Thursday, 28 February 2013

Project365 | February 2013

February is, of course, a short month, but can you believe you quickly it passed? Wel, there we go, the last day of the month, and the second month of my Project365 completed. The past week or so I've found it often especially hard to find something for my photo-of-the-day. It's was just too cold and grey and dreary outside. But I did it, no day missed, and so here's February:

Next month hopefully will soon bring some brighter, more cheerful subjects to photograph. I have a feeling that there might be quite a lot of flower shots coming. And some beach, sea and rolling green hills too. Yes, next month, well, next week, actually, I'll be going on a little trip abroad, and I can't wait!

Friday, 22 February 2013

In my sketchbook: Commuters, flowers, glasses, and lots of pages waiting for colour

I seem to have a bit of a painting low at the moment. I just don't seem to find the time to spend a day, or even half a day at my desk or easel to get the acrylic paints out and do some 'proper' painting. Too much work, too much commuting, and a day trip up a mountain last Saturday sort of got in the way. But I've been keeping up my trainsketches, and even found a spare half hour on some evenings to add some colour. There's always time, even if it's just half an hour here and there.

With my long commute to work, almost 4 hours both ways, I spend a lot of time in trains. Those train journeys can be very relaxing, at times. Most of the days, I quite like my early morning journey. There aren't too many people on the train, so that I usually get a little compartment on my own, and it's usually dead quiet, because everyone's asleep. Outside the window, night changes into day, and I've got time and quiet to do my little sketches. But occasionally, my fellow travellers are just a pain, getting on my nerves big time. And the best outlet for one's frustrations is, of course - one's sketchbook.

I'd like to do a lot more sketching in my lunch break too, but working out in nowhere, in a small team, where everyone eats their lunch at the same time and at same table, I don't feel comfortable enough to do so. But occasionally, there's a day when I'm all on my own, and then I draw and use whatever is lying around on and around my desk, such as my glasses and some stencils we use to label boxes. Although I'm a winter girl, I'm looking forward to some warmer temperatures now, so that I can go outside for some sketching in my breaks.

Nature's one of my biggest sources for inspiration, and I like sketching flowers. Realistic flowers, imaginary flowers, doodle flowers - flowers in every form. These are more realistic, though I'm not sure what exactly they are supposed to be. They could be tulips, I guess. Sometimes, the boundaries between realistic and imaginary isn't that clear.

I've had more time for sketching in the morning than for adding colour to them these past 10 days, so I've now got a whole bunch of sketches that are waiting for colour. And I can't wait for the weekend to begin so that I can get the watercolour paints out. And hopefully there'll even be some time for the acrylics to come out on Sunday.

After having had to give it a miss last week, I'm linking up to the wonderful Paint Party Friday again today. Have a wonderful, creative weekend!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Even though we don't really have a Valentine's Day tradition here, I've been busy drawing and painting hearts during my train commute. Tradition or not, hearts are just too fun to sketch, and love is always worth celebrating.

I especially loved doing my little tree full of lovebirds, adding layer after layer. They just made me smile.

Unfortunately, when I painted a couple of lovebirds on the following pages, it all went terribly wrong. I painted one of the birds yellow, and when I wanted to add another layer of orange and red, the paint disappeared right in front of my eyes. It went straight through the paper, staining my little lovebirdtree painting.

I tried to add some more paint to my yellow page once I had dried the pages with a hairdryer, but the paint kept disappearing. I really don't know what happened here. Was it the because of the water? But then, it wasn't the first page I had covered competely with very wet paint, and then painted on the other side of the page, without the paint disappearing.

It's a complete mystery to me. And it's quite a pity, because I really liked my little tree full of lovebirds. Luckily, I have taken more than enough pictures of the pre-stained version, and this is, after all, just a little sketchbook. I see it as a collection of ideas I can refer to later. So I might just paint another tree full of lovebirds on a sheet of proper watercolour paper. And I already know what I want to change to improve it.

Happy Valentine's Day, I hope you spend a terrific day with your loved one.

Friday, 8 February 2013

TrainSketches || More leaves and a few feathers

More trainsketches, and more leaves. Nature never ceases to inspire me, I love trees and leaves, and leaves are just so fun and easy to draw and paint. As it's all grey and white outside, I wanted to fill my pages with an extra colour burst. And leaves are just perfect for that.

I'm learning to get to know my watercolours, thanks to my trainsketches, and I'm getting fonder and fonder of them. And it's a quick and easy way to add some colour in the evening, when I don't have the time and energy to get out my acrylics. I just love the vibrancy of the wet colour on the page...

... but am always slightly disappointed about how mucht the colour fades once the paint is dry, I must admit. Of course you can just add layer and layer of more colour, but I usually end up covering up all those little white spaces, which I try to leave out. I think it might be the paper of the sketchbook, though. While it takes watercolours pretty well, it's not proper watercolour paper. I found some watercolour sketches done on proper watercolour paper the other day, and the colours seemed much richer. But I'm not complaining. I love my little sketchbook, and it serves its purpose beautifully.

Sometimes I add the background colour first and then decide what colour I want my subjects to be, if I don't already know what I want. Here, I did the leaves first. I know I wanted them to be colourful. I wasn't sure what colour to choose for the background, and I even considered just leaving it white. But I prefer colour, so decided on a neutral blue. Just a few brush strokes in a darker shade to add some shadows to make the leaves pop off the page. I love how little it often takes to achieve a great effect.

