Meet Grant Alexander McDougall

I normally don’t do street photography, I rarely strike up conversations with complete strangers on the street either, but a recent trip into Fitzroy had me cross paths with Grant, a very cool dude with whom I chatted with for a while, introduced myself, asked if I could take his photo, I gave him my business card and asked him to contact me. I probably should have gotten his details as well. I hope he does contact me…..I’d love to give him a copy of these images. As part of my year of Brave-R, I am pushing myself to expand and try things I normally would not do, challenge myself to overcome silly fears. I mean it is drummed into us as kids DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS……strangers, in some cases are just friends, you have not met yet. Others have random meaning, I may not ever meet this gentleman again, but he will have left a mark on me. I wonder if I left a mark on him?

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Isn’t it funny what Karma will throw at you if you open you heart and mind to possibilities? Have a fantastic week my friends…

~ Julz

Share Your World – 18th April, 2017

When writing by hand do you prefer to use a pencil or pen? I am not really phased by one of the other, if I am scribbling notes I’ll happily use a pencil, but if I am writing to someone, which I rarely do, I always use a pen. I handwrite my Christmas cards in pen, but I am sending less and less, preferring to send e-Cards.

Would you rather be an amazing dancer or an amazing singer? Singer! Although I do like to move to the rhythm as well. But I love to sing, I have said it before; in the shower, especially in the car……..shame I am not very good 🙂

If you were on a debate team, what subject would you relish debating? Why smacking your kids is a GOOD thing. Seriously don’t get me started on the half wits around now-a-days……no fear of chastisement, as they know there is nothing anyone can do. Back in my day (GOD I sound like my GrandMother!) a good smack would whip us into line and we had respect for the person handing out that smack, or in my case, belt. Honestly the world is going down a craphole and most of it could be solved if people punished their children. No I’m not talking about physical abuse, just a simple smack on the bum!

What are you a “natural” at doing? Being creative, photography took a bit to learn, and I am still learning, but it seems I am quite good at that…but it’s the art; the creative, imaginative art that sets my imagination and soul on fire. I have always had an active imagination, now I can play it out on the screen. I used to paint and I was OK, I could never seem to create what was in my minds’ eye when I painted, but digitally I can create almost anything. It’s wonderful, I wish I had discovered it years ago, but then digital art was not what it is today, is it?

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Sunrise of the Murray River, Mildura

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

So much in my life is wonderful right now, I just had a fantastic Outback Adventure, a lovely quiet Easter weekend with family and friends and now on Saturday Moth and I are off on another adventure……..this time we are hitting more of Victoria’s amazing coastline. We are picking up where we left off from the Great Ocean Road Trip and heading East; more Light houses and fabulous coastal vistas. Can’t wait, hopefully I can get some more amazing photography like last week.

On a more boring note, I have finally caught up with two years of taxation stuff and I think I have finally sorted out most of my Photography Catalogue in Lightroom……such a headache, but both of them now seem to be under control……..whew! Now THAT’s a relief.

I hope you are have a fantastic week…don’t forget to visit Cee’s SYW Page

~ Julz

Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

big-magic-coverI’ve been reading a book, shocking really. For some reason I really do not read that often, well these days, anyway. I’d rather be creative with my own imagination rather than someone else’s, it seems. Also, I usually only read Fiction, mostly magic, fantasy or sci-fi, this for want of a better word is a self help book.

I am not going to insult you by saying this is the greatest book ever written (although I thought it was quite well written), I also won’t insult you by saying it changed my life…….but it did transform some of my thinking – to a degree.It most definitely made me smile, laugh and feel good.

