The Day Mikki Had Gone Lost

Sketch (9/6)

This week, I neither had the time to post my writing nor my illustrations.

So here is a follow-up of Tuesday’s sketch and writing:

Finding Mikki
Finding Mikki

 

 


The Day Mikki Was Lost (31-day writing challenge 7/31) (1186/500)

We once lived in a four-family building.

I was good friends with the neighbour’s children and we used to play on the backside of the building’s premises. Mikki would sit on the kitchen balcony and observe us play.

‘Mikki,’ I would call her sometimes, ‘all well up there?’ and she’d meow in response. Not sure if that represented a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. I guess it was closer to a ‘no’ when soon after she’d walk along the narrow copper ledge that connected the balcony with the roof terrasse to chase birds instead of us.

It made me nervous watching her balance along the ledge and she did fall a couple of times. Luckily, we were always around to witness her fall and able to attend to her immediately. Apart from a few scratches she always remained unharmed as she usually would fall on the side of the grass patch below.

One late November, I came home from school looking for her. After searching indoors without success, I went to search on the kitchen balcony. When she was not there, I looked through my bedroom window that was facing the rooftop terrasse. With no luck there either, I went to the side of the living room and the living room balcony, as she sometimes would wait in front of this balcony door to be let back in.

I started to get a bit nervous. I went to my neighbours and asked if she possibly entered through their balcony door (Mikki had free access to both our balconies). Unfortunately, they hadn’t seen her, either.

At this point I was more than worried, I was terrified suspecting that she could have fallen off the roof.

I went upstairs to the old lady living above us. She remembered seeing a cat downstairs at the main entrance but shooed her away as she did not recognise her to be Mikki! ‘Oh no’, I thought to myself, ‘what a tragedy!’ I immediately went to search for her around the building premises. Nothing, no trace of Mikki.

I was devastated. Once my parents got home from work, I sobbed and told them what happened. Everybody of the building was alarmed and we all went searching for her in. But Mikki was nowhere to be found.

Back in my room, I felt empty. I could feel that the tiny little space she usually claimed for herself now left a giant void of nothingness. I was heartbroken, crushed, and concerned about Mikki’s wellbeing.

She was not used to being outside like this. She also had no idea of the dangers of busy streets and we lived on the main road of this small town. This street was often busy during peak hours with many trucks as it leads to the freeway. I hoped Mikki would have gone up the hill in direction of the fields and not down the hill across the busy main road in direction of the freeway!

The next day, my dad suggested we write a small column for the newspaper that our cat had gone missing. We lived in a really small town of about 6000 people, so placing an add in the local newspaper was not a big deal.

I did my part and wrote pamphlets with a description of Mikki and where and when she went missing and stuck them wherever I could. I also informed friends and teachers at school.

Days went by, still no Mikki. It was already mid-December and I was drowning in sadness wondering if she was ok. When some folks came up with the rumour she might have been caught to end up as a Christmas meal (how bizarre is that!?) terrified me.

Shortly before Christmas, our phone rang. ‘Good evening,’ the lady on the phone said, ‘I read your newspaper add about the missing cat and wondered if Mikki was still missing because I happened to have seen a cat that fits your description.’ My parents and I immediately jumped into the car and drove to the area Mikki may have been sighted. But it was getting quickly dark and we didn’t spot a cat.

We called the search off. ‘Thank you for your help,’ my dad said, ‘and please do let us know if you see this cat again.’ Disappointed we got back in the car and headed home.

Christmas came and passed. It was a sad one.

On December 31st we received another phone call. This time it was a different woman who lived in the opposite direction of the first suspected sighting. This made us very doubtful that it could be Mikki but we wanted to stay positive.

‘You two go check. I cannot come along as I don’t think I can handle the pressure of another possible disappointment.’ my mum said.

With hope in our hearts, my dad and I jumped into the car and drove to this lady’s home.

Upon arrival, two small dogs barked at us in excitement as we entered the apartment.

‘For some days, I’ve been observing this cat in the neighbourhood’, the lady said, ‘this one looked too skinny and dirty to be accustomed to outdoor life. She also seemed hungry and frightened. So I took her in. My neighbour remembered your newspaper add and kept it in case she would spot the cat.’ she continued. ‘Follow me, I brought the cat into the guest room and closed the door so she is not stressed about my two dogs. As you can see, they are very curious and lively!’ the woman added and laughed as she led us down the hallway. The dogs jumped along.

‘Here’s the room’, she said and opened the door in a way the dogs could not slip in, ‘you can go in and see if this cat is Mikki.’

I entered into a long narrow room. There was a cupboard to my right and a single bed to my left. At the end of the room was a window. But no cat in sight. ‘She might be hiding under the bed’, the woman told me, ‘feel free to check.’ she encouraged me.

