I guess Corona has caught up to all of us in one or the other way. Life becomes more and more restricted in order to prevent the virus from spreading. I, myself, have two families in my social circles that have been in direct contact with infected people, and are quarantined now. Consequently, I put myself on “house arrest“ until we know more. I have no symptoms, but it’s the reasonable thing to do.
It’s not all bad, gives me some extra time to paint, read and write. And, thanks to this little invention called internet I can stay in touch and share it with you. So, I am sending best wishes to all of you out there. Take care – and don’t freak out (honestly, who needs toilet paper for the next five years).
This will blow over, just hang in there. Meanwhile, with the right precautions for safety 😷 we can still help each other where needed, and most of all, be nice to each other. Now, more than ever, we need to know that we are not alone.
I found an old pencil sketch of a bottle the other day and spontaneously started filling it in with watercolors. It’s been a long time since I’ve painted. It’s really just a sketch and has its flaws, starting with the paper (not watercolor paper) and then the colors that turned out muddy in some places because I just kept moving the brush over and over in the same spot (an old bad habit I have a hard time controlling). Watercolor is a tricky and fascinating medium. You can only do so much and quite often have to accept the flow of the watery pigment. That’s one of the reasons why I started painting with watercolor and it’s also the reason for a lot of frustration I had to deal with. And one day I stopped, partly because the frustration was just too much. But now, I think, it’s time I pick it up again. While you get better with practice, it is not always possible to control the outcome. That’s true in art, as in life. The only thing that can save you then (from frustration or worse) is acceptance. It is what it is. And sometimes, if you look at things with an open mind, you might see beauty where there seemed to be none before. Enjoy!
Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945) was a German artist. She lived through both world wars, lost her brother and her younger son in WWI and her grand son in WWII. Needless to say that these losses left a great impression on her. She was a committed socialist and pacifist. Quite often she depicted death, hunger, and the devastation of war in her art. She mostly sculpted but also produced very impressive drawings. Her sculptures are outstanding, very special and among my favorites. I had the pleasure to see (and touch – a very special treat) some of her super large sculptures in the Käthe Kollwitz Museum in Berlin. A friend who visited this museum very recently sent me a postcard featuring one of her drawings called “Mother with Boy”. Kollwitz very often made the Mother a central figure of her art. Mothers who give birth to their sons, only to lose them in horrible senseless wars.
I’m so impressed with the seemingly simple style of her art, and I wanted to study her technique. Turns out, it might look simple but it has a lot of little intricacies that are harder to reproduce than it seems. I find, the best way is really to copy and experience how the artist did it. When I say copy, I mean looking and drawing free hand – no cheating with any helpful tools like rulers or so. The point is to train your eye and to get a sense for the technique of the artist.
Why is this line exactly here and not there? What happens if I move it just a bit? Is this little dot of importance? Those were the thoughts that crossed my mind while trying to copy her drawing. Again, it looks so simple at first sight, but it was actually really hard to copy. It helps when I step away for a few hours or even a day or two. It also helps, when I look at a photo of her and my drawing side by side (as you see below). For some reason I notice other things when I look at a photo instead of the actual drawing. And every time I see another little thing that needs “fixing”.
An amazing exercise, that I enjoyed immensely. I stopped at some point. It can still be improved. However, that is also a lesson I learned from this exercise. You stop at some point and accept the result. And then start over, if you wish. Every time you learn something new. Try it !
I’ve always been intrigued by simplicity and the genius and beauty that most often can be found in the simplest things (or art in this case). So, I am reposting this article, originally published by thisisthedailygrind. Shout out to the fellow artist, who “walks the path” and keeps hanging in there. 🙂
The term “Minimal Art” – minimal art – was coined in 1965 by the English philosopher Richard Wollheim. He used it to describe a kind of contemporary work of art, where the aesthetic effect is very paradoxically based on an absence of art content. The “ready-mades” of Duchamp were a good example of this. The importance of Duchamp in this respect had to do with the significance of his “ready-mades” for aesthetic thinking about the object itself as an essential component of art. By presenting a urinal and a bottle rack as examples of “ready-made” art, Duchamp reduced both the artist’s personal intervention and the value of artistic craftsmanship.
He gave purely functional objects an aesthetic value by simply making their own choice, instead of teaching them handicrafts. What he wanted to demonstrate was that the making of art could take place under different conditions than only on the basis…
“Knowing the path is not the same as walking the path.”
Morpheus (The Matrix)
I have been struggling with this concept my whole life. I tend to turn to other things, when I get to the point where I think, “okay, got it, I can imagine where it goes from here, don’t have to actually do it.” Unfortunately, I have acted on that thought many times throughout my life and did turn to something new at this point. Consequently I never really mastered anything. Well, I’m living proof and here to tell you that it makes for an entertaining life but not necessarily for a fulfilled one.
Knowing this now I make an effort to pay close attention to what is happening at that crucial moment when I am about to turn my attention elsewhere. I try to be mindful, observe my feelings and thoughts at this moment and as a result, resist the urge to turn away and do something new. It’s been a life long struggle for me – but I’m learning.
And I can say from experience by now, that indeed, walking the path is quite different from knowing it. It has its frustrating phases but the rewards are so much greater. So, stick to it. After every low, there will be a high. Without the bad we would never be able to appreciate the good. Life does not work without contrast. Be nice to yourself and keep showing up. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. It’ll all work out in the end.
Do you still have room for one more Christmas gift? No? Buy it anyway. This is a true gem: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. If you ever got stuck, had some kind of creative block (who hasn’t) or never got started because… because there is always a “good” reason not to – and you are really frustrated and finally want to do it but can’t somehow. This book will help you to overcome whatever holds you back. Sounds too good to be true? That’s what I thought. Now that I finally bought it and started following her advice, I can honestly say, it does work. At least for me – and it did for thousands of others before me. So why not give it a try. You have nothing to lose, except your frustration and pain.
Wishing all of you “out there” happy holidays and all the best for 2019.