Bringing out the Artist in Me

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In the last few months, I have acquired 3 things that have been a revolution for me!

Now, what might they be?

My Ipad Pro, my Apple Ipencil and an amazing painting App – which I will tell you all about in a moment – that’s what!

First a little background story …

Years ago, I used to do a fair amount of watercolour painting, which I thoroughly enjoyed. But I so didn’t love having to wash all the brushes etc and pack everything away at the end of a painting session, a task which had to be done as I didn’t have the luxury of a dedicated area where I could leave all my painting stuff out and readily pick up where I left off the next day.

This meant either I would keep working on a painting until it was totally finished, rather than interrupt the flow, even if this was well into the wee small hours. Or, more often than not, after a day at work (this was long before Romsey Fotografix was even a twinkle in the eye), as it was such a chore to get everything out, set up and get started, I didn’t bother. Inevitably my painting sessions became few and far between, to the point of non-existent.

And thus it was for about 18 years or so!

I had my own graphic design company then which satisfied my creative side of course, and also kept me extremely busy. Together with the boys growing up. I didn’t have a lot of spare time for hobbies.

Photography became my passion and eventually in early 2006 Romsey Fotografix was born. I didn’t really think about painting as such, but as some of you know, I have always strived to be as creative as possible with my photos, always seeking out inspiration and ideas to try and push the boundaries a little.

You may remember back in the autumn I enrolled myself on the Photoshop Artistry course as described in this post https://romseyfotografix.blog/2017/10/13/a-little-artiness/ I worked my way through it and absolutely loved, loved, loved, it! In fact, I loved it so much I have just signed up for the follow up “Awake” training – more about that in another post.

I especially loved some of the whimsical art resources which were included as part of the course and used them in various pictures as you will see from my previous post. Part of me felt I could make my creations more “mine” if I were to draw the faces myself and incorporate those into my artwork, rather than those drawn by other folk, great as they were.

I tentatively dabbled a little to start with. Bearing in mind I hadn’t drawn or picked up a paintbrush in many years – I was very out of practice, lol!! I bought a few arty pens and drew as much as time would allow. Here’s one of my creations using a face I drew, incorporated along with some elements, such as the flowers and background textures, taken from the resources in the Photoshop Artistry course. Incidentally this pic is now a canvas wrap and hanging on our wall!

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Then my sister, Lynne, who is a brilliant artist https://www.facebook.com/Lynne-Arty-Stuff-1531420060481786/ mentioned that she had got herself an Ipad Pro and IPencil and how wonderful they were. Even though she doesn’t use hers for her art (she’s a paper and paints gal!), she found them very beneficial in her work process.

Amazingly, considering this was only a few months ago and now it’s become like second nature to me, at the time, I was very much in the dark re the difference between and the Ipad Pro and the Ipad I had already, and I’d never even heard of the Ipencil!

With Lynne having sung their praises, I did some research on both, which I found extremely interesting. Exciting in fact!! I thought, hey this would be a great way to do my drawings without the need for pens, paints and paper!

Without further ado, I bit the bullet and invested in a large screen Ipad Pro and an Apple IPencil and golly, I’m so glad I did!!

Next step was to find a Painting/Drawing App I could use to enable me to produce the kind of pictures I needed to incorporate in my digital art.

Again, after much research and reading various reviews, I downloaded a few Apps to experiment with. There was one, for me, which stood out above the others I tried. It is absolutely perfect.

And it is, ta-dahProcreate https://procreate.art/

It does everything it says on the tin and more!!

Here are a few of my creations using the Ipad Pro/Ipencil and the Procreate App, and incorporated with textures etc. from resources included with Photoshop Artistry along with more direct from the suppliers which I discovered via the course.

It didn’t stop there though! I wanted to improve my drawing skills and started looking around for some art training, in particular of the whimsical kind.

As luck would have it, in late November 2016,  I was notified about this humdinger of an Art Bundle https://www.art.bundlesforgood.com/ via one of the artists I follow.  It’s only up for sale once or twice a year for a few days, so I decided to go for it. Gosh, such amazing value for money and some of the proceeds go to a worthy cause, even better. The number of courses and ebooks included is unbelievable! With November and December being such a hectic time in the studio, there was very little time for me to go through everything before the Christmas holiday – in fact I’ve only just finished downloading all the ones of interest to me (of which there are loads), let alone started work on any of the included courses. But you get unlimited access to them all so there’s no rush.

