Category Archives: Techniques

Lenormand moves

…in the right direction, hopefully ;). I’ve been in a creative frenzy lately, creating decks of Lenormand cards. What started out as research rapidly escalated into a full-blown obsession and passion for these seemingly inocuous divination cards which traditionally utilise playing card pips as insets.

And now Bobbie Kelley aka the Rogue Perfumer aka Psychic Twin Bobbie-el, based in Maui, Hawaii, has caught wind of my Lennies (as they are fondly referred to in the Lenormand community), and will be reviewing them on her YouTube channel. Yay, happy days!

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Bobbie asked what my thoughts were or what I’d like attention drawn to, for when she reviewed my decks, beginning with the Moonshadow Lenormand, my very first. So I sat down and wrote about my approach to Lenormand.

Here’s what I wrote, for your ease of reference:

Well, I’m relatively new to Lenormand. I was drawn to Lenormand because the playing card insets intrigued me. My first deck was a Piatnik, followed by a mini Ukrainian deck, a Laura Tuan Dondorf deck, and Ciro Marchetti’s   Gilded Reverie. Then I discovered  artist self-published decks…

I’m a digital photography artist and my “studio” is my Samsung Galaxy S4. I’m also recently a licensed artist with several companies in the US, Canada and the UK. I sell my Art also on Society 6. When I discovered I could create my own physical Lenormand card decks, and not just virtual art, I was inspired to try my hand at making my first Lenormand deck. This rapidly became a passion and obsession, and I’ve since then created 7 Lenormand decks, and am concurrently working on my 8th, 9th and 10th! Yes, I’m very prolific 😄. You can or will soon enough find my Lenormand card decks on my eBay and Etsy pages.

I learn by doing, so with each individual Lenormand card and deck that I create, I’m finding new nuances and perspectives. I’m also learning new aspects of my chosen format (digital mixed media photography art) as I go – freestyle design in one, using frames and templates in another, creating one card at a time, or creating an entire deck one layer at a time. My Lenormand decks utilise my own photos and public domain/copyright free images and clipart. I’ve built up quite an archive of Lenormand archetypal images now, on my Samsung Galaxy S4!

So, my approach towards Lenormand is two-pronged – 1) from wanting to learn a new esoteric language and 2) from an artist’s viewpoint. Now that I’ve created several decks in various styles – eclectic, modern, geometrical, plain and simple, time-worn, half-tone, etc I feel the need to share them with the rest of the Lenormand community. I’m sure that whatever style you prefer, or if you’re a deck collector, you’ll find one or more of my Lenormand decks that suit you!

You can catch Bobbie’s videos on YouTube, under her name “Rogue Perfumer”. http://youtu.be/CIHncKg4Vpg

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The Half-Tone and Altered Half-Tone Lenormand

I was looking for an App that would give me a framework upon which to hang my Lenormand archetypal images. And I found a new (to me, anyway LOL) App on the Android Google Play Store, called Moldiv, that has heaps of cool collage templates. Moldiv is also available on iOS here.

For my Half-Tone Lenormand divination card deck, my initial idea was to create some sort of newspaper/scrapbook effect, as if I’d cut my images out of newspapers and magazines, and stuck them to my template.

Firstly, I collated the images I wished to use, into a folder on my Samsung Galaxy S4. Said images came from my library of my own photographs, public domain/copyright free images and clipart.

Then, I found a simple App that would give me the Half-Tone effect I wanted, called Just Sketch It. Of course, the App does give more than one style of sketching, Half-Tone being merely one.

I ran all 36 images through Just Sketch It, one after the other, and saved them to a new folder. (Thank the Universe for my S4′s expandable memory, I’d be lost without my 64GB memory card).

Then I setup my template in Moldiv, selecting a simple 2 photo frame, accommodating one large and one small photo. The App is versatile in allowing users to change the ratio. For this Lenormand card project, the 2:3 ratio worked a treat. I chose a neutral light grey textured background, and a font that I liked. I already had my 36 playing card inserts, created previously, waiting in another folder on my S4. We were all set to go.

The creation of the Half-Tone Lenormand was relatively straightforward. I did everything in-App in Moldiv – rotating and resizing the images, tweaking the colours, brightness and contrast etc, putting in the playing card inserts.

