Posted in Homepage, Steven's Cosmic Thursday's, Steven's Cosmic Thursdays, Steven's Newest Posts

The Harp Twins: Burning Tempest Harp (Fire and Water)

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Ok, so I’ve been holding back on my efforts as a photo manipulator. The last few edits I wrote about needed little effort from me, since I didn’t need to add much in the first place. But THIS (Not the first image, the second and third) THIS is the result of me putting my soul and effort. It took me over 3 hours to make, and it was mostly due to me playing around with the lighting of the harp and the twins (me and me, lol) to try and match it as close to the original image of snowy mountains during a sunset as possible. For this post I thought it would be great to remake an old edit I made around 2 years ago, considering my fro grew since then, my style has slightly evolved, and I learned more about manipulating photos using my phone. As I mentioned before, fire in my ideology can represent one’s confidence. Water in my eyes represents beauty and transparency, also known as truth. I went with transparency because it’s more literal to the element itself, and because water can be a beautiful sight when the circumstances are right. But anyway, the inspiration behind the Harp Twins, aside from my interpretation of fire and water, comes from my fascination with twins. I’ve always wanted to be a twin, or have twin daughters or sons. And knowing that I can’t be a twin (for obvious reasons), I decided to get creative, strike two poses, and use both photos in one art piece. The reason I use a harp in this edit is because I played this game called Brave Frontier. And there was this character called Archangel Aurelia. Her divine appearance drew me to use her in battle almost every time. And her harp drew me to her even more. She starts off as just Aurelia, evolving into Elegant Aurelia (her harp is exactly what’s in the photos in Elegant form, except it’s gold), then Statuesque Aurelia, and finally Archangel Aurelia. I was so inspired by her design and the fact that she really floats with that giant harp in her hands that I had to portray myself doing the same. I also love futuristic looking weapons, instruments and almost anything, so the harp’s design gave me so much life. Because I wanted to add my own style to the harp, I changed it’s hue using picsart after erasing Aurelia off the harp. I recently learned that when using picsart on a transparent image, it’ll stay transparent, no matter what edits you make to it. This had me excited because I didn’t have to erase the black background that appears when using pixlr. The difference can be seen in the harp in the first image, as it has a few dark dots where it’s strings are, and the harp in the second and third image, where the strings have no dark spots and the sparkles that it originally had can be seen clearer. Aside from Aurelia, I’ve always liked the sound of harps and plan to learn how to play it in the future for fun, and for photos (of course!). Nothing’s better than having an actual harp with your touch of elements or hue changes to it! The elements in all three photos were also inspired by the idea of having a harp or a musical instrument as a weapon. When the twins play their harp (which I hued blue and orange to match their elements), water and fire energy forms and can be launched like an arrow that’s launched from a bow. Basically, strumming the harp would launch flames and torrents of water. I didn’t add the launched effects to the photo because there’s already a lot going on in the background, so I also learned that sometimes, less is more. The reason these edits took so long to make is because I was spending time re-positioning both transparent photos of me to be closer or farther, as well as tilted a certain way so that when I add the harp it’ll be positioned the right way to make it look like both of me are playing the harp. Then I figured out that the best way to make the photos of me look closest to the lighting of the image I put myself in was to upload the same background again and positioning it to almost match the background, and then erasing everything off except the harp area and the photos of me. Fading the second image by choosing a blending filter (as well ass lowering it’s opacity) makes it much closer to the right lighting. The concept behind the image as a whole stems from the ideology that being confident brings out the beauty in someone, and vice-versa. I thought “what better way to represent that ideology by making two of myself and show us working together as a team?”.

Credit to: http://www.alynspiller.com For the second photo’s background image.

Also to Neil Omacharan, who took my photos.

All other backgrounds were found via google search.

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Posted in Homepage

Rose Quartz Crystal

The Love Stone

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Rose Quartz is one of the easiest crystals to obtain given the fact that it can be found in every crystal shop worldwide at affordable prices. This crystal can be found in South Africa, Brazil, Japan, India, Madagascar and even in the USA where it’s commercially mined in the Southern Black Hills area in South Dakota.

This beautiful crystal’s name derives from its pretty rose-pink colour, and from the Greek word ‘hyalos’, which means glass. The appearance varies from all size and shapes usually being translucent and even transparent in some cases.

