Thursday, 27 January 2011

Top 10 Layouts (2010 in Review pt 7)

You will be pleased (!) to know that this is the very LAST post of my Best of 2010 series and, along with my look back to my top 10 photos, definitely my favourite.

This month marks our (Liberty and me) 5th scrapbooking anniversary and I think it's fair to say that we have both come a LONG way in those 5 years. My first pages are a lot of fun to look back on but not exactly the "best" as far as design principles or style. I'm hoping that you all have the same experience and know what I mean! It's not that I don't love the pages I made back in 2006, it's just that I LOVE the pages I made in 2010 - or at least most of them!

What is funny though is that even then, I wasn't worried about chronology, scrapping every photo, or only making things pretty. One of my first ever pages was this one that I made based on a BG sketch. I remember R being surprised that this was my subject - a couple of trees and some snow. Why wasn't I doing our holidays, the things we did, the places we went? And he didn't really understand when I told him that I wanted to capture the little things. The things that touched me. The everyday things that matter - to me.

I think you can't really read the journalling (already so important to me) but it talks about the view from our window and how happy I was that I had taken these photo at this time because at the time of writing, the beautiful, stunning, magnificent horse-chestnut trees were not there, having been cut down in the new year. 

And not a lot has changed in the years since then! Late in 2006 I discovered Big Picture Scrapbooking and Simple Scrapbooks and then never looked back. I was home! Pictures, stories, memories and pretty papers. Bliss! Along the way, Liberty opened up Bellaboo and I had a lot of fun helping her whenever she asked. Through this, we both got published and became regular contributors to The Scapbook Magazine which is such a thrill when I see our layouts in print!  

But if we fast forward to 2010, this was my most productive year yet. Thanks to a boost to the number of pages completed due to three months of LOAD, and then finding the style that I had been looking for in myself for so long (à la Nic H!), I can honestly say that I love more layouts from 2010 than I don't love. I discovered that I love distressing, I love clustering, white space is really hard for me, I love to write journalling, I often love to use more than one photo and I love the community I have found through blogging and through LOAD. I enjoy using sketches, challenges, prompts or others' layouts as inspiration. I love the work I do for The Scrapbook Magazine. I love it when I get to go to the Bromsgrove Crop organised by Liberty. It's just that I love this hobby of ours. Isn't it wonderful?

Back to 2010...

My total output was this....

... with the layouts on the left being those made in classes or just for me or for The Scrapbook Magazine, and those on the right being my LOAD February, May and October layouts. These piles of finished layouts make me feel GOOD! Look at all that dimension, all those products used up, all those stories told, all those photos stuck down and all that creative time! I haven't counted them but there must be 150 here as I know the pile on the right is 90. How to choose just 10?

Actually, this was quite easy. I just thought about the ones that stand out in my mind or ones that I love and haven't highlighted in the multi-photo layout posts from the last few weeks.

They may not really be the TOP 10, but they are all special - to me.

Does this sound vain or arrogant? I hope not. After all, "Do what you love and love what you do", right?

So, my Top 10 Layouts of 2010 (in no particular order)

1. This design was inspired by one I saw on the Studio Calico site by Maggie Holmes. I think I lifted the title too.  I have probably scrapped this photo a dozen times. Yes, I do that - a lot! But each time, the photo says something different to me and the title sent my mind off in a different direction too. This was one of my favourite kits from Scrapagogo last year, and of course, one of my favourite Yukon photos.

2. Yes, a featured photo (from my previous "best of" posts) and a featured layout. Me trying the simple approach with a bit of white space just to prove I can. I wanted to capture how wonderful it was for me to have my photo selected as one of the highlighted photos by The Pioneer Woman for one of her photo challenges. Photography is something I have been working on over the year, and this proved to me I was on the right track of what I wanted to produce.

3. A layout inspired by the Nic H BPC class that we did in the late spring/early summer and then completed during LOAD to the prompt "choose stuff you love" or something like that if I remember correctly. Love the photos, love the design, love the papers. An unusual layout for me as it has no journalling, but my clustering was growing!

