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5 Alternatives to Using Photoshop

It is not often that a creative photographer takes a shot that upon review on his or her computer couldn’t benefit from some level of editing. And as most photography buffs know, Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard. And while it is a great tool, it can also be quite expensive and take up a lot of space on your PC or laptop. That being the case, I wanted to leave the photogs out there with a few alternative options.


Pros: Feature rich and free

Cons: Requires download and takes some time to learn


Perfect Photo Suite

Pros: High quality tools and very professional feel

Cons: Only one on the list that isn’t free, steep learning curve

Perfect Photo Suite

Pixlr Editor

Pros: Can use it from the web and is rather similar to Photoshop in look and feel

Cons: Tools are limited, especially for batch work



Pros: Very easy to use

Cons: Light on features


Photoshop Express (App)

Pros: Great for on the go editing

Cons: Limited features

Photoshop Express


Creativity for the Non-Creative Thinker

So, you like art but you don’t consider yourself a a creative person? No problem. Give these two fun websites a try, save a copy of your work via download or screenshot and ta-da – instant artist.


Weave Silk

Into Time

Into Time



How Creativity Therapy Saved My Life

By Amy Oestreicher

My name is Amy Oestreicher, and according to doctors, I am a “surgical disaster.”  However, at 28, I feel truly blessed.  I may not have a stomach, but I sure am hungry for life.  It started in 2005 – a week before my senior prom.  It was our second night of Passover, and my stomach started hurting.  My dad said it might be gas, but he took me to the ER for an x-ray, just in case.  On the way there, my cheeks actually puffed up, soon after, I collapsed, and I woke up from my coma months later.  Apparently, there was a blood clot on the mesenteric artery that caused a thrombosis, and when they cut into me, my stomach actually burst to the top of the OR.  Both of my lungs collapsed, I went into sepsis shock, and I needed 122 units of blood to keep me alive.   At 18, I was read my last rites.

When I finally awoke from my coma months later, the doctors finally told me what was going on.  I had no stomach anymore, I couldn’t eat or drink, and it was not known when or if I would ever be able to again.  What do you say to that?  I was shocked – I had been too sleepy to be hungry, but now that I knew what the real circumstances were, I was devastated.  I was confused, like I had woken up in someone else’s life – where was I?  Who was I?  I remember I was once so desperate for answers that I googled “How do I find myself?”

Part of me wanted to curl up in a ball and disappear, part of me wanted to throw something.  I was frustrated – I had just gotten my college acceptance letters – was I the victim of some cruel joke?

One day, I picked up a paintbrush.  And my world changed.  I had found a way to express things that were too complicated, painful and overwhelming to put into words.  Suddenly, when the uncertainty around me seemed frighteningly unmanageable, the strokes of my paintbrush could soothe me as I created a peaceful world that my soul longed to rest in as a place of peaceful solace.  My passion could ignite instead of my anger and despair.  And slowly, the good feelings overwhelmed the bad because I could control the positive world portrayed on my canvases with what my subconscious chose to create.  And I still believe that attitude is everything.

You don’t need to be an “artist” to make art – all you need to do is start somewhere.  Art doesn’t have to be “good”, it just has to be “real.”  What draws me back again and again to my paintbrush is that when I hold it in my hands, no one can judge me – all that matters is what I’m feeling inside.  Through painting, I’ve discovered feelings I’ve suppressed that I had never even anticipated.  Every day I come to my painting, I may be feeling something diferent.  I could paint the most joyful expression in the world, or just a giant tear drop – but every time, I always walk away feeling better.  I’ve realized what I was feeling – and I’d rather feel everything than nothing at all.

Creativity became my lifeline.  What I wanted to keep my mind and heart numb to not deal with difficult circumstances, art could help me unlock those feelings and truly express myself.

Who knew that art would make my medical trauma become the most amazing adventure and lesson of my life?  Art helped me process what I was feeling.  But most importantly, art served to be the greatest reward, acting as a medium where I could still engage with my community, reach out to others, and make a difference in this world while utilizing my passion.  Arts were my way of connecting with the world, sharing my story, and spreading my message of hope, strength, and finding beauty in whatever life brings you.  My art may be self-taught, but it is personal, uniquely me, and a mosaic of what I have been through.

As a child, the arts were my passion and identity.  When my traumas occurred, they became my lifeline.  Now that I am out of my medical crisis and into a life of health and vitality once again, the arts are how I can reconnect with the world, make a difference, and raise awareness – awareness ofthe power of ones internal resources, awareness that there are many ways to heal externally and internally, and awareness of the human potential and spirit.  An awareness of gratitude – that every day and moment should be celebrated – that life is a canvas, an open score, a bare stage, waiting for us to join the dance!

I found art accidentally on my way to healing physically, emotionally and spiritually and have learned that it is one of the most rewarding, forgiving, beautiful ways to find my way through the darkness and into the light.  I may have found it accidentally, but because of art, I have found myself again.  Although left with a few scars, I am long past my bleak days in the hospital.  With, my wonderfully supportive family, my passion and a paintbrush, I was able to keep my soul alive for that uncertain time in my life.  Life may always be predictable, but art can always find the beauty in the detours.


