Photos, Stories and Scrapbooking

Tag: style

Refining Skills to Develop Your Style

I was out playing Pokemon Go with my husband when I saw a staged display of different pumpkins and mums. I was focusing on just a part of the display with my iPhone when a mom stopped to coax her elementary age girls to pose for a picture. She was delighted when I asked if she’d like to sit with them while I took her picture with her phone. Today I gave what I’d have loved to have had, an informal portrait with my kids in front of a pumpkin display. I hope she posts it to her Facebook page.

With my quick photo, I created a page that reflects me, my style, my photography. I clipped multiple copies of a photo to the layers of file 3 from Evanescent FotoBlendz No. 1. To get the blue color, I applied a blue color overlay with the styles panel before separating it on a separate layer so that I could reveal the brown of the hay. I added a fill layer above that in brown on color blend mode to turn the yellow mums straw by hiding everything but the flowers on a layer mask.

Next, I placed solid paper 4 from ArtPlay Palette Evanescent. On the right I added the layers of Artsy Transfers Evanescent 3. I turned off one layer.

On the left, I placed the layers of file 5 from Artsy Transfers Evanescent. I adjusted the position of my fotoblendz mask and photo layers as a group.

Inside the group of transfer layers, I placed psd file 2 from MultiMedia Pumpkins N. 3. I added a color overlay from the style menu to make the black fabric blue.

Next, I placed two additional pumpkin files from MultiMedia Pumpkins No. 3 to add to my pumpkin display.

With a piece of word art from Moments WordArt Mix No. 1 and a subtitle, I finished  my artsy page.

This page came together fairly easily. The only different technique I used was to give the pumpkins in my photo a blue cast. I’ve used color overlays on previous pages, but I’ve not recolored pumpkins blue. Yet, I think they look pretty with the blue in the multimedia pumpkins. Basically, I’m experimenting with color overlays; I’m using them in a different way.

I’ve been thinking about a statement that Anna made about the expectation that one needs to continually learn new techniques. While I am continually learning, it’s more about refining my skills with my camera, whether my iPhone or my Fuji X-T2. I don’t need a new camera, I need to get better at making photos with what I have. I think that in the same way I am perfecting my skills with the designs that I use to create my scrapbook pages. I enjoy the process of experimenting and figuring out what else I can do with Anna’s designs in combination with my photos. Rather than using a new technique on every page, I want to continually develop my style, to clarify the look I want on my pages. That may involve incorporating a new technique periodically, or applying a technique in a different way, but my creative process is more about refining my skills because they define my style.







Personal Styles Change

I have used that photo of my dad before, actually nearly five years ago on another page. Looking back at my old page, the fact that my personal style has changed in the last five years is quite evident. My 2012 page looks far more traditional in design. Elements of my current style, as I explained in a previous post, Finding My Style, were evident in 2012: the blending I like to do and the focus on a photo and telling a story in photos and journaling. However, the overall design of that old page was rather conventional. On my new page, the design is far more freeform, definitely more artsy. That’s a skill I have worked on developing through classes and practice in the last few years.

To create my new, more freeform artsy page, I began with brush 4 from ArchiTextures No. 7. That brush reminded me of the house that my dad lived in as a child. To the brush, I clipped two copies of artsy paper 1 from ArtPlay Palette Quaintville, one on linear burn at 50% and one one normal at 60%

To build a background for my brush, I placed overlay 4 from FotoBlendz Overlays No. 10 below the brush. I clipped two more copies of artsy paper 1 to the fotoblendz mask. The top paper layer is on color burn at 50%.

Next, I placed the psd layers of a frame from ArtPlay Palette Wayfaring. I enlarged the frame 25% and then clipped my photo to the mask. I had changed the photo to black and white in Lightroom before importing.

To build a cluster to focus on my framed photo, I added the foliage and a button from ArtPlay Palette Quaintville, thread 5 from ButtonThreadz No. 2, a word label from ArtPlay Palette Hearth and the psd layers of file 3 from MultiMedia Homes No 1.

Finally, to finish my page, I added a wood word from Hearth WordArt Mix No. 1 and journaling.

Mostly I love that I continue to learn and grow as a digital artist. Ongoing learning is important to me!!

