Sunday, 28 June 2015

Sunday walk - finding joy in the ordinary

I meant to post the last post in my little Stockholm series today, after having missed it last Sunday, but I still haven't got round to editing the photos. So I'm posting some pictures from our walk earlier today instead. We were out for about four hours, just walking around the forest and farmland up the hill. There were no exotic flowers or animals, but instead so much beauty in the ordinary and and all the small things - frogs, insects, cows, wild flowers, leaves, the clouds in the sky. I'm grateful to have such beauty more or less on my doorstep.

A bit of a photo overload today, but that is just nature's plenty.

Sometimes, you miss the perfect shot by a fracture of a second... and capture something delightfully unexpected instead...

Summer has definitely arrived here, the 26 degrees today felt pleasant in the shade, especially with a light breeze, but the hot sun is already burning uncomfortably. I'm not looking forward to the forecasted 33 degrees and not a cloud in the sky for next week. I'm just glad I don't have to sit in the office.

Happy Sunday!

Friday, 26 June 2015

More layers, doodles and mandalas, and holiday at last

Hurray, my summer holiday is finally here! I've been counting the days, and on Wednesday the hours, until the start of my holiday, which officially began on Wednesday at 2.30 pm, when I left to office to go to the airport and pick up N. I really need a break. 2.5 weeks of enjoying the days, going somewhere nice or just doing nothing, and not thinking about anything too much. And eating lots of ice lollies. According to the weather forecast, it's going to get hot next week. 
This is the first time in ages that I'm spending my summer holiday at home. It feels a little bit weird, and I do like going away in summer to spend the time a little bit further north and by the sea, but there are also some advantages to staying home - such as having all my art supplies at hand. And studio time is definitely on the holiday to do list. As is a 4 day trip to the south of Germany at the end of next week, to which I am soooo looking forward to.

I keep adding layers to my two intuitive paintings. Adding some imagery and line work last Sunday.

And another layer yesterday afternoon, while N. was having a snooze on the sofa. What better way to start the summer holiday. I'm still successfully not thinking about where the paintings are going to go, but am just adding more paint, trying out new colours and just having fun. They're still looking very chaotig, and I think it's soon time to quieten it all down a little bit.

With all the painting I'm doing at the moment, the pages of my left-over-paint sketchbook are filling up quickly with backgrounds to doodle on in the evenings.

We're off to the Zoo today. I'm looking forward to see the new elephant park. This is the latest of the new enclosures that are made to more resemble the animals' natural habitat, and to give them much more space. The zoo really has done a lot of work already, to transfer the old enclosures, and are continuing to do so, and the elephant park seems to be really quite impressive (you can have a panorama view here if you like). As we're both keen photographers, we'll no doubt have a busy day ahead, and I hope to come back with lots of nice photos to draw and paint form.

Happy Paint Party Friday!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Summer of Colour, Week 3 - Delicious cherries

Every Monday morning during Summer of Colour, I can't wait for the new colour palette for the week to be announced, and as last week, I was very pleased when I saw the choice of this week's colours. I bought a box of delicious cherries last Saturday, and I left a few, hoping that I could use them as a subject to draw for this week. This week's colours are two purples and a yellow. Perfect. 

Yellow, I have to say, is my least favourite colour of all. Especially those cold lemony yellows. Awful. You hardly find any yellow in my home, and although I love flowers, I don't like yellow ones either (no, not even sunflowers). I've been trying to persuade my Mum to go for a white/blue/pink/purple, and maybe some red and the odd orange, if it absolutely has to be, colour scheme in her garden, but without success. There's always some yellow somewhere, unfortunately. But then, yellow is my Mum's favourite colour, so I can't blame her. (But if I'll ever have a garden, there won't be any yellow in it at all).

I'm alright with those very warm, leaning slightly towards orange kind of yellows, though, such as gamboge, which I used as a background. And I came across a mustardy shade of yellow in a clothes shop in Dorchester earlier this year, which I find myself liking very much indeed, especially in combination with petrol green and/or white.

Drawing with coloured pencils on a watercolour background is very different to just drawing directly on the white paper. The effect of the pencil layers, both colour and strokes, varies quite a lot depending on the layer of watercolour underneath. I enjoyed drawing the cherries, and I very much enjoyed eating them afterwards.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Claimed paintings, leftover paints and doodles/mandalas

Last Sunday, I had a very happy day painting all day, adding the next two layers to my two canvases for the Bloom True class - contrast and translucence. On Monday, my Mum popped in, and when she saw the two canvases on my easel, she just absolutely loved them and said that the big one would look perfect in her conservatory. When I told her these were just the first layers, and that most, if not all of it, was going to be covered over, she nearly had a fit. "You're going to paint over it? Covering it up?? Are you insane??? Why on earth would you want to do that??" I tried to explain to her about the course, and showed her examples of what they could turn into, but she wouldn't hear any of it. "Madness!" I tried to explain to her about the 'letting go', about painting over something you like in order to turn it into something you like even better. "Letting go?? You want to let go? Well, you just let go of it right now and give it to me!!". She literally forbade me to add any more paint to the canvas and declared it hers.

