A good beginning

I woke up this morning around 7 and did the usual… sip tea in the dark whilst reading news and checking email. The sun started to break around 9, which I welcomed after yesterday’s dark and rainy beginning. I was on the fence about heading out for a cycle, but really how can you stay in when it’s this beautiful outside? I decided to try out my camera after making some setting changes, to see if it performs better. It did – so thanks Jacob!

Lately I’ve been surprised by how vibrant the moss is. I believe it’s due to the mild winter weather we’re having. When the sun lights it up, it explodes green and it’s stunning. There’s something about the dunes that pull my heart strings. When I get tired of the traffic and drama of living in and around crowded cities, I often complain that I want to move to the east and live in the forest but it would be hard to give this up. Not the cities… I’d give that up with no problem.

So, I lucked out this morning with more than just sunny skies, and came upon deer, horses, a bird of prey flew across my path, and of course, the furry Highlanders. The birds were just mad, buzzing around, singing, and finding their breakfast in the bushes. I was lucky to catch a shot of a group of Cormorants at the vogelmeer, drying their wings. I think it’s impossible not to enjoy birds when living in the Netherlands, where they’re so plentiful. Since I’ve moved here, I’ve learned so much about different varieties of birds and I thoroughly enjoy watching them . They’re beautiful. I always tell myself, next time I should just walk so I can take it in at a slower pace but I love being on my bike, and I’m impatient to get from my house into the thick of it.

Today is my man’s birthday. I’m planning to make pizza for dinner and open a bottle of wine we brought from Sardinia. I’m one of those people who is too sentimental about things. I end up never finding the occasion that I deem worthy enough of opening a special wine. I’m not much for baking or dough-like-things, so we shall see what comes of this evening’s endeavor. In the end it might be take out and nice wine. Either way I’m sure it’ll be fantastic.

I’ve thought several times already on this day, that life could be so much worse. In fact, it was more along the lines that I feel so fortunate for what I have. I feel that I am rich – despite being quite the opposite in the monetary realm ;)

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Warpaint on Birch

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I started this over the weekend. The blank space over her head is going to become her hair, and a head-dress. By now I’ve made headway on her left eye, and today we’ll see where I end up. Either way, it’s been so much fun, and it feels awesome to get lost in doing some art. It’s a super fantastic feeling, and it’s exactly what I needed.

End goal: Finish this painting and sell it.

Worthy thoughts on living

Unfortunately, money IS an object and it is difficult to manage without. What is interesting though, is to take a moment to reconsider what is NEEDED to live and be happy in this life, and then to re-assess how much money is required to sustain that. Of course in our society we have extravagant ideas about what necessities are, like travelling to exotic places, regularly, and dining out, often. We want to live in major cities with nice objects around us and have a successful career.

I think all of those things are wonderful. I’m lucky that whilst I do not live in a major city, I already have a lovely home, an amazing partner who supports and loves me unconditionally and fantastic family and friends, and all of those things make dreaming of MY bigger picture possible. I’m eternally grateful for that.

In the end, for me, it’s been all about rethinking, re-prioritizing, adjusting comforts and habits, and allowing myself to desire things that bring a different kind of reward than what we often chase after in this modern society. More money, a better job title, more respect, beauty, affluence, acceptance, status. I’m not sure if those things bring happiness, despite happiness being another major goal for people in life. So maybe it’s worth revisiting and considering what elements are missing from your life. For me, it’s being creative. For years, I’ve lacked the desire and energy to create something and the peace and space in my head and heart to appreciate all of the other things that make me feel whole.

So, what if money was no object. What would you do differently?

I am fairly sure that most people would not end up working in an office for a big corporation or in finance – which is probably what most people do today :)

New Horizons

I’ve been wanting to paint with oil for a long time, but I’ve shied away because it seems complicated. You have the paint, the mediums to add to the paint for different affects, thinners, and then of course techniques. So I’ve painted in acrylics because you just paint, and that’s it. I thought the simplicity was worth not learning the oils.

But you know, acrylics dry fast and unless you’re very skilled they tend to look flat. Glenn Arthur is my favourite acrylic artist. He uses tiny brushes and adds dimension /shadowing in such a way that it’s almost like a pencil.

So anyway, today I had it in my head that I wanted to just give it a try. I’d made this small board sketch awhile back, and was pussy-footing around actually putting colour on it because I was afraid to ruin it! But the whole reason I cut these small boards was to have the opportunity to make and ruin things.

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First, I want to say that if you use the right medium, like a gel medium, the paint glides with ease and it becomes glossy and “fat”. That is not easy to do with acrylic. Another benefit of painting with oil, is that you can build it up in layers which is good for me because I don’t really know what I’m doing. So the paint stays wet, I can layer, add colour, change colour, go watch some TV, eat my dinner, come back, look at it again, maybe I have fresh perspective from my break, and start again.

That’s really a nice thing about oil. Most of the time when I get in the zone, I stay there for several hours, and become immersed in whatever I’m doing. And while I love that, sometimes at the end, I step away and look at my work and I have the sense that I’ve become aimless and have peaked and worked through, to a slow decline… and that of course is frustrating because I want to have something to show for my effort.

I worked on this tonight off and on for about 6 hours. Hopefully tomorrow, the paint is still wet and I can continue from here.

I used a technical pencil to make this sketch (as well as the one below) and it’s not ideal for soft detail. Instead I focused on creating depth and not being afraid of shadowing; something I am often very hesitant about so it’s definitely a good exercise.

The last year at work has been taxing on my creativity so I’m very happy that I have the time and energy to do things like this now.

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Insomnia Sketch

I woke up at 3 this morning.

I considered getting up at that point, since it would likely happen that I’d lie there awake until 6 and then pass out.

I didn’t though.

I’ve been painting for the past 2 days and it’s harder than I want it to be, but it feels great to be creative.

So I thought about some ideas for sketching/painting and finally got myself out of bed at 6:30.

I feel pretty wrecked having only 3 hours of sleep and it’s not even noon…

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One of the things that I love about London is that a lot of the museums are free. You can see the permanent collections for free and often the coat check is also free. There are donation boxes dotted around, and I was more than happy to contribute. But what is fantastic, to me, is that if you cannot afford a donation, it doesn’t stop you from enjoying art and culture. (The exception on my trip being the British Museum, which offered the least in terms of amenities and experience and yet charged per item for the cloakroom)

Of the 4 that I visited, The Victoria & Albert Museum was by far my favourite, for its stunning architecture and diverse collection. The dining facilities were gorgeous and filled with tasty fresh British style pastries.

That being said, the Wellcome Collection is also on top of my list. The collection is scientifically and historically interesting in terms of medical artefacts and the human body. They have an amazing reading room and the most fragrant tea I have ever encountered.

Now, before you pass judgement on me for snapping pictures in museums, I don’t walk around mindlessly taking photos. I do make a few exceptions, especially when their display makes for an interesting use of space. I enjoy capturing that, as well as the people within the space. For me it’s a moment when the viewer becomes a part of the experience. And – not that I aspire to become professional photographer, but I am not very happy with the performance of my camera as it seems to not focus well and is often grainy… plus when I publish this post, the quality further deteriorates. Le sigh
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Victoria & Albert Museum

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Wellcome Collection