Thursday, 2 April 2020

Elephant Cross Stitch

Well being as cross stitch is all of a sudden my main new hobby, it's only right that I track my progress on this blog, right?!

Since completing the animated horse cross stitch and another quite well developed design (see below), I'm now feeling a little more confident in my ability with these, especially in terms of making my own designs, through to execution. I like to think I know more about what looks 'good' (and what doesn't) on a design. 


 

After completing the one above, I really wanted to develop it a little in terms of creating something in a similar light, but using a more challenging design. This would also make the final outcome less 'basic' and provide me with new challenges along the way. I do like a challenge! What I really liked in the one above was using the full square and the bright colours. These were things I wanted to bring forward into my next project. Tbh I only used the full square to cover up some wrong markings I made for a previous project, but I like it and who needs to know anyway?!

I was doing my usual Google image and Instagram searches for some inspiration to see what sorts of things other people were cross stitching and yep, people are basically cross stitching everything! No help there then... Well it kind of was, as I was then sort of overloaded with inspiration and ideas. Yay! What I really liked though, was the use of patterns people had created behind designs and I wanted to have a go at that myself.

So, I made a repeatable pattern on Photoshop- yes I know you're meant to use illustrator for creating drawings, but Photoshop is basically bae to me so I use that and I don't even care:


The pattern did take some trial and error, but eventually I got there with a pattern that I felt would work for the effect I envisaged. I then created an elephant from this screen grab from an animation I made a while back:




And finally, I added the repeated pattern:


I didn't want to elephant on the final design to be a black silhouette, because I thought it might look a little too plain and simple, which I was really aiming *not* to go for in this design. Instead, I opted for three dark colours to repeat every five lines. I went with black, navy blue and a dark green colour which I'm not sure what the exact name of it is! In my opinion, using these stripes added a little more detail to something which wouldn't have been *that* exciting if it was just one colour.

With the pattern, I wanted it to contrast with the elephant as much as possible, so I used pinks, yellows, reds etc. Sewing the pattern was quite straightforward, though took a lot of time- these full 3x3 inch square ones take a substantial amount of time to create. I do like the size though: I feel they're quite manageable and can be completed across a couple of days, rather than something larger which might take a week or so to complete.

It was difficult choosing colours, because I'm running out of a lot of my threads and needed enough of one colour to last the amount of squares needed to fill for the designated colour. It's hard to tell how much thread you need to complete one section just by looking at it, but the more of these I've been doing, I find it's getting a little easier to estimate. I need to get out more. Oh, wait... My thread box is also a hot crazy mess right now and it super needs sorting. I'd love to get one of those boxes which has separators or drawers in, so each colour of thread can have its own section, ideally labelled too with the number of thread colour. Anyway, being as nothing of those are 'essential' items, they will have to wait until this has passed and it's safe to acquire 'non essential' items again.



This cross stitch did achieve what I wanted it to in terms of creating something more complex. I would like to continue and develop on this going forward as I really liked the way it turned out and already have some inspiration and ideas in how to take it further. If anyone has any questions or suggestions then let me know in the comments!

Friday, 27 March 2020

Horse Stitch

So what else am I doing during lockdown? Following on from one of my recent posts, I said I was working on quite an ambitious cross stitch project. Well, here it is:

An Eadweard Muybridge Horse in Motion. Every frame hand stitched, taking between 1.5-2 hours each, along with creating the cross stitched patterns (another full days work at least). And then post production (scanning in, importing them into the project, tweaking the frames and so on). For just over 1 second of animation. Dedicated or mad? You decide. Maybe both.


I didn't test out how it would look with the patterns I made before starting the sewing, so for all I knew, it could have turned out looking terrible. Luckily, it turned out exactly how I wanted and couldn't have been happier with the result. I put a lot of work into creating it and I'm pleased it paid off. Now I just need to find a film festival which is accepting entries of films under 10 seconds!

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Locking Down

Well, this post had to happen at some point didn't it?

