Sunday, May 31, 2009

Guitars in Low Light - Picasa Collage

It's amazing how multiple photo-
graphs of the same image when placed in a digital collage can take on a more interesting view.

Using Picasa 3 (current version) I took the group of photographs made at my son's place at a small gathering he had, I made this collage. I have used some of the images before, but here they look new and fresh as a collage.

First of all you must like guitars and second you must like low light photography. Add a few people images and you add flavor to the collage.

I again used the Artistic> Ink Sketch> filter in Paint.NET to add lines to the collage. It flattens the piece somewhat but I think that overall it has depth too.

On another front, my Twitter following is slowly growing. And I have received offers of ways to build the following to a large audience, for a small price. But I would just as soon leave it as it is and build a following one person at a time. I do find that some follow requests are just spam, like email spam. So you do have to be careful who you follow. Twitter is like everything else on the internet, something useful that can turn ugly if not used properly with kindness and dignity applied.

Of course I would like more followers on this blog, and more hits a day but my Google Analytics shows I am above the benchmaking it does in many areas for a blog my size. So I am happy to grow slowly and not ready to pay a price of indiscriminately reaching out for followers just to satisfy an urge to Twitter or Blogger fame and fortune. In fact I have nothing for sale. My only wish is to share my Digital Visual Art and my personal views on songwriting and recording.

Follow if you would like! By all means it is appreciated!

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Bad Finger - It Don't Come Easy

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Digital Collage - Garden Floral

The front garden is growing nicely so I am presenting a digital collage of it. If you look closely you can see our steep driveway. The Tiger Lilies are not out yet but the Irises are looking great, and the snowball blossoms do too.

I used Picasa 3 to create this collage, I really like this feature of Picasa. I also opened it in Paint.NET to do a slight Ink Sketch filter on it for the sharpness of the lines.

I have yet to record "When the Stars Go Blue" cover of Tim Mcgraw. I haven't been up to it lately. But I plan to do so soon. I have been practicing and listening to it. In fact the song has been in my head a lot lately.

I have created a Music notebook using plastic sleeves for the sheets of paper, of my songs. I have over 50 songs I have written that are in this notebook. I have others that are on paper in pen or pencil to type up and to add to the notebook. I put them in alphabetical order and will probably put in a table of contents as well.

It is a really good project to put things in order and see how well I have done in my writing. It is nice to have them organized. I may add a group of songs that I have done covers of to flesh out this notebook and to keep them in a single place.

I have the songs presented with lyrics and chord progressions like you would see at a song site. I sometimes have chord charts with them if I have used unusual chords. I try to get a song on a single piece of paper with columns to facilitate reading and singing them, turning a page is difficult when you are playing your instrument.

I just use Notepad on the computer when I begin putting a song in computer writing. Then I use Microsoft's Word to create a header with the Title, Author, Album, Date (and copyright symbol.) I put the song in 2 columns to keep it simple. I don't use Tabs as many do and I don't score on the music scales either, although that would be a good way to be prepared for copyrights of the songs and arrangements.

But like many a song may begin as some notes on a note pad in pen or pencil. I even have begun some on drawing paper, legal pad paper, datebook paper, and of course scraps of paper. Bits of lyrics or poetry can be the beginning of a good song.

Any way you start a song is up to you. You probably have a way of beginning and documenting songs you have written. Lyricist Software is available for the serious writer, here is one example. Virtual Studio Systems has a couple of good software products for songwriters. I have not used the software but it has good reviews as one of the best out there.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Barenaked Ladies - Rebuild

Friday, May 29, 2009

Portrait of Self with Guitars

No, I am not narcis-
sistic, just looking for photo-
graphs to play with. This is a really bad photograph of me, which is pretty blurry, I attempted to salvage it and make it palatable for the viewer.

As you can see I am not a young man anymore, yes that is gray in the mustache. I wear my hair short now not like the late 60's and early 70's when it was long, like the style of the times.

I added some guitars to the image as this blog does talk about music and I do have them on my mind quite often.

I have been troubled by illness for a couple of days, so I have little to report musically. We did watch the ACM Artist of the Decade the other night - George Strait. Many performed for the tribute and it was enjoyable to watch. George was almost in tears a couple of times during the performances. You could tell he was pleased with all of the interpretations of his hit songs when he stated, "I sure am glad I got a hold of those songs before any of you did."

PBS had a show with Willie Nelson and his cronies on recently. I watched part of that as well. I pays to keep up with all kinds of music and performances.

