Monday, July 30, 2007


grace mandalaGrace Mandala - (Healing in Circles series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007

On my other blog at (click here), I wrote a short little piece about Grace. In some ways I think being in a state of grace is one of life's indescribable mysteries. If being blessed by gifts from the universe for no other reason than god's love for us, then I would definitely say winning this new CS3 software falls into that category. I had some time on my hands today and spent some of it exploring new Photoshop features. This is the mandala I created.

If any of you are interested in seeing a video of the new Smart Filter feature in Photoshop, you can view it by clicking here.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Deb Kirkeeide of Painting du Jour wondered what a mandala from one of her paintings would look like. So did I. I asked her to send me a file. So she did. Deb lives in Minneapolis. I grew up in Minneapolis. This is her painting of Minnehaha Creek. I think it's really lovely the way it captures light and motion. It looks like late springtime to me.

© 2007 Deb Kirkeeide

There is so much information and detail in this painting it was difficult to decide what to capture. First, a little playtime and experimentation

I didn't create these two mandalas as finished products, but with the hopes of blending and merging them together. I love synergy!

So.It has a sort of southwestern feel to the design and color that was created by the blending modes I used. Photoshop CS3 has some nice new options to it. One of them is being able to apply filters so you can keep editing and altering them non destructively.


I wasn't entirely satisfied with the outcome of these images, so I kept playing. I like this synergistic approach I have been experimenting with. I wondered what using a mandala that I had created from nature images would look like combined with a mandala created from Deb's painting.

This was created from a photo of a succulent.....

.....and this from the painting... I am satisfied with this image, but still, ever onward...

These two images transformed into a third and were edited with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer

Creating a triptych seemed like the next step to me ...

© 2007 Sue O'Kieffe (all images except where noted)

Unfortunately Blogger won't let me post the triptych any larger than this; if you want to see it in greater detail, click on the image. The texture from the canvas seems to blend well with the succulent mandala, where it didn't work as well for me with the first three images up top. What do you think?

What a fun exercise. Thanks for sharing your art work with me, Deb!

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Rima's challenge...digitally reinterpret the above image however we like .


LILYPAD - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007

I used Photoshop CS3 for this challenge, but I believe everything I've done here can be done using other versions. (I don't know if V6 has smart blur, Rima. I really started using PS at the CS version stage.) I knew I wanted to do two different pieces with this image, one altering the original photograph and another creating a mandala from the alteration. Lilypads always echo back to Monet for me, so I knew I wanted to create a watercolor effect. I also knew I didn't want to spend a lot of time playing with this image but enough to make for a hopefully interesting mandala. I borrowed heavily from a watercolor technique I have used before. The instructions for the technique can be found below in my steps. The only thing I did differently when creating the pen and ink layer was not invert it. So my process for this image went something like this:
  • I thought the original image was a little dull, so I created a duplicate layer, set the blending mode to overlay and then merged the two layers together to create a new background image.
  • Created watercolor/pen and ink image following this tutorial. Do not invert pen and ink layer. Set opacity at 32%
  • Created third layer. Set foreground color to black. Use photocopy filter detail 7/darkness8. Click OK. Moved layer to top of layer stack.Set blending mode to multiply and opacity at 27%.
  • At this point I thought the image was too dark, so I created a curves adjustment layer at the top of all the layers to lighten it.
  • On the original background layer, I used the crop tool to actually increase the size of the image. This is a handy trick to know. Run the crop tool around the image, In order the increase the size of your canvas equally on all sides, hold down alt/option key, and pull out adjustment to desired amount of increase. Hit Enter key. Fill background layer with black.
  • Created a new transparent layer above the black layer. Use rectangular selection tool and outline image of lilypad. Go to Edit>Stroke. Create white stroke 5 pts. Ctrl/cmd+D to delete selection outlines.
  • Voila! (Hey and I think I am even remembering Mac counter part keys. Am I good or what?)lilypad mandala

Lilypad Mandala - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007

The tutorial for making mandalas can be found at this website.
  • After I created the mandala, I duplicated the layer three times. (Not necessarily in this order), first I sampled the fuschia color in the image and chose Filter>Sketch>Photocopy detail 4/darkness 7. Click OK. Set blending mode to multiply and opacity to 100%
  • Second layer Filter>Artistic>Paint Daubs>Brush type Wide Sharp>Brush size 8/Sharpness 7. Click OK. Set blending mode to Normal 100%
  • Third layer set blending mode to Overlay. Opacity 100%. Move third layer above second layer.
  • I wanted more focus on the center of the mandala, so I used the circular selection tool. Held down alt/option key and dragged selection tool up from center to just select the center portion of the mandala. Created new layer underneath top layer, copied and pasted selection into new layer. Return foreground color to black default. Select photocopy filter using black. Set blending mode to multiply. Move this selection to top of layer stack.
  • Sampled grey in mandala image for background color. Filled background layer with grey.
  • Clicked on second layer image to reveal Layer Styles. Double clicked on outer glow. Clicked on color box. Sampled dark magenta in mandala. Set blending mode to Normal in Layer Style dialogue box. Adjusted glow to desired amount. Clicked OK.
  • Double clicked on stroke. Sampled grey from background and created stroke 3 px/23% opacity.
  • Decided I was finished. Sometimes ya just gotta.
This was fun. Thanks, Rima! If you want the full details on the digital art challenge, go to Rima's blog here.
(The big challenge here really was writing down all the steps. And forgive me please the ongoing shift in verb tense. Not gonna make it perfect)
EDIT: A third image can be viewed at my other blog here

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I have been "feeling into" the mandala that I posted on July 15th. Sometimes when I create, I just appreciate the creation for its own sake. Other times, the image itself speaks to me on a deep personal level. Hallelujah, mandalas affect the creator as well!

