Archive | January 2011

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?


Gnu - pencil drawing by Ulla Hennig

Gnu - pencil drawing by Ulla Hennig

It seems that I am focusing on African animals, but you may believe it or not: I sketched the first animal that came into my mind. I do it always in the same order: I open google image search and type in whatever comes to my mind at that moment. This time it was “gnu”. Then I browsed through the hundreds of images (stop! I stopped after the twentieth photo, I think), clicked on one I found especially impressive (the photo and the animal) and began to draw.

I used a pencil, but no eraser. It took me about half an hour.

Some Old Building

Old building on a hill

Old building on a hill. Sketch and Digital Painting: Ulla Hennig

The sketch didn’t take me more than 20 minutes, but the digital painting took me more than one hour… But it was fun!


Giraffe - ballpoint pen sketch

Giraffe. Ballpoint pen drawing by Ulla Hennig

Yesterday I wanted to sketch giraffes, and so I went through Google images. The first sketch was a fail, but I did not give up and the one above is the result of my second try. Actually the eyes are not quite right – they are a bit lopsided I think – but apart from that the critter looks quite giraffe-y.

Giraffes are beautiful creatures. They move in such an elegant way! As far as I know they are not attacked by lions or other carnivores – they know that a kick with the foot can kill them.

Flying Dragon – WIP

WIP - Dragon

Flying Dragon - Work in Progress

First this was a very rough colour sketch, which did nothing more than show the pose and contained a few hints about the colours.

Then I fetched my copic markers, did a pencil sketch, inked it and then colored the lineart. The result was quite different from what you can see above, because I decided to work on it with Photoshop after it was scanned. This meant

  • adding the feathers
  • adding the scales on the body of the dragon
  • adding the claws.

It is not finished yet: there is some shading to be done, and the face and the tail will be more detailed.

I was totally absorbed while working on it and almost forget the time, and now, with the wip uploaded to Flickr and the evening meal waiting for me I feel – kind of exhausted, but also kind of satisfied.

It is the Year of the Rabbit!

From Sketch to Cartoon

Part of my almost daily sketching routine is to search Google for pictures, and some days ago I chose “rabbit” as the keyword. I went for the medium sized pictures, as they are better as reference photos than the small ones. Then I fetched my DIN A5 sketch pad and a ballpoint pen and did the sketch in about 20 minutes. (By the way, I will show you the sketch in one of my next blog posts.)

Then I did something I haven’t done before – I used my own rabbit sketch as a reference for creating a rabbit cartoon with Inkscape. More or less that meant putting together several round forms, transforming them a bit and voil√°, here is the cartoon on one of Zazzle’s round stickers!

I quite like the result, but I think the process is interesting: from handdrawn sketch with a photo as reference to a digital cartoon with the handdrawn sketch as reference. We’ll see what comes next…

The Blogging Artist

Almost two years ago, in January 2009, I wrote The Blogger as an Artist. In this blogpost I asked whether I had the right to call myself an artist. I had included one of my pastel drawings in the blog post, a drawing I had done in the 80s of the 20th century. I also wrote in that blogpost that I should begin to draw more often.

Now, in January 2011, I am cheeky enough to call myself a blogging artist. I consider myself something like a “newbie Artist”, an artist at the very beginning of my art career, an amateur artist who will never be able to live off her art. But I have found a deep joy in drawing, doodling, sketching, painting, in looking at other people’s art. And, I don’t know if you have noticed it yet, I changed the subtitle of my blog: It is now “Art, Photos and Musings”, with art standing at the first place.

I know my art is far from perfect, and I know that I have to get out of my comfort zone in order to learn – I actually began to draw people in different poses and have to do more of that. I want to do still life, landscapes and flowers. You will see some of that in the coming months of 2011.

Beware of this Hippo!

Hippo. Ballpoint sketch. Drawing: Ulla Hennig

No, this hippopotamus is not yawning. The open mouth signals: “I feel threatened. I am dangerous. Leave and let me alone, or I am getting really mad!”

Hippos are the third largest land mammals by weight behind the rhinoceros and the elephant. They are by nature very aggressive animals–they even fight against crocodiles. And the bulls fight each other in order to defend their territories (and the female hippos in them) or to enlarge their territories. Their big canine teeth serve as dangerous weapons in these fights.

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.