Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Mardi Gras - Mask Making Worksheet

My Mardi Gras mask Decorated in my favourite colours using paint, feathers, sequins & gemstones.
What is Mardi Gras? 
It's the final day of carnival, a day of fun, feasting and merrymaking. It is celebrated in many Christian cultures just before the beginning of Lent. Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday" and called Shrove Tuesday in English.

My Mardi Gras mask. 
Why Masks?
It is tradition to wear a masks and costumes on Mardi Gras day. They are used at the parades to get attention from float riders and the balcony revellers. Masks are made of feathers, sequins, glitter and even plaster. They imitate all the fun and festivities of Mardi Gras. Gold, purple and green masks embody the colours, spirit, pride and the true feeling of Mardi Gras. 

Try glueing feathers on one side instead of the middle. Use a peacock feather to create a different look & add coloured ribbons too.  
© Image from
Mask pattern
Craft foam or card
Sequins, gemstones, ribbons, glitter, feathers
Wooden dowel or straw

1. Print the mask pattern and draw on a piece of card or foam.

To enlarge template right click & select Open image in new tab then draw on card / foam. 
2. Cut it out including 2 holes for the eyes. 
3. Paint the dowel / straw gold and leave to dry. 
4. Now you can get really creative. Using the glue decorate the mask with gemstones, glitter, sequins, ribbon and paint. 
5. Glue a feather to tge back of the mask. 
6. Glue the dowel / straw at the back to one end of the mask. 

Your mask is finished!! Have fun parading! 

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Sunday, 19 February 2012

Inspirational World

I love to see beautiful photos of the world as they really inspire me. Here are some that show just how beautiful our world isCopyright © images. 

A restaurant on a cliff on the east coast of Zanzibar. Depending on the tide the restaurant can be reached both on foot & by boat. 
Lost Paradise, Isle of Lamu, Indian Ocean. 
View of the sunset from inside a wave. 

Thor's Well - "The Gates of the Dungeon." Oregon. 
This is a unique geological phenomenon known as Danxia Landform, China. The colour is the result of an accumulation for millions of years of red sandstone & other rocks. 
Hot Air Balloons over ancient rock formations in Cappadocia, Turkey. 
Office of Selgas Cano. Madrid. 
Star Shower statue, Kaunas, Lithuania. Day & night. I really like the play of light at night. In the daytime this monument makes little sense but when night falls all is revealed, the man's shadow showers stars. 

Copyright photos taken from

Friday, 17 February 2012

Mardi Gras 2012

It's almost the carnival season of Mardi Gras which is French for Fat Tuesday and Shrove Tuesday in English. It's a fun filled carnival which includes wearing colourful masks and costumes, dancing, sports competitions, parades, etc.

Look out for my Mardi Gras worksheet on a fun mask making project for children - Coming soon! 

Image taken from

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Saturday, 11 February 2012

Photography: Black & White or Colour?

Technology has allowed us to move from black and white to colour in both TV & cinema, yet  black and white photography is still very popular. It conveys a scene very differently, revealing details, patterns, forms and shapes more clearly, forcing us to concentrate on tone and texture that colour may distract us from. Stronger light means stronger shadows and a change in contrast creating a more striking image with more impact in  black and white

Birmingham Canal
 used black and white film to emphasize the mood and atmosphere of the canals and to give an old feel. This shot wouldn't work well in colour as the mood would be lost. I composed the shot so the tunnel frames the scene. 

black and white works well for street photography to create a gritty look. Emphasise this by increasing the ISO to add more noise. Use a slow shutter to create a softer look in landscapes. Create a much more powerful portrait in  black and white instead of colour. 

Sepia Canal Reflection
Oiginally photograpehed in Illford black and white film I changed the colour to a sepia tone to give an old feel. I like the strong reflection and also the juxtaposition of the old bridge and new buildings. Although not in black and white, colour would not work in creating an old feel and may look too distracting. 

So what works better - Black & White or Colour? 
It depends on what you're shooting. Black and white works well to emphasise a low key Image, that is those made of dark mid-tones and shadows, good if you want to create a sombre or moody feeling, such as on an overcast, cloudy day. However, low key images can also be uplifting by having areas of bright highlights like sun raysTo capture a dramatic landscape a great time is shooting just before of after a storm. However a sunset will always work better in colour. 

Brooding Dark Sky
My low key shot. I love the brooding dark sky and the distant silhouetted landscape against the uplifting sun rays with it's shimmer on the water. Note this shot's in colour but works as it's made of dark mid-tones. 
Try it yourself
The easiest way is it use photo editing software, create a duplicate of one of your best shots and convert it to black and white. How does compositional elements change, note how colour changes to greys, is shape and form emphasised? Is the atmosphere changed? You'll be surprised at the difference. 

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Inspiration - Dogs

Dogs - they sure do inspire me. Only those who have had their own dog can truly understand the love, loyalty, intelligence & amazement of dogs. I really believe that looking after or walking someone else's dog just isn't the same as having your own dog that lives with you. As your dog will only show most loyalty and love to you, not someone who comes and goes and doesn't really know / understand them. 

But with the sad events of 3 months ago Azza the Akita & Emerald the Labrador just seem to know and understand what's happened and so act differently towards me now in a way I cannot completely explain. And now I've also got to know a Pyrenean mountain dog & a German Shepherd. Dogs really amaze me. I've had one my whole life but they still know how to touch my heart. 

Sunday, 5 February 2012

My on-line arts shop - Coming soon!

With all this snow, although beautiful, who wants to go out shopping in the cold. So why not keep a look out for my on-line shop opening soon!

Bright, colourful & vibrant paintings, prints, photography & cute mini greeting cards. I love capturing the world around me by taking photos & I love to express what I like about the world by drawing & painting. My paintings are inspired by love, nature & anything whimsicalI've now turned my artwork into mini greeting cards with matching coloured envelopes. They're reallycute!!