Sunday, October 15, 2017

yellow days, newness, bookfair, dio-what?-ras, con/text, virtual reality, and the art of juggling life

It's this time of year again: summer fading and autumn entering in yellow days. Which can turn a simple drive to the supermarket into a visual spectacle. The photo? It's right from the supermarket parking spot. A boring place when it's overcast and busy. But yesterday was sunny - so I delayed the drive, and arrived there in this unplanned perfect tree-light-shadow moment.

More sun-inspired images: the sky cleared during Friday, and in the evening, we went for a walk at sunset time. I didn't have my camera, which probably was a good thing, as this gave me an instant opportunity to follow the advice of my new art teacher:

"If you see something interesting, spent time with it, and notice what draws your attention most - and then paint from there. If you still want to take a photo as reference, try to paint without the photo first. The camera looks in a technical way, not like an artist." 

And yes! I have a new art teacher. Or rather: several new art teachers. Since Monday, I am guest student at the Nürtingen art academy. I woke up early on Monday morning, with the Elton John song playing in my mind: “It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside….”

And parallel with that, the 4 words of advice opened up: “enjoy more, worry less”. I guess it’s not just accidentally that I put the visual together last week: it’s my subconscious leading.

At the art academy, the rough plan is that I can take two courses as guest student and go to some of the art talks. In the course of this week, I became a first idea of everything: the place, the tutors, the other students, the atmosphere...  In the next 2-3 weeks I can try different courses, and then make a definite decision which ones I will join.

"What will you learn?" - a friend asked. Smile. I don’t really know yet. I initially went there thinking that I will take a painting course, then met the photography tutor - and realized that would be a pretty interesting class for me, too. The good thing is: I don't have to choose upfront, but can get a first idea of the different classes in the first 2 week. Right now, it looks like I will pick the painting course, and the photography course. They both combine of technical / theoeretical / and practical elements.

There also is more space than I expected for students to bring in themes, and to look at art together, to talk and reflect on viewpoints on art. There are also joined museum visits planned. So I hope, it’s kind of a multi-layered learning and getting-to-know and hopefully good encounters with others.

In the last weeks, I playfully browsed my bookshelves to see which books on art I own, and came across this one again:

I bought it last year, in Cologne, at the Gamescom-weekend. I was there for some meet-ups on Friday and to go to the fair, and had some time to also visit the Cologne museum. Which has a bookstore. I remember how I saw the book, and picked it up, put it down again. Read the text on the back: 36 'tutors' share their experience, wisdom, techniques + philosophies on art + life.

It's a heavy book, and I knew I would have to carry it - but I also knew that it's a book for me. So I bought it. Now it feels like a hint to myself. Nice parallel: the tutors in the book are artists. Much like at the art academy. Same with some of the notions expressed in the book. Here's a quote from the book, from Olafur Eliasson, that gives an idea (the full text is up at Artspace, and a PDF of his full contribution to the book is up at Raumexperimente).

"We try to learn how to learn, so we learn where we have to go by going. We evaluate and critique ourselves along the way, and together, and always, and all ways. We invite other artists and practitioners to think and do with us. We believe in risking vulnerability and practicing in the robust discomfort of uncertainty. A shared vulnerability is important. We believe in getting out of our comfort zone..... School is not a place for a safe enclosure of lessons. School is an amplifier for the world. Lessons are not fixed ahead of time or they become rules. Dogmatic. Concrete. Belaboured. The syllabus is written after the course ends. The course is endless. ... Everyone participating shapes the lesson, makes the lesson more, makes the lesson on."


From art.. to Frankfurt bookfair, and to the ARTs 

After the introduction at the art academy, I went and packed my bag, as the Frankfurt Bookfair was waiting. I probably would have skipped it, but my aunt lives near Frankfurt, and so it's a good occasion to meet up. Plus, since last year, the bookfair has a focus area on art, too. Plus, as it turned out, there is an art exhibition on in Frankfurt, recommended by the photo tutor. "So I try to fit that in, too," I thought. And learned: once you start looking for options, you might just find new ways to approach things.

