Thursday, 29 October 2015

Blog anniversary - 5 years of Nordljus

Last week, on the 24th, my blog turned five. I missed pretty much every anniversary so far, and I've been very slow with writing up this post, but here we are.

Collage and mixed media on canvas, 2012 (37x67cm)
When I started this blog, I wanted for creativity to become a bigger part of my life again. I've painted, mostly "on the side", for many years, but university, exams, degrees, job qualifications etc. somehow always got into the way of everything else. Then I got a job at a special library that involved 4 hours of daily commuting and, being out in the sticks, often got rather lonely. I bought my first DSLR camera and got into digital photography and post processing, which led me to the world of online classes, opening up a whole new world to me. I signed up for a scrapbooking class about colour and started this blog. I had never heard of scrapbooking before, and I soon realised that it wasn't my thing at all. But I liked some of the supplies (although I didn't really like the whole industry behind it, and all the "stuff" you could buy) and their possibilities, and, having become curious about what else there was out there, I found more classes, blogs, styles, techniques, supplies, possibilities. It was exciting and I tried out a lot of different things, many of which I found weren't quite me, after all, but all of which led to a more creative life and to where I am now.

I called my blog Nordljus - A Creative Journey when I started, and a journey it has certainly been. My photography and photo editing has changed a lot since then, as has my art. All the experimenting and learning and trying out new things have helped me to develop and to begin finding my style. It is still an ongoing journey. My blog too has changed a lot over the past five years, its design becoming simpler and simpler (below are a couple of old blog headers, and there were some much wilder ones too).

A couple of older blog headers
 I recently read somewhere that blogs are become less and less popular, are on the way out and replaced by other social media such as Facebook and Instagram. While I love Instagram too, for me, blogs are still my preferred medium to see and read about other people's art and their journey. I still find them a great place to present your work and style in your way, I still enjoy reading them, and I intend to keep my blog going too. I've been wanting to completely re-desing it, and even change platform, and hopefully that's something I'll get round doing next year.

I've often felt stuck, and uninspired, and that I'm not getting anywhere, but looking back through my blog post from the past five years have shown me that that is not true. Maybe my progress is slow, but it is a progress. And it has given me new inspiration and motivation to continue. That, also, is something I like about blogs. They are such a great documentation of your journey and progress. Below are some of the things I've been up to over the past five years.

Scribbler, a simple and free online drawing programme was very popular in 2012:

I discovered art journaling and mixed media, and in 2012, I enjoyed working in Moleskine sketchbooks:

I also started to draw and sketch, something I've always wanted to do more, and discovered new techniques and materials:


I started to apply more mixed media and collage on canvas, finding inspiration in my environment (such as in the library):

"Overdue", mixed media on canvas, 2012 (30x30cm)

In 2013, I started to regularly draw on the train, and often in my lunch break too. I filled almost two sketchbooks with my "train and lunch sketches".

In 2013, I also bound my first sketchbook, using pages which I had printed with my Gelli plate, which I also got that same year.

At the end of 2013, I took part in a postcard swap. I enjoyed creating these cards and sending them out into the world, and receiveing cards in return. And I'm still waiting for the 10th one to arrive...

At the beginning of 2014, I started my little project of A Whole Lot Of Collages. Of course the idea was to create 365 collages, but I only ever made about 20. I really enjoyed making them, though, and I haven't given up on them quite yet (even if it's been a while since I made one...):

In 2013/2014, I tried my hand at pottery, taking a few classes. I got quite good at glazing, but never really got the hang of wheel throwing and eventually took the hint that it was paint and brush that were my medium, not a pottery wheel.

In summer 2014, I did the 70 Day Drawing challenge. 70 days, 70 drawing, no pencil. It was quite a challenge, but also great fun, and I love flipping through the pages of the little sketchbook that I filled. A good reminder to draw and sketch more and regularly again!

In autumn 2014, I did something that I've wanted to do for ages but never dared. I took a life drawing class. It was one of my greatest challenges, but also a truly great experience.

In 2015, I started getting out my DSLR camera again, and spending more time editing and continuing to improve my Lightroom and Photoshop skills.

And I discovered instant photography, aquiring a little family of vintage Polaroids cameras. It's an ongoing passion.

My blog isn't the most popular, but it is my little space, to share my work and life, to grow and to document my journey. I've met some lovely friends on the way too, and they and their art enrich my life. And now for many more creative years to come.

Friday, 23 October 2015

A visit to an art fair, and back to some abstract painting

Last Friday, I went to the annual International Art Zurich - Contemporary Art Fair. I was given a free ticket for two at work, and my Mum was happy to join me. It was already the 17th fair, but I have to admit that it was the first time I visited it. But I'm glad I did. It was really inspiring. The exhibitors were both galleries and individual artists, some from as far as Australia and Thailand, but also many national and local ones. There were lots of mediums and styles on show, and although not all of them were to my taste, I appreciated the high quality of the works. There were only about two or three paintings, which in my personal opinion, weren't very impressive and didn't really quite fit the high quality standard of the fair. But as I said, that's just my very personal opinion. I prefered the individual artist exhibitors to the galleries, and apart from the very inspiring work of theirs, I also found it interesting to see how they presented their work and themselves. I collected a lot of business cards, flyers, cards etc. It's always good to get some ideas of how these things can be done. You never know. It was also interesting, though, to see what kind of paintings/artists the galleries represented.

