Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review: AKVIS OilPaint

AKVIS OilPaint is photo to painting software that creates oil paintings from photographs. The characteristic feature of the program is a unique algorithm of the artistic application of brush strokes that authentically reproduces the technique of the real brush. Creating a painting in oil colors is long and complicated process. Usually it may take months. With this cutting-edge software you can become a painter and turn your photos into paintings in just a few minutes! Even if you are not a professional painter you can create your own masterpiece! Just use AKVIS OilPaint to turn a regular photo into an oil painting. The mysterious production of a painting happens right before your eyes. The program creates a work of art that looks like a handmade oil painting. Personalize your work of art by adding a signature or a greeting! To make the painting even more realistic you can adjust the canvas. The program offers a number of ready to use Presets that let you familiarize yourself with the features of the software. The Batch Processing support lets you automatically convert a series of images with the same settings. Adjusting the density, texture, and thickness of the brush strokes, you can not only enhance the volume and get impressive effects, but also find your own painting style. AKVIS OilPaint is available as a standalone program and as a Photoshop plugin.
I LOVE THIS PROGRAM!!!!! I have played around with it quite a bit and it's so cool....and fun!!!! The program is easy to navigate and if you have questions or get stuck, they have a great tutorial to back up your experience. You can pretty much make your picture into an oil painting with 22 different styles of painting and varying degrees of brush strokes. The possibilities are endless. I can almost guess, too, that you won't be able to let good enough be okay. You'll continue to want to play with this program to see what magic it can create. This an example of what I did to one of my photos:
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Craft: DIY Painted Canvas

Although I don't have a lot of spare time, I do love to peruse Pinterest for ideas for future projects that speak to me.. I have done quite a few off of there (Note to self: OMGoodness....did I just figure out a future blog post subject????? lol). This painting is so easy and so individualized that yours is not going to look like mine and visa versa. That's one of the best things about it. Another good thing is it's cheap to make. If you need a big piece of art work and either haven't found the one that makes your heart sing(and if you're like me, the minute you see it you'll know) or can't afford the one that you want right now(...because real talk ...they're pricey), This might be the perfect fix for now. A couple of things I would like to point out: 1) I have seen them big and I have seen them's all according to where its going to go and what you need. 2) I have seen most of these done on a canvas painted in white. It makes all the other colors pop times 10. I choose to be a little bit different and do mine in periwinkle blue... it's one of my favorite colors after all.
You will need the following items: a canvas, paints, painter's tape and a paint brush, First, you paint the canvas whatever color you have decided your background color will be(that will separate the other main colors). You might have to paint it twice to get it good and covered. Let fully dry. Next step is tape off your design that you want with the tape crisscrossing on top. Make sure that you apply pressure to all the tape stripes as to prevent paint bleeding when you start painting your sections.
You can then beginning painting your sections.
Make sure it fully dries. Then comes the best part...the reveal. Start stripping that tape off and step back to savor the moment.
Clean it up a little bit by hand if you need to( if there's any bleeding or a color paint where it shouldn't be) and you are done. Easy peasey!!!!
Here's one I did for some friends for their baby nursery.

Painting Ventures

I have always considered myself an artist in my heart even though very rarely does anything ever get down on canvas. About 5 years ago, I caught the painting/wine party fever and it changed my world in such a great way.
In case you have no idea what I am referring to, it's those businesses that are cropping up all over the place and the general concept is you check out their calendar of days with specific individual paintings and you sign and show up for the painting you want(with your bottle or box of wine(hey I'm from the south!!!)). They have everything you need right there... the paint, the canvas, the apron and an instructor. I must add, I have been to 2 different types of places....1) I have showed up and the main art subject is lightly outlined on the canvas(which I am always so grateful for because I can't center things for sh**) and the instructor walks you through the process, and 2) you show up to a blank canvas and the instructor talks you through the process step by step. At any rate, pure fun ensues(and you'll find that if you are serious about it, you'll loosen up more as the wine and in a couple of hours, you walk out with this great experience AND a painting to go on your wall. It is so much fun and , honestly, if financially feasible at any point in my life, I would seriously consider buying a franchise of this business plan.
I, also, have to mentioned that the instructors rock at these things. They love art and it shows. They are always helpful, directing and come with a dash of therapist in them for encouragement with lines like "there's no rules in art!!!", "I like the way you added this color", etc. I consider some of them my friends now.
Another thing I feel led to add, due to my experience, don't give all of them away!!!! I pretty much did and regret it now.(Oh...a birthday is coming up.....what to give?.....oh yeah...give 'em one of your paintings.....). Although I have a few left, I wish I had been more selective about what I was going to give away and what I was going to keep. I need to go back so I can paint some more with the intention of putting it on MY walls. Here's some more of them that I did:
(For my daughter in law)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Craft: Homemade Canvases Minus the Huge Costs