I had been so happy to, for the first time ever, be keeping up with a class, and having my two canvases ready for the new week. And here I was, with one canvas short. Good thing that Monday is my day off. I gessoed over an old painting and started adding the first layers again and adding more in the evenings the following days. Now I'm ready again for the weekend, to go through this week's painting lessons and add more layers. I have quite a few bottles of fluid paints, had them for ages and hardly ever used them. I'm so glad to re-discover them again now. I just love their translucency! I'm looking forward to adding the next layers, and to see where my paintings are going and how they'll turn out eventually. And I told my Mum that from now on, she wouldn't be allowed to see any of the paintings until they are finished...

I've been using the pages of a sketchbook to use up left over paints. It makes great backgrounds to doodle on. I've also started drawing mandalas, which is a first for me. I never thought about drawing them, but then, they are just shapes and patterns, which I have drawn many times. Just in a more organised way. They are quite addictive too. Perfect to relax and switch off the brain in the evenings. And I just love drawing with gel pens on darker backgrounds.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Summer of Colour, Week 2 - Juicy apricots

The colour combination for week two of Summer of Colour is an especially juicy one - two pinks and an orange. I was hoping for some red and/or orange for this week, as I bought some lovely apricots on Saturday and wanted to paint or draw them. The colour combination was also perfect for getting that box with those "other" colours out. That's the box with all those colour that didn't fit into one of my regular paint boxes. As I don't use them very often, I decided to make a colour chart first, before deciding which pinks to use. There are some very nice colours in there, I have to say. I think I have to get that box out more often.

I decided to use Rose Madder and Quinaqridone Magenta for my watercolour background, and then added the apricots with coloured pencils. I had to cheat a little bit, as it would have been almost impossible get all the depths in their skin with just one orange. So I used two, although actually, they are just two different shades of Cadmium orange, so they are basically the same colour. Moreover, the apricots themselves have lovely deep red cheeks, so I did hold myself back there.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Stockholm i mitt hjärta, Part 6 - Sigtuna

Today, we are visiting the beautiful town of Sigtuna, a one hour's journey by train and bus from Stockholm. It is the oldest town in Sweden, founded in 980 at the shores of Lake Mälaren, and one of my favourite places. It has a picturesque medieval town centre with Sigtuna rådhus, the town hall, built in 1744.

Stora gatan, the main street with its beautiful old buildings, takes you from one end of the town (the bus stop) to the other and down to the harbour and water front.

At the harbour, we stop and have a cup of tea in good company, soak up the atmosphere and get ready to explore the town.

Along Strandvägen, there are many opportunities to stop, sit down and enjoy the views over the water. More intimate ones...

... and bigger ones, where you can meet the locals.

There are many runestones in Stiguna, ...

... and some church ruins too. The ruins of Sankt Olofs kyrka, the church of St Olof, built in around 1100 and situated in the churchyard of Mariakyrkan.

Climbing up a little green hill, an old bell tower is hidden among the trees.

At the edge of the town centre, we come across the ruins of Sankt Pers kyrkan, the church of Saint Per, also built around 1100.

Can I get a job here please?

We're back in the main street...

... but before we head to the bus stop and off back to Stochkom, there's time for a cup of tea and a slice of blåbärspaj med vispgrädde (blueberry tart with whipped cream) at Tant Bruns Kaffestuga. You simply can't go to Sigtuna and not visit Tant Brun. Tant Brun is a character from the much loved childrens books about  Tant Grön, tant Brun och tant Gredelin by Elsa Beskow (1874-1953). The building is one of Sigtuna's oldest, and the café among the oldest cafés in Sweden. And the pies and cakes are delicious.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Summer of Colour, and intuitive painting

Summer has arrived, and with it Summer of Colour, the six week blog party with weekly colour prompts, hosted by Kristin from Twinkle, Twinkle. I finished the challenge in 2013, but only got to week two last year (you can see all the paintings I did for SOC here). It really is a great fun challenge, and this year, I want to finish it again. So I sat down to paint already on Monday afternoon. But I think I got a bit too excited, and ended up mixing up the colours for this week. Instead of using two blues and one green, I used two greens, and one blue.

 So I went back to my desk and my sketchbook, and did a quick second one, this time with the right colour combination. I used my trusted "What's in your fridge" theme as inspiration, using watercolours for the background and coloured pencils for the subjects. Two years ago, choosing a theme for my paintings for the challenge (watercolour background with pen doodles on top) worked well, so I might do that again this year, working myself through the contents of the fridge.

