Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Wishing you the BEST for 2012

It's been a crazy, busy December-lot's of fun, friends, family...Now thinking about next year, what direction to go-so many thoughts!

I wish each and every one of you a happy, healthy, creative sparkling 2012...be bold, brave and daring-always strive to go beyond your comfort zone and look at new possibilities!

Art is the stage upon which we play-let's all perform at our highest level in the new year...

If anyone would like this sheet of inchies I have done feel free to email me to a higher resolution copy at rickstdennis@yahoo.com---happy to share!!

Bon Chance!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Follies-original cast 2011 recording

Well, after waiting impatiently for some time, watching snippets and bits on YouTube and hearing from friends in the know that THIS FOLLIES is THE Follies...I have some thoughts...

Follies-the problematic, Broadway "masterpiece" started back in the late 60's and early 70's...following a road laid partly by shows like COMPANY...Stephen Sondheim writing with James Goldman toward a production directed by Hal Prince and Michael Bennett, designed by Boris Aronson starring Alexis Smith, Gene Nelson, Dorothy Collins, John McMartin, Yvonne De Carlo...the names went on and on...staggering, spectacular, new...

It won a lot of Tony Awards, lost a lot of money, produced at least three Musical Theatre "Standards": Losing My Mind, Broadway Baby and I'm Still Here and spawned a fanatical cult of FOLLIES fans including me.

That original production pretty much intact TOURED and played the Shubert all gaudy, huge and sparkly new in Century City and I was there.

Over the years getting a chance to actually perform a staged version of Follies was very difficult so the music like much of Sondheim's song book ended up in reviews and Broadway based concerts.

Movie versions of the show were planned and abandoned and the show became legendary.

Inspired by a vague idea of a musical show about a reunion and a picture of Gloria Swanson doing Haute Couture amidst the rubble of the old ROXY the show winds the tale of a group of performers who get together when the theatre where they all performed is about to be turned into a parking lot.

Two couples particularly; Ben and Phyllis the upscale and wealthy and Sally and Buddy friends of a bygone time, co-stage door johnnies and their chorus girls turned wives are the anchor around which a cast of characters parade through what Sondheim calls "PASTICHE" numbers...songs which in some ways advance the story and or mood of the piece in a way that also evokes another time or a specific compositional style from Operetta to Harold Arlen, Burlesque, Vaudeville... Ziegfeld.

Those interested in the Nexus of the original show can read a fascinating account in TED CHAPIN'S meticulous EVERYTHING WAS POSSIBLE, The Birth of the Musical FOLLIES.

Since he was on the scene and took copious notes he can share myriad obscure details about the sets, costumes, musical numbers and performers in a narrative that starts with the beginning of rehearsals and follows the show through the out of town tryout in Boston and then back to the opening at the Winter Garden in New York...a must read for any FOLLIES fan.

But back to this newest Follies...

Bernadette Peters, Elaine Paige and others sign on for a production at the Kennedy Center which becomes a huge hit and moves to Broadway and maybe as the liner notes for the cast recording say perhaps the audience has caught up with the show at last---40 years later.

It's not as if there haven't been other attempts along the way each one from here to the Westend attempting to solve the problems and produce a definitive Follies (and a definitive cast recording).

The original cast recording back in 1971 was cheated of a full reading by producing a single disc album-interestingly the show which DID win the Tony for best musical that year, TWO GENTLEMEN FROM VERONNA (a surprise BTW) DID have a 2 record cast recording.

Follies in Concert an event showcasing star names and a semi staged concert version did manage a fairly definitive cast recording as did the cast of the PEPPERMILL PLAYHOUSE version.

There is also the LONDON cast recording which I believe claims to be the only COMPLETE recording and features alternate numbers and even music from the film STAVISKY which Sondheim used as a clearing house for some of his unused material from Follies.

I keep digressing and I guess it's because I have a hard time forcing myself to say how disappointed I am by this current version.

I am a huge fan of Ms. Peters; hers is a lengthy and rich career and she is a legendary performer of stage, screen and recordings...at one point I felt she might own Losing My Mind and In Buddy's Eyes two of Sally's big numbers from Follies.

I hear she was wonderful if a bit tight in Washington and has blossomed in the Broadway run...she is 64...she is playing a character who SAYS, "I am 49...".

Well, the stage...suspended disbelief...ageless...but her voice on the recording is tight, reedy and doesn't always soar.

She has two voices...her Broadway one and the "Other" one and for many years she was able to maximize one and utilize the other...here she is forced to go exposed and vulnerable into a range which has never been attractive to her...pity.

Again, perhaps one needs to see this production to judge this cast album---shows do change AFTER viewing rather than just hearing them.

JAN MAXWELL has been represented to me as the consummate PHYLLIS-in the album photos she looks like Charles Busch in drag and her voice is a little sweet for the acidic Phyllis queen on the "quip with a sting".

Both Danny Burstein (Buddy)and RON RAINES (Ben) have good strong voices but they are almost interchangeable and lack the division of class and culture that the original cast had...With the exception of Jan Maxwell THIS IS A VERY BLUE COLLAR READING of the material, adding in some of the crucial dialog was a great idea but it also points up just how new york centric the whole endeavour is-far more fitted to 7th Ave than PARK.

