Saturday, January 30, 2010

Change of Pace - Landscape

I decided to create an image that is a change of pace from my usual motifs of custom cars and guitars. I selected a photograph of my Nephew's home in Alaska. I wanted to try out some more of the plug-in filters I recently downloaded for Paint.NET.

I opened the photograph in Paint.NET and used the first filter on it - Effect> Artistic> Stewien Filters> Kuwahara Filter Modified> which gave me a painted look. Almost a paint by number appearance.

There are two vehicles in the driveway, you can make them out by the colors bronze and black. There is also an individual walking that you can no longer make out.

In addition to this filter I applied the Effects> Artistic> Collage Paint> filter which I described in my last post. I used a folder of fractal images I had created and applied them with a lower transparency setting so as to be able to make out the house and other details. Lastly I used Adjustments> Curves> to deepen the colors.

The image has a lot of texture and I really like texture in my pieces. I am enjoying my foray into using these new plug-in filters with Paint.NET.

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

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mosaic Collage - Multiple Guitars

Recently I did some research on plug-ins for Paint.NET and discovered many free filter and adjustment plug-ins. Today I used one of the new ones called Mosaic Maniac Collage Paint.

First I took six photographs of guitars, taken by myself with my Canon Rebel, and made a collage of them in Picasa 3. Saving that I opened Paint.NET and applied the filter described above. It takes the contents of a folder of images and applies them in a collage fashion using the photograph collage as a basis for the way it applies colors.

As you can see it results in an image that is both a collage of photographs but a mosaic of images. I saved that file and opened PhotoPaint and a grunge background. I superimposed the mosaic collage over that as an object and applied the Object Property of Multiply to allow the color and texture to show through.

I merged all layers and objects to form the image of Multiple Guitars in a Mosaic Collage.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Something Amazing

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dreaming Guitars - Visions

My last post talked about the connection between and artist and his instrument. Today I am sharing an image of guitars superimposed upon one another in a jumbled dream like image.

The artist may dream of his instrument between practice and creation of new pieces of music. This image is only one way to get the feel for such a relationship.

To create this piece I first used Picasa 3's Collage feature. I selected as the property of type as "superimposed" after selecting seven photographs. The dream like collage was created almost instantly, it only took a few moments to superimpose all the selected photographs.

I saved that collage image and opened it in PhotoPaint. I used the Tone Curve tool to add depth to the colors and upped the saturation a bit to highlight color. This brought the multiple guitars into a better focus for presentation. I saved the larger image and then resampled it for the web.

The artist and his instrument, a relationship deep with feeling.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - toneport_test2B

Dreaming Guitars - Visions

My last post talked about the connection between and artist and his instrument. Today

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Two Guitars One Flare

Continuing with the guitar motif I created today's image. I used Paint.NET to open, resize and combine layers using a guitar photo and a grunge background. I used the Pencil Sketch filter on the guitar layer before merging the layers, applying the Color Burn layer property.

I saved that file and opened it in PhotoPaint to use KPT's Collection Lens Flare to add the video flare to the image. the expression I am after is the feeling of the attachment that a musician, in this case the guitar player, can have with his instrument. At times the two meld into one as the music flows freely,

The flare represents that connection between artist and instrument. The background expressed the depth of feeling generated. The music comes from inside as the two work together in creation.

If you look closely you can see another guitar in the upper left background. It is like an echo of the first though it has 12 strings instead of six. This represents harmony for the artist and his instrument. Working together the music is accomplished.

Now playing: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - Norwegian Wood Cover
via FoxyTunes

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Last Good Cowboy - Revisited

My recent foray into songwriting was the song "The Last Good Cowboy." It is about a young boy who loves to ride the penny pony ride at the Five and Dime. In the song the boy realizes that at some point in the near future he will grow and be too big to ride the pony anymore. So he rides it as often as he can.

This image uses the guitar motif with an addition of an impression of a young boy riding on one of these ponies. I used a texture I created in TwistedBrush for the background. In Paint.NET I layered the guitars and the texture together. I had applied the Effect> Artistic> Ink Sketch> filter to the photograph of the two guitars and a recliner chair. I then merged the layers and saved the file.

In PhotoPaint I opened my image of the pony ride and applied Little Ink Pot's Thredgeholder filter to it for a sketchy feel. I then copied and pasted it as an object into the guitar image. Using the Object Properties I inverted the pony ride and resized it to fit. I feathered the object and erased around the pony and the little boy. Adding a few paint splatters and my signature I completed the image and saved it at a size for the web.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - The Last Good Cowboy

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Textured Guitars

I have taken a break from the car series and returned to my other favorite subject matter: Guitars.

