Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Last week I started a new online class, the She Art Workshop No. 3 with Christy Tomlinson. I did a few of Christy's online classes including She Art No. 1 and 2. So far I have liked all of her classes and I have always learned something new. She Art No. 3 doesn't seem to make an exception.

For this first week, one of the assignments was to sketch different girls and women - from images we found on the Internet or in a catalog etc. I first was very reluctant to do this, because I am not good at sketching from images, but after I did get started I actually liked it.

I chose a catalog from one of my favorite clothing companies, the Swedish Gudrun Sjöden. I had written about her fabulous clothes and her even more fabulous catalogs here. I knew I would find some special models among these pages and I wasn't disappointed. However, my girls and women turned out quite different from the images in the catalog.

There is the lady with the hat...

... the one with the umbrella and another one with a big scarf and winter coat....

... the two women who were looking at each other - darn, I think sketching a face from the side is really difficult. The one on the right wasn't looking that mad, honestly!

Do you see the model on the right in the image on top in my sketch below on the right? Yeah, I wouldn't necessarily say that I'm talented.

However, the more sketches I worked on the more confident I grew, and that is good. I guess as the class goes on we'll probably have to turn at least one of these sketches into a mixed media painting... At the moment I am creating backgrounds. More on that later.

Are you taking any online classes in the art department?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Photo of the Week

This week was a bit of a dilemma since I had two favorite photos out of my a-photo-a-day shots and the final decision was difficult. But when I look at it now, I'm happy. I hope you like it, too.

This was taken with a Canon Power Shot SX40HS. Although I love my DSLR, this P&S camera has an incredible tele zoom lens that is simply fantastic for moon shots and for wildlife. I still need to get used to it, but I'm learning. This picture was shot without a tripod.

However - nothing can really stand in for my Canon EOS 7D. If I had to chose, it would always be the DSLR.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mind The Gap!

This year, the London Underground, lovingly called "the Tube", celebrates its 150th anniversary. Can you imagine? 150 years - which means they started running the tube in 1863! It opened on January 9, 1863, and very soon after that date it already carried over 26,000 passengers a day. The first trains were steam-hauled which meant they needed vents in the tunnels to let the steam out and get fresh air in. I don't even want to imagine what it must have been like - riding on the train and waiting in the underground station. Ugh.

The nickname "the Tube" comes from the circular tube-like tunnels through which the trains travel. Unfortunately in my photo you can't really see it, but imagine the round shape of the station close around the approaching train:

After Seoul, Shanghai and Beijing, the London Underground is the fourth largest metro system in the world in terms of route miles. You can really get almost everywhere via the Tube. The tube map is quite famous - I will show you the one I have, back from 1986 (there are more lines existing today):

You can see how worn the map is - I always had it in my jeans pockets or in a tiny purse or some place where I could grab it quickly whenever I needed. Those little pocket guides were really handy - I wonder whether they still make them.

I rode the London Underground many many times, back in the eighties when London was like my second home, thanks to my then-boyfriend. Whenever possible and money allowed I would fly over - just a mere 75 minutes flight from Stuttgart, my nearest airport, to Heathrow - sometimes just for a weekend, sometimes for longer. London belongs to my happiest memories. While my boyfriend was working during the day, I explored the city, and very soon I was so familiar with the Tube system that I often didn't need the map anymore.

There were modern trains, silver and sleek, and older trains that rumpled and screamed in every little bend of the tunnels. The trains are loud and noisy, and rather rocky. Some stations had big gaps between the trains and the platform, and whenever a train would run into the station that voice came on over the loudspeaker, "Mind the gap! Mind the gap!". Another one of those announcements I remember is "Stand clear of the doors". For me, it belonged to London. I wonder whether they still say this? I sure hope so.

I still remember those old wooden escalators in the stations that would transport you into the deep world of the tunnel system. They made a lot of noise and were rather slow. I think they are all replaced now since that terrible fire in King's Cross Station on November 18th, 1987. Some of the tube stations are so far below the surface that you can only reach them by elevator, which I hated - I usually used the stairs, no matter how many steps I had to climb (I was so fit back then!). At some stations, you can't see the other end of the escalator which is quite thrilling. It's easy to imagine that the tube served as bomb shelters for the London population through the blitz. As you can see, even the escalators are in "tubes"!

I get a bit nostalgic about the London Tube. It's stinky and noisy and dirty - but still, it's so London. It's the fastest way to get you from A to B. If you can avoid the rush hour, it's actually quite fun - you can do a lot of people watching, listen to musicians who play in the stations - their music carries a long way through all those tubes!

If I would go there again today - I would take way more pictures!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Photo a Day

For this year I had planned to take a photo a day - at least one photo each day of the year, no matter what it is. I even joined some groups on flickr for this purpose because I thought that would keep me motivated.

