>Fun with Photoshop

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I’ve been having a bit of fun with Photoshop and fiddling with a mandala I did for myself years ago.  Here’s the “fiddled with” version:
And here’s the original version:
Interestingly, this mandala marks the first appearance of a spider which is actually one of my totem spirits.  I did this mandala in 2000 (wow, TEN years ago, how time flies) when my husband went back to the UK to see his mother, daughter and other relatives. I could have gone with him but felt strongly that we both needed to work through this period on our own. I’m not quite sure why but, as it turned out, Bryan missed me so much he cut short his stay. While he was away, I did a lot of work teaching mandalas and actually enjoyed learning to stand on my own two feet.  This is actually more true than it sounds – just after he flew back to the UK, I got a severe pain in my right heel and could hardly walk.  It wasn’t until I muttered to myself “I can’t even stand on my own two feet” that I realised this pain was stress related, and I managed to clear it up quite quickly with the help of a very good naturopath.

I actually haven’t gone too deep into Photoshop and I must say I’m entranced at all the different versions I can create of any original piece of artwork, or a photo.  Great fun.  Back to my second childhood!

>Truth on Fire – You May Call Me a Dreamer

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I had to pack in artwork for a while as I (blush, blush) went to shut a door and forgot the middle finger of my right hand was still in the doorjamb.  So I managed to gouge out a bit of flesh and it’s taking ages to heal as it’s in an awkward position, on the top knuckle.  Talk about clumsy, I won’t be doing that again in a hurry. But it has limited the use of my right hand somewhat.
Anyway, today I ventured back into my last piece of artwork as part of Art Every Day Month. I started playing around on this canvas with Inktense pencils which Leah happened to mention. I ‘d never heard of them before, so I ordered a set and it was fun stuffing around with them to see what they can do.  But I felt I was “trying” to make art, and it wasn’t flowing.  And then I started on this current piece and it went really fast.  It’s not complex, it didn’t take long to do, but it was something from my heart about truth and justice in our world today – something which has intrinsic meaning for me as I’m a Libran Sun, with a Libran Ascendant.  It has pale gold glitter scattered over as I was being the Truth Fairy (I live in hope) when I finished the painting, scattering over the stardust of truth, compassion and integrity.
My painting was sparked by reading about the Wikileaks diplomatic file releases and the subsequent reactions by government leaders around the world.  What incensed me – and fired up my small piece of art – was the blame laid on the messenger, Julian Assange, without taking responsibility for the seamy, seedy, corrupt inter-action between governments behind the scenes.  It’s okay to do this but not for us, the ordinary public, to know about. Well, bollocks to that.  We’re in changing times where government secrecy is being ripped apart so that we, the people, know what is going on. To quote John Lennon’s words: “You may call me a dreamer”, but someone has to dream of honesty and integrity and I’m sure there are millions out there who would agree with me, as I’m ever the optimist.

What really got up my nose was the heartless treatment of one particular individual, Khaled El-Masri, and complete indifference by US government leaders to what happened to him or to any compensation for his suffering.
This man is a citizen of  Germany who was kidnapped in Macedonia by CIA agents in a case of mistaken identify.  He ws taken to Afghanistan, held there for several months and tortured, before being dumped on a hillside in Albania and being told that “no-one would believe what had happened to him.”
In fact, the CIA agents were identified in Germany and were going to be prosecuted, as they should be for their illegal kidnapping and torture.  But the US government put the heavies on German leaders who backed down and abandoned any legal action against the CIA. For Khaled El-Masri it must have been a living nightmare to be kidnapped and then tortured when he was quite incapable of providing any information whatsoever.
We should all be outraged and enraged that cynicism, lying, corruption and sleazebag activities are routinely undertaken by political leaders around the world and treated as a matter of fact. I don’t confine these comments to Western leaders either.  I watched a documentary recently about the activities and efforts of ordinary people in various African nations to make a decent life for themselves, with most of them suffering under corrupt leaders who pocketed millions while their people lived in poverty.
Whatever happened to honesty, justice, truth and integrity?  If we remain indifferent to these appalling actions, we are just as much complicit. If we remain silent, we are in effect condoning disgusting and disgraceful activities by the head honchos in governments, corporations and the military which transgress what is right and just in this world.
I decided that, rather than just stew over this, I’d get my rage out in artwork and out of my system.  I see no problem with feeling rage at corruption and injustice.  It’s when we stop seeing what is wrong that we are on a slippery slope to validating actions which are illegal and against our common humanity.

