Friday, October 20, 2017

5 Collections of Terrific Halloween Clipart to Inspire Your Creative Projects

Clipart image of a happy Halloween message with spooky images
The people who use images in projects are always thinking ahead. Preparing products and promotions in advance of seasons and events is standard. So, while Halloween is still days away, these folks are right on top of this autumn celebration.

Linking to some fun Halloween clipart collections then, seemed an appropriate focus for today's missive. But first, before we get to that, I hope you will indulge me as I share some personal thoughts and remembrances about this particular time of year.

One of my earliest recollections of Halloween was my first one in Kindergarten. My classmates and I wore our costumes to school and showed them off as we paraded through the senior classes. Call it a trial run on the ooh-and-aah factor because if we heard these from the Grade 8 girls or saw reluctant grins on the faces of the boys, it was an assurance we were looking pretty darn cute. Which meant that getting our treat bags stuffed to the brim was not going to be an issue.

Clipart image of the legs of trick-or-treaters
The standard practice as a youngster in those days was to hit as much of the town as possible. However, travelling to one area just a few blocks from my modest, middle-class neighbourhood, was imperative. Older kids, our siblings and friends from that area encouraged it. Home to the affluent, it was well-known that the greatest satisfaction for a sweet tooth was here. Rather than single chocolate bars, these people often met us at the door with goody bags full of decadence.

That's why it's strange that my only, albeit rather harmless and humiliatingly unsuccessful, foray into Halloween mischief targeted a home in that neighbourhood. If 'trick or treat' is the mandate for this holiday, then my gang and I had clearly fallen outside the terms. But who can understand the ways and  minds of teenagers?

Having reached the age caught between 'adorably cute in costume' and 'too cool to care', some friends and I decided to grab a few bars of soap and hit the town. And again, for whatever reason, we chose as a first stop a home that had always delivered in the treat department.

Clipart image of four Halloween images
Perhaps it was the absence of lights in the back. Perhaps it was the temptation of the open garage door. Either way, with our brains taking a back seat to common sense, we believed we had our target. Entering the building, we raised the bars to the window just in time to be illuminated by headlights from a car turning into the driveway.

Knowing back then that getting caught would be a very bad thing for us on the home front, we sidled out with the speed of centipedes before hightailing it down the street. The soap was dumped and we headed home, never to stray into  the criminal life again.

It was after having kids of my own, though,  that the best memories of Halloween were formed.  They are far too many to list, but pictures of a tiny princess, a sweet lederhosen-clad boy, a pretty kitty and super-cute Dracula are among the reminders of those special years.

Back then, hubby and I alternated who would take our brood around town and who would stay home and dole out treats to the other sweethearts.  Each was equally satisfying — one could see everyone's reaction to our darlings, the other enjoyed seeing the variety of little characters who came to the door.

After the kids grew up and left home I transformed into a bit of a Halloween Scrooge. I had little interest in the celebration, and could have cared less about participating on any level.

Clipart image of a woman in a witch's hat making food
Then a few years ago circumstances forced me into a costume and buried feelings began to emerge. I remembered that it's rather fun to be someone or something else for a bit.

The arrival of grandchildren has also put the pleasure back in Halloween. We have toured around with a little bee, a lion and pumpkin. Given that they received treats in the process and being with them is a treat for us, life couldn't have been sweeter  on either side.

So, as I reflect on past Halloweens,  I approach this one with renewed elan. To go along with that here are some of those adorable clipart collections promised earlier:

iCLIPART.com Cute Halloween Illustrations

262 Adorable Halloween Illustrations from iCLIPART.com

A Terrific iCLIPART.com Halloween Collection

iCLIPART.com Halloween Cartoon Illustrations

Clipart.com Halloween Images

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

You're Sure to be Enchanted by These Adorable Halloween Animations

Clipart animation of a little girl clapping and jumping"Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn't music."  — William Stafford

What a wonderful quote. If there's one thing I regret about getting older it's that I no longer have that innocence and zeal.  To hear the music where none exists doesn't happen as often as I'd like any more.  To approach every experience in life with energy, with open-hearted and open-minded exuberance is an instinct that set sail a long time ago.

