Tutorial Tuesday: Watercolor Painting

My house is full of oil paintings that I've found at thrift stores, garage sales, and those "starving artist" sales.  I absolutely love impasto, and I can just never bring myself to buy a print of a painting...I would so much rather have a real knock-off than a print of the real thing just for the texture. 
That said, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw this week's Tutorial Tuesday!  Ashley and Branson are sharing with us how to transform our photography into a painting...well, in photoshop anyway!  I am astounded at how easy this was, and I do believe I shall be breaking my rule in the near future by printing off and framing one of these!
We're not supposed to use archived photos for this challenge, but seeing as this is my first link-up, and that my sweet boy is sickly, I couldn't wait to start playing around.  I promise to be a good girl and follow the rules next time. 

Here are my three edits:

For these koi, I followed the tutorial exactly...I used all of the settings and opacities that Ashley suggested.  I did take her advice and ran a high pass filter on the background at the end. 
I cannot even stand how much I love this.  It feels like a Monet to me.

For these weeds, I had to make some adjustments to all of the settings in the different filters because too much detail was lost...it just looked like a big green and purple blob. 
For the cutout layer, I had my layers at 8, edge simplicity at 1, and edge fidelity at 1, and that layer at 25% opacity.
For the drybrush layer, I had my brush at 6, detail at 10, and texture at 2, with the whole layer at 31%.
And I ran the high pass filter again.
This has long been one of my favorite photos because I love the irony of beauty found in things we try to eradicate.  Now I love it more!

 For my seagull, I just followed the tutorial again.  I fanagled the opacities a bit here and there, but not much.  Also ran the high pass.

For comparison's sake, here are the before and afters:



Edit Me Challenge

This is my very first time to participate in the Edit Me Challenge!  When I saw the picture that was up for everyone to play with this week, I couldn't resist!  I had fun, so I may be linking up every week!
Here's the before shot:

And my After, which I'll be linking up:

Almost all of the actions I used were from the Yellow Sky Actions Photoshop bundle.  If you're in the market for some actions, I highly recommend them!  The PSE set of about 80 actions was only $50, and they include clean editing actions, color actions, black & white actions, and fun effects actions!

1.  First, I used Mr. Fix It's layer masks to brighten it up a tad, add some fill light to his clothes, add a touch of clarity, and sharpen up his sweet little face.  
2.  I ran Violet Rush and tweeked it a bit.  I really wanted a kind of lavender glow to the photo.
3.  I ran Tuesday Blues, which brightened it up a little, and added a vintagy, denimy haze.
4.  I used Pioneer Woman's Warmer to bring a little warmth back into his skin since he'd cooled off quite a bit with the lavender and blue.
5.  I used Razor Sharp to sharpen his face (I used a brush at 50% opacity and then I pulled the layer mask's opacity down, too...I wanted it sort of soft in the end)
6.  Cropped and added a black vinette at 25% percent.
7.  His cute little cheeks were kind of ruddy still, so I used the Complexion Brush to smooth them out.
8. After all of that editing, he got pretty noisy, so I ran a reduction filter.

I don't typically play so much with color tints, but I like the cool hue of this edit.  It kind of feels vintage to me.  He is precious, no matter what!

Edit Me


The Respect-Your-Mom-Meter

Wyatt is generally a very well behaved kid.  I honestly never worry about him tearing anything up or being too rowdy with his friends, and he rarely ever gets into anything he shouldn't.  His vice, you ask?  He sasses like there's no tomorrow.  I'm fairly certain that his smart-mouth is a result of taking literally all of the sarcasm he's heard flow from my lips over the years.  Oops. 

Rather than slap the poor child into next week every time there's an infraction, I came up with the patented Respect-Your-Mom-Meter (say it fast...cute, huh?).  

Here's the plan:
Every week day, he'll start fresh.  If he's caught sassing, arguing, or being rude or disrespectful, he must slide that day's slider over one notch. 
The first two notches are green because we all make honest mistakes and if he only sasses twice a day, trust me, it's an improvement.
If he passes the second notch, he's in the yellow zone...watch it buddy.
Any more slips and he's in the red zone, which means he loses a privelege.
He can move back toward the green zone by using his manners throughout the day and at least pretending he wasn't raised by back-talking wolves. 

