Archive for May, 2014


These Gemstones Rock!

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They’re actually layers of car paint. Yes, really. They’re called Fordite, or Detroit Agate, and they’re created from many layers of car paint drippings that have undergone the process of baking many times over.

I came across them while browsing Flipboard the other day. I used to play with layering different colours of polymer clay together, and rolling the resulting slab through a pasta machine, before forming the clay into ornaments or jewellery. The colours of Fordite remind me of my polymer clay experiments.

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Aren’t they gorgeous? And rare, too, as their supply is finite and demand is fast outstripping supply. If you love unusual “gemstones” and jewellery, get your hands on some of these babies pronto, before they are gone forever. They just don’t make things the way they used to, anymore. These days, technological advances in the field of car spraypainting i.e electrostatic spraypainting = little to no loss of paint = no more formation of Fordite/Detroit Agate.

For more information about Fordite/Detroit Agate, please check out these websites:

http://www.boredpanda.com/car-paint-deposits-fordite-detroit-agate/

http://www.fordite.com/History.html

http://www.amusingplanet.com/2014/05/fordite-jewel-made-from-layers-of-old.html?m=1

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I first saw the work of Isabelle Menin while surfing on Pinterest. I was blown away immediately by the sheer beauty and impact of her work. Here are some words that I would use to describe Isabelle’s work: ethereal, enchanting, bewitching, translucent, layered, multi-dimensional, sensuous, effervescent, feminine, romantic, painterly, visionary, hyper-realistic, otherworldly. And inspiring, of course, which is why I’ve chosen to write about her today.

I don’t have to write much more about Isabelle’s Art, because she has expressed herself very eloquently and with clarity on her own website http://www.isabellemenin.com. Here is the transcript, taken directly from her site and in her own words. Interspersed between the paragraphs are images of Isabelle Menin’s works, for your viewing pleasure.

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WOULD YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND HOW YOU CAME TO BE WHERE YOU ARE TODAY?
After my formal studies in Brussels, I’ve explored painting for 10 years while working in graphic design and illustration. After several exhibitions in Belgium, I’ve decided to quit painting and to work with digital photography. Anyway, I ’ve always worked using nature’s elements, particularly flowers.

Yet my real source of inspiration is life – pain, joy, fear, enchantment, anger and gratitude –, Marcel Proust, my family, some friends and lovers…

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WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF COLOUR TO YOU AND YOUR WORK?

I think it’s related to vibration and turbulence. Though we can produce vibration and turbulence with black and white as well, my work has grown with colour’s effervescence from the start. I’ve always felt the need to produce little explosions with colours.

Working with colour in order to obtain the expected vibration is extremely sensual. Maybe I’m just more sensitive to the infinite colour variations than to potentiality of black and white. Maybe because black is the locus of secret. Actually, it reminds me of that teacher who was showing black and white photographs to little children and one of them asked him: “So, the world used to be in black and white in the old days?” Indeed: how is the world?

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WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH TECHNOLOGY?

Digital technology has been a total release. The “Undo” click is one of the greatest inventions ever!

It was a brand-new device, and it was so fascinating that it gave me the illusion of removing from me all the ballast of the art, my education, my analysis, and the critical distance. Definitely a bewitching tool, but also worrying at the same time because of the unlimited possibilities of manipulation it provides. It is so fast, so vertiginous that you can sometime hardly keep your path on the straight and narrow.

Going digital allowed me to push back my limits, to find a much wider sphere of activity where things tied up fluidly and were reversible.

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WHAT ROLE DOES RELIGION OR FAIRY TALES HAVE IN YOUR WORK?

I find it quite amusing that you link religion and fairy tales in the same question.

What we usually like in fairy tales is the moment the big bad wolf appears, it’s the twisting of reality, when a dark zone lights up all of a sudden and allows something till then unrevealed to emerge. It is the transition from smoothness to crookedness, the swing from light to darkness, the revelation of a different reality through gloom. If there is a link between fairy tales and my work, it is precisely in that particular aspect.

