Artist Shares Passion for Digital Scrapbooking
We all have one. The friend everyone counts on to bring a camera. The friend everyone hits up for doubles after the party is over. The friend who has, by silent consensus, been dubbed the “unofficial photographer” for those of us who aren’t organized enough to remember a camera, or to get pictures developed in the same decade in which they were taken.
When Michelle Shefveland of Sauk Rapids, Minnesota, discovered that she could blend scrapbooking, her favorite hobby, with her computer skills, the pieces of her life fell into place.
"I love combining my photography with poetry," Shefveland, the artist whose designs are featured in the new Paint Shop Xtras scrapbooking series, said. "I used to do it all traditionally with paper, calligraphy, fabric – when I discovered digital scrapbooking, everything clicked and now I find I just can’t stop."
Shefveland said she started scrapbooking in the traditional sense in the spring of 2002, even though she’s been making art with her photography for the past 20 years.
"Although I have always loved art, I decided to follow a more technical education path," she said. "I went to college for Computer Information Systems and worked as a computer programmer and systems analyst."
It wasn’t until she became a mother and started working from home as a contractor that Shefveland began to explore her passion for art. She became involved in quilting and photography, which eventually led her to scrapbooking.
By fall of 2002, Shefveland turned to her computer to make her layouts. In early 2003 with the encouragement of her husband, she decided to pursue her digital hobby as a career.
"I submitted some layouts to magazines like Creating Keepsakes, Simple Scrapbooks, Better Homes and Gardens Scrapbooks, Etc., and Memory Makers," she said. "Because they liked my work, it encouraged me to pursue my dream of having my own business."
Though Shefveland has turned her scrapbooking hobby into a full-time career, scrapbooking is much more to her than a job.
"Scrapbooking is very emotional for me," she said. "Each page speaks to me and it is in my art I can truly express how much I care for my friends, family, and nature."
Many of the layouts and albums that she makes are given away as gifts.
"I made my parents a whole album of their life, from their childhood to now," Shefveland said. "It was so fun watching them react to it, especially my dad. He would tell a story about each page. I guess I get my storytelling from my dad. He tells them verbally, while I tell them in writing."
Shefveland said that the greatest reward is when her gifts cause the recipients to shed tears as they reflect upon the meaning of the pages.
"When they are moved like that, it tells me I’m doing the right thing and that I’ve found my place."
And helping her find her place is Paint Shop Pro, which she uses to create her layouts.
Incredible Levels of Customization
"What I like most about Paint Shop Pro is its incredible level of customization," she said. "You can tweak every effect, every setting to your own liking."
Shefveland said she has a hard time choosing a favorite Paint Shop Pro feature since she loves so many of them including the magnifying lens, soft focus, textures, Picture Tubes, and the photo enhancement tools.
"My favorite photo editing feature in Paint Shop Pro has to be the Soft Focus filter," she said. "The results I get using the photo corrections on the Enhance Photo toolbar are superior to other photo-editing software I’ve used. But I just love the soft focus, probably because it makes me look so much younger! It adds such a beautiful effect to my photos."
"What I always do with soft focus is duplicate my layer, add a subtle soft focus, and then erase the eyes and teeth so the original photo shines through in these places. This gives you incredibly soft skin with bright, shiny eyes and glistening teeth. It’s incredible!"
Shefveland also used Paint Shop Pro to help create the templates, background papers, and embellishments found on Paint Shop Xtras – Scrapbooking Edition.
"The templates really help novices," she said. "They can see the layout in front of them and can try it by just adding their own photos. They only need to learn the most basic of Paint Shop Pro skills to start digitally scrapbooking."
"Learning about layers and seeing the layers that make up a scrapbook page layout are key to understanding what goes into a digital scrapbook," she said. "But, with the templates, you can easily see how the layering works."
Appreciate Your Life
"With the ready-to-use papers and embellishments featured in the scrapbooking series, you can use your Paint Shop Pro knowledge to add effects, tear the paper, etc., and then use your creative genius to make the layout unique to you," she said.
Shefveland has been putting her creative genius to work making layouts for the past two years. Though she’s created many layouts, she still has some favorites.
"Of all the layouts I’ve made, one of my favorites is one I just created," she said. "I lost a cousin recently. Just two weeks before she died, a picture was taken of her looking out a stained glass window and I used that in a layout called ‘Looking Through the Window of Time.’ This layout is really special to my mom and my family. It’s very emotional because it records my feelings and helps me deal with her loss."
"Another one I really love is one I call ‘He Ran to Me,’" she said. "It’s a layout filled with pictures of my oldest daughter, Alyssa, practicing ballet and performing her first solo. Her love of dance is so special to me, probably because I was such a tomboy. The joy she has and the confidence, her gracefulness; it’s all part of her uniqueness. And, when I can capture her grace on film and then put words and art to it, it really speaks of my love for her."
Recording those memories that might otherwise be forgotten is what makes scrapbooking so meaningful to Shefveland.
"It makes me feel like I’m living life more fully because I’m capturing these moments," she said. "Scrapbooking really makes you appreciate your life. When you can see how much you are blessed, it makes you focus on what's important and how lucky you are."