Youthful, Chinese and enthusiastic to succeed.


“My way, I loved, I laughed, I cried, get satisfied and down. I never feel ashamed, cause I live in my way. I have regrets, but only a few. I have done things I have to do, although didn’t avoid anything. Yes, a few times, I face challenge. I swallowed them, standing with my head up. I will leave this world one day. Say goodbye to all ones I loved, loved me or hated me. But I have had a complete life, in my own way”. – ‘ Remember English  her second language’.


Photo by Lynn Clayton – Vivian relaxing without a special ‘face’.

Vivian Tian Yuan left mainland China aged 18 to travel to New Zealand to study. Thousands of young Chinese do this annually and many of them return home, however many find a way to stay here.  Vivian hopes to stay here – or make it to Hollywood. Now aged 20 she has found her mojo and is enthusiastic about her future. She has also found her faith which plays a large part in her life and influences her choices daily. No smoking, no drinking, no drugs. I was intrigued as to how a young Chinese girl manages  to survive and get noticed in the city of Auckland.

Vivian’s parents, despite the fact this is their only child, have supported her adventurous streak. Her mother lectures in maths at a university and her father is in ‘investments’. Back in China Vivian did modelling and photo salon makeup. This is her passion and by all accounts she is making her mark on the New Zealand scene. She is found  most weekends painting faces whether it be for Ghosts and Ghouls parties or a model shoot; she is in demand.



Photo by Manasee Joshi – Model makeup by Vivian Tian Yuan.

I persuaded her to paint herself ‘crazy’ for our weekend shoot and I tell you she can transform a face in minutes. Something about Vivian reminded  a few of us of an Oriental Dawn French. I wonder if she can act??


Photo by Lynn Clayton – Vivian in her ‘crazy’ face

I asked Vivian a series of questions largely to understand her life in NZ. Living in a University hostel in the bottom of Whittaker Place is not her dream home but will have to suffice until she graduates her BA in Marketing.  Then she will take on the world.

Vivian, why did you decide to come to New Zealand and not Australia? “I decide to come to New Zealand instead of Australia, just because I heard that there is no snake and other scary animal here before I come.”

Do you have family in New Zealand? Not many family, but just an aunty which is my dad’s cousin. Our family blood relationship is far away.

How hard was it on arrival here if you knew no one? I didn’t feel it was hard at all. Life is much easier in New Zealand. I have more freedom to do what I want. I have ability to express myself and choose the right thing to do.

 Did you already speak good English? Yes, I have been training my English for ages before I move to New Zealand.

What lead you to study art and design? “I like art, I think it’s a way to express myself. All my design inspiration come from my day-dream and my politics perception.”


Vivian posing in her ‘crazy’ face  and below arm ‘tattoo styles’.


IMG_4904-EditOne of Vivians’ Halloween creations on model ‘Emily’. Photo Lynn Clayton

Are your parents artistic?  No, they are not. But they mostly support my art, although they don’t understand my art meaning.

I know you are very talented as a makeup artist, what other art forms do you enjoy? Tattoo art, illustration, photography and jewellery making.

Where do you hope to be ten years from now? I will have been traveling around the world and probably have my freelance job or company and running really well.

You are someone with your own individual style which is a great asset I am sure. How did you develop this? Just keep trying new things, in my own style.


Photo by Lynn Clayton

Vivian is available to paint faces at your next event – email her.

Please leave a reply below –


Different as Chalk from Cheese – 2 movies.


Winter drags on sometimes and we all start to get a little housebound and fretful. Summer is about to arrive and trust me it will continue until April next year or longer so be patient.

Meantime I have been to a couple of movies to cheer ones soul. Iris is a documentary, beautifully photographed showing us the real Iris Apfel. the second movie is about a subject many of us don’t want to face..but we know it is a question waiting for many of us, check out “Last Cab to Darwin”.

“You can’t learn style. I think it’s in you DNA,”


Iris was born Iris Barrel in Astoria Queens in New York . She studied art history at New York University and attended art school in Wisconsin. As a young woman, Apfel worked for Women’s Wear Daily and for interior designer Elinor Johnson. She also was an assistant to illustrator Robert Goodman.

At 93, Iris Apfel is having the time of her life. Having made her name as an interior designer (she worked with the wives of nine presidents on the White House), she’s in demand as a model and her legions of fans love her ‘unsugared truths’.