Concerning religion, I don’t exactly know what you mean. Are you referring to the form a group of people attributes to the mystery of God? That form only interests me in what it says about our societies. Yet the strange path we travel in the mystery of God is indeed very important and plays an important part in my work. However, I don’t really feel like talking about it as I consider it something very personal.

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AND HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERISE YOUR WORKS’ RELATIONSHIP TO NATURE?

I call my work “inland photographs and disordered landscapes” in reference to nature’s strange complexity that looks to me like human strange complexity. The uncontrolled forces, the shapes’ complexity, the interweavings and the synergy of the elements, they all look to me like a mirror of human spirit. We are no straight lines, we are like nature, a very large network of interferences that work together to produce something which sometimes looks accomplished and then gets destroyed in a perpetual coming and going between order and disorder.

Also, nature is the place where I can get rid of human figures, human noise, human arrogance. Nature looks like it doesn’t give a shit about us and that is very relaxing!

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HOW MUCH OF YOUR WORK WOULD YOU CONSIDER TO BE SCULPTURAL?

That question surprises me inasmuch as I have never thought of my work in those terms. I create a space that unfolds through the depth I get by accumulating layers, by light, by transparency and opacity; I put elements together that create a kind of fake landscape, I photograph and then manipulate them in order to twist them and show the sometimes hidden sides. But in the end, it remains an image, thus two-dimensional.

To apprehend a sculpture, one must be able to turn around it: its link to space is an intrinsic part of it and, it interacts with space. I also have the feeling a sculpture belongs to a much less intimate space than an image. Now I rather lean towards an intimate and solitary relation with the image.

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IS THERE ANY ELEMENT OF YOUR WORK WHICH YOU FIND PEOPLE COMMONLY MISINTERPRET?

Yes, most of the time people mistake me for a florist!

People often refer to past centuries paintings when seeing my work. Flemish Primitives, Rubens, Watteau, Fragonard, whatever. Though I’m much more fascinated by “ancient art” than by contemporary, it’s not something I am in any way striving to, it just happens. It appears at the end of the process, but it’s not intentional. I realize that it’s like if I were regurgitating years and years of art loving, but I don’t want to transform past in something contemporary, I’m not playing with the tension between ancient and new, between past and modernity, I’m not playing with modernity at all: I just want to put things together to rebuilt, to discover in what way I see the world and I happen to do it with a computer rather than with brushes. That’s all.

Also, there are people who just see the “gorgeous” and “romantic” side of my work. In the most pejorative way. I recently read a Diane Arbus quote saying “I’ve never taken the photograph I intended to take”, and it made echo with me. Between what I want reach and the final image there is a lot of fight, and I’m not always the winner. Actually, most of the time I’m the loser. But what’s important is the new things I’ve discovered and was obliged to explore by loosing the battle. And maybe I go where I didn’t want to go and maybe I’m lost in “beauty”. But maybe, finally, that’s where I want to be: lost in beauty. Of course, if it’s only “gorgeous”, it means that I failed.

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IS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU THAT YOUR WORK IS ABLE TO MAKE A CONNECTION WITH A BROAD RANGE OF PEOPLE BOTH SEASONED ART LOVERS AND LAYMEN ALIKE?

Honestly, I don’t know…”People”, “a lot of people”… It doesn’t mean anything to me.

I thereby mean, and it’s probably very selfish, that I work first and foremost for myself. I don’t exactly work for “myself”, I just work. I’m not sure I want to know how many of “these” or of “those” people like or don’t like my work. In other words: for me, the image really exists as long as I’m working on it. Once a picture (or a series) is finished, once it goes out “into the world” I feel like a stranger to it. It’s already somewhere else.

Furthermore, nowadays the web allows a large spreading: one does not know who is reached, nor why. The web is very voracious, everything circulates very rapidly, everything travels, everything is fragmented.

So, whether they are amateurs or professionals, I guess that like elsewhere all that matters is that a real connection happens, that a real exchange takes place, driven by curiosity and surprise.

