Some Housekeeping

And now for something completely different……..Monty Python

Yes, I know I said I would have a video tutorial up today on making planets and tunnels out of your landscape pictures but while the theory is all ready to go, the practical is taking a bit longer.

I’m having a few problems with the video capture I’m using so please give me another day or so.  In the meantime,  I thought I’d share with you a bit of fun I did a while back.  In Australia, we have a huge car race every year in a place called Bathurst.  This year, my son went and took my camera for a play with him.

In preparation for the release of the newest Star Wars movie, they had the stormtroopers there doing some promotional work, so of course my son took heaps of photos of them.  A man’s dream.   When I saw the photos, I thought to myself, I don’t like the guns in their hands but what could I put in their place?  Then I thought of every WOMAN’S dream… a man packing some serious cleaning gear.

So as a surprise for my son, I traded the guns for a vacuum cleaner, a toilet brush and a feather duster and had them do a bit of housekeeping on a chess board while the Death Star watches closely overhead.

Life’s too short to always take it too seriously.  Sometimes a bit of silliness is called for.  Hopefully I’ll have the video up in the next day or so.. Until then, May the Force Be With You!


In a galaxy far far away


Vibrant – Weekly Photo Challenge

When you are surrounded by madness and chaos, go out into nature, feel the grass beneath your feet, take a deep breath, be still and find your calm. Take shelter in the eye of the storm…..Livonne

Eye of the Storm


Outback & Oceans

An opal hearted country, a wilful, lavish land.  All you who have not loved her, you will not understand……Dorothea Mackellar

I am blessed and privileged to live in Australia.  It is a land of extremes.  A month ago, the area where I grew up was surrounded by bushfires.  This week they suffered massive floods.   One year in November, we too had bushfires in the Blue Mountains where I now live.  The next year on the same date, we had heavy snow.  It has lush, green paddocks and barren red soil.  It is never boring.

I grew up in Geelong, surrounded by beautiful beaches and on my last trip home took a photo at sunrise of the palm trees and buoys that line the waterfront.  I have been lucky enough to travel quite a bit of this vast land.  One of my trips took me through opal country to Central Australia.  We camped along the way and I took a photo before dawn as we were packing up our camp site to drive to Uluru.  A flat horizon of black with only a road sign silhouetted against a yellow sky, trying to wake up.

I loved both of these photos and although the landscapes were vastly different, there were many similarities.  Both were taken in the early hours of the morning while the sun was just starting to rise.  Both had very yellow and orange skies and both had silhouetted features across a flat skyline. I started to wonder what I could do with them.

I had seen people make planets and tunnels from panoramas and though I didn’t have panoramas, I decided to give it a go anyway.  I made a tunnel from one and a planet from the other and then put them together to make my planet with a core using Adobe Photoshop.

Tomorrow I will share with you the steps to make a planet or a tunnel out of any landscape photo you have.  The secret is to have a landscape where the horizon is fairly straight but has some interesting higher features like the palm trees or the road sign. It is best if both sides of the photo is uncluttered.  Find a photo you think will look good and tomorrow  we’ll go through the steps to make one.  They are effective and with a bit of imagination, you could make some pretty amazing art out of them.

Outback & Oceans - Across the Universe


Through an Artist’s Eyes

An artist sees the world through different eyes.  Share Your Vision!……Livonne

Every since I could remember, I have been aware that I see the world differently to so many others around me.  Not necessarily better, not necessarily worse.. Just different.  I think that is the soul of an artist.  The world appears different in the soul of an artist.  Too often we are told as children not to see the world the way we do.  How can we not? It’s all we know.

This world is full of sadness, poverty, violence and anger but it’s also full of happiness, abundance, kindness and love.  What we see depends on our life’s experiences and our vision.  If we could share our vision with the world, maybe, just maybe, it would be a kinder, softer, simpler place for our children to inherit.

