Archives for the month of: January, 2015

If you follow this blog at all, you know that I am craazzy about high dynamic range photography. So it is only fitting that I include HDR photos in my series about using photos as dramatic wall art. I am going to show a series of before and after photos that illustrate why I love HDR so much. Each of the before pictures were taken recently locally of scenes that are much prettier in the spring. Each of them is pretty bland. However, since you have the option of manipulating one, two or three photos in Photomatix, I opened the single image and let Photomatix do its magic.

See for yourself:





Wow, right!





Beautiful clouds!










Pretty good, huh? Now without any further manipulation, these images are wall worthy. If you are a photographer who likes to push the limits of creativity, you may want to check out Photomatix.

Next up, watercolor collage 🙂



In my last post about photo manipulation/improvement, I used Photoshop. The same is true for these examples as well. The photo above was taken while riding in the car and is somewhat blurred. However, I liked the colors, so I kept it in my camera.

IMG_2641 sprayed strokes

Here it is after I applied the sprayed stoke effect in Photoshop. I like the Impressionistic feel it has.

The rest of the examples are photo art samples that I exhibited this summer.





In case you haven’t figured it out, the theme of the exhibit was “Barns.”

Next post. . .Photomatix art.

In this and coming posts, I want to show how to make photos look like paintings using various software and apps. All of the photos in this post were done in Adobe Photoshop. However, I realize that not everyone owns Photoshop and, in coming posts, I plan to show how to use some cheap or free apps for Android and IOS that will do about the same thing.

To begin, I want to compare the same scene done two ways:

1. A photo after I applied the watercolor filter in Photoshop.


2. An actual watercolor painting of the same scene that I have for sale on Etsy.


My point? You can make wall art with some of the photos you already have or you can take photos with the intention of manipulating them in Photoshop to look like paintings. Some of the photos I have previewed on my camera that were slightly out of focus or otherwise blah, I have kept with that plan in mind.

Example: Beautiful Mandevilla flower, boring picture.

IMG_1402After I applied the cutout filter effect in Photoshop and cropped the image, I got this:

IMG_1402 cutout

Now its interesting and potential wall art.

Here is another uninteresting photo I took with my smartphone.

2015-01-05 13.16

It’s not bad, there is just no real subject. However, when I cropped it and applied the photocopy filter in Photoshop. . .


. . .a cute zebra appears to star in the composition. I can see this in a black and white nursery, perhaps.

I am going to work on exploring all the photo manipulation apps that I have (I have a lot of them). I install them then forget to go back and play with them. I promise to play. . .and report on my progress.

More later 🙂

wordfoto herc

I’m so excited! I downloaded a great new app to my I-pad. It’s called WordFoto and it incorporates words onto your photos. The photo of my dog above was taken with the I-pad camera and I chose some words from the word bank. It added the words.

wordfoto family

This picture of my family that I posted earlier turned out nicely when I imported it into the WordFoto app and chose another set of words from the menu. The app has several effects you can apply. The one above was the monochrome effect.

wordfoto barn

This is a picture that I have previously posted as well. For this one, I made a new word bank with the words Kentucky, Country, Love and Home. The picture was so dark that the only place you can really see the words is in the sky.

wordfoto barbed

I am most pleased with this one. I used a lighter photo and a lighter effect to apply the same words as the barn picture, but with a different font. I really like the way this one turned out. I imported this one into Photoshop and printed it without any manipulation to an 8X10. It looks great. You have several options when saving or emailing the photos from your I-pad. I chose to save and email at actual size, which is the best quality (largest file size). The app is available from the App Store for $1.99 and is well worth it, in my opinion. I can see many uses for this one. It is actually an I-phone app but will work on an I-pad. Just make sure to toggle “I-phone only” when you are searching the app store for WordFoto.

Have fun 🙂

I hear it all the time during classes I teach.

“I don’t have a creative bone in my body.

“I’m just not creative.”

“Please don’t make me do anything creative.”

I have a news flash. You are creative. Really. We all are. Just because you can’t make something look like someone else would or because you can’t render an exact replica of someone’s face with brush and canvas (which I can’t do), doesn’t mean you are not creative. This tutorial will hopefully get those of you who have creataphobia, as I have coined this disorder, more comfortable with self expression. You may end up with some wall art in the process.


Painting abstract art is a great way to relax after a stressful day. You might even like what you do so well that you want to frame it and put it on the wall. If you have paint brushes, paper and paint, you can do it. Yes, you can. . .really.


I like to use tube acrylic paint (not craft paint in the bottle), which is available at most stores in the craft section. You don’t need an expensive set of brushes, but I would recommend a pad of paper made for acrylics. Acrylics dry pretty fast to a shiny plastic finish, but they clean up with water. Start by choosing several colors. I usually stick with three or four complimentary colors (like blues and greens above) and two accent colors (the yellow and magenta).

