Category Archives: Design

Australian Aboriginal Artist : Mitjili Napurrula

I’m a big fan of Mitjili Napurrula’s work. When I first saw them at an art gallery in Fremantle, Western Australia, I immediately thought they reminded me of a famous Western artist. At that time I couldn’t put my finger on it, but now I know it was Henri Matisse. And here’s why the main motif that Mitjili Napurrula is so well-known for reminded me so much of Matisse:

Matisse “Oak Leaves” motif:

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Mitjili Napurrula “Bush Medicine Leaves” motif:

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But, while Matisse only used his Oak Leaves motif sometimes, Mitjili Napurrula has taken the simple form of her Bush Medicine Leaves and developed it to the nth degree, coming up with seemingly endless variations of it, from the very simple to huge, complex structures.

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Here is a video showing Mitjili’s creative process. What an amazing artist! I love the beauty in the deceptive simplicity of her paintings. (Note: this is only one of many videos of Mitjili at work, courtesy of DesertArtCentre, who support and sponsor many Australian Aboriginal Artists. If you wish to watch more Aboriginal artists at work, click on the link to go to their YouTube channel).

 

 

MY ORACLE CARDS PROJECT: THE JOURNEY SO FAR

A short while ago I hatched a grand plan to create my own deck of Oracle Cards. I blogged about it here.

Now I’ve created about 20 such virtual cards, so I’ll share them with you. You can see how some work better than others, I’m constantly learning as I go along. Creating the imagery is only part of the whole process. I still haven’t gotten round to writing the explanation or meaning of the imagery. That will come. Also, I have to research the practical logistics of getting my cards into print.

So, here are some of my “Practice” Oracle Cards. They may or may not be the end product…I might add a black border all around each image, or more key words at the bottom.

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Australian Aboriginal Artist: Susie Bootja Bootja

A while back, I started talking about Australian Aboriginal Art and Artists. I pulled together several YouTube videos that I’d found that demonstrated how some of these artists created their works.

Now I’m going to concentrate on one artist at a time. Australia has a wealth of Aboriginal artists, a tradition that goes back millenia. The artists I’ll be showcasing on my blog, however, will be contemporary ones.

Here’s what Wikipedia says about contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art:

“Contemporary Indigenous art of the western desert began when Indigenous men at Papunya began painting in 1971, assisted by teacher Geoffrey Bardon. Their work, which used acrylic paints to create designs representing body painting and ground sculptures, rapidly spread across Indigenous communities of central Australia, particularly following the commencement of a government-sanctioned art program in central Australia in 1983. By the 1980s and 1990s, such work was being exhibited internationally”.

Susie Bootja Bootja has her own Wikipedia entry. You can also find her biography and photos of her work here.

Here are my favourite paintings by Susie Bootja Bootja, that I’ve taken from Google Images and Pinterest.

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image Photo of Susie Bootja Bootja (1935-2003)

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We Are All Born Of Stars

Inspired by a phrase I read in Eckhart Tolle’s brilliant book “A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose“:

THE ATOMS THAT MAKE UP YOUR BODY WERE ONCE FORGED INSIDE STARS, AND THE CAUSES OF EVEN THE SMALLEST EVENTS ARE VIRTUALLY INFINITE AND CONNECTED WITH THE WHOLE IN INCOMPREHENSIBLE WAYS

For some reason, I’m very taken by the first part of the phrase, so much so that I’ve been inspired to write a poem about it.

We are all born of stars

Not one, not many, but Infinite

We all glitter, we all shine

In our infinitesimal way

Reaching out to each other

Across the vast space that separates us

It is because we are so small in ourselves

That the Universe appears big

And the distance between us appears insurmountable

But the reality is this:

Because the atoms that make up your body

Were once forged inside stars

We Are the Stars

We Are the Universe

We Are One with each other

And our Life’s Purpose thus is to find each other

To connect, link and strengthen each other

There are no Problems, only Situations

And Solutions

Just Imagine how wonderful our world will be

If we all acknowledge this Universal Truth

That We Are All Born of Stars

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I also drew a card from the Tarot Illuminati on my mobile phone, that echoes the sentiments of Eckhart Tolle and my own poem. Here are the screenshots of the card and accompanying explanation:

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Portmeirion

Those of you who come from the British Isles and were born before the 1960s may already know and love the village of Portmeirion in North Wales. To those that came after or are from other countries, the name may mean something else to you. Perhaps a range of pottery?

Have a look at these images courtesy of Google Images. Do they remind you of somewhere you’ve been before? Or something seen on the television? Do giant white bouncing balls mean anything to you? Or the number 6?

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Here is the Wikipedia entry for Portmeirion.

I must stress that these scenes are really in Wales, and not somewhere in Italy. The architecture of Portmeirion IS certainly influenced by Italy, specifically Portofino, but no, the original owner, designer, architect and brains behind this unique location, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, was Welsh.

Portmeirion was built between the years 1925-1975, building by building. Portmeirion has been the setting for several films and TV shows, as well as music videos. It mainly shot to fame when the BBC decided to use the entire village as the setting for its 1960s series “The Prisoner”, starring Patrick McGoohan. Essentially, “The Prisoner” centred around a retired intelligence officer, played by McGoohan, who mysteriously finds himself incarcerated in “The Village”, played by picturesque Portmeirion, where he in turn gets interrogated by his captors and tries to escape. Those giant bouncing white balls I mentioned earlier? They acted like sentries or guards for “The Village”, bouncing and floating across the impeccably manicured lawns and the beach, to land on top of McGoohan’s character, Prisoner No.6.

