Monday, June 28, 2010

Special Effects

Today we have more Special Effects and Collaging from one of my community college students here in Dallas.

Express Yourself!

Ray Bolton is one of my favorite students. He was truly ambivilent about learning an image editing program when he first came to class. But he dug in, was patient and learned the ins and outs of Photoshop Elements and what you see below is the result of his hard work.

Ray's neighbor, Vicki Agee, is actually the one responsible for Ray ending up in our Photoshop Elements classes. A little bit of nagging can be a wonderful thing--she kept after him, he relented and now he's guuuuud! Here is a collage he did of Vicki in her wonderful rose Garden with her charming little dogs!

This protrait was taken from one of the images in the collage. He cropped it out of the collage and used the Artistic Brush Strokes filter to create a painting effect. Then he added a vignette and manufactured a picture frame.

Here is birthday card for a friend of his from his gym, Kailee, who is studying to be a nurse. Florence Nightengale never had it so good!

The blue daylily on Richard's birthday card below was intended to be a joke for Ray's friend. Richard is a daylily grower in Connecticut. And guess what-blue daylilies do not exist! You can fool a lot of people in Photoshop but not this guy!

Great ideas coming from a creative mind who learned how to express himself through images.

“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successfull personality to duplicate.” ~Bruce Lee

Thanks so much Ray for letting me share your images on the blog!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lifelong Learning Thursday

Nancy Merz Nordstrom, author of Learning Later, Living Greater: The Secret of Making the Most of Your After 50 Years will share the benefits of Lifelong Learning on Thursdays.

The Secret for Making the Most of Your After-50 Years.

…a Health Club for Your Mind. Body and Spirit!

Up to this point we have discussed programs and opportunities for engaging in lifelong learning that are already in existence; they’ve been up and running for some time. Now we’re going to take a quick peek at some of the new and innovative ideas that are being developed and put in place for the 21st century.

The goal of these next few blogs is to help you realize that many new options to enhance and enrich your Third Age will be presenting themselves to you in the coming decades. With 76+ million adults reaching 50 and beyond in the next 20-30 years, new opportunities will be almost limitless. So keep your ears and eyes open for ways to ensure a vibrant, alert mind, no matter what your age. You will be pleasantly surprised. As Bob Dylan said, “The times they are a-changin.”

Already there are exciting new opportunities on the horizon. Here is the first of them.

The Next Chapter TM
Earlier, we talked in-depth about Civic Ventures, ® the San Francisco based organization that serves as a catalyst and incubator of both ideas and programs that help America achieve an “experience dividend.”

They have now developed The Next Chapter Initiative ™ to help communities create places and programs that provide older adults with direction and connection as they begin the next chapter of their lives.

The Next Chapter concept is based on the premise that access to meaningful choices for work, service, learning and social connections play a crucial role in the vitality of older adults and will enrich the life of the community.

The Next Chapter program envisions community places or programs that offer older adults:
  1. Life Planning Programs – to help assess current status and strengths, explore and envision future possibilities and make choices by setting goals and plans.
  2. Meaningful Engagement Through Work and Service – to encourage and help navigate opportunities to take on public service roles, through paid work and volunteer service.
  3. Continued Learning for New Directions – to provide a broad range of learning options that enrich lives and retool for new careers.
  4. Peer and Community Connections – places and programs that foster connections to people of all ages in the community.


Samuel Ullman, the community activist said, “Whether 60 or 16, there is in every human heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing childlike appetite of what’s next and the joy of the game of living…” So very true!

For more information on Learning Later, Living Greater visit You can purchase Learning Later, Living Greater at

Till Next Time…

Monday, June 21, 2010

Make it Happen People

All over the USA, Seniors and Boomers are doing interesting things because they are waaay to young to retire! Our blog is privileged to share the stories and inspirational thoughts of some of these remarkable "make it happen" people.

Retiring in Style

Larry Genender says, "Retiring from something isn't nearly as great as retiring to something."

Larry is a surgeon who worked 14 hour days for many years. He retired at 65 and was looking for something to do. One day his wife saw a garden bench she liked and Larry thought, “I can make one of those.”

That thought eventually morphed into building a woodshop where creating with wood became a passion! He got a lathe and learned how to use it. He took a lot of instruction, including going to seminars around the country. One of those seminars was taught by David Ellsworth, who is one of the most famous wood turners in the country. He spent three days in Pennsylvania learning from this master.

