Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Nature Photography- Thin-legged Wolf Spider

I've taken cool spider photos before, and I recently took some that make a fine addition to my collection.


Last week I was talking on the phone & stopped dead in my tracks when I saw a large thin-legged wolf spider on my parents' kitchen floor. I was like, "Woooah! Ok I gotta go, there's a big spider on the floor." A lot of people would just kill it, but the nature photographer in me always wants to take a picture. After abruptly ending the phone call, I slowly moved in as close as I could & took a photo before catching it.


After catching it in a bowl, I took some more pictures that were clearer. Spiders are really interesting creatures. Most people have a ingrained fear of them, but I try to get past that automatic response and look a little closer at the nature of the living organism. After getting a few photos, I let it go in the woods to live the rest of its spider life.


 My hand for size.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Art by Visoth Kakvei


 I've been seeing some excellent artists on Instagram. It's awesome how much creative talent is out there in the world.

Cambodian artist Visoth Kakvei creates unique blends of intricate ink line drawings and digital effects. Check out the artist's Instagram feed:


A post shared by Visothkakvei (@visothkakvei) on


A post shared by Visothkakvei (@visothkakvei) on

Friday, June 09, 2017

Nature Photography- Dark Toad

I was helping my parents lay mulch in their garden beds, when I came across this toad with a dark color. He blended in well with the dirt & leaves on the ground.

It was staying pretty still, so I crept up on it and got some close up pics to add to my album:







Thursday, June 08, 2017

Mars in 360º



On r/space I saw this cool high-resolution VR panorama of the Mars landscape. You can look around 360º and see the environment of another planet in virtual reality, thanks to the Curiosity rover.


In the comments, there is a link to an even more amazing view from the martian surface at night. Without the light pollution we are accustomed to in Earth's populated areas, it is possible to see the full majesty of the Milky Way and the countless stars in the visible Universe.

I think if more people were able to witness the mind-blowing expanse of space & its stellar inhabitants, it would greatly shift our perspective of our place in the cosmos. We would realize the infinite scale of Reality and the relatively tiny, brief, & fragile nature of our individual selves.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Nature Photography- Spring 2017

I love the spring, when Winter is ending and life is blooming in the natural world.

In April, I took a bunch of photos in my Mom's gardens around my parents' house. I captured the leaves beginning to burst from the trees, and the flowers blooming with insects on some of them.

I'll post a few here, and check out the rest in my photo album:





After I took this photo, I realized there was a little green insect on the flower:


I caught this bumblebee feeding on a flower's nectar:



Thursday, June 01, 2017

Marley

 

Last night I started "Marley", a documentary on the life of reggae artist & musical legend, Bob Marley. I'm only half-way through it, but it is an excellent film on a true visionary. I was watching on Comcast OnDemand, but you can watch the full movie here.


He is one of my favorite musicians, and I can listen to his songs anytime and never get tired of them. He has so many great songs that speak to the beauty and unity of the human race. There is often the aspect of universal love or recognition of the simple things in life, that comes from a deep appreciation for existence.


I knew that Bob Marley grew up in the island country of Jamaica, obviously, but I didn't realize the poverty he experienced in his home village and in the Trench Town slums in Kingston. This struggle, along with the identity issues from being of mixed race, led to the profound expression of his soul that came out through his music.

The film delves into his practice of Rastafari, which is based off The Bible but is uniquely Jamaican. Personally, I can identify with the concepts of Jah as an all-encompassing entity, the idea of a corrupt Western society as the modern "Babylon", and the emphasis on intuitive realization of spiritual truth. However, the idea that a single man (in this case Ethiopian emperor Haile Selaisse) is the embodiment or prophet of Jah is as misguided as any other cult of personality.

The story of Bob Marley's journey to become a world-famous musician is amazing and inspiring. He has bought so much joy and so many good vibes to people around the world. His revolutionary & mystic creativity will undoubtedly have a lasting effect on humanity.

I would highly recommend this documentary to anyone who loves Bob Marley or music, in general.

It's almost impossible to narrow it down to even a handful, but here are some of my favorite songs by the Legend himself:









Finally, this one makes me think of my fiancé (who was watching the documentary with me). She made me wait for awhile, but thankfully it was not in vain :)


Friday, May 26, 2017

"Fantasy Photos" on Instagram

http://www.fantasyphotos.net/

I recently started a business for creating high-quality, custom digital portraits, called "Fantasy Photos".

"Fantasy Photos™" Website:

This week I set up an Instagram account, to share Fantasy Photos images. If you have an Instagram account, I'd appreciate any followers or shares to the page. Thanks!

