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

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

The Sweet Life – Cake Smash & Bombed Alaska

Desley Jane and I did a sweet life cupcake shoot, with some disastrously funny results, there were some great pics as well, and so many laughs… So when life gives you lemons…….you grab the vodka, right? Well we grabbed the vodka and a lighter and attempted to re flambe a bombed Alaska wp-1485229471699.jpg

Did I mention we were winging it here? Watch the video, seriously we have no idea what we are doing, but we have a lot of fun doing it!

Then, because the cupcakes were a mess anyway we decided to do a cake smash………..also notice the pretty white top I was wearing? BIG MISTAKE lol, seriously I should not be allowed to wear anything other than black!

In our defence, us creative types have often weird and quirky ideas, and it is usually strange things that keep us amused, we are seldom dangerous (often extremely clumsy, but seldom dangerous), our destructive tendencies are usually focused on the artistic influences in front of us ie; flowers, cookies, cupcakes etc….or maybe that is just Desley and I?

Oh and did you notice how BRAVE I am being, I am in not one, but two videos! Good gracious I’ve been corrupted! lol

~ Julz

 

Nikkor 16-85mm Lens Review

Another early Christmas present was another new lens………..now I know what you are thinking, really? another new bit of glass? But it was required. Moth got one for his Birthday/Christmas and we were so impressed I kept stealing it for my camera instead of my horrible 18-200mm lens which allows every bit of dust onto the sensor. I hate it with a passion. So after a few weeks of us fighting over it, I bit the bullet and ordered one for myself for Christmas.

AF-S DX 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

Now this is not a new lens, it is an older model and took a bit to find it on Nikon’s website, but it did make it dirt cheap from DWI! Don’t get me wrong it is a fabulous bit of kit and my new go to lens. It is fantastic for low light even if the aperture only goes up to F/3.5 (down to F/22); beautiful for still life, portraits, landscapes, just about anything. I have used it for macro, light painting, sunsets, newborns and concept shoots. It is tack sharp every time!It has a lovely range on it……….ok it isn’t perfect; at the Zoo I wanted something more than 85mm for the zoom.

It is small, compact and lightweight (well when compared to the 18-200mm), it gives such a lovely clear, crisp image. It is 67mm diameter so it is a standard size for filters.

This lens really is my new workhorse, it is reliable (as most Nikon Lenses are) and so versatile. Apparently it also has a better performing VR and less distortion on the wide angle as opposed to the 18-200mm as well – Ken Rockwell

Oh and did I tell you I love this lens? seriously it really has become my favourite lens. If you are looking for a very versatile all rounder, and you can still find one, you just might be able to grab a bargain!

And remember old stock isn’t bad stock…….as long as it still comes with a warranty you are all good.

~ Julz

 

Summer Holiday Movies…

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Now I know I am usually out and about during my holidays, but being confined to the house with an infirm dog and some unusually high humid and hot days meant we actually either stayed in and watched some movies, or went to the cinema. I’m not normally one to comment too much, I am not a very big movie critic, however;

Cinema

  • Fantastic Beasts and where to find them
    • Truly phenomenal, can’t wait to see where this new series goes, loved every heart stopping minute, great characters and fantastic beasts, my girls both want a Nifler!
  • Star Wars, Rogue One
    • Was no sure at first, didn’t really like the last once much, but Disney came to the party on this one, different enough from the others to warrant a new series and a new audience. The characters were real, dirty, shabby and kick ass, the side kicks amazing LOVE K-2SO, the robot with attitude, no cute and fuzzy here folks, real adult action. Worth watching.
  • Assassins Creed
    • My Children and now hubby all play the Game of the same name, so I have seen enough that I was curious. We went with our daughter and son in law. Can’t say I was impressed, it didn’t make a huge amount of sense, apart from the peripheral Templar bad guys thing. Apparently if you have played the game you have been conditioned to accept jumping around and taking leaps of faith for things that you just simply do not understand lol. Erratic and loud would describe it. Totally unbelievable…….not that that is a bad thing I really like Charlie’s Angel Movies and Bruce Willis Die Hard films too 🙂

At home on TV

  • Finding Dory
    • As expected, cute, with morals and a happy ending, great for big kid and little kids. I enjoy a good Pixar movie, even if a little repetitive.
  • Nerve
    • Going in I had no idea what the plot really was, but man what a ride, sit on the edge of your seats thriller, without the blood and guts, loved it. Very matrix meets Hunger games; well sort of. It’s hard to explain as I have never seen anything like it. It’s Truth or Dare………..without the truth. Internet Game goes viral and turns deadly…….over the top, but it could happen.
  • The Jungle Book
    • To be honest I was expecting more…….I just found it a little lacking, but I am not sure why. Bill Murray was wonderful, as were all the other actors, it was beautifully made, just something I can’t put my finger on. Some pizzazz missing, don’t get me wrong I enjoyed it, just not glued to my seat enjoyed it. I was happy to check my Facebook and IG accounts while watching……..and that’s never a good thing during a movie.

