Category: Techniques


Take one old garden bench.
Add one found bookcase, minus the shelves.
Add 30 litres of potting compost. Scrounge around the house and gather together various succulent plants and what not.
Plant in bookcase planter.
Add smooth pebbles from old pond. Tamp down.
Water with watering can.
Add various plastic toy animals.
Stand back and admire.
Enjoy!

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Dušan Beňo is an amazing Slovakian photographer specialising in Macros of insects. Enter his microcosmos here.

Dušan’s photographic skills are not limited to Macros; he is also a dab hand at human portraits, animals and flowers, as evidenced on his site.

Here is what I managed to glean about Dušan, from various searches online:

He is a student of Matej Bel University in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia.  He’s 27 years old and has been shooting and specializing in macro for over 7 years. Dušan loves the details of his insect subjects and finds their bright colours and characteristics charming. His favourite camera is the Canon MP-E, which he considers the best universal lens for macro shooting.

Here are some examples of Dušan’s magnificent insect Macros:
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Here’s a photo of Dušan, the photographer, himself. Keep up the wonderful work!

Dusan Beno

I also found a YouTube video by Dušan himself which showcases his wonderful insect Macros:

 

Visarute Angkatavanich hails from Thailand and has a wonderful talent for photographing fish. I keep fish, but I can never get mine to stay still long enough to be photographed properly ;-). And my photos of fish never come out as envisioned. Quite possibly because my weapon of choice is a mobile phone camera and not a professional SLR with all the bells, stops and whistles attached to it. And definitely because I am not a patient person who’s willing to sit for hours watching for the perfect photo opportunity. I’m like that proverbial Panda that eats, shoots and leaves lol. Visarute uses specialised lighting and crystal clear water to shoot his subjects. (I have problems getting my fish tank water to stay clear and my subjects to stay alive long enough!)

Visarute is perhaps most famous for his portraits of Siamese Fighting Fish or Betta Splendens. A fitting tribute, for these fish originate from his own homeland and are part of a rich cultural history going back to the 19th century and Siamese royalty.

Here are some examples of Visarute’s glorious Bettas, courtesy of Google Images:

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To me, it seems almost balletic, the way the wavy fins appear to dance in mid-air. The Betta Splendens is a beautiful fish in its own right, and Visarute has managed to enhance its attributes even more, with his photographic prowess.

I also found on Google some examples of Visarute’s photography that are Not of the Betta Splendens. This leads me to believe that he is flexing his photographic skills and observing the characteristics of other types of animals, no doubt in the near future we shall see more of his astounding works.

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Portrait of Visarute Angkatanavich and his beautiful young family (from Google Images):

Family portrait

 

I contacted Visarute on Facebook, and asked if he would like to add anything to my post here. He told me that his work is available on Amazon through this link:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=art_artist_search?node=6685269011&field-keywords=Visarute+Angkatavanich

 

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Alexander Semenov is a marine biologist with a wonderful sideline in undersea photography. You may recall recently that I posted up some images of jellyfish in a previous post. Some of those images may well be by Alexander Semenov. This young man is no landlubber, preferring a life on the high seas!

In Alexander’s own words:

In 2007, I graduated from Lomonosov’s Moscow State University in the department of Zoology. I specialized in the study of invertebrate animals, with an emphasis on squid brains. Soon after, I began working at the White Sea Biological Station (WSBS) as a senior laborer. WSBS has a dive station, which is great for all sorts of underwater scientific needs, and after 4 years working there, I became chief of our diving team. I now organize all WSBS underwater projects and dive by myself with a great pleasure and always with a camera.

When I first began to experiment with sea life photography I tried shooting small invertebrates for fun with my own old dslr camera and without any professional lights or lenses. I collected the invertebrates under water and then I’ve shot them in the lab. After two or three months of failure after failure I ended up with a few good pictures, which I’ve showed to the crew. It has inspired us to buy a semi-professional camera complete with underwater housing and strobes. Thus I’ve spent the following field season trying to shoot the same creatures, but this time in their environment. It was much more difficult, and I spent another two months without any significant results. But when you’re working at something every day, you inevitably get a lot of experience. Eventually I began to get interesting photos — one or two from each dive. Now after four years of practice I get a few good shots almost every time I dive but I still have a lot of things that need to be mastered in underwater photography.

And the most important thing — I love Sea.

