Monday, January 16, 2012

A Photo Journey...

...documenting my Art History.

This year I am participating in three classes (of sorts)...The Art Journal Caravan at Scrapbook Graphics, Life Book at Willowing.ning and Beyond Layers at the All three course are synergistic and complimentary. For the first assignment at Beyond Layers, I am asked to document my Art History. I thought to myself, I could make a journal page (digital or mixed media), I could write a simple document (i.e. word or notepad), or I could blog my History with photos. Hmmm...guess which route I choose?  

Collecting photos for this History shows me how I have come to this very point...taking Art Journal, Mixed-Media, and Photography/Photoshop courses. I have a destination in mind. Granted, it will take me years to reach this destination. However, I am on a journey to that place, one foot in front of the other, coming closer and closer to reaching my dreams and becoming the Artist I so long to be.

When it all began...

December 20, 2004 I went to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens with my point-and-shoot digital camera, a Samsung Digimax. This was the first time I took pictures of plants and flowers for the pure joy of shooting photography.  It was this day I realized, "I can do it."  I can take the kind of pictures I see in my minds eye.

The pictures below are from the Samsung. The camera came with photo-editing software;  so I am sure I made some changes to contrast and saturation--nothing compared to what I can do with Photoshop or Lightroom.  But hey, I was a brand-spanking-new newbie to photography and had a bit of an aversion to "manipulating" photographs.  I felt I should be able to get the perfect shot strait out of the camera.  Mind you, a point-n-shoot DOES manipulate the photo (only I did not know that back then).

When I moved to Washington, my love for digital photography and shooting flowers grew. But unfortunately I destroyed that camera in Boston during a snow storm. Here is a scrapbook page of that day:

I do not know the exact day I started scrapbooking...but I do remember what sparked it. A buddy of mine invited me to her house for a Stampin-Up demonstration. I was HOOKED!  By this time I had hundreds of digital photographs but I did not know what do with them. Well, scrapbooking gave me a way to display my photos in a physical format.  Here are some of my creations using pictures taken with the Samsung (sorry for the poor quality of the scrapbook pictures, I was going for speed not style):

Soon after destroying the Samsung, I got another point-n-shoot digital, a Fuji Film FinePix.  The camera captured colors well, but it did not have a viewfinder like the Samsung.  So I never fell in love with that camera, the way I did my little Samsung. Here are some of the Fuji Film captures:

I guess I have always had a thing for macro photography, even though to this day I do not own a macro lens. Flowers, bugs, butterflies and nature remain my favorite subjects to capture. Back in those days, using a point-n-shoot I had no idea what "f" stop, 1:1 ratio or Bokeh were. I had no idea how to manipulate my exposure. None-the-less, I could spend a half day or entire day at the gardens or zoo shooting away with my Fuji Film.

After nature, abstract comes in a close second.  I don't have as many of these types of photographs as I tend to go to gardens and parks to shoot.  However, get me in a city-scape and I will happily try to find unique angles and captures.

I now have a Nikon D90.  I add some of my abstracts from the Nikon at this point for continuity of style (these were taken in raw and processed in photoshop).

In 2008 I found myself back in San Antonio (still there as I write this...but I don't anticipate being here at the end of 2012). At work we have Adobe Creative Suite CS3.  Its licensed for one office and one home use.  With permission from my boss, I installed CS3 at home.  Here is a book cover I created for my class.  I am an Army instructor of cytology. We have a camera attached to our multi-head about "macro photography!!!"  I designed the overall cover and took the pictures.

With CS3 installed at home I began my adventure and later addiction to digital scrapbooking, digital art journaling and digital art.  Here are some of my earliest creations.  I've decided to take pictures of these rather than scan them in.  You may ask, why not upload the file from your hard drive...well, there is a story behind that (like getting a virus/malware on my computer followed by an external hard drive crashing...lost LOADS of pictures and work from that...end result was upgrading to an iMac...I've gone Mac and I'll never go back!).

Yes, all these flower photos are my own captures!
Looks traditional, but its digi!
For awhile I created and created and created digital scrapbook pages. Even though by this time I upgraded to a Nikon D90 I did not take many photographs...until October of 2010 when I decided I needed to get unplugged and out more.  In 2011 I took a photography class at the Southwest School of Art.  The gentleman in the pictures is Victor.  We were in the class together and did many assignments as a team.  It was great having a partner.  I sure do miss that!  The following photos were taken between 2010 and 2011, some as assignments for the photography class.  These were all taken with the Nikon D90.  It was not until AFTER the class that I was convinced to shoot in raw.  So, some of these are jpegs, some are raw converted to jpeg.  Many are straight out of the camera, but a few have been manipulated in CS5.

Somewhere along the line I discovered I like to take self portraits too! (And use myself in my art.)

Picture of me taken by Victor M. Chavez
Picture of me taken by Victor M. Chavez 
Picture of me taken by Victor M. Chavez
Speaking of my digital art, two things got me away from what looked like traditional scrapbook pages and towards what I simply call digital art...these two things were the Art Journal Caravan and Deviant Scrap.  Here are some pages I've created over the past two years after becoming involved with these sites:

It took me awhile to get comfortable using stock photos. I always felt I should be using my own work. I still prefer to use my own work (hence taking three classes this year!). But I don't know enough people nor do I have the costumes to capture the kind of photos I want to work with. Here is one creation with stock, and one creation using a picture of Victor and stock. The goal in both of these creations was simply to practice photomanipulation.

