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 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