Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wrecked Honda Civic DX

Even your grown children can cause you worry. My got into a bad accident in this Honda. He ended up safe. But, fortunately the air bags deployed and saved him from more serious injury. We are pleased that they are safe and now sound.

We now own a dead horse, which we are trying to sell for salvage to anyone who will buy it for a reasonable price.

Aside from that I did some recording the other day. I finally did "Cats in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin and played a lead background for it different from the original. I tried to do "One after 909" by The Beatles but it was in the wrong key and try as I did I could not transpose it. Not having a more formal education in music does give one a disadvantage at times.

I did do "No Reply" by The Beatles and am practicing "Yes It Is" also by them. As far as writing any new pieces the "muse" hasn't been with me lately. So I will patiently wait until something comes out. I try to write as often as I can. It is advised that you write everyday, even if it is not anything great or even good, but I find that if it isn't decent enough for me I feel discouraged and so it makes little sense to write bad poetry or lyrics. So I write when I feel it, not everyday.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Guitar Music I

A short post to add this image to the blog. Entitled "Music" it is a heavily manipulated photograph of a six-string guitar. I also added a frame and a "mat" made up of a different F-hole guitar.

I used Photopaint for all the work done on this photo. Laying image over image to create a cubist like view.

It was sepia toned and I reworked the color hue to change it, using the Image Adjust Color Hue tool. I used the fill tool for the "mat" by taking a image of the F-hole six-string guitar and resampling it to a small image. Then I loaded it as a tile into the fill option and filled the added area. I rotated the image tile and sheared it for the slant. Then I added the black frame.

I enjoy this kind of piece, creating and posting it to share with others.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Broken Dock and Lily Pads

A photograph taken by my son, cropped and manipulated by myself.

I was thinking of warmer weather and came across this fine image. Taken last Autumn on Bald Eagle Lake, it was a warmer day than the frigid days of recent time.

Again using PhotoPaint I cropped and used KPT's Collection Pyramid Paint filter on it. I also upped the color saturation by 15 to boost the impact.

Obviously this dock is not in use anymore and it's peak along with the lily pads create movement of the eye around this image.

I have only done some writing of poetry recently, and with caregiving I haven't done any music lately. I did get an email from my brother and sister n law that I shared Redeye Blues with and they both like the CD. So I am happy about that. Not much fun to make music and not share it with someone.

I have found a couple of songs I would like to record. Cats in The Cradle by Harry Chapin, One After 909 by the Beatles. I need to practice them some more before I record them when I have some time. Also I am looking at some other Beatles songs.

I hope to write some new tunes as well but they sometimes come hard, whereas other times inspired. Those are the ones most fun - inspired - they seem to just come to you from that place that songs come from. Usually quick and pretty good, they come to you at various times but you don't know when. So they are a great experience, they just are there! And you are like a vehicle for the song flowing out.

I am going to share my other CD's with my brother and his wife, Beginnings and Fifth Time Around next. I hope for more positive feedback from them! I have shared them with my daughter and son and their mates, but haven't had any feedback just yet. We will see. They grew up with my playing the guitar sometimes as they were getting ready for bed, I would play and sing. I like to think that those are good memories for my children who are all grown now and married. Certainly good memories for me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Blues Front Site Credit

I recently had contact from John Anderson of Blues Front <> identifying my previous Guitar Player Chording G as a photograph of Rick Payne from John's site as shown above. Thank you, John!

Here I am displaying Bluesman Dave Peabody, also from a photograph of John's. I used Corel's PhotoPaint and KPT's Collection filters to do this derivative piece.

Please visit John's site for an insider look at Blues and many performers. Let me know if the link doesn't work!

I have been busy with a family emergency so I haven't been doing much on the computer recently. So I don't have much to report. But that will change soon, I hope! I would like to write a tune about my experience with the hospital and the family emergency but I remain stunted for right now. A situation I hope to remedy soon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gutiar Study Montage

I think I have guitars on the brain! Well, I do enjoy going to the music/guitar stores like Motor City Guitars and the new Village Guitars here locally. But if you want a great store to go to I'd advise Elderly Instruments in Lansing, Michigan. I've known the owner since the early 1970's, Stan Werbin, and he has the best place around for buying anything string related!

