Category Archives: my creations

Things that I created myself

Playing with Typography {Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker}

typography project illustrating quotes from matt moley motivational speaker sketch

It’s been a while since I worked on a typography project. I hate to get rusty, so what better to practice with than the inspirational words of Matt Foley, motivational speaker?

Oh man, I just had to watch the video again. It never gets old. This sketch has to be one of the all time best things ever to come out of Saturday night live. Chris Farley was so funny it’s ridiculous. And David Spade and Christina Applegate trying to not crack up on camera? Priceless.

Please tell me you’ve seen it. If not, click here…unless you want me to die a little inside.

colorful kaleidoscope like artwork from video demonstration

Creating Kaleidoscope Art {time lapse video}

Don’t you love it when a project that’s been bouncing around your head for a long time finally comes to fruition? For a few months now, I’ve wanted to create a time-lapse video of the process I use for creating kaleidoscope art on my computer. The thing was, I wasn’t really sure how to go about it. After learning about Screenr, a free online service for recording screencasts on your PC or Mac, I got really excited. I had the tool, now I just needed the time (all you parents out their nodding your heads in agreement – can I get a “hell yeah!!!” ?)

Well, the art gods were kind to me yesterday, because my little munchkin took a three hour nap. This turned out to be doubly fortunate, because making the video was a rather slow process. The free version of Screenr only allows for five minutes of recording at a time (you can upgrade to a paid version for $20/month), so I had to work in five minute increments, uploading my video when the five minutes was up and then recording a new file.

I was also worried about how well my five year old Mac would handle a ton of large video files, so I had to limit how much I recorded. I can spend several hours on my more intricate kaleidoscope art, but I didn’t want hours of footage clogging up my desktop. This meant I had to make my image a little less complex than I normally would. After I completed my drawing in 6 five minute segments, I imported the files into imovie and increased the playback speed to 800x the original speed. Half hour hour of video footage down to just under four minutes!

colorful kaleidoscope like artwork from video demonstration

For my first attempt at something like this, I’m pretty happy with the result. It was definitely a learning experience, and something I want to do again in the near future.

Have you ever recorded your creative process? How did it turn out?

Photography Adventure {Lake Geneva}

boats at the dock on lake geneva

This Saturday I drove up to Lake Geneva for a bridal shower, and since I knew it would end relatively early, I brought my DSLR along with the intention of wandering around town and taking some shots. We go up to Lake Geneva a decent amount for family gatherings, but I’ve never really gone into town or explored the lake. Even though we’ve been having record breaking heat in Chicago, it was actually quite a bit more bearable in Wisconsin, and by the time we left the shower it was actually pleasant to be outside for the first time in weeks. It was a perfect night for watching sailboats, strolling around the lake path, checking out amazing lake shore mansions, and eating ice cream. Much more pleasant than my other Lake Geneva experience, which involved my fifth grade class staying up there for a week of outdoor ed…in the middle of February.

victorian house at lake genevasillouette of trees at lake genevastatue of three women against sunsetpurple flowersview of the water at lake genevasailboat on the water at lake genevafancy horse and carriage at lake genevabumble bee on a purple flowersignage for Fat Cat's bar at Lake Genevablack eyed susan flowers at lake genevaangel fountain at Lake Geneva

Been on any good photography adventures lately? Where did you go?

Polka Dots and Hummingbirds {new digital painting}

digital painting of a hovering purple hummingbird

After I finished this owl painting about a week ago I decided it would be fun to do a whole series of different birds against interesting backgrounds. Although I kind of hate birds in an up-close-and-personal situation (you can reference this story about me being attacked by a parrot to understand why), they are really fun to draw. Besides, I love having a series to work on. That way when a project is finished I have a new thing to move on to without needing time to brainstorm.

I think I mentioned this before, but seriously, HURRAY for Photoshop and pen tablets and digital painting! There were many 10-15 minute sessions of work put into this, which would have been a horrible pain if I’d been using actual paint. When I’m painting I always feel like I should have at least a few hours to dedicate, because it’s such a pain to set up and put away everything (does anyone else feel this way? Or am I being dramatic and making it out to be worse than it is? Maybe it’s because I don’t have a dedicated studio and keep all of my art supplies in the garage). When I work in Photoshop and I’m finished, I can simply unplug the keyboard (because my daughter loves to “work” on my computer and has renamed/moved more files than I care to think about) and walk away.

