Tag Archives: Black and White

Day Four, Blogging 101: Identify your Audience, Exploring New Elements


This particular assignment encouraged me to examine the audience, demographic and the readers who may visit the blog. This is a very interesting exercise that involves writing for an intended audience or reader in mind, although I dedicated two days to brainstorming in order to determine, who is reading Black Calavera?

While I don’t have a particular person in mind, I hope to share the research I’ve undertaken over the past few years with the outside world. Now that I’ve switched to my focused state of mind, I would imagine the ideal reader as a skull enthusiast or an artist with a strong interest for skulls.

The second component involves introducing a new element to the blog and I wondered whether there is something new I can possibly explore that is different to what I’m familiar or comfortable with. I was intrigued to explore illustration or drawing that is something that I haven’t practised for about a year now. For two whole days, I sat beneath the heater with a pencil and an old sketch book that was recently discovered in the bottom of a cardboard box; this basically summaries the length of time I haven’t practised my sketching.

With two to three attempts, a sugar skull illustration was finally created! I can be rather picky, although the objective of the exercise involved experimenting with a different medium and the test determined that I can push beyond my comfort zone.  With additional practise and persistence, the sugar skull illustrations will improve over time. This is the starting point anyway and the sketchbook will hopefully provide new ideas for upcoming projects.

Why Sugar Skulls?

The designs are incredibly inspiring and there is a fascinating cultural association with the Mexican Day of the Dead Festival that is unbelievably admirable and highly creative. For those who are unfamiliar with the Day of the Dead, this vibrant celebration welcomes the spirits from deceased friends and relatives through decorative altars, sugar skulls and other creative events, as referenced by Regina.M.Marchi.1

The sugar skulls are highly colourful, although I’m intrigued to explore the decorative designs in black and white. Another fascinating subject, is the interpretation of death and how would one describe this ambiguous subject? This is something I’ve questioned over and over again, although death is one of those mysterious occurrences that is a natural process of life, although the thought is relatively daunting at times.

I’ve actually awakened from a good night’s rest and realised that I perceive the world through my own point of view and one day that’ll eventually disappear, when death approaches. This is actually difficult to explain, although I experienced a sudden wave of anxiety when I realised that there is an ending, there are some things in life that are unavoidable and death is one of them.

So where do we go from here? Good question, well I would love to explore how others interpret death, perhaps this’ll transform into an exciting new project, you’ll have to wait and see.


1.Regina.M.Marchi, Day of the Dead USA, The Migration and Transformation of a Cultural Phenomenon (USA:Rutgers University Press) p.26 

Clip Ziyan by Yaman Okur, Emilie Capel and Harold Sangouard

“Clip Ziyan, performance by Yaman Okur / Emilie Capel, Armchair by Harold Sangouard, Chief Operator, Charles Sautreuil, Tommy Pascal” – http://www.harow.fr/

Today I encountered a creative, yet remarkable concept that I’m just dying to share! I’ve recently discovered a stunning black and white video clip featuring a very modern, innovative style along with a geometrical skull shaped armchair by Harold Sangouard aka Harrow.

This 4 minute video clip titled Clip / Zyan features two incredible dancers /  choreographers known as Yaman Okur and Emilie Capel who have created a very inspiring performance along with Chief Operator, Charles Sautreuil as well as the realisation behind the project, Tommy Pascal.


From a personal perspective, the visual imagery is minimalistic and the empty space intensifies the relationship between the two dancers, as well as the geometrical armchair. The overall composition is very intriguing, as the light from the window illuminates the chair’s sharp or angular structure.

The light isn’t sharp or overpowering, although these particular elements have produced some very soft shadows that provides a dramatic, sensual appeal to the overall performance. While the visual aesthetics are captivating, the music compliments the overall style and the dancer’s fluid movements.

There is limited information in regards to the concept or the relationship between the two dancers within the video clip; one could argue that the storyline is intentionally ambiguous or mysterious. I’ve often struggled to interpret the video clip, as the overall performance is highly conceptual and abstract.


In my personal opinion the dancer at the beginning of the video clip is missing the person he loves, perhaps he recently experienced a breakup with his girlfriend or perhaps the women he loves recently passed away. The dance performance may expose the dancer’s memories or past experiences, these are just my personal interpretations anyway.

