Why Our Art Matters


John Green made a fabulous video about artists and their work today using the metaphor of the world’s largest ball of paint. I let him tell the story:

He said we might put all our energy into painting that one layer, and making it the most beautiful, only for it to be painted over by others. In the end, our layer of paint did contribute to the size of the ball, to its magnificence. There will be people remembering how we painted that one layer. One day, they will be gone as well. The artwork remains.

As artists we spend a lot of time wondering about if it matters what we do. Certainly through the blog I have shared my work with more people than I would have ever imagined. But even this is temporary. At only a few years old I did a lot of arts and crafts. I loved that. I always glued pieces of paper together and drew on them. That was my art. It is probably tucked away in some box I will never find again. But it contributed to the ball of paint that is my life. Five years ago I started drawing portraits and I still have these first sketches in a binder. Another layer on the ball of paint. Now my artwork is a lot better than those old sketches. I have painted over the old layers. All this time invested contributed thin layers.

If we see our development as artists like that, no perceived failure will ever trouble us again. Because they are all just lumps and bumps in a layer of paint we will soon go over with another colour. We might decide that we don’t like this ball anymore and start a new one. We might glue some paper onto it. We might write some verses on it. But with everything we do, it grows. We grow.

We also spend some time discussing the inevitable question in our head: Are we really undiscovered geniuses or are we just normal human beings thinking too much? Can we really ever know? Is it important?

What do we want our art to do for ourselves? Do we want to be recognised in the streets for our artwork? Do we want to appear in fancy magazines? Do we want our art to sustain our lives? Or do we want to make people happy, make them think, bring them joy? Do we want to send a powerful message? When we pose these questions we will know what we expect from the world. What the world can expect from us.

A genius can work silently in their studio day after day, from dawn to dusk. A genius can get up at 4 in the morning to cram in some extra hours of painting before the day job, only to come home at night exhausted and tired. A genius can get up at 12, write for ten minutes, eat ice cream the whole day, and go to bed five hours later. A genius might have picked up ballet dancing at forty years old and be amazing, despite everything everyone ever told them. We are all geniuses in our own way. We make it work. We struggle through insecurities. Through self-hate. Through doubt. Through anger at ourselves and our equipment. At unsaved documents. At word counts that won’t grow. We will curse our writer’s block and the muse that has left us. We will curse ourselves most often. That is just part of the process. We go on anyway because we have to. We are artists.

Whatever you might want to create today, know, that it will count. It will count for your own development, your growth. It will count for the world. It will count for the large ball of paint that is our culture, and our common humanity. We have always created something to make life more beautiful. We have always used art as a means for communication, to express our wonder about the world. These are challenging times we live in – let your art tell the story of this time. Use it to create even more. Art is what connects us on a much deeper level and this connection is what we need right now. There is so much division, hate, and fear out there. Let’s work on the beautiful ball of paint together that is our planet Earth.

In which way are you an artist genius? Let’s have a little chat in the comments!

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Love.


We never thought that it would happen. Now it is official. We have to go on, work on.

The moment Trump took over the social media platforms as a president, the pages on the White House website concerned with Climate Change and the LGBTQ+ community were shut down. Today a lot more things happened that frighten me. This is the world we will live in now.

As a student, as an environmentalist, a feminist, a human being, I fear for the world. But fear is the wrong incentive here. We always have to fight to make something better out of this world, to make it a safer, more equal and loving place for everyone. I still believe in people, I still believe in change.

We live in times where facts are less significant than feelings. You can state something which you deny the next day. We can make instant comments on every subject. This is due to social media and the presence of news all around us. You can offer an opinion seconds after you have read about something. The thought process, the critical analysis is lost. False news lead to international diplomatic conflicts. This has to stop.

Let’s put these points back on our agenda:
Respect.
Honesty.
Tolerance.
Openness.
Understanding.
Empathy.
Love.

These are the grounding principles of interaction between humans. We need to make these the principles of our societies! They need to be the guiding ideas of our every action. We need to consider other people as complex. We need to step back and analyse the situation from a different point of view.

Why did we lose these qualities in our communities when they are so essential in our relationships? Why did we move back from communication to just shouting at each other? Why are we trying to prove others wrong when we are never faultless ourselves?

It’s important to distinguish between feelings and thoughts. Find the source of your feelings and analyse how you drew conclusions. Often we make rash decisions because we are lead by unclear assumptions. Break them down into pieces and identify which of the facts coincide with your personal values and your goals.

We are bombarded by horror news and hateful comments. It’s our choice to change that system. You can either not be part of it or do something against it.

A friend and I talked about the book “How to win friends and influence people” which I really want to read. There are some important messages in there which I liked:
Give people credit for their work.
Be interested in their lives and consider their point of view.
Build a good reputation in your mind for a person to live up to.

Yesterday, I handed the application for my semester abroad in and I came to the office of the tutor with a big smile on my face. I thanked her for all the support she gave us in this process and told her that she does a great job. She asked me what she could improve for the students next year. She told me she has a lot of trouble with some of the universities. She talked about the difficulties she faced and confided in me.