I have been social distancing/ isolating since Monday 16th March. Following government advise regarding the matter, plus not wanting to be responsible for spreading the virus amongst others especially the elderly or vulnerable, it is the most responsible thing to do. In fact, the thing to do. The less people you see in person, the slower the virus will spread and therefore 'flatten the curve', putting less pressure under an already compromised NHS. At a time which feels quite helpless, if you are not in a key worker role, then staying at home is literally THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO TO HELP! Like seriously, though. Stay home, save lives.

This doesn't mean you can't get fresh air or have to be 'cooped up' for days on end. You can still go for a walk or for a run/ bike ride/ scoot/ hop/ skip/ jump etc in an open space, providing you stay the 2 metre safe distance away from others. Which is what I have been doing. It doesn't, however, mean spending time socialising with others who are not from the same household as you. I know it might seem like f o r e v e r without seeing friends and relatives or partaking in sports and outdoor hobbies, but in the grand scheme of things, a few weeks to a few months is not actually that bad, considering the amount of lives that could be saved. Also, we are better connected digitally than ever before, with a host of apps that lets you see your family etc, without actually seeing them.

Despite staying inside going against a lot of my thoughts (recovering from an eating disorder which included obsessive exercise) and daily habits/ hobbies, I understand that we all need to be doing our bit to prevent the virus accelerating further. This also illustrates a good sign of recovery on my part, too.

So what have I been doing whilst staying indoors as much as possible?

Tidying up/ cleaning. Perhaps sounds a little boring, but it gives a great sense of achievement and it can even be quite fun once you 'get into it' and start seeing the results. I must admit my partners' and my house is an absolute MESS and the past week we have been making huge headway. Pat on the back, please!

Cross stitch. Okay, well yes maybe I'm a little odd in having taken this up, but in all honesty, I couldn't care less! It's a really fun indoor hobby, which is relaxing, perhaps 'mindful', super creative and also productive (a small part- I mean we are in the midst of a global pandemic here, so being 'productive' is like the last of my worries tbh). You can read a bit more about my cross stitch hobby in a previous blog post here.



Films. Not many people will know this, probably because I mainly only tweet about groundhopping these days(?) but I am a big, big fan of films. Long before my groundhopping days started, I began an Excel sheet of all the films I watch. This was when I began my Film Production course at university in September 2010 as a way of recording what I was watching. My favourite directors are Mike Leigh, Andrea Arnold, Michael Haneke, and Kelly Reichardt. I have kept my list up to date ever since. I won't spoil you with the numbers at this point, because I'm planning a blog post on this subject specifically at some stage in the future. Aren't I a tease?! Lists aside, watching films have been another form of distraction of late. Some recent ones I have enjoyed are: Only Yesterday (1991), If Beale Street Could Talk (2018), Capernaum (2018), A Silent Voice (2016), American Honey (2016) and Diego Maradona (2019). I would recommend all.

Animation. This is something I professionally 'do' and enjoy doing and something I am trying to keep up throughout this period. If being honest, I have actually found it quite difficult to concentrate with everything that's going on, making it hard to focus on my next short film. This being said, I have managed to get a fair bit completed, though not as much as I would have liked, considering the amount of time on my hands at present. I'm hoping and I'm sure, that once I get more used to this situation/ get my head around what is going on in the world right now, I will be able to concentrate better and produce more work at a high standard.



Social media. Less socialising in real life, more socialising online. I have been trying to cut down on my Twitter intake, because most of my time spent on it is aimless scrolling, rather than focussed interacting. I still want to be present on there, especially while these is no football or bowling, but I don't want it to become my life. It's usually worse in the evening when I'm tired or have completed all my daily tasks and don't feel like doing much else. Again, I have been trying to put something in it's place, such as watching a film, playing Scrabble with my partner, reading (which I 100% need to do more of) or doing a Sudoku. Ain't it the life.

Washing hands. Yep, you know the drill. Stay safe all x

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Postponed


As we all know these are strange and uncertain times and without football being played currently or in the near future, understandably people are at a loss, myself included. I do have plenty of other hobbies and interests to keep me going, but one thing which I was getting a lot of my enjoyment out of lately has been removed. Photographing and watching football has been a key part of my life in the last year or so and with a lot of events coming up which I had booked in to photograph now postponed, it all feels quite gloomy.

