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March 6, 2018
Some photos from our first visit to Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary in the New Forest back in the autumn of 2016. Mostly abstract shots of trees and some cobwebs but a couple of pics of actual deer thrown in for those expecting the obvious. I actually took a fair few of the deer but they are all shockingly similar and I don’t really own a long enough lens to make them worth the effort. It was a lovely place to visit and we go back every year now, although we have never seen as many deer as we did on the first visit.
The sanctuary itself is a short (2 minute) walk from a car park with decent facilities (toilets/picnic tables/shelter). There’s a deer viewing platform with information boards about the type of deer you are likely to see there. You can walk a decent way around the edge of the meadow where the deer tend to gather which has low fences and good cover, so assuming you don’t screech like an overexcited weasel (some of the other visitors were) you can sit quietly and watch the deer do their thing, which mostly consists of them sitting watching you do your thing. When we visited there was a little exhibition and talk by the forest rangers about the deer. I have no idea if this is a regular thing, I hope so.
I’m fortunate in a sense to live with a small child who feels sleep is a waste of good adventuring time, we arrived shortly before 9am and enjoyed the peace and quiet (and the deer), by the time we were back at the decent sized car park about 10 it was absolutely full, along with plenty of visitors parking dangerously and illegally along the narrow country roads. Clearly the deer are a bit of an attraction. Aside from the ruminant wildlife appeal there’s a really good selection of nice forest walks (firm paths, regular benches, no aggressive gradients). There are also, alas quite a lot of other people as the day wears on, so we ran away and ate a massive lunch.
Incidentally, the few shots I have of deer here were from off in the forest slightly away from the main viewing bit.
December 4, 2017
Morning, it’s Monday, I wish it wasn’t. I’ve been in the process of writing a new website for myself for what seems like about 500 years now (about six months in your human time), it’s going to (hopefully) be an interactive art site using the Organic Contrast abstract nature compositions I’ve been putting together. I’m very nearly there but then I think of an improvement and knock myself back by a few weeks.
As I’ve been paying for the hosting and domain for about six months now (I was sure I would have the site built in a week so I just bought them when I had the idea) I’ve started to put things up on there. At the moment there’s two things:
A landing page for my current postcard set This was really hard to do, not because of the design or code but I wanted to experiment with writing about myself with a SERIOUS face. I’ve been prodded by a couple of people again recently about trying to do something sensible with my images to try and get them in front of people so I wanted to try and see if I could write about them in a more formal manner. It makes me squirm reading it back but it’s the kind of thing I already write for clients so it makes sense.
The second thing is my matching pairs demo I put this together as a client asked if I could write basic games suitable for small children so I tried. Apparently I can, so that’s nice. I went with a selection of the Organic Contrast images because they work quite well at that scale. It was also an experiment to see what I could do quickly with SVG animated with CSS and HTML canvas. It works quite nicely in most browsers and has fallback for those that don’t fully support the animation.
It’s quite addictive. I also included it at the bottom of the landing page. I’m working on some similar widgets which I’ll pop up shortly.
I’m trying to not distract myself with these and get back into finishing off the site with it’s intended purpose, I’d like it up before Christmas if possible (no real reason, just an arbitrary deadline) so I can get back to other projects which are slowly gathering dust.
Enjoy your week!
November 30, 2017
A kind person asked if I would put my Forest Shrine image on a t-shirt. So I’ve done so, I’ve also popped it on a mug. It’s the first image in a new style which I’m hoping to do a series of, combining the shape of church windows with my more normal silhouettes of natural forms.
It’s available as a nice earthenware mug.
A cotton t-shirt in a range of sizes and colours.
Here’s the original artwork:
Now that Winter is upon us I’ll be out with the camera collecting more images of crooked branches and nature in stasis.
November 13, 2017
As part of the process of re-igniting my creativity to actually make some art again (and because I’m too bastard tired at the moment) I’m sorting through my photo sets. Here are some nice photos of owls and other birds of prey taken at one of my favourite places: Liberty’s Owl, Raptor and Reptile Centre in the New Forest.
We all have annoying habits, my family as the mental six legged consolidated entity that they are have the habit of having EXACTLY the same holiday every year. It’s nice to do the same thing repeatedly until you are no longer aware you are even doing it. Or from another perspective you can really get to know a place far more deeply and richly than on a single visit. You decide.
As part of our pre-ordained holiday process we visit Liberty’s on the first day of our holiday (followed by lunch with my family who live nearby and a trip to the local farm shop to stock up on food for the week). I like it there, it lacks the sleekness of many modern tourist attractions and gives the impression that it’s real purpose is the wellbeing of the animals rather than the entertainment of the humans, for this I salute them. They have a lovely selection of birds of prey of various sorts (I’m afraid much as I love wildlife I’m terrible at remembering what half of it is called so refer to pretty much everything as “Terry”). There’s also the reptile room, also wonderful, I again lack the mental prowess to remember what’s in there outside of “Lizards”.
