Sunday 28 August 2011

A journey begins

I'm slowly getting into painting more. I've been painting with acrylics for over 15 years, but I haven't really pursued my hobby very "seriously". It all started when I signed up for a class in acrylic painting with a local artist. I loved the class, and the artist's style, his creativity, and his ability to share his tips and tricks. After all these years, I still go to his classes, the only exception were the two years when I was studying abroad. The classes only take place during the winter half year, and it's a mixture of instruction and a place to create of one's own. A place to create, chat, drink coffee and eat croissants, exchance ideas, get inspired and encouraged. It's a small group, max. 8, some of us having gone there for 10+ years. It's a relaxed atmosphere and I always look forward to the Saturday mornings spent there. But for most of the time, those classes used to be the only time I took up my brushes and paints. I even used to leave all my painting stuff there during those months (and putting them into the basement during summer, never to be touched until class started again). I was so busy with my studies, getting my qualifications, trainings, and finally my job, that it took up all my time and drained my inspiration, and even though I always would have liked to paint, I somehow never did.

But now, after having completed my degrees, and settled in my job, I got the urge again to pick up my brushes and paint. After all those years of following instructions and applying someone else's ideas to paper or canvas, I find it hard to find and develop my own style (something I seem to have avoided somehow during all those years). I have the pictures in my head, but when I'm looking at the finished result, it's not at all what I had in mind, how I wanted it to be like. And of course, that's frustrating. But the only way to continue is to, well, just continue. After all, nothing is achieved without practise. And if you're not happy with your achievement, well, there's only one solution: more practise. And this is exactly what I'm planning to do now. Ignore that inner voice that constantly tells me that I'll never meet my own expectations, that I'll never be good enough. Don't think too much, just paint.

So yesterday I did a little exercice, something I had in mind, greens and blues, with a book pile in the same colours, without too distinct boundaries between subject and background.

Preparing the background (I feel that often this is my favourite part of the process). I've used an old book cover to paint on (fitting the subject :) ), and stuck some pages from old books on first. You can see them shining through the paint in some places.

Sketching the subject:

Piling it up:

The finished piece. I wanted to add some text, a quote or something. I'm not quite happy with it, though. Think I should practise a script suitable for adding texts to my paintings. I was also thinking of cutting out the words from an old book, but there are quite a lot of words, so it might become too distracting, and also, the old books I have for tearing up are all in German.

It could be better, but I'm also not totally unhappy with it either. I do have some great troubles though taking pictures and reproducing the colours accurately. I'll have to try out if it works better with a scanner!.

So this is the beginning of my journey, the journey of practising, getting better, and discoering my own style, and also to get more confident with what I'm doing and accepting my ability, including it's limitations. I'll try to document my journey here so that in a year's time or so, I can look back and, hopefully, see my progress. But however it may go, the important thing to remember is to enjoy what you're doing, whatever the result. :)

Thursday 25 August 2011

Sunday morning art journaling & a new texture

*** you'll find the texture & download at the end of this post ***

I love spending Sunday mornings in my study/studio. The morning light coming through the window lightens up the room and inspires me to take out my paints and stuff and just do something with them. This morning, I finished another double page for my Inspiration Journal, a little booklet made out of old book covers on which I create paintings to inspire and encourage myself on my creative journey.

I also finished the front cover of the Inspiration Journal the day before. I wanted to keep it simple but also inviting to open the book. I just love this paper with those happy smiling pigs. In German speaking parts, pigs stand for good luck, and some good luck vibes seemed a good idea for my journey, wherever it will take me, and whatever road I will find the courage to follow. I might add some details to the wings, later on, but all in all, I'm quite happy with the result.

My Inspiration Journal isn't actually book yet. It's just a pile of painted book covers at the moment, but it's all coming together nicely, and once I have all the pages finished, I'll punch some holes and voilà, my own little inspiration book.