The music (Little Ending 86) is another interesting component that intensifies the mood and the atmosphere within the performance. Throughout the video clip, the skull shaped armchair is positioned within the background and I’ve wondered whether the chair has a symbolic connection or representation in terms of the performance. Does the chair signify death’s permanent presence? Clip Ziyan is difficult to apprehend, as there is limited information online, however one could argue that the video encourages the audience to interpret or articulate the overall meaning.1


The armchair provides a unique element to the project / video clip that subtly compliments with the elegant, yet conceptual peformance. Harold Sangouard designed and produced this wonderful skull shaped chair with ‘resin, fiberglass and a steel internal frame’ as referenced by the artist’s website.2

Skullspiration have published another fascinating article relating to Sangouard’s creation and the chair is described as, “elegant, edgy and mysterious.” If only I had the chance to sit in this marvellous armchair, I would have to be dragged from it; in fact, the chair is transformed into such a remarkable piece of furniture.3 I agree, the chair features a classical, yet contemporary style that successfully establishes a very creative aesthetic within the video clip.

The clip incorporates contemporary dance and interior design in a progressive, dynamic and contemporary context. I would definitely recommend viewing this sensational performance! Click on the links below for further details.


1.Clip Zyan, http://www.harow.fr/ziyan.htm


3.Skullspiration, “Skulls Armchair by Harold Sangouard, Nov 29 2013http://www.skullspiration.com/skull-armchair-harold-sangouard/

New Twitter Page for Black Calavera


Hey there everyone, I finally created a Twitter page! I have wanted to create one for a while but I just needed to find the time, now I’m just getting used to all the different settings…this is kind of fun. I’m specifically using the social media sites as a way to record / reference my inspiration for future blog posts and reviews. I discover so many different artworks and designs featuring the skull, it’s often difficult to keep up with everything.

I thought I would sneak in another photo with me experimenting with the skull makeup, I would love to create some additional patterns / designs and I’ll have all next week to devote to some experimentations, yay. I just need to work on the shadows and the shape of the teeth but I’ll release a post later in the week anyway.

You can now follow me on Twitter, just click on the link below, stay tuned!


Self Portraits become distressed and decayed


Last Friday, I uploaded some self-portraits that I’ve taken in one of Melbourne’s deserted laneways, today I thought I would share some of the photographs that I have destroyed. I’ve undertaken a project / experiment where I’ve ripped or destroyed my own self-portraits using water and cello tape in order to determine whether these alterations increase my connection to death.

The modifications definitely provide a distressed, sinister appearance and I can’t believe that I’m the person in the image, I’ve destroyed the image of myself in order to create a different effect.I have often placed the smooth image opposite the decayed version in order to observe the process or the progression, this experiment often reminds me of a body slowly decaying into a corpse, which is something I’ve mentioned before in my previous posts and this is one particular thought that will continually reoccur when I view these images.


The scariest thought is the realisation that  I’ll start to decay or deteriorate once I’m dead and I’ve discovered that there is a similar parallel with the images that I’ve destroyed. At first, the photograph features a smooth, polished surface until it’s destroyed into something imperfect, flawed or decayed.

This is a really challenging task for me, as I will spend a long period of time preparing the make up for the photo shoot, installing the equipment and taking the photographs of myself. I often whether death is meant to feature a smooth, flawless or polished appearance? To me personally, I am able to establish a closer association to the concept of death through my distressed images, all the imperfections elevate the context of the work, the process from life to death isn’t a perfect experience.


The images remind me of my car accident back in 2010, where I sandwiched between two other cars, I was lucky to be alive actually. While I crumple the image in-between my hands, I continually remember the car crumpling into a square box, this was a very close encounter to death and I actually thought I would die in a matter of seconds. Destroying the images has become a reminder of my experience and the overall process has allowed me to face this memory instead of trying to forget everything all together.


Don’t get me wrong, I am pleased with my initial photographs although I do enjoy observing the smooth or polished surface of the image progressively transforming into an element of decay or deterioration. When I’ve crumpled the image, the texture provides a very interesting effect to the overall portrait and I’ve also rubbed the paper together in order to transfer the ink to another area of the photo, this technique also creates some very intriguing results.

There was one stage, where I experienced a printing error and the default created some very interesting filters with one of my photographs. Instead of throwing the photograph away, I wondered if I could use the image somehow. I crumpled the photograph and the texture complimented the colours, I don’t normally work with colour, although I thought this would be an interesting experimentation.