So how is it I ended up reading it? Well I have had a few crappy weeks lately, things not going my way artistically. No one particularly to blame, it was just my shit sandwich (seriously read the book) for the month. Karma crossed my path with some videos from Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love fame), you know when you are watching something on YouTube and it links to something else, so you watch that and then it takes you somewhere else again? I ended up watching a reading by Ms Gilbert for Big Magic. Sure I have heard of her before, heard some quotes thrown around before before Kim Klassen, Sebastian Michaels and other wondrous teachers, but had never read her books. (I saw the movie Eat, Pray, Love many years ago, and I honestly can’t remember much apart from Julia Roberts was in it). Elizabeth is brutal in her honesty, slap you across the face and accept that to live a truly artistic and creative life……..you have to put up with a lot of crap, mostly from yourself!

In saying that, you do not need to spend your life beating yourself up, turning in a coke snorting, alcoholic, manic depressive who thinks the world owes him/her a better deal. In short, to lead a creative and artistic life, you need to love what you do and enjoy it. Do it because you WANT and NEED to; not because it might make you rich and famous.

I knew all that…honestly I did, but sometimes you push it down thinking that a few small victories here and there should have you rich and famous by now. I didn’t start photography to become a famous photographer, I didn’t become a graphic artist to sell thousands of paintings, and I didn’t start this blog to have millions of followers. I started all of it, because I wanted to; it caught my soul on fire.

I have a passion for photography, I enjoy portraits and newborns, I enjoy landscapes and the travel, I really enjoy the zen like meditation from my Still Life and I adore my conceptual portraits……..do I care if no-one understands them? Not really, hey don’t get me wrong it’s great when other people enjoy them; but the earth does not fall off it’s axis, babies don’t die and I am still breathing if someone doesn’t ‘get it’. In the end I created it for me and my Muse. My digital art, I throw myself on the mercy of my Muse and let her take me wherever she wishes to go, sometimes I have to work without her, but that is OK too. But if I keep working, a little bit every day; my Muse will show up……..it’s when I ignore her she goes off to sulk.

My passion and dedication doesn’t mean my art is the worlds greatest, but I should not live in fear of showing my art (I was at the start, but not now), I learned these lessons all by myself, and if I could pass this onto someone else, then I have done a good, no…..a great deed. Don’t hide yourself and your art away, if you are passionate and work at it, with persistence,  it will show. It may not make you rich and famous, but be honest; that’s not why we do it…is it? It does not matter whether you are a painter, a sculpture, a writer, a poet, photographer, a gardener, a whittler, a potter, a silver or blacksmith……….we do it because we love it….and THAT my friend is what is important.Besides no one really cares what you do (harsh but true) they are too busy with their own lives, occasionally someone will sit up, take notice and say hey that’s great, or hey that’s complete crap and then guess what? They go back to their own life.

Reading this book made me feel good about myself and my art, I can be happy in knowing that I enjoy doing it. I may never be rich or famous, I have my day job, so it doesn’t really matter. My passion costs little (well apart from the travel, but that’s my call, not my passion), I have friends and models who are happy to work with me for free (that still blows my mind, when people ask to model for me and not charge me!).If I am a good person, and my art hurts no-one then what does it matter? Maybe I am the only one who likes it? That is OK, it doesn’t matter if no-one else likes it, so it doesn’t matter if I put it out there and nothing happens; I won’t drop dead. No-one gets out of this life alive……so enjoy your time here, for however long or short it is; life is ultimately too short to be boring and unhappy. Being miserable and suffering for your ‘art’ won’t necessarily make you a better artist, but being happy and content in your work may – think about that.

Seriously if you do anything creative, or have ever wanted to, but were too scared, self conscious, too – whatever; pick up a copy of this book and read it, it will make your heart lighter and put a smile on your face, of that I am sure.

~ Julz

 

WPC – A Good Match

I missed last week, no excuse, just never quite got around to it…….so now it’s time for this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge – A Good Match

They always talk about “birds and bees”, shouldn’t it be bees and flowers? Glorious little worker bees, they do such a good job, without them no flowers (or fruit) and no honey..now there is A GOOD MATCHdsc_7109

Another good match……….a rare pic of me and hubby, I love this photo, it is real, it is us, no pretense, no fake smiles and that long suffering look (and smirk) at my smart arse comments is probably on hubby face more often than he realises!jr_s-balding

I hope you all have an amazing weekend, I know I plan on it!

