Archive for the Digital Art and Fractals Category


Posted in Christmas, Digital Art and Fractals, Family and Friends on December 23, 2015 by suetortoise


Time to send my readers and friends, new and old, my good wishes for the coming year. But wishes, thoughts, prayers, dreams are only the start, however heartfelt. Let’s make sure that we act on our annual wishes, and work towards bringing more peace and happiness into the world in 2016.


Art Show a-Go-Go

Posted in Digital Art and Fractals, everyday life, out and about, science fiction with tags , , , , , , , on August 10, 2014 by suetortoise

ready for Loncon3

I’ve been busy. I’ve now got nineteen pieces ready for the Art Show for Loncon3 in the Excel Centre – which is all set to be the biggest ever World Science Fiction Convention. (A scary thought, as I don’t enjoy being in large crowds.) There will be far too much going on for me to see everything, I’m spoilt for choice. Somewhere among those nearly 10,000 people will be  lot of good friends that I am looking forward to seeing again. And an Art Show.

For my fractal artwork, I have splashed out on good, ready-cut mount boards. The framer around the corner from me here in Shrewsbury retired a couple of years ago, and I miss his selection of ready-cut frames. So I tried Cotswold Mounts, online at I’ve not used Cotswold Mounts before, but I will certainly use them again in future. My order arrived a few days later: securely packed, clean, sturdy and flawless. I added some of their precut backing boards and cello-bags to my order, too, which made mounting the pictures a brief pleasure rather than the usual long, slow chore that I dread. Most importantly, the black-cored mount board gives the fractals a lot of added ‘oomph’ and brings out the colours. Now I just have to show the finished pieces next weekend and – with luck – sell them.

I’ve not been doing much stitchery. Apart from finishing that art show stuff and the day job, I’ve been engaged in furious housework. The flat has been getting a long overdue tidy up, spring-clean and sort out, ready for my Australian friend Kevon, who is coming over to London for the convention and who will be coming back to stay with me for a week afterwards. I’m just about ready now, so we can relax in civilised surroundings.



What happened to October?

Posted in Digital Art and Fractals, Drawing and Painting, Embroidery with tags , , , on November 5, 2013 by suetortoise

Guy Fawkes night already. About time I updated the blog.

Martian in Hiding

I’m currently in a last-minute mad rush to get my art show pieces ready for Novacon – the science fiction convention I go to every year. It starts this Friday.  One of the pieces I’m taking is this stitched box called Sugar Rush.

Stitched Box - Sugar Rush, closed

I’m doing my best to get a second stitched box finished in time, but that’s looking unlikely.

I am taking two stitchery pictures – this piece of whitework is called Shadow of the Exterminator:

Shadow of the Exterminator

Alchemical Dragon – a pastel drawing:

Hermetic Dragon

And several pieces of digital art, this one is An Entertainment.

An Entertainment

Right, I’d better get back to finishing that last stitched box before it is Too Late….

Screams from the Gallery

Posted in Digital Art and Fractals, History, museum, shrewsbury with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2012 by suetortoise

Atcham Boot 1

Sometimes you don’t need a dark and stormy night in late October for a horror story. No ghosts, witches or vampires, just a pile of old leather boots in the stores of Shrewsbury’s town museum, and a little knowledge of their history.

Not a dark and stormy night, but a stormy afternoon. A Sunday afternoon in July, 1879. Atcham, a little village on the bank of the River Severn just to the east of Shrewsbury. It’s been opressive all day and now the rain and thunder have started and the sky is very dark. The weather has kept some parishoners away, but there’s a fair turnout for Evensong at St Eata’s Church. The Reverend Francis Barney Parkes is taking the service. Up in the gallery, the children’s choir are fidgetting and whispering, as usual, while the second lesson is read. And then….

Atcham Boot 2

On a separate page, I’ve transcribed the full story from the local newspaper, Eddowes Shrewsbury Journal, July 23rd 1879. (Copied from the reprint volume Salopian Shreds and Patches, volume 4, from a copy in Shropshire Archives.) It’s a very readable account. I suggest you go and read that now and then come back here and we’ll talk some more about it under the cut.

