Ellis Island June Assignment – making of

I haven’t posted for a while, because I needed to digest last month’s MATS Bootcamp assignment as the theme was quite controversial and got me a bit down. ‘A bit’ is probably an underestimation of how I felt last month. I felt downright depressed about the topic. And here’s why:

The Mini for June

The mini for the June assignment was Ellis Island. We were not given a particular focus. Rather, we were to research, observe, and create.

My online research resulted in me finding many portrait photographs of people who passed through Ellis Island between 1892 until 1954.

They looked exhausted, sad, annoyed or uncertain.

I did notice some interesting images of boats, ships, architecture and suitcases the passengers carried with them, but the intensity of the people’s faces did not let me go.

Deciding upon an approach

I decided to work on my portrait sketching skills:

Left: pencil sketch of an Italian immigrant on Ellis Island. Right: a modern-day refugee

I don’t sketch portraits very often (next to never, actually) and thought it to be a good opportunity practice.

But the week passed with a heavy feeling in my heart. I was thinking about the lives back then and the lives today being forced by circumstances to leave their current homes to venture out to new lands in hope of a better life.

The thing is, ‘Ellis Island’ still exists, just under different names and in various locations of the world. And all nice-talking aside, for some, Ellis Island was but a prison stop before they were sent back to where they came from.

This assignment reminded me too much of the current plight of people being forced to leave their home countries with their future in the hands of the judgment of officials and authorities.

From pencil sketch to line drawing with ink pen and gouache poster-style painting.

Some get through the human sieve others don’t. Who get’s to decide where we may or may not lay our hats? To me, it’s a painful topic.

In modern-day, plain and simple travelling of mine, I can say that I really dislike going through customs. Not because I’ve got anything to hide, but because from 7 out of 10 times, I’ll be stopped and will need to undergo additional screening. I keep blaming ot my ‘nose’. Whatever the reason for the holdup, I detest this kind of invasion of my privacy.

Cutting to a chase, admittedly, this topic struck a chord with me and I was left hoping the main June assignment would depart from Ellis Island and we’d be assigned something on a lighter note.

The June Assignment

As the second Monday of June arrived, it was clear, we were stuck with Ellis Island. But this time it was worse (at least to me)! The topic was hair or hairstyles of Ellis Island and all this needed to be designed for a mug. What?! And while many in the Bootcamp community saw the lace and shoes and bags and fashion and embroidery, I only saw the people (luckily I was not quite alone and had some empathisers).

Giving up?

In addition, the photographs of people passing through Ellis Island were wearing either scarves or hats. Not much hair to see! At this point, I was toying the idea of passing the June assignment.

Creative Block

But, I never cut and run without giving something at least a try. So, I rationalised: I like drawing lines. Hence, I like drawing hair, waves, tree structures and any kind of structure in which I can incorporate lines. But hair on a mug? I was stuck.

Finding inspiration

For inspiration, I decided to learn more about Ellis Island and watched a documentary. It also meant the second week of June left me with a heavy heart, too.

After watching the documentary and as I intuitively guessed, a very small amount of people just got to pass with no health checks, no screenings, no nothing. All the rest were held back and scrutinised with medical and lice checks, x-rayed, they even had to undergo questionable intelligence checks.

The methods used to judge over people reminded me all too much of the methods the Nazi Germans used in the second world war.

People were judged by their looks and facial features and deemed ‘stupid’, ‘imbeciles’, ‘idiots’ for the shapes of their eyes, eyebrows, noses and mouths.

However, while watching the documentary, I noticed a couple of people who stood out for their beauty despite the overall sadness.

Coming up with the Design

And so I decided to portrait them and use them in my mug design:

First Design

One of them was a woman undergoing a health check. To me, she was so graceful in this uncomfortable situation and she had these beautiful two, long, dark braids, beautiful hands and classical facial features:

Second Design

The second person I noticed was a woman posing in a group photo of nurses who worked on Ellis Island. She kind of had a Mona Lisa smile and a voluptuous figure. I liked how her hair got a bit messed up by the wind during the photo shoot:

Third Design

The third (two) person(s) who caught my attention was a man and a woman. Obviously, they had just met after a long time of no see. They could have been related or a couple, that was not clear. But they were immensely happy to see each other. Their embrace was so heartwarming and emotionally intense:

Fourth Design

Lastly, I noticed a couple of children on Ellis Island for their expression of curiosity, fear, and annoyance and the overall innocence they radiated:

The Mood Board

I had already designed the mugs before the mood board was published.

Colour palette

The colour palette I had chosen for my design was luckily pretty much in tune with the mood board suggestion.

