Thursday 13 December 2012

A frosty morning with Instagram

I don't have much time, and patience, for sitting down in peace and quiet to do some painting at the moment, and I've neglected my camera for ages. That's probably why I enjoy my new iPhone even more, as it allows me to play around and snap, edit and share photos so easily.

It was a frosty morning, freezing cold but so beautiful, especially along the river. And while I very much regretted not having my camera with me, I was so glad that I had my phone to take photos with, and to share some of them on Instagram. I just love winter. And my new phone :)

Monday 10 December 2012

Playing with my new mobile and Instagram

I finally got myself a new mobile phone, after the battery of my old one had reached the state where it wasn't really possible to use it anymore without it being plugged in. I had been thinking about getting a new mobile for ages, but just couldn't make up my mind about what I wanted. At the end, I couldn't resist the new iPhone, and I was so excited that I didn't even had to wait the usual 2-5 weeks for it, as the phone shop just had a delivery the day before, and I could take it home and start playing with it straight away.

It's my first smartphone, and now instead of reading, I spend most of the time on the train playing with it, looking for new apps, listening to Swedish audio books, which I don't even have to download on to my phone anymore, downloading music, and taking photos and editing them on my phone with the use of different apps. My latest 'discovery' is Instagram. Yes, I know, it's nothing new, and even I had heard about it long before I even considered getting a new mobile. But right now, it's all new to me, and so much fun to use.

Are you using Instagram? I'm still finding it a bit confusing to find people there. You'll find me here: NORDLJUSDREAMS

Monday 3 December 2012

Why it is a good idea to add a watermark to your photos

I've become a bit of a Pinterest addict again after not having used it for several months. It is a wonderful source for inspiration of all kinds, and you can find some interesting stuff there. Very interesting, indeed. A few days ago, I looked through someone's board of wintery images when suddenly I saw a photo that looked somehow familiar. It was one of those "uploaded by user" ones with no link or reference whatsoever. I could see a little watermark on it, though, so I clicked on it to view it in a bigger size, curious why it looked so familiar. Well, when I saw the watermark, I knew why it had looked so familiar - it was my own photo!

I had taken this photo and uploaded it to Flickr about 2 years ago. I haven't used Flickr in quite a while now, and never renewed my Pro account after it expired over a year ago. Apparently, the photo was uploaded to Pinterest about 3 weeks ago. Where that user got the photo from, I don't know. Is it still visible in some Flickr group pool, even though in my own photostream, only the latest 200 of my 1500+ photos are visible? And how did they manage to download it in the first place, considering that I disenabled downloading from Flickr? I really have no idea.

Up- and downloading photos and sharing them on sites like Flickr, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest etc. is ever so easy these days. Unfortunately, relevant information such as references to owners and creators, credits and links back to the original website get forgotten and lost even easier.

For some time now I have become more careful about how and what I repin on Pinterest. I try to follow back every photo I like to see if it links to the original website with all the relevant information provided. If it only links to back to one Tumblr site after another, I don't repin it, even if, as in some cases, the artist is mentioned. Unfortunately, there are so many rather 'careless' pinners, and I can only imagine that these people are neither painters, photographers or otherwise active creatives - or they would be much more aware of how much time and effort goes into creating a painting, art journal page, photograph etc. and how one would like to be given the credit for ones work. And there are also many people who would actually like to know who the artist of a certain photograph, artwork etc. was, but with no information whatsoever, it is simply impossible to find out.

This is why I've started, soon after I got my first DSLR, joined Flickr, and started learning about photo editing, to add a watermark to my photos. I know that there are a lot of people who are not very fond of watermarks, but then there are also a whole lot of people out there who don't care where a photo comes from, so it is up to you to make sure that you put the information right on it and to get the credit for it that you deserve.

And it's really no big deal to add a watermark. And you can even be creative with that too. I use a PNG file I created in Photoshop Elements to slide over any photo in no time. You can even use one those free and easy to use photo editing sites like PicMonkey to add text.Personally, I think the best waterwark is your blog/website address, but unfortunately when I created my blog, I chose a rather long and inconvenient name, so I just use my "name" instead and hope that if someone googles it, it will lead back to the right source. It's easy to create a watermark in f.ex. Photoshop, and you can find numerous tutorials for them.Whatever you use, just make sure it has your name on it.