Continue reading

A Busy Month

Posted in Digital Art and Fractals, everyday life, Family and Friends, out and about on August 15, 2010 by suetortoise


August has been hectic so far, and likely to remain so. I’ve been busy getting some pictures together for an art show in Melbourne – I’ve finally finished them now, all packed and ready to put in the post.

Aussiecon4 Artwork

On the home front, the housing association did a property survey at the end of July, which resulted in new kitchen taps and two new window units at the Tortoise Loft. The one in the living room replaces a pane that has been a milky, murky eyesore for as long as I’ve lived here, and the increase in light is wonderful.

New Pane 10 08 10Here it is, freshly installed, still bearing the workmen’s fingerprints. (Not much of view, but at least I can see it.)

My mother has been in respite care for a fortnight, to give my father a much needed break. So I’ve been making trips to Bishop’s Castle to visit her. (She’s been very well looked after at Stonehouse.) The bus trip takes an hour and runs through some fine Shropshire scenery, through Pontesbury and Minsterley and then along the wooded Hope Valley and into the South Shropshire hill country with views of the Long Mynd and the Stiperstones before dropping down into Bishops Castle, a fine old town. (These pictures were taken in November 2007. More pictures of the town here, here and here)
Saturday lunchtimeRed brick and timber
Pub and church

Harvesting is well under way, the trees are beginning to turn colour, and the long, light summer mornings and evenings are going fast. But in a couple of weeks it will be spring again, at least for me. My pictures are not the only ones going to Melbourne – I shall be flying out too, for the World Science Fiction Convention and a short holiday with Kevon – although with the current threat of airport strikes, I am not entirely sure if I will get away on schedule.

So I am busy with preparations for the trip, and trying to get the place tidy again and clear up the mess from making and mounting my artwork. It looks like an explosion in a stationer’s shop right now. I shall have friends looking after the Tortoise Loft while I am away, so I need to leave it tidy. And I am not a tidy person by nature. I always keep the place clean. I can do ‘neat’ when I am making things, but ‘tidy’ is very, very hard work. (I assume it’s a dyspraxic trait to work in what looks like a total muddle and find clearing up after myself a struggle, but maybe it’s just me?)

So much to do, so few days in which to do it…. But it will be worth it to see Kevon again.

The Apophysis Conspiracy

Posted in Digital Art and Fractals with tags , , , , , , on January 12, 2010 by suetortoise

Chinese red

When I joined Flickr in 2007, I thought that the photo-sharing website was only for photographs. But I found that it inclued thriving communities of people making other kinds of images, and among these, a good number of fractalists. The fractals were interesting, some of them breathtakingly complex and beautiful, but most of them did not make me want to have a go for myself.

And then I saw some pictures that were different. I discovered that the program used to generate them was called Apophysis. I learnt that it was possible to use it without either a very powerful computer or very much mathematical knowledge. Most of all, something about the look of Apophysis fractal pictures was ‘me-like’: friendly, urging me to come out and play with them. I still don’t know quite what it is about Apophysis that attracts me, but it was love at first sight.

A touch of magic

Apophysis is a fractal flame generator. This makes a particular family of fractals images, some of which do resemble the pictures one sees in flames or veils of smoke. You can download the program from – where you will also find links to experimental and alternative versions on Sourceforge, links to tutorials and other useful resources. Oh, and it’s free. (It’s purely a Windows program. There is a fairly similar fractal flame program available for Macs. It is called Oxidizer and is also on Sourceforge.)

A winter's night

Some people approach fractal art in a very top-down, organised way, telling the computer exactly what to create and remaining very much in control of the design process throughout. What I particularly like about Apophysis is the way it allows me to work alongside it. We collaborate. The program takes a random starting image and offers me a batch of mutations and variations on it. I select from them, and it offers further variation until I come across an image that I want to use.

Come to distances

It’s not purely selective breeding. I can limit the available options, make alterations and adjustments, and run subprogram scripts to change the picture. After I have the rendered image, I can add further processing in an art program, to bring out what attracted me to that image. But however much of my own creative input I add to the final result, my best work feels like a productive conspiracy between myself and Apophysis: the love affair of two years ago turned into a very fruitful marriage.

We have several thousand children so far.