Finding My Style

I like to think that I’m an artist with both my camera, a Fuji X-T2, and the scrapbook pages that I create, at least I feel that way when I am making photographs or playing in Photoshop with Anna’s designs. My process objectives for scrapbooking are rather simple: choose the photos that speak to me and write the stories of those photos, stories that I want my family to remember. After giving some thought to what I wanted to share about myself as a member of Anna’s creative team, I decided that you might like to know more about where I am at in my journey towards developing my own scrapbooking style, not that I’ve finished the process yet.

In preparation for this post, I created a grid page with some of my favorite layouts over the years that I have been digitally scrapbooking. (Note that I never scrapped with paper.) The layouts pictured above span my early efforts at creating artsy pages from 2011 until the present. After finishing the grid, I made a list of common elements I noticed on these favorites. This is my list of the elements common to those pages.

  1. focus on photos
  2. include blending and extractions
  3. include journaling
  4. relatively clean and freeform overall appearance
  5. adapt one of Anna’s templates or paper designs
  6. color on neutral solids

Below are some examples of what I mean by the terms I used to describe my style characteristics.

Focus on Photos

I have always been the family photographer, with a little Instamatic when my children were young. I placed those often somewhat blurry photos in albums, chronologically, along with some older family photos. Fast forward to the present, I am currently capturing memories for my family with a mirror-less Fuji X-T2. When I don’t have my Fuji with me, I use my iPhone. The old photos in those albums have all been digitized now and labeled with keywords and captions in Lightroom.

I really do believe that as my photography skills have improved, so has my scrapbooking. That’s why I continue to take photography classes and practice. It is much easier for me to create pages if my photos are the best that I can make.

At times, I apply an effect to a photo either in Photoshop or with a plug-in from Topaz Labs just for the fun of experimenting, but I always come back to the basic photos. I sometimes combine a photo with an artistic effect with photos straight from my camera on a layout.

Blending and Extractions

What first drew me to Anna’s artsy designs was the concept of blending. In the fall of 2011, I enrolled in a course with Jana Morton just to learn how to blend. This layout combines both blending and an extraction, two techniques I love to incorporate in my pages.

With additional classes and practice, I have learned to work comfortably with the Pen Tool, the Quick Selection Tool and masking. Most of my layouts include at least blending and often extractions as well. This recent layout combines all six elements of my style: blending, extractions, color on neutrals, journaling, focus on photography, adapting a template and a clean free form design.


Telling stories about photos is important to me. My dad used to tell me stories about his childhood. I only wish I had them in writing. I know he’d love this medium of combining photos and stories. I include journaling on the majority of my layouts as is the case of this layout with two old school photos and journaling about an influence in my decision to become a teacher.

I gave the background photo on the page below an effect with a Topaz Labs plug-in, but the other photos and journaling are consistent with my style.

Clean Freeform Design

I like the relaxed, free form shapes of Anna’s designs. I like that I have the freedom to create clean pages as opposed to a more grunge or art journaling style with her designs. On this page, I used some of Anna’s brushes, transfers, twigs and texture to create art with flower photos. There are a few splatters, but overall, the white space and content create a clean look.

Adapt a Template or Artsy Paper Design

I often rely on the design of Anna’s templates and/or artsy papers to create my pages. They are a design learning tool for me. After participating in several of her classes, I know much better now how to adapt them to fit my needs so that my pages look unique. You probably can’t readily see the specific artsy paper on the layout below because I combined two papers and transfers, nor the templates’s basic design because I adapted the small frames to accommodate my blended focal photo.

I am working more with Anna’s templates to create two page spreads that I publish in books. This has been part of my learning in Anna’s classes, and adapting them is something that I’ve adopted as part of my style. The templates fit with my objective to share photos and tell stories.

Color on Neutrals

I use primarily neutrals for the backgrounds of my pages so that the color in my photos pop in contrast to the background. As I create double page spreads for my books, I am finding that I don’t have to use only one paper throughout the book. It’s cohesive enough for me to use lighter backgrounds and blend in sections of artsy papers when desired.

I do work with darker backgrounds, but I generally prefer lighter backgrounds especially since I am creating more two page spreads for self-published books.

