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Five things your English teacher (may) have gotten wrong

mean teacher

You can’t use “and” to start a sentence

Actually, you can use and for this purpose. Just for good measure, here are a few examples from literature:

“And even Mary could assure her family that she had no disinclination for it.” – Jane Austin from “Pride and Prejudice”

“And to seek to make the blacksmith a scholar is almost as silly as the more modern scheme of making the scholar a blacksmith.” – W.E.B. Du Bois from “The Souls of Black Folk”

“And let every other power know that this hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.” – John F. Kennedy from his Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961

You always use commas after each item in a series

Commas are necessary after each of the items in a series, except the last one. For example, someone might suggest that this is correct: red, white, and blue. However, that’s not the case. Using the comma after “and” is actually redundant. It’s like saying “and” twice. So, the correct method would be to write it as follows: red, white and blue.

Over and under

They do it in commercials and advertisements all the time. I suppose it is for brevity sake but that doesn’t make in any less incorrect. I’m talking about when people use the words “over” or “under” to indicate anything other than height. For example, cars are not on sale of under $20,000. Nor are there over 7 billion people in the world. The correct phrasing for each of these would be: Cars are on sale for less than $20,000 and there are more than 7 billion people in the world.

It’s not a real word if it’s not in the dictionary

First off, this implies that there is only one official dictionary when in fact there are many. On another note, there are many words that have simply been removed from dictionaries based on infrequent or rare use in modern language and conversation. I bet you wouldn’t find a lot of terms used in the Renaissance era in today’s dictionaries but that does not make them any less relevant.

Improper grammar is never acceptable

Generally speaking, improper grammar is a bad thing. However, there are a few exceptions. One of the first that comes to mind is with the use of direct quotations. Whether the quote is from a real person or a character in a book, language and grammar allowances can be made for such things as accents, education level, etc.  A quick example is the phrase frequently spoken by the character Aibileen Clark in the film “The Help” in which she says, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

Mixed Media Art by Amy Oestreicher (Part 2)

The works below are the second parts of a series here on Creative Dreamers that will feature the art of Amy Oestreicher. Check out her bio below for more information.

The Body Remembers

 The Body Remembers

As a self-taught artist, I’ve always been intimidated by “figure drawing”.  However, this image came intuitively and unexpectedly when I started moving around a glob of flesh colored paint with a paper towel.  Suddenly, I felt connected to my body in a very physical sense, and this was what ended up being created.

She Does Not See

She Does Not See

I’m not the best at “minimalism” when it comes to everything, so I painted tgat just intending for it to be a background for one of my crazy ideas.   However, the longer I let it be, the more I saw the background really hold its own ground as a piece.  Sometimes I feel like if I didn’t “work really hard” on it, it’s not “art”, but for me, I think the hard work was allowing myself to step away and let the colors speak on their own.

Motion Blur

Motion Blur

Another piece that I just meant to be a background.  My favorite “technique” in the studio is j7st to squeeze out the last bots if paint from tunes I’m ready to toss, drag everything around with a paper towel, and then spend an hour literally banging the canvas against things as hard as I can, in every possible direction.  It scares my dogs a bit, though.

Artist bio:

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. More information on her  story, as well as her creative ventures can be found at amyoes.com, and  you can visit her Etsy shop as well.

Making skin tones pop in your photography work

Whether you are a notice shutterbug or an experienced photographer, you have probably noticed that sometimes it can be a bit difficult to get the skin tone and coloration of a subject just right. This can often be the case with those who have a naturally fair skin tone. So, how do you handle making the skin color “pop” if you will? Well, here are three simple and highly effective tips that can make a major impact on any images you take.

skin

1. Bump up the saturation

Find the saturation tool on your photo editor and slowly move the slider or number higher. Be careful not to go too far because the image can start to look unnatural.

2. Burn the dodge/burn tool

To darken light skin a bit, use the burn option starting out on a fairly low opacity, maybe 25% or so. You can increase the number if needed.

