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 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!
I have a lot to do these days, so I haven’t been posting updates like I wanted to. But better late than never, I guess:
I bought a bundle of tightly-woven, raw burlap last week. I am using it for two projects: a costume and an oil painting.
I started making a “Lord of the Rings”-inspired elf-costume. I am modeling it after the character “Tauriel”, so it’s technically a “Hobbit”-inspired costume. The leather vest and arm pieces are already done, now I want to make the green elvan dress. I am no seamstress, but I still needed a sewing pattern. So I got a primitive pattern by wrapping my arms and torso in plastic and clear packing tape, marking the cut lines and cutting the pieces out. I probably looked a little wierd when I was wrapped in plastic, but the strategy worked out! :)
I finally could start a new oil painting today! I used the burlap as the canvas material, and put 3 coats of primer on it. Now the canvas is ready to go!
I had another busy week at seminary. Classes, projects and art progress.
What I am learning more and more is that there are quite a few connections between art and theology. I am, for example, going to give a presentation in Church history about the 12th century German mystic Hildegard of Bingen. What I find interesting about her is that she wrote down a lot of things, most notable her visions, medical teachings and her songs. The illustations that accompany those writings are among the most interesting of the German middle ages. And the fact that she did all of that as a woman in a male-dominated society makes it even more interesting.
I could also get some art done this week: sketches, drawings, painting ideas, as well as a finished second “Kasperle”-mask. Unfortunately my camera is messed up again, so I can’t upload any pictures. But I’ll post pictures when I can.
The mask is painted in the same style as the first, but the colors are more red and green as compared to magenta-blue. I actually think this version looks more refined than the first. It’s nice to see progress!
The drawings are preliminary sketches for my children’s book “chasing chickens” and a colored pencil caricature of a guy I saw at the “Montmartre”-art show.
I also (finally!) have an idea for a new painting, and I think it’s size will be about 5′ x 4′ (150 x 120 cm). Again, I don’t have a picture to show yet, but I want to try something in the direction of Van Gogh, Hopper and Pieter Doig. It will be based on the view from my bedroom window (flat rooftops, an appartment on the right, hills in the background), but with the uncanny atmoshpere of a Hopper and the “mystical” style of Pieter Doig. And I probably want to use a similar color style and brush stroke as Van Gogh.
These artists are all great in their own ways, but my goal is not to simply copy them. I want to be inspired by them and make the pictures that come of that my own. We will see what that means for the art piece. Whatever the case, it will be fun to pick up a brush again :)
To summon up last week: I was in Bavaria for 5 days on a retreat (Monday-Friday), and moved to Ewersbach in Hessen on Saturday. The reasons for this are that I am now a theology student, and the school is in the little town of Ewersbach. The retreat was a “beginning-of-the-year-retreat” for the students.
The retreat was great, and the view of the Alps had a certain amount of class :)
Then, the day after the retreat, my dad and sister helped me to move an unreasonable amount of stuff to college. Ewersbach is in the middle of nowhere in Hessen, a 2-3h-drive away from my parent’s house. Interestingly I only had a small cars-worth of stuff for my dorm room, but dad was driving a whole sprinter-full of art-supply-stuff… 30% dorm room, 70% art room!
When we got there some students volunteered to help, and this made the process much faster. The dorm room is not very big, but it’s got everything you would need. And the art room is better than I expected. It’s in the basement, but the lighting is pretty good and the space has potential :)
Yesterday I took a trip to a nearby charming village.
Today I finished unpacking my stuff and made some improved covers for my folders.
And tomorrow is my first day of school. I am excited!
I eventually found my phone again (hooray!). I seem to be in the mood for displacing things and getting into little messes, since that’s what’s been happening lately: I lost and found my phone twice within 2 months, ruined the original table top by messing up the epoxy and had to start my Kasperle-Mask over. I also have a lot of bumps and scratches from working and playing with a giant puppy. And I am moving out in a week (October 1st), which means there are packing jobs to be had.
But I am glad for all of this, obviously it means that I am trying things and learning:
I will remake the mold for my mask, this time with latex and a plaster shell.
I remade the table top and covered it with epoxy, this time only as a thin layer. It worked!
The scratches are part of having a giant puppy, so I don’t mind those either.
And the boxes are mostly packed and labeled. I’m actually moving more art supplies than anything else. My “normal stuff” (clothes, guitar, books,…) only take up about 30% of the space. Those seminary students better watch out! :)
when you don’t let clay dry long enough and have air bubbles…
I had to get up unexpectedly early this morning because my brother overslept and needed a ride to his workplace by 7AM. This was not to my liking… but while I was listening to the radio I learned an unexpected fun fact: There is a German saying to describe that all is well, it literally means “everything is in butter” (alles in Butter). The reporter said that the origin of this saying lies centuries ago, in the export of Venetian porcellain. In order to keep the pieces from breaking during transport, they would stack it in barrels and fill these with liquid butter. When the butter hardened it would keep the ware safe. When the porcellain arrived at it’s destination, they just melt the butter again. You never know when you’ll learn something new!
I spent the day in a low-key way, but still got some cleaning/packing done for my move to seminary. I also figured I should post some updates on my art projects:
The oil painting “Bangkok Rama 3” is looking good, I filled in most of the base colors.
Bangkok Rama 3, Aug 31st 2016
Bangkok Rama 3, Sept 7th 2016
I cut my “Kasperle”-mask in 5 pieces and made clay molds of each of the parts. I’ve never done it before, so considering that it’s looking great. But there are several things I’d do differently next time.
Goodbye, masks and Bruce (the mannequin). It was fun while it lasted :(
I had my Mandrill Mask at the “Montmartre”-Art Show on Sunday, and that was a good decision. Most people looked at the mask before the painting, some even asked how much the mask would cost. I unfortunately had to tell them that I couldn’t sell it with a good conscience, because the mask is infested with bugs. Looking back it’s because I used the traditional (and cheap) flour-and-water-mix for the glue. This is often recommended and works really well, but obviously it was too tasty for the bugs to resist.
Despite several attempts to seal off the surface, the bugs keep getting through the laquer. So the Sunday Art Show was the last time the mask was shown. I will sadly have to throw it away, along with the other sculptures I have. I guess that’s one way to make room for new projects, though: I am starting work on a puppet mask-series, also made of papermaché. But this time with elmer’s glue, and not with flour and water, we can learn something from this :)