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WHAT’S A SOUND, SCENT AND FLAVOUR THAT’S IMPORTANT TO YOU AND WHY?

There are too many of them! But what I would like is to picture a scent; I would like to make a photograph of a scent! A scent can be a sound, a sound can be a flavour, etc. They both can be each other. Anyway, sounds, scents and flavours are shapes to me. They are rounds, broken lines or arabesques, squares or pyramids, things like that. More often they are shapes rather than colours.

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HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR SUBJECT MATTER OR THE CONTENT OF YOUR WORK?

Life. Death. The constant mystery of being on earth. Perplexity.

My driving force is not in the critical distance. I’m interested in expressing basic human emotions even if there is a fight between what I want to do/say and what the “image” wants to do/say. It’s all about life, love, death and personal progression. An inner conversation with the world of emotions and impressions by walking the path of life. My images stand at the intersection of my different perceptions of life and express the abundance of possible answers. Everything is reflexion, mirror; everything responds to everything. That’s why I keep on adding layers upon layers and layers. I try to finally produce something as swaying, blurred and uncertain as our strange lives.

It’s not about escaping from life, it’s about digging deeper into it.

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WHAT WAS THE LAST ARTWORK TO HAVE AN IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

A band, Wovenhand. They are very important to me. They gave me strength and courage. Faith.

A Belgian visual artist recently discovered: Thierry de Cordier. I went to see an exhibition of his paintings lately. I thought I had to cross the whole museum before reaching the room where his paintings were exhibited, but actually as soon as I entered the museum I saw them. And my heart jumped into my chest like when you see somebody you’re in love with in a crowd where you didn’t expect to see that person. That painting is to be seen, not to be talked about. It’s a place without words, a strange silence that you can see. Silence can actually be seen.

In literature: Dostoyevsky’s ‘Brothers Karamazov’ and Russell Banks’ novel ‘Cloudsplitter’.

Actually, all these works are about darkness and light, about how to walk as human being with the terrible mystery of God that some are feeling and some are not. They are all rough, scarred works full of dust and sweat. “O the heights and depths” sings David Eugene Edwards.

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WHAT IS A RESPONSE TO YOUR WORK THAT LINGERS IN YOUR MEMORY?

Somebody once said about my work: “inspiration junkie”. I like that.

I don’t do drugs but I often act as if I were.

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WHAT NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND/OR MEDIA WOULD YOU LIKE TO WORK WITH IN FUTURE AND DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIFIC GOALS AND ASPIRATIONS FOR YOUR WORK?

I don’t exactly care about new technologies. I don’t dream of anything else that what I can use now, I try to do with what I have. I just would like to have 72 hours in a day. That would be a major improvement!

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Galerie Antonio Nardone (Brussels/Belgium – Torino/Italy)
Sophie Maree Gallery (The Hague/The Netherlands)
Joseph Bellows Gallery (CA/USA)

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I was trawling through the Internet the other day, looking for inspirational ideas with the themes of birds, butterflies and flowers. These are recurring motifs in my own work, and I wanted to see what other artists out there were doing. I came across the work of Louise Tiler and was immediately inspired to blog about her. Here is a young lady whose work not only incorporates motifs dear to my own heart, but who is also a talented artist who handpaints and draws her beautiful designs, with a little bit of help from CAD programmes. AND who has her work licensed by several international companies. Louise certainly is going places! Apart from birds, butterflies and flowers, Louise also designs around architectural themes, and also incorporates British woodland creatures such as foxes, owls, badgers etc into her work.

Excerpt taken from Louise’s web page:, and photos courtesy of Google:

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Louise Tiler is a ‘happy’ and ‘smiley’ independent surface pattern designer, born and raised in Yorkshire and is now based in the famous World Heritage village of Saltaire.

