Friday, July 31, 2009

DADGAD Tuning - 12-String Guitar - Grunge

"DADGAD Tuning" is a very cool way to play something new on the 12-String Guitar. It sounds so full and compelling. I got out the guitar and decided to play with the tuning the other night before bed.

I truly enjoyed my self. I am listening to a recording of a DADGAD tuning theme I mixed. I used a phaser on it and it is phasing between speakers right as I type. It is pleasant has a good tempo and some lead along with the rhythm of my made up chord progression.

What a great way to experiment with your guitar. Trying out different fingerings and making up chords and repetitions. Its a bear tuning it all back to the regular tuning but it is worth every minute of playing and improvising.

More Grunge in today's image. I just like it a lot, the grunge factor I mean. It has captured my imagination for some time now. Textures, lines, fonts, adapted pieces of art and guitars. So much fun putting it all together.

I used PhotoPaint for the basic image, resampling the texture to fit my size requirements. I used CorelDRAW for some vectoring and fitting text on a path. I have placed flowers in the image too, see if you can find them in the enlarged size (F11 to increase viewing on your browser.) I even added some paint splatters. Great fun!

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - DADGAD Theme

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Milestone 200th Post - Grunge Guitar

Hard to believe I have reached my 200th post on my blog. Time has passed by and I have tried to keep it entertaining and imaginative, personal and yet technical at times.

My blog is about Digital Visual Art and Music and I think I've done a fair job keeping it real and on track.

Today's image is another Grunge based one. I added some nonsense text, some chords and part of a lyric chorus for the piece. I used a background of rock and an Alvarez guitar doctored up with Thredgeholder filter and KPT's Collection Pyramid Paint filter on it. I stretched the image of the basket and pulley for interest, which was made into a Pencil Sketch in Paint.NET and overlaid with object property of Color Burn with transparency. All done in PhotoPaint.

I like the new grunge fonts I recently got off the net. One is called Ugly Face! Another is called Yukon Gold. Love free fonts from FontSpace and Chank and others.

Search "Free Fonts" and discover what is out there.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Spending the Afternoon - Original

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

As The Garden Grows - A Chord Progression

"Fictional Portraits" is now finished, for the time being. It is my hope you enjoyed the images posted, both the simple ones and the Grunge pieces.

Today I am switching to a view of our garden with the stony path that leads to the front of the house. We have planted many perennials that come up year after year. Some years they are fuller than this year for some reason. But it is still a wonderful garden to view and have.

The image is from a photograph, taken with my Canon Rebel XTi. I used Paint.NET to give it an ink print appearance, boosting the coloring to it's full. Then opening it in PhotoPaint I adjusted the saturation and the Tone Curve to highlight the color and deepen the image. This stone path is uneven to walk on but is an attractive addition to the perennials.

I am listening to one of my favorite instrumentals I have created. It has a good back beat from Jim Dooley's free drum loops, and a cruising tempo and rhythm, with a simple lead.

It is titled by the chords used for the basic song structure. I have the chords typed up for myself as my memory isn't what is used to be. I am aging myself again.



A Bm C#m D
A Bm C#m
A Bm C#m D
A Bm C#m

E F#m
E F#m
E F#m


A Bm C#m D
A Bm C#m
A Bm C#m D
A Bm C#m

E F#m
E F#m
E F#m


A Bm C#m D
A Bm C#m
A Bm C#m D
A Bm C#m

E F#m
E F#m
E F#m


A Bm C#m D
A Bm C#m

You can give it a try it sounds very nice. Jazz up the tempo or smooth it out depending on your mood. Have fun with it.

Many thanks to Kara for her comment on my previous blog posting. Here is a link to her blog DISH.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - A Bm C#m D Run

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fictional Portraits VIII - Simple Grunge - Social Media

Social Media seems to be so popular now. But I remember when Compuserve had forums for sharing art and comments, at 300 baud. That may have been the beginning of social contact through the computer and the internet.

I also remember the old Bulletin Boards where most of what was shared was in text form, at 300 baud. So these two examples may have been the forerunners of Social Media networking.

