Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Working up a new Photoshop Fun course...

Photoshop Fun Collage by Lani

I'm creating a new Photoshop Fun course for people wanting to play with old and new images, layers, and other photo-manipulation techniques found in my collages. I'll be creating a special, private blog, yahoo group, and flickr group. This course will be for anyone with a photo manipulation program, whether it's photoshop elements, CS3 or CS4, or some other program.
We will be using what we have and what is available to us for free from the internet. I will be sharing all my secrets for Photoshop Fun! But before I actually set up the course for the general public, I need to run a prototype course for five willing participants. This would be a free class but in exchange for everything I know (lol) you need to be willing to participate actively, share photos, successes and struggles, so as to fine tune the course.

Hope that is tempting. Contact me at lanipuppetmaker at mac dot com.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Unlock your dream...

"Unlock your dream" collage by Lani
More playing in Photoshop with elements from Lisa's Altered Art, text (unlock your dream) from Stacy de La Rosa of BellaWish and some freebies from's really awesome zine, Altered Hearts.

Did you ever do "morning pages" as described by Julia Cameron? She suggested 3 pages of hand written journaling every morning before the inner critic wakes up. (There are some great little teaching videos for you over on her website). I used to do "morning pages" in the way she describes, every morning, for years. Then I discovered art journaling so I began to include images, little drawings. Now I collage every morning and have more or less discarded the words...until this morning, that is. Huyen MacMichael over at 14 Secrets gave us a great link to a website called 750 Words, which was created as a way to do morning pages on line, no paper, no dead trees. This site has all sorts of neat gadgets to count your words (750 being the estimated number to give you 3 pages), remind you to write, protect your password, give you stats on your writing, etc . Got questions? Here's the FAQ link. Anyway I had finished my morning collage and was getting to my email when I found Huyen's link. I went right over there, since my inner critic was still asleep, and got to work, did my 750 words. It was great. The feeling was exactly like my morning pages, a bit random and scattered but good things popped up and 750 Words was there to catch it all. While typing in this random, scattered manner, I remembered something Rick Hanson said in a lecture about how when we meditate or are mindful, tuning-in particularly to bodily sensations, that this actually increases the thickness of the part of the brain that is empathic, the insula. So as I remembered that, I started to tune in to various bodily sensations, letting my typing be the reflecting mirror. Well, as I neared 725 I started to feel slightly euphoric. And at 75o I was actually in what could only be described as a state of happiness. It was as if I'd found my way home after having been away for a long time. Just lovely. And I'm sure that little empathy corner of my brain got a little thicker. Thank you Huyen.

Friday, March 19, 2010

My short list of things I love... today!

"Your wings exist" collage by Lani

I love playing in Photoshop with elements from Lisa's Altered Art, RianDesign's freebies, and a painterly "mask" from Erin Clayton of

I love Katherine Center's video and I love her quotes:
"You are writing the story of your only life every single minute of every day."

"You have to be brave with your life so that others can be brave with theirs."

I love Lisa Field-Elliot's blog, words, photography, description of herself, and her wishes. May they come true!
what i want:
to travel deep within myself and all over the world to experience the beauty and connection that i know is there. i want to tell stories of portals and passengers on the journey toward recognizing the truth of who we are and why we are here. i want to capture this great adventure in words and images so as to share it with you and, perhaps, inspire you to look for your next doorway to freedom.

I love the Bella Wish blog, the words and images (that document a "journey through loss, grief, & healing only to discover hope, motherhood, connection, dreams, joy, creativity, & myself") and most especially the "love note" for February 14.

No matter where you are currently,

if the road feels a bit too long,

if the clouds look a bit too gray,

if the coat feels a bit heavy on your back,

know in your heart that you are deeply loved.

Today, and everyday.

And finally I love Mystele's most encouraging blog, story (struggling with depression), and videos! I love that her God carries her out of her "egypts" and gives her "increasing courage to embrace true freedom in this life." I love that "day after day..." she is amazed at what she's "been given to give away."

