Friday, February 24, 2012

Faces - Again!

It's still February, and I'm still busy with the 29 Faces for the month. I keep painting and drawing, but I am a face behind - not too bad. I don't have a name for the girl on top, I call her "red cheeks", I obviously had too much water on my brush along with the red color.

I was in a devilish mood with this one:

and this girl is not in a good mood either.

Meet Mary (she looks a bit like my neighbor):

and Clara:

And those of you who remember the boy with the funky hair (I finally decided it's a boy) on the cover of an altered composition book from last Friday - the journal is done and it's in my Etsy shop now.

I'm linking up to Paint Party Friday and Sneak Peek Friday - artful and inspiring Friday, I love it!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Visit to the Nursery

My friend Jo and I spent a lovely morning together yesterday. As usual, we started out with breakfast at our favorite little cafe in Graton - they serve excellent coffee there and the scrambles are delicious as well.

The latte is served in real bowls, no paper cups here. That's the way I like it.

After that we were ready to visit one of our favorite nurseries - I know, it's only February, but we both love to garden and just wanted to "look".

The nursery always displays their stuff so nicely - our dreams could take off!

One day I will have a little pump like that in my garden!

I was good - I only bought a beautiful columbine and a small trellis that you can put into a pot. But in my head there are many colorful dreams of a beautiful garden this year. Every year I can't wait to get the garden going. The calendula are beautiful and rich right now, and since we have unusually warm weather the peonies are already on their way out of the soil. I have been trimming trees and cutting back old and dead branches and twigs, preparing the way for new growth. I feel whole when I can work in the garden and feel the soil between my fingers.

Are you a gardener? What are you planning to grow this year?


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tulips and Books

As usual I am late for Photo Art Friday (yes, I know it's Sunday), but better late than never. For this week, Bonnie asked us to share a piece of photo art where we use one of her textures and then use a layer mask to finesse the texture application. It was quite a challenge, but I think I managed not too bad.

I used Bonnie's texture "desert canvas" in blending mode soft light at 100% and then used a layer mask in PSE to remove most of the texture from the tulips and their leaves. After that the tulips received some of the texture back, but lighter than before. It wasn't that difficult after all, it just takes some time and I had a harder time to decide when I was actually finished.

Bonnie's challenges help me to learn using PSE more and more efficiently, and I am very happy about that. Recently I have also taken more "still life" photos which is new to me and I haven't practiced very often. It actually also helps me to take better product pictures of the items for my Etsy store which is important to me.

I am also linking this to Life in Pictures at Coston Comba Photography, a photo blog I have just discovered.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Still More Faces

Hard to believe... I'm still active in the 29 Faces challenge and I have 17 faces "under my belt" - the top one counts as two. I really love to paint these roundheads, they are so much fun. These are Mipf and Mupf, names that Kaefer gave them.

This is Isabel
She looks a little bit like my goddaughter, especially the eyes. Isabel (the "real" one) has quite unusual eyes and I tried to reflect it in this painting.

Now meet the skater who seems to be in a lousy mood
I still want to change her/him - make the eyebrows a little thicker, put a soul patch on, hang eight Olympic medals around his neck - well, I guess you know who this could become. Maybe.

After that I dipped my fingers - well, my brush actually - into watercolors again, and 1,2,3 "die wilde Hilde" (wild Hilde) evolved - I wonder what she is making up in her mind. It can't be good.

And last but not least, here's no-name - s/he sits on the front cover of a journal, an altered composition book that I am currently working on.

It's quite clear which faces I really enjoy, isn't it?

I'm linking this to Paint Party Friday and Sneak Peek Friday again, please take a look at all these wonderful artists. There is so much talent in blogland.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love and Chocolate

A few days ago I played around with Scrabble tiles, chocolate hearts, a photo studio set up (improvising, of course) and my camera. When I uploaded these two pictures to Photoshop I further added texture and played around with a gradient - first time. I can't decide which one I like better - so I ask you: Which one of these two photos do you prefer, focused on the chocolate hearts or focused on the Scrabble tiles?

