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BookSmithStudio.com | Nikki Smith Book & Visual Artist

Handmade books and various art explorations

Archive for the ‘Photo and Collage Art’ Category

Open call for Panoramas!

October 13th, 2011 by Nikki Smith

Do you travel to interesting places, camera in hand? Do you have some wonderful panoramas you think would make an awesome wee planet? I’m interested!

Here’s what I’m looking for:

  • 360 degree panoramas (i.e. all the way around) are ideal.  Sometimes a shorter panorama will work, too, depending on the setting and edges.
  • Your panorama should include sky above any buildings, trees or mountains. Don’t cut-off the tops!
    (Tip: you can take a second layer of photos or snap an extra picture to capture the top of a tall element if needed.)
  • High resolution, large size photos are preferred.
  • Creative Commons Attribution license (or similar) for the panorama is required. (What’s this? – Example)

By submitting your panorama, you are confirming that it is your own work (or that you have permission) and are sharing it with a Creative Commons Attribution license(This means that I can use your photo to make a wee planet!)

If I use your panorama photo I will mail you a free 8″ x 8″ glossy print of our wee world!

And, if I ever venture into selling prints of my Wee Planet creations (which I may someday) you can always purchase additional prints of the planet (think gifts for family and friends!) with a significant discount.

Ready to get started? Please send your panorama to:

P.S. A BIG thank-you for sharing your panoramas! With two small kiddos, I don’t get to travel as much as I would like. You are helping my art greatly with your generosity, and I really appreciate you!

Artwork published! Cloth Paper Scissors Sept/Oct 2011 magazine

August 31st, 2011 by Nikki Smith

My “Wee Planet” photography and digital artwork of historic downtown Bryan, Texas has been published in the September / October 2011 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine!  I just received my copy in the mail this weekend.

The great thing about my Wee Planet series is that any direction can be “up” as the planet is rotated — it’s just a matter of your perspective and what catches your eye or your imagination.  It still surprised me a bit to see that someone’s “up” was my “sideways” when I saw it in print!  😉

I fell in love with wee planets as an art form last year and haven’t looked back since.  You can escape reality and imagine yourself exploring a little planet of your very own!  For this wee planet, I took advantage of waking up *way too early* with a toddler to go to historic downtown at the crack of dawn when the streets were quiet.  I love the old facades of these buildings!

If you would like to learn more about my creative process for Wee Planets, please stay tuned.  I have a “the making of” blog post planned!  UPDATE:  My Wee Planet tutorial is now available!

Wee Planet Historic Downtown Bryan – Cloth Paper Scissors Finalist!

February 11th, 2011 by Nikki Smith

UPDATE: I just found out that my wee planet will be published in the Sept/Oct issue of Cloth Paper Scissors!  Yippee!  Happy Dance!

I was thrilled to hear that my latest “Wee Planet” creation was named a finalist in the 2012 Cloth Paper Scissors calendar contest, “On the Street Where You Live”!

Wee Planet Historic Downtown Bryan by Nikki Smith

Wee Planet Historic Bryan: Detail

Although I’m a bit bummed that I didn’t win (I’ll be honest), this has inspired me to create more artwork for competitions and challenges throughout this year. Congrats to the winners!

Since I always love seeing the “before, during and after” of how artists create their lovelies, I’ll add a “The Making Of…” post soon, so stay tuned!

Only as high as I reach can I GROW…

January 9th, 2010 by Nikki Smith

I lost a (silly) bet with my husband and he challenged me to create a piece of artwork with a poem as his reward.  What a thoughtful way to reward me, too!  Below is the poem (by Karen Ravn) and the four collages I created, one for each sentiment in the poem:

Only as high as I reach can I GROW

Only as high

as I reach


Only as far

as I seek

Can I GO

Only as far as I seek can I GO
Only as deep as I look can I SEE

Only as deep

as I look


Only as much

as I dream

Can I BE

Only as much as I dream can I BE
Gold leaf tree detail

I chose this poem to inspire my husband.  We both continually strive to improve ourselves and to stretch our horizons.  We challenge each other to grow and to think and to do and to learn.  This poem and the artwork I’ve created around it reflect that creative spirit of curiosity, growth and boundless potential that I see every day in the two loves of my life.

The tree is a common element among all four collages to tie them together visually.  The first panel (GROW) has a silver-leafed matboard tree on top of an altered photo of the sky with a seagull.  The second panel (GO) uses copper leaf and an old map with the legend/poem raised as well.  The third panel (SEE) has the tree cut-out and is mounted above a mirror (for self-reflection).  The photo is a macro shot that I took of dew drops on a spiderweb in the grass.  The final panel (BE) is a mixed gold leaf tree on a beautiful photo of the heavens.  All four collages measure 6 x 8″ each.

