Saturday, 31 December 2011

Out with the old & in with the new

It's the last day of the "old" year already. Unblievable how fast the time flew by, both the whole year and the Christmas break. I had a whole list of things planned for the break, and of course, didn't get anything done (such as working on my blog design). Well, that's actually not true. I was quite busy and productive, and spent quite a few days painting. I finally worked through the She Art Workshop (before access expires in January) and created a total of six girls (and one boy). While these girls are not necessarily the kind of style I want for my own work, I do like them for more personal uses. Just for myself. I painted them on book covers to create a kind of journal for the new year, containing my dreams and wishes for 2012. It's not quite finished yet, there are still a few things I want to add during January. But I really like it so far, and I hope the new year will be as promising as my journal :).

Here's a detail from one of my girls, one I did after my own design. I'm a true winter's child; born in winter, and happiest when the the days are short and the world outside covered in white. And snow, ice, winter, the north etc., these are things that are part of my dreams and wishes for the new year.

I've spent the last few days "preparing" for the new year in various ways. I am not going to take any New Year's resolution for 2012. Last year, I decided for inspiration to be my guideline, and forget about resolutions for the first time. And it has been a good, successful year in this respect, full of inspiration and getting into the creative habit again. I noted down a few "things that would be nice to do and/or achieve" in the new year, though. If I can make them happen, good. If not, no tragedy either.

One of these things is patience & practice. I really enjoyed the watercolour workshop in Salzburg in mid December. It was three days full of inspiration, useful tips, hours of painting, home cooked food and prosecco. At the end of the workshop, we had to choose our two best paintings for a little exhibition and critique. I had a hard time choosing the two. In fact, I didn't like any of them. I'm still not really used to  watercolour, both the medium and the colours, the right amount of water, the right paper size and structure, etc. Maybe also the subject (city scapes) wasn't right for me, or at least not yet. But I received some encouragement, and I decided not to try and judge and compare too much. Instead, I am giving myself a whole year's time, in which I will just keep on practising, and at the end of next year, I'll judge and decide if I like it enough to keep on or if it just isn't for me.

Above the pile of paintings I did during the workshop. I actually didn't select the two I liked most for the critique, because I had a feeling the teacher would not really appreciate them. The one on top I call "Sunset over the river Thames". I was getting a bit tired of the paint never behaving the way I wanted it to and not getting the shapes right, and just wanted to play a bit with colours while trying to stick to the city theme ;). The one underneath I call "London sleet". A wet and rainy winter sky over St. Paul's. Done in about 10 minutes, but I really like the effect in the sky.

One of the two I selected for the critique is the one on top, "Fireworks over the river Thames", and with this I want to wish you

a very happy, inspiring, prolific, creative New Year. May all your dreams and wished for 2012 come true!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas

After all the hustle and bustle of pre-Christmas December, the decoration putting up and Christmas present shopping, it's Christmas Eve at last. For many of us, this means the beginning of a (long or short) Christmas break, of calming down, leaning back, sipping mulled wine, nibbling Christmas biscuits, lighting candles, and simply enjoying the season. I'm one of those lucky ones who doesn't have to go back to work until the new year, and I'm looking forward to more than a week of spending time with my family, going for long walks in the snow rain, reading on the sofa for hours, taking pictures of the winter wonderland outside (if I can find it...), and of course, lots of painting, drawing, sketching...

Wether you're having a long break ahead of you, or have to be back at work after Christmas, whether you're spending Christmas in the snow or under the hot sun, at home with your loved ones, or away ~

have a wonderful, peaceful, inspiring merry Christmas!

This time last year, we had masses of snow, but this year, alas, the birds are singing outside as if spring was just around the corner, it's so warm outside that you don't even need gloves, and on top of it all, it's raining. It's a white Christmas only in my dreams indeed, but I still hope that we'll have some more snow again in the next few days.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Salzburg * First impressions

Walking along the Salzach towards the city centre of Salzburg, getting a first impression of the town from one of the bridges, looking forward to exploring the old town and climbing up to the castle.

It's a lovely city, just the right size to walk around and see everything, with lots of shops, cafés, restaurants, museums, and, at this time of the year, Christmas markets. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to visit any of the museums, or do much shopping. But I walked around the streets in the old town, climbed up to the castle, and managed to get most of my Christmas shopping done.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

In need of a little break...