Well - seven weeks later I have to say that I haven't quite followed through. At the beginning I did take at least one photo each day, but as the year progressed I couldn't catch up anymore. Instead of feeling guilty, however, I did give myself permission to take it easy and that it is perfectly okay if I have only three or four photos for an entire week. Although the challenge of taking a photo each day was interesting and, yes, a real challenge, it took out the fun of photography for me - and that is simply too high a price.

What I will do, however, show you my favorite photo of each week on Sundays - starting today with my favorites of the first seven weeks.

Week 1 - the magnolia in my neighbor's front yard, shot on January 2nd.

Week 2 - yummy red wine

Week 3 - pink waves at the Northern California coast near Jenner (Goat Rock State Beach)

Week 4 - California Towhee

Week 5 - tree trunks

Week 6 - planting pots in my garden, drying out

Week 7 - a detail on one of the bunkers along Conzelman Road on the Marin Headlands, just north of the Golden Gate

Are you taking any photo challenges this year?

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Snow Child

After a very long time of non painting I am finally joining Paint Party Friday again. Painting was put on the back burner for a long time because I was really busy with making Valentines for my Etsy shop - both regular as well as custom orders. But now that Valentines is over - I sent out my last rush order on Sunday - I have a bit more time for painting since business is very slow again.

I had actually started this painting at the beginning of this year when I had just finished reading "The Snow Child" by Eowyn Ivey. If you haven't read it - it's a really good read, although a bit sad. However, I was fascinated by the idea of the snow child who in an old tale was half girl and half snow person. In the book she also has a little fox as her companion. Her "adoptive" mother sews a blue coat for her that is covered with little embroidered stars. The girl lives in the woods and is a true child of nature who remains mysterious throughout the book.

In order to give the painting a heavy texture, I covered the 8 x 8 wooden cradle board with molding paste and pressed bubble wrap and the inside of a Starbucks paper sleeve into the still soft paste.

Masking tape helped me to position the aspen trees.

Everything was covered with acrylic paint then - I used Paynes Gray to create an Alaskan winter night.

After I had my "base" I painted in the little scene - this actually took the longest. This is the first time that I tried a painting that was inspired by a book, and I quite liked this little experiment.

The original painting is now available in my Etsy shop.

Please hop over to Paint Party Friday and Studio JRU to see the works of many very talented artists.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The First Cherry Blossoms

Last weekend we went into the city for a visit to Japantown, one of Kaefer's favorite places. It was a surprisingly warm day for San Francisco, and at the Peace Plaza, in the heart of Japantown, we saw the first Japanese Cherry blossoms.

But this wasn't the only sign we were in Japantown...

Kaefer, of course, likes to shop in Japantown. Her favorite store is Daiso. 
She was happy to look at all the colorful notebooks...

... and she loves the bento boxes.

This is her favorite one:

I preferred to wander around the "china" section - I think you can see why.

But the best part, of course, was the food!

Miso, Ramen and Sushi - yummy! Do you like Japanese food? And if so, which is your favorite?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hearts with Texture

Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday is all about love - two days before Valentine's Day that's very appropriate. I played with some heart buttons that I recently re-discovered when I was making Valentine's cards.

After a levels adjustment I layered the photo with Kim's texture "she loves you yeah" in blending mode soft light at 55%; then I added one of her newer textures "kk_minus 43" in soft light at 75%; typed the text and in a final step added an older texture "warmvignette" (one of my favorites) in soft light at 66%. Quite surprising how I always loved soft light the best.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Bridge Over the Bay

When Inspiration Avenue's prompt was "bridges" this week, for someone living just a mere hour north of San Francisco the choice wasn't difficult at all.

It had to be the Golden Gate Bridge. This beautiful orange-rusty red bridge that has spanned the San Francisco Bay  for more than 75 years. The direct way up north from the city. The direct way into the city if you come from the north.

At sunset the bridge glows in the warm light. From Conzelman Road on the Marin Headlands you can see San Francisco - on a clear day. I especially like it when big container ships cross under the bridge.

However - clear days don't always happen in San Francisco. More often than not the bridge is at least partly covered in fog.

This is the first view of the bridge when you come from the north on US 101. Sausalito is the last exit before the bridge, and from there you can head up Conzelman Road to get the fantastic views of the bridge from the west (like the photo on the very top of this post).

Sometimes you can't see the top of the pillars because of the fog.

Walking across the bridge usually is rather chilly, even in summer. And it takes quite some time. However, you can see details of the bridge that otherwise, if you sit in a car, just pass by. It's such a fine construction.

The enormous cables

From the south - i.e. from the city - the view of the bridge is beautiful as well. Here, you can see the bridge from Baker's Beach:

If you go up Lincoln Avenue, the bridge is hidden behind trees. If you walk further, the view of the bridge is different, but fascinating.

This is also the first view if you come from the airport via 19th Avenue

Sometimes the traffic on the bridge is horrific.

 At night, of course, she's a beauty.