MontanaRon

An English teacher's blog about his travels and his digital art.

Dancing Bowling Pins

I just added a short to my Youtube channel. You can check it out at https://youtube.com/embed/G8dZeZdFzZ4?si=L3INUQ2DPY_6Po9I

It’s a video about dancing bowling pins, kind of. I recorded this way back in 2007 at Ocean Bowl at Patong Beach in Phuket, Thailand. These are weird-looking pinsetters that are STILL made by the Brunswick Corporation. They’re called Boost machines. You can check them out here.

Enjoy.

Thai Trip Report Part 3

Delay after delay after delay, but, finally, here is the final part of my Thai Trip Report, where I spent some time in Bangkok and Nongkhai. There isn’t much to report about Bangkok, so the video doesn’t contain that much about the City of Angels. [EDIT: I removed it as a matter of fact.] However, the Nongkhai section is a bit longer. I always try to spend some time there on a Saturday since there is a street fair every Saturday, weather permitting. So, here’s the vid. Enjoy!

[Edit: I removed the original video I had posted and replaced it with this shorter version. I took out the Bangkok section because it didn’t add much to the video and I reduced parts of the street fair at night and the kids’ dance practice.]

Laos Food Festival 2024

The annual Laos Food Festival was held in Vientiane from January 23rd to the 27th. I usually try to go on the Saturday date after classes at Vientiane College. Here’s some more about the festival from the Vientiane Times:

“The festival runs for five days from January 23 to 27, with stalls open from 9am to 10pm each day. There are 180 stalls, including 165 offering various types of Lao food, from regional specialties to traditional dishes and desserts, and 15 stalls selling handicrafts.
There will also be live performances, demonstrations of Lao sweet making, a talk on small business management and marketing, a fruit carving contest, and a Lao dessert sale, among other activities.
This is one of the most popular events on Laos’ social calendar and is sure to attract a large number of visitors, especially as it is taking place during the Asean Tourism Forum in Vientiane this week.”

Because I only attended the event on Saturday afternoon, I didn’t get to see any of live performances or other activities. Here’s a video I put together of the event.

(Note: I’m quite new at making quality videos, like for Youtube, so this one probably seems amateurish. I will get better as I post more vids. My video editor is DaVinci Resolve 18.6, which I’m also new to using. Will get better at using it, too!)

Digital Art – Fish Tale

It’s been quite awhile since my last digital art post, so here’s a new one. I’m calling it “Fish Tale,” though it could also be titled “The One That Got Away.” It’s a whimsical piece that didn’t take all that long to put together over the last three days when I could make time for it. As always, compositions are a lot of fun to work on; otherwise, why do them?

For each new piece I create and post on here, I’m going to give a rundown of what I did to create it. First of all there are six images in the composition. The main image and the sailboat are from a couple of photos I took in the Dominican Republic way back in 2006-2008, and the five fish and whale images were generated in Midjourney. There are about 20 layers in the work, so there wasn’t a lot involved; it’s almost like a finger exercise. Other than the image layers, there were adjustment layers for saturation, blurring, exposure and for the speech bubble. There are also a couple of texture layers from the various art courses I’m a member of. I put the whole thing together, merged the layers and ran the final piece through Topaz Labs 2 to create the Artistic Impression look.

I’m going to call this one finished for now, but I might tweak it a bit and perhaps run it through Photoshop again with a cartoon template or action that I have laying around somewhere. It is best viewed at a large scale; just click on it a few times. So, it was fun making this and I hope to create some more elaborate pieces in the very near future. I’ll put them here, of course.

Thai Trip Report Part 2

We made our way to Patong Beach on Phuket Island, where we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express. It’s a decent hotel that is only a two-minute walk to the beach and some of the rooms have a nice view of the gardens. It’s moderately priced and the staff has always been very helpful and friendly. About the only negative aspect is the rather meager breakfast, but it’s free and will provide you with enough food to get your day started.

One of my favorite ways to start the morning after breakfast was to take a walk along the beach. There aren’t a lot of people out at this time, so it’s quite peaceful. However, the beach lounge chair vendors are setting out their chairs to get ready for the crowds of sun worshippers who will arrive a bit later in the morning.

