Everyone is back from vacation and school has started again. The new class of freshmen is finding their place and the rest of us are getting back into studying routines. With all of this, I am excited for what lies ahead. But I am also excited about what is going on right now. Like, the art projects that are coming together more and more:
- The painting of tomato plants is (mostly) done. I might add some small touch-ups, but that would be it. It was an experiment that turned out differently than expected, but that’s ok!
- I had two shipping box units that were sitting around unused, so I made a simple, small kitchen shelf out of them. The paint job will be similar to the palette shelf. I will add 1-2 layers of light blue on top of the brown and dark blue. So it won’t be as patchy as it is now ;)
- I met another artist on Tuedsay! She is from the area and does sculptures. I was excited to meet her and talk to her. Turns out she’s the mother-in-law of a friend of ours. Who knew!
There are also some creative people among the freshmen class. We’ll see what ideas and possibilities come from that :)
While writing this post, the rain is pressing in on the paths and houses. Grey light, cold, strong winds, and brown leaves dominate the landscape. But I won’t be depressed about it. After all, we are watching “Singing in the Rain” tonight. One of my favorite movies, fitting for a day like this.
I am a few days late with this, but here are some pictures of the dorm living room. It’s still missing some pillows and some new pictures on the wall, but apart from that, this project is basically done. :)
Also, the rhino mask is now varnished and done. I think I like it as much as my old mask, if not more :)
And finally, I did some more work on an elephant mask for a friend of mine. Today, it got the ears and some more wrinkles on the trunk. I think it’s the first time I’ve tried to cover such large free-hanging spaces with paper-maché. I used cloth, which seems to be working well. Excited to see how it turns out!
It’s 2 weeks before the next semester begins and we are taking the time to renovate the dorm living room. It probably has been in it’s before-state since it was built over 30 years ago. The room was just asking for a make-over!
I have been working with another student on this project. so far it’s day 4.
We started by sanding off all the chairs. That took us 2 days -or 8 hours.
Then we put a coat of wood finish and some clear varnish on them. The chairs look so much better now!
We also painted a little coffee table and started painting some patterns on the table tops. I will hopefully finish the paint jobs by tomorrow, then the bulk of the work is done!
I was able to go and do some work in the art studio, for the first time in a few weeks. I am painting my rhino mask and an oil painting of tomato plants. Both of these will need more work, but not until they are dry.
I’m also doing a drawing class online. One of the assignments was to draw a boot/shoe with mainly lines and to then add in some basic shading.
And I mounted the door knobs on the little grey cabinet. I purposely went for a variation of knobs to make it look more eclectic. Things are fun when they are not all uniform all the time :)
warm-up exercise: draw objects without looking at the paper
warm-up, day 2
Just now I got a text message from a friend asking how my paintings were coming along. I haven’t been at the studio for weeks, so I had to tell her that they were not coming along at all right now.
This got me thinking: When people picture an artist, they imagine a talented superhero of a person who effortlessly whips up one masterpiece after another.
But this is a problem, for two reasons:
One, it places unrealistic expectations on the artist.
Two, it makes the “laymen” intimidated, thinking they can’t be “creative” in their own right.
Neither of these are true: Being a professional artist requires a ton of practice and a ton of failures. For every good piece of work, there will be at least 10 bad pieces behind the scenes – and insecurities to go with it. It’s not easy.
And no, there is no monopoly on being creative. It’s not a “professionals only- zone”. You don’t need to feel lame when you copy your craft ideas off of Pinterest as a hobby. It’s allowed. :)
So if you are a “laymen”: Don’t compare yourself to me, or to any other artist. If your art turns out good, cool, but even if it looks crappy, you created something new, thus having sucess.
The same goes if you are working toward being a professional artist, only add this: don’t think you can loop out of the work it takes to get better. You won’t get great without the inglorious warm-ups and failed sketches. Even if those are not the finished product that everyone sees, take them seriously and enjoy those steps. Success comes from work, so consider every step of work a form of “success”.
I am on vacation and am relaxing a little. But to prepare for a new season of art and studying, I am also taking some online drawing classes. You can always learn something new.
I also found a gourd that we had in our guest room. My parents grew it last summer and dried it, I got to paint it. I went with an African-inspired pattern, though I am aware that there are many different “African” art styles from different cultures. Not trying to copy a particular look, just having fun with patterns here :)
And I also am getting further along in designing the characters for my book “Somehow Something is Missing!”. I did some work on the king character, trying to figure out his colors, shapes and facial expressions. I have a clearer idea what he will look like, but it’s not 100% set yet. They say that you should draw at least 100 versions of your character before settling for a design. I think that’s pretty accurate. I did about that much, maybe not quite. But I’m getting close. :)
And for good measure, here are some pictures of the finished palette shelf and of a hawk mask that I made. (Because, hawks are awsome ;) )
I was in Italy for another 3 days before returning home. We went to a Canyon to do some rock climbing on the last day. Apart from that we just enjoyed the sun :)
Now that I’m back in Germany, I went to Ewersbach for a few days. I’m moving from one room to another room in the dorm. Packing things, carrying them over, walking back and forth. Things are moving.
On the art side, I feel inspired and stressed at the same time. Inspired because of new ideas, stressed because I don’t have much time. In between stacking books and sorting clothes I have some small projects going: final touches on my rhino mask, painting the palette shelf and starting a new painting. All these things are works in progress, and they don’t happen themselves. But I’m moving.
Then, something else that might not be so obvious. A mysterious health issue that has been following me for 7 years and might now be uncovered: a fungal infection in my intestines. It’s treatable, but the treatment is tedious and takes a long time. I’m taking the medication and I’m not excited about the way I feel physically, but I’m glad to finally have a lead. And as tedious as the treatment is, I know this isn’t going to last. It’s slow, I’ll probably have setbacks. But most important… I’m moving.