Lettering

However, what was added to the assignment was the need to add lettering in form of quotes of strong women.

This did not fit so well with my design and so with no time to redesign, I decided to add some tuned-down lettering with phrases around having or getting together for tea.

Are you still with me? Thank you, I feel honoured and hope you will not be disappointed if sticking with me to the end. So far, you’ve probably also noticed that the June assignment really got me brooding and thinking. And, believe me, you’ve just read a fraction of the controversy happening in my head.

Overall design and symbolism

I used symbolism, to be able to summarise on a mug all the turmoil in my mind the assignment caused during the assignment. Yet, I wanted to keep the design timeless, clean, clear and simple so that it could be enjoyed out of context, too.

The golden circle:

Can be the moon and at the same time the sun. Standing for activity and passivity. There are times in life we can take action to improve our situation, and other times we need to let go and move with the flow.
Gold symbolises warmth and abundance.
It stands for the wealth of our personality shaped and moulded over time and linked to a certain culture and its traditions.
At the same time, it stands for our hopeful vision for a better and abundant future.

The waves:

Water stands for emotion.
While waves stand for the turbulence of our thoughts, the noise in our minds as well as outer circumstances.
They also stand for long-distance travel, adventure and discovery.
Blue stands for our ability to be in tune with our intuition and our ability to communicate.

Lettering – all about connecting:

I kept the content really light and simple and chose a layout making the lettering only noticeable upon a second glance.
I’m a tea person, and to me, tea is a culture, a way of living.
Good tea cannot be rushed either in the brewing nor in the enjoying part of tea. Sharing tea moments with others is a wonderful way to connect.
I also kept thinking of the beautiful tea ceremonies of Japan (I’m quite fond of the simplicity of Japanese art).
Tea brings humans together and stands also for moments of rest and tranquility. I love tea time. All who know me well know of my love for spiced tea with milk: chai.

I’ve recently discovered Kashmiri chai! My goodness, what a delight. I’m hooked! Ok, back to – what was I writing? Ah yes:
Basically, you can look at the lettering as my personal engraved tea-time wishes that have meaning written between the lines:
No matter where, no matter what: may we humans learn to take moments in time, to connect and share.

Aaaaand finally, if you haven’t left me yet and are still reading, thank you so much! I truly appreciate it! As a Thank You, the first reader (with this tremendous reading endurance) to contact me at: bbluesnowflake[at]gmail[dot]com will receive a signed print (including a Kashmiri Chai sample with brewing instructions).
Please use ‘Ellis Island’ as subject of the email and include your choice of design 1, 2, 3, or 4 (according to the chronological order the designs are listed above in the post).

For all those who did not get lucky, the designs are available in my Society6 store: as artprints  and as beautiful mugs, (currently there is a 20% off and free shipping until tonight midnight PT).

Last but not least, if you have any questions or some thoughts to share, please leave a comment below, I’ll be happy to connect.

With Love
xoxo

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Time

Doing a little writing challenge and combining it with my daily sketch for 60 days.

I’ll be writing everyday at least 500 words (unedited) for 31 days. Both challenges are intended for the extra exercise and routine.

Of course I am also wishing to create engaging content for you, too. But please forgive me if I’m just rambling on.

As for today, it marks the third day of my daily sketch and the second day of the writing challenge.

conceptoftime
Time: gouache and gold ink; daily sketch day 3/60

 

I did not intend to paint clocks. And, had I realised what a terribly complex topic writing about the concept of time would turn out to be, I would have painted some simple blotches to which I could have wrote just anything! But I stuck it through, for better of for worse. Tomorrow I’ll need to come up with something simpler to write about. 😉


Time (31 day writing challenge 2/31)

The last couple of years, I’ve had a feeling that time is passing really fast. And I mean, really fast! 2016 felt not different. Is time flying by? Or am I flying with time?

Accepting age as a factor for a fast time perception alone does not satisfy me at all. I really dislike when people blame ‘whatever’ on age. But I’ll give the age argument a fair chance and contemplate its influence on my personal time perception:

Let me travel back to when I was a toddler. I barely remember anything in the first couple of years of my life. Or let’s phrase it differently; I’ve go no memory of time related sensations. I’m guessing, as a child, I still did not have enough awareness to add the time factor into the experiences I was making. Early on in life, my only concern was to quench my thirst or hunger, poop, rest or explore this strange new place I found myself in and be as cute as possible to make sure the ones feeding me (my parents – a concept I did not understand in the beginning of my existence) will continue with keeping me warm, dry and well fed.