Friday 16 November 2012

The first step

I should really be somewhere else now, doing something complete different today and the next 10 days, instead of being where I am and doing what I am now. But sometimes life doesn't go according to plan, some rescheduling is required. But at least it means that I can go the party today, and that brightens this otherwise rather depressing day at least a little bit.

autumn day, mixed media on canvas, 40x40cm

I've been very busy these past few weeks and months, both with work and with my paints and brushes - and some additional materials. Last weekend we hosted our annual technological-historical conference at the library, and this year's topic was "material flows / material cycles".

paradies, mixed media on canvas, 40x40cm
This year, I had the chance to make a little contribution too, by showing some of my paintings. The idea was to show how one's work can be a source inspiration in different ways. (I've already talked about this a little bit in another PPF post, a few weeks ago). Book covers and pages of old journals that needed to be disposed can be re-used as collage elements or to paint on. Old library tickes and catalogue cards, decades-old calendar sheets, little notes and letters can be found between the covers of those old books, and they make perfect elements to use in a painting. The surroundings of the library, the river and the nearby forest with their bird and nature reserve, are a well of inspiration too, and can find their way into a painting, be that the light and autumn colours in the park, or some photographs that turn into collage elements.

paradies, mixed media on canvas, 40x40cm

It was a bit scary, but also exciting, to show some of my work to a group of more or less complete strangers. Would they like it? Or would they think it was just silly? It was a bit of a test for me, and I was quite glad to have the change to do it in this small, protected environment. The reactions were very positive and encouraging (although some of the remarks made me laugh a little bit - yes, even librarians have a life outside the library, and other interests than just books!).

My little display of my my work - my first ever!

So this was the first step outside. Now we'll see what comes next, and how this journey continues. But now it's time for the party!

Monday 12 November 2012

AEDM days 5 to 12 (minus day 10)

Last week has been a very busy week at work, including having to stay at a hotel for two nights, a very very long Friday, and working on Saturday as well. I did manage to do some sketching on most days though, but I didn't have any time at all for keeping up my blog, or visit any other blogs. But now the busy time's finally over, and things should get back to normal again.

5/11/2012 ~ AEDM Day 5: Dalahästen

These carved wooden horses have a long history and they are very pretty too. They're usually painted in bright colours, the most common one being red, but my favourite one is this plain wooden one with white pattern.

6/11/2012 ~ ADEM Day 6: My Cup of Tea

When inspiration's just gone on a little tea break and you just really don't know what to draw, simply draw what's next to you. Like your favourite tea mug.

7/11/2012 ~ AEDM Day 7: Doorstopper

And if you still don't know what to draw the day after, just take the next closest thing that's lying around. Like this turquoise paint tube-shaped doorstopper. Not that I've ever really used it as a doorstopper.

8/11/2012 ~ AEDM Day 8: Fighting that Cough

Trying to get rid of that annoying cough with cough syrup and sage pastilles. They seem to be working.

9/11/2012 ~ AEDM Day 9: The Conference

The best thing to do to pass the time at the conference was to just sketch it.

10/11/2012 ~ AEDM Day 10:

Sorry, no sketch. After an intense and exhausting two conference days, I just didn't have the energy to do even a simple little sketch.

11/11/2012 ~ AEDM Day 11: Leaves

Spent all day on the sofa, reading or watching films, and recovering from the conference and all the preparations it required. It was raining cats and dogs all day, so that was just a perfect excuse too. And I even remembered to do a little sketch. Just some simple leaves.

12/11/2012 ~ AEDM Day 12: Clementines

I always love the first clementines, they're always the best.

Sunday 4 November 2012

AEDM days 2 to 4, and day 1 with a splash of colour

My intended "quick sketches" are turning out to take much longer to do, but I'm thoroughly enjoying the process, whether it's a quick lunch time sketch with some colour added in the evening, a relaxing evening sketch, a sneaky sketch during art class or an early Sunday morning warm up sketch before spending the rest of the day painting.

2/11/2012 ~ AEDM Day 2: Basic Tools

 Some of my very basic brushes (some of them are simple pastry brushes from the supermarket) and my favourite green water jar.