Instagram.com/

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

UON Visuals

 
I came across this awesome, hypnotic animated GIF of changing geometric designs. It is called "Sacred Patterns". At one point it morphs into the interlocking circles of The Flower of Life.


After checking out the artist's Instagram page @uon.visuals I was impressed with the wildly imaginative art & animation. UON Visuals is 3D animator Mike Voskakis, and he has also has a Facebook page and a YouTube channel.

I'd recommend checking out all his mind-bending work.

Here are some more examples I like:



Friday, May 19, 2017

Ants Attack & Eat a Caterpillar

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bq3f1VV5ZMQ

Last week, I saw a lone caterpillar being swarmed & devoured by small ants. The caterpillar had ventured too close to the ant nest and was overtaken by the colony.

Perhaps the caterpillar was already sick or impaired, but the ants were probably impossible to fight off, anyway.

I took video as close as I could get to it, so it's a little shaky. You can see enough detail to make out the ants crawling on & biting at the larger insect. It was pretty creepy, but the patio was already littered with bodies of other caterpillars, so it was not a unique fate. Nature is crazy & brutal.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

"Fantasy Photos" First Art Festival

www.FantasyPhotos.net

Recently, I posted about the new business that I started, called "Fantasy Photos". It is a service where I create high-quality, custom photo composites & digital portraits. 

Customers can order an image of a person, animal, or thing to be digitally inserted into any setting they can imagine.

"Fantasy Photos™" Website:

This past weekend I registered as a vendor at an event for the first time ever, to promote the business. It was at the Mullica Hill Arts & Crafts Festival in NJ. I set up a table with a number of my existing Fantasy Photos in frames, along with business cards & promo postcards.


Here is a digital promo, based on the postcard I was handing out. If you are reading this & save this promo, you can send it in with your order for 10% off!:



Saturday, May 13, 2017

Simulating the Merging of Galaxies

 

On Reddit I saw this NASA simulation of galaxies being formed, as cosmic gases and material coalesce due to gravitational forces.


The scales of distance and time are impossible for the human mind to fully comprehend. However, we can still understand, calculate, and simulate these vast celestial forces. By doing so, we learn more about our Universe and, therefore, ourselves as an integral part of it.

Speaking of self-reflection, while searching for similar animations, I also saw this NASA video of galactic evolution on an even larger scale. Here, the strands of stellar material that thread between & form galaxies, resemble neural cells connecting throughout the fractal universal mind field.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Fantasy Photos™

https://www.fantasyphotos.net/

Recently, I posted about being laid off from my graphic design job, due to the financial difficulties being experienced by the studio I was working for.

In that post, I also mentioned my idea to follow my dream & start a new business, called "Fantasy Photos™". Over the past couple weeks, I have been working every day to bring that dream into reality.

I bought a domain and built a website for the first time. After getting advice from people I trust who own businesses & doing a lot of research, I formed a LLC and registered the company. I've also opened a bank account & PayPal for the business. Next, I am going to print business cards & a promo postcard. This weekend, there is a local arts festival where I hope to get a booth and display my business. I've had my first customer already, and I am now ready for many, many more.

Fantasy Photos™ offers customized digital portraits & composite photos. For years, I have made awesome and fun pictures for my family & friends. Now, I want to provide my skills to customers who are looking for excellent quality custom images- in which people, animals, or things are placed in imaginary scenes.

I'll be posting updates as I go along, but I would truly appreciate it if anyone reading this visits & shares the website.


Here's a sample of some of the images I've created. To see more, please visit the IMAGE GALLERY on the website. Thanks!









Saturday, May 06, 2017

CBArt- Alien Botanical Ape

Last weekend I was at a local art festival and came across an artist with a lot of nice work, called CBArt. There were especially unique paintings that I called "Alien Botanicals" because they looked like plant life from another world.



One in particular had an ape looking out from the alien plants, so I told the artist I'd share it here on The Monkey Buddha:


Thursday, May 04, 2017

Darth Vader Art

For Star Wars Day today, I wanted to make a quick post with some Darth Vader art that I made awhile back.

Looking back, it appears there was some premonition involved, especially with this first one. I made this way back in 2002, before the name of Episode III was revealed. Using the pattern of the 5 movie titles that existed up to that point, I figured out that the name of the third prequel would be "Revenge of the Sith". This image also proved to be prescient of the scene from Rogue One, where Vader boards the Rebel ship at the end of the movie, and his red lightsaber glows in the darkness.


This next image was a composite I made in Photoshop, of Hayden Christensen's face with Vader after his helmet was removed in Return of the Jedi. I imagined Anakin Skywalker taking the helmet of Darth Vader off in the privacy of his meditation chamber.