I have seen his work, and it reminds me a lot of Dale Chihuly’s glass—only in wood! The first image you see below is a bowl (unlighted), which is beautiful. In the second image, the lights around the same bowl have been turned off and a single spot light is shining inside. This piece is translucent because it has been soaked in Danish oil. It takes three months to make one of these. The lighted version is called a “vessel of fire”.

Larry won first place in the State Fair with this piece. He found an old piece of wood that had been lying in someone’s barn for years. It was 22 inches in diameter. A lot of the bark had come off, so he had to learn how to recreate it. He used super glue and mesquite bark fragments to replace the missing edges.

When he started out with this creation he had to work around a defect in the wood. The piece evolved into a flat tray with a footed stand.

This piece has an interesting history. It was very thin and he was buffing on a high speed buffer. It flew out of his hands and broke into 4 pieces and he thought it was lost. Then one day he was shopping with his wife and she was looking at a Coach purse that had lacing. He bought a book on lacing and what you see below is the result!

Larry never sells his work, but sometimes he does give it to family and friends. Now there is a precious gift! To see more of his work go to:

He told me that, "The wood leads you, the piece evolves and the art appears!"

A special thank you to Larry Gerender for sharing with our blog!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lifelong Learning Thursday

Nancy Merz Nordstrom, author of Learning Later, Living Greater: The Secret of Making the Most of Your After 50 Years will share the benefits of Lifelong Learning on Thursdays.

The Secret for Making the Most of Your After-50 Years.

…a Health Club for Your Mind. Body and Spirit!

To sum of our discussion about meaningful community service…

If you have already left the full-time workforce why not investigate the many community service options available in your community? You will soon find one or more that fit your experience and interests.

If you are still working, and free time is at a premium, tuck this information away until you are ready to leave the world of full-time work. Then, bring it back out and begin to think about how to continue to be involved in lifelong learning through community service.

If you see a need that isn’t being met, think about how you can meet that need. If necessary, think big. Start a new organization if that’s what it takes to fill the gap.

Let your imagination guide you. There’s always a need for meaningful community service. It only takes one person to get the ball rolling. That person can be you!


In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

For more information on Learning Later, Living Greater visit You can purchase Learning Later, Living Greater at

Till Next Time…

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tuesday's Treasures

On Tuesday's we often take a trip down memory lane with some "remember when" photos and stories. It could be photos from a high school prom; a nostalgic look at a 1950's TV program or a collage of family photos that were just taken last week.

A Great Idea!

Maya Angelou said, "The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart." I'll bet that happened with the charming image we are featuring today.

This gem turned up in one of my Photoshop Elements classes the other day. Dana Kimbrough went to see Little House On the Prairie with her family and recorded the event in a collage. A special event for a special birthday girl!

The play was at Fair Park in Dallas, and is part of a summer series of musicals that they put on every year. My family and I just went to see Wicked and it was really well done as well.

Dana's delightful grandchildren have read the "Little House" books and loved the play. They chose bonnets (a fine idea in my book) instead of t-shirts for a treat to remind of them of the day.

This image was printed on a 16 x 20 sheet at Walgreen's. The paper is thick enough that you can actually hang it on a wall with out framing.

John Steinbeck said, "Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen." How fun would it be to have several of these on one wall, each depicting an event together?

A special thank you to Dana Kimbrough for letting me share her great idea on the blog!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lifelong Learning Thursday

Nancy Merz Nordstrom, author of Learning Later, Living Greater: The Secret of Making the Most of Your After 50 Years will share the benefits of Lifelong Learning on Thursdays.

The Secret for Making the Most of Your After-50 Years.

…a Health Club for Your Mind. Body and Spirit!
So, with all the great examples given last week, how do you find the right opportunity?

There are literally millions of ways to volunteer. But how do you harness them into the right opportunity for you? How do you find the opportunity that fits your lifestyle? Here are some suggestions:

· Look for causes and groups that work with issues about which you feel strongly.

· Make a list of your skills. You can then go right to work with a minimum of training. The skills you’ve learned in your career or at work can be applied for the benefit of others.

· Or, take the opportunity to learn something new through community service.

· Look for opportunities that will help you combine your other goals in life.

