A World in a Drop of Water

I’ll let you in on a little secret of mine : I have a Pinterest board dedicated to Water Drops. Seriously, I do. I find water photography fascinating, particularly Macro and Liquid Splash photos. With Macro water drop photography, you can often really see an entire World reflected in just that one drop of clear, sparkling water. I really admire photographers who are able to capture that drop at precisely the right moment, or find that perfect necklace of spider’s web dew, or present a perfect flower within a tiny raindrop.

The other day I was looking through my collection of Pins, and I’ve decided to share with you some of my favourite Water Drop Pins. I stand in awe of the many superlative Macro photographers out there, as reflected by the following images; some of the photos are not Macros, instead I’ve chosen them for their sense of otherworldly beauty, or for their beautiful Zen stillness. I love being a Pinterest curator!

Here are some of my favourite water drops (courtesy of Pinterest and all credits to the photographers, naturally):
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http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

Feet Of Clay

Let me tell you a story. It’s not a new story, there are very few of those around nowadays. Like many other stories you would have heard, this one is as old as the hills, and as new as today’s newspaper. I’m just going to tell it in a different way, that’s all. The lesson is still the same, as it has been for millennia. The situations, events, circumstances, protagonists etc might all be slightly different, with an infinity of variations, but the archetypes are always the same.

Here’s how it goes:

Once upon a time there was a young girl who noticed a young man. Something about him caught her eye and fired her imagination. She started thinking about what it would be like to be with him all the time, holding his hand, looking into his eyes, hearing his voice uttering words of love. He was all she’d been waiting for her whole life. The future appeared to be a shining mass of bright light, filled with laughter, love and happiness, stretching as far as the eye could see, and beyond. Even the thought of him, and she thought about him all day long, filled her with longing and a deep, almost physical ache. Everything he did was great, brilliant, awesome.

He is quite The Catch.

And so our young lady sets out to get our young man’s attention. He already had a large circle of friends, both male and female. She joined in his social circles online, found out what he liked and disliked, learned about his preferences for Music and made them Her preferences too. Learned what his principles were and made them Her principles. He didn’t like chocolate, so she decided she didn’t either, even though she did. She did everything she could to fit in with his group and then when she felt she’d prepared enough, she set about trying to get his attention. Not to take him away from his friends, but to set herself apart in his eyes as a potential partner in Life. Why not? She’d moulded herself to be just like him, there was no reason for him not to be attracted to her. Surely he would recognise himself in her? She made herself smaller to fit in through the crack in the door of his soul.

And so she centres all her energy on The Courtship.

Her ploy seemed to have worked. Suddenly she found him paying her more attention than ever before. It was almost as if he’d suddenly woken up and noticed her standing before him. Suddenly he was spending a lot of his time with Her, sharing adventures, jokes and his innermost thoughts with her.  He couldn’t believe how much they shared in common. She was so easy to get on with, always had a kind word for him, was sweet, sexy and funny, supported his causes and interests, bought him CDs of his favourite bands, showed him news articles that she knew would interest him. He bought her flowers, took her out on her birthday, brought her around town in his car, surprised her with a romantic dinner, a weekend break in the country, a concert, introduced her to his family, bought her a diamond ring and promised her his eternal love and devotion.

Ahhh, Romance!

And so our intrepid young adventurers got married. They could not afford to buy their own place, so they rented at first. In the beginning, everything was new, rosy and exciting. They discussed having children, and started planning a family. Not long afterwards, out of the blue, he lost his job. She became the main breadwinner while he looked for jobs. The economy was not very good then, the bills started to mount up and still he didn’t have a job. She then found out she was pregnant, and she was not quite prepared for his reaction when she told him. He bemoaned the fact that now they would have another mouth to feed, when they could hardly pay the rent and utilities. She was shocked to her core, and started to wonder at his change of character. He, on the other hand, was enraged at her apparent lack of concern about their financial welfare. How dare she fall pregnant at a time like this? When the baby is born and she is on Maternity Leave, how would they survive if he still hasn’t found a job? What if the baby was ill, deformed or had a disability? How would they care for it then? For the first time, they had a major argument, and he hit her. He was really sorry for it right afterwards, blaming it on the stress of finding a job so he could look after the family. He promised it would never happen again. But it did.

