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.
When my son Paul was about three years old a friend of mine liked to tease him by faking a Brooklyn accent saying things like, “Aye Pauli, howahrya doin’?” or “What are yuh doin’ dere, Pauli?”. Paul did not seem to like it and quite often he did not respond when she addressed him like that.
One day when I called him Pauli (without the accent, rather using it as a term of endearment) he did not respond either and I asked him, “Why don’t you respond when I say your name?” He replied, ” That’s not my name.” “It’s not? What is your name then?”, I asked. And he very emphatically, pronouncing every word quite slowly and particular, said, “I am Paul! Just Paul!”
A couple of years ago I took a writing class. Just now I went through some of my old notes and found the following brief exercise. I read it again and remembered how the final comment cracked me up back then. I still think it’s too funny how the peer reviews “climax” in #5, LOL.
Thought I share this with you. Hope you enjoy it.
Choose two of the sentences listed below to expand by adding logical additional parts of speech (nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositional phrases). Your sentence should be a minimum of 12 unique words.
• The children play.
• The woman walks.
• The sharks swim.
• The flowers bloom.
• The wind blows.
• The computer hums.
While the computer hums incessantly the woman wearily takes off her yellow shoes and stares with tired eyes beyond the green shimmering fields that glow in the morning sun outside the open window.
Finally the woman sighs and walks quietly away from the window towards the dark kitchen, turns on the dim ceiling light, opens the refrigerator, and takes out not only a cold beer but also a plate with sandwiches that her husband had prepared so lovingly the night before.
peer 1 → You did an awesome job! Pictures are developing in my mind, while I am reading your sentences. It seems, you took lots of effort and fantasy to create them. Good luck for the rest of the course!
peer 2 → Interesting elaboration based on the three words given. Beautifully phrased.
peer 3 → Nice continuation of the sentences meet elements of speech interesting descriptors from computer to fields
peer 4 → Wow, your sentences provide a vivid image of the seen.
peer 5 → Seems like there should be a comma after incessantly.
Hello Everyone! It’s been a while since I have last posted. Life caught up with me and a lot has happened: personally, professionally, geographically – really complex changes – yet, this is not the place nor the time to talk about it. It goes without saying, that it’s stressful while you are in the midst of things (hence no posts), but at the end of every tunnel is usually light and I made it to the other side and came out just fine – if not better. So, no worries. I’m back and here comes my next post:
Here are a few pictures of a sculpture (a work in progress at the time) that unfortunately did not survive my last move – that’s life. As a wise man once said:
Sometimes when I photograph my work I see it differently. Mainly it helps me to see “mistakes” that I hadn’t seen with the naked eye. For example, in the following pictures I noticed that her forehead seems too flat and the arms seem not quite proportional. Have you noticed it too, that photos help you to see your art differently?
I show some of my artwork on a website called see.me and they have organized an event in New York which – woohoo – I was chosen to be a part of. They will show art from 103 countries and the show will run from July 25th until September 10th.
PLEASE VISIT MY SEE.ME WEBSITE AND HIT THE SUPPORT BUTTON, it’ll help me getting more opportunities to show my work etc. – THANKS !!!
The following is the letter they sent me:
Congratulations! Your work work will be shown at The Story of the Creative! This message is to confirm your materials have been received and you are officially part of The Story of the Creative exhibition opening in our New York City gallery on July 25th, 2013.
The show will be open to the public. If you are unable to attend the opening for any reason, we will mail you an archival print of the images shown and an official letter of recognition.
Since your work will be on view for seven weeks, stop by anytime until September 10th to see your work in the exhibition!
We’re thrilled to have you as a part of the show. Your hard work is done, you’ve made great art. Now we are going to get busy producing this massive show. Thanks again for being a part of the See.Me community.