Themes

themes of blogposts that are not directly related to art

Rooted

Rooted.

At the end of last year, the painting “Rooted” had found a new home. This week, I finally had the opportunity to see it in its new context and frame. By this I mean not only the spatial frame but also the picture frame. The owners happened to have this beautiful old frame that matched the picture and now it shines in new splendour in a place of honor in their reading and video room.

Rooted Acrylic Painting - SOLD
Rooted Acrylic Painting – SOLD

Rooted – fitting for Good Friday

The picture “Rooted” is very fitting for today. Today is Good Friday and we commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross at Golgotha. His sacrifice on the cross enables us to receive forgiveness for our sins and reconciliation with the Almighty God. Jesus’ willingness to be treated as a felon is described in the Philippians’ letter:

Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names. (Phil 2:6-9 NLT)

Out of love for us, Jesus went the not at all easy way into death and into the distance from God. He himself compared this in advance with a grain of wheat:

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. (Jn 12:24 NLT)

Jesus died to bear fruit. We are this fruit. Those who follow Jesus and live rooted in Him are thus part of this fruit and contribute to Jesus’ joy.

Rooted – A Reason for Joy

The anticipation of these effects helped him to endure when he was confronted with suffering, contempt, shame and injustice.

Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Hebr 12:2 NLT)

Finally, a last quotation from Isaiah, where Jesus’ death was predicted in a prophetic word:

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
    it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
    a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
    crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
    He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
    We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
    the sins of us all. (Is 53:4-6 NLT)

Jesus’ sufferings and death on the cross, sad and terrible as they are, eventually became a source of joy and peace for him and for us. He died so we could have peace with God. In this sense, I wish you all, HAPPY EASTER!

Steps of Faith in a Storm – Poem

Steps of Faith in a Storm – Poem

I wrote the poem “Steps of Faith in a Storm” in a very difficult time, when people whom I trusted harassed and hurt me deeply. It’s my first attempt of translating a German poem into English.

Steps of Faith in a Storm

Spilling breaking waves waves waves waves waves
storm storm storm
fooooog

The boat sways on high sea
I stand uncertainly on my legs
powerless against the powers
powerless

I stare at the shape in the fog
and a gentle voice in me calls:
Come! Trust me!
Come!

I inhale deeply
I want to dare the leap
and let go of the edge of the boat
I step on the water…

I forgive my enemies
pray for those, who persecute me
and don’t take revenge

I step on the water
and the water carries me
the water carries me
hopefully for a long time!?!

And if not
I will try it tomorrow again.

*

Spilling breaking waves waves waves waves waves
storm storm storm
fooooog

The boat sways on high sea
I stand uncertainly on my legs
powerless against the powers
powerless

I stare at the shape in the fog
and a gentle voice in me calls:
Come! Trust me!
Come!

I inhale deeply
I want to dare the leap
and let go of the edge of the boat
I step on the water…

I forgive my brothers and sisters who wrong me
I pray for those, who hurt me
and I don’t lash out at them

I step on the water
and the water carries me
the water carries me
for a loooooong time!

*

Glaubensschritt * Steps of Faith
Glaubensschritt * Steps of Faith

I had painted the picture that meshes with the poem “Steps of Faith in the Storm” more than one year before that. Originally, for me it referred to the steps of faith that I take by trusting God and following his guidance.

I wrote the poem, when I discovered a new dimension of steps of faith – when I am unfairly treated and harassed, to not insist on my right, defend myself or strike back, but let go and trust that God is above it all and can turn things around for good.

That is what happened in the specific situation, during which I suffered a lot and felt helpless at the mercy of some higher powers. In the end, God turned the situation around and changed it into blessings.

Graduation Exhibition

Graduation Exhibition

After two years and many courses our art study at the Leonardo Kunstakademie Salzburg is coming to an end. We are celebrating this with a graduation exhibition this weekend. During the opening ceremony we will also receive our certificates.