You might consider creating a grid of favorite layouts for yourself if finding your personal style has frustrated you as a scrapbooker. After taking classes, experimenting and imitating the work of others, I often wondered about who I was as an artist. I didn’t want to be someone else. I tried to reflect on my pages while I learned, what I really liked, what skills I wanted to develop further, what was fun to create, what was important that I include on my pages. Believe me, there have been a number of my pages that I have not liked in the process of developing my own style. Knowing what characteristics I value in my style gives me more confidence when looking at new trends, the art of others or class content. It’s not that I won’t change with new learning, rather it’s more that there are style elements that just feel right for me as an artist.

Storytelling and Robin-Eggs

Storytelling for me is a process combining both photographs and words. My dad, a man who enjoyed photo albums but rarely made photos himself, was definitely a storyteller. I remember him often sharing stories about family, childhood and life, recalling and describing scenes from memory. It wasn’t until late in his life that he began to write his stories. If a gene for storytelling existed in the human genome, then clearly I inherited the predisposition for sharing stories from my dad. I think he would have loved reading through the books and albums of pages that I have created by combining photography and writing to tell my stories.

Often there are recurring stories in my life, for example robins 2016-05-16 164422who return every year to make nests in our yard, in the eves of the deck, in a dwarf Korean Lilac tree and this year, in a small hydrangea tree close to my front door. I had to use my iPhone to capture this nest because of limited space between the branches of the little tree.

In the past, I have created a few other pages with photos about the beautiful blue eggs. After I finished creating the page with my latest photo, 2011-07-16_Robin's EggI went back to see what else I had done on the topic of eggs. In June 2011, I wrote about my regret that my husband had taken down a nest with only one blue egg. Then good grief I thought, I can’t believe how much my scrapbooking style has changed in five years. Yet, I think my writing voice has not changed at all because the journaling sounds as if I had written it today. Below is another page that I created in 2011, one that I’ve never printed, although I still smile at the memory. I actually thought about my youngest grandson’s first experience with a robin-egg when I wrote the journaling for my latest layout. 2011-07-15_Robin's EggMama bird gets very angry when I approach. She squawks and dives around me as she expresses her displeasure. I have told her that if she’s going to build a nest in my yard, then I am going to photograph the arrival of her babies. However, I also promised Mrs. Robin that when Kate and I peer among the leaves, we won’t touch her eggs or nest. There was an unfortunate incident several years ago when Corbin accidentally dropped one little blue egg.

It’s been five years since I captured those photos of Corbin, but I think that story would make a wonderful two spread combined with my latest page. The more that I look back this year, the more I am enjoying the benefits of connecting past and current stories in this year’s book project. Now comes the challenge of figuring out how to combine the two pages. It’s really best to create both sides for a two page spread at the same time. Unfortunately, I don’t always do what is best. I will try to share how I put the two stories together in a future post.

Coloring Elements with Blending Modes and LightLeaks

For the month of May, Anna’s team members are sharing ideas for using blending modes on scrapbooking pages. Earlier this month, I shared a quick tip for using levels adjustment layers and blend modes to change the color of elements. Today, I thought I’d share how I colored the bird from MultiMedia Birds No. 1 using blending modes and LightLeaks.


On the left of the screenshot below, is the original psd file that Anna provided in MultiMedia Birds No. 1. On the right side are the changes that I made to coordinate the bird with my page. After moving the bird and stitching to the left to accommodate my photo, I switched out the orange button for a pink button. I made no other changes to the original psd layers. Instead, to color the bird layer, I clipped brushes and LightLeaks to that layer.


First, I clipped a copy of solid paper 4 from ArtPlay Palette Cultivate to the bird and reduced the opacity to 35% in order to match the color of the bird with the background. I could also have recolored the bird.

Note: In the process of working with blending modes on the glows and brush files to color the bird, I found that I needed to lighten the layers. To do that I stamped a white rectangle on a new layer. I then added a gaussian blur and reduced the opacity to 75%. This technique also works for lightening the background just below journaling so that it is more readable.


To create the wings on the bird, I placed png file 8, a stem, from Watercolor Flowers No. 1, resizing and rotating it so that it created a wing effect. I recolored it white on normal blend mode at 100%. I duplicated the stem, selected a color from the eggs in photo and recolored that layer before changing the blend mode to linear light at 100%.


