Category Archives: Design

My 2015 Fortune Cards Project

Last year I spent several months learning about the Lenormand system of cartomancy. I studied the archetypal images and their meanings, 2- and 3-card combinations, 9 card readings, and the Grand Tableau which utilises all 36 Lenormand cards. I bought a couple of excellent books on the subject:

1) The Essential Lenormand: Your Guide to Precise & Practical Fortunetelling https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0738736627/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_pI7Pub1PD29CG by Rana George

2) The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook: Reading the Language and Symbols of the Cards https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1620553252/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_.J7Pub087721E by Caitlin Matthews

I also bought several Lenormand decks, self-published and licensed, modern and vintage, to study their artwork and design.

I joined a vibrant Tarot & Oracle Card Collectors Group on Facebook, and engaged in interesting conversations about various different decks. I also joined a Lenormand Cards Study Group and one on Lenormand Cartomancy. I made new friends and learnt loads. These days, when you see me logged in on Facebook, I’m more often than not hanging out with my groupies.

Last year I created 10 Lenormand card decks. These can be found for sale on eBay and Etsy under the name AlyZen Moonshadow. It was an intriguing learning curve which covered several subjects at once – Lenormand, print-on-demand, a little bit of Photoshop (using templates), and the pros and cons of being a self-published cartomancy deck seller.

This year I’m also going to research how to get my creations licensed by established publishers.

I did start creating some Oracle cards last year, and wrote about them on my blog, but then I got involved in studying the Lenormand cards and went away with the fairies in that direction.

Now I’m ready to resume my Oracle Cards Project. Only it has evolved somewhat since last year. I’ve decided that, instead of one-word texts on each image, I’m going to write a short, clear phrase. Project No.1 for 2015 will be called “The Inspiration Deck”. Not so much Fortune Telling cards, more like cards containing affirmations and positive living philosophies. Something you can perhaps draw on a daily basis to give you a morale boost, or make you pause and ponder.

While creating my Lenormand cards last year, I built up quite an archive of public domain images and clip art. I can put these to good use in my “Inspiration Deck”. I’ll also be using in-App clip art and graphics, as well as my own photography.

Here is the first card I created. Bear in mind it’s still at an experimental stage and I have not finalised every aspect of it. It might even be that these end up as posters, postcards or even t-shirts instead of just divination cards.

I hope you like it and will continue to follow me on my mad armchair adventures.

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A new creative project: Steampunk Art

This just came in the post today, yippee!

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It’s Dover’s Steampunk Sourcebook, which I bought from The Book Depository (a great online bookseller, especially if you live in far flung places, as all their items come with Free Delivery as standard). This book comes with a CD-ROM, so I can load all the images therein onto my computer, for future reference. I’m already a fan of Dover Pictura, the division of Dover that specialises in selling royalty-free images for online download.

I’ve already amassed a collection of copyright free Steampunk images from the British Library’s archives. Add this to my arsenal, and a few other images from my collection of scrapbooking papers, and I should have the makings of a Steampunk Lenormand cards deck. Or even a Steampunk Oracle cards deck. Hmmm, I might even create some t-shirt designs or canvas art using these images. How exciting!

Here are a few photos showing the contents of the book, to whet your appetite.

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Teacups and China

I have a fascination for colourful teacups and china. I don’t quite know why, but today I’m going to try to sum it up.

(The following photos are curated from my Pinterest board “Teacups & China”).

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Here’s why I think a stack of teacups, especially vintage ones, is so appealing:

1) it’s the mix of patterns and colours
2) it’s the shapes and their juxtaposition against each other
3) it’s eye candy and appealing on a childish, nostalgic level
4) I especially love teacups with curly, ornate handles
5) if they have gilded handles, all the more sex appeal!
6) gilt around the edges of teacups imparts a sense of luxury
7) the photography has to be just right, and capture the light and ambience
8) a tower of teacups says “Yes, let’s live dangerously and take risks, for once!”
9) they don’t even have to be stacked, to look gorgeous
10) cracked or chipped china imparts character, saying “I’m a survivor”
11) a medley of teacups from different makers and eras is like a time capsule
12) they liven up any setting and provide a topic of conversation
13) mix-n-match teacups and saucers looks bohemian and arty
14) it’s not sacrilegious in the least to place expensive, vintage teacups with cheap, funky modern ones, china isn’t picky
15) everyone should have beauty in their lives, and for me it’s wonderful to be able to choose a cup and sip from it. I’m irreverent and use mine to drink coffee from, not tea.

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I don’t stop at just teacups. I love teapots, plates, platters, soup tureens, bowls, spoons, modern, traditional, kitschy, novelty, blue and white etc. The more higgledy piggledy the arrangement, the more insouciant and exhilarating it is.

Why can’t people be like this? All different, yet complementing each other.