This final image was a visual I made that was similar to yet another Darth Vader scene in Rogue One, when he emerges from a bacta tank. I used the image from the previous picture with his armor still on, which isn't practical, but I was going for the idea of a physically damaged Anakin being treated in the chamber of liquid. The reflection of Emperor Palpatine observing the state of his apprentice can be seen in the glass.

 

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Fractal Wood Burning



On Reddit I saw this animated GIF of a piece of wood being burnt using an electrical current.

In finding it's way through the wood, the electrical energy forms a fractal pattern that burns into the surface.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

This is an example of a Lichtenberg figure, typified by the fractal-like branching.


The resemblance to the shape of trees gives insight into the influence of energy on the appearance of form.

The pathways are trying to connect to the opposite pole. In the same way, energy pathways that make up he shape of trees, and all energetic systems, are configured by the imperative to transfer energy as efficiently as possible and connect interactively with the environment.

Friday, April 28, 2017

TAS- The Adventurous Spark



On my Facebook feed, I came across this awesome post by artist TAS. It is a trippy 360º virtual space made using 3D software:

by TAS

Unfortunately it is not on YouTube, & I have no way to embed it in this blog. I went on the artist's website & YouTube page to find some more examples of this immersive medium.


Here are some other psychedelic 360º videos, using the same effect:



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Paul Micarelli- Graphic Designer Portfolio


The Monday after Easter last week, I was unfortunately laid off from my full-time graphic design position that I've had since I graduated college, over 15 years ago.

One of our main clients was bought out by a bigger company, and because of accounting shenanigans they have not paid for any jobs since January. All the projects that I've been working on have been for them, so my bosses can't pay me for my work. It's a perfect example of how investors or companies buy assets, don't manage them properly, and everyone down the line has to deal with the consequences.

Anyway, I have been trying to figure out a way forward, which is why my posting here has been sparse lately. I'm treating it as an opportunity to branch out, find new possibilities, and start things I've been wanting to do, but haven't had the time. I have some freelance work lined up, and I have an idea for a new business that I've really been wanting to get started. Once I get the logo and a website up & running, I'll share it here.

One thing I did after this happened was add a lot of content to my online portfolio. I use the Coroflot website, and it's a convenient way to show samples of my work:


If anyone who may happen to read this could use a freelance or full-time graphic artist, or knows someone who does, feel free to contact me through this website email: monkeybuddhapaul @ gmail.com ...(just remove the spaces around the "@" when sending the email). Thanks!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Lab Chimp Retirement


I think the use of animals for medical research is a very disturbing result of our collective quest for scientific discovery. Although many valuable insights have been found through animal experimentation, it just seems creepy to keep another living thing against it's will to basically torture it, regardless of what the benefits may be.

People sympathize with primates more than "lower" animals, since they are the closest in resemblance to our own species. However, any life form with a nervous system and sensory input is going to experience the same exact sensations that we do when it comes to pain, fear, or discomfort.

I don't know how anyone can not feel bad watching footage of animals in cages or being experimented on. Science should be a top priority in society, but not at the expense of our souls or sense of compassion. There are inevitably sociopaths and sadists in society, but that behavior should be discouraged, not sanctioned.



I saw this article awhile back about lab chimps in the U.S. being sent into retirement at sanctuaries.

Gawker:

It must be a great feeling for the apes to be let free from such confined & miserable circumstances into a natural environment.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Seed of Life - Color Wheel

I have a gallery of 3D rendered art that I created, with hi-res images that I'll continually add to.

 by Paul Micarelli

Here is another addition to the gallery, featuring 7 colored spheres arranged into the "Seed of Life" configuration.


Feel free to download any of the images in the album above, for use as wallpapers or backgrounds. If you share it, please give credit or a link.

I don't run any ads on this site, but I'd appreciate it if you check out my Cafepress shop. There are prints and products with this design available:


The Monkey Buddha Bazaar:

Usually this symbol is made using flat circles, and it is the basis for the larger "Flower of Life" pattern.


It's a beautiful design, even in 2D, but some interesting things happen when 3D spheres are used. I made the spheres transparent & luminous, so the intersections of the shapes are visible. The white middle sphere, surrounded by the 6 colored spheres, ends up delineating a hexagon in the center. The triangular areas around the white center, formed by the intersecting spaces, create a Star of David or hexagram.

This image also has some color theory within it. The 6 outside spheres are arranged in triads. One set of 3 alternating colors is Red, Green, & Blue. All colors of light can be derived from combinations of these "primary" colors. Combining them all in equal amounts results in the white light at the center of the design. RGB color is used for luminous media, like computer screens and other electronic devices that give off light.

