16 February 2017

Teddy’s First Valentine’s Day

Hi all! Valentine’s Day as a single has been a kind of sad day for me for years. This year I decided to make it into a party and Teddy was going to be partner in this party. He was going to get a very special Valentine’s photo shoot.

First lesson learned: don’t wait to buy Valentine props until Valentine’s Day, because everything is sold! Of course I did manage to find nice things eventually and ended up buying way more than I needed, but I had to look hard and visit a more stores than I intended. Well, at least I had something to choose now.

I set up a scenery and then the difficult part began: getting Teddy interested in being a photo model. I’m still learning this together with him. We’re both novice on this. I tried how he would respond if I rubbed a little bit of catnip on the pillow I wanted him to pose at. I know, I’m a bad cat mommy. At first he got pretty excited and it looked more like he was trying to murder the pillow. He had fun, which is my priority. He lost attention soon, so I tried to bring in some treats. He loves his treats, which is actually just his regular food, but somehow if I throw it before him piece by piece, he thinks it’s something special. That was good enough for some more photos. By the time he really wasn’t interested anymore, and went over to the couch to watch me with this triuphant look only a cat can, it was getting too dark anyway. After a shooting with Teddy, it’s always excited to wait untill the photos are uploaded to my computer, so I can see if there is at least one decend picture. I was happily surprised to find a couple of very cute photos.

Teddy_valentine_01-2This one is my absolute favourite. When I look at this photo, my heart is filled with love.

Teddy_valentine_02The pillow says “kiss me”, but I don’t think this looks like kissing. Pretty cute though.

Teddy_valentine_03Blame it on the catnip

Teddy_valentine_08No more kisses, I’m hiding!

Teddy_valentine_05Only if you dare…

Teddy_valentine_04You can kiss my …

Teddy_valentine_06Crazy little thing called love

Teddy_valentine_07This last one is my second favourite. I will use this one in my art journal soon.

I hope you enjoyed your Valentine’s Day. You don’t have to be in love with someone to make this into a great day. There will be another post on Valentine’s Day soon, as I came up with another idea to share some love. So stay tuned. See you soon!

04 February 2017

Sketch A Day

Practice makes perfect, or so they say. I’m not too sure about the perfect part of this saying, but one thing’s for sure: practice makes better! If you want to learn something, you need to practice on a regularly basis. So when I saw the #sketchaday event on Instagram, I thought it would be great to join to see if I could make this into a daily routine. My goal was not to finish a sketch or drawing every day, but to sketch something, anything, everyday for at least 10 minutes. It’s been a fantastic experience and I love it so much. Because of the 10 minute time limit, I don’t have to feel guilty if 10 minutes is all I manage to force myself to work in my sketchbook. And even the sketchbook isn’t a necessity. One day I just grabbed a piece of paper from my art trolly (you know, the fabulous Raskog one by Ikea). I needed something for my art journal and started a sketch of a squirrel on a piece of scrap paper. I’ll add a short video of the finished art journal spread in this post too.

Alpaca

This art practice is so easy to fit in your daily schedule. You only need paper, a pencil and for your convenience an eraser. So, when I had an appointment for a full checkup on my wheelchair, I took the essentials with me and made this sketch of an alpaca. Or is it a lama. I always find it hard to tell the difference.

Baby_squirrel_01

This is the squirrel I made for my art journal.

Baby_Fox_01  Baby_Fox_02

Like I mentioned before, I didn’t intend to finish a sketch every day. This cute little fox baby was done in two days. I had to find some YouTube tutorials on how to draw fur. Once you know the trick, it’s actually not that hard at all. I’m very pleased with the end result.

