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 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 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.
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
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.
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.)
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.
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 :)
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 :)
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.
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.
1. secure bag with bricks
2. fill bottom third of the bag with wood
3. add thin layer of cardboard
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! :)
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!
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 :)
I started my new semester with some really inspiring classes and interesting topics. Opens up the mind.
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.
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.
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!
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! :)
Illustrations for “Mai’s Journey” (Comission)
A Chance Meeting?
A strange but friendly Place
A Letter and a Train Ride
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!
part of our booth with huge helium balloons
a mural in the city
a giant schnauzer as a grocery store’s mascot. :)
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.