Friday, August 31, 2007


triple goddess mandalaTriple Goddess Mandala - (Goddess Mandala series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007

In honor of my birthday 08.31.07

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I am departing today from my usual topics to show you the fun I had noodling around for Rima's Digital Play Challenge #3. We started with this image from wetcanvas and were instructed to have fun. How often do we hear that in our lives anymore?

end of summer End of Summer - digital photomontage
© Sue O'Kieffe 2007
Starting image + sunflower photo I took, layer mask, filters: cutout (artistic), photocopy (sketch). I will write about layer masks on Sunday for my photoshop tips

summer sunset mandala Summer Sunset Mandala
© Sue O'Kieffe 2007
Blend of two mandalas made from the starting image and the sunflower photograph, layer mask, photocopy filter on duplicate layer of bathing beauty mandala

solar print Solar Print - digital image
© Sue O'Kieffe 2007
Above mandala image using exclusion filter, placed on separate background with blue stroke on separate layer

I hope you will go see how all artists participating interpreted this challenge by visiting the gallery wall here!

Sunday, August 26, 2007


soothing starSoothing Star Mandala - (Winter Series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2006

It is Sunday and time for my weekly photoshop tips. I was going to write about quick masks today, but I have discovered that the procedure has changed in the latest version of CS3. Ah, the never ending learning curve. More on quick masks at a later date.

So instead I thought I would show you a way to create an extended layer of color around an image -- what I think of as digital matting, by showing you a nifty trick with the crop tool -- (one that I personally can't live without!)

step 1~ Create a new layer and fill it with white (edit>fill>white)

~ Turn on rulers (view>rulers). Select crop tool and run it around the layer filled in white. Extend the sides of the crop tool markings 1/4" each side and hit enter. The white layer will look like this:

step 2~ You can see there is a 1/4" transparency where the dimensions of this layer have been extended. Once again fill this layer with white (edit>fill>white) . The big concept here, of course, is that you can fill this layer with the color of your choice, if you dont want to use white.

step 3~ Reverse the layer order in the layers palette so the white layer is on the bottom.
step 4There are other ways in Photoshop to extend the size of a canvas, but this is the easiest way I have found with less math involved. That, for me, is good enough reason right there!

~ And here is the finished image. For demonstration purposes I added a 3 px black stroke (line) around the white layer (edit>stroke>black).

Did you find this helpful? Be sure and let me know!

Thursday, August 23, 2007


points of lightPoints of Light Mandala - (Healing in Circles series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2006

Thursday morning. Trying to decide what to fix for breakfast (or by this time brunch, since it's around 10 am and all I've had is coffee.) Bbbrrring bbrringg, goes the phone and I decide to answer it instead of letting the machine get it cuz, well, ya just never know.

Older masculine voice on the other end asks, "Is this Sue O'Kieffe?"

"Yes," I reply somewhat warily. Didn't exactly sound like a telemarketer, because they usually bungle the pronunciation of my last name or ask for Mrs. O'Dell or something like that.

"Is this the same Sue O'Kieffe who has a picture of her Points of Light painting in today's newspaper?"

Well, by now I am really turning my attention in his direction. "Who is this?" I ask, because I want to know who my first inspired fan is. "You don't know me, but when I saw your painting I just had to call because I have this thing about dodecahedrons."


Turns out, unbeknownst to me, that the woman who organized one of the art shows I am in sent a press release to the local newspaper and used my image (because she had kindly printed a larger version of it for me on her wide format printer and still had the file on her hard drive) .

But what I really got was a very pleasant surprise, and a delightful conversation with a man eager to talk about geometry, Buckminster Fuller, geodesic domes, photography, and how we are all connected... just like how we are here on the world wide web. And which is exactly the theme of the mandala printed in the paper.

These are the moments that make doing art worthwhile, and what I dream of in my work: that they will touch the heart, tweek the imagination, inspire the spirit, soothe the mind.

The man on the phone told me he looked like Santa Claus. He has no idea what kind of gift he really brought!

Monday, August 20, 2007


Festivity Mandala - (Winter Circle series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007

Yesterday I created this mandala just in time for the holidays. I know, it seems kind of funny to be thinking about that now, but I have been thinking about making a calendar (or 2) for the upcoming season.

Recently I began reading Christine Kane's blog. She is an indie musician and self-proclaimed sensitive person (aren't all of us creative types?), who writes about business, creativity and the Law of Attraction. She doesn't know it yet, but she is also one of my cyber mentors. I highly recommend any artist considering the business side of the equation to read her great post, Business Advice for Artists and Sensitive People. Neda Doany of Papiers Colles asked me to write about the emotional side of business, but I don't have any good advice or experience for that yet. This woman does.

So, back to the calendars. I had a fun first experience with calendar making last year; it was also my first experience working with a print on demand company. The calendars turned out well, they were well received, people were happy, my sensitive artist self felt like Sally Fields (oooh you really do like me after all). But there were problems. The biggest one was I didn't make any money... the print on demand company did. What's wrong with this picture, anyway? In order to make a profit, I would need to price this product way above normal retail price for similar items. Which gets me back to a bigger desire of finding a publisher. But more on that subject at a later time.

This mandala will also make a great greeting card, and the printing issues I've been having are close to being resolved. So all is not lost.

Oh. And yes. You can expect more Photoshop Tips each Sunday in your inbox or the RSS feed reader of your choice!

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Golden Light MandalaGolden Light Mandala - (Circles of Light series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007

I stared at this mandala for quite a while after creating it, which means, well, I like it! The source image is a picture of sedum in bloom that was taken at that golden hour before sunset . I'm pleased with the interplay of shadow and light and the antique quality of the mandala. The golden light seems to glow in the image, doesn't it?

