the bottom half of the second image.

For the next one I used an image of one of my early art dolls.

Roald before Vignette Effect

Roald with Vignette Effect

I like this one better. The vignette effect is a little more noticeable when compared to the original image. The opacity is a little darker in this example. Reminds me of some old high school senior photographs taken with special filters. (But I did not know anyone who looked like Roald in high school.)

This last one also uses an early Spirit Messenger that I made for my sister April. However, instead of using the vignette effect, I added a gradient background.

Health Spirit Messenger Before Gradient

Health Spirit Messenger after Gradient Effect

The gradient effect is fun because you have several options in colors and strength of the gradient. I really wasn’t quite sure what I was doing as I clicked on the various background choices. I liked this color combination as it seemed to go well with the colors of the Spirit Messenger. I was also bored with the vignettes and wanted to play around with another option.

So there are a few vignette and gradient experiments. It is fun to learn some of these basic effects, especially when I can now say “oh, that is how they do that.”

Coming up: new sculpted heads