That is where my family purchased my 12-string as an anniversary gift so many years back. It is a Seagull Canadian made guitar. It has stood me well for many years now.

Here is another of my Montages about guitars. I have for the background a dinner party tiled. I used Paint.Net's filter for ink drawings and got this interesting texture to the piece. I resized it in PhotoPaint for display here.

I also have started other songs for "One Tough Baby." I did an instrumental using the chord structure of Am C F G and a chorus of Em C D with a bridge of F#m Am7 Dm7. Then I added some lead guitar and a bass line. I am still using Audacity to record and it has a Bass Boost filter which worked great on that bass line. It made my 12 string sound really good as a bass guitar.

Weather here is cold and we had both rain and snow so we have a frozen driveway today. Ice and snow. Not pleasant for driving or shoveling. But the sun is out and we have some blue sky right now. That IS pleasant.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Digital Study of a Gypsy Woman

I've done a digital Study of a Gypsy Woman using Corel's PhotoPaint and KPT's Collection. Something different for a change to the type of artwork I've displayed here previously.

I used various fills for this image, as is evident. I tried to keep it simple yet attractive. It is not a vector graphic but a bitmapped based image.

I like the vulnerability of the pose, holding up the long hair. It speaks of a openness that she has.

As far as music goes I did a Blues tune called "Broadband Blues". It's about the cost of having broadband connections to the internet when all one can afford is dialup. You miss out on things like training videos, music streaming, fast file downloads, it precludes any large downloads at all. I used a simple E7 A7 Bm7 chord structure, a good blues riff. I played around with the lead riff quite a bit. It turned out pretty good, in my humble opinion.

With that song I started a new group of songs for another 15 songs or so for a Audio CD. I completed "Fifth Time Around" with 15 songs, about an hour of music playing time. Fits easily on a single CD.

I am going to call the next one "One Tough Baby" and dedicate it to my wife who is one tough lady. A Cancer survivor, who has avascular necrois in both hips and lives with pain each day. She has allergic responses to most pain medications so she just grins and bears it. She gives of herself to a fault, and is aways there for me. What a gal! We hope she can have hip replacement surgery some time in the future, but for now the doctors are saying to wait.

So, I have a song title and a subject all I need is the chords, lyrics and melody for it. A nice challenge.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Guitar Player Chording G

Here is a digital painting I did with Painter 8. I used the brushes Van Gogh and Acrylics with my choice of colors from the regular Painter palette.

It is based on a photograph. I want to attribute to the photographer but can't locate the information on Yahoo or Google searches. So If you recognize the image and know please email me so I can credit it properly. In the meantime Thank You for a good beginning image.

Winter is finally here, officially 4-6 inches of snowfall. I am looking our over the lake we live above and even it is building ice. I can still see patches of watery ice they are like little rivers on the white plane of the lake. Very beautiful.

I wrote a song about the white pure snow one day when it was snowing when the sun was shining. It was an extremely impressive day weather wise. That was very inspiring. So, a song!

We got snowed in as we live high on a steep hill and our driveway has to be shoveled and cleared before we can leave, because we can't get back up the hill if it has snow on it. Finally got it shoveled only to get more snow! Winter is great but we don't always like the shoveling. Or the treacherous driving. Like most people in that respect, I'm certain.

Monday, November 24, 2008

More Guitar Art Work

Another guitar montage. I used PhotoPaint to create this. I made repetitive copies of two different guitars, one a Takamine 12-string the other an Ibanez 6-string.

Using PhotoPaint's 'object's properties' I selected the Difference mode and copied and pasted multiple copies of each guitar into the image.

I scanned in two guitar picks one gray and the other white and added multiples of them as well. Jim Dunlop's nylon picks.

I cut and pasted the objects in an endeavor to make a nice composition with plenty of color. I am pleased with the outcome.

