Thursday, March 10, 2016

Thousands of Photos Saluting Musicians

Yesterday a post on Facebook that I shared stated "The biggest killer on the planet is stress and I think the best medicine is and always will be music."

To a fairly significant degree, I agree. So let me just say that my husband and I blew off a little steam last night at a show in a nearby city.

Since we're both fans of live music, I purchased tickets to see this unknown (to us) blues guitarist as a Christmas gift for my sweetie. I had, of course, checked him out on YouTube first, but even so, you're never really sure what you're going to see up close and personal.

Which, it turns out is exactly how we saw him. Though it was held in a familiar concert venue, we were titillated when directed in a different direction than is usual.  Entering into the front of the hall, we climbed steps to the stage, which had been extended, and were guided to a cafe table for four.

The intimate setting proved perfect for hearing this particular artist since he was a band of one. With various attachments to his guitar for cymbals,  a harmonica holder and pedals for drums, he did it all.

Yet, while it was pretty incredible to see, my thoughts ran in several directions during the performance. Steve Hill's guitar work is flawless. With speed and finesse he works his way over frets and strings to awesome results.  This unfortunately got short shrift in the first couple of songs, though, as our attention was drawn to his multi-tasking.

By the show's end we couldn't help feeling what a shame it is that just being a good guitar player isn't enough in today's music business to make a living.

Though my guy and I appreciate the many opportunities to scope out lesser-known talents, it's always with this frustration. To see stellar musicians playing gigs in small caf├ęs and pubs, while lesser talents have been handed a place in the spotlight, mainly because of a pretty face and/or the entertainment marketing machine, is sad.

Of course, success in the entertainment industry has always often been more about luck, being in the right place at the right time or knowing the right people. And obviously, everyone can't make it. There has to be some of the aforementioned.

But shouldn't better than average talent count for something?  To me,  it seems that far too many undeserving these days are making millions while the deserving are struggling for someone to notice.

Hill said last night it has taken him eight years and several awards, but he finally has a date to play in Toronto. Sadly, it took what is essentially a circus act to get people to play attention.

So in salute to all of the musicians out there, who live and breathe the music they play and will do it for nothing if that's all they get,  here are some great musician photos: Musician Photos Musician Photos

Acclaim Images Musician Photos

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Thousands of Leprechaun Illustrations for St. Patrick's Day

It won't be long before spring makes its official arrival. Before that though, there's still a fun occasion to enjoy.  In just over a week,  we will mark the final celebration of the winter. 

Since the solstice, there have been holidays and events of varying significance,  each with its own traditions and unique symbols. 

In western culture, winter began with one of the biggest festival events of the year, Christmas, a time saturated with meaning and ritual. We exchanged gifts, we feasted, sang carols, attended candlelight services and gathered with family and friends. On its heels was New Year's Eve, a countdown to the end of 2015, highlighted by parties and noisemakers.

February brought us the groundhog, his shadow and the promise of six more weeks of winter, as well as Valentine's Day for the romantically inclined. 

There are, of course, other inconsequential, strange or obscure events on special holiday calendars filling the spaces in between. The aforementioned, though, are the ones that get all of the attention.

None in my opinion, however,  have the whimsy and charm of the one that remains, St. Patrick's Day.

My heritage is predominantly German, but I've always believed that somewhere up the line an ancestor or two were Irish.  I am enchanted by everything about the Emerald Isle.  The accent is a lullaby to me. (I have actually soothed myself to sleep listening to the lyrical recitation of the Irish Country Doctor audio book.)  Danny Boy makes me weep and I could binge watch Waking Ned Devine.

Ireland is the one place that I really do hope to visit one day, notwithstanding my complete and total aversion to air travel. I'm eager to see charming villages, wander ancient castles, walk the rolling hills and look out at the water from rugged cliffs.

