Chrysalis

Transformation begins on the inside and works it’s way out.  Only you can transform your world…..Livonne

I’ve been thinking a lot about change lately.  We are the only ones who can truly change our own world.  The old saying “If it’s to be, it’s up to me” is so true.  Other people can inspire and encourage but the decision to change your world comes from a dissatisfaction deep in the soul.

That’s what made me think of butterflies today.  Not many other creatures change so drastically.  The caterpillars life has to end so they can be reborn from the cocoon into a beautiful, colourful butterfly. That’s the life cycle.  Ash, my beautiful model  for this photo has made some amazing changes in her life recently and has transformed it totally.  She was the perfect choice for this concept.

I too, am ready for change in all areas of my life.  I’m finally secure with what I’m doing art wise and am ready to step out and take the next steps to totally transform my life.  I hope you’ll all stay around for the process.  I don’t know what it will hold, but I do know it will be exciting.

chrysalis

 

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Heart & Soul

Look with your heart to see the true reflection of the soul……Livonne

We take inspiration from all over the place.  I spoke yesterday about which style paintings inspire me and today I want to talk about music.  Music is a huge inspiration to me.  I think I could sing before I could talk.  If anyone wanted to teach me anything, set it to music and I’ll remember it in a heartbeat.

I would watch the start of every tv program as a kid then walk away when the show started.  I just wanted the jingle.  I knew every ad, every theme, every jingle, as long as they were set to music.  I soaked it all up like a sponge.

When I started work I bought an album every week.  I’d bring it home and play it over and over until I knew every word.  Then I’d go back in the next week and      buy another and do the same thing.  I know the words to songs I don’t ever even remember listening to.  Ask me to remember where I put my keys five minutes ago and I won’t have a clue.  Ask me what particular bar Mr Harper stayed too long at in the song Harper Valley PTA and I’ll be able to tell you immediately that it was Kelly’s Bar.

If you’ve never seen the story of Henry which can be seen on the Music and Memory website, have a look at it.  It talks about the use of music in the treatment of alzheimers and dementia patients. It is unbelievably powerful and needs all the support we can give it.  Music really does have a key to unlock the brain.

I’m starting a series soon based on some of the songs that have always conjured up a picture in my brain.  I’ve always listened to some songs and seen a picture immediately.  I want to try to bring that picture into reality now.  I’m currently seeking permission from a few performers and have already been given the green light by one of my favourites ever.

A while ago I was shooting an event and the pianist at the event caught my eye.  Elegant, composed, beautiful and oh so talented, I took a number of photos of Caitlin that night.  The pensive look on her face as she played drew me in and I got caught up in her oneness with the piano.  When I looked at the photo, I could see the musician but I wanted to delve more into the relationship between the musician and the instrument.

Using a photo of her hands on the keys as she played as my base photo, I took the photo of her face and duplicated and flipped it so she was facing herself, then added to the base photo.  I used the screen blending mode to get the soft effect I was after.  Adding a layer of bokeh from my textures folder, I again scrolled through blend modes in Photoshop and stopped on colour.  I loved how it allowed the bokeh layer through on parts of the photo but desaturated other parts.  I then added another photo of water on glass (again from my textures folder) and used the lighten blend mode.  Using a layer mask, I painted out the water on one side of the photo.  Taking it into filter gallery, I added a soft sandstone texture to it and was really happy with the result.

Heart & Soul

We make quite a pear

I don’t know about you, but I love paintings of the old masters.  I love the cracked, weathered canvases which were painstakingly painted with equipment that most artists nowadays would cringe at using.  Paints, brushes, canvases.  The ease with which we can obtain those art supplies nowadays make putting your feelings onto a canvas so much more in reach of a dabbler than was once the case.  Regardless, the paintings that were produced were stunning.  My favourites are of those of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood or those inspired by it. I don’t ever pretend to know a great deal about art.  I only know what I like.  I love the colours and the warmth of these paintings and the more I create my style of photography, I find myself noticing a similar pattern emerging.

Not necessarily the same subjects, though they do appeal but it is the colours and vibrancy I am drawn to.  There are other artists that I find myself unconsciously mimicking in style.  The Dutch Masters have always appealed and I guess that was the inspiration for this particular photograph. The contrast of creamy lighting against the dark backdrop is so dramatic and so prevalent in this style of painting.    A few years ago, while doing a Fine Arts Course, one of our tasks was to attempt to copy the style of an old artist.  I chose a viola sitting on a chair with some paintbrushes in the foreground.  I don’t remember who it was by but I do remember that the article mentioned the Dutch Masters.  (the original, definitely not my poor copy)

My daughter in law Sarah has this set of decorative pears at her house.  I fell in love with them the first time I saw them and took a few photos of them on the bookshelf where they sat.  Over the last few years, I have contemplated the photos quite a lot and played with them, never quite achieving what I wanted to do , though I didn’t even know what that was.

I knew I wanted them to be on a plain black background to make the lighting appear more spectacular and dramatic than it really was.  I didn’t even have a flash at the time I took them and used the on board flash to light them so I had to make the lighting look better than it had been.  I found that by darkening the rest of the photo, leaving only the pears and the shelf, the shadows of the pears along with the flaws on their skin looked much more pronounced and dramatic.

Adding contrast and clarity, I played around a lot as I didn’t want them to appear harsh which can happen using those functions. It’s so much easier using Lightroom to control where you add clarity and where you soften it  using a brush, so I softened the photos a bit while keeping the clarity strong on the marks on the pears. When I was happy with the effect of the actual photo, I added a few textures.  The most important one was one which had a slightly green tinge and a heavier vignette around the edges.  The best part of this particular texture layer was the cracked surface which looked very like an old canvas that has crackled with age and dirt.  Adding textures is really a matter of trial and error.  This is where blending modes in Photoshop really become important.

