Archive | March 2011

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!


First ever framed painting

Seagulls - painted and then photographed

Seagulls - painted and then photographed

This is my first painting that was framed and went to another person’s home. It was a present to my cousin who got 70 this February. She had visited me in 2010 and seen it hanging on my wall, of course without frame. I’d always thought that the pastel painting was not too bad, but not good enough to be framed.

Now it hangs on the wall in my cousin’s living room, properly framed: It may sound strange, but now I finally accept it as a piece of art, and I am quite proud of it. Which makes me think about how much I depend on my works being appreciated by other people in order to accept them as pieces of art. Strange, isn’t it?

Tree in March

Tree in March

Tree in March. Photo: Ulla Hennig

Spring is arriving fast, but the trees still are without leaves. So it is still the time to took at the way the branches are spreading. Actually I have been thinking of doing some tree sketches, and I’ve looked for some reference photos.

Last weekend the sun was shining, so I took my nice little camera with me, thinking that I could as well produce my own reference photos!

The Creativity Journal

Creating designs for Zazzle is part of my creative life. I will not discuss here the difference between art and design, because I think that you need to have a good eye for both, and a feeling for the beauty of life. I can look at a flower and see the beauty; I can look at a horse galloping across the pasture and I can see the beauty in the way it moves; I can look at a wine glass and I can see the beauty in its form. (Let me make it clear here that I speak of my way of seeing beauty in the world around me–you may see it not or see it where I won’t see it!)

At work we have a lot of binders, and my sense of beauty cries out whenever I look at them. I hate to file papers, and the way those binders look does not motivate me to change my feelings. At home I try to buy binders which look different – I’ve actually got a binder for my finances which has got some beautiful flowers on it.

So I asked myself why not begin to design binders for Zazzle? Again I took my heart into my hands and did something new. The binder you can see below is my third binder design. I dare to present it to the public, knowing that it is only one small step on the cobblestone road to some more binder designs. Binders, here I come!

Horse coloured with Copics

Grazing horse

Grazing horse. Graphit, ink and then copic markers

I had bought some Copic Markers last year in autumn, and on last Friday I took them out of their box in order to colour this horse sketch. I think I now know what I will use them for – colouring my sketches. Mostly they are used by fasion designers and Manga artists, but I am neither the one nor the other.

Copic markers come in more than 200 colours. There are many colours I don’t need at the moment, but it looks like I will need more shades of brown for doing animal sketches. So I grabbed my colour chart and made a list of the markers I may need. The good thing is that you can keep them in the container for a long time without risking to dry them out.

I am still doing exercises with my graphic tablet, though. I even managed to produce a very rough drawing of a wildebeest. I am giving myself time to learn and to practise and to – delete. And I’ve learned another important thing – it is not either – or: either drawing with pencil and ink, and colouring with copics or watercolour pencils or drawing on my graphic tablet. Creativity for me is all kinds of everything – doing one thing without neglecting or stopping the other!

Black Horse

Dancing Horse

Dancing Horse. Drawn with pencil and ink by Ulla Hennig

I tried to work out the muscles with this one, especially the breast and neck muscles. I think of this horse as a “he”, but horse experts may tell me that stallions have a thicker neck and more muscles around the hindleg.

Part of my workplace

Workplace for Drawing and Painting

Today, on my way home, I went into my favorite paper and writing stuff shop and asked for some cardboard. I was thinking of using my copic markers again and didn’t want the color to bleed through the paper onto the table.

When the guy from the store showed me the cardboard (actually it was the lid of a paperboard container) and I explained to him what I wanted it to use for, he asked if he should cut it in a slanting way. At that moment the image of a very special easel came to my mind, and I said yes.

When I arrived home I had to try it out. As you can see above I put the cardboard on the table in my living room, fetched a paper from my sketch pad and a reference photo and began to sketch. I did it sitting down and standing up, and I noticed how much easier it was to stand back and have a look at the reference photo and my sketch. It looks like I did the right thing!

By the way: With the graphic tablet it is a bit similar. In the beginning I had it on the left side of my notebook which made me stretch out my left arm. Now I put it in front of my laptop and voilà – it gives me the feeling of having much more control!

So this is another important thing I learnt: You’ve got to have the tools, and you’ve got to work with them in the proper position. Not a revolutionary insight, I know, but an important one for me.

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.

One Year of Zazzling

It was March 2011 when I began to really create items for my Zazzle store. I can remember how I had to take my heart into my hands and jump – fighting against my inner critic who was telling me that my creations were far from being good enough to be presented to the world.
Well, one year later my inner critic is still grumbling and mumbling, especially when I try out new things like this bookplate.
For the first time I downloaded the guide file and directly worked on that, and I worked on it for the first time with the pen of my graphic tablet. All the other times I opened up a new file in Photoshop which I thought was big enough to cover the mugs, stickers, cards and whatever. Now I know that working with the guide files enables me much more to fit the design to the object in mind – this time a sticker which can be easily used as a bookplate.
I even can imagine myself to try to design a binder, doing it with the guide file. I myself love pretty binders (and I hate the ones we have in the office – just those plain white and black Leitz binders), so I think it could be really fun to have a go with them. So, off to new adventures then!

Horse in Motion

horse in motion

Horse in motion. Done with pencil and ink by Ulla Hennig

I had a reference photo for this, and did a quick sketch on Sunday night. I added the greyish colour on the ground with my graphic tablet. The moment will come when I will draw a whole horse or another animal on the tablet, but I don’t know yet when this moment will be…