In Recording I did some covers of Tim Mcgraw's tunes from the Greatest Hits vol 2 CD. My best take was "Watch the Wind Blow By." A real challenge to sound a bit like Tim Mcgraw but it always comes out sounding like my style, I have been playing too long by myself without any input from others styles. I haven't been in a band since High School, and that was a long time ago!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Simple Entry - Guitars

A short and simple entry. Here is a manip I did featuring two popular guitar brands Alvarez and Ibanez.

I put these two together in the image because of their similar body style and color. I really like the finish on both guitars.

I again used the Pyramid Paint filter from KPT's Collection for the image. I like this filter a lot. It gives a soft appearance that I enjoy viewing. I also used PhotoPaints Alchemy filter for the background adding the light brown and yellow coloring to pull together the image. Then I added the frame and the names of the brands.

Been listening to Tim McGraw's greatest hits, very good songwriting and arrangements. These songs are very good for educational purposes for any songwriter. I'm not a true country fan but I do like certain songwriters work. His is one.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Re-string A 12-string Guitar

Well I went to restring my 12-string guitar and found one of my strings had been used to replace the G octave. So I finally visited the local (new) Village Guitar store, and found out they sell single strings. Some stores won't, go figure.

So now I have a full set of new strings on the 12-string.

Here is a photograph manip of a Takamine 6 String that I used to own but sold to a friend with my amplifier when I needed some cash. It had a pickup built in that wasn't very good but it sounded nice as an acoustic without amplification. I did enjoy having it, but I really like my Seagull 12-string and hope it will serve me for many years yet to come.

I saw on the web a Martin Vintage guitar for sale for $75,000.00! Could not believe it. I know Martin's are good guitars, but that price? No where my wallet's size.

I have my Toneport hooked up to my stereo and I have found it gives me service as an amplifier if I need that for my recording. Best to use headsets though to mic vocals, and guitar for mixing on the computer. I also have to be careful that I don't blow out my stereo while playing, so the headset comes in very handy, though I need a new set. This pair is gettting old.

Computer wise I am getting a version of Connectix Vitrual PC for our Mac G4. We want to run only a specific few programs that are Windows based for my wife. It is going to run Windows 2000. And my programs should work under that version of Windows. So I am venturing out into Mac and PC compatiblity. I also hope to use an ethernet connection for printer use.

We have but one printer and it is cabled to the PC and the Mac recieves much less use as it can't print. Both computers have Zip disk drives so you can port from one to the other but it is cumbersome and we are hoping to solve these types of problems. As soon as I get the Virtual PC/Windows 2000 package I'm in for a challenge, I can see that.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

An Overcast Day Near Cook's Inlet

An overcast day driving toward Seward. Surrounded by mountains and waters it was beautiful though cloudy.

This is a heavily cropped photograph going south from Anchorage. I was the only one to see the tailfin's of a Beluga whale. No one else could verify it for me! I stand alone.

I put together another song yesterday. I used a chord progression I had used before but played it to a drum backbeat. A little up tempo backbeat with a slower chord strumming to it. I found an old song that I had not liked the chords and melody to and took the lyrics and fit them to the different progression. The melody is very Rock-like. Simple yet strong.

I started a new round of songs for a CD this one I've named "Fifth Time Around." As I have created enough music for at least four CDs. Now a Fifth one is growing.

Chord progressions and leads are coming fairly well but new lyrics and melodies are harder. Whe I was younger I was pretty prolific with lyrics and poetry. As a more mature person you'd expect I would have more to write about, but it doesn't always come out like it used to.

Inspiration is the best but most of it is persperation instead!

I am also limited to open chords and I avoid Barre chords, I have small hands and i'm playing the 12-string and it is just plain harder to barre 12 strings cleanly.

So I relish in learning new open chords like C2 and Asus2, G6 and others. Then to make them into a nice progression is a challenge I enjoy. Bridges are elusive as well. They can be so different, yet have to keep to the songs overall development, as to pose some difficulites.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Man and His Dog

A man and his dog on a cutoff in the mountains. I tried to make a better image with the addition of a sky but it appears that the Pyramid Paint filter made it look too dark.

