Thursday, 31 January 2013

Project365 | January 2013

The first month of the year, and with it the first month of my photo-a-day Project365, is already over. I must admit that there were days when I struggled a bit. Grey, dull, dreary days, when my inspiration was as low as the temperature - around or below 0. It wasn't necesarily a lack of motives, it was me being totally unmotivated and uninspired. But I tried, and I did manage to find something to capture the day each day. And sometimes even something quite unexpected and suprising, lack that bright blue sky today - something I haven't seen in quite a while. Of course there were also many days when I took plenty of pictures, and found it really hard to decide, which one to choose for my photo of the day.

It's been only one month yet, but already I so enjoy looking back at the month through my pictures. Some of them, the early ones from the beginning of the month, already seem ages ago. With spending most of my days with a far too long commute and working in a far too solitary place, my life often seems, well, rather boring and uneventful. Looking at these pictures, I'm amazed to see how much has happened in these past 31 days, and how many beautiful little things can be found around us every day, if we just care to look for them. Even on a dull, boring, grey day. Now I'm looking forward to what February will bring!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013


I've been keeping up my train sketches every day since I started last week. Okay, that's only four days so far, but I totally enjoy it, and I definitely plan to keep it up. It's a perfect way to start and end the day. I do the sketches in the train, add some details, then add watercolour in the evenings or weekends at home, and sometimes add some more details again with pen in the train. Even if they're "just" little sketches in a not so big sketchbook, they do take quite some time to finish them. But there's no hurry. And looking through the finished sketches early morning in the train, just makes me happy. Can't wait to fill this book!

Indigo Bubbles


Flower Garden


Four finished pages, and a new design has already been drawn for tonight's commute home, combining patterns and flowers. Pure bliss!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Getting into the habit - Train and Lunchtime Sketches

One of my resolutions for this year was to get into the habit of (daily) sketching. As so often, it's not so much the motivation that is the problem, but time. But I discovered that I actually had a good 1 to 2 hours each day to make time for sketching - on my daily train commute and, occasionally, during my lunch time.

Yesterday, I found myself all by myself at lunch, so I used my break to quickly eat my sandwich and then spend the rest of the time happily sketching away. As subjects, I just choose whatever was within reach on my desk - scissors, pen, pencils eraser. I started with a pencil, then added pen lines in different widths until I was happy with it.

I couldn't wait to get home after work, to add some colour to it. I had used my new Derwent Sketchbook, which has beautiful, thick, white paper, and which, unlike the Moleskine sketchbooks, should take watercolours well. I just wanted to finally try it out.

I added only little colour, but I think it worked quite well. The paper is not quite like good watercolour paper, and the paint dried quiet quickly, I thought and where I used more water, I seeped a little bit through the paper. But all in all, I'm very pleased with it. It works very well for adding a touch of colour to your sketchbook drawings. It's also a good size to take with you anywhere. And it has the round edges and a rubber band to hold it closed. I love sketchbooks with round edges!

Drawing in the train is a bit more challenging, especially the evening one is extremly wobbly. So I'm just doing sketches of pattern, or fantasy flowers. It's quite addictive, and the time passes so quickly. I'll add some colour to these during the weekend.

Linking this up to the fabulous Paint Party Friday. Go and have a look at all the fabulous work there, it's always so inspiring.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Inspired by a challenge

Last week, I was challenged to the '5 shot challenge' on Instagram by Judy from hey jude photography (jls316 on Instagram). The assignment she gave me was to take pictures of #round/circle.

I seem to remember having read somewhere that the challenge should actually be accomplished within 5 days or less, and that you're not allowed to post anything else in between. Well, I didn't stick to that part, I'm afraid. That was also due to the fact that I had to stay at home for a few days to nurse my bad cold, which limited my inspiration (although it did made for one of the shots for the challenge).

"Round" and "circle" sounded not too difficult, but I soon found out that it wasn't quite so easy. At least if I didn't want to go for the obvious, like traffic signs etc. I wanted to look for less obvious subjects, which really was a bit of a challenge. Especially when I tried to find subjects in nature, during a walk to the woods and along the river during my lunch break yesterday. Maybe it was because it was such a grey and uninspired day, and my mood wasn't really the best, that I couldn't find anything at all. (Although I'm quite sure that now, that my five shots are done, I'll see circles and round things pretty much everywhere, including in nature!). I did find the perfect subject for my last shot last night, though - a bright red lifebelt and glowing orange buoy in a boat on the river. I almost missed my train because of it. So I completed the challenge, and I passed it on to Maureen from Cottage 960 (cottage960 on Instagram), with the assignment to find and take photos of #transparent.

I really enjoyed the challenge. I hardly ever set myself a theme, and it was a good exercise for me to go and look for subjects to match one. And it has inspired me to do so more often. So I'm going to try and set myself little themes from time to time, both for photography and painting/sketching. Maybe I'll continue with the round/circle theme, or even try "transparent" myself.

Friday, 18 January 2013

The worst cold ever

It's cold and flu season, and while I'm lucky enough to have "only" a cold, and not that nasty flu, this cold is bad enough and certainly the worst one I ever had. It's been bothering me for about four weeks now, and it had me staying at home for these past three days now.

I don't know how many packs of tissues I used, how many sore throat tablets I've eaten, how many hot lemon drinks I've drunk... It was a lot, and I don't think they were very helpful. But it's the kind of thing you do, because you feel you have to do something to try and get better, don't you.

But there isn't really much you can do, except stay at home and wait till it's over. And make a little journal page when you feel a little better and able to drag yourself off the sofa for a little while. And it helps to at least forget your sore throat and bad cough for a an hour or two, and to lift your spirits. Today, I'm finally feeling a bit better and I'm positive that by Sunday, I'll be over this worst ever cold. Well, it's about time, and especially now, as the snow has come back, and I want to go out and enjoy it!