4. A layout completed for LOAD in May - at the airport on the way to the UK. I knew I wouldn't have any other time so I packed a small box with some scraps, two sheets of cardstock, some photos, two packs of letters and a few embellishments and then sat in the airport bar and created this - of course without scissors or craft knife! I can't tell you how many funny looks I got - especially when I stood up and took a photo of it in order to upload it to the Flickr gallery. It made Flickr Explore on that day (I think because of the bokeh), but has since dropped out. That doesn't matter as it just proves that you can scrapbook anywhere if you want!

5. A very silly one that I completed for The Scrapbook Magazine. I was given the assignment to use the colours of the German flag, use the topic of "my hero" and to incorporate paper punches. Liberty gets credit for giving me the idea of using Jacob (swoon, swoon) as the subject and I was really pleased with how it came out. See, I can make relatively flat layouts when I try!

6. Another October LOAD layout responding to the daily prompt of a layout without a photo. I think I had probably seen this idea somewhere and it was in my sub-conscience but at the time I was thinking about it, this idea just jumped into my brain out of nowhere and I knew I wanted to do this. I sat down and wrote and wrote and wrote - a stream of babble! When I read it now, I know that there needs to be a second one to this as there are so many things I missed out - not least how important family and friends are to me. I don't think I say this enough to those who matter to me.

7. 12 photos to celebrate 12 years since the day we met, inspired by my 12 on 12 series. It was lovely for me to look back over those years, find a photo for each year and see how happy we have been/are, how young we once were, how much thinner we were back then and to see just a few of all the cool places we have been. I just wanted to capture some thoughts on the day and love how it turned out.

8. Yet another one of my "how many wonderful Yukon photos can I fit onto one page?" layouts. The design was inspired by one I had done in a Nichol Magouirk class and used another one of my favourite kits from Scrapagogo. Just my kind of colours and textures. I loved the fact that I got to use one of my real Canadian maple leaves even though it is very fragile and probably won't hold out all that long.

9. One of the additional layout designs from the Nic H class Dimensional Details. This was definitely the best class I have ever done and while I am still improving on the the whole clustering, distressing, layering thing, this is where the theory and practice came together. I love the colours I have used here - soft and pretty and perfect for those glittered cupcakes.

10. A simple one to finish off just to prove that I can do flat and straight lines if I want. This often happens when I have a lot of journalling to write as was the case here. Just highlighting a wonderful weekend catching up with some friends we met at university.

Monday, 24 January 2011

The "Preparing for LOAD" blog hop

Welcome to the "Preparing for LOAD" blog hop!

I'm so thrilled to see you here, whether you are a fellow LOADster or one of my regular blog friends. I've never participated in a blog hop before so I am very excited to see who drops by to stay hello! Please DO leave me a comment to let me know you were here.

If you have come directly to me, you might want to go back to Lain's blog (here) where the blog hop kicked off and if you have come from Snaps & Snippets, then welcome to the next installment! I hope you find what I have to offer helpful and when you are done, please go to Laura's blog (here) for the next batch of fun!

Today we are all talking about what we do to prepare for LOAD or any suggestions we can offer to help you get through the crazy idea of making a whole, real layout every day! Even if you are not participating in LOAD, I am sure you can find something that might help you speed up your process or even something to inspire you to join in next time. 

I did the very first LOAD Lain organised over at Big Picture back in January 2008 and then joined in the fun again last February, May and October. So this will be my 5th! And as I have a clean record of really making one every day, that's 121 layouts that are now in my albums (well, not IN my albums as they are mostly lying around waiting to be put away but you know what I mean ;-)  ) that might not have otherwise been made. Some of the first ones are a bit "make a layout for the sake of making a layout" but they helped me to develop my style and work through stash! Last year, I concentrated much more on layouts I really wanted to make and didn't shy away from even very time intensive styles or designs if that was what I wanted to make that day. LOAD is all about making it work for you. And though I might repeat this too often in this post, it's all about enjoying yourself. No, really! Making a layout every day for a month can be and really is huge fun!

