Monday, November 28, 2011

Made in Germany 36 - Advent in the Streets

Yesterday we celebrated the First of Advent.
Advent is a time that is quite important in Germany. Families have an advent wreath in their homes, and each Sunday a further candle will be lit until all four candles a glowing their beautiful warm light. The towns and cities are decorated festively. Some really go the extra mile, some have more basic little lights like this one here, in the Unterstadt ("lower town") of Tübingen. Christmas markets are making their appearances, the small local ones often much more beautiful than the big ones in Nürnberg or München. Children walk the streets singing Christmas carols. If we're lucky, there's even some snow to further add to this special atmosphere. There is Glühwein (spiced mulled wine) and gingerbread.

Wishing all of you a wonderful Advent.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Creative Fruit of Black Friday

Okay, I'm not a big shopper. Crowds in malls make me scream and run. Long lines at the checkout can sometimes be interesting if there are nice people around you can talk to, however, most of the time it's just a drag. So it comes as no surprise that I comfortably spent Black Friday at home with my family. The Geek was doing his college homework, Kaefer created with clay and I made Christmas ornaments.

I found the paper mache stars at Michaels - with a huge sticker on the back that would hardly come off, why the heck do they do crap like this? -, gessoed them, covered them in sheet music (Händel's flute sonatas), put a thin glaze on top of that and then painted the girl angels. I'm learning to paint faces (via Christy Tomlinson's "The She Art Workshop No. 2") and tried it out here after I had practiced on paper. Hm, not quite sure about it. I think the girls all got their very own characteristic faces, but they are far from perfect.

See those eyes? I had a hard time painting them, and you can clearly see that they aren't good. Same here with the braid-girl:

However, despite their imperfections I grew fond of these girl angels. This one is my favorite:

whereas Kaefer favors this one:

She said she likes the bun.

I was thinking of selling some of them in my Etsy shop, but I am very uncertain because of their obvious imperfections. What do you think?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tuscan Grapes

Bonnie asked for this week's Photo Art Friday that we show an edited photo that has been sitting around in our archives and never got any attention. For this, I chose the photo above - and I have no idea how I edited it because at that time (a couple years ago) I never wrote down the recipe. Since the original photo is a slide that I had scanned I suspect that I edited it in Lightroom.

Nevertheless, when I found this edited photo I couldn't resist to tweak it a little bit more, this time using PSE. I added the word, played around with levels and hue/saturation, and then added one of Bonnie's textures "notes to myself", blending mode linear burn at 57%.

This was the original photo, SOOC:

The photo was taken in Tuscany, near the medieval town of San Gimignano.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

I am so grateful for you, my readers and blogging buddies.
Without you, this site would be a bit lonely.

I hope those of you who are living in the US have a wonderful Thanksgiving with the people you love, delicious food and a lot that you can be grateful for.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Made in Germany 35 - Erntedankfest

Erntedankfest - Thanks for the Harvest.
The German term for what comes closest to the American Thanksgiving.

However, it is a completely different celebration. Most people don't celebrate it.
It's pretty much celebrated only in church, on the first Sunday in October. The churches are festively decorated with lots of harvest products, with the bread in the center - as in this picture in a small church on the isle of Sylt in the very North of Germany. The words on the bread mean "our daily bread". Well, you know we Germans eat tons of bread!

I wish we would show our thankfulness for a good harvest, for well filled pantries and refrigerators more like the Americans do, with a celebration that is not limited to the churches but is brought into every family. Or, to stay in the picture, where we break the bread and say thanks.

Wishing you all here in the States a lovely Thanksgiving week.

Friday, November 18, 2011


A week ago a friend of mine brought me some roses, rosehips and hydrangea beautifully put together. I was so touched by this little gesture, that I wanted to keep it forever and therefore took a whole bunch of pictures. When I looked at the photos on my computer I thought that it must be a lot of fun to play with them - and so I did, using my favorite technique which is adding texture.