I think that sometimes Photoshop gets a bad rap as an artist’s tool. Because of all the bad Photoshop work out there, a lot of people have the misconception that all you do is make some minor tweaks to an existing image, run a couple filters through it, and call it “art”. Of course, you can do that, but you can also play with it’s huge assortment of brushes and colors and create images from scratch. I have a Wacom Bamboo tablet (which I absolutely adore…so much that I’m asking for a bigger one for Christmas this year), which makes drawing on the screen much more natural and fluid than using a mouse. I can build up colors, smudge, erase, and add layers of patterns and textures…all digitally. Some people think the fact that you can go back in your history to correct mistakes is  “cheating,” but it allows tremendous freedom to experiment without the fear of permanently making a mistake that ruins your piece. To me, it’s not cheating any more than using an eraser is cheating. Photoshop is just another tool to add to my bag of artist’s tricks.

Have you ever used Photoshop or a similar program to “paint”? What do you think of it?

Magic on the Lake {an evening at Navy Pier}

A week ago we were lucky enough to get a babysitter for an entire day (!!!), so BF and I headed to the city to have lunch and drinks with a friend of his from out-of-state. Afterwards, were in the car, about to jump on the highway to drive back, when we stopped ourselves.  What were we doing? We had a night to ourselves, the stifling heat of the day was rapidly dropping, a nice lake breeze was kicking in, and the sun was beginning to dip. We were headed into the absolute best time of day to be in the city, and it would be madness to turn that in for rush hour traffic. The thirty dollars we’d pay in parking to run around and enjoy our night would be worth it’s weight in gold.

We ended up at Navy Pier, which is either an overcrowded tourist trap, or a magical place of sunsets, margaritas, waves and twinkling lights, depending on when you go. On that evening it was the latter. At night it clears out a lot, and we spent some much-needed time relaxing on restaurant patios overseeing the lake, drinks in hand. It was wonderful. I have a thing for boats (seriously, it’s one of my life’s dreams to someday own a boat) and I adore being on the water, so BF bought us tickets to a sunset cruise on the Tall Ship Windy. There’s absolutely nothing better than sitting on the deck of a giant ship with your best friend, sipping a rum and coke, and watching the sun set the sky afire behind the skyline of the greatest city on earth. If you do know of something better keep it to yourself, because I like thinking that I pretty much discovered perfection

I really should start automatically grabbing my DSLR when we go to the city, because I always kick myself later for not having it. We always end up on so many random adventures chock full of amazing photo opportunities. Even though the battery on my phone was dying, I still managed to capture some pretty nice shots.

There are some days that just feel like magic. This was one of them.

Does your city have any “tourist traps” that you absolutely love?

Whooooo Loves Owls? {new digital painting}

digital painting of brown owl against blue background

Our family has this thing for owls. My BF has an owl tattoo. My youngest daughter has really cute owl decals on the wall of her bedroom and multiple stuffed owls. We hang our keys on owl hooks. I own an owl t-shirt, owl earrings, and two owl necklaces. We just love them. I actually got pretty excited when this whole owl trend started, because it’s made cool owl stuff super easy to find. I’m not going to pretend that I’m suddenly too cool for owls because they’ve gotten popular. Whatever. I’m not that interested in being cool these days.

This painting was inspired by….(are you ready?)…Game of Thrones! No, really! How, you ask? Well, I got a little obsessed with the show last season. My BF had already watched season one, and got me to watch the second episode of season 2. Jumping in right there had me utterly confused, so then I had to backtrack and watch the first episode of season 2. That was enough to get me hooked, and I proceeded to plow through the entire first season showing on On Demand within a week. Seriously, it was like all I did was sleep, eat, job hunt, and watch Game on Thrones. Can I say that Tyrion Lannister is my absolute favorite? Seriously, he’s The Man. When he bitch slapped Geoffery? Yeah, that was beyond awesome.

images of owl painting in progress

Anyways, I liked the show on Facebook, and one day last week they posted an album of fan art. There were some amazingly beautiful, realistic and gorgeously detailed digital paintings in it, and I found myself remembering that I too own a Wacom Bamboo digital tablet, and that I should really use it. I used to mess with it all the time, but after catching my daughter with the digital pen in her mouth too many times, and several pursuits where I had to chase after her and it almost snapped in half, I put it away on the bookshelf out of her reach. Which is too bad, because painting in Photoshop is fun, but painting in Photoshop with a tablet is amazing.

