Postcard Post: “Forest Island”

Forest Island Postcard

So here’s my latest postcard that I did this past weekend, which I call Forest Island. This is actually one of my best postcards that I’ve done in a while. I’m particularly pleased with how the mountain came out as I usually struggle with painting mountains (I’m no Bob Ross!). It creates a nice depth of field with it being seen from a distance, while the trees create both the middle and foreground. Of all of my “forest-type” postcards that I’ve done in the past, this I think is the best one of all. It started off not looking too good (particularly the trees on the left, looking like black blobs). But with a little creative thinking and coloring, using oil pastels on parts of it, I was able to save it from looking a hideous mess and it turns out to be one of my best postcards of all. Not too bad I say!

Be sure to check out my friend, Salazar’s blog on 14 Shades of Grey to see her latest masterpieces and wonderful works that she’s been doing!

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Maze Mania

Lately, I’ve really been intrigued by maze puzzles. I used to love doing them when I was a kid. I would get those puzzle magazines and go through and solve all of the maze puzzles first before doing the others. Most of them were pretty easy to solve.

And while these kinds of puzzles can still be found in most variety puzzle magazines today, I’ve recently discovered a more modern (and cheaper) way to fulfill my maze mania needs (see title above). Check these out!

Maze 1  Maze 2  Maze 3

I downloaded a free app onto my iPod called Mazes & More. It’s pretty awesome. The game starts off real easy at first, with simple mazes that take like 5 seconds to solve. But as you get further along, they get more complicated. Getting that little green dot into its corresponding open circle is not as easy as it seems in the later levels.

And what’s really cool about this particular game is that there are different modes of play that you can do to challenge yourself; extra gimmicks and that sort of thing. I’m just doing the classic mode for now. I’m sure that these other game modes will be interesting when I get to them!

As I’ve stated many times before on here, I am not a gamer by any right. Anything that goes beyond simple button pushing or joystick moving is beyond my capabilities. But slow paced games like this and Fortune Street, which I reviewed here, are right up my alley. They’re fun, they’re quirky and just downright addicting! I highly recommend trying this one and see how you like it.

SIA: “Autumn Rhythm (Number 30)”

My post is a day late as I was super busy this weekend, I didn’t have time to write it in time. But hopefully I’m not “breaking” any SIA traditions doing it this way. 😉

Anyway, it was Salazar’s turn to curate this next challenge and she chose Jackson Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), one of his well known abstract paintings, which helped him earn the infamous nickname, “Jack the Dripper”. In fact, that’s pretty much how he created this piece, using dripping paint, pouring and “puddling” in order to get the various size lines that he was looking for. How did he do this exactly? Just what I said; he actually poured the paint onto the canvas. He often laid his canvases on the floor and he walked around them while pouring paint on top of it. I once saw a video documentary on Pollock in one of my art history classes, seeing him do this, so trust me when I say that he literally dripped and poured paint onto his canvases. According to Pollock, by working on the floor, he feels “nearer” and more “in part” of his paintings, which makes sense I guess. And I can assume that Autumn Rhythm here got the same treatment, as you can see the amount of detail that he puts into this maniacal maze of pigment on the canvas. His style is not really my taste but I can appreciate it for what it is.

Anyway, moving on, Salazar chose this piece after getting inspired by a book that she read that mentions these “drip paintings”. She also picked it because fall is right around the corner (sooner than later for some of us) and the color scheme matches well with its fall, neutral colors. I agree. Looking at it makes me think of autumn leaves after they have fallen off the trees and have lost their color, turning dull brown. A very “fall-like” appearance indeed.

And as always, I turn to the main color schemes of a piece to best interpret my outfit.

Autumn Rhythm SIA 1Autumn Rhythm SIA 2

I took several photos before finally settling on the two that you see above. I’m not 100% satisfied with either one, as the first photo, my pants seem too big and baggy (I hate that look by the way), while the second photo, my shirt seems too big, like it’s too wide for me or something. This sort of thing isn’t really noticeable when I wear black pants, which kind of hides this. But after taking about 10 photos in all, I settled on these two, hoping to best capture the inspired look of Pollock’s painting. Black and beige seems to rule Autumn Rhythm, so that’s what I went for. Which of the two photos do you like best? Leave your comments below!