~ Julz

Another 52 Week Challenge – Week 28

This week’s theme from the Girl who dreams awake is Happy. To be honest, not something I am feeling just now; long story, but bad day I guess. So I guess my theme this week is Not Happy. Apologies; but to read further is turning into a rant.

I am an artist and sometimes we are a tad precious about our art, I’ll admit that, but we are often putting our hearts and emotions on the line when we create, so I think we are entitled to feel an emotional connection to our art. And while we get that not everyone will love what we do, some will…..constructive criticism can be helpful (still occasionally a bitter pill), but then there are the people who just say horrible things.

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Fractured Selves

I know in this day and age of internet trolls, there are people out there with nothing better to do than cut you down and make you feel small and insignificant, I mostly ignore them, they don’t know me and probably never will…….what really stings is when the horrible hurtful things come from your own flesh and blood; someone who should understand and be supportive, not jealous and vile and hurtful.

Honestly I should be used to it; my whole life I have had back handed compliments, but essentially told I an unworthy and any good fortune I do receive is the sheer dumb luck, not deserved through hard work. Never has my true art been completely understood “Why waste your time on that rubbish, your (flowers or insert whatever here) is quite nice, well it will be when you get good at it”. Occasionally I get a comment about how something is lovely or a heart on FB…..makes my heart sing – stupid really, because I know the next comment will be a slap in the face.

Three times this week I have had horrible comments, or just plain stupid ones, my Hubby tells me to just ignore it (I have deleted the comments from FB), but it still bites deep. I seriously am so mad, I cannot even talk to this person who quite frankly is already acting like a petulant child, I am so fed up with the crap I just want to walk away, but that little voice in my head tells me I shouldn’t they are family; a parent.

I read on WP and FB and other Social media how their Moms are their best friend, who support and understand them, I feel a pang of jealousy, but happy for them too and I know I have a supportive Mother figure in my Aunt, who I can turn to in times of crisis, but not the same.

Don’t get me wrong I didn’t have a horrible childhood or anything, just not very well supported. Funny my brother, the lying, cheating, fraudulent criminal in the family is the one they are so proud of……….WTF? Seriously? “Oh he has come such a long way since they let him out of jail, he has really turned his life around, you should give him another chance, you owe him that much” I don’t owe that lying cheating son of a bitch (funny coz he actually is) a damn thing. I have never done anything illegal or hurt innocent people, I have worked hard for everything I have got……..but apparently it was all dumb luck.

So if you have a loving supportive parent; hug them, be joyous, enjoy the bath in their warm glow of love and admiration for a job well done or a life well lived and think of us poor people who will never know how good that feels.

Apologies – rant over, if you made it to the end, thank you for listening.

~ Julz

Furbaby Friday…

Well it has been awhile and I thought I would give an update. All Fur Babies are good, buddyBuddy is several months post op from his ruptured ACL and he is doing really well, the surgeon is super pleased and so are we. It was an ordeal to go through (for all of us) but now that we are on the other side we are so glad he had the surgery. He has a small limp, which may resolve in time, but he is pain free and such a happy boy again. Now to just keep him off the furniture, as he is not allowed to climb or jump on and off things anymore (I don’t think he got the memo!) He can now walk up to 30 minutes at a time before he tires out; we still need to build up the muscle mass he lost from not being allowed to walk for 5 weeks.

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Chloe has finally figure out she is no longer a pup, and she is slowly started to slow down. Her eyes are still bothering her at times and she startles easily and then gets snappy, but they said there is nothing that can be done; it’s not like cataracts or anything. Eventually she may or may not go blind and we will deal with that when it happens. While she is still happy and healthy, we just deal with her ‘grumpy’ moods and warn people not to grab at her.

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Zorro has been banned from playing in the backyard as he finally discovered a way to escape and we have a 24 hour cat curfew, besides I am terrified he will get on the road……don’t like to think about that!But he is still trim and healthy, but not very happy; no food and no outside makes for a very grumpy black cat. I need to get Hubby to fix that part of the fence to stop him roaming and then both cats can enjoy the outside again……hopefully before Winter.