Besides, digital painting means no supplies and mess to clean up, which is priceless when you have a toddler tearing around your house. :)

Kaleidoscope Sunrise Art {new in the shop}

white starburst art on sunrise colored background

I don’t normally post about every little thing I add to my shop, but I really like this one so I thought I would share. It’s very peaceful and calm, like a sunrise. To be totally honest, I don’t pay attention to that many sunrises, because I’m not at all a morning person. I’m more of a night owl who finds morning people completely baffling. If I had my way no one would look at me, speak to me, or try to interact with me in any way prior to 10am (which doesn’t work out too well in the worlds of jobs and motherhood). Chances are, if I’m up early enough to see the sunrise, my eyes are still barely open and all of my brainpower is concentrated on forming coherent thoughts. Think I’m exaggerating? You’ve obviously never met me.

Jewel Tone Kaleidoscope Art {and burning feet}

red, gray, and teal jewel toned kaleidoscope like circle drawing

Ahhh…..air conditioning.

Let me preface this by saying, I am NOT an air conditioning sorta girl. If I was the only one who lived in this house it would probably never get used. Artificial, cold,  recirculated air when it’s beautiful and sunny outside…yuck. No thanks. But today when I walked into the house I was rather appreciative that my BF cranked up the cold when I wasn’t looking (this happens all day long…he gets hot and turns it down, I get cold and turn it up. Repeat, repeat).

Here’s the thing. His car was leaking radiator fluid and has been at the mechanic for the last few days, so I’ve been driving him to work. Wouldn’t you know it, yesterday as I’m getting off the highway, my car overheats and dies at the light. Luckily we were able to restart and pull over into an office parking lot, and one of his friends was awesome enough to come to the rescue with engine coolant. Even after the refill though, I had to blast the heat at full strength or the car started overheating again. We’re pretty sure the fan died, and we can’t get it looked at until Monday. Fun, fun, right? After driving back in 85 degree weather wearing flip flops and scalding air blasting through the vents I’m pretty sure I have burns on my feet. And this is coming from the girl with a crazy-high tolerance for heat. People tease me that I’m part lizard.

In other news, I made the drawing above a couple of days ago. I rather like it. The original drawing is pretty big, and a lot of the details get lost in the picture above, so I included a couple of detail shots below. I would love to blow it up big and cover an entire wall.

So that’s my life lately. How’s yours?

New Items in the Shop {iphone and ipod covers for sale}

It’s been a while since I added any new products to my Etsy and Redbubble shops, so I spent the majority of my day Thursday turning some of my designs into iPhone and iPod cases. I thought I was over my iPhone envy when Instagram finally came out on Android, but I still feel that twinge of jealousy every so often when I think about how many cool customized cases are available for iPhones vs Android phones. I have a Galaxy S, and although I love the functionality of my phone, I have yet to find any cool options for customizing it.  At least, not any options that don’t cost an arm and a leg. (Dramatic sigh). Oh well.

For those of you who ARE iPhone/iPod touch owners*, head on over to my Redbubble shop to check out the designs pictured above, plus a few others. If you own neither (like me…still have my regular ol’ black iPod Classic) but you like the designs, feel free to look around anyway. Most of my work is available as posters, framed prints, canvas prints, and photo prints as well.

* Cases are available for the following models:

  • iPhone 4S & 4 Deflector one-piece case.
  • iPhone 4S & 4 Capsule two-piece case.
  • iPhone 3GS & 3G Capsule two-piece case.
  • iPod Touch 4th Generation Capsule two-piece case.

Freebie {Kaleidoscope Eye Strain Desktop Wallpaper}

I was messing around this afternoon with creating patterns in Illustrator, and I thought it would be fun to offer this crazy pattern I made as a free desktop wallpaper. Just click on the image above, then click the “full size” option above the picture to download*. Enjoy!

Like this pattern? You can also buy it as an iPhone or iPod case in my Redbubble shop!

*Wallpaper is 1600 x 1200px


My Favorite Android Photography Apps {because one is simply not enough}

Over the last few months I’ve really been loving taking digital photos with my phone. A lot of this has to do with the fact that once my old phone crapped out (at the mall while waiting in line to see Santa…don’t even get me started on how angry my daughter was that she couldn’t play Angry Birds while she waited like all the other kids) I got a new phone that takes about a thousand times better photos. When I think about the very first digital camera I ever owned that took one megapixel photos…yeah, it kind of blows my mind how far technology has come.