Don’t hide your light under a bushel.  Show everyone the world the way you see it.  Share your art.  It doesn’t have to be the  Mona Lisa, it just has to be a part of you because are beautiful.  Never be afraid to let your artistic light shine.  We can change the world, one piece of art at a time.

share your vision

Oh The Places You’ll Go

This morning I attended a morning tea at the Greenwood Early Education centre in Katoomba as one of my pieces of work had been shortlisted in the Greenwood Art Prize 2015.  The theme was Education.  I walked around looking at the art on display and was blown away by the talent in our wonderful community.  From kids to adults, the work was incredible.  I was thrilled to have been shortlisted but the work was of such high quality, I didn’t really expect to win.  Imagine my surprise when my name was called out.  There were 6 major winners and to all of them, along with the other entrants, congratulations.

What I was most impressed about was the introductory speech, talking about the vision for early education within their centres.  Those formative years are so important.  From the ages of birth to five, children are sponges, soaking up everything we say and do.  Think about it.  In those 5 or so years, they learn a language, sometimes 2.  They start to learn to count and to write.  They learn how to eat and go to the toilet.  They learn who their family are.  They learn what they do and don’t like.  They  have to learn what the word is of everything on the planet.  It’s a huge task.  I wonder how many of us that went to live in a foreign speaking country could do so much in 5 years.  Kids really are amazing.

As a child, I retreated into a world of fantasy to escape the real world.  The real world terrified me and with good reason, so the Magic Faraway Tree became the home I went to in my head.  When I wanted adventure I went with the Secret Seven or the Famous Five to solve mysteries.  When I wanted to step back to a time when life seemed simpler and kinder, I joined the March girls in Little Women or the Woolcot children in Seven Little Australians, though both families made my heart break.

A book can take you anywhere you want to be.  It is a time machine, allowing you to go forward or backward in time.  It can be a teacher, showing you how to do something.  It can show you a world far across the sea that you couldn’t imagine.  It records history forever.  A book is the greatest invention the world has ever known.  I love my computer, but a book brings 26 letters of the alphabet together then makes them into words and for it’s final act, tells a story with them.   A book has a feel and a smell all of it’s own.

I have a kindle reader but I still prefer to hold a book in my  hand and turn a page.  I love to fall asleep with the book still open on the page I was trying to read.  Books are the major decoration in my lounge room.  My bookshelf is full of my favourites and I love collecting sets.  I get frustrated when my favourite authors bring out books in different sizes, because they don’t look like a set.  In short…. I ADORE BOOKS.

I created this piece of work with that in mind.  I wanted to recreate how it made me feel when I opened a book and lost myself in a strange new land, full of adventure and excitement.   My beautiful niece Ava posed for me in her Nanna’s garden and I took that photo, added a photo from the Rock of Dunamase, as well as a tower from Blarney Castle, both from Ireland.  Rapunzel’s hair hangs, winding it’s way through the windows of the tower, planning her escape.  A  unicorn flies over the scene.  *Disclaimer – I did not take the photo of the unicorn I’m afraid.  I couldn’t find one *

The name of the piece is taken from Dr Seuss.  It’s a long piece so feel free to look the whole thing up on the internet but this is an excerpt from it and I guess it’s very apt today as I feel so incredibly humbled and happy at winning this prize.  Thanks so much to Greenwood for supporting the arts community in this way and for understanding the importance of art in the education of our children.

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

oh the places you'll go with book

My Watershed Photograph

When the world says give up… Hope whispers, try one more time….Author Unknown

We all have that one photo that changes the game.  That one photo that tells you, YES, you really can do this.  A watershed moment.  I’ve been lucky enough in the few years I’ve been doing photography to have two such photos.  But today I’m sharing the second one that led me to doing the work I am today.  However, let me go back a bit further.

As I’ve said before, I’ve always loved old photos.  Photos were too expensive to waste by pulling duck faces, sticking fingers up or poking tongues out.  People were dressed beautifully as it was an occasion to have a photo taken.  I love the attention to detail that was paid and the resulting beauty it produced.

My mum had a slide camera when we were young and took lots of photos.  She didn’t always get it right, but occasionally she got really amazing photos.  She may not have been the best photographer in the world, but our childhood was documented in a time when my parents used every cent they had to provide for us, their 12 children.

