Category Archives: Techniques

Carpe Diem

Well, actually, no. Take away the last letters of each word in the title above, and you’ll have a fair idea of what I’m talking about.

We have about 17 Japanese Koi (or carp) and goldfish in a large, square pond out the back of our house. I say 17 because they never stay still long enough for me to do a proper headcount.

Make that 16.

I found one this morning, not swimming like its friends, but just floating and occasionally zipping out of the water all aflutter, before sinking back into the water. Most strange. I dosed the water with green multi-ailment liquid, added tap water conditioner, algicide, aquarium salt, cleaned out the sponge filter, topped up the pond with fresh water. I even held the poor fish in my hands and willed it to get better.

All to no avail. The poor thing carried on for half an hour more, with its friends gathering round and nudging it, either to encourage it to rally round, or to say good bye. It was quite touching watching them. I left it in the pond for 15 minutes more, in case it was just playing dead.

When I was truly convinced it was dead, I went into the house to get a sheet of butcher paper to wrap it in (it was a big fish, about 15 inches long). It was then I got the idea of preserving the memory of the fish on paper. It was, after all, the largest fish in our pond, and one of my favourites. :'(

Now, my cousin HM loves to fish, and he’s had some very good results with the art of Gyotaku, or fish rubbing. In fact, I wrote about him not too long ago, here.

So I decided I’d follow my cousin’s example and do my own Gyotaku with my carp before burying it. It would be a way of remembering it, and honouring it in a manner of speaking. One last dance together.

And here is how we did it.




I quickly learnt that it’s better and easier to rub the paper over the fish, instead of placing the fish on the paper. My cousin HM used Japanese handmade rice paper, but all I had was butcher paper. My hands got stained with the food dye because I was handling the fish rather than the paper at first.

(Anyone want to read my palms? Go ahead! 😄)

My studio is awash with fish! Some came out good, others too watery to capture much detail. Below are some of the clearer imprints. Not as good as my cousin’s, but they will serve as memorials to my fish.






Carpe Diem!

P/S: Due to one reader’s rather insensitive remarks to me, about the fish ending up all covered in “blicky food colouring” and “smashed up in butcher paper” to become “fish fertiliser for roses”, I think I should explain what happened to my fish friend afterwards. I washed all the food dye off, then wrapped it in a fresh sheet of butcher paper. Then I dug a hole in the plant trough by our swimming pool and buried it there. I put an old log and a pot of hen & chicks over the grave, to prevent any cats from getting at it. It’s right next to Valiant, my baby Japanese quail with splayed legs that I tried to help but that drowned in its water bowl back in November last year.

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My Favourite Tangles

A little while ago, in my Artist Inspiration series, I wrote about a Zentangle artist, DiAnne Ferrer.

If you’re not familiar with the Art of Zentangle, take a look at this webpage which explains what it is, how it started, and how to get started in it yourself.

I’ve read discussions on several Art Forums debating whether Zentangles are considered an Art form or not. To me, there is no need to even consider the question. Of course it is an Art form. It’s still in its infancy, and many established artists may feel threatened by it, and that is only natural, for it’s only human to fear Change.

A similar type of discussion was held only a few years ago, about whether mobile photography should be considered “real” photography, or simply as trick photography for partygoers or for fun.

Today’s post is simply to showcase my favourite Zentangles, that I’ve come across on my travels on Google Images. It just goes to prove how very popular Zentangle is and how many excellent exponents of it there are. Zentangles come in a vast array of variety, from the very simple yet effective to the very complex.

All credit goes to the original Zentangle artists, of which there are too many to name. Enjoy!

And, if you enjoyed looking at Zentangles, why ever not give it a whirl yourself? ;)
















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Oracle Cards

Today’s post is about Oracle Cards. Some of you may be religious and consider them the devil’s work; I would ask that everyone please read this post with an open mind. The angle I’m coming from here is not a religious one, but a mixture of spirituality, affirmation and artistic creativity.

Strangely enough, Wikipedia does not have an entry for Oracle Cards. But I found one that doesn’t self-promote or advertise products, which a lot of other sites do.