Here's the "recipe":

levels adjustment
hue/saturation adjustment
Bonnie's texture "Bonjour ma douce", darker color at 100%
Bonnie's texture "Dersert Canvas", saturation at 100%
hue/saturation adjustment
levels adjustment.

I like the monochromatic look of it - first time that I try this.
I'm linking this to Photo Art Friday, which always challenges me to try something new. It's a good challenge.
This is also today's Art Every Day Month.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Early Morning Walk

Early this morning, Jo and I walked around our beautiful lake. It was a crisp morning, sunny though, but you could feel that a weather change was in the air. It was very quiet, not many people were out that early and the lake was perfectly still.

Then we saw a beautiful Great Egret, patiently standing on a log in the water waiting for some fish. He completely ignored us.

On a branch above him we discovered this Black Crowned Night Heron.

I love this buckeye, the shape of the tree is so beautiful.

I think we disturbed this little duck in her morning meditation.

When we were almost done, we saw this beautiful Great Egret, only a few feet away from us.

It was a wonderful walk.

How did you start your day?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Snowmen in the Forest

Finally I've started to make Christmas cards - I'm always late in making them because I love to dwell in the rich colors of autumn. But I thought with December quickly approaching I should get into the right spirit - I also have to prepare my Holiday cards class, so why not get started now?

I like snowmen, so making a card with a bunch of snowmen seemed to be the right choice.

The snowmen were actually lined up on one stamp that I bought several years ago. I stamped them on a piece of white cardstock, colored them in and then cut them out. I wanted a few standing out from the background and adhered them to the card with foam tape. Here's a close-up:

Trees, snowmen, glitter - simple, but quite a cute image. I didn't want to do any words on it, so I just left it without any message.

I'm linking this to Art Every Day Month as today's contribution.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Made in Germany 34 - Medieval Rooftops

The view from the castle over the rooftops of the medieval town center of Tübingen. Behind the castle, Hohentübingen, the long Schloßberg (castle mountain) stretched out at which very end I lived. On Saturday mornings I often walked into the town center and sometimes I took the shortcut through the castle. I always enjoyed this beautiful view over the rooftops of Tübingen. To the right, just outside the picture, was the river Neckar (remember where we did the punting). The big church you can see is the Stiftskirche, the main Protestant church in Tübingen, a Gothic era church. On weekends you can climb up to the tower - this is actually where the Geek and I had our first kiss!! Quite romantic, isn't it?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gratitude Week 2

The second week of Thirty Days of Thanks has already gone by. It's quite amazing how fast time passes when you have a lot to do AND enjoying it!!

This week - obviously still under the impression of the book about the Siege of Leningrad that I read - I'm full of gratitude that we are living in a country where we have everything, especially food and heat when we need it. However, I cringe when I see how many people in this rich country do NOT have enough to eat and depend on food banks (thanks to the food banks and all the people who work there and donate food and money). It breaks my heart how many children are among them. And my gratitude is even bigger then.

On Thursday evening - as on every other Thursday evening - I met with my German friends. We are a rather big group who calls itself "der Stammtisch" - Stammtisch is the big table in a neighborhood pub in Germany where the regular locals meet for their beer and some chat. Our group, however, does not meet in a pub (because pubs like that do not exist in the US), but every time at someone else's house and everybody brings something to eat. Last Thursday we all met at our house, and we had a wonderful time together. Every time we laugh a lot, talk about serious stuff and then laugh some more. It is never sentimental, and thankfully no-one in this group compares the US to Germany as it unfortunately happens in so many other groups. It is such a joy to talk in our own language when we can exactly express what we want to say and not look for adequate words which in the end aren't that adequate anyway. I feel comfortable among these Germans and Swiss; I have found my place here and am more than thankful for these friends, these people I love to spend time with.

At the end of every day I write into my regular journal what I am thankful for. So this week I made a gratitude journal for my shop - for someone who wants to start a gratitude journal and would love a book like this one, an altered composition book in beautiful autumn colors. It even comes with its own matching bookmark. I enjoyed making this journal, it was pure pleasure.