Here are my three piles from LOAD last year. Yes, I got more and more dimensional through the year. The chunky pile closest to the camera is my October LOAD layouts.
And here is the consolidated pile! Does this pile of 90 layout from three months of work make me feel good? You bet!
Back at the beginning of February last year, when I decided that I was getting back on the LOAD bandwagon, I came up with a 10 point "strategy" for how I was going to get through the month. This has also developed into very much how I do my basic non-LOAD scrapping too. I have updated it a little based on the reality of the last three LOADs but most of it still stands and is still the basis of how I intend to be creative every day in February and most important of all, to have FUN!
  1. Perfection is over-rated: I'm not the first to state this (think it might be a Lainism), but it's so true. When I am doing work for The Scrapbook Magazine, I spend a long time on each project. I check spelling, straighten things up, write and rewrite my journalling until it's just so. But the layouts for this month? Simple, quick and often containing a mistake or ten! Over inked? Not quite straight? Colours not perfectly matched? Glue showing? Embellies not optimally placed? No problem, move on!
  2. Preparation: I don't mean that I have 28 page kits ready to go - this is absolutely not my way of working. But each day I think about what I might scrap. What picture I might use. What I have to say that day. If I have a bit of free time (I travel on public transport and so have a lot of time to kill!), I might even write my journalling out to a story that has come to mind. And I have a pile of photos - good, bad and a lot in between - on my table, and my storage binders to hand. Often, I just have a bit of a rummage, see what catches my eye and am off. The prompts Lain sends out are a great jumping off point and I used them a lot in May and October and this helped in my thinking process. But if the prompt doesn't resonate with me, I will either just store the idea for another day or ignore it and do my own thing.
  3. Glue & Go: I learned this on my Heidi Swapp class in 2007. Yes, I move things around a bit before I decide on position, but I'm talking 2 or 3 minutes, not all evening. Then, it's Glue & Go. And live with the result. And love the result!
  4. Handwritten journalling: I avoid the printed & hand-write almost all my journalling when time is short. No, I don't particularly like my handwriting. But it's mine and there's not a lot to be done. Hand-writing is quick, easy and I don't need 16 attempts at getting it just so. If the hand-writing goes a bit skew-whiff, I accept it. It's typical Lisa to have a few mistakes in there after all.
  5. Sketches: I have Page Maps 1 & 2 and I love them. I use them all the time. I love dipping in and picking out one to use as is, or to adapt. In fact, I think I've used the same one several times so far and they all look different. I don't consider it cheating and uninspired. I make the sketch my own and think of it as a motivator.
  6. Clear space: I tidy up my scrapping space after each project. Completely. And for those of you who know me, you'll appreciate this is difficult and unnatural for me. I'm so untidy by nature! But I put every scrap, pen, glue stick, ruler or ink-pad etc back where they belong - even if I take it back out again after 2 minutes. Clear space = clear mind. Now, if I could only apply that to the rest of my life...
  7. Be part of the LOAD community: The community in our LOAD Flickr group is wonderful. I make sure I make the most of it. I spend (way too much) time in the gallery and so far have managed to look at every single layout that was posted during the 2010 LOADs. Maybe I won't manage that this month, but I will be trying! I comment on as many as I can because they are all beautiful. Every single page out there has been made by someone to tell a story or a memory that they have, and that is beautiful. Even if it's not my "style" I can always find something that I like or even love that I want to pass on via the comments. I know how thrilled I am when I get supportive positive feedback on my uploads and so I try to pass on the love. Even if you just look at the last 5 or 10 uploads before yours in the gallery, you will be amazed at the talent and creativity out there - I make sure that I "favourite" those that I really love and am inspired by so that I can go back to them again and again. Scraplifting is the highest form of flattery after all! And the message board is great too. I go in and read the latest and use it for tips and tricks or generally connecting with my fellow LOADsters. It's a great resource.  I have made some wonderful scrapping friends over the last year through LOAD and BPC and this is really special.
  8. Use that stash: I see this as an opportunity to use up papers and products that have been lying around a long time but that I still love, as well as the piles of pizza boxes containing several kits that are in varying states of being used up. Several are completely untouched and they will definitely be a target. Often I just grab a background cardstock and my mixed paper organiser along with my box of scraps and fish around until I have 3 or 4 papers I like. This is not the time to be precious. I will not be buying any new stash at all for this month although I was recently at my LSS so I do have a few (!) new papers to play around with! Make sure you can see the products that are inspiring you at the moment or that you want to use up - if you have them in view, they are more likely to be used up. And think about the excuse you will have to go out and stock up again when you have finished as you will have used up SO much of your stock!
  9. Quick techniques: I try to return techniques such as border punches, inking the edges or distressing which give good results with minimum effort and time. Although I might do a bit of stamping you won't find a lot of that on my pages - it's too hit and miss, and very time-consuming for me. Not to mention the fact that the ink ends up in places it really doesn't belong... several ruined tops later...
  10. Have FUN: I remind myself that this is supposed to be FUN! No pressure. If I decide on the 15th that I'm not having fun, I'll simply stop. I can't imagine that happening, but this is a hobby and nothing to be taken too seriously. Life gets in the way sometimes and if that happens, then I will not stress about it, I will just do what I can. I make sure I'm enjoying the process. I might experiment. I mix it up. One day, it might be more complicated, the next a bit simpler. Layered and distressed one day, clear lines a la Zielske the next. I will use different products, different photos, different colours. More or less journalling. 4x6 photos one day and then chopped up or tiny photos the next. I play! But I'll be telling stories, using up product, preserving memories, remembering happy times. And that IS fun!
So, take a deep breath, clear off your scrap space, print off your photos, stock up on your adhesives, collect your supplies so that they are near to hand and enjoy the ride! I know I will be.

