Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Fawn in the Flowers

He curls up in the undergrowth, snout to tail, ears alert. His mama has given him splotchy dots all over his tiny body to keep him safe.

When she returns he will leap up with joy, awkward bandy legs splaying out in all directions - a dance of relief.

oil painting by saidthefawn - photograph by Jeff Dyck

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Seabirds and Scarlet Locks

At the moment I'm stuck right in the middle of revision. It's tedious and hard and I can't wait for it to be all over. I'm also slightly concerned about my attitude towards this period of concentrated study, usually I find it much more easier to get into 'the zone' and get to work. This time, however, I'm so much more easily distracted and I'm finding it difficult to just concentrate and get into my books. A facebook ban should help me on my way, providing I've got the willpower to hold it out...

But it can't all be study, study, study. As always, the creativity bug bites when I'm supposed to be knuckling down to schoolwork, so as of late I've been working on my first ever oil painting. When my grandpa died about ten years ago I inherited all of his art supplies, and since paint lasts a long time - especially oil paint - it's all still useable. During a recent raid of one of my local art shops I found some pre-stretched and primed canvases on sale, and remembering the oil paints gathering dust at the back of my art cupboard.. Well, I couldnt resist.
The reference image is a stunning photograph by *Lightrae on DeviantART, who kindly gave me permission to use it - I can't resist a good puffin! ;) For a first attempt at oils, I'm pleased - though I feel I need to be bolder with the paint since there's so much canvas texture showing through.

Painted puffins aside, I'm feeling the urge to do something bolder with my hair now that I'm (soon to be) free from A-levels. Usually I'm not so bothered about my hair (this much is evident..) However, I've decided that since I'll only be young once then I should rid the desire to dye my hair obnoxious colours well and truly from my system ASAP. Furthermore, I've been missing my lovely long locks ever since I had a moment of lacking sensibility and had them lopped off. So, soon I'll be embarking on a journey of layering, bleaching, colouring and extensions to transform my bonce from this...

...To something very similar to this (Photograph by my lovely friend Felice Fawn!):
Photos will be taken when it's done. I'm nervous, but hopefully my follicles will withstand the bleaching!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Take a walk

For all my village's shortcomings, it does have one big plus point. It's surrounded by beautiful countryside to lose yourself in, but if you fancy a day in the city instead you can be in Birmingham by train within ~40 minutes. Not bad.
Most days I prefer the rural side of my village. There are some beautiful walks, which of course means photo opportunities.
First to the millpond. Brake Mill is a great place to spot wildlife, especially now since the swans have moved their nest site to the opposite shore.
The usual suspects are always here; the Mallard duck and his wife. They're expecting stale crusts or seed, but I've forgotten to bring any along with me.

Across the millpond I spot a hunched grey figure. It almost looks like the back of a small person, but a closer look reveals that this is no hunched up fellow.. Not human, at least.
It's the Heron, resting at the water's edge. He peeks at me coyly from behind a wing.
An interesting fact or two about herons: They are gregarious birds, so like to live in groups. It is simply because they are so few and far between in this country that we never see this behaviour exhibited. We have this image of the heron - a hunched and lonely figure, picking his favourites out of the fishpond. He'll eat much more than that - baby birds, including ducklings and moorhen chicks, and amphibians as well as much more. Especially when it's raining and he can't see your prize koi through the water ;)

I stop for a little while to listen to the birds. The air is clear this morning, so their voices ring like bells. There's a swallow on the telegraph lines, making his presence very much known. From a distance he's so easy to miss, but keeping an eye out for this little migrant is definitely worth the effort. He's an aerial acrobat with a stunning red throat. I manage to catch him showing it off by puffing it out (I think he was mid-bellow!)

I then move onto the path through the woods. Leaves dapple the sunlight and this partial shade makes the trail cooler than the fields and millpond left behind, but this is where the flies congregate. I walk through quickly to avoid getting nibbled.
Bluebells are the jewels of this woodland - quintessentially British, and the smell of our Spring.I'm a common sight around here now, wielding my camera and with Pele in tow. The photographs are always worth it.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Don the old lady gloves and hunchback...

I dont care how grannyish it is:
I adore, revel in and celebrate gardening. Given any spare time I will slip on the tatty old clothes and dire gardening shoes and get stuck in. Ripping out bindweed, uprooting brambles, relocating primroses to a place where they'll be satisfied - and oh, the seed planting...