Linking up to the fabulous Paint Party Friday for the first time in ages.
Have a lovely weekend!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Capturing the different stages of a painting

It starts with a sketch, and at the beginning, one does not always know how a painting, a journal page, will turn out at the end. The process, the evolution is part of the fun. I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do. A portrait in grey tones, with only a little touch of colour.

Somehow, it still always surprises me how a painting evolves and changes with every stage. And I like to capture the different stages on camera. It's good to look back and see what certain changes will do to the picture, where one went wrong, where one maybe should have left it. It may also give inspiration for another picture. I quite like the sketchy stage, where I first added some colours (left row, middle) and I'd like to do another one like it. But probably the most useful lesson of seeing the different stages is that it's always worth going on working on it, even if there are moments, when you're so frustrated that you just want to throw it out of the window. Just keep going. Until you're happy with it. It's worth it. (Most of the time, anyway).

Thursday, 10 January 2013

New year, new challenges - Taking a photo every day

This time last year, I set myself a whole lot of painting/drawing and photography challenges. Some of them were with online groups, some of them just for myself. I'm afraid I didn't complete one single one of them, and there are one or two I never even got started with in the first place. So this year, I decided not to set myself any challenges at all. That doesn't mean that there aren't a few things I want to do more often and regularly, such as to sketch every day, but I'm not putting myself under the same pressure again.

And then, on the first of January, I decided to set myself a challenge, after all. And a 365 days one on top of that. I'm going to take a picture on each day of the year. With my iPhone. There are so many cool apps both for taking and editing photos, and it's so quick and easy, that I'm quite positive that I'll be able to finish this one. Actually, I'm enjoying it so much that it doesn't even feel like a real challenge at all, at least not at the moment. I know I wouldn't be able to do it with my proper camera and Photoshop, though.

These are the first nine photos of this year, still have to decide what today's photo is going to be.

And the day before yesterday, I found myself entering a second challenge. I'm calling it a 'mini challenge', because I'm not setting myself any rules at all as to how often and for how long I'm going to do this. It's a little From Where I Stand series (inspired by the Instagram pictures by Holly Clark, aka soupatraveler, who's also the founder of the FWIS Flickr group, I think, and who also writes posts on the inspiring Mortal Muses blog). I don't know when or where it started, but there's a Flickr group, and there are also people posting FWIS photos on Instagram (tagged #fromwhereistand). The idea, according to the Flickr group, is to "stop, take a look around, look straight down and record that special moment in time". And you have to capture your feet in it. I'm not sure if I'm going to take one every day, and some of them will also be my photo for the 365 project, but I just like the idea of pausing for a moment and capturing it.

I'm trying out four different apps for my 365 photo project at the moment, to see which one suits me best (that's the problem with those apps, there are always too many...). The ones I'm currently using are:

My365 - A similar app as Instagram, where you share your photos within a community and where you can comment, and connect with others. There's a calendar page for each month with your own photos, and a feed which shows your own photos as well as those of who you follow. You can add a title, and a comment of your own. There were some difficulties with the calendar, and it's sometimes very slow in updating comments etc. Also, it's a Japanese app, and most of the infos/news concerning the app are in Japanese only. The fun side is the community aspect.

InstaCC - Not really a one-photo-a-day-project app, but rather an Instagram related app which organises all your Instagram photos into a calendar. Which, I think, is rather neat.

Project 365 - A very basic app that provides just a calendar page for each month to which you can add your photo. There's no text option.

Photo 365 - A calendar page for each month to which you can add your photos and write a short text.

I'm probably going to drop the Project 365 app, because it is a bit too basic for my liking. Boring, really. Photo 365 is the better alternative, in my opinion, because it allows you to make notes as well. You can share your photos via Facebook etc., if you want, but you don't have to. Personally, I prefer to use it just for myself. I'm also going to go on using My365, at least for a while, even though I'm not really so much interested in yet another community app. Instagram is quite enough for me. I'm also keeping the InstaCC app, because I like to see all the Instagram photos for each day, and you don't have to do anything. It adds all the photos to the calendar automatically.

Are you doing a Photo A Day challenge for 2013? Or any other challenge?

Monday, 7 January 2013

New year, new word

I've been taking a little blog holiday and have been enjoying a two and a half week's holiday of day trips, long walks and lazy days. No blogging, no painting, no drawing. Just relaxing, and enjoying the time and company (and struggling with a nasty cold). Oh and taking tons of photos. A few with my rather neglected camera, and loads and loads with my iPhone.

The holiday is over, the new year has started, and with it come new plans, dreams, wishes, resolutions - and a new word. This is the third year that I've chosen a word to accompany me throughout the course of the year. My first year's word was Inspiration. I wanted creativity, painting, drawing, photography back on a regular basis in my life, and I was looking for inspiration all around me to get me back on track. It worked. Last year, I chose the word Journey. I wanted to continue on the path I had begun following the year before. At the end of the year, I wanted to find myself in a distincly different place from where I started 12 month earlier. I invited changes, big and small. It worked.

After those two quite successful years with my words, I felt it was time for a bit more action, as they both were somehow rather passive. So my word for 2013 is Do. This year, I want to get things done. No more procrastination, no more waiting for things to happen. Do it.

There are so many things I want to change this year, so many plans and dreams, some of them more realistic, others maybe more wild and adventurous. But we'll see. I'll definitely give it a try, and DO what I can to make things happen.

As for the blog, there are a few things I want to change this year, some of them long overdue.Well, two main things, really:
  1. blog more often
  2. give my blog the makeover I've been wanting to give it for the past one and a half years

Have you chosen a word for 2013? What is it?