Category Archives: Techniques

All Done With Mirrors

I’m in the midst of not one but two concurrent projects creating Oracle cards and Lenormand cards. For my Oracle card shenanigans, read here. I haven’t blogged about Lenormand cards yet, or indeed about my Lenormand cards project, as I’m still learning about that divination system myself. Rest assured all will be revealed in due course.

So, my idea is to create a deck of Oracle cards, which I will then either 1) approach a publisher to license or 2) self-publish through a Print-on-Demand site. Still having a think about how to get a package together consisting of the deck of cards, a box and what those in the trade call the LWB or the “little white book”.

My Oracle Cards project has passed the 40th mark, out of a potential 52 cards, so it is well on the way.

As for my Lenormand Cards project, I’ve done 12 out of the 36 cards that make up a Lenormand deck. I’m taking my time with this project, as I’m learning about the symbols and meanings as I go along. Fascinating subject, which I will blog about soon enough.

All playing cards have a front and back, right? My digital mixed media photography art will go on the front of the cards, and now I need to create some designs for the back too. Here are some potential card back designs that I created using the App PicsArt, mainly playing with its “Distort” filter which offers image mirroring on X and Y axes, easily creating symmetrical designs.

PicsArt for Android

PicsArt for iOS

Enjoy! (All images copyright AlyZen Moonshadow)

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Aboriginal Black & White Paintings

I am a lover of all things colourful, however some of my favourite Australian Aboriginal paintings are black and white. There’s something almost spiritual about black and white art, almost as if the restrictions imposed by the limitations of colour have brought about another kind of depth or way of seeing.  Australian Aboriginal Art Dot paintings (both the colourful ones and the black and white ones) are steeped in tradition and carry historical meanings and even contain encrypted secrets, however they are also very abstract and modern in their own right.  For me, the beauty of these paintings lies in their ability to straddle the Past, Present and Future.

(The following is quoted from Source: http://www.aboriginalartstore.com.au/aboriginal-art-culture/aboriginal-art/aboriginal-dot-paintings/)

Dot paintings today are recognised globally as unique and integral to Australian Aboriginal art. On the surface the dot is simply a style of Aboriginal painting, like the use of cross-hatching or stencil art. Exploring deeper into the history of the Aboriginal dot painting a world of camouflage, secrecy and ritual is discovered.

The term ‘dot painting’ stems from what the Western eye sees when faced with contemporary Aboriginal acrylic paintings. This painting style arose from the Papunya art movement in the 1970s. Papunya Tula artists used a process which originally mirrored traditional spiritual ceremonies. In such rituals the soil would be cleared and smoothed over as a canvas (much like the dark, earthy boards used by the Papunya Tula) for the inscription of sacred designs, replicating movements of ancestral beings upon earth. These Dreaming designs were outlined with dancing circles and often surrounded with a mass of dots. Afterward the imprinted earth would be smoothed over, painted bodies rubbed away, masking the sacred-secrets which had taken place.

This ritual was shifted from ground to canvas by the Papunya Tula who eventually added an array of naturally produced colours to the restricted palette of red, yellow, black and white produced from ochre, charcoal and pipe clay.Such pieces reveal a map of circles, spirals, lines, dashes and dots, the traditional visual language of the Western Desert Aboriginal People. However these marks were permanent and due to arising interest made public, creating internal political uproar. Consequently representations of sacred objects were forbidden or concealed through the dotting technique.

Whether a concealer of deeper, spiritual meaning or simply symbols of fruits, rain or feathers the acrylic dot paintings of the Aboriginal People become increasingly complex and innovative artistically. The paintings of Johnny Warrangula Tjupurrula implement techniques of overlaying dots and superimposing patterns causing objects and shapes to merge in and out of one another. Acrylic Aboriginal paintings are highly emotive incorporating an innovative balance of traditional and modern. The dot technique, whether as a concealer or a signifier offers a sense of movement and rhythm causing the flat canvas to sing, jump and dance with energy and life, much like the rituals which inspired them.