Again, I apologize for my late posting. Be sure to check out Salazar’s blog over on 14 Shades of Grey tomorrow to see how everyone else interpreted Pollock’s crazed canvas of colors. And also be sure to check out co-hosts, Daenel, over on Living Outside The Stacks, and Jen on Librarian For Life And Style to see how they went about in interpreting this painting. They both did awesome!

Botched Postcard #1

One of the things that I have noticed since I’ve started blogging, and looking at what some of my fellow bloggers are doing on their respective blogs, are outtake photos; photos that didn’t come out right and are cut from publication on the blogs (except for when they decide to use them for an outtakes post!).

Well, I decided to do something similar involving my postcards. If you have been reading the blog for a while, or even have experienced this yourself while working on a project, then you know that not everything that you do will come out perfectly, and that includes my postcard making. And while I usually end up getting rather frustrated when this happens and have to start over from square one, I thought I’d take this opportunity to turn my frustration into a blog post about these “botched cards” that just don’t quite make it to “signature status”. I don’t sign or date the postcards that I screw up, feeling that they will be heading to the recycle bin anyway. Take a look at the card below that started off great, but quickly turned into a mess.

Botched Postcard 1

This one was going pretty well when I first started it but quickly turned ugly when I messed up the center tree, which turned out to be a big glob of green, and the placement of the other trees was totally wrong.  I tried to correct it by adding some background trees (which actually turned out to be fairly decent looking) but to no avail…

And as you can see, I didn’t even bother to finish filling in the bottom corner as I had no idea as to what I even wanted to put there. In short, the postcard is a failure and not really blog worthy (certainly not mail worthy to go to any of my friends).

But there you have it. Like I’ve probably mentioned on here before, not every postcard that I start comes out looking great. Sometimes, I will go through 3 or 4 blank postcards before I manage to get it the way I want it to look, while other times, they come out great the first time. It just depends on how I’m feeling and whether or not I’m feeling the inspiration. And apparently for this postcard, I just wasn’t feeling it. No one ever said that it was easy. Sometimes, it’s just downright challenging in coming up with subjects for these postcards!

But not to fret too much on this. I will just pick up the paints another day when I feel less clumsy with the brush. 😉

 

Postcard Post: “Lakeshore #2”

As you can see from the title, this is the second of the “Lakeshore” postcards that I am currently working on. You can see the first postcard in the series, as well as the post that I did on it here.

Lakeshore #2 Postcard

This one actually came out better than the first one I think. It has a little more depth to it than the first one and looks less “flat”. I even like how the water reflections came out, successfully done by simply taking a wet clean brush and pulling straight down.

The trees on the left (yes, there’s two of them) didn’t come out so well as they look like a bunch of green “clumps”, but other than that, the rest of it came out okay.

Anyone out there have any ideas as to what “Lakeshore #3” should look like? Leave any suggestions that you have in the comments!

August Book Reviews 2018

Okay, so I know that it’s been a while since my last book review; not since April. And I am a few days early this time, as I usually wait and post the very last day of the month.

I’m always questioning whether I should continue to do them or not, one reason being that I don’t always finish a book within a month’s time. I think that’s kind of sad, but then I have to remember that at least I’m making an effort to keep up. I always set my expectations too high in most everything that I do and this is no exception. But this is for fun so I don’t need to be so serious about it. 😛 Anyway, I’ll keep at it, as long as you guys are reading them.

So this time around, I have more than one book to review (after four months of not doing any reviews, I would hope to have more than one read!). They are all children’s novels, but all very good stories and ones that I would recommend you read.