Here are a few of the completed cards:

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Then I got creative. I stumbled upon a long-lost old friend, an App that had previously been on Apple iOS only. The developers, Jixipix, have at long last made some (but not all) of their iOS photo editing Apps available on the Android platform, so when I came across Grungetastic, I knew my Half-Tone Lenormand project was going to produce not one, but two separate decks. A nice, clean one, if you will, and a dirty, grungy one that looks terribly worn. I adore grunge and texture! I’d already found an App that gives me the effect of torn washi or decorative tape, which I dearly wanted to use. (I will write about that App, as well as Moldiv, Just Sketch It and Grungetastic, in future posts). The App is called Masking Tape.

And so I went to town playing with first sticking on virtual tape over my images with Masking Tape, then grungifying (is that a real word?) them in Grungetastic.

Et voila! The Altered Half-Tone Lenormand deck:

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I had such fun doing this 2-in-1 Lenormand deck! 😄 Both versions will be made available on my eBay and Etsy stores in due course. I shall also post up video slideshows of them on my YouTube channel.

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Idle Hands…

What do Kim Kardashian’s recent nude bottom photos and these obviously Photoshopped mutant animals have in common?

Idle hands and creative minds, that’s what.

Never mind the big hooha over KK’s ample backside, we all know every pic that gets into a glossy mag has been Photoshopped and airbrushed to perfection. Take a look at these imaginary mutant animals, and wonder at the inventiveness of their digital creators. They may not be in the tabloids, but they’re certainly more interesting and newsworthy than recent events. (BTW I didn’t see That photo, just a parody of it using a coffee machine. Disgraceful! I don’t even know who KK is, as I don’t read the tabloids, however it IS very hard to escape these things on Facebook!)

Just goes to show you can’t trust what you see with your own eyes these days. (All photo credits and copyrights belong to their rightful owners, there are too many to cite here. You guys and gals are soooo talented!).

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More Videos of my Lenormand decks

Yesterday I posted up videos of 3 of my Lenormand divination card decks. Since then, I have created slideshows of 3 more of rhe decks I’ve made, using the moviemaking App “Videoshow”.

And here they are, for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy! (All rights reserved AlyZen Moonshadow).

1) The Time-Worn Lenormand

2) The Geometrical Lenormand

3) The Eclectic Lenormand

All my Lenormand cards were created using only my Samsung Galaxy S4, Android Apps, and my own photographs or images from the public domain and clipart.

These decks are, or will shortly be, available for you to purchase on my eBay and Etsy store listings. Just search under AlyZen Moonshadow, AlyZenM, or simply type in the names of the decks. :)

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Videos of my Lenormand decks

While currently working on my 8th Lenormand divination card deck, I decided also to create a slideshow of some of my previous decks, so viewers can have a better understanding of what they look like.

I’m on the Android platform, so whilst in the past I would’ve created my slideshow using iMovie, I didn’t have that facility now on my Samsung Galaxy S4. So, as I hadn’t created a video in a couple of years (wow, how Time flies!), I now had to cast about searching for a slideshow/movie maker App that was easy to use. I didn’t need any fancy schmancy effects, just a straightforward no frills slideshow.

Turns out there’s a plethora of moviemaking Apps available these days, a far cry from a couple of years ago when there were only a few to choose from. Now they number in the hundreds, all vying to be the best, easiest to use, the one with the most bells and whistles, the fastest, etc etc.

After trying on a few Apps for size, I settled on Videoshow. It was the easiest to use, did what it says on the tin, I could add music to my slideshow if I wished (I didn’t), and it was free.

Videoshow boasts 18 million users worldwide, and claims to the world’s No.1 video editing App on the Android platform.

Now, I know I could create some really fancy videos with this App, if that had been my intention. But my intention was simply to showcase all the cards in my Lenormand decks, no more no less. So, here are the videos of my Lenormand divination card decks:

1) The Moonshadow Lenormand

2) The Modern Lenormand

3) The Olde Worlde Lenormand

All rights reserved AlyZen Moonshadow.

I will post up more videos of my other decks later, when I’ve created them. These Lenormand decks are available to purchase on eBay and Etsy. Just search under the names listed above. I’m there as either AlyZen Moonshadow or AlyZen M. Thanks for looking! :)

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Workflow: The “Plain And Simple Lenormand” card deck

This time round, for my 5th deck of Lenormand cards, I wanted to really simplify matters. I wanted archetypal images that were readily recognisable, with as little background distraction as possible. This deck, I figured, would be ideal for people just beginning to learn the Lenormand divination system.

I also wanted to experiment with creating a template to put my images within. Before this, I had created my images without using a framework, the only boundary being the dimensions of the page itself. This time, I wanted there to be a distinct background, then a frame within which my images would go.