3. Add a warming filter

Adding a warming (probably orange-ish) style filter can add that sort of sun kissed vibe to a subject’s skin.

Bonus idea 

Using your program’s exposure tools, if there is an option to do so, increase the Gamma Correction slightly.

Taking one or more of these steps can really make a big difference in the quality of your photography.

How to create beautiful photos with no distractions

There are any number of things we can do with a good photo editing program.

And while that is always cool, isn’t it generally a good idea to try to do as much as you can to minimize the need for editing? For example, if you can properly adjust your exposure or white balance during the shooting there is no reason you will have to go back and mess around with it on your computer. The same concept applies to the use of depth of field.

If you’re not sure what I mean, think about the images you see of people, animals, plants…that provide a wonderful clear image of the focal point but sort of seem to blur everything else out.

Cameras are built to automatically allow the sensor to take a shot providing the most crisp and sharp clarity as possible to all elements of the image. Sounds good right? Well, not always. When either the background (or in rare occasions the foreground) can actually distract from the main focal point in the image, you may want to blur if you will, the parts of the image that are not the main subject. This is where depth of field comes in.

If you aim for a shallow depth of field, the foreground will be in focus with the background out of focus to some degree, see the second shot below. Conversely, if you use deep depth of field to blur the foreground and showcase the background.

flowers

Take a look at the image of the flowers above as opposed to the one below. The top image is one shot with a camera’s standard settings while the one below blurs the background to emphasize focus on the primary subject by making use of a shallow depth of field.

orchid

 

So, what’s the trick? Well, it’s all about your aperture settings. Basically, the lower the F# (or more widely the opening of the lens) the more you will be able to achieve an effect something like the one above with this stunning pink orchid. So naturally, the higher the F# (or more narrow the opening of the lens) the more you will produce the oppose effect.

For more tips, check out my e-books on digital photography on my official author website.

 

Nature’s Masterpiece (A Poem)

One of my newest poems, this one is dedicated to the female form. I hope you like it.

Nature’s Masterpiece

The masterpiece of nature
Molded for a canvas fair
With piercing eyes enthralling
And flowing locks of hair

Painted with lips to kiss so sweetly
And sing in gentleness
Along with breasts to nurture
As well as to caress

Sculpted with curves so eloquent
And legs so well defined
Leading to the secret garden
Of life and passion combined

Mixed Media Art by Amy Oestreicher

The works below are a start of a series here on Creative Dreamers that will feature the art of Amy Oestreicher. Check out her bio below for more information.

Dancing Girl

 Dancing Girl

I love being a scavenger, collecting bits of fabrics, scraps of materials, and v seeing what I can create.  My dancing girl was created from an eclectic mix of whatever I could find!

Tree Thoughts

Tree Thoughts

This was another hospital creation, and an exercise on resourcefulness.  I used toilet paper from the hospital bathroom for texture, some old magazines and fabrics, just to recreate my trees, which give me so much comfort even now.

Bloom

Bloom

I used many different fabrics here to create the polarities I felt when trying to figure out who I was after being suddenly displaced from my “former ” life.  Every surgery seemed to separate a piece of me, and I expressed this with odds and ends of fabric.

Artist bio:

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 amyoes.com, and visit her blog for her newest art, music and inspirational musings.

Two Amazon apps for the creative minded

After making a recent music purchase on Amazon.com, I got an email from the site offering me a credit to use for the Amazon App Store. So, I figured, why not take a look.

I came across two apps that I ended up getting and would like to share with my creative readers.

Pencil Sketch Ad-free

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While there are a lot of tools that are meant to allow for the user to convert his or her images into something that looks like a classic pencil sketch. But unlike like a lot of them, this one works easily with a good effect.

Easy Screen Recorder

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This cool app allows you to do a video screen capture of your smart phone’s activity. It’s great for recording all sorts of things including info for art tutorials.

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