The Art Bundle has introduced me to the work of lots of amazing artists. But one artist, in particular has inspired me more than most, so much so I have joined her very special training course that spans the whole year and includes much more than art alone.

And I’ll tell you all about her in the next post coming up very soon! Thanks to it, my whimsical drawing has already taken a turn for the better. I reckon.

And it all fits in very nicely around my photography work, and helps to inspire me to be even more creative with that too.

Win, win then.

Almost there!

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So here we are again, another Christmas almost upon us and another year nearly gone by! It’s such a hectic time of year isn’t it, filled with mixed emotions from huge excitement in anticipation, to utter panic making sure everything gets done!

It’s a rollercoaster ride that’s for sure – but we usually get there in the end, eh!

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Its been pretty crazy here; not complaining of course, I am truly thankful that you love your pictures and the kind things you say about them, and of course, for your valued custom. It’s just having that same deadline for everything (ie Christmas!) that creeps up before you know it – it can get a little overwhelming! Happy to report that everything is now done and delivered. Phew!

I’m sure it’s the same for you, and before we know it, the big day has come and gone!

Hope 2017 has been a good one for you. For Lee and I, outside of work, we had the house move of course, which wasn’t even on our radar this time last year, but happy to say has worked out fabulously, we’ve settled in well and absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our new place.

The trials and tribulations of moving did mean that certain things, such as my personal Photo of the Day Project, which some of you may remember I have been doing over the last few years, and have really enjoyed, had to take a bit of a back seat. Eventually, I got so far behind with updating the Diary I kept with each daily photo, it became more of a task than a pleasure to try and get it all back up to date, so I sadly had to let it go. For now at least.

However, I am very excited to have been getting back into art, and intend to do as much as possible in the new year. The hectic lead up to Christmas has meant putting it to one side for a few weeks, but I hope to get really stuck in over the holiday. I have lots of creative ideas milling through my head and can’t wait to start again! It’s so therapeutic!! On one hand it complements my photography, helping to keep ideas flowing, but on t’other, it’s different enough to take me away from it all and lose myself in the dreamy world of artiness! Bliss!!

Exciting news too, we are planning on opening a commercial side to Romsey Fotografix in 2018, with Lee at the helm! I love my “people photography” so have never really promoted product photography before, but it’s something Lee excels at. It’s early days and we are still working it all out, but I’ll be giving you more info as soon as I can.

I am closing for the Christmas break from Friday 22 December until Wednesday 3rd January. Quite a busy holiday, as this year we are having two Christmas Days – yay!!! It’s the first year ever we won’t be spending the 25th with both our boys, as our youngest son isn’t able to be with us on the big day itself.  We knew it would happen sometime and understand of course, but all the same it will be strange without him there at our annual large family gathering, so we’re doing it all again on 28th December – in our new abode!

I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been in; to meeting so many new faces, and seeing again lots of familiar ones! Thanks for your continued custom, and to all of you for keeping the studio atmosphere alive with your laughter and giggles!  It means such a lot to me and I feel truly blessed. You’re wonderful!!!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas – have a wonderful time, and a very Healthy, Happy and Peaceful New Year.

The Lion, The Ape and The Whimsical!

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Fresh back from our holiday, just in time for the half term break, so guess some of you may be taking a holiday yourselves this week. Enjoy!

We packed lots in to ours, had a few super days in Kent, got away from it all and included a quick visit to Margate for a bit of reminiscing. My grandparents had a pub/hotel there back in the day so it became a bit like a second home at the time, many, many moons ago of course. Now it’s a pub no more, it’s an antique shop in fact, but the building itself, even the interior, are still much the same. Bought back a few memories 😊

We also had a brilliant day out to Longleat, strangely somewhere I’d never been before considering it’s not a million miles away. Really glad we went, I’m sure many of you have been there too, and if you haven’t, it’s well worth the visit. The safari park is quite an adventure as you drive through, with the monkeys clambering all over the car, so amusing, then lions walking strolling by the car window. Surreal.  Fantastic for taking pictures needless to say. The entry ticket also includes a boat trip where you see a 56 year old gorilla on his own little island, with his own house – complete with his very own smart TV (seriously folks, apparently he loves watching it!!!). The two resident hippos were sleeping at the lake’s edge, we could just about see their backs poking out of the water; then came the opportunity to feed the sea lions by throwing fish from the boat – more amazing photo opportunities!

