Aus Chap #1 – Sydney Saunter

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(
Aus Chap. = ‘Australian Chapter’ [of my life; of this journal; or Aus Chap = my bf.)

#1 /  SYDNEY SAUNTER /
May – Aug 2018

This blog post has been sitting in my drafts with a title, a few edited pictures and a blinking cursor since early-May. At the time of titling it, I was living out my two-month plan to visit my boyfriend in Sydney (from the end of March) with a flight scheduled home for late May. However, the title should rather stand as “Sydney Snowball” as things escalated pretty quickly since then to me pushing the flight back to July, applying for a long-term visa and booking a one way ticket back from South Africa in September.

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So that’s the low down if you’ve been sceptically following my seemingly never-ending holiday Down Under on Instagram (and now in SA, as it’s already August and I’ve delayed this post by a whole country…). Maybe you were thinking that I seemed way too comfortable and had
surely overstayed that flimsy 3-month tourist visa, and wtf…bought a car there?! Yip, yip and yip. (I’m on a bridging visa now btw – if any authorities are reading this).

Dollars

But to start from the beginning, this was my first time going to Australia. I left SA end of  March just a month after returning from my year in Korea to experience a new country, making it my forth country to be in for 2018 (Korea, Japan, SA and now Aus). 

^ at the time of that post, it was A$1=R9.08. Today (25/08) it’s R10.45. 😦

Coins
^ The coin proportions feel so off. Cents vs dollars.

During my stay, however, no one offered me shrimp on the barbie, I hadn’t noticed kangaroo steak on any menu, I’d seen ONE man dressed like Crocodile Dundee (in the mall, and very out of place) and yes, a lot of people do say ‘mate’. And ‘fair dinkum’. And go to the ‘dunny’ to pee.

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Ah, Vegemite! This stuff has been around for 95 years, and I didn’t know it was such a thing in Aus thing till I got there. I’ve tried it, but Bovril all the way for me, thanks. Although the smoothie bar, Boost Juice recently released a Vegemite Smoothie . It also has banana, chocolate and yoghurt and other good stuff in it too though, so all good – I guess I’ll have to give it a go.

TOURISTY THINGS:Sydney-Opera-House

What’s Sydney without its iconic Opera House? Ok, quite a lot from what I’ve since found out but it’s obviously top of the list of the first things to see when you get there. Although it’s an impressive building, I was actually more impressed by its location at Circular Quay, with its flurry of ferries and the magnificent Harbour Bridge stretching across in the background. The Royal Botanic Gardens are right there too, offering a scenic and peaceful meander through the beautifully kept gardens right next to the water. I have yet to find Mrs Macquarie’s Chair which apparently is at the point that offers some of the best views of the harbour.

I arrived in Australia in March with a stronger idea of what the outback might look like than the cities, and when imaging Sydney I just saw the Opera House and Bondi Beach. Klaar. So I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the architecture (particularly in the CBD, older areas) is beautifully Victorian and Edwardian styled (and many more).

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The first time walking in the city while passing statues, parks, old-style detailed buildings and lampposts I felt like I could be in London. This style fades out the further you go from the city centre unfortunately, but it’s beautiful and impressive every time I go into the city.

ZOO ZOO KANGAROO:ZooIt took me over a month after I arrived to finally see a kangaroo for the first time ever. A MONTH! And we had to go to the zoo to do so. Guess they don’t roam the streets like expected (this is a joke). The Taronga Zoo is across the harbour from the Opera House, so you can catch a ferry to the other side, which I really enjoyed. This also allows for the zoo, in particular the giraffes (not just because of their long necks), to have an impressive view of the Opera House, the bridge and the city skyline from across the water. I also got to see some koalas, wombats, echidnas and Tasmanian Devils for the first time.
P.s. Almost R500 for a day ticket into the zoo…

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

Opal

I find figuring out an unfamiliar country’s public transport system rather exciting, but also a bit overwhelming and frustrating. In Sydney, the trains (which are double decker) are really reliable/on time, but I’ve found the buses can be a bit hit or easily missed. And not quite cheap either. 