3/11/2012 ~ AEDM Day 3: The Artist

M painting teacher at work. Unfortunately, it doesn't look anything like him. I'm still far away from getting a real likeness when trying to sketch people. But the first step is to practise sketching people at all - and getting quicker at it. Why can't people just stand still?

4/11/2012 ~ AEDM Day 4: A Pocket Full of Pink

I received a pocketful of Pink the other day, including these lovely buttons. Just perfect for sketching on a Sunday morning.

And the Ginkgo sketch from Day 1 got a bit of colour too:

Have a wonderful, creative Sunday!

Thursday 1 November 2012

It's Art Every Day Month again

November is Art Every Day Month, the challenge hosted by Leah Piken Kolidas from Creative Every Day blog. I took part last year and really enjoyed it, both to force myself to do something every day and the community. I thought I had to give it a miss this years, as November was already filled with plans, which did not really include blogging, or even sketching. But thanks to life being bitchy, it's going to be a lot less eventful month, I'm afraid. And so, with some more time on my hands, I'm joining after all. After all, it's a good way to keep oneself busy.

I know I won't be able to post every day, but I definitely intend to be creative every day. I've dug out my abanondend little Moleskine sketchbook this morning, and my intention is to fill a page each day. I am so impressed by Serena Lewis' terrific sketches for Blogtoberfest and the 75 penk/ink sketch challenge, and they have inspired me try and do a sketch each day for this year's AEDM. Although not necessarily only pen or ink. I do like my pencils (and eraser) and a splash of colour.

1/11/2012 ~ AEDM Day 1: Ginkgo

There's a wonderful big old Ginkgo tree (just getting the spelling right is a little challenge in itself!) outside my window at work. Now, in autumn, it's beautifully shaped leaves are bright yellow, and the ground's already covered with them. As well as with its, or rather her, seeds, as there are actually both male and female trees with only the females producing seeds that look like little fruits. I picked up some of the leaves and seeds for this lunch-time sketch this mornin, but I think I'll add a little bit of colour later this evening.

Friday 26 October 2012

Painting Therapy

Painting is just a perfect way to keep yourself busy and get your minds off things at those times when life decides to present itself from its bitchiest side. So I pretty much spent most of last Monday, when I had a day off, filling one page after the other in my art journal. Painting in your art journal has the added advantage that you can not only take your mind off things for a while, but to also get some things out of your system and turn them into something pleasing and colourful.

"Pieces of Me" - well, not really colourful. I had to go to one of those awful photo boothes, as the train company asked me to send them a new photo to renew my annual train pass. Gosh, I just hate those. But then the photo on my train pass was from my mid twenties, so maybe they did have a point...

"Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained" -  Sometimes you have to be a bit adventurous, and be prepared for some changes to take place in your life.

"Listen To Your Heart" - Of course there have to be two pages, linked together. I think they speak for themselves.

"How Long Until We Meet At Last?"  - Yes, that is indeed the question right now. Thanks to life being bitchy.

"Anticipating Winter" - Well, I just love winter, and snow, and those lovely, amazing snowflakes, so I just had to make a page for winter. According to the weather forecast, we might even get some snow already tomorrow! Fine with me :)

I'm sorry for having been so terrible with keeping up with Paint Party Friday last week, but, well, life and all that... I promise to do better this weekend. Although I also have the complete second series of Downton Abbey to get through, and some more journal pages to fill...

Friday 12 October 2012

Not all change is bad change

I've added a new page to my Change Journal, which I have quite neglected a bit these past few weeks and months. It was one of those pages where I had no idea what would come out of it when I started. I realised that I hadn't used much blue for a while, and that I even had some new blue paints that were still unopend, so I just started with painting a blue background.

I've been wanting to create a page using a vintage image for ages, and still not knowing what to do, really, this dreamy, happy girl just seemed perfect.

And lots and and lots of butterflies all around.

I started this journal only a few months ago, to help me work on my attitude towards change. And although there's still a lot of change I'm not happy with, I'm beginning to see that not all change is necessarily for the worse. Some changes are pretty good, really. And they come when you least expect it, and are brought about by the smallest things, like finally writing a long overdue e-mail. And suddenly, your world is turned upside down, and you'll find yourself smiling and dreaming and hoping that there'll be even more changes following that will change your life forever, and for the better.