I had read a Twitter that Eric Clapton and Stevie Winwood were supposed to be on PBS but not our local channels. I would really like to see that one, perhaps it will be on later on our local channels.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Act Naturally Cover

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Loving Couple - Post Wedding Portrait

Thanks to David Benjamin Photo-
graphy I have a few lovely photo-
graphs - post wedding - of my Daughter and Son n law.

I have taken some liberties with one of the photographs and did some of my digital work on it. I have been using Paint.NET quite a bit lately for the filters. I used the Artistic> Oil Painting> filter first on the image, then used the Artistic> Pencil Sketch> filter to create a posterized version of the photograph with lines added.

I opened the resulting image in PhotoPaint and adjusted the Color Hue to a strong sepia like tone. Resizing it I added the Bevel frame to the image.

I have been practicing the song "When The Stars Go Blue" to do a cover of it for the next CD "The Roof". I have to adjust to the tempo, I can do the song but I tend to make it a faster tempo. I have to decide where to put my capo as well, Second or Third Fret. I can't help but add my stylized rhythm playing to it, I just do after years of playing alone. I need to practice more using my digital metronome!

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Tim McGraw - When the Stars Go Blue

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Iris - Van Goghized

Love the instant painting effects of Painter 8. I used the Auto Van Gogh filter a number of times on this photograph. I know it is an easy way to present a digital manipulation, but I have to admit I like the results. Look at the larger view and see the "paint strokes".

Our early flowers are in full bloom in our front and back gardens. We have some snowballs as well that I took some photographs of I may do a collage of the images and share that another time.

I worked on another song yesterday. The Chord progression was adapted from a chart I got online at The Guitar Suite . The chords are: D Em F#m G A repeat and F#m A Em G repeat. It was a free progression chart in PDF format. Very Cool.

I titled the song "Three Day Weekend" but I am not satisfied with the lyrics and my rough recording of it. But I had an enjoyable time working on it thus far. I think it also needs a bridge. I practiced some lead in my ear-based style, so it is pretty nice, but needs work.

I also did a recording of "Our House" by CSNY that I need to redo. I messed up the ending of it with the chords and singing. So it is on my list of things to do soon.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Can You Please Love Me?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Our Garden - Purple Irises

Finally I got some photographs of the garden. This is our front garden We also have one in the back of the house on a pretty steep hill.

On this image I opened it in Paint.NET where I upped the saturation a bit to boost the color. I applied the Artistic> Ink Sketch> filter to it. That's all the I did to the photograph other than resize it in PhotoPaint with a small frame for display.

I Twittered other photographs of flowers from the garden as well.

I decided yesterday that I need to organize all of my songs, the printouts, in a notebook. I'll get some of those clear sheet protectors and a three-ring notebook. I may organize them by date written if I put the date on them, which is a practice I acquired recently, with a © symbol on them. Right now they are in a hodgepodge messy folder.

The ones I did not put a date on I will approximate when and go from there. I have quite a collection from over the years, including some I wrote for my children when they were young. That is going back to the 1980's. I didn't keep any songs I wrote in the 70's, they weren't very good anyway.

Another beautiful summer day today.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Yes It Is Cover
Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Acceptance

Sunday, May 24, 2009

David In Blue

It is our 34th wedding anniver-
today! We had a fancy lunch out and now are hanging around the house. It is a beautiful day and we are enjoying it.

Today's image is a Photograph taken by David Benjamin, a self portrait using my Canon Rebel XTi. I opened it in Paint.NET. There I used the Artistic> Oil Painting filter and also applied the Artistic> Pencil Sketch filter. I saved the file and tinted it in Picasa 3. Saving that form I opened it in PhotoPaint and added a frame.

Right now I am reviewing my song list in Windows Media Player through my stereo hook up. I've done quite a few recordings that I think are fairly good, some covers and many I wrote myself. I think I need a larger audience, but am afraid to share on the web and lose ownership rights to the songs. Plus I don't want to have to pay for covering other's songs. So I guess I'll stick with family and friends. I need input on my work to continue to grow.

You can create in a vacuum but it is not nearly as much fun.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - She's My Kind of Rain Cover

Saturday, May 23, 2009

David And His Guitar

David is our friend from Missouri who visited recently. He is a talented Photographer and Musician. He tried to help me learn simple scales on the guitar and also showed me how to use my Canon Rebel XTi on Manual. I am still hard on the learning curve of both. My dexterity on scales is deplorable, and my camera skills still need work. But He did his best to help and for that I thank him.

