Monthly Archives: December 2013

AJC Highlights of Week 51

The end is so near!!  I know, I know, I say this ALL the time, but I just can’t believe how time flies (especially when we’re having fun)!  I’m excited for 2014.  I have so many projects lined up on my art desk!  It’s going to be a beautiful new start to a fresh new year.  Are you ready?

Here are my picks for week 51:

God Jul by Lime
I really like the mix of elements on this page.  Gives it great dimension, right?


Word For 2013 Revisited by Billizetti
LOVE how this one is done.  A really great reflection page.


Week 51 – Don’t Get Discouraged by ChristineS
This is a fantastic reminder.  I love the soft inky feel of this page.


AJC13_49_Scandinavia by snowdropz
Fabulous!!  I like the image blended into the background and the stamped images.


No. 51: Let It Be by kygirl
This page feels very emotional and powerful.  Very well done.


Thanks for joining me for another week of highlights.  Don’t forget to check in next Sunday for more great inspiration.  Until then… I’ll see ya on the trail.


AJC Highlights of Week 50

It’s winding down friends.  We’re almost finished with 2013.  Can you believe it?  I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty stoked for the new year AND the 2014 AJC, it’s going to be AMAZING!

Here are my picks for week 50:

Metaphor by tam65
I love the mixed media feel of this page.  It’s so painty and inky and pretty.


Talents-Henry Van Dyke by papertrail
I love love love those birds.  And there’s such a neat story that goes with this one.


Week 50 Wonderful Fairy Tale by Zuzu
WOW!!!  This one totally blew me away.  Love the birds and the dimension.  Very nicely done.


Fairy Tale by aertre
Adorable!!  That’s all : ))


Thanks for joining me for another week of highlights.  Don’t forget to check in next Sunday for more great inspiration.  Until then… I’ll see ya on the trail.


Studio Tangie is still HEXing and FONTing!

If you loved Tangie’s new kits “For The Hex Of It,” you’ll be excited to know she has created three new kits!

For The Hex Of It No. 5 By Tangie

For The Hex Of It No. 6 By Tangie

For The Hex Of It No. 7 By Tangie

Tangie’s handwritten fonts make any digital page look hand done. She has added two new fonts to her huge collection in The Foundry.

Shut Up Like A Telescope [Art Journaling Font] By Tangie

All Mad Here [Art Journaling Font] By Tangie

Remember to try the “paperworn” style to add even more realism to all of Tangie’s handwritten fonts. We hope you’ll have a mad week creating with these new kits!

Author Bill

Lesson 16: Converting a Digital Image to Black and White in Photoshop

Art Travels with Rain

Hello all, and Happy Holidays!

With the Winter Solstice fast approaching, my thoughts turn to the longest, darkest night of year and all of the richness present in the shadows.  I tend to become entranced this time of year by texture and value scales, appreciating the detail available with a limited color palette in a Colorado winter.  I am spending a lot of time with my brand new camera, enjoying the heck out of the vast ISO settings available and the sharpness of focus, but I digress!

Today I am going to explore various methods of converting a digital image from color to black and white in PhotoshopCS6.  I apologize in advance for those of you that use Photoshop Elements, as I don’t know the first thing about the smaller version of PS known as Elements!

I recently completed a 106 page photobook (insert very tired sigh here!)  of our daughter  Jessica’s pregnancy and birth of our grandson.  The 7 copies of the book will be distributed as holiday gifts to the extended family of little Danny.  In addition, I framed a series of black and white and sepia tone photos for immediate family, and did a lot of studying up on conversion of photos in Photoshop.


Here is a digital image of the original, straight out of camera (SOOC) image:

Now, as lovely as this is there are a few issues to my eye:  first, the bottoms of Jess and Danny’s feet are assorted colors from living in Hawaii, the baby has a distracting diaper that becomes a focal point since it is one of the lightest values, and the baby’s umbilical cord scab looks like a gash in his belly!

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter

I converted the image initially using a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, with the saturation turned all the way down. It’s pretty bland, and the tonal contrast does not make me feel happy, so I try a few alterations:

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie BaxterI selected the baby with the Quick Selection Tool, and with the “marching ants” active, added a Curves adjustment layer, and a layer mask.  I then then raised the exposure level just on the baby, lightening his skin.  Then to increase the contrast, I first  tried a version of using the PS burn tool around the outside of the feet…a dangerous tool, best used at very low opacity.  It does not leave very much information in the shadows and looks way too stark for my desired outcome:

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie BaxterYes, very dramatic, but I wanted to preserve more information in the shadows and have the whole image look softer.  I tried turning down the opacity of the burn layer, another curves adjustment on the background area, etc., and really didn’t like how any of these looked.  So I started over with the original color image and converted to black and white using a Gradient Map adjustment layer:

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie BaxterNow I added a curves adjustment layer, set to Soft Light in the blending modes, with the opacity turned down to about 30%.  First I selected the baby and added a layer mask to protect the feet and baby’s skin from darkening along with the background.  To accomplish this, I clicked on the Curves adjustment layer, then I selected the skin areas with the Quick Selection Tool, clicked on the layer mask icon at the bottom of the layers panel, and hit Control + I to invert the mask to the background. Now I set the blend mode to Soft Light, and increased the shadows by pulling down on the curve.  I liked the effect, so I added another Curves adjustment layer, added the same layer mask, and set the blending mode to multiply, with the opacity dropped to about 30% again.

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

As a last step, I added a new layer mask and decreased the brightness of the diaper and patched a bit of brushing over the umbilical area.

Yum!  The shadows are very rich and the photo printed like a dream.
Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog


For the photobook, I decided to add a sepia toned layer in the background and on top, with the opacity turned down on the skin areas, mainly to match the overall tone of the book.  I like it quite a bit, and printed off a copy to frame.

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

Here’s another example of black and white conversion of my hands holding the baby’s,  when the color was too distracting from the emotion:

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

A summary:

My favorite workflow for converting to black and white using non-destructive editing:

1.  Open the color photo in Photoshop

2. Add a Gradient Map adjustment layer and move the sliders to your taste.

3. Select a Curves adjustment layer, and then using the Quick Selection tool, select any areas of skin that need to be masked off from darkening.

4.  Click on the Layer mask icon, and then invert the mask so all areas affected by the Curves adjustment are NOT skin.

5.  Set the adjustment layer blending mode to Soft Light, and decrease the Opacity to a lower level.  Drop the curves line to increase the darks,  if desired.

6. AND/OR  add a Curves adjustment layer and set the blending mode to Multiply for stronger contrast, remembering to drop the opacity down.

Here is one more example of this exact workflow of my husband, Gary.  I love the rich contrasting values, with full highlights to dark shadows preserved:

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

Again, a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season to all!


AJC Highlights of Week 49

hey guys!  Sorry I’m a day late.  I had a date day with the hubs yesterday.  We spent the entire day just enjoying each other, it was fun.  And it’s been a long time since we’ve done that.   Sooo… I hope you can forgive me and I hope that you’ll enjoy the pages I’ve picked to highlight for you.

Here are my picks for week 49:

Free to be by CarolW
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this gorgeous grungy page!  This definitely makes me smile.


Scandinavia by sbpoet
Ummm… WOW!!  This is fantastic.


2013 Itinerary #49 Port of Call by Tangie Baxter
Thought I’d show off one by our fearless leader.  Isn’t it fun?


Santa’s Break by papertrail
This one totally made me giggle.


Scandinavian Village by readingfool
Brrrr!!!!  This page made me want to grab a blankie and hot chocolate!


Thanks for joining me for another week of highlights.  Don’t forget to check in next Sunday for more great inspiration.  Until then… I’ll see ya on the trail.




Studio Tangie – Hexes and Mushrooms and Fonts, Oh My!

Tangie has been working overtime designing hexes, fonts and mushrooms to give you a wide assortment of new elements to decorate your pages with this season.

For The Hex Of It No. 1 By Tangie

For The Hex Of It No. 2 By Tangie

For The Hex Of It No. 3 By Tangie

For The Hex Of It No. 4 By Tangie

Borgroves [Art Journaling Font] By Tangie

Drink Me! [Art Journaling Font] By Tangie

Golden Afternoon [Art Journaling Font] By Tangie

Mushroom Soup CU OK By Tangie

I see lots of fun art journaling going on this next week in order to use all of Tangie’s new designs!

Author Bill

Lesson 15: Making a Holiday Banner

Art Travels with Rain

Hello all,

During the month of December I am very blessed to receive many lovely cards that are handmade small pieces of art.  I save most of these and make card banners to display during the holiday season as an easy and beautiful decoration for our home.  This year, I have been making banners on lace using Tangie’s Winter Wonderland, AJC13 December Collection Scandinavia, and Favorite Things: Baking kits.

I have been making collage sheets as jpg files in Photoshop using an 8.5 X 11 canvas so that I can print at home, then cutting things up and making the banners using holiday themed brads and applique’ pins.

Here are a few examples of the collage sheets:

Angels 1 and 2

Art Travels with Rain

Art Travels with Rain

With the roses below, I added one element to the Photoshop file, then copied and pasted one row, selected that row with the Marquee tool, and copied and pasted my way across the canvas.  I re-sized two rows to have some variety and fit more on one page:

Art Travels with Rain


For the triangular shaped pieces, I made a Photoshop template using the Custom Shape Tool, choosing one of the default shapes from the drop down menu.  I re-sized the shapes, colored each in black, then used each one as a clipping mask for Tangie’s papers and holiday elements.  After I had each mask completed, I added a background paper.