Some images of Alexander’s amazing sea creatures, courtesy of Google Images:

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And here are a couple of photos I found of Alexander Semenov himself, one as he is, and one with his underwater photography and diving gear:

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Alexander Semenov’s underwater photography can also be found on these sites:

https://m.flickr.com/#/photos/a_semenov/

We owe a debt to Alexander and other photographers of his mien, who constantly work tirelessly to bring us images of deep sea creatures that we would otherwise never encounter in our daily lives. Maybe “work” is not the right word for what Alexander does, it is clearly his passion and more a way of life than a hobby.  It is his calling.  He’s one of the lucky ones who actually does what he loves for a living. Thank you, Alexander Semenov!

Postscript: Alexander replied to my email enquiry and provided some further insight to his aspirations. His newest and most ambitious project is Aquatilis, a 3-year expedition on the high seas to capture images of deep sea creatures. This will be an epic, scientifically important project. Please show your support if you can!

Aquatilis TV

Aquatilis Indiegogo Crowdfunding

Aquatilis Flickr

Just a few ideas I found on Pinterest for gardening with recycled materials. I always believed I was cack-handed when it came to gardening…my idea of gardening has always been to “Just stick it in the ground and water it”. I’m clueless about perennials vs annuals, and about when to plant what and where. I live in Australia, most books on gardening relate to the Northern Hemisphere, our seasons are just as topsy turvy as our geography and this only adds to the confusion.

But, that said, many of my “Just stick it in the ground and water it” experiments have actually worked. I have had particular success with succulents, and they are my favourites.

I’m also a fan of recycling or repurposing objects. To combine the two, here are some ideas from Pinterest that you might want to try your hand at:

image Greenhouse or wind shelter made out of old drink bottles, plastic sheeting and a metal frame.

image Mini greenhouse made out of old picture frames.

image Bicycle tyre rims as a trellis for plants.

image Cut a drinks bottle in half and upturn the bottom half over a potted seedling, to use as a cloche.

image Stopped eating cakes? Turn an old glass cake stand into a terrarium.

image An old glass teapot adds interest to a terrarium.

image Find a use for CD spindles as a terrarium or mini greenhouse.

image Got an old chair that has lost its seat? Turn it into a pretty planter.

image The red of this old toy truck contrasts beautifully with the greens of the succulents.

image Even an old cake tin can become a lush mini garden.

image Row, row, row your boat. Or not, as the case may be.

image Old boots can still be useful.

image Retired! ;)

image Cut a drinks bottle in half. Fill the bottom half with water. Turn the top half upside down, with the cap off, and put it into the bottom half. Place compost into the top half, add plant. Self-watering planter.

image Got an old chest of drawers that you don’t use anymore? Turn it into this pretty tiered planter.

image Turn a broken vase or pot into a cascading garden.

image An old water cistern or toilet tank can be decorated with mosaic, or painted, and used as a pretty flower trough.

image If you have a transparent, deep umbrella or parasol and some stakes, you could make this greenhouse.

image An open-wire basket can be turned into a pretty mini garden.

image Old tea tins, biscuit tins, etc make pretty planters.

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Having completed my previous mixed media Art Abandonment Project (links here and here), here is my next Project. This one is a series of square wrapped canvasses 8×8 inches, featuring images from my current “100 BUTTERFLIES” Project.

The square canvasses came from my local KMart and were $5 for 4. I used a mixture of gesso and acrylic gel medium to adhere my images. The images were printed onto vintage dressmaking pattern tissue paper (see my previous post “The Sartorial Butterfly“). This makes each piece unique, as I only have a fnite number of these vintage dressmaking pattern tissue paper.

Those of you who know my from my writing already know that I am a BIG FAN of RANDOMNESS, so I’m always thrilled to see how my art pieces turn out when printed on random pieces of printed tissue paper. I like to think of this technique as “digital + traditional mixed media photographic collage”.

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I printed off 6 different images, but somehow managed to get a duplicate …because I forgot to delete the previous print job. So I ended up with 7 prints. No matter, the 7th is most welcome to join the others.

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Here are 2 prints adhered to the canvas. I haven’t trimmed off the excess yet in this photo.

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All stuck on and trimmed. The top middle and bottom prints are the duplicates I mentioned earlier. Whilst the original images may be duplicates, the fact that they were printed on different dressmaking pattern tissue paper makes them very different and unique.

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I fingerpainted the edges of each canvas with black acrylic paint. The canvasses are sitting on top of spraycans and containers, to avoid smudging or sticking to my butcher paper groundsheet.

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Close up of the canvas prints, waiting to their black acrylic paint edges to dry.

The canvasses have been varnished and I have adhered an Art Abandonment tag to the back of each. I have also included a business card with each as well, that I created on MOO. The artwork has been sealed in clear plastic ziploc bags to protect them from the elements. These will be going out with me somewhere to be abandoned very soon. I haven’t decided just where yet…probably somewhere in Perth CBD, I hear there’s going to be a winter outdoor skating rink put up near the Library and Museum, that might be just the ideal spot.