‘Mikkiiiiii!’ I exclaimed the moment my head touched the floor. Mikki came charging right at me and she practically jumped into my arms (a thing she never did, she hated to be carried). I stood up with Mikki in my arms. I was overjoyed!

I always wonder what Mikki must have experienced in those five weeks on her own. I hoped she had some good experiences. But the condition we found in her gave evidence that Mikki certainly had a rough time. Her teeth were broken, her fur was not white but yellow with car oil stains and she was only fur and bones.

Of course, we nicely pampered her and after a couple of weeks of rejuvenation, Mikki was quite the usual grumpy pants we knew and loved.

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Home Spa

Sketch (7/60)

Last night, I did as I said I would and took my Epsom salt bath that made me sleep like a grizzly.

Bath Time: pigment liner, gouache, gold ink
Bath Time: pigment liner, gouache, gold ink

 


Home Spa (31-day writing challenge 6/31) (1112/500)

I truly love taking baths. And I’ve experimented with all sorts of baths. From bubble baths to milk baths to sodium bicarbonate baths to oil ‘baths’ to my all-time favourite bath: the Epsom salt bath.

So, let me share my bath evolution with you:

The bubble bath: not really sure how effective or healthy bubble baths are. But, they were always fun to get in and they filled the bathroom with a loving aroma.

I do not take bubble baths anymore because I had become suspicious of the chemical contents inside the bottles. I wondered whether a bubble bath was indeed a good thing for my body as well as how environmental friendly it was.

However, I did not give the bubble bath completely up until I discovered the milk bath. Since my first milk bath experience, I left the bubble bath once and for all behind me.

The milk bath: No woman lesser than Cleopatra herself, the queen of ancient Egypt, inspired my milk bath phase. After reading that she used to bathe in milk wanted me to get to the bottom of it.

My first milk bath got me hooked, as it was indeed quite special. Not only did my skin smell as sweet as a baby for hours after the bath but during the bath, I felt as if I was staying in a 5-star hotel presidential suite. For a good hour, I felt like a queen myself. It was a taste of paradise.

Surrounded by candles and burning incense, I would shut out the world and dive into bathing bliss. But after a while, it did not feel quite right to use milk in my bath for ethical reasons and I stopped after I discovered the Sodium Bicarbonate bath that had the ability to restore the acidic/alkaline balance of the body.

The Sodium Bicarbonate (SB) bath: this bath is really great if you have skin irritations, pimples or are suffering from acne. It is also beneficial to take these baths if you have a high ‘pitta’ dosha (‘fire’ constitution – Ayurveda) as it cools the body down.

I’ve never tried this but – thinking about it now – it may also be helpful to bring a fever down.

A ‘thing’ of mine with the SB baths: I loved to lay flat on the bottom of the tub and open my eyes and listen to the sound waves that were carried through the water. Quite the underwater world experience and it had a cooling effect on my eyes after hours spent in front of the computer.

Having said that, I would not necessarily recommend SB baths on a regular basis if you have a high ‘vata’ dosha (‘air’ constitution – Ayurveda) as it might cool you down and dry you up too much as it did with me. When I noticed that the Sodium Bicarbonate bath was not the best for my constitution on a regular basis, I discovered the Epsom salt bath!

The Epsom salt bath: these baths are heaven! Seriously, I love taking Epson salt baths. For a starter, because Epsom salts warm the body as they permeate the skin, even though the water is cooling down the body is heating up! What an awesome effect!

I also came once across a research paper that stated that giving the body magnesium through the skin was remarkably more effective than taking magnesium tablets orally. So while relaxing in the bath, I am giving my body the magnesium it needs! It also makes my skin as soft as silk.

And, Epsom baths are the antidote to insomnia. I am wondering why doctors prescribe sleeping pills when the most effective sedative is an Epsom salt bath?! Because of its sedative quality, I need to make sure I schedule the Epsom salt bath wisely or else I may not be able to get up in time the next morning. Bathing in Epsom salt makes me so tired that I fall into a such a deep sleep that lasts an hour or two longer than usual.

Last but not least on my bathing rituals list is the oil bath: Well, it is not so much a bath as it is an oil massage followed by a hot shower or bath. There are many articles online about treating yourself to Abhyanga (Ayurveda self-massage) at home and its benefits.

So let me just share my personal Abhyanga experience with you:

I mainly use coconut oil (as suggested by my Ayurveda doctor) that I warm up in a bain-marie. To create a relaxing atmosphere in the bathroom, I put instrumental background music, light candles and burn some incense. Then, I focus on my breath (abdominal breathing) and massage the oil deep into my skin from head to toe. Once I am done, I take a hot shower. I only use very little Dr. Bronner’s Baby Unscented Pure-Castile Liquid Soap to wash the excess oil off. After Abhyanga, I feel light, refreshed, and energised.