As I had some paint left, and I don't really like to waste my paint, I decided to use it on a sheet of canvas, and make a simple texture for photo processing out of it.

And here's the result, my little Listen To Your Violet Heart texture. You can use it with or without the text, just as you like. I'm not quite sure how it is, to be honest, but maybe you'll find some use for it, the text (a stamp) didn't quite turn out as I wanted in the scanning process. And I'm still learning what works best as a texture for processing photos with.

Here's the link for the download (or click on the image above), if you'd like to give it a try yourself.

Here are two examples where I used the texture - turning a sunny winter landscape into, well, something a bit, hmm, quite weird, I admit - I was just in the mood to play around and be a little bit silly ;).

I guess you just have to like the colour purple/violet for this :)

Tuesday 23 August 2011

There. I did it.

I set up a Facebook page. Not a personal account, but a "business" page (not that I have any "business" (yet)). Why I am thinking about setting up some sort of "business" (there, I can't even write it without the inverted commas), is something I will be writing about some time later, this week, or next.

But back to Facebook. I have resisted Facebook so far (which hasn't really been very hard) for 2 3 reasons:

  1. I simply felt, and still feel, very uncomfortable about sending my real name, my own real identity into the WorldWideWeb. I'm shy, you see. That's what I like about all the other things I'm using, my blog, Twitter, Flickr, you don't have to make your real name public if you don't want to.
  2. I find the design of Facebook utterly unattractive. I'm a visual person, I've even been called an aesthete once, and the design of Facebook just doesn't appeal to me. At all.
  3. I'm already spending a lot of time online with writing posts for my own blog, reading and commenting on other blogs, trying to keep up with Flickr, not keeping up with Twitter at all at the moment. Not to mention that I feel that I never have enough time for offline things, such as processing pictures, and most important of all, painting, drawing, sketching, creating...
So why have I now set up a page, after all? Well, it's all got to do with this e-course I've subscribed to (the thing I'll be writing about in another post, soon). There's a private Facebook group for the course, and apparently, there's a lot of discussion going on there in which I can't participate, because I'm not on Facebook.With that "project" I have in mind doing, I probably would have set up this Facebook page anyway, sooner or later, and as I would like to participate, well, I just had to set it up sooner, rather than later. Which I have done now.

And having registered, and set it up, I'm completely confused. I usually have no problems getting the hang of these things. I just try everything out and find my way through all the possibilities. But Facebook really just totally confuses me (maybe there's still that inner resistance). Also, I haven't created my profile yet. Because, as I said, I'm somehow completely reluctant to make my real name public on the web (everything you find by googling my real name is work related). But it seems that in order to connect with others, to really do something with that page, I have to create my profie. I have considered using a pseudonym (and I have come up with an adorable name (at least I think so), so much more 'me' than my real name), but I don't know really how much sense that makes. No one who knew me really would find me, and telling all my friends and family that I have an alias sounds rather impractical (they'd probably just laugh at me...). And also, I don't know if you can later change the name once you've put your profile up with a certain name.

So I haven't really come very far with my new Facebook page yet. I added a profile picture (which somehow I managed to upload twice, and I don't know where to delete it. (Where are the delete buttons/options???), and I've written a status message, or whatever it's called (I find the terminology there rather silly as well). And now I'm sort of stuck. I don't know what next to do (oh, I still so love my alias, and do I really want to write my real name?).

The only thing I really enjoyed was designing a kind of "logo" or button I'm using as my profile picture:

I'm sure I'll be making some alterations to it very soon (as with my blog header, which is a constant work in progress), but for the moment, I like it, a lot :). (And I think I'll have to add (digital) collage to my creative activities...).

And oh, as I mentioned, I didn't create a personal account, but a "business" account, registering as "artist", and feeling completely silly (and rather embarrassed) about it. Probably another reason why I feel so shy about daring to write my real name....

And just in case you're interested, here's the link to my Facebook page. Come and visit, and if you have any tips about how to get along with Facebook, I'd be more than grateful.