I opened this photograph in Paint.NET and used the Artistic> Oil Painting filter on it, then applied the Artistic> Pencil Sketch filter on it. Saving that file I brought it into Picasa 3 and adjusted the tint to a sepia-like tone. Using PhotoPaint I opened a photograph of his 6-string guitar and cut it out, copying to the clipboard.

I brought his photograph into PhotoPaint and pasted the guitar as an object, used Thredgeholder on it for a sketch like appearance, added a tint to it as well and floated a grouping of duplicates for the background. So he is surrounded by copies of his own guitar.

I played my new song ("Stay With You") for my sister n law yesterday and she liked it. So I am assuming it sounds pretty good as now my wife and her sister liked it. I really like the input, as I am not objective enough to know when a song is good or just mediocre. Input is good.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Beatles - Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

Friday, May 22, 2009

Attractive Woman - Guitars

Searching for portraits I discovered the work of Vincent Boiteau on Flickr. His work is listed with a Creative Commons Attribution so I am giving him credit on the woman's portrait I used in my derivative piece shown here.

I took the woman's face into Paint.NET and used the Artistic> Pencil Sketch filter on it. I brought it and my Guitar photograph into PhotoPaint where I cropped the face and copied it to the clipboard then pasted it into the guitar image as an object.

I used the object properties and applied "multiply" on the face. Then I merged the two together. I gave credit for the portrait on the image to Vincent. I also used OptikVerve Labs Virtual Photographer to add grain to the guitar image at 1600 ASA Film #2. I love good grain in a photograph.

Now It appears that I have a mural face on the wall in my office/studio. Which would be cool, but I'd use a photograph of my wife instead, I do have three works on my walls that are framed with images of her as a younger woman, now. It is our Thirty-fourth Wedding anniversary on the Twenty-fourth of this month. So happy anniversary for us, this weekend!

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Beck - Tropicalia

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Eighteen Strings Two Guitars

My friend of David Benjamin Photography used my Canon Rebel XTi to take this photo of our two guitars. He generally uses Nikon cameras to great style. But he did this for me along with a couple of other photographs of the guitars. He is quite talented a photographer.

I used Virtual Photographer by OptikVerve Labs to add a grainy look to this photograph. First I used Paint.NET to create a sketch of the image then saved that file. I opened in PhotoPaint both the original and the sketch and copied the sketch to the clipboard. I overlapped the sketch as an object and using the object properties "Multiply" I made the sketch transparent. I dropped the object to the background. Then I added the grain.

While David was visiting from Missouri we jammed together. I played the chord progressions and he played lead. It was a blast. We sounded pretty good to our audience of a few friends, according to their comments.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Ben Harper - Strawberry Fields Forever

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Multiple Guitars - Digital Collage

Each day can be a time to stretch your creativity. All you need is the correct attitude and a desire to push yourself a little more, and a little talent always helps.

"Creativity is a mental and social process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations of the creative mind between existing ideas or concepts. Creativity is fueled by the process of either conscious or unconscious insight. An alternative conception of creativeness is that it is simply the act of making something new." - Wikipedia

"Unconscious insight" what a thought provoking phrase. The internal mind adding to the creative process without conscious efforts. Inspiration is another way of stating this.

I try to keep the guitar in sight as a tool for creativity. Learning how to play scales is tough but it is a practice that will allow for expanded creativity in the near future while playing lead for my songs. Lastnight I tried to figure out what chords went with two scales I was trying to follow. I took a couple of chords and recorded them in Audacity through my microphone and then applied the scales. It seems I had selected the right chords.

I think it is a short coming of this DVD and book to not give you the chord progressions that you can play in to allow you to begin using the scales immediately. So I know that they were in Cmaj key, but I had to play by ear again to find the chords. I have 30 days to try out this method to see if I want to keep this set or not. I do so want to become more proficient at lead playing. So it is important the lessons are taught in a way that fits my learning style and curve.

Up to this point it is a real challenge, and I don't want to give up easily.

The image I am sharing used a lot of repetition to create. I used this for my CD "label" calling it "Nonesuch Calling ". I used PhotoPaint again to create this.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Learning scales with F and Am C and E

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Guitar Player Chording D

Just when you think you have a hit! My wife thinks my new song "Stay With You" sounds better without the raunchy lead playing. Well I think highly of her opinion and I will add two versions to "The Roof" CD, then others can make a choice, too.