While I have established a closer connection to death through the reduction of colour, the filters as well as the uneven textures do present a level of decay or destruction. There are certain scenarios, where accidents or defaults can work in your favour, it’s interesting to utilise these mistakes and transform them into something interesting.

There is another distressed photograph that produced some very interesting colours featuring blue and orange and I purposely set the white balance incorrectly in order to determine whether the adjusted settings would create a different effect. These experimentations do create some very interesting styles that are worth exploring further or later down the track. I often reuse the same image in order to determine what I can create something interesting all together, there is just so much to explore, stay tuned!


Photographic Self-Portraits: Death and the Photographic Image II


In one of my previous posts, I uploaded some self-portraits / test shots that I’ve taken in a deserted laneway in North Melbourne. I painted a skull onto my face with some black and white makeup along with the Kryolan Supracolors and I visited same location for my scheduled photo shoot. I decided to assign myself with a challenge and I began to take the photographs of myself around 9pm at night, the lamp posts provided some additional lighting that successfully illuminated the dark laneway behind me.


About a couple of weeks ago, I briefly mentioned Susan Sontag’s theories in regards death and the photographic image. Sontag explains that a photograph has the potential to capture a “person’s mortality” and these explanations have invited me to consider my own interpretations of death.1 When I am standing still in front of the camera, I become completely motionless and the experience reminded me of death, I am confronted with the idea that the living body will eventually turn into a lifeless corpse and I have wondered whether death or the end of life results in darkness or complete silence. Sometimes I’ll view the images and I can’t even recognise myself, I’ve become something entirely different, the images have become a deathly version of myself, a persona or an alter ego.


The lamp-post created some very interesting colour combinations including blue, yellow, green and even orange, although I decided to change the images to black and white in order to establish my connection or association with death. A couple of years ago, I realised that the reduction of colour enhanced my association to death and my thoughts / opinions haven’t changed significantly during this particular time, this is quite an interesting discovery!


There was on particular moment during the shoot when the wind lifted my black cloak that successfully produced some very interesting photographs. When I viewed the images on-screen, I discovered at least five self-portraits that appear fairly similar to one another and they do work well as a series ,this would be another interesting idea for a stop motion animation. These images would work well as a story documenting the process of death, this is another concept I intend to explore further.


The graffiti in the background does provide a very interesting element and I intend to expand upon this project; using some other venues or locations across the city would be perfect! This is just the start anyway, I’m hoping to deconstruct or destroy these photographs in order to elicit the notion of death and decay. I hope you enjoy the photographs, stay tuned!


1.Susan Sontag. On Photography (USA: Penguin Group 1977), 15


Top Five Skull Makeup Designs


‘The Skulls,’ Photo Shoot by Gregory Martins 

Since the very beginning of 2012, I’ve been particularly inspired by the black and white skull makeup and I’ve decided to write a short review / article in regards to five different designs that I’ve discovered online. I decided to search for various makeup designs as a source of inspiration for my upcoming project and I’m aiming to create my own personal style.

I’ve often wondered the signification behind the skull makeup and whether it’s possible to find a connection to death. Is the skull makeup just a popular trend or are we searching for a personal association to immortality? I always find this such a difficult question to answer, as everyone will have their own interpretation. From a personal perspective, death doesn’t have a right or a wrong answer and I am interested to explore the way death or the human skull is interpreted / perceived within the contemporary culture.

In the next upcoming weeks, I intend to explore some of these concepts including my own personal interpretations of death through the application of black and white makeup. Without further ado, here are my favourite makeup designs featuring the skull, there are so many different patterns / styles that I admire, although I’ve decided to narrow these choices down to my top five favourite designs.


#1 ‘Gold Skull Halloween Makeup’ by Paulina Misery

This is definitely my favourite makeup style and the golden skull is very inspiring and compelling. Paulina Misery has created an online makeup tutorial that provides some step by step instructions for the golden skull makeup design; this was inspired by a YouTube video tutorial by Goldiestarling, known as ‘ BEAUTIFUL DEATH: 24 Karat Skull Makeup.’ While the videoclip is very informative, I do prefer Misery’s makeup style and the skull is refined through the use of Kryolan Supracolours that provide an incredible complexion / consistency.

I’m impressed with the photography and the dark cloak successfully contrasts with the golden, metallic skull within the centre of the image; unfortunately I was unable to find the name of the photographer but I’m sure there’s a way to find out. The dark eye sockets, nose and jaw provides the overall makeup design with a very interesting effect or dimension, although the golden, metallic complexion immediately captured my attention.