The first one up is called The Kindness Club: Chloe on the Bright Side by Courtney Sheinmel. It’s the first of what I assume to be a series (currently reading the second one) of books that are told through the eyes of each of the main characters, Chloe, Lucy and Theo.

The Kindness Club Cover

Title: The Kindness Club: Chloe on the Bright Side
Author: Courtney Sheinmel
Genre: Children’s General Fiction
Pages: 206 (209 counting the Acknowledgements Page)

This book is told from Chloe’s point of view, a fifth grader who just moved to Maryland and is attending a new school. Wanting to fit in right away, Chloe makes an effort to join in the “IT Girls” club, consisting of a group of girls, which can be classified as the typical “mean girl club” found in middle and high schools. The self proclaimed leader of the IT Girls group, Monroe, starts off liking Chloe and wishes her to join the group, but is later seen as being quite dismissive of her when Chloe tries to be a part of the newly formed “Kindness Club” with Lucy and Theo, which they form as part of their science club project.

There is a moment where you feel like Chloe will become a permanent member of the IT Girls, but comes to find out that it’s simply not for her. As you’re reading, you sort of get the sense that Chloe is like the typical “goody-two-shoes” or “Pollyanna” type of person, simply wanting to please others, but she is more than that, which makes her very “likeable” I feel. And her struggling to deal with her parents being divorced and her mom and dad not exactly on “speaking terms”, you can’t help but feel for her a little. Overall, Chloe’s character is one that you will like and not find annoying (at least I didn’t). Lucy and Theo are also very likable, with Theo being the typical “geek/nerdy” type and Lucy is… just plain sweet. You will have to read the book to find out how!
And I can tell you right now that Lucy will have an even bigger role in the next book, as it is told from her perspective and she describes more about herself. She may be even more likable than Chloe! I can’t wait to find out!

Overall, I give this book a 5 out of 5. A great and fun read!

The next book I have is called The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani.

The Night Diary Cover

Title: The Night Diary
Author: Veera Hiranandani
Genre: Children’s Historical/Fiction
Pages: 264 (267 counting the Author’s Note, Glossary and Acknowledgements Pages)

A historical fiction novel, set in 1947 India, it tells the story of a young girl named Nisha, who lives with her father, grandmother, younger brother and cook.

Though I will say that the story ended happily, most of it has a very sad and melancholic feel to it. It’s told from Nisha’s point of view, in the form of a secret diary that she is writing to her mother, who is dead. The basic focus of the story centers around Nisha’s attempt to understand why the people in her country must separate, mostly based on religion. She and her family must migrate from the part of India (what is now Pakistan) into what she calls “The New India” for fear of being killed. Throughout the story, you sense the tension between Hindus and Muslims, as well as the tension building up within Nisha’s own family, as her father is Hindu, while her mother was Muslim. Nisha struggles within herself as to who she really is and wonders should she feel if she is either more of one or the other.
I love how the author really makes you feel like you are there with Nisha and her family as they travel to their new home; the struggles and challenges that they face. There’s a part in the story where they are nearly out of water to drink in their travels and I actually felt thirsty just hearing about how thirsty they all were during their difficult journey. It certainly helped me to appreciate clean, drinkable water a lot more! You are willing to do some pretty desperate things in order to satisfy your thirst, as you will see when reading the story.

I really liked all of the characters in the story and the author really helped give you a sense of who each character is through their various personalities. You see this the most with Nisha, and her brother, Amil. Nisha is very shy and quiet while Amil is more outgoing and open. There’s a point near the end of the story in which Nisha refuses to talk at all and only communicates through written notes; feeling hurt that she angered her father.
There’s a character in the book that makes a brief appearance, in which I really like. Nisha temporarily befriends a young Muslim girl named Hafa while on their travels and she is even more shy than Nisha. I listened to the audio version of this book and the reader did a really superb job in portraying the soft-spoken Hafa, who you can’t help but like. Unfortunately, they are caught by Nisha’s father, who harshly reprimands her for disobeying him in remaining hidden from view and talking to strangers, which in turn, makes Nisha “go silent” for most of the remaining story.
I also really liked Kazi, the family’s cook. Though he was Muslim, he remains a loyal friend of the family, especially to Nisha, who greatly admires him and looks upon him with great respect as she is often seen cooking with and helping him prepare meals.