At the end of the week, if he's primarily been in the green zone, he will be rewarded with a fun activity.  This week's activity:  erupting the plaster volcano we made last week.  If he doesn't behave, he'll have to try again next week.  In the picture below, he hadn't been a monster on Monday...I just wanted you to see the whole picture of what the chart looks like.  I'll explain at the very bottom of this post how I made it.

I think this will work for several reasons:
1.  Punishments (i.e. spankings, time outs) typically work well for Wyatt, but I really only like to use those methods for fits of extreme defiance.  Sassing is a habitual behavior I'd like to curb.  This meter is a visual tool to show him how he's doing throughout the day so that he can make a decision to modify his behavior.
2.  He loves games, and he loves winning games even more.  If he sees this as a game in which he's competing against himself, he'll want to win.  And if he wins, I win.
3.  It kind of puts the ball in his court.  I reassure him that I truly want him to get his reward at the end of the week.  All he has to do is behave.  I don't have to punish every single infraction, and he doesn't get a little reward every time he does what is expected of him.  I don't believe in treating him like a dog...no one gives adults a treat every time they show up to work on time or do their job...you do what you're supposed to because you're supposed to, period.  The end of the week reward is simply an incentive to change his behavior.

Want to make one?  Here's how:
Take two pieces of thick cardstock paper (I used 12x12 sheets).
Using an xacto knife, cut windows into the top sheet, as well as a notch for the sliders' ends to stick out of.
On the bottom sheet, mark where each zone of windows is and color each zone its respective color.
I used my sewing machine to sew straight-ish lines above and below each day's windows.  I suppose you could use glue, but I was too impatient to let it dry, and I thought that the thread would look cute.
Measure and cute strips of cardstock to fit each row of windows.  Insert strips.
If you want, add faces to boxes and arrowheads to strips. 


I Heart Faces: Best Face Photo of 2011

For those of you who know Wyatt, the boy has a rubber face...he makes some of the craziest expressions.  And while I adore those funny little looks, nothing makes my heart sing quite like a shot of my baby, being his sweet self.

This photo was taken the day I got my nifty fifty in the mail.  I took him into the back yard in the hundred-degree heat and shot about 100 pictures.  Silly ones, candid ones, serious ones.  But this one has always stuck out to me as one of my all-time favorites.

I Heart Faces Photo Challenge & Photography Tutorials


Happy Birthday, Pooky Pants!

Five years ago, I had no idea how much I was capable of loving another human being.  Then entered Wyatt into the picture.  Whoa.  I have had the honor of mothering one of the brightest, silliest, most adorable children in the entire world, and every single day I love him more.  These first five years have taught me more about life and God's love for us than every other year of my life combined.  Happy birthday to you, Pooky Bear!

The photo I used for his invite...

And thanks to pinterest, I made waking up this morning a super fun experience!  I filled the floor of his room with dozens of balloons last night after he fell asleep (couldn't do the helium version because the boy can't sleep without the fan going).  Then I made paper streamers and hung some from the door for a little extra pizzazz.  He gasped so loud, I heard it from my room.

Only five years ago...the day after we brought him home.  It goes by way too fast.  (p.s. look at that rubberband on my wrist...so I could remember which side to start on for the next feeding....lol)


Another Pinterest-Project-Gone-Great

I've said it before:  I prefer giving handmade gifts over storebought ones.  Several of my friends are having babies in the next couple of months, and I needed an idea for a simple gift that would work for boys or girls.  It didn't take long on pinterest to run across a pattern for these adorable slip-on shoes made of felted wool. 

Here is the photo from The Purl Bee's crafting site:

Very simple, totally adorable, and easily a unisex gift.

Since the majority of the babies whom my friends are expecting shall be girls, I decided to up the sweet factor by embellishing my rendition of the slippers...plus, I used a heavier felt.
 I still have one step left:  to stitch a piece of elastic into the top of the foot where the two sides cross to give the shoes a snug fit.  I couldn't finish today because although I know for a fact I own about 10 yards of elastic, I cannot for the life of me find it.
No matter...you get the picture:  they're precious!