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Portmeirion is as a major tourist destination, offering a wide range of accommodation in its various brightly-coloured buildings. Some of the buildings are follies, others are real buildings with bedrooms, living areas and kitchens. Here is the official Portmeirion Village website, should you be inspired to visit and stay over for a few nights. It really is as magical as it looks.

These days, there is even a Festival No.6 in honour of the TV series “The Prisoner”. It’s mainly a music and arts festival, but also features various re-enactments of scenes from the series, and of course the opportunity for cosplay by participants. Actually, as I write this, the 2014 Festival No.6 is in its last day. It runs from September 5th to 7th this year. Why not mark your calender for next September, to tie it in with a stay in the Village itself?

And the link to pottery? Well, the famous Portmeirion Pottery may be based in Stoke-on-Trent, but it does have its roots in Portmeirion Village. The lady who started the pottery is Susan Williams-Ellis, who happens to be the daughter of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. And, you can certainly buy Portmeirion Pottery from Portmeirion Village’s Gift shop.

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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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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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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.

Fallen Angels

In the past, I’ve used Tarot Cards, specifically the traditional and time-tested Rider-Waite cards. However, these did not resonate very much with me, for some reason. I found that Oracle cards held more meaning for me. I’ve already written about Oracle cards in a previous post, please click on the link here to read about that.

My first Oracle card deck that I bought in Australia was the Fallen Angel deck, from a bookshop in Mandurah. I was struck by the artwork. As a visual artist, imagery is very important to me.  And so when I entered the bookshop looking for a likely Oracle card deck to purchase, the Fallen Angel deck literally called out for my attention.

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You can buy this deck on Amazon, eBay, at any decent New Age store wherever you are.

What attracted me to this deck was the grungy, textured feel to the collaged images. When I saw this deck, I was reminded of an early iPhoneography project of mine, that I’d done when we lived in Ascot, near the Perth Airport in Western Australia.

Here are some images from the Fallen Angel Oracle cards deck, courtesy of Google Images, in case you’re curious and what to see what they are like.

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So today, I’ve gone into my vast archive of images stored in my 1TB hard-drive, to actively seek out my own Angels images. Arrghhh! I can only find 3…they may still be on an old computer, which I hope has not been reset to factory settings!

Instead, as a compromise, please take a look at this YouTube video that I choreographed for a musician friend, Brian Vassallo, for his track “I Am Always In Your Heart“, as it contains several of my Angels. This was back in September 2011, nearly 3 years ago.  It’s a great song, and I like to think I’ve done the music justice with my mobile photography art and choreography. At that time I was on my iPhone 4, so this would technically be termed iPhoneography.

Meanwhile, I will continue to search for my Angels on all my computers, as there are unedited photos there that I would like to process for a future project. The cemetery I took the photos in is located in Guildford, which is difficult for me to get to these days, since we moved to Rockingham nearly 40 miles away. The next closest old cemetery to me now is in Fremantle, which I will endeavour to get to on a good day, if I fail to find my old Angels.

Post addendum: Looks like a trip to Fremantle Cemetery is on the cards.

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Carpe Diem

Well, actually, no. Take away the last letters of each word in the title above, and you’ll have a fair idea of what I’m talking about.

We have about 17 Japanese Koi (or carp) and goldfish in a large, square pond out the back of our house. I say 17 because they never stay still long enough for me to do a proper headcount.

Make that 16.

I found one this morning, not swimming like its friends, but just floating and occasionally zipping out of the water all aflutter, before sinking back into the water. Most strange. I dosed the water with green multi-ailment liquid, added tap water conditioner, algicide, aquarium salt, cleaned out the sponge filter, topped up the pond with fresh water. I even held the poor fish in my hands and willed it to get better.

All to no avail. The poor thing carried on for half an hour more, with its friends gathering round and nudging it, either to encourage it to rally round, or to say good bye. It was quite touching watching them. I left it in the pond for 15 minutes more, in case it was just playing dead.

When I was truly convinced it was dead, I went into the house to get a sheet of butcher paper to wrap it in (it was a big fish, about 15 inches long). It was then I got the idea of preserving the memory of the fish on paper. It was, after all, the largest fish in our pond, and one of my favourites. :'(

Now, my cousin HM loves to fish, and he’s had some very good results with the art of Gyotaku, or fish rubbing. In fact, I wrote about him not too long ago, here.

So I decided I’d follow my cousin’s example and do my own Gyotaku with my carp before burying it. It would be a way of remembering it, and honouring it in a manner of speaking. One last dance together.

And here is how we did it.

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I quickly learnt that it’s better and easier to rub the paper over the fish, instead of placing the fish on the paper. My cousin HM used Japanese handmade rice paper, but all I had was butcher paper. My hands got stained with the food dye because I was handling the fish rather than the paper at first.
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(Anyone want to read my palms? Go ahead! 😄)

My studio is awash with fish! Some came out good, others too watery to capture much detail. Below are some of the clearer imprints. Not as good as my cousin’s, but they will serve as memorials to my fish.

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Carpe Diem!

P/S: Due to one reader’s rather insensitive remarks to me, about the fish ending up all covered in “blicky food colouring” and “smashed up in butcher paper” to become “fish fertiliser for roses”, I think I should explain what happened to my fish friend afterwards. I washed all the food dye off, then wrapped it in a fresh sheet of butcher paper. Then I dug a hole in the plant trough by our swimming pool and buried it there. I put an old log and a pot of hen & chicks over the grave, to prevent any cats from getting at it. It’s right next to Valiant, my baby Japanese quail with splayed legs that I tried to help but that drowned in its water bowl back in November last year.

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