Next, I added two copies of png file 3 from LightLeaks No. 3. I changed the blending mode of the lower light leak to color burn at 40% and the layer above to color at 40%.


Above the first two LightLeak layers, I placed png file 6 from LightLeaks No. 3. I changed the blend mode to linear light at 100%. To get the pink color, I added a hue and saturation adjustment layer. I inverted the mask and used a round brush to bring in enough color to create a red breast on the bird.


Finally, I added a little black dot with a hard round brush on a new blank layer to create an eye for the bird.


I used the same technique with blending modes and LightLeaks to color the watercolor flower brush 1, Watercolor Flowers No. 1, under the button and thread on the right side. Click on the layout for additional product details.


Outside My Creative Routine

After sharing with a friend in January that I wasn’t feeling especially creative after finishing my 2015 book project, more like burned out I’d say, she gave me some valuable advice about this activity that I’ve been engaged in for the last five years, specifically scrapbooking. Remember this is supposed to be a hobby, its supposed to be fun, and it’s not supposed to be stressful or keep you awake at night. If any of those statements are not true, then you need to ask yourself how you can move back in the right direction.

So I stepped back a bit creatively to spend time considering my focus for this year and determining reasonable goals for my photography and scrapbooking. That’s one reason why I’ve been reevaluating my style. I remembered writing a list defining my style several years ago, but even after reorganizing my hard drive I couldn’t find it. When I have this feeling of not wanting to create, I often find that distractions, i.e. organizing my external hard drive or scrolling Facebook, while pleasant, are generally useless for fostering my creativity. So I’ve begun a new list describing the characteristics of my photo centric style. For example, I often blend and/or extract my photos on neutral papers.

However, I am learning that sometimes it’s good to try something new when you don’t feel especially creative, do something outside your normal creative routine. I’m not really a stripe person, but for this layout, I experimented with a stripe paper from Anna’s new ArtPlay Palette Sunkissed. I decided that I liked the added interest and balance the paper provided with the weight of the tulips.

2016-04-24_SunPleaseBackground SunPlease_ATSunkissed_lkdavis_600

I don’t know if you are into making lists the way I am, but this is the beginning of a descriptive list of my photo centric style. I may incorporate stripes into my new list following my latest experiment. Over the next few weeks, I’ll add to this new list as I pinpoint more characteristics of my current style.

  • color photographs on solid neutrals
  • blending
  • extractions
  • journaling

What would your list look like?

Finding Your Style

As part of a photography class, I am walking Lauritzen Gardens once a month this year. The photo below captures part of the Victorian Garden, a gift from the Hitchcock Foundation in memory of two sisters, within Lauritzen Gardens. While the temperatures are still too cold to plant vulnerable annuals, the tulips and daffodils are in full bloom at the moment. I am enjoying capturing the seasonal changes with my camera, especially trying different aperture settings and working the angles. Once I import my photos into Lightroom, my perspective changes as I begin to think about creating art with a photograph. For example, I created the page below with this photo.

2016-04-17 124949SunKissedVictorianGarden_SunKissed_lkdavis

This next photo was the source for another layout.

2016-04-17 120728


Despite appearing quite different, both layouts reflect my style as I created pages with some photographs that I made on my walk in the gardens. To both photos, I applied a custom filter using Topaz Simplify. On both layouts I used masks and blended the photos. On both pages, I extracted part of a photo and used threads to anchor the extractions. On both pages, I wrote some journaling and added the date and a title.

At one point, I wondered if I had my own style; I read an interesting article about finding your own style in the October 2012 issue of Masterful Scrapbooking. The article stated that eventually you find your style if you remember why you’re making pages, use products you like, practice what you’re good at and continue to develop your skills. Blending, artistic filters, extractions and journaling reflect my preferences and strengths for creating an artsy page; they are part of my style. The way I work with color, my preference for solid colors and texture, my emphasis on balance, the products I use are part of my style. My scrapbooking style is as distinctive as my writing voice and the photographs that I make. I want my family to see and hear my voice in the pages that I create because it is for them that I am making photographs and creating pages.



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