Sad that in adulthood we become so serious.  If we could only allow ourselves to see the world as it would be  through the eyes of a child. In those baby blues, chocolate browns or vivid greens there is awe and wonder over every blade of grass or fragile snowflake. Inquisitiveness opens their mind to possibilities and innocence to belief.  Children don't need to be told to dance as if no one's watching. And they always hear the different drummer.

Most importantly in those eyes, there is never a reason not to party.

This past weekend, we celebrated a big milestone for my hubby with an intimate gathering at our daughter's home. It was a surprise and to say the guest of honour was less than amused would be an understatement. The man was seriously not happy.

Until, that is, he saw the look on our grandchildren's faces as we came in the door.  Beautiful little ones with expressions of such eagerness and excitement. Such pure joy effectively thawed the icy cover he'd tried to hide beneath.

Watching these little ones react and relate to everything is a pastime of which I never tire. On this day, the unadulterated pleasure they showed in being with their cousins warmed my heart. The laughter and giggles, when a sudden rain fell on their outside play, spread sunshine. The delight in helping Papa blow out his candles, their wonder in chocolate cake with icing and a big healthy scoop of ice cream, was a reminder that there is satisfaction to be found in the simplest things.

So, yes, kids and their outlook on life, or lack thereof,  is awesome.  And with Halloween around the corner, we will get to see it first hand over and over again.

Clipart animation of a little trick or treater at HalloweenIt begins with the tiny knock on the door, followed by my grumbling because I have to leave the supper preparations, then clean-up, or finally my couch yet one more time. However, as I open the door,  all of the grumbling is gone, replaced instead by the sappiest  "Awwww...." How could I not feel my mood lift. After all, there they are, the most perfect  princesses, or darling Draculas.  Regardless of the costume, whether witch, unicorn or fairy, each and every one of them is beyond adorable.

And in return for my saccharine welcome, despite the fact that this isn't their first stop, the proffered candy elicits wide-eyed wonder and shy smiles. Then, selection made, they turn and dance down the porch steps, the only accompaniment the voices of other happy children skipping their way along the street.

In coming to a decision about what kind of collection I could highlight in this poast today, there really seemed to be only one thing that held the same sense of fun as time in the company of children does. There's plenty of that to be found in these cute animations from  AnimationFactory

Friday, October 13, 2017

Putting the Magic in Your Halloween Projects With Delightful Costume Images

Clipart image of a blue unicorn
Today, for just a minute, I was a unicorn. A soft, baby-blue mystical, magical unicorn.

And now for the rest of the story.

My oldest granddaughter, having turned five this year,  has been undergoing an interesting metamorphosis of late. She started this life with a surprisingly visible reticence. She appraised people with a look that suggested an, at times unnerving, astuteness. As a baby she was serious and fiery, charming and captivating.  We weren't especially surprised to see a lively, fierce rambunctious toddler take her place, nor a horse-loving tomboy when she began preschool.

The sweet, gentle spirit that defines her so completely these days was always there.
Clipart image of a little girl hugging a unicorn
However,  what has surprised us now is that since she entered kindergarten and discovered a kindred spirit in one of her classmates, there has been a transformation in her attitude, taste and style.  We find ourselves looking now at a real little girl — fond of unicorns and rainbows, loving the colour pink, and believing in a world where fairies can chase away bad dreams and princesses understand magic.

Having talked ad nauseum about my grandchildren to a friend at work, including all about our Missy's  enchanting fixation,  I opened the door for that aforementioned brief transformation  of my own today. My colleague decided we needed to provide a little magic ourselves. So this morning then, she showed up with her adult daughter's unicorn costume and insisted I try it on. The rest of her plan was that we would send a picture to my favourite five-year-old.

Nothing like Grandma as a unicorn to make life perfect.

