Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The Acorn story, part 2

Early october

The larva has left the building and made a small hole on its acorn, two of the others where sprouting. Funny, the sprouts were in different colours, one was greenish and the other pink. And they were actually not that exciting to paint – how do one depict a short stump with no shape satisfying?


Things then happened very fast over a short period of time. Three of my acorns sprouted but the rest of the lot did nothing. The sprouts grew very fast, you could actually see the changes from one day to another. The sprout looked very different on all three, they are individuals already on this young age. 


Now it was time to find small glass containers. I had one small jar that suited well, and I had recently found out that the interior design company Svenskt Tenn had a small acorn vase for sale, only 12 cm in height. 
Lucky for me there was a shop here in Göteborg who sold them, so I bought two!

They are very pretty and look so nice on the window sill, I think they could function very well for small flowers as well.

As soon as I put the acorns in their vases they started to grow real roots – fast!


Time went by and everyone relaxed but the roots grow and grow. It has almost gone 2 months and I was wondering if there should be any oaks germinating?
I made small harness out of paperclips for them, since I thought that they might needed more air underneath.


But suddenly it happened! On one of the acorns there was a small green bump pressing its way out. I’ll be watching very carefully over the next days. 

3 days later and it is still fighting to get out!


Stretching up up up, it has really started to grow now. I painted this over two days, and the green small stem had changed over the night.

Its a whirlwind of roots in the vase. It is actually only one thread but it is hard to tell where it start or where it end and the fact that it is only one is a little hard to grasp. So I don't even tried to draw and paint it ... :-)

It will be exciting to follow this little one on its journey to become a tree. Challenge number one could be to keep it out of harms way of the cat. The cat has never tasted oak.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

The fall of growth

Working in series is something I never really think of when doing the same object over and over again. But I read from time to time about artists that honor the method of working in series and the outcome of that work.

Now I have done 3 pieces of Rhododendron leafs, after that 3 pieces curled up leafs – and then I needed one more painting so I decided to do 3 pieces of acorns. After the drawing and composing of these 3 last items I realized I was working in series and that the pictures sort of become better and better in composition and the overall thinking around them. Actually, the Monday after the start of the acorns all I was thinking about on my day-job was the acorns and how to proceed with them. Something really started to happen.

Everything started in September with the 30 day challenge. A new object every day, and sometimes the same object a second or a third time. Speed was required since I for the most time only had about 2 hours to work on.

And now this, a series in 3-part pieces. Still there are only objects of the same kind in every piece, but I start to feel that it is time to change that. So now I have to go out and collect some pine needle. They don’t match the acorn as it comes to habitat, but there is not much growing going on beneath an oak. The small mushrooms I found earlier is now gone. But there could be a pine beside …, and the needles seem to be manageable items to start with.

Some days later 

I left the apartment in the quest of finding some pine needles. But first I went to the oaks to see how it really looked beneath them.
I strolled and kicked up leafs, there are really a lot of leafs under an oak, not one or two layers – but lots and lots. To my surprise all of a sudden two tiny tiny white mushroom connected to a little stump of a branch showed up. I was so happy and picked them carefully and put them in the jar I had with me. I found something growing under an oak J

A few steps away the ground laid bare, no leafs, but instead a lilac mushroom and then a brown … They both went into my jar, happy me! I was now satisfied and decided to go and look for the needles. But only a few steps away there was as a big gathering of yellow mushrooms! Now my jar was full.

Later I found pine needles, but it was not that easy as I first thought. There were some big pines, but they had different kind of needles – far too big. I was after the more normal Swedish style, and they are about 5 cm long.

I had planned to finish the last one of the curled leafs this day, but was so happy over my new findings so I started right away with acorns, little mushrooms and needles. 3 hours later my face was hurting since I had concentrated far too hard on the task, and had closed my teeth a little too tight for a little too long time.