This image is a little old, I've had it for some time. It is from a photograph taken years ago. I used Painter 8 and made it a sketch first. Then I used the watercolor brushes to paint in the light coloring. This brings the guitar player into focus as the subject. He was playing my Crestwood 12-string chording a D chord. I snapped the photograph with my old Pentax K1000 35mm film camera.

I got my DVD, Book and CD on playing scales in the mail today. I have yet to view it though. The book seems complicated to my sensitivities (read lack of knowledge) that is why I bought the thing in the first place. I learn from seeing and listening and doing more than reading. But this will be a good challenge for me. I need to stretch my music capabilities further if I expect to continue to grow in this way. So I am excited about my purchase.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Stay With You II

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pools of Light - Guitar

Just the other day I was working on a new song. I don't have a title yet but it is getting close to one. Perhaps "Stay With You" as I repeat that in the last lines, perhaps not. Undecided right now.

The Chord progression is C Em Am G with Dm Em as a short refrain. I guess it's another love song of sorts. I get stuck there too often I think. I need to broaden my horizons. Anyway it is a nice turnaround chord grouping. The lyrics are coming along quite nicely.

My "Pools of Light" is another low light photograph I took recently. I opened it in Paint.NET and used the Artistic> Pencil Sketch filter to create the black areas of the piece. It really focuses in on the "pools" of the LED lighting. Of course there is the guitar in it. I overlapped the pencil sketch on the color photograph did a slight saturation increase in PhotoPaint. I like the way it turned out. Nice vertical lines with almost cartoon-like balloons of light to make it interesting.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Krackle Snap Pop

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wall of Sound - Guitars

Some times it is great to have friends and family to share music with. As I have mentioned before, it is good to have an audience for your music.

This afternoon I had the opportunity to share with an old friend, whom I recently have made contact with again online. He sent me a file of one of his recent works and I did the same. Now, our styles are very different, but that is refreshing.

It was great to do and get feedback from one another. When you are not feeling well the internet can help you keep a good outlook. Such was the case today for me.

Today's image is another Common Creative license from Flickr. Attribution is on the image itself.

I used PhotoPaint and then Thredgeholder to create a sketch, copied it to the clipboard and then overlapped it upon the original photograph which I had used KPT's Collection Pyramid Paint filter. Using the Object Properties I change it to Multiply and then dropped it onto the background.

I then created a Tritone image and converted it back to RGB to save and share here.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Like I've Never Been Refused

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Young Woman Bass Player

Trish is a band member in the band Sunlight Ascending. She plays bass guitar. I found this photograph of her on Flickr. It has a Common Creative license so I have given attribution on the resulting derivative image.

I opened it in Paint.NET and used the Artistic> Pencil Sketch filter and saved the image. Bringing it into PhotoPaint I used the Effects> Texture> Plastic filter on it to give it a slight 3D dimension to it. This also gave it the color I selected in it's properties window. Click on the image for the larger view.

I have a new microphone stand with the boom ordered for it. We got it at Pontiac Music and Sound in Clarkston, Michigan. It is an anniversary present from my wife. She got tickets to the American Idol show here in August at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan, as her gift. We have been watching the show quite regularly this season and have enjoyed the performances as well as the mentors selections. It is our 34th wedding anniversary, we have known each other since 1970 - 39 years. Seems short looking back.

Some may find American Idol less than likable, in fact annoying. This year they have had the best performers in a long time. So we have been following it. Now it is down to Kris Allen and Adam Lambert. Both are talented individuals. It will be an interesting finish.

We don't vote for anyone we just watch the show. We endeavor to see the best in all the performers and remain unbiased. If you like Rock - Adam Lambert is strong in that area, Kris is quieter and has the ability to put across jazz-like contemporary interpretations of his songs.

All in all it remains what your taste is and what you may like or dislike in contemporary music.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth

Friday, May 15, 2009

DVD - Twitter - Solitary Guitar Painting

Twitterized I am. Bleary-eyed from online shopping for a DVD on Guitar scales and lead techniques. I found a good deal at Amazon for less than what it cost at Musician's Friend. The DVD comes with a book and CD as well. A little Musical Theory and the reviews were good so I thought I would try this one.

I will list it at the end of today's post.

