Cynthia St. Charles Store

Monday, June 30, 2008

Photograph to Screen Print

Phase One - Using a Photo Editing ProgramI like converting my own digital photos into a black and white image that can be burned into a screen using my Thermofax machine.
I like to begin with a photograph that has quite a bit of contrast between the image I want for my screen and the background.
This photo of a cowbird at the birdfeeder is a good example. It would be better if there wasn't another bird or the textured tree bark in the background, but background noise can be removed later in several different ways. Ideally, the image should be more crisp, but that can be dealt with, too.

I like to begin by cropping my image, which I have done already. Then, I remove the color, making it essentially a black and white image.

After the image has been converted to black and white, I use the tools for creating more contrast and brightness. On my program - Photoshop Elements - there is a sliding gauge and the results are shown immediately on the image. Messing around with both contrast and brightness adjustments simultaneously will help find the best mix.

After the brightness and contrast have been adjusted to get the best image, it is fun to play around with filters and effects. What you use depends on the effect you are trying to achieve.

For the image above, I used an ink outline filter.
For the image below, I used a stamp filter.
Other favorite filters include posterize, and charcoal. I am going for an image that is clear, crisp, and strictly black and white with no gray areas.
The background noise can be removed using the eraser tool on the photo editing program, but when possible, I prefer to use the scissors to do this. I just carefully cut out the image I want to isolate for my screen.
This image is close enough to what I want. Next, I will print out my image and work with it a bit more to prepare it for the Thermofax machine.

I'll explain that process in my next post.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Blooming Grasses

Driving home from shopping the other day, I noted how beautiful the grass is right now. It has headed out and standing tall. On closer inspection, I realized it is blooming.

In this arid region bordering the great plains, grass is the native species. I've never really appreciated it in a visual sense before (except in winter - when the various subtle shades of grass colors are a visual feast). I grew up thinking about it as fodder for cattle - having been reared on a cattle ranch.

I am tempted to make a gelatin plate just for making grass prints!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Gelatin, Tyvek and Discharge

Oh, and screen printing, too.More messing around in the studio. Yesterday was my last day for a while. House guests coming today and tomorrow is my day to work in the gallery.
A few days ago, I made a couple of gelatin prints on black Kona using Lumiere metallic paint and leaves from the snowball bush.

I decided to try adding a couple of screen printed chickadees, but they almost disappear on the black background. (and I really can't decide whether that is a good thing or not)

Then, I decided to try adding a couple of Tyvek leaves - painted in metallics. Not sure they really enhanced the design, but they do add visual interest.

The whole thing is mounted on a piece of discharged cotton that has been languishing in a drawer for several years. All the stitching has been done with a copper Supertwist.

I really like working with these muted shades, but I have discovered it is something I can do more comfortably in summer when the colors outside are vivid and rich. In winter - I find myself craving color so much that all my work tends toward over the top brightness.

And this piece is actually a bit too mushy for me - I find it takes my eyes a couple of seconds to find the details. How about you? My imagery generally tends to be much more distinguished by contrast. This has been a good exercise for me. Big stretch. I am contemplating adding another leaf near the center - well - kind of south and west of the one in the center. . . something to decide later. I am going to set it aside for a while.


I've had four full days in the studio.
I've not had to leave the house for anything - what a luxury!

This has allowed me to focus on the series I am creating for my August gallery opening.

These fabrics have all been hand painted, pieced, and appliqued.
I hope to begin the quilting process today.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fishermans Fantasy

19 Trout
I have a thing for trout. Have I mentioned this before?
A trout swimming in the water is one of my favorite sights.
I've challenged myself to depict native trout in a pseudo natural environment.
This is the third in my trout series.It is by far my largest attempt. It is 50" wide. I know it is not very likely that this many trout would be traveling so closely together in the natural environment, but it just looked better to me with a lot of trout. Artistic liberty.

Everything in this piece is hand painted - the water, the rocks, the fish.
I stamped the dots on the fishes backs using one of my hand cut stamps.

A layer of sparkly tulle from the give away covers this entire piece. Actually, it is several pieces overlapped to create more interest and dimension. The tulle has the effect of muting all the colors - the water as well as the fish and stones. But the sparkle it adds probably justifies the use of the tulle.

Interesting Combo

Springtime Chickadees

I've been messing around with some new ideas the past few days.
This piece began as a gelatin plate print of chokecherrie leaves. I was inspired by the spring green colors out my window.
I painted some Tyvek with yellow, blue, and red pigments to get a brownish shade. This was reverse appliqued to the gelatin leaf print. Next, I stitched loosely around the leaf prints, outlining them - just enough stitching to help the viewer recognize the leaf shapes. I did not want the stitching to overpower the delicate details in the leaf prints.

