September 12 - The Original Documented Life Project™ - Challenge

September Theme
Journaling with Photos
September 12
Art Challenge: Digital Imagery & Design
Journal Prompt:  What Makes Your Heart Sing?

Sandi Keene - Digital Fantasy Creature PEEK(here)

Lorraine Bell - Manipulates Photos HERE

Rae Missigman: See how she created her digital element on her blog here.

This week our featured artist is: Susan Tuttle!

We present Susan's feature on our blog...enjoy!

Photography and digital art are two artistic mediums I am passionate about. You could say that my blog is a visual journal of sorts; my home on the Internet where I record moments of my life through imagery. I am in love with words and revel in choosing just the right combination of them to accompany the imagery I share.

I am a collector of quotes, especially ones that resonate with my heart. They inform, guide, and serve as reminders as I travel my life's path.

As it turns out, words and imagery can make a lovely pair and there are a number of software programs and apps that will allow you to artfully combine them into digital designs. For me, this practice is akin to creating a mixed-media journal page, only the visual elements are digital. Your collection of “pages” can be made into a beautiful book at some point; I'll tell you how later in this post.

I tend to be a minimalist, so the idea of simply taking a photo, doing some light editing to enhance what is present in the scene, perhaps adding some subtle texture, and then applying inspirational text, definitely appeals to me. Below are four samples of this, made with various iPhone apps. Keep in mind there are all sorts of software programs (available for Macs, PCs and mobile devices) that can be used to create this type of artwork. Photoshop (Elements and CS) allows for digital designing, as does free editing software from No matter the software you are using, there are a few general tips you might find useful:

•You can use either a photograph, a quote, or your own words as a starting point. The photograph can inspire the text, or vice versa. I often start with inspirational text in mind and then peruse my archives for just the right photo to pair it with.

•Add a subtle texture or filter if you desire. You might even consider rendering your photo in a painterly style (I'll reveal my favorite app for that below).

•Choose a font that makes your heart sing. When I use Photoshop I'll often draw from fonts I've purchased from a London-based company called Design Cuts. They have some beautiful hand-drawn fonts. When I use my iPhone to apply text, I'll use either the app Over or the app ABM (A Beautiful Mess). Phonto is another great text app.

•Place the text in an area of the photo that has negative space – that's often against the sky or ground, or clean background. Depending on the photo, an overlay of text in the middle of the scene could work quite nicely (eg: placed over a photograph of the ocean).

•Play with the opacity of the text. You might want some of the imagery to show through. Plus, it serves to better blend the text with the imagery.

•Consider making a photo book of your work, so it feels like an actual journal. has a beautiful option for only $25.

Here are four samples I made for you. I looked through a collection of my latest photos and chose a few of my favorites (they happen to be DSLR photos, in case you are curious). I added filters, subtle texture, and text to them using iPhone apps. Sometimes I use Photoshop CS and Pixlr to perform these same techniques, but it was a hot, lazy summer day, and photo-manipulating from the couch, with iced tea in hand, was much more appealing than the computer station.


The rendering of this piece is simple and straightforward. It is a most beautiful sunset and I like it as-is. I felt a texture would actually take away from its power, so opted not to add one. I used the app Over to apply the text 'Breathe' – which is exactly what this scene invited when I witnessed it in person – lots of deep breaths. Over has a variety of classy fonts to choose from and allows you to control text size, placement, opacity, and tint.


Glaze is an impressive painterly app. I used it to convert this photo into a “painting.” The app provides lots of artistic painterly filters, so you can find just the right effect for your photograph. I then added text in the app Over.


I opened this photo in one of my favorite apps, Mextures. I added a radiance filter and some scratchy texture (reducing opacity for each application). With Over I applied the text “Lean In,” added a tint to it, and reduced its opacity, to better blend the words with the image.



This is my favorite sample in the batch. I converted the photo to a painterly style with Glaze, added multiple filters in Mextures (reducing each filter's opacity for a subtle look), and completed the piece by adding text in Over (I altered the tint of the text a bit, giving it a pinkish hue, to better match it to the colors in the photo).

Bio and Links:

Susan is a digital SLR and mobile photographer who lives in the woods of Maine and is inspired daily by her natural surroundings. She has written four books — her most recent being Art of Everyday Photography: Move Toward Manual and Make Creative Photos (North Light Books). Susan's photography has been exhibited internationally in London, New York City, Prague, and Paris.

She offers online courses. Two are currently available: an iPhoneography + Mixed Media online workshop called CO-LAB: PAINT, PAPER and iPHONEOGRAPHY MAGIC, which she created with mixed-media artist and best-selling author Alena Hennessy. And the THE ART OF IPHONEOGRAPHY SELF-PORTRAITURE.

Susan is also a frequent contributor to Stampington & Company publications and other North Light Books, does freelance work for companies like Manfrotto and Pixlr, and is currently the Technical Advisor for Somerset Digital Studio magazine. Susan shares, “I honor my calling to share my work and what I have learned, and am grateful for the opportunities to play a small part in the creative and spiritual becomings of individuals. It is my belief that if more and more people living on this planet are in touch with themselves and making things, there will be more joy, greater peace, meaningful human connection, and less destructive behavior. It is harder to destroy when in touch with creative spirit.”

IG: susantuttle

NOTE: The Art to the 5th Artists are rotating months this year so not every artists will be participating every week.

Looking for previous challenges? click HERE.

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