In 1948, she married Carl Apfel. Iris was the only child of Samuel Barrel, whose family owned a glass-and-mirror business, and his Russian-born wife, Sadye, who owned a fashion boutique. Through their business, the couple began traveling all over the world where she began buying pieces of non-Western, clothing.. These clothes were the ones she started wearing to the high-society parties of their clients. From 1950 to 1992, Iris Apfel took part in several design restoration projects, including work at the White House for nine presidents: Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan, Nixon, Ford, Carter & Clinton.

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Apfel consults and lectures about style and other fashion topics. In 2013, she was listed as one of the fifty Best-dressed over 50s by The Guardian.

Iris’s husband of 67 years, Carl  died in August 2015, just three days shy of his 101st birthday.

I loved her quotes…here are two of the best.

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“Unless you have a nose like Pinocchio or have been in a fire, why mess… You might come out worse. I’ve seen few people that have come out like a Picasso.”


“I’m not a pretty person.  I don’t like pretty, so I don’t feel badly. Most of the world is not with me but I don’t care.”

Click on this link to see the movie trailer. I promise you it is funny, witty and poignant. IRIS is possibly a ‘chick’ flick. A chick flick with depth I might add. I loved the individuality of IRIS and her eccentricity. I can never understand why women want to look like their friends, many dress in a uniform almost and it is often black. Add some colour to your life and see the world smile with you. Iris was or is an individual with real style; I wish I had the courage and flair!

N.B. The current  header photograph shows a man who loves colour – taken by me in Varanasi, India.

My second movie is a far more serious subject. Euthanasia.

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Taking advantage of the controversial Northern Territory voluntary euthanasia law, Max decides to end his own life with dignity. His request under the law is in bitter dispute but Max sells up everything he owned, says goodbye to his neighbour and good friend Polly, and drives the great distance from Broken Hill  to Darwin where taking his own life would be legal. The film was given the go ahead by Screen Australia in October 2013 as one of six films to share in $5.4 million government funding.

Max is played by Michael Caton (born in Queensland  21 July 1943) he is an Australian television, film and stage actor, and television host, best known for playing Uncle Harry in the Australian television series, The Sullivan’s, playing Darryl Kerrigan from 1997’s low-budget hit film The Castle,and playing Ted Taylor in the popular Packed to the Rafters.  He is married to Helen Esakoff. Caton has been inducted into the Australian Film Walk of Fame in honour of his work in Australia’s cinema and television industries.

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Rotten Tomatoes who are my favourite film reviewers said ”  Taking on the controversial issue of euthanasia with a “she’ll be right mate” attitude, whatever conviction Last Cab to Darwin lacks is replaced with a down to earth charm personified in Michael Caton’s lead performance.”download cab (3)

Despite the seriousness of the subject matter this film has many humourous moments, sweet, sad and funny. I think this is a great movie for men and women to enjoy, great acting, great scenery. The excuse to have that conversation about euthanasia.

Family Photos are so precious.

Family is that time of year when many of us decide to have a family photo made for Grandparents and or Christmas cards. Many of us think it is too hard, it only takes an hour of your life and gives years of happiness.


I would like to remind those of you who hate having their photo taken that this isn’t about you!! You might be in the family photo however this is for future generations to look back at and say that was my Dad, or my Mother twenty years ago!!  So many families don’t have good photos of themselves… When you are elderly it will be fun to look back at photos of family holidays and reminisce. So when someone suggests it is time for a group or family photo don’t shake your head and mutter under your breath; remember it is for future generations. Surely your life means a lot to you and your family,  make sure there are great memories of your time on this earth.

LMC-7574-Edit-Edit-Edit4 Generations  – so when you are all together call a photographer 🙂


How often have you heard that someone has died and there were no good photos of that person, hard to believe in this day and age but it happens.  A young person dies and the family are left with a few photos taken on an iPhone…or at a party!!  Added tragedy. The charming elderly couple above posed happily for my camera and the lovely aspect of this is that it has their personal possessions around them.

