Celebration!

Celebrating the Biden-Harris victory with digital art

(Click to enlarge)

This piece is based on a photo I saw on India’s WION News here. It’s of the celebration which ensued when folks got wind of the Biden-Harris 2020 victory on Saturday, November 7.

I did this in a couple of marathon sessions using Mediachance Dynamic Auto Painter and Adobe Photoshop. I used DAP to create a few variations, then brought them into Photoshop as layers and began combining them in various ways, painting on layer masks, adjusting layer opacity, experimenting with different blending modes, and applying texture and lighting effects.

Please view at full resolution by clicking on the small image until you get the full 1600×900 image. (Note: Due to issues with WordPress.com, you might have to click twice to see the full-sized image.)

If this sort of technique interests you and you like the piece, my advice is to spend the time and make it personal. When you spend a lot of time developing a piece (even using digital tools), ideally something magical happens. You begin to see how the piece could be, and after making many small changes it gradually comes to express something that comes from within you.

Using DAP, it’s not hard to get a canvas filled with a riot of colours, textures, and brush strokes. What is challenging is to work with that raw material until it becomes a composition which reflects the human person behind it, or even divine inspiration.

From the point of view of my own development, I’m happy that I was able to bring in some naturalistic elements (hands and facial features) that make all the difference between an abstract collection of shapes and colours, and a portrait of two women which can actually make you feel something.

Sidebar: Flag shirts censored and uncensored

There may be various ordinances against wearing the American flag, i.e. ‘desecrating’ it. In a 2014 article about politics and late-night TV, the Columbia Journalism Review referenced a 1970 incident in which “Merv Griffin hosted Vietnam-war protestor Abbie Hoffman, whose iconic American flag shirt was censored by cbs lest it run afoul of flag-desecration laws.”

But desecration is very much in the eye of the beholder. Abbie Hoffman was a yippie and political dissident. Other TV personalities, including Pat Boone, could wear Old Glory without getting rousted. And as this pic Tweeted by Dann Vasquez amply illustrates, low-rent politicians may wrap themselves in the flag without actually wearing it:

Having censored Hoffman in 1970, cbs seems keen to compensate with wretched excess, vis-ร -vis this slideshow of 27 pics of flag-wearing celebs (none of them Hoffman):

https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/flag-wearing-celebs/1/

Most of the displays are fairly tasteless, but I suppose Tilda Swinton manages to pull it off without looking like either a lady wrestler or country singer. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Michael Howard

The views expressed are my own, and do not represent any other person or organization.

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Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker: Last Tango The Video

What if Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker were characters from a scandalous 1970s movie? What sorts of things might they say to each other as they exchange knowing glances? This parody answers that question… Later, we discuss Theresa May’s approach to Brexit, and whether there’s a scientific explanation for why Brexit seems to have caused the political process to break down.

Having advertised the video in a “coming attractions” post, I’m glad to have completed it. Maybe not everyone shares my “out” sense of humour or will take the film references, but once I got the idea and made some preliminary sketches, I had to see it through. Continue reading

Coming Attractions: Last Tango In Strasbourg

Like Bogart & Bacall or Tracy & Hepburn, Jean-Claude Juncker & Theresa May are better together. Now they explode across the screen as you’ve never seen them before!

(right-click to enlarge)

Two bored escapists find themselves thrown together in a room, as reality recedes around them, and only their fantasies are real. They meet, and part forever… only to begin the cycle again with renewed passion. The film’s raw portrayal of hard line negotiations resulted in varying degrees of censorship around the world. Now this newly restored version reveals the shocking relationship between two lost souls — as different as night and day, yet somehow drawn together — from every possible angle.

“A landmark in movie history” — The New Yorker

“One of the most important cinematic achievements” — Le Journal Du Dimanche

“This movie is more vile than Doctor Who, if such a thing were possible” — Mary Whitehouse

“We applaud the innovative use of dairy products” — Dairy Association of America

If there’s one movie you see this year, it must be Last Tango In Strasbourg.

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Scott Pruitt Epitaph

Like bad meat, the freshness date on Scott Pruitt’s tenure as EPA chief has finally expired. This epitaph rings true in more ways than one:

Though Pruitt had something of a reputation as a chicken-plucker, ironically it’s Rudy Giuliani who’s now running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Apparently, Mueller has to prove he’s not a Blue Fairy from Fairyland before Trump will deign to sit down with him for an interview. Would love to see Mueller let fly with a subpoena!

Michael Howard

The views expressed are my own, and do not represent any other person or organization.