Bear in mind that although they may be collectively called Dot Paintings, it’s not just dots that make up the fabric of this painting style. Some artists merge their dots into lines, or paint lines and add dots to either side of them afterwards. Others go to the other extreme and use dots only to emphasise or accentuate circles or shapes. Each Aboriginal Artist has his or her own innate style, no two are alike, and each has his or her own palette of colour and set of symbols that makes his or her trademark. For example, one artist may be known for his Bush Medicine leaves, another for her Witchetty Grubs, and another for her Snakes, another for his Lines.

Here are just some black and white Aboriginal paintings that I have curated from Google Images. Just to show you how diverse they can be.

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Emu Feathers close up

I know the question on your mind now is: are these painted using white paint on a black background? Or using black paint on a white background? It’s kind of like how you’d ask “Is a Zebra black with white stripes, or white with black stripes?” :-)

Watch these YouTube videos and find out for yourself!

(Source: Desert Arts Centre)

Australian Aboriginal Art Symbols – A Primer

I am fascinated by Australian Aboriginal Art. And I confess that until recently I had no idea what the various symbols meant; to me, they were simply beautiful swirls, circles, squiggly worm shapes and dots. However, after visiting my 11-year-old son’s school on an Open Day recently and looking at his Aboriginal Art assignment and seeing charts showing the meanings of various symbols, I’m happy to report that I now know a little bit more about Aboriginal symbols. So, the next time I see a piece of Aboriginal art, it won’t be just beautiful swirls, circles, squiggly worm shapes and dots, it would mean a group of men and women gathered around a fire in a campsite, tracks to waterholes, digging sticks, even mountains, the Sun, Moon and Stars. Here are some examples of Aboriginal symbols I found on Google Images. Because these were drawn by different people, some of them students, there is a fair amount of overlap in the symbols. But it gives you a good idea of what to look out for the next time you see a piece of Aboriginal Art. symbols symbols_page33 7fcc7f8e803473c0c07698064dad3f3b aboriginal text Ab-symbol-31 Ab-symbol-21 And here is my son’s very own attempt at creating Aboriginal Art:
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And from the school’s Art noticeboard:
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Australian Aboriginal Artist : Janet Golder Kngwarreye

Contemporary Australian Aboriginal artist Janet Golder Kngwarreye (born 15 November 1973) is from Boundary Bore in the Utopia region in the Central Australia, approximately 270kms north west of Alice Springs. Utopia is renowned for its development and nurturing of extremely talented contemporary Aboriginal artists.

Janet is married to Ronnie Bird Jungala, son of famous Utopia artist Lindsay Bird Mpetyane. They have 4 children. Janet’s mother Margaret Golder and father Sammy Petyarre are also established artists. Emily Kame Kngwarreye, a famous artist, was Janet’s grandmother. Janet would have been taught to paint by her family and has been active since 1997. Her painting style is even, fine dot work, creating linear patterns and the major subject she paints is “Awelye” or ceremonial body paint using fine dot work and linear patterns. She is well known for her depictions of Bush Medicine, where she depicts the leaves of particular plants found in Central Australia which contain medicinal properties. Traditionally women would gather the leaves, boil them and add a resin and use this paste to treat a variety of ailments. Both men and women have important roles to play within the Aboriginal community as healers. Janet also has the appropriate cultural knowledge and permission from the Aboriginal Elders to depict the Dreamtime stories of the Mountain Devil Lizard and Emu.

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Watch Janet at work here on YouTube:

 

Artist Inspiration : Rogan Brown

I admit that when I first cast eyes on Rogan Brown’s intricate paper sculptures, I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking at. Here were strange objects with filaments, strange orifices and tendrils that crawled across and out of the page, minuscule hydra-like creatures or maybe not-creatures. Some of them looked almost familiar, and then I realised that yes, I HAD seen them before – they were reminiscent of the Darwinian drawings of natural forms by  Ernst Haeckel that I’d purchased from DoverPictura.