ROADTRIPPIN’:COastal

One weekend we decided to take a road trip south of Sydney along the coast in a general direction and see where we ended up. We stumbling upon quiet and beautiful viewpoints above the ocean, whale watching points (the whales were on winter break though), a blow hole in the rocks and small holiday towns with quirky shops and paths along the water’s edge with pelicans and stingrays. On the return trip just before taking the road home, we found a detour along a “Tourist Drive Route 9”. And suddenly we were snaking along a narrow road among green rolling hills and farm lands filled with cows while the sun slowly began to retreat on our spontaneous day out of the city.

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VIVID SYDNEY: the light show
This is a yearly festival that lights up the city (in and around the Circular Quay area and a few places beyond) with light installations, music and food events. This extends to The Rocks which is the historic and touristy precinct with restaurants, bars and shops in the old buildings along cobbled roads and through old archways. Very English feeling.

vivid.jpgParticularly impressive (as well as the many tall buildings being lit up with moving colourful displays) is the whole of the Opera House’s exterior painted in light and moving images that change designs often. You can get a great view of it from the other side of the quay. Despite the rain on the night we chose to go, we saw a lot and enjoyed it. Because we live far south, we had booked a hotel a short walk from the main event so we could enjoy the festivities till late. And by late, we found out is only 11pm when bars start closing. 11pm. During a festival period in the main part of a huge city…?

INCREASED MOBILITY:
Living in the spread out suburbs means that running simple errands or going to the mall takes double the time and planning when you don’t have a car and need to rely on the bus which comes once an hour. And so, after much scouring on car sites online and used-dealerships in person, my little baby was found hidden among many cars. I’ve had a car crush on the Fiat 500 since 2011 when I first saw it in a series I was watching at the time. And now she’s miiiiine 😀
Car

FYI: I can drive with my SA license as long as it’s current and has no suspensions etc. 

CHAPTER #2 to follow once I return/move to Sydney at the end of September and get some adventures going. 

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Illustrated Travel Journal: Part 12

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I know I’d been counting down my time left in Korea since about 6 months in, from then already dreading the impending end. And soon those 6 months quickly became 3, then 1 month, and that became 1 week, then suddenly 1 day. And now I write this after a blur of almost 3 weeks post-Korea from my bed in South Africa wondering where my year in kimchi-land actually went and if it all even happened at all! So, while I fend off the already-present nostalgia, here is my final chapter from my last month in SK.

Mon 05/02/2018 – This one time I was sick. For like a day.
Okay, so I’d only really been sick once in Korea and it was just a couple months into my contract and I should’ve gone to a doctor but things were still rather overwhelming back then so I didn’t. Fast forward 10 months to winter, a sore throat and last minute curiosity, I decided to use this as an opportunity to visit a Korean doctor. And an ear-nose-and-throat doc no less. But more for the experience than the meds. 1

With a recommendation from friends for a nice doc, I rocked up with no appointment and waited about 10 min to see Dr Park. Less than 5 min, a quick chat, check, scope down my throat later I was done and given a 3 day prescription and an invoice for W5000 (like R50!). At the pharmacy they then individually package your pills into morning, noon and night packets per day (fig. 1). So easy and inexpensive! Overall review: unnecessary – maybe. An experience – worth it! 

Wednes 14/02: Galentines Day
When you’re single or can’t be with your bae on Valentines Day, you can have a Galentines Day with your besties and go shopping, beer drinking, curry consuming and beer ponging. On a week night! Yay! ❤
(P.s I miss you guys already! </3 )
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Mon 19/02: The final week
My last week in Korea only had 2 days at school luckily. Monday was my final teaching day (ever!) and I had 5 classes of gr 4 so I drew a tree on the board, gave each kid a leaf-shaped sticky note and I told them I was “LEAF-ing” so they could write a little goodbye note and stick it on the tree. The joke was 90% wasted on them. Sigh. But I got a few creative or cute notes worth keeping and some soppy goodbye hugs. Sweet, man.
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Tuesday, being the closing ceremony day, meant we left at lunch time for our final teachers’ dinner/farewell for a large number of teachers changing schools. This as always, was filled with a lot of food (marinated BBQ pork this time – SO good!) and soju (mostly thanks to my gr5 co, Minkyung/my soju partner in crime over the year with Ms Min (crazy, fun and mother of 2) close behind if not the instigator as well as pourer-of-her-own-drinks. Of course my luck in the seating arrangement was me being placed right next to the principal and vice with the “higher powers” around them. A couple of hours and soju later, I had to say my final goodbyes to 2 of 3 of my co-teachers as we parted ways for the last time.

