Category Archives: Photography

Out and About in Chinatown

The Chinese or Lunar New Year was on the 19th of February this year (2015), but because it fell mid-week our annual Family Reunion Dinner was postponed til the weekend. Yesterday (Sunday) we went to my 2nd Uncle’s home to join him and my cousins and their children, for our annual gathering. 2nd Uncle is my only patriachal relative in Western Australia. I haven’t been back to my Maternal Grandma’s for Chinese New Year for nearly 20 years now, and since dear Grandma passed away last year there will sadly no longer be anymore Chinese New Years at her home.

As dinner wouldn’t be starting til 5pm, the Kid and I decided to check out the festivities in Perth’s Chinatown first. I had read there would be parades and food stalls and stalls selling all manner of Oriental goods and souvenirs.

Here’s what we saw:

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Yes, there were thousands of people thronging James Street. Yes, it was hard moving about and not spilling peanut gravy from my chicken satay all over my front.

Yes, it was a lovely, warm, sticky day. We are still in Summertime here in the Land Down Under.

Yes, that is a large orange shaped kiosk selling freshly pressed orange juice.

No, I don’t know what Morris dancers were doing there during a Chinese New Year celebration.

Yes, I threw in that photo of a pub called “The Elephant and the Wheelbarrow” because that particular junction looks so much like Small Town America to me.

No, that is not a real Library, it is another bar venue. And no, those rays of light are not a special effect I created.

Project Palimpsest/Butterick: Part III (FREEBIES!!)

I’ve taken some close ups of sections of my 2 Palimpsest/Butterick canvasses, and am sharing them here now as FREEBIES.

If you wish to, you may download them to your device or computer and use them as elements for your own collage or mixed media projects. These are JPGs, but you can easily convert them into PNG format to suit your projects.

Enjoy!

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Walking With Giants

When I read in the paper that The Giants were coming to Perth, Western Australia, I got really excited. At long last, some Culture and Art for this long-neglected backwater part of Australia. And for Free too. These things usually miss Perth by a few thousand miles, and end up being enjoyed by Sydneysiders and Melbournians, but this time Perth had managed a coup.

“The Giants” is the name given to a set of giant marionettes and props, by street performing company Royal De Luxe. More information on the company can be found on their website here and also on Wikipedia.

Nothing like this had ever come to Perth before, this would be the biggest free public arts event in Western Australia. It’s part of the Perth International Arts Festival.

The story being re-enacted by The Giants this year is based on real life events, that of a little girl in a lighthouse on Breaksea Island, who used Morse Code to signal soldiers leaving for Gallipoli. Hers was their last contact with Australia. Soon after, letters began arriving from these soldiers asking about the “Little Girl on Breaksea Island”. Jean-Luc Courcoult, the founder and director of Royal De Luxe, further romanticised and modified the story to fit in Aboriginal elements. Here is his take on the story (taken from the Perth International Arts Festival page):

In the south-west corner of Western Australia, there were Aboriginal communities full of mysteries, one of these mysteries was a boat that had come up from out of the sand, only the prow could be seen, the rest was imprisoned in the ground.

One day, the Little Girl Giant, busy with her travels, fell into one of the Aboriginal communities of the Noongar Nation, into one of those families who are in love with the barrab (sky), the boodja (earth), the yorgam (trees) and keap (water).

She was so welcomed that she decided to stay with them for a long time.

She then witnessed the evolution and change of these inhabitants in the face of the transformation of the Australian continent. She lived there as though it were a beelya (river), full of dreams that jumped like fish.

One day, one of the community’s children brought her an old book full of drawings. It was dog-eared, crumpled, aged. It told the story of a little girl in a lighthouse full of love and sorrow, who watched soldiers leaving Australia on ships, carrying hope into lost battles. It was 1915 on the beaches of Gallipoli where the sand, reddened by the blood of men, frightened the moon. Through the book, the Little Girl Giant, as she looked at the sky, saw the past, the present and even the future.

