My Mum died. In December last year, so it is still a very raw feeling. We had an amazing relationship, very close. We could talk about anything and we did. We could sit for hours with a cup of tea for her, coffee for me and we would go around the world, figuratively, fixing things.
The other day i was walking my dog Storm, on our route we go up to the cemetery and walk along the pathways there before walking along the main road back home. This day we were wandering along and i was looking at the grave stones when i realised that the actual graves of the older burials were sinking and that a large portion of the headstones had fallen over. Which got me to thinking, if you bury someone you love, leaving a lasting memorial wouldn’t the family keep that grave in good order and what did it say for the older graves, had all of the family moved away and it made me sad and a little mad. Not just because no one was looking after these memorials but also because i couldn’t go home and talk to Mum about it.
She would have recognised the names and she would have had a little anecdote about the family but she was the last of her generation in our family so there is no one who can hold that conversation with me and it caught in the back of my throat, brought tears to my eyes, i had lost my friend as well as my mum and i wont ever be able to get that back again.
My husband said ‘talk to me’, i tried but it wasn’t the same, i feel like all of the conversations we would have had are now stuck just under my breastbone not able to come out and it is so frustrating. I loved our talks and we continued them right up until she passed away, now i need to find a way to have these conversations with someone else, to put those i had with mum into a little box and tie it with a ribbon to put up onto the top shelf to be remembered another day and to find a new way to hold long conversations about life with someone else.
Something happened this week and i just didn’t have anything to post, im not a naturally gregarious person to start with so me and talking dont really go hand in hand. I have been artistically busy though, i stumbled upon a video series on painting and drawing leaves just by using numbers which was fun. The article is called ‘Colour Play’ by Este McLeod I had a lot of fun with free form drawing and using the numbers to create leaves coming up with a rough bunch of leaves with some flowers in, much to my surprise. I haven’t picked up a pencil or a paint brush to draw or paint in so many years and got quite a kick out of it.
I also, finally, got my camera out, went for a walk and picked some flowers (from where they wouldn’t be missed) and set up out in the garden to do some natural light photographs. That really got my mind going and some 200 images later i may have one i like! I wanted to find and incorporate a LadyBird into my pictures but for the life of me i could not find one which i found very strange as the weeks before we had loads in the garden, weird! Head over to my instagram page to see a few of the images i took.
Did you know that the word ‘Fractal’ was first used in 1975? By definition a Fractal is; ‘any of various extremely irregular curves or shapes for which any suitably chosen part is similar in shape to a given larger or smaller part when magnified or reduced to the same size’. “Fractal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fractal. Accessed 14 Jul. 2020.
If you look close enough you can see fractals occur everywhere, in a head of broccoli to the milky way, from the Mersey estuary to snow flakes and thanks to the wonders of Adobe Photoshop i can produce my own fractals in no time at all.
I stumbled upon a beautiful pattern on instagram and after a little research found hundreds more so beautiful and full of colour that it made me want to experiment myself.
Select a suitable image preferably with a dark edge
In Adobe Photoshop open the image and duplicate the layer, turn the original layer off
Turn new layer to a Smart layer
Choose Filters; Pixilate; Mezzotint. I use Medium lines but experiment with the various settings
Choose Filter; Blur; Radial Blur; Zoom; 100. Do this three times
Choose Filter; Distort; Twirl; 120
Copy smart layer by dragging it to create new layer
Double click Twirl on copy and move slider to -120
Change the blend mode, upper left of panel, to either darken, lighten or pin light
Shift Control Alt E to merge smart objects to layer 1
Choose Edit; Transform; Flip horizontal or vertical for mirror image, change the Blend mode to create the image
Import into Adobe Lightroom to edit
Now when i have spare time i am going back through my old photographs to find an image that will make the perfect Fractal and i am totally loving what is coming from those images.
Found my brand Logo, found my brand colours and font but wait my brand has a personality too! Why did i start my business, what are your beliefs and values, what do i do better than anyone else, what makes me special, what three words do i want my customers to describe me by? All questions that i need to answer apparently. It seriously makes you think about yourself and what your trying to accomplish as its not just about going out and taking your amazing photographs or making your fantastic art, that’s just the beginning.
