Scanning paintings

Scanning my paintings has turned out to be a fairly routine job.

Once I worked out how to get the lid off my scanner, set up my work area and learned how to use the scanner software, the actual scanning didn’t take as much time as I thought it would. My Canon CanoScan LIDE 210 scans fairly quickly and the photomerge feature in my Abobe Elements software is simple to use and works remarkably well.

The only down side so far has been that color management takes a bit of trial and error. Colors were often not dark enough and I had to try out a few different light and contrast settings with the scanner software to get the best results.

So for anyone who would like to scan their own artwork with a small scanner and merge the sections into one larger, complete image file here’s a list of what you’ll need and what you need to do;

      First you need a dedicated scanner that you don’t mind altering (and voiding the warranty on it!) What I did with mine was pop out the hinges on the lid and then cut and file off what was left of the hinge to get a flat surface on the scanner. I taped that edge to protect my artwork from any rough edges as I needed to lay my paintings face down and then move them over to scan the large pieces of paper section by section.
    Here I am taking the lid off of my new scanner.

    It was not hard to remove the scanner lid; the hinge connection just pops out.

      A clean work area is a must as you don’t want dust or dirt showing up in your scans, and of course you’ll need a computer that has enough memory to deal with the large files you’ll be creating. To get the best print quality I’ve been saving my files as tiffs and the files are huge. So make sure you have enough space to store your files as well.
      Software to merge your scans into one final complete image.
      I used Adobe Photoshop Elements and was lucky that I had a copy of Elements 8 as that’s when the Photomerge feature was introduced. There is likely also a way to merge your scans with the Gimp, which is open source software, but I haven’t tried that yet myself.
      In Photoshop Elements go to file -> new -> Photomerge Panorama and choose Reposition only. Then it’s only a matter of choosing the files you want to merge and the software will do the rest.

Hidden treasures

A roadway in Manitoba.

Scan of a mixed media drawing on paper.

Well here I am again.  Back at it.  I have spent months and months learning Processing and will be spending months more at it more likely than not.

But right now what I need to do is to post more images of finished work online and to do that I have learned how to use a normal, letter sized scanner to scan my pieces. I have been holding back some of my mixed media work because I could not bear to part with it until I had some good digital files on hand in order to reproduce that work.

I have tried and tried again with my digital camera, but all the advice in the world could not help me to get the quality of reproduction that I wanted. Some time ago I was pleasantly surprised by the results of a scan of a small watercolor. I decided that I should get my paintings scanned at a printers; but here the cost was prohibitive. There are just too many pieces that I need to get done.

Recently I did a search on the web and found that some artists are using small scanners to scan large-sized images by breaking the large piece down into many sections, scanning each section and then using the photo-merge feature in Photoshop (this feature is included in Photoshop Elements, starting with version 8) to create a file of the entire image. I also found out that for best print quality this file should be saved as a TIFF. One ends up with one very large file, but great quality and incredible detail in the reproduced print.

I’ll post more on how I got it all to work with a newly purchased Canon CanoScan LIDE 210 soon. In the meantime I will be busy looking for hidden treasurers in my stacks of past artwork and scanning away.

Awake with the answers

This morning it happened to me.  My brain must have been working very hard while I was sleeping because when I woke up this morning I had the answers, all the answers to the questions that I have been struggling with for nearly a year.

My gap year is officially over now and even though I feel settled in our new home in Alberta the direction for my art has not been not clear.  What with one foot still firmly planted in traditional media for visual art and my getting myself even more firmly rooted there as I explored quilting and fiber art my passion for all things digital sometimes does not even make sense.  I am also taking a course on computer programming, exploring digital media and trying to understand how other artists are using new media.  It all seemed like far  too much to combine into one artist’s work, that is into my own body of work.

I just did not want to leave anything out.  I wanted to start with the work that I have done in the past, but also find a way to incorporate what I see going on in contemporary art today with digital and new media.  And every time that I felt like I had a grasp on it, that new direction for my work, it slipped away.

But this morning before I was even fully awake it came to me.  I knew where I had to begin on this new road and the beginning as with all beginnings is simple:

Early landscape sketch with "Texture, pattern and perspective" label over top.I will start with texture, then move onto the patterns created by that texture, then look for the things that tend to break up the patterns and then move from the abstract to the representational and when I do that it will be the perspective that defines the whole image.  It will be the perspective that allows me to use my art to communicate my thoughts on the subject. The media will combine, shift and change. But the perspective and the message will hold it all together.

That probably will not make too much sense to anyone but me.  But this is how my artwork has always developed.  A body of work needs a framework to hold it together.  Start with simple ideas and build from there.  It will grow and it will change.  That’s a good thing.  The main thing is to know where to start.  Then cull it, change it, contain it.  But get busy.

So now I will.  Time to ‘just do it’.  My old mantra and always a good place to start.




Light in art; James Turrell

Well my ‘gap year’ is almost over. I decided to take the year after moving to Alberta to settle in and to think about where I wanted my work to go. What I really want now though is not so much a direction, what I want all my interests to meld together into one main project and right now that seems too big, too general and just about impossible to figure out.

I have faith that I will get there eventually though. Sometimes in my browsing I come across information about people who have a clear direction that guides them through their whole careers and rather than letting this discourage me, I always find some encouragement to carry on in these stories.