Art Travels with Rain


Art Travels with Rain



Art Travels with Rain

Then it was just a matter of cutting the triangles out and using brads or pins to mount onto the ribbon or lace strip.  With some of the banners, I leave a lot of space and clip cards to the banner, others I pin more densely, and hang up without adding more:


Art Travels with Rain

Art Travels with Rain


I also like to make a “Merry Christmas”  banner to add to an evergreen swag on our mantle piece to hang with the stockings…here are the beginnings of my swag banner.  First I made a Photoshop file, again on an 8.5 X 11 canvas so I could print at home, then added all the letters to spell, “Merry Christmas”, with a background paper.  After I had all the letters, I did the unbelievably gymnastic keyboard command, “Shift + Control + Alt + E”  for “Stamp Visible”, basically a great way to save all the individual layers onto one layer without flattening the file:

Art Travels with Rain

Then I printed the jpg file onto photo paper and cut out the individual letters. I have started to line up all the letters and mount on a lace ribbon in preparation for my evergreen swag.  I like to wait until just before the holiday so the evergreen stays fresh and fragrant, so for now, it is pinned to my studio curtains!

Art Travels with RainI hope you are all enjoying the wonders of the season, and having a bit of time for some art!

take care,


Lesson 14: Making Christmas Treat Boxes

Art Travels with Rain topper

Art Travels with Rain topper


Happy Holidays to Everyone!

This last week here in Colorado we were hit with a massive blizzard that seemed like it was trying to make up for  the lack of November snow all in one go!  I lost my internet so here is last week’s blog post, then on to this week’s.

Every holiday season I make lots of sweet and savory treat gifts and decorate tins and boxes for festive packaging.  Tangie’s December Art Journal Caravan Collection Scandinavia is filled with fabulous holiday motifs.


I made some “collage” sheets of various bits from the Scandinavia collection in an 8.5 X 11 format so I could print the sheets at home.  I printed on matte photo paper, adhesive backed canvas, and adhesive backed cardstock to make a stash of holiday items to make the boxes and tins.

Here is a photo of Santa Rain’s work table:

Art Travels with RainI tend to make a grand mess, make lots of projects over some days, then do a big clean-up all at once…I think this is pretty common to all artists this time of year!  If you have a better system, please share!  I wish I would find the time to have all my holidays lined up by December 1st, so I guess that stays on my “probably never in this lifetime” list.

Here are a few examples of my collage sheets, from various holiday Tangie Baxter kits, including the “Favorite Things: Baking”, “Winter Wonderland”, and the “AJC 13 December Collection Scandinavia”:

Art Travels with Rain

Some of the collage sheets are one element, copied and pasted onto an 8.5 X 11 Photoshop canvas, then I selected one row, and continued to copy and past.  I re-sized  the flowers and some of the cards to fit nicely onto the canvas, knowing I would be cutting each element out.  Once I had the roses or other items onto the canvas, I used “Control + New Layer”  (Mac:  Command + New Layer) so the new layer was below the elements.  Then I added a background paper to make it easy to cut without a lot of fuss for the elements that had uneven edges.  Having said that, I spent a lot of time fussy cutting flowers!

For the hexagons, I started in the center of the canvas, and kept adding to the edges, lining each up like a quilt.  On the edges, I placed a hexagon in the space, then selected the excess with the marquee tool, and deleted, repeating with the same hexagon motif on the opposite side.

The borders sheet I kept lining up each one with a bit of overlap, and then printed the sheet onto paper-backed fabric as well as paper so I could cut the strips and use as ribbons on some of my packages.


Art Travels with Rain


Art Travels with Rain


Art Travels with Rain

Here is an image of of a tin front and top:

Art Travels with Rain

Art Travels with Rain


And a box:

Art Travels with Rain

Art Travels with Rain


What to put into your box?  Cards, clips to hang cards, and FOOD, of course!   I love to wrap up treats in printed tissue paper with a decorated box, as the box can be used again or for some other purpose by the recipient.

take care and stay warm,


So here are a couple of recipes that are my favorites to box up for family, friends, and neighbors:

Parmesan or Sheep’s Milk Pecorino Crisps

*I am horribly allergic to cow dairy except for butter, so I make these with the sheep’s milk equivalent to Parmesan, known as “pecorino”, available at CostCo, or any healthy box store.

If I am making a lot of these, I use a grater blade on my food processor, otherwise it is the hand grater and some elbow grease.

PreHeat the Oven to 375 degrees

Line cookie sheets, or baking trays with either silpat type matting or parchment paper.