We were out all day, and out of it by the end of it:
We left the house by 9AM and drove to La Spezia, where we parked the car. Then, we took a ferry to Manarola, the second of five villages on the coast, the “Cinque Terre”.
Here, the cliffs are steep all the way to the ocean. The 5 villages used to only be acessible by a mountain trail and by boat, but today they are more open. Tourism has definitely become the main source of income. Why do the tourists come? To see the unique, colorful houses on the coast, that are seemingly stacked on top of each other, and to admire the clear water and the rock formations.
The ferry ride to the village was fun for me, and the village itself was beautiful. We walked around for a while, sat down for lunch and took some pictures.
By 3PM we decided to go back to the car, so we took a train to La Spezia. Unfortunately, my brother Thomas then realized that he had lost his cell phone. It was too late to go back and get it, so we had to leave without it. He will get a new phone and all is well, but that was kind of a bummer.
Finally, we got home at around 5PM and jumped in the pool. Then, I was officially out of it for the day!
We slept in and had a simple form of fresh bruschetta. I just put together some tomatoes, onions, garlic, mozzarella, spices and olive oil and vinegar. The lemon rind added a nice touch :)
Then we drove into Lucca and rented some bikes for a few hours. You can ride on top of the city wall and also inside the city center. We’ve been here a few times before, but it’s beautiful each time. I got to see the inside of St. Martin’s Cathedral, with an original painting by Tintoretto. We also saw a giant horse sculpture while cycling the city wall. I think it must be new, I don’t remember it from before. You always can discover something new if you keep your eyes open :)
I will be in Italy for one week. Yesterday we got up at 4AM and drove from Germany down to Tuscany, near a town named Lucca. It took us 14 hours and we were wasted when we got here. But the view from the house could be enjoyed, even with travel exhaustion.
Today, we still didn’t do much and mostly hung out at the house. We jumped in the pool for a little and then I took up a sketchbook and did some drawing. There are many things to draw here, but I decided to depict an “Olive Grove at St. Gennaro”. I’m not a master at colored pencil drawing, and I didn’t have any real green tones apart from a neon green marking pencil. But I like the result, anyway. Kind of reminds me of Cezanne and Van Gogh… they drew from similar scenery.
I revamped an old desk lamp and made it into a taller lamp for the new student living room. The stand is made of concrete and a metal rod from an old bed. I think it will look great when it finds its home in Ewersbach. :)
Speaking of light, you know what is attracted by light?
Flies. In our case, about a hundred (!) of them. I have no idea where they are coming from, but they have taken over the kitchen. They are all over the windows and don’t seem to be impressed by the fly trap that has been there for the last 2 days.
Finally, I decided enough was enough, and I took a kitchen spatula and herded them out the window. Surprisingly, this actually worked quite well. There are still about 20 flies left, but I still think I can crown myself “Lord of the Flies” for tonight!
We are officially into our summer break. From now until Mid September, I have more time to catch up on creative projects that were on hold for a while. Here’s what I’ve tackled so far:
Project 1: The dorm living room.
This will be an ongoing project for the summer. I will be working with other people to renovate the living room, which has been the same for at least 30 years. The first step of this project was to paint two wooden side boards. They were an ugly mid-brown tone before, now they are covered with several coats of grey chalk paint (normal paint mixed with water and plaster) and a coat of varnish. Eventually some door knobs will be added.
Project 2: The Rhino.
This has been going on for a while, but now the rhino has its ears and most of its facial details (wrinkles, refined eye shape,…). Now all it needs is paint!
Project 3: A Painting
Paintings are not a thing you just “do”. The work that goes into making a canvas makes you think twice before starting. It’s like a hill you need to overcome before you even start. But when you do, it ends up being worth the trouble. In this case, I built a frame that is almost the size of a door. The canvas will be horizontal, so like a widescreen TV.
I was at the Hardware Store and got the shelf boards for the kitchen shelf. Every board had to be cut to size, since the palette wood is crooked. But with all the dents, crooked parts and left over nail holes, I am really happy about how it turned out. The shelf has character, and when the varnish is on, it will be ready for use! :)
I’m in a small town in Germany. My closest neighbors are a few sheep, a nursing home, and the forest on the hill.
You would think that I couldn’t be connected to the outside world in a place like this, but that’s not the case. Especially not today:
In the morning
I heard about South-East-Asia and about connection with Christians in other cultures.
I heard about the history of pioneer missionary work in Papua Neuguinea.
How to respect the culture you interact with, even if you don’t agree with it.
In the afternoon
I got to share about a humanitarian project that my mom is sponsoring in Uganda.
And in the evening
I recieved a new letter from my sponsor child in Rwanda.
So yes, I live in a small town. Next to a few sheep, a nursing home, and the forest on the hill.
But I’m grateful to know that we can be connected to other cultures and places. Here, it’s as my professors said: “In Ewersbach, you’re with your back to the woods – and the world is in front of you.”
My exams are going well, with a couple more to go. But in the mean time, I am also getting some work done in the art department. (Not without studying for school, but you know what I mean)
The basic shape of my papermaché rhino mask is done. Now it needs some wrinkles and other details, as well as a bit more stability. Then it can be painted. :)
I got a hold of a palette and decided to make a shelf out of it. It’s not very high quality wood, but it can hold lots of weight and it’s what I’ve got. So I figured out a basic design and have been cutting it into usable pieces. The next step will be to get rid of all the nails and to sand down all the surfaces. Then, it can be assembled!
And another thing is progressing: Every time I look out the window or go to the student gardens, I see my plants growing more and more. It’s encouraging to know that you can create a good environment, but that your plants do the rest for you. You can’t control everything, nor do you have to. You just get to watch the progress :)