Monday, April 27, 2009


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         One evening after sunset, when we were waiting for the light to change at an intersection, I noticed a gorgeous violet sky to my right. I pulled my camera from its case and was just ready to snap a shot through the passenger window when the light turned green and my husband turned left.  Thus, I missed the shot.
        But, undeterred, I turned my camera toward the rear of the car and held it outside of the passenger window. I couldn't see what I was aiming at, but took a few shots anyway, just to see what I had left behind.  I was expecting to see mostly sky, but the photos turned up some surprising results.  
        One can see the side of our black vehicle and the headlights of the car that was following us. The violet sky is still visible, although not as gorgeous as when I first spotted it. Because we were moving, the trees on the left of the image are blurred and look like they are bending with a strong wind, even though there was almost no wind at all.
        I always like sharp contrasts in images. In this one, I like the contrast of the lighter sky with the dark landscape plus the harsh headlights and the soft wisps of tree branches.

(photo and text ©2009, C.J. Peiffer)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

FIVE TULIPS - Shadow Shot Sunday

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        Late on the afternoon on 4/23/09, these brilliant red tulips blooming in my yard were just begging for a photo to be taken for Shadow Shot Sunday. Our tulips and daffodils were particularly lovely this year.

(photo & text, ©2009 C.J. Peiffer)


Friday, April 24, 2009

LIGHT AND DARK - Sky Watch Friday

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       One day, my husband wanted to try out his new camera, so we took our cameras to a local state park. It was a beautiful sunny day, but within minutes of our arrival, large black clouds had gathered over the lake.  After I snapped a few photos, the black clouds passed and it was again a lovely, sunny day.
       I especially like skies that show contrast, such as this one, with the wonderful blue sky and white cloud, behind the dark threatening clouds. 

(photo & text ©2009, C.J. Peiffer)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

REFLECTIONS - Think Green Thursday

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Digital Art
C.J. Peiffer

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        This piece of digital art started as a simple photograph of trees, not reflected in water. After changing and manipulating the image many times in many ways, I came up with the above design.  

        For more than a decade, I have felt like an explorer in a new land. Switching from drawing and painting to computer design has been both formidable and thrilling. The transformation process I undertook to become a computer artist is much like the process I use to created much of my work.
        That is, I begin with a sketch, drawing, photograph or scanned object and utilize the computer to make it into something else, sometimes similar to the initial image and sometimes so different, the source material is unrecognizable. I turn earrings into metallic abstractions and fish into colorful patterns. Or I use the background from one image to place behind the foreground of another. Harvested parts of buildings become surrealistic floating sculptures and the Mona Lisa steps into the Twenty-first Century.
        The assumption that digital art is created by a computer with no human input is mistaken. A computer cannot create art any more than it can write a novel. Software can facilitate some steps, such as adding a texture, but the computer is merely a high-tech substitute for brush and paint.
        Mastering digital possibilities is time-consuming and arduous, as with any art form. Yet, no matter how demanding, the creative process is both fun and uplifting for me. As Salvador Dali once said, “There are some days when I think I am going to die from an overdose of satisfaction.”
        The computer allows me to create with incredible flexibility and freedom. I can save an image, retaining its lines, shapes and colors. Then, I can add, delete, or change any design element while playing with textures, transparencies, colors, and filters. These techniques permit experimentation that would be prohibitively time-consuming and expensive with paint and brush. Practicing digital art, I am free to take risks. Such exploration generates new ideas and further experimentation.
         While the technology of computer-assisted design continues to evolve, I have barely scratched the surface of this medium. I learn while creating each new project, thus expanding the scope of my future work.

        To see more of my art work, click HERE.

(art and text, ©2009, C.J. Peiffer)

Monday, April 20, 2009


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        At Moraine State Park (PA) where my husband and I walk frequently, I snapped this photo on 4/04/09 around 5:45 pm. It was an absolutely clear day without a cloud in its cobalt blue sky on this Saturday afternoon. I love it when the moon is visible during the day.