The process:

After deciding on the poem and spending many nights thinking about it and jotting down ideas for techniques and subject matter for each of the stanzas, I finally had an idea that I wanted to try.  First, let me list a few of the varied ideas that I set aside.  I may use these on a future project someday.

  • Idea 1: Collaged backgrounds of vintage illustrations from old books or manuals, all tinted to the same color – perhaps dyed with coffee or tea for a sepia tone.  For example, for “high” the images could be astronomical instruments, diagrams of the movements of the heavens, blueprints for airplanes, etc.  For “far” it would be maps or modes of transportation.  For “deep” it could be drawings to do with the sea, the human eye, or microscopic cells/germs.  For “dream” it would be mind-maps and brain diagrams.
  • Idea 2: Simple color scheme of black, white and green.  Zentangles for the tree elements, varying the color positions.
  • Idea 3: Fabric over the matboard and beneath the photo, showing though a cut-out tree shape in the photo for a raised, fabric-covered tree.
  • Idea 4: Impressed and painted copper foil; embossed mirror; swirls or designs worked into the leaf…
  • And a dozen other ideas, no two alike.

My first step was to locate/create imagery that spoke to me for each of the panels.  I found some vintage illustrations that I liked, but not enough.  I eventually chose photography for the backgrounds rather than illustrations.  I poured through my own photos, my collection of old books and creative commons photos on the web.  I found and altered the perfect images and then added the text for each part of the poem.

I then cut the tree out of the SEE photo, as well as out of a plain piece of card stock.  I used the back side of this template to trace the tree segments onto mat board, three copies of each piece.  As I went, I numbered both the template and each piece so that I could later reassemble them.  I painstakingly cut the shapes with an exacto knife, learning that I had to always go counter-clockwise around each shape (I’m a lefty) to keep the angles right.  I had to re-cut several shapes as I learned what worked and what didn’t, especially on the itty-bitty ones.  I spent so many hours on this step that I lost feeling in the tip of one finger tip for several weeks after!

Once the pieces were ready, I added metal leaf to them.  Not as easy as it sounds!  The first time I didn’t use enough spray adhesive and had to spend days filling in the gaps on the edges.  I was wiser on the last tree, which was a relative breeze to do.  When complete, I sealed the leaf.

Finally, I mounted the SEE photo face-down as a template on a block of wood with a piece of paper to protect the front of the photo.  I applied Terrifically Tacky Tape (which is wonderful, I might add) to the backs of the tree pieces.  I then laid down one or two pieces at a time in the template, sticky side up.  I taped each of the three collages (with invisible gift wrap tape) temporarily to a piece of matboard to keep the pages stiff.  Then I lined up the top of the page with the top of the template and pressed it face-down on top.  This adhered the tree to the collage, bit-by-bit.  It was so exciting to see the pieces finally coming together after all of the time I had invested in this project!

The last step will be to double-mat and frame the collages.  I haven’t yet decided whether to do so four-across in a row, or 2 x 2 in a grid…Hmmm…  I can’t wait to see it on the wall!  =)

Detail: Only as far as I seek can I goWith this project, I’ve also challenged myself to present my art more, well, artistically.  In the past, I’ve usually taken a face-on photo of the artwork showing the whole piece, and maybe edited out the distracting background and adjusted the brightness.  However, I’ve been paying more attention to the images that catch my eye in magazines and on the web and I’ve noticed that the shots I like best are rarely so static.  They draw the eye, show an unusual angle, focus on detail, show depth and texture and even leave something to the imagination by how the shot is framed and cropped.  The art seems more touchable and real in these photos.

I hope that I have captured the essence of the artwork and the soul of the poem for you, and maybe inspired you to reach a bit higher, step out on your journey, reflect and grow and most of all, dream bigger dreams.

Fun mail day…Artwork by Marsha Jorgensen!

November 10th, 2009 by Nikki Smith

It’s so nice to get fun stuff in the mail rather than just bills and junk! And what could be better than art?  Check out my new Tumble Fish Studio prints by Marsha Jorgensen:

Tumble Fish Studio Limited Ediiton Prints
I was introduced to Marsha’s artwork (a.k.a. Tumble Fish Studio) through a fund raiser for a mutual friend, Tina Wright.  I was the top bidder on a piece of her artwork and a gift certificate to her shop for another print and she was kind enough to send me three!  (Thank-you, I love them!!) Marsha makes these delightful collages the old-fashioned way — by hand.  You can see more at her blog or her etsy shop.

Last week I also received my order of art goodies from The Shoppe at Sommerset.  I now have a set of test tubes, some watch findings (tiny, tiny gears and parts), unusual paper flowers and a cool collage sheet.  Still no time to play with them – maybe this weekend…?  I hope so — I’m going through art withdrawl and my hands are itching to CREATE!