Drop 2 or 3 tablespoons of grated cheese roughly into a circle shape.  Leave at least 3 inches between each circle of cheese.

Bake for 5 or 6 minutes, but stay close!  These can turn into “burnt to a crisp” very quickly.

Slide the pan liner onto a cooling rack and leave for at least 20 minutes to completely cool.  Using a spatula, slide each crisp off the liner and layer with parchment or waxed paper between in a tin or in a plastic bag.

*After cooling for a few minutes so the cheese starts to adhere to itself but before it stiffens, the crisps can be shaped by gently placing into a muffin tin or clean egg carton to cool completely.  The crisp will form a “nest” type pocket.

I often give this gift with my rather famous mushroom/onion soup to float on top with some crusty bread.


Nut Brittle

This is my go-to sweet gift using pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds, or other nuts than peanut.  I love peanut brittle, however I don’t always know if someone has a peanut allergy in the family of my intended gift recipient.  I love this toffee style of brittle as it does not contain heavy cream or other milk product except butter.

Note!  This is not meant as a “health food”!  Loaded with sugar!!  Remember to brush your teeth after eating!!  I buy organic corn syrup that is non-gmo, made by Wholesome Sweeteners and granulated sugar from CostCo, organic Succanat also by Wholesome Sweeteners company.

Line a 10 X 15 rimmed baking sheet with oil if it is not non-stick.

*Combine in a minimum 4 quart saucepan:

2 1/4 cups sugar

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup (one stick) of butter, cut into 1 teaspoon pieces (8)  This is a rough estimate, just generally follow the lines on the butter wrapper

2/3 cup of water

*Stir all of the above ingredients in the saucepan over medium high heat until all of the sugar looks wet.  Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan with the base into the mixture of ingredients and continue cooking WITHOUT STIRRING until the thermometer reads 310 degrees F.  It will be foamy, and tan colored around the edges, and will take at least 15 minutes depending on your elevation.  At high elevation like my home, it take around 13 minutes, again, don’t walk away!

*Remove from the heat and take the thermometer out of the pan.  Whisk in 1 teaspoon baking soda, remembering that it will be very foamy, then 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

* Add either 1 1/2 cups nuts and seeds (pecan, peanut, almond, pumpkin, etc)   OR  2 teaspoons of spice such as red pepper flakes, ground cardamon, or black pepper.

Whisk in your choice of nuts, seeds or spices.

*Pour the entire mix onto the prepared baking sheet, tilting it around to spread the “goop” as evenly as possible.  Sprinkle a few of the nuts or seeds on the top of the mixture.

*Cool absolutely completely and totally on the baking sheet, which will commonly take at least 1-2 hours.  Don’t shortcut this step!

*Invert the sheet over a parchment sheet on the countertop or large cutting board.  Gently break up the brittle into small to medium sized pieces.

*Package as desired and enjoy!  The brittle can be stored in the refrigerator or an airtight container without refrigeration for up to one month.


AJC Highlights of Week 48

Ohhhh the end is so near.  This time of year always makes me so sad as things start to wind down for the current year but as I look to the fresh new year ahead with all it’s possibilities the joy returns.  Seeing another year pass will always be bittersweet.  I’ve had lots of crafty time today.  Unfortunately my delightful other was on the computer all day so it was digital crafty time.  But I’m off work until Thursday so I fully intend to enjoy myself, I hope you are as well.

Here are my picks for week 48:

Naughty or nice? by Lime
This one totally made me giggle.  How fun!


Week 48 Philosophy by Billizetti
Very thought provoking…


I Will Love Me by anndriver
What a great quote.  Those twin art dolls are adorable!


Rules for Happiness by Grace
Such an inspiring page.


Week 44-Grimm’s Fairy Tales by thimbleberrie
This page is so dreamy.  I absolutely adore it.


Thanks for joining me for another week of highlights.  Don’t forget to check in next Sunday for more great inspiration.  Until then… I’ll see ya on the trail.


Studio Tangie’s December 2013 Collection – Scandinavia!

header jpg

Are you ready to journal with winter colors like red, green and white? You’ll love the December 2013 Collection – Scandinavia!

Art Journal Caravan 2013 {The December 13 Collection} By Tangie

December Collection

This is such a beautiful kit full of snowflakes and reindeer, but it’s too large to show you everything here. Please click on the link above to go to the store page so you can see everything included in the collection.

Remember to take advantage of the discount for the new Art Journal Caravan for 2014. It is the last year for the caravan, and will be extra special!

Art Journal Caravan™ {The FINAL Expedition 2014} ***EARLY BIRD*** By Tangie

Have fun with your winter journaling with the new Scandinavia Collection!




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