I'm fairly certain that when that day comes I won't be seeing any leprechauns on my tour. But for today's purpose that's what these clipart collections offer. They are absolutely adorable and perfect for any St. Patrick's Day project you might have: Leprechaun Illustrations Leprechaun Illustrations

ClickArt Online Leprechaun Clipart

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

7 St. Patrick's Day Tutorials

In just a week,  St. Patrick's Day will be upon us. And with it comes the whimsy of leprechauns and pots of gold, shamrocks and rainbows.

Marked every year on March 17 since 1737,  the day is intended to honour Ireland's patron saint.  The first celebration was organized by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston.

The tradition continued in other communities until today when many cities world-wide host a St. Patrick's celebration of some kind, highlighted by parades, festive drinks and music. 

In Ireland, the occasion has more of a religious theme.

However, you don't have to be Irish to go green. From wearing the colour that day to drinking it out of a beer mug, from attending church to watching a parade,  many people of all denominations and cultures will recognize the occasion.

Growing up in a small town surrounded by a predominantly German farm community, St. Patrick's Day wasn't discussed much at home. For me it was typically the projects we undertook in class during my primary education, and the promise of a day that would be a little different from the regular routine that made it exciting.

Craft classes were occupied with cutting, colouring and pasting cute images of leprechauns and shamrocks.  The playground was full of excited chatter about what green item of clothing friends would be wearing to school March 17.

Interestingly now, as an adult, things haven't really drifted too far from that for me. I still search the closet for something green, which has often been a challenge as I apparently don't infuse my wardrobe with much of that colour. 

As for St. Patrick's Day projects, though I've moved beyond the cutting, colouring and pasting of my childhood,  there is no end to the tutorials one can find online.  Here's a sample of some favourites for everything from pencil to Photoshop:

Create a Shamrock

Create a St. Patrick's Day Postcard in Illustrator

Turn a Beer Green

Make a St. Patrick's Day Card in Photoshop Elements

Draw a Leprechaun

Create a Rainbow in Photoshop

Draw a Pot of Gold

Monday, March 7, 2016

5 Collections of Terrific Bird Illustrations

Another weekend has come to an end. Mine was highlighted by an two-day visit from my big sister and her husband. It was a nice time, full of fun, food and drink and relaxation.

My brother-in-law is an early riser. Up with the sun, he heads down to the coffee shop to mingle with the locals and catch up on the community gossip. Having heard him set off on Sunday morning, I pushed myself out of bed sooner than usual so had a quiet spell to myself over my own cup of java.

Just as my husband joined me, I heard the soft trill of a bird in the distance.  As I looked out the window at the snow that still carpeted the landscape, what I was hearing seemed too good to be true.  Since our guest was returning just at that point, I asked him if my ears had deceived me or if that was indeed a robin. His response made my morning shine.

The first sign of a robin for me is as uplifting as the pure fragile bud of a snowdrop breaking through the ground. Their welcome home begins the spring music that fills our mornings, beckoning flora and fauna to come alive in the wake of Old Man Winter.  It's as cheerful as the cold and snow was bleak.

With a yard full of trees, birdsong accompanies the hours my husband and I spend out of doors in the warm seasons. I love watching the birds flit from place to place, and listening to them call and serenade. 

Since you can never have enough of them, I've tried to encourage more feathered friends to the garden, by installing feeders and birdhouses. Unfortunately, it too often  seems the squirrels are the greater beneficiaries of my efforts.

Either way,  I celebrate their return to our clime with all the joy of a pup let loose in a summer meadow.  Their presence adds colour and life to a landscape asleep too long. Their song makes hearts sing.

So, as I waken to the robin's trill, as I think about soon being able to watch them dart from place to place, their merry plumage splashing colour into the day, all I call say is welcome back. 

And with birds on the brain, I've scoped out some terrific collections of bird clipart, sure to infuse any project with a cheery vibe:

1,099 Bird Illustrations Bird Illustrations

Acclaim Images Bird Clipart

ClipartGuide Bird Illustrations

ClickArt Online