So I think it looks doctored up. But it was fun to do and so I am sharing it.

I've been working on a mapping project with a friend. So it is an interesting challenge to formulate the maps from resources. It is mostly cutting and pasting and adding street names that don't appear on the resource map.

I've been listening to music, too. Some of my older songs that I may remake using the Toneport to see if I can add an edge to them, or soften them a bit. I may add background vocals as well as some lead playing, although I'm not your best lead player! It's all in fun anyway. And there are always covers to do of other songwriters works.

I've received an invitation to an Opening Reception for the Michigan Plein Air Painters exhibition coming up on November 7th. The show runs until Nov. 29th. It's being held at the Huron Valley Council for the Arts in Highland, Michigan. Not too far from us. The invitation was a large sized postcard with six images of plein air paintings, all very well done. We hope to go to the reception but if not we may go to the exhibition at a later date.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rill in Alaska

Here is one of my favorite images from Alaska. A rill in the mountains. I love the color of the blue water of this small riverlet flowing down the mountain side. It's indentations shows many 'folds' of land that make it a pleasant photo.

I used the same filter and saturation on it as before. I really like the watercolor effect this give. It also leaves an impression of depth that other filters don't.

I had to crop out part of this photo as it was taken from a stopped vehicle and part of the driver and window showed in it. It cropped very nicely I thought.

I missed getting photographs of the local autumn color here. I was busy with other things and the time flew by and rains knocked the leaves down before I had a chance to get any good photographs. Maybe next year.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Gravel Beach and Mountains

More mountains! I have many differing images of them. They were so impressive in person, I have to say that it is hard to have a representation of them that do them justice.

I heavily cropped this photo as the gravel river beach was taking up a third of it. I again was using PhotoPaint to make my adjustments. I used KPT's Collection Pyramid Paint filter and increased the saturation by about 7 to boost the colors.

I decided to do a couple of covers of songs from songwriters that impressed me for my CD Beginnings. So I added two Beatles songs Norwegian Wood and Eleanor Rigby and John Sebastian's Daydream and, of course, Mr. Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan. I really enjoyed doing these songs as they hold many memories.

Many of the 60's and early 70's songwriters are my favorites as they helped me learn how to play guitar as I imitated them and played their songs over and over again to impress on my mind the chord progressions and the lyrics. All of course 'unplugged' on a Harmony acoustic guitar. My parents, you see, did not want to buy me an electric guitar. So I saved my money and got a Woody Seymour Duncan pickup for the acoustic and a small amplifier and had fun using tremelo and feedback, when they weren't home!

I remember one summer day when no one was home I opened the garage door and plugged in. I had all the dogs in the area howling! This disturbed the neighbors and they called the police on me.

So I received a visit from the local police who politely asked me to turn it down. So much for trying out feedback with tremelo on the amp! Back then the police were very sympathetic and nice about it. Today I doubt that they are as things have gotten worse in society. So I counted myself fortunate to have only a brief encounter and a good result from that day. It's actually a good memory.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Rivers Wide

I used Corel's PhotoPaint once again in conjunction with KPT's Collection to create this image of a river.

I upped the saturation about 15 and then used KPT's Pyramid Paint filter to get the watercolor appearance.

I have also been reading some forum posts about songwriting at Guitar Tab Universe where I have found some interesting discussions on how to write songs. As well as guitar tablature of many songs.

I found some good chord progressions to try out and also a great chart of the major keys and minor keys chords for use in writing using guitar.

I have started to create some songs that have a theme of Beginnings and have found it quite the challange.

I really enjoy the use of online rhyming dictionaries, they really come in handy. I have been trying lyrics with AA BB type of rhyme and AB AB also, along with some structures not mentioned in the reading I've done. But the ideas from the forums have been helpful.

One of the best things a songwriter can do is listen to other songwriters works to see how they build their songs from scratch to a full blown song structure. I have been listening to Gordon Lightfoot some more and JJ Cale with Eric Clapton, also Sheryl Crow. I plan to broaden out on my listening soon as I take a trip to the public library and pickup some CD's of writers I haven't listened to before.