Rave over – what a way to wind up Art Every Day Month!!!!!

>Galloping gardens

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I thought I’d post some pics of our garden as we head towards the beginning of summer next Wednesday. Because of the La Nina effect on the currents of the Pacific Ocean, we have been receiving bucketloads of rain here on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. I’m not complaining too much as the drought has broken at long last in NSW and I don’t think anyone here in Australia complains too much about rain whenever it turns up, given this is such a dry continent. But the rain has certainly helped the plants grow which we have been steadily planting since we got here early last December.  Here are some more:
This is the garden bed Bryan planted in about February this year.
This is the bed with a rockery my husband put in beside our back verandah.  We’ve moved the dirt right back from the house and put in the rockery so it keeps the area dry and allows the rain to flow easily (which was a good idea as this is a particularly wet summer, as I mentioned above).

Thi is our front verandah with new latticework instead of a solid surround.  We’ve also filled in the end with latticework to stop the rainbow lorikeets whizzing hte length of our verandah.  They feed on the big trumpet tree in next door’s garden and then hurtle through the verandah when they fly off.  We wanted to stop them as they a) poo on the furniture and b) move at such a speed we really don’t want to collect one in our eye or end up with our mouth being a pit-stop for one. And finally, taaa-daaa, below our pics of the house as it was when we moved in – what a difference a year makes!

And this was the garden bed when it was first planted:

>The Haves and the Have-nots

>A while back I posted a cartoon to friends via e-mail and now I thought I’d share it on my blog.  It’s not what you think – about the rich and the poor in financial terms.  It’s about the rich and the poor in emotional and heart energy terms.  Here’s the cartoon, and I’ve loaded it up in a fairly large size so you can read it easily.

Leunig is an Australian cartoonist who has been going as long as I can remember with whimsical, off-the-planet cartoons about love, people’s doings, the environment and, I guess, whatever else takes his fancy. Many of his cartoons are renowned for a character called Mr Curly and the duck which always follows him.

His cartoons are always gentle, never vitriolic or personal, although they can be very pointed at some politicians’ hypocrisy, and I enjoy his visual views on society and its foibles.

I hope you enoy this and it’s reminder to you – always have a twinkle in your eye, and if the twinkle dims a bit, search furiously for the ways and means to spark it up again!

>Fire Goddess

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I had a couple of lousy nights’ sleep and these interrupted nights always put the kybosh on any creative impulses because I generally feel so stuffed. However, I had a great night’s sleep last night, and I have now finished creating a mandala I started before the crazy sleep pattern (which erupts quite erratically).
To  my surprise, this is my all-time favourite of the art I’ve created this month as part of the Art Every Day Month project.
In starting a new piece of artwork, I felt the urge to return to mandala work – you might say I’ve come full circle (if you’ll excuse the pun) as it was creating my first mandala which helped me realise I did have some creative ability.  I did a New Moon Mandala Workshop a while back, and the lovely work the participants created helped re-connect me with the power of mandala art. This is what I ended up creating:
I’m also always surprised at how intuition and synchronicity work so closely together. After I’d drawn the circle, I was wondering what to put in it. Then I felt drawn to return to  an Astrology Yearbook for 2011, which is produced in Australia, and opened the book right on the image for Sagittarius and knew that’s what I wanted in the mandala.  So I cut her out, stuck her in the middle, then added in the framework around the circle.  The outside is more purple than you can see in the photo, and I had to fiddle a bit to get the colours just right.  Then I painted the inside of the circle around the figure in gold and outlined the circle in gold glitter (mainly because a painted gold circle looked very shaky, lol).  
And finally I foraged around and found some sheets of craft images which I raided for the stick-on hearts and decorations inside the circle and around the Fire Goddess image. I had originally intended to leave the space around the central figure empty, but felt really drawn to pop in the odds and ends which, I feel, give it a bit of a whimsical feel and remind me not to take myself too seriously.
Again, as part of the meditative process you enter when you do mandala work, I not only realised I needed to let go of extraneous diversions from my work.  I also need to take care of myself, instead of worrying about everyone else.  This means focusing on my health, and again, synchronistically, I got some really good info about supporting my health from some material Mystic Medusa published on moon signs, incredibly on the ball and incredibly good informaiton.
I’m also now working out what I need to charge for my artwork and courses so that I can be more financially supported and stable.  I’ve always worried about charging too much so that people can’t afford to do my courses or buy what I create in the way of artwork.  I think this is a perennial problem for creative people. But as I was doing this mandala, I also came to understand that I need to be in a sound financial position too, as I need to be able to eat and pay bills and buy art materials.
So now I’m going to work out what I feel are right prices for my creative work, not too high but also not too low so that I value my work and my creative abilities. Any kind hints or information would be muchly appreciated!

