Cathy Earle – Cityscape Oil Painting

Author: tracysigler | Posted: December 12th, 2009 | | Tags: , | 1 Comment »
Cathy Earle - Cityscape Oil Painting circa 1973

Cathy Earle - Cityscape Oil Painting circa 1973

I saw this last year, Christmas 2008, when visiting my in-laws. My mother-in-law Cathy Earle did this fantasy cityscape oil painting in the early 1970s. I believe it was an assignment in an art class she was taking. She had redecorated her office and brought this piece out of the archives. The colors are fantastic, no pun intended. They are an Army family and at first I thought this was real skyline from some place they had been stationed in Europe.

For a closer look see a larger version of this oil painting.

Brad Price – The Cellar (Painting)

Author: Tracy Sigler | Posted: January 22nd, 2009 | | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »
Brad Price - The Cellar (Painting)

Brad Price - The Cellar (Painting)

I just heard from a childhood friend. It’s only been about 25 years since we’ve seen each other. His father made the wedding rings I posted here a while back. Turns out that Brad Price is quite an artist himself. I totally dig this painting of the wine cellar at Elizabeth’s Cafe in Duck, NC. There’s just something about the collision of patterns in man-made objects and hand-made or human painting that always does it for me.

When I’m back to livin’ large I’ll try to get him to sell it to me. He posted two more killer paintings at his blog today. Aahhh! I want those too! Check ’em out at

Christmas Card 2008 – Large Scale Light Painting

Author: Tracy Sigler | Posted: December 18th, 2008 | | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments »
Christ Card 2008 - Large Scale Light Painting

Christ Card 2008 - Large Scale Light Painting

There is no Photoshop trickery happening here. This image was captured in one take using a single long exposure photograph. Blah blah blah blah, or you can just watch this video. Jump below for the details.

Larger video

This large scale light painting of a Christmas tree was made in our backyard. On the ground the tree was 55 feet tall and about 25 feet wide. It appears short and fat because of the angle of the photograph. I had the camera, and video camera, in a stairwell window at the back of our house. I’m at least four storeys (someone asked, that is in fact the correct spelling) in the air because our property drops quite a bit. We are in the mountains. But the back lot is nice and flat. I used rope to lay out the tree and enlisted the family and some conveniently located neighbors to move the lights around.

The kids were in the middle of the tree swinging the light sabers (see below) in circles to make the “ornaments” and Mars walked back and forth to make a “garland.” The Moms (Mary and Jill) made the tree outline by waving two light sabers each as they walked along the rope, invariably racing at the end of each take to finish in time. I used a kitchen timer and called out the remaining seconds.

I wanted to do some light painting myself so I took the tripod and camera outside and made some “Nöels” in green and red. Nöel (Which I now know should be spelled “noël” – oof, embarrassing. I was in the dark!) is way easier than trying to write “Merry Christmas,” backward mind you, in the dark, before the time runs out and the shutter closes. Plus, Nöel is so short I was able to turn the light on and off for each letter, and add the umlaut over the “o.” I put a strip of four of these inside the card, along the top.

Nöel Light Painting

Nöel Light Painting

We did something similar for the family shot on the back of the card. For this one I used another camera, mounted on separate stand, just for the flash. That way I could move the lights around to make the frame, then get back into position before the second camera flashed, which would make us visible in the photo taken by the first camera. Staggering the timers on the two cameras so that the flash would happen after I was done drawing, but before the shutter closed on the first camera was a challenge. Have I mentioned we were in the dark? The image came out too dark on the card but the original looks good.

Family Portrait Light Painting

Family Portrait Light Painting

This was a fun card to make, but I was stressing about the execution. I mentioned to my friend Gary a couple months ago that I was worried about the logistics and he said something like “only you would have a Christmas card with logistical challenges.” Why do things the easy way? Walk hard.

More post performance photo fun:

See more of our light painting pictures at Flickr.

Details details

Our tools for the light painting

Our tools for the light painting

Camera: Canon G9, 15 second shutter time, ISO 100, some other stuff I can’t remember

Lights: Light sabers from, only $36 for 12 (Note to parents: some items at FBL are PG13); one regular flashlight for the garland. Sourcing some good lights was probably the toughest part. I looked everywhere, poi stuff, glow sticks, gels, etc. This idea needed large swaths of light and these sabers were perfect, and cheap!

