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Squidoo revisited

Those of you who have been following my blog posts for some time know that two years ago I had set my focus on squidoo and that I managed to write about more than 60 Squidoo articles (to avoid the rather strange sounding word “lenses”). I wrote about classical music, about artists like Michelangelo and Goya. I presented my Zazzle products in several articles and then – I got a kind of Squidoo burnout. The pressure of having to produce one article after another had been just to great, and me and Squidoo went different ways.

After some time I managed to write the one or the other article, but my love and my passion was somewhere else – on the fields of painting, drawing, graphic design and Zazzle. Some days ago, however, things changed. I am on facebook, and a member of several groups which focus on promoting their Zazzle products and supporting each other. Suddenly there was a new group called Squid-Doers – people who wrote articles in order to promote their products. This group is full of supportive, motivating and kind people, and voila – my attitude towards Squidoo – and writing – has changed! I have just thrown a look on some of my “old” articles, and I had to grin and say to myself: “You’ve done a good job there. You could have done better with this or that article, but in general, you’ve done a good job.” And something inside me is prodding me to do it again… I don’t know where to take the time to do it, but ahhh, I’d like be squidoo-ing again…

For anybody who wants to have a look at my articles: Here’s a list of my articles.

Two important entries into the book of me

I’ve subscribed to Havi Brooke’s blog “The fluent self” and one of her blog posts that made me think a lot was the one about “The Book of You“. You’ve got to read that blogpost yourself, but what I took out of it was to very deliberately notice the effects that things I do have on me. I actually write some of them down in my daily journal.

I’d like to share two entries with you. The first is: I need about eight hours of sleep. Some people need less hours to feel good the next day – not me. On Tuesdays I usually go to my English Friends’ club which is an informal meeting at a Chinese restaurant. Most of the people I meet there are freelancers or people who can go to work later. So they usually stay till late in the evening. Many times in the past I felt obliged to stay longer than I thought was good for me, with the effect that I felt lousy next morning when I had to get up early, and sometimes even overslept. Last Tuesday I decided to try an experiment – would getting home earlier and going to bed earlier really help? Well, it did! I got up next morning without problems, didn’t feel lousy at all and the day went well. So ! now know: Getting eight hours of sleep is important for me, it does me good, and I will try to get them as many times as possible.

The second thing I learnt this week by experimenting was: The pomodoro method is good for me. This method consists in putting up a timer for 25 minutes and to focus on a certain activity for that time until the alarm clock rings.25 minutes are one pomodoro, and of course you can do as many of them as you like. I applied this method today at work, and felt good with it. I was productive, and I had the impression that I spent the work day the right way. Actually I am doing it now while writing this blogpost. I am using a chrome extension called “Timer tab” at home, and on work I used the e.ggtimer.com.

Have you ever thought of writing a book of you? And if yes, what would go in it?

Women Soccer World Championship

It is Soccer World Championship time! Well, it is Women Soccer World Championship time. When we had Men  Soccer World Championship last year in South Africa all the restaurants in Berlin were showing the games on public tv, and the people were waving black-red-yellow (golden) flags, and wore t-shirts with black-red-yellow stripes.

None of that yet. Ok, the soccer stadiums are nicely filled with people, but you could still get tickets. The games are on German TV (in the early afternoon and at 6pm local time), but I’ve got the feeling that the numbers of people who watch the games on tv are – limited. Many people, especially men,  don’t consider women soccer to be “proper” soccer.

I just watched the game Brazil vs Australia. Brazil won 1:0, but the Australian women did a good job. It was a game worth watching. But: It was a typical women soccer match.
Men soccer is something different, with more close fights, more body contacts, more tackling. I think the important thing is not to expect women to play soccer like men, which does not mean that women soccer is “bad” soccer. The way in which both – the Australian and the Brazilian women treated the ball was amazing, as well as the way they passed it.