Friday 5 October 2012


I have missed so many Paint Party Fridays I can't even remember how many of them exactly! So this post really is long overdue, and I'm glad to be back :)

I'm working on a little "recycling" project, although I don't really like the label. Firstly, the term "recycling" makes most people think of plastic bottles and and recycling containers, and things like that. Secondly, collecting things that inspire us and re-use them in some way or other in a painting, is not really something so very special for a mixed media painter. It's just what we do. But then, we're not all painters, mixed media or others, and some people seem to need some kind of labelling to make sense of it all.

We received a whole bunch of old bound journals at the library, and most of them had those old lending cards in them, with the names and dates of the people who borrowed the books between the 1950s and 1970s. I took them all out and used some of them as a background, adding layers of colour, and some image transfer (book paper, of course) on top of it, before adding the word. "Overdue" just seemed the most appropriate, and it just fitted the size of the canvas perfectly :). And there's even more, less obvious, library related "recycling" here too - I used some cardboard insides of a roll of shelfmark label stickers for the circles. The library is an endless well of inspiration :).

"Overdue" - 30x30cm mixed media on canvas

Monday 1 October 2012

Autumn at last

It's the first of October already, and it's definitely beginning to look like autumn here. I began my favourite time of the year with a new Moleskine journal, as the old one, although not quite filled to the last page, is definitely full.

The days are getting considerably shorter, and the mornings decidedly cooler, especially on a bicycle. The trees are still green here, but they should start to change any time now, and I can't wait to see all the beautiful, warm, fiery autumn colours starting to appear everywhere.

Walking through the rustling leaves in the forest, the crisp, clean air, the mist hanging over the river, the explosions of colours all around, coming back to a warm, welcoming home, curling up on the sofa with a cup of hot chocolate while it's slowly getting dark outside, and lights are being lit everywhere. There's always something especially comfortable and welcoming about autumn I find.

But the best thing about autumn is, that it is not long now until the first snow!

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Back home

I've had the most wonderful holiday last week, in one of my most favourite cities, Stockholm. Ten years ago, I spent the best year of my life (so far, anyway) there, and I enjoyed visiting all my favourite places again,  in and around the city, and up at the university campus.

But what made my stay up there extra special last week was a very special person, who I felt was with me every minute I was there, even though he was more than 1500 kilometers away. Now I'm back home again, messing around with my paints and my art journal, but unfortunately my very special person is still too far away.

Sending lots of hugs and kisses across the channel until we meet :)

Saturday 25 August 2012

sunbeams and shadows

it's funny how a journal page seems to evolve all by itself sometimes

 it all starts with some crackle paint and no idea at all about what to do with this page

then some earth tones for the background

some Titanium White

and some dark earth tone inks

a quote that you keep returning to while searching for some fitting words

the subconscious mind is a funny thing sometimes...

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Why, thank you!

I've received a "Liebster Blog" award from lovely Sandra from Sandraws, an amazing artist, who does beautiful drawings and paints the most gorgeous vintage teddy bears in oils. This award is to promote smaller blogs with less than 200 followers and has to be passed on to 5 other blogs/bloggers. I think it's a lovely way of sharing blogs that inspire you. You also have to list 5 things people didn't know about you.

There are so many blogs that I find inspiring, so here's a pick of five favourite blogs (as that's what "Liebster Blog" means) I like to share with you today (and there's no pressure if you prefer not to play along and pass it on):

1. Art Journal Journey is a challenge blog where art journaler can share their creations each month to a given theme. It's hosted by the lovey Susi from Austria, a passionate crafter and "stamper girl", whose own blog froebelsternchen is also well worth visiting (but with more than 200 followers doesn't qualify for the award anymore).

2. Huldas Byrålåda. Elin from Sweden shares her beautiful paintings and collages, and her artistic journey. She also has some great tips, for example how to make your own frames. 

3. A Colourful Journey. Carolyn from the States creates wonderfully colourful mixed media art, and always shares the entire process of each piece. She even has some cool video tutorials which she did herself!

4. cripple pencil. US based Minnemie paints the most gorgeous water colours, mostly African animals (she grew up in South Africa), accompagnied by wonderful words. And she quotes Old English in her blog header. Everyone who quotes Old English has me as a fan for sure!