(photo & text, ©2009, C.J. Peiffer)

Sunday, April 19, 2009


"Walking Through Shadows"
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        My husband and I love Nordic walking. We walk around our neighborhood or travel to one of two parks, each about 15 miles from our home. This is the walking/biking trail at Moraine State Park in PA. The photo was taken on 4/4/09 a little after 6:00 pm. Since we normally walk rather late in the day, it is a good time to catch the late afternoon shadows.
        I will be creating a post about Nordic walking sometime soon.


(photo & text, ©2009, C.J. Peiffer)

Monday, April 13, 2009


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Andy Warhol (with Billy Kluver), 1966
(photo: C.J. Peiffer, 2007)

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       The Warhol Museum is a strange and delightful place, built in Andy Warhol's home town of Pittsburgh. Warhol's studio in New York had been referred to as "The Factory" so it was appropriate to install the museum in an restored  factory/warehouse on the city's north shore.
          One of the galleries in the museum is filled with Warhol's "Silver Clouds", helium filled silver pillows that move around the room with air currents from small fans, bump into each other and into gallery visitors. In describing Warhol's creation of the "Silver Clouds," Ronnie Cutrone said, "It was a grand gesture; he [Warhol] was a master of the grand gesture."
        Warhol (born Andy Warhola in 1928) studied art at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie-Mellon University) in Pittsburgh, then moved to New York where he had a successful career in advertising art before he created his famous Campbell's soup can paintings and became the king of pop art
        Warhol died at age 50 in 1987 after complications of gall bladder surgery.

Monday, April 6, 2009

THE CREATIVE PROCESS #7 - From Photo to Art

('54 Coupe DeVille)
(©2006, C.J. Peiffer)

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This post is the seventh in a series explaining how a
particular work of art or a group of works was created.

        I love to enhance my photographs so they look like pieces of art rather than photographs.
        I took this photo many years ago at Gast Classic Motorcars Exhibit (apparently no longer in business) in Strasburg, PA in the middle of Pennsylvania Dutch country.

        After scanning the photo print (I took the photo way before digital cameras) the first thing I did was digitally remove any specs of dust or other flaws from the photograph.

        Next I intensified the colors and increased the contrast between light and dark.

        After trying several other filters, to make it shinier, give it texture, change the colors, I decided to use the "glowing edges filter" which gives the image a black background with neon-like edges.         

        While this results in an effect that is interesting in itself, I didn't want the red color of the original automobile to be hidden, so I removed the black from the car, leaving the glowing edges.  
        I left the black in the background, but it looked too plain and flat, so I added a texture to it. Finally, I added a copyright and my name to the lower right corner.

        See products (T-shirts, mouse pad, card, tie, etc.) featuring this "CLASSIC CADDY" image at my Pro Artz Zazzle pages.

(text ©2009, C.J. Peiffer)

Sunday, April 5, 2009


(photo & text, ©2009, C.J. Peiffer)

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        The window above our kitchen sink faces west. On a sunny day, the light can nearly blind one working at the sink, and on hot summer days the room becomes unbearably hot, so we put up this reed shade. There are shelves in the window so you can see the shadows of some the things that collect there, even though you probably won't recognize them from the shadows.

Addendum added 4/27/09:
        For those who wondered what was behind the shade: On the bottom shelf, we keep odd cleaning items like a box of Brillo pads, bottle brushes and a spinning scrubber, also empty bottles. The top shelf is filled with cow creamers. The middle shelf also has cow creamers, plus two cow-shaped cutting boards. If you wonder why cows, see my previous post: The Bovine Comedy.


"Hard Cooked"
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This post is the sixth in a series explaining how a particular work of art or a group of works was created.         

When creating art, sometimes the most creative thing is not the actual completed art work, but the idea.
        Twenty or so years ago, the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts held an EGGshibit the month before Easter. Local artists were encouraged to use an EGG theme in any medium to submit for EGGshibition.

