For the Love of Amy

After hearing about the beautifully artistic mural that the artist, Bareface, had produced of the late music legend, Amy Winehouse, who sadly passed away at the age of 27 on the 23rd July 2011, on the Croydon Advertiser, I just could not resist seizing the opportunity to photograph the mural.

Artistically and eloquently visual as it is, Bareface made sure that his mural spoke volumes. This mural he has produced sure did speak volumes as it is not just powerful, is not just colourful, but is very musical considering that the mural is inspired on Amy Winehouse’s record, Tears Dry On Their Own, taken from her second and last album before her death on the 23rd July 2011, Back to Black, with the third and final posthumous album that was released shortly after Amy Winehouse passed away, titled Lioness: Hidden Treasures.

You have to admire Bareface’s hard work, effort and time as he has stuck to Croydon’s roots and produced such a fantastic piece of art work that connects to the BRIT School & Sylvia Young Theatre School, both schools of which Amy Winehouse was alumni for.

It’s such a beautiful and wonderful tribute to the late musician and I can honestly say that this mural is worth preserving for anyone who wants to visit and see this beautiful mural.

To see the mural in full, I have provided below three photographs of Bareface’s own take on the late music legend, Amy Winehouse.

 

Scratch that, it’s not just beautiful, it’s exquisite as Bareface’s take on the late music legend stands out from the crowd.

If you live in Croydon or you are looking to visit Croydon to see this mural, please seize the opportunity to see this artistic and eloquently beautiful mural of Amy Winehouse, produced by Bareface in accordance with the RISE Gallery.

Alex Smithson

If you want to follow and be kept up to date on Bareface’s exquisite and powerful art work, please follow him on these Social Media Accounts shown below.

Instagram: @bareface_art
Twitter: @BarefaceTee

© Amy Winehouse Art Work Mural Copyright of Bareface, commissioned by the RISE Gallery. Full Copyright goes to the respective owners.

Headshot #9 / Facial Expressionism / Final Major Project / Kasra Soltani

Continuing on from Headshot #8, I have photographed my close friend, Kasra Soltani, for Headshot #9 of my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project.

For these headshot photographs, just like I did with Jonathan McCartney, Steven Geer, Oli Regan & Leonardo Mouza, I have used a black backdrop to bring out the emphasis of the facial expressions I have asked him to make.

As my research has influenced, informed and helped me to develop my critical thinking and photography skills further, I have made sure that these photographs stand out and give the facial expressions I have asked Kasra to make a better insight, so that each facial expression brings to the surface the emotion that goes with that specific facial expression.

As well as the facial expressions I have asked Kasra to make, I have also photographed him doing different facial expressions naturally, so in this case, when I say natural, I mean he has been able to do facial expressions I wouldn’t usually expect him or anyone else to do. I’ve even got him to do some of the expressions again, but this time, in his own way, so at least then his natural facial expressions compared to the facial expressions I have asked him to make put more emphasis on the photography work I have produced.

Below are the headshot photographs, including the WordFoto Edits and the Black & White Versions of these photographs I have produced featuring my cl0se friend, Kasra Soltani.

Canon EOS 1200D

WordFoto Edits

Black & White Versions of Original Photographs

I feel that these photographs I have produced of my close friend, Kasra, for Headshot #9, show dramatic improvements in my photography skills, as I have made sure to adjust the position of the light to set the tone of these photographs correctly to the emotions I have asked Kasra to make, and I have noticed that my photographs have more of a shallow depth of field. I have also noticed and improved over the course of time with the clarity of the photographs I have taken, and I strongly feel that Headshot #9 has helped to inform and note the improvements and changes I have made to make these photographs stand out. To improve for next time, I will be making sure to explore the emotions effectively as opposed to Kasra’s body language, so that his body language can reflect the facial expressions I have asked him to make, as well as the facial expressions he has made himself.

These photos of my close friend, Kasra Soltani, that I have produced for Headshot #9 can be found in my E-Folio.

I am open to your responses, so please let me know if there are any improvements I can make for next time and if so, please highlight the areas you feel I could improve on for next time when I publish Headshot #10. which will be the final headshot article to close much of the practical side of my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project.

Your responses and critique are greatly appreciated.

Alex Smithson

If you want to follow my close friend, Kasra, on Instagram, I have provided his Instagram username here: @Kass.ll7

Monthly Roundup: March 2017

This month flew like the wind, and it only felt like yesterday we just kicked off 2017! Time has flown so fast lately that it’s impossible to keep up with the speed of time.

I will make sure to take a look back at the articles published over the course of this month, and of course, I will be making sure to remember the victims and the police officer that died on Wednesday 22nd March 2017 down Westminster Bridge, London, as a result of the horrific terrorist attack.

1.3.2017 – Welcoming all of you to March on Mother Nature, I mentioned that I decided to go retro with the article image and did it up in the inspired style of Sonic Mania, considering that Sonic Mania and Project Sonic 2017 (now officially titled ‘Sonic Forces’) would be released over the next few months. I also mentioned that the next few weeks would be much busier considering my Summative Assessment deadline for the Self-Directed Curiosity Project was just around the corner.

3.3.2017 –  After a three-year break from music, and after his hotly anticipated second studio album became the most streamed album on Spotify and other music services, Ed Sheeran is back with his third studio album, ÷. Shape of You really sets the tone of his latest album, because it has a unique vibe that really sets the mood you want to experience when listening to this album. I mentioned that ÷ is the first ever vinyl record I have owned and that I felt so honoured to go retro for the first time and it was an absolute honour to review Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Deluxe) album.

8.3.2017 – As this day marked International Women’s Day, I wanted to make sure all women across the world get to celebrate being the women they are and to always be themselves. I also mentioned that all women deserve equality, diversity, respect, compassion, care and love regardless of skin colour, sexuality, gender, culture, religion and place of origin and that it’s right for all of us, including myself to celebrate all women as part of International Women’s Day.

15.3.2017 –  Let’s face it. We’ve all seen for ourselves the negative stigma that has become attached to Mental Health. The negative stigma has all too often put a strain on all governments and organisations, with Mental Health sufferers having to experience the harsh reality that they may end up not being allowed to access the help, support and treatment they need. Writing this article gave me the chance to be open about my anxiety, and although I am not officially diagnosed, I do suffer from Anxiety, and writing this article gave me the chance to be open about my Anxiety, as well as to how I have been able to manage and keep my Anxiety under control.

20.3.2017 – It was an absolute honour for me to share with you, my review of Oli Regan’s recently released début album, My Diary of Pain. I talked about how the rawness of Oli’s voice on this album really stands out, as he spoke from the heart, the mind and the soul about how he really feels. If you get a chance, please do listen to his album, My Diary of Pain, it is so good!

22.3.2017 – 24.3.2017 – No articles were published as I released an open statement on Wednesday 22nd March 2017 in light of the horrific terrorist attack that took place down Westminster Bridge, London, in which 3 victims died, including the police officer, PC Keith Palmer.

25.3.2017 –  After months of rumours and speculation that she was pregnant, Cheryl & Liam officially announced a few weeks before that they were expecting their first child together. It became official that Cheryl & Liam officially welcomed their first ever child together!

Also, on this day, I asked you all if you were ready for the clocks to go forward, considering that the time went quicker than expected and that it had only felt like it was yesterday we had just put the clocks back one hour, which proves and rings true even to this day that time sure does fly.

26.3.2017 – As this day marked Mother’s Day, I wished all mothers around the world a Happy Mother’s Day and hoped that all mothers had their Mother’s Day filled with love, happiness, joy, respect, compassion and care.

28.3.2017 – As part of my Final Major Project for the last year of my UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma Film & Photography Course at Croydon College, I was asked to produce a 6 minute and 40 second presentation on a time-keeping tool called Pecha Kucha, which is the Japanese term for Chit-Chat.

Pecha Kucha, which is Japanese for Chit-Chat, is where you produce 20 slides that have to be exactly 20 seconds each. For every slide, you would need to explain in 20 seconds for each slide a brief run-down of the kind of work you are going to produce, regardless of whether it is project-based or not. The 20 slides would have to consist of one or more short sentences you can talk about within 20 seconds, including any work you have currently produced to date.

As my Pecha Kucha presentation focused solely on Facial Expressionism, I mentioned that I would research certain photographers, such as Cecil Beaton, Walker Evans, August Sander, Thomas Ruff and any other photographer that specialises in Facial Expressionism; the field of work I want to produce.

29.3.2017 –  In the last few years, the police numbers have gone down due to cuts that have been made to save our government money, our money of which is supposed to be used to keep our police officers on the streets. On Wednesday 22nd March 2017, exactly one year to the day of the devastating attacks that took place in Brussels, which saw 35 people killed (32 victims, 3 perpetrators), with more than 300 people injured, a terrorist attack took place down Westminster Bridge, where 5 people were killed as a result, one of which was the terrorist, while the other was a police officer who was stabbed and sadly died as a result of his injuries.

31.3.2017 – I published two photographic articles that focused on Croydon, considering that I ceased the opportunity to photograph Croydon while the lovely weather lasts. The weather has been absolutely peaceful lately and it was good to see that the weather was finally looking up and that it was most certainly shaping up to make the two-week holiday as relaxing and as peaceful as ever!

Thanks so much for a great month everyone, and although it was a great month, it was also quite devastating as a result of the terrorist attack that took place down Westminster Bridge, London and I shall take this opportunity to pay my full respects and condolences to the families of the victims who lost their loved ones on Wednesday 22nd March 2017, including paying my full respects and condolences to the family of the police officer, PC Keith Palmer.

Again, thanks so much for a good month everyone, and I will see you all in April!

Alex Smithson

She’s a Grown Woman! Beyoncé is Pregnant with Twins!

In a surprise announcement, Beyoncé has announced she is pregnant with twins! This news comes after she uploaded a photograph to the photo-sharing service, Instagram, in which she cradles her stomach with a veil on in front of a floral display.

Who knew that this would be the best highlight of 2017. Beyoncé is pregnant! Her last pregnancy came in 2011 when she was pregnant with her first child, Blue Ivy Carter, who she gave birth to on the 7th January 2012 and now she has confirmed along with her husband of 9 years, JAY Z, that she is pregnant with twins.

I am so excited and words cannot describe how over the moon I feel at this stage. I am sending my best wishes and happiness her way and also to JAY Z. Congratulations to both of you, Beyoncé and JAY Z. May this year be a special year for you both.

Alex Smithson

Does Social Media Have a Long-Lasting Impact on Mental Health?

All around the world, everyone uses social media; it’s become the norm of the digital world, but just how much of a long-lasting impact can social media have on mental health?

Social media can have a profound and negative impact on mental health, because social networking websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, even Instagram, can be the source of body image problems. Why? Because these websites have been used to inadvertently make anyone feel insecure, and body image can be a crucial factor that can negatively impact and affect a person’s mental health.

As a user on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, I always watch the comments that come up on status updates, even the comments that come up on Instagram pictures and also on Twitter. Trust me, the comments I’ve read on these social networks are degrading, patronising and not only that, but some of those comments can be misogynistic. They can cause insecurities in anyone but more importantly, when body image comes into comments, it can have a negative impact on how someone looks and those comments can be very disgusting.

Body image where insecurities are concerned can be the root cause for someone to change their appearance because comments are made about how they look and what they look like, which is tantamount to bullying. With bullying, this can cause a lack of social interaction for those in the real world, as a person’s body image shouldn’t matter, let alone their insecurities, but a lack of social interaction means that that person cannot feel secure in themselves and that person cannot be themselves.

I read up on the English radio and television presenter, George Lamb (Larry Lamb’s son) just recently, and someone made a website on the photo-blogging platform, Blogger, in which the defamatory website was aimed at him in a hurtful and negative way. Obviously, I cannot write the name of the website here as the title of the website is extremely defamatory and offensive but it just goes to show that defamatory websites and abusive language on social media can cause anyone to feel insecure and uncomfortable in the real world.

Some of the abusive language I have seen on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram have led some people to self-harm, and self-harm is where you harm yourself to the point of almost committing suicide. I know a lot of friends of mine who have self-harmed in the past and it’s not a nice feeling to see a friend with marks on their arms. I have never self-harmed in my entire life but I know for my friends, it hurts for them, and it upsets me because I wouldn’t want them to be in a bad place at all, but even so, social media can have a negative impact on mental health, and it can also affect anyone’s lives.

I have noticed ever since social media came about that it has thrown face-to-face communication out of the window, because not a single day goes by where I don’t see someone on their smartphone or tablets, and I don’t mean no offence when I say this, but it annoys me, because I could be talking to someone about something that may benefit their life, and if their eyes are pasted to their smartphones or tablets, and they don’t pay attention to me or even acknowledge what I’ve said to them, it really gets my back up, because it’s like talking to a brick wall. Now I know I might sound like a fine one to talk as I use a tablet and smartphone, but I pay attention to what I’m told and if someone is speaking to me, I acknowledge them straightaway and listen to them.

Personally, I prefer talking face-to-face with someone as it really helps to get things done quicker and it also helps to prevent arguments and important information from being lost. Face-to-face communication matters in this world and that change can happen without using any technology.

In conclusion, social media and technology causes a lack of social interaction and a lack of face-to-face communication, and it can have a negative impact on mental health. Mental Health is often ignored because of the negative stigma, but only we can change that. Only you can change that and only you can help others in need, but more importantly, it’s time to end the stigma on mental health and it’s time to take a stand against social media and stand up and fight to end the stigma against mental health. Now is the time to raise awareness for mental health, but more importantly, now’s our time to really make the positive change and the best difference in this world.

If you feel that the stigma against mental health should end, and if you want to raise awareness for mental health, please feel free to submit feedback. Your feedback is much appreciated.

Plus, if you missed my collaborative article with the famous actor from GIANTLAND, Oli Regan, don’t worry, I will hyperlink the article below so you don’t miss out.

Alex Smithson

Are Autism & Mental Health Overlooked? (Parental Guidance is Advised)

Croydon College Photography Work | Final Major Project | Thursday 28th April 2016

On Thursday 28th April 2016, whilst I was around Croydon during my lesson taking photographs as part of a concept I will be producing for my final piece towards the end of the first year of the two-year UAL Level 3 Diploma Film & Photography Course, I took just a few photos around some parts of Croydon that I hadn’t photographed properly before, and as I took these photos, these would help me to develop my ideas further for the concept I will be aiming to produce.

Below are 8 of the best photographs I took from college yesterday, 6 of them perspective-based, while the other two are of the Centrale Croydon Shopping Centre.

If you liked these photographs I took yesterday around Croydon, please feel free to submit feedback. All feedback is much appreciated. If you missed the chance to see the collection of photographs I took around Croydon whilst I was on my way home, don’t worry, as I’ve made sure to pin that as a related article below, and if you also missed the chance to see my Special Tour Review of Ben Haenow’s One Night Tour that took place at Fairfield Halls on Tuesday 19th April 2016, don’t worry, as I have made sure to pin that article below as well, so that you don’t need to worry if you missed the chance to see it during the week :-).

Check back soon for the Monthly Roundup. It’s going to be massive compared to the Monthly Roundups I’ve done in the past, so I can guarantee you won’t want to miss this one :-).

Alex Smithson

© Croydon College 2016

© The Croydon College Logo is Copyright of Croydon College. Permission has been granted for the logo to be used on here. No Copyright Infringement Intended.

The Truth About Abstract Art? It’s Interesting & Innovative.

Why is abstract art interesting and innovative? Because abstract art is where you can let your creative skills run wild.

Over the course of yesterday, I spent late yesterday morning and yesterday evening completing an abstract piece I made, after seeing a video on Instagram that was based on the idea of using different patterns on paper, and I used that video as an idea for my own abstract piece.

This took me under 24 hours to produce, and it was all done with the use of a pen. It was about that time

Below is my own abstract piece, inspired on the video I watched on Instagram.

The Truth About Abstract Art - It's Interesting & Innovative
Name: The Truth About Abstract Art? It’s Interesting & Innovative.

I have also produced some colour edits of the same abstract drawing I produced with the use of a pen, and they can also be found below.

I must admit, this is my first time with going abstract, so please feel free to comment and also please feel free to suggest to me some ideas for the kinds of abstract patterns I could make.

Alex Smithson

It’s Finally Time to Set Your Creative Side Free!

We all have our own ways of being creative, but just how do we set that creativity of ours free? Well, it’s pretty easy to do so nowadays, as a lot of artists record time-lapse clips which are often uploaded to Instagram, Vine, Twitter and even Facebook, but it’s being able to document the process that is often the most crucial key factor of drawing.

Recently, I published two artistic interpretation articles which were based on the Queen of Pop Songstress, Madonna, with possibly a third on the way (still thinking about it), as I did the first one based on a photograph taken during the Ray of Light era, while the second artistic interpretation, which I published most recently, was of Madonna during the 1986 True Blue Era, based on the iconic photograph that Herb Ritts took of her 30 years ago.

I love the thought of drawing, because it helps me to set my creativity free, as well as the kind of ideas that I’ve had in mind beforehand. I always believe that setting your creativity free is good, as this can help you to really produce something that no-one else will be able to produce, even if they tried.

Of course, being creative can be difficult because it’s how you design something, whether it would be to do with designing something on a computer, or putting those ideas or concepts onto paper, and yes, at times I have had the occasional creativity block, and it can be annoying at times, but it’s when we let our sub-conscious minds wander when drawing that often makes us produce the best pieces of work that we didn’t think we could produce.

You might remember 3 years ago I went to Kelsey Park during the 6-week Summer Break that I was on when I finished Year 10. Well I didn’t realise this, but when I took that photograph of the Canada Goose, which all of you have seen, I actually didn’t realise that the photograph of the Canada Goose would be the most iconic photograph I had taken.

The year after I took that iconic photograph, I revisited Kelsey Park again, but this time took a photo of a Squirrel which had clenched both its little hands together, like as if it was fist bumping itself. That, to me was also iconic because it’s something that caught my eye.

The third photo I remember which was also iconic, which I included on Book #2: “A Year in Photography” was of the Tom Aytch graffiti wall in Shirley Hills, in Croydon, when a photographer was standing at the wall taking photos of the panoramic view, and that was an iconic photo of mine as I had also used a filter on that photograph to make it look and appear more professional.

In terms of drawing, however, I didn’t always do drawing after I finished my time for good at Oasis Academy: Shirley Park, but that changed when I enrolled onto the UAL Level 2 Art & Design Course at Croydon College back in 2014. I have noticed my drawing skills have rapidly improved over the course of the past two years, and I feel absolutely pleased that I’ve used my drawing skills wisely with drawing Madonna, and it’s an absolute relief that I’ve managed to showcase what I’ve worked on. Drawing Madonna was the best choice I had in mind, and I feel absolutely pleased that I’ve used her as an example for ideas based on the artistic interpretation drawings I did of her.

In terms of creativity, I know it’s always about being original, but it’s also about being able to express yourself in your work, as well as how you produce your work, and not just that, but whether it comes to drawing or taking photos, or even if it comes to designing something, you’ll be able to say that you had made sure to do something creative with your time, and that you chose to set your creativity free.

To end, I would like to say: It’s Finally Time to Set Your Creativity Free!”

If you enjoyed reading this article, please feel free to submit feedback. All feedback is much appreciated :-).

Alex Smithson

Madonna: Artistic Interpretation #2: The True Blue Era (1986)

As I kicked my two-week holiday off with a bang, I took the opportunity to draw the Queen of Pop songstress, Madonna, again, but this time in her True Blue era, as I saw that a lot of fans had created pieces of artwork inspired by the True Blue photograph that Herb Ritts took of her back in 1986.

This drawing took from Friday 25th March to Tuesday 29th March to complete, and has to be one of the most difficult drawings I’ve produced yet. It’s worth the time drawing, because I can finally set my creativity free after a long while. It’s amazing what a 5B pencil can produce, and I just feel so fortunate that I can draw what I’m good at.

Over the course of the few days I’ve been producing this drawing, I’ve already been asked by one of my friends upon request if I can draw them, and I will, and I recently had some feedback given that I’ve been documenting my progress of this drawing on the photo-sharing service, Instagram, and I was told by one of my Instagram followers that it was so good, and it really brought a smile to my face.

I think with this drawing I wanted it to be based around not just that era, but also around how I artistically interpret Madonna as a musician.

Artistic Interpretation 2 - Madonna - The True Blue Era (Final Version)

The final statistics of the Rebel Heart Tour that Madonna brought to a remarkable close on the 20th March show that the tour has officially grossed $169,804,336, with full attendance (1,045,479 / 1,045,479).

This is a fantastic milestone of its own that marks the end of the Rebel Heart Era on such a positive note. I also feel glad to have done this drawing freehand with the photo reference of Madonna during her True Blue Era, which was all the way back in 1986. Exactly 30 years ago. Wow! Time sure has flown.

To celebrate this milestone, I have officially uploaded and published a video of this drawing whilst it was in progress, and it will show you the progress that I have made in drawing my second artistic interpretation of Madonna, right up to the very end ☺.

If you liked my second artistic interpretation drawing of Madonna, then please feel free to submit feedback. All feedback is much appreciated and I hope you liked the drawing and the video ☺.

Alex Smithson

My Artistic Interpretation of Madonna

From Friday 11th March 2016 to Monday 14th March 2016, I worked on my drawing of the Queen of Pop songstress, Madonna, and this drawing that I worked on was inspired on one of the photos that was taken of Madonna during the Ray of Light era. I can be honest with you all, this was my first proper attempt at drawing someone including their face, considering that a few years ago, I couldn’t draw a face properly unless I used a photo to trace over the original.

In this drawing, however, I did use a photo of Madonna from the Ray of Light era, but I didn’t trace her at all. Instead, I did the drawing freehand by looking at my computer screen, and then I drew freehand as I went along. I studied the photo while I was drawing, so that I could create my own interpretation of Madonna during the Ray of Light era.

Because it took some time to complete, I wanted to make sure that I could show my creative side to life in the artistic sense, and because my drawing skills had rapidly improved over the course of last year and the year before, I thought it would be nice to pay homage to Madonna as she has left a positively remarkable impact not just on my life, but on the lives of all of us, and there is no doubt that she is actually one of the most revolutionary musicians around.

I don’t care about the controversy at the end of the day that centres around her, all I care about is that she is putting herself out there for all of us and making sure to stand up and fight for what we all believe in, and it’s about time. I look up to Madonna as she is always there to inspire and make us all believe in ourselves and that we can be the best we can be.

But one thing I can say about her is she is brave at being dangerous at certain things, because I certainly couldn’t take the kind of risks she can take, and I admire Madonna entirely, because she might feel afraid to do something like any of us would, but she is brave because she goes for those risks head-on and it’s been a lot of strength, determination, courage, passion and love that has made Madonna the independent woman she is today.

As yesterday drew Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour to a remarkable close, I thought it would be a good idea to showcase the drawing I’ve done. Please keep in mind that it will of course look different to the original drawing, but I wanted to make sure my artistic interpretation of Madonna was original.

Without further ado, here is my artistic interpretation of the Queen of Pop Songstress, Madonna, in drawing form.

My Artistic Interpretation of Madonna

It’s the first time in almost a year since I last did anything drawing-based, and this is the first time I’ve ever attempted drawing someone famous including their facial features and hair, so as you can imagine it was difficult for me to draw this, but all that hard work and free time drawing Madonna was absolutely worth it. I love how it’s turned out to be honest, and it’s a way of me saying with inspiration from Madonna that we should all be ‘Living for Love’ no matter what, because after all, love really does lift us up even at the most difficult of times. I hope my drawing inspires all of you :-).

If you liked my first ever artistic interpretation of Madonna, please feel free to feedback your thoughts on my first ever artistic drawing. Your feedback is absolutely appreciated.

Alex Smithson