After the visit to the fair, my Mum and me walked through the cold, wettish and autumny city, looking for a place to have lunch, before taking the train back. Back home, I just felt inspired to go to my studio and take out some paint tubes. I've always liked abstracts, and I used to paint a lot more of them earlier, but much less recently. But now I felt like getting back to it again. I've mentioned in last week's post how our own expectations can often get in the way before we even start a drawing or painting. I think that abstract painting can help with overcoming those expectations, as it is a much more intuitive process. I enjoyed very much putting these first layers on, and I'm looking forward to the weekend now to add some more and see where it goes. Apart from the visit to the art fair, it's heavily insired by the season. I'm not a fan of yellow at all, at least not of a cold, lemony yellow. But all the deep golden yellows of the leaves outside have definitely made me grab those yellow paint tubes. And we get a lot of grey, foggy days with the clouds hanging low here too. I love autumn!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Polaroid Autumn

I love autumn. All the beautiful colours, the cooler temperature, the longer nights. It seems I have missed most of its glory, though, as autumn seems to have arrived here much earlier than further north, while I was in England. But I still managed to capture some of it with my favourite Polaroid camera, my SX-70 Alpha 1.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Charmouth beach stones - more drawing

This week, I spent two nights drawing for almost two hours. I'm trying to get (back) into a habit of drawing regularly, and spending more time in my studio. Especially in the evenings, when you're tired from work, it can be hard to motivate yourself to get off the sofa and pick up some pencils. Even if you actually like it, and know that it will make you feel so much better than just spending the entire evening in front of the tv. Why can it sometimes be so hard to shake off such bad and irrational habits? 

I've also been thinking a lot about style and techniques. How so often our inner critic/perfectionist puts those images of how your drawing or painting should look like before you even got the first brush stroke or pencil line down. How difficult it can be to put those expectations aside and just follow the flow. I know exactly how I would like to be able to paint or draw. And it doesn't always work. So I'm trying hard now to ignore that voice, and to approach my canvas or sketchbook without expectations (I even taped a reminder up on my easel), and just let it flow. To find out what comes naturally, and then take it from there. I had something else in mind when I started drawing the first stone, something that didn't involve blending and making it all smooth. But then I couldn't help picking up my blending stick, and I spent two evenings happily layering and blending and getting lost in details.

During our holiday, we went to Charmouth beach. One side of the beach is sand, the other side is stones, quite big ones, that make it quite difficult to walk (but is very popular with fossil hunters). I loved the beautiful big smothes stones with their white veins running through them, that were lying in between the other stones, and I took some photos of the them so that I could draw them later.

Friday, 9 October 2015

A wonderful holiday, and some hand drawings

I'm back from my holiday, and what a wonderful time we had! When I left two weeks ago, I expected it to be wet and miserable, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Almost two weeks of not a rain drop in sight, and more often than not, not a single cloud in the sky either. What a pleasant surprise. We made the best of it, exploring new places along the Dorset coast, re-visiting some old favourites, and even went up to London for a day. I was able to completely switch off and forget about everything. So much so, that I actually had to call my Mum to ask her to go to my home and look up the pin code for my banc card, as I couldn't for the life of me remember it. Completely gone. Unfortunately, after having returned back home on Tuesday, and back to work on Wednesday, the whole relaxing holiday feeling has already disappeared completely, and all the daily negative stuff, that I so successfully managed to forget about, has swept back in one single big wave.

But anyway. I took a sketchbook and some drawing materials with me (and visited the local art shop more than once). I took my sketchbook and pens with me a couple of times, but it was either too windy or we were too busy exploring for any sketching to be done. But I managed to do a few drawings some of the evenings, when I wasn't too exhausted (and a couple of watercolour sketches, which turned out so bad that no one will ever see them. Except N, who has already seen them, and wasn't impressed with them either). I've been wanting to practice some hand drawing, and with not much else on hand, that's what I did.

Of course I took loads of photos with my DSLR, and even some with my Polaroid SX-70, and I still have to go through them all. I'll probably post a few photo posts soon, but here's just a couple of shots, one from Brownsea Island, where we met some lovely red squirrels, and one from Charmouth, where I just couldn't get enough of the reflections in the low tide water on the beach.

Red Squirrel, Brownsea Island, Dorset
Charmouth Beach, West Dorset
As my happy holiday feeling quickly disappeared already the day after I got back from my holiday, I decided to keep the memories alive and fresh by posting the Polaroids I took over the next days. I have 30 photos, so it's going to be 30 days of happy holiday memories. I'll post them on Instagram and Twitter, and maybe Facebook too. Follow me, if you like (my new Twitter account is looking very sorry follower-wise, and I'm still waiting to finally reach the 100 likes milestone on my Facebook page). #30daysofholidaymemories.

I'm linking up again to the lovely Paint Party Friday. I'm afraid I posted my last post while I was already on holiday, and as I wasn't used to N's notebook/laptop with no mouse, I had to give up trying to visit and comment. But I hope to be better again this week.