It is a very simple photo but one which I really do love.  I think it is in the style of the Dutch Masters who I have always admired and quietly envied their talent.  I am not the most gifted painter in the world, though my viola and paintbrushes hang proudly on my wall.  But when I can combine my fascination with certain styles of art,  with my photography and Photoshop all in one, it sates my creative yearnings.

We make quite a pear. 5000

 

Life is the Bubbles

The seaweed is always greener, in somebody else’s lake.  You dream about going up there but that is a big  mistake…. Sebastian, The Little Mermaid

I am a little bit enthralled with the thought of mermaids.  The Little Mermaid is probably my favourite Disney movie ever.  I’ve created mermaids before and I have no doubt I’ll keep creating them as they are part of the fairy tales and folk lore I grew up with.  I would like to eventually do an underwater shoot where I can create my mermaid without having to create the underwater scene in Photoshop.

A while ago, I did a portrait shoot for my friend Jenny.  I had a completely different concept in mind which will eventually come to life.  I just haven’t been able to wrap my head completely around it yet.  By the time we got around to shooting, we had consumed a few champagnes and Jenny, being the shy wallflower she is, donned a pink wig and posed for some photos that I wasn’t expecting to take but we had fun with them.

A few days before, I had gone out into my garden and taken a photo of a bird on my birdbath, enjoying the water.  It’s a huge birdbath and I get a myriad of birds coming for a drink and a bath constantly.  I love the wildlife it brings in.  That’s when this idea came to mind.  So, I put Jenny in the bird bath, along with an exploding bottle of champagne, cork flying through the air and of course, a mermaid tail.  Sometimes you just want to do something for fun and this was one of those times.  A simple but fun concept.

I find myself getting so caught up in perfecting my art, that I sometimes lose sight of the reasons why I do it which takes away some of the enjoyment. I compare my work to other people’s and my comparisons are never kind to me.  I am so critical of myself and always think that other people can do so much better than me.  I know I’m not the only artist who thinks this.  We’re all very hypercritical of ourselves.  What we have to keep in mind is that when we look at something as closely as we do when we create it, we’re not looking at it through fresh eyes and we SEE every single flaw because we KNOW every single flaw.  The average person looking at our work doesn’t know it so isn’t looking for it.

We  need to stop sometimes and remind ourselves of the reasons we do what we do.  I do it to tell the stories that are in my heart and soul.  When I am working on a photo, I lose track of time and space.  I’m totally engrossed in the story I’m telling.  I love what I do and I  have to occasionally step away from the piece and view it again a little bit later with fresh eyes and a kinder attitude.  Then I can go in and just have some fun with it.

I think we all need to  just  listen to our hearts and not our  heads. My head can be very self critical and I don’t deserve that.  None of us do.  Our work may be different to someone else’s but that doesn’t necessarily mean better or worse.. Just different.    Life’s too short not to enjoy what you do.  I’m so glad I love what I do so much. Here’s to the grass not being greener in somebody else’s lake.  Our own is pretty good too.  After all, to quote my favourite crab Sebastian, life really is the bubbles..

Life is the Bubbles

 

Life Imitates Art – Weekly Photo Challenge

I don’t want life to imitate art, I want life to BE art….. Ernst Fischer

This week’s photo challenge is about life imitating art and we are asked to recreate a piece of art.  I have a few of these sorts of projects in planning stages at the moment, so wondered what to do without rushing one of the pieces.

That’s when I really thought about art.  What is art? We discuss “the arts” all the time and of course, it’s an extremely wide subject.  This is what the dictionary says but we would have to expand this definition to include movies, television, cartoons, acting and many other genres.

art1
ɑːt/
noun
 
  1. 1.
    the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
    “the art of the Renaissance”
  2. 2.
    the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.
    “the visual arts”

With this in mind, I decided to share one of my favourite shoots I’ve done.  I shared West of Wonderland a few weeks ago but today, I’ll share both photos I took of this shoot.  Inspiration came from the magnificent Alice in Wonderland.  The books, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by CS Lewis were the basis for the original Disney cartoon and also the later movie starring Johnny Depp.  I have more Alice in Wonderland themed shoots planned as it is one of the most imaginative and exciting pieces of literature ever written. For me today,  life imitates the visual arts and I share these two Mad Hatter photos, inspired by this movie.

Alice-In-Wonderland-Theatrical-Poster

west of wonderland unframed

entirely bonkers

 

 

Unfurling

Like the flowers that bloom in nature, every phase of a woman’s life has a beauty all of it’s own.  From the tiny seed, breaking through the earth to start the journey of life, to the shy bud not ready to expose it’s inner beauty to the world, each stage has a perfection all of it’s own.  The most glorious phase however, is when we finally gain the maturity to show our true self to the world. Unfolding, unfurling, full of colour, full of life, full of assurance, full of acceptance.  No two the same yet just as we were intended to be.  Divine Magnificence…… Livonne (inspired by Calendar Girls)

Unfurled

 

 

A Warrior Woman

A true warrior woman is not born, nor is she taught.  She created herself over time.  When she made mistakes and learned from them. When she found her strength  defending those she loved.  When she forgave someone who had hurt her.  When she told her own truth. She created the warrior when she armed herself with the arrows of Love, Truth, Compassion & Knowledge.  She carries them with her at all times….Livonne

warrior woman