This started as a way to leave happy looking notes for a neighbor. Her dogs were waking me in the middle of the night. And, since she sleeps during the day – leaving her a note (now & then) was one way to gently let her know about the problem.
To use these pages, I wrote my messages in the white rectangle in the middle. Then, I hand-colored the border design.
Last week, I realized I could print these for the children in my family, so they had an area to color, but also an area to draw in. (They’re at the age where they love coloring, but they also love to draw.)
And then, I decided to make these available to everyone, free.
Click on each image below, and the related PDF will open for you to download. (These are 8 1/2″ x 11″ pages, and each graphic is linked to a different PDF.)
And then… I realized my other neighbors might enjoy this writing paper, too. So, I got an easy-to-remember Bit.ly URL, Free2Color.
After that, I created the following sign, colored it (by hand, of course), and taped it to our front door.
This goes along with another recent, hippie-style project for my neighbors:
Every morning during the week of Earth Day, I put a new message in one of my front windows. I printed the signs large enough so passers-by could read them when they’re on their way to work, or walking their dogs.
Most of the messages came from late 1960s’ and early 70s’ songs… things from Woodstock and the hippie era, in general. Others reflect similar attitudes.
Here are a few of them, stacked on my floor.
If you like this idea, the font is Elsie Swash Caps Black font, and the size should be at least 120 pts to be read by people passing by your home. (For other signs, I’ve used Placard GF at about 150 pts, and a few similar fonts.)
Generally, I’m printing on two sheets of 8.5″ x 11″ paper, horizontal, and then I tape them together to make the window sign.
For me, these ideas come from my “still a hippie” soul, with the idea that doing nice things for other people – and putting more happiness into the world – is the right thing to do.
And yes, I am planning to create more writing paper you can download, free, and more coloring book freebies, in general.
This Christmas – like last year – we started kitchen gardens for friends & family.
They’ve been a great success. (My own green onions have been thriving for over a year now. I just keep cutting them back – to use in recipes – and the plants regrow bigger & more flavorful every time.)
Today, we delivered four green onion plants (already started) as Boxing Day gifts to the four managers of the apartments where we live.
If this sounds interesting to you, here are links to the instruction sheets (PDFs) I created. They explain how to start your own kitchen garden, using items from the produce department at your grocery store.
Okay, I’m enthusiastic about coloring books. And, I’ll admit I’ve been carried away by the success of my “Bold and Easy Coloring Pages” series.
This series has wider lines that are easier to see if someone has a vision challenge. And, in most cases, the coloring areas are larger. That makes them easier to color by anyone with dexterity issues like arthritis or difficulty holding a coloring pencil, marker, or crazy.
(The cover at right shows the most complex coloring design in this book.)
They’re ideal for special education teachers, seniors with some disabilities, and anyone who wants a book that’s easier to see and has bigger areas to color.
But… last week, in my enthusiasm, I accidentally uploaded the wrong interior for “Bold and Easy Coloring Pages 4.” And, besides having designs I hadn’t planned to include in the final edition, one page actually had an error on it.
The word “embarrassed” doesn’t begin to describe how I felt when I made the discovery.
Fortunately, I found it so quickly, only one person had bought the book. (The book now selling at Amazon is the correct one.)
If you’re that one person who bought it, please contact me and tell me: What country you purchased it in, when you bought it, and how much you paid.
In return, I’ll send you an Amazon gift certificate so you can replace that book, and buy another one of my coloring books (or anything else you’d like to use the certificate for).
Okay, I’m so hooked on coloring books, I may need a support group soon. (I am kidding. I can’t imagine wanting to be pried away from my art… ever!)
My latest is Lovely Designs 1 (now out of print), and it’s a little different from my previous books. In addition to the 26 coloring pages (printed on one side of each page), I’ve included six “DIY” (do it yourself) pages.
When I draw my coloring pages, I don’t sketch anything ahead of time. Instead, I go right to work with a large pen or brush-style marker. I make broad, sweeping strokes to indicate the main areas of the design.
Next, I scan those drawings, so I can clean them up a little in Photoshop. That’s partly to erase any truly impossible lines I’d included. However, it’s even more useful to get a fresh look at the art… in a different scale (small), and in a different context (on my monitor).
It’s similar to how I used to explain my online diary, back when people thought that was weird. (Long before “blogging” became a trend.)
I used to explain how much easier it was to see what I was doing well — and not-so-well — in my life. On the computer monitor, it was like reading someone else’s story, not my own. (That may not be easy to understand, but — in those days — people weren’t so deeply enmeshed in social media and in each other’s lives. So, to read a “story” online was like reading a news story or diary by someone else altogether.)
Anyway, after I tweak my initial drawing, I print it so I can add embellishments and details, by hand.
Six of those un-embellished scans became part of Lovely Designs 1, along with three illustrated pages explaining how I embellish them… in case anyone else wants to try their hand at this kind of art, but needs a “head start” to gain more confidence.
Also, Lovely Designs 1 contains two mandalas and two repeating patterns based on the same drawings.