It felt normal to always have a camera and with the introduction of the instamatic camera, it was reasonably easy and cheap to take photos.  They may not have been the best quality but they were affordable.  I took lots of photos on my old instamatic when the kids were little.  Thankfully I did, as when my daughter was 10  she was killed and I had nothing left but the memories and the photos.  It made me more determined than ever to document my sons’ lives.

My poor, patient sons allowed me to take photos of them all the time.  Even at the age where having your mum take your photo is considered punishment, they grinned and bore it, knowing how important it was to me.  For my 40th birthday, my friends all put in together and bought me my first digital camera.  It was in the early days of digital and most produced pretty poor quality photos.

Not mine though.  It produced beautiful photos with rich, true colours.  It was a point and shoot but had so many functions I’d never experienced before.  I fell in love with it.  I still have it.  I will never get rid of it.  It’s where the journey really began in earnest.

A few years ago (about 4 I think) I started a blog.  I tell my life story on there.  As it started to gain some exposure, I knew I had to start taking photos to put on there with it as I often googled them instead which didn’t sit right with me.  Using someone elses photo isn’t good form, so I decided to do a short photography course.

The course I signed up for was Cert IV in Photo Imaging.  A six month, full time course.  Okay, it was a bit more than I wanted to do but I figured it would be worth it.  When I had finished that course, I knew I wanted to explore it more so I continued on and did another 12 months to complete my Diploma.

It was during Cert IV that I went out with some friends from the course to shoot a sunrise.  I was feeling quite gloomy as everyone around me was taking great photos and I was still getting garbage ones.  I couldn’t work my DSLR out and I was ready to give up.  This particular morning, I finally hit the jackpot.  I got one photo that I loved.  Sunlight playing across the valley of the beautiful mountains I live in.  Suddenly I felt inspired.  Yes, I could do it after all.

I had always been fascinated by composite photos and wanted to bring fairy tales come to life.  Things that looked completely real but  couldn’t be.  I love fantasy.  Instead of doing what I was really interested in, I tried my hand at weddings, birthdays, christenings etc.  I felt under so much pressure to get it right that it stopped being enjoyable.  I really started to feel like an abject failure.  I craved to create fantasy but didn’t feel I had the imagination or the technical skills to do it.

After I came to the realisation that I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing photography wise, I  was playing with some photos one night and decided to give the fantasy a go, never planning on showing it to anyone.  With a photo I’d taken in studio, I played until I had created a mermaid. (The Little Mermaid is my very favourite Disney movie of all time)  I knew she wasn’t perfect but I had finally done something that I could see had a base I could work from.

I studied a lot of other people’s composite work and watched You Tube relentlessly, trying to learn as much as I possibly could.  After a while, I revisited my mermaid and added textures, made water surrounding her and light coming from above.  She has so many layers, I had to cut the size down to be able to save her as a PSD file.  I finally got her to a stage that I loved her completely.  She is still a personal favourite as she showed me that I could do this.  I could finally create the fantasies that I loved.  Is she perfect? No.. She doesn’t need to be.

I still have so much to learn but am finally happy with what I’m doing. If you can learn even one thing from me, then I’ll feel  that I have paid forward some of the amazing things I’ve learned from the generous teachings of others online. We all develop our own style, our own work flow and our own shortcuts but it’s great to look at how other’s do their work.  I am currently getting set up to do videos instead of just photos so will be able to share so much more of my work flow then.

So here she is.  My watershed moment.  The sign I needed that I could really do this.  I call her Hope.. That’s what she gave me.   When the world says give up… Hope whispers, try one more time.  I did.. and I’m so pleased she whispered to me.

Hope Whispers


Share the Dream

Here in Australia, the sun has set on the day we call Australia Day.  It’s a day to celebrate living in this beautiful land.  Many new Australians choose today to become citizens on this day while the country has a public holiday to celebrate.  I won’t write much today, just share with you two photos that I prepared for the day to show my love for my country.  They are both composites using stock images.

Golden Hand

We are Australian

australia day

Kiss me, I’m an Aussie