A few months ago I ventured for the first time into the world of mixed media art in order to create something unique as a birthday present for one of my best friends. I think I'm in love! I had so much fun on this project. It was pure creative freedom! I ran around my apartment from one corner to another like a spinning top bouncing off four walls, gathering every piece of material I could find to include in my painting. Keys, buttons, hair pieces, silk flowers, plastic leaves, beads, wire, lace, gears, broaches, earrings, chains, gems. Anything I could find that would provide texture and represent parts of me that I was willing to part with was included in this painting.

My friend and I had been talking about all the different roads in front of us, the paths we were choosing between, so I thought "possibilities" would be a good theme. I decided I wanted the painting to be fairly dark over all, but with bright glimmers of light shining through. Each highlight would represent one of the possibilities that have presented themselves to us.

To start on my mixed media collage, I began with a blank canvas that I layered with fabrics to give it texture. I grabbed some lace and lined the bottom before taking some dryer sheets and mod podge and stared gluing it all to the canvas. I made sure to scrunch up the dryer sheets as I was mod podging away, which gave me the background texture I wanted. I let that dry while I scoured my apartment for items to add to the collage.Unfortunately I didn't think about taking photos until I was a good way into this  project so the earliest photo I have is after quite a few items had already been glued down. Forgive me!

I chose a spot about 2/3 the way down the canvas and placed a piece of laminated card-stock I had, planning to write a quote about possibilities which would be the focal point of the collage. I eventually decided to change it from a quote to simply say "possibilities", but that was a bit later.  Then I just started gluing down tons of stuff! Since most of the objects were heavier than paper, I used hot glue for this part.

As you can see, at this point the whole thing just kind of looks like a mess of random stuff. It wasn't until I white-washed everything with slightly watered down white acrylic paint to make it more uniform that the painting really started to pull together. At this point, I wasn't sure yet what overall color it would be so I thought white would be a good place to start. As I was painting, I also started adding in more bits of quilled paper. See those little swirly things all over the place in the photo above? Those are quilled strips of paper. If you don't know about quilled art, check it out, because it is amazing!

 After lightening everything up, I darkened everything. This painting went through extreme color changes several times before I settled on a brown and gold color scheme. But that's okay! There are no rules with mixed media art. In fact, every layer of paint just added more fun texture. I started by painting all but the approximate center of the canvas a very dark brown. I wanted to create a glowy look coming from the area where "possibilities" would eventually be, so I figured I'd paint layer by layer, lightening as I got closer to it. I was working entirely with acrylic paint, but if you have spray paints, that would have been a much easier way to get a glow. I was on a time crunch, so I worked with what a I had.

I decided the brown I was using was a good base, but way too dark as an overall cover, so I started adding some reddish purple and some yellow paint into the brown in order to start lightening some of the areas I wanted be be the medium tones in the painting. Doing this made the 3D nature of the collage really start coming out. After that, I added some of the brown to gold paint to start on the highlights. The farther from the base of the canvas the surface was, more highlighted it was. Hello, 3D collage!

See that diagonal grid in the background of the painting to the lower left? Mesh from a grocery store that was protecting some mangoes in my kitchen.

 Once I had shadows, medium tones, and highlights, it was time to create the serious glow I that mentioned earlier. I wanted the light of possibilities to shine through the darkness. After adding more and more gold toward the focal point and I transitioned to a cream color. Then I watered down my shimmery gold paint and went over absolutely everything. This is where I could truly see the final product was coming together. 

After continually adding more gold highlights where ever I felt like, I lightened up the center a bit more more to give the effect that the light would eventually reach even the farthest corners of the painting.

Finally came the most difficult part of this entire project. Painting the word "Possibilities". This seriously was by far the hardest part because I have messy handwriting and I really wanted it to look elegant. Fortunately, knowing myself as I do, I realized how difficult it would be, so I practiced it on paper a bunch of times before ultimately painting it onto the canvas.