From e-How:
Oracle cards are types of cards that when used together form a card deck that provides individuals with answers to their innermost questions. These questions and answers are generally prophetic in nature and are thought to provide a glimpse or outlook into the future. An individual can buy and use her own set of cards for gathering insight, or may choose to seek the services of a psychic or medium who professionally reads oracle cards.

Oracle Card Meanings

You can find many types of oracle card decks. There are also many types of oracle cards within each deck. Each of these cards has its own meaning. As an example, “Amethyst” is a card found in the Crystal oracle deck. When this card is selected in a reading, you are being told to embrace your “shadow side.” This means that you must learn to love all parts of yourself. By comparison, the “Tiger” card in the Creature Teacher oracle deck suggests that an individual learn to face all fears head on.


Although you may think the use of oracle cards for divination is relatively new, it might surprise you to learn that they have been in existence for over 200 years. One of the most popular decks of oracle cards is the Lenormand Oracle cards. These cards are named after famed fortuneteller Madame Marie Lenormand. While there is no certainty as to whether she created the very first oracle deck or not, she is noted as having devised her own deck of oracle cards to give readings. Today, while still not as well known as tarot cards, the cards bearing her name continue to remain popular in certain parts of Europe.

Oracle versus Tarot

While the decks of tarot cards were originally created for playing games, the oracle card was created as more of an inspirational tool. Unlike tarot cards that have the darker images of the “Hanged Man” and “Death,” oracle cards typically stick with more positive images and many decks are based on angels or healing themes. There are 78 cards in tarot decks; however, the number of cards in an oracle deck can vary from about 44 cards to as high as 55 or more, since each card deck is unique.

Oracle Card Readings

The reading of oracle cards is quite similar to that of tarot cards. The person performing the reading focuses on the question at hand before shuffling the deck of cards. The card reader then selects a card and notes any impressions that are immediately apparent when she sees the card. Additional cards are then chosen as needed. Each card offers insight into the answer to the original question. The number of cards chosen generally depends on the reader and the type of spread she prefers. Some readers find that three cards can offer a past, present, future explanation, while other card readers may prefer 12 or more cards pulled out of the deck. These cards are then placed in a card spread for a more detailed reading.

In my personal photographic art projects, I like to do a Series of 100 images. Or at least 50. (I like round numbers). My first big project was my Madhatter’s Teaparty project, which I have placed under license with Kess InHouse now. My 2nd big project, and an ongoing one, is the 100 Butterflies project, of which I’ve done 45.

Most recently, due to a personal spiritual awakening in my life, I’ve decided to embark on another project, that of creating my own Oracle Card deck. I figure I have the artistic means to create the artwork, literally at my fingertips, so why not explore the spiritual world too. I won’t pretend to know much about clairvoyancy or psychic powers, but I do know I can at least write positive sayings or affirmations to go with the cards I create. Even “negative” cards will have a positive spin on it.

So that is my plan.

I’ve been experimenting with the layout and themes for my Oracle Cards, using Apps like PicsArt and Pixlr Express. The first one I did was to accompany a Haiku “The Lesson” I wrote, which I posted up a few days ago. That was just an image, without any text on it. It was titled “As Above, So Below”.

The feedback I’ve received from friends has been very encouraging.

So I created another image, this time with text on it.

And here is another one.

And a third.


I like how the latter 3 turned out, and I think that’s the way I’ll be going with this project.

I’m not sure yet about the text or explanatory notes to accompany my cards, but I’m fairly certain that when the time is right, the words will flow. :)

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Take One Old Garden Bench

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.












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Artist Inspiration : Dušan Beňo

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:















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:


Artist Inspiration : Visarute Angkatavanich

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:






















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.




rabbit fish

lion fish



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:

Artist Inspiration : Alexander Semenov

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:

















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:




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

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

Recycled Gardening

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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My Art Abandonment Project “BUTTERFLIES”

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”.

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.

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

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.

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.

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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My Art Abandonment Project “REMNANTS” Part 2

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.







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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