Friday, 29 June 2012

Back soon

A journal page I started but somehow got stuck with. I used two train timetables from Hamburg as a background. Both lines lead to the sea - to the North Sea, to the island of Fehmarn, on the left, and to the Baltic Sea, to Travemünde, on the right. The latter trip was the one I undertook when I was up there last month, and I once spent a night on Fehmarn many years ago on the way back from Sweden. I loved the Strandkörbe (beach baskets) at the beach in Travemünde (I didn't see any in Fehmarn at the time), and printed out some from the internet to glue on my page. But I didn't really know what to do next. So I played around a little bit in Photoshop Elements fo this post, to give it more of a holiday feeling (including some bamboo, which definitely does not grow on  the beaches in Northern Germany) and to add some text.

Hopefully I'll be more inspired after a little break. So by for now, see you again soon, enjoy your summer (holiday) in the meantime. I'm sure I will :)

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

A new approach

I have found myself suffering from a bit of "painter's block" for quite some time now. It's not that I don't paint. On the contrary. I totally enjoy filling the pages in my art journals, trying out new stuff, playing with colours and different techniques. But the stretched canvasses on my easel remain blank, or rather never get anywhere beyond a first layer of background colour. I have so many ideas in my head, but seem totally unable to get beyond that layer, to get down on canvas. It's soooo frustrating, and it's getting worse every time I look at my bare canvasses. I mean just think of it. A painter without paintings. Something needed to be done. So a few weeks ago, I decided to sign up for Flora Bowley's Bloom True e-course, which started a bit over two weeks ago. I had thought about it already back in January, but there was just too much going on. I still don't really have the time now,  but I decided to do it anyway. It seemed just what I needed. 

Canvas #2 - progress

Last weekend, I finally started with the painting exercises. I've never done this kind of intiuitive painting before (quite deliberately avoided it, to be honest). I like to plan my paintings, to have an idea about what I want to do. Up to a certain point, anyway. You'll always change and adapt things as you go, don't you, and the result is often not at all what you had imagined and planned. But it usually starts with an idea, some kind of plan. So this new approach is definitely a challenge.

Layer 2 - a very ugly stage

I'm working on two canvasses, #1 (the one shown here) is 80x80cm, #2 is 60x60cm. It's a new experience. It's feels good to not think about what you're doing, and just exploring your paints, stop thinking about what's going on on the canvas, where it is leading to. Just adding one layer after the other. But while I don't have a problem with messing around, I still do want it to be pretty, and in this process, there will be stages when it just isn't pretty at all. And I must admit that this is giving me a hard time. It's definitely way out of my comfort zone at times. Layer 1 (left side on top) was fun, and I liked the energy of the colours. With layer 2 (middle on top) I enjoyed trying out all kinds of techniques, but it looked oh so ugly. Too much going on, too many colours. With layer 3 (on the right on top) things calmed down a bit, and it doesn't make me cringe anymore everytime I look at it. Canvas #2 is still in layer 2 phase and making my eyes water at the moment.

Layer 3 (detail) - looking a bit better, but still a long way to go to make it really pretty

I have no idea where these paintings are going to, what they are going to look like at the end., but I'm really enjoying the process. I guess something organic will be there, as I love oganic shapes, especially leaves. But it doesn't really matter. I'll just go on working on them, and see what happens. And I really hope it will help me to overcome my "blank canvas phobia" that I've sort of developed. Even if I will probably not adopt this kind of painting style entirely. I still like to do a bit of planning ;)

Friday, 22 June 2012

Choose wisely - and paint happy butterfly flowers

Another journal page in my "change art journal", with more happy "butterfly flowers" and fitting quote to go with them:

Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.

I used a Japanese newspaper as a background, some round butterfly stickers for the flowers, and some patterned paper for the leaves and for some of the cut out words. The rest is all acrylics. This page was such  fun to do, and I really like how it turned out (it looks a bit better in reality than in the pictures).

I had some difficulties in taking pictures of this page, and getting the colours right, and I don't really have a photo of the entire page I'm really happy with. So I decided to try out PicMonkey to make a collage. PicMonkey is quite similar to Picnic, which was shut down earlier this year. I usually do all my post processing in Photoshop Elements, including collages, but sometimes, you just want it to be quick, and I love round corners, and in my version of PSE, they're not easy to make.

I'm having the day off today. There'll be some serious scrubbing of the flat, but the rest of the day and weekend will all be dedicated to checkingo out who's come to the party, and lots and lots of painting. Have a wonderful day, and a very happy Paint Party Friday!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

There's nothing wrong with change...

I searched the internet for some quotes about change, and got a whole list of then now to use in my new "change art journal". For the first journal page, I chose this great quote:  
There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.
The decision for change is not always up to us, but the direction we take it in is. It's up to us what we make of it, and which way we take. It's all about making the best of a situation, any situation. It's all about attitude. It's all up to us.

I wanted to use bright colours with strong contrast: Indigo (oh, I just love that colour!), Cadmium Red and Orange and Cobalt Teal (quickly turning into a favourite too) were just perfect for this.

