Friday, October 4, 2013

The invisible touch

I'm taking a break from working in the studio, but only to get inspired for the next round. In the meantime I'm enjoying work at the school and spending time with my children - creativity flows in so many other and new ways. At school I'm teaching a small group of girls the art of making journals, which is a concept strange to Denmark. I've shown them a lot of interesting ideas, which at first they seemed to find weird (they're only 14 yrs old), but now they're asking for the next workshop, because they'd like to continue working on this new thing... Thanks to Daisy Yellow, who made this a good idea for combining my own skills with collages and the diary aspect, but in a whole new setting.

On the sideline Phil Collins has taken the stage on my youtube-playlist. At first, because I find him funny and he makes me laugh, but slowly old stuff re-appears on my scope. Stuff from my childhood and early youth - things, that were perhaps meant to be forgotten, but are perhaps never supposed to leave your life entirely. They are aspects, which gives my creative output its true meaning. When I sell paintings it's not because they're pretty or beautiful, but because other people (strangers to me) are struck by a similar feeling. They seem to hit home in a way, I never thought possible. Wether it be in melancholy, sadness, one particularly striking event, loneliness in thoughts and emotions - the paintings that brought the most tears to my eyes in their original thought, are the ones that sell instantly. 

This is in my opinion a symptom of our time's temperament - are we moving too fast for our own good? Are we letting go, because it's simply too draining for us to get involved? Would we be happier to involve ourselves and follow through the chaotic events of our lives? 

Are my paintings (the dreary one) perhaps meant to become reminders of what should never be forgotten...?

On my list of things I'd like to forget (but won't ever) are:
Falling in love with my junior high school French teacher
Peeing my pants in public when I was 13 
My father hitting me as a child
The Cold War
Richard Simmons working out on TV
George Bush
George W. Bush
Fried liver
Being bullied for having a German father (not very good in Denmark)
Several break-ups with truly great men
Yelling at my children
Crawling home from a senior high school dance after someone slipped me a drug in my drink
My fat thighs
Newt Gingrich
Standing up for the well-being of my children way, way too late
Feeling guilty for being me and becoming invisible.......

Just remember - you will survive, whatever life throws at you. I am happier, better and stronger now. It just took all of the above to get me here. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The final test

Do you know the feeling of anxiety just before an exam or your final driving test? Your palms are sweaty, your knees are about to give and your breathing shortens down as if you've been buried alive and are waiting for someone to hopefully dig you up in time. Yes, it sounds like a crime drama, and that was the way it felt. The tip of my nerves felt like they were piercing through my skin.

The difference between my daily work as a teacher and working as an artist is very clear. No one can actually see the result of my teachings before we test the students, while the artwork is right in front of you - you either like it or you don't. I was convinced no one would ever lay eyes on my collection of works. 

The event was grande if only for a day. Quite original too in a way. The local engine factory, which has manufactured engines for ships and trawlers for over a hundred years had invited us ( and I) to exhibit in the actual factory hall. So there, between windmill gearboxes and engines of all sorts were our paintings. It was a completely new way to look at them for me, but it felt good. The perferct backdrop for smudgy motifs with a street twist.

Many people came by to have a look, especially old factory workers bringing their wives, children and grand children. They seemed disturbed by this oddity of 'art' appearing in between tools and oily spare parts.

To sum it up, the sweaty palms and the nausea disappeared as the event unfolded. It was a great experience, even though I still felt like a fish out of water. The point is to not give up, but instead force yourself to go with the flow and the experience of laying yourself bare in front of strangers - people will enjoy your work. 

Monday, June 17, 2013


Again, it's been a long while since I last posted anything here. No bad excuses, I've simply just had to recompose my life, which has turned out to be a success - and now I'm back again.

Since Easter a lot has happened. The politicians and government in Denmark wanted to demonstrate their power by locking out all teachers in the country. It was a very frustrating time, where I felt totally disillusioned, worthless and unable to do anything. For an entire month I had no 'go' in the workshop. The spirit and energy to paint had simply gone. You would think that being the victim of political oppression would incite you to pick up the brush and get it all out. There was nothing. Just an empty void. For an entire month. On May 1st we were once again allowed to go back to work. Nothing had come from the lockout. Except for a lot of grief and the man letting us know, how much he valued our opinion. Letting us know, who's in charge.

Since then, I've produced two works, one is still in the studio getting the finishing touches - together with my best friend and mentor, I'm doing my first exhibit in August and a second one in November. To say the least, I have to pick up pace and get to work. 

