Creativity in Motion


Today I finally took pics of Worn (and finally decided on a title). It is so much easier to take pics when you have the right equipment and use a level. I no longer rely on my design board that leans against the wall — it was creating a keystone effect that I was having to counteract in Photoshop. I now use a photography support stand so the piece hangs from a bar and there is no distortion. I have also made friends with my level. I level the bar on the photography stand — and now also on my camera. I’ve always wondered by my pics lean to one side — and now I use the level to adjust the camera tripod until it’s level. I just ordered a level for the camera shoe which should make it even easier. You would think that if you opened the stand completely in all directions and the bubble level on the stand was level that you would be fine — and that’s just not true. So having leveled my stand and my camera on my tripod, I came out with perfect pics the first time. The only thing I did in Photoshop was crop — and for the website, I adjusted the size and added watermarks (so if they migrate to Pinterest it might generate some traffic back to my site).

Worn I also drew up a new Page for Worn. There are a few recent changes in WordPress 3.9 that are making the pics act strange but I just worked around it. Overall I think the page looks fine.

I was worried when I finished this piece that I wouldn’t know what to do next — what my next piece should be. I spent a day this week looking at exhibits to enter this year and trying to decide how I wanted that to influence me. In the end, I decided that I wanted to think with my hands. I started working on a small piece for a very specific themed juried exhibit — but it isn’t large and will give me time to think about my next large project.

Tonight have the opening reception for the Georgia Artists show at the Abernathy Arts Center in Sandy Springs, GA. If you’re in the ATL, it’s 6:30-8:30pm. I will take pics and share them soon.

It Takes Two to Tango


Sometimes, it can be difficult to get on the computer in my house. I have been continuing to work and take a lot of pictures, but I can’t always get on my blog to share them. I’ll start with some catching up.

In my current piece — I have finished my first face and started on my second face. I tend to start with the faces and build the rest of the piece around them. I’ll explain that more when I start adding pieces around the faces.

These are the first two values in my second face.

This particular person has Autumn coloring so I went back to my wonderful orange beige paisley. This is a risky fabric to use but I love the movement it gives to the face.

Then the darker shadows begin to show more of the outline in the face.

I have started adding dark around the eyes to give them more depth.

Once the eyes have been added, the outlining is a subtle difference — but an important one.

The irises of the eyes are a dark green — although not quite as dark as this picture shows. The true color of the eyes are a light green — but then the contrast would be lost and the eyes wouldn’t be as engaging.

Once I’ve added the mouth, you can see more of her personality. Like the first figure, she also shows some gum in her mouth — and I’ve added the same experiment as before.

This is what she looks like on my design wall before I’ve added her hair. Her hair is much more complex than the last figure. She has long tresses down the right and left sides — and then a cap over the top. (Notice the color shift my camera made from a white background to a black one — the tones in the face look more gray now.)

This shows the first three values of her hair on the left side of her face. She has a lot of blond in her hair, although the deeper tones go into brown.

This is the completed left side.

The right side is more flowing — and with only three values, the pieces won’t fuse together as one large piece yet.

The darker values bring it all together though.

This is what they begin to look like on my design wall. The second figure still needs her hat but I’m putting off adding it because its color will affect the rest of the piece — and I want more elements added before I decide what to use. Her hair also drapes over her jacket which will be more obvious once those pieces have been added.

I wanted to point out that I’ve complicated my process. In order to create more complex pieces, I have one very large vinyl overlay — and many small ones. I use the small ones to tape onto my fusing sheet and create the smaller pieces. I can then assemble them back together under the large overlay.

Also, I have returned to a white piece of muslin for my base. Because the background of this piece will be dark, the faces need something light underneath them. A dark fabric underneath them would change the color of the fabrics on top.

I have also starting adding a watermark to my images. I don’t care for watermarks — but with the advent of Pinterest, many images of my blog have started floating free. Although many kind souls give attribution, there are still instances in which it goes unmarked. Promotion is always welcome, but for a visual artist, lack of attribution can be quite damaging. It’s also important for the servers to which my pictures are copied to have some idea of the original copyright holder. So I have turned to watermarks. Interestingly, I can find no quick way to add a watermark to all pictures already existing on a WordPress blog (the latest version) — that works. I tremble at the thought of adding them all manually.

Technical Treachery


For those of you visiting the blog and notice that it looks strange — it does. WordPress isn’t playing nice. I have a different WordPress version on my blog than I have on the rest of the site — so I have had to abandon my theme until I can resolve the issue. I am stuck with one of WordPress’s overused but dependable themes. I hope to have the old look & feel back within a couple of days.

For those of you curious as to what I have been doing, I have this small project on my work table:

No eyes yet but I’ll get there when I have more time next week.



WordPress: From Blog to CMS Part II


It’s official — my DreamWeaver site is now gone & everything is running on WordPress. It was not as painful as I thought it would be.

From my last post, I made more pages for my work. I still have some work to do — but I had enough of my recent work published that I decided to go live with the update.

I really worried about moving WordPress to the root directory — and I even made a mistake — but it all worked out in the end. I have been learning to use Cyberduck on my Mac for the FTP — and the software restricted me from moving the blog files to the root directory directly through a copy/cut and paste. I had to download them locally and then upload them back to the server in their new location.

