Thursday 19 May 2011

Free Your Body, Free Your Mind * CBC 04: Dance

The first two assignments of the Creativity Boot Camp Spring Training were more or less easy and comfortable enough (I'll write a post about it tomorrow). I love getting messy with my acrylic paints and especially using palette knives to create layer upon layer of texture. Drawing is more of a challenge. It's something I've been putting off for ages, but I'm desperately wanting to finally learn it. The third assignment now definitely is rather out of my comfort zone. To move. To dance. To free the mind by freeing the body through movement.

I've never been much of a dancer, even though I would just love, love, love to learn ballroom dancing. I love the dance band music of the 1920s and 30s, and I would so love to learn all those dances and moves. But it involves persuading someone to go to a class with me, and that already makes it too complicated.

Over 15 years ago, I walked into a jazz dance class in the gym/dance studio I was going to at that time by mistake. I had wanted to go to some aerobics class or other, and mixed up the rooms or buildings. When I discovered that I was in the wrong class, I wanted to make my excuses and leave. But before I could open my mouth, the instructor, sounding as he was just about to burst into tears, welcomed us (there were about 5 others apart from me) and thanked us for coming and showing him our support. I really had no idea what was going on. I think he felt that the studio wanted to get rid of him, or there had been some quarrels, or something like that. I don't know. But I just didn't have the heart to say "oh, I'm sorry, actually, I didn't really want to come here in the first place, I just got confused with the rooms" and leave. So I went through with the class, and I hated every minute second of it. It was just not my thing. And I thought that really, dancing just wasn't my thing. Although come to think of it, the reason why I was actually going to that studio was because I was going to Afro Dance classes with a classmate, and I actually really loved that!

So when I read the assignment, I thought "oh dear. dance". But I was determined to give it a chance. There was a video for inspiration, and it really absolutely inspired me, and actually just made me want to get moving and dancing. I had it on all evening, and again and again, started to move, to dance, enjoying it immenesly.

I tried yoga twice, but it's really not my thing. But this yoga trance dance - love it! I will download that song (Nataraja by Dum Dum Project) and put it on my MP3 player (which unfortunately seems to be half broken, though).

The only downsides to this assingment was that a) my fitness level is at a such an appallingly low leven, that I was completely out of breath halfway throug the song, and b) I couldn't let go completely because I had to keep one eye open to make sure I wouldn't crash into my bookshelves. There isn't really enough space to dance in the flat. When sitting down at my desk, desperately trying to catch my breath again and watching the video for the 100th time, instead of dancing myself, I tried to dance on the paper instead (a good drawing excercise as well). I liked the invitation, order, command, challenge "when you're ready, leap". It's a good mantra for a lot of things in life, not just dancing.

I really enjoyed it and I've seriously considered getting up very early one morning at the weekend and find a quiet place outside to dance. Of course I've been thinking about what, if someone happened to see me, they would think of me. "She's must be mad, crazy, very strange". But then, what would I think if I saw someone doing this? I wouldn't think they're mad. I'd think how wonderful it is to have the courage to do it, and not thinking about what others might think, how liberating it must be. I'd admire them, and regret that I've so many barriers inside me that prevent me to do it myself. But maybe it's high time to break down those barriers, and stop worrying and thinking too much, especially about what others might think.

But I've already taken the first steps on that path. I know that a few months ago, I'd have found this assignment much more difficult. Funnily enough, I've actually just last week thought about taking up dancing. I know that I should excercise more and do something for my fitness. Yoga's out, so are gym and crowded aerobic (or whatever it is one's doing now) classes. So I came up with dancing. I even looked up classes for tap dance in my area, and found a studio that looks nice. I think I'd like tap dance. It's 1920s/30s, it's  Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, it's Dance Bands, it's movement, energy, rhythm, fun, joy, and noise. I like the noise bit especially :)

Let yourself go. Yes!