Voila! My very first mixed media painting. Overall, I'm very pleased with how it turned out, and I can't wait to try another one. After my mom saw this in person,she gave me a 2ft wide circular mirror to work with. Fun!!!

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Halloween in the USA is different than Halloween in any other country around the world. We have taken the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain and turned it into a consumer-driven, costume-covered, candy-greedy holiday. It is tons of fun!

The Gini's Magic Shop features a large variety of items with this Halloween spider design and many other designs that I've created. The shop includes items that are highly customizable, available in all different colors and styles, and purchased products almost always ship within 24 hours.

For more options on clothing, also check out the Hugs Heal Shop, featuring the same design on even more items.

Please come for a visit and add to your Halloween collection!

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Trash Art ForevertronLet's explore one of the greatest ways to create art today - and the most environmentally friendly. Here are ten examples of the generation of green artists, how they do what they do, and where you can find more of their very impressive displays.

Before getting into the amazing artists who recycle products into artwork, I need to explain why I feel this article and this art form is so very important. I urge all of my readers to visit "Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait" by Photographer/Artist Chris Jordan. Using visual examples, Jordan shows us the immense waste that we in the United States provide to Mother Earth in a way that is impossible to ignore.

Trash Art Chris Jordan
Mary Ann Cruse is a very inspiring woman who has been crocheting plastic bags into beautiful hats for the past 3 years. Using 30-90 bags to make up every hat, each is a unique style and color, inspired by fashions as early as the 1920s. Soon she plans to donate many of her hats to St. Jude's Research Hospital where they will be auctioned and the proceeds will go to the hospital. Please read more about Ms. Cruse at KFVS12 News Network.

Trash Art Hats
What to Do With Plastic Bags is a blog showing many things you can create with plastic bags. Hats, purses, dresses, tube tops, rugs; you name it, it's shown here. The blogger, Cristen, displays her own work along with other people's projects and photos of classes she has given on plastic bag crocheting.

Trash Art Purse
Apparently, the subway can be used to inflate things. Who knew? Joshua Allen Harris, who has become quite well known for his street art, takes full advantage of this fact in his very innovative inflatable trash bag sculptures.

Tim Noble and Sue Webster's displays are, in my opinion, truly incredible. Their amazing trash sculptures look cool enough on their own; but take a look at the shadows that those sculptures create, and you will be totally blown away. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find an official gallery for these artists, but Think or Thwim and Deitch both show great collections of Noble and Webster's works.

Shadow Trash Art
I've never seen a sculpture made of woven recyclables before, but that's exactly what was done at the Eden Project in the UK, and by artist Tone Holmen in a completely separate piece. Both of these polar bear sculptures are made of plastic bags. Notice the differences between the two styles; the sculpture made at the Eden Project is clearly woven together creating a smooth texture, while Holmen's representation is made in a way that gives the illusion of fur. Also, make sure you look at the peacock sculpture in Holmen's gallery. So cool.

Trash Art polar bearTrash Art polar bear

Talk about clever and innovative, Web Urbanist's awesome article, Green and Geeky Adaptive Reuse Design Projects, features a collection of totally unique furnishings created by all kinds of reused materials including tables made of bike tires, chairs of aluminum cans, bath tub love seats, shopping cart chairs, and a chandelier made of disposable pens.

Trash Art furniture
Visit Dr. Evermore's Scrap Metal Sculpture: Forevertron to enter a world that is fantastic and real at the same time. Take a look at the space capsule, three-headed cats, and the band of birds made of horn instruments. Forevertron is just one of many surreal work's by this artist. Featuring an eclectic collection of scrap metal from centuries past to absolutely modern. Don't bother running from the giant spider. If you've seen it, I'm thinking it'll get you no matter how fast you move.

Trash Art Forevertron
Carl Rankin creates model airplanes from pieces of trash. To make each plane, he uses plastic wrap, straws, Styrofoam take-out boxes, and more. Oh yeah; and they fly too. Watch Xeni Jardin's interview with Rankin below and don't forget to check out Flying Puppets.