TheChild loves it there, mainly because he adores animals. TheWife loves it because they have a “Little Owl” YES that is actually a type of owl. Look it up. The gift shop is not overwhelming and they make a nice cup of tea. It’s pretty much a perfect day out for a small child who likes owls. Although I’ve never been too keen on trying wildlife photography it seems a waste to not take a couple of pictures while a small child excitedly drags you on to look at the next feathered beast. Is it technically wildlife photography if they are in captivity?
Here’s a small selection of photos from Liberty’s taken during our daft Autumn holiday in 2016.
November 11, 2017
I spent the morning at Windsor Contemporary Art Fair mixing with humans. It was the first time I’d been to an art event of that type at that scale. Previous experiences had been at the (equally excellent) Art On The Street in Maidenhead and similar. There was a certain amount of anxiety about going, especially as I was going on my own as part of my ongoing attempt to pretend to be an adult (I’m not, I’m absolutely terrible at it). This was my second social event in a week which was outside my normal comfort zone of hip-hop/punk gigs and stand up comedy. I have absolutely no idea how to conduct myself at these things and am generally terrified of making an enormous arse out of myself (more so than usual anyway). Against all odds I didn’t break anything or accidentally burn down the venue.
The very act of turning up nearly made me abandon the plan, there were proper parking attendants and people dressed like adults (I was wearing a Doomtree T-shirt and waterproofs). Everyone turned out to be very nice, there were a couple of friendly faces and I had to engage in my usual balancing act of trying to work out when I’ve bored the crap out of someone long enough and should leave them in peace. Trying to ascertain if I’ve outstayed my welcome in these situations is challenging, and I suspect sometimes I get it wrong and appear to just walk off halfway through a conversation.
The ART was excellent. Actually it was intimidatingly excellent, more so than any similar event I’ve been to and made me massively doubt whether I should continue to pursue any artistic output, but them I’m halfway through building a studio space at the moment so bollocks to it, I might as well continue. As well as some amazing fine art and photography there were some great examples of artists doing something entirely different Andy Finlay’s art was wonderful as was Valentina Gonzalez. Unfortunately a lack of cash and space leaves me with no opportunities to buy anything at the moment, although I would really really love one of Valentina Gonzalez’s pebble paintings (my description, not hers).
Overall the experience was a strange mix of intimidating and inspirational, I really want to get to the point where I can take part at something like this, but it’s going to be a long way in the future. Next up I’ll be going along to Art On The Street in a couple of weeks.
Here I am attempting to be a grown up:
Here’s the flyers and postcards/cards I collected.
Artists are as follows (in no specific order) and in the interests of not showing up my own lack of knowledge/offending them I’m not going to bother describing any of their art, click on them and find out:
I managed to mix with some humans without being dragged out and burnt as a witch. I’ll put that down as my achievement for the week.
Addendum: I have just remembered that this was my second outing to Windsor Racecourse, during the first one (a networking meeting at which I was selling my web development skills) the first conversation I had consisted of a woman telling me I really stood out as someone who didn’t fit in so well in that environment. She didn’t mean it as a negative but nevertheless it didn’t ease me into the situation.
November 1, 2017
The process of building a basic studio space/storage space in the house continues with the growing acceptance that everything is more complicated than you initially expect it to be although not necessarily to an overwhelming degree. Having had to take a bit of a hiatus due to B&Qs failure to deliver the materials for a couple weeks (having promised 4 day delivery) then going away on holiday for a bit (it’s quite hard to build stuff in Maidenhead when you are not in Maidenhead) I dived back in on Saturday. Initially intending to just get myself up to speed with where I was I managed to make my way through all the materials I had left and covered a good area of the floor and have under half of it left to do now. I dragged my aching legs down to Homebase this afternoon to buy the next load of boards.
AFTER! Ok, it doesn’t look so impressive in the photo but there’s enough space for me to wander around now.
I am not a DIY natural and it’s taken me a couple of months to really work out what I’m doing, there have been a couple of points where I’ve ended up undoing an afternoon’s work because I made a complete hash of it. Now I’ve got a process in place it’s starting to fly along and I’m actually feeling a degree of pride in my achievement rather than the overwhelming horror that it may never be over. The first pile of materials took me several mornings to get through I’m running through a pile the same size in a couple of hours now (yes our attic is massive). Also the number of times I nearly fall through the ceiling each session has decreased from 5 down to 0.5.
I have learned some things. These are the things I have learned (so far): Pilot holes are really important (I already knew this), STRAIGHT pilot holes are REALLY important; do some research first, there’s always someone with a handy tip that will make your life so much easier; don’t spend 4 hours bending over, you will hurt your back. In more boring things I have learned adding a drop of lubricant to a pilot hole makes life a shedload easier. The discovery that really threw me off was that things do no automatically fit. I’d always assumed that things like houses had nice squared off edges and handy right angles, it turns out this is not the case and things in the real world are far less precise than in the lovely digital environment. I struggled for a while trying to work out why the boards I was buying didn’t fit perfectly across my rafters having assumed it was like USB cables, one size fits all. Nope, I have to actually trim them myself WITH AN ACTUAL SAW, like a grown up. So I bought a saw.