So I saw sic movies, thoroughly loved three, enjoyed two, Assassin’s Creed was mildly entertaining for a little while, but I would never sit through it again. Would I play the game now I have seen the movie? Nope…….give me Tomb Raider any day, made more sense 🙂

~ Julz

 

Share Your World – Week 52

Week 52, can you believe it, it seems this year has taken everyone by surprise…not just me. I can honestly say I have had such a jam packed year and I am grateful to say that phase, “another year over and I have not accomplished a single damn thing” does not come out of my mouth. That’s not to say I have not sat on my butt and enjoyed doing nothing on occasion, oh but those days I can enjoy and savour, not regret. So Cee has one last lot of questions for this year.

What’s your favourite ice-cream flavor? Either chocolate or rum and raisin, but not just any rum and raisin; it has to be the good stuff. When we were kids we spent our Summer Holidays camping down by the beach, Dad spent the week at home working and drove down for the weekends. On the weekends we all used to do family things. One of our favourites was to drive to Sorrento for ice cream. There was an ice creamery that had over 50 different flavours, to us this was amazing and we always had to try new ones…..it took awhile to try them all. I loved their run and raisin, oh and the Dutch Double chocolate, and the peppermint, not spearmint, has to be peppermint. Oh………I miss good ice cream, these days it is off the cards – lactose intolerant. Yes I know there is lactose free ice cream, but believe me, it just isn’t the same. Soy Chocolate ice cream is disgusting, almond or coconut milk chocolate ice cream is quite nice, but just not the same.

If you were to treat yourself to the “finer things” what would you treat yourself to? I agree with Cee, cook and housekeeper for me please. I hate cleaning (yes I know everyone probably does), but I really do hate it, I love HAVING a clean house, just not the cleaning. Cooking, I don’t mind cooking, but it gets monotonous cooking for just the two of us and Moth is very, very fussy.

Have you ever been drunk? I was young once, and very, very stupid………I lost a year or two in there somewhere, alcohol, drugs and stupidity. I am lucky to have survived it. Not completely intact, but still here………lessons learned. I rarely drink these days, one or two here and there…….two usually seems to be my limit, but I indulged and had three glasses of champagne with OJ on Christmas day 🙂

Complete this sentence: My favourite supposedly guilty pleasure is… OK food, I’ll admit that, but apart from food I guess my photography is a wee bit obsessive, but I think my REAL guilty pleasure is the time on my PC, editing photos, WP, Social media, online Tutorials and creating Art………I can do it for hours and often do.dsc_5784

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

I am grateful my little family has survived another year intact, I am glad Christmas is over, I love it, but it can be hectic and stressful. I know it sounds awful but so often I build it up in my head so much, that it is often anti climatic. Every year I say I wont make such a fuss, but I do, only to not have it particularly appreciated. But that’s my beef and I get over it.

The week coming up………I am still off on holidays so that is nice, sleeping in and doing what ever I feel like, it’s heaven. We have another family get together with my Favourite Aunt and her family, that is always loads of fun and no stress; why is that? I am eager to get 2017 started as well, this tail end of the year is such a lull (don’t get me wrong I love that peace & quiet), but this year was so fantastic I am excited to see WHAT is in store for 2017.

I would just like to thank everyone who reads and follows my blog, and to thank everyone whose blog I read, so much entertainment, friendship, inspirational stories and images and tales of wonder. I look forward to more of the same next year.

~ Julz, xo

What a roller coaster…

Pre – warning there will be a possible rant in here somewhere!

Man this has been such a roller coaster of a week, such highs and such lows. It all started last weekend with the freezer door being left open………lost a lot of food, but the positive out of it was sharing with family and friends to eat up all the food so it did not go to waste. THAT’s a good thing, the fact that it costs hundreds dollars to re stock the freezer………not so good. 😦 🙂 😦

Then My Mum spent a night in the coronary ward, in Hospital; turned out all OK, but still very worrisome as I am sure you can all imagine. 😦

I received a notification that this month’s Living the Photo Artistic Life magazine is out and I saw that I have two of my Fine Art Nudes are in it, so that is very nice. My model Chey was quite hyped about it as well. 🙂

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Buddy

I spent yesterday morning with my dog, Buddy, with an Orthopedic Surgeon, what we thought was a strain or perhaps a small tear in his ACL turns out to be a complete rupture and he needs a replacement, poor Buddy………and my poor wallet. This will be costly, painful and lengthy, he is nine years old, so too young to leave without surgery. 😦