I added the finishing touches the following morning, in the train. Some broader pen lines, and a few touches of white here and there. I love adding dots and things like that all over the place, like I did with my other leave sketch, but here it wouldn't really have fit.

And of course I've already begun my next sketck, again inspired by nature: feathers. The pencil and pen sketches have been completed, now they're waiting to get some colour over the weekend.

Linking up to the fabulous Paint Party Friday. Make sure to pop over and have a look at all the other talented artists sharing their work. It's always worth a visit.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

TrainSketches || Blätterwald

Another page from my 'trainsketches' sketchbook, a 'forest of leaves'. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. Just makes me want to go for a walk in the woods. Only that the woods here wouldn't be green, but white - it's been snowing for the last three days. Yay!

I do my little sketches mostly in the morning, because that train runs pretty smooth, it's usually dead quiet, and I have a compartment all for myself most of the time. A simple pencil drawing, then going over with a pen, and maybe adding a few details.

 Back home in the evening, I take half an hour or so to add some colour. My little trainsketches are helping me to get more familiar with my watercolours. I'm beginning to grow very very fond of them!

Usually, I add more details the following morning, back on the train again, using different pen widths and gel pens for a touch of white. I know that every traditional watercolourist would cringe at the pure thought of adding white to a watercolour painting, and especially something like a white gel pen, or any other pen, for that matter. But I'm not a traditional watercolourist, and have no ambition whatsoever to ever become one. All I want is to colour, and patterns, and textures, and happiness on paper.

So there we go. Doing this little sketches, and flipping through the pages of my little sketchbook, which is filling up quickly, makes me happy. And that's what it's all about, isn't it?

Monday, 4 February 2013

Stockholm i mitt hjärta

When I arrive at Arlanda, Stockholm's international airport, it always feels to me like I'm coming home. Ever since that day in July 2001, when I, an exchange student full of expectations and a very basic knowledge of Swedish, arrived in that country and city (and it was my first ever visit to Scandinavia), that was going to be my home for the following 12 month, I felt I had come home. And it still feels like home, every time I go there. And even when I’m not there.

Last year, after not having been up there for a good 6 years, I decided that it was high time for a visit. I booked a one week's holiday, all on my own deliberately. This was going to be a week of just me and the city, a trip down memory lane, a week of re-visiting all my favourite places. I was so excited when I left for my holiday. What would the city be like, look like, feel like, after all these years? Again, it immediately felt like home.

One of my first trips led me up to Frescati, where the university is located. It was my first visit up there after ten years, and I admit that I chose a Saturday morning for my visit on purpose - when the university campus could be expected to be relatively empty. Yes, I was a little bit afraid that this visit might turn into a bit of a sad, melancholic experience, but I'm happy to say that I spent a wonderful Saturday morning and early afternoon up there. I wandered through the corridors that connect the six buildings of the university's Södra huset, popped into the university library, where I spent a good many hours, and treated my self to a big bag of my favourite sweets at the shop.

I then walked up to 'Lappis', the student housing area, and looked up to the window of “my” room, wondering who was living there now, and if they enjoyed their time there as much as I had. The university campus is situated in Norra Djurgården, which is part of the city's national park. As I had done so many times before, I followed the path behind my "building" to Lilla Värtan, along the strait on the one side, and Stora Lappskärsberget on the other, and on to Lilla Lappskärsberget and into the woods of Lilla Skuggan.

I was looking for a very specific place, a little lake in the middle of Stora Skuggan area, where I had sat many evenings, enjoying the long Scandinavian summer evenings. It was a wonderful day, blue sky, mild temperatures, a light breeze (that would bring some rain only a few hours later), and I spent a good hour there, enjoying the silence, reminiscing, and eating far too many very sour, but oh so wickedly delicious 'godis', before returning to the city centre.

I spent a wonderful week in Stockholm, and I was surprised, and pleased, how little had changed - all my favourite shops, cafés, places, everything was still exactly how and  where it had been 10 years ago. I visited many more great places - so watch this space, there'll be more coming.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Tucked away, until it's time to bloom

I've brought someone to the party with me today. Her name is Lotta, and she's so excited to be here. Actually, she has already made an appearance once before on my blog, but she wasn't feeling very well that time, as she was suffering from the worst cold ever. But thankfully, that's passed, and Lotta is up and well again.

She's especially happy to be able to go out again, playing in the snow and chasing snowflakes. She loves winter and snow, it just makes her so happy.

The year before last year, I signed up for the Mondo Beyondo class. I never made it through the whole class, I'm afraid, but I did write my Mondo Beyondo list, and tucked it away in an envelope in an art journal page. That's as far as I got that time. I've never read the list again after having put it away in the envelope, and I can't remember everything I wrote on my list that time. But I know that at least one thing has come true since then. And it's one of the best things that happened to me in a long time. Reason enough to write a new list for the new year. Again, I tucked it away into an envelope, as part of an art journal page. And of course there had to be snow. As Lotta, I'm very fond of snow myself, too. I'm also going to work my way through the class again, on my own, and in my own speed. One and a half years ago, I wasn't quite ready yet to fully believe in my dreams. But I feel that now, I'm ready.