I created a simple yellowy beige background using the App iMagic Pro. Then, using the App PicsArt, I chose a simple blue-grey tectured background from within the App, then put in an oval shape and inverted it so the yellowy beige stayed in the framed part, while keeping the background design. I adjusted the shape of the oval so it wasn’t so elongated.

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Now for the images. I used Clker and Clipartlord for royalty-free and public domain images. I wasn’t sure if they would save to my Sansung Galaxy S4 smartphone, as I’d had problems downloading PNG format images before. But luckily, 70% of the images I downloaded showed up correctly on my S4. I don’t know why some did and others didn’t.

I also decided it was high time to get organised, if I was going to continue creating Lenormand decks. So I filed my downloaded images, and other photos I’d taken especially for my Lenormand projects, into individual folders on my S4. That would make finding the archetypal images significantly easier.

And now for the fun part. This was easier than I expected, after having done the groundwork to prepare the background template. I simply had to put in the numbers, keyword and playing card pips, then select a corresponding image from the correct numbered folder, and put it onto the template.

Et voila! I present to you The “Plain And Simple Lenormand”.

I have yet to self-publish this online, as I’m waiting for the actual physical cards to arrive from the printers first. So for now enjoy these examples from the deck:

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A different workflow : The “Geometrical Lenormand”

In the past, I created my Lenormand decks card by card, with no fixed theme. However, I was inspired by the App “Pixlr Express” (available on both iOS and Android platforms) to alter my usual modus operandi and create an entire deck of 36 cards in a different manner.

The way I approached my “Geometrical Lenormand” may be likened to a conveyor belt at a factory. The developers of “Pixlr Express” like to tempt and taunt their users with promotional filters and effects, which stay for a short period in a special folder within the App, before vanishing into thin air. And so, when I noticed that it had just pulled its previous promo filters and introduced its newest – the “Cosmic Geometry”, I knew I had to act promptly.

To say I was inspired is an understatement. My previous Lenormand decks had all taken me around 2 weeks of constant editing, processing and tweaking, from start to finish. My “Geometrical Lenormand” took all of 5 days. I started on a Friday evening, and the project was completed, bar printing, by Wednesday evening.

This time, I kept things very simple. The parameters I set myself were:

1) I would use the simplest images where possible for this project.

2) the images would be from clipart, or come from within the Apps I use, from public domain images, or otherwise cut out from photos I’d taken.

3) I’d use a plain, coloured background for all the cards, instead of creating collaged backgrounds like in my previous Lenormand decks. For this project I generated 12 different coloured backgrounds using the App “iMagic Pro” (available on both iOS and Android platforms).
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4) on the first pass, I’d simply put a geometrical design on a coloured background. This design would be from “Pixlr Express”. The 3 promotional folders within the App are called “Wavelength”, “Bezel” and “Supernova”. Each contains a variety of geometrical designs that can be enlarged, flipped, rotated etc. The Screenshot below shows a collage of the 3 folders.

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Here’s a background with a geometrical design I’ve put on it.

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5) on the second pass, I would stick on a Lenormand archetypal image over the coloured background with the geometrical design already added. I’d do this systematically over the course of all 36 cards, starting from 1 through to 36 in that order. No fancy filters or other special effects. Let’s use the Bear card. This is a public domain image that I’ve cut out digitally using the Android App “AThumb Cut”. I simply pasted it onto my prepared background image, using another universal App, “PicsArt”.

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6) on the third pass, I’d add a simple, subtle background design to each of the 36 cards, using the special filters in “Pixlr Express”. Again, here is the Bear card.
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7) on the fourth pass, I’d add the number and title corresponding to each image. So, again, here is my Bear card.

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8) I then thought hard about whether to put the traditional playing card pips on the cards or not. I wanted this to be a modern Lenormand card deck with ultra clean lines, and debated with myself whether adding the pips would clutter things up. In the end, I compromised by not adding actual card inserts, but a simple number plus ♤♡♢♧ symbols.

So here is the completed Bear card from my “Geometrical Lenormand”.

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I like the simplicity of this Lenormand deck. Not having to create a complex collaged background saves a lot of time, and a simple background makes the archetypal Lenormand images easier to see at a quick glance. Also, adding the effects layer by layer throughout all 36 cards, instead of completing one card at a time, gives a more consistent and uniform look to the deck.