The time is running and Monday comes always too soon. I’m already waiting for next weekend.
Later I finished the painting and I’m very happy with the outcome. Next step in evolution for me J

The weekend after

I have now finished my last leaf paintings so now I have spent this day painting my yellow mushrooms in my sketchbook. Maybe I include some of them in the next acorn painting, but they are so big so they will probably take over the whole scene!

I haven’t painted from photos that much before. I miss holding the items in my hand, twisting and turning it round to find the best angel and to see the hidden parts. Now I have to rely on the photos I took a week ago, and do the best from them. But I realize that if I’m going to take photos to paint from – I have to take lots of photos!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

An October walk

On a rainy day I took my bike to the recreational area that also holds my Dump. This time my bike did not follow me all the way up, I parked it at a safe distance.

As I approach the Dump they immediately showed up and make a stand, the Giants.  

I took another way then I usually do. This slippery narrow path is another down hill course for the mountine bikers – but there were none out biking today. Instead there were lots of dog people, and that made sense since it was raining cats and dogs from time to time.

On the flat top of the Dump all the high grasses where moved down. The mechanical things at the left hand side is the ski lift. The very tiny dot in the air in the middle just above the forest is a falcon, we saw it this summer also and it is very busy catching preys. Birds of prey are still quite rare in this region of Sweden so we are always very happy when we see them!

And of course, the crow is as ever also present. Keeping an eye on its realm.

I started to walk over the hill inspecting what was left of the summer. And as expected, there were very little left J

The rose shrubs were all covered whit shiny red rosehips, but some of them looked as they were trying to slip out of the red. Are there maybe some insects that do that, or birds?

I had sturdy clothing on so I walked out in the not-so-mowed area where the thistles grow. They were all very wet and miserable and also broken. Summer is definitely over for them. I also found what was remaining of the Iris.

I took some small pieces with me home and later painted them.

Further down the slope I entered the Giant Hogsweed forest. It was an unreal feeling to walk in amongst them. All grey-brown and totally whitered and broken, but on the ground fresh green new ones emerging.

And they are big!!!

 Crashing down.


The artist with a block …. J

I did a not so good sketch of some Giants, I have to practice a lot more on them before showing. And it is not a very pleasant experience painting outdoor when it rains.

Besides the birds we saw, the wildlife also offered one roebuck and something squeaking in the grass when we walk to cloes. Some small rodent of some kind. And lots of dogs.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The Acorn story, part 1

Quercus robur – almost not connected to My Dump at all, but I’m sure it grows some small oaks nearby….

It all began yesterday, the last day of July 2014, with a museum visit (The Dump as Art). I didn’t know what to expect but found myself looking at an unsorted mess of glasses, flasks and all sorts of glass containers. Each and every one of them had an acorn or a chestnut on top, and many of them was proudly sprouting green leafs.

It was about life and death and of ethics and morality in scientific research. You could adopt one of the acorns to keep and take care of, but they were all taken.

So now I’m waiting for the autumn to kick in so I can collect my own acorns and place them in little glass containers and watch them reach for the water – start to grow – start a life.

After the museum experience I started to look after oak leavings on windy days. This lovely green leaf and acorns was collected in August. The acorns where bright green and had a swollen appearance, full of life indeed.

Oak is rather common in parks in Göteborg, so I have many places to collect acorns. Regarding the rest of Sweden the oak grows in approximately a third of the country, below Limes Norrlandicus, a biogeographical border that’s goes through Sweden.

In the middle of September the acorn started to look more mature and got a more long-spun figure. I adore the little ones that never made it to a full acorn but still hang on to its elder brother or sister. They just have to be depicted!

And a week or so later it was time to collect, the acorns started to fall to the ground with or without their caskets. When you start to really look under an oak you will see there is a lot of acorns from this season and seasons before. And there are lots and lots of caskets lying around. They seem to withstand weather and winter well.

I put the acorns in water to kickstart the producing of the sprout, and today was the happy day. Some of my acorns have started to sprout! You can see one at the far right hand side of the saucer.