Now with Web 2.0 and easy to format blogging and other forms of Social Media anyone (including me) can become a publisher of content of both text and images.

A Simple Grunge piece today, again from my sketchbook scanned into the computer. "Samuel" is the title of this fictional face. I used Painter 8 for the watercolor and Corel's PhotoPaint for the rest of the image manipulation. A texture stretched to fit added some flavor to the piece.

Yesterday I got out my songbook of my own tunes and practiced playing and singing. I find I have tempo problems if I start with a specific tempo I tend to gravitate to it with the next song. So I need to be careful of the tempo I use for each practice session and each tune. I do have a electronic metronome on the computer but I don't always practice in front of it. So it is an exercise in memory and patience. But I so enjoy the time I spend playing the 12-string and singing.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - The River

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fictional Portraits VII - Vector Grunge

Still looking for comments as to whether "Grunge" design is continuing to be popular, it is a favorite of mine.

I especially like the distressed fonts and the grungy backgrounds for some reason. Today I am sharing "Malcom," for your examination. I used a fictional face from my sketchbook scanned into the computer as a basis for the composition.

Painter 8 provided the watercolor brushes for "Malcom". CorelDRAW was used to make the vectored graphics, the freehand drawing tool. I also used PhotoPaint to create the transparent guitars and flowers.

"Malcom" looks to be rather sad, it must have been a sad tune I was drawing to when I sketched him. I captured the sadness fairly well, in my humble opinion.

I had a surprise today. I have Google Alerts set for blogs about "Digital Art" and my previous blog posting showed up in my Alerts. I was very pleased to see it among the others. It helps me keep up on the Visual Arts in the Digital realm of blogging.

Listening to music as I work on this post, some "Collective Soul" tunes. Nice. I haven't done much musically my self recently. I have been pretty busy, and that makes me miss my guitar. but I always return to it when I have the time and the desire to create a new song.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Collective Soul - Perfect Day

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fictional Portraits VI - Is Grunge Still Popular?

"Jeremy" is the title of today's image. Another of my fictional faces from my sketchbook. If I remember correctly I did this sketch a number of years ago in Texas, while visiting my sister.

I used Painter 8 watercolor brushes on this ink ballpoint pen sketch. You will notice the large eyes and the hopeful gaze up, a theme I also used once for a sculpture.

The Sculpture was done using vermiculite and was of two heads both in a prayer-like position - one gazing down the other up. I did that while in college taking business and media. I loved the media and art classes but didn't care for the business side of the equation.

Now I focus on the arts and music. I kept the image simple again. Wanting to show my creative process and my proclivity to do portraits/faces from my imagination.

Digital Art is defined on Wikipedia as:

"Digital art most commonly refers to art created on a computer in digital form.[1] In an expanded sense, "digital art" is a term applied to contemporary art that uses the methods of mass production or digital media.[2] The impact of digital technology has transformed traditional activities such as painting, drawing and sculpture, while new forms, such as net art, digital installation art, and virtual reality, have been recognized artistic practices.[3] More generally the term digital artist is used to describe an artist who makes use of digital technologies in the production of art. Digital artists are artists who make digital art using computer graphics software, digital photography technology and computer assisted painting to create art."

It also discusses digital techniques. Use of scanned in sketchbook images is included as one form of creating digital visual art. I consider myself a digital artist as I use the computer and a number of different computer programs to create.

I have been listening to different kinds of music recently to try to get ideas for new music creation myself. A little bit of Country on the radio, some Blues Rock on the computer. I'd love to get a digital media player, yes that is right I don't have one yet. iPod or otherwise, I need to catch up on the available media players. House repairs have been foremost this year.

I am also wondering how popular the "Grunge" themes still are in design, today. I really enjoy putting grunge themes together for the blog and my Twitter background. There seems to be plenty of grunge fonts available, as you can see in some of my artworks and my banner heading for gatzkART.

I invite your comments: Is "Grunge" design still popular? Do you employ such in your design work? Do you include the use of Vector graphics?