To avoid morning traffic, and to have more time, I drove to Frankfurt in the afternoon and arrived in time for dinner at my aunt's place. The next morning, I was at the bookfair before 10 - a good time to start. There was a talk about the trends and future of self publishing and how there are more and more "hybrid" authors and also publishers, which are active both in a traditional way, but also as self publishers. That was pretty interesting as starting point.

A theme I looked for were: comics, as I blogged from there for myComics, with suggestions where to go for comic readers and artists. The blog post with a lot of book fair pics is up here, in German.

And I went to the ARTs section - it wasn't crowded yet, and one of the unexpected highlights for me was the Google Education booth, they showed their Virtual Reality / 360°view headset learning program, it was so interesting to try that and get an idea. And there was a virtual ride in the next booth, a visit to Venice. I didn't even have to wait for that.

Plus, there were interesting talks, and author interviews.. it is really more about the interaction than the books itself. My mobile phone put a video together with the photos of that day, it gives a good idea of the sights and themes:


From the fair, I took the s-train to Frankfurt city, and enjoyed the contrast: from book fair to the real city, and then to the Schirn museum. The exhibitionI visited was: "Diorama - the Cultural History of Vision".

(Frankfurt centre "Römer" with guerilla knitting, the Schirn museum is in the background.)

Here's the definition of Diorama: "it can either refer to a 19th-century mobile theatre device, or, in modern usage, a three-dimensional full-size or miniature model, sometimes enclosed in a glass showcase for a museum. Dioramas are often built by hobbyists as part of related hobbies" (Wiki-article)

The base idea of it, especially when showing artefacts in museums, is to give visual context. And our main focus of perception is: visual. We tend to think that what we see is more or less the reality.

(photo of the building of a diorama)

But if you move the focus on the process of how to create dioramas - or portraits, or advertising photos etc. etc. - you start to see that of course, they often aren't "simple" reality, but tend to be a staged version of objects.

Even when we "just take a photo", we pick the frame of it with our camera. In some ways, each photo is a "diorama", a box of visual content that is part of a larger setting.

It was a rather different, and rather thought-provoking exhibition.

The Schirn museum is right in the city centre of Frankfurt. I went to a café there afterwards, and saw the sign of another exhibition that picks up the visual theme, too: "Perception is Reality - On the construction of Reality and Virtual Worlds": "The invited artists will examine the new conditions of human perception in relation to technically constructed realities. As one of the first exhibition houses in Germany, the Frankfurter Kunstverein will integrate a new forward-looking medium, virtual reality, into a contemporary art exhibition."


The art of juggling art + other times 
Altogether, the week was an intense one, but full of impressions and newness. And the weekend was summer-like, with space to reflect and to revisit, and to just be. Looking at the past week, and the upcoming one, a thought surfaced again:

That for me, the way to juggle the different themes probably is: by combining them. like: combining the trip to the bookfair with a visit to my aunt, and a visit to the museum.

The theme that was missing this week, though, was: writing, especially preparing for Nanowrimo. But hopefully, there will be more space for words next week. Well, and I wrote 2 longer mails, with reflections, and this weekly blog post - I just counted, it's 1500 words (hello nano-wordcounts..)

I already look forward to the upcoming days.


Links + More:

For more about me, visit my webpage

For more tiny colourful moments, visit my instapage: lifeasjourney.

This blog post is part of skywatchfriday, because I really like skies.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

October: horizons, nano writing plans, storm roses, enjoy more & Frankfurt bookfair + documenta clips

Back home. I am typing this while October rain is falling. But it is good to be home. We were so lucky with the weather in Spain, with sunny days, the colourful and beautiful places of Mallorca. Only our last island day was cloudy, like a bridge to the autumn that waited back in Germany.

Such a difference, the island time and the water horizon. It brought space to pause, to reflect, and to spin ideas.

One idea that took shape there: maybe taking part in the National Novel Writing Month in November. And writing the book I have in mind since I went through the cancer diagnosis and treatments and recovery.

