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.

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 :)

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!

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!

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!

 

A New Graphic Tablet: Tool or Toy…

I got a new Grapfic Tablet as a late Christmas present, and just set it up yesterday! It’s a Wacom Cintiq 22 HD, huge, and amazing! Even if these tablets are quite pricy (My parents graciously paid half of the price, I pay the rest), I can say it’s worth the money. Before this tablet I had a Wacom Bamboo Fun, which is a much smaller tablet. It has served me well for the last 10 years, but I’m loving the upgrade :)

I will have to resist the urge to spend too much time on this tablet, though, because I have 2 more exams to study for. Then, in Februrary, it’s about finishing a couple illustration projects. Should be fun!

Inspiring others :)

Some people in my class decided to do a gift exchange, and as mentioned in the last post, I made a football pillow for that. But what I didn’t know is that I was not the only one who prepared a hand-made gift. The girl who prepared my gift is normally not someone who would call herself “creative”, but she was inspired to make me a little pin board.I think it’s really cute and the thought she put into it put a smile on my face :)

 

And yesterday I was at a church service and painted on stage. It was fun, and the resulting picture is based on psalm 1 from the bible. Its main point is that a person grounded in God will be strong like a tree by the water. They will not be easily shaken and even be able to bear fruit (be supportive of others).
After the service I gave the picture to one of the visitors. He and his wife were happy for it :)

It’s satisfying to see how you can inspire people.
I hope that you can find people who inspire you, but also that you yourself can become someone who inspires others. And with that thought, have a great remaining Sunday and a great week :)

A Mask, a Unicorn, a Chagall-Afternoon

I just put my 2nd Kasperle-Mask on Ebay and am excited to see what happens. :)

While I was doing some research for my history presentation, I came across the “medical knowledge” of the 12th century, as told by Hildegard of Bingen. It’s quite something to realize that what she was writing about medicine was what was considered “state of the art”, because most of it is really absurd. Here’s what she has to say about the medical purposes of unicorns:
“The unicorn […] is a herbivore. It avoids humans and other animals. It especially fears the presence of men […] but it follows women. That is why you hardly catch one of them. […] The pulverised liver can be mixed with egg yolk to form a salve to cure leprosy, unless God wills for that person to die, then the salve won’t help. A belt made from the skin of a unicorn protects its wearer from the plague and from fever. Shoes made of unicorn leather impart strength and health to feet, joints and legs.”

And this morning and early afternoon I decided to design a book cover for my new German Luther-Bible. I decided to go for a Chagall-inspired look. I would have liked it to turn out with slightly different colors, but I’m still pleased with it. The Hebrew verses add a bit of something extra to it :)

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A little bit of Art in Church…

I started my studies in theology a couple of weeks ago. The classes are really interesting and I already have some great new friends. But I also am keeping up the art side of things, even if I’d like to do more. Here are some updates:

  • The Kasperle mask turned out very well, so now I’m making a few copies to sell. Right now I’m painting mask #2 and doing some sculpting on mask #3
  • Yesterday we had a guest speaker talk about the role of architecture in spirituality/church life. It was a very interesting presentation. And afterwards I got to talk to the speaker. He is the head of Christian Architecture and Art in Germany, so he knows a lot about art. And he’s also written a few children’s books, so we had a lot to talk about. The connection is there now, who knows what will come of that. Either way it was really cool! :)
  • There’s going to be a worship night at our school tomorrow (like a church service). During the service there will be a part where we sing songs and pray. And while that is going on I will also be praying and express that through painting. I am looking forward to that :)

 

Another Kind of Awsome!

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Today I, my mom and Sarah got to Prague (Czeck Republic). We are here to pick up our new dog, Lucy. We will get her tomorrow afternoon, in a small village east of Prague.

In the mean time, we got a taste of the city. I’ve never been here before, and I’m impressed. They call Prague the “Paris of the East” and I can see why: The city is beautiful, the people cultivate a high interest in arts and music and there is a lot of intellectual history here.

First we stopped at a beautiful art-noveau-restaurant for some cake and coffee. The entire place was built and furnished in the authenic art noveau style (from the 1890s), and the pastry was really good.

Next we walked over to the Jewish quarter to visit the synagogue and cemetary. But we got there just when they were closing at 6PM. Since we were tired, we decided to eat before we’d go back to the appartment. We saw the “James Dean” American Diner and thought we’d give it a try. And we were not disappointed!
I am not exaggerating when I say that their food was the best diner food I’ve ever tasted. Even better than any place in the US. We liked it so much that we will eat breakfast there tomorrow. It’s another kind of awsome! :)

And when we got back to the appartment, I finally managed to take some better pictures of the sketches/art I was making for the last few weeks. I got pictures of lots of people, so maybe some sketches will follow. But that’s for later.
For now, it’s time for bed and off to get Lucy in the morning. :)

Day 3-4: A Road Trip

Day 3: My parents and Sarah took a short trip to Lucca. I took the day off with Jessi.

Day 4: Day trip to Orvieto. We left at around 10AM, went to a really good restaurant for lunch, and drove all the way down to Orvieto (3h south). The church is beautiful and the town is charming, without too much tourist traffic. We got back by 6PM, so we were tired by the end of it. It was a good trip :)