It's unfortunate that this particular costume is too big for our sweet girl. With Halloween arriving, it's no surprise that her only wish for this particular event is to be a unicorn. While she didn't inherit her grandmother's short-person genes, she's still a tad too small to wear the outfit I had on, which means her mother is busy seeking out affordable ways online to create a realistic costume for her. Input was also gathered at a recent family dinner, where Mommy's suggestion that another option would do just as well was effectively shot down with a barrage of boos.

Clipart image of a man in a vampire costumeThe Halloween costume is as important to most little ones as the gown is to the bride. It lets them be their fantasy. They are for that night the superhero, the enchantress, the cartoon character. With that transformation the magic feels real.

Not just for the very young either. Our son's band annually plays a Halloween show, and attendees are encouraged to dress up for the occasion. The number of participants is as high as the level of enthusiasm.  What's most fun to note is how people seem to really get into character. The costume offers a buffer, an anonymity that permits them to step a little out of their shell and be a little freer.

Even grownups, after all, can wish they were something they aren't or look to find the magic again.

As I considered what might be a good choice for today's featured clipart collection, these thoughts of little, and not-so-little trick-or-treaters, and the choices they make for the big night made the decision rather easy.   

These illustrations from iCLIPART.com and Clipart.com are full of all the fun and delight this entertaining October celebration warrants:

Clipart image of a little princess holding a frog in her hand


Clipart image of a wizard

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Photoshop Tutorials to Dress Up Your Halloween Invites and Other Projects

It was a glorious Thanksgiving long weekend — one of those sometimes autumn stretches in Canada that lift spirits. Temperatures were unseasonably balmy, but not so hot that the bugs were out and about, or that humidity made everybody uncomfortable.

The colourful collage of changing foliage, the sky's pretty azure blue and the brilliant blaze of the sun were the perfect combination to celebrate a day intended for gratitude and counting one's blessings.

Since our large family gathering was on the Sunday, which I'll get to later, my husband and I had a break on Monday to appreciate the sun and warmth in quiet ways, beginning with a hike in a nearby forest, followed by some reading on the deck, then ending with wine and friends.

It was welcome respite given that the previous day was rather more active as our brood of four and their families made it home for turkey and trimmings. Busy,  of course, but so very gratifying. There was laughter and love as well as plenty of chatter.

With five of six grandchildren, aged five and under, a lot of that of course found its way several times to another fall holiday, one that definitely delights little ones. Halloween will be here before we know it and the moms at our gathering had much to say about
the requests for costumes. From unicorns to Wonder Woman, from Peppa the Pig to pirates, ideas were thrown out as they each tried to help the others find the most economical way to fulfil their offsprings' dress-up dreams.

There are still plenty of days for my kids to get the final word on what each boy and girl wants to be,  to find inspiration on various websites and to create something that  meets the approval of these tiny critics. Yet signs of the imminent arrival of  these magical characters, as well as ghouls and goblins, witches and warlocks,  are all around. They will only increase now that Thanksgiving's behind us.

Halloween really is a visual event. The creepy countenances of carved jack-o-lanterns, wispy tendrils of ghostly apparitions,  creepy skeletons suspended from invisible strings create eerie vignettes on porches as they await the visits of tiny trick-or-treaters.  There are the terrifying masks and assorted costumes depicting everything from pooches to princess, that are displayed in retail outlets.

From decorated homes and storefront windows, to promotional materials and classroom activities, ghostly themes and spooky designs are in the the minds of parents, merchants, teachers and tiny tots.

These are the images that inspire the occasion. And for folks who like to play in Photoshop there is always a variety of fun tutorials out there that will inspire some Halloween magic. Whether it's a graphic element to serve as a starting point, a photo alteration or a creepy background to which you can add text for ads, flyers or posters,  there are many ideas online.

With the holiday being so visual parties are among the activities that are enjoyed so invitations and decorative elements can also be created with a little help from Photoshop. There's absolutely no reason to fear you won't be able to find something to raise the bar on scary.