James Turrell has been working with light since the mid sixties. As an installation artist he often manipulated light in confined spaces in order to control the viewers perception of light. He built his art using light. For the last 30 years or so, his main work in progress has involved creating a huge naked-eye observatory constructed within the Roden Crater near Flagstaff, Arizona. I think that I got a bit of an understanding of what he has done from watching this video;

I am not sure if I think that this Turrell project is actually art. An observatory sounds like science to me. But as an inspiration it hardly matters how I might choose to define it.

A project like this makes anything I do seem small. On one hand it makes my past efforts to ‘paint with light’ seem insignificant. On the other it just allows me to dream, to think big and to really believe that all things just may be possible.

I know that Turrell’s work will come to mind from time to time as I get back to making my own artwork. It will continue to inspire me to stick with the medium that I like the best. Trouble is I like almost all of them, so mixed media it is!

Women and Art

Last week I finally got to go to a Chapters Bookstore. Not just go, but go and spend time browsing. I was in heaven, at least for a while, but then I found some books on mixed media and browsed through them. The strange thing was, the artwork and techniques these books were showing seemed to have a kind of sameness about the images that they featured. This made me a little uncomfortable, and my thoughts returned to something that’s been troubling me lately; namely the place of women artists in the contemporary art world.

Of course the work of women artists is routinely accepted in major public and private galleries today and there are certainly women artists with national and international reputations. As of the last study that I read on the subject (it was from CARFAC I think), the income of women artists was still about 50% less than the income of male artists overall, but that in itself is not what has been troubling me.

After looking at quilting and textile art online and trying my hand at quilting, I am thinking more and more about using textiles in my mixed media work. Some time back I came across a few Interweave websites. “Interweave is one of the nation’s largest art and craft media entities with businesses in magazine and book publishing, interactive and social media, television and video programming, directories, and events for craft enthusiasts.”; this quote from the companies about page. On their magazine page quilting, sewing and mixed media magazines are lumped into one category. And again the mixed media work featured on covers and websites had that same look to it; a kind of homogenization of imagery.

Now I think this company’s marketing strategy is nothing short of brilliant and clearly it is aimed at women. Nothing wrong with that. But where does one draw the line between enthusiasts, crafters and artists? For an artist marketing her work, will being seen as an ‘enthusiast’ make it that much harder to command reasonable prices or to sell her artwork?

Detail from mixed media artwork 'Fuscia' using photo transfer, collage and painting by E.M. Schumacher.

Detail from mixed media artwork ‘Fuscia’ using photo transfer, collage and painting by E.M. Schumacher

Women artists who work with textiles have traditionally been seen more as crafts people than fine artists and I was hoping that this has been changing. Separating arts and crafts seems arbitrary in any case. But the more I see mixed media being marketed and formed into a kind of brand, the more I wonder if this won’t push many women artists who are trying to build a reputation in the fine art world into a kind of creative ghetto. Will being seen as an artist who works in mixed media or textile art make it harder to have work accepted in public and private galleries that show ‘fine art’?

There are of course museums and galleries which exist to show and promote quilts, crafts and/or textile art, but should all artists working in these mediums be seen as separate somehow from the fine art world? And what kind of art does a women artist need to produce in order to be accepted in the contemporary art scene? Do we have to worry that we won’t be accepted as artists because of a marketing movement that is turning mixed media into a new craft form aimed at women?

I have more questions than answers here. For myself, I think I will just have to put these questions aside and resolve to keep making artwork, regardless of the techniques and materials that I choose to work with, and see where it takes me. As an artist, the worst poison would be to stop exploring and creating because of what I think may amount to the re-emergence of a traditional social constraint.

Mixed Media Shop is changing. . .

My website at is now being changed back from a blog on art and technology, to my own artist’s site which will include gallery pages of my artwork, both recent work and past work. My artist’s blog will be posted here on my art blog page. This is where I will write about the techniques that I use to make mixed media art and also about the development of ideas in my own artwork and my opinions about the art world in general. I hope that other artists will join in the discussion and share ideas.

My art and technology blog will continue on at I think the topic is too broad for me to cover as thoroughly as I’d like, but I will keep posting there and sharing what I find online about both contemporary art and the technology that influences it.

What I won’t be posting there anymore, at least not very often are art contest links. Anyone who has been visiting my site for these posts and links should know that there are now several other websites that can cover this area much more thoroughly than I ever could. If you are an artist, photographer or illustrator, here is a short list of sites to help keep you up to date on some of the latest art contests and opportunities for artists;

      Art Rubicon – which is described on the site as ‘A resource for artists’. While many of the resources focus on Alberta, there are lots of international listings as well.
      ArtShow is based out of the US but again there are many international competitions and opportunities listed.
      Manifest Gallery is a gallery that operates out of Cinncinati, Ohio and offers several annual contests as well as other opportunities for artists.
      Artists in Canada has been around for a while now and includes an artist’s directory as well as lots of listings with opportunities for artists.

    As always, make sure you understand what costs will be your responsibility before entering any contest or taking part in any ‘opportunities’. Read the fine print and good luck!

Artist E.M. Schumacher's Gallery and Blog