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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Highlights of the Week: Art History, A new Painting, a finished Mask

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.

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The Creation of the world in 6 days (From Hildegard’s “Scivias”)

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 :)

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Pieter Doig’s “Swamped” (1991)

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 :)

 

Kasperle finished!

I just put a final coat of varnish on my Kasperle-mask, and declare him finished! I know that sounds overly dramatic, but it was a big moment to see him all painted.

Tomorrow we have an opening ceremony for the new students, and each student is supposed to bring an object which describes something about them. I’ll bring Kasperle as my object. I think people will like him, but I hope he doesn’t scare anyone. Masks can be creepy as well as cool.

Wrapping Things Up!

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! :)

Of Butter, Oil and Clay

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.
  • 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.

Works in Progress: Painting and Sculpture!

I managed to work on my new painting (current title “Bangkok Rama 3”) and my “Kasperle”-mask.

The painting is about the same size as “Devil’s Canyon” (2016, 5′ 10” x 4′ 2”/ 175 x 125 cm) and in its beginning stages. I first painted the whole canvas magenta and drew in the basic shapes with chalk. Now I am in the process of blocking in the basic colors (depth and brightness come later). I’m pretty happy with it, you can already see the basic layout coming clear. I think it’s turning out well :)

Meanwhile, “Kasperle” is doing well, too :) I refined his jawline and his cheeks, added ears and hair and just tried to make the shapes more clear and polished. When all this is done, this will actually be the mold for the mask, not the mask itself. The reason I’m not just making the mask straight away is so that I can make copies when I need them. The mold will be cut into 5 pieces, but I am still trying to figure out how the mold will exactly work. I believe in learning on the job ;)

An Experiment in Sculpting

I got to participate in an art show last week, and I made following observation: People love masks and costume sculptures!(I had a painting and a mask in the show, and more people noticed the mask than the picture, eventhough the picture was significantly bigger and prominent)

So, I decided to do an experiment: I will make a mask and put it on ebay. I was just in Venice and saw how popular the masks were. Eventhough I’m not making Venetian masks, I am thinking about things like Carneval, Halloween and the German “Fasching”. And what could capture that sort of attitude more than “Punch” (German “Kasperle”), the wooden hand puppet character in “Punch and Judy”-Shows… So that’s the mask I’m making! :) (Sorry for the bad photo quality, there wasn’t enough light…)

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