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Artist Inspiration : Larry Carlson

Unless you’ve been living under a coconut shell, chances are you would have at some time come across the psychedelic work of Larry Carlson. Yes…THAT artist who makes your brain go all trippy. Oh, and have you heard his music? Surreal is an understatement. Collages done the traditional, good old-fashioned way? Check! Digital photographic art? Check! Larry is a veritable powerhouse of creativity, as you will find out.

Here’s what Larry says about his art on his own site:

G4Tech TV called him “The Salvador Dali of the Next Century”, and High Times magazine labeled him an “Artistic Mastermind”. Larry Carlson is a legendary visionary  artist who utilizes a vast range of mediums to create mind boggling art that will make you think twice about how you see the world. He is a modern day renaissance man with revolutionary work that pushes the possibilities for consciousness exploration within contemporary art. Few artists can rival him in terms of innovation, vision, talent, and high-yield experimentation.
His work spans a variety of forms including photography, film making, web-art, collage painting, digital art, animation, video-art, text-art, and sound design. What ever art form he’s working in Carlson’s greatest strength is in artfully depicting the mystical dimensions of consciousness, coaxing us into sweet spiritualized epiphanies one moment then plunging us into completely bizarre surreal frenzies the next. His artwork fuses together aspects of mysticism, surrealism, psychedelia and the technological resulting in sublime juxtapositions that can totally bend one’s perception.
A pioneer in experimental multimedia web-art, he first started exhibiting his artwork online in 1997. In 2000 Carlson published the legendary art web sites Virtual OM and LarryCarlson.com which featured his original full screen psychotropic entertainment.
Larry Carlson has been featured in magazines like Vice, Juxtapoz, High Times, Cracked, NY Arts, Beautiful/Decay, and US weekly. International newspapers like Montreal’s Mirror, Istanbul’s Vatan News, and London’s Guardian, have done features on his unique awe-inspiring art.
He has exhibited his collage artwork, digital photo artwork, and video art in the U.S., Japan, Canada, Sweden, Brazil, France, the U.K.,  India, and Germany. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City exhibited some of his handmade collage art books in the show Book/Shelf. His movies have been screened at  The Paço das Artes Museum in San Palo, Brazil, the Brattle Theater in Boston, Alex Grey’s COSM gallery in New York City,  A.T.A. in San Francisco, and other galleries and theaters around the world.
Larry Carlson creates his own original music and soundtracks and so far has released eight albums. In 2008, Portland, Oregon’s KBOO 90.7 fm hosted two Larry Carlson music specials featuring his surreal soundtracks.
Larry Carlson graduated from Cooper Union School of Art in New York City, where he studied painting and video-art. He currently lives and works in his studio in the green mountains of Vermont.

It’s worth checking out Larry’s site, which is very comprehensive and contains a plethora of examples of his work, all neatly categorised. Here are just a few of my favourite ones:

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What interests me most about Any Artist’s work is their process, techniques and workflow, and also what goes on inside their heads. Luckily for us all, Larry is very forthcoming in this regard, and his site even has a Frequently Asked Questions section, which I quote verbatim here for your convenience:

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

(taken verbatim from http://www.larrycarlson.com)

What is your process for making the images?

Sometimes I see a clear vision in my mind’s eye of the image I want to make and then I set out and take the photos and do the  computer effects to make it happen. Most of the time I just experiment and have fun with combinations of filters, images, and 3-D rendering. I do a lot of the work with the image editing program Photoshop. I also use 3-D rendering programs to make computer generated objects and settings to use in my work.

I always have a lot of unfinished works on my hard drive that I work on for a while and then put away until the inspiration hits me to work on it again. So most of my finished pieces are the result of months of on and off work. I follow my own vision and try to make something new everyday. Even if I dont feel like working, I still work on my art daily, because it helps me stay focused and continue to make new fresh work.

I am mostly left-handed and use an electronic pen on a tablet to actually draw and paint on my digital images. Sometimes I also use a mouse with my right hand at the same time.

As well as using computers to make images I also make old fashion cut and paste collages. This really influences the style of my digital work, as it helps me use Photoshop in a “real hands on” way, and not be dependent on digital effects only. I strive to have my work describe life as positive, elusive, and rich with wonder and possibility.

What inspires your work?

I let intuition and improvisation be the main guiding forces in the creation of my art. Many of the ideas for my art come to me in dreams and visions, so i spend a lot of time cultivating a mystical state of mind. I often go out in nature, hiking, camping and taking photos, being a part of the mother nature system has a deep influence on my work.

Do you take your own photos?

Yes. I take photos with a digital camera that I use in my work. Sometimes I do shoots in a studio, other times I take shots outdoors. I retouch, fix up, composite, and alter the photos in Photoshop. In the city or up in the mountains, its always an adventure getting new shots to use in my work.

