2016/07/09

Making my own vegan ink.



I find such beauty in Chinese calligraphy and Japanese sumi-e, and not just aesthetically but in its meditative qualities. But ink practises require ink, and although I know that traditional inks are made with animal glues, there's very seldom any information on whether the product right now is in fact using the original recipe or modern synthetics. Even art supply sites are a little vague when it comes to ingredients and when they do specify, somehow I always manage to find information elsewhere that plants doubt. So, after much too much time searching for something I would want to use, I decided I might as well just make my own. And this is what I do:
I take some leftover charcoal from the grill (because I'm too frugal to buy the ready made pigments) and grind it down in a mortar (if I had a coffee grinder, I'd use that). Because my mortar is a wooden one, I switch to a flat stone version (actually the kind used for inksticks) once the pieces are a more managable size, to get the charcoal pigments as fine as possible. 


I then add some gum arabica, which is the plant based version of the traditional animal glue used to bind the pigment, and some distilled water.
Don't use too much binder, as it might make the ink brittle; you only need enough to keep the whole thing together. 
Also, it's easier to add a little water at a time, assessing the consistency as you go. 


Another interesting thing about making your own inks is that you can change the texture to your own tastes. What I like to do is to either add pigment to the finished ink and let it float there, or mix the charcoal powder in a bowl together with the binder and water - not using the mortar for the final mixing. What I get then is a lovely, clear wash with a dusting of very dark pigments running through it. Now, some of these experiments won't last very long but, for me, who don't sell my original pieces, it works great for adding interesting textures.





2016/05/21

One preachy vegan coming up! :)

So, alongside the corruption scandals and the attempt to ban the Catalán flag at Sunday's game, the decision by tho local government of Castilla y León to prohibit the killing of the bull at the Toro de la Vega festival must surely be the biggest news right now. 
But even though I was expecting anger, ignorance and even hate from those wishing to keep the festival as is, it still bowls me over when I hear arguments like "but we've always done this" or "if you don't like it, look away". 
Yeah, well, we've always had wars; women have always been paid less; up until very recently, children always worked. And dessert always comes after dinner.
But none of these things are laws of nature that cannot be broken. And actually, even they can be sidestepped a little if you try.
Argh, I know we're only at the start and most of the time nowadays I marvel at the positive steps the world is taking towards a kinder and more fair society. But then you hear people like this, who are not only ignorant (we were all horribly ignorant at one point; I wasn't born a vegan and still make so many mistakes, and there is still so much I don't know or don't know how to change it) but actually seem to be proud of it. They spend a year planning a murder by torture and not once stop to even think about what they're doing. Or maybe they did stop and think and decided to go ahead anyway, bwhich would make them some kind of psychos. Are they even thinking people at all or are they a bundle of nerves acting upon instinct? One wonders. 
But every time I see a commercial that's not gender specific, that shows a dog playing freely on a beach, a boy with long hair, a man who calls himself a feminist, a cat that's not just part of the furniture, an idea that makes you pause and maybe go ooh, those are tiny moments that give hope and makes you smile at the wonder of humanity. Positive thinking rules. Smiley face. ;)

2016/04/26

The personal journal of a moody middle-aged teen?


You know, I was never the "typical" teenager; I wasn't moody, I wasn't partying all night, I didn't do any of the things teens are supposed to do. Sometimes I'd try though, I'd roll my eyes at my parents, I'd buy posters and CD's and once, just once, I skipped class with a friend to go and watch a tennis game. But all in all I didn't really mind my parents and the posters were relegated to the back of the always open bedroom door, and some of those CD's were never even opened - I've always preferred to get my music through TV or radio, that way I'm force-fed styles and artists I wouldn't have bothered with otherwise. 
And I never had a journal. Well, I did, I was given one once, but never knew what to write, I filled it up with boring accounts of my daily life. You know, homework and the weather and acne. If I had an issue (mostly with my sister), I was more the type to yell and slam doors than sit down and write it out.
This blog was never meant to be a personal venting space, it was an effort to push myself to do art regularly and maybe even, eventually, as a side effect, become less asocial.
Then Illustration Friday came along and my blogging really took off, and then of course I started my Etsy shop. I've had such fun on this blog and on those of all the people I've met because of it. 
Now, this blog has always been personal, I've told you all sorts of little tidbits from my life, although I've tried to keep the bad parts to a minimum - because in reality, my life is pretty much perfect and any problems I have, are silly little things that are quickly forgotten. But lately, it's been less about my drawing, and more about my artistic woes, my wonderings and theories on my shortcomings as an artist; I've actually started to treat this blog as a personal, very egocentric journal. Maybe I'll get back to drawing one day, one day when Instagram is over ;)

