The Many Colors of Gracie

Yesterday morning, I checked the greenhouse for any newly ripe tomatoes. When it comes to gardening, Mike and I work as a team. We aren't enthusiastic gardeners, and much of what we do boils down to slash and burn gardening. By that I mean that we tend to ignore something for so long that it is completely out of control. Then we whack it back, cut it down, or dig it up.

When we moved into our place in 2002, there was very little landscaping.

We did a LOT of planting, and because everything was small and new, it gave us some breathing room. Things are pretty lush and green now. This picture was taken two years ago.

And fast forward to today, and things are getting terrifyingly jungle like. Fortunately Mike has just one more summer to work, and then the two of us can get out in the yard together and do our usual slash and burn gardening.

For now...there is the greenhouse. When it comes to tomatoes, I plant and nurture the seeds, repot them several times, harvest the tomatoes, and can them. Mike sets up the drip irrigation, sets the watering schedule and keeps them fertilized. We both watch for signs of fungus or bugs and act accordingly. And all of that to say that yesterday I ventured into the greenhouse for the first time in several days. As you can see, the tomatoes have grown arms and legs, and will soon be walking out of the place on their own feet.

Yes, I think Mike has the fertilizer down pat now. As I said earlier in the summer, it was too hot for them this year, and they weren't as productive as they have been in the past. Now that fall has arrived, the weather has cooled substantially and the tomatoes are going to have their day.

I harvested these while I was there.

There are still many more to come.

So don't put that canning kettle away just yet. These will probably just go into pint jars as diced tomatoes, but I might be persuaded to make another batch of tomato jam if enough tomatoes come my way.

As for sewing, I finally, finally, finally made two more block sets for the Yard Art quilt. These have been on my to-do list the entire summer.

I'm going to like this quilt when it's finished. Here's how it looks in the pattern book, and I have some very cute fabrics to use for the borders and binding.

Nevertheless, I really dislike making these blocks. It's tedious cutting all those little nooks and crannies on the trees. Top-stitching them brings more tedium. Fortunately, there are just two more block sets to make, and then I can get on with the fun part of turning it into a flimsy.

For now...did you ever get a mind to start a project and then, using both arms, sweep everything else off your work table onto the floor to make room for it? I think that might be happening where Gracie's portrait quilt is concerned. Here's Gracie posing for her portrait.

As I said in a previous blog post, I was trying to turn this into a line-drawing and coming up with things that were interesting, but not at all what I needed to create my quilt. My thanks go to reader Robin who came up with yet another method of accomplishing my task with the "posterization" of the images. Robin made her changes in the full-blown version of Photoshop. I'm working with Photoshop Elements 8.0, and it was quite simple to do.

Go to the top of the screen and find "Filter", then click "Artistic", then click "Poster Edges". Then, there are some adjustments to make. When I did this, my image was so large that only just a little bit of Gracie's left ear was visible. In the lower left hand corner of the screen are some + and - boxes to make the image larger or smaller. Then, you can make the adjustments to get an image you can work with. In this case, the image doesn't look so much different from the original photograph, but it's easier to delineate the color values.

For grins, I removed all the color to make it black and white, but I found the color image easier to work with.

Here's Smitty posing for his portrait.

Here's Smitty's "posterized" image.

And here's his poster in black and white.

His probably needs more work on contrast, but I'm working with Gracie for now. I used the color poster to draw out the many color values of Gracie. There is much more to her fur than meets the eye when one starts dividing it up into its many values. Gracie is clearly more valuable than any of us ever suspected.

I've probably gone into too much detail, but I am undaunted.

This morning I took some time to give her colors some names, (brown, dark brown, gray, light gray, very dark gray, etc.) and then I went through my stash and found, surprisingly, pretty much all the fabrics I need to make Gracie's portrait. It occurs to me that I will probably do this differently than June Jaeger does it. Instead of making the applique pieces for the entire cat first, I'll probably just start with each small component and build them individually before tackling the cat as a whole. The pressing sheet will be invaluable for this.

For now, I'll leave the tackling to Smitty. When it comes to tackling Gracie, he's very enthusiastic.

And now you know what I'll be doing today.

9 comments from clever and witty friends:

works4me said...

I'm so happy you are forging ahead with your portrait quilts. I keep promising my two angels their own quilts but never get to it. I'll enjoy watching yours progress and it will hopefully provide me with some incentive to create my own feline portraits with the aid of the many helpful tips you always provide.

Doreen Auger said...

I applaud your launch into the digitizing, etc, and portrait quilts. I'm fascinated by it but have no desire to go that direction (something to do with limited hours and energy!!!!).
Retirement will change many things for you both next year!!!!

gpc said...

Oh yes, Gracie is going to love her portrait. :)

Quilting Babcia said...

Trust me, when you're both retired those NBQ days will be a distant memory! Gracie is going to love her portrait - you're off to a great start on it!

Quilting Babcia said...

Trust me, when you're both retired those NBQ days will be a distant memory! Gracie is going to love her portrait - you're off to a great start on it!

Junebug613 said...

WOW! I have missed a lot. The portrait quilt of Gracie is going to be fabulous! I can't wait to see how you do it!

Vroomans' Quilts said...

She had to play right away! I love how you share your process in a piece of work. Gracie with be gorgeous.

SJSM said...

Your cat portraits will be a great way to freeze this moment in time. What a wonderful way to include the "kids" in your sewing passion.

Ah, retirement. Mike will wonder how he ever had time to work. We have found more time to pursue our interests. Currently we are building my sewing space. My husband's room is all but finished. More sewing is in my future as I will have space to keep my projects and see what I actually own.

Kate said...

Looking forward to seeing Gracie's fabric portrait come together.