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Louise Tiler graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in Printed Textiles & Surface Pattern Design from Leeds College of Art in 2011. Before graduating Louise received high recognition for her design work winning a number of design awards and competitions. These include Prestigious Textiles award from the Bradford Textile Society and Tigerprint online card competition for Marks & Spencers where she began freelancing throughout university and still works with the company today! In her final year at Leeds Louise was first recognised for her unique wallpaper collections and won Surtex International design competition ‘Designex’ in New York and at the Historical Textile Competition 2011. Soon after graduating Louise received both national and international recognition for her design work and was named New Designer of the Year in 2011 from thousands of new UK designers in London. After early success Louise decided to work as a independent designer and has gone on to freelance for some of the world’s top greeting cards, fabrics, tableware, wallpaper and homeware brands.

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Louise is extremely passionate about creating intricate hand-drawn and hand-painted designs. All of her elegant artwork is carefully painted to create detailed and well thought out designs that are not only a personal signature of Louise’s hand drawn style but they are designs she is incredibly proud of because they are her own unique hand creations. Louise takes inspiration from everything around her but she has a real love for floral paintings, vintage pattern and historical textile design. She combines traditional hand drawn techniques with modern digital processes to create vintage inspired and contemporary designs.

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As well as wholesaling her own range of paper products and greeting cards which launched in 2014, Louise is expanding her label through licensed products and working with and manufactures to produce a wide range of products including wallpaper, wall art, tableware, ceramics, soft-funishings and greeting cards. Louise will be launching her own range of paper products in May 2014 and will appearing on the TV channel QVC in May 2014, selling her licensed homeware products.

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CLIENTS

Louise is proud to have worked with the no1 wallpaper company Graham & Brown, Woodmansterne Publications, QVC, Dunelm Mill, The Range, B&Q, Marks & Spencer, Alison at Home, Bernstein & Banleys, Artistic Britain (Primeur), Tigerpint, Cardmaking & Papercraft, Eagle Eyed Bride, Melamaster, S Blinds and Hill and Co Rugs.

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IN THE PRESS

Louise Tiler has been featured in National Newspapers, Home & Interior magazines and designs blogs. These include Elle Decoration, The Mail on Sunday, The Independent, Progressive Greetings, Dezeen, Moyo Magazine, The Yorkshire Post.

Louise Tiler – In the Press Louise Tiler – In the Press
AWARDS

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Prestigious Textiles award from the Bradford Textile Society
Tigerprint online card competition for Marks & Spencer
Surtex International design competition ‘Designex’ in New York
Historical Textile Competition 2011
Mary Porta’s Design Search
New Designer of the Year in 2011 London

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When I first saw one of Wendy Kendall’s quirky, bright and cheerful designs on Pinterest, I was enchanted immediately. Her designs have clean lines, clear imagery, a delightful palette of non-primary colours with a retro, almost mid-century/Swiss graphic feel to them, a childlike element of playfulness. What’s not to like? Wendy creates designs for homewares, especially textile and wallpaper. Her work is licensed by several companies around the world. Getting my own work licensed and seeing my own designs on decorative homewares is my main ambition, too, and I am inspired by Wendy’s talent, creativity and success.

Here is the link to Wendy’s website Wendy also keeps a blog, so why not follow her there too, the link is on the front page of her website.

In Wendy’s own words, taken from her introduction on her page, with images courtesy of Google:

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I am a freelance surface pattern designer based from home, just outside Stone in Staffordshire UK. Since graduating from the University of Derby, where I specialised in print design, I have worked as a bedding/nursery designer for several UK manufacturers situated in the North West.

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With over ten years experience at senior design level in this field, I now freelance and work closely with an Indian exporter,on bespoke briefs for UK home textile clients and on building my licensed range of products,which currently include bedding and textiles,wallpaper,blinds and fabric collections.

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I am also one quarter of Dotty Wren Studio….we are a brand new studio comprising of four UK designers who will be launching our new collections to sell and license at Surtex in NYC in May 2014.

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Please feel free to browse our site and blog and get in touch if you would like to meet with us in May at Surtex on our stand no 834.

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I have a simplistic, graphic, clean design approach that mixes playful patterns/textures with quirky handrawn outlines. I love the use of bold colours against bright whites and I particularly enjoy creating designs for children, I am able to design across all areas of home textiles but really would welcome briefs and licensing enquiries from all product areas.