The next stop for you will be Laura at her blog here and the whole list of bloghop participants is...
Danielle H
Danielle T

Have fun (!) and thanks so much for dropping by.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Top 10 Photos (2010 in Review pt 6)

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I take photos. LOTS of photos. Thousands of photos. And I love it.

The storage is proving a little tricky these days, and I have way too many to deal with, edit, print, look at and share but I enjoy the process so much that nothing is going to stop me! I'm not an expert but through practice, I think I have improved over the last couple of years. I know my limitations, I know what I like, and I am trying to learn.

According to iPhoto, I have 6,303 photos in my 2010 album which is quite low considering we took more than that number when we went to the Yukon! But I think there are quite a lot of duplicates in there and many, many, many bad ones that would be better deleted (part of my 2011 resolutions). Trying to pick just 10 of these was quite difficult, but here are 10 that came to mind when I was thinking of them. None of them are perfect. But I like them.

My Top 10 Photos of 2010 (again in no particular order)

1. This was my first session playing with DOF and bokeh. I have a small USB string of coloured fairy lights around my computer screen which proved perfect for a bit of pretty. I liked the fact that the jar was full of my favourite colour - pink - and I adore using buttons on my layouts.

2. And this was from my more recent playing around session with DOF and bokeh. This formed the basis of my Christmas card. I love the bokeh effect and you will no doubt see more of these types in the months to come.

3. I am not very good at taking photos of people. But I love taking pictures of nature and macro type shots of details. We had loads of spring flowers planted on our balcony last year and I spent hours outside getting up close to all those pretty springtime blooms. While this one of a grape hyacinth was gorgeous in colour, I decided to try it out in B&W - I like the effect.

4. This was a shot in response to a photo challenge on The Pioneer Woman for "Green". Who can resist pretty, sparkly glitter? I was thrilled and honoured to have this chosen by her as one of her highlighted photos. Very cool!

5. Cupcakes at Mum's birthday party. I couldn't resist that edible glitter on the top - incredibly pretty in real life and totally delicious at the same time. I applied an effect through an iPhone app that I have - love the grungy look it gave.

6. I spent a few minutes one morning when I was in the UK snapping a few shots of the über-adorable Isabella. I have loads of gorgeous photos to choose from as she is just so photogenic. There is something about her eyes here - so serious. There are others which are more fun and funky, but I think this is my favourite.

7. You've seen this before on my Christmas round up and in my December journal. I was again responding to a photo challenge from The Pioneer Woman for Holiday Bokeh and I just love the subtle colours and the pretty bokeh in the background. This is not a perfect photo at all, just pretty.

8. I have a large picture frame in the bedroom with an Ikea poster of roses which I want to replace with one of my own photos. I think I want to use one from this session of a bunch of peonies. One of my absolute favourite flowers and of course, I adore these colours.

