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

 

 

New Painting: Dorm Room Window

I got the room painting done yesterday. I am happy with it and decided to call it “Dorm Room Window” (Or: “Edge of the Woods”) for now.

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Work in Progress and New Work…

I am still working on the oil painting and am probably half done. I’m starting to get a hang of the rough canvas material I am painting on. (I had a smooth material before, but I’ve used Burlap for the last couple paintings, just to try the texture.)

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And I started a new mask! :) It’ll be a remake of my rhino, which unfortunately got eaten by moths a few years ago. So, different glue and some experience later, this is what it looks like, so far. The picture on the right shows the old mask.

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 Chair and a Wall

I have a lot going on these days, and haven’t gotten to painting for quite a while. However, a painting won’t finish itself, so when I found time today, I got some progress done.
I’m not sure what I’ll call this picture, but for now, it’s “A Chair and a Wall”. What do you think it should be called? If you have any ideas, leave a comment! :)

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Also, I planted my tomatoes, kohlrabi, and sweet potatoes in my raised bed garden. They really needed to be transplanted, they were starting to grow out of their little pots. When something needs space to grow, give it space to grow :)

A Lioness!

Today I finished the lion mask! I originally wanted it to be a male lion, but during painting, I decided to turn it into a lioness. It has a strap on it and a thin, black cloth behind the eyes. That way, you can wear it and see your environment without your eyes showing. The coat of varnish finished it off, and I am really happy about how it turned out.

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.

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!

Straw Figures Workshop!

I got to host and teach a straw figure workshop last Saturday. We ended up being 5 people, all of whom had fun making characters out of straw and wire. I thought the results were cool to see :)

The Illustrations are done!

I will start school on Monday again. I had several open projects to finish and am glad that they are coming together. One of the major projects was an illustration commission which consists of 10 images. And it’s done! :)

It took a lot of planning and work, but I am glad for the results. This was an experience in following through and in challenging yourself further than before. One of those hard but good experiences. :)

Where do you challenge yourself in your life? Where are you being pushed further than before? I hope those hard experiences end up being good experiences. Have a great day!

Busy in Berlin!

My spring break is almost over. But I still have a few weeks before classes start, so I figured: Why not go to Berlin!
(Actually I am helping out with our school’s information booth at a conference, so it’s a school-related outing)

I got here on Wednesday, and will stay until tomorrow. So far it’s been relatively relaxed with some cool highlights. When on duty I am at our booth and talk to people about our school. Off duty, I could go to listen to some good main speeches and look at interesting booths. Sometimes I got around to drawing caricatures of passing people.
Yesterday our team went out to dinner together at a 60s diner. The place had some fun murals, which were also well executed.
And today I had a free afternoon to fill. I took a short walk around a neighborhood and saw some wall art and a cool book store. I had also told my former art professor that I was visiting Berlin, and since he lives here, we got to meet up.

Meeting other Artists!

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Today I went to a critique group for children’s book authors/illustrators in Stuttgart for the first time. I had connected to them via facebook and was excited for the day ahead. I had bought the train ticket, made sure I was at the station early and that I had everything ready.

But things don’t go as we plan them.

I knew that it would take a while to get from my house to the Stuttgart central station, but there were some unexpected train delays, so that it took me 2,5h instead of 1,5h to get there. The delays and circumstances were so confusing, in fact, that half-way through the journey, I found myself waiting on a cold bench in a small station for the next connecting train, all together questioning the sanity of my endeavor.

But when I finally did arrive at the Stuttgart Library, the “endeavor’s” sanity was restored and I could immediately see that it was worth the trouble. The meeting was inside the children’s book section on the 2nd floor, where we were a total of 10 authors. Some wrote for younger children, others for older children, some were also illustrators. We had people from all sorts of backrounds, ages and ranges. All of them creative.

We split up into 2 groups and looked over each other’s manuscripts and illustations and gave each other feedback. I found it very inspiring and fun!
Afterwards we had lunch at an Asian restaurant across the way from the library. And a few interesting conversations and encouragements later, I made my way back home.

Feedback and other artists are encouragement, and encouragement is encouraging :)
I hope you have people to inspire you where ever you’re at, it really helps. It can often feel easier to “do your own thing” and ignore feedback, but in the end I think it is better to have an honest critique, even if you don’t agree with all that was said. You learn to not only take feedback, but also give feedback, in a considerate but honest way.
So thanks to all the “critics” out there! And thanks to people who dare to be creative. And to everyone else: thanks for reading and for being “you”.

In that sense, be inspired, and have a great day!

Illustration Progress!

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Family Photos
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For my story “When you get Yourself a Dinosaur”

I am working on a project about a girl in Vietnam. She’s the girl in the green shirt, and the current illustration shows her family pictures.

I am simultaneously trying to finish up the illustrations for my story “When you get Yourself a Dinosaur”. My goal is to finish them by April 10th, because there is an illustration contest coming up for that deadline. It might work, it might not, but one can try  :)

A Trip to Tirana!

I was on a 4-day trip to Albania this weekend and got back yesterday evening. I went with my mom and a friend of hers to a conference in Tirana, the capitol of the country. It was a great an inspiring time, one I didn’t see coming at all at the beginning of the year. Sometimes things happen that you didn’t expect, and occasionally those things are unexpectedly good :)

We were mainly there to help out at the conference, but we got to see the beach, the National Art Gallery of Albania, and some of Tirana’s landmarks. I hope I can come back to Albania some day :)

 

Back Home: Work, and a Lesson in Gratitude

It’s Spring Break, so I’m visiting my parents for 3 weeks. I’m staying in the new guest room (which used to be my room) and I have my own little desk to work at. Since I need to do some illustration work, the desk is fully occupied by my graphic tablet and the laptop.

My parents have a big garden and I love to help take care of it when I’m there. So yesterday I spent the morning by cutting back plants and burning the dead stuff in the fire. There’s more to do, but I think I cleared about 300m² (about 3200ft²) of surface :)

The illustrations for my current project are progressing well. I have 3 done, 7 to go. I’m really enjoying all the colors :)

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My mom and I will be going to Albania on thursday, for 4 days. She is a leader in a local MOPS-group (mothers of pre-schoolers) here in Heidelberg and there is a MOPS-conference in Tirana (the capitol of Albania). I’m just along for the ride. We might see the art museum and the history museum, as well as the coast. It will be fun!

All of this stuff is really cool, but I am also humbled by it, because I am reminded that none of it can be taken for granted:
As a leader in MOPS, my mom is in contact with other group leaders, including one leader in Uganda. The lady in Uganda leads a group of single teen moms in Kampala, as well as a group in a small village. They are among the poorest of the country. Most of their houses don’t have electricity or running water, and many women have never learned to read or to speak English. The lack of hygiene leads to many diseases, and people die of things like diharrea or malaria. By German or American standards, they have nothing.
But their leader is coming here in June, and my mom is going to train her how to garden and make mosquito repellent soap. The leader will then teach her group these skills, so they can have acess to soap, sell some of it, and supplement their diet with vegetables.
What we consider “nothing special” can make all the difference for someone else!
And another thing is amazing: The group is making beeds and an African shirt for my mom, out of gratitude, and you can’t stop them from doing so. The poor are the most generous, they give even when they have nothing.
They are poor, but in their generosity and faith and love, they are rich.
I have high respect for these women and they are teaching me a lot, even if I have never met them before.

Where do you feel like life is tough? Where can you feel grateful? Where can you recognize a need in other people and support them? Those are the thoughts for now. Have a great day!