I bought one of these actually, it’s a small size circular saw which works brilliantly in awkward spaces and has a handy guide to help me actually cut straight lines (it’s actually relatively easy to cut straight lines without the guide as well). I bloody love it, it’s saved me a load of time and it makes a fantastically awful noise when going through chipboard.
This has also been a lifesaver. I have the same ability to drill in a straight line as I do to accurately throw bread rolls onto the surface of the moon. I bought it for something else a while back, decided it was a waste of time and never used it, tried it over the weekend and it halved the time it took to put down the floorboards. Not just because it made the drilling process easier but because the screws go into straight pilot holes far better.
Surprisingly the most used tool so far as been a NETGEAR ReadyNAS 214 because I can use it to stream music into the attic via my phone.
So, progress is good and hopefully I’ll be done enough by the Christmas holidays to actually make use of the space. It has dual purpose: storage of my family’s assorted tat and as a small studio space. I’m aware that the boarding I’m doing won’t be good enough to support heavy weights but at this point I just desperately need a flat surface I can arrange materials on to photograph without constant disruption, technology has not yet evolved to measure the space of time it takes between me clearing a surface in my house and my family completely covering it in tat, neither of them are willing to enter the attic so I can hopefully use it to arrange items which I don’t want to get disturbed, also I want to be able to control the lighting. If/when I reach the point where I need bigger space or to be able to photograph heavier items I’ll pony up and hire somewhere more serious.
LOOK AT THIS FLOORING!
I eagerly await locking myself in the attic for another afternoon so that I can improve my photography by spending multiple weekends not doing any photography!
October 29, 2017
Happy Sunday! Here’s some new digital artwork. Red Kites Circling. The original silhouette photograph was taken during a walk in the Chiltern Hills around Crowsley Park, mostly trying to take photographs of crows (which failed rather dismally as they are far too smart and kept avoiding me). I’d given up on the crows and decided to take a few shots of some of the fantastic gnarled trees in the area when a pair of Red Kites started swooping directly over my head. I nearly knocked myself over backwards trying to track them but got some nice photos of both the pair of them flying together and some decent close ups and silhouette shots of them as individuals. Crowsley Park is a fantastic place for wildlife, especially bird life, it’s wide and open with lots of little copses for the corvids to perch in an croak at passers by.
Here’s the piece, I reckon it will work quite nicely as a print, what do you think? There’s a slight hint of mandala about it (although not intentional) and I appear to be drifting more and more into the folk art direction.
I’m slowly building up a collection of bird related artworks from photos taken around the Chilterns so will put together a postcard or bookmark set soon and stick it up on Etsy.
Here’s the original shot of the Kite overhead.
And here’s a few others from the series.
While I’m here, I’ve got a sale on at the Etsy store for the Organic Contrast Postcard set, it’s 25% off until the 31st October…
October 27, 2017
I find going on holiday incredibly stressful, not because of the holiday itself but due to being self employed and fearing that at any moment the holiday peace will be shattered by a client with a planning deficit and an empathy malfunction. Last year was a little worse than normal due to an impending doctors checkup (post-holiday) to find out if there’s a problem with my eyes as a side effect of diabetes, something I have to look forward to again in a few days time. To try and decompress a little before the holiday I went for a hike in The Chiltern Hills up near Christmas Common as a mini photographic trip. Annoyingly due to lack of reception causing Google Timeline to lose me and my forgetting to take my GPS tracker with me I can’t pinpoint exactly where it was. Either way I know it was somewhere between Christmas Common and Turville Heath. I will openly admit that my love of Christmas Common is as much down to the name as to the location itself (although it is lovely), there’s no clarity on how it was named as such, Wikipedia stating that it could be down to a truce on Christmas day in 1643 during the Civil War, the Christmas family who lived locally or the coppices of Holly Trees (Wikipedia entry on Christmas Common).
In the end I didn’t manage to take too many photographs, I was having trouble with my vision, which as it turns out was down to stress and headaches rather than diabetic side effects so putting the camera up to my face was just a distressing process. I did find a fantastic circular walk through some beautiful woodland full of fungus and less full of people which I’ll try and rediscover some day. Here are the shots I kept…
October 5, 2017
Stock Portfolio. No not the financial sort. I’ve started updating my stock photo portfolio on iStock.
I’m currently uploading a lot of my outdoor/countryside shots and a few of the more fantasy driven oddments (shopping carts and squirrels). As I make progress on my home studio I’ll be doing some more specific studio shots.
Here’s a handful…
More to come…
October 1, 2017
Merry Sunday Evening. In the gloom I feel the lumbering horror of Monday morning heading my way. Before I hide my head under the covers and quake in fear here’s some pictures.
These are my more recent Organic Contrast images, I’m working on a website for them which I’ll get online shortly.
I am Bob. This is my blog. It is an outlet and a substitute for real life. It contains my art, photography, illustration and thoughts on mental health (I deal with anxiety on a pretty much constant basis).
Help fund my existence. Buy my stuff (t-shirts, art prints, stock images & graphics)
Why? +-*Because it's brilliant.
Why? +-*It was one of the best gifts in a while. I read it every morning.
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Why? +-*Inspiration and research.
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