I know it’s unlikely that I’ll ever get an a knowledgement or email or even a post to the Art Abandonment Project Facebook page, but one can hope, right? It would be so wonderful to receive notification that someone got my Art and appreciated it enough to let me know, whether directly or indirectly.

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Following on from my post yesterday, here’s what’s developed between then and now. (I try to get ahead of myself by a number of posts, so I don’t always write in sequence, and even if you read 2 posts one after the other, they may have been written a week or more apart, as is the case with this).

I had some stamps that I wanted to use on my cards, however as I’d spray varnished the surface of the artwork already, my stamping inks simply slid off. Ok…now what? I decided to try washi taping the borders of the cards instead, to give them a more handcrafted look.

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Ok, those look good enough to go. I’ve adhered a printed tag on the backs and also on the envelopes, explaining what the Art Abandonment Project is about.

Now all I need is a kick in the proverbial to get out there and start leaving them at random places for people to find!

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Well, winter’s here for sure…in Australia, anyhow. When folks in the Northern Hemisphere are celebrating the arrival of Summer and hot, sunny days, here Down Under we are getting into our spell of wet, cold and dark days. Mind you, in Western Australia it doesn’t rain all that much…but when it does, it pours. No, we never get snow here in WA, our winters are too mild for that.

It’s the rain that, well, puts a dampener on things. I’m usually out and about on my trusty bicycle, but there’s a galeforce wind whipping up, it’s not the best time to be out on a bicycle. I braved the elements the other day, and I swear I nearly blew home in the wind. If I’d been on foot with an umbrella, I reckon I would’ve flown home with my shopping a la Mary Poppins!

So, when skies are grey and winds are a ablowin’ and it looks like rain, that’s when I bring out my Projects Book, for things to do indoors.

Actually, it isn’t a book, per se, but rather a Board on my Pinterest page, where I pin up interesting arty crafty projects that I want to try for myself.

Here are 3 such projects:

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I’m going to cover a cradled wooden panel (click here for instructions on how I create my panels) with Washi tape (click here for ideas I’ve collated on the uses of Washi tape). Then, I’ll create a bird or butterfly silhouette, plus trees/branches, and stick them to the panel.

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This one’s easy peasy. Use a Sharpie marker to draw your design on plain white china for simple yet beautiful decorative art. Then bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. That makes the colours stayfast…but Not dishwasher safe. And definitely Not for table use. Maxwell & Williams has a good range of white tableware that would make excellent canvasses for your Sharpie art.

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This one I’m already currently working on. Only, instead of paper cutouts of butterflies, I’ve made several butterflies from superlight and airy FIMO AIR modelling clay. I just need to decide if I want to stick some printed designs on them, paint them, or simply arrange them in a shadow box, white on black.

Bring it on!

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I wanted to share these brilliant videos by Philip Scott Johnson, celebrating women in Art and Film. The first video takes the viewer through 500 years of Western Art, encapsulated by the faces of 90 celebrated paintings of women.  The music is Bach’s Sarabande from Suite for Solo Cello no.1 in G Major, BWW 1007, played by acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

If you’re wondering who the women are in the video above, check out this site for a comprehensive list with descriptions. In 2010, Philip Scott Johnson created a sequel of sorts to “Women in Art”.  “Women in Film” uses Bach’s Prelude from the same Cello Suite as above, again played by Yo-Yo Ma, but this time morphing the faces of famous actresses of the Western world, past and present, spanning a period of 80 years.

The actresses used in the making of Johnson’s video are: Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Gloria Swanson, Marlene Dietrich, Norma Shearer, Ruth Chatterton, Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn, Carole Lombard, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, Barbara Stanwyck, Vivien Leigh, Greer Garson, Hedy Lamarr, Rita Hayworth, Gene Tierney, Olivia de Havilland, Ingrid Bergman, Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers, Loretta Young, Deborah Kerr, Judy Garland, Anne Baxter, Lauren Bacall, Susan Hayward, Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, Audrey Hepburn, Dorothy Dandridge, Shirley MacLaine, Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno, Janet Leigh, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Ann Margret, Julie Andrews, Raquel Welch, Tuesday Weld, Jane Fonda, Julie Christie, Faye Dunaway, Catherine Deneuve, Jacqueline Bisset, Candice Bergen, Isabella Rossellini, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sigourney Weaver, Kathleen Turner, Holly Hunter, Jodie Foster, Angela Bassett, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, Salma Hayek, Sandra Bullock, Julianne Moore, Diane Lane, Nicole Kidman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon, Halle Berry

Both videos captured the public’s imagination so much so that to this day there exists several different versions of them, some set to contemporary music.  The versions in this post, however, are the original ones by Johnson himself. Philip Scott Johnson’s handle on YouTube is eggman913.  He has more “morph animations” that you can watch, as well as a whole list of other interesting artistic videos.