I’ve had a ball practising my digital art too. At the moment I’m veering along the whimsical route, as I love this particular style. Using techniques I’ve learned from the course, I’ve also been incorporating some of my own hand drawings of whimsical type faces, such as in the pic below, and then combining these in Photoshop with textures and other elements, floral etc which I have acquired since starting the course. I became the proud owner of an Ipad Pro and IPencil a few days ago so have been using those to do my initial drawing – boy have they been a revolution!! Along with the brilliant Procreate App, which transforms the Ipencil into virtually any medium you can imagine, you can sketch and paint to your hearts content! Awesome fun 😊

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Haha but fear ye not 😉 I’ve put my drawing hat aside for now, and am getting back into the swing of things post holiday. As happens after time away, there’s lots to catch up on and this week is busier than usual with shoots as the schools are off, which is lovely and I’m looking forward to seeing some familiar faces and some new ones too!! Thanks so much for your patience whilst I’ve been away and as I work my way through the backlog. I enlisted some editing help whilst I was on holiday to enable me to keep on top of things as much as possible and I’m now getting cracking on with outstanding orders and preparing galleries in between my studio sessions, so I’ll contact you soon if you’ve been in touch whilst I’ve been away.

So here we are again, that busy, busy time leading up to Christmas, which will be here before we know, and with the clocks going back next weekend it will really feel like winter with the dark evenings upon us.

This means it must be time for an offer!!! Yay!!!!  I have that very special gift voucher deal coming up – a £50 studio voucher for only £25 and a £100 gift voucher for only £50 (did someone say half price?) – available to buy for one day only!! I’ll announce the date you will be able to get yours in the next day or so. Ideal Christmas pressies!!

Just one more thing to mention for now … a new security system at Basepoint means anyone coming for a Sunday session will find the front gates closed and will have to gain access by pressing a button on the gate which alerts me in my unit so I can let you in. I’ll be emailing those of you concerned with more info soon and will update website etc with more details soon.

 

Happy half term!

 

 

A Little Artiness

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So two weeks in to the Photoshop Artistry course and I’m really lovin’ it!

My pictures, as you can see, are a bit diverse, but that’s the fun of it, experimenting, throwing things into the mix, finding what works and what doesn’t (at least what I think works – art is very subjective) and just seeing what transpires.

There is no must in art because art is free.”  Wassily Kandinsky

Here’s some of my creations to date …

Photoshop Artistry creations

Before I started the course, I reckoned my Photoshop skills were pretty much OK, having used the software to edit goodness knows how many pictures over the years!

As with a lot of things, I guess you learn the bits you need and use all the time – so much so you could do them standing on your head, and although of course you’re aware there’s a lot more to it, you don’t delve too much into other functions when you’re managing perfectly well with those you’re familiar with and use all the time.

Until you DISCOVER more!!  As I have done via this course.

Putting aside for a moment the abundance of arty inspiration gleaned (which has been absolutely fascinating), the PhotoShop Artistry course has also opened my eyes to much more! Loads of things I hadn’t learned/understood before re the complexities of Photoshop, but now I’ve seen them in action, I wonder how I ever managed without! So these tips and tricks have been a real bonus. 😊

If you’d like to know more about the course here’s the info and an offer they are running (at the time of writing this post) https://prophotoshopartistry.com/specialoffer

The man behind the training is Sebastian Michaels and he explains everything with great clarity as he demonstrates in a number of videos and articles the various techniques within Photoshop which he uses to create his amazing pictures. His wonderful work and ideas alone are truly inspiring, but all the “lightbulb moments” that came on for me as I have been watching his demonstrations, are going to be so useful in my day to day work.

I allocated a few hours in the first week so I could get a good start on the training, it’s very addictive, so it was great to be able to do that. Since then I’ve been working on it whenever time allows.  I’ve now completed all the modules, and have been practising the different techniques as I go along, making use of both the myriad of textures/elements included within the course (kid in a sweet shop springs to mind!) and working with some of my own images too. Whenever I go out I’ve been on the lookout and photographing textures in the great outdoors to incorporate in my work (concrete, gravel, wood, sand, stones, you get the drift) – it doesn’t sound very exciting eh, and I did sense one or two funny looks from passers by as I was photographing some things … drains, anyone … but it’s amazing how overlaying one or two of these as textures in the picture can really bring it all together! And no, it won’t resemble a drain (or whatever) once it’s in the final composition!

The artist’s world is limitless.  It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away.  It is always on his doorstep.” Paul Strand

I’ve worked through the training quite speedily as I was excited to see what there was to learn next! Perhaps having experience of Photoshop has helped to get through it a little quicker than had I not. A few of the earlier videos covered some of what I knew already – apart from the “lightbulb moments” as mentioned – but that’s great if you’re starting from scratch of course.