Lastly, I screen printed some chickadee prints onto some beige hand dyed fabric. After fusible web was applied to the back, these were cut out and placed on the branches. I covered the whole thing with parchment paper and used my hand held Rowenta iron to carefully fuse the birds, while also melting the Tyvek to create an interesting texture to the bark.

I am not sure, but this piece seems kind of dull to me. I am not thrilled with the colors, but think it might be successful done in fall colors. Or maybe something completely unnatural. It has been a good exercise for me. Always interesting to find out whether or not something looks as good in real life as it does in my head as an idea.

First Day of Summer

I've never had such wonderful iris this late in the year. Probably due - in part - the the long, wet spring we had. We are really enjoying them.

It is supposed to reach 90 degrees today, and if it does, these blooms will fade quickly.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Archery Lessons

We've had quite a few visitors this week. To entertain the children, Joe set up an archery range. Airus watched the bigger kids for quite a while, then started asking for a chance to try it. He is only two - quite young for a bow and arrow. However, Joe gave him his first lesson.

More first archery experiences

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tulle and Tyvek

This representation of a wildfire started as a piece of 100% cotton - handpainted with Setacolor fabric paints. I laid it out on a flat surface, applied my colors to damp fabric, crumpled it and left it to dry. I was satisfied with the result.

Then I received a gift of a box of tulle from a tulle manufacturer. At that point, I realized I had more tools (no pun intended) for creating depth and realism to the look of flames and smoke.

I used a glittery red tulle for the flames, and a crumpled gray for the smoke.

Using Tyvek to create the trees was almost an afterthought. I used Dharma pigments to color the Tyvek. I like this product because it has a very intense pigmentation and also bonds very well with the slippery plastic surface of the olefin.

This small piece is practice for a much larger one that is intended for the Elements Gallery opening in August.

I am sharing some of the tulle that I received from the manufacturer. Would you like some free tulle? Find out how at the Salvaged Threads Blog.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Vegetation Prints

I was so delighted by the variety of vegetation found in the Pacific Northwest.
I filled a couple of gallon sized ziplock bags with clipped foliage and brought it home in the cooler.
All the leaves and ferns kept very nicely in the refrigerator for several days more until I was able to get a gelatin plate made for printing.

I am so happy with the way these turned out.

I am not sure which is my favorite!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Cape Elizabeth

Our Northwestern visits almost always include a trip to the family property on the Pacific Coast. It is an extremely remote and isolated place, but well worth the investment of time and energy for us. We always have the entire stretch of coastline to ourselves.

A favorite beach walk takes us south to Turtle Island - also known as Elephant Island. Here, the Raft River reaches the ocean. This island has an enormous cave carved out by the waves (pictured above). The river changes its course frequently, and since the tide was coming in and the river was heading north, we were not able to enter the cave this trip.

We were fortunate to catch sight of a pair of bald eagles perched high in the trees on the island, though.

The erosion of the coastline is really evident and interesting to see. Our property lies atop the high bench. The erosion takes its toll. Each year, some of it is eroded away.

I enjoy the lush rainforest vegetation.

These are pictures of the road into the property. Primitive rainforest threatens to overtake the roadway, which barely has room for a single vehicle to pass.

The Scotch Broom was in heavy bloom everywhere we went. I have never seen such a show! This plant is a non-native species, brought to the US by someone hoping to eliminate erosion. It has taken over many places!

Neah Bay

Neah Bay, Washington is the most northern and western point on the lower 48 US States.

When Joe was a small boy, his grandfather and grandmother came to this area every year (from their home in the Seattle area) and stayed through the entire fishing season, selling what they caught at the docks. That would have been in the 1960's. Joe and his sister Rochelle got to spend a week at their cabin (which was only accessible by boat). I find it amazing to think that the boat they used was just under 16' long! On the Pacific Ocean? That water can get rough!

We arrived at low tide so had a nice opportunity to observe the tide pools.

Such colorful specimens!

Wedding Reception

A Happy OccasionOne of the reasons we went to the west coast last week was for a Wedding Reception honoring Suzanne (Joe's sister) and her husband Roger. They have been together for quite a while, but this is their first wedding reception, having married quietly in Las Vegas.

It was a fabulous party with super food - most of it catered by a wonderful Thai restaurant in Tacoma. The flowers were exquisite, as well. It was an awesome event!