>Don’t mess with a woman’s creativity!

>During the week we were watching a really good series on the Australian Broadcasting Commission called “Rake”, about a rather dissolute barrister, his love life, and his court cases.  It’s very, very funny.  But in one scene, a friend of the barrister, who’s having marriage difficulties, gets drunk, tells his wife that her dream of following her art is a heap of garbage, her artwork is crap and then he puts his foot through the painting.

It was towards the end of the episode and after it finished, there was a small silence in our front room. I’ve just been re-reading “Women Who Run With The Wolves” which is feeding my determination to focus on my creative work and get my mojo up and running again. My husband, who was off kicking footballs, chasing butterflies and climbing trees when they were handing out tact in the Spirit World prior to his incarnation on earth – he’s a Leo Sun, Aries Rising and Aries Moon), is not backward in coming forward to say that he doesn’t understand my artwork and doesn’t really like it.  Real life is his forte.  That’s okay, at least he’s honest and doesn’t use weasel words. And I’m not backward in coming forward with my view that model railways are utterly boring.

So after this small silence, I said, thoughtfully: “You know, I’ll bet every woman watching that will sympathise with the wife and know in their gut that that marriage is over.  You don’t trample on a woman’s desire to find meaning in her life like that and hope to keep your marriage going”.

My husband looked at me and said fervently: “Trust me.  I felt the Death Stare when that happened.  I will never, ever do anything that stupid.  Not if I want to see the next day, anyway, and be in the same house!”.

Interestingly, I finished the New Moon and Holy Grail painting this afternoon, and for the first time Bryan asked me what it was about.  So progress is being made. And I might even be a bit more polite about model railways in future, lol!

>Full Moon & Holy Grail

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I’ve missed a couple of days of the Art Every Day Month project, decided I needed to sit back and relax a bit, so that ideas can flow instead of trying to make art work in a forced sort of way.  
I suddenly remembered yesterday that we’re coming up to the Full Moon (early morning Monday here on the East Coast) so decided to create a painting to align with this moon’s energy and to release some stuff I no longer wish to drag along with me.  I thought it was interesting – once I’d got the inspiration for the artwork, I quickly got the images of the Tree of Life pouring through a goblet, which I’m choosing to see as the Holy Grail, and then heading to the sky, with the Full Moon in the background.
So this afternoon, after we’d had a nice stroll along Scottshead Beach again – complete with people and boats all over the place because it was a surfing carnival – I started on the painting, working with watercolour pencils, a medium I’ve only recently started using:
I think it’s interesting how focusing on artwork lets your mind drift, so that you get clearer about the changes you want to make when you’re engrossed in artwork.  So on this occasion, I decided that I was going to really create a lot more free time for my art and writing by cutting back on my e-mails and time on Facebook.  I’ve actually realised how much less we communicate when Facebook is diverting attention from face-to-face contact.  I’m not against Facebook as I’ve come across some lovely people I never would have connected with otherwise, but you can spend too much time looking at all the info available, instead of focusing on creative work.  I also realise that I’m a bit too conscientious in that often I e-mail people I don’t hear from and often feel I’m sending material into the great cyberspace graveyard in the sky.  So I’m culling my e-mail list back to those who also do me the courtesy of staying in contact.  That way I’m opening up my time and space for an expansion of my creative work.  
I’m also currently thinking of ways to create an on-line mandala course next year, so cutting back on e-mails and Facebook will help me focus on my own projects, rather than reading about everyone else’s, lol.
I do have the artwork finished, but I won’t finish my alignment work until I get up in the morning, because the Full Moon isn’t until the early hours and, trust me, I won’t be running around in the middle of the night doing rituals!  So when I get up and had my shot of early-morning caffeine and I’m relatively compos mentis, I’ll work out an intention to align with the Full Moon, write it down on the lovely wishcraft paper my friend gave me, and then burn the paper in a rather beautiful brass ashtry stand which I use for these rituals.

And then, of course, full steam ahead, onwards and upwards, teacups, and anything else encouraging you can think of!