I’ll be going back over several of the videos to refresh my memory on some of the techniques and I’m sure I’ll pick up even more – it’s tricky to take it all in first time round.

I’d thoroughly recommend this if digital art is your thing too. It’ll really get those creative juices flowing! It certainly has for me – it’s unleashed a mountain of ideas, and I know that some I will be able to use in your pictures too, as I’m constantly on the lookout to bring some innovative creations for your galleries.  I’m hoping at some stage to sell some of mine as wall art and cards too.

I shall certainly keep creating – there’s always something new to learn and keep ideas fresh. The course also points you in the direction of loads and loads of excellent resources for use in your creations – you can’t fail but to be inspired!

Good luck if you decide to go for it – I’d love to see some of your works of art too 🙂

To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” Kurt Vonnegut

 

 

A Higgledly-Piggledy Month …

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Wow, can’t believe the summer holidays are all done for another year!

Hope you’ve had a great time while the kids have been off and lovely holidays if you’ve been away.

August was a somewhat higgledly-piggledly month for us, what with the house move being a week later than expected (which threw our holiday plans right out of kilter); having no broadband for a few weeks (who knew how much you miss it!); sorting out the new abode, which involved several trips to Ikea for some storage necessities (wardrobes anyone?), plus one or two (ahem, maybe 3!) deliveries from ao.com.

So, there’s been loads to sort out, as is generally the case when you move of course, and been keeping Lee busy with all the flat-pack building!!

Just wanted to say thank you so much for all of your orders which have been coming in thick and fast since I got back to work last week. And also to say thanks for waiting so patiently during all of our moving upheaval and time off. I’m on the case, but it’s taking me a little longer than usual to process everything due to such an overwhelming number coming in at once. I’m not complaining of course, just loathe want to keep you waiting longer than necessary for your prints and images. The good news is that I’m starting to get on top of everything now it’s a week in, having enlisted help from my brilliant editing company with the final clean-up edit that I like to carry out on all images ordered.  So you should be receiving everything very soon, if indeed you haven’t already.

I must say, we are absolutely LOVING our new abode, it’s all coming together very nicely indeed and the traumas of the moving process have now been religated to the memory banks, thank goodness! It’s a very spacious flat, just minutes from the studio, so a perfect location, and several of you are my “nearly neighbours” which is lovely!

We didn’t get a “proper” holiday as such, but managed to squeeze in a couple of days out, including a lovely day out at the Great Dorset Steam Fair a couple of weeks ago, in amongst all the bedlam, which was very welcome – and fantastic weather! If you’ve never been, it’s well worth a visit when it’s on again next year. Something there for everyone!

Just a little advance notice, we’re also taking a week off 15-22 October so we can have some time away and chillax without the worries of moving taking over our break!

For now though, it’s back to normality, I’ve been really enjoying all your latest shoots and getting back in the studio, as well as several on location. Lots of variety and loving every minute!

Oh, and as I’m writing, Just a little shameless reminder … I do get booked up this time of year, especially at weekends, so if you are thinking in terms of photos for Christmas pressies, please book your slot as soon as you can!

Did someone say Christmas! Ouch, sorry 😉

Equine Photo Session … behind the scenes

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“To ride a horse is to fly without wings”

Equine photoshoot

Much as I love horses, I must admit to having very little first-hand knowledge of them, let alone ever learned to ride. Even though a part of me has always imagined that it must be a fantastic feeling, taking to the saddle, wind in hair and galloping across the land – just like in the movies! 😉

In personal projects, I really enjoy taking photographs of the ponies in the New Forest, albeit mainly from a distance – and often from the other side of a fence!

So, I was really thrilled to be invited to do this equine photo session at a stables in Lymington.

When Lee and I arrived at the location, we were first introduced to the beautiful mare, Orla, who was being prepped for her “photoshoot” by her lovely owners. I joined them in her stable to start taking pictures as she was being groomed and saddled up – it was brilliant to be so close and get these natural shots, and very interesting to see what was involved.

Once Orla was all spruced up, we headed over to the paddock.

First up some shots of the star attraction. Isn’t she beautiful!

Then pictures of her with the family.

Then the action shots!

Lee was on hand with my phone to take a few snippets of video for a little behind the scenes glimpse!

