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Truck Photo Love on Rt. 140 in Bellingham, Ma.

brightwinter-coakley-tex2Driving a truck this winter must be simply hell.  Just in my cul-de-sac alone, the UPS truck can no longer just drive in and circle back out.  He has to back in and deliver his packages from only one parked position. There just isn’t room for him to turn around or go anywhere else due to the piled high snowbanks.

So, today, I took a series of photos but the one with the big truck caught my eye.  The sun was out, the sky was blue and white but it was midday and the sky and the snow seemed to be the same hue and exposures on the fly were crazy due to wide spectrum of light.

So, I decided to correct as best I could the exposure range and began with Nik Filters and tried a Topaz Impressions painting filter ( I love this new filter btw) and ultimately ended plugins with the Macphun Tonal Pro black and white filter.

The blue sky I decided to texture in at the end lightly with two different textures: one a tonal one and the second,  a sky texture of similar ratio of white clouds and blue sky.

It’s not perfect but I showed some truck photo love in this harsh winter of 2015.




Every Sunday, I listen to CBC’s Writer’s & Company

Here’s why. Her interview with Nick Hornby today and his new book, “Funny Girl” which does indeed sound wonderful but the podcast delves into so many things, why his character is obsessed with Lucille Ball, why he turned from writing about mainly men, “About a Boy” “Fever Pitch” “High Fidelity”  to women characters like the one in his new book, as well as wanting to write the screenplay for Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” and they cover theories of art (at the very end and fabulous) and why his creative spirit is drawn to one thing and not another.

And, as usual, Eleanor asks writers question that go beyond their craft and inspire anyone to be more creative or, even, to live a bit better life.

Worth it to subscribe even if you are not a reader. If you are a reader, it is mandatory!

An Encaustic Skirt Made From My Wastebasket


I am going to begin doing some collage work and started in my favorite bin of inspiration: my wastebasket.

Step 1:

The pleated paper is the result of an end of the day smear of fine art paper on the heated palette containing these left over earth tone colors which had been used on a separate piece.

After several days, I looked at the paper and said, I don’t think I’m going to use it and put it in the bin.  

Step 2: And, then, I said  “hmm..” it might work in a collage with a large piece of fine art paper that I’d used several months ago as a rust transfer of an old measuring tool and a rather large handled drill.  The color tones were similar and complimentary.

So, I took the encaustic paper smear out of the bin. 

Step 3: Put it into the paper shredder and it began whirring, but stopped.  I thought it was stuck.  I pressed the reverse button (my favorite direction, actually) and up came this pleated skirt.

Happy accident because I was going to need a “skirt” photo for a blog post on my daily blog, Art of the Diet.

Step 4: I hauled out the large piece of rusted paper and lay the pleated skirt on it, tried a few different placements, and decided this was the best for now.  I’ve not adhered the “skirt” yet as I have a feeling more is to be arranged with it.

But, I like it. As is.  And, I love that it all started in my wastebasket and found a home on my rusted paper of many months ago.



Anatomy of an Eggplant Encaustic Photo Parm



I am experimenting with photo techniques such as transferring a photo image on to a wooden cradle board with several layers of wax underneath and then applying several more layers of wax medium over it. The aesthetic point being to enhance the colors and textures within the photo.

As you can see in photo #1, my photo transfer skills are not making headlines and only leave parts of the original image.  I am one who actually prefers partial transfers but this is doesn’t even qualify as “partial”.

I learned from one of Linda Robertson’s videos that if I had warmed the wax on the substrate a bit more before applying the transfer and burnished with more detail pressure, the transfer might have been more successful.  She also burnishes with a the edge of the spoon at a 45º angle, almost like scraping at it.  She also demonstrated a wide variety of transfer papers and that may also be the future question to ask: which transfer paper would serve the particular image better?  If it has darker colors, certain papers don’t work as well, for example.

And, the best advice, I think she gave to me, was take your time with transfers.  In most cases of transfers that are not working, speed is a factor.  In fact, she said, almost all encaustic pieces benefit from slowing down. Also, if you want the entire image on to the wax why not collage it in rather than transferring it?

But, what I think I learned from this failed transfer was that the original photo mounted on the board would have worked just as well.  It was textured and colored in its original state and even the properly transferred bits on the board did not enhance the original.