But there is this one issue. The cats. Well, the cats never do anything, as always it's the humans. Most of you know I have cats of my own as well as those I take care of on the streets. And the street cats are causing me such heart ache, I sometimes (too often) think I don't want to care anymore. 
Honestly, I don't know how veterinarians and medical staff and humanitarian organisations manage an entire career of this stuff; I've been doing this for ten years and it's keeping me in a slight depression most of the time. The confrontations don't happen every day (guess what, today was such a day) but just knowing that there are people out there hating the cats and hating me (people I know, people I see every day), is too much sometimes. So much, so often, that I've actually decided to move back to Sweden. Not because Swedish people are such animal lovers - most of the people I have issues with here are Swedish - but because the situation is more manageable. Which of course has me feeling all sort of guilty for abandoning my colonies; I'm sterilising as many as I can and I know others are doing too; I'm starting to look for people to take over the colonies when I leave - most of the cats do get fed by others apart from me but it's not quite the same as actually taking care of them. And so I worry, and I fill my days with planning and thinking and worrying and drawing cute stuff to post on Instagram. And wishing the world, for all its wonders, were a better place.
I leave you with Kamilla (and Loki in the back), sleeping oh so soundly. :)

2016/01/27

Finding your own style. Or not.

So ... basically, I'm stuck with my painting. Which is why I haven't been updating the blog, and why I've been keeping myself busy doing doodling challenges - like the alphabet handlettering challeng on IG. It's been fun and lettering is something I've always wanted to get better at but never got around to practicing. I got to do that now! But, to be honest, I used it more as a way of relaxation after a day of butting heads with the canvas - watercolour is good that way, it does most of the work itself, I can just sit there and watch the water pooling.
So what's my problem, then? 
My problem is that I've still to find my painting style.
Or maybe my problem is that I've evolved out of my old style and am now finding myself in between.
It's also a problem that in the process of losing my groove, I seem to have lost even the ability to paint and every thing I do comes out horribly ugly.
Adding to this list of issues, is the fact that I want it all; I like all types of painting styles and all sorts of art forms and I want to try everything. But not everything comes out the way I want it to, and even when it does, I do it once and I get bored. I often get bored. Or frustrated. Or maybe the two are the same? Either way, what I make is boring. Probably because I'm bored. Or boring.
And don't tell me something sensible like 'if you're bored, you're not busy enough' because no, it is quite possible to experience conflicting emotions, thoughts or opinions at the same time - while working your fingers off. And when you do, I don't know about everybody else, but I get stuck. 

Drawing is what I've got to fall back on when nothing else works, and that's nice; without exaggeration, I think I'd be in danger of losing a few marbles if I didn't have that.
So, with that in mind, here's the final question: to be or not to be? 
Should I give up painting and work exclusively on my beloved doodles? 
Or do I keep fighting something that I'll probably never win?
I actually already know the answer to that one, but only because I know myself enough to know that even though I may not have the resolve to stick to one thing and see it through, I am forever curious. I want to see everything, I want to understand, I want to experience the borders of somebody else's mind. 
In short,
I want all of it.
Even if it means tasting only a little of each.

Crossing my fingers and toes, hoping to find my way soon (or later, if must be); until then, you can always see my daily doodles on IG, or via the slideshow here to the right. Good night and dream wonderfully! :)

2015/11/15

Illustration Friday: "Animal"

I know, I keep saying I'll post more but I never do. And I keep saying I'll fix the issue of me not being able to comment on my own blog posts, but I never get around to it. I could do with a good kick in the pants. Oh well, if I keep at it, this slump, too, shall pass. Right? Right. It will. I'm sure of it. :)

Actually, the first thing that popped into my head when I read this week's challenge, was Suede's "Animal Nitrate". Ahh, britpop, you lovely, delicious creature:

 
At the time - I realise now - I didn't understand the song at all; I just loved the music and didn't bother much about the lyrics. Though I doubt I'd have gotten it even if. ;)

2015/10/26

Illustration Friday: "Adventure"; ぼうけん bouken

"For the adventure, Doctor. Isn't that what life's all about?"
As the immortal girl said to The Doctor, in Doctor Who's "The Woman Who Lived". 
Of course, she was talking about robbery, and maybe that's what you resort to after a millennium of lifetimes.
But for us mortals, I think it's safe to say that even just a day out with friends is a small adventure, don't you think?
And until we find a way to predict the immediate future, I'd say every moment of every day is exciting enough - especially if one lives one's days in awareness. And who knows what alien you might meet at the local supermarket. :)

2015/10/18

Illustration Friday: Stuffed

Pretty much my wardrobe right now :-) 
I needed more room to stash away my papers and stuff I didn't want the cats to get their grubby paws on, so I confiscated the bottom half of the wardrobe. It's all in piles that have over very short time grown into a huge heap and taking one thing out crumbles everything. 
But I've been to IKEA and am now ready to get organised. ;-) 

On another note, my instagram-ing  seems to have stuffed up my ability to leave proper blog comments beyond smileys, heart-eyed kitties and thumbs-ups. I was just visiting fellow bloggers and even though I found their posts to be funny, cute and interesting, I didn't seem to be able to create a whole sentece with actual words.
I guess there's more than my own blogging that needs a bit of updating. :o