Her gaze plunged into the centre of the battle, and she could see men disappearing, like being suddenly wiped from the earth as an eraser would rub out on a drawing. She also saw a boat sink, snatched by a gust stronger than a cathedral and laid down on the bottom of the ocean, then an Australian diver, sent to find survivors, stuck in air bubbles. As he could not see a living soul on the seabed, he decided to stay there. Miraculously and without knowing it, he started walking and this removed the tubes and the air that filled his lungs. As he turned his head, he saw dozens of boats lying in the sand. Methodically, he entered each ship and brought dead men out of them. He dug the ground to bury each one and he continued, his muscles toned by an infernal will, so much so that around each sunken boat, there was a graveyard, like small heaps of sand without crosses, only small bellies emerging from the dust. There were hundreds like this around each boat, peaceful. With a madness which cannot be named, he continued his work. But from graveyard to graveyard, his body grew thicker, denser and without realising it, one day he was able to overturn the ships. He had monumental strength. He had quite simply grown like a child in a bath who suddenly realises that his feet are touching the taps. It was simply the story of a Giant who became big at the bottom of the sea.

In the Noongar country, the Little Girl Giant closed the last page of the book. The little Aboriginal child, his eyes full of colours, was sad then, in his gaze a rainbow flew away to the clouds.

He understood then that the Little Girl Giant had to leave to re-join her family, and when the sun lifted the horizon, he hurried to fetch his father. Whilst the stars hid in the sky, lying behind the morning light, all the people of the Noongar Nation saw a tear come from the Little Girl Giant’s eyelid. As it touched the ground, a small puddle was swallowed up by the soil. In this very spot, a tree could be seen growing in the space of two hours. From a small and barely awoken sprout, a trunk developed, full of branches with leaves that the wind enjoyed moving. It was just a tree in the boodja (country).

Then she thought that the buried boat could sail the earth to find the diver. The Aboriginals began digging and within ten days, the ship was ready on the ground. The Little Girl Giant climbed onto it and the Noongars began to sing the rain. Accompanied by the sound of the boomerangs, she crossed Western Australia. The sand made waves, the boodja filling with water. In short, she arrived in Minang boodja (Albany) from where she sent a hot air balloon, like a moon over the ocean, to call the diver. Then she headed to Whadjuk boodja (Perth).

Upon her arrival in the big city, she placed her head underwater and blew bubbles which echoed at the bottom of the ocean. Everyone knows that whales can hear sounds from 5,000 kilometres away when they call each other and that the sound of people’s footsteps on pavements reverberates to the centre of the earth.

The air bubbles that were pushed by the tide floated around the Giant Diver. With their large, small or tiny shapes, they followed one another like a convoy of boats and one after the other, they exploded in front of the Giant’s eyes. They expressed signals like Morse code: a point, a line, two points then nothing and again two lines and a point. It was a language the man of the sea knew well. He could then read sentences in which each message ended with ‘come’. No sooner had he understood he was surrounded by a tornado of fishes. They circled him faster and faster so that the swirl of force became a gust of wind. On the surface, the agitated fog started to cough so hard that a storm swallowed the bottom of the water, throwing the diver into the sky all the way into the clouds. Then, like a lost body, he fell down unconscious in Perth. The earth trembled and suddenly a great spray of water burst out of the ground between two buildings. A geyser was born, as if to greet through space the arrival of the Giants.

The show took place over 3 days from 12-14 February 2015. Click here to access a map of the Giants journey from day to day.

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The Kid and I went on the 2nd day, Valentine’s Day, hoping to catch both the Diver and the Little Girl Giants. We chose a spot along the route where both Giants would be walking, perhaps even coinciding. However, best laid plans and all…as it turned out, the Diver, after spending the night sleeping at Perth railway station, woke up late and threw his schedule out the window. He decided to look around the area and interact with the public first before setting off on his long walk. Meanwhile, the Little Girl had walked much faster than we’d anticipated, so that by the time we got to our vantage point, she’d already walked past.

So we ended up having to chase the Little Girl up and down the streets of Perth. At our second point of enquiry, we were told that the Little Girl had just gone round the corner, and true enough, as we walked through the streets of Northbridge, we spotted her walking in the distance. We managed to catch up with her a few streets down, where she had thankfully stopped at an intersection for a breather and did some exercises.

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And here is a short video I shot of the Little Girl Giant doing her exercises.

The Little Girl Giant Exercises: http://youtu.be/0y1y39RIeZY

They’re Here!