She has many wonderful videos and here's one on creating "gut art," creating without strings attached "from a place of greater freedom" with your "authentic creative voice." Thank you Mystele!

So my short list of things I love today include bravery, honesty, encouragement, and love, especially as expressed on these amazing websites.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Scattering Joy

"Scatter Joy" Collage by Lani (Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson)

This morning I worked on my art journal while listening to to the sounds marsh birds scattering joy in the salt marsh near our house (Prospect harbor and Atlantic Ocean is in our back yard and a salt marsh is across the street). Spring will arrive! I just know it! Whew!

On top of the encouraging sounds of birds, I got a particularly encouraging eNewsletter form Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and :mnmlist (minimalist). Have I mentioned lately what an encouraging fellow Leo is? If you don't get his eNewsletter, you might want to consider it, or at least visit his websites every now and again.

The topic was How to Be a Positive Person, in Under 300 Words. Talk about minimalist! Here my favorites from his condensed guide to changing his life (which of course we can use to change ours):

Realize changing your life is possible, instead of telling yourself why you can’t.
Love what you have already.
Be grateful for your life, your gifts, and other people.
Every day.
Focus on what you have, not on what you haven’t.
Surround yourself by those who are positive.
Complain less, smile more.

I thought I'd head over to the :mnmlist, where I found this sweet little Zen story:
A monk told Joshu, “I have just entered the monastery. Please teach me.”
Joshu asked, “Have you eaten your rice porridge?
The monk replied, “I have eaten.”
Joshu said, “Then you had better wash your bowl.”
At that moment the monk was enlightened.

Now isn't sweet? Just eat your rice and wash your bowl! From there I headed to Leo's latest book The Power of Less and the free eBook, Thriving on Less - Simplifying in a Tough Economy. Just reading the table of contents form the free eBook was a real boost! It's all about getting creative in a depressed economy, so it makes a whole lot of sense to read now, immediately!

In chapter 3, "Thriving on Less..." he talks about simple free or cheap stuff to do, making simplifying fun, and making people rather than "stuff" a priority, to name a few of his topics. He also has beautiful quotes sprinkled throughout, like "Who is rich? He who rejoices in his portion." (from The Talmud) Now isn't that simple and brilliant? Don't you want to read this free eBook?

Want one more good thing? While focusing on people rather than stuff, I was talking with someone this past week about their spiritual practice and she said she begins every day with a list of things she's grateful for and then goes into a little list of intentions or wishes for the day. And then she reminds herself to treat everyone including herself like gold. Now isn't that beautiful? So simple! So I'll eat my rice, wash my bowl, be grateful, give some thought to intentions and treat everyone like gold. Including myself.

The Secret of Life (morning pages collage) by Lani

Sunday, March 14, 2010

This week's Collage Obsession challenge is up...

Collage by Lani with help from Elegia and Itkupilli.

This week's challenge is up, a beautiful old church and churchyard and the word is mirage. I looked up mirage in several on-line dictionaries and they say "mirage n. An optical phenomenon that creates an illusion..." where people see things that aren't there. At first I was stumped by this but then I started reminiscing about how my sisters and I would try to see ghosts in a variety of lovely old graveyards in various spots on this earth, and the youngest of us was actually able to see something which we couldn't see. A mirage, a ghost, or a wish? Thank you Elegia and Itkupilli for this fun little trip down memory lane!

Some most excellent and awesome links for free digital stuff!

Digital Collage by Lani, with elements from Rian Diels-Jansen

Eligia left a comment a while back so I clicked on her blogger profile to see the blogs she's following. I figured good things must be feeding this woman's imagination. And I was right. The first one I looked at was the Freubel blog, and then at 1st Floor Flat Freebies blog and then I got a little lost. You will have to check Eligia's list for yourself, I'm too busy making collages with the freebies and downloads I found.