Luckily the weather was perfect … sunshine and clouds, with blue sky peeking through – much more interesting in photos than cloudless days. I decided to make the most of it to add a little drama to some of the images, so took several of the pictures from a low vantage point so as to feature as much of the sky as possible.

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Equestrian clothing completed the scene – the amazing period style attire was truely something else!! It made for some gorgeous shots (and the opportunity for me to get a little arty!)

So a first Equine Photo Session for me – and hopefully not the last (hint, hint anyone?) 😉

Loved it! Thank you so much for the lovely family who made it possible for me – and of course to Orla who was very obliging!

Most Beautiful Evening

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We received a very intriguing invitation out of the blue a week or so ago!

It kept us guessing for sure … all we were given was the time and date – Friday 16 June – and “come and share and celebrate some unexpected news”.

And to be at a secret location – which was only confirmed on the day!

OMG the SUSPENSE!!!

Of course, we would be there! And we couldn’t wait to find out what it was all about!!

The invite came in the form of an email from our lovely friend, Lynn, Founder of the charity, Their Future Today https://www.facebook.com/theirfuturetoday/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf. You may remember I’ve mentioned Lynn and her fantastic charity several times before, (yes, I’m very proud of her), mainly highlighting her fundraising balls and events. In October 2016 she deservedly won a Best Business Woman award.

I first met Lynn when we worked together at a travel agency in Twickenham. We were both about 17 at the time, so a little (ahem!!) while ago and lots of memories along the way!

And so to Friday …

The beautiful venue, we discovered on the day, was at the home of one of Lynn’s close friend’s, situated on an island on the Thames no less, with simply stunning views across the river from the garden. Such a perfect setting on a gorgeous balmy summer’s evening.

There were around 60 specially invited people, including of course Lynn’s lovely family, who have actively supported her all the way. The atmosphere was so warm, friendly and very relaxed indeed.   We were treated to a delicious barbecue, along with the odd Pimms (or two!), as we soaked up the ambiance and wonderful scenery.

Ducks

Ducks in convoy gliding by!

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The “announcement” we were all eagerly awaiting, was to be at 10.30pm. Although, it flew round really quickly though as we were having such a great time and it was half past ten before we knew!

So, the moment had finally arrived!

There were touching speeches by two of Lynn’s 3 sons, culminating in the fantastic news:

Lynn had been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list!! 

(Did you spot the clue in this blog post title lol!)

Wow!!! Everyone was absolutely over the moon for her, and so delighted that her tireless hard work, dedication and fantastic achievements over the years have been recognised and rewarded by such a huge honour, and so richly deserved.

Lynn then gave some lovely words and thank you’s to all the devoted people and volunteers who have also put in such a tremendous amount of effort on behalf of the charity over the years.

Her big dilemma was how to decide who will be accompanying her to the palace – she is allowed 3 guests along with herself, and with her devoted husband, immensely proud dad and 3 caring sons to choose from, there was only one fair way – their 5 names scribbled onto serviettes (in her hands in the pic above left), with 3 being picked at random.

The celebrations and party carried on in style – don’t you just love the cake!!

Their Future Today

Lynn (right) our friend Carole (centre) and myself

Lee and I arrived back home at 2am still buzzing from having been a part of such an amazing evening.

So how did Their Future Today come about? Well, who better to explain than Lynn in her own words (quote taken from an email to her charity’s supporters announcing the exciting news of her MBE award):

‘Who would have thought it when I sat on a Sri Lankan Airlines flight 12 years ago coming home from volunteering after the Asian tsunami?

My heart told me that I had to try to do something to help orphaned and abandoned babies barely surviving in an orphanage in Sri Lanka. This was never as a gesture of charity but as an act of human justice.

I realised I couldn’t do much alone… but, I knew that I knew some amazing people who knew some amazing people, and it’s only with the help, support and love from you, which has made this Medal of the Order of the British Empire award possible and I am extremely grateful.

The United Nations Conventions of the Rights of the Child says that every child deserves the right to grow up in a family. We can make it happen, and we are.

Last year we helped reshape the pathway for 3000 abandoned and disadvantaged children in Sri Lanka by reuniting families, preventing abandonment and enabling education.”

Amazing, eh?

Please take a look at Their Future Today’s story when you get a moment https://www.theirfuturetoday.com/our-story You’ll be very moved indeed.

Congratulations Lynn Stanier MBE!!! You are a very special lady and we are so, so proud of you.

Their Future Today – TransFormaTion of Little Lives. What a difference you have made.

#LOVE FOR EVERYCHILD