30 April 2016

The latest bear

My most recent bear sighting: a tall sculpture made of painted wood, wide-eyed and waving. I waved back, natch.

2016 BearWatch totals to date:
Real bears: 1 massive black bear
Dream bears: 3 black bears, 19 polar bears
Bear sculptures: 2 (this was actually my 2nd)

10 years ago on TTaT: When spheres unexpectedly collide

29 April 2016

Life of Art SitRep #324 OtterBox Cases

Early this week, I watched a fun Creative Live workshop, The Art of Seeing: Macro Techniques for Flowers and Plants with Frans Lanting, which gave me some ideas to try.

Made scans of other watercolor and gouache paintings I made and photomerged them in Photoshop with basic adjustments.

Started working on a collage of elements from 3 paintings. Learned how to load images into layers in PS (without needing Bridge or Lightroom).
File>Scripts>Load Files into Stack…

Continued adding my designs to a variety of rugged OtterBox cases this week.
OtterBox iPhone 6/6s Cases:

OtterBox iPhone 6/6s Plus Cases:

OtterBox iPhone SE/5/5S Cases:
Stylish Black and Bright Blue Checked Plaid OtterBox iPhone 5/5s/SE Case
Stylish Black and Bright Blue Checked Plaid OtterBox iPhone 5/5s/SE Case by RocklawnArts
Browse Black bright blue gingham pattern Otterbox Cases online at Zazzle.com

OtterBox Samsung Galaxy S7 Cases:

Created a Reversible White Dots on Black/Red Duvet Cover:

What did you learn this week?

10 years ago on TTaT: The order of a series

22 April 2016

Life of Art SitRep #323 Totes and OtterBox

Checked a few things off my to do list this week, huzzah!

Finished adding designs to the new all-over-print tote bags and created a collection of them for easy access:

Rocklawn Arts blogged New Eye-catching All-Over-Print Tote Bags at Rocklawn Arts!.

Shot 80 photographs while out and about.

Culled 89 photographs shot in 2015.

Created a series of OtterBox smartphone cases for iPhone 6/6s, iPhone 6/6s Plus, iPhone SE/5/5s, and Samsung Galaxy S7 and started adding some designs to them:
Sturdy Black and White Chevrons Case
Sturdy Black and White Chevrons Case by RocklawnArts
Look at other Protective Otterbox Cases at zazzle.com
Bold Black and White Chevrons Case
Bold Black and White Chevrons Case by RocklawnArts
Look at more Impact resistant Otterbox Cases at zazzle

Tried merging scans in Photoshop of a painting I made last week. Photomerge worked better than doing it by hand as they scanned at slightly different exposures. One scan must have had the painting flatter than the other.

In future it will be easier to limit the paper size to the size of scanner bed for best results. 9"x12" paper is just a hair too large.

Watched Zazzle Chat: Looking Ahead with Zazzle.

What did you learn this week?

11 years ago on TTaT: Tiebreaker

15 April 2016

Life of Art SitRep #322 Space for Art

This week I took better advantage of my temporary dining room art studio. There is definitely something to having your supplies out, and in this case, staring at you as you eat breakfast, with a space to create waiting for you.

My brushes hadn't been used in years, safely tucked away with my paints in a tackle box in my closet. An economy of space that basically ensured no use.

I created some more experiments with gouache and watercolor, gathering data. How much water to mix in, how much water makes the page start to curl...

Discovered, or more accurately, remembered that I like to paint standing up because it changes the flow of your arm. Watercolors and gouache are not easel friendly though. I stood with a knee resting on a chair and leaned over the page. Maybe a work surface a bit higher would help.

Iterate, iterate, iterate! When I get segments I like, I can photoshop them together with other pieces from other pages. I am not limited to the confines of one 9x12" page and I can rearrange elements at will. At least that's the present theory. So going one stroke too far is not so tragic as it could be.

Also figured out a more permanent way to keep my art supplies handy but out of the way. They won't quite be staring me in the face as they have been these last two weeks, but the number of preliminary steps needed to take to create art have been drastically reduced.

Storage of the things I create is still an issue, but I'm working flat and relatively small for now, so I'll figure something out. I have some more closet space now as it happens...

Also made some more All-Over-Print Tote Bags:
Rainbow Colored Bullseye Design on Black Tote Bag
Rainbow Colored Bullseye Design on Black Tote Bag by RocklawnArts
Check out All over print Totes online at zazzle

Shot 10 videos of snowing and 1 photograph, 1 video and 3 photos of a bear (or at least I tried to photograph the bear). I wrote some notes about how to do better next time. Also made 67 photographs to document some work.

Deleted 44 photos from 2015. The great cull continues.

Consolidated some tags in Lightroom.