9. Something that was inspired by Flickr - can't take any credit at all for the composition. But I loved the idea and set it up on a sunny day, loving the result. I have used it a couple of times on love themed layouts. Such a pretty idea.

10. This one kept grabbing my attention as I scanned through the year's photos. When the Chances were here over the summer, we took our regular trip to the local zoo. The Asia zone had recently opened and we were excited to see what animals they had. I think we were all a little bit disappointed with the zone as a whole but one of the highlights was seeing two incredibly beautiful orangutans resting right next to a viewing window. This shot was taken through the window using my little point and shoot and it almost breaks my heart every time I look at it. If that isn't the face of someone (let's face it, they look so human) who is fed up and disheartened, I don't know what is. Again, it's a far from perfect photo, but it speaks to me.

I am planning a short blog series about photos - probably not for a few weeks now with January hurrying along and LOAD coming up for February. I thought I would share some of the things I have picked up along the way that have helped me improve my photos. I have a LONG way to go before I can honestly say that my photos are good, but like I said at the beginning, I know what I like and concentrate on making baby steps of improvement. I want to learn so much more but it's time and money. Maybe sometime in the future...

Do you have a favourite photo of your 2010? 

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Top 5 Projects (2010 in Review pt 5)

2010 wasn't really a busy year for me as far as non-scrapbooking projects went. Or so I thought. 

I did try to make cards (and I made quite a few actually) but still think I have a long way to go on that creativity. And there were a few older projects that I finished off - some years after I had originally started them (here or here or here) and I loved that feeling of completing something that had been sitting around, unloved, unfinished for so long. 

Again, when I look back, there are lots of smaller things that I made over the 12 months but really, I was so busy with scrapbooking, that they slip into the background. So in the spirit of highlighting those projects that particularly appeal to me, here are my top 5 of the year.

1. Valentine's Day card. This was inspired by something I saw online if I remember rightly and was so pleased with the result. It took me ages because working on such a small scale is really hard for me but it was worth it.

2. My December Journal. Ok, so in reality, I completed it this month, but I did a lot of the leg work in December and started it on time. Although it's a bit of a disaster (!!!!), I still love it - proof of a relaxed, enjoyable Christmastime 2010.

3. Photo A Day albums. I have been taking photos more of less every day since January 2007 and have been trying to find a way to showcase those I choose to represent the day. I had various ideas and this one won out. These two albums are not perfect and I learnt a lot about how I want to do them other years but I still like the format and the concept. I will get around to making them for every year - just a matter of time!

4. Halloween banner and decorations. I had great fun this year pepping up my Halloween decorations and using up some of the wonderful papers and bits and pieces I have lying around. I loved the results. 

5. Anniversary card. I was pleased with this card which took me a long time but came out even better than I had envisaged. 7 years is copper so I used a lot of of copper wire and kept the rest simple. 

My heart will always be with scrapbooking, but sometimes it's great to step off the page and try different things. I have a list in my head of things I want to try this year including improving my card-making. Deb is so inspirational and I want to learn from her and join in some of her challenges.

What about you? What off the page projects do you want to try in 2011?

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Multi-photo layouts (Part 3)

Welcome back to the third part of my little mini-series "Multi-photo layouts". If you are new here and are at all interested in parts one and two, you can find them here and here.

And please don't be shy about leaving comments - it would be lovely to hear from you and feedback is very much appreciated. I have enjoyed writing these posts and am interested to know if you like them or not!

Part one covered the reasons why I might want to make a multi-photo layout while part two covered some of the options you have regarding style of layout or photo size. I thought I might round off by looking at some of the "design" tips I have about combining more than one photo.

Again, I would hasten to add that I'm no design expert but I know what I like and what gets my creative juices flowing and this is the basis of my design style. Some of these tips have been learnt along the way through all those classes I like to take (specifically design from Cathy Z) and some have just evolved, but when I look back over my layouts (have you done that lately - soooo satisfying!) I can see some common threads.

I know there will be some overlap regarding layouts I have already featured in parts one or two but please bear with me.

1. Touching photos

I often do this when I have a lot of smaller sized prints. I group them together kind of as a single unit.