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Bonnie Raitt - It's All Over Now Baby Blue

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fictional Portraits V - Stained Glass Look

Keeping it simple works to your advantage some of the time. Using your imagination and being inspired may cause cluttered artwork. But the simple image can be striking.

This "stained glass" image is a good example of this. I used Painter 8 and did the piece digitally, keeping the basics only and using few colors. The watercolor brushes were employed to create a digital sketch.

I really like the Wacom tablet I use, it makes digital more like natural media. Use of the pen strokes to paint is much better than using the mouse, at least for me it is. I can hardly imagine working with their Cintiq interface it's for the big boys and girls. But it would be marvelous to have one. I use a smaller one and find it adequate for my digital efforts. One can always dream.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Black Crows - Thorn In My Pride

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fictional Portraits IV - Vector Grunge

Imagination must be present for Inspiration to work for any creative activity. Be it the visual arts or music, or poetry, fiction, etc. Imagination is simply, important.

I have been sharing images from my sketchbook with some painterly watercolor coloring and shaping. Today I am sharing a piece entitled "Guitar Solo" which was built from an image from the sketchbook named "Peter", with some Vector graphics added.

I used Painter 8 for the watercolor effects on the fictional face and CorelDRAW for the vector pieces.

I used some imagination to add to the simpler sketch and it developed into a larger piece of artwork. If you look closely you will see sketches from DaVinci, superimposed on the image. He is one who had much imagination and was inspired in his use of sketchbook/notebooks.

Wikipedia states this about imagination:

"The common use of the term is for the process of forming new images in the mind that have not been previously experienced, or at least only partially or in different combinations."

I almost think I went overboard with my "different combinations," with today's image. I think the guitar background a bit busy for the whole piece. But, I am showing it to demonstrate that imagination and inspiration work together in the creative process. It may not always produce the best of images, but it always produces something new.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Beth Orton & William Orbit - Water from a Vine Leaf (Underworld Remix)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fictional Portraits III - Major Visual Inspiration

Got some major inspiration from an Article at instantShift today. 50 interviews with popular web designers and founders. Very good information. It took a while to load on dial up but I let it go so I could get the full impact of the article and it's related interviews. I still am going through the information there.

Visual Art is alive and well and these individuals are proof of that. Design for the internet is flourishing. While these professionals are moving and shaping, I do my little bit here on my blog, sharing some of my creative process and images.

This piece is entitled "Hope," which I think is in the expression on her face, a hopeful look. Also from my sketchbook and scanned in, with Painter 8 adding the water coloring. A simple and basic image. I am following my Fictional Faces motif as I had mentioned I would be doing.

I did write a song yesterday. It's entitled "The River," one of many titled the same I am certain. I used the River, Creation, Birdsong as metaphors for the flow of life while dealing with personal problems and seeking answers to them. I wrote it after a conversation I had about dealing with limitations and how modesty comes into play when we really are perplexed by such. I used a basic chord progression D open E, G C, A E, with a folk rock rhythm. It's not too bad if I say so myself. (Of course, I am going to be bias!)

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - GDEmAmD

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fictional Portraits II - Musical Inspiration

"Fictional Faces" are my sketchbook pictures scanned into the computer and digitally enhanced. As I mentioned in my last post I owe many of these sketches to listening to music as inspiration.

I have listened to various types of music for this very reason. Alternative Rock, Hard Rock, Classical Rock, Country, even some classical symphonies of Mozart and other composers. Using the music to drive the creative process.

I haven't named the lady in today image. "Green Eyes - Pink Lips" is the name I used to describe her. But I did not pick a personal name for this fictional face.

I have done most of the work on these digitally in Corel's PhotoPaint. I like the slash of color across the face here, a bit geometric with an organic appearance to the rest of the piece.

Many artists use Sketchbooks , Wikipedia has a section about them and a list of some famous artists that are displayed in many different museums with some being shared online. Sketches were used as studies for larger pieces of art, or chronologies of an artists inspiration. My sketches are usually what they called "Invention:"

: this follows the artists' digressions and internal journeys as they develop compositional ideas" (Wikipedia.)