Around the age of three and four, memories started to kick in and got archived. Gradually there were more things to remember and more things to look forward to. A great experience wished to be repeated and not so great ones, well, avoided. And before I even realised it happening, I was stuck in either past memories (good or bad) or dreaming or fearing the future, disassociating myself from the present.

I feel that my ability as a child to be more in the present did not stem from my age as such, but from my disinterest in the past and the future and an in-the-moment concentration on what I was experiencing. The more I grew into the time concept of past and future, the more I was jolted out of the ‘timeless’ experience of the now into a decelerated perception of my passing days and existence.

As I grew older troubles and worries derived from challenging circumstances made life harder. Worries in particular are like chains that couple past traumas with future angst. It’s like an endless loop in coding or a dog chasing its tale. There is no clear beginning nor visible end to worries. Looking back I can say that worries decelerated my time perception massively.

Until, well, because I set upon a path to consciously return to the present moment, which in my case would be by means of yoga and meditation I was able to break out of the endless loop and feeling of stagnation.

Time can pass quickly when we are engaged in something we enjoy, but it can also pass quickly while we are engaged in so much ‘doing’ that we miss out on the ‘being’, which in my opinion is also a lesser than desirable state of being. There needs to be a balance of movement and stillness within time.

Thinking about it, from a happy person’s perspective life will not seem much longer than a blink of an eye. For a person who is suffering, life is an endless endurance and time seemingly stands still.

The thing is, circumstances cannot necessarily be influenced directly or even changed. Life will always bring its fair share of challenging situations. There will always be things do that I do not enjoy so much. But, whatever the circumstance, I can always decide to be happy and engage in life with utmost awareness and aliveness to make the best of the present moment and fly with time.

Time should not just fly by nor should it stand still. We should fly with time and make best use of it.

 


For now, I just want to fall into bed!

Good night and sweet dreams.


Catching up with #colour_collective: Rose Quartz, Viridian, Deep Lilac, Naples Yellow & Cool Grey and #MeetTheCCArtist

To fill my creative well*, 2016 began with a thorough detox in a contemplative and meditative manner.

Meanwhile, the desire to catch up with and rejoin the wonderful #colour_collective community arose and I’ve decided to combine all that I have missed out on so far in one image:

Catching up with #colour_collective: Rose Quartz, Viridian, Deep Lilac, Naples Yellow & Cool Grey and #MeetTheCCArtist
Catching up with #colour_collective: Rose Quartz, Viridian, Deep Lilac, Naples Yellow & Cool Grey and #MeetTheCCArtist
Before #colour_collective’s 2016 sequel commenced on 22 January, #colour_collective artists came together on Twitter to introduce themselves through #MeetTheCCArtist on 15 January, 2016.

Something definitely worth checking out on Twitter, in case you haven’t already – lovely art works!

Hm, while writing this post, I’ve just noticed that thanks to my #MeetTheCCArtist contribution, I am a step closer to adding an ‘About’ page to this blog.

Wishing all a lovely weekend!

***

(*see Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artist’s Way’)

Under The Silvery Sky

For this evening’s #colour_collective colour Silver, I was inspired by the current silvery sky and the first few snowflakes that silently floated down onto the streets a few days back.

'Under the silver sky' for #colour_collective’s colour Silver
‘Under the silvery sky’ for #colour_collective’s colour Silver: black pigment liner 0.1, water colours, gouache, frisket, mixed media paper made from 90% bamboo fibre and 10% rag, 24cmx32cm, 265g/sqm

 

SilverThere is something quite magical about first snow.

I have observed myself and others returning to a childlike state of being when these leight-weighted, celestial dancers manifest from the sky.

Any thoughts that might have been troubling the mind fade away in admiration of these architectural miracles.

In their presence, time seems to stand still and – even if just for a mere moment – much of the ongoing chatter within the mind simply ceases.

 

Next week’s colour for #colour_collective is yet to be announced.

For more information see @Clr_Collective and @PennyNevilleLee (#colour_collective creator) and do check out the wonderful illustrations that were posted so far.

Wishing all a lovely and mind-chatter free weekend!

Natarajasana

Another yoga-themed illustration for this evening’s #colour_collective colour Robin Egg Blue.

Natarajasana for #colour_collective’s colour Robin Egg Blue: black pigment liner 0.05 & 0.1, water colours, mixed media paper made from 90% bamboo fibre and 10% rag, 24cmx32cm, 265g/sqm
Natarajasana for #colour_collective’s colour Robin Egg Blue: black pigment liner 0.05 & 0.1, water colours, mixed media paper made from 90% bamboo fibre and 10% rag, 24cmx32cm, 265g/sqm

Robin_Egg_Blue

Not sure if I will ever make it to Mount Kailash, but it certainly is on my list of things to do some day.

