Where The Magic Happens

I'm still trying to see if this blogging thing is going to stick.

Always thinking and researching for an interesting topic, I thought I would continue on this path of sharing a little sneak peak of my world (note, I tried this last year as well).  

I try to go out with my camera at least once a week.  I like to shoot outside.  I have a thing for natural light, a) it's free, b) it's really hard to duplicate inside and c) it's free.  This of course limits my creativity to when the weather is nice.  

I shoot a lot.

I figure it's the law of averages.

Something will certainly be worthy.  

I dump all my photos into Lightroom and start processing from there.



I go through the photos I like, decide what I want to work on, and save the rest for later.  My next step is to open up Adobe Photoshop and start working on the images I like.

Unedited shot

Unedited shot

I usually start at the image for awhile and decide where I want to go from here.  What is the feeling I want to convey?  What was it about this shot that I liked?  Where do I see the finish?  Actually that is way deeper than I ever get.  I loved the contrast of the yellow on the red.  I liked the point of view I chose and I thought I could really do some cool techniques to enhance this.  

The first thing I did was remove the background and crop it in.  I just want to focus on the flower.

Background removed

Background removed

I like to work in layers.  I usually create multiple layers and import each layer in to different Topaz programs to create textures.

In Topaz Glow2

In Topaz Glow2

I have a "favorites" panel of all the techniques I like the most and try different ones until I get the look I want.

After putting everything back together in Photoshop, I play with the transparency levels of each layer.  I make a few more adjustments, and...

decide where I'm going with it.



I think it's kind of fun on a clock.  What about you?

Do you love it?  Clocks are available in my online boutique at Society6.  https://society6.com/jessicamanelis 

5 People To Follow For Creative Inspiration

If you have been following my blog, by now you have realized that I get a lot of my inspiration from walking around outdoors.  On a stunningly gorgeous day, it's the shit.  However, I live in the Northeast, where we experience all 4 seasons, so somewhere around mid-November up until usually about April, outdoors is not fun.

I have to look for inspiration else where.

The following is list of some artists and creative people I find inspiring...

Linda Szabo is a photographer whose work I love.  Her botanicals are gorgeous.  I recently took one of her online workshops and it was worth every minute.  You will probably start to see her inspiration in my work.  Her website is www.lindaszabophotography.virb.com.

Mike Moats is another photographer I follow, admire and have learned from.  He is an amazing macro photographer.  I've taken one of his macro workshops as well.  Visit his website at www.tinylandscapes.com.

I follow Andrew Scrivani on Instagram (@andrewscrivani).  He is an amazing food photographer.  Really creative.

I follow Cherie Bosela on Facebook.  www.facebook.com/CherieBosela.MixedMediaArtist/  She is a fantastic mosaic artist.  She combines photography and other mixed media items in her work.

Another great way to get inspiration is to follow a gallery.  I recently started following a social media gallery (I'm not exactly sure what that is).  Toxic Tins Gallery.  There Facebook is www.facebook.com/toxictinsgallery/  They appear to be local to me and even organize photography meet-ups.  I haven't been to one yet, but hopefully over the summer.

Pinterest is a great place for inspiration.  I have several boards dedicated to art inspiration.  If you want to follow my Pinterest Boards, try one of these..Crafty Things I Want To Try https://www.pinterest.com/jessicakman/crafty-things-i-want-to-try/   Art I Love https://www.pinterest.com/jessicakman/art-i-love/  Things From My Very Creative Friends https://www.pinterest.com/jessicakman/things-from-my-very-creative-friends/ and Cool Art https://www.pinterest.com/jessicamanelis/cool-art/




Boredom Is A Creative Killer

Now you know what my work space looks like.   It's a messy office, probably similar to yours.  How could I possibly be creative in that environment?  

Well, first I thrive in chaos.  Second, I leave the chaos behind.

I love an adventure.  When my kids were young, it was easy to go on adventures.  A ride to the zoo, or to go apple picking at the farm.  Once they got older, their friends (or quite honestly the tv) became more fun than my adventures.  I got bored.  Boredom is a creative killer.  I had to do something.  So, I started going on my own adventures, camera in hand.

Within 45 miles and no more than hour away; It's for me!

I have a list on my phone of interesting botanical gardens, public gardens and nature walks.  I pay to go on photo walks and I have recently found an Instagram meet-up group called South Jersey Adventures.  Meet-ups are great, because although I like going on adventures, I occasionally feel very conspicuous when I am alone.  There IS power in numbers.

For instance I recently went back to a place I have brought my camera before, the Morven Museum in Princeton, NJ.  I have no interest in the museum, however they have an 18th century English garden, that appears to be open without actually paying admission.  I went there about a year ago and took some great shots of the flowers in the garden.  This time around, they were setting up a huge tent for an outdoor party and there were a lot of gardening fellows digging around, so I turned around and left.  I headed to the President's Garden at Princeton University, a spot I found on a photo walk I took through the Digital Photo Academy about 2 years ago.  Still felt a little conspicuous, but there weren't too many people around staring.

Taken at the Morven Museum

Taken at the Morven Museum

Once I am home again, I upload my images to Adobe Lightroom and then the fun begins.  I choose which photos I like and start processing them in Lightroom.  Then I move them in to Adobe Photoshop where I further work with them using a variety of filters and textures and layers.  I play and add layers upon layers until I get the desired masterpiece I am after (well, hardly a masterpiece, but come on it is fun to say).

Then time to share it with the world!

Some places I like to shoot are: Chanticleer Gardens, Jenkins Arboretum, Leaming's Run Garden, Longwood Gardens, Grounds For Sculpture, and Hortulus Farm.   I'm up for suggestions. 


Behind The Scenes: The Making Of A Flower

I'm mostly a private person.  I don't like to put myself out there.  I think it's mostly because I am a little embarrassed, lack some self confidence and feel that people are just going to think I am an idiot for thinking I have any talent.

So, this is about as out of my comfort zone as I can get.  A behind the scenes look at part of what makes me, me.

my office space

my office space

I have a little room downstairs in my basement where the magic happens (just kidding, but not really).  To the left is my art table.  It was a really big deal when I bought this.  It was a bit expensive, but I had to have it because I thought it would make me feel more like an artist.   It mostly houses a variety of art supplies I also had to have, but actually never use, because I thought it would make me feel more like an artist.  I do create mosaics.  You can see my completed mosaic mirror/planter sitting on top.  Mosaics are my therapy.  

At the end of the room is my filing cabinet that contains the picture file I started in college.  What's a picture file you ask?  Well boys and girls, back in the olden days, PI (pre-internet), we had to actually cut pictures out of magazines to use as reference photos.  For some reason I can't seem to let go of them.  It must be the hoarder in me.

You can see my computer.  I have an enormous screen and I love it!  It is surrounded by a calendar, a note pad and a bunch a random pieces of paper with lists and ideas, that I will eventually look through to find what I was thinking about last week, but won't find because I probably threw it away.

work in progress

work in progress

I have two printers, a Wacom tablet a fax machine and as you can see on the right several framed photographs from previous gallery exhibitions stacked against the wall.  

They are all for sale.  (plug, plug, plug)

Today I am updating my website, looking for exhibitions to enter, balancing my check book, laundry and writing a press release.

What's on your plate?