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Tarot/Oracle illustrations (Part 2)

TheHierophantTemperance bThe High Priestess 2ORACLE Brigid2Wheel Of Fortune 2

A few more images for my Tarot project!
While I’ve been drawing these out, I came up with a thought that they may be better suited to a nice large print oracle deck: partly because drawing 78 cards in this amount of detail will be incredibly time consuming, and partly because I’ve started playing around with watercolour pencils and I’m thinking I’d like to do a coloured tarot deck.
I won’t post any of my watercolour on here at the moment because they aren’t particularly good yet. They’re coming out a little more like children’s storybook illustrations (which isn’t a bad thing by any means, but they’re still a little unpolished for my liking).
It’s nice to be learning to work with new materials. I love my pencils and they’re the most natural thing for me to work with; I’ve never got along with a paintbrush in my life, so the watercolour pencils are a good compromise.

Barcelona

 

 


Full of side-streets packed with action and celebration, Barcelona was more than I expected from a week at the searing Spanish coast.
We arrived after midday, so the plan was really just to find somewhere to eat and settle down for the evening. But the city was alive in the late afternoon, and realising opening hours were much later than back home,  we headed straight to the zoo, which turned out to be a perfect introduction to our stay. With an impressive menagerie, Barcelona zoo is a great spot for families or lone wanderers, with highlights including a mynah bird that greets you with a friendly “Hello!”, plus Lions, Tapirs, Rhinos and Elephants. The snack shack serves a tough-to-beat Spanish omelette baguette, which inspired me to eat as much Spanish omelette as I could find during my stay.
The evenings are lively in Barcelona: due to the hot midday heat keeping most people at a low level of activity during the day, restaurants and bars are busy late into the mild night-air. The main cuisine, at least in the more tourist congested spots, includes Paella, Spanish omelette and lots of delicious Tapas.
Now that the pound and euro are close to even, Restaurant costs are fairly similar to those of central London, but if you’re on a budget, it is easy to find the cheaper options if you look for them. We were surprised by the quality of the delicious fruit in the supermarkets, and all the necessary bits and pieces to make a picnic are easy to find.
The city is also home to a huge food market, La Boqueria. A lively, pedestrian-packed compendium of edible goods, where you can find everything from a variety of local and exotic fruit to fresh seafood and spices. We even spotted tasteful wood panelled bar stalls, comfortably filled with friends merrily eating and drinking.
Transport around the city comes in the form of busses, cabs, rental bikes and scooters if you’re feeling daring, as the roads are busy and traffic is fast-moving. However; deciding to traverse the city on-foot or by bicycle leaves you open to the fantastic antics of the side streets, including street performers, live music, hidden street art and stylish restaurants. The creative spirit of Barcelona is to be seen on every corner, and it is home to many beautiful works of art and architecture, including the Sagrada Familia (an incredible cathedral, still being built, funded by entrance fees and donations) and the beautifully obscure Gaudi buildings. We even stumbled into some free exhibitions in the side streets.
The residents of Barcelona are a huge factor into it’s unique identity. The general mood is laid back, fun-loving and artistic. The people seem almost carefree, and there is a rich cultural and ethnic diversity in the city, which all seems to fit perfectly into it’s selfhood.
The highlight of the trip for me personally was Montjuïc Cemetery, a cemetery so huge it almost becomes a city in it’s own right. Packed with walls and walls of coffins decorated with immortal and dust-coated plastic petals, angelic ornaments and bright ribbons. Each grave has it’s own unique decorating theme, and emits a strange existential aura in the silent heat. It is also home to some incredible sculptures and views of the coast, and easily fills a day of walking, so bring plenty of water and snacks!
All in all, the city of Barcelona is a great break for anyone who appreciates art, food and drink, boat trips on the seafront and bustling crowds, but parts of the city are also quiet and serene, with plenty to see and do if you just follow your feet and listen for distant music.

Tarot Illustrations (Part 1)

TheEmpressTheMoon2TheSun2TheWorld

 

This series is kinda self-explanatory after the title. From top to bottom the cards are The Empress, The Moon, The Sun and The World. I’m going to be gradually working on the rest of the major arcana before I start on suits. I’m focusing on my own style more so than cluttering the cards with too much symbolism, I feel like my style has enough detail as it is and you can generally get a better vibe from a card when there aren’t 800 things going on in the background.

My reasons for this project are really more personal than anything. I’ve always found tarot and pagan mysticism fascinating since my early teens and the stories, aesthetic and mystery have always really appealed to me. Hence, I’ve always wanted to design my own set of cards, and since I’m not creating art for school/uni deadlines any more I figured this would be the perfect time to meet an old goal and ultimately motivate myself to progress in my illustration style.