I have another low light photograph that I took recently which I opened in PhotoPaint and used KPT's Collection Pyramid Paint filter on to manipulate digitally into a painting. It is the same Lyon guitar but from a different angle. It is a cozy image of the 6-string guitar.

I have played it and the action is a little hard and with an adjustment could be improved. Those strings are a little too high for my taste. But it is not my guitar and I won't be doing any adjustments to it.

I would really enjoy having an electric 6-string guitar but It doesn't appear to be in my immediate future. Too many housing repairs to take care of and those are priorities in the budget.

I have FoxyTunes installed again, but it still doesn't show up on the browser and will not allow me to change the options, so I am not certain what to do with it. But I can add the info to my posts about what I am listening to with Media Player. Which I think is kind of cool.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Big Sir - Ruby Road

Here is the DVD I have ordered:

"GUITAR DVD + BOOK + CD Total Scales Techniques and Applications"
Mark John Sternal; Perfect Paperback; $26.37

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Spring Floral with Frame

Experimenting with my Canon XTi I took several floral images recently. I am trying to learn to use different settings of the camera instead of shooting on auto all the time.

I used PhotoPaint again on this image. I merged two photographs, one of which I made into a semi-transparent frame using a clip art frame from CorelDRAW. It became an unusual image. I purposely used asymmetric positioning of the blossoms of a flowering tree, and the frame is made from a different flowering tree. The sky was overcast, but I was experimenting with exposure and white balance anyway. I also used the Thredgeholder plugin to add some depth and linear coloring to the image.

FoxyTunes stopped working for me so I uninstalled it, then reinstalled it. But in its' current version it is not working right with Firefox. I've emailed them twice but have had no response. So I will not be showing what I am currently listening to music wise on the blog until I get it to work again. Right now I am not listening to any music anyway.

I've done some searching for a good DVD for learning melodic scales on the guitar and found that there are a multitude of them out there. Everybody wants your money! The so-called "best" are over $100.00 for multiple DVD's and CD's and documentation. I can get 30 minutes of a teachers time for $18.50 locally, but that would quickly build up out of proportion with my budget.

So I plug along on my own playing leads by ear, and not doing such a good job of it. I'll keep practicing but I am again poised on a bad habit learning curve. I'd rather have help. I will go to a book store and see what I can find by way of a book/DVD for guitar scales.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lyon 6-String Collage

Last Sunday night I took some low light photographs of a Lyon 6-string guitar. I played around with one of the better photographs and created this collage in PhotoPaint.

There is something about placing multiple guitar images one on top of another that is extremely satisfying for me. I would like to have a guitar collection so maybe that is why I make these collages of multiple guitars. If you click on the image for the larger view of it try using the F11 key to get the whole image on your screen, if you don't already know that little trick - F11 will hide the browser's tool bars and show only the image on screen. F11 again to go back to the browser.

I added some Fender picks that are pinkish in color using three of them to make a heart like shape. I also added my tuning peg winder into the mix. They are great when you are restringing a 12 string guitar, almost a necessity with all those strings to wind.

I have been working on a new song using E C E C E C E C; D F D F D F D F; G Em G Em Am D chords. I like the progression and the lyrics are pretty good. It is a song about a young man interested in an aloof, solitary young lady he is captivated by. He is trying to enter into a relationship but she remains just out of reach for him. I titled it "Can You Please Love Me." It is another Folk Rock song with some lead and background vocals. No drums, just the rhythm of the guitar for a back beat.

FoxyTunes is not working right for me for some reason. I upgraded to their latest version but it doesn't seem to work right. I can show what song I am listening to on Media Player but it leaves of the FoxyTunes attribution link. And it is not showing in my browser like before. I wrote them but haven't heard anything back.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Can You Please Love Me?

Monday, May 11, 2009


Yesterday evening my friend David and I did a little jamming at my son's place. He had us over for a cookout. The weather was nice but chilly so we jammed inside.

I also had an opportunity to jam with another friend, Marshall, who played the violin in accompaniment on "Old Man" by Neil Young.

Both times we had great fun. It has been quite awhile since I had anyone to jam with, so I especially enjoyed it. It was all acoustic without any amplification.

Here is an image of the 6-string Lyon guitar that David played. I was experimenting with low light photography and the light came from LED lighting. I did not get any pictures of either jam as I was playing my 12-string and wasn't able to use the camera and no one else thought to use it. I am a little disappointed.