I personally started taking photographs as a form of therapy, to deal with pressures of family life and it snowballed into a business. I suppose looking at the questions it kind of helps to form a very loose start to a business plan, if you’ve not got one to start with. I really loved pulling the words together that i felt symbolised what i wanted my brand to say and how i wanted potential customers to think of me then matching those words to colours. Words have such power and create a response in your audience that i wanted to get it right, out came the mind map and colour wheel and i think i have my three colours for my brand.
Blue —— Reliability
Orange —— Artistic
Green —— Friendly
Head text —– DrCarbfred Pro
Subtext —— Elina web
Body text —— Acumin Pro
Putting it all together i now need to make my templates for social media posts on facebook and instagram, these are the two i regularly use, i use Adobe Spark to make my templates but there are other apps to make them in and after i have my templates made i seriously need to get down to making some art! I have neglected to an extent my photography as we haven’t been able to go anywhere, my garden is empty of flowers so i cant get inspiration there so basically i have not done a great deal. However my lovely husband bought me a very exciting birthday present this year and i am going to enjoy using it to make my photographs in a different way.
My next project is Polaroid Lab, hang on to your lens caps its going to be a fun ride…………………………………………………………..
After the agony of finding my brand shape and colour i now have to find a logo, i want my logo to be cool, on trend and i want a little of me in there too. I looked at my business name ‘Spikey Mouse Photography’ i want something photographic in there of course and spikey mouse is a Hedgehog in Bengali, read my back story to find out WHY, so i want to incorporate a hog somewhere but i am also aware of the power of shape and colour which need to be incorporated too, so how do i get it all into one logo?
I have looked through page after page on google, cute hogs, graphic hogs, hogs with colour, hogs in lots of colour, how do i make my mind up! I downloaded 10 free vector images from Shutterstock and had a play around with colour and text, i then sent the three i liked the most to various members of my family and we took a vote. So i have my Logo now and its not the one i liked but in retrospect it was probably too cutesy, i will probably use it for a photo watermark though because i do like it.
Next is Font, now im going to drive myself crazy going through pages and pages of Fonts on the Adobe website, wish me luck…………………
Many, many, many years ago when i was a young woman not sure of what i wanted to do with my life i decided to explore Graphic Design as a career. Baring in mind this was around the time when schools had just started to invest in IT and were finally buying computers for their ‘Computer Lab’s’. The IT tutor was a dinosaur when it came to teaching women, he wouldn’t have them anywhere near his precious computers actually, so i learnt graphic design the ‘old’ way. I really loved the whole concept of designing a brand from the bottom up but at the time, the whole community was so tight knit that it was incredibly hard to find a job, unfortunately when it came to it, i just dont think i had enough of what anyone was looking for to move forward, so i did something else instead.
Now as i design, or should that be, redesign my website and branding i’m finding that i actually need to learn a ton of new stuff and it is so interesting. I started by looking at my brand name and to be honest, even though i have been told to change it as its, well what it is, i’m really not going to, i’m going to stick with it no matter how naff some think it is because the most important thing is ‘people remember it’. It has a back story to it that i can use to interact with clients easily, everyone likes a good story, so it stays. I’ve a Tag line too, then i looked at colour, i loved colour theory and how different colours make people react in certain ways.
Purple, who doesn’t love purple?
Adobe Purple; #361354
It’s cutting edge, wise, feminine, shows wealth and luxury but is also playful. Does my work mean any of these? Well its expensive so that could be a luxury item, not sure about the rest though but i do love Purple.
Red, a very hot colour!
Adobe Red #E50305
It gives a sense of excitement, passion, anger, its loud, playful, youthful and modern but im not a great fan of Red so im not sure that’s the colour for me. I could go on but google it and you can find tons of stuff to read on the subject.