Photoshop Tips:
  • First things first. Create a duplicate layer of your image (How? Ctrl/Cmd key+J or Layer>Duplicate layer) and work from that. This way you will have an unaltered version of your beginning point,in case you need it.
  • Name your file and save it before beginning to work on your photoshop image. (Im really bad about this step myself). If your computer freezes for any reason and you haven't saved your work, all that time put into your image will be gone forever.

I also spent time tidying up my blog today, adding a few more links of artists I like and references to digital art that I enjoy. While mandala making is my vision and my passion, I am also a digital artist and like being introduced to different approaches to the medium, which I am delighted to share with you as well.


My mandala prints are $20 plus shipping/handling/tax. If you are interested in purchasing my art, please contact me at the email address linked above.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


sheer summer joySheer Summer Joy - (Summer series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007

Learning new software skills often brings up a multitude of feelings for me. Sometimes, when I look at Photoshop tutorials, I think they are either too involved or not applicable to the work I do or am interested in. Often though, I think it is my own insecurity about my skills and ability to see the subtleties being taught that stops me from pursuing lessons being shown.

I took two semesters in Photoshop at the local community college, and there were a couple of concepts that took me the longest time to comprehend. Others I learned because I had to, but mostly with my eyes closed. My brain told me it was just toooo hard. I have no idea how many hours I have logged in practicing on a daily basis over the past two years. When I meet with my local photoshop users group and they talk about techniques they use, my eyes often glaze over. I approach my work from a different perspective. Sometimes I wonder if we are even using the same program. Photoshop offers so many possibilities that no one will ever learn it all. If I can be proficient in just a few areas, I will be happy.

All of this is to say, for anyone out there just beginning to play with this fascinating, frustrating and often addictive software is -- be brave and have fun! It is all about the process and the journey, and not about the final destination. Learn a little bit more than you knew last week. Try new stuff. Show off. Be proud.

This mandala was created from a photograph of alstroemeria growing in my landlady's garden. I used a new blur filter I found in CS3 . Called a surface blur, I like the soft watercolory effect it produced when blended with the paint daubs filter.

My mandala prints are $20 plus shipping/handling/tax. If you are interested in purchasing my art, please contact me at the email address linked above.

Monday, August 13, 2007


dance with summer lightDance with Summer Light - (Circles of Light series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007

Shadows are lengthening and there is a chill in the air. It seems like the daffodils were just beginning to bloom, and now apple harvest is right around the corner. Two of my favorite flowers, dahlias and gladiolas are blooming in grand profusion right now. Their colors are firey and soft.

I have enjoyed the spirit of play generated by Rima's Digital Art challenges. I sent my contribution directly to Madame Curator. I want to thank Rima as well for showing us how she used Lighting Effects, which I was eager to try, and did with very subtle results in the center of this image.

In the days to come, I hope to post some short tutorials on adjustment layers and layer masks. These nondestructive methods of editing images add a new dimension of flexibility and wonderment to digital art. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 09, 2007


neptune's dreamNeptune's Dream - © Sue O'Kieffe 2006

I began blogging on Blogger to create what I thought would be my business blog. I still believe that people who do commerce online need a blog, but I don't believe this blog is it for least yet. Developing my business -- the business, marketing, and financial plan parts of it -- is taking much longer (of course my resistance to it isn't helping any), than I expected. I would much rather play in Photoshop and be out taking photos of flowers, and communing with my friends online.

I am delighted by the developing group of fellow artist bloggers I have met in this space. I think it could be the beginning of my online artist's community. I know there are plenty of places to do that on the world wide web. I am enjoying seeing it develop and unfold here.

I have another blog in another space that I consider home. There I am known as Dancing Sun. I speak in a philosophical/spiritual voice there. I post my photography there, play music and have my mandalas in a gallery there, speak more about daily life there, from time to time quote the Universe there. The downside of Xanga is that subscribing to it is more difficult (but not impossible) unless you are a member of the Xanga community. If you want to read DancingSun from your email's inbox, go to FeedBlitz and enter in the window towards the bottom of the page. And if you come visit, be sure to say hi. You don't have to be a member of Xanga to comment there, either.

Oh, and I do have my other blog linked in the list of other blogs I read. See how easy it is?

Sunday, August 05, 2007


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

Everything is made of light; everything is alive. The Great Mystery of life has little to do with intelligence. The universe is not an intellectual process. The intellect is helpful; but our hearts are the wiser part of ourselves.

~ Mellen-Thomas Benedict

I chased this mandala around Photoshop yesterday afternoon and this morning. Usually when I put more than a couple of hours into an image and it just isn't coming together for me, I hit the delete key and move on. But I wanted to get to a place with this mandala where I could at least feel satisfaction. I do like how the peachy tan ties all the different colors in this image together.

I have been experimenting using different colored backgrounds with my mandalas. This is all for the time, of course, when the struggle I have been experiencing with printing practices comes together and I am able to live with an answer that satisfies me. Currently I am researching different inkjet printer possibilities; I suppose I will also contact local printers for price quotes, just so I know.

Mostly what I wanted to talk about in this post, though, was to express my gratitude to Neda Doany and Diane Clancy for bestowing upon me the Thoughful and Inspirational Blogger awards. I have chosen to wait until later to bestow these awards to other bloggers out there, so you just never know when the fairy blogmother might shower you with her goodies.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Love and Light

Enigma Mandala -(Earth Mystery series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007

For those in Minneapolis