Sunday 21 August 2011

Journal writing

I have signed up for a new course at BigPictureClasses (well, it actually started 2 weeks ago, but as usual, I'm behind...), a different course this time than the courses I've been taking in the last few months - courses on photography, mixed media art, scrapbooking (which I discovered that it isn't really my thing but which led me to mixed media, which allows me to put all those wonderful patterned papers and stamps into good use), photo post processing, generally getting creative etc. This course now is about writing. Journal writing, to be precise. I'm not a great journal writer, never have been. I haven't got piles of pink journals filled with my teenage thoughts, fears, crushes etc. I have a handful of travel journals and another handful of half empty journals, documenting my attempts of getting into to habit of exploring my life, analysing my inner self and creating memories for the future me through journaling. I'm probably just a rubbish interpreter of my inner self. I simply never got anywhere with journaling. But I've been quite envious of those who are great at pouring their hearts into their journals, having all those wonderful pages filled with memories to go back to.

I always enjoyed writing though. I used to be top of class in essay writing all through my school years. At the end of university, however, my confidence was crushed forever by the words of my professor, when discussing my master thesis with me: "Well, Ms B., writing just isn't your strenght". Unfortunately, these words are all that stuck, every praise and positive remark I've ever received during all of my many school years, and even after my masters degree (he accepted it, at least) where wiped out by those few words. Even when doing something personal as writing into a journal, I'd find myself sitting there facing the empty page, saying to myself, 'who are you kidding? don't you know? you just simply can't write!'.

But now, after all those years, I finally want to forget, or at least ignore, those words, and start to write again. However, there remains the initial problem, that I'm just not good at creating memories by filling endless pages in a journal. I just never go back and read them.

Last year, during a workshop, we did a test to find out what kind of learning type each of us was - visual, haptic, auditive, textbased. I expected that I learnt best by reading (considering I'm a bookworm, librarian, having studied lingustics and literature). As it turned out, I'm not. I'm the visual type (closely followed by text though), which, when thinking about it, actually makes a lot of sense.

Art journaling, something I've only just recently discovered, therefore seemed to be the perfect solution. A visual memory, with just some few significant (what a great word!) to complement them, making it the perfect memory for me to remember. But oh, how often did I find myself sitting there, nib pen ready in hand, struggling to find the right words to jot down, getting up to make a cup of tea, coming back, head still empty of the right words, afraid of ruining my page by getting too many or too few words, phrases, lines, on the page, messing up the whole balance of my work. And ending up with just the 'art' bit, missing it's 'journaling'.

And that's where the writing class comes in. I haven't actually quite gotten round to doing the writing exercises, to be honest, but I definitely intend to do them. After all, there's no hurry. All in it's own time. I have been reading through all the pages of the handouts and prompts and assignments, though. And I realised something. Nothing great, just a little thing. But more often than not, it's those little realisations, which probably, are quite obvious to everyone else, but which have been bothering us, annoying us, frustrating us, until, at last, the solution strikes us quite unexpectedly, and everything becomes clear. And that's exactly what happened.

The thing is: I don't have to write the journaling part down right t here and then, nib pen in hand, expecting the perfect words to just flow out from my brain right into my hand in the perfect journaling, all effortlessly, and easy. Instead, I can write it all up on my computer, play around with it, rearrange it, shape it, until it looks right, print it out, and then, nib pen and ink bottle ready, just copy it on to my journal page. 'Well, yes, why, of course, isn't it obvious??' You might be thinking right now, when reading it. It is actually is rather obvious. So why, I ask you, or rather myself, haven't I thought of it before??? It would have made my journaling life much easier these last few weeks. But at least, from now on, it will. At least I seriously hope so!