David's style of acoustic lead is impressive as was Marshall's violin playing. There is nothing like a good jam session.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Our House Cover

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sand Castles - Grand Haven, Michigan

Quite a number of years ago my family and I took a weekend day trip to Grand Haven, Michigan and spent the day at the beach there.

I found this photograph taken with my old Pentax K1000 35mm film camera. We had built some sand castles on the beach.

Years later both our children are married and my wife has survived cancer for many years now. This is one of our really good memories of the children being young and all of us with a measure of good health and good spirits.

I used PhotoPaint to take the 400 ASA film photograph scan and to sharpen it a bit. Then I did the tritone. I converted back to RGB and resized it.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Ohio Cover
via FoxyTunes

Friday, May 8, 2009

Vector Portrait - Blonde

Continuing my series on these vector portraits I am sharing this 'Blonde' today. I used the same techniques in CorelDRAW, the freehand drawing tool and a base photograph for the portrait.

Could not sleep last night so I was playing around with my headphones on playing guitar through the Toneport using Gearbox. I was experimenting with differing guitar models. I would play a rhythm chord progression like E A B7, and then select a lead guitar model and play a lead to it.

I was recording the result but, nothing worth keeping became of it. I did find out that Line 6 Community has free drum loops available but the size of the zip files were 34 - 50+ megs and I am on dial up. The other problem is that my ISP will kick me off after approximately 3 hours online, though it is supposed to be unlimited access. So even if I started a download it always gets interrupted. So no free drum loops for me at this juncture anyway.

I had fun jamming with the Toneport and Gearbox, chalk it up to a learning experience.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Helpless Cover
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Vector Portrait - Resting on Hand

I have found that many like these vector portraits I did in late 2008. As an experience in design and art I enjoy doing these but after a series of them I switched to other art projects. I may make a return to doing them if I find some good subject matter. Portraits are the best as they focus in on the face, which is one of my favorite preoccupations in art.

One source for drawing faces is Wikihow which includes a video and links, there were many references to 'portraits' on Google.

One of my favorite references is the book: "Drawing the Human Head" by Burne Hogarth. I've done some fictional people from studying this book and I have received many compliments about the two main ones I did. I used pencil, pastels, pen and ink for these studies. I have them hanging up in my office/studio. Persons always ask me who they are and I have to explain they come from my imagination.

There is something so interesting about the human face, it's expressions, what it tells you about a person, it is immediately identifiable. I am drawn to it as subject matter.

Doing the vector portraits requires me to simplify the face to it's basic elements. I like the challange and the results for the most part. But pastels and pen and ink allow more detail so I also use them for more traditional work. But I almost always digitize an image and work on it in my computer programs. Eventhough digital art still is not as widely accepted I, for one, am fascinated by Digital Visual Art.

Another great book is: "The Painter 8 Wow! Book" by Cher Threinen-Pendarvis. Since I still use Painter 8 I really like this book. It is very inspriational and practical for using Corel's Painter 8 program, makes for great Digital Visual Art technique.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Bravery - Bad Sun
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Discovery - Rolling Stone Widgets

For more RS Artist widgets please visit

Painter 8 Plus Traditional Pastels

I have done today's image using traditional pastels and paper. I took the original photograph and opened it in Painter 8 where I made a drawing/sketch of the young lady. I printed this out in 8.5x11 format on drawing paper then I used my pastels to do the portrait.

After i was done with that scanned in the resulting image and opened it in Painter 8 once again. There I painted the image using textured brushes to give it 'body'.

I love the red hair of this young lady and it's fullness. I did my best to capture the essence of her attractiveness. One aspect of the photograph was her left eye did not show very well so one mostly sees the eyelashes and general shape of it.

I did some recording yesterday afternoon. I used the Toneport and set my microphone setting on "Detroit RnB Vocal". Then I recorded a cover of Neil Young's "Helpless". It is such a short song I lengthened it by singing it twice. I added a simple lead without using my pickup just the microphone with the same vocal setting. I's a sweet song. I am going to cover "Ohio" and "Our House" from the book based on CSNY's Deja Vu album for easy guitar.

In May was the anniversary of the Kent State ("Ohio") shootings, I saw the front page from the New York Times "on this day" blurb. So it has been on my mind.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Helpless Cover
via FoxyTunes

Monday, May 4, 2009

Vector Portrait - Girl with Flowers

With spring come flowers in the gardens. Here is a vector portrait of a gal holding out flowers in her hand. I did this in CorelDraw 12 from a photograph. I use the freehand drawing tool to create the shapes and use the gradient fills to give the flat image some depth.