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I hope you enjoy looking through my work… please feel free to contact me.

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…continuing from yesterday’s new trick learnt, I went exploring further. I knew I wanted an App that does blending of images, collage-style, but with a “harmonious” feel. By this I mean the feathering and softening of edges where the blended images meet, rather than solid, straight grid lines between images. Now, I know some of you already collage your holiday/wedding/birthday etc snapshots likewise, and this is old news…but it’s new to this old dog, so bear with me ;-).

My Samsung Galaxy S4′s native camera’s in-roll editor gives me a rudimentary “harmonious” collage, as you would have read in my previous post. And that was what started me on my quest. Now I needed to find an App that satisfied the following criteria:

1. The ability to blend as many images as I want, at the same time, without having to save and reload.

2. The ability to move, rotate and resize images on the screen easily.

3. The ability to sort the layers of photos, to bring one above or below another.

4. The ability to add backgrounds or textures to the overall image, as a unifying factor.

5. The ability to change the ratio of the resulting collaged image, i.e 1:1 for square format, to vertical or horizontal rectangles, etc.

I know. Tall order, right? It would be an additional Plus if I could find an App that does all the above And More.

Guess what? I did! It’s on the Google Play Store, and it’s called “Blend Collage“. There’s a Free and a Paid version, I tested out the free version first and was impressed enough to purchase the full version, I believe it cost me AU$2.25. The full version lets you save at maximum resolution. The free version would be fine if you’re just doing collages for fun or for your own photo albums, but for my purposes, I need my images to be at the highest resolutions possible.

Screenshots showing the in-app how-to tutorial (self-explanatory, really):

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I had a good play with the App and found it intuitive to use, with no indecipherable icons. There is no Undo button as such. However, until you actually click on the “Save” button, you may go back to each individual image in your collage and change their position, size, orientation, amount of blurring or feathering, even delete images or add new ones.

Blend Collage certainly ticks all the boxes outlined above, and then some. The bonuses I found were that you can add Text and Clipart from within the App itself, without having to export your work into another App. There’s also the choice of numerous backgrounds and textures to add to your work, without having to go outside the App. It’s quite a comprehensive App and I’m glad I found it.

The masking lasso (the icon labelled “Mask”) is particularly useful, as it can be used to mask each image individually. You can adjust the amount of blurring around the edges of each image to your heart’s content; as long as you haven’t clicked on “Save”, you will be able to go back and tweak the effects. To toggle between one function or filter and another, just click on the button at the top left corner. It functions somewhat like a Back button.

Also, in the Settings (cogwheel icon at the top right corner), my S4 had images saving at 9/10 quality, presumably to save on storage space. You can easily set this to save at 10/10 i.e 100%. This may well make saving your work take a tad longer, but it will be worth it if high resolutions are a must, like they are for my own work.

I’m still playing with Blend Collage, figuring out how I’m going to incorporate it with my projects. But so far, it’s exceeded my expectations. Here is a collage I threw together the first time I tried the App out. As you can tell, it’s only a rough estimate. I haven’t found the ideal amount of blurring/feathering/fogging around the edges of my mask yet, but that will come with practice, I’m sure.

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And here is another example, only this time I’ve not done any blurring of the edges, but instead have chosen to play around with the layers of butterflies and I also added a background taken from within the App itself. The butterflies came out blurry, I enlarged them too much…however, I like how easy it is to simply lay one image over another and alter the order of the layers. Hmmm…I think this is worth exploring further.

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Here are some more images which I have run through other Apps after forming the initial collage in Blend Collage.

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And these two, where I think I’m finally getting the hang of the blurring-of-the-edges look.

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UPDATE 3rd June 2014:
Sad to report that, after updating my Samsung Galaxy S4 to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, Blend Collage can no longer save my work. At all. I have written to the developers but it’s been a week now and I’ve had no response. If your Android device is not yet on 4.4.2, you will probably still be able to use this App.

