Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Kindness Of Strangers

A package from Poland, tagged and tied with string! What could it be?

An exciting stash of collage materials with special instructions: select 12 items from the box and replace them with 12 more; write a message in the little booklet enclosed; forward the package on to another artist who's name you've been given (in this instance, it was Rebecca from Barnsley). Finally: make a collage incorporating your chosen items and post on your blog.

Sometime before Christmas, I'd signed-up to take part in one of my friend LaWendula's postal exchanges: this one is named "The Collage Box Project". LaWendula's clever initiatives to bring artist-bloggers together never fail to energize my creativity and I wanted to make something that reflected the spirit of generous exchange and imaginative recycling that they brilliantly embody. So I chose 12 snippets that I thought would make a useful digital collage kit that could be shared with you all and used to create even more artworks. Once I'd scanned my chosen, here's what I did...

I made two textured journal pages. The photo above was taken while I was working. Below is a scan of one side of the double-spread textured pages

While I was preparing the journal page, I also made a separate texture on heavy card

Once scanned, this became the starting point for...

A set of digital papers. It's been so long since I fired-up Photoshop, I wondered if I'd remember how to use it. This was my first time working with with CS5 since I upgraded, which made things even more interesting...

For the paper above, I incorporated German algebraic text: scanned from another gorgeous vintage paper in the collage box. I think I'll also use this one for the front of a greetings card

Please don't hold your breath for the kit: it's still work in progress because naturally, once I'd made a couple of papers, I got side-tracked and wanted to play with them myself, to see if they would work.

Here's some digital mixed-media experimentation using the Brushes app on my iPad

Finally, I made a scrapbook layout, once again in Brushes on the iPad. The photograph is used by kind permission of a dear Twitter-friend...

Thank you Joanna in Poland for passing the box on to me.

If you'd like to see what others have created with their chosen snippets, take a trip to LaWendula's inspiring blog and follow the links, but don't leave here yet because in my last post, I promised that I would finally reveal the name of the person who'd won my second bloggerversary draw. Actually, as I'd left it so long, I decided that I'd draw two names out of the hat and the lucky winners are...drum roll...ta da!

Kelly Marzycki of Imbue Studio


Deb (of Dryad Art: really sorry to the other Deb!)

Kelly and Deb, please feel free to take a good look around my Flickr stream and choose a print of any of my work, including older digital collages but please bear in mind that much of my early iPhoneography was done at very low-resolution and will not print well. Having said that, if you'd really like one of those pieces, let me know and I'll see what I can do for you before asking you to make a second choice.

Now, some of you have asked if my cat is still in the Land Of The Living. I'm overjoyed to share the news that Tinky has perked-up considerably since my last post. However, she remains a poorly little creature and is now VERY fussy about her food. The general rule is that if it is expensive, warm, and hand-fed, she's interested, but anything less, forget it! Having survived a near-death experience, she probably imagines that she's died and gone to Heaven!

Here is the link to LaWendula's blog

Friday, March 11, 2011

Time To Say Goodbye


shot and processed iPhone 3GS


shot iPhone 3GS, processed iPad


shot and processed iPhone 3GS

The past month has been a time of saying goodbye in the most final of ways. On February 18th, my family gathered in a tiny Welsh chapel to sing "The Old Rugged Cross" and pay our last respects to the memory of my mother's "baby" sister Sylvia.
Because her mum was a passionate supporter of the Llanelli Rugby team who are also known as "The Scarlets", my cousin Ann, Sylvie's only daughter, dressed for the funeral in a beautiful Red Trench Coat: a bright and fitting tribute to the most sweet-natured women I've ever known: always smiling, never complaining, despite suffering considerable disability due to Diabetes. What none of us, including Auntie Sylvie, knew until just before she died, was that she was also suffering from Cancer.

Last Wednesday, we said goodbye to my wonderful "father-in-law" Ralph who, for several years, had been putting up a brave fight against Prostate Cancer. Ralph was a shy man of many talents, not least of which were his skills as a Magician. We wanted the funeral to be a celebration of his life, so
Mollie, my "mum-in-law" wore black "but only because he liked me in the colour" with touches of red and white, to match the silks they used in their magic act. In remembrance of Ralph's happy National Service Days in Hong Kong, we chose a bamboo casket, adorned with flowers that were white with touches of red and black. My partner Michael made the broken wand that traditionally sits atop the funeral casket of a magician and travels with him to the grave. Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" greeted us as we entered the crematorium for the committal and we smiled, knowing that Ralph would be pleased we hadn't chosen anything solemn and sad.

As I write this, Tinky, our little, old cat, is sleeping on the garden bench. For several days now, she has hardly moved, eaten or drank. Every so often, I stoke her for a while and whisper that I love her, but she's an independent little soul and it's quite clear that she wants to die in her own way: quietly and with as little fuss as possible. For the third time in almost as many weeks, my heart is breaking and I cannot stop the tears, but I know one thing: our loved-ones are temporary gifts that we must cherish while we may, not just at life's end and by the grave-side. These "goodbyes" have reminded me
that life is short and precious. It seems only yesterday that I was thanking my Auntie Sylvie for a fifteenth birthday gift brought all the way from Hong Kong; meeting my lover's father for the first time; or sitting in a Summer garden, enchanted by the beautiful little tortoiseshell cat who had just jumped over the garden fence to say "hello". My Nan used to say "We only pass this way once" and when the pain has passed, I really do have to try to get on with my life, despite all its challenges.