Amy Oestreicher is a 28 year old actress, musician, teacher, composer, dancer, writer, artist, yogi, foodie, and general lover of life.  Surviving and thriving through a coma, 27 surgeries and other trauma has inspired Amy to share her story with the world through her passionate desire to create and help others.  Piecing her life together after her initial dreams of performing musical theatre took on a beautiful detour into broader horizons.  Amy has written, directed and starred in a one woman musical about her life, Gutless & Grateful, has flourished as a mixed media and acrylic artist, with her art in multiple galleries and mounting dozens of solo art shows, and continues to share her story through her art, music, theatre and writings.

More information on her unique story, as well as her creative ventures can be found at, and visit her blog for her newest art, music and inspirational musings.  You can also visit her Etsy shop at


Vintage Photography / Videography Collection Contest

I recently completed my mini display of vintage photography and videography equipment. And having done so, I thought that this might be a good opportunity to have a little fun on this blog. So, I am officially announcing contest.

Here’s how it will work.

To enter, simply add a comment with your best guesses as to what each of the items are on each shelf. The guesses that come the closest will be ruled he winner. It’s as simple as that. In the event of a tie, additional consideration will be given to any person who also clicks “Like” on the post or shares it on social media.

What’s the prize?

Winner gets their choice of:

1 year of a free add on this blog.

A free lifetime membership to Image Aids – a video blog with tutorials on everything media and creativity related.

Any two services from my offerings at which can be found here.

Winner will be chosen on October 20 and announced on October 21, 2015.

Good luck and have fun!


Image Aids Tutorial Resource to Launch Live Video Chat Classes Soon

A while ago, Three Rivers Creative Arts introduced a new and innovative venture called Image Aids. This site was designed specifically to help photographic and other art enthusiasts to develop their craft through video tutorials on Photoshop, editing techniques, DIY projects, working with online video and audio along with so much more.

We are excited to announce that Image Aids will be expanding its horizons to what we will be calling the Image Aids Academy. The IAA will offer the ability for those interested in the visual and digital arts the ability to engage in personalized and custom-designed one-on-one live video chat classes!

Why pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a seminar, workshop or class at your local college only to be bombarded with a lot of full and technical jargon you really don’t need to be dealing with? Why not get right to the point in simple, plain English instead for a fraction of the cost?

join ia

IAA classes will start at just $50.00 for a 30-60 minute custom session focusing on only what you want and need to learn. Upon completion of the class, you will be given a certificate recognizing this.

Rest assured, the original Image Aids site which you can now preview a bit at Join Image Aids, will remain active with an ever increasing number of tutorial videos accessible at a one-time cost of just $10.00.

More details coming soon.


The purpose of art

What is the purpose of art?

Perhaps these quotes from notable artists can provide some insight:

The role of art for me is the visualization of attitude, of the human attitude towards life, towards the world. – Josef Albers 

The object of art is to give life a shape. – Jean Anouilh

Art has no other purpose than to brush aside… the conventional and accepted generalities, in short everything that veils reality from us, in order to bring us face to face with reality itself. – Henri Bergson

Art is the perpetual motion of illusion. The highest purpose of art is to inspire. What else can you do? What else can you do for any one but inspire them? – Bob Dylan

The defining function of the artist is to cherish consciousness. – Max Eastman

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls. – Pablo Picasso

The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers. – James Baldwin

Five misconceptions about poetry


Misconception Number 1 – Poetry must be written in eloquent language

Poetry can be gritty and raw, it does not have to be eloquent. Some examples would be poetic writings by rap artists like Tupac Shakur in his book “The Rose that Grew from Concrete.” After all, RAP is an acronym for Rhythm And Poetry. On a lighter side of things, Dr. Seuss, a genius in his own right, certainly did not use “the Queen’s English” if you will.

Misconception Number 2 – Poetry has to rhyme

Some types of poetry rhyme, some do not. There are a number of styles that rarely rhyme including modern free verse.

Misconception Number 3 – Poetry is always short

While the majority of poems do tend to be short, there is no rule requiring them to be so. In fact, some of the longest books, yes i said books, are considered to be works of “epic poetry.” One good example is “The Odyssey” by Homer. This work is more than 500 pages!

Misconception Number 4 – Poetry is for wussies

People sometimes associate poetry with over-sensitivity and wussieness if you will. However, quiet a few poets have been anything but wussies. Many wrote about social injustices and thus dared to challenge authority figures. I would say that takes some guts. On another note, Poe was an inspiration to the masters of the horror genre. There’s nothing wussie about that.

Misconception Number 5 – There is no money in writing poetry

While poetry is a very specific literary genre which does make it challenging, it is possible to make the art into a reasonable side job or even a modest career. A lot of poets sell their work to greeting card companies and get a fair rate for their work. Others  are able to format them in such a way that they work well as song lyrics and can thus be sold in the music industry. Those are just a few options.

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