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Bella swan as a vampire Originally Posted August, 2009. I've reposted in honor of Breaking Dawn Part 2 coming out soon. My version of Bella Cullen was pretty close, if I do say so myself. =)

In this vampire Photoshop tutorial, I'll show you how to turn one of my favorite literary characters, the very human Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) into newborn vampire, Bella Cullen. At the same time you can learn how to become a vampire in Photoshop yourself. Bella Swan/Cullen is a main character in Stephenie Meyers' Twilight Saga. Besides, who doesn't want to see Bella Swan as a vampire?

We will go over how to use Photoshop to
-Smooth Skin
-Remove Blemishes and Lines
-Create a Glowing Complexion
-Change Eye Color
-Alter Facial Features

One thing my wonderful readers probably don't know about me: I'm a huge fan of Twilight. I mean, seriously huge. I identify with Bella, I love Edward, and I'm not too crazy about Jacob (sorry, Team Jacob).
So, I decided to incorporate my love for Twilight with my love for digital art by turning Bella Swan; human, into Bella Cullen; vampire.

Before starting, I want to make it very clear that this is MY vision of how Bella will look as a vampire, based on Stephenie Meyers' description in her novel, Breaking Dawn. This is not an official preview of how Bella will look in Breaking Dawn, the movie; it's just how I picture her.

Here is how to make a Photoshop vampire, for all of you who have asked "how do I make myself look like a vampire in photoshop?"

Step 1: Choose A Photo. Open up the image that you want to use to make a vampire in Photoshop. Make sure that it is a high-quality photograph to begin with.

Kristen Stewart TwilightStep 2: Smoothing Skin. Vampires have perfect skin, so we start out by using the same technique that I use for many of the portraits that I work on. For step-by-step instructions on skin smoothing, check out How to Make Skin Beautiful in Photoshop. For the purposes of this tutorial, I'll simplify the instructions.

Use a selection tool to select Bella's face, neck, and other areas of skin. Then feather the selection slightly so the edges are lightly softened.

Bella Cullen TwilightRight click on the selection, choose "Layer via Copy", and name the new layer "Skin".

Breaking Dawn BellaMake the background layer invisible and erase Bella's major facial features from the Skin layer (eyes, defining parts of her nose, mouth, etc). Then the layer should look like the image below. I know that at this point, the image looks freakier than any vampire, but work with me here.

Bella Vampire PhotoshopMake the background layer visible again and go to Filters> Blur> Gaussian Blur. Choose a radius of 6, apply it to the skin layer, and set the Opacity of the skin layer to 70%. Now Bella has much smoother skin.

Vampire Photoshop TutorialStep 3. Enhancing the Complexion. Lets make Bella nice and pale like a good vampire Mwahaha. Set the Blending Mode of the Skin layer to Screen.

Bella CullenNow we've kissed any suntan that Bella may have had goodbye, but she still has too much color. She's dead, remember? So with the skin layer still selected, go to Enhance> Adjust Color> Adjust Hue/Saturation, and drag the Saturation bar to -80.

Bella Swan TwilightI think she still has a blush that's a little too pink for a vampire, so I'm going to select the area on her cheek and temple and reduce the saturation even further.
Bella TwilightStep 4. Perfecting the Skin. Duplicate the background layer so that the original will be preserved. On the top duplicated layer, remove any blemishes and freckles on her skin using the Healing Brush. I also used the Healing Brush over the lines on her neck. This could have been done before I smoothed the skin, but I think it comes out more realistically this way.
Bella Vampire TwilightHere is a close up of before and after the blemish removal.

Twilight Vampire BellaStep 5. Enhancing facial features. Personally, I think that Kristen Stewart is naturally very beautiful, but as a vampire Bella is supposed to look different than her human self in more ways than skin tone, so I've made some adjustments to her features too.

Working on the top background layer, use a selection tool to select the mouth and the area around it and feather the selection by 5 pixels.

