Thursday 31 December 2015

Good Bye 2015

2015 hasn't been the most exciting year, still a lot of things that I would have liked to change this year, are the same as 12 months ago. But it hasn't been a bad year either. No illness, no misfortunes or bad surprises. The one or other serioush health issue within the family, but everyone is still alive and doing well. 

It's always easy to only focus on the things one didn't achieve and that didn't work out, and to ignore the ones one has accomplished, and the good things that happen. So here's a few good things to remember (in no particular order).

  • I finally managed not to kill every orchid that entered my home. I've tried again and again over the years, but they never survived for long. This year, all of my three orchid have not only survived, but are thriving and flowering, and continuously producing new flowers.

  • I wrote 85 blogposts, which is almost 2.5 times more than last year 
  • I started a (more or less) regular meditation and yoga practice, and am trying to live more mindfully
  • I read 33 1/2 books, among them Gombrich's The Story of Art, a book I have been wanting to read for years and years

  • I spent more time in the studio, worked through an online course and even got my art journal out again
  • I celebrated my 5th blog anniversary
  • I discovered instant photography and aquired a little family of vintage Polaroid cameras

  • I started to write in my journal regularly, and started a daily journaling practice 3 months ago
  • I met some pretty awesome people online, and even had coffee with one of them in person in West Bay, Dorset
  • I finally made my own Christmas cards, including carving a stamp
  • N and I spent some wonderful holidays together, inlcuding a 4 day trip to the Alsace and Southern Germany (at furnace like temperature) in summer, and some amazing day trips to Brownsea Island (and meeting lots of sweet red squirrels there), Charmouth Beach and some other plaes in Dorset in September

I might not have achieved everything that was on my "to do" list at the beginning of the year, but I'm sure there is lots more that could be added to this list and that I can't think of right now.

Good Bye 2015, all in all, you've been a pretty good year.

Happy New Year everyone!

Hope that 2015 has been good to you too, and that 2016 will be an amazing year for all of us!

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Journals, planners, and the new year

My pile of journals, diaries and notebooks is slowly growing. I've kept journals sporadically over many years, but it's only this year that I really started to get into a more regular journaling practice. Earlier this year, I read Tristine Rainer's The New Diary, which showed me a whole new way of using a diary, including many different journaling techniques, which were pretty much all new to me. And in September, I began a new journaling routine - writing in my journal every day. And with every new practice comes a new journal to suit that particular practice. I also like my 5 year diaries. I've kept them for the past six years, and it's fun to see, on one page, what you've been doing on a particular day over the period of 5 years.

I also like to take this time of the year to prepare for the new year. To sit down and reflect on the year that is coming to an end, and to write down my plans, goals, and dreams for the new year that is coming. This year, I'm also preparing a special book, a sort of guide to accompany me through the year and help me keep on track, as I tend to lose sight too easily of all the plans, intentions, goals, and dreams as the year progresses. I'm also trying out a couple of special planners to help me get organised and to get things done. I'm looking forward to see how and if they work for me. But most of all I want to take it easy this year. Over the past years, I've tended to put too much pressure on the new year. Too much of the "this year, everything will be completely different" attitude. I'm still going to write a big list of all the things I want to change, achieve, make come true, but instead of expecting big things to miraculously happen, I'll just get on with doing the work, step by step, and trying to do my best.

What's your practice? Do you keep journals, diaries, special notebooks? Do you have a special routine or ritual to prepare for the new year?

Thursday 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

I haven't spent much time in my studio lately, and I can't wait for the Christmas break to start. I plan to spend a lot of it in my studio, and with making plans for the new year. But first, a couple of relaxing days with family and good food.

Wishing you a very merry Christmas, and a relaxing, inspiring and creative holiday!

Saturday 19 December 2015

Winter colours

I love nature in winter. Decaying, sleeping, bare, and yet showing all kinds of beautiful textures and colours that lighten up a grey and foggy winter day.

All that's missing is now is some snow. Masses of snow.

Sunday 6 December 2015

A foggy walk in the wildlife park

Saturday was a day to my liking. Thick fog gave everything a beautifully mystical touch, a perfect afternoon for a walk in the nearby wildlife park. I love that wildlife park that is so close to my home, and which I don't visit enough. My favourite animals there are the moose. But unfortunately, we didn't see any of the at all this time. Many of the animals seem to have decided that a foggy day wasn't a good day to spend outside, so we didn't get to see as many of them as usual. 

Before I left home, I finally managed to get a sharp shot of a bird feeding in the little birdhouse outside my bedroom window. I've been hiding and freezing behind the open window several times, but never got a decent shot until today. A sweet little bluetit came to pick some food.

The deers are always out and always make for great photos, especially that stag, who posed so nicely for me.

To see one of the wildcats so close up also was a very special treat. They're usually hiding in the back, and when they move, are so fast that it is almost impossible to get a nice photo.

The wild horses where out as well.

No moose in sight in this eclosure either, but the beautiful reflections in the pond made up for it.

And of course the trees. I love trees. The more the merrier.