And I think I'll check iTkUpiLLi's list of blogs she's following as well!

Image from Susie Jefferson's collection, altered by Lani (I love these old ladies!)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Do what you can with what you have been given...

Photocollage by Lani with help from Tom Ryan.

I got an email today from a friend who is feeling a bit like a spectator in her own life. Coincidentally I got Rick Hanson's newsletter today, also. "Just One Thing" is a free newsletter suggestions for simple practices each week that will bring you more joy and peace of mind.

Rick says a small thing repeated each day adds up over time to produce big results. I heard a lecture of his recently and he was talking about how he felt like there was a big hole in his heart that he realized only he had the power to fill. So every day he practices a little something to increase his joy and peace of mind. And he shares it freely with others. So "just one thing" could change your life.

So today's "Just One Thing" is about mindfulness and neurology. Rick believes that we are in charge of where we place our awareness. Things may be going on all around us as well as inside us, but we are free to place the spotlight of mindfulness on anything. In a way, he would agree with my friend, that we really are observers and spectators of our lives. But he would advise being deliberate about it.
Spend your days dwelling on resentments and regrets, and neural structures that support pessimism, self-doubt, and unhappiness will quietly, implacably start wiring together. Alternately, spend your days dwelling on the good facts all around you and in you, focused on gladness and gratitude, and facing your problems with determination and initiative, and neural structures that support optimism, confidence, and happiness will gradually wire together. Which would you prefer?

The key difference between these two is how you use your attention. Since attention is largely under volitional control - you can usually direct it with conscious effort - you have an extraordinary tool at your disposal throughout your day to nudge your moment-to-moment experience in a positive direction, and thereby gradually sculpt your brain in positive ways. Which will of course lead to increasingly positive experiences and actions for you, which will in turn sculpt your brain further, in a wonderfully positive cycle.
It's a pretty neat idea, this brain sculpture stuff. I used to think my particular story was special or that I was who I was because of this super meaningful story. I thought that happiness, love, wonder, joy, and all good things were outside of myself and that I have to go get them. But after practicing mindfulness and attention, I've started to notice a couple of things. One, my story isn't special, it's just another one of nearly 7 billion stories. And the second thing I've started to notice is that happiness, love, wonder, joy, and all good things seem to be inside me depending on what I'm being mindful of.

What I would say to my friend is exactly what I have told myself in the past! You might want to look into some focus-shifting for you peace of mind. You deserve that. We all deserve that, actually!

Here are some nice links for you:
Living With Heart is a website about adversity and healing with some marvelous links, lots of good material here. with news and tools for happiness, love, and wisdom. They also have a lot of links and downloads, great thought provoking material. They even have some inspiring quotes to help us let go of the thinking and feelings we need to let go of.

Rick Hanson's website, news letter, and encouragement can be found here.

"Do what you can, with what you've been given, in the place where you are, with the time that you have." South African boy who died of AIDS at about age 12

Photocollage by Lani with help from Tom Ryan.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Another Collage Obsession Challenge!

Elokuva collage by Lani

Here again are my responses to two more collage challenges from Collage Obsession. More fun. The first one is "Challenge #7 - Movies." The challenge image is vintage Brazilian magazine cover of Dorothy Lamour. The challenge is to use the image or express the word "movies" in some way in your collage. So I figured movies for me are a mysterious celluloid world that I fall into, when watching them, to here's Dorothy Lamour, falling into her own mysterious celluloid world. (I've used a couple of humorous elements from Itkupilli's collage sheets.)

The Challenge #1 - "Worn Out" (or "Kulunut" in Finnish) is a beautiful, beat-up photo of Sarah Bernhardt which I love! So I paired it up with the "Stairs" from Challenge #6. I'm "obsessed" with these challenges from Itkupilli and Elegia and I think their collage sheets are fabulous. They encourage of my Collage Obession, that's for sure! And since each challenge comes with a little Finnish lesson, my Finnish is improving challenge by challenge, as well.

