Saturday, December 31, 2011

How Many New Years Can You Celebrate?

A Happy New Year to you all!

Two of the Eight Immortals,
wishing you a long and happy
A lucky charm for wealth
There is a reason to celebrate New Year in most every season. Spring is the time for Asian traditions; the Chinese celebrate the second new moon after the winter solstice as their new year which will be on January 23rd, 2012. The Tibetans prefer the 3rd new moon, exept when they have a calendar shift. Cambodia chose the 14-16 of April to celebrate their beginning of the year. The Buddha statues are rinsed with clear water, signifying the purification of mind. In summer, no culture seems to see a reason for a change of years, at least I haven't heard of any.
Autumn seems to be a good time to begin something new. The harvest is in the barn, the Jewish tradition celebrates a new beginning.
Our new year might be based on an old European tradition of beginning the year with the return of the light: Winter solstice. The early Christian Bishops who saw their belief confronted with older pagan tradition decided to transfer the old holidays into Christian ritual. So they defined the return of the light as the birth of Christ, and the new year -- instead of a celebration of the Roman god Janus -- onto an in-cident one week after Christmas. Happy Circumcision of Jesus!
Resolutions? I never take resolutions on December 31. There is a test for them: Do they work at any time of the year? If not, they will certainly not work at this random time of year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Painting and Collecting

"Copper Mine", size approx. letter
Some bits of my color pencil collection
 Colour pencil on black cardboard works fine and is not as dangerous as gouache when being used in the living room. You might remember: I started embroidery and quilting to have something to do while my husband watches tv in the evening. We need to be together during the few hours of day when he is at home. -- My collection of color pencils is much larger, but I am ashamed to show the whole bunch. Stash collectors... Well, I'd probably not collect things that cannot be transformed into something else.
Painted Diary, Gouache
At night, I carry on with my gouache paintings. I use a small book -- about half letter size -- to create a painted diary with comments. 
The Black Waters of Loch Ness
African Dance
Merry Xmas, Mr Vassily!
Happy Boomerangs

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thinking of Christmas

(Caution: Filling's hot. This posting may contain sensitive thoughts and offensive ideas)

We bought small Xmas presents this year.
And we are not going to surprise one another.

My parents-in-law are, as we called it, a "mixed couple", a catholic and a protestant. My husband was raised catholic, but his scepticism goes far beyond. My father was a protestant vicar, I am a buddhist. My husband has a strange sense of humor, recently when I saw a light flying that probably was a distant helicopter, I said: "Look -- a UFO!" -- And his reply was: "Can't be, they don't fly on Shabbat."
The common base for us to celebrate?
If it was presents, in order to escape the religious quest, we'd be stuck in the material trap. Moreover, my p-i-l were not really happy with my husband's choice of a wife. I'm their guarantee that they are not having grandchildren. Hooray. Yet, they invite me for Xmas, as they have done for years now.
They know that J wouldn't go without me.
That's love! I love my husband, he loves me AND his parents. I love them and they love me -- in a strange way. With all the basic components for a conflict, we'll have a holiday in harmony. I know we will. We always make it. I cut back my urge to debate controversies. My p-i-l stop letting me feel I was the wrong choice ("she's nice as a person, but...").
Peace on Earth! Sometimes, it is a bit of work. But it works.

I wish you all very happy Holidays, whatever you celebrate, with whom and under whatever circumstances!

Monday, December 12, 2011

This Year's Berlin Trip

The train is approaching Berlin's central station
Berlin, near the central station
J and I spend a weekend in Berlin every December to celebrate our cousin's Birthday. Some parts of Berlin look really somber in this light, but as a Berlin weekend means a lot of walking and riding on suburban trains, I was rather glad that temperatures were above freezing point. In some parts, Berlin looks as if the war had ended 10 years ago, not 56.

Noon in Spandau (looks like evening, doesn't it?)
We reached the city at noon -- you wouldn't believe it if you see the Spandau picture left.
After all, we are on the same latitude as James Bay, Canada.

These old houses have double windows
"Israeru'no Miyage dessu"
 I gave an angel to H, our host's wife. It was made by Yael in Israel, and H who comes from Japan was enchanted by the angel's naive charms and bright smile. So here's the guardian of a huge flat in a 1900 house in Berlin's quiet suburb Friedenau which means "Meadow of Piece". You can see H in a pic below, drinking hot wine punch.