Directly behind the area where we spent the afternoon and early evening at the beach is the Kudo Hotel, which attracts a mostly younger crowd to its outside lounging area that has a swimming pool. One of the reasons for the age of the clientele might be that at the front of the hotel is the Daily Dose, a coffee shop that also sells cannabis, I believe. So, you can lounge by the pool, toke up with a hookah, and enjoy the nightly entertainment that the hotel provides. (Watch the video below)

Nai likes to sleep until the early afternoon, so he might miss out on some interesting events. One morning, after walking the beach, I went back to the hotel and came upon some folks from what I think is a middle school that’s right across the street. It appeared that there were administrators, teachers and students, including a student band, walking and marching down the road away from the beach, going to one of the main roads in town. They eventually ended up at what looked like a temple area. There’s a short clip of them on the video below, and I made another video of the entire procession that you can also view below.

Overall it was another enjoyable five-day stay at Patong beach and I’m sure we’ll go back again at a future date. Enjoy the videos.

Phuket video:

Patong Middle School Procession

Thai Trip Report part 1

I recently had a two-week vacation in Thailand, so I’m going to do a few posts about that trip. My friend Nai and I spent some time at Patong Beach in Phuket, a few nights in Bangkok and a few more days in Nongkhai. This first part will be about two airports where I had a chance to take some videos. You can see the video I made at the end of this post.

The first airport was Udon Thani Airport. Udon is a city of about 400,000 people, so it’s not exceptionally large and doesn’t have a huge airport. The inside of the airport, like the departure area and the boarding gates, is clean, modern and comfortable, but it doesn’t have that many food and beverage options. Nai and I spent the night in Nongkhai, which is right across the border from Laos. Because we had an early flight from Udon to Bangkok, we took an early (6:30 a.m.) taxi to Udon, which costs 800 Thai baht, if memory serves me correctly.

From Udon Thani, we flew into Bangkok’s Don Meuang International Airport, which serves mainly as a domestic flight center. It used to be the only international airport in Bangkok, but with the opening of Suvarnabhumi Airport in 2006, it was relegated to a secondary role. This airport used to be in terrible shape, but with an upgrade, the interior is now very attractive, and, in a lot of ways, I think it has a much nicer ambience than Suvarnabhumi, though I haven’t been to the big airport since 2019.

One complaint I have about Don Meuang is that upon arrival, it seems that debarking passengers always have to take a shuttle bus to get to the arrivals area and the bus takes around seven minutes (I timed it) to travel from the plane to the terminal. Perhaps a minor hassle, but I like to step off a plane directly into the terminal.

So, here’s the video of the two airports. I’ll continue with my trip report in the next post, soon I hope.

New Painting Software–Rebelle 7

The only digital painting I’ve done has been in Photoshop and, for various reasons, I found it rather clunky, but usable. However, as a Black Friday deal, the folks at Escape Motions put their award-winning digital painting software, Rebelle, on sale as a pre-purchase for $29.99 for the Pro version. (Standard version is $19.99) This is a great deal because the normal price is $149.99, so I went ahead and got the Pro version, which will be released on December 14th.

I’m stoked because I downloaded the trial version of Rebelle 6 and I’ve been playing around with it. I’ve barely scratched the surface, but it’s awesome. The budding painter in me can paint with ink, pencil, pastels, water colors, gouache, and many more on various types of canvas, including cotton, gesso, wood veneer, and Washi, among others. I can foresee that my free time is going to be taken up by learning to use this amazing product.

From the Escape Motions website:

Rebelle is the award-winning, hyper-realistic painting software with phenomenal oils, acrylics, watercolors, and other wet and dry media. Paint pigments color mixing, oil thickness, watercolor diffusion, and NanoPixel technology, convincingly mimic the way natural media interact with the canvas and itself.

If you hurry, you can get the pre-purchase deal now, but it ends on November 30th.

Happy Birthday to Me

Yup, it’s that time of year again, where I’m reminded that I’m not getting any younger. As a matter of fact, I’m three quarters of a century old. Putting it that way, it sounds really old. But not as old as saying I’m in the middle of my eighth decade. Oh, well, looking forward to the next quarter century! I don’t have any plans to celebrate since I have to work today. Here’s a previous celebration, but this year’s party will be much less subdued. LOL

Speaking of work, I just had a nice three-day weekend as Laos celebrated with the annual That Luang Festival. I had attended the celebration at That Luang a few times in the past, but found it too crowded and too hot, so I stay away from the area these days. Most of my students felt the same way when I asked them if they were going to the festivities. Can’t say that I blame them; if you’ve been once or twice, there will probably be nothing new to see or do.