The Honeymoon is over.

The cracks were starting to show in their relationship. She slowly came to realise that her husband’s feet were made of clay. He wasn’t the God she thought he was. For his part, she didn’t seem the genuine article either. Where was the girl that shared so many similarities with him, to the extent that she appeared like his twin soul? Had it only been a farce to win his admiration and attention? Had she changed? Had he changed? Why did they even get married, they had nothing in common? He realised he hadn’t really bothered to get to know the real her, as she’d made herself fit into his world and not the other way round. He decided he could no longer talk to his wife the way they used to. So he turned to his social media circles and started an affair with a mutual friend, who as it turned out also shared lots of things in common with him. SHE was always there for him, always had a kind word, was always on his side, appreciated him for who he was and never tried to change him, sent him little presents in the post, that he had to hide from his wife. She could have been thousands of miles away, or a few doors away, it didn’t matter. Her arms, virtual or real, were always wide open to welcome him, whereas his wife was preoccupied with other matters and had her own interests. All was going well until one day when details of his affair were discovered by his wife.

What a Rude Awakening!

She was naturally upset and disappointed by his betrayal, and wanted to know how he could do such a thing to her. Had their courtship, romance and marriage all been for nothing? Did their shared history not count for anything? How could he be looking for love elsewhere, when it had always been right there in front of him? Why did he? At first he denied the whole affair, but she had evidence. He tried to pretend that it was only a harmless flirtation, but again the evidence pointed to the contrary. He’d betrayed her trust, invested his time, attention, money and innermost thoughts with another woman. He’d even let the other woman play with his mind and turn him against his own wife. They’d even gotten as far as to promise to leave their respective spouses for each other. How was that a “harmless flirtation”?

This Isn’t What Anyone Expected!

So, what was the answer? Leave or stay? Go and accept the offer to start a new life with the mistress, and deal with the fallout and consequences later? Or stay and reconcile with the wife and promise to be faithful for evermore? Could he ever regain her trust, after what he’d done? Should he accept and admit his wrongdoing, and sincerely make amends for it? Or was his mistress right about his wife being cold and calculative? Did he really ever love his wife, or had he just been in love with the idea of her? As for her, the questions swirling in her mind at this time would be who would look after the family once the baby was born, if she was not at work. And if she could not afford to NOT be at work, who would look after the family while she was at work? Her husband sure didn’t seem interested in being a family man. One minute he promises her that he’d cut off all contact with his mistress, the next he’s back to claiming it wasn’t an affair and that he hadn’t been unfaithful. She knows for a fact that he hasn’t cut off all contact with his mistress, that they are still in touch and still discussing things that should only be discussed between a husband and wife. How can she trust him ever again? He could just be biding his time, playing nice to her until their circumstances improved, and then he’d be gone in a flash, leaving her holding the baby, literally. Where did his loyalties lie? Where had they ever lain? Was she setting herself up for a great fall?

Now we come to the Crossroads.

Choices, choices. Weighing up the pros and cons. No more thoughts about romance or love, just about survival. Could she be able to make it as a single parent? Would he be honourable and live up to his end of the bargain and help support their child? Why are they even bargaining? What happened to their relationship, how did it get to this Crossroads? She must decide whether to cut her losses and go, or stay and try to repair the damage her husband did. Why her? Because he won’t. For his part, he may feel a sense of responsibility or remorse for his actions, or not, but clearly he is torn. He could stay with this stranger who is his wife and try to patch up their relationship…but the temptation placed by his mistress is pulling him still, and he simply can’t bring himself to stop communicating with her. So he keeps going back to the drug that he’s become accustomed to, even though in his head he knows better than to do that. But for now his heart is leading him. It seems so much easier to just give in and go with the flow, rather than fight to regain what he had in the past. He thinks his wife is making a mountain out of a molehill. He just wants things to go back to the way they were before, when he was having his clandestine affair and she was not aware of it. If only she hadn’t found out when she did! He wants to have his cake and to eat it too.

After The Fighting, We All Rest A While.