I am linking this to Art Every Day Month.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Results from Painting Class

A week ago I had my last mixed media painting class, when we showed our finished or almost-finished pieces. It was so interesting to see all the different works and that tremendous talent!!! The class was so much fun, I learned a lot and I'm a bit sad that it is already over. Those six weeks went by way too fast.

My first finished piece "Día de los muertos" I had already shown here. These two pieces that I'm showing you today are based on the two watercolors I showed you here. I'm not quite sure whether either of them is already finished.

The Mermaid's Dream, 7.5"x7.5" mixed media painting

In both paintings I wanted the area where I sprinkled salt into the wet watercolor uncovered, but most of the rest got covered by strips of tissue paper that I had painted in class. I added photos (printed out on regular copy paper), torn book pages and stamps. I quite like the result, but I feel that especially the "sleeping child" is still unfinished. It will help to step away from it for a bit, and then when I come back to it I hope to see what else needs to be done.

Sleeping Child, 7"x7" mixed media painting

This is today's contribution to Art Every Day Month, and I'm also linking to Paint Party Friday. I haven't joined PPF for a few weeks because of lack of time - I wouldn't have had the time to visit you. This weekend, however, looks much better.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Art Every Day Month 10

It's time for Photo Art Friday, and I tried something new again.

In Ann Baldwin's fantastic book "Creative Paint Workshop for Mixed-Media Artists" I saw her working with photos of which she used the negative. Luckily, on one page she explains how to get that negative look, because I had no clue but liked the look a lot (CTRL+i on a PC, or in PSE go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Invert). So I took a photo from a sunset in Bandon, OR and inverted it:

This is wonderful to use in a mixed-media piece (print it out on regular copy paper so that you can mess around with it). But I thought, there must be more that you can do to a picture like this. And I started to play around.

First I used Jerry's texture "Photo-Tints-Orange" (color burn at 100%), copied that (color burn at 50%) and then added Bonnie's texture "Acceptance" (darker color at 75%). Adjustment Layer for hue/saturation and I was done. I very seldom work with color burn or darker color blending modes etc., but I'm getting the hang of it - sure, the photos are exaggerated, but I do like the transformation.

At Bonnie's Photo Art Friday you can find many more super-talented photographers. I also link this to Art Every Day Month where you can find a whole bunch of wonderful artists.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More Journals

Currently I'm creating a bunch of journals, small ones and bigger ones. The basis is always a composition book. I usually start with some papers and from there I see where it will take me.

Here are two mini journals that I just made. The different papers come from the same daisy d's paper pack (that I bought several years ago).

I like this small size for a journal because you can take it pretty much everywhere. It even fits in the back pockets of your jeans. Or in your purse - it's smaller than an iPhone.

I'm linking this to Art Every Day Month for day 8.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Made in Germany 33 - Bavarian Autumn (AEDM)

Ramsau - scanned slide with Bonnie's texture "Blue Me Away"

Bavaria - it took me 33 weeks to finally show a picture taken in Bavaria. Many foreign tourists who come to Germany have two or three places they want to see here: Bavaria, the Mosel and Rhine valley and Berlin. There are certain pictures that people have in mind about Bavaria involving Dirndl and Lederhosen. It must be quite disappointing to see that most Bavarians do not wear Dirndl and Lederhosen. You find women wearing a Dirndl who work in Bavarian restaurants and of course in the Biergarten and at Oktoberfest (which takes place at the end of September). The nice thing about a Dirndl? It's definitely NOT a fashion for slim women! You need "Holz vor der Hütte" (wood in front of the cabin) if you want to wear a Dirndl correctly - now you may figure out what that means! If you don't want to write it in the comments, you can email me here.

This is the church in the small village of Ramsau in the Bavarian Alps in October - many years ago, sometime in the last century (1992?). I was staying in a hotel above the village where I attended a conference. Every morning I went out for my walk, climbed up the hills and took pictures. I remember having the first snow of the season there - as you can still see on that impressive mountain.