Wishing everyone a very happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dew Drops on Smoketree

One morning I looked at the smoketree at my frontdoor and saw all these beautiful dew drops on it - of course I had to take a picture. And of course I had to add some texture!

Here's the "recipe":
- Levels adjustment
- Bonnie's texture "artist's easel" in blending mode color burn at 47% opacity
- copied it in blending mode soft light at 47% opacity
- some adjustment in hue/saturation and brightness
- Bonnie's texture "goodness" in blending mode vivid light in 55% opacity
- and a final levels adjustment

I love how the drops stand out and almost glow.

I'm linking this to Photo Art Friday - really really late this time (I missed it last week...)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Four More Faces

I'm working on my 29 faces, doing one face a day and having a lot of fun. The one above I did yesterday, using oil pastels on a book page that I had ripped from "Wuthering Heights". The book page, of course, is an inspiration I got from Lisa's girls.

These two girls are charcoal ones, charcoal being my favorite medium for drawing faces at the moment.

She looks a bit mad - I think she needs some coffee.

And this one I did today, wanting to try something different - a different shape to the head, the eyes way lower in the face, clearly far from reality - and I love this sassy little guy.

It's Friday - which means Paint Party Friday and Sneak Peek Friday - that's why I like Fridays so much. I'm looking forward to visit all these inspiring artists.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

29 Faces

Rather late I have decided to join Ayala's "29 Faces" where we paint (draw, sketch...) a face a day for the month of February. Since I am currently practicing faces and find myself drawing faces whenever there is time on whatever paper I have at the moment with whatever medium, this challenge shouldn't be too difficult for me - I hope. I will post the faces in blocks rather than one every day. Here are the first seven faces.

This one is my favorite (it's actually face No. 5):

Thank you, Rinda, for letting me know about "29 Faces"!!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Thinking of My Mom


It is five years ago today that my mom passed away. She was 85 years old. I still miss her very much.

My mom was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1921 as the oldest of four children. She is a real Berliner, always missing that city throughout her life. During her childhood, however, she spent many summers in West Prussia (Poland today) and always remembers it tenderly. She told us many stories of her childhood which was a happy one. My favorite one was how she pushed her brother into an anthill as a revenge that he had damaged her doll. I loved this story as a child, and now of course my daughter loves to hear this story over and over.
My mom and one of her brothers - the one who landed in the anthill

1932 - 11 years old

She didn't like to go to school very much and admits that she was very lazy. She just had more interesting things on her mind! What she hated most were the Nazi propaganda movies in the thirties the students had to watch at school, and she and her best friend (who later emigrated to the US) sneaked away on a regular basis and rode their bikes over the old cobblestone streets instead.

In order to graduate from high school she had to enroll with the "Bund deutscher Mädchen" (a youth organisation for girls in Nazi Germany). She hated it (she never liked any kind of organisation like this throughout her entire life) and tried to avoid as many meetings as possible. Fortunately, she was able to graduate from high school. She had big dreams - she wanted to become a surgeon. However, with two boys in the family there was no money for a girl to go to university. And further events changed her life entirely. When the war started in 1939 she was almost a month shy of being 18 years old.



She married rather young and had her first child, a girl, in 1943, almost two months after her husband was killed in Russia. She was 21 years old.

Because of the heavy bombardment of Berlin, women with children were "ordered" out of the city. My mom (unfortunately) went to the East, to a small town which after the war belonged to East Germany and is right at the border to Poland. At the end of January 1945 the Soviet Army came into town, but was beaten back for a couple of days. During that small window of time, the residents of that town packed and left to the West in a long trek of people, becoming refugees in the dead of winter. My mom didn't tell too much of that time, only that every night they found a place to sleep at some farm and somehow they survived. It must have been traumatic. What she told us, though, was, when finally in the West, one GI took a picture of my sister (who was just two years old) sitting on her pot peeing at the side of the road! Funny, what one remembers.

She settled down in Lower Saxony where she worked at a doctor's office (the closest she ever got to her dream) and had a rather unhappy second marriage (she had remarried in late 1944). Here she met my dad and, after her divorce, they married in 1955 in Lüneburg and a year later my brother was born.