Aliens, I mean. No, no, well yes, aliens have been on Earth for quite a while now, only I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting them face to face. But that’s not what I meant.

I meant to say that my INSPIRATION DECK has arrived from the printers. And they are beautiful, and exactly how I envisioned them to be.

Okay, the deck I created only had 24 designs (I thought I uploaded 25, but maybe I’ve forgotten how to count in my dotage). I’d doubled the designs and trebled a couple, to get a pack of 54 in a white window box. This is only a test deck, at the moment, while I surreptitiously work away on more inspirational sayings and backgrounds.

The real INSPIRATION DECK, when it’s ready, will have 50 different designs. And it will be expandable, so should I be able to muster the strength to make another lot of designs, they can be purchased as “Booster Packs” and added to the existing one.

The purpose of these cards? To serve as a daily reminder that Life is good and not to lose sight of your dreams as you rush about your everyday lives. Keep the cards for yourself, or share them with friends or strangers, it’s up to you. My hope is that the cards and sayings inspire you to be your best, and give you good cheer on hard days.

I’ll be abandoning half of this deck in and around Rockingham, Western Australia, on the weekend of Valentine’s Day 2015. It’ll be my Secret Valentine’s Day present to unsuspecting folks. I’ll also be giving some to my adult cousins and my Aunt and Uncle the weekend after, when we gather for our Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner.

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Artist Inspiration : Julie Fletcher

Julie Fletcher is an Australian landscape photographer with a fascinating back story. When stuck in a bad relationship many years ago, instead of putting up with it stoically, Julie chose to pack her camera and belongings, throw them into her car, and head off into the Australian Outback. There, she discovered, or rather rediscovered her passion for landscape photography.

The rest, as they say, is HERstory.

You can read more about Julie’s story on her website: http://www.juliefletcherphotography.com.au/about-me

Julie Fletcher is also on Facebook at
https://m.facebook.com/JulieFletcherPhotography?refsrc=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FJulieFletcherPhotography.

I’m a sucker for interesting back stories about people. Julie’s struck a chord in me. Here is a woman who, instead of putting up with a bad situation and lying in the bed she’d made, decided to take charge of her own life and go do the things she wanted to do, and live life the way she wanted to. Good on ya, Julie!

And the world is better off for having Julie share her philosophy on life via her photographs. Be amazed at Julie’s amazing artistry with a camera. Some of these photos look almost painterly.

(Image source: Google Images)

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Artist Inspiration : Ann Baldwin

Just today I was reading a wonderful book on mixed media art, Creative Paint Workshop for Mixed-Media Artists and I got curious about the author and artist, Ann Baldwin. So I decided to look her up on Google.

On Ann’s website she explains her transition to photography after many years as a painter:

For several years I have been making the transition from painting to photography.

I was a mixed media painter for many years, selling through galleries, art fairs, and my studio. Luck was definitely with me when in 2008 I was asked by Quarry Books to write a book on Mixed Media painting. ‘Creative Paint Workshop for Mixed Media Artists’ was published in 2009. One chapter focuses on the use of photography in paintings. By then I had become a full-time closet photographer! Once the book was launched, I made the decision to give up painting and ‘come out’.

Some of the fine art photos you see here use the same approach of multiple composited images and (digital) paint that I used in my paintings. Only now it’s all done in my camera and in post-processing with Photoshop and Nik software. I am a passionate picture-maker!

Currently my husband, Mike, and I are co-Presidents of the Berkeley Camera Club, which keeps us very busy and inspires us to try new things.

As a mobile photography artist dabbling in mixed media, I can totally relate to Ann when she talks about transitions. For Ann, it was a move of mediums from mixed media to digital photography. For me, it was the other way round…my medium has always been digital photography, but in my quest to give my photographic images texture and dimension, I’ve been experimenting with magic mushrooms mixed media and paints.

Funny how things go round in cycles.

If you’re curious about mixed media art, I highly recommend reading Ann’s book, and experimenting with the techniques and materials discussed within. Only through trial and error will you find your own “voice”.

Here are some examples of Ann Baldwin’s works, both mixed media and digital photography. The difference between the 2 mediums is primarily that in mixed media, with the addition of ephemera, heavy paint bodies and glazes, you get interesting textures. With digital photography and printing, the image is 2D.