For my left-handed friends, I’ve also created a left-hand edition of Lovely Designs 1. (I’m trying to do this with most of my coloring books. In my opinion, nothing about art should be inconvenient, ever. That includes having to reach across a coloring book, just to color the picture.) That’s its cover, on the right. (See the double-L logo at the lower right side of the cover, indicating a left-hand edition.)
The search for the earliest “selfie” (self-portrait, as a photograph) seems to be at full tilt.
One of my favorites is dated around 1900. It’s shown at the right. The largest version I can find, online was posted by Sabine Niedola. (The largest, clear image is usually the first — or one of the first — posted online, and I like to give credit to the person who first found it.)
Frankly, the subject’s features look a lot like my own portraits from the 1980s. I’m also pleased to see her hairstyle. I’ve tried that kind of style — even with ultra-thick hair — and it turned out the same as hers. So, I wasn’t alone with the “pouf” issue. (I know about “rats” — long, sausage-shaped supports hidden under the hair — for better-looking versions of this style. I just wasn’t that committed to the style.)
Note: Since I posted this, my friend David Locicero pointed out authenticity issues. This may be a hoax or a cosplay photo.
Something looks a little like an outlet, on the lower right side of the photo. I’m not certain it’s an outlet, but it might be. I don’t know enough about household hardware from the early 20th century, to be sure.
My bigger question is about the matted photos on the shelves. The double-matted pictures are more consistent with modern-day presentations. In the past, someone who could afford that kind of matting would have framed the photos under glass.
There’s also the question of the light fixture (if that’s what it is) on the ceiling in the reflection. And, the high quality of the mirror reflection.
But, whether it’s an authentic photo or not, it’s not the earliest “selfie.”
One in the running is a self-portrait by photographer Robert Cornelius. He’s the dashing young man in the photo on the left.
The fashions are, of course, post-Regency, but I still see a little Colin Firth / Pride and Prejudice in that photo.
Ah, if time travel were possible…! (If he came through a time portal, like in Kate and Leopold, I’m sure many women would swoon.)
Then there’s the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia’s self-portrait, on the right, dating to 1913 or 1914.
The Daily Mail featured the picture in a really nice article.
I’d always hoped Anastasia had survived the attack on her family. Alas, DNA evidence suggests otherwise.
Nevertheless, I’m intrigued by the white blurry image in back of her. Online, that’s sparked some discussion with no firm conclusions. Very cool.
If you enjoy old self-portraits like these, visit Google or any search engine and look for “oldest selfies” and “earliest selfies.” You’ll find plenty, right now. (I’m not thrilled with the term “selfie,” or that it’s the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2013, but if you’re looking for early self-portraits, the term makes online searching much easier.)
Many people — perhaps most people online today — don’t know how copyright laws work.
I know no one who deliberately breaks copyright laws.
But yes… some people believe that anything online is okay to borrow, at least for personal or one-time use.
After all, everyone else is doing that, so it must be legal… right?
Umm, no. Really. No.
I’M NOT A LAWYER
I’m not an attorney. My interpretations of the law are my own opinions, not legal advice.
Also, even judges don’t seem to agree on copyright law. How harshly you’re treated, if caught, can vary from one courtroom to the next.
WHY I CARE
I’m an artist. Since the mid-1990s, when I created my first website — gosh, was that really over 20 years ago? — my own images have been stolen.
The tragedy is, I usually give permission when someone asks, first. I was thrilled when one of my original photos was used for a record album cover. But, the band asked permission.
I go directly to the webmaster when I find someone using one of my illustrations illegally. Most people quickly (and apologetically) remove the image from their websites.
However, a few balk. They insist they bought the image from someone else, as part of a package, so they think the image is in the public domain now.
Or they found the image at Flickr. Or something.
That’s when I contact the person’s website hosting service. Usually, the hosting service shuts down every website that person has. They’re banned.
Nobody’s happy, and it didn’t have to conclude that way.
I’ve written several popular articles about copyright, the “three stroke” myth, and how copyright law affects artists. Some of that information may apply to you. My original article is at https://aisling.net/copyright-and-the-three-stroke-rule/ , along with several other copyright-related articles.
I also teach artists, including photographers, how to protect their images so they can prove they’re the original creators of the respective works.
It’s a simple technique: I remove about 1/2 inch on at least two sides of the original image, before I post it online. When the hosting service asks me to prove it’s my original graphic, I can show them the larger version that has never appeared online. So far, that’s always worked.
Maybe you shrug off copyright laws. If you don’t know anyone who’s been caught “borrowing” images, and you haven’t felt the anguish of seeing your own work stolen, maybe it’s no big deal.
However, if you’re breaking the law, it’s only a matter of time until you’re caught.
Today, software can identify images being used illegally online. Art museums use this technology to protect their images, online.
Just like Google Image Search, the specialized software recognizes distinctive elements in original graphics and scours the Internet looking for any matches.
Once you’re caught by someone who has deep pockets or an attorney with whiplash mentality… heaven help you.
You’re playing a dangerous game if you’re using photos or artwork without permission.