Mountains in general fill me with awe and reverence.

But when it comes to traveling to Mount Kailash, I get the distinct feeling it must be an extraordinary and very rewarding undertaking.

Although, I did read that traveling to Mount Kailash can be quite a challenge on a physical as well as on a mental level.

After all, we are speaking about altitudes between 4600 meters and 5500 meters – I reckon it is wise to be well prepared.

As for now, an easier undertaking – an illustrated journey to Mount Kailash.

 

Next week’s colour for #colour_collective is yet to be announced.

For more information see @Clr_Collective and @PennyNevilleLee (#colour_collective creator) and do check out the wonderful illustrations that were posted so far.

Wishing all a peaceful and happy weekend!

Ardha Padmasana

For today’s #colour_collective colour Rose Quartz another yoga-themed illustration:

Ardha Padmasana for #colour_collective’s colour Rose Quartz
Ardha Padmasana for #colour_collective’s colour Rose Quartz: black pigment liner 0.1, water colours, mixed media paper made from 90% bamboo fibre and 10% rag, 24cmx32cm, 265g/sqm

 

RoseQuartzCCInitially, I was tripping over the name Rose Quartz in combination with the given lilac-like sample colour (left).

I use many Rose Quartz rocks on the balcony and inside the home.

All these rocks are pinkish, which explains why I found the lilac of the sample colour for Rose Quartz a bit irritating.

However, after some research I discovered that there is a type of Rose Quartz that can have this lilac tone and it is called Lavender Rose Quartz.

The Rose Quartz stone is supposed to support ‘unconditional love’ and have the ability to open the heart’s energy centre.

Whereas Lavender Rose Quartz, with its purple hue, is said to be a little stronger in its protective nature – might just add some to my quartz collection as its colour is very pretty, too.

 

 

Next week’s colour for #colour_collective will be announced tomorrow.

For more information see @Clr_Collective and @PennyNevilleLee (#colour_collective creator) and do check out the wonderful illustrations that were posted so far.

The text around the illustration translates to: ‘May all beings in all the worlds be happy’.

So in this sense, wishing all a happy weekend!

 

2015 – a whole lot of ‘news’

2015 is starting off with a whole lot of ‘news’. New job, new people, new clothes, new flat, new studio, new and improved habits, new things to learn, new colours, new styles, new insights, new ideas.

Interestingly, internally it’s calm waters, at least, so far.

One of the tricky things in life, regardless whether we are going through difficulties or pleasantly exciting times is: to keep equanimity of mind and to stay focused on ones goals.

It’s so easy to waver. Wavering seems to be a very human characteristic, but with awareness we can gently put ourselves back on track.

So, as for 2015, January will be dedicated to moving and setting up my studio, whereas February will hopefully be the beginning of completing my art project ‘From the Old to the New Paradigm’… got so many images in my head that wish to be materialised on canvas!

In between completing my painting project and working as an editor and transpersonal life coach I wish to further develop illustrations of and (maybe) stories with the three children (whose names I haven’t given birth to, yet) including the dog named Archi and the cat named Medes.

But no matter what, a central part of my daily activities shall be meditation and yoga and a balanced diet with a moderate but efficient life – work rhythm.

Also, I shall remind myself to laugh a lot, to stay positive, to learn, to have faith, to trust, to stay focused, and – to create, create, and create some more.

With this, I say good-bye for now to retreat to an Epsom bath, to meditate and to get a good night’s rest, for tomorrow, a new flat awaits to be ‘feng shuid’ to its fullest potential!

A big and heartfelt thank you to all of you out there, which dropped by, followed, liked, commented, shared and enjoyed babyluesnowflake’s posts so far! I hope to be back soon.

Namaste
Good night – and
the sweetest of dreams

Advent Calendar December 2014

For a couple of years I’ve been thinking about creating an online advent calendar, but never came around to do so.

Now that December is coming close so soon again, I’ve decided to do at least a ‘blog advent calendar’:
For each day of December leading up to Christmas I wish to post a winter-theme sketch, or drawing, or illustration, or comic, or painting, or poem, etc..

I hope you will enjoy following this advent calendar as much as I will enjoy creating its content!

As for now, this is a small collage of my recent winter character development sketches:

Winter character development: pencil (3B, 4B) sketches in my a6 sketchbook
Winter character development: pencil (3B, 4B) sketches in my a6 sketchbook