Some don't find Elaine Paige as superb as I do-she is one of the only performances that has originality and characterization-the first lady of the British Musical Theatre is far better as an American Movie Star than some of the Americans (maybe its her time in Sunset Blvd-the musical).

The 28 piece orchestra is just what Mr Sondheim and his orchestrator Jonathan Tunick had in mind combined with a 4 piece onstage band but somehow the juxtaposition of the two sounds don't always blow one away on this recording as they do on others...in the prologue there is a place well know to Follies fans where the onstage band gives way to a huge MGM like sound wave as the pit orchestra picks up ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL the music which introduces the ghosts of the theatre and segues into BEAUTIFUL GIRLS...it happens here but tentatively...disappointingly.

Broadway Baby is somewhat thrown away, some numbers fair better than others but in the end this is just another Follies recording with dialog thrown in.

Bernadette does this material better elsewhere...and I suppose that's the thing about this show-hard to please everyone...Take Alexis Smith and Ethel Shutta (or even Elaine Strich) add in one from column A, one from column B...

As an aside I give both Losing My Mind and In Buddy's Eyes to the marvelous Barbara Cook (long may she wave) until someone dethrones her.

My score a barely passing C minus...overall I like the New Jersey cast from 1998 Peppermill, better.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Putting up the Christmas Lights

I had decided this year to forgo putting up outdoor Christmas lights.

As much as I love the twinkling there were a number of factors that were sending me toward just ignoring the whole thing not the least of it being the absence of my dear neighbors who summer in Minnesota and then head to California for the winter.

Over the years I have lived here in Seal Beach, Ray and Mona have become good friends-she had a small stroke last year and he has some medical issues as well so they felt that had to stay east this year.

One of the important driving forces in putting up a big Christmas display was how much THEY loved it.

I often would spot Mona outside gazing at our wonderland of snowflakes, lollipops, Santa and snowmen-a lighted nativity, candles and of course many blinking, dancing lights.

For a couple years I had an acquaintance do the lights but three years ago I started a new tradition-my Niece ANDREA and he husband DAN come down and do the lights for me and then we go over to Long Beach to a great old timey Chinese restaurant for a major pig out.

Last year it was a chilly damp beach day and the "kids" were suffering from the cold but MONA made it special by plying them with hot, fresh peanut butter cookies which they are still talking about this year.

I share this with you because we need to make new traditions and forge forward in keeping our American Christmas spirit alive.

So many people get sad and depressed at this time of year, not enough money, not enough time, easier to just quit and do without, not worth the effort...

I thought I could do without but I am so glad my niece insisted in a way.

I am a child of the 50's, a magical time in so many ways...even though RALPHIE and his Christmas Story family are charecters of more than a decade earlier they share a spirit that was still very much alive when I was a child.

Buying the tree, going out to see the Christmas lights, Christmas pageants at school and church, visiting friends, caroling at the old folks home all the bits and pieces of our collective history as a nation are wrapped up in those holly decked, candy cane years of Rudolph and Frosty.

What Happened?

I remember well the Jewish family in our neighborhood were the first in line to make special holiday cookies and share their stories about "Jewish Christmas"-I know it's not PC and Christ has nothing to do with Channukah but in an inclusive society we don't have to tiptoe around and apologize constantly to each other for every little slip of an idiom.

I went to school for many years with a family of Christian Scientists.

The kids didn't stay in the room for HEALTH or SCIENCE classes-because of their religious beliefs they went off to the library but they were always included in Holiday events.

The Jehovah's Witness kids didn't say the pledge of alliengence to the flag and they didn't participate in Halloween but always were involved in other activities...and so on for the Buddist kid and the Mormons etc etc.

In the days before the hyphenated society and the quick to point fingers keepers of Political correctness we DID all get along...now I know you are rolling you eyes and saying what about the BLACK people and racisim, things weren't so good for them.

Honestly---really---we didn't know there was a problem.

I never heard the "N" word till the 60's and the race riots etc happened.

We lived in white bread suburbia, Norman Rockwell, Donna Reed, Father Knows BEST where Santa and Jesus coexisted with Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, Betsy Wetsy and Red nosed Reindeers.

My community was 50% Mexican (I was tempted to say Latino buts lets be honest instead of PC) we didn't notice...my neighbors were Italians, the people across the way were Dutch, Mrs.Andreson and her husband spoke GERMAN as well as English-so who cared that Sonny's grandma spoke SPANISH?

We all bought our clothes at J C PENNY'S, we shopped at the same markets, ate in the same restaurants and on Sunday;s we went off (or not) to various churches...no one cared what colour you were so long as you could get along with everyone else.

We had more problems with the family of poor folks from Oklahoma around the corner who had too many kids and couldn't pay their bills because the Father drank too much and beat his wife than the various ethnic types-and by the way the "OKIES" managed to put up a string of Christmas lights or two and a lighted SANTA for the holidays.

Here we are all these years later and things are more advanced in so many ways but in other ways NOT better...medicine is better, medial care...but few can afford it.

