The Emperor

Little by little I close in on my goal to complete the Major Arcana.  I feel like I could have finished months ago, but my rate of completing collages has diminished lately. But I got all the time in the world, right? In any case I’ve got one more finished and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

The Emperor is really supposed to be a bearded male figure on a throne, but I decided to stick with my female only theme.  On this card you’ll see the emperor standing on a throne made of the world, supported by the heads of rams and a barren mountain in the back ground.  This all signifies how the ruler has the world in her grasp and stands before the mountains of experience that she’s endured in the past.  The earth is literally in her grasp and she exerts dominion over her personal kingdom.  The ram heads below represent self determination, hard work, and Aires which is her astral ruler. She’s got a passion for life and clear vision of the future that she will personally manifest into reality.  Basically she’s a boss-ass bitch.

 

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Tarot madness

I’ve been working on my own version on the tarot cards over the past several months. My intention was to remake the 22 major arcana cards from the deck. After a long break from the project, I’ve returned with 2 more finished cards. I think I have about three more to go before I have them all covered! There is a part of me that wants to finish the entire 78, but I know it would take me forever to complete! There are so many different renditions of the tarot, and after just nearly completing the major arcada, I have mad respect for those who have finished all 78 cards.  There is a big part of me that wants to complete the entire deck, but I don’t know if I have the motivation. Did I bite off more than I can chew or should I just press on and get it all under my belt? I’ve even been designing the back of the deck if it should ever get printed.

Here are my latest 2 cards, Temperance and The Hierophant. I’ve also added an idea for the backs of these cards. Decisions decisions!

 

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Things that never came to be

Something that I have had to grapple with as an artist is to accept the fact that some of the projects and pitches I make may never come to fruition.  Especially if you are dealing with large projects that involve many different contributors and opinions. You’ll put your whole heart and soul into something only to have it brushed off or never used.  Stings a bit, but you kinda get used it. It makes you work harder and not get too attached to your own ideas.  About a year ago I was approached to make graphics and collages for a music festival in the Caribbean.  Unfortunately the client had decided to go into another direction, but I was pretty proud of the things I made for the pitch. The concept was a magical jungle on an isolated island where you party all night. While these concepts never got to see the light of day, it certainly did push my limits and helped me level up my skills.  See? There’s always a bright side!

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Dream Teams (part 2)

Photography has the illusion of being an individual endeavour.  The viewer has this notion that the photographer happens upon or creates a scene all by themselves and perfectly captures it.  Well boys and girls, that’s not the case! At least not in my own experience.  Unless perhaps you are taking candids on the street or landscape photography, it takes more than one person to pull off a great image. Whether it’s a stylist, makeup artist or the model, there’s a beautiful interplay that goes on between myself and everyone involved. So, I’m never able to claim full ownership of my images…they partly belong to the people working along side me. Once again, here are some of the people who have helped me produce my best work.

The Lady Josephine is my muse. There’s no other way to put it.  I have photographed her more than any other person. I could create an entire gallery just on her images alone. She’s the embodiment of what I find ideal: tall, strong, creative, in touch with her femininity, and frighteningly beautiful.  We met many years ago modeling at a hair show. At the time she was a budding burlesque performer and needed someone to take pictures for her.  Fast forward a few years and she’s an award winning burlesquer who has become a fixture in the Montreal scene. No one else is able to push me to my creative limits like she can. I’m lucky to have such a person in my life who I can call a friend and collaborator.  Arabesque Burlesque

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Over the years of photographing various subjects, I’ve found my favourite: Hair Photography! It’s an interesting mix of fashion, portraiture, beauty and product photography.  I love portraiture in general, but hair photography takes it to the next level! Getting involved with the salon community has been such a rewarding experience and I’ve met so many creative people who can share their passion with me.  So, to work with someone as talented as Kathy Simon, I consider myself lucky.  Kathy is a highly accomplished hair dresser who has her own school and method of cutting.  She’s another example of powerful female excellence that I aspire to. She’s driven, insanely talented, a general badass, yet still one of the most approachable and generous professionals I’ve had the pleasure to work with.  She and I have worked together on an number of shoots to capture her hair collections.   MekkaSystems

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They’re both perfect examples of the unique power that women have in the creative work force.  They each have specific visions, an incredible wealth of talent, but most importantly the guts to pull it all off.  Bravo ladies!