I then set about looking at brand shapes, did i want to appear intimidating or harmless, friendly and inviting, gentle, light hearted and cute, if so then i’d use a circle or was i going for intelligent, stable and cool, then it would be sharp and angular shapes. Then there is the dependability of your brand to think about, who knew that would be a triangle! Maturity, alternative, bad ass, powerful and sleek are all triangle, is that what i am, it is what im aiming for and i do have maturity on my side, so yes i’m a triangle. I haven’t been able to decide on one colour so i’m using lots of them. And the begining of a brand is born. Now i just need to find a Logo………………………..
I’ve never been sure if i should have a website dedicated to showing off my photography, i use flickr and Viewbug to show some of my work but i don’t pay, by choice, for the privilege. In fact i object strenuously to having to pay for a website because i dont think i actually use them to their best advantage. I think my money is used in better ways, like for food, than hosting a website i forget to post on. I have had several attempts at building a website on different platforms, wordpress, wix but i never can make my mind up how they are supposed to look, which coloured background is the best, which font and dont get me started on Google Analytics! How do you use it?
My attempt on Wix was, i think, my best effort to date but i had to pay for the website and the domain name, the first year was cheep, the second year was not, i designed the thing and then forgot to post anything on it, so it went. WordPress is free but you need to pay for a domain name, I’ve made a couple of different websites but they got forgotten because of ‘life’. It makes me wonder, do i really need my own website, well actually i do and i need to get it seen by people and shared about. What’s the difference this time you may ask, well two things really, the first is that i have more time to myself now, my Mum passed away in December last year and having nursed her through cancer i now have so much time on my hands, the second is, I’ve found i have access to a FREE website builder, yes FREE and it’s the bees knees!
I use Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom and have a photography subscription which allows myself and my aspiring artist daughter use of lots of different Adobe programs for our art. In the package is Adobe Portfolio, its free and you can get a domain name through namecheap where i managed to get a .com domain name for something silly like £8 a year. Its a lovely website builder, easy to use but its quite limited which is actually a good thing for me, i dont get bogged down in trying to decide which looks best for my site. I am building it slowly, i have to decide which photos are good enough to be shown and that is hard! I also find it difficult with all of the metadata, keywords, long keywords etc its so time consuming but i am making myself do it this time.
This amazing FREE website is www.spikeymousephotography.com and i am really quite proud of my efforts so far. If you would be so kind as to go and look through it yourself and leave a comment and share i would be very grateful, thank you. My answer then is a resounding YES i need a website, just as long as its FREE!
9 Reasons to let a Cat into your life, do we need 9 reasons? If you are a cat lover and you own a cat then you already know about the benefits of such a friendship but if you dont have a furry feline friend then perhaps you need to read on.
We live in a very stressful time at the moment and we all have different ways of dealing with that stress but for me the best way to relax and shut off my mind is with my feline friend. So the 1st reason for letting that cute ball of fluff into your life is; Therapy, there is just something so therapeutic in sitting somewhere quiet and gently stroking the soft downy fur of a kitten.
2 They give comfort to you just by lying there and being stroked. Whether they have long fur or short being allowed to pet your pet, just being allowed to hold another living body brings enormous comfort.
3 We all know that when you pet your cat they reward you with their rumbling purr but how do they create the sound? Your cats’ muscles move their vocal cords as they breathe in and out, air hits the vibrating muscles which creates the purring, you know your doing a great job when you hear that rumble. Stroking your cat gives comfort to you both. Domestic cats are not the only cat to have a purr, Cougars and Cheetahs also purr, they are the only wild cats that have the ability, the bigger cats roar instead. Did you know Elephants purr too?
4 Whether you friend is sitting on your knee or on the sofa by your side it is remarkably easy to let your mind wander while your fingers slowly move through their silky fur. Drifting in a flurry of malting loose fur you are free to daydream of the days before lint rollers, of the days when wearing black trousers didn’t mean carrying that lint roller around with you where ever you went, the days when black meant black not black and lots and lots of individual strands of fur that stick to you like glue and wont come off. But a good reason for me to have a cat is the opportunity it allows me to daydream.