Like I said, this was a very nice story and it really helped give me a knowledge of India’s history (part of it anyway) and what people went through during that time. The US wasn’t the only country facing discrimination in the late 40s/early 50s…
I also give this book a 5 out of 5.

The last book that I have to present is called Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed.

Amal Unbound Cover

Title: Amal Unbound
Author: Aisha Saeed
Genre: Children’s General Fiction
Pages: 226 (231 counting the Author’s Note and Acknowledgements Pages)

Ironically enough, this book is set in present day Pakistan. This book and the last one I just reviewed are not related, though it sort of feels like it, as we basically jumped ahead 71 years.

This book is about a 12 year old girl named Amal, who temporarily gives up her freedom when she is forced into servitude by a powerful Pakistani family after she unintentionally insults one of the members. She has to leave her home and her dream of becoming a teacher behind to “repay her debt” to the Khan family.
While living in the Khan family mansion, Amal encounters others living there, either by choice or in the same situation as her, and she must learn to work together with them if she wishes to have any hope of escaping this “prison mansion”. One character makes this difficult for Amal (there’s always a ‘foil’ to help challenge the protagonist, right?); Nabila. While at first, she is seen as Amal’s “rival” in a way, getting her into trouble and such, she later becomes a sort of ‘friend’ to her after Amal stands up for her for a prank that originated from Nabila herself. So you’ll see a little bit of character development there, which always helps to move the story along. I’ll admit that I didn’t like Nabila at first. But after seeing her become a better person towards Amal, she became MUCH more likable.

The one character I didn’t like was Jawad, the main antagonist and member of the Khan family. Simply put, he’s a jackass; abusive, both verbally and physically. He even physically hit Amal once when she was standing up to him for Nabila. His father, who is just as much a douchebag as his son, is not seen too often, but he, like his son, both get what’s coming to them by the end of the story, which I’m all for seeing that happen. But Jawad’s mother, Nasreen, is very likable and is nothing like the men in the family. While not a ‘friend’ friend, she is seen as a “mother-like” figure towards Amal while she is in the mansion and often tries to protect her from her son’s more abusive actions. And at the end of the book, Nasreen helps Amal in a very big way.

Again, another great story here as I really enjoyed reading it. And can I just say that the cover alone makes this book a good read; so colorful! I also give this one a 5 out of 5.

And there you have it. Two books read, one audio listened; not bad. I hope to get my reading routine back in gear and will have more books to review next month. I have a few of them going already. Let’s see if I can get through them in time!

And please be sure to check out my friend, Salazar’s blog over on 14 Shades of Grey to see what she’s reading!

SIA: Anna Atkins

I apologize for my post being late. I was attempting to prepare another post for the blog when I was planning to write this one and that other post took practically all of my time (and patience). So if I’m “breaking” any SIA rules for evening posting, please forgive me. 😉

Moving forward, this SIA challenge is hosted by Jen, over on Librarian For Life And Style, and she chose a series of photographs taken by Anna Atkins, a photographer who lived in the 19th century. What I found interesting about Anna Atkins was that she learned about the process of photography from English scientist, William Henry Fox Talbot (I think that his name is like the coolest name ever), who I remembered studying a little about in one of my art history classes back in college. You can read more about him here. He basically invented the process of developing photographs from the negatives, using salt print paper. He’s one of the reasons we have cameras now, before digital cameras took over. Thank you Mr. Talbot.

But getting back to Anna, by taking what she learned from Talbot, she was able to develop these ‘photogenic drawings’, which you can see some of them on Jen’s blog.

The color is very monochromatic, blue and white basically, so that is the route I went.