My parent's wedding in 1955

In 1960 I came as the youngest, spoilt child. The picture below was taken at my christening, the little boy is my brother and the beautiful woman to the right is my godmother whom I adored. The christening gown I'm wearing is really old - my great-grandmother Agnes was baptized in it in 1862. She was my Mom’s most beloved grandmother (her dad’s mother). In 1998 Kaefer was dressed in it for her christening, and I hope one day her children will be christened in it.

My mom and I, 1961


Four years later we moved further south, to a town about an hour's drive away from Cologne. We had a nice, bright apartment - but I think my mom missed a garden. She loved to garden, and the balcony was always overflowing with flowers. She loved to hear the birds sing in the morning and evening. She was a great cook. However, I wonder (still) whether she was really happy. She missed Berlin. The big city. Her city, that was divided into two parts, and it was such a pain to get there.

She had a great sense of humor. Yes, she could get moody and VERY angry - I remember everybody tiptoeing when she had one of her terrible moods - but she could also laugh about herself and was the first to pull a joke of it. We didn't have much money, but she always manged to create a special advent calendar for my brother and me (my sister was long married and had her own family) and make a nice birthday for us. She was nifty, did sew dresses for me and altered my sister's dresses from the fifties so I could wear them in the seventies. She was intelligent and just a very fun person to be around.

My mom and I - 1983

She was also a very compassionate woman. For decades she volunteered at the hospital as a so-called "green lady" who looked after patients, read to them, talked to them or just listened. She only stopped doing this when she was 82 years old.

On her 50th birthday, in her very special dress. No one else wore something like this.

She became a grandma when she was 43 - my sister has three kids and is a grandma herself now -, but for me she seriously turned into "Omi" when Kaefer was born. And what a wonderful Omi she was!

Beloved Omi - 1999

When I became a mom myself, my mom and I connected on a different way - as mothers. I could tell her about my doubts, and how helpless and stupid I sometimes felt. She could understand. And she would put me at ease.

On her 85th birthday
This is one of the last pictures taken of her.

I wish I had asked her more questions. I wish we had gone away together more, just the two of us. We once spent two weeks on Sylt, the island in the North of Germany, and we had such a wonderful time. I found out how important mother-daughter time is, how rewarding. I regret that she never came to visit me in the States. I am sad that Kaefer has lost such a wonderful grandparent.

Of course she and I had our difficult times - but we were always very honest with each other. We both knew that we loved each other very much. She was very special for me. I love her - and I miss her terribly.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Beautiful Morning

The morning is my favorite time of the day. Today I had an especially good one.

Our local Jazzercise, where I have been exercising regularly for three years, has finally introduced a 6:00am class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting today. I had never thought that I would actually enjoy getting sweaty by 6:15 in the morning - but I did! It was a great class, and I felt wonderful afterwards, full of energy, ready to face the day.

Back home I took a quick shower and then drove Kaefer to school. Coming home after that was so nice - the entire day (well, until 3:00pm when it is time to pick up Kaefer again) lay before me with absolutely NO appointments. Bliss. Shortly before eight, I was in my studio (aka the dining room), painting. I'm currently creating journals, getting a lot of inspiration from Jeanne Oliver's class "Creatively Made".

But it was a walk into my yard that really got me - the sun was out, it was such a bright and beautiful morning, and wherever I looked there were drops of dew. I had to grab my camera and take a few pictures.

Isn't this a yummy texture? (the armrest of my Adirondack chair)

Mr Lincoln, a present from my neighbor Mary

These are glass balls I have in one of my plant containers

My patio table - isn't that gorgeous?

I love how the sun sparkles in these little drops - no, this is not dirt!

The morning light is so warm and makes such crisps shadows

My favorite garden stake

And here is one of the journals I have been working on. It is an altered composition book with ruled pages inside. I used molding paste and acrylic ink for the birds.

Now available in my Etsy store.

So - what is your favorite time of the day?