Saturday, February 24, 2007

Claro's Eye

Claro Cortes sent us today in Banggaan a beautiful photo of a foggy day in China. Awesome picture, must be published now around the world. Claro takes photos for Reuters (where he's photo editor) Beijing. Many photos we see in major newspapers were taken by Claro from recent Sydney Olympics, thru to Melbourne major tennis to Beijing Formula 1 Grand Prix. This photo even hit the San Francisco Chronicle, a scan of which was sent to us by member artist Mel Vera Cruz in the USA.

In this artists, writers & photographers group started by Ding Roces we usually do photoshop interactive collision of images. Ding initiated it with a scan of his hand, followed by an additional
globe in hand by Glenn Bautista, an artist member from Manila.

Hence I posted to Banggaan another version of Claro's famous photo (2nd image). In my letter to the group I said I didn't mean to deface the photo but just to explore visual possibilities for a fitting tribute to a Great Eye.

In Photoshop I started working on Claro's photo by tweaking it into blue under Image>Hue/Saturation. Then I used filter>distort>twirl tricks and a bit of playful sponge saturation and light filter.

Visit Claro's website to see more of his amazing photographs. (Right click headline to open new tab.)

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Dick Cheney in Sydney

Yes! My drawing hit the front page of today's Sydney Morning Herald . It's an airbrush drawing heralding the visit of an American polly (oh nuts, here's a cracker).

A quick draft with an HB pencil, a patch of frisket masking and the last few drops of dr.Martin's rare ink and his caricature was almost a breeze to draw if not for a pressing 3-hour timeline. Cheney's features are almost John Howardesque except the latter 's shorter in the chin department.

Yes, it's him..Mr. Dick Cheney (and why is it sometimes spelt Chaney by the press? A double-barrel spellchecker?:) the guy who shot his best friend (in an accident, of course, but his enemies never felt so confident since that classic friendly fire:-)

Actually I don't care much about this bird..except he's in Sydney causing massive traffic delays, aggravated by street protesters who believe this guy is predisposed to violence and doesn't contribute much to world peace. However I don't condone violent behaviour by some misguided elements from both sides. Not worth breaking skin for this guy.

Traffic and world peace are always at odds. In reality I love and care for birds but closing the streets for a blatant hawk is not on for me. Hawks only need airspace. Peace doves should have the streets despite their white bodily residues that drop and cling on facial windscreens of world politics. They knew that gentle yet sustained & persistent cooing can persuade even a most stubborn North Korean tit (a bird) to go easy on its nuclear nest plans.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Alien in My Garden

She says I have a green thumb. My garden boasts of healthy jute plants (not joot my hippie amigo, jute! in saluyot). Saluyot, although it sounds like the name of an old Russian rocket, is actually good for you! They say Ilokanos love them! I found out that jute leaf shoots are food of ancient royal Egyptians! Jute sacks are made of pulped stems of saluyot. The twine is called leteng in Filipino, a strong twine though not as strong as Manila Hemp (say it again, my hippie amigo;-)

I also grow other things like capsicum, Thai pepper, eggplant and low-maintenance weedy plants for my gourmet chooks (they steal my dogs' Good-O's)

I excitedly showed her the alien I found in the garden (top photo). She was stupefied and then gave me a hearty laugh. Been having fun with Photoshop again, haven't you luv? She's right, not even the grotesquely-shaped capsicum pepper (2nd photo) could satiate my desire to use the PS dodge & burn tool! Can't resist embellishing alien-like features I had in mind. Real good fun! I've seen erotic vegetables a hundred times in emails but neither this alien could seduce her to cook sinigang for me!;-)

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I Think Therefore I Ambigram

Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons and Digital Fortress, I gobbled 'em up. Pure entertainment.

I love Angels & Demons for its ambigrams and the drama surrounding them. So-o-o clever! Now this inspired me to create some rotational ambigrams using names of some friends in Banggaan Artists Group. Of course they can be read upside down! Warning: May cause stiffnecks:))
(for more info about ambigrams, right click headline to open new tab or window)

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Back in '85 this author launched a comic book entitled Jep, Ang Pinoy sa Ostrelya (Geoff, the Filipino in Australia) .

They were originally a series of cartoon strips in 2 local Fil-Aus newspapers edited by two long-time friends Tony Dedal (a retired Philippine Airforce pilot) and later on Jimmy Pimentel . After compiling A3-sized original black & white drawings the first book was out.. published by Rey Galang, author of a number of Filipino martial arts books. He now lives in Washington DC. Rey was also my martial arts teacher and head sensei of of which this author is a member.

Two decades flew past in the blink of an eye and Jep found his way up in the much-improved internet. Here's where I practised creating gif animation, experimenting on sound files and page-building skills (still learning;-) I've coloured the drawings using Photoshop and now you can enjoy reading them . (Just right click on the Jep title above to open a new window)

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It's a Kalimba!

Do you know people who collect exotic musical instruments? I scan the Sunday markets for that reason and comes home mesmerised by the new purchase, antique or not.
One of them is a kalimba (see my photos above).
What? A kah-leem-bah..slowly pronouncing it for a friend.