Racism is better but has been replaced by ageism, sizeism and all the other incidious "isms" of the new millenium.

Money is scarce, people are grumpy and angry, entitlement has been worse for this country than segregation and Washington is full of crooks with an agenda that isn't pro-citizen...amidst all this we have to worry about someone being offended because we put a Christmas tree in the park???

Under seperation of church and state I guess there shouldn't be a Christmas tree in the park, nor a nativity or a menorah or any religious symbol-trust me those guys in wigs and knee britches knew what they were doing when they seperated the CHURCH from Government---at this moment we are all in danger from Islamic law and if we don't stop it the ISLAMIC sgenda will rip this country apart the way it is damaging England.

All this aside-I like it when CHRISTMAS and the holidays TWINKLE---people are a little nicer, the world is a little prettier...oh not the world where people pepper spray each other in WALMART or rob each other in darkened parking lots on the way to BLACK FRIDAY sales...that's a world away from mine-I am as oblivious of it as I was naieve in the 50's.

In MANY countries around the globe cities are immobilized by CHRISTMAS.

Christmas markets abound in Europe and no one complains that it somehow excludes others or is insensetive to Scientologists...everyone is busy out looking at the sights, enjoy the special food and music and patting each other on the back.

In the home of the free we can't do that so much-there might be a drive by shooting-WHERE, HOW did we go so wrong?

I will hold on to Christmas in my own way, with my nostalgic ornaments and Michale Buble' crooning carols on the radio. Ralphie and his family having CHINESE TURKEY and Santa coming to town, Angels and snowflakes and glitter and Christmas cookies and yes even FRUITCAKE...it's the MOST wonderful time of the year and it;s a time when EVERYONE should be with everyone else and enjoy the Holidays (thats a word evolved from HOLY days by the way) in their own way and let others celebrate as they will.

I am so glad I didn't do without my Christmas lights this year and I hope you have yours as well...

Friday, November 25, 2011


Turkey day is over-except for tripping over a throw rug and breaking a couple toes in the process it was a quiet day spent with friends.

I managed not to over eat, traffic wasn't too bad and I was home in bed by 11pm-an OK day to spend a day that seems so full of stress for others.

My shopping is done, I managed to be creative with my cards and gifts this year...I love to shop and I especially love to gift things to friends and family that I have put a lot of thought and research into.

I am so thankful for my sponge brain able still to retain mental notes to myself so I remember when someone mentions something in April to put it on my Christmas list in the fall.

Last year I discovered ZAZZLE-an online service for creating custom items like mugs and ornaments using one's own art and design...a little pricey but they put out a good product, often have sales and ship promptly with a money back guarantee.

So my BIL will get a gift that is unexpected but that he actually asked for, I can add a few family portrait ornaments to my sisters growing collection and everyone will get something that has a little of my artwork on it this year (like it or not).

ETSY always turns up a few great ideas and finds---last year I got my sister a birds nest which held three egg shaped stones in it with her kids names engraved on them-a unique and lovely item that one would never find in a department store.

I had mugs made with my Christmas collages on them and used them as holders for candy, cocoa mix and other little treasures-those seemed to be a big hit.

This year I also remembered to shop over at BROADWAY CARES an organization which helps many charities across the USA especially AIDS/HIV charities.

For a number of years they have been doing a Christmas CD where the casts of each years Broadway Season record a holiday song which is turned into a compilation.

Not only are these recording unusual, fresh and unique but they create a "living" history of each Broadway season and those who performed.

The website also sells various other Broadway related merchandise and part of your purchase is tax deductible-a great source for your friend or family member who loves the theatre and a showtune.

AMAZON seems to always come through for me-did you know you can order groceries on AMAZON? It's true...but pretty much everything else as well is available-I opted this year to join Amazon PRIME so I get free two day shipping on everything (and streaming video on demand of X FILES)...I had fun comparing prices between sites and watching the packages roll in with discount price's on many items.

Last but certainly not least EBAY---sort of "over" to many people and decidedly a different EBAY from the original version-however you can still find some great buys on EBAY and many items are BUY IT NOW priced...I actually opted for an auction of two and grabbed a couple treasures that I am delighted with and which will be the perfect gifts for friends that are hard to buy for.

That's me on the day after Turkey Day...mellow, a little sore but overall pretty Thankful for another holiday season, good friends, wonderful family and NEW family members this year-so odd to call my 90 year old aunt on Thanksgiving after have lost her for so many years...my cousin was off to Palm Springs but hopefully I will get to spend a few precious hours with them before the holidays.

I hope all of you have a magical, sparkling holiday season this year and all through 2012-be sure to watch A CHRISTMAS STORY-Ralphie and his family remind me so much of Christmases in my childhood...I never did get a BB gun and one of the kids across the street from me actually almost did shoot his brothers eye out...I hate it when parents get that kind of empirical ammunition.

The graphic at the top of this post is my 2011 Christmas card-I did up the design in photoshop, created the card on Zazzle then hand jeweled them (profusely) and signed and numbered

Sunday, November 6, 2011

FALL Storewide Sale at my ETSY shoppe

For the month of November 2011 I will be having a shopwide sale-20% OFF your entire order on my ETSY shoppe.