From a personal perspective, the eye sockets are relatively small and the nose features a stylised appearance, although I personally believe that these particular details provide authenticity to the work as well as a unique, distinctive style. For further information, please click on the link at the bottom of the post in order to view the tutorial.

Paulina Misery, ‘Gold skull Halloween makeup with Kryolan Supracolor,’ blueeyesmakeup, Accessed 1/2/15, http://blueyesmakeup.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/gold-skull-halloween-makeup-with.html

 goldiestarline, BEAUTIFUL DEATH: 24 Karat Skull Makeup, Youtube, Accessed 1/2/15, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRbd3tzp9xQ 


#2 ‘Skeleton Makeup Tutorial’ by Emily Benitez

Emily Benitez has created a ‘skeleton makeup tutorial’ on Youtube that is very informative and easy to follow. The fluorescent highlights, the glitter and the cracks in the forehead are my favourite aspects of the design; these particular elements provide a stylised, distinctive effect. The sharp lines, angles and shadows around the eye sockets successfully compliments with the overall design that provides a unique perspective of the human skull.

According to Benitez, the detail is the most important aspect and I agree, all the corrections create a very artistic appearance or characteristic. Benitez also explains that the “shading provides dentition to the makeup” and I believe that the shading is an integral part of the overall style. Click on the link below to view the video tutorial.

Emily Benitez, ‘Skeleton Makeup Tutorial,’ YouTube, Accessed 1/2/15, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xix826tcc_g


#3 ‘Skull Makeup’ by Catherine Nameless from Kosmetista

I’ve recently discovered this interesting skull makeup tutorial by Catherine Nameless from Kosmetista, although I had to translate the text from Russian to English in order to develop a very basic understanding for the tutorial or article. I was able to follow the process through the photographs that displays Nameless’s unique ‘black and white makeup’ design.

The shading around the teeth and the jaw line provides definition to the overall style and the photographs are incredible. While the eye sockets feature a shiny complexion or appearance, I believe that this particular element creates a unique appearance. Catherine has used the black and white makeup in order to create the bones around the neck and the chest; all of the minor details do create a compelling image and the dark background emphasises the skull within the middle of the photograph.

Catherine Nameless, ‘Skull Makeup,’ Kosmetista, Accessed 1/2/15, http://kosmetista.ru/blog/beautiful_makeup/53532.html


#4 ‘The Skulls’ Photo Shoot by Gregory Martins

At number four, is Gregory Martins’s unique, yet inspiring photo shoot featuring two female models wearing some black and white skull makeup. I admire the cracks around the eye sockets and the forehead, these elements do create a very interesting image. The makeup does appear smudged, although this particular effect does provide a distressed appearance as well as a personalised style.


‘The Skulls’ by Gregory Martins

The makeup is emphasised through the white backdrop, the jewellery and the costumes, although there is one particular photograph that I find absolutely captivating. One of the images features a close up shot of a model with some jewellery draped across her head, although I find myself fixating upon her bright, brown eyes as well as her nose / lip piercings.

From my personal opinion, Gregory Martins has successfully captured the subject’s personality and her hair does create a sense of movement. To be honest, I do admire all of the images from Martins’s collection or photo shoot, I would highly recommend clicking the link below to view the entire series.

Gregory Martins, ‘The Skulls,’ Accessed 1/2/15, http://www.gregorymartins.com.br/305504/5343267/gallery/the-skulls


#5 ‘Halloween Skull Makeup’ by Sandra Holmium

I have discovered this particular image through the Skullspiration website in a post known as ’40 Halloween Skull makeup Ideas’ and I was immediately surprised when the subject opened his eyes, I’m assuming this is an animated gif. At first I struggled to search for the name of the makeup artist, although I finally discovered that the fabulous black and white skull makeup is created by Sandra Holmium and her blog features some very artistic or creative designs.

I do love the shadows and the shading around the lips, jaw line and cheek bones; these particular elements appear realistic. The black and white photograph appears rather creepy, sinister and distressed, this definitely achieves a death-like appearance.

Sandra Holmbom, Accessed 1/2/15, http://rodeo.net/sandraholmbom

Skullspiration, ’40 Halloween skull make-up ideas,’ Accessed 1/2/15, http://www.skullspiration.com/40-halloween-skull-make-up-ideas/

So here is my top five favourites, there are so many different designs, styles and effects that I find inspiring! I will post some of my own skull makeup designs in the next few weeks, I haven’t practised for a few years, although I do have some free time over the holidays to practise and the opportunity will provide some invaluable experience!