'Breathe' (100 x 100cm, acrylic & charcoal on canvas)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

While I was away

Recently I was considering relocating to Alaska. I wonder why. Because this freezing cold and sub-zero temperatures are slowly bringing me to the end of my rope. 

Back in January things were seriously slowing down in the studio. I have been working up there, but not as much as I'd like. Perhaps this year my work will prove itself to be seasonal based. I must admit to looking forward to warmer temperatures, a scent and feel of summer even. 

While I've been away from the studio, I've been working in a different direction entirely. Creating Easter gifts (which is something I never do) for my mum and a circle of close girlfriends. I don't know where this urge to knit suddenly came from, but I welcomed it as it made it an excuse for me to curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea with a rotten TV detective crime story to go. It was a great pleasure to give these away, even though I will miss them dearly. I've really enjoyed working on these. Perhaps you can understand why. 

Happy Easter - happy springtime!

The idea for the roosters came from an old knitting magazine, so I can't take credit for them entirely. The boys are hand knit with organic cotton from Debbie Bliss and one other supplier, some proper filling and black beans, actually, to make them a bit heavier in their posture. Some of them are very fat, others are slimmer and lighter. They come in pairs of 3 and have all been named. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Illusional Tidiness

It's been an interesting process in the studio this week. I've applied a few new techniques and am still working on the canvas. I'm curious as to when it is finished. I already have the next one sketched out in my mind. And Trine has mentioned something new to me - the Dutch method of patient painting? I had to laugh, but as she explained it, it seemed very close to what I do - thin layers applied somewhere between 5 to 35 times. It's funny when you believe you're original in your ideas, and then someone tells you, it's already been done and has a name as well. Lol!

Recently I finally removed one of the kitchen drawers which had the primary task of storing all the stuff, I had no other place to put. When moving into our flat three years ago I told myself it was okay to have such a drawer. For the past three months I had barely been able to close it properly as it was overloaded with weird stuff. Ear plugs, old mobile phone chargers, old stickers with toddler motifs, hardened and useless sticky tack etc. Three quarters of which is now in the bin - phew! I have now turned it into a proper office drawer - storing simple office supplies that you might need in the kitchen on a daily basis. After all the kitchen is where we spend most of our time together. 

While I was overwhelmed with feeling good about myself, my decisiveness and finally giving all those lifestyle experts*  a good run for their money, I discovered how my entire week has been full of getting rid of old stuff and decluttering my mind and home. The book case is good to go again, the children's room etc. Not that no one ever noticed the chaos or clutter, because like so many others I am an expert at creating the illusion of being tidy.

My point is basically that springtime is upon us - time to look for an easier and brighter approach to enjoy life. I'm not going to give you advise on how to do that, as there are so many more competent people out there doing that. Just google 'lifestyle change'... I'm just going to tell you about the development in my art which will hopefully evolve into earning me a proper income some day.

*) ...who send me emails daily on how to change my life - I'm realizing that I'm fine, thank you very much, and have applied the needed changes right for us before signing up for all the expert's advice!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Accidental Bomb

I am alone this week. The kids are off on holiday at their father's, while I’m off from working at the school this week. I’ve spent a lot of hours in the studio since the new canvas arrived a few days ago, and this time I've tried to focus even harder on preparation. Returning to the canvas makes me feel much more confident though. Also adding in the colors during the basic layering that at first may seem out of sorts, but I know they fit in there. And for some reason, I've had the perspective lines in my mind for this canvas all along, even though I've always thought lines can become constrictive to the flow of the motif. 

While photographing the particulars of the painting, I suddenly realized the dark objective working for me this time. Even though I'm having fun, I can't get rid of the images from the time of my childhood in the last stages of Cold War Europe, the 1980'ies. Perhaps induced by the two children that immediately appeared in the front of the painting. Memories of Jim and Hilda's hopeless struggle to survive the nuclear war in "When the Wind Blows" and a more humorous *Land of Confusion" by Genesis have filled me up, Despite the fact that the children are walking down Hope Street, the sky carries a strange atomic discoloration. The sun seems to have been placed with wires or bars as if to be kept in place to maintain an illusion. I don't know where in my mind this all originated from, but for some reason it seems all too relevant these days. 

Then North Korea decided to see if their bomb still works earlier yesterday. I must admit that I was a bit bewildered - was it a premonition or just a coincidence? It's a good thing the kids in the painting have a ladder to climb, even though it's rather high up.

