Sunday, 15 October 2017

Inktober 2017 - Week Two

Another week of daily drawing.

Day 8: Pen

Day 9: Dip pen and ink, and pens

Day 10: Pen

Day 11: Dip pen & ink

Day 12: Dip pen & ink

Day 13: Dip pen & ink

Day 14: Dip pen & ink

Thoughts and insights:
  •  I figured out how to change the setting on my scanner so that it now scans the entire page. Yay!
  • Stippling is so much fun with a dip pen!
  • Inks are so versatile, you can use them for drawing, washes and even mix them together
  • I love dip pens!
  • So many different nibs! I'm going through the ones I have, adding ones, and throwing out the ones that don't work for me. No point hanging on to them. I only want what works
  • An excuse to go to the art shop :)
  • Drawing every day is good, but finishing and posting a drawing every day is quite stressful.
  • But I'm not giving up
  • Done is better than perfect

Friday, 13 October 2017

A walk in the (Tier)park

A visit to the nearby wildlife park is always a great way to spend an afternoon. Many years ago, the park started to rebuild the outdated enclosures of the past to make them bigger and resembling the animals' natural habitat. This means that you not always see the animals. Which in turn means that there's always a good reason to go back again and again. Because you never know what you are going to see. All of the animals are, or have once been, native to this country.

The horses are some of the few animals that you always see. They are part of a programme that re-introduces the wild horses in Mongolia, where the became extinct decades ago. We were lucky to get to the fox enclosure at feeding time. A family of five, two adults and their three youngsters. Seeing a bear is always a privilege. My favourite anmials, though, are the moose, which this time were too far away in the woods for my camera this time.

But even if you don't see that many animals, a walk in the park (and a hot chocolate in the café/restaurant) is always a pleasure. There is so much else to see, if you look closely, and for every season, nature has a special display. And autumn is certainly one of my favourite, even if it was a bit early yet for the full autumnal colours.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Inktober 2017 - Week One

I'm taking part in the Inktober challenge this year, for the first time. It's been around for a few years, and I've wanted to do it before, but something's always come in between. Usually holidays. Which, of course, is a nice thing, like last year, when I spent the first week of October in art retreat in Scotland (I can't believe that that was already a year ago!), and the second relaxing in lovely Dorset. But this year, there's nothing on in October, my holiday is already over, and it's high time to get back into a regular drawing habit.

I decided to start a new sketchbook for the challenge. I went through my (far too big) stack of new sketchbooks and found a Strathmore one, about A5 size, with thick mixed media paper that should take bottled ink and ink washes, and with enough pages for 31 double spread, should I decided to do that. To prepare for the challenge, I did a warm up page on the last day of September.

Front/Warm up page: Pens

Day 1: Pens

Day 2: Dip pens, brush, inks

Day 3: Pen

Day 4: Brushpens

Day 5: Dip pen and ink

Day 6: Dip pen and ink

Day 7: Dip pen, ink, pen

Some thoughts on the first week:

  • It's good to try out something completely different
  • Sometimes it takes a LOT longer than you thought it might, and it's perfectly okay if you don't finish it in time
  • Some inks just don't work very well on (certain) paper. It's worth taking a bit of time to try out what works and what doesn't
  • Bottled fountain pen inks make lovely washes
  • Even if it looks like rubbish at one stage, don't give up but keep working until it starts coming together. It usually does
  • Some days, it just doesn't work, and that's fine. Just splash some ink on a page play around instead
  • Dip pens are great to draw with, it's fun trying out the different nibs and inks
  •  Finishing a drawing, then scanning and posting it every day is had work, and sometimes it might just be too much
  • My scanner is driving me mad, it tries to scan individual images instead of just the entire page, and I don't know how to change that
  • The most important thing is to draw, and to have fun

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Happy - tidying up and using up stuff

I'm tidying up my studio. There's just so much stuff that has somehow accumulated over the years. Some of the stuff I haven't used in ages, as my style and preferences have changed over the years. I've been hanging on to all that stuff, because... you never know, maybe one day, they might be useful.... But enough of that. If I haven't used them in all those years, the chances that I am doing so now is very little. So it's all going out. Or most of it anyway.

Work in progress - first layers

I found these papier maché letters in one of the boxes, and I had this 20x50cm canvas board that I had bought for a project that I never got round to do. Not a very convient format, but - the letters fitted perfectly on it, so I glued them on to it and added paint.

Work in progress - more layers

I also have far too many paints. Some I've had for ages, but I've discovered new brands that I prefer so they have just been sitting around unused. I've recently taken them all out and painted little samples, and some of them have become all gooey. I've used all those gooey paints for this one, using them up as much as possible before they go into the bin.


There really is just no point keeping all that stuff if you're never goint to use it. It might be hard to just throw it all away (good if you have arty friends nearby who would be happy to use them), considering that art materials aren't cheap. But hanging on to them might just be counterproductive. At least that's how it is for me. With my shelves full of stuff, getting to what I want often requires shifting other stuff first, and I easily forget what I actually have. And the result: I don't use them at all. And a cluttered space just doesn't work for me, there's no room for inspiration to blossom. Not that I want a bare, clinical kind of space, not at all. But there is a big difference between creative chaos and pure too-much-stuff mess.


Now that my holiday, sadly, is over, I hope to finally get some much overdue planning, organising and change making done. Not to mention more time spent in my little studio and with my sketchbook.

Friday, 22 September 2017

The magic of mushrooms

Finally, summer is over, and one of my favourite seasons has arrived. The gorgeous colours of the autumn, the softer light, the cooler, fresher air... Such a relief after the hot and stiflig summer. And I'm on holiday! A relaxing holiday at home with N, with long walks, day trips, lazy mornings, home made fruity smoothies and good food. 