Saint Moms day

I have everything to be thankful for because of my wonderful mom.  It pains me that I can’t spend this mothers day with her in Texas. We would for sure go out for a boozy lunch and shopping, then spend the rest of the afternoon on the back porch, sipping margaritas. Ah the good life. The greatest gift that my mom has given to all of her children is the encouragement for us to just be ourselves.  She never stood in the way of us chasing our dreams, no matter how big or small they might be. She’s always there to support and find a way to be invested in our interests.  But more than that she has incredible strength and resolve of character to face daily challenges and to give the people she loves 100 percent of her energy. It’s easy to love and to be thankful for a mother as special as my mine. I’m truly privileged to have my mom’s love and support…even if it’s far away.

 

Happy mother’s day.

 

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The art life

I don’t know if its just me or if most people working in their creative field feel this way, but I have so many ideas and projects that I struggle to get them all to fruition.  Not to mention the necessary evil of having to earn a paycheck to pay off all those taxes, fines, car repairs and miscellaneous bills. Suddenly there is little time to focus on your own passion projects. I’m fascinated and admittedly a little jealous of people who posses the magical mixture of creative prowess and business smarts. They seem to know where to focus their attention and align themselves with the coolest, most influential people who can get their work in front of people who want to pay them monies. All while staying true to their artistic vision. I think part of it is having an excess of self confidence and an attitude of not giving a fuck. Both of which I struggle with on the daily. As it turns out, being a sensitive hermit-artist doesn’t really take you that far (dammit!).

But this is stuff we already know. And I’m not coming here to complain (that much).  The fact is I had an amazing experience selling my art, face to face, at Montreal’s own Fleek Market.  It was my second time around, but I came at it strong with an eye-catching booth, larger prints presented in a slick fashion, and the right attitude to draw people into my zone and talk about my work.  It’s such a satisfying feeling when people get excited over your work, and then want to purchase it and display it in their homes. It pushes me to create better stuff and be the best artists I can be…nothing better for the artists soul that some real life contact with your audience.

So, to channel the spirit of pure confidence and staying true to one’s self, I’ll leave you with one of my favourite pieces commissioned by friend/muse. I mean, just look at her. A double bodied snake goddess. I don’t think anyone would mess with her.

 

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Sibling unite under the cherry trees

When my sister asked me “do you want to come with me to Tokyo for my birthday?” I immediately jumped at the chance.  She and I had been planning the trip with our friend Ruby, who lives in the city. Ruby would play tour guide while we prance around and be our girly selves.  But the trip took another twist when  my brother, who has been living in China, got wind of our plans and decided to join along.  We had all grown up together as siblings who got along very well (minus a few back slapping episodes) so the idea of all of us meeting up in Tokyo, wandering about and making our own memories and adventures just sounded too cool to resist.  The three of us hadn’t travelled together since we were teenagers, let alone as full grown adults in a foreign country.  Once the plans were made we started calling each other more, video chatting and getting hyped for the upcoming adventure.  We all documented the trip in our own particular way. Armed with my Canon, I was prepared to capture what was sure to be one of the best trips of my life.

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Day zero is clouded in misty rain.  It was beautiful in it’s own particular way. The rain lends a dreamy glow to the little winding streets, full of neon signs and singing crosswalks.   Blade Runner and Ghost In The Shell are real here.

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We arrive to our swanky little hotel, situated in Akasaka. Up the elevetor, we’re shocked to see that the hallway is open air, and looked out into a dazzling view of industrial building set up against a glowing city-scape that sprawls forever.  japantripalbum3

A peek through the blinds of our hotel reveals the misty canyon and river of red lights below.

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We venture out in search of something to eat.  The options are endless, but we go for a suggested Korean BBQ spot.  Bumbling around, we finally stumbled upon the place, but on the wrong floor.  After being directed downstairs, the three of us finally seize a spot amongst an entire room filled with smashed salary-men.  The atmosphere is jovial.  Its highballs and black bean noodles for all!

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The next day. Its beautiful. It’s the best weather I’ve had in months. So far everything is delivering.  Just a stroll through our neighbourhood is full of so many things to see, you could spend hours checking it all out.  Just nearby was the Hie Shrine. Of course we were completely unaware of it until we spotted these immense white arches below a yawning flight of stone steps leading up to a tree covered temple.  Atop the shrouded hill was pristine red shrine, covered in pale pink petals.

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It’s completely quite up here. Just the sound of some crows and sweeping monks.  Then again it’s still so early.  The jet lag/excitement levels got us up at 5:30 in the morning. So we had the whole city to ourselves. Before the hushed crowds and tourists filled the streets, the three of us would explore in search of some magic feelings.

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The cherry blossoms are literally everywhere. Its like someone had sprinkled the most delicate pale pink confetti across the streets. There are so many that people sweep them up into precious pink piles, where they are disposed of. They call it a Sakura Storm when the wind picks them up, blows them off branches, and swirls them in air.

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The Hie Shrine was an absolute treasure trove of beautiful things to experience. Inside the shrine walls we see a great plaza and huge statues of monkey spirits flanking the inside of the doorway.  It’s just us and the monks. After the prolonged visit, we head towards Shibuya to see the famous crossing.  Along the way we stumble again onto a shrine, this one dedicated to foxes.  Fox statues were at every corner, leading through to the inner sanctuary where a ceremony was being held.  The monks were beating a drum and chanting a hypnotic rhythm. I could stay for hours, but the pulse of the city beckons us to keep moving.

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We finally make our destination to Shibuya Crossing. Some guys in Mario Carts whizz by. Once again, Tokyo is delivering. Our friend Ruby is waiting for us by a hello-kitty themed train car permanently parked near the crossing. Shes been living in Tokyo for a few years now and has the deets on all the best places to go. My sister and I had been here before, but it feels new and exciting each time, and to have someone show you their favourite places is added bonus.  The next few hours are spent ooing and aahhing over cute dresses at IO9 and worshipping at the alter of materialism. Time and money well spent! After the shop-fest we grab a drink at this crazy monster bar, where you eat pink cat food under jellyfish arches and glowing baby bottles.

 

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The next day is Odaiba, an artificial pleasure island full of immense buildings that house arcades, malls restaurants and rides.  We accessed the island by a private monorail that snakes through and over high rises. You get these incredible little glimpses into office buildings, balconies, and school playgrounds of people living their lives.  The ride is a destination in itself. You get this incredible birds eye view over the harbour and the ocean. The three of us are whispering in a half full train car, trying not to totally loose our minds over each amazing vista.

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One of the coolest places is Pallet Town. It’s this humongous arcade full of games, both familiar and completely novel, a candy coloured ferris wheel, bowling alleys, haunted houses, photo-booths, and a concept car show-room. We all grew up playing video games in arcades, so gunning down digital zombies and riding racing simulators in in our DNA.

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The surrounding area of the island has cherry tree lined walk ways and bright gardens that meander across wide plazas…and a statue of liberty. Because, why not? The light is getting golden and it’s time to head back to town for dinner with Ruby and her boyfriend Kei.

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We meet up later that evening at a classy little Yakitori restaurant.  Along the way we’re getting drunk from gross Chew-Hi drinks and getting lost along the way…google directions are more of suggestion than a clear path. No matter, the back alleys are so much fun to explore that getting lost is half the charm.

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Day 3 comes and its time to leave our cozy  high-rise nest and head to the old capital, Kyoto.  JoEllen and I are feeling rather fresh and do a photo-sesh on the top floor and stair well. Once again, I could stay here for hours snapping pictures.  But we got a bullet train to catch.  Unfortunately this is where the photo adventure ends for me. As we left the train station in Kyoto, I had forgotten my camera on the train! Luckily we were able to retrieve it by having it shipped to Ruby’s apartment in Tokyo, but only after spending 2 incredible nights in Kyoto and another in the picturesque town of Hakone.  I’m just happy to have gotten my camera safely returned to me…but at the cost of missing out on photographing some of the most beautiful scenery and moments I’ve ever encountered.  You say “Mary, you could of used your cell phone”. Yes, you’re right. But I have to admit that I’m a lousy phone-photographer and every attempt to capture something was a frustrating exercise in futility…so I just decided that I was going to soak it up and enjoy every moment that was left.

But I know I will be back again. This was my second trip and I’ve barely scratched the surface. It was crazy fun adventure and it really brought us all together in a way that will be uniquely mine, Aaron’s and JoEllen’s. Next time we see each other we can laugh our faces off over all the silly things we did in Japan. I’m truly lucky to have had such an experience!

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