Category Archives: Techniques

Project NOW : Part 2

Continuing from yesterday’s post, here’s what I’ve done with my N O W wooden letters. And I’ll also explain the Philosophy behind the Art.

NOW:
N = Notice
O = Observe
W = Witness

We must learn to stop rushing about and Notice the little things around us, which makes us stay in the present. Then, Observe in greater detail that which you have noticed, so you may further learn from it. Once you’ve learned the lesson, be a Witness of it and tell the world about it, i.e spread the word.

The funny thing is, I was listening to a CD of Wayne W Dyer speaking, (The Importance Of Being Extraordinary, with Eckhart Tolle, 2 CD set 2013), and he mentioned almost exactly the same thing. Wayne Dyer was quoting a famous poet, Mary Oliver (from 5:12-5:47 of track 1 of CD1), on the secrets of a successful, enlightened life:

“It just boils down to: Pay Attention, Be Astonished, and Tell Other People”.

Now, I was out cycling when I listened to that CD. And when Wayne Dyer said those words, and they were so similar to what I’d been thinking, I nearly fell off my bicycle. Talk about synchronicity!

Another idea I developed from the NOW model was this:

If you live in the Now, you will learn to Own your life for the true miracle that it is, and you will have Won over your egoistic needs.

And so, I present the fruits of my labour, the NOW Project, in its three different configurations:

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The lovely glossy sheen you can see in the photos above come from a spray varnish for cars, of all things. I love that varnish!

The next photos show how all the sides of the letters are covered by Gelli® prints.
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I hope you’ll be inspired to give this a go yourself. These were easy enough to do, as the letters are modern sans serif (no curly stick-out parts). Go on, give it a whirl. NOW! 😄

Project NOW: Part I

Lately, I’ve been hankering after decoupaged wooden letters, the sort you see in trendy homes spelling inspiring words like LOVE, HOME, PEACE, JOY etc.

Like these that I saw on a Google Image search:

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So, when I saw some large wooden letters for sale at Thingz, one of my favourite home decoration stores, I decided to buy some to create my own cutesy letter art “sculpture”.

Why the word NOW? Well, I would’ve bought the letters H O M E or L O V E, but for the fact that each letter cost $7.99 but I could buy 3 for $20. So, I had to choose a 3-letter word, and N O W seemed a great idea.

Those of you following my humble blog will have noticed that I haven’t written about any Gelli® plate printing lately. That’s because I’ve been busy vacillating between reading Mind, Body & Spirit books and creating digital photography art on my Samsung Galaxy Note 4. While at the same time fantasising about my Next Big Project. And getting nowhere. There’s just not enough time in the day to do everything, and I can’t clone myself.

As it so happened, I had a whole pile of Gelli® prints lying dormant, awaiting further action. Now would be a perfect time to use up some of them.

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I selected the prints I wanted, then traced around each letter with a fine-tipped Sharpie pen. Then I used scissors and a scalpel (for the fiddly bits) to cut out the shapes.

I used PVA woodworking glue as my adhesive, and stuck the cut out Gelli® print letters to the wooden N O W letters.

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The wooden N O W letters were about an inch thick. I wanted to cover the depth of the letters with my Gelli® prints as well as front, so I measured and cut out several strips of Gelli® prints for the sides.
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And here they are, with front AND sides done. All that’s needed is to seal the surfaces and then varnish the letters.

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There’s another reason why I chose NOW instead of another 3-letter word such as JOY, but I’ll tell you what that is in my next post. 😄

Artist Inspiration : Elspeth McLean

I’ve got dotty over Elspeth McLean‘s art. I mean, literally.

I came across a shared post on Facebook, with a photo of some round stones painted with colourful dots reminiscent of Australian Aboriginal Dot Paintings. The hyperlink took me to Elspeth’s Facebook page.

Elspeth uses mainly a No.0 paintbrush and acrylic paints to paint her dots, a technique she calls “Dotillism”. Her substrates include traditional canvas and board, but also pebbles or stones. Just beautiful!

Here’s a video showing Elspeth painting a flat round stone. It may look simple, but I reckon you need really steady hands and an eye for perfect symmetry and colour.

https://youtu.be/hEA7kpVN29o

Here are my favourite Elspeth McLean paintings, curated from Pinterest and Google Images.