I think I have mentioned already how much I love photography, pictures and, in particular, pictures of my loved ones. If you're like me, when you get a great shot, you just want to make it into a canvas and get it on your walls. Then the moment comes when you start checking around on how much this little endeavor will costs and it's an immediate "UGH" moment(or at least it was for me). I started looking around on the internet to see if there was any way around that and here's what I came up with:
You will need paint, your trusty ModPodge, a paint brush, your picture that you want to use and a canvas the size of the picture you have chosen. I always begin with painting the sides of my canvas the color that will blend in with the picture I am using( I chose black for this one). I paint the sides and a little of the base to make sure whatever part of the canvas that the picture doesn't cover, the paint will.
After it dries, apply ModPodge to the back of your picture liberally. Press it on your painted canvas making sure you line it up as close to perfect as you can so the sides of the picture does not hang off. Let it dry. ModPodge the top of the picture.
While it's still wet, place another canvas the same size that you are working with directly on top of it for about 15 seconds to give it the texture of a canvas. Let it dry.
Could not be any easier and they turn out great. I would love to see a picture of yours if you decide to try your hand at it. As a side note: This is the first one I have done on canvas. I have done many before but they have always been on pieces of wood that I have bought and cut at a home store(Home Depot or Lowes). They turn out just as good on wood. Another point is the picture you choose does not have to be posed or professional.. The picture I used doesn't mean anything to anyone but my family. It was not posed, was taken spontaneously by me on my phone one night at NCCU's field after we had football games all day long and were cleaning up. The stadium lights were on and the kids, who help us out during the day, decided they were going to run a play for my 10 year old grandboy to run for a touchdown. My sons were part of the group. They did and he did and this is the result. He was so HAPPY and the bonus was I caught all 3 of my boys walking off the field. It is a priceless moment caught on camera to me and I LOVE IT!!!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Craft: Colorful Trinket Holder

I have loved crafting for the last 30+ years. I am always perusing the clearance aisles/endcaps at various stores that I frequent trying to find something that I can make into something or to go along with an idea that I have. My favorites stores to haunt for these type of projects are Target, Michaels, and AC Moore. I had found this little white ceramic box at Target for $2.00 about 2 months ago and knew it was perfect for something...even though I was not sure at the time what.
I decided it would be perfect to hold my rings in on my dresser and decided to go for it. I thought about it a while knowing I wanted to decoupage something on the top of it. I decided scrapbook paper was the best way to go. I assembled my supplies and went to work. I needed paper, scissors, a hole punch, a craft paint brush, the ceramic box and Mod Podge. I had everything I needed at home already so all it costs me was the price of the box.
Cut some paper into triangles. Mod Podge the paper on top of the lid of the box arranging them any way that appeals to the eye. For those of you who don't know about Mod Podge, it's the medium that is used in decoupage and one of the greatest things ever invented. It is kind of pricey, considering what it actually is....watered down glue.....but you can make your own out of your kid's school glue. It dries completely clear.
After it dried, I decided I wanted something else on it so I got the hole punch out and made some tiny circles with it. Decoupaged again and let it dry.
I have to say that I really love how it came out. With the Mod Podge, it doesn't look like paper. It looks more like felt to me and the lid just pops with color now. So easy to do. Ciao until next time!!!!!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Craft: Fathers Day D-A-D project

I have been remiss in posting the Fathers Day presents that Jay and I made last month for his dad. I got the idea from a friend of mine(thanks Tracey!) who got it from Pinterest. She had made one the year before with her kids for their dad and I have always thought it was adorable. When I told her that I was going to make it with Jay as his craft present for his dad, she even hooked me up with the wooden letters to use so it was basically the cost of the photos and a frame. Couldn't be cheaper especially if you have the frames sitting around your house not being used. I didn't. All you need is the following: 2 wood black craft letters-- D and A, and the frame. I can show you better than explain.
Take quite a few of your child holding each letter. When you put it together in the frame, the poses will need to have some kind of balance. Here's our end result:
It is so cute and extremely easy. Jay was so proud to give it to his dad too. S/N: Tracy asked me not to bring the letters back to her. I'm supposed to pass them on to someone else who wants to do the project. They are up for grabs!!!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Let's Eat.....Clark Family Chicken and Dumplings

Food has always been a delight in my life. In my family, it has always been an important component of our lives. We have laughed, cried, celebrated, had life discussions and many other things over food in general. That brings me to my capabilities about it. I am a cook but not a great one(my husband used to say that when we first started out I could burn and I am not a fancy cook either. Most of the things I do cook are recipes that my mom had taught me and passed down. I came from a middle class family of 6 where my father was the breadwinner and my mom had to do everything she could to figure out how to feed all of us on his salary. Consequently it was dishes that she had grown up with in her own family. Also, nothing was ever written down on paper.....the measurements were simply "a little bit of this and a little bit of that". I just love those kinds of recipes. My mom's Chicken and Dumplings were the best. We ate them all the time growing up and when I need comfort food, this is usually what I make now in my own home. It's a pretty basic recipe. 3-4 Chicken Breasts--frozen or fresh (I use boneless ones), 1 can of biscuits (I usually use just the store brand ones packaged by 4), salt, pepper,and butter Put the chicken in a boiling pan with salt. Boil until done. Take chicken out of pot(keeping the broth in the original pot) and shred it. Put the chicken back. Add a tablespoon of butter.
Cut the biscuits in fours.
Put in the pot with the chicken and salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium for 15-20 minutes more. Stir occasionally so that the biscuits get done.
.... and voila!!!!! You're done!!!
I hope when you try it, you'll love it as much as I do.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Photography....What's there not to love????

Since I have been a young girl , I have always loved photography and pictures. Old pictures, silly pictures, pictures of my all speaks to me and my heart. The first thing I do when I go home to see my mother or immediate family is ask to see their pictures....caught moments in time with people I have loved, houses I have lived in, places I have been to, members of family I never got to meet and loved ones who have left this earth much too soon for my liking. I have been a wanna be photographer all my life. It's been recent that I have had a fascination with pictures of things. It can span anywhere from the sky(my personal favorite) to statues to fire hydrants....yes, I said fire hydrants.
Even though I am still an amateur, it brings me such joy......the lines, the colors, the subjects, the beauty of it all. Isn't that what life is all about after all? Finding beauty in the smallest of things and appreciating it all?