There is an article in the WordPress Codex that explains the process — Moving WordPress. Since I was moving it within the site, it was fairly straightforward — except I forgot to change the WordPress Address and Site Address in the Settings panel before I started moving it. I logged into my phpAdmin on my server to change the addresses directly in the wp_options table for siteurl and home — only to find that WordPress had all ready smartly fixed it. It is such intuitive software.

After the upload, I went to my root directory — and there it was. Then I logged into the admin and checked — and everything worked great.

I really expected more problems. I had more problems with a plugin I once put on my site. That was when I had to learn how to go through phpAdmin on my server and work on database values directly — a helpful skill when you can’t access the WordPress interface.

The Codex article tells you to change your Permalinks if you use them — but I found that mine worked fine. Mine were set to www.virginiagreaves.com/blog — but when I set up the Home Page & Blog Page — the blog started posting to www.virginiagreaves.com/blog/blog — so I worried that that would create problems since I didn’t change the Permalinks at that time. But the truth is that WordPress is smart enough to follow what you’re trying to do.

I did have a scary moment when I tried to access pages that I had created of my work. At first, they came up with error messages that they weren’t found. The only path reference I could find was under the settings for a plugin — which I changed. After some minutes of working on it and finding nothing, they starting showing up. It may be that the database on the server was taking a little more time to process requests because of the move.

So that is really all there is to it. I’ll be loading more of my old work and tweaking things as I go. I haven’t decided if I’ll have summary pages with pictures as I did before or if I’ll just stick with the menus for navigation.

WordPress: From Blog to CMS Part I


Several years ago, I wrote my website using DreamWeaver. I bought the software and a huge book to teach me how to do it. And then several years later, I started writing a blog using WordPress. And everything has stayed pretty much the same since then.

But the issue of what to do with DreamWeaver has been looming in my mind for some time. I wrote the website years ago, and quite frankly, it could use some freshening up. I thought about buying the upgrade for DreamWeaver, but then we bought a Mac and relegated the PC to my studio where it sits largely unused except for the handful of times in the year that I update my website or need to use CorelDraw (which is sadly not Mac compatible). It’s slow and a pain to use. It definitely takes an extra measure of patience before I go turn it on.

And when I though about upgrading DreamWeaver so I could have a copy on the Mac, it occurred to me that WordPress was more than capable of handling the entire website (and for those that don’t understand geek speak, CMS stands for content management system which means the website). In fact, at the time, WordPress was advertising their 3.0 release that would utilize navigation menus — the last piece of the puzzle to make it a good CMS builder.

I waited and waited and finally 3.0 came out — and I did nothing. Life got in the way — art got in the way. It didn’t get done. Well, I did choose a new theme that would be able to accept navigational menus — not all of them do. Mine is Mystique.

But as the new year rolled around, I realized that quite some time had passed & I hadn’t updated the website with my newest piece because I don’t use the PC and I don’t want to use the PC.

But where to begin? I thought enough time had passed by that I could find a book that could tell me how to do this — but interestingly, most of the WordPress books center around making a blog — I all ready have one of those — and not about building a CMS — and not about building your CMS around your blog & then moving it to the prime domain of your website.

Yes there are articles in the WordPress archives — but they aren’t really in a helpful order. So as I started this process, I thought it might help someone else to share my experience.

The FIRST thing that I did was build my main PAGES — the pages that would represent my menu headings. Posts are blog/journaling entries — Pages are static entries like the pages of a website that don’t change over time. I didn’t publish any of them at first. I wanted to keep everything in test mode and go live later. But I learned that in WordPress, some things aren’t visible until you do other things. For instance, I was trying to change the Front Page in General Settings > Reading — but it doesn’t exist until you publish some pages. I don’t mean it’s grayed out — I mean it isn’t there at all.

I found this helpful page in the Codex that runs you through how to set up your Home page and then your Blog page where all of blog entries will post — Creating a Static Front Page. You create a Home page, publish it — and then create a BLANK Blog page & publish it. Then you go to Administration > Settings > Reading and choose Static Page — and then Home as your Static page — and Blog as your posts page. And then for some reason that still eludes me, you need your Settings > Permalinks to show the page title in the address. I had all ready done that so it wasn’t something I had to change.

Once this is done, the navigational menu now magically shows Home and Blog.

Then I went back to my other pages and published them. Interestingly, they also added to the navigation menu. I had added order #’s to them which kept them where I wanted them relative to each other — and I took the sidebar off the static pages — they only make sense on the blog page — with a handy dropdown box that is even available in QuickEdit mode.

And here I am. I still have to add pages for all of the quilts — and I’m fairly certain that I’ll redo the menu using the Administration > Appearance > Menus rather than the parent/child options in editing Pages.

When you are directed to the blog, it will show you my Home page on the WordPress site, even if you came from my website and chose the Blog menu option. So I have dual sites — one on DreamWeaver and one on WordPress. Messy — but it will have to do until I move things over. I mapped out where I want the quilts to go in the new categories — hopefully it won’t take me too long.

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