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…can still learn new tricks, it seems. I mean myself, not my poor faithful old terrier, Scruffy. Bless his little paws, Scruffy is the most loyal dog I know, however he’s not the sharpest tool in the box. In the last year, he’s taken to barking at anything and everything that passes by our house, and he was becoming a nuisance. So we tried an anti-bark collar, one that zaps his throat if he barks. It’s progressive, the zaps sting harder and harder if the dog continues to bark.

The idea is that the dog associates barking with pain, and learns to shut up. But, like I said, Scruffy isn’t the smartest dog. We’ve had the collar on him before and he seemed to have learnt his lesson, but when we leave the collar off, he just goes back to his old ways. Just this morning, I heard Scruffy bark twice in succession, then once more…followed by a couple of yelps as his throat got zapped. I was just thinking to myself that he’s cottoned on to the idea now, when he barked again. Followed by more yelps, more barks, even more yelps, yet more barks, yet more yelps…all around the house as the silly old dog tried to get away from that invisible monster around his neck.

I went looking for him and found him hiding in the doghouse, tail between his legs and looking very sorry for himself. He’s been very quiet all day now after the incident. But tomorrow is another day, so we shall see if Scruffy has learnt his lesson for good. No bets, please.

Anyway, back to THIS old dog. Last night I was processing some images on my Samsung Galaxy S4, it was late, and I somehow managed to make a mistake and merge 2 images together in a most interesting way. It saved itself under a folder named “Collage”. This morning I found the image and liked how it merged 2 images vertically side by side, but somehow managed to feather the edges in such a way that the joins were seamless.

This is the image.
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Ok it’s not perfect, but it has definite possibilities, and I remember telling myself last night when I created the image, to go back today and explore this further.

But, just like with old Scruffs, today is a new day. And could I remember how and which App was used to create this image? Um…nope.

I knew it must be an App that allowed me to select more than 1 image. I knew it couldn’t be any of the Apps that saved images to folders under their own names. I knew it would be an App that I would have used to create my current Butterfly series.

But which App?

I tried and tried to jog my own memory. I tried visualising myself creating the image. I even tried using the 2 butterfly images that made the image, in different Collage Apps, to recreate that seamless, feathered join. All in vain.

In the end, Google came to the rescue. I typed in “collage on Samsung S4″ and sifted through a few results. Then wham bang, thank you, Maam God Google. There is was. As plain as anything, and probably a very well known function of the Galaxy S4 that everyone already knows. Everyone, that is, except me. Face palm.

It’s so simple. Those of you in the habit of creating collages of your holiday or family adventures will no doubt be rolling your eyes when I tell you what I just found out.

It wasn’t an App after all that had created that “Collage”. It was a function available on my S4 itself. Just go to the Gallery, Select Image, tick 2 or more images that you want to collage, then, using the left soft key, select “Create Collage” from the drop-down menu. You can then zoom in or out of each image, or move them around, but you can’t adjust the size of the grid. For 2 images, it’s split 50/50 left and right. For 3 images, it shows 1 on the left, and 2 on the right, one atop the other. For 4 images, the grid is split into 4 equal parts.

Here are a few more that I’ve done, just as experiments and for practice, lest I forget. :-)

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This definitely has possibilities. I love the way the images seem to melt into each other.

Just goes to show it’s never to late to learn new things.

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For a while now, I have been searching for the perfect gloss varnish to seal and protect my artwork. My regular readers will remember my preferred printing method, that of printing onto tissue paper or baking parchment, then adhering that to my substrate, which could be a boxed canvas or cradled wooden panel.

Two-part Resin failed to hit the targets for me. I could never get the surface completely free of bubbles. It was also a messy affair and I always ended up mixing too much or too little of it. And it was over $20 for very little. So that was the Resin idea out the door.

I turned to varnishes instead. I first tried Art shop gloss varnish in liquid form. I wasn’t happy with the results as my efforts did not turn out glossy or smooth enough. The ones applied with a brush showed up brush strokes, the ones applied with a sponge applicator had traces of bubbles.