How do you create your collage artwork?

With glue and scissors, I take a tiny little bit of something from a piece and put it together with a lot of other pieces and make a distinct whole. The result is a juxtaposition of the familiar and the fantastical. I hunt for old books and magazines for material to use and I print out images from the computer. I cut and splice these samples into new formations that reconstruct culturally constructed meaning of the original samples, opening up the images to a multiplicity of interpretations. I am inspired by the infinite permutations of visual images which parallel the infinite nature of the imagination.

How do you make the soundtracks?

Like my visual artwork it’s a collage process. I make my soundtracks by mixing and processing sound samples on the computer. I use several different sound programs to put the tracks together. I collage samples from everywhere and anywhere, the TV, the web, radio, phone messages, you-tube videos, turntables and musical instruments. Sometimes I use programs to generate sounds to mix in the work. I also play around with the KORG MS2000, a really cool Pink Floydish sounding synthesizer.I even like to mix in sounds I get from an ol’ school ATARI 2600 console. All my soundtracks are available as a free mp3 downloads. And I have a SoundCloud music page and an iLike music fan page.

Where do you exhibit your work?

I show different forms of art, like interactive web sites art, video installations, large high quality prints of digital art, collage paintings and handmade collage books. Recently my movies were presented at Alex Grey’s COSM gallery, and were publicly displayed on a pair of outdoor video screens at Harvard. Last year, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City showed some collage art books I collaborated on in the show Book/Shelf. In 2002, The Paço das Artes Museum in San Palo Brazil exhibited a version of my web site LARRYCARLSON.COM projected on a wall in a gallery where visitors could interact with it. In Stockholm, Sweden, Galleri Loyal has exhibited my collage paintings. My movies have been screened in festivals around the world in places like New York City, Austin,Texas, France, Canada and Germany. And I have had many exhibitions of my digital images at festivals and shows around the world.

How do you do your live VJ shows?

Basically I mix a collage of videos and animations in much the same way that DJs mix records. The techniques and equipment are different then a DJ, but the basic principles are the same (eg selecting, cross fading, scratching, cutting, sampling to the rhythm). I burn my own custom made DVDs and much of my VJing now is me mixing content on several DVD players through a video mixer device to the rhythm of the music. As well as the DVD players I also use a VJ software program to mix and manipulate digital video clips. In the past I have played live on tour with musical groups like The Kottonmouth Kings, and at major electronic music events.

How and when did you get into computers?

My early experiences with computers begin when I was a kid, messing with the old Commodore 64 home computer. Later on in college I did a big experimental video collage piece with the Amiga video editing system as well as experiments with Adobe Premiere. I spent a lot of time creating digital images with Photoshop. During this time i started making music with the computer and more then any thing I wanted people too see this cool stuff, so publishing on the net became a must. I quickly learned how to make web pages and my early web sites were online galleries of my digital images. So by the time Flash came out , I was ready to really rock the system! After having spent years of exploring so many different fields of computer art, now its all kind of melting together into one “multimedia” experience.

Did you go to school to learn how to do this?

I  graduated from Cooper Union School of Art in New York City, where I studied painting and video-art. A lot of the artwork I do now, I learned on my own. I love learning new programs and experimenting with them to make something new.

How can people stay updated on what your doing?

I am active on TumblrFacebook and Twitter and post new work there often. Connect, add your feedback, and stay updated on new work that is posted daily.

 

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

Artist Inspiration : Mark Oliver

Mark Oliver aka the “Litterbug” creates the weirdest insects from recycled materials. Check out his site here.

I first saw Mark’s work on Pinterest. This long vertical panoramic image, specifically. Use your zoom to see the marvellous details of his creations.

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Excerpt from Mark’s website, which explains why and how he does what he does:
A childhood fascination with his father’s hoard of electrical and engineering components, has held a wonderful influence over the 20 years of Mark’s illustration and art work. Robots, industrial architecture and mechanics are consistent themes (boyish treasures) and collage is a recurring form that literally finds him layering, glueing and stitching all types of work.

Urban Entomology is Mark’s (Post Modern) bow of respect to the Victorian tradition of insect collecting, where the decaying and disposed – the ‘litter’ of modernity, is assembled to create illusory collage. He intends the work to fascinate from a distance, and reveal humour and beautiful art upon closer inspection.

Mark painstakingly crafts each insect, and in opposition to the term ‘litter’ that he employs, much time and energy are given to sourcing interesting materials. The illusion is most powerful when a collection of Litter Bugs are hung together – Wunderkabinett!

The bugs have been exhibited internationally, and sold through various galleries across the UK, as well as through direct contact with the artist.

Mark is a well established, multi award winning Illustrator for print, TV and children’s books, and a selection of his illustrations can be seen at olly.net

Here are a few more examples of Mark’s work. One more for my ever-growing Wishlist of covetable Art!