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Artist Inspiration : Riusuke Fukahori and Keng Lye

Those lucky enough to have been in London in the United Kingdom from 1st December 2011 to 11th January 2012 would have had the opportunity to witness the extraordinary exhibition called “Goldfish Salvation“, by the amazing Japanese artist Riusuke Fukahori.

Fukahori painstakingly paints goldfish and Japanese koi, layer by layer, in acrylics and poured resin. He’ll paint some details of the fish, pour a layer of resin over it, wait til it hardens, then paint another layer on top of the resin, pour over another layer of resin, paint, pour resin, and so on. It’s akin to 3D painting. It’s labour-intensive and also requires a good sense of depth perception and the ability to project that out to the viewer.

I saw Fukahori’s work on a friend’s Facebook feed, then did some more research on the artist. This Is Collosal did a nice write-up about Fukahori here.

In 2000, Fukahori, an art graduate, had been suffering from artist block when he started noticing his pet goldfish, which had been neglected for a long time, but which was still surviving. This goldfish gave Fukahori his artistic mojo back. Since then, Fukahori has painted thousands of goldfish and koi.

Here are just a few images of Fukahori’s work, and also a video, sourced from Google and YouTube. The video shows ICN Gallery’s “Goldfish Salvation” exhibition and features Fukahori’s works that were exhibited there.

Link to the video:
https://youtu.be/AVJOQG_bpQM

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Fukahori’s work has inspired other artists to try the same paint/resin/paint technique.

In Singapore, artist Keng Lye produces similar works of art. But Keng Lye deviates from Fukahori in that he repurposes household items as containers for his creations (Fukahori uses wooden and bamboo Japanese food containers), and Keng Lye also paints other aquatic animals – frogs, octopi, prawns, betta fighting fish, terrapins etc. And Keng Lye has gone one step further by making his aquatic creations seemingly rise up out of the water. He does this by cleverly using an eggshell as a terrapin’s shell breaking the surface, or pebbles and stones for a ranchu goldfish and an octopus. This makes his creations even more realistic.

Again, This Is Colossal has a great write-up about Keng Lye.

You can follow Keng Lye on his Facebook page here.

Here is a video showing Keng Lye’s work.

Keng Lye’s series is aptly called “Alive Without Breath”. Here are some images of his work, sourced from Google Images. Keng Lye also has a deviantArt page, where you can see more of his wonderful creations.

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Birthday Bread

Today, the 1st of July, happens to be Canada Day. It would’ve been also Princess Diana’s birthday. It is also my birthday.

I’d been meaning to try out this recipe that I came across on Pinterest. It’s for a round loaf of crusty bread that needs no kneading. The idea of using a cast iron pot, instead of a loaf pan, appealed to me. I must confess I’m not very good at making breads. They always come out flat, or grey. Sometimes both at once. So this no-knead, “Dutch oven” crusty loaf recipe seemed too good to be true.

Here is the link to that recipe.
http://www.jocooks.com/bakery/breads/crusty-bread/

I didn’t follow the measurements in the recipe per se. I had bought a box of Laucke soy and linseed bread mix, so all I did was mix it with the amount of water and yeast as specified, and only from thereon did I follow the Dutch Oven recipe.

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You have to leave the dough to rise for 12-18 hours. I’d prepared 2 lots of dough last night, and left them to their own devices overnight.

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This is the batch The Kid mixed.

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And this is the batch I mixed.

So, roll on the morning. The recipe says to preheat the oven to 450 Farenheit (around 225 Celsius). The cast iron pot you use (aka the “Dutch Oven”) also needs to preheat.

Next, all I had to do next was flour my kitchen worktop, scoop out the risen dough, form it into a ball, and drop it into the preheated pot. Like so.
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And then, put the lid on the pot. Pop the whole thing into the preheated oven for 30 minutes. The lid is important for ensuring a crusty crust, as it keeps the moisture in as the loaf bakes. After the 30 minutes are up, take the lid off and continue baking for 15-20 minutes, to brown up the crust.

Et voila! C’est incroyable!

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This is the loaf just after removing the lid.

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Here it is after browning up.

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And here it is in all its magnificent crustiness. Yum yum yum! Happy Birthday to me!