I am going to share an image a day for a time of many of my sketches, a departure from the guitar motif. I hope you find them interesting.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Speedboat Waves 2

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fictional Portraits - Freehand Sketching

Periodically I like to sketch in my sketchbooks, fictional faces, characters from my mind. Generally I do this while listening to music and I try to not force a piece, I take the music and sketch to it. Following the beat, rhythm, tempo, I attack the blank page with relish. I find that I can be quite creative in this way.

This fictional portrait is "Frank," a name chosen to save a file and not to describe the individual. But by naming the sketch I give personality to the face. Unintentionally giving it a life of it's own.

I scanned this full page image into the computer and used Painter 8 for the watercolor coloring of the piece. I really like the watercolor brushes, as I am certain, if you follow this blog you have seen.

The over sized eyes of "Frank," are the best feature of this image. They attract your view right away. Which was unplanned, all very flowing with the music I was listening to, an activity of discovery.

I have been very busy the last few days so I haven't been working on any new music but I am itching to get back to the guitar and do some creative activity with music.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Make Some Tracks

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Home Sweet Home - Chord Progessions

"Our House is a very, very fine house." (DejaVu Album CSNY.) An impres-
sionist view of our front gardens and our new porch and roof. We had to replace both of them this year.

I took the photograph with my Canon Rebel XTi, you can see only part of our steeply inclined driveway. We are up on a hill overlooking the lake below, on the other side of the photo view.

You will notice we have a number of perennials planted that come in year after year and blossom wonderfully. Plus the rock garden, and the tiered levels add much to the landscaping. And yes we have purple doors!

I was up last night and had to play the guitar to tire myself out enough to get some sleep. I have a list of Major key and Minor Key chord progression called the "Song Writers Chord Construction Chart", that I got from the forums on the Guitar Tab Universe site.

I was playing with a couple of the Major keys: G Am Bm C D Em and a second one A Bm C#m D E F#m. trying out different patterns of the progressions and using some flatpicking as well as different strummings. It was funny how much they sound the same with going through the pattern as presented using the same strumming, just different keys, simple.

It was enough to get me ready for sleep, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Try out the progressions yourself with some experimentation. You may end up with a song!

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - A Bm C#m D Run

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Acoustic and Acoustic Electric Guitars

Most of you have read that I play an acoustic 12-string guitar with a Seymour Duncan Woody pickup for amplification. I had a Takamine Acoustic Electric 6-string at one time but have sold it. Now I would enjoy having an electric guitar to play those higher lead notes on the fret board.

While I am waiting for the right time to get one I try to satisfy my desire with the guitar models and cabinet models found in the Gearbox software that comes with the Line 6 Toneport UX1. They have a number of models that I haven't even used yet and you can customize your own based upon a model by changing the settings.

It's enough to keep me happy with my Acoustic guitar.

I was looking for guitar information to share in this post and came across a chart Called the Guitar Family Tree, and while it does not include the advent of the electric guitar I am sharing the link. It is an interesting basic chart of the history of the guitar up to the acoustic guitars of today.

Today's image was done in Corel's PhotoPaint. I used a few guitar images, some acoustic some acoustic electric. The background is from an overexposed photograph of lights on the highway, taken by my son Keir M Gatzka. I modified it with the Effects> Art Strokes> Crayon> filter and also adjusted the Tone Curve and Saturation a bit to jazz up the colors. I used the object properties Difference and Multiply for the guitars. I merged it down to one layer. I liked the colors I ended up with through the Difference property. I added a bit of grunge fonts to complete the piece.

Listening to Raising Sand by Alison Krause and Robert Plant, my favorite lately.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Alison Krause - Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ransom Note Grunge Typography - Guitars

Could not resist the desire to use as many grunge fonts as I could on one image. "Owning Multiple Guitars Must be Fun" is such a piece. Like the ransom notes referred to when digital design was younger, I used a number of fonts to express my desire to own more than one guitar.

I added some Vector work as well. I used primarily PhotoPaint and CorelDRAW. A sand textured background with Thredgeholder filtered multiple guitar image. Duplication of one image and the addition of two others done using object properties Color Burn and Difference. I used some symbols, fitting text to a path, spiral tool, and the freehand drawing tool.