Kulunut collage by Lani

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Can you stand some more digital fun???

"I love my Chinese/Taiwanese childhood" Collage by Lani

Do you like challenges, collage challenges? Do you enjoy photo-manipulation and layering? I've got some more links for you. Read on.

Here are two responses to two collage challenges from Collage Obsession. What fun. The first one is "Challenge #5 - Chinese" with the two golfing "Vintage Shanghai Ladies," an old Chinese advertisement for soap. I really had fun with it. The Challenge #6 - Stairs was equally fun. I'd ordered some digital downloads from Itkupilli (she started Collage Obsession along with Elegia) and while I waited for the downloads I noticed a freebie. Yay. So the butterfly is from the freebie as are the two bunnies above. Thank you Itkupilli and Elegia for assisting me in my Collage Obession!

"I believe there's magic here..." collage by Lani

Do check Collage Obsession for the original images.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Following my own links... and having fun!

Collage by Lani

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.” ~ Albert Einstein (Now that's a simple idea! And worth a try!)

I've been following my own recent links (LOL) and here's what I found. If you are interested in self publishing hard copy books and zines, Blurb is a good website to look at. You can go on their website and "preview" books, which is really delightful. Take a look for yourself.

Who Am I ? Art and Creative Writing Stories by the 7th Grade Social Studies Class of Whale Branch Middle School, South Carolina. This is such a wonderful example of learning through the arts, it is clear they have an inspired teacher, Tracy Rentz.

Another example is VMZine "Welcome to the Dollhouse," a zine by Cynjon Noah. He's got other Zines as well.

Lulu will do hard copy publishing as well as downloadable books and zines, so I'm partial to the downloadable possibilities. So here's my storefront on Lulu.

Yudu is a bit of a mystery until you look at their video. It seems that they are a free epublisher of beautiful on line zines which you can download as pdfs. Take a look at Altered Alicia's library of BEAUTIFUL zines, and download them as well. And if you like free zines, I've uploaded all my FREE zines with Yudu!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Putting some fragments together...

Box of Simplicity by Lani

So I was over visiting Gretchen Miller's blog, Creativity in Motion, and she had this great idea (yet again) all about how to untangle those thought-tangles which we sometimes knot ourselves us up with, a bit. She was describing feeling tangled, fragmented, and scattered (such a common way to feel these days), and wanting to do some art that would help her put the knots and fragments back together so that she would be able to move "forward with fresh eyes, a clearer head, and creative mind."

I can tell you, as I read this, I was agreeing, nodding, and I couldn't wait to see what she came up with. So here's the perfect solution. She got a batch of Tim Holtz's "Fragments", these really neat clear acrylic squares and rectangles and started collaging words from an article by Mark McGuinness about what daily meditation can do for your creativity (which, of course, is well worth reading itself!) onto her fragments; words like Focus, Patience, Calmness, Clarity, Insight, and Perspective. Nice words! Kind, clear, simple words.

Well I got excited, because I'd so enjoyed Simone Alter-Muri's art-making workshop in Dallas last fall, when we were collaging evocative words onto glass globs, as a way of embodying Roberto Assagioli's principles of Psychosynthesis and this seemed like a way of taking some of that to a new place. I like Tim Holt's "Fragments" because there are a lot in the package and they vary in size and they are lighter than glass and they are fun to arrange and re-arrange. So I printed out a 50% off coupon for Michael's this week, bought the "fragments, collaged a box, printed out some evocative words using my "faith collapsing" font, and I've started to untangle a few thought-tangles myself.

Open Box of Simplicity by Lani

This is most satisfying. You should try it! Thank you Gretchen!
Tiles of Simplicity by Lani

You will see in this video that Tim uses a special glue for his fragments, but what Simone had us use with the glass globs was glue stick, and so I've used UHU on these and so far so good!