Friday, 27 November 2015

Silent Night White Christmas cards and bulb growing

For years and years, I've been wanting to make my own Christmas cards to send to friends and family, but apart from the odd card, I've usually ended up sending bought ones in the last moment. But this year, I was determined to make them myself, from start to finish. As the easiest way to get the same motif on a number of cards is by stamping it, I had to make a stamp first. I haven't really carved a whole stamp before, so I decided to go with a simple design. A bit rustic, reminding of an old wood carving.

And here's the pile of finished cards, all coloured in. Now comes the hardest bit. Writing them. I'm not good at all at writing cards. It always makes me happy to get beautifully written Birthday and Christmas cards, and I always marvel at the eloquence of the writers, wishing I could do it too. But I can't. I'm just rubbish at it. I never know what to write. So I hope that this year, the cards will make up for the writing. And then I just hope that the recipients will enjoy the receiving the cards as much as I enjoyed making them.

I've also caught the bulb bug. A few weeks ago I read about the different bulbs you can use to grow lovely flowers for you home in winter in a magazine, and decided to try it out myself. Now of course, amaryllis bulbs aren't anything new at all. But I think I had one once, years and decades ago, and I can't even remember if anything ever came out of it. So I thought I'd give it a try this year. I bought one called Aphrodite, a white one with pale pink around the edges, that came ready planted in a pot. I'm totally enjoying watching it grow from one little green tip just visible, and I've been drawing the stages in my sketchbook every week. And they grow so quickly! And there's definitely a flower pod beginning to appear. Can't wait until it starts blooming! I bought another, smaller, white one, too, and I'm thinking about getting a couple of crocus bulbs too.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Drawing found memories

I'm really enjoying drawing at the moment, trying out different materials and techniques. I always loved pencils, but watersoluble pencils are quite new to me. But they're great and a nice way to add some body, layers and texture, and all you need is a pencil, a brush and some water, so they might make perfect travel companions. I have taken out my art journal again, which I haven't used in quite a while, but which I should do more often. Such a perfect place to play and experiment.

I've been collecting feathers for quite a while now. Or maybe collecting is the wrong word. I tend to just pick them up when I see a nice one, when I'm leisurely strolling around. Which I usually only do when I'm on holiday, which in turn means that almost all of my feathers are from England. Mostly from Hartfordshire and surroundings and Dorset, while walking around towns and villages, National Trust parks or the beach. I kept them all in plastic bags, hidden away in some stash boxes, when I finally got them all out and together in one place a few days ago. Lots of pigeon feathers, of course, but also a couple of beautiful duck feathers, crow feathers, swan feathers and a few that I have no idea what bird they come from.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

A Dorset holiday in Polaroid

It's already over a month since I returned home from my holiday in beautiful Dorset. Where's the time going? Before I left, I was thinking about taking one of my Polaroid cameras along, but wasn't sure if it would be worth it. My trusted SX-70 Alpha 1 was the preferred candidate, but if it was going to be all grey and rainy, I wouldn't be able to get a decent shot. Well, I couldn't have been any more wrong about the weather. It was sunshine almost every day, and often actually almost too bright. I had ordered three b&w films to N's place before I left, so that I wouldn't have to carry them with me and get them damaged in the x-rays at the airport. But something was very strange with those three films. All of them showed strange spots and streaks appearing, and blown out areas at the bottom. I had taken lots of b&w photos the month before, same film, and they had all turned out well. I was beginning to worry that somehow my camera had taken damage during the trip, but when I put a colour film, that I had bought on our day trip to London, into the camera, I was glad to see that it definitely wasn't the camera. I don't know what was the problem with those films, whether they got some damage somewhere on the way from the factory, where just out of a bad badge, or if it was just too bright. I still treasure all of the photos I took, and I'm so glad that I carried the camera with me, along with my DSLR.

I have 30 photos from my holiday. Below you can see them all, wrapped into a story made with Steller.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Inspired by Autumn

I finished my autumn inspired painting. The original idea was for it to be all abstract, but a little leaf that I picked up on a walk and forgot in my bag, where I discovered it two days later, dried and neatly folded flat, made it on to the canvas.

40x40cm, acrylics/mixed media on canvas

I love the beautiful autumn leaves that we're getting in such abundance this year, thanks to the dry and calm weather. I've been out capturing them with my DSLR and Polaroid cameras several times. They're beautiful in all weathers and stages, and just so inspiring and uplifting.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

The beauty of a grey autumn day

I love autumn. Not being a summer person, at all, I'm always looking forward to when the days are getting shorter and greyer, and when the leaves change colour. And this year has been wonderful so far in that respect. The trees are glowing in gold and red, and the leaves are rustling under your feet, thanks to the dry weather. Most days, the sun manages to break through the heavy clouds by midday, but yesterday, it remained grey. I have to admit that I like it when it does so. It does look pretty when the golden leaves glow in the sun, it's true, but it's when it's heavily overcast that the colours really come out at their best, I think. Especially on photographs. 

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Blog anniversary - 5 years of Nordljus

Last week, on the 24th, my blog turned five. I missed pretty much every anniversary so far, and I've been very slow with writing up this post, but here we are.