The coupon code is available here (RICK07161949)do not include the parenthesis just the alphanumeric code is all you need.

Remember this code is good for the month of November and will give you 20$ off your entire order-enter the code in the coupon code box when you check out!!!

Only available on my BLOG but you may share it with friends if you like.

Limited to stock onhand I will not be adding items until Dec 1. 2011

HAVE FUN this is a great way to get the digis you have been wanting at a discount price-my first ever storewide sale!

Remember the code is RICK07161949-ddiscount will be added on checkout

Saturday, November 5, 2011

New Rubber Stamps from I BRAKE FOR STAMPS

Della over at IBFS let me know that the new St. dennis exclusive rubber stamps CHRISTMAS BEARS are now up and ready to become a part of your collection.

I BRAKE FOR STAMPS will also be bringing out WINTER BEARS featuring skaters, skiers, snowboarders and other fun designs without the Christmas feel...watch for those coming soon.

The CAROLER BEARS above was my personal favorite from the Christmas set so I am sharing it for you to see here.

You can visit Della's online shoppe from the handy link right over there


I know many people who highly endorse her stamps and I am always pleased at what a great job she does capturing my artwork for the hard stamp market.

Remember the designs I do for I BRAKE FOR STAMPS are exclusive and I do not sell them as DIGITAL STAMPS so she has the only versions of the Teddy Bear Collection which has been quite popular.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

BRAND NEW for 2011

I am happy to introduce a brand new digi sheet for Christmas 2011-LIL BITS OF CHRISTMAS!!!

You told me you loved the spring sheet so here is one for the holidays with all the whimsical motifs I could pack onto one page.

I asked my design team to do some special projects using this sheet and they came up with an incredible selection of projects.

Here are Helene's projects-I had previously listed another project as hers-sorry-these wonderful items are what she created---ditzy me LOL.....

Hazel offers this charming candy box-change the traditional Christmas colours for BLUE and GOLD amd you have a great Channukah gift...

Carina envisioned an advent calendar made of ornaments so she not only used the new designs but some of the classics as well and created this string of merry little vignettes, perfect for country or nostalgic decors...

Here's a sweet cookie container from Elaine and another candy container from Hazel-the choir boys are one of my favorites on this sheet!!

By the way in 2012 Elaine will have a monthly feature on my blog where she will share a card and some challenging techniques with you.

Look for ELAINE'S CARD CORNER every month with a seasonal design using one or more of my images.

Who wouldn't love to find a pair of these adorable candles in their stocking?

A perfect hostess gift, Tine has packaged them in a simple but elegant manner that also makes them perfect for boutiques and Holiday craft Faires!

I will have more holiday projects over the next weeks including a how to on my simple but effective ATC ornaments with a twisted stovepipe wire hanger that elevates them from ATCs to a winning project.

I adapted the design from one of my Tole Painting series SMILES AND BLESSINGS HO HO HOME...that project will be up in about 10 days-I hope to include video that demonstrates how to twist the wire hanger.

To thank all my supporters I have a very special price on this digi sheet for the month of NOVEMBER only!!!

Regular price 12.00usd available at my ETSY shoppe for only $7.50-grab it now before the price goes up in December!

Hope you have enjoyed seeing all these great projects and thanks to my ELITE DESIGN TEAM ladies for creating these special items for me---all of the team is staying on for 2012 and I hope to welcome 3 new designers as well-more about that and all the new features on my BLOG later this month!!!

The ornament above is by Elaine-I love this nostalgic,old fashioned look with the paper doilies- Carina's advent calendar is below...

Here's another card from Hazel-she's SOOOO prolific-I love the way she's finished the whipped cream on the cocoa!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011


Tiffany returns and challenges the players to create nightmares or dreams-I offer neither, or both...the decision is yours...

Collage Obsession Oct 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


People have commented that I seldom talk (publicly at least) about my career in the theatre.

That part of my life sort of wound down in the 1980s and pretty much ended completely in the mid-90s.

I sang Sharpless in Madama Butterfly in Laguna Hills for my good friend and longtime coach CHARLES ROSS PERLEE opposite Korean opera diva VICTORINE LEE as Butterfly and DOROTHY DALLAS as her companion and servant SUZUKI as my farewell performance in Opera.

I believe CHRIS LAICONAS was the Pinkerton.

I sang many performances of Sharpless in my career and far more performances as PAPAGENO in Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE (a role I have always despised. I am probably the only baritone who cut the arias from 3 verses to 2 and on one occasion a single verse).

My singing career was shadowed by my designing and directing which brings me to a story I wanted to share with my readers-I directed a Metropolitan Opera DIVA when she was barely out of high school.

It was inevitable that I would end up directing (and designing) a production of Magic Flute.

As it happens I was working with some of the people I had done my debut performance with as Papageno back in 1971.

MAESTRO FRANK FETTA was at the helm musically and former co performer and director GARY FISHER a marvelous Canadian tenor was Tamino…My dear friend, the late EUGENIA HAMILTON (contralto) was one of the three ladies.

