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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 used to find tarot and pagan mysticism fascinating in my early teens and the aesthetic of a lot of this stuff has always really appealed to me. I’ve always wanted to design my own set of cards in my own unique style, 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 Travel Photography

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.
I managed to make it there in time for the lights festival. The city and canals are temporarily illuminated by many light displays, many of which are light 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 by them. (In my photos above I included one light display, Souvenir by Eric Kessels)
The main issue I had in Amsterdam was the food, as we had no kitchen in our hotel room and most of the restaurants are steakhouses or serve burgers/pizza/pasta, and although there are sushi /Japanese grills they are expensive. The food was very tasty everywhere we went but we did struggle for variety and fruit/veg portions. I would suggest if you are planning a trip to Amsterdam, bring some dried fruit…
Another thing I found out was they don’t seem to really drink black coffee out there aside from espresso shots, and if you have issues with milk or cheese you will have a bit of a hard time. (Starbucks will be your saviour if you are a milk-avoiding coffee addict like me, it feels somewhat unauthentic on holiday, but necessary.)
Back to the pros, The museums are fantastic, if a bit pricey. As a Londoner I’m used to free museums and galleries, and it definitely made me appreciate my hometown more in that aspect. Rijksmuseum, Bodyworlds, The Secret Church of Our Lord in the Attic, and the Van Gogh museum are all worth visiting, and 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.
Price wise it’s very similar to London, especially since the Pound and Euro evened out.
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.

On to the photography: I wanted to capture my own personal experience of the atmosphere surrounding Amsterdam. There are definitely multiple sides to the city, and I would have needed to plan a much longer stay to fully appreciate every aspect of the city and what it had to offer artistically. Because of this, I focused on the aspects I did have time to enjoy. The city 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. I’ve drawn out these themes further in my images through light and warm filters, using colour and composition to reflect the busily creative and active yet peaceful mood of Amsterdam. For my subjects I chose objects and areas that were interesting and relevant to the prevailing themes and culture of the city (relating to art, architecture, nature, history, transport and design.)

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.

Birds at the British Wildlife Centre

For my birthday this year I visited the British Wildlife Centre on a pair of photography days. They run the photography days throughout the year and it’s basically a great opportunity for budding wildlife photographers to get some great close-up shots of the animals outside of their enclosures.
These shots are from the first day, which was exclusively for photographing the owls. I got some of what i consider to be my best-ever shots, including a shot of barn owl, (Kevin), blinking with his nicitating membrane which can be seen above, it makes his eye look bluish as opposed to black/brown. Also the final shot of a chirpy little owl named Leo, mid-screech.

Expressionist painting

A collection of some of my favourite expressionist paintings from over the past few months. Expressionist painting is something I became interested in quite recently, in the past year in fact. I had never paid it much mind in my teens and earlier 20’s, because I was far more focused on drawing; But a revelation occurred to me while I was tackling some of my more toxic internalisations this past year, and i started to see more beauty in the abstract and disorderly. No longer did I need fine controlled monotone lines or hyper-realism to arouse my interest and emotions.
I was once a sucker for skill and technique, with one too many ideas about how art *should be* drilled into my head in school, now transformed to what I like to call a “do whatever” artist.
“Never draw from your imagination” was something that was used to scold me previously by classical-conforming art teachers stuck in the renaissance period; It had slightly put me off along with criticism from a (in retrospect) jealous and projecting ex-boyfriend who was insecure about his own creative work, (I’ll leave those horror stories for the campfire), but back then I put it down to depression and creative block. A lazy escape from dealing with my pent-up anxiety of being valued as an artist.
One day a couple of months ago, I had sort of an epiphany after being attacked by some very aggressive women in a scummy London night club. After a night in the ER with head injuries I sort of snapped, booked a holiday to Japan (with money I didn’t really have) and started thinking about ways I could make myself happy and whole. I think I just decided I didn’t really like the way I had been treated previously by people and I was going to start making my own rules about how to go about doing things. I went to the local budget art and craft store and bought armfuls of tubes of acrylic paint and some big bargain canvases and sat myself down in my garden to vent.
After the first painting I felt good. After the second I felt like I was on to something. Each painting so far has been mostly, if not completely unplanned, I just sort of channel whatever I’m feeling into strokes and colours and then it all sort of comes together. No training, no technique, no rights and wrongs. And because of this, when someone criticises my work (as people will when you share on any public forum, but more so if you live in a dead-end town with a lot of bitter people who don’t really want to be there) I don’t feel down about it. I don’t think “I’m doing everything I’ve been asked and I’ve tried so hard, it’s still no good.”
I feel good enough from the process that the end result is up to interpretation, and if people are unimpressed that’s fine, and I maybe feel a little sad for them for not fully knowing the freedom and beauty of creating without constraints.