Bella CullenUse the Liquify Filter (Filters> Distort> Liquify) to enlarge and reshape the lips. Don't overdo it, we still want her to look like Bella. As you can see here, I plumped her lips a bit and up-turned them slightly.
Twilight Bella SwanRepeat the same process on the eyes and go to Enhance> Adjust Sharpness and increase the sharpness slightly. Then use the Smudge Tool in the Liquify filter to enhance the arch of her eyebrow.

Twilight VampireHere is a close-up comparison of before and after the changes to the facial features. The differences are subtle, but important to Bella's transformation into an inhumanly beautiful vampiress.

Vampire Photoshop Step 6. Eye Color. Kristen Stewart has green eyes, but Bella the vampire has red eyes. So, make a new layer, select the iris and pupil of each eye, feather the selection by 2 pixels, and fill the selections with red paint on the blank layer. Change the blending mode of the new layer to "Color" and then play with Levels until you've got it right. I also enhanced the catch lights in her eyes using the Dodge tool, but you may prefer not to. Once you're happy with the eyes, merge them down onto the top background layer. Ooh, sinister. Now she's really starting to look like a newborn vamp.

Bella Vampire TwilightStep 7. Making her look tired. Throughout the Twilight Series, it is stated that the vampires often have circles under their eyes, as though they haven't slept or are recovering from a broken nose. Especially when they're thirsty. Well guess what? Bella's thirsty.

Create a new layer and use a dark grayish red and a soft paint brush to draw semicircles underneath the eyes. Add a Gaussian Blur to soften the colored area and then erase any areas that are overlapping the eye itself. Lower the Opacity of the layer until the circles appear realistic, then merge the layer down onto the top background layer.

Bella Cullen Vampire TwilightStep 8. Finishing Touches: Shadows and Highlights. To really bring the image together, we need to add highlights and shadows in key locations. It will add depth and enhance the glowing quality of her skin. There are many ways to add highlights to a photo, but here is how I did it.

First I create a new layer. Then I use the Selection Brush to draw out the areas that I want to highlight and fill the selection with a very light shade of pink/peach.

Bella Swan Vampire TwilightNext, I lower the Opacity to 50% and erase any areas that blurred outside the areas that I want highlighted.

Bella Swan VampireLastly, Use the Dodge and Burn tools to bring out the highlights in Bella's hair and to make shadows more dramatic.

And that, ladies and gentlemen is Bella Swan as a vampire
Bella swan as a vampireBella Cullen VampireTune in soon for the creation of Renesmee. Any thoughts on who should play her part?

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Here you can follow this step-by-step tutorial, learn how to make realistic shadows in Photoshop.

Step 1. Select the area outside the object that you'd adding a shadow to, and then inverse the selection so that the object itself is selected.

Step 2. Copy the selection onto a new layer by right-clicking on it and choosing "Layer Via Copy".

Step 3. Go to Enhance> adjust Color> Adjust Hue/Saturation. Lower the "Lightness" bar as far as it will go, until the object is completely black.

Step 4. In order to decide where and how your shadow will be positioned, you need to choose where your light source is. If the light source is above the object, the shadow will be below the object. If the light source is on the right of the object, then the shadow will extend to the left. The farther the distance between the light source and the object, the farther the shadow should extend.

Here are a few examples. The blue arrows show the approximate path of light and shadow.

Click on the Free Transform box around the shadow layer, then right-click on it and choose "Distort". Clicking the top center point on the transform box, drag the shadow into the desired length and angle you want. You may also need to try using Perspective which you can find on the same menu as the Distort option. Here I've shown the light path that I chose, along with the corresponding shadow.

Step 5. Add a Gaussian Blur to the shadow layer with a radius of approx. 20 pixels.

Step 6. Change the Opacity of the shadow layer to 40% and then select the entire object, like in the first step. Then click on the shadow layer in the Layer's Palette and hit delete. This should erase the selected are of the shadow, leaving the image looking like an object that is casting a natural shadow.

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