Thursday, 22 December 2011

When Life Begins - encaustic collage

Scientist might have discovered how human life begins, how it grows, how to do in vitro fertilisation and countless other amazing things. Even in times of overpopulation the growing of a fetus and birth itself still seem like an unbelievable miracle.
Thinking of Christmas, the catholic belief of a virgin giving birth to baby Jesus seems an even larger miracle - but what would religion be without faith in things which can't be proved scientifically?

I'm also very intrigued by Ginkgo leaves. The Ginkgo tree is a phenomenon, an object of veneration, a sacred tree of the East, a symbol of unity of opposites, by some seen as a symbol of changelessness, possessing miraculous power, bearer of hope and of the immeasurable past, a symbol of love. Because of all its properties it is associated with longevity.

"When Life Begins" - encaustic collage on board (30x34cm)

Monday, 12 December 2011

Secrets of Life and Death

"Secrets of Life and Death 1" - encaustic collage including Leonardo da Vinci's "Fetus" (70x50cm)

Birth and Death - enigmatic events which science never will totally decipher I think.
And there is no day without us being confronted by both ( more by death when you watch the news...), and no day without me thinking and fantasising about these topics.

I have been fascinated by the genius of Leonardo da Vinci for a long time.  Two years ago I visited a brilliant exhibition in his manor house in Amboise (Loire/France), where he lived until his death. They reconstructed many of his engines and inventions, and huge semi-transparent posters showing his drawings were hanging from the trees in the surrounding parc.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) was an Italian Renaissance genius: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer.
As a successful artist, he was given permission to dissect human corpses at the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence and later at hospitals in Milan and Rome. From 1510 to 1511 he collaborated in his studies with the doctor Marcantonio della Torre. Leonardo made over 200 pages of drawings and many pages of notes towards a treatise on anatomy.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

This green winter - encaustic collage "Across the Fields"

Last year we had snow and very low temperatures at this time of the year. This year's winter is more English: green fields and fertile dark brown, freshly ploughed soil, surrounded by rows of bare oak trees and hedges - this all gives the undulating Norfolk landscape such a harmonic and gentle atmosphere. It feels like spring, walking under glorious sunshine and surreal blue sky.
"Across the Fields" - encaustic collage (100x70cm)

Monday, 5 December 2011

Being Creative - but how?

"Mate o'Mine" - encaustic collage  on board (30x25cm)
I found an interesting post about being creative today on Terry Holliday's blog. Although I might not agree with all her details, it is encouraging to read this list and make myself aware of things which typically impede creativity.

"When it comes to art and being creative, there are no rules. Here are 6 things that every creative person must know about.

1. Aim to be different.

You can either aim to be “better” than all the other artists out there or you can aim to be “different”. Stop comparing yourself to other people. There will always be things that they can do better than you. Likewise, there are also things that you can do better than anybody else. You are in a class of your own. Embrace your uniqueness. Dare to be different. Look at Lady Gaga. When she was in grade school everyone would laugh at her for being weird. For being different. But it is because she has embraced her uniqueness that she has become the best selling artist she is today.

2. Challenges are what push you to be better.

No one likes having problems. But instead of thinking of them as problems why not think of them as challenges? Every time you are challenged you are pushed to become a better artist. Why? Because it is when you step out of your comfort zone that you learn and grow. There is more to art than what you already know. Be willing to discover new horizons.

3. Trust your gut.

We artists have gut feels. We know instinctively whether a piece of art needs something more or is just “right”. Yes, we should listen to what other people have to say. But in the end we should trust our instincts.

4. Simplicity is beauty.

A piece of art does not have to be complicated in order to be beautiful. More often than not, simplicity is the key to beauty. Remove distractions. Get rid of clutter. Decide what your main subject is and let everything revolve around that.

5. Make mistakes.

Making mistakes are the fastest way to learn. Don’t be afraid to go wrong. Make mistakes and learn from them. Avoiding failure is pointless. Sooner or later we’ll trip up. After all we are only human. Instead avoiding failure, learn to look at it from another perspective. Look at each “failure” as a learning experience.

6. Real artists create.

There are many kinds of artists. But the bottom line is real artists create their own stuff. Sure you can get inspired by the work of other artists. But don’t copy it. Make your own. Create your own mark. Try new stuff. Use old materials in different ways."

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Encaustics & mixed media - "Decreasing Moon"

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom” ~ Victor Frankl
"Decreasing Moon" - encaustic collage on canvas (70 x 55cm)
My work I think is hardly inspired by the outside world. Despite my daily dog walks through beautiful fields or along the beach, my paintings don't seem to draw from these images. Never mind - as long as the creative juices flow!