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#JeSuisCharlie

Please feel free to share this image and stand with our French brothers and sisters as they say “We Are Not Afraid” to terrorists and terrorism.

There is no logic to any attacks against innocent human lives. Anyone who does so is either immoral, ignorant, crazy or evil. Or all of the above.

Parents, please teach your children right from wrong. Logic, common sense and reasoning should prevail over beliefs, herd mentality and bigotry. Show them that Love always triumphs over hate, Good over evil, and lead them up the right path. This world has got to change, and it has to start with each and every one of us. Please don’t be bystanders. Bystanders become victims. Stand up and speak out for the greater good.

#JeSuisCharlie

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Imaginary Pursuits Part 1

Sometime back in 2011-2012 I created several CD album cover mock-ups. Partly for fun and also partly in preparation for hubby ElectroCelt’s own music production…in case he was ready to release his music as an album anytime.

I had a lot of fun creating my mock-ups, and I think in 2015 it’s time, perhaps, to make up a few more mock album covers.

Anyhow, I never really got around to explaining the images behind the mock-ups. And now I will. So, without further ado, here are some of my personal favourites from my collection. (These were done on my old iPhone 4, so it will be interesting to see what I can do with my new Samsung Note 4 next year).

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I loved mushroom-hunting when I lived in Spain. These 2 common mushrooms were found near my kid’s school in Australia, the sight of them brought back happy memories. So I thought I’d immortalise them with a trippy, almost 3-D effect. The title “Underground Empire” actually relates to the fact that mushrooms and other fungi first grow as an intricate system called mycelium under the earth, and what we see above ground and eat are actually its fruit.

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I spotted this very Australian bird, the kookaburra, sitting on a telephone wire, and just couldn’t pass up on the chance to create some puns. See how many plays on words you can spot here.

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Mahogany Creek is the name of an actual place, somewhere near the township of Mundaring, along the Great Eastern Highway out of Midland near Perth, Western Australia. It was autumn when we drove through it one year, so I thought it fitting to create an autumn-themed CD album cover.

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With this one it was the huge billowy clouds that inspired me. Hubby liked the title so much he has actually named a musical track of his after it.

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I was inspired to create this after visiting an exhibition about scientist Nikola Tesla in the city.

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I had several dozen images of cemetery statues on my, which I processed using predominantly the App Snapseed’s grunge and vintage filters. This is one of them. (Yes, I am susceptible to lurking about in cemeteries LOL).

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The tree-house was from a visit to Malaysia to see my ailing grandma in 2011. The plane was from the airport. I put the two together and named it “Leaving The Nest”, which is essentially what I did back in 1992 when I left Malaysia to study in England.

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This is a composite photo of 2 images from the movie “Legion”, which I shot on screen. I liked how they appeared to fit together.

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This was a fun one to create. The rows of bins were from an outdoor festival we’d been to. I just added the gore and suggestive title.

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This big tree, seen on one of our road trips along the coast, was the inspiration. Silver Gum and Paper Bark are 2 species of Australian gumtrees.

More to come in tomorrow’s post.😄

FREEBIES! When PicsArt met Pixlr Express

I’d originally intended to use some geometrical backgrounds found in the app PicsArt, along with geometrical effects found in the app Pixlr Express, as the backdrop of a new Lenormand project. However, these backgrounds took on a life of their own and proved too distracting and so that idea had to be shelved.

Not wanting to just let the images go to waste, though, I’ve decided to share them here with you. All I’ve done is blend the PicsArt backgrounds with some colourfield backgrounds I created, or with other random images I’d created in the past. Remember, these were just building blocks for a project that got shelved.

Feel free to save them perhaps as your smartphone’s wallpaper. Enjoy!

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P/s: I’ve since created my Le Geometrical Lenormand deck, however utilising only the effects found in Pixlr Express.

My favourite artist Lenormand deck

I just received in the post what has to be my favourite Lenormand deck. This one’s by Lauren Forestell and it’s aptly called the “Destroyed Dondorf”. The Dondorf design is perhaps the most recognisable design of all traditional Lenormand cards. It is readily available online through the usual suspects, and there are many variants of it as well.

Lauren’s story on how the”Destroyed Dondorf”, or, more precisely “Le Fanu’s Destroyed Dondorf” came to be is intriguing. Basically, a tatty old deck of Dondorf Lenormand cards fell into the hands of a chap called Le Fanu, who then showed it to Lauren, who then proceeded to restore the cards digitally. Read about it on Le Fanu’s blog My Curious Cabinet.

I have taken some photos of my newest acquisition, for posterity. They really are the most intriguing, meaningful and enchanting deck of Lenormand cards I own. I’m inspired to create my own tattered well-worn deck, which should be fun, as I’m a big afficionado of grunge and texture in my own artistic endeavours.

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