(I made 2 loaves. My neighbour Diane had baked me a loaf in her breadmaker, and The Kid loved it so much he urged me to get a breadmaker so we could have freshly baked bread every day. But I figured, if this recipe really works, then there’d be no need for a breadmaking machine. So I’m giving Diane a loaf and sharing the recipe with her).

Ta Daaa!
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I’ve just realised something. Bread makes me happy!

Artist Inspiration : Emily Williams

I first came across the work of Emily Williams in an article by Jenny Zhang for My Modern Met. Wowzer! I’d never heard of “flameworked glass” before, so my interest was piqued. Also, I couldn’t help but be awed and intrigued by the fluid, organic forms of Emily’s creations.

Here is the link to Jenny Zhang’s article. You’ll enjoy Jenny’s excellent full-length, exclusive interview with the artist, which provides insight into how Emily’s family background and experiences helped shape her fascination for biological lifeforms and the artistic format she has chosen for herself.

No artist emerges from a vacuum; ideas and creations stem from our experiences and interactions with others, which form our opinions and beliefs and which provide our sources of inspiration. When I blog about artists who inspire me, under my “Artist Inspiration” titles, it’s actually about 2 things: 1) the Artists who inspire me, and their subjects or techniques, or any other intriguing point of view that makes them stand out from the crowd, and 2) how the Artist in Me is inspired by them, and what lessons or creative ideas I gain from learning about them.

Here is the link to Emily Williams’ own website: http://www.emilywilliamssculpture.com/

Here are some of Emily Williams’ beautifully flameworked borosilicate glass sculptures. I’ve curated them from Google Images, Pinterest and also from the My Modern Met article, and included several images that show Emily at work on a piece, to give you an idea of scale. These are not tiny, delicate handblown glass pieces, these are large pieces painstakingly worked with glass rods and a handheld flame torch, and they can take months to complete.

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Here also is a YouTube video by Emily showing her work process.
http://youtu.be/c3NhykkiFcI

Artist Inspiration : Igor Simanowicz

Most photographers have their niches or chosen subjects. Some specialise in landscapes, or street photography, or flower macros, or water drops, or animals, or architecture, or travel etc. It’s what they have found that they excel in, or that they truly enjoy. More often than not, it’s a calling or vocation, rather than a commercial requirement.

Igor Simanowicz’s specialty is in insects, reptiles and arachnids. Yes, the creepy crawlies. The ones that, if I met them on a sunny day, I’d normally be running from, screaming “Eeeek eeek eeek!” I can’t help it, the only insects I actually like are ants, bees and ladybirds/ladybugs. The only reptiles I like are those safely behind glass. As for arachnids…shudder!! Hey, I’m only human.

Having admitted that I’m not a big fan of insects, Igor Simanowicz’s photographic skills are amazing, in how he manages to seemingly anthropomorphize them or capture his subjects posing and doing creepily human-like things. Things like hugging, or smiling, or posing cheekily with raised arms a la Village People and YMCA!

Igor is a scientist foremost, and photographer second. In the lab where he works, he studies how insects capture their prey. This entails close-ups of parts such as insect jaws. It naturally flows that close-up or macro photography is a useful tool for this purpose.

Igor took up photography around 10 years ago, to keep his mind off the winter blues, and to satisfy his own quirky sense of humour. He uses the same kind of lighting and staging that a fashion photographer would use, only Igor’s “models” are of the winged and scaly kind.

Here are some interesting articles I found on Igor while searching Google:

http://www.hhmi.org/bulletin/spring-2013/beautiful-beasts

http://www.pxleyes.com/blog/2010/10/mindblowing-macro-photography-from-the-micro-cosmos-by-blepharopsis-with-exclusive-interview/

I had a look at other Google Image hits, and it appears Igor Simanowicz has also ventured into Micro photography and photo manipulation. He’s also won several photography awards, most notably the Olympys Bioscapes Comptletition http://www.olympusbioscapes.com/gallery/photographer/igor-siwanowicz

The following images are all curated from Google Images. Enjoy!

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And here’s the man himself.

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Fish!

I was sorting through my thousands of photos in my mobile phone’s camera roll the other day, and came across some poor abandoned, orphaned half-processed images of my Japanese Koi fish. I remembered that at the time of editing those photos, I’d been playing with an App called Trimaginator. And then some other project of mine superceded it, and it got buried under an avalanche of new photos.