And although I'm not the auditive type, a little background music can be very inspiring, calming, encouraging, when writing or painting, so here's what I like to listen to when I'm creating (or reading in the train in the mornings), one of my absolute favourites, Vivaldi's Concerto in B minor RV 580 from the L'Estro Armonico collection (I love violins, and I love the minor keys). It's not the best quality, but I liked this version, and the b&w just fits perfectly. (Click here for another, newer version).

Friday 19 August 2011


Summer's now finally arrived here, with much delay, and, in my opinion, rather unnecessarily. I don't like summer very much, and I don't like sunshine very much. Long, cold, dark winter nights, the world outside all white, warm lights inside a comfortable, welcoming home, thick wollen socks, a big mug of hot white cholocate, big snowflakes falling noiselessly down outside my window are much more to my taste. The only thing I really like about summer are the thunder storms. Hopefully, we'll have one tonight!

Textures: Shadowhoues Creations

It's my day off today, outside, the temperature is around 30 degrees, and it's hot and humid, and I'm doing the only reasonable thing - I'm staying inside the house. All day. All weekend. And all of next week I would too, if I could and didn't have to go to work, as summer has apparently decided to hang around for a bit now.

So I'm staying inside the house, spending the time doing things that need to be done, going through my pictures, old winter picures, dreaming of cooler days, longing for winter, snow, ice, the north, another place, another life, listening to my favourite songs, dark, melancholic songs, which bring back memories of times gone by and places where I felt at home.

Maybe I'll go outside a bit later on, when it's cooled down at least a little bit, when the sun has set behind the mountain. But maybe not. I'm looking forward to having the snow scrunching underneath my warm winter boots again, in a few months, hopefully. I feel so much better in thick wollen jumpers and scarfs and winter boots than in t-shirts, skimpy dresses and sandals, and I look much better in them as well, believe me.

Textures: Shadowhouse Creations

So I'm staying in, drinking a glass of cold water with homemade mint syrup, and planning my next summer's holiday: Scandinavia, Iceland, Greenland, the North Pole... ;)

Monday 15 August 2011

A day in the mountains ~ in search of the berries

My mum knows a few excellent spots for blueberry picking up in the mountains around Klosters, and on Saturday morning, we went up there looking for those juicy berries - my absolute favourites ever since I was a child.

We went up to Monbiel, parked the car, took a look back down the valley, and then walked off, following the path, gently upwards, leading us eventually to the woods.

I kept looking back, taking pictures. Mainly because the sun was right in front of me, and very bright up there, but also because the view really is nice, and I just loved those big clouds hovering over the peaks.

Following the path along green alpine meadows full of wild flowers in all shapes and colours. And a few fences for Fence Friday, which I managed to completely forget (I was much too exhausted last Friday to do anything at all once I was back home in the evening. More about that coming later on, making a big chronological mess, but who cares anyway :) ).

And always looking back, taking in the ever changing views. Wouldn't it be nice to live up here, in one of those cottages? Or at least spend a week, or even just a few daysm up here? Just imagine the silence in the evening!

Did we find the blueberries in the hidden clearing full of blueberry bushes in the woods, and return home ladden with those freshly picked wild mountain delicacies, turning them into delicious pies, mixing them with creamy yoghurt, or just eating them straight out of the dish? Well, we'll see...

P.S. Although it's already feeling quite like autumn up there, it's not yet quite that yellowy looking, but still very green all around, both the and  trees. The autumn touch mainly comes from the marvelous texture by Shadowhouse Creations I've used here. I just love that texture!

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Week in the life ~ Sunday

Sunday, 7/08/2011. It's raining cats and dogs outside, a perfect day to stay in for a lazy Sunday. Well, after the laundry and other household chores. It has to be done...