Next weekend is another three-day holiday as Laos’ National day is on tap. It’s the equivalent of July 4th in the United States. The communist party puts on a big show for this one, and I stay away from it also.

After next week, the term is finished and we get a nice month-long break. Around the middle of the month, Nai and I are going to Thailand and the beach in Phuket, one of our favorite holiday excursions. Surf and sand–can’t wait!

Gratitude

It’s Thanksgiving day (November 23rd this year) in the United States, a day to give thanks, overindulge (I’ve been just as guilty of that as anyone!), watch a football game, play family board games, prepare for Black Friday, and to be grateful for what we have. That’s one of the suggestions for art journaling in one of the digital art courses I take (Photoshop Artistry). Our mentor, guru, and chief cook and bottle washer, Sebastian Michaels recommends that at least once a week we devoted some time in our personal journals to list the things we’re grateful for. I don’t do nearly enough on that subject; I should definitely include it in my journaling efforts.

Here’s a blog post from Bella Grace Magazine, one of the many arts and crafts mags from Stampington, titled 15 Simple Everyday Moments to be Grateful For:

Without fail, life gets even busier as the holidays approach. Our never-ending
to-do lists become even longer, our calendars more full, and quiet moments
to ourselves feel impossible. That’s why it’s vital to seize these tiny pockets of
magic we may experience every day and take note of them, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.

1. Waking up to sunlight streaming through your
bedroom curtains
2. Hitting all green lights while running errands
3. A hot shower on a chilly morning
4. Watching the steam rise from a pot of something
nourishing cooking on the stove
5. An unexpected conversation with a stranger
6. That sigh of contentment when you’re finally done
with your tasks for the day
7. Getting that messy bun just right on the first try
8. The sound of cozy-scented candles crackling
9. Hearing the first notes of your favorite song
10. Finally starting that new book that’s been sitting
on your nightstand
11. Settling in to watch an episode of a beloved show
you’ve watched more times than you can count
12. The feel of a dog or cat’s nose pushing into your leg
13. Someone offering to take something off your plate
14. Slipping into your coziest loungewear after a
long day
15. Catching a scent in the air that makes you
feel nostalgic

Not all of these pertain to me (loungewear?), but I can add some more to the list.
16. The smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning.
17. The aromas of pizza and bread being baked or served.
18. Holiday breaks from work.
19. Showing off your handyman skills by fixing something around the house.

And so many more. What are you grateful for today?

Also, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Digital Art–Morning Lists

One of the suggestions that Sebastian Michaels makes on one of his Photo Artistry courses is that students take some time first thing in the morning, before reading any email or browsing websites,  to let your subconscious mind help you to write out a list of 10 nouns or phrases that pop into your head and write them down, one after another. What does that first noun lead to, the first word that pops into your head, then the second and so on. Don’t stop to think about what the next word might be, just free-wheel it, don’t analyze. Let your subconscious mind take over. After finishing your list, choose one of the items on the list that strikes you as being a good idea for a composition. Write down what the composition might entail and what elements you might need to include in the composition: photos, textures, etc.

When I first started the course, I did this almost every morning, but I haven’t been doing it lately. I recently thought that I should get back into this habit, so I did a list this morning. Here it is:

The items are in the order that they popped into my head: weather, symbols, tomb, sarcophagus, desert, statue, protection, lost and found, relic and shoe. Don’t ask me the whys or wherefores of these items–my brain just spewed them out.

The phrase that I picked that might make a good composition is “lost and found.”

How about a piece showing a lost and found office or booth with interesting, unusual, amazing items scattered around? That might be fun to create.

So, that’s a morning list and how it’s supposed to spark some creative ideas.

Here’s another one:

ticket, cashier, vault, money, coins, jail, time, clocks, pocket, hand

My composition idea word is clocks. How about a composition with lots of clocks signifying the passage of time and our inevitable passing on? Someone trying to push back the hands or to stop them. Symbols of time passing: planets in orbit around the sun, old age, tombstone or graveyard.

I might create another page where I add my morning lists. Stay tuned.

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