🙂 I then opened my email and saw that I have received an in-depth Portfolio review from the wonderful Brooke Shaden, she does this every year and I was too scared last year to apply and too clueless the year before to even know to apply, lol. She said some wonderful things about my digital art, my ability for working light and colour and creating a story. She also made a comment along the lines about my sense of purpose was perhaps a little confused……was my style more photographic, fine art, collage, painterly. She made some constructive criticism about 3 pieces in particular. My initial excitement dimmed a touch. 😦

Once I cooled off and got over my initial angst (no one likes criticism, right?), I re-read her review and looked at my images, and she is correct; the lines are blurring in my style. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Am I blurring the lines on purpose or due to lack of purpose. I though perhaps my style was evolving and I was growing and moving as an artist, I am evolving as a photographer; perhaps this is a natural progression?  ;-P

Brooke’s email was so wonderful and full of such positive comments, I know her intent was not to scare me off, or even to make me second guess my own integrity, but instead to make re evaluate my mission, my purpose. So I have found myself at a loss. My style is quirky and mixed media and very difficult to pigeonhole, not that this is a bad thing, but WHERE do I want to take my art? I do portraits and landscapes and still life, concept, Fine Art. I know of late I am moving away from Landscapes, I still enjoy the travel and the photography, but it does not take up much in my digital art portfolio. I adore Fine Art Nudes and Light Painting, but again on a photographic level, not my digital art. Still Life is like my Meditation, my Zen…..so perhaps it’s more just for me than for the public, although many people say they adore my Still Life.

So that leaves me with my portraits and concept shoots, to be honest my heart is not in my portraits like it used to be, it helps pay the bills, but it doesn’t make my heart sing…not like my concept shoots. I still enjoy doing them, so don’t get me wrong on that score……….it’s just when I am working on a Concept Shoot, there is days, weeks even in the planning and I feel ALIVE; I need to do more of them.

Then there is my more recent collage work, I love it it is such fun, but again I guess it’s not my stuff……….a lot of it is bits and pieces created by someone else and I am just putting all together in a pleasing way.

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Berkly Pack by Rebecca McMeen – Berkly in Paris by Me

I have also just opened up my Etsy Store….not much in it yet, but I’m working on more as we speak……….so that is very exciting. 🙂

Like I said this was going to be a bit of a rant, sorry and thanks for sticking with me if you got this far!

~ Julz

 

Getting Crafty…

I have made two projects recently, mostly quick and easy to do, which adds so much to photos, and is cheap and easy to store.

Shabby Chic Table Top’. This is a great space saving, as well as money saving idea, as most of the items I had lying around the house, just need to buy the timber sheet, and not being an entire table it does not take up that much room. Mix and Match colours for different effects.

Materials –

  • 600 x 1200 x 3mm Marine Ply
  • Timber Stain, acrylic (colour of your choice, mine is Merbau)
  • A clean soft brush
  • Acrylic paint (I used soft white)
  • Newspaper
  • Sandpaper
  • Paper towel
  • Raw Umber (or Burnt Umber) acrylic paint
  • Paint retarder (not essential but rather handy)

Method –

  1. Wipe down board to remove dust and particles, then give one coat of timber stain with soft brush. Leave to dry minimum 2-3 hours. Wash and dry brush.
  2. Give 2-3 coats of white paint, leaving 2-3 hours between coats. Try wrapping brush in Glad Wrap (Cling wrap) between coats and leaving in the fridge, that way you don’t have to keep washing it.
  3. Once completely dry, leave overnight and then sand back the white paint revealing the stain below, sand in some areas more, like normal wear and tear along edges etc. I have a Black & Decker Mouse, electric sander which I have had for years, making a very quick job of this, but it can be done by hand as well.
  4. Then taking the umber acrylic paint, mix with the paint retarder and lightly brush over the table top, then rub in with paper towel, and then rub off excess with wet (with water) paper towel, work in sections and move thoroughly over the entire piece, until you are happy with the result.
  5. Again, leave to dry (overnight if possible) and then sand again until you are happy with the rustic result. Another option is to rub beeswax mixed with a patina like umber to give an aged effect.

‘Dark & Moody Blackboard Backdrop’ So my other project was a blackboard paint back drop, I picked up a piece of pre painted ply, so all I had to do was get it cut in half, but you could easily get some blackboard paint and paint an old canvas or timber. I then ran some black electrical tape (well I think that’s what they called it) and join the two pieces together.

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The reason behind this is about the way different colours reflect and absorb light; white reflects and black absorbs, even more so flat matte like blackboard paint seems to suck up all the light.Very cool for dark and moody style of shoots.

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~ Julz

 

See Differently 15 – 15

A few of us have been doing a challenge this month on seeing the world a little differently, looking with fresh eyes on the things we normally bypass. It’s been a great challenge and one I have enjoyed immensely. I have been trying to find something for my last image, hence why I have not posted as yet. This morning on my way in to work, past the weeds in the overgrown garden bed (must remember to arrange a gardener), I saw a pop of purple…….it was probably there yesterday and the day before, but I just never noticed it.