I have been working on recording my song "Who, What Where, When Why and How?" I am using a chord progression that I really like.

Capo on the third fret: D Em F#m, for the verses, G A F#m Bm, G A G A, for the chorus. I have recorded it three times now, this last time with my son singing a soft background to it. The song is coming along, I don't have any lead at this point as it is more Folk Rock than anything else. I may not add any lead as it doesn't seem to need it.

It is coming along fairly well. My son liked the simplicity of it and I respect his opinions.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Collective Soul - Dandy Life

Monday, July 13, 2009

Unique Change - Painter Watercolor Portrait

Time for something unique. I was thinking that my readers might want something new. I've been stuck in the grunge/guitar motif for quite a few posts so I thought I would strike out in a different direction.

I've had this digital sketch of a man's face for some time, just black on white. I opened the sketch up in Painter 8 and decided to use the Watercolor brushes on it. This was all done freehand with a Wacom tablet and stylus.

Short forehead and squinty eyes a long nose made for a different portrait image. I also used the Liquid Ink ballpoint pen brush for the white highlights. But for the most part I stuck with the Watercolor brushes.

I love the watercolors of Painter 8. I know that they have updated the Corel Painter program to version 11 now but budget constraints prohibit an upgrade right now. I still am amazed at the versatility of Painter 8 and it's capabilities to imitate traditional media for painting.

He needs a name, any suggestions? Feel free to comment.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Alison Krauss - Rich Woman

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Electric Guitars Changed Music

Electric Guitars have changed the face of music. Wikipedia states:

"An electric guitar is a guitar that uses pickups to convert the vibration of its steel-cored strings (sometimes nickel) into an electrical current, which is made louder with an instrument amplifier and a speaker. The signal that comes from the guitar is sometimes electronically altered with guitar effects such as reverb or distortion. While most electric guitars have six strings, seven-string instruments are used by some jazz guitarists and metal guitarists (especially in nu metal),[1] and 12-string electric guitars (with six pairs of strings, four of which are tuned in octaves) are used in genres such as jangle pop and rock."

Tremolo, reverb, distortion, wah wah, voice augmented electric guitars are amazing instruments. They made such an impact on the music scene that it has barely recovered. Wonderful fascinating sounds come from these instruments. Accompanied by voices, basses, drums, horns, organs, pianos and whole symphonies they are an indelible part of today's music.

And I think that music is better for it. Although I do not own an electric guitar, I may someday. In the mean time I use my Seagull 12-String Guitar with it's Seymour Duncan Woody pickup to play through my Toneport UX1 and Gearbox software to make electric guitar like music. Computer assisted as it is, it the best I can do for now and it satisfies my desire to use the above mentioned effects that you can get with an electric guitar. I just can't reach those high notes on the neck of my guitar.

Today's image is about electric guitars, I used another textured background and the Thredgeholder filter for the guitars. Added a couple grunge font typestyles and a black frame. I used Corel's PhotoPaint for all the effects and object manipulation. Kudos to Corel Products for such fine graphic tools.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Bonnie Raitt - That's Love Sneakin' Up On You

Saturday, July 11, 2009

12-String Guitars - In Good Company

12-String Guitars are not as scarce as one might think. I was doing some searching on them and found a list of players on Wikipedia, I found I'm in good company of many 12-String players.

Under the listing "Twelve String Guitar" Wikipedia states:

"The twelve-string guitar is an acoustic or electric guitar with 12 strings in 6 courses, which produces a richer, more ringing tone than a standard six-string guitar. Essentially, it is a type of guitar with a natural chorus effect due to the subtle differences in the frequencies produced by each of the two strings on each course."

That is one reason I love mine, the so-called "chorus effect" and the "richer" tones. I have owned both 6-string and 12-string guitars but the 12 is my preference. I have found that trying to play lead guitar with one is more difficult as you have to hold down the note string and octave string together, not to mention any bending of a note one might try.