The other day we went for a walk in the forest and there were mushrooms, or fungi, everywhere. And so many different varieties! They're so fascinating and magical. Just gorgeous, aren't they? Of course I have no idea what they are all called, but just looking at them, and taking pictures of them, made me happy.

Happy Autumn!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

A Month in Polaroid: The August Break 2017 - Final Week

Can you believe that it's already September? August just flew by! To be honest, I'm glad it's the end of summer. August was far too hot and humid for my taste. Now, that the temperatues have dropped 10-15 degrees Celsius compated to last weekend, my energy is coming back and I got more done this weekend than on all the weekends of August put together. But I did finish this year's August Break, and here's the final days of my month in Polaroid:

It was fun to think about how to interpret the prompts and find something to photograph. Of course with Polaroid, it takes a bit more planning. But that's the charm of analogue photography. 

I also made a little Steller story of my Month in Polaroid. I think it used to be possible to include a Steller story directly on your blog, but it doesn't seem to be so anymore. That's a shame, but anyway, you can find it here, if you want to have a look: A Month in Polaroid 2017 on Steller.

Monday, 21 August 2017

A Month in Polaroid: The August Break 2017 - Week 3

Here's last week's photos for the August Break challenge, again, all taken with a Polaroid SX-70 Alpha 1 and a Polaroid SLR 680.

Monday, 14 August 2017

A month in Polaroid: The August Break 2017 - Week 2

Here's my second week of the August Break challenge. As last week, all the photos were taken with my two vintage 1970s Polaroid cameras, a SX-70 Alpha 1 and a SLR 680. If you'd like to see the prompts for the challenge, and these photos, you can find them here.

Monday, 7 August 2017

A month in Polaroid: The August Break 2017 - Week 1

I've been away from my blog for a bit, spending a lovely holiday in Dorset in July and then just taking it a bit slow in the summer heat. But for August, I've taken my Polaroid cameras out of the cupboard, where they have been sitting, unused, for far too long, to take part in the The August Break challenge. Some of the prompts are quite challenging, and not made easier by using Polaroid cameras, but it's good to get thinking, trying to get the right photo for it, and get the photo right.

So here's my first week. I've used my two favourite cameras for this, the SX-70 Alpha 1 and the SLR 680.Y ou can find the prompts here.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Just practising

Thank you everyone who commented and shared their views on blogging on my last post. I am glad that there are still many of us out there, who value blogs and are continuing blogging.

I've been busy these past few weeks mainly practising in my sketchbook. As I've mentioned earlier, I'm exploring botanical art at the moment and I'm taking a class to learning more about it. At the moment, it's all about drawing and graphite. I enjoyed drawing the tone scales, I never really quite realised how much difference there is between different brands. I always sort of assumed that an HB pencil was an HB pencil. Well, it isn't. My favourite brand is the classic Faber Castell 9000. This is also the lightest of the ones I tried out and it gives a good variation of tone. Caran d'Ache Grafwood and Staedtler Mars Lumograph are nice too. The Derwent Graphic I didn't really like. They were almost impossible to sharpen. For botanical drawing, you need a super sharp point. Often this is achieved by sharpening your pencils using a craft knife to cut away the wood, and sand paper to get a really long and pointed point. Here I used a new sharpener by M+R, which sharpens the pencil to a concave point. It sharpened the Faber Castells to a lovely point, the Grafwood are too big for the sharpener, the Mars Lumographs were okay too. But with the Graphics, the leads just kept breaking off. It was okay for the 2H, H and F, but for the rest, it was pretty much impossible. I have a few of those pencils, and I'll use them for other drawings, but definitely not for botanical drawing. Taking the time to make these tonal strips is certainly a very good way to getting to know your pencils - and finding your favourites!

I'm also practicing leaf drawing. And I still have a lot of practising to do! i have to admit that I became a bit sloppy with this one and the result is a very irregular drwaing. But it will be useful as a measure for my progress. In traditional botanical darwing, the subjects are drawn in actual size, which can be rather tricky. It's amazing how much detail there is in a leaf! A magnifying glass is quite essential, not only for getting a closer look at the leaf, but also for drawing. Drawing through a magnifiying glass is actually quite amazing! Especially when you look at your drawing afterwards and see the even layers that you would have had difficulties to achieve with the naked eye.
I started a new leaf but only got as far as the outline. Which means I now have to start all over again. That's the problem with leafs. You have to work relatively quick, as they wilt, some faster than others. Or maybe that's the advantage of drawing leaves. Once you've started, you have to keep going. No room for procrastination.

I also started working through Sue Vize's book Botanical Drawing Using Graphite and Coloured Pencils. I love the good old pencil, and am discovering the potential of coloured pencils. I wasn't aware how much you can actually mix colours by layering them. The colour wheel was done using just three colours, Cadmium Yellow, Ultramarin Blue and Alizarin Crimson.

There's lots of exercises in the book with both graphite and coloured pencils. They're a useful way to pracise your drawing skills as well as getting to know your tools. There are of course exercises in actual botanical art as well, I just haven't got so far yet.

Last weekend, there was a Medial Market here in Zürich, and my Mum and me went to have a look around. It was very nicely done, with a great mix of stalls selling hand made goods, food and entertainment, and wonderful costumes. It wasn't quite as hot as it is now yet, but I still wouldn't have wanted to wear some of those costumes, they look so hot!

The guards at the main entrance to the market - very popular with the Asian tourists...

The Medicus demonstrating is skills

The knights in their best plumes

Quackery and amber

Modern Middle Ages

The basket maker