Friday, 23 January 2015

Stockholm i mitt hjärta, Part 4 - Gamla Stan

I've meant to post some drawings, sketches, or even paintings after all the photography posts, but I just haven't got round to doing much. So I'm sharing some more photos today, another part of my Stockholm series.

And oh my, it has been ages since my last post in this series - June, to be exact, and not June last year, but June 2013! High time for a new post, and there are still some more places I to go to. Last time, we visited lovely Djurgården and spent some time in the outdoor museum Skansen. Now let us venture into the heart of the city, the old town, that dates back to the 13th century - Gamla Stan. Let us stroll through the narrow alleys, preferably the quieter ones, away from the crowds.

Gamla Stan is probably the most photographed part of Stockholm, and it seems that it's always the same lanes, places and corners that get captured. So I've played around with textures, to try and make them look a bit different.

Can I get a job here, please?

Even though the main alleys and squares can get very crowed during the holiday season, Stortorget (the big square), is still worth a visit. Not only because of the beautiful old buildings surrounding it, but also because of one of my favourite cafés - Chokladkoppen. A big cup of hot white chocolate is just the perfect thing to warm you up on a cold day. And in summer, you can sit outside, and watch the people on the square and enjoy the mild air, and a slice of white chocolate cheese cake.

Tyska kyrkan (the German church), or Sankta Gertruds kyrka, was founded in 1571.

There are, of course, many more interesting sights and buildings in Gamla stan - among them Stockholms slott (Stockholm palace), also know as Kungliga slottet (the Royal palace). But we'll leave the old town now, for some more exploring. I haven't yet decided yet where we will go next time, but it will definitely a nice place.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Tidying up and dreaming of winter

What mad weather we're having at the moment. Yesterday, it was about 13 degrees, so warm, it felt like spring, and nothing at all like winter. And what a wind there was blowing. The whole house was rattling. The snow has long gone, and there's no sight of any new. And at the same time, I'm reading about and seeing pictures of snow(storms) on Instagram and Facebook - and (some) people compaining about it. Oh please, send it my way! I'd be more than happy to get the fluffy white stuff! The more the merrier!

After the lazy Christmas break, I'm ready to start drawing and painting again. But first, my studio needs a bit of tidying up. So until I'm ready to get started, and until we, hopefully!, get some more snow here too, I'm editing and posting more photos from a couple of weeks ago, from our walk through winter wonderland.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Enjoying winter

It's the last day of my long, almost 3 week's Christmas holiday. It's a bit of a sad day today, as N.'s flying back to England later in the afternoon, and it's going to be a few weeks until we see each other again. But we had a great holiday together, going on walks, daytrips, taking lots of photos, and having lots of relaxing, lazy days too. And we've had a few days of snow too. Unfortunately, it's all gone again, but hopefully, there'll be some more this winter. I really do enjoy winter, the long dark nights, the cold, fresh air, and the beautiful, calm of a world covered in white.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Welcome 2015

The first day of a new year. Always a bit scary, but also exciting. All the possibilities. Plans, dreams, wishes, hopes, resolutions. One of my long list of New Year's resolutions, which really is more a to do list, is to spend more time on photography again. I love to take pictures, and to process them, using textures, creating little pieces of art from scenes, landscapes, things that captured my eyes, and made me happy.

Like a visit to the nearby animal park, to say hello to one of my favourite animals, the mooses. One of which was conveniently lying in the snow close to the fence.

And what happens to all those unsold, left over Christmas trees? They make a perfect Christmas feast for the animals.

The end of the year also brought snow. I absolutely love snow. The world is so much more peaceful, looks so much more beautiful when covered in white. After some grey and very snowy days, which were best spent at home, the last day of the year brought some blue sky. A perfect day for a walk along the hilltop. I just love to hear the sound of walking on snow, the crisp, clear, cold air, the beauty of snow on trees.

I took, of course, loads more photos, and I'll upload some more winter magic in the next few days/weeks. I also have a 500px account, if you're interested to see more photos. I'm not there that often, and try not to upload too many photos, but I've got some of my favourite photos there. It's a place worth visiting anyway, the work and skills found there is just amazing, and very inspriring.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year! Looking back on 2014, and making plans for 2015

This year has been my worst blog year so far. Not even half as many posts as last year. It's not that I haven't done anything. Actually, I think I have done more than ever. Mostly drawing and sketching, including a 75 day sketch challenge. But somehow, I haven't really been able to post, connect, be present. Some health issues, which have dominated most of the second half of the year, haven't helped either. I've thought a lot about giving up he whole online stuff. Shut down my blog, delete my Facebook account, draw the duvet over my head. Because really, what's the point? It can be very frustrating and depressing, when you're not able to achieve what you want to achieve, to be how and what you want to be. Especially when you happen to be someone who tends to take think a bit too seriously, too personal. A perfect introvert and worrier. 

But I'm not quite ready to give up yet. A new year is always a good opportunity to put the old one behind you, draw a line, and make a new start. So I'm giving it another go. I've got lots of plans for the new year. My word for 2015 is Nurture. A big word, encompassing many different aspects. Including health. I hope 2015 is going to be a healthy year.

