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 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.
I was at the Hardware Store and got the shelf boards for the kitchen shelf. Every board had to be cut to size, since the palette wood is crooked. But with all the dents, crooked parts and left over nail holes, I am really happy about how it turned out. The shelf has character, and when the varnish is on, it will be ready for use! :)
My exams are going well, with a couple more to go. But in the mean time, I am also getting some work done in the art department. (Not without studying for school, but you know what I mean)
The basic shape of my papermaché rhino mask is done. Now it needs some wrinkles and other details, as well as a bit more stability. Then it can be painted. :)
I got a hold of a palette and decided to make a shelf out of it. It’s not very high quality wood, but it can hold lots of weight and it’s what I’ve got. So I figured out a basic design and have been cutting it into usable pieces. The next step will be to get rid of all the nails and to sand down all the surfaces. Then, it can be assembled!
And another thing is progressing: Every time I look out the window or go to the student gardens, I see my plants growing more and more. It’s encouraging to know that you can create a good environment, but that your plants do the rest for you. You can’t control everything, nor do you have to. You just get to watch the 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 :)
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 have a lot going on these days, and haven’t gotten to painting for quite a while. However, a painting won’t finish itself, so when I found time today, I got some progress done.
I’m not sure what I’ll call this picture, but for now, it’s “A Chair and a Wall”. What do you think it should be called? If you have any ideas, leave a comment! :)
Also, I planted my tomatoes, kohlrabi, and sweet potatoes in my raised bed garden. They really needed to be transplanted, they were starting to grow out of their little pots. When something needs space to grow, give it space to grow :)
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! :)
This is what my newest painting looks like so far. It’s an entrance to a movie theater somewhere in Seattle. I got most of the base coats in and will be working on the shading and “details” from this point on (it intentionally won’t be detailed in the end).
Speaking of movie theaters, what do you think it should be called? And what do think of Disney’s new movie “Moana”? I haven’t seen it yet, but I’d be curious what your thought are :)
I am making a “Tauriel”-inspired costume out of burlap. Considering that I’m not a good sewer, I think it’s looking really good. Now that the basic shape is set, I will be trimming and hemming all those messy edges. :)
I’m happy with the way it’s turning out, but there are two things I’d try to do better next time:
When shaping the pattern for the dress, I didn’t calculate quite enough extra fabric for the pieces. This means that the dress fits ok, but when I try to move around, it gets a little tight. Next time, I’d calculate an extra 2-4 inches to the initial “plastic wrap” (skin tight) pattern (possibly even more, depending on how loose the final fit should be)
I also would try to leave even more of an edge for hemming the cloth, and I’d hem the pieces as soon as possible. I did leave a edge for the hems, but in some places it wasn’t enough, and some edges started fraying already, so it’s a little messy. So if you ever try to sew something, leave a 2-3 inch-edge and don’t wait with the hem for longer than necessary :)
When all this hemming is finished, I will dye the piece green. And then I’d be done! :)
Have you ever attempted a bigger project without much pre-knowledge? What was your experience with that? Leave a comment if you like and have a great day :)
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…
shape of new mask out of kid’s clay
outer 2-part-shell of mold (plaster)
covered with papermaché
Bangkok (2016) -sold
new table top with epoxy finish
what my room looks like right now
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:
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 :)
Bangkok Rama 3, Aug 31st 2016
Kasperle, Aug 31st 2016
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 ;)
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…)
I promised to show the art I am making here, so here it is.
I am trying to impove my skills in colored pencil, as well as drawing cloth and caricatures. The chickens are concept sketches for my book “Chasing Chickens”.