        At that time, I had been doing mostly fiber art: tapestry weaving, appliqué, quilting, crocheting, stitchery, batik, sometimes even spinning my own yarn from raw wool and using natural dyes (onion skins, lichens, acorns) to produce my own colors.
        The first year the exhibit was held, it took me a long time to come up with a unique way to use fiber with an egg theme.  I finally decided to use white and yellow yarn to crochet an egg in two pieces and stuff it, to make a soft sculpture that looks like a hard-cooked egg cut in half. I even created a crochet knife to "cut" the egg. "HARD COOKED" was displayed on straw in a dark area, so the photo isn't great, even with some enhancement. To give you an idea of the size of the sculpture, if the two pieces of the egg were placed together, the length of the egg would be about 10 inches, the diameter at its widest point about 6 inches. "HARD COOKED" didn't sell at the EGGshibit, but a few years later when my first husband (also an artist) and I were in the process of an amicable separation, he asked if he could have that piece in exchange for one of his paintings.
        After the first EGGshibit, I had an entire year to think up an idea for the next year. I decided to create a halter top and sun hat with fabric and call the set "SUNNY-SIDE UP." Everyone loved this set and I enjoyed seeing people point and laugh when they saw it at the opening reception of the EGGshibit. The piece sold and I often wondered if the buyer had the nerve to wear it in public or just liked it as a curiosity.

"Chicken Casserole with Egg Noodles"
        The following year, I created "CHICKEN CASSEROLE with EGG NOODLES." This piece was made from unbleached cotton cloth which I stuffed to make the chicken, chicks, and eggs. I used stitchery to sew on the details. I found some yellow feathers to poke from the cracks (which were also stitched) on the eggs. I made the noodles from pale off-white cloth and sewed twister seals inside them so I could bend them to look like noodles. I don't remember what happened to the "CHICKEN CASSEROLE."

        I'm not sure if the art center continued having EGGshibits, but around that time, I moved out of the city and eventually dropped my artist's membership there. 
        The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts is one of the treasures of Pittsburgh, a great place to see and buy unique work by local artists,  participate in classes, workshops, and lectures, attend openings of exhibits by individual artists or by member groups such as the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh (one of the longest, continuously running art organizations in the country), Weavers' Guild, Pittsburgh Society of Artists, Craftsmen's Guild, Pittsburgh Print Group, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, and other similar groups. 
        If you are in the area, stop in. 
(artwork, photos, and text ©2009, C.J. Peiffer)

Friday, April 3, 2009

RED STRIPES - Photo Hunt

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This week's theme is:

        Glass artist, Dale Chihuly, created an enormous exhibit of hand-blown glass to fill every part of the huge Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh during the Spring of 2007.  I love Chihuly's work so much that I took my first outing after knee surgery to his show, hobbling from room to room on a cane.  This photograph shows tall red hand-blown "stripes" against the striped pattern of the greenhouse glass. Each of these pieces is about 4 to 6 feet in height.
        See the amazing variety of pieces displayed at the Phipps Conservatory on Chihuly's web site HERE.

I post photos on two different blogs.
See my previous Photo Hunt entry:

(photo, ©2007, C.J. Peiffer)

TROUBLED SKY - Sky Watch Friday

(photo & text, ©2009, C.J. Peiffer)
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        One afternoon on my way to work, large black clouds were developing in the west, yet the sun would peek between the dark clouds occasionally. I love the contrast of black stormy clouds and sunshine, continually amazed at how destructive weather can be, and yet be so beautiful. I wanted to stop to take photos, but I was running late for work, so I pulled my digital camera from my bag and held the camera at arm's length in my right hand, and aimlessly shot photos through the passenger window. As you see, I wasn't holding the camera horizontally, so the trees are at an angle, but I thought that made for a dramatic off-kilter image that went well with the "Troubled Sky."

I post photos on two different blogs. Please see my other Sky Watch photos:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


In response to a writing prompt on Mama’s Losin It blog:
Describe a moment when you felt afraid.