Polarbear_01  Polarbear_02

This polar bear cub was also done in two days. I love how his expression changed once I added more details. It was quite a challenge to add the texture of the fur, but still give the bear a white appearance

Hedgehogs_01  Hedgehogs_02

The inspiration for this hedgehog mum and baby came from a periscope of someone showing her pet hedgie. I’m totally in love and want a hedgehog for as a pet myself now. I’m realistic though, so I’ll just keep drooling over these cute pictures and videos I see on the internet. My cat isn’t even an adult yet and I’m very happy to have him in my life and take good care of him. The spines on these hedgies may look difficult, but they are just a bunch of V shapes. What I also love about those two photos next to eachother, is how you can see the difference between the first raw lines and the final drawing. Every piece of art has it’s ugly stage and you just have to keep going to make it look better. When I’m drawing sketches, the ugly stage is right at the start and when I see what’s on my paper, I’d rather tear it out of my sketchbook, because how could I ever make that into something not ugly? But as you can see, I kept going, adding details and texture and in the end it’s not that bad at all. And even if the end result isn't what you desire, it’ll still be useful as you always learn from the things you practiced.

Face

And there she is. I really love this hype of making beautiful faces. And as the incredibly talented Dina Wakley says, if you want to learn to draw faces, just go for it. Draw or paint a face for 100 days and you’ll see the amazing improvement between your first face and your 100th. For now, my faces are quite okay. They’re not perfect, but I kind of like them. The real struggle starts when I want to add hair to my girls. I ruin every face sketch as soon as I give her hair. It’s very clear what I need to focus to get better, but I really don’t want to keep drawing nice faces and then ruining them every time. So I thought of a solution. I’ll make a sheet on my computer with just six times this face, print out a bunch of those sheets so I can focus on practicing the hair.

Here’s a short video to show you the spread in my Gelli Printed art journal on which I used the squirrel sketch.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ve already started a new sketch, starring my darling red furr ball, also known as Teddy. So make sure to follow me or check this blog regularly. I always announce a new blogpost on Instagram and Facebook, but that last one doesn’t like me a lot, because it’s algorithm makes my post disappear for most of my FB friends. Instagram is way more reliable. And of course there’s also the following option from Blogger, which you can find in the side bar. Have a great weekend and don’t forget to make some art or anything creative. It’s good for your mind, body and soul!

30 January 2017

Jack Frost Came To Town

We had a visit from Jack Frost. Unfortunately he didn’t stay very long. I’m not a big fan of snow. Not because I don’t like the look. No, quite the opposite. I love those fairytale-esque images. It’s just, since I’m in a wheelchair, I am unable to go outside, which makes life a bit more complicated. This awakens a lot of frustration, because I do want to go out and take pretty pictures outside. So, I’m not a big fan of snow. However, I love frost! As a kid I loved ice skating. My grandpa taught me and I still cherish those warm memories of skating over the frozen water. As a photographer, I love frost too. It has the ability to magically change the world outside too, just like snow, a bit more delicate though. I really do hope we get another visit from Jack Frost and hopefully he’ll stay a little longer then.

The first pictures of the frost were late December, but I hadn’t shared them with you yet. There was only a little bit of frost to capture, so don’t get too excited yet. I say yet, because I promise the photos will get better after this part. Still, I’m not disappointed with this set either.

Frosted_log

Frosted_bark

Frosted_leaves_02

Frosted_leaves_01

Frost_close-up_03

Frost_close-up_01

A week ago we had another visit of Jack Frost and this time he brought some hope and excitement. I live in the Netherlands and we have this ice skating tradition called “De Elfstedentocht”, which translates into “the eleven cities tour”. It’s a tour over natural ice, leading past all eleven historical cities in Friesland. It’s known as the tour of tours and is about 200 km (120 mi). The ice has to be at least 15 cm thick (6 in) and with global warming changing the weather, it’s been a long time since we had our last tour. The last one was in 1997. In 2012 we were so close and everyone was so excited, because this year there would be a tour. And then it stopped freezing and the tour was off. So now that one is officially mentioned as “the tour that didn’t happen”. If you’d like to read more about this event that’s almost part of our genes, you can follow this link.