And finally, created my first new Otterbox cases for iPhone 6/6s, iPhone 6/6s Plus, iPhone SE/5/5s, and Samsung Galaxy s7:
Sturdy Black and White Chevrons Case
Sturdy Black and White Chevrons Case by RocklawnArts
Find more Protective Otterbox Cases at Zazzle
Protective Geometric Black and White Chevrons Case
Protective Geometric Black and White Chevrons Case by RocklawnArts
Check out Protective Otterbox Cases online at zazzle

How was your week?

10 years ago on TTaT: Good Friday Meets the Twilight Zone (part 1)

14 April 2016

The Next Twilight Bear

When the bear came in the last minutes of twilight on Monday, I made several rookie mistakes when trying to capture the scene even though I knew better.
•I rotated the mode dial in the opposite direction I needed (the lights were off so I could see out).

•I shot flash into a window.

•I forgot that even if the window had been open, the flash still wouldn't have reached far enough to make any difference.

•I gave up on shooting video too quickly.

•I slowed my shutter speed down so much to get a better exposure that the moving black bear effectively disappeared from the shot.
Things to do differently for the next twilight arriving bear:
•Open a window, quietly. Choose one without a screen if possible.

•Shoot video first and trust that it is capturing more than I can see on the LCD.

•If I rotate the mode dial and do not immediately get the video setting, stop and reverse direction! There are loads of scene modes I never use if I go the long way around. Manual and Video are adjacent. (I knew this on Monday but failed to account for how many other settings were on the rest of the dial—11.)

•Better yet, with the window open, I could turn on the counter light to better see what I'm doing.

•After I've shot some seconds of video, turn on a big flashlight to illuminate the bear (and probably scare it off). Be ready to follow the action with the camera and the flashlight.

•If the bear is unfazed by the light, try shooting some stills. Remember, Manual is one click away from Video. Shutter Priority is 3 clicks away.

•Remember, it is possible to raise the ISO. It might be worth the extra grain.

Ideally, I'd set up a tripod, but it's not realistic with how quickly bears can move on. Most of my previous sightings of bears in my yard lasted less than 5 minutes.

A camera with better low light sensitivity would also be helpful, but for now I know I can do better with what I have.

11 years ago on TTaT: tip du jour-how to obtain a free credit report*

13 April 2016

Show Your Work

Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered18. Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I confess I'm leery of books with "do X and get discovered" as their premise.

Most of what he suggests I have seen elsewhere. Nonetheless, he presents it in a way that is starting to win me over. Not the Picasso story, that seems like it could be an argument for becoming a vampire yourself. 'Cuz, dude, who doesn't know Picasso?

But Kleon won me back at the end with a take what's useful, leave the rest statement.

"Learn to Take a Punch" is a good chapter, especially for creatives.

It's a small book and a quick read. I've still got some time before it's due back at the library, and I think I'll hang on to it for a bit as I mull some of it over.

10 years ago on TTaT: Most days... and Only when and if the time comes

12 April 2016

Interrupted Art

For the moment, I've taken over the dining room. The extra leaves are in the table making it a long oval. Most of the tablecloth is hidden by a large canvas drop cloth with lines of paint and stains marking the outlines of past projects. Pads of drawing and watercolor paper, paints, brushes, my tackle box of supplies are strewn across it.

I'd torn out a page of watercolor paper from its spiral bound pad and was experimenting with spiraling curves of Prussian blue. My thinking was to create a nuanced blue background, but what's in my head and what I paint don't often align. However, painting is a medium that lets me go with the flow more since you can't just erase and try gain.

I added a little more water to the watercolor paint and tried another brushstroke. Aha! I'd found the consistency that created smoothly flowing, slightly transparent but still vibrantly colored strokes.


The sound came from outside towards the driveway. Damn, that sounded like one of the trash cans falling over. I'd rolled them down to the curb about half an hour earlier.

I set my brush still covered with Prussian blue on my palette and went to investigate.

It was quite dim, the waning minutes of twilight. One of the large blue plastic containers was on its side and a black bear was tearing through the garbage.


It's too dark, I thought to myself but went to get my camera anyway. BearWatch 2016 is a success!

The bear was still there when I got back and then I proceeded to make a bunch of rookie mistakes: rotating the mode dial in the opposite direction I needed (the lights were off so I could see out), shooting flash into a window (the bear was unphased). I tried shooting some video since that usually does better when the light is low, but it was too dark even for that.

I went to the garage to see if I'd have better luck. Not really. Looking down the short hill of the driveway, I got a much better sense of just how big the bear was. HUGE.

Seeing him scatter the garbage across the driveway had crossed the threshold of bear excitement to annoyance and slight terror as I pondered what to do.

I tapped on the glass hoping the sound would urge him to move along. Nothing. I tapped again.

This would be a good time to point out that that was probably not the best course of action. Garage doors aren't that strong and certainly not enough to keep a bear out if it wanted in.

Fortunately, the bear started going up the street. I ran upstairs and looked out but couldn't find it.

I still had to go outside to clean up the mess, but I wasn't sure where the bear was or if there were more.

I retrieved my badass 4 D-cell maglite to scan the yard before going out. The coast seemed clear, but I went out the side garage door just in case.

