Feeling Artistic

Mom was always encouraging her children and grandchildren in their artistic endeavors. I wish I could share with her the latest artistic outlet that’s a lot of fun for me. The nifty part of this art, created with AI (artificial intelligence), is I don’t need to take a painting class, buy any paint or brushes or canvas, and don’t actually need any talent.

Two Pictures I Created with AI

The first pictures I made on NightCafe, the free AI site that I tried) were disappointingly murky, not distinct, and with odd anatomical issues. It turns out there is a slight learning curve to making art with AI. I joined a Facebook group where AI creators were sharing their tips and thanks to their advice, my AI art improved.

You write a prompt for the artificial intelligence telling it what you want the picture to look like and then you add the names of some artists that you want to influence the resulting image. I realized that I should have paid more attention 40 years ago in college art history class. Trying to visualize what Degas or Klee or Picasso would do with the picture I was trying to create wasn’t easy.

Fortunately, some creators show their settings so I could pick up artists’ names to apply to mine. Gradually, I assembled a list of old favorites to use (Alphonse Mucha, Arthur Rackham, Norman Rockwell, Beatrix Potter). I also found some new-to-me artists to get the look I wanted (Dittman, Rutkowski, and others). I learned art terms like depth of field, volumetric lighting, maximalist, photo illustration, anime style, pointillism, and other art movements and styles.

Design created by Virginia Allain using AI on NightCafe

I learned from others how to screen out undesirable treatments by putting “negative prompts.” That reduced issues like poorly drawn faces, extra limbs, blurry, grainy, too dark, and other issues.

NightCafe gives users 5 credits each day to play around with. It encourages social interaction by giving more credits for liking others’ creations or following other creators or winning in the daily contest. Really dedicated users can also spend money to get additional features. So far, I’ve been quite happy using the free parts and learning how to make the scenes I want. You can see more of my creations at NightCafe.

The Shabby Old Quilt

My sister sent me a small heart made from a fragment of a worn-out quilt. Some people gasp in horror at the idea of cutting up a damaged quilt. To me, the horror is when I see people tossing a quilt on the ground for a picnic blanket or using it for their dog’s bed. “It’s old,” they say as an excuse for the careless treatment. Later, they look at its tatters and toss the shabby quilt into the trash. That’s sad.

Over the years, I’ve rescued old quilts from yard sales and stored them in my closet. Too worn out to display, but I feel protective of them. Someone spent hours, days, weeks even, sewing those pieces together to make a quilt top and then quilting and binding it. It was colorful on their bed and kept them warm. Maybe it was made as a gift to delight a bride or celebrate a special event.

So, the small heart that my sister cut from a quilt fragment held a special meaning for me. She added her own stitches to finish the edges and knowing my love of old quilts, she mailed it to me along with a larger piece of the quilt. I was fascinated to see the layers exposed that an even older quilt was sandwiched inside it. The colors and patterns of the fabric seemed to me quite old, likely from the 1800s.

The Vintage Quilted Heart

(created using ChatGPT with some adjustments by Virginia Allain)

The vintage quilted heart,
Stitched with love and care,
A symbol of the memories,
We hold so dear and rare.

Each patch, a moment in time,
Of laughter and of tears,
Of joys and sorrows intertwined,
Throughout the passing years.

The fabric, soft and worn with age,
A reflection of our past,
The colors, faded but still bright,
Forever may they will last.

And though the stitching may come loose,
And some patches fall apart,
I’ll keep this salvaged remnant
Made into this small heart.

For it is a part of us,
That survives despite its age,,
It’s part of who we are,
A symbol of our heritage.

So let us cherish this treasure,
And keep it safe from harm,
The textures and the workmanship,
It’s a talisman with enduring charm.

Remembering Childhood Television Series

It seems unbelievable to today’s generation but we didn’t have a television set when I was a youngster. I was in eighth grade when we acquired our first television. Here’s Mom’s story about that: The Christmas of Our First TV. Recently, my sister reminded us of the series we used to watch. There was Sea Hunt with Jeff Bridges, The Rebel (Johnny Yuma), Rifleman with Chuck Conners, Sky King, Maverick, and Circus Boy.

Sky King cast members (McCann-Erickson (ad agency) on behalf of the program’s sponsor, Nabisco., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

If you grew up in that time, you may remember these or have other favorites. These shows were popular in the 1950s and 1960s and were known for their wholesome family values, Western themes, and action-packed adventures. They often portrayed the American West as a place of heroism and adventure, with strong, dependable, and heroic lead characters. It’s considered a Golden Age of Television.

“Sky King” was an adventure series that followed the adventures of a former military pilot who became a rancher and used his aircraft to fight crime and injustice. The show was filled with action and kept us captivated with storylines that often featured the hero using his wits and flying skills to save the day.

“The Rifleman” was a western series that starred Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain, a rancher and former Confederate soldier who uses his sharpshooting skills to defend his family and the people of his town. The show was known for its well-written scripts, character development, and exciting action sequences.

People who are nostalgic for these shows often remember them fondly for their simple, unassuming storylines and the sense of innocence and optimism that was reflected in the characters and settings. For many, these shows represent a simpler time in their lives, before the world became more complex and challenging.

Maverick starring James Garner (public domain picture from Wikipedia)

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in these classic shows, creating a new generation of fans who are discovering them for the first time. Many of these shows are now available on streaming platforms and DVDs, allowing people to relive their childhood memories or experience the magic for the first time.

Overall, the nostalgia for 1950s television series like Sky King and The Rifleman is a testament to the timeless appeal of these classic shows and their ability to evoke a sense of innocence, adventure, and hope that still resonates with people today.

I’d love to hear what shows you remember. Please share those memories in the comments section.