Both our young lady and young man have now reached an impasse. Everything that had to be argued or discussed has already been argued and discussed. Maybe they just weren’t “meant to be”? They both withdraw internally and try to figure out what went wrong, and how to rectify things, how to reach a compromise. She reads books on relationships, she looks online for stories similar to her own, she joins forums and groups to find answers to her situation. She writes in metaphors and poetry to excoriate this painful period of her life. He throws himself into his hobbies, stays out at night or else holes up in his study. He starts looking at online sex sites for relief, and engages in conversations with total strangers, with the mistaken belief that he will find salvation there. She wonders if she would be better off with another man, one who would embody all that she thought her husband was, before his betrayal. She wonders if history will repeat itself, if all men are the same. He wonders if his mistress will still leave her husband for him, if he were to leave his wife. Unfortunately, by now, as happens quite often with unfaithful spouses, his mistress, being a serial adulterer, has found herself another toyboy, and has declared herself taken. For the moment, at least. But still he keeps going back and knocking at her door, out of force of habit and because he doesn’t know what else to do. He hasn’t bothered to do any soul-searching, to find any answers other than the obvious one staring him in the face. The child in him is hoping that it will all go away on its own and that miraculously, without any effort on his part, everything will be alright again. He misses his mother.

 The Next Step.

Now we have both our protagonists wondering what their next step should be. If she decides to let her husband go, there is no guarantee that the next man to walk into his life won’t be just as bad, or worse. There is also no guarantee that she’ll ever find another man who loves her…as she will not be single and free anymore, but a single parent struggling to make ends meet, and she is not getting any younger. That in itself is too high a hurdle for most men to jump. Many will simply look away and walk on. As for him, finding that his mistress is no longer available to him 24/7, he must decide whether to return to wooing his wife back all over again (once he’s worked out whether he really loves her or not) and regaining her trust, or to find another Catch. If the latter, then he goes back to repeat the first step in any relationship all over again. Karma will bite you in the arse!

If our young lady is smart, she will decide NOT to go looking for another relationship. Just let Life happen. Live in the Now, take things one day at a time, as they come. Work on raising her child and finding a means to support her family. Find herself. Whatever the case, DO NOT repeat the typical cycle of Love. If True Love exists, let it come in its own time. If it wants to. The form is not important, the Soul is. It might be another man, it might be a woman, it could even be her husband finally realising his faults and coming back to her. That is unlikely, until he accepts his wrongdoing. You cannot change what you do not accept.

Or, she may find it in the unconditional love, companionship and loyalty of her pets. It is what it is. Let Life Be.

Just be open to all possibilities. But DO NOT repeat the cycle, for that is just futile and the end results will be the same. Again, think in terms of archetypes, as every person is different, every situation unique.

~Don’t say I didn’t warn you~

feet-of-clay(I got this image from a fellow blogger who I’m following, whose descriptions about her own efforts at positive living are in turns inspiring, heartfelt or just downright funny. http://dailydoty.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/feet-of-clay.jpg)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Montreal Botanical Garden

The Montreal Botanical Gardens is one of Canada’s shining gems. You can read all about these magnificent gardens in Wikipedia here:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal_Botanical_Garden

Right now I just want to share with you the wonders of the botanical sculptures, that I’ve found on Google Images. The folks that tend to these gardens certainly have a vivid imagination. I’ve never seen so many intricate botanical sculptures in one place before; the Montreal Botanical Gardens is certainly on my bucket list of places to visit.

Feast your eyes!

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Posted from WordPress for Android.

http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

Artist Inspiration : Jamie Harkins

Well, it’s actually Jamie Harkins and friends, who create these incredible 3D sand art on the beach:

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And, here’s Jamie himself on Mount Wanganui beach in New Zealand.

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The “team” consists of Jamie Harkins and his friends and collaborators Lucia Lupf, David Rendu and Constanza Nightingale. Together, they congregate on Mount Manganui beach in New Zealand, where Jamie is a local resident, and create these spectacular, mind-boggling images in sand. Their inspiration? Those amazing 3D chalk on pavement drawings that seem to be just about everywhere these days.

Watch the team at work on this video:

Wish I had their talent! SIGH…I can just about manage stick figures drawn in the sand.

You can follow Jamie Harkins on his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jamie-Harkins-Artist/128096810571474

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http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

Artist Inspiration : Eiko Jones

I came across this startling image whilst browsing Pinterest the other day, and immediately went “Whoa! What on earth is that?” Well, not exactly in those words, lol, but if you see the image yourself, you’ll know why it got that reaction from me.