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The Rose Quartz Crystal is the crystal of unconditional love and infinite peace, and is why many refer to it as the “love stone”. This crystal teaches us the true essence of love since it works with the heart and the heart chakra. It can open and purifier the heart at all level, bringing deep inner healing and self-love.

When trying to attract love, Rose Quartz is the crystal you want to work with. By simply placing this in your environment, it draws love and relationship towards you in such an effective manner. Using this crystal in an existing relationship, it’s going to restore harmony and trust, and encourage unconditional love to prevail.

This Crystal works by drawing off negative energies and replacing it with loving and positive vibes. It is an excellent stone for a mid-life crisis. Simply holding Rose Quartz enhances positive affirmations in your life. This beautiful and powerful stone encourages beauty of all kinds.

Rose Quartz specializes in emotional healing. Releasing unexpected heartache and emotion and soothes internalized pain and heals deprivation. If you have trouble with receiving love, Rose Quartz opens up your heart so you can become more receptive. I find that the most important lesson Rose Quartz teaches you is how to love yourself because you can never accept love from others when you don’t love yourself.

Rose Quartz has been a part of my crystal collection from the very beginning and I personally have experienced its true beauty in some aspect of my life. It is a crystal I often recommend to my friends and I do recommend you give it a try.

Neil Omacharan

Posted in Arlinda's Newest Posts, Homepage

If All the Stories are True…

Our imaginations guide us. Our minds offer an escape to the often stressful and overwhelming reality we all face. We sit in our classes day to day and gather knowledge about different society’s and different people all over the world and throughout time. We learn that although so much has changed, we still share similarities to many of the society’s we learn about. Our mind fills with knowledge on a daily basis, so it only makes sense that our imaginations become a source of expression for everything we have learned.

Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices book series has been just as magical as her Mortal Instruments series and Infernal Devices series! Set in a world where half-angel half-human warriors live among us as the Shadowhunters who protect us (even when we can’t see them) against demon invaders and rebellious Downworlders (witches, warlocks, werewolves, and fairies!). A reoccurring statement throughout all of her works is “all the stories are true.” Her books convey the tragedy of loss and the overwhelming feeling of having the world resting on our shoulders, even if that isn’t the actual case. We can learn about society and the struggles of growing up while becoming immensely entertained by Clare’s fantastic fantasy novels. Imagination is a powerful tool and while it is often far-fetched, there are truths to the stories we create and all the stories that have been created. Ancient mythology stems from societal explanations about that which they did not understand. Why then is it so difficult to realize there is a blending of reality and fantasy?

We box ourselves into societal labels so that we can understand that fantasy is not real while reality is seemingly real. However, reality is not always as we perceive it to be; appearances misguide us and half-truths deceive just as much as lies do. Fantasy, while it may not be real, is based in some notion of observation that reveals a truth about society. It allows us to open our minds to a new perspective without judgment because we view it as entertainment rather than an imaginative outlook on life. Therefore, our imaginations contain the capability of educating us even when we do not realize it, and that is precisely why it is so magical!

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj

Posted in Homepage, Kat's Newest Posts

Madness vs Mental Disorder: What’s the Difference?

Through Kat’s Lens Vol. 1 Issue #1

There are many names and types of mental disorder, but what all of its many forms seem to share is often being misunderstood. It’s hard to understand something that you have not experienced yourself, which it seems like Ed Brubaker (writer) and Sean Phillips (artist), have tackled on when creating the comic book series, Kill or Be Killed. I did a light search for some information on the internet about Brubaker’s and Phillips’ personal lives but came up with nothing, but it would be wrong to assume that they did not do their research or have a close relationship with someone that has a mental disorder (or disorders) or do not have a mental disorder themselves. Instead of making any assumptions, I’m going to interpret the story they’ve created together by trying to understand Brubaker and Phillips’ approach toward madness and mental disorder.

My friend lent me the first three volumes of the ongoing comic book series and I had only ever read one other comic by the duo called the Fade Out, which was a crime noir (not really my cup of tea) so I only made it three issues before I left it on my shelf uncompleted. The story my friend described to me was completely different than the Fade Out and I had to read it for myself to see how well-written/illustrated it was. To break down a comic into two parts, one part art, and another part writing, wouldn’t really address the meat of what this story has to offer, which is the reason why I read the first volume to the very end. I thought maybe there was something wrong with my reading of the comic because I started out the story hating all the characters and by the end of it I still hated all the characters, yet I finished the book wanting to continue to the next volume. Why? Well, to put it simply, the mystery of trying to figure out if the protagonist is mad or mentally ill is really fascinating to me.