In the 1971 production celebrity voice teacher divine JOAN ZAJAC (the woman who groomed Emmy Rossing for PHANTOM on screen not to mention Cybil Shepard in years past) was the QUEEN.

Joanie and I also sang Hansel and Gretel together and I directed her in BOHEME as MIMI.

In the West End Opera Production I don’t remember many of the cast except ROBIN BUCK a handsome baritone who may be best known for his performances in the Glory of Christmas as the Crystal Cathedral (he is on the video of the production) and one other, a beautiful young soprano named ELIZABETH BIGGS.

The BIGGS family was quite active with the West End Opera company-Betty had done costumes and wigs many times (Elizabeth’s MOM) and Dad Dr. RICHARD BIGGS (the world’s most wonderful chiropractor-I can’t tell you how many people including me he really helped with his Palmer Method treatments-he actually cured me of Migraines on a picnic table outside a rehearsal for Boheme but that another story).

Elizabeth’s brother, Chris, was (and perhaps still is) an inventive special effects expert-a warm, wonderful, creative family.

I don’t remember quite how Elizabeth ended up in the production singing Papagena…but I was thrilled.

Elizabeth had everything a director and designer could want from a singer/actress…she was quite beautiful, slender but curvy with gorgeous hair and an almost dancer like quality to her movements.

Earlier in the season I had been directing La Boheme and we had lost our Musetta due to medical problems…I had lobbied hard for Elizabeth to step in as having a glamorous young coquette would have not only played perfectly but would have served my Avant grade production and out of period Belle Époque costumes wonderfully.

At any rate, I had her for “Flute” and I gave her impossible things to do-during the famous duet with Papageno (to the delight of the audience) she threw one ballet dancer like leg around Robin Buck’s waist and did a full back bend and reverse while singing-never losing her richness of tone or projection.

In such performances, if one is paying attention, one sees future greatness so it was no surprise to me when several years later she was singing in New Zealand.

I followed her career a bit via her father during visits to his office but lost touch before the turn of the century and only recently reconnected with her via the internet.

ELIZABETH BLANCKE BIGGS has sung Fedora with Placido Domingo,gave her met debut is 2003 as VIOLETTA, stepped in to cover Tosca at the MET and done Butterfly for the New York City Opera-the company that launched such legends as Beverly Sills and Norman Triegel(amongst many other roles worldwide).

I dropped her a note and she dropped me a couple signed pictures and a CD of her performances-I keep track of her via the internet and an occasional FACEBOOK entry…she travels the world singing, teaches in New York City and lives what seems to be an exciting life.

I think that it’s wonderful that Elizabeth has become an international name-like many who start out at home she had to travel to be taken seriously.

I wonder if those who remember the WESTEND OPERA ever think about the BIGGS family and regret that ELIZABETH wasn’t given more opportunities there.

Most importantly she had the support of her family…and perhaps that is all one destined for stardom needs-that a few breaks and an unstoppable drive and passion to perform.

I don’t claim to” know” ELIZABETH BLANCKE BIGGS nor even just Elizabeth Biggs the young, beautiful soprano but I directed her once as Papagena in the Magic Flute-a production that had all the glitz of a Vegas revue, coloured smoke and magic tricks and a bizarre concept that would seem tame by the standards of today’s opera productions-and she was damn good, sang like a nightingale and looked like a goddess…how wonderful memories can be when they are pretty much all one has left.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A few paragraphs about DIGIS...

For those of you who are totally familiar with digital stamps and how to work with them-PLEASE bear with me...you would be amazed at how many people have no idea what a DIGI is or how to use them!

When my friend DEE MORAN first encouraged me to explore selling my artwork as digital stamps I thought it was a silly idea but I quickly joined the camp followers and saw that DIGIS are a great tool for card makers and paper artists.

Rather than store countless boxes of mounted rubber stamps you digitally store a huge amount of images and they are available to you in a variety of sizes and can be flipped, manipulated etc into MANY versions of a single design assuming you have a photo manipulation program.

There was a time when almost every computer came with some sort of bay PHOTOSHOP-Adobe is by far my favorite program perhaps because I have been working with it for so many years and find it wonderfully dependable and use friendly.

They also are very smart people and know that everyone wont invest several hundred dollars in a photo manipulation program so they created Photoshop ELEMENTS (also referred to as baby PHOTOSHOP) readily available for well under one hundred dollars and it has many of the slick tools that the full version does.

A number of artists that I know use either GIMP (a program that is available online free for download) or MS Word-I have little or no info on these programs or how one uses WORD to resize art-so perhaps one pf you brilliant bloggers will write about these programs and send me a link so I can direct people to more info.

I started out doing sheets of images.

I assumed like any ephemera people would want a number of related designs on one sheet that they could digitally cut and paste and then resize.

I was partly right and partly way off and it wasnt too long before people were complaining about having to buy sheets or not being able to use them without printing out the entire sheets...

Never assume...I know that old adage I just , well, assumed...

I would think it would be terribly frustrating to have all these fun images and not be able to separate them and resize them easily...and that's when I assumed that anyone who made these wonderful intricate cards MUST know how to manipulate the art to their own benefit.

I later started adding more single images (bu popular demand) and finally do many more singles than sheets.