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It’s of tadpoles swimming underwater through water lily stalks in Cedar Lake, Vancouver Island, Canada. The photographer extraordinaire is Eiko Jones. National Geographic Magazine featured this shot in its “Photo of the Day” page online on January 2, 2013, and again in its Editor’s Choice section in its magazine, in April 2013.

Check out Eiko’s photography website for more information about his work.  He specialises in predominantly underwater photography, although he does occasionally undertake above water work too.

http://www.eikojonesphotography.com

More photos of Eiko’s superb work here, courtesy of Google Images and of course copyrighted to Eiko Jones:

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Artist Inspiration : Ruud Van Empel

Chances are you’ve already seen this wonderfully iconic piece of photographic art:

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I’ll bet anything that you then wondered whether it’s a real photo, or whether it’s the result of meticulous Photoshopping? Well, wonder no more. This is indeed a digitally manipulated photo collage by Dutch artist Ruud Van Empel, whose surrealistic yet entirely plausible photographs straddle the genre between photography and art. A real genre-bender.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruud_van_Empel

http://www.ruudvanempel.nl

The Wikipedia entry on Ruud describes his photographic techniques thus:

“Van Empel’s working method is a complex one. He photographs 4 or 5 professional models in his studio and takes many detailed photographs of leaves, flowers, plants and animals. The models pictures are mixed with these images using the Photoshop program and with clothes photographed separately on a tailor’s dummy. In this way he creates new images of mainly children, in black and white, set in a paradisiacal environment”.

The image above is titled “Fern Forest in Jamaica”. Why this is so, I’m not sure, because those are not ferns. Regardless, this is surely one of the most famous “Is it a photo or a painting?” images around.

I love the crystal-clear clarity and sharpness of Ruud’s images, the almost illustrative look that one might perhaps see in a fantasy comic book, the brilliant contrast between the colours he uses. You know the people are real, yet Ruud has managed to make them look surreal and out-of-this-world. Such is his mastery of his medium, and his genius.

Here are more examples of Ruud’s work, taken from Google Images:

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A couple of examples showing Ruud’s images in situ, just to give you a sense of scale:

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And finally, a photo of the great man himself:

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Pixite’s New Apps : MATTER and UNION

I wrote about 2 of Pixite’s other Apps, FRAGMENT and TANGENT, previously here. Fragment has now been released on the Android market, hurray, but the others are still only available on iOS. Hopefully they’ll follow Fragment onto the Android platform soon.

Rather than creating hyperlinks to Pixite’s Apps, here is the link to Pixite LLC‘s website itself, where you can see ALL of their Apps.

Pixite’s 2 newest additions to their stable of Apps are MATTER and UNION. Both Apps contain all manner of blending, juxtaposing and layering of objects, shapes, colours, textures.

Each of Pixite’s 4 Apps I’ve mentioned above have a facility for transferring your edited images from one App to another easily. Therefore you’ll be able to process your image in one App, move it over to another whilst in-App, process that, then transfer it back to the first App or even to a third App. Very nifty!

The User Interface of all 4 Apps is pretty uniform and intuitive. I was so excited about trying out MATTER and UNION that I didn’t bother to read the instructions or watch any video tutorials. I jumped right in and had a good play. So I won’t tell you what each button does on the Apps, or how to tweak the effects. The fun lies in making it your own hands-on experience. Go play!

Here are some of my experiments. Some were done purely using MATTER, others purely with UNION, but most of them were the product of both Apps. I’ll be experimenting more with these 2 Apps as well as the older 2, so watch this space! ;)

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http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

Fun with FRAGMENT and TANGENT

Fragment and Tangent by the same App developer Pixite, are 2 iOS-only (Apple) Apps that I have on my iPad2. My Samsung Galaxy S4 is my workhorse for artistic creativity. But good what I call “Geometrical Art” Apps are hard to find on the Google Play Store. Fragment and Tangent are 2 of the best in their class. And so sometimes, when I Just have to have some aspect of geometry in my artwork, I turn to my iPad2.