I now look forward to the match between Germany and Nigeria on Thursday evening European time. I will watch it at some good friend’s home. I will use public transport on the way to my friend and on the way back, and I wonder whether there will be people waving flags and wearing t-shirts in the colours of Germany. Let’s see…

Looking ahead to April

In my last February post “Looking ahead to March” I wrote about my art plans saying  that I wanted to do some horse drawings, get used to my graphic tablet and finish the digital painting of a crane. Now, at the end of this month I’ve got to say:

  • I did some horse sketches, and I showed them on this blog. One you can see here, and another one here.
  • Regarding the graphic tablet: Well, I got more practice on it, but still there’s nothing yet worth presenting to the public.
  • The digital painting of the crane is still unfinished.

But I learnt a lot this month:

  • I learnt how satisfying it can be when you return to something you did a few months ago and enjoy doing it again. I loved to pick up my copics again and colour the horse. I so loved it that I consider doing the crane with them first (The only thing is that I’ve got no grey copics, and I do need grey for the crane!)
  • I learnt also how satisfying it can be to put the focus on another software – in this case Inkscape. At the bottom of the post you will find a result of playing around for half an hour with the programme without thinking about the result. It just happened to be.

So what about April?

Maybe a bit less planning and more “do as you feel” art? More playfulness? I wanted to focus on planning my art activities because I thought that I had to organize my learning processes. A revolutionary thought now comes to my mind: Even if I don*t organize or plan my art activities they wll happen. Art and creativity are an important part of my life now. The important thing is not to ask “What do I have to do in order to learn this or that?” but to ask “What did I learn when I did that and that?”

I would be glad to hear your opinion on this!


My inner artist and my inner designer

First of all, the difference between my inner artist and my inner designer is, that my inner designer thinks of certain products to put her art on, and my inner artist is not thinking of any products when she is doing art. I don’t know whether this is the proper definition, but it is my definition.

In the past either the inner designer existed or the inner artist.

There has been a time when my inner designer was very active, and then suddenly my inner artist woke up and pushed the designer away. She pushed her away because she felt limited in her art if she always had to think of the final product. She wanted to try out things, to draw sketches. She discovered digital painting, loved it but at the same time knew that it would take a long time before she could think of using the results of her learning processes for creating any designs.

At the moment I am writing these lines the designer has come back. She came back because the artist is struggling with her new tool, the graphic tablet. Or, to say it more precisely: The inner artist is rather desperate and thinks she’ll never learn to cope with the darned thing. So she was on the way to retire. The designer smiles. She’s discovered a way to create nice designs with photoshop, and it is wonderful to do things when you’ve got the feeling that you can do it.

And there’s an inner me who’s watching all this, and trying to sort things out. “You are putting yourself under too much pressure,” she says to the inner artist. “You wanted to do something which you could show in your blog post, instead of giving yourself the necessary time to get used to the tablet. You can do exercises with the brush and the colours and whatever, and you don’t have to show them to the public. Take it easy, man.”

And then the inner me turns around to the designer and says: “There’s nothing bad in doing the things you are capable to do. As long as you don’t get bored and still have fun – why not do it in an easy way?”

The inner designer and the inner artist look at each other. They now know that they can exist at the same time, in peace.

I love my Library!

Bizarre Visionen - bold visions

Cover of "Bizarre Visionen - Fantastische Bilderwelten" by Gary Tonge

The original title of the book is “Bold Visions”, and Gary Tonge published it 2008.

I was looking for a book about digital painting with Photoshop and found this one. I ordered it via E-mail and fetched it today from the library. When I arrived at home I could not resist from browsing through the pages and looking at the excellent photos.

Of course I’ve already found lots of tutorials about digital painting on the web, including some very instructive ones on Youtube.
However there is a difference between reading tutorials online and turning the pages of a real book. I felt like a child going through some picture book, captivated by the vividness and aesthetic quality of the pictures.

Those kind of “real” books are quite expensive. Sometimes you buy such an expensive book and are disappointed when you’ve got it in your hands. Here in Berlin we pay 10 Euros a year and can go to every public library. There’s an online catalogue and we can order via e-mail.