Every winter, when it starts freezing for more than a week, we get “elfstedenkoorts” (eleven cities fever). People start getting excited, because the question is: will it freeze long enough? There has been a tour on natural ice in the east of the country, so that was a nice present for the diehard skaters (I think only professionals could join the tour, but every skating lover’s heart pounds a little faster during these times), but no chance for an Elfstedentocht so far. Today’s youth doesn't understand the excitement the "older" generation gets, mostly becasue none of them have ever witnessed one of these events. I, myself, have decided that if there’s another Elfstedentocht in the future, I’ll try to book a hotel room and witness the event with my own eyes.

So Jack Frost brought a lot of excitement the week before and I was able to get a new chance to make some nice photos. Unfortunately I missed the best part, as I was still sleeping. When I decided to wake up early the next day to have my opportunity, there was nothing to see. Oh well, going back to my warm bed wasn’t a bad alternative. The day after that, which was last week’s Saturday, I went for a walk in a private park. It’s the same park where I took the previously displayed photos. The park is just gorgeous and because it’s private it’s not as crowded as other parks in the city. I’m quite happy with some of the photos and now I know for sure I really want a real macro lens (I’m using extension tubes instead now).

Frost_on_tree_01

Frost_on_tree_02

Frost_on_tree_03

Frost_on_moss

Frost_macro_02

Frost_macro_01

Which one do you like better? The colour photo above or the black and white below? I can’t decide.

Frost_macro_01_BW

Frost_macro_03

Frozen

Palace_of_peace

When I say the park is gorgeous, I mean really really gorgeous. Look at this last photo. Can you see the castle peeking through the trees? It’s the Peace Palace and I think it’s the most beautiful castle we have in the Netherlands. I find this view very enchanting.

Stay tuned as I will be back with more eye candy! Like a photo impression of the Chinese New Year Parade. And I’ve been making lots of art too, so there will be a new blogpost on that soon.

26 January 2017

Last Christmas

No, I’m not going to talk about Wham’s song. I just borrowed the title, because this will be my last blogpost about Christmas. It’s taken me some time to go through the many photos I’ve made during the Holiday season, but now I’m done and I’m a happy chappy. The photos are ready to get printed, so I can finally make my December Memories album. Knowing myself, that won’t be ready before next Christmas, so when it’s finished, I’ll be right in time for the new Holiday season and you’ll be happy to see my post (assuming you are all quite done with anything Christmas by now).

So, I have been quite busy trying to feel Christmassy. The fun thing about Christmas there are so many crafts and things that are Christmas only. This year I joined an online photo workshop that was a Pay It Forward kind of thing. You could join the workshop for free and get a new prompt every day until Christmas. The only thing asked from you, was to do something nice for someone else. It was up to you how far you wanted to go. Everything was shared in a private Facebook Group, so we could celebrate the joy of giving together. It was so much fun to do! And of course we shared the photos we made for the workshop. Very inspiring to work on the same project with other people and share results. So much to learn.

Light-swirl-collage

This is a photo collage which is the result of one of the prompts we got. Looks fun, right? Can you see what it is? I’ll tell you. It’s a Christmas tree. When I took the photo, I moved my camera. The coloured lights make cool patterns. It’s really fun. You should give it a try. Make sure your camera’s shutter is set to about 2 seconds. There are apps for your phone too, if you don’t have a fancy camera. Making photos in the dark of some lights with you phone, will be the easiest, as your phone camera will automatically take more time for a photo. That’s why it’s so hard to take sharp pictures in the dark without a strobe. Play with it and think creative. We live in a digital world, so wasted photos won’t cost you a thing!

As mentioned, we were asked to do something nice for someone else too. There were great projects and of course we all donated a little to several charities. If you all give a little, together you can still give a lot. There was also a spontanious crowd funding action that just happened, because some people offered to share things they didn’t use anymore. Someone in the group made friends with a young refugee from Iran, who was a photographer in his own country before he had to escape. He had to leave all his equipment behind. So somebody offered to donate her old camera, which she didn’t use anymore. Somebody else had a matching lens. Then people were asking if they could just donate a small amount of money. On Christmas Day, the young refugee got a box with all kinds of photo gear, which made him intensely happy and eternally thankful. Making another person happy feels so good. We all should do that more often. Just a kind smile and a hello to a stranger goes a long way.