By way of a little sneak peek advertising I will be having a new Christmas sheet on the line of my LITTLE BITS OF SPRING but with slightly more intricate designs-I hope to have that up on ETSY about NOV 1, 2011.

So what I do is open a sheet in photoshop and I also open a separate blank file shape sized for printing-often 5 by 5 inches and 300 dpi or some variation thereon.

I then use a cutting tool (like the lasso) to rough cut the image out of the sheet and the MOVE tool to slide it onto the new blank document.

I close the sheet-not saving any changes and immediately make a duplicate of the new file-I learned long ago to ALWAYS work on a duplicate never on the original or even the first copy.

I then use the various tools to resize my image and clean up anything that I might want (or need)to...I could actually colour all or part of my image at this point using the various paintbrush and other colour tools in Photoshop-the logo on my main blog page is digitally coloured.

Since I don't have a tablet or digital brush I have to rely on a wireless mouse and frankly I just don't have the patience anymore so I usually use Prismacolor pencils since I have never been a fan of markers.

My EDT ladies are brilliant with COPICS and I am often amazed that they can get subtlety with them-I myself cannot-its all in the knowing and doing I guess.

Anyway that's pretty much it-open cut slide and size-then you print out your design, colour and use.

Another friend LINDA MARINO who I know from my tole painting days tipped me off to printing on PRESENTATION PAPERS.

These surface come in a wide variety of weights and opacity and can give a project a rich look over some less elevated stocks.

I tried printing of vellum bristol board which can be bought in printed sized reams but the printer version versus the art store version left me disappointed-the print is fuzzy and the designs easily smear...could be a laser printer would be required to get a really good image.

I have enjoyed using printer vellum because of their semi opaque quality-I have never tried the clear overlay/acetate type stocks...not my style, but I love when others use them well.

I hope anyone who has a favorite video tutorial or a site that gives a lot of info about using DIGITAL STAMPS will leave comments below.

I think its so important to share information about the art we do and how we approach each challenge-I am always thankful when people take the time to include detailed product lists and sourcing for their finished projects---I think that's the kind of sharing that all artists should do.

I don't know how long the digital stamps will be popular-as you know I also have some designs in hard stamps that are done by I BRAKE FOR STAMPS-Della does a great job and is so particular about her products so I am proud to have them produce my designs and I know that some of you found me through them and vice versa.

Its been a fun month-I always hate to see October go because it means no more Halloween for a year but Harvest and Christmas come right after-this is my favorite time of the year.

I sponsored a bunch of blog challenges this tear and I believe there is still one more to go from my friends in OZ about the 26th or so-I will [post when I have the details.

Those challenges are a part of the reason for this post-I did sheets for them and found I was having to explain how to take the images apart-its frustrating to win a sheet and find out its really a single sheet not a zip file of singles...

Happy haunting all and be sure to watch for LITTLE BITS OF CHRISTMAS in November-I have my Elite Design Team working as I type-I can't wait to see what they come up with-I loved the projects from the spring sheet.

I will have some of the more popular designs available as singles-and YOU will be voting on which designs you want to see as singles and available separate from the sheet...more later!!!!


Sunday, October 9, 2011


Collage Obsession asks for something about MASKS (masques) this week-appropriate of the season at least in the states.

I immediately thought of a piece from my vaults of designs done over the past several years...hope you enjoy...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pastel Tint

Kirsi's challenge on COLLAGE OBSESSION this week was to tint a black and white or sepia tone photo using a pastel colour wheel.

I have done this image several times before-it;s one of my favorites for Halloweeny sorts of cards etc but usually I have polarized the image and used hotter colours so doing a softer version was fun and I also tried some grunge filters to give a weathered mildewed effect to the finished piece.

It's interesting when you compare the pastel image above with the garish ATC image below how much one can get in range from one image.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Halloween Card from Jen

Jen sent me a note and a copy of the card she had made using HEDWIG HALLOWEEN-one of the most popular digis I have done-her blog is

As always when srtists share their creations Jen will be recieving a Thank you sheet from me.

Please when submitting samples EMAIL the image(s) to me at

Also add any information about other peoples stamps or images that you might have used so there is no confusion about who's is who's.


Friday, September 30, 2011

TiNe went BaTty - more from my wonderful EDT

Tine sent me her BATTY project and its a swell card=the bat POPs up to say BOO-Just love it...be sure and stop by Forever Knight-today is my Friday sponsorship for them-theres a button link on the left and down below is a post about the 31 day blog hop that starts tomorrow-OCT 1 and runs for a month-one sheet of Halloween digis a day will be hidden somewhere in the blog hop-sounds like fun eh? The links are below...

I'm sorry but TINE didnt send me the siurce for the pumpkin she used on her card-as soon as she does I will add it-it's a great design and goes remarkably well with my drawing of the bat!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My newest DESIGN TEAM star...

Hazel sent me this picture of her son TOM-isn't he a handsome young Bairn?
He used some of my stamp designs from I BRAKE FOR STAMPS-the company which has exclsuive rights to produce and distribute my art as rubber stamps-to create this wonderful Halloween card...