This year really has just whizzed by. I remember writing in my journal on my favourite bench at the edge of the forest on a mild spring day, making plans for the year, and suddenly here we are, at the end of the year. What happened??? Where has the time gone? It's always a good thing to look back on the year, especially when you feel that it has passed far too quickly and you haven't really done anything at all

In spring, after half a year, I decided to quit pottery class. I did enjoy it, but it all got a bit too much, and I wanted to concentrate on drawing and painting. And I never really quite got the hang of throwing, let alone of trimming. The only thing that greatly improved was the glazing, which went from complete mess to pretty neat. Paint and brush - I took it as a sign.
Instead of portrait class, I decided to sign up for a portrait class. I had taken this class already two years ago and really enjoyed it. This time, we worked even more often with life models, and it was a great experience.
One of my resolutions for 2014 was to draw more, and I did. Over the summer, I completed the 75 Day Sketch Challenge, one drawing a day for 75 days. I never thought I would be able to do it, but I did, and it was great fun.

After a wonderful two weeks' late summer holiday in England, I took up all my courage and signed up for a life drawing class. I've been wanting to go for quite a while, but thought I wasn't ready. But then I just jumped in, and it was a great experience. I learnt a lot.
I didn't come very far with my A Whole Lot of Collages project, I'm afraid. But I enjoyed doing the ones I did, and no doubt will do more, every once in a while.

I also took a couple of online classes, the last one, Pauline Agnew's Expressive Faces and Figures, inally got me taking out my acrylic paints, inks and brushes again. I'm still somwhere in week 1, still lots of catching up to do, but it was great to get painting again, and to learn some new techniques. Below's one of the portrait I started in the class. Still a work in progress.

I'll be writing my list of wishes, ideas, resolutions for 2015 in my diary later. As usual, there are lots of things on my list. Among them are spending much more time in my studio to paint, draw, journal, create. To be more present in blogland, and to give my blog that long overdue make over. To get more organised, and to get out there. And to stop being a procrastination queen.

See you next year!

Monday, 15 December 2014

New Year Resolution: Exploring oil painting

Unbelievable, that's is almost the end of the year again, already. Where has the time gone? And what happened to all those plans, goals, dreams and resolutions one tends to set oneself at the beginning of a new year? Well, one of my plans for 2013 had been to explore oil painting. It's something I've always wanted to do, but never dared. Then, at the end of last year, all determined, I bought some oil painting supplies. One day in spring, I set up a little still life, did a pencil drawing...

...made a value study with charcoal on a separate piece of paper....

... transfered the pencil drawing on to a canvas board, and started with the underpainting.

And that's as far as I got, I'm afraid. But at least the underpainting is now well and thoroughly dry, and ready for the next layer. And one of my New Year's resolutions for 2015 is to finish this painting. And explore and play with oils.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Life Drawing

I had been thinking about taking a life drawing class one day at the beginning of the year, but thought I was far from ready for that. In spring, I went to a portrait drawing classes again, which I had taken two years ago. I really enjoyed exploring the human face and drawing real people rather than working from photographs. Drawing the hole figure was the logical next step further. I wasn't sure if I was ready for the class yet, and I was thinking about it and arguing with myself all summer. But then, one's never really ready and fully prepared, and just a few days before class started at the end of September, I went for it. And I'm so glad I did. Every Saturday morning we explore a new technique or concept - mass, contour, line, tonal values, chiaroscuro etc. I love the structure of the class, starting with a bit of theory first, followed by putting it into practice, and building up on the past lessons. And as we are a small group of only seven, our teacher has enough time for helping each of us in turn with practical advise and critique. While the models in the portrait class had been volunteers, who did not always sit completely still, the models here are paid professionals, who are able to hold a pose without moving. Drawing them is a very different experience, not easy, but so rewarding. Most of the time, anyway. There's always the one or other drawing that just doesn't work, and is just frustrating, of course. We've had a different model for every class so far, mostly young women - only one man so far. Below are some of the drawings I did in class so far (I'm sorry about the bad quality of the photographs, but the days are getting shorter and greyer). I still got lots to learn...

Last Saturday, we went to the Archaeological Museum at the University, to draw in their cast collection. After having spent a good hour listening to our teacher explaining about different epochs and development of representing the human body in carved stone, we all wandered off to find a cast to draw. I liked the expression of this cast of a Roman copy of a Hellenic original, representing a man sharpening a sickle. I decided to concentrate just on on that, drawing only the head, instead of the whole figure (which was rather complicated, I save that for another day). There were some in my class who weren't happy about drawing dead models instead of life ones, but I must say I quite enjoyed it. It was nice not having to worry about time and instead being able to take as long as you need without having to fear your model changing the pose. I think it's a good exercise to draw such casts from time to time, to really study the features, proportions, expressions, poses etc., to get a feel for the human face and figure, and I'm sure it will be very useful for drawing from life.

I have a long way to go still, but I'm so glad I'm taking this course now. And I want to go back to the Archaeological museum too, and there are weekly life drawing sessions (not classes) here in Zürich too, which I yet have to check out. After all, it's practise, practise, practise that makes you improve your skills.