What better symbol for change than the butterfly, which transforms from a clumsy looking (I wouldn't go as far as calling them ugly, as they're pretty amazing, really) hairy little caterpillar into the most elegant creature, delicate looking but yet strong, flying lightly through the air and sometimes covering thousands of miles,to follow its destiny.

I got the inspiration for the "butterfly flowers" at the bottom of the page from Christy Tomlinson. I've singed up for her e-course Your Living Canvas. It wasn't so much for the art part that I signed up (although I enjoy that as well), but because it sounded like a great way to reflect and analyse where you are in life, where you came from, and where you want to go, and translate that into journal pages as well. We're now in the fourth (I think) week of the course, and I must admit that I haven't really started seriously working on the exercises yet. Instead I've just played around creating the covers and a few first pages. I feel like I still need a bit of time to prepare and to get ready to tackle the "big issues".

I'm so motivated to work in this journal that I just had to go on, and by now I've got another finished page (with more "butterfly flowers") and two works in progress (with one of them I'm a little bit stuck at the moment). I hope to manage taking some pictures and sharing them later this week.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Finished "change art journal" cover

I finished the cover of my special "change art journal". At least I think it's finished, for the moment, anyway :). It looks quite different now than it did last week. I had bought some new colours on my trip to the art supply shop, and I just had to try them out. And then I just got carried away...

I saw some small cardboard letters in the shop, and thought that they might just be perfect for adding to the cover of my journal. So I picked up all the letters I needed to spell "change", and was as pleased as punch, and really excited to go home and stick them on to my journal straight away. They really were just perfect. Their size was perfect for the cover, and the word fitted the length of the journal perfectly. Total and complete perfection. Right?

Well, no, actually. You might have noticed that the "C" looks slightly odd. Well, yes, you see. When one picks up a number of individual letters in order to put them together to spell a certain word, it does make perfect sense to check all the letters in your basket again before you pay and leave the shop, just to make sure that nothing's missing, and one really has all the right letters, right? Yes, exactly, that's what I was telling myself that I should have done back there at the shop when I got home and unpacked my stuff. Instead of just throwing the letters into the basket, totally convinced that I had all the right ones. Which of course I didn't. I could have kicked myself when I realised that I had managed to get two Gs and no C. I mean really. It's not such a hard word, is it? And it's only 6 letters! I mean that should be possible to get right?? And yes, of course, that was the same day I bought the wrong frame...

Anyway. There I sat, itching to paint and finish my journal covers, with two Gs and no C. I considered finishing the covers and adding the letters at the end, after another trip to the art supply shop the following week. But I wanted the lettes to be part of the whole thing, and not a seperate addition stuck on top of it all. So what to do? Wait with the cover until I had the right letter? Or maybe trying to cut off some parts to make the G look more like a C? Of course I tried the latter. First it looked as if the material was too strong to cut, but eventually, I managed to cut off a piece, although not without breaking the whole thing in two in the process.

Well, it might not look like a perfect C, and my scissors are probably ruined now, but at least it does not look like a distinct G anymore. And I guess that in the end, this whole business is just very approrpiate. Because after all, change isn't always going the way you want it, and sometimes, life throws a G at you when you desperately wanted a C, and you can either give up, put your dreams on hold, and feel very sorry for yourself, or you can just try and make the best of it, and turn that G into a C that works for you.

Anyway. I didn't show you the back cover last time, so here it is. When I was finished with my journal covers, I wasn't quite sure what to think of it. Did I like it? I just couldn't make up my mind. It turned out so completely different than I had in mind, and somehow not really "me".

It was the little splatters that I wasn't really happy with, especially the golden ones where a bit too much. I've added some white circles around them and even covered up some of them since I took these photos, so it's looking just a tiny little bit different now. But I like it a lot better now. So maybe I might not paint all over it again soon, but instead just leave it as it is. .

I also did a first journal page, but I'm going to save that for another post, because this post is already far too long, and it's now time to go to the party
 Happy Paint Party Friday!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Just 5 little cm - a scatterbrain at work

Note to self: Dear scatterbrain. Next time you go out and travel all across town to the art supply shop to buy a frame, and end up buying more art supplies that you can carry really, both weight and dimension wise, and have to get them back all across and outside town using public transport, including running like an idiot to catch that tram which closes its door at exactly the moment when you get there and press the button, and it won't open them anymore but drives off right in front of your nose (and I'm 100 % convincend that that tram driver saw you both running and pressing the button in his back mirrors!!!!), leaving you there almost breaking down on the platform with frame, canvas and heavy plastic bag in your hands, and an even heavier rucksack on your back, and a dripping umbrella in your hand, that refuses to close without a wrestle, because it's broken and you really should have bought a new one long ago, because of course that day it is pouring down with rain.... Well, next time you go to buy a frame for a picture, before you leave the house, just check what size the painting you want the frame for really is. Even if you're absolutely sure what size it is. Just take it down and double check those two little numbers on the back. Just do it.