I used a number of 12-string guitars in the image I posted. First I got a textured "crinkled paper" background from TextureLovers. I opened that file in Painter 8 and selected the Digital Watercolor Splatter brush to add interest to the background. Saving that file I reopened in PhotoPaint and added images of the differing 12-string guitars using the object properties Color Burn and Difference, after I "sketched" them with the Thredgeholder filter.

One of my favorite images I used is the headstock of, what I believe to be, a Guild 12-string. It has a close up of all twelve tuning gears from the back. Very cool little addition to the whole image.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Gray Gretsch Guitars - Grunge Design with Custom Electrics

One of the guitars I used in duplication for today's image is an Ebony Gretsch. I did a search for information about Gretsch guitars and did not find a reference to the Ebony Gretsch, I'm certain that one is out there. Instead I found a reference to the history of the Gretsch Guitars

"The '60s brought a further boost to Gretsch when George Harrison played a succession of Gretsch models.

In the late '60s, Fred Gretsch retired and sold the company to Baldwin Manufacturing. Baldwin had difficulty understanding Gretsch's position in the market and failed to make a transition through the psychedelic '60s and hard-rock '70s. Kids inspired by Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton turned to Fender. To make matters worse, Baldwin moved production to Arkansas, and Gretsch suffered through two disastrous fires.

The Baldwin marriage was always an unhappy one. With sales down and the head office increasingly disinterested, Gretsch limped through the 70s and finally shut down production in the early 80s.

But ever since the company had left the family, Fred Gretsch III had vowed it would return. In 1985 his dream came true, and through the 90s he brought Gretsch back into the limelight with a series of successful re-issues and new models.

In late 2002 a deal was struck for Fender Musical Instruments Corp. to handle Gretsch manufacturing and distribution, bringing that "Great Gretsch Sound" to be heard worldwide once again.

For more information on the history of the Gretsch Company and its guitar models, visit the Gretsch Pages at "

I used PhotoPaint for this image. Again applying the Thredgeholder filter to the guitars and using the object properties of Color Burn and Difference. I copied and pasted a number of the transparent objects and overlapped them for the duplicated effect over a watercolor spattered grungy background from either TextureLovers or Dr. Web sites.

I was so busy yesterday I did not even have an opportunity to practice playing my 12-string or singing. And it is already late this afternoon. I better find some time soon!

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Green Day - Warning

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Vector Plus Grunge - Up At Five A.M.

You ever have one of those mornings that you awaken earlier than you usually do? I had one this morning. I actually woke up about three forty-five A.M. or so, I tried to get back to sleep, tossed and turned, no success. So I turned on the light and read part of one of the songwriting books I have by Rikky Rooksby.

It was too early to work out any new chord progressions, because my wife was still asleep. So I made a cup of coffee and headed to the computer.

As I went into the studio/office I looked out the large window and saw a wonderfully purplish fog that blocked my vision from seeing the other side of the lake we live above. It was beautiful to watch it slowly become a silvery gray fog. It's after eight now and the sun has burned off all but a few wisps of cloud off of the still lake surface.

I, of course, wrote a poem about it. Could not help myself. Then while I was watching the fog change colors a little rabbit moved into the scene, vulnerable and sweet. I added that to the poem but it did not rhyme with the rest of the verses. So now I have a dangling verse to contend with. Something to challenge my writing skills.

I did the image for today, yesterday. Spent a bit of time on it adding vector graphics to it, some freehand some using "fit text to a path" in CorelDRAW. The background is from Dr. Web's site again. I used PhotoPaint to blend the paint peeling wood with Thredgeholder filtered guitars of many makes and models before I copied and pasted the image into CorelDRAW.

I must admit I am staying a while with the grunge theme. It is fascinating to work with the differing backgrounds and guitar images I have collected. I may have my fill of it soon and begin a new motif for the blog and for your pleasure. Until then I hope you are enjoying the grunge theme.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Can't Find My Way Home Cover

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Vector and Grunge - Songwriting Tip

When I am songwriting I usually use a simple technique if I want to tell a tale. I use the well known questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How?

Answering these can be a real tool in writing that tune about people in any situation. Funny thing is I usually don't follow which person view I begin with, I switch it up going from I to You, Me and We, Us and Them. Sometimes this can work to your advantage, other times it can cause confusion if not done correctly. That is just an example of answering: Who?