“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters to what lies within us.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
... and painting is one great way of becoming aware of what lies within us. It is often surprising (and sometimes even shocking) to see what emerges during the creative process. To me it seems like another form of dreaming.
"morning chill" - encaustic collage (20x15cm)

I quite like this encouraging quote from Georgia O'Keefe:
"I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”
What a strong woman... I can see this strength in her art which is grand, brave and strong.
My paintings are more like playful jigsaws or mosaics, I'm always trying to put little pieces together which may or may not fit.
"Tuscan Autumn" - encaustic collage on board (40x30cm)

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

encaustics & mixed media , Home / Your Voice

"Your Voice" - encaustics with mixed media on paper & board (30cm x 25cm)
"Home" - encaustics with mixed media on paper & board (45cm x 25cm)
I am getting more into the "swing" of this new medium.
The good thing for me is that the encaustic technique is very open to experimenting. You can always re-heat and scrape off or, if paper, take it off.
The difficult thing is, as with painted papers, to avoid messing up their colours when covering them with hot wax, and when fusing them with a very hot torch.
And, most importantly, how to avoid covering your hands (and clothes...) with hot wax? You have sometimes to react so quickly - and if there's no tool at hand, I just hold things down with my fingers...

Thursday, 17 November 2011

mixed media - "Melisande in the wood"

"Melisande in the wood" - mixed media (70cm x 55cm)

The painting itself is actually not quite as colourful as in this photograph. I find it really difficult to take photos of my artwork, especially if the surface is partly shiny, partly "muted".
Inspiration for this piece comes from tribal art, shaman rites, and here again colours and textures I sucked in during my holiday in Spain are very present. I can't deny it - I love colours! Although I'll try to get them a bit more muted. 

We live and experience so much through our visual sense.  What would I do without it? Seeing colours, compositions, textures and artworks I like opens my heart and gives me so much joy. How could I ever live without that?

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Encaustic - great fun!

Encaustic painting - "Melisande, alone" (paper, wax crayon, seeds & hot wax on board; 25cm x 25cm)
Encaustic painting - "In the Woods" (paper, wax crayon, seeds & hot wax on board; 25cm x 25cm)

Finally I've set up a corner in my studio for encaustics.
My basic knowledge of this marvellous technique comes from a few good books as well as instructional videos featuring some inspiring encaustic artists (I'll give some titles & authors in my next post).
However I imagine it would be so much better taking part in a workshop, run by an experienced artist, with a few other passionate students. There seem to be no encaustic workshops on offer in the UK. Whereas in the US, it seems to be THE art technique to learn. And of course, I'm so envious about all the wonderful material for encaustics on offer in the US! I felt like a stone age explorer when I tried to gather some basic stuff like encaustic medium, wax or even a hot plate on ebay.
Anyway, I am quite proud now having produced some initial pieces without too many burn blisters on my hands.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

mixed media painting & collage - Rondo

Rondo - mixed media on board (100cm x 70cm)

With layers of cloths and laces, old fabrics and acrylics, this result reminds me very much of Spain, one of my favourite countries where I'll soon go to spend some time. Spain is such a vibrant result of a history of different cultures - the Phoenicians and Greeks, Moorish, Jews and Gypsies populations - all left their traces in today's people and culture.

Rondo is a word that has been used in music in a number of ways. In rondo form, a principal theme (sometimes called the "refrain") alternates with one or more contrasting themes.
Ronda is a city in Spanish province of Málaga. It retains much of its historic charm, particularly its old town. It is famous worldwide for its dramatic escarpments and views, and for the deep El Tajo gorge that carries the rio Guadalevín through its centre. Visitors make a beeline for the 18th century Puente Nuevo 'new' bridge, which straddles the 100m chasm below, for its unparalleled views out over the Serranía de Ronda mountains.
Ronda, Andalucia, Province of Malaga, Spain

The Spanish countryside beyond the built up coastal stretches is equally fascinating, dramatic and beautiful.
Good news that Catalonia has recently banned the horrible bull fighting - hopefully the other communities will follow soon!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Mixed Media Painting - Secrets of the Ocean

mixed media painting - "Secrets of the Ocean" (50cm x 35cm)

You can find a lot of inspiring and interesting things when walking along our beaches. Not only driftwood, string and beautiful rocks, but also plastic bottles, cans, plastic containers, plastic toys, brick walls and single shoes. Lots of single shoes.
It makes me think about the ground of our oceans. It must look like a giant tip landscape. I've seen these photos of dead seabirds opened up and showing the content of their inside: plastic caps, strings, cables... We are the masters of creation? And where has our responsability gone?

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Mixed Media Painting - Earth & Fire

mixed media painting  "Earth & Fire" ((100cm x 70cm)

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Mixed Media painting - Ceremonial dress 1

mixed media painting "Ceremonial dress 1" (100cm x 70cm, acrylics, paper on canvas)

It is not always clear to me where my inspirations come from. In this case the idea of kimono patterns were certainly involved, and also a fascination with ceremonies in general (I was brought up as a catholic), the special state of mind involved with ceremonies and a wonderful a-capella concert with candlelight in our medieval church last weekend.