It's always great to see young people encouraged to be creative and to express themselves artistically-especially in these tough times when the arts are disappearing from schools.

A BIG thank You to Tom and EDT member Hazel for submitting thus picture and TOM will be recieving a THANK YOU sheet of digis from me for his efforts.

ENJOY!!! and visit I BRAKE FOR STAMPS the new button link is in the left column at the top!

Monday, September 26, 2011

13 GhoSts

Eila asked us to do something this week based on the number 13 and I instantly thought of 13 Ghosts one of my favorite old black and white movies from the good ole scare days.

In my version they are the angry ghosts of children overshadowed by the wicked witch who holds their spirits captive.

Collage Obsession Challenge-13-Sept 2011 by RSD

31 Days of Blog Hopping fun-OCT 2011

Forum Main Page- http://www.smearedandsmudged.ning.com

S&S Blog- http://www.moresmearedink.blogspot.com (starting point of hop)

I'm sponsoring a 31 day blog hop for smeared and smudged-they have an exclusive sheet of my Halloween digis and will be hiding it somewhere in the hop every day for 31 days...

That's 31 chances to win-so everyone start hopping in October!!!

Good Luck

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Collage Obsession

DIAN asks us to do our version of the Big Rock Candy Mountain-made popular in a song last century-I saww a travel poster-a little psychedelic and here is the result.

I could have sworn the words were different but regardles I refuse to include cigarette trees.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Young Guy Across the street...

I find it interesting that people don’t like to go to the dentist and how often they have horror stories about dental office visits.

One of my best friends was just telling me about his former dentist who dropped a drill bit down his throat, not once but twice, and panicked about it shouting at his patient to not swallow and not make a fuss as he attempted to tweezers it out of his throat.

As an adult I have been very lucky to have several really good dentists-since I have really poor teeth this has been lucky for me.

I find dentists very interesting.

Generally they have all the appeal of doctors but are usually less rumpled and distracted and also are often quite creative dabbling in sculpture and other artistic pursuits.

The also have very clean hands-gloves aside.

My former dentist was a tole painter and tied fly fishing lures.

He was quite good at both.

He was also the darling of many of his female patients and the bane of their husbands since her frequently attended craft classes with his wife and shopped with her at local craft Shoppe’s and craft conventions

My current dentist is a genius.

I have decided I really like Chinese American medical professionals-my primary care doctor is Chinese-3rd generation American and so is my Dentist-as a matter of fact they may actually know each other at least via their families.

My dentist is also quite attractive, has a great personality, takes wonderful pictures, many underwater shots, and is disgustingly fit-no chubby dental guy there, slender and toned.

He is referred to as “that young Asian guy across the street”.

I live in a retirement community and we have a number of dentists in the area-I don’t know all their names but I know exactly who is being referred to when someone says “that quack down in the center” or “that foreign guy up the boulevard”.

Such is the nomenclature of the various retired folks in my area.

Anyway I had made the mistake of going to “the quack” and several people said I should try “the young guy” so I did and I liked him a lot.

I hate shots as you probably know if you’ve read my blog and there are a couple of dental numbing injections that are particularly nasty-one is the palatal and the other one I refer to as the “hinge one”.

My dentist told me what it’s called but “the hinge one” is so much easier to remember.

My dentist, the handsome genius, can do either of these procedures absolutely painlessly.

He will warn that there may be the obligatory “pinch” but so far-no pinch.

This is because he is a genius AND because he is very careful, slow and methodical-he doesn’t rush to get you numb-he's more concerned that it doesn’t hurt-this is a good thing.

My former dentist had a “lodge” inspired office which went well with his tole painting, crafts and fly fishing.

It was dark and, well. Lodgey…it always seemed like it was about to be Thanksgiving in his office.

I had never been to a dentist’s office that had red plaid curtains and bear tracks across the ceiling but I figured the curtains were a good idea-in case of an errant spray of blood from the drill it wouldn’t stain the curtains…blood stained curtains do not instill confidence.

“The young guy across the street” where I go has redecorated his office within the time I have been going there.

It has a tranquil, oceany, spa like feeling (no curtains that I can remember).

It’s nice.

He has TVs with do it yourself shows and cooking shows in each room, a Zen fountain, and of course lots of his photographs framed on the walls.

Makes you want to settle in for a root canal-I have actually dozed off in his chair…recently.

Speaking of the dreaded root canal…my Mother had instilled in me that after child birth and the pain of raising ungrateful children, a root canal is the next most painful and horrible thing.

I have not found this to be true.

Having now had a number of root canals I find them not much worse than a filling-there are any number of things I find less pleasant than a root canal.

Dentistry having progressed quite a great deal in the last century many of the things that used to be painful are now much less uncomfortable.

DRILLS for instance are no longer powered by the dentist working a pedal not unlike a singer sewing machine-they are high speed and much sharper than they used to be.

Also that sucky thing they used to hang on your lip to suction up excess spit is now a clean white wand wielded by a dental assistant along with a water spray thing and the air blower.

So when the dentist needs things wetter or dryer he has a helper who sees that it all happens.

This is probably why a filling used to be 10 bucks and is now hundreds of dollars but really it’s worth it considering the décor, assistant and painless injections and root canals.