Being as what is happening in the world right now is far greater and more important than football and the safety of everybody involved is paramount, I understand the need for the postponements. If honest, I would not even wish for the games to carry on in the midst of this crisis. Annoying as it may be, the more we all pull together and keep to the guidelines given, the sooner this shall pass and we will be watching the game again, looking unto it as even more beautiful than before.

Friday, 6 March 2020

Cross Stitch

To give myself a bit of a break from my animation, because of feeling uninspired and downhearted due to the gazillion rejections I've had with it recently, I decided to go to Hobbycraft and treat myself to something fun. This would be to take my mind off my work and provide a different type of creative outlet other than photography or animation. Sometimes it's refreshing to have a break and do something which is still creative/ productive, but with no pressure.

So, I decided to buy a cross stitch kit. For a 3"x3" kit, you get a pattern, a piece of material, a needle and a selection of threads in the colours as per pattern. I chose a fairly simple beach hut one as it was vibrant and I love going to the seaside! There are loads to choose from. During 2012 when I was unwell, I did a lot of these cross stitches when in hospital, but I have not done one since. It felt a bit strange, but also pleasing to pick it back up again.


I really enjoyed making it and it was quite easy to get back into the swing of it. It's a really relaxing hobby actually, but does involve a fair bit of concentration. If you're not careful, you might lose count!


Anyway... once completing it, I thought, well why don't I do my own design next? So that's exactly what I decided to do!


I made a pattern for 16 aida count fabric of the above giraffe. Maybe you recognise it from an animation I made not so long ago?


The pattern took a while to produce, because it was a case of putting in each symbol separately. If anyone knows a quicker way, comment please!


Once the main pattern was complete, I added an outline (in blue, above). This was so the finished piece didn't look so 'pixelated'. I actually 'ad-libbed' the outline when I was sewing it, because some of the lines on the pattern would have seemed a little unnatural otherwise.

Finished outcome
Regarding the overall piece, I am pleased with it as it's an achievement in terms of what I have accomplished: a cross stitch from designing my own pattern through to completing it to a good standard. Despite this, as it's my first one, there are bound to be issues and I feel that there are some parts I would improve upon. I feel these will only get better with practise, which is why I have decided to embark on a really quite ambitious project for my next one... Watch this space for more!

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Road to Wembley #10

With my intended fixture for this round (Coventry v Spurs) moved to the Monday evening, it was time for 'plan B': Championship side Leicester City against WSL fourth placed Reading. Unfortunately, this didn't materialise either thanks to Storm Dennis, which we found out en route to the game. Being unable to make the rearranged midweek fixture, our only hope to see a game from the fifth round proper (last sixteen) was another trip to north London to watch the rescheduled Arsenal Women FC vs Lewes FC Women at Meadow Park (home of Boreham Wood FC). The things we do for the love of the game, eh?!



Whilst Arsenal are the most successful top flight English women's side to date, having won more trophies and titles than any other, Lewes have their own unique story. In 2017, Lewes launched their EqualityFC campaign, which saw the Lewes Women players being paid the same as their male counterparts. At the time of writing, they are the only club in the world to be doing so. Lets hope it's not long before more clubs start to follow suit. Having visited The Dripping Pan in November last year for a women's game, it was a fantastically positive match day experience, with a great atmosphere and attendance. I would highly recommend a visit if you are yet to do so. They are a really progressive club.

The Dripping Pan

Despite it being raining on the drive down, by the time we arrived at Borehamwood it had cleared up. Cleared up even so that the yellow object was visible in the sky. I don't mean my photo vest (or hat, for that matter):




Meadow Park is a four sided affair, with two distinct looking stands (one seated along one touchline, one standing at one goal end), another large seated stand (which was almost full by the time the match was underway) and some uncovered more traditional looking terracing at the other one of the ends. This was where the Lewes supporters situated themselves for the first half. The most poignant feature beyond the realms of the ground was the singular tower block behind the main stand. Pollok anyone?!






This game was the designated Heads Up game, encouraging supporters to #KickOffAConversation about mental health. You can read more about the important campaign here. Both teams wore Heads Up t-shirts whilst warming up.