Here's a one-stop shopping guide to some terrific tutorials. You're guaranteed to find something that will dress up your Halloween projects:

Design a Halloween Invitation in Photoshop

Creepy Halloween Tutorials

16 Halloween Photoshop Tutorials

17 Photoshop Tutorials

20 Creepy Halloween Photoshop Tutorials

Design a Halloween Poster in Photoshop

Friday, October 6, 2017

Care to Try Your Hand at Drawing? Here are Some Super Tutorials

 "Talent hits a target no one else can hit." — Arthur Schopenhauer

Who knows what hidden talent one might have. Who knows, if it's rooted early and nurtured through one's life, what targets it might hit. 

My son once gave me a book to read. This is Your Brain on Music, by rocker turned neuroscientist Dr. Daniel J. Levitin, is subtitled: The Science of a Human Obsession and (to oversimplify the message) suggests that practise makes perfect.

Far be it from me to dispute someone with the education of Dr. Levitin, but honestly I really can't completely believe it. I certainly think that if you practise hours each day you will play better than those who don't. But, I also think that the talent needs to lie within too.  Our son, an accomplished guitarist, practised incessantly. And I do believe that has contributed to his admirable ability. I will never be convinced though that had I played for those hours alongside of him I'd be as good. After all,  it's not practice that makes the canary a canary, rather than a blue jay.

What I do believe, however, is that we all need the opportunity to try. It's our exposure to multiple experiences that will help us find where we excel, what our hidden talents might be.  It's probably too late for me to hone any now, but there are situations in life that will make me determined to try. 

Way back in 1968, my friends and I had entered high school. It was an interesting era for us; young girls raised by conservative parents in moderate times, we now sat on the cusp of cultural, societal and moral change. We still took home ec classes while the boys went to the tech wing, but the notion that we could be lawyers, doctors or bosses if we chose was starting to take hold.

Where just a few years before, young women planning their futures typically chose office work, nursing or marriage, now my peers and I could let our desire and imagination direct us down all career paths.  I was fascinated by the world of journalism, still not exactly thinking out of the box. A friend of mine, however, saw herself as a fashion designer, doing illustrations of young girls in mod clothes, typical of what most of us were wearing.

Fascinated by this creativity and by her romantic choice of profession, I began copying her drawings. What came as a big surprise to me was, with the exception of the hands, I  was not that bad.  At the time, that this said more about her limited talent than it did about me actually having any, was lost on me. What was found, however, was a love for doodling.

And now, today, with a granddaughter enchanted by unicorns I did a little digging to see if I might find a guide to teach me  how to draw these magical creatures and of course, discovered a bounty of them.  I remember how delighted I was as a little girl when my grandfather would sketch his beloved horses for me, so hope that this will create a similar memory for our little missy.

For many, these pastimes and activities we try can lead to hobbies,  passions or careers. All must begin somewhere though, so here are some great drawing tutorials from our iCLIPART.com Pinterest Drawing Tutorials

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

It's Good for Your Health. Promoting Fitness With Inspiring Photos from iPHOTOS.com

Photo of two senior women doing a tree pose in yoga
If you ever spend any time reading my blogs  you'll probably have noticed that I don't talk often, or much at all really, about fitness. Which is probably because, if I must be honest, I'm really not that into it.

Giving thanks for some good genetics and apparently a moderately-high metabolism, I've spent most of life indulging in carbs, cheese, sweets, treats and wine, with only a modest weight struggle. For a long time I could balance my taste for unhealthy eats with a moderate exercise program. Aerobics, yoga and a nice long walk now and then generally was all it took to keep the extra pounds off for many, many years.

Then I hit a certain decade and for the first time in my life losing any excess baggage didn't happen just because I wanted it to. Whatever exercise I did in the past to drop the weight,  now had me hanging on for dear life to stay where I was.

Improving myself before that was always the drive behind any exercise program. Now though, with nothing to show for my efforts, the necessary inspiration to get up and going was lacking. Then yet another decade arrived and with it a seemingly simultaneous shift in body parts and energy levels. Add in some new stiffness, aches and pains, and even walking has lost its lustre.