USE LEGAL IMAGES INSTEAD
There is no reason to use illegal images in any product, including website design.
There are many great, public domain images online. Pre-1923 images are generally (but not always) safe to use. You can find them online; Wikipedia often features gorgeous public domain images by famous artists such as John William Waterhouse. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_William_Waterhouse
Those are just some of many great resources for free, completely legal, royalty-free images. (Remember: The images are still copyrighted. You’re simply given permission to use the images without paying a fee.)
Stock.xchng was one of my favorites. No matter what the name of the site is now, if the option is offered: be sure to search with “Restricted OK” set to “NO.” http://www.sxc.hu/
Morgue File (not what it sounds like), also called MFile, is another great resource. Like Stock.xchng, be sure to check the licensing terms for each image. http://www.morguefile.com/
Most free, royalty-free websites also offer higher-quality images for a fee. The fee can be as low as $1 with unlimited use rights, and that often depends on the size of the image you want (for online or print use) and whether you’ll be reproducing it on tee-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.
Or, if you found an image — like one of mine — through an image scraper or photo-sharing site, it’s easy to double-check the owner (and the rights to that image).
Browser plugins like Search by Image for Google make it right-click easy.
Then, ask the owner for permission to use the image in your project. Many of us are happy to say yes.
The best idea of all? Take your own photos. Practice makes perfect (or at least good enough), you don’t need to get a photography degree… though you could. And, once you’re comfortable with your camera, consider adding your photos to sites like iStockPhoto.com and earn money from them.
Don’t feel bad if you’ve been using images without permission. 99% of the people I teach or consult for have no idea they’ve been doing anything wrong. This includes respected artists including photographers and illustrators.
What’s important is to use legal images as much as you can, starting right away. The Internet is always changing, and copyright law is becoming a far greater issue across the online community.
Besides, there is no reason to copy others’ graphics without permission. There are many wonderful, free resources for great images. Use them instead.
When I create anything artistic, I feel good. I’ve also noticed that my life goes better… I attract more good things into my life.
So, when Bob Proctor sent me this quotation this morning, I knew I wanted to turn it into a mini-poster and put it on my wall.
The quotation is:
“It’s really important that you feel good. Because this feeling good is what goes out as a signal into the universe and starts to attract more of itself to you.
“So the more you can feel good, the more you will attract the things that help you feel good and that will keep bringing you up higher and higher.”
Of course, that summarizes The Secret in three sentences. However, whether or not you believe in The Secret, this is still a happy way to look at life and the world around you. It’s empowering, on a deeply spiritual level… and isn’t that what creating and art are all about?
This is a freebie for anyone who’s interested. No strings attached!
I’m having such fun sending out free, artsy/creative postcards to people, I’m creating new ones and sending them — at random — in batches of 20 – 100 per week.
The original (orange & purplish, “Your year to create!”) cards are gone now.
I’ve sent a small (20-or-so) batch of b&w cards about making art with what you have, no matter where you are. Those are no longer available.
My next 100 cards were glossy, printed postcards, and they include a mountain scene and a quotation about beauty. Not signed or numbered, they were a “test run” with a different postcard design. All of them have been sent now, too.
I will create more, spontaneous b&w cards and send them on whim, as well. They’re not signed or numbered… just fun!
Starting with the August 2010 postcards, the artwork is generally my own.
To receive free artsy/creative cards in the mail, scroll down and use the form below. No charge, no strings attached, and I don’t share addresses with anyone else.
Really, this is just one of those fun things that I like to do.
If you were a subscriber and didn’t receive your postcard, please use the paid subscribers’ form to update your mailing address.
Anyway, I have about 30 postcards left from the batch I had printed. I want to send them out, too. (Update: Remember, those have all been mailed now.)
In fact, I want to do this with every zine or gift-y, artsy item that I publish:
In addition to mailing to my subscribers’ list, I’ll draw names at random from the freebies list. When someone receives that month’s postcard, it’ll be like receiving a treat. They’ll have a free, 30-day pass to something cool and exclusive.
Some of the postcards will be a signed & numbered artsy something, in itself.
And, the info on the postcard will lead the person to the hidden location of whatever-it-is. (It may be a riddle or a mystery to solve, to figure out the download location. I want this to be a game, sometimes, but not too difficult.)
If you’d like to be part of the freebie pool of names/addresses, send your name & snailmail/postal address to me, using the form below. (It’s okay if you’re not in the U.S. I’ll choose a few non-US addresses each time, too.)
The first 30 (or so) will receive my current postcard, which is simply the “confirm your mailing address” card I’ve been sending. (You will NOT need to confirm your address.)
After that, you’ll be in the regular drawing for access to… well, I’m not sure what, yet.
If this works out, I may turn the subscription area into something that new people can subscribe to. Let’s see how this first step goes. This has to be fun!
Some people were confused about my earlier call for addresses from former, paid subscribers. If you were NOT a paid subscriber — someone who signed up for a year of paper zines, probably in the 1990s — and you sent me your name + address during my earlier call, you do need to resend it with this form.