Monday, 5 September 2011

mixed media painting - origin unknown

"Origin Unknown" - mixed media on canvas (100cm x 65cm)

This is the first time I tried cold wax on one of my paintings. Very exciting! Wax mutes the colours and structures, so the whole looks quite different after the application. I'm sure I have A LOT to learn about this technique. Looking forward to it!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Mixed Media Painting "Her Heart"

"Her heart" - acrylics on board, 90cm x 55cm

I finished this painting in 2 days, using tissue paper and newspaper to create a textured background.I know its contrast are quite strong, but that's the way I felt - not very balanced.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Mixed Media painting - Fisherman's Friend

"Fisherman's Friend" (mixed media, 30x25cm, acrylics and found objects on hardboard)
Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.

Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,
’Twas sad as sad could be;
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea !  

All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody Sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion ;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink ;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Norfolk beach inspiration

This beach is so amazing - it just never looks the same. The groynes are differently decorated each day, and in the sand you can find all kind of treasures, including lovely flintstones with holes or even fossils.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Mixed Media painting - Autumn, already

Cold and windy days, more rain than sunshine - people heretake it stoically, "Well what do you expect - this is the English summer!"
Fields have been harvested already, and the lawn is full of leaves - looks like autumn has arrived.
"Autumn, already" (mixed media, 100cm x 70cm)

Monday, 8 August 2011

mixed media with volcanic sand

For these two paintings I used black sand brought back from Lanzarote - although there's enough sand on our local beach... But this fantastic volcanic grit has a special fascination for me.



breezy day

"breezy day"

Friday, 5 August 2011

crazy skin

Mixed media with paper, sand, acrylics on board.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

apocalyptic beach

The village of Happisburgh (Norfolk) is  close to my home and has been in the headlines for quite a while, because its seafront is being destroyed by the sea. The sea defences don't get repaired, houses are dropping down onto the beach, sandy cliffs are crumbling away. Despite feeling a bit voyeuristic, I'm quite fascinated by the rusty creatures and apocalyptic landscape of this coastline.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

unhappy marriage

My paternal grandmother got married at the age of 16 because she was pregnant. Her new husband was 19 and, as it turned out, a womanizer. He died young, leaving his young widow with 2 young kids, and she never married again.

Later in life she became quite a bitter tyrant, probably feeling deceived by life. My mom, my brothers and me were scared by her because she could get horrible tempers. A shame - because in fact she had lots of wonderful capabilities like painting, sewing and cooking.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

where I live now

This has been my home for the last 10 years: a windy countryside with rough charme on the edge of  England. High skies with huge, slowly moving clouds, translucent colours and hundreds of medieval churches popping up in the fields like friendly ships. Villages on the brink of falling from the cliffs into the sea.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Beach Art

I am lucky living so close to a wonderful beach which still seems to be a forgotten corner of England. Even in the high season it's never really packed here, despite of miles of broad sandy beaches.
The sea creates it's own unique artworks, every day, using wind, tides and waste, always fascinating me.

Aren't they striking? I'm planning a series of paintings based on pictures like this.
Intimidating, but I'll give it a go.

Rebecca Crowell about her art making

I very much admire Rebecca's works of art. Unfortunately, living in Europe, it's not so easy for me taking part in one of her workshops. Anyway, this video is very inspiring and gives a good idea about her work and her process of art making.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Letter from Chicago

Assemblage of found metal scrap pieces, a friend's letter, an old photo from a flea market.

Attic Collage

A good friend gave me recently a whole load of old photos and documents she found when emptying house and attic of her mother's lover. I never met him, but from what she told me he seems to have been quite a womanizer, well travelled and educated (he was a GP), and when he died he was in his late nineties. This collage is based on some of the treasures she gave me.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Eastern Roots

My mother's family came from today's Poland, belonging to a German minority living in a part of the country called Silesia. During the 2nd World War, she and her family had to emigrate to Western Germany, and that's where she met my dad.
This mixed media work is about her family after her dad had died.  She always told me that her ancestors came from Mongolia - as in 1240 the battle of Liegnitz  (close to her birth town) with Attila the Hun had taken place, and her whole family had quite a lot of Asian features, including strong black hair, high cheekbones and very dark, beautiful eyes.


I created this shrine by combining items reminding me of my mum, or items having belonged to her. It's not yet finished - I want to cover it with glass, having a larger frame built around it to protect it from dust (just a practical thought...)


This work combines mainly paints and inks. I was inspired by fonts and handwritings.


Material: manila envelope, acrylics, stamp, paper, inks, oil crayon