Friday 23/02: Ms Kang’s lunch
2 days before departure.
As my main co-teacher, personal co-ordinator, Korean translator and teacher of gr 3-4, Ms Kang and I spent the most time together over the year and she kindly invited me to her house to cook for me as a farewell. I got to meet her 7 year old daughter (who was super cute but got frustrated that I couldn’t understand her speaking in Korean) and her husband. My last dose of Korean hospitality.


Sunday 25/02: Departure Day4b
It arrived. And so at 9am I left my apartment for the last time, with two bloody heavy bags in tow to the airport for my flight at 12:45. Yes, I was early. Very early. But the inevitable had to begin at some point, so I’d rather be early than to be left behind. I’d expected the whole leaving thing to feel a lot more final. But it felt so normal. So unexpecting of the finality of it all. After a 2 hour-ish flight I landed in Beijing ready for an 8 hour layover – only to find the wifi would not let me connect. Thanks, ma’China!5

In that time I bought some Yaun (¥), some coffee, drew a bit and walked in circles for 8 hours in preparation for my impending 14.5 hour sitting test on the flight to Joburg.6
One hour into my longest flight (ever!) and I was already questioning how I was going to make it through this! Luckily I managed to sleep through a lot of it thanks to my packed necessities:7
My exhaustion was then met by an awful experience in OR Tambo at Joburg with delayed bags, rude staff and nearly missing my connecting flight due to the short layover time… and some tears, but I made it to PE in the end! Finally home in South Africa after 32hours since leaving my Korean home, and I miss it already…8

Thanks for scrolling!
This is sadly the final instalment of my South Korean Travel Journal.
New adventures are in the pipeline though…
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South African Flower Cards ~ FREE PRINTABLES

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Each card was lovingly hand-drawn and painted before being digitised and uploaded for you to print at home for a loved one. Choose from four beautiful South African flowers with the option of a special wish on the front of the card, or opt for a blank template to write your own message or your loved one’s name. Folding instructions below. 

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©Amy Slatem 2018. For personal use only. 

Special Message Cards:

Print the card to suit the special occasion.

To download:
Click on the card name below (will open in a new tab) > (right click) save image as > then print as A4 (don’t fit to page)

Blank Message Cards:

Write your own message or loved one’s name in flower’s banner.

To download:
Click on the card name below (will open in a new tab) > (right click) save image as > then print as A4 (don’t fit to page)

HOW TO FOLD:

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  1. Fold A4 printed page in half horizontally.
  2. Fold in half again so the flower is on the front. Open the card and write your message on the right inside page.
  3. Tadaah! You’re done. Now pop it in an envelope. 

Please do not edit, re-purpose or sell these files or printouts. For personal use only.
©Amy Slatem 2018.

But please do show me your finished printed cards by tagging me on Instagram @shmaymee.

The Nguni cow’s portrait

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Nguni Portrait – Ink on paper, A3 200gsm.

I had the opportunity recently to paint cows again for a commissioned ink work, which is now in its home in Hermanus enjoying the ocean air.

Some notes on the process:

  1. A fairly rough sketch in 5B pencil on some paper to warm up and have a better look at the image – hey bingo, a separate artwork (below).
  2. Plot the basic lines in 2H pencil on the A3 paper using a light box (read: my window) and the reference image for proportion accuracies.
  3. Ink time! Start with large areas of washes in very watered down ink where the darkest areas/shadows lie in the image.
  4. Work on layers, painting smaller areas but darker shades, building up the details.
  5. Work
  6. Work
  7. Work
  8. Use your finest paintbrush, add the detailed finishing lines, like lashes and stray hairs.
  9. Sign.
  10. Hey pesto. Nguni portrait done 🙂
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Practice sketch

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All images are © Amy Slatem.