Friday 27 November 2015

Silent Night White Christmas cards and bulb growing

For years and years, I've been wanting to make my own Christmas cards to send to friends and family, but apart from the odd card, I've usually ended up sending bought ones in the last moment. But this year, I was determined to make them myself, from start to finish. As the easiest way to get the same motif on a number of cards is by stamping it, I had to make a stamp first. I haven't really carved a whole stamp before, so I decided to go with a simple design. A bit rustic, reminding of an old wood carving.

And here's the pile of finished cards, all coloured in. Now comes the hardest bit. Writing them. I'm not good at all at writing cards. It always makes me happy to get beautifully written Birthday and Christmas cards, and I always marvel at the eloquence of the writers, wishing I could do it too. But I can't. I'm just rubbish at it. I never know what to write. So I hope that this year, the cards will make up for the writing. And then I just hope that the recipients will enjoy the receiving the cards as much as I enjoyed making them.

I've also caught the bulb bug. A few weeks ago I read about the different bulbs you can use to grow lovely flowers for you home in winter in a magazine, and decided to try it out myself. Now of course, amaryllis bulbs aren't anything new at all. But I think I had one once, years and decades ago, and I can't even remember if anything ever came out of it. So I thought I'd give it a try this year. I bought one called Aphrodite, a white one with pale pink around the edges, that came ready planted in a pot. I'm totally enjoying watching it grow from one little green tip just visible, and I've been drawing the stages in my sketchbook every week. And they grow so quickly! And there's definitely a flower pod beginning to appear. Can't wait until it starts blooming! I bought another, smaller, white one, too, and I'm thinking about getting a couple of crocus bulbs too.

Friday 20 November 2015

Drawing found memories

I'm really enjoying drawing at the moment, trying out different materials and techniques. I always loved pencils, but watersoluble pencils are quite new to me. But they're great and a nice way to add some body, layers and texture, and all you need is a pencil, a brush and some water, so they might make perfect travel companions. I have taken out my art journal again, which I haven't used in quite a while, but which I should do more often. Such a perfect place to play and experiment.

I've been collecting feathers for quite a while now. Or maybe collecting is the wrong word. I tend to just pick them up when I see a nice one, when I'm leisurely strolling around. Which I usually only do when I'm on holiday, which in turn means that almost all of my feathers are from England. Mostly from Hartfordshire and surroundings and Dorset, while walking around towns and villages, National Trust parks or the beach. I kept them all in plastic bags, hidden away in some stash boxes, when I finally got them all out and together in one place a few days ago. Lots of pigeon feathers, of course, but also a couple of beautiful duck feathers, crow feathers, swan feathers and a few that I have no idea what bird they come from.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

A Dorset holiday in Polaroid

It's already over a month since I returned home from my holiday in beautiful Dorset. Where's the time going? Before I left, I was thinking about taking one of my Polaroid cameras along, but wasn't sure if it would be worth it. My trusted SX-70 Alpha 1 was the preferred candidate, but if it was going to be all grey and rainy, I wouldn't be able to get a decent shot. Well, I couldn't have been any more wrong about the weather. It was sunshine almost every day, and often actually almost too bright. I had ordered three b&w films to N's place before I left, so that I wouldn't have to carry them with me and get them damaged in the x-rays at the airport. But something was very strange with those three films. All of them showed strange spots and streaks appearing, and blown out areas at the bottom. I had taken lots of b&w photos the month before, same film, and they had all turned out well. I was beginning to worry that somehow my camera had taken damage during the trip, but when I put a colour film, that I had bought on our day trip to London, into the camera, I was glad to see that it definitely wasn't the camera. I don't know what was the problem with those films, whether they got some damage somewhere on the way from the factory, where just out of a bad badge, or if it was just too bright. I still treasure all of the photos I took, and I'm so glad that I carried the camera with me, along with my DSLR.

I have 30 photos from my holiday. Below you can see them all, wrapped into a story made with Steller.

Friday 6 November 2015

Inspired by Autumn

I finished my autumn inspired painting. The original idea was for it to be all abstract, but a little leaf that I picked up on a walk and forgot in my bag, where I discovered it two days later, dried and neatly folded flat, made it on to the canvas.

40x40cm, acrylics/mixed media on canvas

I love the beautiful autumn leaves that we're getting in such abundance this year, thanks to the dry and calm weather. I've been out capturing them with my DSLR and Polaroid cameras several times. They're beautiful in all weathers and stages, and just so inspiring and uplifting.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

The beauty of a grey autumn day

I love autumn. Not being a summer person, at all, I'm always looking forward to when the days are getting shorter and greyer, and when the leaves change colour. And this year has been wonderful so far in that respect. The trees are glowing in gold and red, and the leaves are rustling under your feet, thanks to the dry weather. Most days, the sun manages to break through the heavy clouds by midday, but yesterday, it remained grey. I have to admit that I like it when it does so. It does look pretty when the golden leaves glow in the sun, it's true, but it's when it's heavily overcast that the colours really come out at their best, I think. Especially on photographs. 

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.