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MOO is an English company specialising in primarily printing business cards, though they also make postcards, “mini” business cards, flyers, stickers, labels etc. The main website is MOO, however there are regional, geographical differences, in terms of currency displays, depending on which country you are in. For example, if you choose Europe, the site will show you MOO’s prices in Euros.

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MOO’s blurb:


MOO makes life a little less virtual.
We help our customers print things like Business Cards, Postcards and MiniCards, making it easy for them to share information about themselves or their business in the real world.

Print is simple and wonderful. We love it.

We’re a new kind of online printing business
MOO was born out of a love of beautiful, high-quality print.

Printing has been around for centuries, and we’re certainly not the first printer on the web. But, whilst many other printers have chosen to use new technologies to simply reduce the costs of printing (and often the quality), we strive to make print not only cost-effective but better than ever before.

We want to set a new standard for print, with remarkable new products that bring great design and uncompromising, high standards to the web. We’re only young, but when we grow up we want to be the best printer on the internet.

We believe in the power of great design
Design is key to everything MOO does.

Design helps us stand out: from the clothes we wear, to the homes we live in, to the business cards we use. Design tells a story about us and what we stand for.

But professional-quality design has traditionally been expensive or out of reach for most people; we want to change this. We’re passionate about helping people of all abilities design the best looking and highest quality print products: products that will help them or their business look great.

Our company vision is simple but ambitious: “great design for everyone”.

More about MOO…
MOO is an award-winning online print business.

Founded in 2006, MOO aims to disrupt the $100 billion global print industry by combining professional design with the accessibility and reach of the web.

MOO prints millions of cards a month and has hundreds of thousands of customers in over 180 countries. MOO has also become a much-loved brand, with a 75% NetPromoter rating.

The company has won 3 Webby awards (the web’s Oscars), has been profiled in the Financial Times, and was ranked in the top 10 UK start-up companies by the Guardian Newspaper. MOO has offices in London, UK as well as Providence and Boston, USA.

MOO has also raised over $5m in venture capital from the Accelerator Group, Index Ventures and Atlas Venture, the investors behind Skype, Betfair, Lovefilm, Last.fm and MySQL.

My post today is about Printfinity. Printfinity is MOO’s word for a very unique service, one I haven’t come across with other printers.

http://eu.moo.com/about/printfinity.html


What is Printfinity?
It’s the word we invented for a technology that’s completely unique to MOO. With Printfinity you can print a different photo or design on every Business Card, Sticker or Postcard in a pack. It’s a real conversation starter that means you can carry your portfolio in your pocket, show off your favourite products and help people remember your business.

As an artist, I just love the whole idea of Printfinity. For example, instead of printing 10 designs of 100 cards each, and then separating and sorting them into 100 packs of 10 designs, MOO’s Printfinity technology lets me upload my 10 designs onto their template, and then I simply have to specify whether I want 50 or 100 cards. If 50 cards, I will receive 5 of each of the 10 designs. If 100, I will receive 10 of each of the 10 designs. So I end up with just 1 pack of 100 cards, rather than 10 packs of 100 cards. Do the maths.

I have used MOO’s services a few times, primarily to get business cards made up using Printfinity. I recently ran another batch of 100 cards, using 25 different designs. I got an email from MOO offering me 50% off my next purchase, so I decided to use the same designs and have 100 “mini” cards made up as well. “Mini” cards are, half the size of business cards – 2 of them, placed side by side, make up the size of a normal business card.

Printfinity is a great way of seeing how my art looks on a product, plus I have something to show or give away to customers or potential customers too, like a pocket portfolio. I might get some flyers made up next…

MOO offers a range of different papers and finishes for their products, from a basic, everyday range to a high-end “luxe” range. This suits every budget.

The templates provided by MOO are really easy to use. For text, you get a good choice of fonts and font sizes. Simply write your text, then flip the template over to upload your images.

Delivery costs depend on the country you live in. I ordered mine and received them within 10 days, pretty good for UK to Australia these days. Each set of cards comes in its own robust cardboard box, a nice classy touch, great for presentations.

So, if you’re looking for something different, with a good range of paper options and pricing, ease of use, user-friendly templates, easy repeat ordering, a great customer service and delivery, innovative packaging, then MOO’s the one for you.

Below are examples from Google images of what others have used MOO for:

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