I feel, now would be a good time with some distance to it, looking more at the larger themes, the time of going through treatments but also the time afterwards. The focus would be on reflections and advice, things that can help, practical advice and emotional, too.

The idea shaped through the previous challenges, the 100 days and the 30 paintings – the way such a challenge brings energy and connects with others who are going through the ups and downs of creative challenges, too. Plus, in summer, a friend told me about a book she has written and is editing. Of course I was curious – and she sent me the edited version to read in Mallorca. She had written the first draft during Nanowrimo last year. And talking with her about it brought the theme up of joining again. And made me look at the nano page – they actually have a preparing month now, “Nanoprep”, for figuring out what to write, and for outlining and plotting. There are a lot of blog posts and youtube clips going online now with advice. It feels inspiring.

So step by step things start to take shape. I now have a nano-pinboard :)
And I started to follow some of the hashtags: #preptober #nanowrimo...

The plan to write also takes the edge of the upcoming colder and darker season: windy and rainy is good writing and reading weather. The garden here is still colorful, though, and my "storm roses" - the ones I once got as gift from a flowershop, as they had been damaged by a storm and couldn't be sold anymore - they are happily in bloom, I took the photo after October storm Xavier moved through.

What also is happily in bloom: my daily digital paintings. I paused during the island time, and thought they found an ending point, but now I am back to them. It turned into a good, colorful ritual: playing with shapes and shades at the end of the day.

This is the latest one, from this evening. Inspired by a tiny big facebook challenge: "Share your best advice in 4 words or less. - I am curious for responses. What four words of advice would you give me?"

My 4 words are the reminder i wrote once on my little travel diary, and since then, note down before each journey, as I tend to do the opposite sometimes: worrying about all that might go wrong, especially on a trip, instead of enjoying the present moment. :)


Next week, a short trip waits for me: I will visit the Frankfurt Bookfair again. Looking forward. Last year, the visit brought a good suprise: while I was there, an art project of the upcoming Dokumenta was presented - which gave the impulse for me to finally go and visit the Documenta in Kassel. 

Here's the memory from last year:

Frankfurt Bookfair 2016: Snapshots, The Arts, documenta, forbidden books, a poetic shore + a personal reflection
..... "The Parthenon of Books" is an art project that will be shown in 2017 in Kassel at the documenta, and which now officially gets started: The argentinian artist Marta Minujín is collecting books from forbidden and persecuted authors for it."

And here's the youtube-clip that I put together after visiting the Documenta this summer, with the Parthenon of books as intro image. (or rather, that my smartphone put together, i just edited it a bit. interesting how it picked the images and combination):

Actually, there are 2 more videos... ah, all those moments:

Day 2: Green people are a recent invention


Links + More:

For more about me, visit my webpage

For more tiny colourful moments, visit my instapage: lifeasjourney.

This blog post is part of skywatchfriday, because I really like skies.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

island skies, October, sun/lightness, natural art, Miro, Matisse + journeys that don't end

It's the first of October today. Hadn't thought of it when booking the trip, but it somehow fits that the time here leads from September to October, from summer to autumn. We were so lucky with the weather, which turned the time here into days filled with light and ease. Returnint to this place and bay here in the North of Mallorca, it is a bit like having a holiday apartment somewhere, where you know the place and easily step into “relax and enjoy” mode.

What also is lovely: since a year, they have a new wellness area, with warm water pool and water massage, sauna and steambath.. and we go there every evening at 7. It is so relaxing. The whole holiday feels a bit like a Mediterranean wellness time with pool time, beach walks, terrace breakfast, wellness time, reading time, good sleep..


...and with art moments. Like finding this piece of natural art at the bay. Creating a cairn - a stone tower - at sunset. Reading the Matisse biography in this southern light he enjoyed, too.

And: Miro. On Saturday, I went to the Miro foundation in Palma, which combines a museum and his atelier. Such a special place.