A star on top of each tent
A Berlin Xmas Tree
And off we went to the Xmas market on "Gendarmenmarkt" ("Police Square") which is a lovely ensemble of 18th century churches and other buildings. The buildings were heavily damaged during WWII, but have been perfectly reconstructed. The entrances are guarded by "Gens dArmes" in historical costumes.
J seems to be listening to a sad story
Here, we had "Gluehwein" -- hot wine punch --, and I had an egg punch which I found pretty strong. My husband gives a funny glance, but he is not shocked, just listening to the conversation. You can imagine how noisy the crowd was.
Smoking Gun
And I caught my husband smoking a cigarillo which he does once a year (or 2 onces, maybe), but never at home. He pretends to have a bad conscience, as you see.
There was a stage on the market where young girls performed a ballet with the music of Caikovsky's "Nutcracker", it was quite enchanting, but much too crowded to get closer. So I shot this picture with a zoom in very dim light, holding my camera above people's heads. Berlin is having a large number of emigrants from Russia (mostly Jewish), so there is some culture worth mentioning establishing again.

"Nutcracker" ballet

The market was so crowded that I did not even have a chance to see the shops -- or rather: I almost panicked, honestly. I made an appointment with my friends to meet me in a near café and fled from the crowd. There was a queue of 200 yards length, people waiting to get in, so it was getting even worse.

Brunch with a lot of kids
Next morning, we had a brunch with friends and kids, also Japanese friends of H, then J and I started for another item on our agenda, modern art.
"Berlinische Galerie" -- Museum of Modern Art
We took another suburban train to visit a museum by the old-fashioned name "Berlinische Galerie". After all these walks (and Berlin stations often don't have escalators!) we were done and tired, got back to our hosts to pick our luggage, had a good-bye tea, and they saw us to the station.

Some of you have requested to publish a video of my ukulele play, but I haven't got the technical means. I'm working on it.

P.S. A technical hint. I switched off the light box for my blog which can be done under "settings" -- in case you don't like it either.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thank You for Your Patience and a Happy Thanksgiving!

This is the reason why you haven't been reading from me for such a long time. Ever since my husband and I visited the most interesting music pubs in Edinburgh, I was obsessed by the idea of playing an instrument again (I gave away my guitars more than 30 years ago). So sorry I cannot show you anything fabricious. My life goes in phases. I will let you know when fabrics are back, and I won't be bothering you with other themes. And my gratitude of today goes to my husband, too, who gave me his old school ukulele a few weeks ago (which was waiting in the attic of his parents' house) and who sponsored the other beauty on the left side of the photograph. It is a preposed Xmas gift and has a lovely sound; yet, the older one is not discarded, but has its right by its crisp sound, similar to a banjo, and quick temper. Sure I play this song and others for J every night.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Age of Paint

Like some alcoholics who are periodic drunkards, I let my passion for paint run freely for the time being. The needle goes cold in these periods, but never mind, it will be picked up when the time has come. You may have wondered (if you saw the series I showed as a guest blogger on Rayna Gillman's blog) why I work mostly on black. Does this show that I'm in a critical phase of life or depressive? Well, I started painting on black when I was 3 years old and had my first paintbox. My access to black was positive. It provided the perfect background for dreams, it gave an amazig brillance to my favourite colors . The color cups in my paint box containing yellow, white and light green were the first to be empty. My mother generously provided a new color box, everytime one was up -- and they did not last long. I remember how thrilled I was when I received a larger paintbox with names of the colors for my 8th birthday! Indian yellow, raw umber, turquoise -- only apple pancakes could have pleased me more.
Painting on a black backgroud, you can make something rise ever so softly out of the dark, whereas on white it is in the limelight right away. I love the process of letting something secretly emerge from the depth of space, just like dreams and thoughts do.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blame it to Avira -- A big hug and thanks to Rayna!

Now I know why my blog got smashed -- it was too much guardiance from the anti-virus protection. I switched off the security settings, loaded my blog -- everything back to normal! -- and switched them back on. Looks good now -- hoping it is for good!

For the time being, Rayna Gillman was so kind to invite me as a guest blogger. I accepted her offer with gratitude. Please don't miss her work -- excellent prints on cloth and exiting quilts from an inspiring and warm-hearted artist.

Update. Looks like they found and repaired the mistake in the meantime.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

Handing a Quilt out to the Owner

My grandniece seemed to be satisfied with the quilt, although it looks as if she is redesigning it with her blanket. She is being assisted in her check-up by her "mow", as she calls the cat ("ow" like in "how"). Fortunately, there are a few mows on the quilt. She discovered them at once.
Having no kids of my own, I never knew how rewarding it is to create for them -- as long as they are very young and not starting to be critical, ha!
I took a stroll through the autumnal garden. Of course, we took apples back. The harvest was not brilliant, due to a sudden frost in spring that damaged the cherry blossom badly. My brother (Bente's Graddad) also grows veggies like rare potato and tomato sorts.
The grapes are ripe, too. The quinces had problems. These were sorted out. The good stuff will be processed into wine and jelly.