· Review your schedule so you don’t over-commit. No one wins if that happens. Take into account your other life commitments.

· Look at opportunities you can take on as a team with your spouse.

· “Virtual volunteer” if you love working on a computer. There are more than 100 organizations that use on-line volunteers.

· Think about new and different venues where volunteers might be useful.

· Find out how much time is required, how much, if any, of your own funds will be used and if expenses are reimbursed.

What are some of the benefits of meaningful community service?

There are multiple, life-enriching benefits to be gained from community service. Here are just a few.

· Community service produces what is called the “halo effect.” By helping out you not only help make the world a better place, but also enrich your own life too.

· Community service gives you the opportunity to fulfill your dreams. Perhaps our career paths took us in a different direction than that which we secretly dream about. So instead of finding a project that is a continuation of that career, find one that fulfills the “inner you.” Engage in that fantasy!

· Most people can physically, mentally and emotionally benefit from a moderate amount of service work.

· Being a volunteer enhances the control you feel over your own life.

· A measure of status and identity is conferred by contributing and working in a volunteer capacity.

· You feel fulfilled with a new sense of purpose.

· Community service boosts character, builds strong minds that can reason, think critically, negotiate and solve problems.

· You will be intellectually challenged.

· Giving back promises greater meaning, stimulation and the chance to make a difference in others’ lives.

· People who have found a valued role in life live longer.

· You develop a new perspective on life making material things less important.

· You will come away feeling valued and needed.

· You make new contacts, which might lead to a second career, full-time or part-time.

· Social interaction increases as you meet new people.

· Finally, community service enables you to leave a legacy. Erik Erikson’s idea that “we are what survives of us,” speaks to how we can leave society a better place than how we found it. And, that’s what we’ll be remembered for!


Dr. Dorothy I. Height, president and CEO of the NCNW says, Without community service, we would not have a strong quality of life. It's important to the person who serves as well as the recipient. It's the way in which we ourselves grow and develop. And, growing and developing, even into later age, is what lifelong learning is all about.

For more information on Learning Later, Living Greater visit You can purchase Learning Later, Living Greater at

Till Next Time…

Monday, June 7, 2010

Special Effects With Filters

This week we will be doing a series on Special Effects. These images were all created by my students at the community college where I teach. I continue to be charmed and inspired by the creativity of the people in my Emeritus classes!

Simply...Working With Filters

I love the diversity my students bring to the classroom. We are all between the age of 50 and 90, so the life experience and talent simmering around the room is almost tangible!

Valerie Jagiello, one of our talented resident artists, has been kind enough to contribute to our blog before, and does again today, with some helpful hints about using Photoshop Elements filters.

She says, "Photoshop has a wealth of filters and image altering effects. As your confidence level grows using this program with its filters will the level of your results.

Since I started working in Photoshop several years ago, after losing some 'spectacular' effects to my memory, I write EVERYTHING DOWN. I now keep a journal of all filter combinations with appropriate level amounts noted.

Two things to remember when working with filters....write down the EXACT ORDER you have used to create your masterpiece as any deviation from that order will definitely alter the final effect you are expecting. The second is to create a working base. This will act as a constant and I use this method all the time. The base should include any cropping or cloning or whatever and give you a clean image or base photo to work with.

Photo one (below) is a typical "brag" picture taken by my friend and fellow artist Donna Kerness of her youngest granddaughter Avi taking a bath. I cropped out the back and cloned the bubbles closer to the face. This picture became my base.

The second picture shows the use of the distort filter (with black over white) and then the pastel filter added.

The third picture shows the use of the distort filter again with the watercolor filter added. Use the preview window (when in the filter) to see the settings and change the defaults to ones that you like.

The fourth picture is another simple shot of adorable Avi in the backyard.

Don't be afraid to crop parts of a picture to create a knockout final image. This one used the distort filter then I switched to the sharpen with line and lastly added the sharpen again. Note that using the sharpen filters can change the image in many really cool ways. The white on the hair is from a combination of all three working together.

Now go ahead and release your inner artist!!! Go forth and create and don't be limited by the original image...I NEVER HAVE!!!"

Valerie Jagiello is available for individual creative services and can be reached through this blog. Just add a comment below and we will get your message to her. She will be happy to contact you to talk art!

A special thank you to Valerie Jagiello for her lovely images and great advice for using filters!