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Interview by Kess InHouse – AlyZen Moonshadow

I was honoured recently to be interviewed by Sara Gupta (now Sara O’Neill), co-founder of Kess InHouse designs. Kess were kind enough to take a chance on me and offer me an Art Licensing contract for my mobile photography art. I have a number of pieces with them, and continue to submit more. Kess’s products include duvet covers, pillow cases, shower curtains, fleece blankets, place mats, desk mats, cutting boards, rugs and pet products, including dog beds, pet bandannas, feeding mats and bowls.

Answering Sara’s questions was an interesting exercise in retrospection. I never realised how far I’d evolved from the starry-eyed ingenue behind my first iPhone in 2010.  It was a walk down Memory Lane for me, and reminded me of my various experiments and love affairs with different Apps, filters and effects. Has it really been 4 years since I started my mobile photography adventures?

Here’s the link to the interview,
http://www.kessinhouseblog.com/artist-spotlight-alyzen-moonshadow/

And here’s the transcript:

KIH:  Your artwork has a fun blend of mobile phone photography and graphic design flair.  When did you discover your passion for photo manipulation?

AlyZen Moonshadow: I bought my first iPhone 3 in 2010, shortly before I emigrated from Ireland to Australia. Whilst job-hunting in Australia, I decided to experiment with photo editing on my iPhone. I started out with some Apps for Lomographic effects, then got into textures and grunge, and the whole thing snowballed from there. I practised a lot in the early days, averaging between 5-10 manipulated images a day.  The more I practised, the better I got, and also the more selective about effects and filters. In 2012 I discovered some graphic design-type Apps, and for a while I was really into Swiss-style graphics. I even designed some mock CD album covers using these, and some t-shirts. In the same year, I switched from the iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy S3, and discovered Android Apps. These days I use my Samsung Galaxy S4 and my iPad 2 for my photo manipulations, so I really have the best of both worlds.  

KIH:  Your pieces are very colorful and use unique color pallettes.  How do you find color effects your art pieces and how do you develop color choices while making a new composition?

AlyZen Moonshadow: I usually start by uploading a photo to an image editing App on my Samsung Galaxy S4, then just playing around with various filters and effects. When I find one that appeals to me, or that I think merits further processing, I then move on to the next step, which is finding other elements to add to the image. Sometimes if I’m not satisfied with the colour scheme, I will edit it again to change the hue or saturation, until I’m happy with the result. I went through a brief phase early on in 2011 when I tried faded, vintage, old postcard styles, but found I’m more drawn towards bright, vibrant colours. This may come from my love of flowers in natural surroundings. If I have a favourite colour, it would be turquoise. Whenever I find a filter that gives me the colour turquoise, I try my best to keep it in the final edit. I like colours that are translucent rather than matte, so whenever possible I try to create my pieces with a sense of depth in them. I also like an element of randomness in my work. I have a folder of colourfield backgrounds that I created using photos and a very simple Android App called “Impressionist Fingerpaint”, which gives me the colours I need. It’s perfect for giving me 2 things – a sense of depth and translucency, and the element of randomness when blended with other images.

KIH:  Your latest collection of art pieces showcase stacked teacups as an homage to Alice in Wonderland.  Where did your interest in this subject spark?

AlyZen Moonshadow: I’ve always been fond of Alice in Wonderland since I was a little girl, and I got the idea of stacked teacups from surfing Pinterest online. I had a couple of teacups and saucers lying around, and some real and silk flowers, and I posed them together and edited a number of images. The flowers soon fell by the wayside, as I decided the teacups and saucers made very interesting subjects in themselves. I went through a phase buying vintage teacups and saucers on Etsy, then stacking them up higgledy piggledy for staged photoshoots. I had the idea of creating my own Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (I spell my series The Madhatter’s Teaparty), so an entire series of 100 images was born in 2012.

KIH:  What is your favorite piece (on KESS)? How did you develop the composition?

AlyZen Moonshadow: It would have to be images from my Madhatter’s Teaparty. For the photo manipulations, I used predominantly Photoshop Touch, especially the “Difference” filter to bring out the colours and to introduce an element of serendipity, as I was never sure what the results would be using that filter. Before Kess InHouse found me and my Madhatter’s Teaparty, I’d printed 35 of the images onto stretched A3 canvasses, varnished and all…in case I ever held an Art exhibition. I like to think that Alice herself would’ve been proud of my teacups!