PBS had on it's Austin City Limits series a group of 4 (5?) songwriters last time I watched and they were amazing! I really like it when that series does present a group of songwriters together like that. It's not only enjoyable to watch and hear the songs but inspiring as well.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Centered Peaks

I worked on a Cover of the Beatles "Norwegian Wood"; I found in an older Guitar magazine "Acoustic Guitar". Using the Toneport UX1 and a drum track that I slowed down in Audacity I sang a dual vocal and played the 12-string. I used a guitar tone and style patterned after George Harrison for the rhythm guitar.

Try as hard as I did I still could not duplicate the Lead Guitar. It was beyond my capability for now anyway. So it is drums, rhythm guitar, first vocal, and second vocal. Singing is enjoyable and playing a classic song was really fun.

Gearbox allows so many choices that sometimes you have to be selective in order to get a balanced sound. Making covers of Beatles' songs is really fun as you add your own style to it.

I also wanted to share another one of my manipulated photographs from Alaska. I used Corel's PhotoPaint and KPT'c Collection Pyramid Paint filter. I upped the saturation a bit and lightened up the gamma slightly. I also had cropped out a fence in the right had corner which made for a better overall image.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Just a quick stop by the blog to post. I have been looking through my photographs of mountains and I found this one of an old bridge with the mountains in the background.

I opened the image in Corel's PhotoPaint and I made some adjustments to it. First I upped the saturation by 11 keeping the hue and lightness the same.

I then used KPT' Collection Pyramid Paint filter on it to give it a watercolor appearance.

I like the way the old bridge gives the eye a way to move around the image, at a slight angle. But the horizon is level as you move beyond the bridge to the mountains and river behind.

I have other mountain photographs I may post here as well.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Two Trees with Mountains

Here is a photograph taken with my Canon Rebel XTi while visiting Alaska. I used the AF with Landscape selected. I am still learning this camera so many of my current photos are an automatic setting, changing only from portrait to macro to landscape, etc.

It's versatility amazes me and I am very content with it's quality and the images I get from it.

I have been using my Toneport UX1 quite a bit for writing and recording songs and doing some covers. It really pushes the envelope of my musical abilities. I haven't played much in groups so it is really interesting to get some real drum loops off of the net and play along with them to create songs with a backbeat.

I have been able to download some free drum loops from Jim Dooley's site at Using Audacity the free recording program I import the loop and create a string of them of up to 3-4 minutes or so and then try my best to match the beat, like using a metronome of a real drum sound. It is really enjoyable and a challenge for me. Jim offers all his drum loops and samples for about $29.99, which I hope to purchase some time. In the mean time - Thanks, Jim Dooley!

Toneport offers so many preset guitar styles that it is so much fun to select various types and explore what my acoustic 12-string guitar can sound like electronically. The accompanying software Gearbox has many presets of styles and mix and match amplifier presets that you can create some really wayout sounds with an acoustic guitar with a Woody Seymour Duncan pickup stuck in the soundhole.

It is really just plain fun!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Culvert Bridge

I've taken this photograph of a Culvert Bridge and brought it into Painter 8. I used some of the cloner brushes, watercolor, soft cloner, also liquid ink brushes to make the image.

The original piece was darker than I wanted so I loaded the image into PhotoPaint and adjusted the gamma to about 1.20 to lighten it up a bit.

Nearby were some salmon that were guarding their eggs from predators. I did get some photographs of them but they are fairly uninteresting, one had to really be there to appreciate the scene.

Interesting fact about salmon is as they guard their eggs, they are dying as part of the cycle. As they get closer to death, I was told, they turn a darker red. So the reddish ones we saw were closer to death than the others that were more grayish.

Hope you enjoy the 'painting' I did from the photograph. I enjoyed doing it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

A quick bit of art

WetCanvas an artists forum I belong to had an October challenge for Digital Art. I selected a portrait by Joycleynsart, it was one of the challenge images.