I've learned a lot about shadows since this
This has always been one of my favorite creations.
Can you tell that body is not Victor's but came
from stock?
I still take lots and lots of photographs and scrap them.  But late last year I moved to a Project Life format for scrapbooking. So I don't do too many of this style of LO:

My photography style has not changed much...I still like flowers, bugs and nature...and finding beauty in ordinary things. I predominately use a 35mm 1:1.8 nikkor lens (a 60mm macro is on my wish list...will probably get it next month). My digital art has grown enormously...but I still have far to go. Here is one of my all time favorite creations:

Where I am today...

For Christmas I got an iPhone and Pentax Q.  I said above my photography style has not changed much. What I should have said was my style with the Nikon has not changed much.  Sometimes I read something, see something or participate in something that forever changes me.  In December 2011 I was reading a magazine Digital SLR Photography and came across a short article by Oliver Tudoras.  He said he was taking technically perfect photographs; but they were boring.  He switched to a LensBaby lens and his photographs become much more interesting.  Later in the magazine I read the article Hip to be Square.  This article was about the Hipstamatic app.  After reading these two articles, something in me shifted.  I could feel it.  That change in perspective.  I realized I was striving for technically perfect pictures...but what about their content?  Were they interesting?  I love my photographs, don't get me wrong.  But I realized there is a beauty to spontaneity.  There is a beauty in imperfection.  My Christmas presents were not accidents.  Here are some of my iPhone photos:

And here is a picture of the Pentax Q, at the moment, the world's smallest interchangeable lens camera.  This baby easily fits into my purse or jacket pocket!!!

And here is what the Q can do:

What else have I been up to?  Creating mixed media...and then using that in digital art:

Oh, and looked what arrived today...I've finally upgraded to an Intuos (specially packaged with Adobe's Lightroom!)

Where am I going? I mentioned at the beginning of this (very long) post, that I am on a journey and I have a destination.  It will take many years to reach my destination.  In the grand scheme of the things, I'm like maybe a 1st or 2nd grader when it comes to art.  And where I'd like to be is at the Master's level.  I subscribe to 2D Artist...I am amazed at what I see there.  And when I grow up, I'd like to be like those artists.  I am in love with everything digital.  Digital photography, digital art, photomanipulation...every class I take gets me closer to my ultimate dream.  For me, physical art, photoshop (and probably Painter in the future), and photography go hand in hand.  If you have a little time, check out Matte Painting.  These, to me, are the ultimate photomanipulators.

I'd like to end with my focus for the year...create mixed media pieces--Life Book-- (which will help me learn to draw and paint), take meaningful photographs--Beyond Layers--(learn about flash photography, get a macro lens, and continue to texture and process my photos), and combine my creations into digital art--Art Journal Caravan.  Yes, my plate is full.  And I would not want it any other way.

P.S.  As a history of my art journey, I've reused many photos from past posts.  Although time consuming and very long, it has been rewarding to put all of these into one singular post that documents my growth.  


  1. Wow! You are so good with your cameras and your editing skills are fabulous. I am very impressed. Perhaps I can learn from you during our Beyond Layers course. ;o)

  2. What an amazing creative journey you have had already, Linda.
    I look forward to seeing more of your work as the year progresses.

  3. Great post Lisa! Great to see your journey from there to her all in one post like this. You're so talented. Thanks for sharing.

  4. oh my.... this is a story... a beautiful one... Bravo.....

    I love that you allowed yourself the time to put it together....

    I love your self portraits...and the way you mix mediums.... and 'tools'.... I love all your goals for the year ahead as well.....

    so exciting.... xo, Kim

  5. Wow! I absolutely loved reading your post, so much that I'm going to read it again. I'm falling in love with the digital art journaling!
    Please ignore the Google link, my actual blog is here:

  6. Enjoyed "seeing" your story and the evolution you took in your art; there definitely is one whether you actually see it or not. Very cool and so very inspirational. Glad you like the Pentax - I have been looking at the Sony Nex (perhaps waiting on the 7) - can you give me hints - I love Macros, also - in fact get excellent macros with my iPhone4 (and, not the 4S, either). It's "the" camera I have with me all of the time. My non interchangeable lens Panasonic is hard for me to take macros. Your work is amazing and I am thrilled for you. Have fun with this and the other two classes you are taking this year. kareninkenai (alaska)

  7. what a wonderful story can't wait to see more hope you have some tips for that wacom table I have a bamboo and haven't done much of anything with it yet really need to learn more about painting with it

  8. Your story is so interesting and I can see your evolution from the first pics. You really are very talented. I had never heard of the Lensbaby lens. So my hubs thanks you for that tidbit of info. Not! Ha! I told him I have to have one. I have always envied people who do scrap booking. I don't seem to have the patience for it. I can't wait to be inspired by you during this class.

  9. Enjoyed reading the story of your artistic journey -- your photos and digital art are wonderful and we share a love for detailed shots of insects, flowers and nature!

    I'm glad that we are sharing the Beyond Layers project together -- I look forward to your future posts and creative work :)

    kimB from Alaska

  10. Wow, I really enjoyed reading this and seeing all your different pieces of art which are gorgeous. I really look forward to seeing where Beyond Layers takes you. I've just got an iphone too and am completely addicted to hipstamatic (amongst others!) and you're right, there is something lovely about the spontaneity of it. See you in class. :)

  11. What a nice combination of text and visual imagery! You have given several references to sites and tools that I am unfamiliar with, but want to check out. Thanks!

    Sue from New Bern

  12. I enjoyed your story and your art. I look forward to sharing this journey with you.

  13. wow, you have been very busy. You have a great variety of photos and information to share. My best to you in the coming Beyond year.

  14. Thank you for sharing your story in such detail! It really is fascinating to see artistic growth documented as well as you have done here. Your work is beautiful, and I look forward to seeing more this year in Beyond Layers.


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