The white thing at the left hand side was a tiny larva which apparently had lived inside one of the acorns. Really cute but I had to say goodbye to it. My apartment is not a good living space for it. 

I have googled which insects’ larva live inside an acorn, I think it’s a Curculio glandium. 

 Now I’ll watch my little acorns produce rootlets. I have to get nice glass containers to put them in. Do they want to be placed in the windows facing west or in the one facing north? So many decisions …

I’ll be back with reports about the progress from an acorn on a saucer to a small tree in a pot-

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The last hot day of the summer

 On the last hot day of this very hot Swedish summer I finally managed to take myself and my bike to the Dump - to see how it was doing and what I have missed.

I think I have missed the most of everything! But that doesn’t matter since I’m mostly interested in the flowers when they start to fade!

All the grass starts to yellow, the cloves are brown furry little balls, the thistles are starting to spread their seeds, the deer’s are fully grown and not afraid of the humans and it was to hot even for the mountibikers and occasionall runners. So I had the place almost for myself.

I picked some Iridaceae sibirica seed heads and a tiny branch from the rose bush to take home, and later that day I did these sketches.

It was first on the third attempt whit the iris I found the right colour. Three (at least) layers of Burnt Sienna, carefully lifting out the highlights. Then I mixed Brunt Sienna with a little Prussian blue, the mix was thick and reminded of chocolate sauce – and with that I finished the whole thing. The first attempts I ended with a thin layer of Permanent Rose, but with this I didn’t felt it was necessary.

The rosehips are just a rough sketch, I had planned to do more with them but the next day they were to wrinkled.

After doing these sketches of the seed pods I jumped in on a full scale painting, which I’m very happy with!

My walk over the hill
This is what it look like from afar, my Dump. 

In winter time it is a ski slope and the installations on the top are the ski lift – but I think it looks like an art installation from this angel. You can walk up that way, there are a path because many others walk and run there. 

But I prefer the “road” on the other side, mostly at path that too, but it is possible to drive something 4-wheel (or ride a mountinbike) up that way.

The path is monitored by one or two crows, they live nearby and like to sit by this post. Today was a very hot day and the crow just turned its head a bit when I passed beneath. Just to keep sure I wasn’t up to any fishy business.

Along the side of the path up the hill grows Giant hogweed.

Lots of them …

I don’t know how, but someday I must draw and paint them, preferably when they have withered and look like this one. But so far they simply are to big. I have a graphit drawing going on of a part of a stem, when you look close they are very intricate and fun to draw. But it has to take its time.

On the top they had mowed the grass, but had left some Tanacteum vulgare (Tansy) by the sign that points out the mountinbike path. Since I had pushed my bike up the hill, I think it counts as a mountinbike …? Or not. I can go downhill without problem anyway … :-)

The rest of the area looks like this. Most of the flowers are over, the clovers are just brown little balls and not much else is flowering. The place is windy and exposed to all sorts of weather so I think that affects the growing habit and make the period of blooming flowers shorter.

I started to examine the few rose bushes which are growing on the southwest side, and they had a few flowers left. They looked very fragile and I left them on the bushes.

On the west side I found a number of bushes I never had seen before, I took a twig home and found out that it was a Cotoneaster horizontalis.  Never heard about it before, I don’t have a garden of my own, but after some Google searches I found out that it is very common ….

This is the Dump at its best, anything pops up here!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Dump as art

Sometimes things just happen, so today the Dump came to me instead of me going to my dump. But this time as an art exhibition at Göteborgs Konsthall – Naturum - 2014.06.13-2014.09.21

But how?

Can this be art? Maybe not if art only is there to please the eye. But if art is there to ask questions it definitely can.

This huge pile (3 meters high) consist of leftovers from sales of ornamental flowers that wasn’t sold. The question the artist states is the sense of repeatedly buying new flowers and discard the old one, our planet is not an endless resource. 