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Teddy has his good days and bad days, he has never enjoyed the good health that the other three had, a rescue cat with health issues; is going to need special care, we knew it and love him anyway. He has a huge heart and a huge attitude; but sometimes we just have to leave him be when he is having a bad day. He often struggles to keep food down, and the arthritis in his spine, hips and tail make getting around difficult some days, but not others. We have looked at getting his tail amputated but after Buddy’s surgery it’s not a path I am going to undertake lightly and only has a last resort. When his bad days start overtaking his good days we may need to make a difficult decision, but for now he is mostly happy.

All my babies are over 10 years old and while they all have lot of good life ahead of them, I see them starting to slow down and worry that their best years are behind them. As much as I love having animals, this will be the hardest bunch to deal with yet and having all of them the same age will probably make it even harder.

The turtles on the other hand will outlive both of us! Sheldon is huge (nearly 20cm from nose to tail) and needs both hands to hold him now and he is only 2! Crush, while he was stressed and being eaten and bullied by Sheldon was so small and often sick and we were in danger of losing him……..now he is in his own tank is rapidly gaining weight and has doubled his size (approx 15cm) over the last few months, still a little way to catch Sheldon, but he is getting there. He is also not as timid and is becoming more curious again. We got them new feeding tanks a little while again, so no more escapes, well at least for the moment. Sheldon sulks that he has no one to bully apart from his fish, which he chases occasionally but never seems to catch. When we consider they were barely 3cm when we got them 2 years ago. Read about when we first got them and see photos here

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Sheldon (the orange blur is a fish)

That’s it, we still have all the fish inside and out, as well as the varied wildlife that call our gardens home, and while I love to watch them, I am not so attached.

~ Julz

 

Daily Post – Expectations

I might have mentioned recently that we are going to Bali later in the year for a wedding…….honestly isn’t it a bit much to expect people to fly to another country just so they can get married on a beach? Initially I didn’t want to go, I have nothing against Bali…..just not something on my bucket list and I have a long bucket list.

But what do I know about Bali……….absolutely nothing to be honest. All I really know is Australians play hard over there, drink and do drugs and end up in Jail (often with a death sentence – Bali does not tolerate drugs), Australians get blown up in Bali  – pre 9-11, there was several bombings in Kuta. There are a lot of temples, there a lot of beaches and it gets hot. So my expectations were not really very high, but I figured if I am now going, I had better figure out what there is to do over there; if nothing else.

Stay away from Kuta is the main thing to remember, it’s where the young hooligans stay, it’s cheap and there are lots of bars and clubs………no interest here from us. We are heading inland to Ubud, more mountainous, with temples, water gardens, villages and such. We are spending a week there exploring the area before the wedding which is on the East Coast in a resort miles from any town. I want to see rice paddy fields and slopes, ancient temples; intact and in ruins, stunning water gardens, the Monkey Forest, artisans with silver and cloth and wood, lovely beaches along the coast and lovely sunrises and perhaps sunsets on the West Coast (if we get that far). We are staying at a Safari Park and I want to see elephants and giraffes, zebras and tigers, I hope my expectations are not too high for this place. I hope our stay here is not too short.

After the wedding we are spending a few days on one of the islands, rest and relaxation, snorkeling and swimming, and maybe some more exploring. I hope it will be enjoyable…what’s not to love; beach, sand, sun, warm weather, tropical forests, exotic animals and ancient temples. Supposedly the weather is perfect in October, not too hot, lower humidity and it is the dry season.

The down side of all this is my big trip back to New Zealand, which I had planned for October/ November has been pushed back another year. It tears me apart that I have to wait…….but then again I did not have such high expectations of New Zealand before I went and did not expect to fall in love with that country either. Perhaps Bali will be similar? I mean people keep going back again and again; surely it’s not for the cheap booze and DVDs?

