Tag Archives: AlyZen Moonshadow

When I’m feeling Blue…

…all I have to do is take a look at you…

…then I feel more blue hehehe.

Blue, in all its shades and hues, has always been my favourite colour. When I lived in the Andalucian mountain-top city of Ronda, in Spain, I’d heard fantastic stories of the Blue City of Morocco, Chefchaouen. But, although it was a mere hop, skip and jump away from Spain, circumstances and financial restraints meant I never quite crossed the Strait of Gibraltar.

Now that I’m based in Australia, physically getting to Chefchaouen will be even harder. Luckily, thanks to Pinterest, I can visit all these countries and cities around the world once only dreamed about, and live vicariously through the eyes of other tourists and their photos. Hurrah for technology and social media!

Chefchaouen is, according to Wikipedia:


Chefchaouen or Chaouen, as it is often called by Moroccans, is a popular tourist destination because of its proximity to Tangier and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. The name refers to the shape of the mountain tops above the town, that look like the two horns (chaoua) of a goat. “Chef Chaouen” derives from the Berber word for horns, Ichawen. There are approximately two hundred hotels catering to the summer influx of European tourists. One distinction possessed by Chefchaouen is its blue-rinsed houses and buildings.

Chefchaouen is a popular shopping destination as well, as it offers many native handicrafts that are not available elsewhere in Morocco, such as wool garments and woven blankets. The goat cheese native to the area is also popular with tourists.

The countryside around it has a reputation for being a prolific source of kief. The Chefchaouen region is one of the main producers of cannabis in Morocco. Hashish is subsequently sold all over town, but is mostly the domain of native Chaouenis. A nearby attraction is the Kef Toghobeit Cave which is one of the deepest caves in Africa.

For me, though, the reason I would visit Chefchaouen is mainly for the opportunity to be fully immersed in the colour blue. Here are some images I’ve curated from my Pinterest travels to Chefchaouen, to show you why I love feeling Blue.😄

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Life Imitating Art…

…or is it the other way round?

I watched the pilot episode of the new Showtime television series “Penny Dreadful” the other day, and was smitten by a number of things. Least of all the actress Eva Green, who first caught my eye as the haughty Queen Sibylla in Ridley Scott’s “Kingdom Of Heaven”, and later as an eccentric teacher in “Cracks”. She was also Vesper Lynd in the Daniel Craig Bond movie “Casino Royale”.

(Images are sourced from Google Images)

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She’s been a Queen

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…a Teacher

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…a Femme Fatale

…as well as many other varied characters, in a range of diverse films over the years.

And now Eva Green stars as Vanessa Ives in the Goth/Steampunk/Horror/Supernatural/League of Extraordinary Gentlemen/Sherlock Holmes/Frankenstein series “Penny Dreadful“. Her character, Vanessa Ives, is a beautiful, enigmatic young lady who is also psychic and clairvoyant. And extremely fetching in tight-laced Victorian garb oooo errr! ;)

Anyhow, in one scene, Vanessa is sitting at a table with a deck of dark purple Tarot cards, which she spreads out in a semi-circle. We don’t actually get to see any details of those cards right then. After some suggestive banter with Josh Hartnett’s American gunslinger dude character Ethan Chandler, she invites him to pick a card. She turns over the card Ethan’s selected. It’s The Lovers.

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My interest piqued, I searched online to see if these cards really existed, or were they just a stage prop (like those newspapers you see in movies where only the front and backs have actual newsprint and the rest is just blank paper). The artwork of the Lovers card that viewers get to see on screen is minimalistic yet macabre. If this deck was real, it would shoot to the top of my Must Have Wishlist. (Yes, unfortunately in my quest to be as spiritually enlightened as Yoda, light sabers divination cards still get me all excited).