Even after showering, there is always a pleasant, thin layer of oil left on my skin to prevent it from drying out. But, especially in winter, I will add an extra layer of an aloe-vera-gel-coconut-oil mix after bathing. This way, all year round my skin stays firm, well moisturised and elastic with a healthy glow.

Another good thing about coconut oil is: it does not stain clothes!

 

For all those who have noticed that the illustration is fashioning a facial mask: indeed, I’ve also had my fair share of experimentations with facial masks leaving me with two favourites. But, I’ll share this in another post with you.


Do you have any bathing rituals or home spa you’d like to share and can recommend?


 

Floral Pattern

Today’s sketch (6/60) is a really quick one.

img_0203-jpg
Floral pattern: gouache and gold ink

 


31-day writing challenge 5/31 239/500

As for my 500 words today – it’s not going to happen.

I desire a long Epsom salt bath and wish to get to bed early for a change. Been sleeping like five hours max a night all week. The rest of the hours in my typical day are filled with a plethora of things to do. One task after the other. I’m either writing, painting, illustrating, planning, reading, coaching, etc.

In winter, with its limited sunlight, not sleeping enough can have negative effects on my health. Maybe, I’m related to bears that need their winter sleep for survival… I sure love honey as much as they do.

I certainly need to work out a better schedule and will probably need to ‘purge’ a couple of tasks, projects, and goals so that my attention is better focused on what is essential to me. I’ll study my planning thoroughly on the weekend.

Anyways, today is not even about not knowing what to write. After all, it was quite an eventful, interesting, and inspiring day.

But, I feel my mind, body, and soul need to shut down and stay shut down for a while – at least longer than 5 hours – the three can reboot tomorrow.

So, today is my official writing 500 words time-out day. I hope you had or are having a lovely Friday. Catch you tomorrow!


xoxo


Flowers

It’s the fourth day of my 60 day sketchbook challenge and the third day of my 31-day writing challenge.

Today, when I sat down to sketch, all I knew was that I wanted to focus on putting colours on paper and not on drawing lines. I wanted to get out of my head.

Looking at the outcome, it turned out to look like a bunch of flowers.A bunch of flowers

The bunch of flowers

 


Flowers (31 day writing challenge 3/31)

Not sure if gouache is a medium I like working with. I love watercolours for their translucency and I love acrylics for their opacity. With gouache I’m getting the feeling that I am stuck somewhere in between. But before I shape a final opinion, I’ll be experimenting further with gouache in this sketchbook. Everybody deserves a fair chance, and so does gouache, hehe. Besides, I do have some ideas I’d still like to try with gouache.

For me, working with gouache is probably comparable to riding say, a bicycle, a snowboard, or like driving a car: it takes time to get used to it and routined practice to master it. Once familiar with the basics, things start getting more fun, experimental and daring. So I am still in the process of learning. And pretty much everything that happens is a surprise (for the better or the worse).

I am also not used to the sketchbook’s paper. It is 120 grams perforated paper and I cannot apply too much water or colour because the pages get all wrinkly. For my illustrations or watercolour artworks, I usually use rough and thick watercolour paper.

Also, I am not really a person that paints abstract. When I create, I usual start out with an image in my head then draw the lines (which at this point can turn out completely different compared to the image I had in my head when I started out). Finally, I add colour. Now colour is a tricky business with me. I once watched a documentary on art. There they said that some people saw lines and others light. Impressionist artists like Monet was given as an example for an artist that saw light. I believe Dalì would be an example of an artist that saw lines. After watching the documentary, I already had the suspicion that I was a line person. Today, I do believe that I am more of a line person than a light person. Or maybe, I am just a light person in disguise!?

In any case, I’d like to expand my work process and materials I can use to multiply my options on how I can express my inner self through images.

Now, I am mainly referring to my artwork series ‘Paradigm Shift’ (acrylic on canvas), which has been advancing terribly slow, because I’ve been more busy with illustrations and digital artwork. If I want these paintings not only to advance quicker but also to turn out as experessive as I see them in my head, feel them in my heart and in my soul, I will have to learn to switch easily from head, to heart, to soul and back as required. I’ve realised that, being too much in my head has only blocked this artwork serie’s progress. The goal is, that it should become little less control and a little more creative and unsurpressed flow.

Bedtime!


Good night world.


 

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Happy New Year! To a delightful 2017!

I’m sitting in my office/kitchen looking out the window and admiring snowflakes softly floating from the night sky. It’s the first snowfall this winter season. To me, snowflakes are absolutely beautiful, magical, divine.

When looking at a whole year, snowy nights are rather rare. Maybe this is what makes them so special?

But now back to what I actually showed up to this post for:

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I hope your two first days started off well!

