If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw it: I am joining the November insta-hashtag, #NavigatingThroughNovember. It started as simple photos, but with some themes, it turned more reflective than expected, especially with „Intention“ and „Coziness“:
„INTENTION: or rather: CONFESSION. I wanted to join Nanowrimo this year, even prepared notes and a pinboard… and then got sidetracked (by a really good project..). but the notes and pinboard are still waiting – maybe I pick them up in December? or like someone once said: „there is no lost time and work. all serves a reason“ …“
„COZINESS… not really a cozy photo, but it’s symbolic for me: I am trying to get more comfortable and maybe even cozy with situations that aren’t all easy – like taking a new road, and you don’t exactly know where it leads to, but you learn to relax in that unknown environment, and even enjoy the turns (and nice how that fits literally with #NavigatingThroughNovember)“
The „really good project“ I mentioned in the note is the new version of my blueprint21 website. It’s a joy to work on it, and also a good way to reflect on where I am coming from, and where I am going to.
One of the big surprises this week was: Portrait painting. Our tutor Tesfaye Urgessa already announced that we will move from still life to portraits this week. I got a bit nervous about that, and did a preparing session, learning an approach to paint eyes. Actually I looked for aquarelles that I could study and learn from copying, and then the eyes-advice-sketch came up. Which also made me think of Tesfaye’s advice: “with aquarelles, start with the most difficult and detailed part”.
And surprise: I tried a series of eyes, then a first portrait (copying the position of key elements with pencil), and then a second… and was excited when it worked out.
Yet in the painting session, we took a different approach: our task was to first work with the shades, leaving the eyes / lips blank. So that we focus on the form and shades of the face. It’s not easy, and in the upper lines of sketches you can see my tries:
But all those tries lead somewhere – I first was frustrated, but then we moved to sketching with pencil, and then moved into color in the sketch. And then all started to fall into place. And voila: there was a portrait developing.
Photo Exposure Session
This week in the photo class, everyone brought a photo of a photo that spoke to them, and talked about it. And I presented a bit of a longer photo talk, about the photo work of Barbara Probst – we saw one of her works at the photo biennale, and it’s really thoughtful and many-layered, a theme to explore.
Her photos, they are about relativity: that in one place, there can be many photos. But that often, media / we pick one iconic photo for a person or place or event, and it suggests objectivity, while her approach questions this and suggests subjectivity. Yes, we moved into photo concepts and into philosophy with this series. (here’s a bit more in the previous blog post „Exposures“).
Reflecting on this gave the idea to try such a photo series ourselves, and we tried an own photo Experiment based on this theme – and it was so interesting. While working on that, we created some very different, beautiful photos. We already exchanged photos yesterday evening, and now will individually pick a selection and crop and combine the images.
Learning how to learn
Later I thought: the aquarelle and the photo lessons, they are really also good lessons in learning how to learn. That the tasks makes you go and prepare, and lead to new approaches, new ways to see and work.
Day by Day
On Sunday, there was a vernissage at the art academy, with one of the tutors of the first phase of the art academy, with new works and with some works from the founding year 1977. The artist / tutor is Max Bailly. He is over 80 now. We met him by chance this week, as he set up his exhibition. He is into zen, and has such an easy melodic way about himself, it’s hard to believe he is 80. I want to be like that when I am 80, I thought. Putting up exhibitions and giving workshops. Humming along. Smiling at the young students open-hearted and tell them that in my workshop, yes, we get moving, get “beschwingt”, get in the swing, and get creative.
His exhibition is titled: „Im Kleinen Anfänge suchen“ – „Looking for the beginnings in the small elements“
The vernissage was both touching and inspiring. Bailly worked daily with a small square size, working with pieces of paper and carton, creating a mix of painting and collage, often in layers of paper, sometimes including found objects. Seeing it directly brought the impulse to think: I want to play with that format. He talked about the process, that he has a carboard frame, and works with it, putting it on layers of papers, sometimes papers and cartons that are paper-cut-waste – „and sometimes I simply move it a bit, look at it through the frame, and feel: look, there it is already.“
It’s so different to be at an exhibition when the artist is there and talks about the work.
Today I created such a frame myself, and worked with a larger acryl sketch – and found a first miniature, which actually is more pointed and interesting to explore than the whole large sketch:
It’s really a gift in its own, the artist connections the art academy brings, the impulses that come from the sessions, and from the group work.
…and an additional quote, it arrived here one day after posting, in the newsletter of Rumpus Magazine, written by author / publisher / editor Marisa Siegel:
What I do know is that you should put yourself in rooms with people who inspire you. You should remember that teachers are everywhere, waiting to bestow wisdom. Friends, colleagues, strangers—you never know who will say the words we need to hear, or when. But if you don’t allow yourself to be in the room, to be out in the world, to be open, the page will remain blank