So when you are having a family photo taken don’t mutter you hate it, no one loves it!! But think to yourself “I had better smile so my grandchildren don’t think I was a grumpy old sod!!”  You can practise in the bathroom so you know your best angle!! If you are like me and have more than one chin there are tricks we know about how to pose you, so listen to your photographer.. They do  know best.LMC-4678

Why pay a photographer I hear you say!! Why not? I say. They know how to pose you or have you interacting in a relaxed manner. They also have speciality lens to enable soft out of focus background and clean crisp (sharp)  focused images. My iPhone takes great pics… True –  but blow them up beyond a 7×5 or sometimes an A4 and they become pixelated.There is no depth of field  – they are good fun shots, nothing more.  Some of your favourite family photos will be small file size shots you’ve taken on the back lawn or at the beach. Nothing wrong with this at all, happy moments.  I suggest that you print those favourite snaps as when that computer dies (and it always does eventually!! ), you will hopefully still have a few fun prints to enjoy. Hopefully everyone actually backs up their computers these days. Do you back up your I phones regularly? Anyway –  it is hard to beat a beautiful large black and white (or colour) family photo framed for posterity.LMC-7722This is a silly fun snap of 3 friends – with  uneven light – not the perfect memory.

I wouldn’t want that photo on my funeral casket!! Or to be chosen by my family to remember me by simply because they had nothing else! So make sure there are some really lovely photos of you. Live for the moment and call your favourite photographer today.


I shoot a few family outdoor photo sessions and I can  manage a few more before December if anyone wants to contact me. Outdoor natural photography is my style. I can also recommend several other photographers. There are many more too, so look at different websites and choose your favourite. Here are some very good N.Z. photographers whose work is worth looking at. Interestingly there are trends in photography and the traditional formal portraits are very seldom requested these days.

Moira Blincoe Photography – Auckland


Maree Turner – Christchurch

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Simon Woolf – Wellington


The other thing about Christmas is think about giving personal gifts not mass-produced stuff! Photo books are a delightful personal present. They are easy to create and come in various price categories. Basically the price reflects the quality. $30.00 will get you a small locally produced book.

I use BLURB. Blurb is an American based company and with our low dollar they have suddenly become more expensive so watch for specials. However there are also cheaper book companies to help you self publish. Grab One in New Zealand sells Diamond Photo book deals regularly. Snap fish are cheap too. The binding is not as good as Blurb, then again the price reflects this. Apple do good books and Momento in New Zealand are the Rolls Royce of books. Overseas there are many companies; Shutterfly, Artifact Uprising etc.

I regularly make books for my grandchildren to educate and entertain  them Kiwigran goes to Africa, …India, …Turkey and …Alaska.  Some friends have bought this for their grandchildren even though it has the title Kiwigran etc. You can make books   for your family…they love the personal touch of Grandmothers books!! As a family we have a holiday  together every two years and I make a book of those wonderful times. The grand-children love them.SnipImage (5)

I mentor  a group of Probus members and several of them are currently working on books. They are excited at the prospect. I suggest there is a book in every one of us… Everyone has a ‘life story’ within them which when put onto paper, is a wonderful legacy to share with your family.  If sharing ‘your story’ is something you have thought of, or would like to do, but don’t feel you are up to writing, I have a friend who has a great deal of experience in ‘recording and writing’ life stories and she would be happy to assist you, for a nominal fee. Email me for details at

You might do a book of your garden, or family recipes, fishing stories or the neighbourhood you live in.  Put all your photos into a folder on your desktop then open the website you plan to use and import that folder. Some companies give you two options. 1/ wing it and choose your own templates or 2/ press the button that indicates the computer will lay out the book for you.  Add a few words and you’re done. It is like mixing a cocktail… And the result is similar..euphoric!!!

One such book I made was my trip to India. A colourful record of an amazing holiday. This book, I call it a bespoke book,makes  a beautiful and special gift for anyone planning a visit or who loved their trip to Rajasthan. You can peek inside these books  using the links in pale blue.


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Family cook books my sons love this one!

Another favourite I did a year or three back featured my flower photography these books are cheaper than a large bunch of flowers, and trust me, the joy lasts much longer.


So in today’s blog I am asking you to think photography for a few minutes. Has your family had quality images taken lately? Have you a book smouldering inside that needs to be published? Do not procrastinate any longer.. the rewards are for ever. I do my books mainly for me… love what you are doing and someone else will too. Enjoy.quote