And then I came across Rogan’s own website, and the excerpt below is taken directly from it:

My work is an exploration and re-presentation of natural organic forms both mineral and vegetal. I look for patterns and repeated motifs that run through natural phenomena at different scales, from the microscopic to the macroscopic, from individual cells to large scale geological formations.
I am inspired in part by the tradition of scientific drawing and model making, and particularly the work of artist-scientists such as Ernst Haeckel. But although my approach involves careful observation and detailed “scientific” preparatory drawings these are always superseded by the work of the imagination; everything has to be refracted through the prism of the imagination, estranged and in some way transformed.
I want to communicate my fascination with the immense complexity and intricacy of natural forms and this is why the process behind my work is so important. Each sculpture is hugely time consuming and labour-intensive and this work is an essential element not only in the construction but also in the meaning of each piece. The finished artefact is really only the ghostly fossilized vestige of this slow, long process of realisation. I have chosen paper as a medium because it captures perfectly that mixture of delicacy and durability that for me characterizes the natural world.
“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see Nature all ridicule and deformity…and some scarce see Nature at all. But to the eyes of a man of Imagination, Nature is Imagination itself.” William Blake

Yay, turns out my hunch about Haeckel had been correct. Feast your eyes on some of Rogan Brown’s mesmerising, meticulously cut-out and extremely detailed paper sculptures here (you can see more on his website):

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Wow, right?!

 

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Let’s go LEGO!

Here’s a name that needs no introduction. You’ve played with it, your children will play with it, and all being well, your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will play with it too.

LEGO. (Yes, I know it should have the copyright symbol after every iteration of it). Yes, we all have fond memories of playing with these little coloured bricks. And one Maths teacher from Cleveland, Ohio, has taken LEGO to dizzying heights by using his mathematical prowess to design programmes that enable him to create domes and spheres etc.

Here are the facts, in a nutshell:

Arthur Gugick, 54, from Cleveland, has built hundreds of scale miniatures using just the colored bricks

Each model contains 5,000 to 20,000 pieces and Mr Gugick owns more than one million overall

The father-of-two has never used glue to hold pieces together and avoids using shop-bought models

He balances the hobby with his day job as a maths teacher at Beachwood High School in Cleveland, Ohio

(Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2782102/Maths-teacher-recreates-famous-artworks-portraits-iconic-buildings-using-LEGO.html?ito=social-facebook)

I’ve pulled together some of Arthur Gugick‘s creations from Google Images, so we can all goggle at them together.

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My soon-to-be 12-year-old son is a LEGO addict. You can never have enough LEGO bricks, it seems. No matter how many bucketloads you buy of the stuff, it’s always just a drop in the ocean.

If you’re at all interested in LEGO, there have been several books published about it recently, some of them showcasing Arthur Gugick’s creations. Mind you, there are dozens of books on LEGO aimed at a younger audience; the ones mentioned here are intended for a more serious and mature practitioner:

Beautiful LEGO https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1593275080/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_MLonub1MEFP0R

Brick City: LEGO® for Grown Ups https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/184533812X/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_kPonub17KF92E

Brick Wonders: Ancient, natural & modern marvels in LEGO® https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1845338871/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_7Qonub19YVBBK

The Art of LEGO Design: Creative Ways to Build Amazing Models https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1593275536/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_BUonub02JTJPW

The LEGO Neighborhood Book: Build a LEGO Town! https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1593275714/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_OVonub13YC8MQ

Build Your Own City: The Big Unofficial Lego Builders Book https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/3868526587/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_.Xonub0HGW4GW

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My Favourite Terrariums

I’ve written about, and mentioned, Terrariums quite in bit in previous posts. (You can find those posts by typing in “terrarium” in the Search field towards the top of my page).

My experiments in creating my own terrariums have been rather hit and miss. A couple of them flourished for a while, then the plants wilted or died. One only lasted a week. Moss is incredibly hard to find in Nature here in Western Australia. You need to beg a florist and then be prepared to pay through the nose to get some.