I haven't singed up for any classes yet, but I'm considering it. Seriously considering it. :)

Saturday 14 May 2011

Purple & Green

My favourite colour is purple, with it's lighter shades, lilac/lavender. I love the richness and drama of purple, and the lightheartedness and airiness and joy of lilac. Purple is a mixed colour, not a primary colour, made by mixing the two primary colours red (magenta) and blue (cyan).

Last summer, I bought an old sofa from about the 1920/30s in a "Brocki" (secondhand / thrift shop). While the upholstery is in perfect condition (it had been standing in an office and was never really used), the fabric, tough in perfect condition, was simply awful. I found an upholsterer, and ever since, I've been trying to find the right fabric. I had red in mind, matching the reds and oranges in the living room, and a greyish linen fabric with plush stripes in reds and orangs seemed perfect. But somehow, I just couldn't commit to it. About two months ago, I started considering green. I haven't quite decided on a speficic fabric yet, but I know now that green is the right colour. After I came back home from yet another visit to the upholsterer's shop and having looked at green fabric, I walked around the flat and realised that it was full of greens. Green everywhere. Especially in the kitchen. Most of the kitchen supplies that come in colours, I have in green. The thought of green felt good, reassuring, soothing, right. And I realised that purple wasn't my only favourite colour, but that it shared it's place with green. Purple was an conscious choice, green an unconscious. And I simply love the combination of the two. There was one time when I almost decided to go for the red fabric, simply because of not knowing what else do choose. I'm so glad I didn't. I wouldn't have been happy with it. But I know that with green, I'll always be happy, even in ten year's time.

Green: German: Grün. Swedish: grön. French: vert.
From OE grene or groeni, closely related to the OE verb growan "to grow, to turn green". First recored use in English in AD 700. Most common colour in nature, because of chlorophyll.
Associations: life, growth, spring, hope, freshness, naturalness, confidence, health, youth, envy, sickness.

Apparently, many Asian languages don't make a distinction between green and blue, and indeed the distinction between the two doesn't always seem to be so universally clear. I have often noticed that people would refer to a certain colour or shade as "blue", whil to me, it was obviously green.

Violet: German: Violett, from French, after the flower "violette" (Veilchen, violet). Swedish: violett. French: violet.
Colour between blue and red. Next to Purpur/purple on the colour wheel. Lila/lilac is a lighter shade of purple. Colours nearer to blue. In China, the colour violet symbolises the harmony of the universe, as it is right between red (ying) and blue (yang).

Purple: German: Purpur. Swedish: purpur. French: pourpre.
Any colour/range of hues of colour between blue and red. Colours nearer to red. Between magenta and violet on the colour wheel. The colour is associated with royaly and nobility (from classical antiquity).
From OE purpul > from Lat. purpura > Greek porphura, the name of the Tyrian purple dye manufactured in classical antiquity. First recorded use in English in AD 975.
Associated with: emancipation, creativity, spirituality, mystical, mysterious, secret, dignity, desire, longing, aphrodisiac, (as liturgial colour) penitence.

I always thought that the German Violett corresponds to the English purple, but apparently, I've been wrong. Also, what I've believed to be Violett in German, is actually Purpur, and the colour I always referred to as Violett is actually Dunkelviolett. And the Purpur, that is usually used to refer to the capes of monarchs isn't actually Purpur but Red. Very confusing...

And the colours/colour codes I found for violet and purple really do look quite similar - and somehow are missing those shades I usually would refer to as purple. And I even found somewhere that Violett and Lila are synonymous. Which to me really are very different - the former being dark (purple), the latter light (lilac). And then there's of course lavender, which in English is a whole range of shades, but doesn't seem to have a correspondent in German, but really is something similar to lavender, whic is probably why I never really know how to properly translate lila into English. Very, very confusing.