From there, it's just a 10 minute drive to the museum of modern art, Es Baluard. It's a stunning place, with an art rooftop with view:

Next to the museum is a park, a good place to rest and enjoy.

Being here, it feels timeless. Some more single moments: Reading in José Saramago's journey book. It's not the right book for me right now, but it lead me to reading journey quotes:

"A journey never ends." ― Jose Saramago

“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” ― Anna Quindlen

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ― Ursula K. Le Guin “

"We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” ― Anaïs Nin


This joy of walking barefoot in sand and waves, together.


Some final pool time: reading the last chapter of the Matisse biography, and revisiting Winnie the Pooh.


Links + More:

For more about me, visit my webpage

For more tiny colourful moments, visit my instapage: lifeasjourney.

This blog post is part of skywatchfriday, because I really like skies.

Monday, September 25, 2017

From autumn to island time: in transit, a puzzle of memories, and on photography

The last week was long, intense, and colorful: the week before leaving on a journey. Last Sunday, I drove to the Alb for an autumn walk, and for a larger horizon before diving in the long list of things that waited to be done yet. "Lucky weather" I thought while looking at the forecast: there were rainy days upcoming, which brought the right mood to stay at the desk and just keep working and getting things done and organized. Even things I had postponed since weeks.

"Keep on keeping on" was my mantra for those days. And even though it was tiring, after that week, on Friday, it felt good to arrive at this milestone. I packed my bags while feeling an ease of things done, and not waiting after the island time.

Our flight was Friday afternoon, and at noon I felt: the journey is beginning now: the doorbell rang, and a friend dropped by to say hi. We could sit outside, and the red cat joined us. It was a feeling of: yes, now the tide moves to: Journey. Enjoy. Encounter. Relax.

And then the journey started for real, in a new way: taking the new express airport bus. Walking to the bus stop brought this curved sky moment:

The feeling of being in transit, it also inspired the digital painting / visual that I put together before leaving. As always, when going on a journey (even when it's just a shorter one), there is this part of me that can't wait to go. And this other part of me that wants to stay. Same goes for the other end of the journey: a part of me wants to keep travelling, another longs for the comforts of home.

The lines in the visual - like almost all the other lines of the previous ones - are a revisit. This time a special one: i looked for "transit" notes in my blog, and arrived at a poem that my friend and poet Rose Hunter once wrote, based on lines of my story collection "in transit". Here's the whole poem - such a good puzzle of memories:


The Perfect Plan
Rose Hunter

re/ visit /cycle /turn
all the spaces those
cubes have created
like flocks of ravens
a concentric wave would
run to the sides without anyone

interrupting it
the changing of
places, the changing of skies
all that is missing now
you have to pretend you don't feel how
we can learn lessons then
forget them again
they are 10 cent a piece
against expectations, this idea

of days of space this promise
to see and think and think and
see, until it makes sense -
his breath
at the edge of the ocean
this almost tenderness -

the train doesn't mind, it moves on
returning me to where I came
from, closing the circle

and I want to go
and I want to stay 


From transit day to first island day: we arrived in the late evening, which felt a bit odd as arrival time. But they still has dinner for us, and it was just lovely to wake up on Saturday, and realize: we are here. At the ocean. With a full week of island time waiting.

Here's a photo from one of the first ocean walks:

I probably took similar photos during one of the previous stays, but each day here is different. And it's and  to catch the moments, and post them on instagram - see the flow of images there, my own and the ones of others with similar hashtags.

Here's the link to my  instagram page.

Photography... is also the theme of the book I am reading: "On Photography" by Susan Sontag. A thought-provoking book. It's from 1977, but almost reads like written for our time with all the mobile phone photos. 

Here's a quote:

“All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”

In contrast to all the thoughts, there was this simple sign that felt like a guide to island time, and to life in general:

Live well
Laugh often
Love much

Now, for a late-afternoon barefoot walk along the bay....


Links + More:

For more about me, visit my webpage

For more tiny colourful moments, visit my instapage: lifeasjourney.