I can definitely empathize and even understand this mental battle. It’s something that couldn’t be explained simply but Brubaker and Phillips’ somehow make this unlikable protagonist’s man vs man battle with his self not only strangely entertaining but also really morally self-questioning. So many questions to ask. But first, let me give my personal definitions for both of this keywords. Madness to me is the state of being pushed over the edge. It’s mania. It’s psychosis. It’s absolute mental disorder amplified to the extreme. Mental disorder is an illness that takes hold of a person forming from their environment, upbringing, and physical/emotional health. It’s something that you can cope and deal with. It’s something you can live with. Now that those two are defined, how do Brubaker and Philips’ show this in their comic book? Since I’ve only read the first volume I can’t say, but what I can say is that so far our main character is walking an extremely thin line and I only hope that he can step in the right direction before he falls away from the madness and mental disorder to being killed.

– Kathryn “Kat” Fornier

Posted in Homepage, Steven's Cosmic Thursday's, Steven's Newest Posts

Flames of Conviction and Disaster

 

The Flames of Conviction and Disaster is an art piece inspired by Phoenix, a cosmic fire energy that possessed and eventually became one with Jean Grey of the X-Men, and Dark Phoenix, a state of the phoenix force in which it becomes corrupt with power and an infinite hunger for energy. The title of my photo referenced when Jean first became Phoenix, and when she eventually lost control of the cosmic entity, which caused it to become corrupt with the sensations it experienced as her. For this edit, I took a transparent image of fire that’s shaped somewhat like a wing, and positioned it onto the original image on my right as well as change the filter of it to better blend with my original photo. I then flipped the photo and added the same transparent image on to my left before flipping it back to it’s original direction. I also downloaded a transparent image of a flame shaped like a round explosion, and used it as my eyes. For the first image (Left), I shrunk and positioned the round flame where my eyeball would be, erased the entire thing once it’s positioned, and colored along my dark brown eyes, leaving enough of my real eye color on the outer rim of my eyeball to make it look like a my eyes are a fiery gold with dark brown (or black) rings in the outer part. Then I changed the opacity in order to make the color blend better with the rest of me. I also downloaded a transparent image of a dot (you can also search the period punctuation mark and find the same results), and shrunk and positioned it in the middle of my now fiery gold eye. It took me a few re positions since I used my phone app (where I make all my digital art) to do so. I did the same process for my other eye before moving on to the “eye makeup”. For the eye makeup I downloaded a transparent image of a pair of black wing silhouettes, because when you don’t do make up, you gotta be mad extra and photoshop it on yourself ;;D. I positioned it just under my eye and erased the wing that wasn’t under my eye (since they made an obtuse V shape). I then uploaded the same image and repeated the process, but with the wing facing the opposite side in order for the makeup to be as symmetrical as possible. Afterwards I changed the opacity of the wings slightly to make it seem like it’s actually applied rather than photo shopped and changed it’s filtering to further blend it in with my skin. Once it’s blended enough, I saved the photo to my camera roll and uploaded it into a different art app. Using the second app I changed the filter of the overall photo to a sunny ambiance, and changed the filter of that filter in order to better blend it with the photo. The final step was adding my personal symbol to mark my creation. I did the same process for the second photo (right), but left the less visible part unedited because a lock of my hair was blocking it and I like the idea of asymmetry in certain photos. The left image symbolizes the heroic feeling one can get when they’re skilled at certain things. I call that confidence the Flames of Conviction. The right represents the heroic feeling turned to a defeated feeling as a result of one letting their talent get to their heads, thus corrupting them with overconfidence. This overconfidence eventually leads to defeat, causing the said person to become very angry, believing that they weren’t meant to lose or slip up and causing them to act irrationally. This fire, the Flames of Disaster, can hurt not only the people around them, but themselves too. One can have the fire (confidence) to do what they love, but they need to learn to control it and stay humble to avoid situations that lead the loss of control of that fire, and letting it convert to rage.