Besides our examination paintings (which you can see on the invitation below), we will also display several selected paintings which Prof. Baier chose among all the paintings we produced during these two years.

My colleagues and graduation colleagues of the study course XVIII are the following:

The opening ceremony and presentation of certificates will take place on Saturday, November 14, 2015 at 6 pm in Schloss Mattsee, Austria (5163 Mattsee, Schlossberg 1, Diabellisaal). The exhibition is open for the public until Sunday, November 15, 2015, from 9 am to 4 pm.

All are invited to celebrate with us.

Einladung Abschluss-Ausstellung Seite 1
Einladung Abschluss-Ausstellung Seite 1
Einladung Abschluss-Ausstellung Seite 2
Einladung Abschluss-Ausstellung Seite 2

25 Random Things about Me (2015 version)

25 Random Things about Me (2015 version)

Several years ago (2009?), I participated in a Facebook meme. I had fun reading the lists of “25 random things about me” from other friends, so I wrote my own list after being tagged by several.

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

Here is a revised version of my “25 random things about me” in case you are interested:

1. I am dyslexic and had a hard time at school with German and English classes, but was top of the class in Math. I consider it God’s humor that he called me into a language related work. As a result, I went to England as an Au Pair (nanny) to improve my school English, and had to learned French for one year in France. In addition I learned Dutch during my time living in the Netherlands and Spanish during a short-term work in Mexico. Again for my work, I had to learn three African languages: Sango in CAR, Djenaama and Bambara in Mali. Along the way I learned a little bit here and there but I can’t claim to speak them, such as Turkish and Italian. During different training courses we practiced learning a language for a few weeks, including Amharic, Kurdish, Chinese, Lingala, Suaheli. In most cases, I remember just one word.

2. I can’t read a book or article without finding spelling mistakes.

3. I was not allowed to speak the local dialect as a child (my parents forbid it) so my pronunciation sounded rather “German” (instead of Austrian), to the point that some Austrians would not believe that I am Austrian, especially after 3 years at a Bible college in Germany. For Germans it was always clear that I am not German but Austrian. Talk about identity conflict.

4. I hate traveling but keep doing it a lot for the sake of God’s calling. I have lived in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Mexico, France, USA, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Mali. I have visited Italy, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Zaire, Chad, Kenya, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Santa Domingo, Croatia, Greece, and maybe some more which I forgot. I even traveled three times to Eastern Europe as Bible smuggler before the fall of the Iron Curtain. For now I am done traveling that much, since it probably contributed to my burnout.

5. My original training was in plastic engineering, as part of a technical high school, but equivalent to a college degree. I would have needed to work in this domain for two years to officially obtain my engineers title, which I never did.

6. I am fascinated by other cultures and love to observe and analyze cultural differences and personal idiosyncrasies. I also love guessing where people come from and what language they might speak.

7. I am an organizer and love logic puzzles. My love for whodunits probably falls in the same category.

8. I first need a framework before any detail information makes sense to me. I guess that means that I am a global thinker.

9. I got my first camera at age 14 and loved photography ever since. I learned a lot about good composition through it. Or maybe I should say, I did it intuitively right which was very helpful also for painting.

10. I am from the tribe of “hunters and gatherers” – during my childhood this meant catching frogs, lizards, grasshoppers, and collecting stamps, coins, dried plants, books, song texts, poems, etc. – Now most of my collecting is digital: photos, music files, song texts, articles, etc). And I no longer put dead mice in my colleague’s in-baskets. 😉

11. I love all kinds of dancing and started teaching others to dance at age 16. I once opened a ball with the Lutheran Bishop of Austria, Oskar Sarkrausky – he was a very good dancer. During a recent furlough I won two tickets for the Concordia Ball, the ball of the Austrian Press club, in the Vienna Rathaus (city hall). It was a challenge to find all the things (dress, shoes, accessories) AND a dance partner within three days but it was great fun.