This blog post is part of skywatchfriday, because I really like skies, home skies and foreign skies :)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

skies, places, creative spaces: spotting Venus, "Situation colorful", Paris, daily digital paintings, and learnings

Sky guest
There was a fleeting morning moment this week: looking out I saw a bright spot in the sky - Venus, I remembered, and checking an regional sky page confirmed it. I hadn't seen her since a long time, and knew it wouldn't be visible for long with sunrise bringing more light. So I took a photo, to catch the beauty of that unexpected sight, and posted it on my instagram page later.

It's one of the changes this year brought: I took a bit of pause from social media this spring and summer, from facebook and twitter, and even from my blog. Yet the 100 day project brought me to instagram, and I like how it both is simple yet connects easily with a theme or keyword, especially for a creative challenge like the 100 days....

September Passioncolorjoy 
...or currently for the "passioncolorjoy" challenge, the task is to create 30 colorful paintings in 30 days. Hashtag is #pcj30in30.  I came across it through instagram right at the start of September, as one of the participants of the 100 days joined it. For me, it started a new cycle of daily creativity: revisiting micropoems from previous months, and combining them with new digital color sketches. Here's one from this week, also catching up on the feeling of seasons changing. I have started a hashtag for all of them, which indeed turned rather colorful so far: pcj30in30dl 

Reflecting the days
Since its start, I thought of blogging about it, too. Also, I thought of blogging about the books I am reading. And the art places I went to.... yet I didn't know where to start. Putting a blog post together for each them felt too much. Plus, the instagram posts already include some of the topics. And I like how they are more spontaneous, "live from the moment". That in the evening, it's not like: and now to write a blog post...  but then, they don't give much context, and the text isn't visible when scrolling through the images.

So I thought: I might try a longer post each week, a reflection of the week. With some impressions, places I've been to, a sky moment, a note on the books I am reading. And with links - which insta isn't very helpful with. Also, putting the themes of the week together in a collected poscreates a space for reflection. And it might lead to noticing some cross-connections. Like this one:

Situation colorful
This week, I met up with friends for a coffee, and also to visit a local gallery. the exhibition had the title "Situation colorful", and we looked forward to that on a rainy day. The gallery windows were covered with color sheets, so we couldn't see inside. Full of anticipation, we walked in - into an empty room. Turned out, the installation indeed was the color-decorated window front.

The curious thing was that while being there, it didn't look so special, neither from inside or outside. The artist, Tina Haase, is working with everyday materials - and the colour patches actually are household rubbish-bags from all kind of places. I took some photos, and when looking at them, that's when it started to look really interesting.

A day later, when finishing my next digital color painting, I had to smile: without planning to, the "Situation colorful" had influenced my visual:

September butterfly, red cat, multicultural book
And the butterfly line in the visual further above: the line is from last year, but I picked it after seeing a September butterfly in the garden again. Here, summer turned to autumn, but there are still new flowers opening in the garden, attracting bees and butterflies: 

This week was rather windy and rainy altogether, yet with some half hours of sun in between. I am glad my work is so flexible that I can make a pause when the sun is out - which brought a lovely  book moment yesterday, a book that I have since a while, but only started to read now - it has the unusual title: "The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet". Turns out, it is unusual: multi-cultural science fiction, and one of the "heroes" is a clerk... it's described as  "A science fiction novel that explores humanity's intergalactic future through the eyes of the everyman." It's told from shifiting perspectives. The author is Becky Chambers - my fav quote from it so far is on dealing with the drama of the world: 
“All you can do, Rosemary – all any of us can do – is work to be something positive instead. That is a choice that every sapient must make every day of their life. The universe is what we make of it. It’s up to you to decide what part you will play."

Here's more about the book at goodreads: "The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet" by Becky Chambers. 