KIH:  Your artistic process generally starts from your mobile phone.  What do you enjoy the most about utilizing cell phone cameras and applications when creating your artwork.

AlyZen Moonshadow: I think the best part is the portability of it all. I have my entire Studio in the palm of my hand, literally. No expensive paints or equipment to buy, no messy paintbrushes, no splatters on the carpet, no clearing or cleaning up to do. If I make a mistake, or if I don’t like an effect, there’s the handy Undo button, or even in extreme cases, the Delete button. I can transfer my work between my Samsung Galaxy S4 and my iPad2, or even to my desktop Mac for resizing. I can work almost anywhere, anytime – on the bus, on the train, while waiting for my coffee to percolate. Every now and then I download an App and test it out; if it adds anything to my creative process, I keep it and use it. If not, I uninstall it. Some of my fellow mobile photographers like the idea of having thousands of Apps to utilise, and bemoan the fact that the Android platform does not have half as many Apps as Apple iOS. However, my personal view is that in reality, you only need a dozen or so decent Apps to be able to create a wide variety of effects. The magic is in finding the right combination of effects. Sometimes less really is more.

KIH: Many of your pieces have abstract textures and psychedelic imagry to build up the subjects of the piece.  Where did you pick up this artistic style and what other artists made an impact on your work?

AlyZen Moonshadow: Colour is important to me, followed closely by depth and texture. I like to introduce an element of the surreal into some of my pieces. An early series that I created in 2011 is titled “Dalienutopia” and is based around photos of the Baigup Wetlands near where I used to live in Perth, Western Australia. The title is a combination of my homage to the artist Dali, and the words Alien and Utopia…and the images are surreal and weird. Another series titled “Surrealism” in 2012 came from when I was experimenting with strange objects and juxtapositions. I learnt about Dali and his contemporaries funnily enough in Music History when I was a student at college, and the ideas just stayed with me. Another artist that inspire me is Georgia O’Keeffe, you can see her influence in my photo manipulations of flowers. When I was creating my flower photographs, some friends told me my images reminded them of Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings.

KIH:  Where do you do most of your work?

AlyZen Moonshadow: My trusty workhorse, the Samsung Galaxy S4, is rarely out of my hands, and it is also my portable Studio. So basically, I can and do work almost anywhere. For printing purposes, I have my printers (an ink-guzzling Epson Artisan 1430 and a mellow Canon Pixma MX870) in the spareroom/storeroom, which during the summer months is shared with an ongoing succession of baby Japanese Quails, that I incubate, breed and sell. The room is too small for a proper worktable, so I simply spread butcher paper over the carpet on the floor, lay out my prints on that, and do any gluing, varnishing, etc right there. It’s easy enough to tidy away again afterwards. Someday I hope to have a traditional gypsy caravan installed in my front garden, where things can be more permanent.

Couple in Love(This is my “Couple in Love” image, available on Kess inHouse here)

Westmoore Fine Gifts & Homewares Part I

Today’s post is about one of my favourite shops in Rockingham, Western Australia. It’s called Westmoore, and it’s on the Rockingham foreshore, nestled amongst some boutiques, a real estate agent and a Baskin Robbins ice cream parlour.

Westmoore does not have a website presence, unfortunately, however you can find them on Facebook. And here’s some information about their opening hours, location, phone number etc.

http://infoplaces.net/info/Westmoore-Fine-Gifts-and-Homeware-in-Rockingham

I like to cycle to the foreshore with The Kid. For the exercise, of course…but more for a jaunt to Westmoore to treat my eyes with visions of their fabulous wares. And for ice cream, but of course ;).

So, without further ado, here’s that eye candy I promised you all. This is window shopping at its finest. (You may wonder why I don’t just buy some of these delectable items for my own home. The reason is I don’t have much money, and also, I figure why spend money on just 1 or 2 pretty things, for them to clutter up my house and gather dust, when I could have them ALL sitting pretty at Westmoore, for me and others to enjoy any time we want. For free. Clever, huh ;)).

(Okay, I’m doing this in 2 parts as there are soooo many delicious photos I want to share with you all, and it takes ages to upload them!)

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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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