Art shop gloss varnish spray was my next try. It was better, but somehow did not have the high glossiness I wanted. I was going for an almost lacquered look. All I was getting was an almost matte look when applied on canvas, no matter how many layers I’d applied.

On a visit to our local hardware store, I picked up a furniture-grade high gloss spray varnish. Now this DID work, but it was rather expensive, a small can of it cost as much as a large can of Art shop gloss varnish spray. It also smelled very strong, and took hours to dry in between applications.

And then I decided to think outside the box. I popped into an auto accessories shop. And I found the Perfect Acrylic Gloss Varnish Spray. At last!

It does the job marvellously, it’s water-based so it dries quickly, it gives the final product an even, glossy sheen, and it’s cheaper than the Art shop varnishes or the one from the hardware shop. I like how it feels under my fingers, it’s not quite lacquer or mirror glossy, but I figure if I were to give it 4-5 coats, followed by a light sanding, then a couple more coats, that would do the trick. But right now I’m happy enough with the even sheen I get from just 2 coats of it, with a drying time of about 4 hours in-between. It’s also UV resistant, which means it will not only seal my artwork but also protect it from fading, for many years to come.

And…here it is, the unlikely Hero of the Day!
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Epitaph

There have been 4 deaths in the last 3 years, of people close to the family. First, there was Tommy in April 2012, of a brain tumour. Tommy was 70 and my husband Geoff’s great friend and mentor; he was almost like a father to him. We were fortunate enough to have had the pleasure of Tommy’s company three times in Australia, when he came and stayed with us for Christmas 2011 and again in Feb and March 2012. He died shortly after returning to Ireland from his holiday in Australia and Thailand.

Tim played the guitar and was a part of our “band”, ElectroCelt. Tim was only 46. He had a heart attack, was rushed to the hospital, where he slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness. This was in February 2013. His passing was a shock to all who knew Tim. He was a real gentleman and a talented musician.

My own maternal Grandmother passed away in March 2014, she was nearly 98. She had been wasting away for a few years, frustrated at being confined to a wheelchair. Her passing had been long anticipated by the family, yet when it eventually happened, it didn’t make it less sorrowful.

And on the 23rd of May 2014, my husband Geoff lost his beloved mother, Teckla, to a brain tumour. She had only been diagnosed about 3 months earlier, it was a very malignant and aggressive tumour, Glioblastoma multiforme. Geoff was fortunate enough to be able to make the long journey from Australia to Ireland to see his Mam one last time for Easter 2014. Teckla had by then begun to suffer from lapses of memory. Her condition deteriorated rapidly after Geoff returned to Australia at the end of April, and she slipped away peacefully on 23rd May. She was 84.

This is the Epitaph I would have thought fitting for all our dearly departed. It is “Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye. I would like that read at my own funeral, when my time comes.

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RIP Tommy, Tim, Grandma and Teckla.

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So there I was standing in the Salvo’s thrift shop in Subiaco not 2 weeks ago, going through the shelves of books and bric-a-brac. My eyes passed over a stack of old dressmaking patterns lying in a basket on one of the shelves, but my hands stopped. A ludicrous idea popped unannounced into my head. I’m rather prone to these flights of fancy, but this particular one was exemplary.

I opened up one of the printed envelopes containing patterns for a dress. I expected cut pieces to fall out, but instead the pattern was completely intact. Which meant it had never been used. Hooray for me!

Wait, no, I’m not about to dive into dressmaking. I could never make out what was what, and besides, I have a love-hate relationship with my sewing machine. I keep it locked up in the shed. It is so well hidden I can’t remember where I put it.

No, the ludicrous idea that popped into my head then asked these questions:

1) would dressmaking paper take inkjet printing well? It is after all made of tissue paper.
2) would the tissue be strong enough to take the weight of inkjet inks?
3) The pattern designs could make for interesting mixed media art when combined with my own photographic manipulations. Or would they look too weird?
4) would the yellow tint on the aging paper detract from my images?
5) how many A4 and A3 pieces could I possibly cut from one packet of patterns?