June is going to be a busy month, creatively, as apart from Summer of Colour, I'm also going to dive into intuitive painting. Three years ago, in June 2012, I took Flora Bowley's online class Bloom True, to get some new ideas, and to generally get my painting mojo back. But I never really got into it and to the end of the course somehow. Maybe I just simply wasn't ready for it back then. But this different approach to painting continued to fascinate me, and I had been thinking about giving it another try one day.

Tuning in to your intuition, letting go, being brave - these are all things that appeal to me very much right now, both on and off canvas. Most of all, I want to put Fun back into my painting process. And my life. I somehow seem to have lost it along the way a long time ago.

When an e-mail announcing a new class beginning in June arrived a couple of weeks ago, I decided to sign up. I'm really fed up with standing in my own way by over-planning, over-thinking, over-expecting... and although it will be challenging, I'm now ready to try and let go. And to just splash some paint on canvas and let it develop. I'm quite excited about seeing where this journey will go.

These are the two canvases I'm working on. I've applied the first two layers, and it's all looking a bit chaotic and ugly. Even more so because both canvases already had layers of paints on them and I just went over them with some gesso. Especially in the first (upper) piece, it made the first layer of reds and yellows rather dull. This is actually one of the canvases I used for the class three years ago. The other (lower) one was a painting I did in 2001. At that time, I was very fond of using lots of modelling past and gold. It was high time to let it go and put it to better use. I've always been a firm believer of painting over any paintings you're not really happy with. And these layers will soon be covered too. So it's alright if they look a bit chaotic and ugly.


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Planning and organising your blog posts

2014 has been a rubbish blogging year for me. Despite all my good intentions, ideas and plans in my head, the posts ended up few and scattered. And despite of all my good intentions, ideas and plans in my head, 2015 was precariously beginning to go the same way. The problem is that sometimes, all the good intentions, ideas and plans in your head just aren't enough. I'm great at making plans in my head, with the best intentions to put it all into practice. But unfortunately, I'm even better at procrastinating. In April I decided that I needed a proper plan if I wanted to turn things round and actually put my plans into action. I started my Blog Schedule. For me, putting things down on paper and ticking them off when they're done, is extremely helpful to actually getting them done.

I wanted to get into a regular blog schedule of three posts a week, Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, sharing both my photography and my drawing and painting. I'm using the free blog planners by Productive Flourishing, and they're working well for me. I'm using the Blog Post Planner, which allows me to order my planned posts into different categories, and the Blog Post Calendar, which gives me an overview over the entire month. I like my notebooks and journals, and I like writing by hand, so I print them out and glue them into my Blog Book. This way, I have everything in one place, and also enough space for extra notes. At the beginning of each month, I write down all the 'left over' post ideas from the previous months, as well as new planned posts into the categories pages and the  calendar, and add new ones, or more details, as I go along. For example, I write PPF down for every Friday of the month, because I want to post something for and link up to Paint Party Friday each week. This also helps me to actually sit down and paint something every week, because without painting, no post. I have not only become more productive blog posting wise, but also creatively. When a post is posted, I add the date in the categories planner, and tick them off in both.

I try to work ahead as much as possible, and I almost always use the Schedule option for publishing my posts after having finished writing them. This way, I don't have to think about it anymore, which is especially useful for when posts that aren't due to be publihsed until a week or two later. And I can also keep my regular schedule even when I'm at work. And thanks to my Blog Schedule, I know exactly what and when to post each blog post. My schedule has helped me to actually post three days a week in May, and to get painting each week, and I hope to keep it up.

If you're sometimes struggling a bit too, with getting your blog posts up more often and more regularly, I hope that you might find the information useful. Or maybe you have some good tips of what works for you?

Peonies. Polaroid SLR 680

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Stockholm i mitt hjärta, Part 5 - Södermalm

It's been absolute ages since the last part of my little Stockholm series but there are still a few places to go and sights to see. Last time, we've visited the told town, Gamla Stan. Today, from there we're crossing the bridge and take a stroll around parts of Södermalm. First we walk up to the thop of Katarinahissen, from where we enjoy the view over Slussen and Gamla Stan...

... and Ryssgården square and the city museum, Stockholms stadsmuseum. On a fine day like today, we can see all the way across the water Kungsholmen and with its dominant Stadshuset.

We then climb a bit further up the hill and enjoy the sun and a cup of coffee at Mosebacke.

Refereshed from the break, we explore walk on eastwards past Katarina kyrkan...

... and through the small cobblestoned Mäster Mikaels Gata with its charming old cottages, many of which built of wood.

We walk along the top of the steep cliffs, enjoying the beautiful view of the Gamla Stan across the water as well as the local wild life.

Why not stop at the little cafe with the beautiful view and enjoy a delicious ice cream. It is, after all, a lovely and warm spring evening.

Let's cast one last look back over the water, to the lush greens of Djurgården, before we head back to the bustling city.

Next time, we'll head out of the city again to visit the oldest town in Sweden. I hope you'll join me again.