Every May I pull out the seed box and rifle through the sachets of seeds, free with newspapers or otherwise, and plant the lot. Sunflowers to courgettes. I don't expect very much to come up, mind - some of these seeds went out of date in 1996! The sack of compost is hefted out of the shed, along with pots and trays of all shapes and sizes and tags to label them all up with - because I will forget what is in where.

Almost-fill your container -plastic or lovely, shabby clay - throw in your seeds and cover them over. Wait patiently. Feed and water. Some are shy to come up or require a week in the propagator.
I still get disappointed when the surface remains unbroken, but I know that at least one will come up. Be it a morning glory or pumpkin, I won't mind.
I never said I was a good gardener, just a very enthusiastic one.

When I'm not busy potting and shuffling and cutting and weeking, just pottering about the garden with my camera satisfies me. Each season offers different and exciting things:
Blossom on the apple tree makes sure it gets covered in bees. Doubly so in our garden - my dad has some hives down the garden. They gather around the tap to drink, which makes filling the watering can a bit difficult(!)

In a matter of days the peony bush has become vast and lush, with big fat compact buds waiting to bloom.

Our garden path to nowhere in particular. We like to pave with old bricks and let forget-me-nots spread with almost no control.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Real-life Life art... And Baroness

Look more closely at the hair of the painting in the model. It's real hair. That isnt a painting on canvas, its a painting of a girl in a mac.. On a girl in a mac. Yep! It's model covered in paint; the highlights and shadows turned into lovely acrylic smears so that she looks like she's flat on a canvas. See more here.
Every time I begin to think that we've run out of ideas, that art is becoming monotonous, artists like Alexa Meade - this talented woman - come up with something so simple yet so impressive and deceptive to the eye. I love it. Whilst many of us look to new technologies to come up with new, original ideas, Meade simply paints what she sees - ON what she's seeing - and the effect really is an odd but interesting one on the brain.
It's always the case that as soon as the exam season begins, my procrastination for art suddenly decides to make itself scarce and I'm all for getting covered in paint and graphite and bits of thread again, or plugging in my Wacom tablet and spending hours hunched over my laptop, scribbling away. Meanwhile, the sad layer of dust on my revision timetable begins to accumulate. Guaranteed, every summer. Try as I might to work the two around each other, I always end up breaking open the acrylics in the afternoon and finally putting my brushes and palette down in the wee hours of the next morning. Recently I've been inspired by the album art of the band Baroness:
The complexity is not in the colour but in the linework, which is also where the shading detail is worked in. The lovely womanly figures are eerie and aloof and surrounded by not so pleasant symbolism. My attention span is far too short to produce something as detailed as this, and besides; with the reminder that I do have exams to study for stuffed somewhere in a recess in my brain, I figured I dont have enough time for putting in great complexity. This is what I produced:
Overall I'm pleased. I figured she'd look better if I gave her unhumanly colours. Grey and washed out red seem to contrast and complement the off-white of her eyeballs nicely (Ha-ha.) The image took perhaps 45 minutes in all, leaving me enough time to contemplate revising, and perhaps admit to exam failure...
But at least I could make it as one of those street artists, right?

Thursday, 8 April 2010

A short guide to being an owl hero

My dad asked me an interesting question the other day;
"What would you do if somebody called you up saying that they had an injured owl? Would you know what to do?"

Now, obviously I hope none of you ever encounter an injured owl, but these things are good to share - so, just in case, here is my guide on how to be an owl hero. :)

1. Obviously, you must ascertain first whether the bird is actually injured or not. A good sign is that the owl makes no attempt to (or can't) run or fly away from you, and looks in a general poor and bedraggled state. These are signs of an owl that needs expert help and your job is to deliver it to safe hands.

2. Covering the bird with a blanket, coat or jumper will keep the bird warm and calm it by blacking out its vision. IMPORTANT: It is very easy to kill a bird by shock, or damage it further. Minimise contact as much as possible.

3. If you can, transfer the bird into a ventilated box with enough room for it to crawl around. Make sure it is comfortable - newspaper and old clothing to line the box will do, but don't use sawdust or anything in bits, and do not provide water. DO NOT attempt to touch, treat or feed the bird yourself. This is important because:
  • You may further injure or stress the bird.
  • With enough contact it may imprint on you - that is, it will begin to bond with you, effectively recognise you as its parent and will no longer be able to be released back into the wild. It needs to recognise that humans are the enemy and cannot do this when it sees us as a source of food and nurturing!
4. Get the poor thing to the nearest bird of prey centre AS SOON AS POSSIBLE- look in your local directory for numbers to call. Every minute is vital.