More Wildlife from BWC

After Flicking through my unedited photos from BWC I found a few more with potential, which I’ve uploaded above. I need to get a little better at using the light settings on my camera and move away from auto ISO. At the moment I’m doing a fair amount of editing, mostly on photos that are too dark or cloudy. I can’t help but feel sometimes that I set myself too many tasks at once and end up with nothing done, but I suppose that’s to be expected when you have multiple creative hobbies and are a master of none.
Ironically I still really want to start re-learning an instrument and get into filming and video editing as well. It will be paramount to pace myself over the next couple of months if I’m going to get anything finished (as opposed to starting a hundred things, getting burned out and finishing nothing).

Amsterdam

I’m back from Amsterdam! And it turns out I went at one of the best times of the year.
Amsterdam in the winter is beautiful, albeit cold. The patron saint of the city is St. Nicholas (in case you didn’t know, that’s the man behind the story of Santa Claus.) And they definitely go all-out for the Christmas season. Many of the shops and cafés are decorated beautifully with fairy lights, some with a more Seasonal theme than others, but all fully embracing a warming and festive spirit.
I managed to make it there in time for the lights festival: The city and canals are temporarily illuminated by intricately designed light displays, many of which are installations designed by artists. There’s even a canal boat tour specifically for viewing the lights, where you can plug in some headphones and hear the stories behind the artwork as you pass them by. (In my photos above I included one light display, Souvenir by Eric Kessels)
The food in Amsterdam is delicious, particularly if you’re a fan of fresh bread and various cheeses – most of the restaurants are steakhouses or serve pub grub including burgers/pizza/pasta, and although there are some sushi bars and Japanese grills they are slightly more expensive if you’re on a budget. The food is perfect for cold weather comfort-eating, but we did struggle for variety and fruit/veg portions. If you are planning a visit soon, I suggest bringing some dried fruit!
The museums are fantastic, if a bit pricey: Rijksmuseum, full of artwork, sculptures and culture; Bodyworlds, a museum of anatomy, hosting dozens of real preserved human specimens; The Secret Church of Our Lord in the Attic, a historic hidden church; and the Van Gogh museum, hosting hundreds of works by the artist himself. All of these are worth visiting, as well as the historic home of Anne Frank.
You can usually find discount vouchers at your hotel or one of many attraction booking shops around the city, you can also do money saving deals when you buy tickets for more than one attraction at a time, which is worth the effort.
Amsterdam is architecturally one of the prettiest places I’ve visited. The canal houses and boats are for the most part decorated intricately, and if you’re nosy like me and enjoy looking through windows in the evening you can see that design, art and creativity are at the core values of many residents. Amsterdam is crawling with live music, book markets, galleries, the world famous flower market packed with nature, and plenty of street art; providing a rich culture and liveliness to an already active city of cyclists and pedestrians. The city also has a cosiness to it, with cafes and bars on every corner, usually full by lunch time (it’s common to see people out having a beer with lunch even on weekdays) and despite this, it remains a fairly calm and serene atmosphere up until later in the evenings.

If I were to go again I’d like to visit in summer and do some cycling, It’s generally cheaper (and more comfortable in cold winters) to get the tram around the city, but there are some fantastic cycle routes around Old Holland for those who enjoy a more active approach, and I’d love to check those out.

Mammals at the British Wildlife Center

Another set of photographs from the British Wildlife Center!
If you read my previous post from BWC you’ll be aware that I attended two of the center’s photography days, (Owls day and Mammals day).
The weather was really good on the mammals day aside from some dampness, it had clouded over a little and allowed for some nice even and soft lighting for shooting.
The red squirrels and foxes were the most challenging animals to shoot; The squirrels were fast and hyperactive, and the foxes were quite shy and remained mostly covered by long grass until prompted out with snacks from the keeper. The Otters were a real highlight of the day, being very playful and curious little animals (bigger than I thought they would be, probably about the size of a spaniel with shorter legs and a longer tail). One in particular would sporadically come over and nudge my camera with his nose.
Polecats also have a lot of personality and were very social with one another and excited to see visitors.
Overall I was quite uplifted by how happy the animals are at the BWC; having previously visiting zoos and feeling actually quite bad about humanity afterwards because of how bored and miserable some of the animals looked, it’s clear to see that the British Wildlife Center is a different environment entirely, with an apparent emphasis put on the animals’ well-being and happiness, conservation and education. You can read more about the BWC and when you can visit on their website (click here).

Portraits and sketching (Part 2)

A few more sketches and portraits before the year is up! I’m considering making a calendar at some point with various floral portraits (one for each month). Usually they are drawn almost exclusively from my imagination, but sometimes a feature or two will be based on a celebrity or blogger I follow and some of them are drawings of friends surrounded by flowers. I like to think my style is becoming more consistent despite this. Another goal I have had since my teens is to design a tarot deck, but that’s seventy odd cards and I think I’d get squirrel brain and end up doing another project instead. For now I think I’ll focus on getting twelve floral portraits (that I’m happy with and don’t mind publicising) together. Recently I’ve also been thinking of taking up embroidery because I’m poor and would like some leafy/flowery clothes to match my personality, so I’ll probably end up impulse buying a cheap embroidery kit soon. Who knows, I might even get good at it and post some photos on here.