Note: the “Cosmic Geometry” filter effects are part of the App developers’ marketing strategy to get people to sign up to their desktop App. These filters will be removed from the mobile Pixlr Express App, but will remain a permanent feature on the desktop version. Check out their link:

https://pixlr.com/desktop?utm_source=pex&utm_medium=direct&utm_term=ExampleKeyword&utm_content=&utm_campaign=cosmicgeometry?utm_source=pex&utm_medium=direct&utm_term=ExampleKeyword&utm_content=&utm_campaign=cosmicgeometry

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Australian Aboriginal Artist (and Advocate) : Marilyn Armstrong

“Marilyn Armstrong was born at Jay Creek near Hermannsberg. She was born into a famous artistic family and influenced by outstanding artists Albert Namatjira and Clifford Possum. Marilyn is not only an artist in her own right but also a tireless advocate for her people.

She has attained national and international notoriety for her work and has also aided her community as counsellor at the women’s and children’s centre, and the Aboriginal Congress plus as a health worker.

Her art reflects the images of her “dreamings” given to her by her family and attributes her understanding of colour to Albert and her motivation to Clifford.

This is a quote from an ABC radio interview in 2004:”I do it differently because as an artist, when men give me the dreaming I change it and do it the woman’s way”.”

(Source: http://jantownend.com/australian-aboriginal-artist-marilyn-armstrong.html)

Further information about Marilyn Armstrong below, source http://ngurart.com.au/artist/marilyn-armstrong/)

“Marilyn was born in the Jay Creek community, but grew up in Hermannsburg where her father worked for the Finke River Mission as an engineer. It was here that Marilyn remembers watching Albert Namatjira and Clifford Possum painting and being inspired by them and being given permission to paint the dream time stories.

As a teenager she was a vocalists with the Aranda band in Hermannsburg. She started to paint back in 1988 as a stress reliever (for the women’s centre). Clifford encouraged Marilyn to develop her skills with her dot painting, helping her to understand and paint the Dream time stories of the area they are from. Marilyn has many skills and worked as a counselor at the women’s and children’s centre also with Aboriginal congress as a health worker.

Marilyn moved back to Jay Creek in 1974. Although she spends a lot of time with her young family, she still likes to do beadwork, paint and do leather work which she learnt from her father.

Marilyn has been on the board of Ngurratjuta Aboriginal Corporation for many years and it was at her suggestion that the Art centre was formed to create a place for artists to come and paint when they are in town and pass on their knowledge to the younger generations.

EXHIBITIONS:
2003 Desert Mob Exhibition, Alice Springs, NT
2004 Advocate Central Australian Art Award, Alice Springs, NT
2004 Desert Mob Exhibition, Alice Springs, NT
2005 Desert Mob Exhibition, Alice Springs, NT
2007 Desert Mob Exhibition, Alice Springs, NT
2008 Desert Mob Exhibition, Araluen Galleries, Alice Springs, NT”

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What drew me to Marilyn’s art is her use of bright, vibrant colour, being an aficionado of colour myself. She is not the most prolific artist, and these days she is more active in the administration of the Ngurratjuta Many Hands Art Centre, being a prominent board member there.

Many Hands Art Centre is proudly Aboriginal owned and operated and is situated in the township of Alice Springs. The Art Centre has been established to provide a place for Artists to come together to paint, share and learn new techniques and ideas. Marilyn Armstrong who is one of our prominent artists and also a Ngurratjuta board member says of the art centre:

“It’s a place where we can sit and talk together about the dream time and learn from each other”.

Ngurratjuta supports a range of well established contemporary watercolour and acrylic artists who frequently exhibit interstate as well as many new and emerging artists who are developing their skills. We produce four specific styles of art including, watercolours, traditional dot style, naïve style and the more contemporary style paintings. The artworks tell many different stories and are completed in a variety of techniques including, intricate and subtle brush strokes, distinct and detailed dot work as well as broad and often bold freestyle use of acrylic paints and colours.

We currently support over 300 artists with a special focus on encouraging the “Hermannsburg School’ style watercolour artists, who continue to paint in the tradition of their grandfather, Albert Namatjira, arguably one of Australia’s most famous artists of the 20th century. Albert Namatjira taught his children to follow in his unique style, who have since passed this knowledge on to their children, which has resonated in a legacy of watercolour artists in the Central Desert region. By continuing his legacy, these artists sustain an important piece of living history.

Ngurratjuta is proud of its ethical work practices, and aims to return the greatest possible percentage of the sale to the artist. The artists are welcome to paint at the art centre from Monday to Thursdays and on these days there are between five and twenty town-based artists painting on site.

We welcome visitors to browse through the completed paintings which are for sale.