I took some pictures of these clematis in the garden last year, after I just bought my first DSRL, and I was so frustrated that the rich bluish purple always ended up having a red tinge on my display. This week, I went out again to take some pictures of them and I expected to have the same problems with colours. But having learnt a bit more about manual settings and white balance, I was surprised and happy to see, that this time, I got exactly the right colour. This really must be one of my biggest achievements so far in my process of learning DSLR photography :).

For my "green mug & purple nails" shot, however, I didn't pay enough attention of my white balance settings. It didn't turn out as had it in mind at all, and the purple/lilac of the nail varnish didn't turn right at all. This time, the opposite of my last year's clematis shots happened: the red tinge turned into a blueish one. But white balance is something I'm still struggling to master, especially in indoor situations.

Well, I'll keep on working on that. And I'm thinking about making a colour series: one colour a week. I'll definitely start with green :)

Monday 9 May 2011

Sweet treats

When going on holiday, one simply can't do without trying the culinary specialities, at least some of them, of the place one's staying. Even better when one's traveling around a bit, as this means that one get's to try different things. And if one's visiting two areas such as the Black Forest and the Alsace, one's really in for a treat. Well, more than one, really :)

One simply can't pay a visit to the Black Forest without trying a slice of the famous Black Forest gateau.

 The slices are huge...

...but tend to vanish rather quickly :)

The Alsace region is famous for many culinary specialities. One of them are blueberries. I love blueberries. And this blueberry cake tasted as delicious as it looks :)

Honestly, I could have spent all day in that café!

 This bakery, unfortunately, was closed. Tourists or no tourists, most shops still close for lunch, usually for a good two hours. And right they are in doing so! Even if it means that I don't get any délice myrtille.

Another speciality is the tarte flambée, or flammekueche. But I'm afraid it looked, and tasted, so well, that I completely forgot to take a picture...

And yes, I did do other things beside eat during my holiday! ;)

Monday 2 May 2011

Personalise your sketch book

I bought a few books full of wonderful creative ideas, excercices and inspiration. One's a book with drawing exercices, which I love especially. I've been wanting to do more drawing and sketching for a long time, and last year, I bought a great book about learning how to draw properly. I still haven't managed to work through the whole of it, though I made a start, which really convinced me about the method and approach tought in the book. The new book has a more fun approach, and it just made me want to start drawing right away. I have the week off, and will be away for a few days, so it's the perfect time to start reading the book and doing some of the exercices, and start drawing.

Of course, I needed a new sketch book for this. So I went to my favourite art supply shop in town, and bought one. It' a prober sketch book, suitable for different medias, with thick, good quality paper. I love the square format and I wanted one that is not too big, so that it's still convenient enough to carry around.

But of course, those black blank covers want a bit of personalising, and a touch of colour. The great thing with acrylics is that you reallycan paint on anything with them. Use a masking tape so that you won't have to be careful about going over the edges. (There's nothing more obstructive to the flow of creativity than having to be careful all the time about not making a mess).

Apply a coat of white paint or gesso and let dry. Use a hair drier (or heat gun) for speeding up the drying process. If necessary, especially if you want to use light and/or not so well covering colours, apply a second coat. Let dry.

Use your favourite colour and apply as many layers as necessary. Allow time to dry in between. Use tissue / household paper, bubble wrap and other things to create patterns and textures. Let dry. 

To add some more patterns and details, you can use stamps, stencils etc. for example.

Of course you can go on and add more layers, and paint some subject or pattern in different colours on top. You can also add other embellishments, but remember that if  you stick on things that are three dimensional, such as flower stickers or rhine stones, they might fall off when you intend to carry your sketch book around with you in your bag. (Of course you can always add another layer of paint at a later stage. Just stick some masking back on and continue your little art piece.)

When you're happy with the result, remove the masking tape. Et voilà, your personalised sketch book - makes it even more fun and inviting to open it and start getting creative :).

I actually thought about painting a She Girl on it, but I really like it as it is, so I think I'll just leave it. At least for the moment :)