12. During school I learned playing recorder, during Bible college guitar, and during a recent furlough I started playing clarinet. I did not get very far with playing the pan flute.

13. During the same furlough I took singing classes and even reached the high B. During the next furlough I learned to more use my chest voice. Regrettably I am better in singing along than singing solo.

14. I love musicals and grew up listening to West Side Story, My Fair Lady, Man of La Mancha, Anatevka (Fiddler on the Roof), Porgy and Bess which my father had on tapes – old-fashioned big tapes.

15. I have a large family because my mother had 7 siblings and my grandfather 12. One of my great-grandfathers was a wood turner. During his journeymanship he traveled all over Europe mostly on foot – Dresden, Vienna, Trieste, Lyon, Paris, London, and eventually got married in Paris with a wife sent to him from back home. Another line of my ancestors goes back to the Huguenots from France who fled to Czechoslovakia and later came to Austria.

16. I love watching (and photographing) sunsets and other sun atmospheres and clouds. They can calm my spirit in incredible ways. Watching birds from close by touches my heart deeply. And looking on water surfaces is very therapeutic.

17. I can be very curious. Which really helps with strange food – I have eaten porcupine, snake, bush rat, monkey, gazelle, elephant trunk, elephant guts, cat, giant frog (3kg! photo below for those who can’t believe it), caterpillars, termites, locusts. Elephant trunk is the finest meat and caterpillars with Koko leaves in peanut sauce was my favorite dish in CAR.

Giant Frog * Riesenfrosch
Giant Frog for Lunch * Riesenfrosch zum Mittagessen

18. I won a bike with three gears at age 14 in a youth traffic quiz. I had it for many years until it was stolen in the Netherlands only a week or so before moving back to Austria.

19. For a relaxing vacation, I like to read a lot and swim, preferably in the ocean with lots of surf. A special bonus is when I also have a chance to do windsurfing which unfortunately does not happen very often.

20. I never stick to a recipe but like to change it. That’s called creativity.

21. I learned the hard way that maintaining relationships is more important than avoiding high telephone costs.

22. For a long time, I was “half-African” when it came to temperatures due to living in Africa for 20 years – I hated the cold, and everything below 26C/80F was cold for me, which did not mean that I liked it when it’s too hot, i.e. above 32C/90F. During the recent years in Austria, my body re-adapted to European temperatures. Luckily! Or I might be frozen stiff by now. 😉

23. I think that there are no black people, not even in Africa because even those called black are shades of brown. In my dreams, all people have the same skin color. I usually recognize a friend in my dreams not by their skin color but by their mannerisms.

24. I love worshiping God through songs and whenever possible like to express my worship through freestyle worship dance. Even though I had dreamed about it for many years, the final impetus for this type of worship came from a Fuller colleague and therapist, whose artist name was Picasso.

25. Last but not least – since the original meme I discovered that I am HSP (highly sensitive person, also called sensory processing sensitivity). It was really eyeopening and explains so much of what I knew about myself. I wrote a blog post about it which you can read here. (This replaces the random fact of painting, which is no longer any surprise.)

I would love to get to know my readers

If you have done a similar list, feel free to post the link below in the comment section.

If you have don’t, I’d ask that you post 1-3 random facts about yourself below in the comment section.

 

LKS Advanced Course 3 Homework.

LKS Advanced Course 3 Homework.

As usually after every compulsory course, we received at list of assignments to be painted at home until the next compulsory course. On the first day of the next course the leader of the academy, Prof. Hannes Baier, would take time to evaluate and critique our paintings in details.

Assignments.

This time we received the following assignments:

  • 1 Group of houses in a landscape
  • 3 Figural paintings in different techniques
  • 2 Portraits in color
  • 3 Concept paintings about abstract topics
  • 2 Sgraffito paintings

Topics to choose from.

