Yes, we’re still in lockdown here in Vientiane, though the government has eased some of the restrictions. Important for us is that some schools can begin to reopen, though most won’t be able to start up again until September; that includes Vientiane College. It’s frustrating, but, overall, the Lao government has been doing fairly well at keeping the virus out of the country. Lately, the only cases have been from Lao workers in Thailand who have been coming back to Laos. The government checks everyone at the border crossings and hospitalizes all who have the virus. I think there are a bit more than 2,000 people who are hospitalized at the moment, but there have been five deaths, which is five too many. Compared to our neighboring countries, though, we’re doing pretty good. Thailand and Vietnam have been getting hammered by the Delta variant, and Cambodia and Myanmar have also been having problems. Hopefully, vaccinations will keep increasing here in Laos (and elsewhere) so that this crap will end.
As far as Vientiane College is concerned, it will open again in September if all goes well. Thankfully, the administration has continued to pay us throughout the lockdown and most of the teachers are now doing some extracurricular work to prepare for September. I’ve been making some short (2-3 minutes) videos for posting on the VC Facebook page. I’m making some vids about idiomatic expressions (“piece of cake”) and a “Did you know . . .” series that other teachers are also doing. (Did you know that the 10 most common words in English are . . .?) I’ve also been doing some other odds and ends to try to earn my keep. LOL
I haven’t been doing much digital art lately, but I’m going to get back in the groove very soon. I’ve been playing around with Photoshop actions a bit, and here’s a comp that I want to work on some more. It’s an original photo of paintings being sold by a vendor in Boca Chica in the Dominican Republic. I hope to add some more extras to it soon. More later.
My latest creation is called “Requiem for a Lost Civilization.” The ruins and the landscape are from photos of mine taken at the ancient Roman ruins in Volubilis, Morocco. The other elements are “stuff” I have from the various digital art courses I’ve taken from Photoshop Artistry, which I’ve recommended before and I’ll continue to give it a huge thumbs up.
I added some textures, some adjustment layers and some photos from the Ultimate Universe Creator by Skybox Creative, then ran the whole thing through Nik HDR Efex Pro 2. Finally, I added a Color Lookup adjustment layer in Photoshop.
Vientiane lockdown has been extended for another few weeks, up to June 4th. At the rate people are still showing up with the covid virus, this lockdown will never end, it seems. The school is scheduled to open on June 10th, and I certainly hope that happens. The administration was kind enough to pay everyone for the month of May, though we didn’t do any work, but if the same lack of work extends far into June and beyond, I’m fearful that there won’t be any income for a while. Got my fingers crossed.
So, what to do with all this time off? Create some more digital art, of course. Here’s one I’m calling “Taekwando Nightmare Dream.” I was originally just going to practice creating displacement effects in Photoshop, but my Muse had other ideas. All the photos are mine, except for the fellow delivering the flying kick on the right side, which I got from Pixabay; they were taken when I worked in Andong, South Korea way back in 2005, and they’re photos from a phys. ed. student demonstration, except for the photo at the upper left. That’s one I took of my former taekwando master showing off. I added some textures and a few other bits and pieces. Enjoy.
Yes, we’re still on lockdown until at least May 20th, but the way things are going it’s going to last longer than that. Though Vientiane had only one case yesterday, we jumped to 14 today; way too many for the city to end the lockdown any time soon. So, if it goes on, there will be no school re-opening any time soon, so no pay, either. Gotta watch my expenditures!
Haven’t been doing a lot with artwork lately, though I have been keeping up with tutorials. I’d also like to learn how to draw, so I found a couple of free websites that look very interesting–Draw a Box and Ctrl+Paint. I’ll have to give one or both of them a try.
I messed around a bit with painting ideas in Photoshop and Topaz Labs this morning and came up with this, made from a photo taken in my favorite place on earth, Glacier National Park in Montana. Enjoy. More later.
Saint Mary Lake, Glacier National Park
Here’s my latest piece of digital art entitled “Ghost Patrol at the Ancient Gateway.” It uses some black and white conversion techniques, a few filters, Gaussian blurs, and I ran it through a few Topaz filters and a Topaz look. The photos are mine except for the Roman soldiers, which I got from Pixabay. The background hills are from a Morocco photo, as is the ancient gate from the Roman ruins at Volubilis. The lightning storm is from a photo I took in the Dominican Republic.
Here’s my newest piece of digital art, entitled “Abandoned.” Lots of texture layers were incorporated, LUTs and other effects, and I ran the finished version through Topaz Labs and ON1 Effects.
I find that I just really don’t have enough time to devote a lot of attention to my art due mainly to the fact that I’m working full-time at the college, but we have a few extra days off coming next week, so I’ll take advantage of that. Also, starting around April 10th, we’ve got about a month off for our break between terms, so I’m giddily looking forward to that. I’m still stuck in Laos, unable to travel outside of the country without having to go through a big hassle, but I’ve got Art to keep me company!
Here’s my latest digital art composition, from photos taken with a film camera in the Castle Mountains in Montana back in 1993 or ’94. The building photos were taken in old Castletown, a site which may no longer be standing. I went back there in ’97, but the area had been fenced off with signs saying to keep out because it was private property, so it’s possible the site has been razed. I’d like to get back there some day to have a look. I really enjoyed hiking in the Castles back in the day, and there’s a great little fishing stream not too far away.
The photos are mine except for the starry sky and the wolves, which both came from Pixabay. The moon is an old photo of mine that I enlarged for this piece. The buildings and mountains were shot in the daytime, so I converted them to night images in Photoshop. Lots of layers, many of them adjustment layers, a few texture layers and quite a few masks used also. Had fun making this, which, for me, is the whole point of doing digital art. Enjoy.
Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope you have a great, wonderful day with your families and loved ones. In Laos, of course, Christmas is not a big deal, but next week’s New Year’s Eve and Day are celebrated by more people.
For today, I might ride my motorbike to visit Nai’s family, only about 5 miles away, but much of the journey is over a very bad, dirty, pothole-filled road. If I go, I’ll take some photos and try to get some of them posted in the very near future.
The school’s on break between terms until January 10th, so I’ve got plenty of time to work on my digital art. Here’s a recent composition I’ve been working on for what seems like forever. It’s entitled “Moonlit Desert City.” I’ve been adding and subtracting objects from it, fiddling with blend modes, shading and tones, and generally playing around with it. I’m still not satisfied with the results, so I’ll probably keep working on it. Anyway, here’s the most recent iteration. (P.S. That’s me on the far left with my eyes peeking out from the mask.)
Moonlit Desert City
I got to thinking about how I could improve my compositions. I came to the understanding that many of them didn’t have a focal point, something that would grab the viewer’s attention when the piece was first viewed. I think this is particularly true of “In the Hall of Masks.” (See previous post.) It’s a nice enough piece, but there’s really nothing for a viewer to latch onto. So I redid it by moving the right foreground character closer to the viewer and adding some glowing eyes. I think this strengthens the image. I also lowered the red saturation, which I felt was overdoing it, and I changed the text a bit. Here’s a look at the new image. I think it’s an overall improvement. What do you think?
High Heat is a baseball term that describes a pitcher’s fastball. Here I extracted a couple of photos of players at the New York Yankees baseball academy near Boca Chica in the Dominican Republic. The player photos are mine, but everything else came from Pixabay. I tried to add a dispersion effect to the back of the baseball, without a lot of success. So, I ran it through a couple of PhotographyBB actions to get the final creation. I’m not entirely satisfied with this result, so I may do some work on the composition somewhere down the line.