My own immediately response to these and other questions is going back in my memory to when I moved in to my recent flat. In the garbage rooms I found a Ficus which had a severe outbreak of lice, and the owner had simply thrown it away. 
I took it up and placed it in the tub and gave it a good shower and an even better cut – both to the foliage and to the roots. This spring, 17 years later, I had to cut it back again since it thrives way to good J

But even if it is a rotting pile of dead flowers, nature is unstoppable. When I looked closed I found these small sprouts.

I’m not saying that we should stop buying flowers. But we can consider our choices and choose the ones we know we most likely will try to keep alive as long as possible. During the SBA diploma course I bought lots of flowers – and two of them are still here and are not going away soon.

Another part of the exhibition looked almost like a laboratory of some crazy scientist.

This artist had started to collect acorns and chestnuts, and then out of a whim she started to put them in water in various glass containers. All of the small plants are also hanging in threads (which is not visible in my pictures) and are in that way all connected to each other. 
There are also coloured glass in between and the artist is going to observe how the different light affects them. The questions this artist ask is for instance the ethics and morality in scientific research. For me this installation mostly brought a desire to sample some acorns myself …!

I also now must by a flower press!

One wall was devoted to pressed flowers, and of course it was again the ornamental flowers we buy for our own pleasure that was is focus.
The descriptive text under the specimen don’t state where the flower was gathered, but instead from which producer it originate, and then which importer and last which supermarket who sold it.

But, they are beautiful. So I am a little confused at this point in the exhibition. What do I really think and feel about this commerce?

There were also some sculptures and other installations that were harder for me to comprehend. 
But the video installation that showed six laptops by a lake that randomly surfed the internet until their battery died - but the nature around them still remained unchanged – made sense to me.

In one room there where a video of one single Streptocarpus going around on a conveyor belt in an otherwise empty greenhouse. It looked like it was searching for friends or relatives, reminded me of the initial scene of the movie Wall-E. One lonely sad flower … 

On the wall there was this collection of family photographs.

One can at least say that we have a complex attitude towards nature. We want to preserve it. To keep it as it is, so we can travel there when we need it. But in the same time we do our best to destroy it, often in the sake of making money.

I really liked being in the exhibition, I felt calm and relaxed. I wanted to go back.
But now I mostly feel sad – why are the human race so eager to make profit out of everything?

Sunday, 13 July 2014

An artist block, or am I just lazy

The greatest block for me is my day-work. I am not that fortunate that I can make a living of my art so I have to go to work. I like my job, it is creative in a matter of speaking. But most of the time I’m to tired to do any art-work when I’m home at the evenings. And of course, I need to do some physical exercises to stay satisfied with myself – and that also take time ….

I know, just bad excuses.

So when the weekend comes everything needs to be planned, the grocery shopping is done and all plans are drawn and there should be plenty of time for me to sit down and paint. But first, oh this Saturday is so sunny and nice so we just have to take our bikes and go for a ride. Since they are road bikes the ride tends to span over many kilometers.  We settled for a route about 60 km long, but - that road looks nice, let’s see where it goes. And then we stopped for coffee and cake, and then a bath and an ice cream. We arrived home rather late and the sun had been shining all day so now my head was beating of headache. So for one beautiful day on the road I had to pay with one day of migraine – and of course no painting.

I am a bad planner.

So where did the dump go? Oh, it got to be where I left it. But all the sketching and studying I planned to do this spring and summer has not happened yet. Lucky for me it will stay where it is, and I’m sure that late summer and autumn also are going to be interesting to watch.

I just have to find time to get there.

But am I not doing anything? Yes, a little.

I’m working on a bigger piece where this dried Astrantia is one part. For the moment there are three participants on the paper, but it can most likely change when the Astrantia is done. A painting that is evolving for each part I put on it.

Yesterday I picked these Samaras (Maple fruit) – and I really need to find time to paint them before the colour is gone… They are great for small graphite studies as well.

And after all I manage to do a leaf study today, it’s from a Hibiscus. It was a huge effort, the Tour de France is on TV ….

“If you can paint a leaf, you can paint the world” John Ruskin