I'm linking this to Art Every Day Month.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Art Every Day Month (AEDM)

Well, it's already the sixth day of November, but I have decided it's still okay to join Art Every Day Month (AEDM). I have absolutely no idea whether I will be able to post some art here every day, but at least I will try.

Today I can show you a journal that I made out of a regular composition book. During back-to-school, composition books are always on sale and I stock up on them at that time. They're just ideal to get altered into a journal or notebook.

I like the little bird - it's a template I created some time ago and that I use over and over again. The paper is from a paper pack by Daisy D's, and on the back and the inside are coordinating papers of this same pack. You might have already guessed it - the journal is in my Etsy shop now.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


For the month of November I have joined Deborah's 30 Days of Thanks. For a long time I have thought about keeping a gratitude journal, but somehow I never got around to actually do that. Thanks to Deb, I finally found the motivation for doing so. Every evening I write into my regular journal what I am thankful for that day. It is such a good way to end the day before bed.

This has been the first week, and my biggest reason for gratitude is my family - my wonderful husband and my beautiful daughter. With either of them life wouldn't be as beautiful and full of joy and laughter as it is. I love my husband's odd sense of humor, his geekiness and the red shirts he prefers to wear. My daughter has a similar sense of humor and shares my husband's love for math and science. She is the biggest gift in my life, a miracle that I marvel about every single day (even when I'm mad at her). These two people are the center of my life.

I am thankful for another gorgeous autumn week here on the North Coast. I enjoy the still warm rays of sunshine and still hang out in my hammock whenever possible, covered with two blankets and the cat beside me. Oh, the cat, Geeda - after Ginger, "my" other neighborhood cat, had passed away last year's summer, I really missed a cat in my yard who would come to greet me in the morning and snuggle up in the afternoon. When Geeda suddenly turned up this April, she took this place of the visiting neighborhood cat. I actually think, if I let her she would move right in. I am so happy and thankful that this little white "monster" is part of my life (on her terms, of course).

This week I read a book about the Siege of Leningrad, and I thought how much we take for granted that we have food every day and don't have to go hungry. And I mean decent food - organically grown, cattle raised and kept under human conditions - at least that's the food I buy. I'm grateful that I have the means and the choice to do so. Healthy food is important to me, I want to feed my family good stuff, and I enjoy cooking. I hate throwing food away, so we also have leftovers in this house - you can make delicious meals out of them. I'm thankful for our dinners every evening and the breakfast on the weekends when we gather around the table, eat, talk and laugh. It's one of my highlights of the day.

I'm thankful for Deb's 30 Days of Thanks as a kick in my butt to finally get me started on my gratitude journal.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fishing for the Sun (Photo Art Friday)

Bonnie asked us for this week's Photo Art Friday to challenge ourselves with a new technique, effect etc. that we haven't done before and even might be slightly out of our comfort zone.

I always wanted to try merging two photos of mine and create a new one (I used to do that when I still took slides - just put two slides into one frame and got them developed this way. I think we used to call this "sandwich photo"). So this week's challenge was the right thing to finally get me motivated to actually try this - and then add some texture as well and play with blending modes I usually avoid.

My original photo was this one:

I "sandwiched" it with this one,

blending mode Overlay at 75%.
I added Bonnie's texture "Tangled Tendrils", blending mode Hue at 55%;
Bonnie's texture "Mauve Magic", blending mode Hard Light at 60%.
Some levels and hue/saturation adjustments.
As a last step I added the text.

This is what it looks like:

Not a masterpiece, but I quite like it.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Día de los Muertos

Día de los Muertos, 7.5"x7.5" mixed media painting

Over the years I've got to know more and more about Día de los Muertos. And I started to like it a lot.

During my mixed media painting class I created this painting/collage of my interpretation of Día de los Muertos. There are torn papers that I painted myself, a cut up photo that I took a few weeks ago in the cemetery of Tomales and a torn book page with a poem. A few stamps are the final touches.

I'm also writing at Vision and Verb today - about Day of the Dead. Please come on over.