Firewood piles: Preparation for the coming months

Thursday, September 29, 2011

How to build a mobilé

After Chris suggested a tutorial, I thought how to show the way it works. The metal parts are black, the threads are red. Such bows can be bought, but also be made of wire or small rattan canes. Please start with the bottom part, building it up step by step. The most important part of the job is finding the balance, and this is something I can hardly explain.
The dangling objects are pieces of stiff cardboard I cut in geometrical shapes and painted with gouache, but I guess I'd rather recommend acrylics because the surface of gouaches is quite vulnerable.
... and the edges
better get painted, too!
In the second picture you can see the very easy method of building the objects. No glue is used to keep the parts in place. It is crucial to make a precise cut, not too thin, not too wide; if you cut only once, the space is too narrow, and the pieces will warp when being shoved into one another. If the cut is too large, they will drop apart. The width of the cut and the material thickness should be the same. -- Have fun making your own mobilé!

And if you do -- I can't wait to see your results. Please let me know!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hi folks, haven't posted for a long time, due to other jobs and fun like going to the chiro to make me walk properly. Don't we all have transitions of Saturn every few years? Being less mobile, I decided to work on my mobiles again. The left one is named "Beach Houses", the right one "Automatic Abstracts". They are made of stiff paper, painted with gouache paints. I made two small videos. Beach Houses and Automatic Abstraction.

By the way: During the past days I removed a few comments which were friendly but not personal, and I did not have the impression that you are interested in the posted content. You came from some advertising sites. Please, whoever you are, I appreciate comments if they show interest, but not if my visitors are trying to collect clicks. Such comments will be removed, sorry.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Dad was a preacher in
this church for a few years
The other day I visited my old home Bergedorf which is part of Hamburg since 1937, a fact which until today hasn't been accepted by old Bergedorfians who refer to Bergedorf, every time they mention the "town".

 I passed by the old church which rests on medieval foundations; what you see is from the 17th century or so. And there is this cute little railway station, opened in 1842. It is the oldest still existing station in Germany. It became quite important during the Blast of 1842 when a great deal of the homeless citizens were evacuated on this new vehicle. And a few yards away, there is the old freight-yard, built in 1906. The buildings don't have a function for traffic any more, they are living houses, and one of them, the magazine building, is an artist's studio. He is a friend of mine. I showed his work recently on my blog. He lives and works in the old building, sacrificing a lot of what we call comfort for his art. He was just painting a theatre costume for his son; my visit came as a surprise. He told me about an act of vandalism, committed against pieces of his art which are exposed outside the studio.
Artist Oliver Hertel

One of the sculptures had been beheaded, but he was able to glue it. Later, the guy came to him and confessed that he had been in a rage, due to drugs, and he was very sorry and promised Oliver to lend him a hand.

The "tree souls" stand on their pedestals or on a mirror, silently smiling. I had tea and a chat from heart to heart with my kindred spirit. I rarely see him, but I feel so close to him.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Huts and Palaces

 No recent postings on our favourite subject, so sorry; but I'm involved in a larger project, running around in Hamburg, collecting photographs of buildings, writing a new version of a website on building styles and history. I'm writing about the heritage of our town which was left behind after 3 catastrophes: 1. The Big Blast of 1842 which destroyed about a third of the old town*, 2. the bombing of 1943, consequence of the 3rd Reich, 3. the demolitions during "re"-building the town. Here, you can see the oldest existing storehouse on a canal, part of the "Deichstrasse".

And I visited our new "harbour city" which is being built on the old quais, no more needed for handling cargo which is done in the container harbour now. Flats here are highly desired, most flats are sold very soon, and the rent is about double what we pay in our green suburb. I saw exiting new architecture. So this is what keeps me busy at the moment.

*In May 1842, a fire broke out in a warehouse in Hamburg. As it was very warm and dry, the fire could not be stopped for a few days, killed 51 people, devastated a third of the town and left 20.000 people homeless. Heinrich Heine's uncle Salomon spent a large deal of his wealth on beneficial purposes, caring for the victims and giving donations for rebuilding the town and bestowing credits for bankrupt merchants.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Back to the Snake

You remember the Reptile Quilt, don't you? I put it aside thinking about the backing. And about a batting, if any at all. Then I found this golden brown Indonesian fabric that I bought for 40$ in Berlin on a flea market. It is about 2 1/2 yards length. So I took part of it and just basted it on the reverse of the snake quilt (red thread). I chose the olive golden Turkish nylon thread. As the front has a quilting of its own, I let most of the thread run inside. A waste in some way. The pictures don't really show how nicely the golden bits shine on the surface. I follow the lines of the pattern; so it is not as boring as I was afraid it would be; have been procrastinating this job for months.