If you have been to Bali and have any interesting places to visit, drop me a line…

~ Julz

P.S. Photos from Pixabay

Missed the point?

So many posts and pretty pictures of things people did, got or gave for Valentine’s Day, Me? Nothing I don’t buy into it all…..I feel it has become all too commercial. Perhaps it is my ‘bah humbug’ thing. I don’t need a date on the calendar to say I love you, we say it all the time. I don’t need a card or flowers or a piece of jewelry; never have, never will. That’s not to say I don’t want those things, but for that ONE DAY a year the prices get jacked right up, I go go without or wait a little longer. Moth will come home several times a year with flowers, just because he saw them and thought of me, or my birthday or our anniversary; that means more to me than having to buy flowers on Valentine’s Day because the media said you HAVE to. If we are wandering the markets or boutique stores and I find a piece of jewellry I adore, he will buy it for me, no questions asked.

Have I perhaps missed the point? I don’t think so, in an age where everything has become so commercialised, is it just a waste of time and money? Some people are homeless & hungry, some people have no job, no family, no loved one. Some people are sick and dying. Isn’t it enough to say “I LOVE YOU” without all the hype? If your man didn’t buy you flowers or jewellry from Tiffany & Co………….would the world suddenly stop turning? No I didn’t think so. And what about the Single people who are made to feel especially unloved? Not fair, I have one daughter who is married and one who is single. My Married daughter was alone and felt bad, my single daughter said what the hell and made a night of it with single friends; movie and drinks.

I think too much pressure is put on people, and some women (not all, and some men I guess) make it worse for perpetuating it all. dsc_7209

So for all you, my friends on the day AFTER Valentine’s Day……..I wish you love (where ever, whatever and whomever that maybe), happiness and friendship. Perhaps next year, save your pennies but flowers on another day, just because you care and use that Valentine’s Day money for a greater good? Or not?

~ Julz

With thanks…

Last week I was feeling a little sorry for myself about my exhibition and and wrote a blog post and a bit of a rant, to kick myself in the butt and just get over myself.It was honest and open about the issues many artist have to deal with, it was also upbeat and positive and perhaps even a little uplifting and a relieve to write it.  I posted it here and posted a copy in my Awake Group…….both groups I felt ‘safe’. I know I am supported and I know people enjoy my art and I know I am not alone with the feelings that I had. But I must admit I was still overwhelmed by the response I got.

The feedback I got was awesome, so many people thanked me to being so raw and honest, and they could relate to everything I said and it inspired THEM. So many people said such lovely things about me and my art………which was a little self love I needed (I know it sounds egotistical, but then again I am an artist) and I truly thank everyone for that. My Awake Group were amazing and I still finding it surprising that so many people think they are alone (I know I did once too), and are shocked when someone they look up to or follow or whatever admits to self doubt and having off days. I know that some of the people I admired when I first joined the group and thought of a mini legends are just normal people, the more I meet and talk to them the more I realise they are just like me and the people coming through the ranks now are just like I was.

I used to see someone else’s great piece of art and get a little jealous (Silly and stupid) and think Man I wish I could create like that, then there are other pieces which, while I can appreciate the work that went into it, I just don’t really like. I have learned that I can be happy for other people, I can love their art, as THEIR art and still create my own. And there are people out there who can appreciate the work and skill in my images, but not like the images. I can honestly stop comparing myself to other artists, I can look at their art and be inspired by it, or simply just enjoy looking at it, sometimes I am triggered to create something that I would not of thought of without seeing theirs, this does not mean I am copying, just means my Muse was inspired. My art is MY ART, I can be nobody other than myself. I can explore and learn new things, but above all else I must remain true to myself.

If I find myself complaining (and lets face it, sometimes it’s hard not too), I think back on some amazing people and videos I have watched…..this life does not owe me anything, no one ever promised things were going to easy, nobody ever promised me success. I don’t need more gear to make great art ( sure I want toys, toys are fun, I just don’t need them to make great art), what I have is sufficient. I don’t need to travel to exotic places for amazing photography (and again, sure I love to travel, but I don’t need too), there is amazing things in my own suburb and local towns & countryside.