Between each pair of these RGB primary colors is Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow, each of which are formed by combining equal amounts of the two primary colors next to them. These colors, plus the black (K) in the background of the image, is the basis for CMYK color printing, used for pigments or inks. 

Here is a chart showing the inverse relationship of additive & subtractive color combinations:


Saturday, April 15, 2017

"Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi" Teaser

 
Yesterday, during the Star Wars Celebration 2017 event, the first teaser trailer for the next Star Wars movie, "The Last Jedi" was released. In this post, I've included some high resolution screenshots of my favorite moments from the video.


Yeah, I'm almost 40... but as a life-long fan, I can say this trailer got me excited like I was a kid again. As I was getting ready to show my fiance the video, she could tell I was giddy, even though I had watched it several times already! She grudgingly let introduce her to Star Wars when we started dating, but she has come to appreciate the depth of the stories & characters, and right away said that this one looks good.

Anyway, my favorite aspects to Star Wars have been the mystical and philosophical elements. Fortunately, it looks like this will be a central focus of "The Last Jedi", as Jedi Master Luke Skywalker trains Rey in the ways of The Force.


Even the captivating opening of the trailer, the shot of the natural world with Luke saying "Breathe.... just breathe....." is the essence of meditative technique in real life. The idea that one can find their spiritual center, through connecting deeply with the natural rhythm of your breath, is the foundation of all mindfulness meditation.

 
I absolutely love and was hoping for the idea of Luke teaching Rey the subtle aspects of the living & cosmic Force. The fictional construct of The Force is what helped open my eyes to the truth of "God" not as a personality or a deity with silly human qualities, but more as a "Tao"- an infinite life force & creative energy that flows through every atom and space throughout The Universe. George Lucas drew on many religious and mythological traditions to create a story that informs us about ourselves and our world. I'm glad this movie will mirror Yoda's training of Luke on the mysteries of The Force, as Rey unlocks her powers to their full potential.


There is a lot of speculation that Luke will train Rey in the path of a "grey" Force user. After hearing about the failure of the original Jedi Order, and seeing his own attempt at a new Jedi academy literally go down in flames, he may realize that it's time to forge a new path for Force users to follow.
 

This new path would not completely forbid human emotion such as love and passion, as the Jedi did, but control them, and focus them as tools for enhancing the self & the greater good. Luke walked the line between the Light & Dark paths in "Return of the Jedi," when he defeated the Sith Lord Darth Vader using anger & aggression, but then saved the soul of his father Anakin Skywalker through genuine compassion and love.

Luke hints at this new approach with his final line, "I only know one truth... it's time for the Jedi to end." He's not turning evil, but has realized that the dogmatic tradition of the Jedi order must be transformed into something new. I can't fully express how awesome I think this direction is, and I think the series is setting up a new world of Star Wars after Episode 9 and the completion of this trilogy.

To do so, it is simultaneously going back to the very origins of the Star Wars galaxy. After the destruction of his new Jedi order, Luke went into exile on the planet Ahch-To. This is the location of the first Jedi temple, and it appears from this trailer that Luke has found some ancient manuscripts and texts that document the origins of the Jedi, and perhaps some long-lost secrets of the Force. A drawing of the Jedi symbol is seen on a moldy, open page from an old book, and I can't wait to see what information is revealed by Luke after studying these millenia-old documents. He hints at The Force being "So much bigger" after Rey uses her Force vision to see "The Light... The Darkness... and The Balance".


On the flip side, we will also get to see the completion of Kylo Ren's training by the enigmatic Supreme Leader Snoke. It will be interesting to see the contrast between the Light Side & Dark Side training, and exactly how Snoke is familiar with The Force. In the trailer, we see Kylo's smashed helmet and his face, with the scar that he received from his lightsaber battle with Rey. I have read some leaks that he adopts a longer cape and a modified helmet in the style of his grandfather Darth Vader, but we don't see that here yet.



So, I think all this is absolutely great, and "The Last Jedi" looks to be the expansion of the lore and mysteries of The Force that I was hoping it to be.

I am a very critical skeptic and love to nitpick. Despite my love for the Star Wars saga, I've had plenty of criticisms about various details of the movies. Overall, though, these movies are a modern-day epic with characters, stories, and ideas that illuminate the deepest aspects of ourselves and our society. They are, in my opinion, the greatest works of fiction in human history, and "The Last Jedi" looks like it will add to the depth and richness that this series has provided. I will be anxiously awaiting more glimpses of the movie until it is released in December of this year!