As I walked around to the driveway, I triggered the security light and all seemed well. I went back in and opened the garage door. I set my flashlight down, put on my work gloves and tossed the garbage back into the overturned can as fast as I could. I rolled it back into the garage and brought the recycling back as well for good measure even though the bear had left it alone.

I closed the garage door and exhaled.

Slightly more terror than I prefer with my bear sightings, but still, BEAR!

10 years ago on TTaT: Goofy, but fun

11 April 2016

The Art of Memoir

The Art of Memoir17. The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If I could, I'd give this 4.5 stars for overusing "carnal" and "carnality" for physically embodied descriptions. Otherwise though, really great.

If you are interested in writing or especially in writing a memoir, there's lots of great info here. She is upfront with the book's opening sentence, "No one elected me the boss of memoir."

Still, she knows a great deal more about it than I do, and I welcome her personal expertise and analysis of other memoir writers.

Also, there's a reading list of about 200 memoirs in the back. (I've read a lot of autobiographies, but only about 10 of these. Definitely some that I will look for.)

10 years ago on TTaT: Don't forget

10 April 2016


An email from Dad, I thought to myself, as I skimmed my unread messages.

But as soon as I read, "hi, honey," all in lowercase, I smiled and knew it was a rare electronic missive from Mom.

10 years ago on TTaT: Wherein the gutter gets the best of me

08 April 2016

Life of Art SitRep #321 All Over Print Totes

I got past my reluctance to start and created two paintings this week. One with watercolor and my first with gouache. Neither very good, but a start all the same. Chipping away at my desire for perfection one creative act at a time.

Shot 83 photographs of unexpected snow.

Deleted 35 photos from 2015.

Excited to have all-over-print tote bags with adjustable straps to offer now. Started adding my designs to them:

Curated a new Painted Black/White Curvy Pattern Gift Supplies collection.

Rearranged collections a bit.

Rocklawn Arts blogged New Samsung Galaxy S7 Cases at Rocklawn Arts! and New Painted Black/White Curvy Patterns Gift Supplies Collection.

How was your week?

10 years ago on TTaT: I smell bacon

04 April 2016


And just like that Taller Than Average Tales is eleven.

As I type this (the day before), I'm looking out at newly snow covered ground. The grey clouds have moved on, the wind advisory apt. The sun, for the moment, is shining and the sky is blue. A few white clouds drift along near what passes for the horizon here, which is to say I can see them through the trees.

The driveway stayed clear, I'm grateful for that. My natural impulse is to let snow melt on its own this time of year, but the forecast says 4 to 8 more inches of snow tomorrow and no temperatures much above freezing for a few days after that.

So I shoveled the deck and the parts of the front walk that were still covered. Three inches of snow fell overnight. It melted to about 2 inches but made what was left really heavy. Just as well I got out and cleared some today. Gave me a chance to wear the flannel lined cargo pants I bought a few weeks ago when it was 70 degrees outside.

Happy 11th blogiversary, TTaT!

In honor of this anniversary, I decided to choose one post for each year from my Best of TTaT list (you can also find it in the header under Highlights).

So... of 2314 published posts (not including this one), which are currently my favorites?

Eleven years of Taller Than Average Tales, ultra-condensed

Higher altitude

The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 3

Clash of the Foreign Tongues

Claire's Bears

After dinner...

Gettin' My Groove On... (vol. xv)

Biggest Bear Yet

Inner Badass

Fractional Storytelling #9

Christmas Eve

Triumphant Anxiety

2016 (so far):
Trigger Happy Startle Reflex

Thanks to all of you who have read and commented over the years!

10 years ago on TTaT: One

01 April 2016

Life of Art SitRep #320 Anticipation

In some ways, the most exciting thing I did this week for my life or art was put the leaves in the dining room table on Thursday night. I'm going to take over the room for a while and use the space to make some physical art. Maybe finally try out painting with gouache. Excited for it!

Seems apt then that I finished 28 to Make as preparation. (Free to download and participate any time!)

Started making another Duvet Cover but discovered I need to rejigger the patterns a bit to get them to repeat the way I want. Set that project aside for the moment.

Instead, made a few more Natural Wood Posters:
Abstract Green Water Wood Poster
Abstract Green Water Wood Poster by RocklawnArts
Find other Home Wood Posters at zazzle.com
Striking Double Arch Wood Poster
Striking Double Arch Wood Poster by RocklawnArts
Look at other Home Wood Posters at zazzle.com

Rocklawn Arts blogged Add style to your walls with Natural Wood Posters.

Changed collections in sidebars of RA and TTaT blogs.

Emailed support about some products that weren't showing up in my shop. They're working on it, yay!

Watched "5 useful tools you didn’t know were in Photoshop | Photoshop Tips" on Photoshop Cafe.

Deleted 125 photographs I took in 2015. Gradually making headway on culling those.

How was your week?

9 years ago on TTaT: So much they don't tell you