I’m Moving…

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.

Travel Log, Day 4: Cinque Terre

cinque-terreWe 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!

Travel Log, Day 3: Lucca

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 :)

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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 :)

 

 

Vacation Travel Log, Day 1-2: Arrival in Tuscany

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.

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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.

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Lord of the Flies?!

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. :)

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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!

Project Progress: Furniture and Masks

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.

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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.

Kitchen Shelf Progress!

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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! :)

A Global Day!

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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.

At noon
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.”

 

 

Work in Progress: Paper, Plants, and a Palette Shelf!

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. :)

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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!

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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 :)

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What I’ve been Up to

My blog has been quiet
and I’ve been working.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Exams are ahead
some are now passed
Lots to know, but fun as well.
I’m not a genius, but I do what I can
And that is sufficient for now.

No paintings to show
But a mask in the make
When it’s done it will crush walls
At least that’s what it looks like.

And among all things
Some writing on the wall
With Post-it scraps and paper piles

For a few months now
writing a song
And finally getting somewhere

So all in all
Life’s a bloom and I am well
One day at a time and the rest will follow

 

 

A Painting, a Flower: Work in Progress

I got some progress done on my oil painting. Now, most of the pink coat is covered and has a base coat of color on it. It still looks really wild, but I can see where it’s going :)

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And when I went to check on my garden, I saw the first tomato flowers on one of my plants. They are really small and could easily be missed, but if you look closely, you can see them. If you keep your eyes open, little things are bound to surprise you at random moments. And when that happens, you just stop a second and smile. At least that’s what I did today :)

Work in Progress: A Paint Job and a Garden!

I started the actual “painting” part of painting my new canvas by putting on a base coat of magenta pink. You won’t see the pink when the picture is done, but it makes the colors that come after it stand out.

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I also started building a raised bed in the student gardens. I didn’t plant it yet because there’s still a risk for frost at night. But in 2 weeks, this white cube will go green! :)
The steps are really simple:
1. place bag securely on the ground (use bricks to hold it in place)
2. fill bottom third of the bag with old wood and twigs. They should be so rotten that you can break them by hand or easily crack them
3. add a thin layer of cardboard. This attracts worms, which makes the ground healthy
4. add old dirt
5. add a 15-20 cm layer of good soil
6. cover with mulch (straw, grass cuttings, wood chips, or similar). This keeps the ground moist and prevents weeds.

Work in Progress: Mask and Canvas!

I was down with a cold for a week, so I was confined to my room and the campus area. But today I was better, so I got in the car and went to buy some necessary tools and supplies, among those a new hammer. With the hammer, I could finish the canvas. I also did some work on the lion mask, widening the face and adding some lower cheek area.  It’s good to be back! :)

A Mask, an improvised Dish, and a Canvas!

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I had some white summer squash from last season that had to be used. That combined with a bunch of left-over vegetables were a good basis for an improvised dish:
Baked Summer Squash stuffed with Spinach, Garlic, and Mushrooms, in a Tomato-Eggplant-Sauce.

Meanwhile, I am working on 2 projects in the art studio: A lion mask and a new canvas for an oil painting. I molded the shape for the mask with regular kids’ clay and covered it with special papermaché-paper (it’s really cheap and it absorbs the glue really well) and wall paper paste. It’s fun to get back to papermaché :)
The canvas frame is recycled from some cheap foto-print-canvases I found. I started stringing the burlap on the frame, but I had some problems with the stapler. I think I’ll need to get a hammer and nails to finish the frame off. Sometimes the good old-fashioned tools are more reliable!

Growing Season!

I started my new semester with some really inspiring classes and interesting topics. Opens up the mind.

Growing Season.

I’d sown out some tomato seeds on my window sill in mid-march. Now, there are about 30 little plants in my room, waiting to be transplanted.

Growing Season.

I get to display 8 of my paintings at my school. It took me a whole day to hang the pictures, but it was worth the trouble. Now, I can think of new paintings.

Growing Season.

Right now, I am surrounded by creativity and inspiration. And I’m taking it in. In some ways it’s a comparatively easy choice to do so right now. But it’s a choice nonetheless. You often think that the “hard times” are when you grow the least. But it’s the “easy times” I try to keep an eye on, because you can get lazy when everything seems “ok”.
I’m not wishing for trouble or anything, I just don’t want to lose my focus, now that things are “easy”. I’m grateful for these times and want to make the most of the opportunities.

So in that sense, I hope you can grow, too. Wherever you’re at right now. Have a great day!