They might be completely overlapping...

or just touching here and there...

or they might just be so close that you sort of see them as all touching.

The main thing is that I position them so that the photos are close together and can be processed one by one within the single group.

I have noticed that one of my favourite combinations seems to be three 5x3 (or 6x4 cut down a bit at least) forming a type of triangle either in the centre or on one of the thirds lines (see below)

2. Different sized photos

I noticed recently that I very often match up a single, standard 6x4 photo with two, three or a few smaller ones - usually 2x3.

It's clear that the larger photo is the main one while the smaller ones support that one or the story in some way. I very often then combine this technique with the touching technique above. I am often afraid that the photos will look too random if I scatter them. (But this can work - see below)

3. Grid

An obvious way to use a lot of photos but one that shouldn't be underestimated, even if you are more artsy and not into the whole straight lines and common margins. It really has its place and is great for photos that represent some sort of series - like my 12 on 12s for example. Once I had settled on a grid format for my 12 square photos, the monthly day-in-review became such an easy concept to pull together. I can still add my own style by distressing and could even lay each photo a bit off-kilter if I wanted. The grid would still be there and it leads your eye easily from left to right and top to bottom. Great for story telling through photos.

4. Film strip

Not necessarily one of my standard go to designs but it can be great if you have a lot of equally important photos and you want to bundle them together so that they stand out more easily on the page as a single piece. I sometimes use this when I want to match my photos up with busy paper or I want to have lots going on around the photos. It helps them stand off the page. This is of course, also ideal for the same sort of story telling as the grid. Your eye will work its way down the strip to get the whole picture.

5. Common margins or symmetry

Often too structured for me, but I have used it a couple of times for layouts with strong images or when I have a lot of journalling. The whole common margin proves really difficult for me but I am still working on it! I think the key is in the planning and that's the bit I am not terribly good at. But I am always proud of myself when I do get it to work!

6. Scattered

This only really works for me when I use lots of small ones. This design originally completed during a class by Nichol Magouirk was perfect for a scattering of some of my favourite Yukon photos at 1.5x1 inch. Look how many you can fit on! I love this effect and can see me coming back to this again and again when I just can't decide or reduce the number of photos I want to use.

7. Rule of thirds

I find myself naturally positioning groups of more than one photo off to the left or down to the bottom very often - i.e. using the left hand or the bottom third of the page. Having learnt through classes that in both photography and scrapbooking that the rule of thirds is very successful visually, I suppose this has just sunk in and I use it without thinking.

Of course, I also group in the centre too, but I don't think I group to the right or the top very often. Perhaps I should try that out and see if it's because it doesn't appeal to me or if it's just fluke!

8. Miscellaneous

I seem to reduce the amount of embellishments directly in proportion to the number of photos, or at least group them all together into one of my clusters.

If I have a lot of journalling, this will be condensed into a single block and then I might go to the trouble of printing it as it will take up less space than hand writing. Most of the time, I am too lazy to print as I always seem to mess up, but I often like the look of it when I have taken the time.

Making one photo stand out as the focal point can be difficult when you are using three or more so there are a few ways you can highlight the main one for the viewer.

Leave the main photo with a white border or actually any colour as long as it's different to the background. Sanding the edges of the photos also gives the white border effect. I use this ALL the time!

Use the principle that size matters. The larger the photo, the more important it will be on the page.

Use arrows, lines, circles or any other pointer type element to let the viewer know that it is the starting point or the photo that matters.

Leave the main photo colour while the others are black and white (or I just fade out the colours a bit). A subtle but effective technique.

So there you have it. More layouts than you ever need to see in a single blog post, but this is how I get it to work for me.

The simple trick is to experiment and find your own way that you like to use photos and if, at the end of the day, you go back to only ever using a single photo - no problem!

I love to squeeze as many on as possible so that I feel that I am using up my ever-growing collection of photos and these techniques definitely work for me. I hope you can find something in all this that will resonate with you.

While writing this, I have had an idea for a final part of the series (which I would then post next Tuesday) but I am not sure.

So at this point, I hope you enjoyed this three part brain dump. Let me know if this is something I should do more often and do share your own multi-photo layouts.


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