I like the prepackaged fills for the hair and background of these pieces. The ones that come with CorelDraw. And the gradient fills allow you to select radial fills which give a nice soft appearance to the face and eyes and lips.

I have done a number of these pieces , many in 2008. Taking a photograph and creating a vector image is a challenge I enjoy. I think they turn out fairly good.

Last night I watched the second disk of Eric Clapton's Crossroads DVD done in Texas (I think it was done in 2004). The closing act was ZZTop. The number and quality of guitarists and performers is just amazing. I am constantly fascinated by the talent of these many different guitar players, singer songwriters. Very inspiring. I only wish I was a fast as some of them. I tend to be a middle ground rocker , blues player. My speed for lead playing is only at a comfortable pace and not nearly as quick and nimble as these men are.

It is a great show and I recommned any of Clapton's shows on DVD.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Bruce Springsteen - Down Bound Train
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Inky Vines Grow Everywhere

Have you ever noticed how vines tend to overgrow everything in their path. I like fractals so I believe that is why I like vines so much. They tend to replicate like a fractal algorithm.

Take for example this image of vine growth. They are almost covering the tower in the background and the vent in the foreground, too. Another example is the ivy we planted as ground cover in our back yard. It started out just a few plants and now is a luxurious growth covering the ground.

I took this photograph with a 5.2 megapixel camera and the detail was surprisingly good. First I opened the image in PhotoPaint and increased the saturation, and sharpened it a little. Then I opened the photograph in Paint.NET and used the Artistic> Ink Sketch on it to give it a highly stylized detailing of the flowing vines.

As always I resized it in PhotoPaint and gave it a mat like border. I always try to keep the images for the blog to a size that uploads quickly and yet when you click on it you get a large enough picture to see details and the colors.

This inky vine image is very intricate and that's how my mind is working today.

I'd like it if my mind would work on a lyric or a chord progression since I am thinking nice and clear today. But sometimes it just doesn't work that way. Inspiration is what I need! At least I worked on an image thus far and it's only around 5:00 our time so I have some of the day left. I'll just have to see what happens.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Bto - Gimme Your Money Please
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Vector Portrait

It is a coincidence that this image looks like one of my nephews as it is not based upon a photograph of him, but it does. I used CorelDRAW 12 to draw this based upon a photograph of unknown origin.

I did get some help with this from a forum, suggestions were made to make some changes that gave the image needed punch.

I used the fills that come with CorelDRAW 12, for the background and foreground. I used the gradient fills for the rest of the face and the shirt.

The suggestions I received concerned the hair and beard. So I added some texture to them with additional fill work.

I have a friend visiting from Missouri and we played around with the Toneport and Gearbox software yesterday. He sang and played my 12-string, Folsom Prison Blues a Johnny Cash tune. He has a deep voice and it recorded very nicely. We played around with the microphone settings and we had some fun. It was an enjoyable time.

He is also a professional photographer - his website is David Benjamin Photography. Take a look and you'll find he is very talented.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Aimee Mann - Its Not Going to Stop
via FoxyTunes

Friday, May 1, 2009

What's a Band without an Audience?

Out of a garage someplace in Michigan a band is playing. What is a band without an audience? It is like the question "If a tree falls in the forest without anyone present, does it make a sound?" Well we all know that technically speaking the sound waves happen but, if no one is there to hear them can it be called sound? My answer has always been yes, sound happens therefore the sound is real whether someone hears it or not.

But a garage band without an audience is sort of a sad thing. The band needs to be appreciated by a group of persons to make the experience complete. So I present an image of a band with an audience for your pleasure.

This group appears to be working hard to please the listeners, and they have a little showmanship to boot. That always makes it more fun for both the band and the audience. I am certain this group is rocking and is moving some in it's group of listeners. As you can see some are listening with eyes closed to the current part of the song, others eyes wide open.

Each listener has his or her own experience related to the band's sound. Perception is an individual reality. And music can take you places. Like oldies can take you back to a time in your mind, so live music can transport you to a different place in your head. One hopes that it is enjoyment that you are experiencing. Certainly the band wants you to be enjoying yourself.

In getting the image ready for presentation I opened it in PhotoPaint and cropped out a lot of head space above the band and audience. I then duotoned it and resizing it I made it useful for the blog.

I hope May will be a great month for all!

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Everyday
via FoxyTunes