From there you simply start making brush strokes, blobs, dots, lines, etc. Whatever you feel inspired to make.



I like to space my complimentary colors out evenly over the surface of the paper then fill in with the accent colors.


For this piece, I simply made long brush strokes. I had planned to go back and add some black lines, but I liked it like this and left it.


Here are the finished products of this day’s work.


These were from a different day when I was using acrylics that had fine glitter added. These paints were actually in the kid’s craft section. They were called glitter gels. I bought them for my daughter and she never used them.


If you have some paint left over, try this. When I taught preschool, we made these several times a year. They are a great way to use up leftover paint and get a surprise in the process. Fold your paper in half (you can use card stock or construction paper for this as long as its thick). On half of the paper, dab your remaining paint randomly.


Fold the paper at the fold you made earlier. Carefully rub the paper in different directions. Make sure you do this on newspaper, because it sometimes oozes out.


Unfold the paper. Voila! A beautiful abstract that took you about three minutes. My students always liked to come up with things the paintings looked like (kind of like ink blots at the psychiatrist). The most popular answer was a butterfly, probably because when you open the paper, it pulls apart and leaves “veins” like butterfly wings.


The great thing about tube acrylics is they dry three-dimensionally as long as you leave them flat.

Now, was that art lesson all that bad? Aren’t you ready to get some paint on your hands? Art is not supposed to be stressful. It’s supposed to be fun. Make it that way 🙂


Give this functional wall art a try.

Find an old map. I have a whole bunch, but if you don’t, a good place to look is at a library book sale. National Geographic use to put a wall-sized map in almost every edition and library sell outdated atlases frequently. Get a cork bulletin board, some Mod Podge, and, if you want a place to write in chalk, some chalkboard Contact paper.


Figure out what part of the map you want to show on your bulletin board and cut the map to fit, leaving about an inch overlap.


Apply a generous coat of Mod Podge to the corkboard and position your map on top. Smooth it out and apply another coat of Mod Podge on top of the map. You will have to smooth the map as you go and even then, it will likely pucker slightly. Once the Mod Podge is completely dry, you should trim the excess edges with a razor blade.


While you are waiting for the Mod Podge to dry, cut out your chalkboard shape. I chose to make mine in the shape of a letter H, since that is our household initial. You can cut whatever shape your want. Trace your pattern on the back of the contact paper and cut it out.


Apply a second coat of Mod Podge and peel the backing off the chalkboard Contact paper. Go ahead and stick the Contact paper while the Mod Podge is still wet. Once everything is dry, it is ready to hang.


Maps make great wall art by themselves, but this art has the added advantage of being a bulletin board as well. You can chose to cover it with memorabilia . . . or not.

Here are a few other ideas for using maps in your home:

*Line drawers with them.

*Cover old books.

*Cover them with clear Contact paper and use them for place mats.

*Make 3D letters like here.


If you are looking for a good way to revamp some old artwork, chalkboard paint is the answer. I have had four square canvas blocks sitting around for about a year, the result of a failed experiment in image transfer. I considered painting them with a large scene spread out over four panels with acrylic paint, but I actually had need for a chalkboard and decided they would meet my needs nicely.


First I painted each of the canvases with two coats of dark blue chalkboard paint and let them dry overnight. I painted the left bottom corner of each one with off-white interior latex paint using a dry brush method that only partially covers.


I didn’t measure the swathes of paint. I just tried to make them look similar. I didn’t want them to be perfect.


For the decoration, I used terra-cotta paint pens and just painted simple circles with lines. For the last step, I rubbed chalk all over the chalkboard surface and then erased it to season it.


In celebration of the new year, I am adding a new feature to this blog that will hopefully  instruct and inspire you to make your own wall art. Some of the ideas will give you an opportunity to use some of your photos and others will require you using a paintbrush, crayons, markers, etc. For my first project, I chose a d.i.y. calendar.


I began with the idea of printing out a calendar from the internet (the one I used came from I had planned to print each calendar directly onto watercolor paper and then paint the whole page. However, my printer had other ideas and would not print on the thick watercolor paper. Oh well, plan B. I printed the calendars on plain paper and cut them out closely.


I use watercolors in the tube instead of a tray, because they are thicker and give more opaque coverage, but you can use whatever type you have. Kid’s watercolors would work fine for this project.


I wanted the designs on the background sheets to be abstract, so I simply painted strokes of color on six different sheets of watercolor paper.


After they all dried, I stacked them onto a clipboard, two months per painting. I plan to use the paintings as note cards for birthdays as I take them off.


I then hung up the clipboard. Voila, custom art calendars. When my children were young, I did a calendars similar to this with my kids’ artwork and gave them to grandmas.


I hope you find this new feature helpful. Let me know what you think.


I thought I would start the year with very few words and another great mural from Lexington, KY.

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