        When I was a college sophomore, I lived in a dorm that had suites. Each suite had an entryway, a bathrooom on the right, a huge walk-in closet with four separate sections on the left, and two bedrooms straight ahead.
        The dorm was located on a hillside. We were on the second floor against the hill, so our bedroom windows were at ground level. A private residence and a garage were only about four feet from that side of the dorm, so it was pretty dark outside of our windows, which had both blinds and curtains for privacy.
        Joann and I roomed together, while Barb and Sandy had the other room. Sandy was a bit of an airhead, so when she claimed that there were prowlers outside of our windows, we didn’t believe her.
        After it was reported to the house mother, the police got involved and sent a police car around several times an hour after dark, but never found anyone. The house mother thought it was probably either local high school boys or male college students, trying to get a peek inside the girl’s dorm. Both she and the police thought the prowlers, if there were any, were harmless, but lots of the residents became rather paranoid about the situation.
        I had the reputation of being cool headed and skeptical, so when some girls from the third floor thought someone was watching the dorm from inside the garage next door, they called me to their room. I saw someone was indeed there, but it looked like the person was wearing a dark coat with two vertical rows of shiny buttons that occasionally caught the light. I surmised it was a police uniform and that an officer had been stationed there to catch the culprits. The girls in the room didn’t believe me, so they reported it to the house mother who called the police ---and sure enough, I had been right. They ended up “outing” the hidden policeman.
        This went on for several months. Girls claimed someone was scratching at the screens on their windows. Others swore they heard whispers outside. I never heard a thing even though my bed was against the wall directly under our window.
        It was winter, so it got dark early. One evening after dinner, the four of us were in Barb and Sandy’s room. We were gabbing away and munching on popcorn. We often kept cans of soda on the window sill to keep them cold and one of us had taken a can from the sill. 
        Suddenly Joann stopped in mid-sentence. I looked up to see that she looked like a deer caught in the headlights, staring at the window. When the soda had been retireved, the blind had curled up and was caught on the curtain, so there was a small triangle of window exposed, and outside the window was a set of staring eyes.
        I had never been afraid of the “prowler” mainly because I didn’t really believe he existed, so I got up to walk across the room to pull the blind down. I took two steps and suddenly, my knees buckled and I fell down hard. Instantly I was so afraid that I couldn’t get up and ended up “walking” to the window on my knees. It seemed like I was moving in slow motion, taking forever to get to the window. I was trying to shout, “Get the hell out of here” but I couldn’t speak or scream.
        When I finally got to the window, I pulled the blind so hard that it came off the roller, exposing the entire room to the outside. I retreated, still on my knees, to a corner to the left of the window where I couldn’t be seen.
        Meanwhile, Joann, Barb, and Sandy had fled to the house mother’s apartment and had her call the police (long before cell phones existed.) By the time the police arrived, the peeping Tom was long gone. The poice asked for a description, but both Joann and I had seen dark eyes, nothing else.
        I calmed down rather quickly, but later that night Joann and I moved my bed away from the window. I had huge bruises on both knees for days. The prowler seemed to disappear after that and we got through the rest of our sophomore year without incidence.
        Sandy dropped out of school that summer to marry her high school boyfriend. Joann decided to take a year off to work, so graduated a year after Barb and I who found new roomates for our junior year when we moved to the lower floor on the opposite side of the dorm next to a busy and well-lit parking lot.
        Since then, I have always worried that if I were ever in real danger or in an emergency situation, I would not be able to scream or run away, that I would simply freeze in place and become a victim. Occasionally, I have a nightmare that I am in danger and can’t even manage to dial a phone to call for help, let alone move, run, or scream.
        Luckily I have never been in such a situation, so I still don’t know how I would react if I were afraid again. I hope I never have to find out.

(©2009, C.J. Peiffer)


     "The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year."

Mark Twain

(Image, ©2009 C.J. Peiffer)