May you experience a juicy year full of

love, light, and positively surprising and consciousness expanding moments!

To a delightful 2017!

Spirit Animal Guides for 2017: whale, octopus, slug, hawk, white peacock
Spirit Animal Guides for 2017: whale, octopus, slug, hawk, white peacock

Every end of the year, I do a shamanic journey to find my spirit animal for the upcoming one. This year is no different, except that it brings with it an abundance of spirit animal guides to join my year’s journey: whale, octopus, slug, hawk and white peacock.

I’m also getting a strong feeling that this year will have its fair share of possibilities and upcoming opportunities. My only concern is whether I’ll be brave enough to seize the opportunity as it arises. The thing about opportunities is: they are fleeting and cannot be thought over for too long. Unfortunately, I can be an ‘over thinker’ and I believe, I’ve missed many a good opportunity because of it. May my spirit animal guides help me out of the maze of over thinking into the vast skies of clarity.

Furthermore, this totem pole marks the first page of a sketch book with 60 blank pages. I received it for my birthday last year and have decided to do a simple sketch (mainly colour) a day. The purpose of this tiny exercise is to relax into whatever is being created. Kind of like a ‘creative stretching’ or ‘colour meditation’. It’s about letting go of the mind and being the observer of where the hand and brush takes me.

It does not have to result in anything other than trying out something new and daring to fail (as in disharmonious colour combinations, or wobbly lines or whatever else I [my judgemental mind] may not be happy with). I think it is important to have the freedom to fail in art. Because, maybe I will created 59 pages of b.s. but the 60th page will be a revelation of new creative potentials. It might even take 60x60page sketchbooks before that happens. Doesn’t matter, it will take as many pages and sketchbooks as it will take. All that counts is that I show up to the page and fill them with lines and colour as well as breathe deeply and relax into the activity.

page 2 of 60
page 2 of 60

 


Time to breathe deeply. Good night.


#illo_advent day 1

snowflake for #illo_advent 2015: gouache and white gel pen

 

I hardly realised that it’s already December!

And, I nearly missed the first day of #illo_advent (on Twitter) and the first day of the advent calendar!

Hope to keep up with a daily post, but not making any promises.

May everyone enjoy a peaceful December!

Still at the Museum

For last Friday’s #colour_collective colour Russian Violet, I decided to do a sequel of the museum scene.

I used gouache for the Rothko inspired ‘expressionist museum painting’ as the colours are more opaque and intense than watercolours.

‘Still at the Museum’: #colour_collective colour Russian Violet
‘Still at the Museum’: #colour_collective colour Russian Violet: pencil 3B & 4B, black pigment liner 0.1, watercolours, gouache, mixed media paper made from 90% bamboo fibre and 10% rag, 24cmx32cm, 265 g/sqm

Russian_VioletViolet was never really a favoured colour of mine, quite to the contrary.

It is a colour I still prefer to avoid. However, meanwhile I do feel differently with other Violet shades like Lavender, Lilac or any type of Violet that has a lot of Red in it.

Some time ago, I had a coat in Violet that I mainly bought for the multi-coloured lining in Orange, Yellow, and Green squared shapes. I adored the lining!

Teamed with say, a strong green or red shawl I was able to make it work for me and made my peace with the coat’s colour.

Generally, Violet on its own makes me not only look rather dull and tired but also makes me feel rather dull and tired.

So coming up with a theme for this #colour_collective colour was a challenge as even thinking about it made me feel rather dull and tired too – or wait – maybe it was really just due to another overly action packed week!

Next week’s colour for #colour_collective is Indian Red 🙂

Any theme, any medium, anyone. Post together Fri 19:30 GMT+1. Just use the #colour_collective hashtag on Twitter.  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 week ahead!

May all the beings in all the worlds be happy!

At the Museum

For last Friday’s #colour_collective colour Cadmium Yellow I decided to create a scene in a museum.

I used gouache for the two ‘museum paintings’ as the colours were brighter and more opaque and intense than watercolours:

‘At the Museum’: #colour_collective colour Cadmium Yellow: pencil 3B & 4B, black, grey pigment liner 0.1, frisket, white pigment ink liner, watercolours, gouache, mixed media paper made from 90% bamboo fibre and 10% rag, 24cmx32cm, 265 g/sqm
‘At the Museum’: #colour_collective colour Cadmium Yellow: pencil 3B & 4B, black, grey pigment liner 0.1, frisket, white pigment ink liner, watercolours, gouache, mixed media paper made from 90% bamboo fibre and 10% rag, 24cmx32cm, 265 g/sqm

Cadmium_Yellow

Next week’s colour for #colour_collective is Russian Violet – this will be an interesting week!

Any theme, any medium, anyone. Post together Fri 19:30 GMT+1. Just use the #colour_collective hashtag on Twitter.  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 Sunday!