I know that you have probably read about these questions before, but they have been part of my recent work on a song. I have lyrics now about these questions and about trust and who one goes to for help with problems. "I" end up the one being trusted in the lyrics, but I seem not to know "Why". I think the lyrics and singing need some work while recording this I have two versions now.

I took today's image background from the Dr. Web site free textures, If I remember correctly. And incorporated a new distressed font called American Bravado. I have been on too many font sites lately looking for grungy typestyles. I did all the work in PhotoPaint and CorelDRAW using one for the bitmap work and the other to add some vector work to the image.

I have been using the Thredgeholder for the line drawings of the guitars. I used the object properties to add them to the background, both difference with feathering, and multiply for the larger guitar. I had fun creating the musical notes freehand with the CorelDRAW freehand tool, as well as the swirls and flowers. I kept the vectors simple and few.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Circus

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Grunge Design - Guitar Hero or Guitar Player

Even though I have played guitar since I was 13 years old I am really bad at Guitar Hero's game. I've tried it out at my daughter and son n law's place and I was just terrible. Poor hand eye coordination I suppose, and a desire to play chords instead of switches.

If you are good at Guitar Hero, I think that is cool, but have you tried to learn an instrument like a guitar? The satisfaction of playing an instrument in a passable manner is greatly rewarding in itself. It is also a great thing to write songs, to create music, chords, melody, tempo and so on.

The image I am sharing was done in PhotoPaint and I used a free texture from the Dr. Web site. I used the Thredgeholder filter on the guitars with the object property set to Color Burn. I added just a couple of guitars and some free grunge fonts I like. I am currently using this image as my background on Twitter. I had been using a simpler image that takes less time to load, but I have looked at some other's backgrounds and decided to add a little to mine.

I could not sleep last night so I worked on my new song that I had already put together the chords and melody. I was thinking of lyrics and asking myself the questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How? And I came up with a lyric that asks these same questions. I may need to re-record it as I was a little sloppy on the overdubbing of my singing. But it's taking shape!

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Who What Where When Why and How?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Grunge Design Can be Fun

My penchant for Grunge Design is still strong, so I am continuing to share my efforts today.

I took the time to use CorelDRAW and printed out all the funky grunge like fonts I have in my fonts collection. I have about thirty-one grunge type styles, which was a surprise to me, I had no idea that I had collected so many.

Some of the names are fascinating. Epoxy History, Mister Twiggy, Plague Death, Trashco, and so forth. Some are really good and grungy others are a bit so. Some are almost illegible as words, and one is just a bunch of splatter like symbols, great for paint splashes.

I did not use any Vector graphics on today's image. But, as usual I added guitars in the theme.

I have a new song in the works. I have a chord progression for verse and chorus, no bridge, and a melody and chorus but no lyrics yet. I haven't tried to write any lyrics, as nothing is coming to mind. But it is a start of something new and that is enjoyable in itself. I recorded it naming it "No Words No Lyrics" to keep the juices flowing. It is somewhat upbeat, so that is cool, as I tend to write serious themes way too often.

Listening to it still hasn't brought out any words, I'm waiting patiently.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - No Words No Lyrics

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Grunge Guitar - with Vector Swirls and Symbols

Grunge is my fun of the moment. I mean in design, I have been getting some great grunge backgrounds form the web. Dr. Web Magazine has quite a few textures that I like. I will probably try to work them into my images for a period, as I like the theme and I like to do a series of images as a motif for the blog.

Wikipedia has some interesting links for the search "grunge design".

I took today's background from again. That and a few guitar images in PhotoPaint. I used object properties on the guitars "dodge burn" and placed them around the grunge background.

I decided to load the image up in CorelDraw and do some Vector work on it. I hand drew the swirls and stars and flowers and used some symbols from a dingbat font. Just wanted to try a bit of design work outside the bitmapped arena.

I haven't been a big fan of Grunge the "Seattle Sound" as far as the music scene goes. But I did pick up Kurt Cobain's "Notebook" once at the bookstore and looked it over. He seemed like a regular Gen X type of person. I did not care for the use of profanity in it so I did not read the whole thing. Just my opinion, not to detract from his fandom.