Because if you don't, there is just a tiny little chance that, despite being absolutely certain about the size, you might just be a little bit WRONG, and even if it's just 5 little cm on each size, it still means that the flipping frame will acutally NOT fit the picture!!!

*Sigh*. I really was so sure the picture was 50x70cm. Unfortunately, it isn't. It's 60x80cm. Really, how can one be so stupid???

Friday, 8 June 2012

Preparing for change

I bought a new art journal and have started to paint the covers in the evenings after work, to make it more personal. I meant to use my at the moment favourite colours, purple and green. But after having completed a first green layer, I just had to add some orange and red the following day.

It is actually already looking different again, as I've been working on it some more. I just didn't manage to take new photos yet. A lot of the red and orange has been covered up again with different shades of purple and some blue. And I've added some patterned paper too. 

To continue working on these covers, and to keep changing them until it all feels right is actually very appropriate for this particular art journal. Because this journal will be all about change. I've been thinking a lot about change recently, big and small, wanted and unwanted. About all the changes I want to make in my life, about how to turn negative, because unwanted, change into positive opportunities, about attitude towards change and how to influence it. It feels like now is the right time to start and make some changes. Maybe not start with all those big, scary but also exciting ones, and not everything at once. But at least start taking the first steps. Sit down with a journal and make some notes, turn the one or other little idea into action, put your mind to it, and get the focus and attitude right. And believe that everything will turn out okay somehow. And make lots of inspiring and encouraging and most of all honest and authentic art journal pages on the way.

Linking this up with the wonderful Paint Party Friday, a truly inspiring community.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

All I want to do is paint (except the ears, maybe...)

I have been working on getting this post published all week. Started to write it, changed it, deleted it, started again etc. etc. But there are so many thoughts spinning around in my head, that at the end, I can't put into words what I wanted to write about. There are so many things I want to do right now, most of all painting, but I never seem to have enough time, and energy, at the moment.

The weather at the moment isn't helping either. It's cold, cool, warm, humid, oppressive, changing every 5 minutes, and all of that in one day, everyday. And most of all it's raining. Again and again and again. Every single day. And there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.

We had a life model again in the drawing classon Tuesday. Well, two, actually. As our model was going to be a bit late, our teacher sat for us at the beginning, so that we could get started. I really enjoy drawing life models. It's such a different experience than drawing from a photo. We were going to paint with acrylics, but 2 hours isn't really enough time for drawing and painting, and I only managed put down a first layer of the background and the dress.

I took it home and I hope to get it finished at the weekend. After having done a couple of life model drawings in the course, this will be the first time that I did a painting from a life model. It feels rather special, somehow.

But why do we have to have ears? They're a pain to draw and paint, and somehow always end up looking wrong. Portraiture would be so much easier if we all just didn't have any ears at all.... ;)

Friday, 1 June 2012

New favourite sketchbook and some travel sketches

I found this Moleskine Storyboard Notebook in a shop in Hamburg and thought it would make a perfect illustrated (travel) journal. It has four frames on each page which are perfect for small sketches, and with plenty of room for notes. I started to fill it with sketches right away, working on them in the hotel in the evenings.

I had planned to carry a sketchbook with me all the time, and to make sketches during the day, but the temperaturs went up to 30 degrees Celsius, and with the heat, and all the walking I did, carrying my camera  all day was more than enough. So instead I used this notebook in the evenings, using the pictures I had taken during the day as references.

Luckily, I had taken a whole box of CdA Neocolor II and a couple of water reservoir brushes to add colour to my sketches. So here are a few first highlights from my trip to Hamburg last week:

  • Of course the Strandkörbe ("beach baskets") at the beach in Travemünde
  • The pier and lighthouse in Travemünde, where the river Trave flows into the Baltic Sea, and where in the evening the huge ferries from Scandinavia come in
  • The charming Speicherstadt in Hamburg
  • The Holstertor in Lübeck
  • The weather forecast on Wednesday made me laugh. It said that in the following five days there would be: plenty of sun on Thursday, sunny on Friday, sunshine on Saturday, sunny on Sunday and lots of sun on Monday. It sounded as if someone was trying very hard to come upf with as much variation as possible to describe what basically was simply sunshine and blue sky one day after the other
  • I almost missed the Queen Mary 2, which had arrived in Hamburg on Sunday morning for a day's visit. It was only thanks to a lazy detour that I saw her. She's certainly a very impressive sight
  • I practically lived on ice cream, it was so hot all the time. My favourite flavours were: mint chocolate chips, blueberry and master of the woods. The first one is hard to find here in Switzerland, and the other two pretty much inexistent, especially the last one
I still want to add lots more sketches from my trip to Hamburg. An then of course take it with me to London in summer and Sweden in the autumn, and wherever I'll be going after that. I really love this journal/sketchbook/notebook.

Linking this up with Paint Party Friday. I missed last week's party. And while I really enjoyed an interenet-free ten days, it feels good to be back, especially with this fabulous and inspiring group of artists.