When I do, it’s usually for hour-long sessions, as I must make the most of my time on my iPad2. So I generally use these “random generator” Apps to generate dozens of random images, which I afterwards transfer to my S4 for future use. Did I say already that I love Randomness? :D

Anyhow, this session was particularly fruitful. I’d already got a folder of previously randomly generated images using 2 more of my favourite iOS Apps, AddLib S and AddLib U. So this time, all I had to do was run some of them through Fragment and Tangent.

Et voila! Instant gratification! These are just a few of the images I generated. They will be used in conjunction with other Apps on my S4, to create new pieces of artwork.

Enjoy!

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ADDENDUM:
As of 23rd August 2014, the App “Fragment” is now available on Android. Yay, Happy Days! Also, Pixite have a couple more new Apps that I’m interested in, namely “Union” and “Matter”. I am just playing with these 2 on my iPad2 now, I’ll write about them next.

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http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

Spaces

I stumbled upon Frankie Magazine’s large format 2010 bookzine SPACES – WHERE CREATIVE PEOPLE LIVE, WORK AND PLAY at my local thrift shop. It was a real steal at $2.(RRP $24.95).

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Inside was a cornucopia of delightful photographic images showing well, how creative people live, work and play. The bookzine is divided into 5 sections: The Home & Work Place, The Wall Space, The Studio Space, The Tea & Coffee Space, The Living Space. Each section showcases several individuals’ personal areas, with the owners of each space explaining why or how their space is the way it is.

Sadly, I have been unable to source SPACES online for anyone wanting to purchase it. There are several references to it on booksellers’ sites, however they all seem to indicate its unavailability. So, this is a rare book to have and cherish. If you see it, grab it.

I was drawn to this bookzine as I was curious to see how other artists from around the world live and work. My own “studio” at home is a shared space during the warmer months with baby Japanese Quail chicks. It is also the spare room, the store room, the general let’s-dump-it-there-til-we-can-figure-out-what-to-do-with-it room. My Canon Pixma MX870 and Epson Artisan 1430 printers reside there. So do boxes of books, linen, clothes, scrapbooking paper, canvasses and other substrates for my printing experiments, our sofabed for non-existent guests. My work area is the carpeted floor, where I simply spread out layers of butcher paper and lay my canvasses or wooden frames over. Luckily, my medium being digital and print, there’s no (not much anyway) painting paraphernalia involved, only bottles of acrylic medium which I use as an adhesive, spray cans of car gloss varnish and workable fixative, a brayer, scissors, a tube of black acrylic paint for painting over borders, some foam brushes and a couple of bristle brushes. Nothing to shout about, really. Certainly not worthy of showing off here :-).

This link takes you to a webpage showcasing several famous artists’ studios. Specifically that of Francis Bacon, Henry Moore, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Jackson Pollock and Paul Cezanne. This site shows the spaces of more contemporary artists (cheekily throwing in Francis Bacon and Henry Moore too, just to make sure the reader is awake and paying attention!).

Looking at an artist’s workspace or studio is like looking into someone’s refrigerator, or at their bookshelves – very revealing about the person’s tastes in food or books. Some day I hope to visit people’s homes that have magnificent book displays, and make a photo book out of the project, but that is another story.

Meanwhile, feast your eyes on some of these wonderful artist workspaces.

http://www.allworknowplay.com

http://www.resourcemagonline.com

http://www.wejetset.com

http://balzerdesigns.typepad.com

http://www/bundaberg.qld.gov.au

http://www.mmo-champion.com

http://workspaces.tumblr.com

http://potd.pdnonline.com

One thing I’ve learnt from looking through all these studio workspaces – they can be messy, they can be neat, they can be minimal or cluttered, big or small, modern or traditional…but they are all unique and most of all, comfortable to each individual artist. These days, as both my printers are either acting up or have run out of ink, I’m concentrating mainly on creating my artwork…and to me that means working primarily on my Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone. Which allows me to work literally everywhere and anywhere. For which I am eternally grateful.

The Kaleidoscope Turns

Light through a prism
Shines through my prison
Of tears and a blanket of sorrow
And with that light
Comes the hope that I might
Find Love again tomorrow

Light that is fractured
And is quite unexpected
Shatters the mirror of my heart
The colours that I see
Hold deep meaning for me
Of the promise of a brand new start

Light that is bright
And full of delight
For the heart that longs and yearns
Shines now the way
To light a new day
For look! The Kaleidoscope turns.

By:
AlyZen Moonshadow

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