For the concept paintings we had the following topics to choose from:

  • I and the Other
  • Today and Tomorrow
  • Lost Childhood

For the concept paintings I decided to do two versions of “Lost Childhood” – an African version and a European version, and one painting about the topic “I and the Other – our paths cross and part”.

For the Sgraffito paintings I chose two African motives – women who carry calabash on their heads. Calabash are made from the shells of a gourd. They are used for transporting milk and rice and many other things, and in the the kitchen they search as serving and mixing bowls.

These were the last homework assignments for the Basic Art Study Course in Painting and Graphics at Leonardo Art Academy Salzburg.

Painting Techniques of Schiele, Morandi, Modigliani and Cezanne

Painting Techniques of Schiele, Morandi, Modigliani and Cezanne

At the beginning of May I attended my last but one elective course of my art studies. I was already familiar with Cezanne and Schiele, but it was my first encounter with Morandi and Modigliani.

Excerpts from the course description:

All four artists are representative for a groundbreaking visual language, because all depictions and expressions are impartation, which means seeing “something” in the light of  the “other”.

Egon Schiele (1890 – 1918) aimed to show in his idiosyncratic work above all the “inner truth” through artistic means. In doing so he was always searching to show the psychological mood of the persons, may it be in an act, or in an existential “for itself” depicted object or landscape, in their fateful, individual being – as opposed to the mostly superficial “by itself” (per se) conventional representation.

Giorgio Morandi (1890 – 1964) prefers to deal with the magic of simple forms of things, which through their sobriety and reduction as well as their pastel tones, transform the common place objects into treasures.

Amedeo Modigliani (1884 – 1920) wants to depict a person in such a way that his basic, existential essentially seems to be “poured” into a body shape. Soft and flowing figuration, that often seems archaic, with almond-shaped often sightless eyes, turns the person into an exchangeable “transitory object” and art object.

Paul Cezanne (1839 – 1906) wants to see art as a “harmony parallel with nature.” He is deemed groundbreaking in technique and style for the avant-garde (fragmentation of contours, and colors, reduction of forms to geometrical object, alienation and glorification of the trivial, etc.), as the “caesura” and thereby “Father of Modernism”.

After a thorough introduction into the biography and painting techniques of these four artists each of us chose one artist for the practical application in our own paintings.

I was especially intrigued by the style of Modigliani, even though I could not go as far as painting the same kind of sightless empty eyes. Nevertheless, I tried to apply his other principles in my own paintings.

 

Talitha Cum – Resurrected to New Life – Cold Wax Painting

Talitha Cumi – Resurrected to New Life – Cold Wax Painting

Paralyzed with fear, a person is sitting in the cave. The path passes an abyss. The fear of falling into the abyss keeps her from reaching the summit and flourish. Does this sound familiar?

Angsthöhle * Fear Cave
Angsthöhle * Fear Cave

For everyone there is something else that paralyzes us and discourages us from reaching a goal: Fear of failure? Fear of ridicule? Fear of great responsibility? Fear of not being good enough? Fear of being excluded ? Fear of loneliness? Afraid of what others think of me?

God showed me this picture of my femininity huddled together, paralyze by fear, shriveled and half dead sitting in the dark cave. The abyss is called “false femininity” – women whose lives consists of pink ruffles and drinking tea from delicate china cups with outstretched little fingers. Out of fear of falling into these stereotypes, I did not dare to walk the path to flourishing as a woman.

Jesus called “Talitha cumi!” and resurrected me and my femininity to new life. I could only marvel at how many things automatically changed in the months following. They were an expression of my healing and the new life of femininity Jesus had called me to.

***

Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,”
which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” Mk 5:41

Painting techniques of Impressionism & Expressionism

Painting techniques of Impressionism & Expressionism

Another elective seminar of my art study program, which I had eagerly anticipated, took place in mid-February 2015. The topic was painting techniques of Impressionism and Expressionism and it was taught by Prof. Hannes Baier.