The last time Arsenal and Lewes met was a nil-nine thrashing. Were we going to see a repeat in this game? Perhaps not... Ninth placed championship side Lewes were able to prevent third placed WSL side Arsenal from scoring until the second halfDespite Arsenal obtaining the majority of possession, they were unable to break through Lewes's strong line of defence until the fifty-fourth minute. Indirectly assisted by Danielle Van de Donk, it was Caitlin Foord who knocked in the rebound, scoring on her debut outing for the Gunners. A promising start for the Australian international. 





Van de Donk did end up getting her moment too in the eighty-fourth minute, doubling the host's lead. It was almost always going to go Arsenal's way, though I was impressed by the performance Lewes put in. I'm sure the 1,663 spectators would share similar feelings and hopefully found the match a great afternoon's entertainment. Lewes bow out of the cup in the best possible fashion.



Arsenal will take on Spurs (again at home) in their quarter final match on the 15th March. The ties in full are here, with one yet to be decided:


Click here to view the full photo set.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Sk8

I'm assuming how you've got to this blog post is through my social media, therefore you may have seen me post various animated skate clips of late. This is a post about those.

I used to skateboard in my teens and I still really like the culture and aesthetics surrounding skateboarding, despite not having ridden a board in around ten years. In 2011 I shot a skate video of one of my talented skater friends Fred Simmons and I still have the footage from that video.

I've been animating a lot of either animals or hands recently, so I was trying to look for something I could animate which would look great rotoscoped, but also something aside from what I have done lately. Digging deep on my computer I found the skate clips, which proved perfect for my animating needs.

My intentions for the animations were to create something which was looser and more flowing than my usual moderately fixed outline pieces. This was for a number of reasons:

• Force me out of my comfort zone by trying different styles
• Diversify my portfolio

The first piece (below) I tried a super loose style on the outline of the figure. As you can see, I used a brush tool at varying thickness, re-drawing over each line roughly, building up a layered messy effect. I also drew 'random' lines elsewhere on some of the frames, to exaggerate the inaccuracies of the drawing. To fill out the figure, I used what TV Paint calls the Chinese Brush, which has a lot of texture to it. I was purposely inaccurate about applying it: not being afraid to leave gaps or go outside the lines. The more of that, the better.

The background was a blurred out version of some analogue painted frames I did some time ago. I toyed with using a plain coloured, non moving background, though it didn't fit as well as this one did. This did take some trial and error, especially in terms of getting the colour 'right' or at least right for this particular video.



The second one was a direct development from the previous one. I loved the loose outline, though to make it differ, I used a thick marker-like brush, varying in weight. I also drew around the figure using one line, rather than the build up of lines in the previous piece. I liked the use of the shadow in the last one, so continued its usage into this one. I've never really used a shadow before, though I enjoyed the look it created, so I think it will be something I take into further work. It does make the whole piece take longer to produce, though I think the overall outcome makes it worth it.

I also like what I did regarding the bar he skates on: where it appears as he uses it and disappears when he doesn't. This is a technique I think would integrate well within other aspects of my rotoscope work, skate related or other.


After having completed two animations where the inspiration came fairly naturally/ instantly, the third one (below) took some time to develop and finish to a clip which I was happy with. I felt I had somewhat used up all of the 'good' styles and it became difficult to find a style which was equally as loose, without being *too* repetitive or similar to the other two. A hard task.

I left it a while after drawing the outlines and colouring the fill, to allow for more inspiration and thoughts to creep in. I eventually thought back to some previous animations I had carried out using paint and pulled upon the ideas from those:


I feel it's a fitting continuation, as in no way was I ready to 'park' those ideas or techniques. The red painted squares made for a really textured and bright background, a simple and effective technique in my opinion. It contrasts well with the black and the greys of the skater, whilst satisfying my visual style and processes.



So, did I fulfil my two aims as stated earlier in this post? In regard to forcing me out of my comfort zone and usual styles, all three of these pieces did. They don't have the clean look a lot of my work displays and I feel my portfolio is stronger and more diverse for it. This fulfils my second aim, as I plan on including at least one of them when I compile my next showreel.

From having completed these three pieces, I don't want this to be the end of me experimenting with different styles and reverting back to what I feel 'safe' with when creating new work. The idea behind these was to help me move to new techniques and I hope to carry this fluidity into future projects.