I am working on a few more grunge based images including guitars and perhaps some Vector work too. It remains to be seen. Stay tuned.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Got Your Clouds In My Sky

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Grunge Guitar - Textures

Bald Eagle Lake, an all sports lake, is filled with boaters and jet skier's today. I look out my window and view their activity. Many are pontoon boats traveling slowly around the edge of the lake, others are speedboats with skiers and tubers.

I am listening to some new music from a friend. I am enjoying the music from Jeremy Fryc, probably not a name known by many, but he is good. He has a style that is like a combination of Jack Johnson and Postal Service and his own personal touch. He rocks really well and also can be romantic and softer. Great Stuff!

Today's image began as a free Texture file from Texture Lovers, a paper and paint crumpled look. I added a few guitar pieces to the image using the Thredgeholder from Little Inkpot.

I used the object properties in PhotoPaint to create the overlays of guitars and added a couple of grunge fonts with small quotations from songs that little children sing. I really enjoyed making the image and like it, so I am satisfied with my efforts. I hope you like it too.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Jeremy Fryc - How Billie Holiday Saved My Life

Friday, July 3, 2009

Inadvertently Affected

Even I found myself inad-
vertently affected by all the publicity surrounding Micheal Jackson's death. I had been doing some songwriting and was adlibbing a chorus to a song I was working on.

It became a song titled "I Want You Back", unintentionally a line from one of MJ's songs. But the song must have been in the back of my mind someplace where it came out.

Now the song doesn't sound at all like his. It has the rumble of a jet at the beginning and has a dance beat to it but it sounds more like Rock than the music of MJ.

I won't be selling it anyway. But it was surprising to me that it was subliminally there, even my wife commented on it. I was affected by all the publicity as well as millions of others. Though I am not a real fan, as my generation was earlier than his by quite a few years with my roots in the 60's and early 70's. So I was kind of shocked that I found that influence was in my mind.

I am sharing another guitar montage made in PhotoPaint from a number of different photographs. I used the Little Inkpot's Thredgeholder for the lines effects and did a lot of shrinking and object placing using the properties of difference and multiply. I also flipped vertically the image and superimposed it on as a transperancy. I tried to keep it colorful and detailed so one can take time to examine it to see the details.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - ADEE7run II

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Home or Project Recording Studios

You love to write and sing and play your songs, but you want to share them. You need a way to do so. Today that is not a problem as digital products are in an abundance and many recording programs are even free. (Audacity for example.)

A simple home recording studio needs at least one microphone, a computer, an amplifier and some speakers, a headphone, a recording interface, a recording program, a mixing and modeling program, and you the songwriter with your instrument. Online access to some real drum loops is a plus as well if you don't have any percussion instruments.

Hopefully you have some good acoustics in the room you use. But we cannot always be picky about that unless you are prepared to spend some money to make an acoustically smart room.

Tweak's Guide to the Home and Project Studio
has great information, and you can always do a online search for "home recording studio" to find plenty of help.

tells us that:

"A small, personal recording studio is sometimes called a project studio or home studio. Such studios often cater to specific needs of an individual artist, or are used as a non-commercial hobby. (italics are mine) The first modern project studios came into being during the mid 1980s, with the advent of affordable multitrack recorders, synthesizers and microphones. The phenomenon has flourished with falling prices of MIDI equipment and accessories, as well as inexpensive digital hard-disk recording products."

If you read my Bio on my blog you know that I have a very simple set up for recording my songs. I have everything I listed plus my 12-string Seagull guitar. I'd like to add a small keyboard in time, but for what I do, I have just enough equipment and programs to make some decent recordings. I still am not that good at mixing, that is a longer learning curve for me.

I have shared a manipulated photograph of my "studio". One thing that does not add to better acoustics is a window that overlooks a view of the lake below us. But the lake is a great view to have while songwriting, and it has played a part in some of my songs.

If you have any tips for a home studio write me or leave a comment.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - I Want You Back