As usually, we first dived into the theoretical foundations of the topic, before moving on to the practical part. Since we had treated both movements during the compulsory courses of the study program, it was for me more a matter of deepening my understanding and implementing it.

I first worked on two paintings in impressionstic style, before focusing on painting expressively. The later seemed to come to me more easily, even though I find both very appealing. You will probably see both reflected in my future paintings.

I especially like how the two paintings of Old Vienna reflect the difference between Impressionism and Expressionism.

LKS Advanced Course 3

LKS Advanced Course 3.

In February I took the last but one compulsory course of my art study. There was plenty of theoretical teaching, but we also took time working on several thematic paintings in order to prepare ourselves for the final exam piece which we will produce during out last compulsory course.

Thematic Paintings

In preparation for the final exam piece we had opportunity to practice doing other thematic paintings. We received two topics to choose from and then produced a whole series of sketches in a first step. In a second step we painted the best of these sketches in a more elaborate way, before painting the final version on canvas in a third step.

Topics to choose from

  • Becoming and Waning
  • Ways of Life

In my case, I first decided to elaborate on sketch about “Ways of Life”. I painted it with watercolor (aquarell) on paper. When I discovered that the focal point was on the wrong side, I did a second pre-painting mirror inverted but with less detail. Eventually, based on this second pre-painting, I produced the final thematic painting with acrylic on canvas.

After that I also elaborated two sketches for the topic “Becoming and Waning” but only to the second step. Both were done with Gouache on paper.

 

LKS Advanced Course 2 Homework

LKS Advanced Course 2 Homework

After the Advanced Course 2 we received again a list of homework to be done at home until the third Advanced Course. This time the goal was to practice what we had learned about drawing the human body and face. Several of these drawings I had done and posted in the context of the 30in30 Challenge in January 2015. Here they are again all together.

Liste of Homework Assignments

  • 7 Portraits in pastels, coal, red chalk or pencil
  • 3 Act studies in various techniques
  • 1 Group of people
  • 1 Expressive / abstracted painting of people in space and nature
  • 1 Self-portrait with the help of a mirror in pencil, coal or red chalk
  • 1 Sheet with several hand studies
  • 1 Sheet with several foot studies

 

Painting techniques of Feininger and Kandinsky

Painting techniques of Feininger and Kandinsky

The topic of this course has tempted me already in 2013, but now in November 2014 I finally had the opportunity to participate. This was one of my elective seminars for the art study program at the Leonardo Kunstakademie. It was taught by Prof. Hannes Baier.

Lyonel Feininger (1871 – 1956) was a German-American painter and caricaturist.

Wassily Kandinsky (1866 – 1944) was a russian painter who had also lived for longer periods in Germany and France.

Both artists belong to the art movement of Expressionism and were part of those who first experimented with informal and abstract paintings. Both were founding members of the art association “The Blue Four“.

Originally Kandinsky was credited for creating the first ever informell (purely abstract) painting. Later, however, it was discovered that he had predated it (from 1913 to 1910).

As usually, we received a thorough introduction to these two artists and their painting techniques, before trying to apply these new insights in our own paintings. I had been quite taken by Kandinsky for a long time, and so it came as a surprise to realize that I am more leaning toward Feininger’s style.

In addition, during this seminar I discovered the fairly unknown painting technique with cold wax ointment. All three paintings, that I produced during this seminar, follow the slighlty cubistic style of Feininger and are done wit cold wax.

LKS Advanced Course 2

LKS Advanced Course 2

The fourth compulsory course of my art study at the Leonardo Kunstakademie Salzburg was all about drawing the human body, with a lot of act and portrait drawing.

Apart from the theoretical introduction we practiced by copying some old masters. This was the program of the first day. The second and third day we practiced act drawing from live models. The fourth and fifth day we focused on portrait drawing, first from live models and then each other.

Here are some example of this course work that hopefully won’t get me into trouble. 😉