Life goes on

Another November, Another Novacon

Posted in Digital Art and Fractals, Embroidery, out and about, science fiction with tags , , , , on November 10, 2009 by suetortoise

Another Novacon Art Show

Every year for the past eighteen years, I’ve been to the annual science fiction convention, Novacon, organised by the Birmingham Science Fiction Group. My nineteenth, Novacon 39, is coming up this weekend and I am busy trying to get some of my stuff together for the art show. One of the stitched boxes I want to take to the show is still only half finished, so it is a race against time.

If you see someone stitching furiously on a train to Nottingham on Friday morning, it will probably be me!


Work and Play

Posted in Digital Art and Fractals with tags , , , on August 27, 2009 by suetortoise

I’m working extra days this week and next, which is tiring. But I’m still finding a little time to play. Spent most of the evening concocting this picture.

Descent to the surface

The main part of the background was a partly-rendered fractal I made several months earlier, I added the sea (or is it a sky seen from above?) this morning before work. Then I made the spaceship tonight, and joined up all the bits. Rather pleased with the final result, so I’m showing it off here. You can look at it full size, on Flickr, if you click on the picture and go to All Sizes.

Exploring the Shallows

Posted in Digital Art and Fractals on July 16, 2009 by suetortoise

Clown Anenome

My recently-aquired digital/fractal/3D art program, XenoDream is taking up a lot of spare time right now. (And time that shouldn’t really be spared, come to that. Pictures are more fun than housework.) It’s a big, complex program that works in a very different manner from my previous fractal generators and art programs, so I’ve got a long learning curve to cope with.

I’ve set myself a project: making shells and sea-creatures and other things from the littoral regions of my imagination. I aim for a particular shape, and try to find out how to make it. Sometimes I discover something else on the way, which I can’t resist turning into a picture. Sometimes I surprise myself by getting almost-exactly where I want to go, quickly and easily. And sometimes I flail about for ages getting nowhere near my hoped-for shape. So it goes. In the process, I am gradually teaching myself the basics of XenoDream.

An orange shell

Once I’ve got the shape created, it has to be rendered. That’s the long, slow mathematical process where the computer calculates where and what colour every pixel in the picture should be. (Rather the computer than me!) After a frustrating wait while that happens, I can save the result as a picture. I usually want to do further work on the picture, in another art program – preferably one where I have more idea what I am doing! I am playing-around here, too: trying things out, and experimenting with textures, colours and effects, bringing out the best in the rendered picture.

When I got the new program, I was working very much at random, taking what turned up. I was impatient to get results without bothering to work through the basics. I still do a fair bit of random exploration, but having settled on this simple seashore theme I now have a way of making the very necessary five-finger-exercises more fun to do. And I hope they are also more fun to look at.

Pale dollar

My Flickr set Digital Shores will show you what else I’ve found in the rockpools behind my eyes.

Under the Influence

Posted in Digital Art and Fractals, Shift Time Festival on June 29, 2009 by suetortoise

Crawling to the edge

I got fascinated by the idea of making fractal-based artwork after the Shrewsbury Darwin Festival’s third Summer Symposium in 2007, Batteries Not Included (which was held in conjunction with the Computer Arts Society). A great weekend of inspiration and ideas, but I assumed that fractal art required too much science for me to ever manage it.

By that autumn, I’d joined Flickr and discovered helpful people who made fractal art themselves, introduced me to some of the many suprisingly simple programs available, and encouraged my early efforts. Several thousand pictures later, I’m still fascinated and still playing. Joining Flickr led to me getting involved firstly with the Shropshire Community Flickr Group and through that with the Shift Time blogging project. So now I am  taking more notice of the up-coming festival than I might otherwise have done.

And here’s my latest digital piece (not quite finished in this picture: the sea and shore are only sketched in), which seems to have more than a nod towards Theo Jansen’s amazing walking Strandbeests, which I’m eagerly awaiting as this year’s summer Darwin event approaches, and the strange forms of Clinton Chaloner’s Primordial Soup. One thing leads to another thing: interacting with what we already have in our heads: inspiring, blending, sparking fresh ideas and images which in turn inspire other ideas…. What will come out of  Shift Time over the course of the festival? And what will come out week, months, years later, as the ideas flow and meld and their descendants pass on from mind to mind and into words, pictures, sound, movements, textures, feelings, colours…? New thoughts and  fresh ways of looking at old ones? Big ideas, little dreams? Who knows? Let’s find out.