And here's a sweet reading moment: the sun appeared, and so I went outside.. and the red cat appeared. I put up the hammock, and then read while the cat dozed: 

The way the book came together is a good story in itself: it's crowdfunded, this is what Becky Chambers writes about it on wired: "My first book was the first time I had any fiction out there. … I used Kickstarter to fund my remaining months of writing time. I was about two-thirds of the way through the manuscript and my freelance work dried up, so it was a sort of do-or-die, Hail Mary trying to get that book done. And I told myself at the time, ‘If this isn’t successful, it’s a sign that you need to go get a real job,’ and to my eternal surprise it was a success. So yeah, that was the thing that kind of got the ball rolling. … There were a few friends and family [who contributed], but most of the people were folks, I am assuming, who knew me from my games writing. But beyond that, to this day I’m just like, who were these people? Because I’m eternally grateful.”

The other book I am reading is rather rough, it's "Bataclan" by Fred Dewilde, a survivor of the 2015 terror attacks on the Bataclan club and other places in Paris. . I received an extract of it as part of my freelance jobs, to upload it - it's here (in German): Bataclan. The book is part graphic novel, part autobiography. And with the news of yesterday, the attack in London, it is painfully topical.

Reading the book also brought back memories of my own impressions from Paris: walking in the evening, under a changing sky. Crossing bridges, visiting the bookstore Shakespeare & Company. Thinking of all the people who walked those streets before me.

Learnings of the week + Making Mistakes
A tiny, but symbolical learning of the week: there was a PDF-document, and I needed some of the text. I started copying it, then felt: that isn't the way, as it copies all line-breaks, too. So I went looking for a converter, and learned: well, I have the tool already Adobe Acrobat has a function for that. I tried that now and: yes, it works, easily, and comes out really well.
A good lesson: sometimes we have the tools already. and: better to pause and consider the options first before just going the well-trodded thought-free but possibly not most practical way.

Ending this post... with a photo of a sculpture, a group balancing act, by artist Fritz Nuss, an artist from this region. So much like life, I thought.

And a quote that spoke to me this week - a mistake wish from Neil Gaiman:
"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something. So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever."


Links + More:

For more about me, visit my webpage

For more tiny colourful moments, visit my instapage: lifeasjourney.

This blog post is part of skywatchfriday, because I really like skies, even overcast ones :)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

mountain memory, mountains to come

This is a memory from August 2015. Good to read this as I am packing for a short trip to the mountains.

5 days in the mountains. I took about two hundred photos, but didn't really log into the web for the time out there, and didn't write, not even diary notes. I was just out there, after this long time of being caught in an endless list of doctor appointments and treatment dates. Yet coming back, I wrote this note:

5 days in the mountains

Open time, or rather: this open feeling of timelessness. Breakfast on the terrace. Roads we never took before. Feeling like a beginner again, arriving in a new place.

It is so good to be in France, at this lake surrounded by mountains, and then driving into the higher mountains. Being out there, in places where time is flowing slower, and the news of the world more distant.

There’s a different tune of feelings in me, after the days that I went through. In the days that I am in now. All this sun. The open horizon. And then, finally: rain. Which is okay, too: it belongs to this landscape. I stop to watch clouds, the way they move. And see an eagle, soaring up there, in this valley of larger dimensions.

The pass is foggy, but just minutes later, in the valley towards Briancon, the skies clear. I think of the breakfast conversation: “It’s raining but it’s a good day. Every day without doctor date is a good day.”

This feeling of freedom. I could catch a plane and fly to New York for some days, if I wanted to. Could just do it. And the thought: I should do it, at some point. Do those things I tend to postpone. Make time for them.

Because you never can know.


Friday, August 18, 2017

future and past skies

A sky that was all about the future: sunset at the wedding day of a friend.

A moment from my short trip to Cologne, same time, last year. came across this scribbled note again that made me remember:

Cologne Dome.
Old stones.
Young people.
Future and past, 
on a stairway.

And a sky from last weekend: a touch of autumn in summer: harvested fields.


more skies: skywatch friday
more moments from august: augustbreak2017

Digivibe / Procreate

"Digivibe”, or: my first steps of trying the Procreate-paint-app.

Colorfun :)

Here's a tutorial that I found helpful:


and here are Tutorial 2 and Tutorial 3