The week before last, I signed up for a trial lesson at one of the language schools in town. I've been wanting to go to Swedish classes again for ages. I've no idea what level I am. I have no problems reading detective novels or following (well more or less, anyway) a film or series in Swedish, but I'm absolute rubbish at talking myself. The trial lesson is to find out what level I am and find the right class for me. I'm looking forward to it, but I'm also a bit nervous. I've taken quite a few Swedish classes, most of them during my year at Stockholm University many years ago, and I don't really want to end up in a beginner's class. So I'm taking out all my old text, grammar and exercices books to brush up. And I've started reading a Swedish novel. It's actually Norwegian, but I'm reading the Swedish translation. I definitely can't read Norwegian, at least not a whole novel.

A little treat for Sunday lunch. I love salmon.

It's still quite wet outside in the afternoon, and I use the time to go through some pictures I took last Sunday during a walk. After all, this is a walk I could have taken today, if the weather wasn't so bad all day. I love walking through the woods, and taking pictures of the trees. The bright green of the foliage and the light in the trees are just beautiful, but I find forest photos such a hard thing to do. .

There are cows everywhere in Switzerland, even close to and in the city. Most of them usually have bells, even if they're just in a small field next to the farm instead of roaming freely around the alps. These ones were even allowed to keep their horns. I think they look much better with their horns, like cows should look like. But also even scarier. Yes, I admit it. I'm afraid of cows...

Walking along the corn fields. Love the golden colour and the details in the summer sun.

I've wanted to go to this little lake or pond for ages. Actually, my plan was to come here on a Sunday morning back in autumn or winter, really really early in the morning, to catch the frost and mist, but I never managed it. But it also looks quite nice on a sunny summer Sunday afternoon. It reminds me of one of my favourite places I used to go to back in Stockholm, in the Nationalpark near the student campus where I lived.

There's a sign pointing to a little lake in the middle of the forest. I'm intrigued. I haven't been in this part of the forest for ages. I've passed it many times by bus or car, and I've seen many people going into the forest for a walk, but I've always avoided the forest myself. When I was at the impressionable age of about 12 or 13, a woman was found dead in this forest, somewhere around this lake. She was walking her dog one early morning, and was murdered. I don't remember any details or the exact circumstances, if I ever knew any. All I ever knew and remember was that a woman went for a walk into the forest and was murdered for no apparent reason. And I haven't dared enter this forest ever since, for over 20 years. Until today. And I wouldn't have gone into it if it hadn't been such a sunny summer afternoon, with lots of people around. I do like my solitary walks, which allow me to dwell on my thoughts, and to take as many pictures along the way as I want, without someone impatiently having to wait for me all the time. But right now, I would have much preferred not to be on my own,to be honest. It's a beautiful, even peaceful place. But I never felt 100% comfortable. For me, it will always have this slightly dangerous and scary atmosphere, a place, where someone once was murdered. *shiver*

Texture by Shadowhouse Creations

There are lots of little things to see along the path, everywhere around you, if you keep your eyes open and look. Something, my camera has taught be to do in the last year.

What music should I chose for today's post? Hmmm, there are so many more Swiss band, and it's a difficult decision. Well, I guess Gölä will do. Mostly because I find the video quite funny, somehow, and the song's about 'the goold old time when we were young and wild', and I've sort of reached that age when your start doing that, thinking about 'back then'. Anyway. The song's from 1999, and you can clearly see why Gölä was voted the least handsome man, or something like that anyway, in Switzerland a few years back :). In the meantime, he's got rid of the ridiculous long hair, has a few more tatoos and a few more pounds around the waist, has emmigrated to Australia, and come back, sings now in English only, and has announced to never sing in dialect again, but did so after all a on a tv show a few years ago, although only half of the song. But dialect songs is what he does best, I think. So here we go.

I have to take my lunch with me to work, as there's nothing really close to the library where you could get something. I'm preparing a sandwich and some carrot salad for tomorrow. A few weeks ago I complained to my mum that I always grated off at best parts of my finger nail, at worst parts of my finger with my grater (one of those flat board-like ones). My mum hads the solution for my problem - my grandmother's old multi-purpose grating machine. Over 50 years old, it comes with 6 different grating disks, and it's just perfect. Easy to use, clean and store, and no danger at all to my finger and finger nails :). Who needs modern kitchen utensils... :)

I really like my little gadget. A lot! :)

In the evening, I finally find the time to take out a piece of paper and some colours. I've bought some PanPastels not long ago, and I've been wanting to try them out. They're really quite cool, and quick and easy to apply. It only takes me about 15 minutes to do this.

