Sunday, August 26, 2007

Finally! A customized banner!

As you can see I have finally managed to upload my new banner and sort out the problems with the blog title i.e. make it go away. I originally put the banner together in March but when I tried to upload it, the title text sat on top of it. I don't know HTML or whatever language Blogger uses now, and despite searching for help online I couldn't find the exact code I needed.

Today I had a look in Blogger help and found two really good blogs which help out people like me - the ones who want to blog, care enought to want their blog to be individualised, but know nothing about coding. Freevlog is really about video-blogging, but includes this great video-tutorial which takes you through the banner thing step-by-step. The Dummies Guide to Google Blogger (Beta) is exactly what it says and also covers customizing your banner/header as well as loads of other things. You could really spend an awful lot of time adding "special features" to your blog, but I'm happy for now just to finally have my banner afloat - so it's back to the printer and my book....

Can you believe...

...I'm still working on this book? (Like Weather)

(inside front cover)

It is so close to finished. In fact, it is finished, apart from the actual printing and construction. The custom colour profiling has worked well, although I have changed my choice of paper. The feedback I received from people was that they really liked the texture of the mock-up, seen here (if you enlarge). The Hahnemuhle photo rag I had chosen is a beautiful paper, but it has a soft, smooth finish. The mock-up was made with Canson 100, a double sided water-colour paper. Coating this with Inkaid, an inkjet pre-coat I mentioned in earlier posts, allows me to achieve richer colours, while keeping the texture.

The difficulty I am having now is getting the pre-coat on evenly. This is only really a problem when you print large expanses of a single colour, and is especially evident on the pages with text which are backed with navy. I really hope I can perfect my technique or I'm going to have to change papers....

As you can tell by the lack of blog posts, progress with my masters work is very slow. I just have not been well enough to really get a flow going, and according to my calculations I am about 2 weeks behind. I have not managed to get any more of my proposal written, although the self portrait in wax (seen here) is back from framing, and looks really good.

This week I "plan" (you know what my plans are like...) to get into my ceramics studio (aka the garage) and set up this installation. It should be fun to finally put all the components together as I have them visualised and see what else needs to be done. Stay tuned....

(inside back cover)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Self Portraits - wip update: Trust the process

It seems I've been working on these self portraits for ages, and as I look back at past blog entries here and here, I can see it has been underway for 6 months. For quite some time I was struggling with the best way to present the different parts and bring it all together. I knew what I had thought of wasn't really resolved, but I had to actually see that, before I could move on.

It's hard to make a piece you know isn't really going to work, but sometimes it is important to get on with it and trust that inspiration will hit and allow you to take it where it needs to go. I find this even harder given that my energy is limited and I don't really want to waste it. Not to mention having a lack of faith in myself as an artist (I am really an occupational therapist who is pretending to be an artist and one day soon, people are going to realize this and tell me to get out and stop wasting their time).

Nevertheless, this work is one that has really shown me that the only way to make some art is to get on with making it, and work it out as you go. And I have to confess that everytime I actually stop thinking about this piece and actually work on it, significant leaps forward have happened. Will I learn from this? Probably not completely, but hopefully I'll remember this lesson a little sooner the next time I am stuck.

Above:the clay version of the self portrait after 2 days on the wall.

Above: photoshopped version

Above: further degradation

The wax version as seen here is currently being framed. When I get it back, I can move on to what is hopefully the last stage.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Custom wedding invitations

Above: centrepiece: paperbark

Cream coloured paper used for edging will also be used inside to print text on.

Twigs from dieing bushes in the front yard.

Here in Australia, while the top half of the planet is sweltering, we are in the middle of flu season. This year the influenza has actually been bad enough that the health authorities are suggesting people wear masks in public (not that I've actually seen anyone doing that - I reckon it would be considered "un-Australian" by many).

My husband and I have both had nasty colds, but not the actual flu, thank heavens! Still with CFS anything extra can put you in bed, and this past week we've been laid low. The house is in a right state, and I haven't done any work on my masters in over a week, so what did I spend yesterday doing? Designing wedding invitations for my dear friend Jodie. She provided the papers and "the brief" - something to give it a natural feel, and so I set to work.

Above some snaps, I apologize for the quality, but by the time I'd finished the light was poor. They are all made with the same papers - the colour is probably closest in the middle one. I added the hairy brown paper from my collection. In the end, Jodie liked them all so much she is thinking of using all three! Now - on to some real work!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Custom profiles

Today I am continung the colour management saga...

Getting a custom profile done for your printer using a particular paper allows you to get consistent colour results in your work. Unfortunately each profile only relates to one sort of paper and not necessarily even all the papers in the range. The profile I had done is for Hahnemuehle Photo Rag but will apply to some other papers in the Hahnemuehle range which have the same coating.

The major benefit of having a profile is that as long as your monitor is calibrated, it allows you to do so-called "soft proofs". This is a function in Photoshop (View>Proof Setup>Custom) which allows you to select the profile for your printer with the paper and to see on screen, with a high degree of accuracy, how your image will look when printed out. If you have a few different profiles for different papers, you can test which one you prefer. Even if you only have the one paper (like me at this stage) you can see what the print will look like without wasting expensive paper, and even edit it in the soft proof state. You do of course have to have a properly calibrated monitor for this to work (see here).

I should mention at this stage that almost all I've learnt about this has been through a Melbourne company, Image Science. Their website is well-written and thorough but understandable. The owner Jeremy is really knowledgable and helpful, and the support service he provides (to help dummies like me get their profile working properly!) is terrific! I'd also like to say that from what I've seen their prices are excellent! order to have a profile done, you download this image below:

It is provided with no colour profile and the next task is to print it on your desired paper.
Below is a photo of my print out. Remember, the colours you are viewing won't be exactly the same as me, because of differences between our monitors. Also, the camera I used has a colour profile of its own, and that will have impacted on the image!! Still, you should be able to see there is a significant difference between the colours as downloaded and as printed.

I posted this print-out off to Jeremy in Melbourne on a Friday morning and somehow he managed to email me my custom profile on Monday afternoon! Normally I wouldn't have expected mail from Brisbane to Melbourne to even arrive till Tuesday, so the turn around was brilliant.

Installing the profile is not hard, but I did have a bit more difficulty using it. You just have to be very particular about getting the settings right, but as I mentioned Jeremy very patiently helped me through this, and now I can say I am extremely happy with the results!

This is the soft proof using my new profile, and I am finding this relates extremely well to the printed image. So... at last....on to the fun part - my artist books...