Dentistry is actually a bargain.

Doctors give you sample pills now and then but the dentist often gives you swag bags with toothbrushes, floss, mouth wash and toothpaste samples-useful stuff that also can be packed in your travel case.

Dental Floss…now there’s a pain in the ass.

I think many dentists must have stock in dental floss companies since they pitch the stuff like asphalt driveway replacement or swimming pools.

Dentists are preoccupied with dental floss and they make sure you are driven to distraction when you don’t use the stuff.

My genius dentist recently told me I was killing him when I admitted I do not floss regularly.

It’s not that I want to endanger his health and well-being it’s that I am a lazy ass and I forget to floss.

I don’t much like to floss-I don’t mind brushing and rinsing but flossing is annoying and uncomfortable.

I tried dental TAPE-it is more comfortable than the floss but is still a pain in the ass.

I would rather have a root canal.

I also like my hygienist a great deal-she used to be the geniuses hygienist when he was a kid before he decided to be a dentist, now she works across the hall from him almost every day.

The cleanings are also much more comfortable and she has this neat clicky thing when she has to go mining in the deep pockets-it’s great.

I have no idea why I felt compelled to expound on the “young guy across the street” and how good he is at what he does but like the cut of men’s trousers and other strange things the world dictates to me what I write about…today it happened to be dentists.

Also I was just over there for a root canal and I had forgotten how comfy it all is.
But that’s in HIS office it’s not at all comfy at the quack’s or the foreigner up the boulevard.

Oh if you wondered the tole painting fly tier guy retired but this guy’s way better anyway.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Because we need it...because we never need another 9-11, or Holocaust, or any tragic violence leading to misery, sadness and loss...because it's long past time and before it's too late...please...let us have peace on our earth and let EVERYONE love whom they wish without judgement...please...

COLLAGE OBSESSION weekly challenge PEACE (Tiffany via Kaylene) Sept 11, 2011
Rick St. dennis

MORE Batty photos from the Elite Design Team

HELENE did this adorable corset bag that looks like a midevil torture device and tucked her bat card inside-when I asked for over the top and outside the box I get it from my wonderful EDT Ladies...

HAZEL is still going batty-she found some wonderful inspirational papers so she made yet another card for this challenge-another great job as well....

Thursday, September 8, 2011

More New Halloween for 2011

I added a heap of new designs tonight to my Etsy Digi shoppe so amble on over there and check out all the new stuff.

I decided to do a bunch of cheesy B MOVIE sci fi monsters and had a ball doing them-another witch-I think I have about a million now-anyway I was just crankin out some good work so I went with it.

Still looking for Bat designs for my GOING BATTY promotion-remember you will get a "wee suprise" as Hazel said-if you send in a bat card.

Hope everyone is having a fun week-the weekend is almost here and its supposed to cool down in California so woooo hOOOOOOO.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

SLOTH - Collage Obsession

As usual for this series my entry is above and on my blog:

According To Wikipedia:

Sloth is defined as spiritual or emotional apathy, neglecting what God has spoken, and being physically and emotionally inactive. Acedia is a Latin word, from Greek ἁκηδείᾱ, meaning "Carelessness".

Sloth can also indicate a wasting due to lack of use, concerning a person, place, thing, skill, or intangible ideal that would require maintenance, refinement, or support to continue to exist.

Religious views concerning the need for one to work to support society and further God's plan and work also suggest that, through inactivity, one invites the desire to sin. "For Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do." ("Against Idleness and Mischief" by Isaac Watts).[citation needed]

In the Philokalia the word, dejection is used instead of sloth, for the man who falls into dejection will lose interest in life.

I have always liked this hot, vibrant painting of a woman sleeping in the heat of the afternoon-for my purposes here I have served her up on a bed of hell, fire and supernovas-wound her is golden webs and given her a cherub to cry over her damnation (thanks Itkupilli for this PNG image).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

GOING BATTY -Design Team Challenge

I have asked my Elite Design Team to produce a project using a new BAT design I did for this years digi collection.

YOU asked for more SCARY less Cutesy so I am trying to please everyone.

Anyway I asked my design ladies for a card that was very over the top, glittery, complicated, bizarre but also traditional colours...I will be publishing their projects over the next few weeks-so watch this page for some spooky ideas.

They also had to use the words "GOING BATTY" on their project and once all their projects are posted I will have a very special announcement so watch forthat as well.

HAZEL (not Witch Hazel) came through first with this sparkeled up card-her FIRST card BTW and I think its just spiffy.

She says she thought he was a very scary bat but got more friendly after she sparkled him up.

Hazel has been sick for several weeks and it sure seems like the same bug I caught so I guess I got it in sympathy-glad she is feeling better (and so am I).

GO BATTY with us-if you have a BAT design on a card send it to me at
and I will publish the best of the designs-please be sure to give me the particulars on whose images you used etc.

BATS ONLY!!! and in traditional Halloween colours please (Black, Orange, Purple, Poison Green, Yellow, Grey) you will recieve a thank you gift via email if your design is used on the blog-deadline is Oct 1, 2011.

We're all GOING BATTY so come on and play along!!!