And so my Week in the life is finally over. I'm quite glad, I must admit. I'm happy that for once, I actually managed to do and finish a project. But it's been a lot of work looking for and taking pictures every day and process them in the evening (even though I only did the most basic processing), and write it all up in a blog post. Much as I love my camera, I'm glad I don't have to carry it with me every single day anymore. My week, I'm afraid, has been rather boring. There's not so much going on in my life at the moment. But having to commute up to 4 hours every day does not leave much room for an exciting life. It's just tiring. And not really recommendable. On the other hand, this whole week made me realise how much there is to see and appreciate even in every day life. It's been a good experience.

Sunday 7 August 2011

Week in the life ~ Saturday

Saturday, 6/08/2011. Saturday morning, time for the weekly shopping. I buy a bunch of purple dahlias. I love flowers in my home, and I love dahlias. They always remind me of one of my favourite National Trust places, Angelsey Abbey. They have a wonderful dahlia garden there.

Texture by Kim Klassen
 I'm going to meet up with a friend in town in the afternoon, but I go to Zürich a bit earlier, in order to take some pictures for today. It's strange weather today, hot and very humid and oppressive. It's sunny but the sky's full of clouds hanging low over the lake. It's going to be rainy later on.




Limmat, Grossmünster, Fraumünster, St. Peter
Walking along the Limmat to the lake in the welcoming shadow of the trees. Love the bright greens!

There are many bathing places around the lake and the Limmat. This one is the Frauenbad. In 1837, a bathhouse for women only was opened here, which in 1888 was replaced with this building here. It is still a bath exclusively for women.

On clear days, with the Föhn, a warm wind from the south, the alps look like they begin right behind the lake. Not so clear today, but you can still see them in the distance.

Lake Zürich. We love our lake.

All ships and boats on the lake and on the Limmat, as most other ships and boats in Switzerland, are part of the public transport system, which means you don't need to buy an extra ticket. Go on a cruise, or take the ship instead of the train to get to one of the towns and villages long the shore.

Or just hop into the lake for a refreshing swim in this oppressively hot and humid summer weather.

I walk all the way to Bellevue for an ice cream - one of the very few places in Zürich where you can get mint ice cream. I simply love mint ice cream. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to very popular...

I walk back on the other side of the river, along the Limmatquai. This is my favourite bridge, the Münsterbrücke (minster bridge), connecting the two big churches, Fraumünster (which you can see here) and Grossmünster (see above).

Along the Limmatquai, there are numerous guildhalls. They still have their flags out because of last Monday, the 1st of August, our National Day.

I have to go to the Zentralbibliothek, the Central Library, to pick up a book before I meet my friend. This is the canton, city, and university library, and I've been here many times during my studies.

I don't get to take any more pictures this afternoon. Some shoe shops get in my way, and I have my hands full. And over all the chatting, and catching up, and drinking coffee with my friend, I forget all about my camera.

Back home again, and time for a nice cup of tea. It's going to be a quiet evening at home. I'm not one for going out on a Saturday night, really. With all the commuting and long days during the week, I'm just glad to be able to relax and do nothing. There's no Terry & June on on the weekend, but there'll be an episode of Wallander later on BBC4 - the original Swedish version, with English subtitles.

And of course, we mustn't forget about the music. Here's one of my favourite bands, Patent Ochsner. Together with Züri West from yesterday's post, they're among the most successful rock bands here. Both of them having been around for over 20 years. Here's a version of one of my most favourite songs by them, W. Nuss vo Bümpliz from 1997, a live version with orchestra.