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Donald Trump: Latest Parody Pic

Viewing the pic and discussing some Photoshop techniques

donald-trump-twelve-days-of-trumpster-by-michael-howard

Donald Trump – The Twelve Days of Trumpster

I’ve been slaving away in Photoshop to bring you a new Donald Trump parody pic, this one combining the Big Brother and Twelve Days of Christmas themes. I’ve already posted the lyrics here, but the new pic adds something special. In the argot of the song, it boasts a:

Big Brother head,
Big groping hands,
And an eagle in an Aryan meme.

If you’re sick of seeing alt-right depictions of Donald Trump as Norse God and Emperor of Europe, this parody may give you a chuckle. (“Look to the sleigh / See the Donaldus — Oy veh!”)

Regular readers of my blog know that I sometimes get obsessed with Photoshop, which is actually a good way to get stuff done. Despite its comic intent, this piece demonstrates some useful Photoshop techniques. Continue reading

Margaret and Gillian Series

Three recoloured photographs from my archives

Margaret and Gillian 1

Margaret and Gillian 1

Margaret and Gillian 2

Margaret and Gillian 2

Margaret and Gillian 3

Margaret and Gillian 3

I did these quite a few years ago, using Painter 5, Photoshop 5, and Paint Alchemy. It was nice to be reminded of them by an old friend — the husband of Margaret and father of Gillian, who also took the original photos.

Please do right-click, open in a new tab, and click again to see each image full size, where the interplay of colours and textures becomes more evident.

Barack Obama Song Now On YouTube

Barack Obama farewell tribute video

Whew! Finally finished work on the video and posted it to YouTube. Makes it easy to learn the song, plus I spiced up the intro with some painterly effects and an Obama speech excerpt:

It’s 720p, so if you click on the embedded video’s title bar (upper left), you can watch it on YouTube and choose 720p full screen.

For more about the inspiration behind the song and its meaning, please see “Gratitude to President Obama.” If you sing this song in a big space like a cathedral, you’ll notice the echo effect when you get to the Grand Canyon part. ๐Ÿ˜‰ This song is not so funky and poppish, but is better suited to a church choir. Try singing it in rounds!

If you care about the technical aspects, media tools used include:

Dynamic Auto Painter
Adobe Photoshop
Finale
Audacity
Wavelab
XMedia Recode
Corel VideoStudio 12
Xvid codec
LAME MP3 codec

The versions of these tools used were fairly ancient, running on an old Pentium 4 single-core computer with Windows XP.

The introduction, where you see a quick montage of painterly images, is based on using Dynamic Auto Painter to create variations. The final image in that sequence is a composite done in Photoshop which combines parts from different versions, plus a snippet of sheet music. The still images were then brought into Video Studio and crossfaded.

I’m a big fan of gestural brushstrokes, so if you open this image in a new tab and view it full screen, you’ll see lots of details that otherwise might pass you by.

Photoshop obsession is an affliction affecting many modern persons. It can be cured through your generous contributions to the Get-A-Life Fund. ๐Ÿ™‚

Brushing aside all that technology, the core inspiration for the song was Sri Chinmoy, who wrote thousands upon thousands of songs, many of them honouring the people he knew or met, great or small, from many nations, of different beliefs, but often sharing a longing for world harmony.

Michael Howard

Of Further Interest

Portrait of Sri Chinmoy
Janaka Alan Spence: We Live in Hope

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Doctor Who: Ghost Light Picture Gallery

doctor-who-ghost-light-picture-galleryThe real world is so fraught with conflict and suffering it’s no wonder I sometimes take refuge in the Whovian universe. While writing about “That’s The Way To The Zoo” (a song sung in “Ghost Light”), I became obsessed with taking screenshots: Continue reading

More About Me

cambodian-boatman-by-michael-howardThis personal blog is happily not about me and my daily life, but about things that fascinate and inspire me — including music, poetry, art, and spirituality. It’s also about finding time to laugh out loud at Britcoms, and speak up for truth on subjects that surely demand truth.

Still, I hope the reader would learn something about me from the way I write about the artist Picasso, or Chinese female vocalist Chyi Yu, or the tragic attack on Charlie Hebdo.

When I first started this blog in September 2014, I wondered if anyone would even read it, and whether I’d find the words to express my thoughts and feelings on issues I’ve subsequently tackled. As I limbered up the writing apparatus, I also narrowed down the focus and zeroed in on issues that are personally important to me, such as religious freedom. Continue reading