Anna Atkins SIA 1

Anna Atkins SIA 2

A blue shirt with blue jean. I’m not a jeans kind of guy and rarely, if ever, wear them. But they were the perfect addition for this particular SIA. The real focus however, is the shirt and particularly the logo of the library in which I work at. I don’t have too many shirts with embroidery on them, so when I discovered this in my closet, I automatically jumped at the chance to use it for this challenge. Like the blue and white theme of Atkins’ photos, I also when with a blue and white color scheme. Looking at this, I really could have done better at presenting my outfit (I hate those wrinkles!), but it was the best that I could do at the time. At least I can say that I tried.

So that’s all for me. Be sure to check in on Jen’s blog this coming Wednesday for the full round-up of how everyone else went about in interpreting these photos with their outfits. And be sure to visit Jen’s co-founders of SIA, Salazar over on 14 Shades of Grey, and Daenel on Living Outside The Stacks to see their interpretations. They did great!

Join us!

Postcard Post: “Jungle Pond”

The title of this post (as well as the postcard itself) sounds like something from a movie. Or as my brother, who is a gamer (I am not), put it, a platform videogame stage.

While I don’t know about all of that, I felt that it was quite appropriate for this image.

Jungle Pond Postcard

This one started off not coming out so well as the background was simply a huge mass of green blobs that looked nothing like trees, or a jungle for that matter. So I decided to stick in some colored pencil drawn in leaves (once the paint dried) to give it a more “jungle-like” feel and placed the two trees in the foreground to help push that background further back in space. Doing that helped forge a pretty decent scene and helped save this card from a one way trip to the recycle bin and me returning to the drawing board. The marshy-like water came out pretty awesome I think.

Postcard Post: “Lakeshore #1”

After the rather somber sounding post that I did last week, I thought it would be good to lighten things up a bit for this one. Now that 8/14 has finally passed, I feel like my true summer is just beginning (even though we only have about a month or so of it left and for most people, summer is getting ready to end).

And I have the perfect postcard that displays the happy and joyous kind of summer that I’ve always wanted.

Lakeshore #1 Postcard

I call this one Lakeshore #1. It’s just a simple little scene that I came up with, showing a nice, serene spot by a lake. I added the usual trees and grassy areas that you would typically see in an area like this. I really like how the lake itself came out (that liquid white really comes in handy!).

But other than the sailboat that is sailing in the background, there’s really nothing that makes this card stand out; nothing to really make it “pop”. Looking at it, I really wish that I had added a little color to the flowers in the foreground bush, but I feared that they would take away from the overall painting, and wanted to keep them simple.

I am thinking of doing a series of lake-like paintings, hence, the number in the title. It may help give me some inspiration for the next few postcards that I do. Besides, painting bodies of water is fun and easy!

That’s all for now. I hope to get even more postings out soon. But in the meantime, check out what my friend, Salazar, is doing over on her blog, 14 Shades of Grey. I am not the only one making art! You go, Salazar!

A Beacon of Light

Okay, I totally wasn’t going to post anything today, of all days, but I had a change of heart. Today, August 14th (or what I simply call “8/14”), marks one of the most painful and emotionally destructive days of my entire life. It’s one of the main reasons, if not the only reason, why I dislike summer so much, as you’ve probably heard me say on the blog in the past.

What happened to me is of little importance. I’m not here to discuss or whine about the incident. I’m here simply as a small act of bravery and fortitude. I’m wanting to move forward with life and not stay stuck in the past. I’m wanting to create good and positive memories so as not to dwell on the painful ones.

And one such memory that I’m creating is in the form of a postcard, which you will see below.

Lighthouse By The Shore Postcard

I call this Lighthouse by the Shore. It depicts a lighthouse tower near the seashore, casting its light out against the dusky sky. The postcard itself isn’t that great really. I think that the proportions are off and I could have made the cliff that it’s sitting on a little more sturdy so that it won’t get swept away by the ocean waves that come crashing through.

But this postcard means a lot to me as it represents something that I am trying to keep hold of during this difficult time: happiness.