Sadly, though this might be the age when sitting around doing nothing feels most pleasing,  it is probably the absolute worst time to do it. Exercise helps ageing hearts, bones and minds. This is a fact so loudly touted it would be ridiculous to try and use the excuse that you didn't know a sedentary life, along with a diet loaded with fats, carbs and sugars was bad for you.

I'm a big fan of being pharmaceutical free. I also like the idea of sticking around this world for as long as possible. I therefore know it's time for me to shape up, that I can't continue all the bad habits I've nurtured over the past several decades and continue to enjoy the good health I have to this point.

Photo of two seniors jogging in autumn
The challenge is going to be to figure out how and what I might do to get control of me again. My fitness level is not helped by the reality of being chained to a desk, all day, each and every work day. It's not helped by the exhaustion when I get home, the inability to rise early in the morning, and the household tasks and responsibilities that must fit in to all the spaces between.  There are no gyms in close proximity, there are no indoor pools nearby.  Large classes intimidate me, and it's far too easy to cheat on solitary walks.

I will find my way, though. There's incentive to be discovered at every turn, on television and in print, from promotions for weight loss and fitness facilities, to ads reminding us that we'll never get fit if all we do is sit.

For people in the industry, who are looking for great images to promote physical activity,  these inspiring fitness pictures from iPHOTOS.com offer plenty of variety.

Friday, September 29, 2017

As Thanksgiving Nears These Photos Celebrate the Blessing of Family

Photo of a multi-generational family saying grace on Thanksgiving
"Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow." — Melody Beattie

The world might seem a little crazy these days — Mother Nature appears to be really upset and as turbulent as the political climate.  However,  moments of gratitude, amidst it all, have never been too difficult for me to acknowledge.  No matter how frustrating, exhausting or stressful life can be, there's never any doubt in my mind that the life I lead is a blessed one.

To start with I'm fortunate to live in what (no one will ever convince me otherwise) is the greatest country in the world. My little spot in this vast nation is calm and quiet, lush and open space.  I have lived in the same old century house I fell in love with when we bought it 40 years ago.  My husband and I have raised four great kids in that home and we are now enjoying the delights of grandparenthood.  Work is gratifying and I am fortunate enough to have several 'toys' that offer me respite on weekends and in the summer.

In summation, I want for nothing nor need a thing.

In just a couple of weeks I am presented too with the opportunity to celebrate these gifts and my gratitude for them. The Canadian Thanksgiving will be here Oct. 9, and our family along with many others will be honouring this time of blessing and bounty.
Photo of a woman checking on a turkey in the oven
Of course, for me, the days to come will be hectic. The upcoming occasion means now is going to be a busy time of preparation, with a house to clean, errands to run, groceries to buy,  and food to prepare.

Beneath all of the busyness, however, is a barely-contained excitement. For one whole day, all of my children will be under my roof again, bringing with them their partners and those adorable grandbabies. It will be a full house and I am beyond thrilled.

I don't remember childhood Thanksgivings the way I remember Christmases of my youth. My maternal grandmother really enjoyed the latter and her attitude left an indelible memory. The former consequently always seemed to be little more than a practice run for the Dec. 25 menu. That sense carries through for me into my adult years.  It just wouldn't be either of these celebrations now without turkey and all the trimmings, cranberries and pumpkin and apple pies.

Photo of a multi-generational family laughing togetherThere has, however, been a recent shift. With Christmas so busy there's little time to really enjoy the day with my loved ones as it all seems to pass in a blur of gifts, eating, drinking and cleaning up. Thanksgiving then, has become a more relaxed version, when the pleasure in counting one's blessings is coupled with the ability to actually enjoy each other's company for a bit.

So as the anticipation builds for a day spent in the company of the people who are my greatest blessings among many,  I thought it would be nice to highlight some family holiday pictures from the wonderful Thanksgiving photos found in the iPHOTOS.com collection.