I personally believe that the skull has become an area of fascination, although It’s difficult to determine whether the skull is viewed as another popular image or do we view the skull as something quite meaningful, spiritual or even frightening? Only time will tell, this is a subject that I will explore in further detail during the summer holidays. I’m fascinated with the various styles, as well as the artistic depictions of the skull, they’re all so different from one another. If the makeup designs were all perfectly smooth, I believe this would defeat the purpose or the intention to appropriate death all together.

The Memento Series


Photography and Makeup by Charlotte Pridding

The other day, I was searching through the files on my computer, where I rediscovered one of my photographic projects from the beginning of last year. I was pleasantly surprised when I realised that these photographs were stored away in my computer and I wondered why I haven’t shared them before.

The project continues to explore my own interpretations of death and the human skull through the application of face paint including black and white self-portraiture. I decided to experiment with different environments / props in order to create a different effect that significantly contrasts with my previous self-portraits, where I have often photographed myself in front of a dark backdrop.

To be honest, the photo shoot provided an excellent opportunity to practise my makeup / face painting skills within a limited timeframe and I randomly decided to include a black sheet at the very last-minute that surprisingly complimented with the face paint and the natural backdrops. Sometimes it’s those last-minute decisions that can deliver some very interesting results!


I have often wondered what actually happens to the human body after death? Do we find ourselves in a completely different existence or realm all together? It’s quite difficult to explain, as the whole idea or concept in regards to death seems quite ambiguous to me.

I’m particularly fascinated in the interpretation of death within Western culture and I have often wondered whether death or immortality remains a sensitive subject? Is it something that we fear or have we accepted or embraced the idea? While the subject isn’t openly discussed, the contemporary culture is completely saturated with skulls and I often wondered whether it’s original meaning or purpose is diluted through constant repetition? The skull certainly appears as a popular icon that attracts fascination from the public or the consumer.


It’s hard to tell really, as each person would have their own experiences or perceptions. These self-portraits are used as a way to explore some of these ideas and they also reflect some of my own interpretations that frequently change on a daily basis. While the whole concept of death is rather daunting at times, I have acknowledged that it’s an important part of life itself.

The self-portraits remind me of a life threatening experience a few years ago involving a car accident and I can remember my mind turning completely blank, everything became dark and unfamiliar, as if I was taken to a different place all together. I tried to forget about the incident for a while, although I have discovered that my interest for skulls derives from this particular experience.


The self-portraits have allowed me to come terms with the accident and the photographs have become a reminder of death, the overall concept reminds me of the Memento Mori. Over the past few weeks, I’ve become fascinated with Susan Sontag’s publication, ‘On Photography’ that explores some very interesting concepts relating to photography and the Memento Mori.1

According to Susan Sontag, “All photographs are Momento Mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify a time’s relentless melt.” 2

I then began to wonder whether it is possible to record my own mortality through my self-portraits? In reference to Sontag, a photograph reflects a particular moment in time, while I’m growing older I can refer back to the younger images of myself. 3 The whole idea just seems surreal to me, I would love to take photographs every year in order to document the process or the journey from life to death.

According to Enrico De Pascale from ‘Death and Resurrection in Art,’ the Memento Mori is a Latin, Medieval concept that was used as a reminder or death and mortality. Many traditional or Renaissance paintings relating to the Memento Mori would normally feature ‘hour glasses, clocks or skulls’ that were used to reflect one’s own mortality. 4

I have had a couple of people who have mentioned that the works appear similar to a Swedish film, known as the Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergman; this is quite fascinating, as I only discovered this film after the photo shoot and it’s strange how these things happen! If you are interested in learning more about the Seventh Seal, click on the links below.5

skull5 Overall, the portraits explore the way death can cause anxiety, fear and isolation; they have become a very useful way to confront some of these thoughts and ideas. This is just the very start, as I’m hoping to expand upon these concepts in the next few months.

Check out the Facebook page to view additional images, https://www.facebook.com/BlackCalavera22


1. Susan Sontag. On Photography (USA: Penguin Group 1977) p.15
2. Sontag. On Photography, p.15
3. Sontag. On Photography, p.15
4. Enrico De Pascale, Death and Resurrection in Art (USA: Paul Getty Museum, 2009) p.86-89
5. The Seventh Seal by Igmar Bergman, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050976/