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OK,  so not the world’s prettiest plant but look how it stands out against the grey and green surrounding it…….let’s face it not a very pretty garden to begin with, it’s just in the car park.

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I have no idea what it is, just intrigued me that I could walk past this every day and never noticed it before. Take the colour away and it is still noticeable.

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There are just some of the images I have displayed over the last few weeks, why not head over to Robyn at CaptivateMe’s page and see more about this, it check out the hashtag#seedifferently2016

Well that it’s for me for this challenge, it has been enjoyable and challenging, as I have pushed myself to mostly use my Sony Smart Phone camera, there were a few shots that I didn’t but for very specific reasons. I also used my Lenka B&W App a bit as well.

Til next time, happy snapping and remember to look, up, down, side to side, in front, behind and under everything…you just never know what surprise is in store for you.

~ Julz

Furbaby Friday…

Wow had has been a tumultuous couple of weeks with my Fur Babies, where to start, perhaps with the dogs;

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Chloe

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Buddy

My Eldest daughter is currently in the US on holiday and they are both sulking and missing her terribly, she is their second Mum. Buddy has been responding really well to a new (miracle) drug Cartrophen for his arthritis, he has gone from a cripple to climbing onto table tops like a naughty puppy. They tell me it doesn’t work for every animal (we put our cat Teddy on it and did not work as well), but Buddy is the poster child. Except on the way home from his latest vert check he launched out of the back of the SUV and now has hurt his back/ back leg…….I am watching him some times he is fine and other times not; but he is known for really hamming things up to get more attention and with my daughter away he is after LOTS more attention. Chloe’s eyes are gradually getting a little worse as she gets a little older, nothing can be done, but she is mostly happy; just startles easily.

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Zorro

Wow, Zorro is at his sleekest he has ever been and back to sneaking out of the house and property when the chance is taken. Still a big sook, but standing up for himself these days. That includes beaten up on the other cat and dogs. Often he gets a timeout and is locked up in the laundry. We use a cat pheromone spray to help keep him calm; works well.

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Ted E Bear

Teddy was born with a busted up tail which never healed properly, by the time we rescued him there was not much we could do, either amputate or leave it and see what happens; we took the latter. What happened was arthritis….we tried the Cartrophen drug, but he has bad side effects and it puts him off his food, also it is not helping as much as we would like. He is in pain as his tail will not bend and it is difficult to sit down and even use the kitty litter. So an extended visit with the vet, we have had a blood test taken to check his liver and kidneys are all OK to do an anaesthetic for X-rays. Found elevated kidney proteins, needed a urine sample! A urine sample from a cat, seriously…………..oh my 22 hours that cat held on while locked in a laundry with an empty litter tray and a bowl of water, just to entice him to ‘go’. Urine sample showed evidence of infection. So a course of antibiotics is required, only one thing worse than giving a cat tablets, is giving a cat tablets that hates you for locking him in the laundry for 22 hours so you could collect a urine sample with NO cat litter………….so we opted for a more expensive injection, still had to catch him and take him the the vet for his shot. We still need another urine sample in 2 weeks and we still have not even done the X-rays yet! If it was not so expensive and painful, it would be hilarious.

Next is the turtles……..Sheldon is big and strong and weighs 178 grams and is 15cm in diameter and you need two hands to hold him, considering he was no bigger than a 50 cent piece when we bought them home; Sheldon is thriving.Crush unfortunately is not doing so well, a month or so ago he cut his leg, turtles are cold blooded so they do not fight infection as well as normal pets, so oral antibiotics and antiseptic baths. Only thing harder than giving a cat tablets, is giving a baby turtles drops! My Children thought it was hilarious, it was a nightly battle that took two people. Honestly he is half the size of Sheldon and ALL Attitude (aarrgghh!) All cleared up after a few weeks. Then he started getting funny marks on his back feet, it looked like something was chewing his feet……..after a few vet visits and more drops and more anti fungal creams and baths, we discovered the root of the problem – Sheldon was eating him! OH MY GOD! Seriously?  Apparently turtles get cannibalistic tendencies when they think they are threatened or don’t have enough space. So now they both have their own tank, Crush who was not eating and was losing weight, was so stressed out and in so much pain, poor little bugger, but now in his own big boy tank he will hopefully thrive like Sheldon is doing. Even after a few days in his new tank he is again eating and seems so much happier and his feet are healing; he will probably never be whole, but with us looking after him and keeping him away from Sheldon, he will hopefully now live a long happy life.

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So that has been my very expensive, tortuous and stressful couple of weeks, thank goodness I have my art and photography, otherwise I would be freaking out.

~ Julz