One of the things I’ve done, became a nice creative project on it’s own. I made 30 sets of clay ornaments, which I put in little gift bags. To make it look even more festive, I added a homemade tag to each bag. Every day I went outside, I took a couple of bags with me and left them in public spaces for someone to find. It was so much fun, trying to hide a present in a crowded area, without being noticed. I have no idea who the people were that found one of the gifts, but I hope it made them happy.

Clay_Ornaments_01

Clay_Ornaments_02

It’s only Christmas once a year and this year there were so many things I wanted to do, see or make. Like baking gingerbread man cookies. It’s not traditional here in the Netherlands, so I never tasted one before, but I have seen pictures of beautifully decorated gingerbread men for so many years, I really wanted to try making some. Getting the grocaries was a project itself. I needed all kinds of ingredients I’ve never even heard of before. So thanks to the internet, I was able to determine if and where I could get all these things. It took me a couple of days to get everything I needed, but at least I was able to get all of it eventually. Making the dough wasn’t too difficult, but I had no reference, so I had no idea if what I had, looked right. And I was in doubt a little here, as it was so extremely sticky. That’s no surprise of course, considering the large amount of molasses and brown sugar. I made two discs of dough, carefully wrapped them in cling film and put them in the fridge for 24 hours.

Dough_01Dough_02Dough_03Sticky_dough

Sticky, but it should be okay, right?

Dough_brayerGingerbreadman_cookie_cuttergingerbreadmen_02

Next day, baking the cookies. It was harder than I thought it would be. The dough was so sticky, it was impossible to cut the dough with the cookie cutter. So, I added some additional flour. Tried again. Better, but still a lot of trouble. By the time I did my last batch of cookies, I finally discovered what worked for me.

One_man_down

Uh-oh…one man down

Gingerbreadman_03Gingerbread_man_05Gingerbreadman_04

Since I only have a small oven, I was limited to baking no more than six cookies at a time. I thought I was clever to buy a second cookie tray, but it was too big to fit imy oven. So I had to transfer every sheet of baken cookies to a cooling rack (not an official one, I had to improvised a little) and then transfer a new sheet of cut out dough onto the hot (!!!) cookie tray and put that back into the oven. Of course no baking without getting burned. It seems this is a thing that I can’t avoid. The burns weren’t very serious though and I took good care of myself.

Hungry_kitty

Meanwhile Teddy really wanted to know what was going on in the kitchen. It smelled so delicious. He knew for sure there was something edible and it was gonna taste so good! Sorry, mister. This is no kitty food.

Gingerbread-man_03=2

Third day, decorating the cookies. This part was the most fun. I never ever done anything like this before, but being a creative person, I quickly picked up on how to do this.I don’t have any fancy tools and the tip of the bottle I used for the Royal Icing was a bit too wide for my liking, so I had to keep things a bit more simple than I had desired, but in the end I thought they looked very cute.

Gingerbread-man_04-2

They even have rosy cheeks. And I have to admit something I have been afraid of for years. I want to do this more often and try to perfect my skills. Ever since cupcake decorating became a serious thing, I said I never wanted to try, because what would I do if I liked it? And that’s exactly what happened. Cookie decorating is super duper fun!

Gingerbread-man_01

Don’t they look adorable? It’s like the cookie jar was made for them. This was about half the crowd of gingerbread men. There were so many!

Gingerbread_treat

Packed in a treat bag, embellished with cute washi tape and a simple handmade tag, they were the perfect Christmas present for my caregivers.

I’ll definitely make more gingerbread men next Christmas. And I’ll probably do some more cookie decorating as well. So on this subject I will say: “to be continued…” (don’t you hate it when that line pops up at the end of an exciting episode of your favourite show?)

You, of course, don’t have to wait untill next Christmas for me to come back to you with a new blogpost. I have a lot of projects in the pipeline and some photography to share too. Hope to see you back soon!