Collage and mixed media on canvas, 2012 (37x67cm)
When I started this blog, I wanted for creativity to become a bigger part of my life again. I've painted, mostly "on the side", for many years, but university, exams, degrees, job qualifications etc. somehow always got into the way of everything else. Then I got a job at a special library that involved 4 hours of daily commuting and, being out in the sticks, often got rather lonely. I bought my first DSLR camera and got into digital photography and post processing, which led me to the world of online classes, opening up a whole new world to me. I signed up for a scrapbooking class about colour and started this blog. I had never heard of scrapbooking before, and I soon realised that it wasn't my thing at all. But I liked some of the supplies (although I didn't really like the whole industry behind it, and all the "stuff" you could buy) and their possibilities, and, having become curious about what else there was out there, I found more classes, blogs, styles, techniques, supplies, possibilities. It was exciting and I tried out a lot of different things, many of which I found weren't quite me, after all, but all of which led to a more creative life and to where I am now.

I called my blog Nordljus - A Creative Journey when I started, and a journey it has certainly been. My photography and photo editing has changed a lot since then, as has my art. All the experimenting and learning and trying out new things have helped me to develop and to begin finding my style. It is still an ongoing journey. My blog too has changed a lot over the past five years, its design becoming simpler and simpler (below are a couple of old blog headers, and there were some much wilder ones too).

A couple of older blog headers
 I recently read somewhere that blogs are become less and less popular, are on the way out and replaced by other social media such as Facebook and Instagram. While I love Instagram too, for me, blogs are still my preferred medium to see and read about other people's art and their journey. I still find them a great place to present your work and style in your way, I still enjoy reading them, and I intend to keep my blog going too. I've been wanting to completely re-desing it, and even change platform, and hopefully that's something I'll get round doing next year.

I've often felt stuck, and uninspired, and that I'm not getting anywhere, but looking back through my blog post from the past five years have shown me that that is not true. Maybe my progress is slow, but it is a progress. And it has given me new inspiration and motivation to continue. That, also, is something I like about blogs. They are such a great documentation of your journey and progress. Below are some of the things I've been up to over the past five years.

Scribbler, a simple and free online drawing programme was very popular in 2012:

I discovered art journaling and mixed media, and in 2012, I enjoyed working in Moleskine sketchbooks:

I also started to draw and sketch, something I've always wanted to do more, and discovered new techniques and materials:


I started to apply more mixed media and collage on canvas, finding inspiration in my environment (such as in the library):

"Overdue", mixed media on canvas, 2012 (30x30cm)

In 2013, I started to regularly draw on the train, and often in my lunch break too. I filled almost two sketchbooks with my "train and lunch sketches".

In 2013, I also bound my first sketchbook, using pages which I had printed with my Gelli plate, which I also got that same year.

At the end of 2013, I took part in a postcard swap. I enjoyed creating these cards and sending them out into the world, and receiveing cards in return. And I'm still waiting for the 10th one to arrive...

At the beginning of 2014, I started my little project of A Whole Lot Of Collages. Of course the idea was to create 365 collages, but I only ever made about 20. I really enjoyed making them, though, and I haven't given up on them quite yet (even if it's been a while since I made one...):

In 2013/2014, I tried my hand at pottery, taking a few classes. I got quite good at glazing, but never really got the hang of wheel throwing and eventually took the hint that it was paint and brush that were my medium, not a pottery wheel.

In summer 2014, I did the 70 Day Drawing challenge. 70 days, 70 drawing, no pencil. It was quite a challenge, but also great fun, and I love flipping through the pages of the little sketchbook that I filled. A good reminder to draw and sketch more and regularly again!

In autumn 2014, I did something that I've wanted to do for ages but never dared. I took a life drawing class. It was one of my greatest challenges, but also a truly great experience.

In 2015, I started getting out my DSLR camera again, and spending more time editing and continuing to improve my Lightroom and Photoshop skills.

And I discovered instant photography, aquiring a little family of vintage Polaroids cameras. It's an ongoing passion.

My blog isn't the most popular, but it is my little space, to share my work and life, to grow and to document my journey. I've met some lovely friends on the way too, and they and their art enrich my life. And now for many more creative years to come.

Friday, 23 October 2015

A visit to an art fair, and back to some abstract painting

Last Friday, I went to the annual International Art Zurich - Contemporary Art Fair. I was given a free ticket for two at work, and my Mum was happy to join me. It was already the 17th fair, but I have to admit that it was the first time I visited it. But I'm glad I did. It was really inspiring. The exhibitors were both galleries and individual artists, some from as far as Australia and Thailand, but also many national and local ones. There were lots of mediums and styles on show, and although not all of them were to my taste, I appreciated the high quality of the works. There were only about two or three paintings, which in my personal opinion, weren't very impressive and didn't really quite fit the high quality standard of the fair. But as I said, that's just my very personal opinion. I prefered the individual artist exhibitors to the galleries, and apart from the very inspiring work of theirs, I also found it interesting to see how they presented their work and themselves. I collected a lot of business cards, flyers, cards etc. It's always good to get some ideas of how these things can be done. You never know. It was also interesting, though, to see what kind of paintings/artists the galleries represented.

After the visit to the fair, my Mum and me walked through the cold, wettish and autumny city, looking for a place to have lunch, before taking the train back. Back home, I just felt inspired to go to my studio and take out some paint tubes. I've always liked abstracts, and I used to paint a lot more of them earlier, but much less recently. But now I felt like getting back to it again. I've mentioned in last week's post how our own expectations can often get in the way before we even start a drawing or painting. I think that abstract painting can help with overcoming those expectations, as it is a much more intuitive process. I enjoyed very much putting these first layers on, and I'm looking forward to the weekend now to add some more and see where it goes. Apart from the visit to the art fair, it's heavily insired by the season. I'm not a fan of yellow at all, at least not of a cold, lemony yellow. But all the deep golden yellows of the leaves outside have definitely made me grab those yellow paint tubes. And we get a lot of grey, foggy days with the clouds hanging low here too. I love autumn!