My favourite App for blending images on my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is “Photo Blender“. It offers more blend modes than you can think of, and is super-easy to use.

Another favourite App of mine for creating colourfield backgrounds is “Impressionist Fingerpaint“. I have a folder in my phone that is just for backgrounds I’ve created using that App.

I decided to have a play with my Fish images, Photo Blender and Impressionist Fingerpaint. The only other App used here is Photo Editor, for tweaking various parameters of the resulting blended images.

Such fun! And I really like the results too. Here are some of them. Please refrain from copying these images, full copyright remains with me, although I have submitted them to my Licensor for licensing on homewares.

These images hold bittersweet memories for me, personally. The fish you see are my own Koi, and since the photos were taken, the number has fallen from 12 down to 4. I’m not very good at keeping fish, and I’m determined to NOT replenish stocks anymore. When the last 4 go, that’s it.

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Square Collage Project

I made this mixed media collage a while back, but never got round to blogging about it, as the photos I took got buried under thousands of other photos in my camera roll.

Until now.

This collage was made using paper ephemera, washi tape and acrylic paints. The whole project, once completed was sealed with several layers of spray varnish. The substrate or base used is a cradled wooden panel that I’d made last year. For instructions how to make cradled wooden panels, read here.

I didn’t take any photos of the collage while creating it, just of the finished result, including some shots of the sides (which are also collaged) and also some close-ups. So, here they are:

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In case you’re wondering how a couple of the ephemera elements appear to be “floating” off the background…it’s done very simply with a black watercolour pencil. Neat, huh? :-)

Artist Inspiration : Rex Ray

Rex Ray is a San Francisco-based artist whose bright, colourful and eminently cheerful works have graced numerous magazines, been used in advertising and marketing campaigns, i.e he is a successful commercial artist.

I first came across Rex Ray’s art on Pinterest, very recently. It was this:

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…and it reminded me strongly of my childhood days. One of my earliest childhood memories was being in my Maternal Grandmother’s house and playing with some sheets of paper and a tub of magic marker pens. I remember doodling circular and oval shapes like Rex Ray’s example above, then drawing lines and patterns inside them for colouring in. Obviously my efforts were not as accomplished as this…I was only around 4 or 5 years old then.

I love when an artist’s work triggers off memories or emotions in me. It’s like opening a door into hitherto forgotten fantastic kingdoms, and it motivates my own creativity by providing fodder for my imagination.

Rex Ray’s art does just that. His work is so accessible it has tremendous commercial potential and therefore translates very well to home furnishings, wall hangings and decor, mobile device cases, scarves, bags, rugs, advertising posters, music albums etc. Here’s what he says about himself on his site:

I have worked in both fine art and commercial art for twenty-five years. Because my artwork references and rehabilitates ideas of decoration in art it seems only natural for the work to also apply to various products. I think the role of the artist is very different today. The artist doesn’t have to work alone in the studio consumed with angst but can work in many diverse ways. Some of my influences include Dada, kitsch, pattern and design, pop art, and commercial art – therefore the work translates well onto various consumer products.

It’s exciting to take my aesthetic and my view of the world and mash it up onto a box or a scarf and see how it affects the medium and the see how the work is affected by this new application.

With my Rex Ray Studio line I plan to extend my artwork into new mediums in the home decor universe. I’m intrigued by the idea of providing the basic elements for people to create their own ‘Rex Rays’ in their homes. I like the idea of my work reaching as wide an audience as possible and affecting people’s environments.

Here are my favourite Rex Rays, curated from Google Images. I’ve included some photos of the artist himself, and also examples of how well his art transposes onto homewares and garments:

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For information on where you can buy Rex Ray’s artwork, as well as what forms they take, and how much they cost etc, head to Rex’s site first and foremost. A word of warning – they are on the high-end, pricewise, and if you happen to live outside the USA like me, before you go trolley-happy and load up on Rex Ray goodies, please do yourself a favour and check the postage first. I went to a print-on-demand site that boasted over 4 pages of Rax Ray’s prints at affordable prices…and when I checked postage costs to Australia, found that it would cost nearly US$100 on postage alone, 5 times what the print itself cost.