I love, love, LOVE my DSLR and it’s oh-so-crisp-and-lovely-lenses, but it just isn’t practical to lug around with my everywhere I go (some people are really good about this. I am not. In fact, I normally do not remember to have it with me unless I have the intention of taking photos when I leave the house.) I almost always have my phone with me (the “almost” is because while I do physically have it on me most of the time, I am horrible about making sure it’s fully charged. Trust me when I say I am the kind of person my phone company’s battery swap program was designed for). Plus, now that I have a phone with lots of memory storage, I don’t have to worry about it acting up and constantly freezing because I’ve filled it with too many photos and apps.

There are what seems like billions of photography apps out there, and I’m definitely not an expert on each and every one. Still, here are six that I use on a pretty regular basis that are worth checking out if you don’t have them already. Best yet, all of them are free!


Unless you’ve been living at the bottom of the sea, or perhaps on the moon, you already know what Instagram is. Until roughly a month ago it was only available on iphone, but then the clouds parted, the sun shone down, and it became available on Android as well. Hallelujah! Seriously, not having Instagram was my biggest source of iphone envy (that and the fact that iphone users get the coolest selection of phone cases). The app makes it easy to follow your Twitter and Facebook friends, and allows you to take the now famous square photos and share them with your followers. Take your photo, apply one of their vintage style filters, load it up with hashtags, then share with your friends and. With a simple click of a box, you can geotag your photos and share it on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumbler as well.

Photoshop Express

While this app does have some filters and borders, they’re nothing too exciting. I use it mostly for nut-and-bolts things like cropping, rotating, straightening, and for fine tuning things like exposure, tint, brightness and saturation. It’s touch sensitive, so you have to use a light touch or you’ll accidentally apply some very heavy-handed effects. Don’t worry though, they’re easy to undo and after a few photo editing sessions you’ll get the hang of it. The great thing about this app is that it saves your edits as a new photo file, so if you decide you hate the changes (or if you want to create several variations of the same photo) your original remains intact.


Oh, filters, filters, filters. This app is freaking Filterpalooza. Waaaaay more filters than Instagram. In addition to the huge selection of filters and borders available, there’s also a big collection of lens flares, light leaks, burn, glitters and textures you can add to your photos. The app starts you off with a pretty basic selection, but then you can go through the (free) store and download any other effects that catch your eye. This is great, because you don’t end up with a bunch of effects you’re ambivalent about (I, for example, bypassed a whole bunch of fireworks and flame overlays, because I’ll probably never use them). With each photo, you can apply one filter, one border, and one effect. If you save the photo and then reopen it again, you can layer even more. Once you’re done, you can either upload it to the app’s gallery, or share it somewhere else (such as Instagram or Facebook).

Photo Grid

Ever see those photo collages people post and wonder what app they used?  This app does it. Just open the app, choose the photos you want to display (the number is flexible) then select the layout. Once your photos are filled in you can rearrange them as you like, and also change the background. There’s a large collage option, and also a small square one perfect for uploading your collage to Instagram.

FX Camera

Of all the apps I have, I probably use this one the least, just because the options are pretty limited. You have a fish eye lens effect, a Warhol style effect, a Polaroid effect, a mirror effect, and my personal favorite, a Lomo-esque toy camera effect. Nothing too fancy, but if you’re looking for something simple and easy to use, this is a good start.

Camera 360

I mentioned on Facebook the other day that I felt I was collecting an excessive amount of photo apps, so of course a friend fed into that addiction and suggested this one.  In addition to all of your manual camera controls like exposure, zoom, flash, timer, focus, etc, it also has a large selection of filters. There’s multiple retro, selective color, tilt-shift, Lomo, and sketch effects, plus more. It does most of the same things as other apps I mentioned, but the nice thing about this one is that you can take care of pretty much everything you need to do without leaving this app.


What I really like about having all these apps are the mix and match possibilities. You can choose your favorite filter from one app, your favorite border from another, and maybe layer one more from a third. It’s easy to go a little crazy, so you have to remember that the main purpose of these apps is to enhance your photos, not turn them into the equivalent of a bedazzled, glitter drenched, sequined, tie-dye shirt that my six year old would love. But sometimes, I guess that can be fun too.

Do you have any favorite photo apps? What are they?