People: 2 moms, 6 kids (one toddler helping Paris), and a gigantic whining dog with me in the stairwell

Kevin Shelton’s Skateboard Collection at The Push Gallery

Author: tracysigler | Posted: June 25th, 2007 | | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

This one if for my main man Bennie. He was the first guy I knew to have a “serious” skateboard. It was a Kryptonics Krypstick with gnarly see-through pizza deck grip tape, Tracker trucks, and some sweet green Kryptonic wheels. He was cool enough to let me use it to commute to summer school one year in junior high. It was slower than riding my bike but I really wanted to show off that board, even though it belonged to Bennie.

Asheville’s Kevin Shelton has quite a collection of cool boards too. And he’s not just a collector; he once was pro and road for Walker skateboards. Thanks to Push Skateshop Kevin’s collection is on display in their gallery. The gallery, which is probably bigger than the skateshop, regularly has art exhibited, paintings, sculptures etc., but this collection really combines the twin forces of art and skating like nothing else. I didn’t even know about it until I started talking to Rob, the owner, when he was helping out at my son’s skateboard camp last week. He helped Mars learn some new things. Maybe I can get him to coach me.

I took a ton a pics of this collection and had a difficult time picking these few. Shelton also has quite a collection of vintage snowboards and land luges on display, but the skateboards are what do it for me. Here are some of my favorites.

Kevin Shelton\'s Skateboard Collection at The Push Gallery

Thumbtack Mosaic Portrait

Author: Tracy Sigler | Posted: April 10th, 2006 | | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Thumbtack Mosaic Portrait

This is something I’ve wanted to try for a long time. The idea of using mundane objects to create something more interesting was calling me. I didn’t want to use “found” objects and put them into a new context, such as using a piece of machinery as a component in a piece of furniture. I’ve done that enough. This time, I wanted to use objects in their proper context, but in a way that was unexpected.

Below is a picture of my friends’ son Max. Step away from the monitor about ten feet to see the image really come together. Thumbtacks were used on a cork bulletin board, where they feel right at home, to create a low resolution portrait. This is the source image I used.

One way to do it:

  • Open the source image in your favorite graphic editing software and reduce it to the needed resolution. For this example it was 35×49, pretty rough.
  • Decide on color palette/Source the tacks. This was tough because most stores don’t have thousands of tacks just sitting in the aisles. I want to try push pins too, but thumbtacks just had a pleasing tactile quality (once they’re installed that is) so I had to do that. I was going to use the standard primary color, vinyl covered tacks. Then, Mary found these at the variety store down the street. I really liked the colors and I walked down there and bought every pack they had. Still wasn’t enough.
  • Get the colors into the computer. I decided to scan them because photos can be a pain with highlights, shadows. Once I had the scan I picked the most representative color I could find from each tack.
  • Create a custom palette using those colors. This may not be easy, depends on the software you’re using.
  • Apply the palette and season to taste. In Photoshop you can manipulate the Diffusion, Pattern, and Noise options to get something that looks more interesting. For this pic of Max I wanted it diffused enough that when you are standing close by it’s a little hard to see.
  • Layout the tacking pattern on the bulletin board. Most tacks, including push pins will do well spaced on 7/16 inch centers. I won’t recommend the way I did it. If you come up with something efficient please let me know by commenting here.
  • Scale up the image, say 15X, and maybe overlay a grid to make it easier to follow. Print out the image if you won’t be working next to the screen.

That’s pretty much it. I’ll just say that it took a lot longer than it looks. I had it probably 75% done and had to start over because it looked blah. Lesson learned: crank up the contrast. I was also running out of tacks in a few colors. Adjusting the contrast helped but I still had to fake a lot of it at the end. And you know that gratifying sensation when you push a tack, the cork yields, and you feel it stick? Well, that goes away entirely after the first few hundred. This portrait has 1,715.

I’m going to do a small number more and then move on to something different. Grandmas unite! Put down your cross stitch, your needlepoint, and buy some tacks!

Detail of the eye area… looks like nothing, right?

Thumbtack Mosaic Portrait Detail