5. Tracey Grgic Potter's blog. Tracey from Brisbane, Australia, paints beautiful portraits in oil, and she shares a lot of practical information, such as how to mix colours. She also hosts the weekly Palette & Paint blog party, where artists can share their work and palettes.

I also wanted to create a journal page for the occasion, and I had the perfect word left from my box of chipboard letters. And as Sandra has asked for a step-by-step for my journal pages, I took pictures all along the process. So here it is:

1. I printed out an image, a lovely vintage map of the world, from the internet to use for this page, and then searched for a left over piece of matching patterned paper in my stack, as the map didn't fit the entire journal page.

2. I then glued the two sheets of paper on to the double journal page, and trimmed the edges. One thing I really love about the Moleskine journals is their round corners.

3. To tone it all down a bit, I painted a light coat of white gesso, using a dry brush, over the whole page. Then I added some (transparent) paint mostly around the edges. I used Yellow Ochre and a bit of Nickel Azo Yellow to add to the aged look of the map.

4. I then used stamps to add some more interest to the background. I love these two text stamps, and I think the old fashioned handwriting fits the old map perfectly. My favourite ink is StazOn Timber Brown. I use this about 95 % of the time.

5. I love circles, and I have a whole collection of circly things in different sizes to add them to a page. I added a couple of ochre circles and sprayed them with water to let the paint run down the page.

6. I added some more white circles, and then white washed the whole page with a wash of transparent white paint, as  I thought it was a bit too bright. And of course I always have to add some paint splashes. Can't do without :)

7. Now it was time to add the chipboard lettes. As they had pretty much the same colour, and even pattern, as the background, I painted a light strip of white gesso as an underground, just to make them stand out from the page a little bit. I then added some colour to them; some ochre around the edges, and some white in the middle. I wanted them to blend into the page, but still be visible.

8. I then wrote down some words in a Word document on my computer in a font I liked, printed out the sheet, cut out the words and glued them down. I added a bit of very transparent paint, as the white would would have been a bit too harsh here.

9. To finish it up, I used a black fine liner, and a white gel pen, to define all the words a bit more. And here's the finished page:

Over the past almost two years (since I started this blog), I've occasionally asked myself why I keep this blog in the first place. Sometimes it just felt too overwhelming, too time consuming, and with as good as no readers in the beginning, also a bit pointless. But I kept on, and today, I know Why: Blogging allows me to explore, to see what other like-minded creatives do, it allows me to learn and grow, and get new ideas. I get so much inspiration, and when I manage to inspire someone else in return, it just makes me so happy. Blogging allows me to connect with other artists out there, all over the world, to be part of a wonderful community, and to build up friendships - even though we might never ever actually meet in real life. The (artists) blog world is a wonderful place full of lovely, passionate artists who are happy to share and inspire, and to support each other. Keeping up a blog is quite a lot of work. But it's worth it.

And last but not least, five things you didn't know about me:

1. I once studied Chinese for three years, one of them in China, in the city of Nanjing. My official Chinese name is Bai Yajie. It was an interesting year, but when I returned, I decided to change my major to English, and happily dedicated my time to studying Old and Middle English and Gothic novels (and I'm afraid I've forgotten pretty much all of my Chinese).

2. I never had the courage to apply to art school, even though I seriously thought about it several times in my early 20s. I was too convinced that I wouldn't get accepted. And I never told this to anyone until last year, when I told my best friend (and we've known each other for almost 30 years!).

3. At the age of 10 or so, I was pole climbing champion at my town's annual school sports event. No idea why I was so good at it, it wasn't something I particularly enjoyed. But no one ever beat me at it, not even any of the much older boys.

4. I set my alarmclock to something like 6.30 (at the latest) even on holiday, weekends and days off - for the sole pleasure of not having to get up when it rings.

5. I spent a winter season in the mountains when I was 19, working in a restaurant in the middle of the ski slopes at 2200m, in order to pursue my then biggest passion - snowboarding. I worked at the 'coffee and cakes' buffet, and my official job title was "Buffettochter" (i.e. buffet daughter). I have a feeling that the job title has changed since then...