This morning, while in the shower, I was thinking about my work, what it is and what I think it always has been, but has taken me this long to recognize. I decided to change my tagline here from "Circles of Life" to "Circles of Light inspired by Nature". I also changed the mandala for my profile avatar, but I am not sure I like it as well in its thumbnail size. I am also not sure that it shows the intricacy of design as well.

seeking the goddessSo here is the former mandala I have been using on my business cards and have considered my logo. But now I am wondering if it's time to update. In terms of other design issues, I have felt a bit stymied by the reds/pinks and how to incorporate them in my not yet designed website.

Seeking the Goddess Within - (Circles of Healing series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2006

I know that it will take redoing my business cards to know for sure what I want to do. This will more than likely not be happening tomorrow. I did want to begin the process though. I am excited with the redefining of the tagline and the refocus on what it is I see myself doing.

I would really appreciate whatever feedback and words of wisdom you might have for me, oh gentle readers.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


DISCOVERY - (Circles of Light series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007

I had a satisfying weekend. Friday was the opening for one of the art shows I am in, and a friend and I hobnobbed and schmoozed with the local art community. For the first time I really felt like I was part of it, and I came home feeling elated. An artist I know looked at my work and wondered what it might look like on a white background. So I decided to see what I thought. I like it with this image alot.

I have been considering the approach I used for this mandala for a while
sunrise roseand decided to give it a spin using my brand new Photoshop CS3 software I spent a few hours installing yesterday and today. I don't know what I think of the software, but the mandala was fun. I created two separate mandalas from the image of this rose and blended the two layers together using blending modes. I like the painterly effect I achieved. I have used this technique before but never in my mandalas, and I think I will continue to explore this technique.

I hope you all had great weekends and were able to stay cool/dry/warm depending on your climate and hemispheric placement on the planet!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


explosions of lightExplosions of Light Mandala - (Circle of Light series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007

Yesterday Diane Clancy made the comment that I work in values rather than in color. I replied that I work the colors Nature gives me. I don't very often adjust color in my work much further one way or the other from its origin, although I am interested in learning more about color correcting my original photographs before I transform them into mandalas.

For those of you who wonder how I create my art, I must give credit to this woman, Komra Moriko, who put up her website back in '98 or so and never took it down. I looked around yesterday to make sure I wasn't infringing on any copyright restrictions. I did at one point think I saw a Creative Commons license on her site, but yesterday I didn't see it. I need to investigate this more before I go much further with my work, though I have seen plenty of other mandala makers besides me using her basic format. I have been grateful these past couple of years that she never took her website down.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


magis prayMagis Pray to the Light of Inner Knowing - (Circles of Light series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007

I enjoyed the evolution of this piece. First I took this
succulencepicture of succulents that grow outside my apartment. I've taken lots of pictures of these plants over the past couple of years. This is one of my favorites.

When I create a mandala, I dont really have an inner vision of a possible ending; I just let it take me wherever it wants to go. I suppose that is true of other art forms; I have experienced it with collage at times, but really I do have a greater sense of the mandalas, in their early stages, guiding me to their end. Then, when the circle is complete, I finish editing it in Photoshop (levels, curves, hue/saturation, sharpening) add more layers, play with filters, finish with circles of outer/inner light -- voila!

With this particular mandala, about halfway through, the figures began to emerge. They struck me as monk-like and wise, perhaps more like spiritual magicians. Recently I finished reading Christopher Moore's novel, Lamb, in which Moore imagines Jesus finding each of the Magis, during the years of his life not mentioned in the bible, who taught him the needed skills to become the messiah. It was, in fact, a fun and fascinating read. With this mandala, I image-in access to that same inner light that I think Jesus both knew we all have and taught us to embrace.

Let your Light shine!

Hey, I sure would like to read your thoughts about my work.

Friday, July 06, 2007


Surely You Jest Mandala - (Healing in Circles series) - © 2006 Sue O'Kieffe

I don't know about you, but I have been thinking wayyyyy too much about too many serious things to the point where I think my head might just explode and all I really want to do is swing on the swings and eat cotton candy and
watch the clouds go by and roll down the hills and who cares if I get grass stains on my white bermuda shorts? It's playtime!

So my friend SusieSoo and I want to pull you up out of your computer chairs and
push you out the door and invite you to feel the sun on your face and let's go fly kites. Last one in the pool is a rotten egg!

Sunday, July 01, 2007


Summertime Mandala - (Summer Series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2006

I am going to be in two local shows for digital artists during the months of July and August, so if any of you get to the North Coast of California be sure to check us out. The Eureka Photoshop Users Group is showing at Simply Macintosh, on the Arcata Plaza, in July. Another group of digital artists will be showing at the Humboldt County Library's Hagopian Gallery during July and August. What fun!