One reason this is a critical question for me to ask is that burnishing properly and taking time to do it, takes shoulders of a fullback.  So, is it worth this effort for each photograph I’m considering?  That is going to be my future question as well.

I decided, “Ok, rather than print another regular print, I’ll print out the image on tissue paper and cover the transfer and we’ll be good to go.”

That would be image #2.  The print turned out to be a bit muted and dreamy but I actually liked the effect and knew I could enhance the colors later with oil pastels or oil sticks.

Image #3 shows the image after wax medium has been applied.  The tissue paper crinkled in ways I’d not seen when it was laid out and seemed to have a mind of its own when it came to my “smoothing” techniques.  Since the partial transfer does not qualify as a smooth substrate, I made problems for myself by disregarding that rule!  Embedding tissue paper on to an uneven surface brings trouble. No doubt, I could heat it up again and try to smooth it out, but heating tissue paper has its tolerance of “heat” manipulations as well and I think the evil-doer is really the substrate below!

So, I know this process is mastered by others and I’ll continue to try and learn the best papers and procedures to do the transfers but, for now, I think this original photograph is best aesthetically served by a tissue print without the wax!

I photographed the tissue paper print resting over the partial transfer and photographed that. Then I did some digital enhancements and ended up with something I may like better than my original photograph.  The next step is to do another tissue print and embed that directly into waxed substrate (without the transfer) and adding wax and pigment to that to see if it adds something to the original Photoshop version.

Stay tuned.  There’s still hope that encaustic can enhance the image, but in the case of this image, photo transfer is not worth the effort or expense of materials.



Creativity: Talking to the Birds

birds-meeting-coakleywThis morning I was in the process of trying to write a blog post for my new daily blog at Art of the Diet and an image in my catalogs didn’t jump out at me so I looked out the window.

My theme was focus and since photography is all about that, I looked around.  When I saw my neighbor’s birds gathering on her shrub, I grabbed my camera and took several photos of the visiting birds, coming and going and staying.  I varied the focus and the shutter speed.  And, in the end, I layered the images together and had an image that had just one bird in sharp focus but others leaving and another just looking around.

It fit perfectly and even helped me clarify what i wanted to say.  You can read it here.

Creativity sometimes is effortless.  Other times?  Not so easy.

Digital Daffodils

daffodils-scan-coakleyI often photograph flowers when they are way past their prime. These daffodils bought at the supermarket lasted only two days but they seemed well served by scanning their decline to emphasize their architecture and then to digitally paint the variegated twine of their colors.

Art of the Snow Plow

blizzard-driving-coakley-1000When you have a siege of white weather like we’ve had, you begin to notice the sources of color. Snow plow trucks are my candidate for eye candy!

My eye is grateful to see there are colors in the Mother Nature other than white.

Hallucinating Daffodils, Smelling Roast Chicken

daffodils-impasto-texv-coakleyOutside my window there is a 7 foot snowbank covering my daffodil bulbs.  I am hallucinating yellow with this digital painting but the scent of a roasting chicken is bringing me back to earth.

The blizzard seems to be ending. All records have been broken in my neck of the woods (outside Boston) but the thought of my bulbs underneath all of this and even protected from the below zero temps by these white mountains is the one blessing.

Encaustic Melting Hearts. No, really.

meltinghearts-coakleyCan you pinpoint the last time your heart melted?  I can.  Several weeks ago when I tried to make an encaustic stenciled heart and well, as you can see, I didn’t really excel at it. I melted the lines with the heat gun.

Since Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and another blizzard is coming with a box of chocolates, I decided to melt the whole dang heart in a new painting plug-in by Topaz called “Impression” that I viewed on Mark Johnson’s Photographic Workbench tutorials which are always well done and helpful.

In real life, my heart melts every time small children say my name and ask what fun art project I’ve brought in a big shopping bag.

“Pappy, what are we going to do today?”

Have fun, me lovelies.  Have fun.


Somewhere There Are Tulips

tulips-birthday-coakley76+ inches of snow in two weeks and another 12 expected on Saturday.  What’s an ol’girl to do?  Think about my tulip bulbs beneath the snow, that’s what.

They are pale pink in full bloom and were my muse for this photograph of my birthday tulips from Winston’s in Boston.  A gift that simply keeps on giving as they keep getting more beautiful every day even if I play with them in Photoshop and related plug-ins!

Pat Coakley