I brought it into Corel's PhotoPaint and used the Image>Transform>Threshold to make the black portion of the image. Emphasizing the light on the face was the theme.

I made a duplicate and filled it with black, then using Harry's filters plug in I added a color gradient to the filled duplicate.

I switched back to the original and copied it. Then I pasted the copy into the filled color gradient. Using it as an object I then adjusted the Properties to Multiply, which gave me the black only. I then flattened the image to add the blackened areas.

I ended up with the piece shown here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Today I entered a competition based on the theme of "Water" online. This is one of three images I was allowed to enter. Each image was taken with my Canon XTi camera. I really like this version of Canon's Rebel line of cameras. It is a 10.1 megapixel camera. Which is more than sufficient for my needs.

This was taken on a road trip up to Hatcher Pass near Anchorage, Alaska. Our family up in Alaska generously allowed us to visit them and paid our way for us, if they had not we probably would not have been able to go.

I was able to get many photographs of the Alaskan landscape. We went on a couple of road trips and the scenery was very beautiful. Awe-inspiring vistas, rivers, mountains, and we got to see a young Moose by the roadside. Though bears are plentiful we did not have any run ins with them. We did see some salmon that were protecting their eggs after spawning, but did not come during the salmon runs which we were told about as amazing.

The South Central part of Alaska is a wonderful place to visit. We had a great time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Guitar Montage

Here is a montage I did using Corel's PhotoPaint. The 12-string guitar in the center is mine and this started out as a photo of it.

I found various guitar pictures and blended them in using object properties Multiply to get the transparency look.

I just finished doing an audio CD of 16 of my Toneport creations, along with some songs that I covered using only the microphone and Audacity.

I Covered "Danger" by JJ Cale and Eric Clapton;" River of Light" by Gordon Lightfoot; and "No Mistake About It' by Gordon Lightfoot. Not using the Toneport made a drastic difference in sound quality. The TonePort pre-amps everything wonderfully and makes for a rich full sound. The recordings without it sound anemic.

I plan on sharing with my family and friends. Those that will listen to my efforts anyway, makes for a nice audience.

One thing I did do was demonstrate how I 'build' a song. I placed 3 versions of one song I named "Redeye Blues" about wanting to get home on a midnight flight and got get some real sleep in a bed. This along with some experiments with following a drum loop, which was like playing to a metronome but were samples of real drums.

Melodies and Lyrics are the hardest part, putting together chords is not that difficult. In some cases I used the 'Drop D Tuning' with the lower 'E' string tuned down to 'D'. It is great fun to use different tunings like that including DADGAD tuning. A real challenge.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

On my way to Publishing a Cute face Came

This is the way I wanted to begin my new blog. A cute face and a friendly smile. The photograph is of my great, great niece, whom I recently visited. She is a joy and a natural Ham, loves to have her picture taken and will pose anytime.

I am currently testing out new hardware and software from Line 6 products. It is a Toneport UX1 with Gearbox software. It allows recording music to the computer. I play 12-string and 6-string guitars and do vocals. The software is like having a large selection of amplifiers for both vocals and guitar. It is very versatile.

I am using the free program Audacity to do the recording and creating of mp3s. I find it easy to use and very friendly.

The combination of these lets me push my creativity farther in the way of songwriting and styles of music.

My visual art is set aside for a while as I create music and try, try, try to make melodies and lyrics. I will be sharing more visuals as I can and perhaps post some of my older works here at a later date.

Combining drum loops, rhythm guitar, and beginning lead guitar is challenging and rewarding at the same time. I have been playing and singing since I was thirteen years old and I have never been the best lead player, more of a stylized rhythm guitar player. And I don't play bass so my pieces are without a bass line. But I am enjoying the opportunity to learn and create.

I don't want to be a star, I just do this for myself and family and friends. So don't expect anything in the way of my publishing my music, sorry!

I will use this blog to post images and perhaps some background on their creation and the tools that I used to do so. Along with my photography efforts I hope you find this to be an interesting read.