Having asked myself these questions, and having filed them away in my internal “Find Out” list, I proceeded to sift through the dressmaking packets. I struck gold with a couple that contained 3 or even 4 folded up designs inside the one envelope. All in all, I bought 5 packets at $1.99 each.

Back home, I spent a few minutes trying to figure out the best way to cut the tissue paper to size. I could use an A4 piece of cardboard as a template and cut around it, or I could fold the paper into roughly A4 shapes and cut along the folds. The former was going to be time-consuming. The latter appealed more to me, as it had elements of surprise and randomness in it. I love random.

imageOne of the cut tissue paper sheets.

imageI taped the cut tissue paper to my A4 canvas carrier sheet. There was quite a lot of overhang, so I taped that down at the back. After printing, I will simply slide a blade along the sides to free the paper from the carrier sheet. (The marks and splodges you see are only on the carrier sheet, from many passes through my printers, which sometimes misbehave and streak, and the wiggly lines down the middle are from the repositionable gluestick I use to tack the tissue paper to the carrier sheet. Incidentally, I use both sides of the carrier sheet interchangeably).

imageOne of the printed sheets and a gessoed wooden cradled board ready to receive it. I will use a combination of gesso and acrylic gel medium to adhere the tissue to the board. (I used to use Mod Podge but it worked out too expensive).

imageHere are 5 that I printed earlier. I sprayed them with workable fixative to prevent the inks from straying off the paper.

imageI had 3 gessoed boards prepared already, so I chose 3 of the printed images to adhere to the boards.

☆★☆★☆★☆★☆★☆★☆★☆★☆

The following show the digital images followed by their mixed media results on board:

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And, to answer my questions above:
1. Yes, dressmaking pattern tissue paper takes inkjet printing exceptionally well.
2. Yes, the tissue is thin yet robust enough to handle the weight of inks.
3. I love the randomness of the results, the text and diagrams on the tissue paper add heaps of appeal to the mixed media look.
4. The yellowness of the tissue paper is hardly noticeable, apart from imparting a vintage tint to the overall look. I shall compensate by adjusting my processed images to contain brighter colours.
5. I got 16 approximately A4 sized sheets from 1 packet of dressmaking patterns.

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Mariposa is Spanish for Butterfly. Azul is Spanish for Blue. I was on Pinterest the day I created this, gathering images of the Principality of Asturias in Spain where I’d lived from 2005-2007, and I guess my mind must have still been on Spain. I hope some day to be able to go back to visit my beloved Asturias, with her fabulous mountain scenery, historical architecture, culture, music, gaita bagpipes, fabada, cheeses and apple cider, and the friendliest people I’ve ever met. Maybe someday I’ll camp again at that campsite opposite the private zoo in my adopted hometown of Cangas de Onis, just so I can hear the dawn and dusk chorus of the wolves there. Or visit the beautiful basilica of Covadonga, which is postcard perfect and the birthplace of the Spanish Reconquista.

I must write about my Adventures in Asturias soon, but for now here is my workflow describing how I created MARIPOSA AZUL.

I used these 2 photos of scrapbooking papers the basis for the image. Notice that the 1st image contains part of a map with the words “Spanish” on it.

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I used the App “Smoothie” to increase the brightness, saturation, sharpness and contrast of both images. I also changed the hues of both images, and rotated the 2nd image.

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Next, I used the App “PicsArt” to blend the two images together.
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I then added the blue butterfly wing. (I’d just prepared over 150 new butterfly clipart using photos of taxidermy butterflies from the natural history section of the Museum of Western Australia in Perth). After adding the butterfly, I tweaked the brightness, contrast and saturation of the image some more.

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Using the App “Repix”, I obliterated the entire image using the Drips, Daubs, Chalk, Hollywood, Vintage and Freshen brushes. And then excavated and revealed it back again using the Undoer brush. I deliberately left some drip marks behind, to impart a painterly feel.
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I processed the image once more using “Smoothie” to add saturation, bringing out the blues of the butterfly wing more. And here we have it: MARIPOSA AZUL. My tribute to Asturias.

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