Well, what do you know, the Penny Dreadful Tarot IS a real deck. And it can be bought from Showtime’s own website through this link http://store.sho.com/penny-dreadful-tarot-cards/detail.php?p=523695

The price is reasonable too, at USD$14.95. Only, after heading to the checkout, I was greatly disappointed to see that postage to Australia would be a staggering $34.95?? WTF, excuse my French…was the deck gold-foiled and dipped in caviar, then wrapped in platinum paper covered in diamond dust, or something? Put it back on the shelf, girl, right now!

I next looked at the Penny Dreadful Tarot deck listed on Amazon.com. US readers will be pleased to know the deck is available to purchase from there too. Only, for me once again, my efforts to secure this deck were thwarted…Amazon.com just would not post the deck to Australia. Amazon.co.uk did not even have the deck listed. SIGH…

Anyhow, undaunted, I searched for other sites online. And then I just happened upon this site Popcultcha that not only had the Penny Dreadful Tarot at a great price, AUD$18.99, but also somehow managed to discount the price of postage too…meaning when I got past the checkout the postage was Freeeee…Here’s the link.

I also went searching for the artist who created this deck. She’s Anaïs Chareyre aka “Irio” from Ireland, and here is her deviantArt page showing the full Penny Dreadful Tarot deck http://irio.deviantart.com/art/Penny-Dreadful-Tarot-Cards-449642001

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What are you waiting for? Run, don’t walk! 😄

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http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

App Review: Grungetastic by Jixipix

Jixipix the developers have a large stable of photo editing Apps available both on iOS and Android. For smartphones, they started on iOS and have now made most but not all those Apps available on Android too. I first came across Jixipix back in 2011, when I was starting out as an iPhoneographer. Then I switched to Android and didn’t have access to their Apps anymore.

The snapshot below shows Jixipix’s webpage. Note the long list of Apps down the left side. Available on PC, Mac AND smartphones and tablets too. Heaven!

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I’m happy to report that my love affair with the likes of Grungetastic, Moku Hanga, Artista Oil etc has been rekindled on my Samsung Galaxy S4.

Only recently I was casting about for an App that had grunge and texture filter effects, and when I came across my old flame Grungetastic, it prompted me to take a Lenormand deck I’d just created, and app the hell out of those images until I had another set of cards – a darker, edgier, grungier deck. I loved the experience of playing with that App.

So today I’m going to show you just a few things Grungetastic is capable of doing. Here’s Jixipix’s own blurb about Grungetastic:

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Okay, now for some hands-on. I took this photo of a red Chinese door with a lion’s head knocker. When you first open up Grungetastic on your smartphone (this post is only about the smartphone versions of the App, not the desktop version), this is the user interface you get:

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Pretty empty, huh? I loaded up my red door photo, and the App churned away merrily and gave me a random grunged image, for starters:

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Notice how the user interface (UI) has opened up more options. These are so you can tweak the effects by selecting different filters, colours and parameters. If you’re feeling lazy, or need a kickstart to start up those creative juices, hit the dice at the top right-hand corner. Grungetastic will randomly generate another grunged-up pic for you. I like to use the dice, and when I get a look that I like, I then use the controls for finetuning.

I clicked on the icon at the far right, and got this set of background “paper” textures. 39 in all. I selected the very last one.
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You can also change the tint of the grunge. Here it’s magenta. But let’s change it:

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Now it’s a bright turquoise. See the difference?

The second icon in from the right gives you a variety of borders:

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These are also tweakable, using sliders:
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The App offers 2 main grunge overlays, meaning you can layer one on top of the other. Working from the right side in, using Grunge 2:

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Remember, the presets for Grunge 1 and 2 are the same. But there ARE 108 filter effects, so the combination is mindboggling. After selecting the filter and strength for Grunge 2 above, I went on to do similar for Grunge 1:

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Notice how the two grunge layers are now added together. Unfortunately there isn’t a way to select a different colour of grunge for both Grunge 1 and Grunge 2 filters. However, there is a way to cheat and bring out flashes of colour, and that’s by utilising the paint palette icon, third from the left, to change the colour of the main image. I could go back to the first icon on the right and change the turquoise to another colour, but I like how it reminds me of bronze patina. By tweaking the strength or threshold of this paint palette icon, I can bring forward or recede certain colours of the main photo. You’ll need to experiment with this yourself.