To not get too dim I want to share this Spitting Image working with Genesis... Smile and work towards the future where we will perhaps be able to trust each other and our leaders.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

L'Enfant Terrible

So there I am... Puddling about in the palette of water color. Incredibly easy to mix and work with. I had no idea, the pigments would as well be so easy to move around. Nor that it would be so easy to pick up color. I must admit, even though I won't give it up at this point, that acrylics are not as easy to fool around with. They tend to linger even after you've washed them away. 

Yesterday, I told my friend who gave me the watercolor-kit that I was considering acquiring a black color, as there was none in the palette. She replied without hesitation, that pure black is sort of a no-no in the world of water color artists, she personally would never work with a black. Fair enough on the personal preference, but who decided that it's not eloquent enough to use a black water color? I was very open towards her statement, but quickly added that I perhaps had different plans from what is acceptable. 

I am not setting out to break rules just for the sake of breaking them. Don't get me wrong. I am merely wondering - why not? Why not try out a black/white water color painting? 

Muddy waters
I was in a meeting with my boss and that same friend last week. At the end of the meeting we were discussing our daily lives with our children. I may have sounded a bit dis-satisfied, when I stated that I had difficulties tackling the wandering mind of my son, who's very good at dis-connecting from his surroundings (which is a supreme gift these days) and sometimes he can even even change the topic of conversation from Mine Craft to something completely different. 

The good side to being alone with two kids is that you get all the love, you don't have to share it with anyone. But you are also alone with every single little thing. Every decision, every clean-up, every meal, every bill, every bit of bringing-up. I try to install a bit of self-awareness in my kids, some ability to do things on their own and help out a bit in the house. All this is really okay - but it was the comment from my boss and my friend after that, that made me flinch: "You have to accept that these are the conditions for living here, being divorced with kids!"

I have to what? Says who? And why?

I don't have a lot of fancy quotes to throw at you, dear reader, but I remember having read and heard hundreds of them, where this is the particular subject. Not accepting the norm. Not accepting the way things are, but in stead try to change them. Yes, there are reasons for why I don't just pack up and travel around the world, but perhaps I don't have to go to that extent. Perhaps it's merely a really small change, I need.

I'm asking myself these days, if I am happy enough to stay here, in provincial Denmark. Is this all I want? Is this all I can get? Should I just accept it and follow the rules? Would you?

Remarkable, how the color black made its impact on today's post. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Something amazing has happened - a very good friend and colleague at my school gave me a belated Christmas present yesterday. She is a positive thinker with a very motivational spirit and often catches people on their way down. Before Christmas we had a conversation about water colors and how I'd like to start experimenting with those, as I'd never tried the real stuff. Yesterday she presented me with a self-composed beginner's kit containing several sizes of paper, non-acidic and cold pressed, some of the handmade paper she bought many years ago in the Netherlands, brushes and a lovely starter-set of colors from Winsor & Newton. She herself paints and is a very creative person. 
I must admit, I love it - it's a great pick-me-up in this utter wet and cold winter darkness. 

Thank you, Josefine!

  • Surround yourself with people who have a positive think pattern and can give you something good to thrive on.
  • Don't expect others to give, but be willing and prepared to give your self. Then you wil receive.
  • Be thankful for what you have got, and don't get upset over the things in life that are not yet within your reach. 
You never know, where life is going to take you...

The darkness gets thicker, even though the days grow longer.

Dogs of Lust

The piece I'm working on at the moment has changed appearances many times, again with a bit of the old left to live on in the new. This one used to be called 'The Meat District', but rather soon changed to 'Power of Love'. 

It's now very different - at one point I was about to discard it like so many others, but have come to enjoy the simplicity of its wild base tuning in with the new surfaces. No matter what the old working titles were, it was always a question of developing its true purpose. I've used quite a bit of charcoal with this, which I've missed working with after the Zoology-pieces of 8. In the piece you'll find two ancient Native American dogs, which have been added with glue.

The background was inspired by a mix of a certain pre-WW2 flag and the colors of the ads and commercials of the 70'ies and 80'ies. I added quite a few layers of acrylics mixed with water, after which came the pasting of neon-acrylics. You have to wait between each pasting before the true effect of each layer comes out after having dried. And each wait makes it even more fun to continue. 

This town is shrinking by the minute... Darkness is all around - color explosions are perhaps what we need.