Due to being an internet citizen I learnt about the intention of the British government to close down libraries. It made me realize how well off we are here in Berlin at the moment, and how important it is that we have a working system of public libraries. I think I’ve fallen in love with my library again…

 

Don’t limit Yourself!

On Friday I wrote a post about one of my resolutions for 2011, “just do it!”. Today I will deal with my second resolution:

Don’t limit yourself!

Giraffe - Colored

Giraffe. Colored in Photoshop

You probably ask what that painting has to do with my resolution. Well, it is just an example. It has been colored in Photoshop, but not with the tool everybody would use – the brush tool. I did use other tools – the pen tool and the smudge tool.

I don’t want to get too much into the details here, but I had that idea in my mind, that without having a wacom graphic tablet it would be easier to define colour spaces with the pen-tool. Most tutorials on coloring in Photoshop mention the paint brush, but I simply thought it could be done in an other way and went for a try. I didn’t limit myself, so to speak.

You can apply that motto to various aspects of daily life. You are coming home after a hard work day and you look on your list with household chores. Instead of thinking “I’ll never be able to do this!” – don’t limit yourself. Sometimes I wonder how many things and what sort of things I am able to do. One morning I entered my bathroom in the usual half awake state and tried to put on the light. WHAM! The bulb in the bathroom somehow had decided to call it a day. I stood there, feeling helpless. I hadn’t come to my senses yet, how should I be able to change the darned thing? Then “Don’t limit yourself!” came to my mind, I fetched a new bulb and after 15 minutes the problem was solved.

Do you have a motto or more than one for 2011 and might share it here?

Just do it!

It’s almost the end of January 2011 and time for a review on the first month of the new year.

In the first days of January I decided to cling to two mottos:

  • Just do it
  • Don’t limit yourself

I will deal with the second one in my next blog post. Today I’ll tell you why “Just do it” has become so important for me.

It is strange, but at work I am quite good at organising projects. Last Monday I had a presentation about the basics of Search Engine Optimization, and everything went fine, including the coffee and the cookies.

Regarding my private projects it is a bit different. I manage blogging thrice a week here on this blog, but often I sit in front of the white screen and have only a very vague idea of what I am going to say or present. Other people have editorial plans – not me. But as I said before, I manage to get those posts published.

Regarding my household chores it was hugely different. I must admit that in 2010 I neglected them considerably, and when my cousin came to stay with me in June it took me a whole week to get the flat presentable. At the beginning of 2011 I decided to have a change. And now, on the 28th of January 2011, I can say that up to now I have been successful.

What did I do?

  1. I reactivated my toodledo-account.
  2. I wrote down only the tasks I thought I could do on a day. I knew that I would not like to do household chores after work and before a social evening with friends, so I didn’t schedule anything on those days.
  3. But: Once I had written down a task like swiffing the bathroom floor I told myself: “Just do it!” I tied back my hair into a ponytail, imagined myself being a dust and dirt fighter and attacked the floor or whatever had to be cleaned.
  4. So far I have been successful, and my home has reached a presentable state. You won’t be able to eat from the floor – but who wants to do that?

Male Face

Male face

Male face. Sketch: Ulla Hennig

It has become a habit now, and one I really love to do: doing at least one sketch a day. The paper I use for those sketches is being printed upon on one side (as you can see in the photo), so I’ve got no problems when a sketch goes wrong.

What I like on this sketch is the expression on the face. This is not a hero’s face–it’s the face of someone who is surprised, wondering, looking at the world around him with big wide open eyes. He’s not a young man, and not a very good looking one, too. He’s just the type of man you would find if you go out of your house and into the next shop… He’s human.

Red Candle

Red Candle

Red candle with Christmas decorations

Christmas is definitely over, but I’ve still got this red candle with Christmas decorations on my table. As long as the days are short and the nights creep in so fast in the afternoon I will keep all my candles, be they christmas-y or not. Light the candles, sip a glas of delicious red wine, listen to some classical music and read a good book – that’s it!

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