5 We all have someone to care for at some time, be it a parent, sibling, partner or child but having a cat to care for is a whole other ball game. We are ALLOWED to care for our cat because THEY own YOU, we may think the opposite but we are reminded most stridently at meal times when that normally quiet, calm and collected fluff ball unlocks their voice and fiercely demands to be fed, right now! Having a cat to care for is, in my opinion, one of the easier things in life, having seen to his or her’s every need, pet them, brushed them to get rid of all those pesky loose hairs, and having been allowed to use them for your own form of therapy, they show you how much they need you by waltzing out tail up, nose in the air off to find their own adventure without a care in the world. I’m sure that if they had opposable thumb’s they would open their food pouches themselves and order their own toys from the pet shop. Having a cat to carefor, who waits for you to come home and greets you at the door, weaving in between your feet as you try to carry your bags into the kitchen, gives you something to come home to and a reason to care about going home.
6 Whether your cat is a timid little kitten or a battle scared rescue your cat will love you. Every time the treats come out, your cat will love you, open the tin of salmon for your dinner, yep, your cat will love you and they will show that love with their loud purr, their rubbing between your legs, their head bops as you try to get your fork to your mouth without that sneaky paw stealing your dinner, by sitting on your knee and offering their belly for a rub that they know will end up with your hand being savaged by their needle sharp claws and teeth. Your cat will show you their love in so many different ways and that is an important reason to be owned by a cat, they love, well i was going to say unconditionally but i know that’s not right, they love and that is all that matters.
Reasons 7, 8 and 9, they are fun, watching their antics as they chase the tiniest fly around your living room, jumping over you and your furniture and bounding across the window ledge until they have caught it and you can’t help but laugh at them, after, you have picked up everything they have knocked off the table and sideboard first. Their play is unselfishly shared with you or you are their plaything. There is so much fun to be had batting a tinkling plastic ball around the floor, once it’s been found under the couch, of throwing a catnip laced mouse at them just to see them rolling around with their face buried in it getting high, of fluttering the feathery string keeping it just out of their reach until you allow them that last death leap before they are on it and ripping and shredding and down right killing what ever is on the end of it. And they make you heart soar and ache with love for them. When you hold them in your hand for the first time as a kitten and you melt into a puddle of mush, when they purr for the first time for you, when they meet you at the front door after a difficult day, when they are ill and you worry for them and when they die because they are old and you took such good care for them.
I’m sure there are plenty of reasons not to have a cat in your life but i am equally sure there are plenty more reasons than these to let a cat become part of your family. There are so many unwanted cats today, with owners not neutering or spaying their pet, with cats living wild or feral. It is up to us as responsible pet owners to make sure our pets dont continue to produce litters of kittens we cant re-home and to go to shelters to find our new friend, below are links to several UK cat adoption sites. Adopt dont breed!
How many weeks have we been in lockdown in the UK now? Feels like its been MANY months to me! You know when you suddenly realise you can’t actually remember the last time you actually worked, well that’s me, I no longer recall my last sale, now that is a SCARY thought!
Last year was, you could say, quite a year. I have cared for my Mum for over 8 years as she battled cancer and last year, after being in remission, it came back. She passed away in December thank God as i know she would not have made it through Covid 19. But i hadn’t been earning even before that as i was a full time carer, so when and what was my last sale? Who the hell knows but i would like to know what and when my next one will be so follow the link and have a browse around my FAA website, support the small businesses, a small sale goes a long way. Thank you.
I am often asked how I came up with ‘spikey mouse photography‘ for my business, I have to admit that it is all thanks to a boy called Ben who wanted to buy his mum a birthday present. Ben is my eldest son and one day when he was out with his grandmother he decided that he was going to buy me a present for my birthday, I think he was around 3 or 4 years old at the time. They finally came up with a ceramic ‘Hedgie’ hedgehog and Ben has been buying me 2 or 3 of them a year ever since. It is an understatement to say that I now have quite a collection and when I was naming my new business adventure everyone suggested using ‘Hedgehog’ but I wanted something a little different and found that in Bengali Hedgehog was spikey mouse and a business was born! Strange how things happen, I have a great and memorable company name and am reminded every business day of my little boy Ben and my lovely Mum who has sadly passed away now. Ben is now a grown man and a father himself and is really happy I chose to use him as my muse, thank you Ben. x