My best efforts so far in creating terrariums have been the simplest ones – glass orbs with some white aquarium gravel, 2 airplants, and posed with a token plastic toy animal inside.

So, all in all not much to shout about from this end. But, in the course of my research into Terrariums, I did end up with quite a collection of curated images for my Pinterest board. Here then I present to you the terrariums that in my fantasy world were created by me, and lovingly housed in my vast conservatory dedicated solely to terrariums 😄. (For further information about where to buy these, who created them, how to make them, simply go to my Pinterest board “Terrariums” and click on the pictures. You will be whisked away to a terrarium wonderland, where you will emerge a committed terrarium addict).

As for me, I think I’m off to buy a few more airplants or succulents…

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Artist Inspiration : IRIS GRACE

Her paintings sell for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. But money is not the motivation here. In the case of Iris Grace, Art is how she expresses herself. Iris is autistic and has never spoken, but her paintings speak volumes and stir emotions in those that see them.

(All photos are copyright of Iris Grace).

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Iris Grace is 5 years old.

I first saw Iris’s work on http://www.boredpanda.com/5-year-old-painter-autism-iris-grace/

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Wow! Her paintings remind me of the Impressionists, particularly Monet and his water lily series. Her parents, Peter-Jon Halmshaw and Arabella Carter-Johnson, bought art materials for Iris on the advice of her psychologist, and like any proud parents, they thought her paintings were beautiful. But then their family and friends started going crazy over Iris’s art, and it snowballed from there.

All proceeds from Iris’s art sales goes towards her ongoing speech therapy, music therapy, yoga and of course, now art materials. It is also hoped that Iris’s paintings can help raise the public’s awareness of Autism, which affects 1 in 100 people in the United Kingdom.

You can follow Iris Grace on her own blog http://www.irisgracepainting.com There are several video clippings on her blog that show Iris Grace at work.

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Photo of Iris Grace with her faithful companion, Maine Coone kitten Thula. They are inseparable.

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Workflow : INITIATE

Here is another card from my Oracle Cards project. The card is called “INITIATE”. I was inspired by a graphic I saw on Pinterest, which utilised curlicues, shape templates and borders.

For the background, I chose a photo of a piece of scrapbooking paper (oh, I have hundreds of those!).

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Which I then processed on my Samsung Galaxy S4 with the app PicsArt. I added a frame, some curlicues and a shaped template, from the Clipart section of PicsArt. Then I added the text “INITIATE”.

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My initial idea was to create an image that looked vintage and mysterious. I quite liked the above image already as it was, but I felt it was missing something.

So I loaded the image to Pixlr Express and toyed with a few filters and effects. Then I noticed a new set of effects that the developers post up for a limited time every now and then, like a teaser.

Of all the effects I tried on my image, this geometric one spoke to me the most.

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And there you go. :)

INITIATE : If you have a project or a plan but you have been procrastinating about starting it, now is the perfect time to put things into motion. Initiate action now, and things will fall into place. Don’t overthink it, trust your instincts and your heart will tell you if you’re going the right way.

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Australian Aboriginal Artist : Walangari Karntawarra

Continuing with my exploration of Australia’s Aboriginal artists…it never ceases to amaze me how this country continues to produce such a plethora of talented people, each one even more amazing than the next, if that is even possible. It must be something in the hard red earth of Australia.

Walangari Karntawarra is a contemporary Australian Aboriginal artist. He has a distinct style that is somewhat different from other “Dot Painting” artists. I like to describe his style as “evolved”, as it shows a subtle shift in nuance from other contemporary Aboriginal artists…it is hard to explain, just look at the images below (courtesy of Google Images). You can see direct representations of animals such as snakes, and in another painting you can almost discern a decidedly modern Jackson Pollock-like style, in yet another abstractness lives side by side with traditional Aboriginal symbols. All done with a meticulous eye for colour, clarity and detail.

Walangari also has his own website
Walangari states on his website: “Aboriginal Art encompasses a wealth of visual art, dance, performance and music. These art forms are all part of our traditional culture and remain important ways of educating people about our beliefs.”

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