Most of all, learn to take chances and not be scared of the unknown, fear can keep us safe, but it can also hold us back….but the unknown future holds so many exciting adventures and wonderful possibilities if we just take the chance.

So again I would like to tank everyone who commented and said how brave I was………possibly, but I was just being honest with myself – and yes sometimes that takes bravery.

Thank You xox

~ Julz

Pick myself up, dust myself off and keep moving forward…

My gallery exhibit finished last night and I have to be honest and confess I didn’t sell a single piece. It stings! Man does it hurt. Of course my initial reaction is that no one liked my artwork. I’m not good enough, who am I kidding, what business do I have putting my artwork out there? and the rest of the self doubt that flows in as an artist or creative person. Why are we full of such self doubt. Then Luanne posted this post about rejection, which then led me to another video by Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love fame), which led me to her TEDTalk video and a few others. WOW! Powerful stuff.

Isn’t funny how sometimes the universe (Or Karma) gives you exactly what you need at the right moment in time, not necessarily WHAT you WANT, but what you NEED. A quick kick up the butt, stop feeling sorry for yourself, so what if no one likes your art, you do it because you love it, you live for it, no one promised a free or easy ride. This life owes you NOTHING! If you want something, work for it, but there are no promises you will be rich, or famous, or a success.

You have a creative soul and even if no-one gets it (chances are they will) and even if no-one buys you work (this time), you are doing it because it is who you are. You are a better person when you are creating, striving for the thing you want……the alternative is nothing and I don’t want nothing, I want something. Living a fulfilling, artistically creative life is not about fame or fortune (well maybe for some), it is about working hard and enjoying what you do. Sure you may have to have a day job to support what you love, but that is OK, your dayjob doesn’t define you – your art does.I picked up a camera because I wanted to learn how to take pretty pictures, amazing pictures. I travel to see amazing places, but have learned that there are some in my own backyard. I launched myself into Photoshop to learn how to create better, more fulfilling art. I have taken class after class, after class, because I found I really enjoy learning new things or new ways to do old things with my art. Learning is FUN. I have also found teaching is FUN. So many people have freely given me their time and knowledge and it is only fair to give some of that back. So many artists over the years have been depicted as depressed, drunks with social issues and penchant for extreme over reactions or no reaction at all. That is not what most of us are like, not at all. The problem is we all tend to be a trifle emotional about our art; whatever it is. We put our heart and soul into creating whatever it is we do; paint, sculpt, music, write….most accountants or electricians or plumbers don’t live and breathe their work, artists do.

My Motto for this year is Brave-R. I have spent the last two years being BRAVE, learning how to make and take amazing images with my camera, how to make amazing art (well I think it is and everyone online seems to enjoy it too). So now it is time to do something with it, be BRAVER – galleries, online, exhibitions, contests etc. So I didn’t sell anything (this time), maybe the person who wants my art on their walls wasn’t at this gallery in the last two weeks. Maybe they will be at the next exhibit or gallery. Maybe they just weren’t quite ready to buy and I will hear from them later? Just because nothing sold, doesn’t mean it never will, the rejection doesn’t mean they didn’t like my art. In fact not much or ANYTHING sold at this exhibit, wrong timing, wrong gallery? Who knows.This is not a personal rejection of me or my art, so I should not take it that way. The Curator said that there was a LOT of positive feedback of my work, and just because it hasn’t sold yet, doesn’t mean it wont. One rejection should not stop me moving forward.

Time to pick myself up, dust myself off and keep moving forward……because forward is where the possibilities are; the past has already happened and I want more than what was in the past. Grab fear by the hand, take it along for the ride (don’t forget fear can keep us safe), but don’t let it have the drivers seat; you need that for yourself. I still feel a little flat and that’s OK…..I have planned some creative things for this weekend, that will bring me back around.

~ Julz