5. Wash yer hands afterwards. Those owls are dirty ;p

This method works for every bird out there too, but take care with birds of prey as they're potentially dangerous. Remember that if the bird isnt a bird of prey, then a BOP centre won't want to know about it - get it instead to an RSPCA or wildlife hospital unit, or even to a local vet.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

controlled coursework and crayon box birds

I feel quite fortunate that none of my A-level subjects involve coursework as many of my friends despair over impending deadlines and fifth/sixth/seventh drafts - The subjects that I study package what is considered as coursework-type stuff neatly up into exams - or, in the case of Biology and Chemistry, into Investigating Skills Assessments (ISAs) - One of which [Biology] has been happening this week, and the exam portion is tomorrow.
So, here I am, in a short break between revising various bits and pieces on photosynthesis, and statistical tests that Biologists use. I certainly feel more confident about Biology than Chemistry, though with hard work the gap should be bridged.
In other news, I've recently been discovering the joys of photography groups on DeviantART, and birds top the list of favourites for me - especially the ones that look like little feathery jewels.

European Bee Eater by ~PauloALopes

Kingfisher by =Thrumyeye

Toucan by =oO-Rein-Oo

All of these were found at the 'Bird-Photography' group on DeviantART - I seriously suggest a peek, there are many more. :)

Sunday, 28 February 2010

A long winter

It's been so long. I could excuse myself with schoolwork and painting but in truth I've just slipped into a habit of not posting anything here, which is quite shameful.
So, to make up for the absence, I'd like to introduce you to a friend:

Photograph by Saidthefawn

Moss is a very smug looking snowy owl. For most of the year the climate is too warm for him to fly but he doesn't waste his time being forlorn about it. He likes to charm guests with his happy sounds and beautiful white feathers.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Fashion: Hel-looks

I found out about the street fashion project Hel-Looks through a friend about a year ago and have enjoyed checking out Helsinki's bravest looks since. Here are some of my favourites:

find your own favourites!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Fashion: The Cherry Blossom Girl

Blogger and clothes designer Alix Bancourt has one of the most beautiful and enviable wardrobes around. Full of a healthy mix of high street, label and vintage; she must be one of the finest dressed girls in Paris! From time to time she also posts photographs of her travels and her life back at home in Paris. Choosing photographs from her blog to put in this post is certainly a difficult task. You can visit her blog here - definitely worth a read.

All images belong to Alix @ thecherryblossomgirl.

I'm longing to be creative and post more of the things that I've made, but unfortunately my exams aren't over yet and Im so incredibly lacking in free time these days :( The good news is that this exam season will largely be over in a few days and I can get down to making and doing and photographing. I can't wait. :)

Monday, 18 January 2010

Artists: Naoko Ito

I'm loving these installations by Tokyo-born Japanese artist Naoko Ito from his 'Urban Nature 2009' project, in which he has painstakingly reassembled cut-up branches to their former shapes from inside jars. I'm not very good at looking for symbolism and deeper meaning in modern art, but I appreciate the skill that this sort of project requires. Below are a couple more of his works from this project, but to see more click here.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Fawn finds - Etsy: doe eyed

As is the case with many, mooching about on Etsy is perhaps one of my most favourite things to do in my free time - a vertiable treasure trove of the unique and handmade. My first etsy post should of course be deer themed, so without further ado...

Dream Deer Necklace - $22 - DayDefyProject

Deer Girl Print - $13 - Courtneyoquist

Needle felted deer necklace - $40 - Motleymutton

"Order Chrysanthemum" resin deer head - $375 - Rubyslounge

Fawn Barrette clips - $4.25 - cynicalredhead

Felted plush reindeer - 28 - EvesLittleEarthlings

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Music Box: Kaki King

My first musician feature, and I couldnt possibly think of anybody better for it. Kaki is a talented young singer/songwriter and guitarist with a beautiful voice and incredible guitar skill.
Not all of her songs have both; in particular her first two albums have an instrumental focus and are more about guitar technique (for example, listen to 'Playing with Pink Noise'! It's amazing.) But her more recent releases let her vocals come through and her guitar work is simpler.
She's played with musical acts such as Foo Fighters, Northern State and Tegan & Sara, and I definitely think (as well as keeping my fingers crossed for her!) that she has the potential to make it big. To me, all of her music is fabulous but my chosen favourite is 'My Insect Life' - a more simple, vocal-based track from her second album; 'Legs to make us Longer'. Take a listen:

Friday, 8 January 2010

The frozen world

As aforementioned, the weather here has taken a rather arctic turn. It's spelling chaos for some people, but for me it's a chance to wander outside and take some beautiful photographs!