Today's image was created using a grunge background from an online source that I am afraid I've forgotten. It may have been TextureLovers. I resampled the texture and sharpened it in Paint.NET. I then opened a photograph of my two guitars in also in Paint.NET.

I took that photo and applied the Effects> Artistic> Pencil Sketch> filter to it. Copying that to the clipboard I selected the texture image and pasted it as another layer. I went to Layers> Layer Properties and used Color Burn and merged the two.

Saving that file, I opened it in PhotoPaint and using the Adjust> Tone Curve> I added depth to the color. I used the Text tool to add my paint splatters to the image. I applied the Effects> Distort> Wet Paint> filter to each splatter object and opened the Object Properties with a right click to change the Opacity to allow the texture to show through.

I did not add any text to this image as I like it's simplicity. And I wanted to make it different from my recent guitar series.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Jeremy Fryc - the "eveybody is unlike everyone to someone" blues

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Red Chevy Wagon circa 1956

Before SUV's and Mini Vans there were the Station Wagons for families. Roomy and stylish this custom wagon is a beauty.

The original photograph was taken by my brother Kent M Gatzka at the Frankenmuth, Michigan Auto Festival of 2009. I applied similar techniques in PhotoPaint and Paint.NET as I did in the previous post. Highlighting the sun flares with KPT's Collection Lens Flare filter.

Recently I have been working on a laptop with Windows 7 OS and learning how to Network and transfer music files from my main PC to it. Windows 7 seems to be an improvement over Vista from what I gather reading about it and using it. I still have Windows XP on my main PC.

The only thing I could not get it to do was share the Epson printer over the Network. I still haven't figured that one out. So I swap to a USB port from one to the other and get the ability to Print with either unit. I believe that Windows 7 has the most up to date driver for the printer and somehow that confuses XP.

It has a lot to do with making folders sharable if you want to transfer files. I also have brought over all of my images from previous posts of gatzkART to the laptop, and included my Alaska vacation photographs as well.

Working with Windows 7 is still a challenge. But I have been able to use Wifi at different locations and downloaded: Open Office; Paint.NET; Picasa 3; and a few updates too. I would like to have my Corel products on the laptop but they need a Windows 7 compatible license number which I don't have for the older products. Right now it is cost prohibitive to upgrade to the newer programs that I'd like to add.

It will also connect to the Internet through my dial up connection but is very slow connection speed. Usually I get 45.2 kbps and that's it. I like the Wifi of course! I just have to buy more coffee and visit the places where connections are free!

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Blue Corvette - The Last Good Cowboy

Time well spent is time that you don't regret. I have been busy with a family emergency recently and have neglected my posting here on gatzkART.

Here is another image in my Frankenmuth, Michigan Auto Festival of 2009 series. It is an early 1960-61 Corvette, one of the best sports cars made in the United States.

The photograph was taken by Kent M Gatzka and I modified it by cropping it in PhotoPaint then in Paint.NET I applied the Effects> Artistic> Ink Sketch> filter. As the exposure had the sun flare already in it I highlighted it using KPT's Collection LensFlare filter and positioned the flare.

I also have finished the song "The Last Good Cowboy" with some help for both my brother Kent and my wife giving me input about part of the lyrics. I am indebted to them for their contribution to the song.

Using my Toneport UX1 and Audacity I recorded it with a Rocking Country back beat. Upon listening to the result I muted the drum beat and decided I liked the song better with just my vocal and 12-string guitar playing. So I deleted the drum track completely and exported the song as an MP3 track.

I had both my brother Kent and my wife review the song and they both like it, so I am happy with it as well. It tells a story and has a bridge that I incorporate in the song and ending.

Writing and recording are great fun and I had a good time working on this current song. The inspiration for it came from the family emergency I mentioned at the beginning of this post. It will carry memories with it, each time I listen to it.

Now playing on Windows Media Player: Kirk Mathew Gatzka - The Last Good Cowboy

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Interview with Stan Werbin Owner of Elderly Instruments

gatzkART: To begin with I want to thank you for this interview. I recognize that you are busy with Elderly Instruments and I really appreciate your time.


Glad to do it. Thanks for your interest.

gatzkART: I know that Elderly has a long history in serving the music community. When did you actually begin the store?


We actually opened the store on July 5, 1972. For about a year before that my ex-partner and I were buying / selling /trading vintage instruments. We wound up with more instruments than we could sell, so figured we needed a storefront and moved from Ann Arbor to Lansing to do so!

gatzkART: In those early days what was your focus and goals for Elderly?


One day at a time. We were remarkably unfocussed except that we knew we wanted to keep the doors open and try to do so in a manner that we were comfortable with. We wanted to provide instruments and related merchandise at fair prices and in such a way that it was a win-win situation for all involved.

gatzkART: I can remember your early involvement in the local community of musicians and how you supported us and welcomed all of us with open arms so to speak. What motivated you to join that community of diverse people?