 

Here is Marilyn Armstrong in 2012, speaking on behalf of Ngurratjuta Many Hands Art Centre:

 

The Making of the “Moonshadow Lenormand”: Part III

In Part I of this mini-series, I talked about how I created my Palimpsest templates. In Part II, I explained about the archetypal images used in the Lenormand cartomancy system and how I sourced my images. Now that I had both my Palimpsest templates and my photos/images ready, I was ready to start working on my Lenormand cards.

These are the Apps I used:
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PicsArt – my main go-to App, has loads of clipart
Photo Editor – for filters and resizing
Litho – has a wealth of texture filters and lovely antiquarian clipart
Pixlr Express – lots of filters, including nifty inky borders
Photo Studio Pro – great clipart
Smoothie – great filters and effects
Snapseed – good for textures and grunge
Repix – I like this for the special effects
iMagic Pro Image – has useful clipart and filters
Photo Editor – has lots of full colour clipart, however resolution is low
AThumbCut – great for cutting out images to make your own clipart
Touch Retouch – indispensible for cleaning up unwanted areas of images

Here then is the secret of how I created my images:

THERE IS NO SECRET FORMULA

You just have to experiment with effects and filters, bounce from one App to another, try this and that, until you arrive at a result you’re happy with. It really is that simple. Mobile photography art isn’t something that can be taught. Anyone can show you Apps, but it’s up to you to learn how each one works, and decide which ones you want to keep in your stable of Go To Apps. Everyone has their own style, and therefore their own favourite filters and effects. These just happen to be my personal palette.

Enjoy! Here are just a few of my favourite images from my Project:

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In the next 2 posts, I will show you the full deck, with explanations. So, watch out for Part IV and Part V, coming up next!

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The Making of the “Moonshadow Lenormand”: Part II

And so, following on from Part I of “The Making Of the Moonshadow Lenormand” yesterday, here is Part II.

For those unfamiliar with Lenormand cartomancy, it’s basically a set of 36 cards, with or without playing card inserts. Some readers use the playing card inserts for further depth in their readings, for example to add nuance or to signify people other than the querent. Others regard the pips as a leftover and unneccesary effect from when the first Lenormand decks were created using actual piquet playing cards. Some modern decks do not even have the playing card pips.

The 36 cards, regardless of which artist or publisher, always contain the same archetypes. There are modern, whimsical artist decks with Halloween or Christmas themes, where the imagery is dark and spooky, or bright and festive, and where substitutions might occur…for example in a Halloween themed Lenormand deck, the 1st card, which is the Rider, might instead be The Headless Horseman. And for a Christmas themed Lenormand deck, the Rider may well be Father Christmas on his reindeer sleigh.

Here are the 36 cards in any traditional Lenormand deck, and their corresponding Archetypes:

1 Rider
2 Clover
3 Ship
4 House
5 Tree
6 Clouds
7 Snake
8 Coffin
9 Bouquet
10 Scythe
11 Whip
12 Birds
13 Child
14 Fox
15 Bear
16 Stars
17 Stork
18 Dog
19 Tower
20 Garden
21 Mountain
22 Crossroads
23 Mice
24 Heart
25 Ring
26 Book
27 Letter
28 Man
29 Woman
30 Lily
31 Sun
32 Moon
33 Key
34 Fish
35 Anchor
36 Cross

Here’s an image showing Titania Hardie’s Fortune Cards (Lenormand style) and the 36 cards arranged in a Grand Tableau.

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When I first embarked on this Project or Journey, I knew I would encounter a few snags along the way. One of them was finding the archetypal images to go with the cards. Some of the more mundane images, e.g house, tree, clouds, birds etc were easy enough to source via my Samsung Galaxy S4′s camera i.e by taking actual photos. Others were not so easy…you just don’t come across foxes, bears or storks in your everyday meanderings. Or scythes and whips either. And I’d have to travel far to get a snapshot of a real maritime tallship or a mountain.

That’s where Google, Wikimedia and the beautiful term “Public Domain” come into play. I set up folders on my S4 camera roll to house archetypal images that I found online that were in the public domain. This means that I can then utilise these images in my work, without fear of stealing someone else’s copyright to them, as the original copyright owners have already voluntarily relinquished their rights to the image, i.e gifted it to the world, or the copyright has expired, 70 years after the death of the original artist/photographer/copyright holder. For example, I found that the copyright to Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit illustrations expired in January this year, 2014. Similarly, John Tenniel’s illustrations for Alice in Wonderland and others of the same era, expired years ago.

Anyhow, I managed to cobble together my 36 archetypal images, and so began the real work – using my S4 and Apps to create the imagery for each card.

Of which more in Part III. ;)

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