King Protea Wallpaper – free download

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So while everyone else spent their weekends getting married, engaged, making babies etc (thank you for that, Facebook), I made this thing. And I want to share my love thing with everyone. So go ahead and give it a download (link a bit below) and protea-fy your computer and phone because our national flower is just that beautiful.
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Click on the size below to download, then save as…

DESKTOP: 4:3 Fullscreen // 16:9 Widescreen (recommended)
PHONE: 450 x 800 slim (iPhone 6 etc) // 500 x 750 wider


ARTWORK PROCESS // DETAILS


Protea-sketch_process

The artwork was all done in Photoshop using a Wacom Intuos Pro and a variety of PS brushes, finished off with a bit of background paper texture.

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Thank you!
Want more, more often?
Follow me on Instagram @shmaymee


Photo/mock up credit: Carlos Martínez 

Hello there, Adele.

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Adele has just recently released her single ‘Hello’, taken from her new album, 25, (release date: 20 November).
The song is great. Like really. Which is why I decided to pull out my (rather dusty) inks and brushes and while listening to this goosebumping song far too many times, I did an Adele-portrait-meets-lyrics piece.
I ended up simplifying the original artwork in Photoshop because there was just too much text… this should explain why not all the lyrics made it on in the end. But that’s just the fine print. Who reads fine print anyway? (I’m joking)

1I started the painting as an A3 landscape (I’m not sure why that made sense at the time) which was just a bit too big to fit in my scanner at the end. So the only way to really digitise it (other than photographing, but that’s not accurate enough) was to scan in the image half a side at a time, left then right with enough overlap each time. And yay Photoshop (and Google for showing me the answer) and its highly impressive automatic stitching command: Photomerge (File > Automate > Photomerge).

Stitched-Trio
1. I was originally going to manually try match up and layer the two scans myself – this would’ve taken a lot more time, effort and inaccuracy.
2. This shows the stitching that PS did by itself. Pretty incredible. I pulled the two pieces apart just to show how it merged the two separate images so perfectly together. I initially thought it was already flattened because it looked so natural.
3. How it looked immediately after it finished rendering the Photomerge. SEAMLESS!!


Adele by Amy SlatemFinal artwork ^^
Reminiscent of Billy Joel’s Piano Man actually…


Adele-OriginalThe original artwork scanned in (more text – but it looked too much like a beard so I erased it)


Adele-eyesAdele se oogbolletjies. (detail)


PROCESS PHOTOS…42


In case you STILL haven’t heard it…

Joburg Art Fair 2015

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Having heard a number of good reviews about it, I went to go check out the Joburg Art Fair held at the Sandton Convention Centre for myself this weekend. Mmmm… there really was such a great collection of diverse contemporary art featuring some big names in the South African art scene and beyond.
It’s was definitely well worth it being able to see the work of artists I know of and have learnt about in school and varsity, or just generally admire. Let’s name drop a bit off the top of my head… William Kentridge, Lionel Smit, Athi-Patra Ruga, Ed Young, Brett Murray, Nigel Mullins, Nicholas Hlobo, Anton Kannemeyer, Roger Ballen and so many more.
Overall, it was well worth the R130 entrance for an afternoon spent walking around the lovely venue looking at works up close, then afar and getting to bond with my camera for a change and being able to admire the textures and painterly/material details of the actual artworks made by hands I admire.
So I’m sorry if you missed it, cause you missed out. Maybe next year, doll…

35-NigelNigel Mullins

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Johannes Pokela

2619_comboOne of my favourites (the artist’s name wasn’t there, sadly). Loved the realism left to clash with the loose brushstrokes and white canvas.

31Claudette Schreuders

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Lionel Smit

16-Lionel-comboLionel Smit

8 9 11-Cloe-ReidCloe Ried

1329-Ed-Young
Ed Young, Buttercup

20_skullboySkullboy (If only I had R12 000 lying around… Love this guy!)

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