Nobody said we couldn't so we did! Actually we were lucky that the local community seemed to appreciate what we were doing, and we were new in town. I am a musician so who better to hang out with? We shared a lot in common, and we were generally motivated to encourage both music making and the promotion of live music in general.

gatzkART: What were the greatest challenges you had as a budding business?


That's a tough one. Starting a new business, with no background in any business of any kind, and particularly with no business background in your chosen field meant to us that everything was a challenge. But the good thing is that it was all do-able and not really that hard. A little luck, a lot of sweat, the right sets of skills (math and general communications skills, plus some knowledge of the instruments and an appreciation of a wide variety of music) were all helpful.

gatzkART: I still have my 12-string Seagull that my family purchased as a gift for me 22 years ago from Elderly. It is still quite playable and I use it almost everyday. What are some of your personal favorite brands of instruments, including guitars and favorite kinds of music and why?


Holy cow, where do I start? I love a lot of the new instruments being made today, almost as much as the great vintage instruments made before 1970. It's easy to say Martin, Fender, National, Vega/Fairbanks, Rickenbacker and Gibson. For vintage I guess those have to be my favorites. For me, they were the best sounding and coolest looking, although as time has gone on I appreciate more and more a lot of the other brands - everything from Washburn to Kay, Harmony, Slingerland, Oahu, Bacon, Buckbee, Dobro, Epiphone, Weissenborn, Kamaka and other Hawaiian-made ukes, minstrel-era banjos, and a ton more. As far as new instruments there's no way to come up with real favorites - there are so many! There are huge numbers of great guitar, banjos, mandolins, basses, ukuleles and more being made today - and lots of them are truly stunning instruments. Of the makers who sell through dealers, generally speaking the ones we carry at Elderly are among my very favorites. But there are a lot of "individual makers" who do not sell through stores, and a surprising number of them are very fine indeed!

Favorite kinds of music? Also, where to start: old-time country, bluegrass, swing, blues, jug band music, cajun and zydeco, many kinds of rock, and dare I say folk? I'm partial to music with words, particularly music with a message, but can be really taken with instrumental virtuosity as well. I've seem some great balalaika players on YouTube! After the '60's I was never too partial to what was on the radio (missed much of the '70's through the '90's) but can usually appreciate it, especially if I can understand the words. Kind of like older Broadway musicals and stuff like that too, when I have the opportunity to see them. Of all these genres, there's good and not as good. I prefer what I consider good.

gatzkART: I recently opened an issue of "Fretboard" magazine and I saw a full page ad for Elderly Instruments. So from your small start, how is it you see the scope of your involvement in serving musicians today?


We're pretty lucky because we got into mail order pretty early on. This enabled us to carry a wider variety of merchandise than a lot of other fretted instrument stores, and it also gave us incentive to be as good as we could be. Customer service skills, repair skills, prices, ability to ship quickly, available stock and many other things - all these have to be as good or better than most other stores or we will not survive. As to the scope of our involvement in serving musicians today, we hope it is pretty widespread. In many ways our biggest competitors are places that sell almost strictly via the internet. I think if we put more effort into promoting Elderly Instruments rather than being sure that we provide all the aforementioned services, we might sell a lot more than we do. It would be more profitable and in many ways easier. But it would not be satisfying in the ways that really count for me.

gatzkART: How is it that the "Elderly Instruments experience" is so special that your impact is now international in scope?


Well, you tell me. But if it so then it is because of all the things we try to do really right (mentioned above), many of which are ignored by a lot of other stores and internet sites. The guiding principle has always been to have a music store (or nowadays, a web site) that is equivalent to visiting somebody's living room. With lot more instruments though. And CDs. And accessories, strings, instruction books and videos and more. Come on in, sit a spell, try out some instruments, if there's something you want to take home with you then we can work that out.

gatzkART: What is it you love about Elderly Instruments, it's customers, staff and the business of serving the music community?


It's gratifying to be able to provide good quality instruments to aspiring musicians, better instruments for people ready to "step up" and the very finest in new and vintage instruments for true aficionados and those who simply want the best. Our staff consists of about 75 or 80 very hard-working people who all have a similar interest. They love music and they find it satisfying to fit the right instruments (or accessories or CDs, etc.) to the right people.

gatzkART: Thank you again for your time and this interview. If you had anything you wanted to add we will conclude with that.


Thanks for asking. It's nice that people may be interested!

gatzkART: I am certain that our readers appreciate your doing this with us.

Elderly Instruments provided all photographs (© 2010 Elderly Instruments) for the above posted collage made in Picasa 3 and resized and adjusted in PhotoPaint.