Somehow the days just don't seem to have enough hours at the moment, and I feel like I'm not getting anything done at all. I'm so in need of a holiday, of a change of scene, a few days to lean back and relax. Luckily, that's just what I have ahead of me, and I'm so looking forward to visiting Christmas markets, drinking mulled wine and hot chocolate, eating cakes, and taking lots of pictures in lovely Salzburg. And spending the whole day painting, without having to constantly run away to do a thousand other things while the paint dries. Hopefully, I'll learn some new watercolour techniques, get at least one decent painting done, find lots of inspiration, and meet some nice people. It's really just what I need right now :)

And hopefully, there'll be a few snowflakes too. It's been snowing a lot up in the mountains these last few days, but unfortunately, down here, we've only had lots of rain and wind, and the temperatures, well, it feels more like early spring than winter... It's only the Christmas lights and decorations, and all the Christmas markets that remind me of the season. But I keep hoping for that white Christmas :)

I'll be back in a week, with my batteries recharged, and looking forward to keeping up and in touch again with everyone. Have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Will I ever get it finished?

I found my knitting basket with some left over wool and all the knitting needles in the basement the other day and it made me want to do some knitting again. There wasn't enough left of the left over wool to turn it into something useful, so I bought some new wool for a nice, soft, long scarf. I just love the textures, and colours, and feel of wool. Quite irresistible.

Unfortunately, I'm not a very talented knitter, and scarves is really all I can do. I didn't quite realise how thin the wool was when I bought it, and now I'm afraid that I'll never finish my scarf, at least not before the end of winter. Especially as I keep dropping or accidentaly taking up additional stitches. So at the moment, the progress is three rows up, two rows back... And it's really a very  very simple pattern - just knit one, purl one (I had to look this up in a dictionary, in German it's just right and left stitches). But I still have to concentrate so much... and keep getting it wrong... :(

I'm combining two balls of wool in different colours, both to make it thicker and to soften the difference of colours rather than having three distinct stripes of colour. But still there's so much wool waiting to be knitted and turned into my scarf. But I'm enjyoing it, after all, and I'm looking forward to when it will be finished at last.

It's not really cold outside yet, and it's raining all day now, but there has been some talk about snow on the radio, so I keep hoping - and knitting.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

2. Advent ~ Getting into Christmas mood

It's the 2. Advent today already, and therefore...

... high time for the Christmas decoration to go up. I've never been one for Christmas decorations, until last year. And now, I can't think how I did without :). (I'm far too afraid of burning down the house to actually ever light those candles, though...).

A friend of mine intoduced me to the Steiff teddybear Christmas limited editions collection a few years ago. And of course, once you start, you just have to have one every year. I'm still waiting for this year's teddy to be ready to be picked up at the shop. It's a snowflake!

It's definitely beginning to feel a lot more like Christmas time, even though there's still no snow, at least not down here.

It's all definitely helping to get into Christmas mood. Have a wonderful 2. Advent!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Picture Inspiration Catch Up

The days and weeks just fly by at the moment, and I have so many things I want and try to do, that I never quite seem to manage to keep up with everything, as with Picture Inspiration. But although I've been bad with keeping up posting, both here and in the forum, I have been taking pictures all the time. So here's a bit of a catch up of the last four weeks:

Week 37: Texture love. In week 37 we were exploring textures, that is post processing photos with the use of texture images. Which is something I love and have been doing a lot, even though not so much recently. The mist on that Saturday morning made the shore on the other side of Lake Zürich completely disappear, leaving the little sailing boats looking a little lost and giving the whole scene a sort of timeless feel. I used three different textures to enhance this feel, two by Shadowhouse Creations, and one by Flypaper Textures.

Week 38: A Delicate Balance. The task was to find a delicate balance between image and texture. It was a grey morning, and I loved how the mist hung in between the colourful trees. However, the original picture was rather bland and boring, and needed some processing to bring out the colours. Apart from the usual levels, saturation and light adjustments, I used a subtle texture by Shadowhouse Creations to make the autumn colours shine and to add to the texture of the trees, without making the additional texture too obvious.

Week 39: Leaving Textures. We were leaving texture processing and were focusing on mere texture alone, which the season offers in abundance at this time of year. The leaves all around were of course perfect for this prompt. Not only are they in itself full of texture, but they cover the ground with a blanket of texture as well.

Week 40: Grateful Day. We don't have Thangsiving over here, but this does not mean that we don't have a lot of things to be grateful for, big and small, essential and trivial. So what am I thankful for? There are things I take for granted but which aren't really so self-evident, things that could be better - but also a lot worse, things I worked hard for and deserve, and things where I'm really just lucky, little luxuries that simply make me feel good. Among the last is the fact that, despite my job and long daily commute and all the other every day stuff, I still find time and energy to be creative. And it add so much value to my life.

We received the prompt for Week 41 yesterday. And this one is really going to be a challenge!