-What does it sound like?


-That thing!
-I just said it...sounds like kaaah-leeeem-baaah!
-No, I mean how does it sound like? That err..killambah!

-Oh..a twanging sound that distorts at the end.

-What d'you mean? Like dropping a sardine can?

-Haha, no! More like toink-plunk-toinky-toink. Very primitive if not primeval. There's drama in the sound produced with an array of unique tones. Could be meditative for some.

-So how do you use it?

-It's a thumb piano. You just pluck the metal keys.

-Where did it come from?
-The metal keys?
-Nooo! That kambillah!
-Oh, from a Sunday market here in Sydney.

-No, I mean from what country?
-Kenya. Kenya dig it mate? LOL
-How much?

-As much as I treasure it. Not for sale, sorry!

-Oh please let me try it.

-No! It's fragile!


-Okay. But be careful, it's hard to tune.
-Come on! This thing has a chaotic keyboard. Where's do-re-mi here?
-Find them!
-But they're all mixed up.
-Maybe you should think outside of the box repapips. If you're gonna make pure, honest music like what the primitives do, then shift out of western music's formulaic mindset.
-Uh, okay
-(Hours passed) Err, can I have my kalimback?:-)
-Aww, I'm enjoying it now!
-Make your own then!
-That's made of dried gourd right?
-Oh really?
-Oh yes really!
-So what?
-Here's something for you.
-What's this?
-Gourd seeds, hahaha!
I haven't seen my friend since. I hope he took up gardening. Oh I'm so nasty!:-)
BTW there's a story about the kalimba and popular band Earth, Wind & Fire

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Freeze Old Man!

Who turned the light off the fridge? There's dead food
in here! Argh! Not global warming I hope. Did it get unplugged?
After a mild panic I sadly announced to family members the forensic result. It was no murder, it was natural! Compressor suffered a fatal stroke! Ye ol' icebox has seen its better days!
To add insult, moisture given off by fridge has slowly rusted door of deep freezer! Damn rubber seals have worn out, too! Ha-ha did I hear someone suggest I replace them with rubber walruses?
Fridge/freezer twins were purchased in 1984. Westinghouse 373 still working and probably would still be good for a few more years. After throwing away all active petri-dishes, soggy siopaos and gross taco dips I removed all metal grills, glass trays, vegie boxes and pushed the monolithic hunk out into driveway for council men to pick up.
Goodbye fridge, thanks for keeping our tucker cool and edible for more than 20 years! Thanks for providing recluse for our temperature-sensitive grace. Goodbye past indulgences.
Now there's a new but smaller Westie standing beside the old freezer. However gleaming whiteness of fresh revealed ugliness of old. Couldn't stand it anymore so I sanded off freezer door's rusty parts, primed it gray, did pastel drawing and sprayed with clear enamel lacquer (see image).
Photographer friend Claro Cortes suggested it's a good advertisement for Westinghouse. He-he..well it just might amuse them..that's all.
Fridge door art has been around for years-- maybe in an attempt to mask dermal injuries; or
maybe artists can't stand empty, white panels; or maybe some have good foresight knowing they can unhinge and keep the door art when the fridge is rigor mortis-cold.
Australian painter Pro Hart did a lot of fridge door art now in the collection of art galleries. It could also lessen materials going to the dumpsite thus helping the environment.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007


The last person I heard mention the word serendipity was "Ding" Roces, artist friend who also dabbles with his digital camera. This was when he posted to Banggaan Artists Group a macrophoto of a fly (photo). His caption was "Serendipity made this picture. My naked eye failed to spot the victim mayfly in the jaws of this killerfly. I only realized this when I viewed the image in my computer screen."
Wiki says..Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely. (right click on headline for more info; opening a new tab or window)

Last week of mid-summer --I had to grab my camera seeing rosellas (parrots) plunder young seeds of palm fronds in the front yard. Awesome sight, nature's pallette magical, rosellas looked like caped superheroes in their multicoloured costume. Have a closer look; photo below is an expanded view of bird in first photo.! Birdie dude seems to be wearing a red t-shirt with what looked like a printed college logo. Hang on, something more sinister here-- reason why I labeled image with slogan of giant sporting goods company. You please tell me why!;-) (note: the photos were completely unretouched)

Ah.. serendipity, even Nature can't escape Man's insidious commercial hype, even if it's just a trick of its own light! Earth so serene..pity the world--tho the latter is Man's affairs.

I've always loved birds, grew up taking care of a little brood of white ducks. I now have 17 crazy chooks in my backyard. Every morning, as regular as a heartbeat, their post-ova laying noise lulls the neighbors into tolerance and self-defeat. No probs with them but they own big dogs! Whenever this Pavlovian lot hear a wailing siren of an ambo or policecar, they howl like coyotes in the savannah. Now that evens things out in the noise pollution department.
Another downside of owning chooks is that the alpha male thinks we should all wake up at 3 a.m.!
However down here in Oz, cockatoos and galahs prove to be the noisiest.
Last year I posted at YouTube a short movie/video of these avian characters. Check it out. Right click link below to open a new tab or window:

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