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So here I’ve simply changed the main colour of the door from red to yellow. It certainly makes that door look old and rusty.

Here are some shots of randomly generated Grungetastic results on the same photo, using only the dice function:

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Right, I’m off to play some more with this great App!

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http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

FREEBIES! Happiness posters

I’ve been playing with the App Moldiv, which offers just 2 things – Collage templates and Magazine mock layouts. I’ve already used one of its collage frames to create a deck of Lenormand cards. Now I’m experimenting with Moldiv’s Magazine layout templates.

Moldiv on Android

Moldiv on iOS

Here’s what I’ve done so far. The layouts come with text embedded in them, which can’t be changed. Which is a pity, in some ways, as there are a few grammatical and spelling errors in them. If I wanted to, I could easily create a worded poster of my own in Phonto and stick it over Moldiv’s text.

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Feel free to save or share these with your friends and loved ones. Happiness is Free, as is Peace, Joy, Kindness and Love. Let’s spread the word!

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http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

My dog Scruffy

Scruffy is my terrier-mix dog who emigrated from Ireland to Australia with me in December 2010. He was abandoned at a horse fair in Drumshanbo in 2008. I brought him home, and he’s been my constant companion since.

In October 2012, when we first got our pit bull puppy, Shelagh, Scruffy was her nursemaid. He may not be the sharpest tool in the box (the only trick he knows is “Sit”), but his heart is in the right place. He’s best friends with Shelagh now (he used to try to hump her every opportunity he got, until we had her fixed), and they’re inseparable.

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I don’t rightly know what breed Scruffy is, I think there’s perhaps some Border Collie (the white and black colouring) West Highland Terrier (the tufty ears and bearded muzzle), and possibly some Setter (small spots of black underneath the white). I love his unusual colouring. Even the main black patch on his body consists of a mixture of grey, black and white. Behind his ears he has little areas of brown. Scruffy has the most beautiful eyelashes!

If anyone can shed light on what breed Scruffy is, I would be ever so grateful. When anyone asks, I simply say he’s a “Lots-a-bitsa” :-).

Here’s an artistic impression of Scruffy, that I made while playing with the App Arto. I love the “patriotic” colours.
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Pit Bull Art

Photo Artista Oil is an App by Jixipix, available on all platforms (computer, iOS and Android). You don’t have to know how to wield a paintbrush, this App will turn your everyday photos into classical works of art with a few simple pushes of the button.

What I love about Jixipix is how the developers utilise a uniform user interface across most, if not all, of their Apps. If you have already experienced working with one of their Apps, you already know how to use their other Apps.

I woke up one morning and decided on a whim that I’d love to design and wear a t-shirt with my pit bull Shelagh’s photo on it. Perhaps with a funky slogan extolling the virtues of pit bulls. To this end, I’ve been experimenting with Photo Artista Oil. If this works out, I’ll be putting up my designs on my Society 6, Red Bubble and Etsy store pages.

Here are some of the results so far. Enjoy!

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This is the original photo of Shelagh.

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I used Repix to paint out the backgrlund and foreground. I used my favourite brush here – paint drips.

Then, I ran the image through Photo Artista Oil . Here then are several incarnations of Shelagh.

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http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

My Pin-up Poster Girl

I’ve had such a lot of lovely compliments about my pit bull girl, Shelagh, when I pinned photos of her on my Pinterest board. She’s quite the pin-up girl now lol.

So, today I’ll share with you here a few more photos of Shelagh. For those of you who don’t know already, Shelagh’s my 2-year-old pit bull dog, and the sweetest, smartest thing ever. I’m so inspired by her photogenic looks lately that I’m creating some t-shirt designs featuring her. I will share that with you all tomorrow.

But for now, here’s my sweet Shelagh.

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image Shelagh with her best friend, Scruffy

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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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http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

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 set up 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.

Posted from WordPress for Android.

http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

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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Posted from WordPress for Android.

http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow