Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Preserving Memories

There are more photographs taken today than there ever before. Now that our phones are also cameras, everyone can be a photographer. We record our every action, every meal. We record the sunrise, the sunset, a storm, a sunny day. Parents take thousands of photos of their kids at all stages of their lives.

We take these photos to remember; to record; to preserve. The reality however is a little different. A high percentage of these images remain tucked away on a computer and seldom see the light of day once filed away there.

When I was growing up, family photographs were taken, developed and placed lovingly in albums. A lot of these prints succumbed to early photographic processing and have faded and became yellow. Some families only took a few photos and often not many remain to preserve family memories.

 Mother – watercolour on paper © Carol Lee Beckx 2016 

Such was the case with a family who commissioned some watercolours at the end of last year. My client's husband had only three photos of his parents. Although these had been kept safely, the photos had faded considerably. I was asked to re-create the photographs as watercolour paintings. These paintings would be a special, secret Christmas present.

Dad and friend with Chevrolet Impala (with the iconic Aussie Hills Hoist)  
watercolour on paper © Carol Lee Beckx 2016

I borrowed the photos, scanned them and returned the originals. Modern technology facilitated my task of enlarging the images and boosting the clarity and colours. The aim was not for bright, vivid paintings, but rather a gentler enhancement.

A little detective work, thanks to Mr. Google, allowed me to establish the make and model of the car in a couple of the photos. I could also use images of 1950's chairs to help with the drawing of the chairs.

Mother, Father, son and friend - A picnic under the trees and again the much-loved Chevy is in the frame  watercolour on paper © Carol Lee Beckx 2016

I'm told that the present (and the surprise) was a great success and received with more than a little emotion on the part of the recipient.

I don't like to make people cry but in this case I'm rather pleased that I did. 

If you have some photographic memories that you would like to preserve, please let me know how I can help.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Website Make-over

We communicate with each other more today than ever before. We don't have to wait for a ship to sail from Europe with a letter which would be left under a designated rock at the Cape of Good Hope.
We can connect to others anywhere in the world via email; instant messages, blogs, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. You can share photos on Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest. If I were to give you a complete list I would have to go on for ever, but you know what I mean.

The result of this plethora of communication systems, though, is that you have to keep up. You have to learn the new way of doing something almost every day.
So too it is with a website. This needs to be updated and periodically a make-over is needed. My website, Carol Lee Beckx has just had one and the new theme is now live.

New Website screenshot - Home Page on iPad

One of the changes that make navigation more streamlined is that the menu bar, with a splash of colour, has moved to the top of the page. Previously it was buried at the bottom of the page - lost and, I think, mostly ignored.

A large percentage of website browsing today is done on mobile phones and tablets. The challenge when re-designing a website is that it needs to work effectively across all devices. Something that looks good on a PC monitor is often hopeless on an iPhone. Consequently there was a lot of backwards and forwards with my ever patient website techie – he needs a medal. (I confess to being a bit of a perfectionist) Love the three little white bars to  indicate the menu on a mobile site.

Screenshot iPhone - Still Life Gallery

All the text has been revised, updated and edited. New photographs have been added, others removed. The format of the Commissions Page is now in the form of separate posts. Most people love to learn the story behind a painting. If you click on a painting you’ll be able to read the backstory.

Commissions Page - screenshot iPad

Similarly the News Page is displayed as a series of posts, easily accessed when you click on an image. 

News Page - screenshot iPad

There are also some direct links on the top Menu bar – Blog links to Art Matters; Shop has links to Etsy and Red Bubble. Then icons to my social media sites are also there – Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest and Instagram. I know one shouldn’t have favourites but I do love Instagram best – I do enjoy my daily fix of inspiring images. It’s a good place to see WIP images.

So the hours of work have paid off and I have a finished product. I'd love to know what you think.