Every time I had gone to her office before, she had been stressed out, busy, annoyed. She didn’t even want to answer my questions. This time, I gave her credit because she had helped me a lot. I was kind and open and genuinely interested in her work. She asked me for advice. She gave something back – trust.

We all have the capacity to improve the relationships with people who are important to us. Even with those we just met. By being kind and open. We must not be divided because in our union lies our power.

Everything feels like it’s falling apart. The world crumbles. We seek places to hide and grieve. What we really need to do is stand up tall. Stronger than ever. Growing with the task before us. We need to lay out a foundation of love and companionship to save this earth. This will help us with all the challenges we are facing. We are all in this together, we are all humans. Love is a verb, go practise it!

NaNoWriMo Day 17: You know you are an environmental student when…


You know you are a student of environmental and resource management…

When people have to ask several times to get what you are studying.

When people ask you what you can do with that.

When you answer: “I’m going to save the planet!” unironically.

When being an environmentalist is normal.

When wanting to save the world is your main goal in life.

When “Sorry for the inconvenience, we are trying to change the world” could be your slogan.

When your family considers you to be the weird one, the Eco Freak.

When you have claimed that word for yourself and wear the word with pride.

When you lead every discussion to an environmental topic in the end.

When your friends ask you if the can even come to your house if they have plastic bags with them.

When you are proud to see people with paper bags.

When you have an extra fabric bag in every handbag.

When you are happy that your supermarket does not offer plastic bags anymore.

When you constantly rage about lobbyism of big firms, inactive governments, environmentally ignorant politicians and the like.

When your parents give you cut-out newspaper articles about environmental problems.

When your parents send you articles about new technological innovations to save the world.

When you send them great articles about climate change with a praise-hands-emoji and a huge “YES!”

When you know more about environmental news than those concerning the whole world.

When you are having a hard time finding a great environmental magazine.

When you decide you would love to make your own.

When your parents do not understand you anymore when you talk about Pigouvian taxes, riparian vegetation and hyporheic zones in rivers.

When your parents smile silently about your enthusiastic views on the environment.

When you send your friends excerpts of environmental treaties to prove your point.

When you are extremely excited about the Paris Agreement.

When you marked the day it entered into force in your calendar.

When you are angry about people denying climate change.

When you detest people who think climate change was an invention by the Chinese.

When one of your first thoughts about the US election result was: Our poor poor environment.

When you try to stay positive about the environmental progress of the last years.

When you nevertheless suffer from environmental grief.

When you are a vegan.

When you at least thought about going vegan.

When you did so for mainly environmental reasons.

When there is at least one vegan food to eat at every social gathering of your course.

When people ask you which milk substitute is the best.

When you are able to make a twenty minute presentation about that.

When you know where to get the best vegan cake in town. And go there every week.

When you make cakes for each other. Vegan, naturally.

When you are excited to find certain vegetables in your supermarket.

When your fridge contains more vegetables than anything else.

When all your food containers are made of glass.

When you decide to just buy products from Europe, that are not transported around the whole globe.

When you cringe when thinking how much emissions they have cost to get into your supermarket.

When your food choices are based on the environmental and social impact they have.

When you try to make other people think about their food choices.

When you succeed in doing so.

When you drink out of glass bottles.

When your whole family does so too, now.

When second-hand shopping is perfectly normal.

When the 60 people in your course are willing to watch a documentary about food waste together.

When you get both sad and angry when you see how much food is wasted.

When you flinch every time you see food thrown away.

When you wonder about how you could have ever eaten meat.

When you meet with friends to watch documentaries. About salmon.

When you take notes about the statistics in your mind to win an argument next time.

When your youtube “To watch” list only contains nature documentaries.

When your “To read” list only contains books about the environment or related topics.

When your greatest heroes are environmentalists.

When you derive a lot of your basic knowledge from nature documentaries.

When you get more enthusiastic about watching those than blockbusters.

When you search for a list with all famous vegans to prove a point.

When you sent your friends messages about a documentary about the fates of dolphins in Japan and you are crying. Crying a lot. And hating the world.

When you are sharing this information with everyone you know.

When you are asking everyone to watch this documentary.

When your most used emoji is either a leaf or a panda.

When half your you hashtags are concerning the environment.

When you love to throw shocking numbers about fishery or oil spills or coal mining or factory farming into everyday conversation.

When you do so even though the topic was a completely different one.

When you then grin at people and say: We live in a horrible world. Let’s change it.

When you then give a list to them of all the things they could change in their lifestyle to have a smaller environmental impact.

When you have a perfectly rehearsed lecture for people who ask you why they even should do anything because their actions to not count anyway.

When you know what the carbon food print is.

When you know your carbon food print at any given moment.

When you are ashamed if you find that it is still too high.

When you changed your opinion about Leo DiCaprio a lot since you learned that he is a passionate environmentalist.

When you don’t particularly like the films he acts in but love his documentaries.

When you watch documentaries alone and stand up and cry “yes!” when someone advocates for change.

When you use your free-time to watch environmental documentaries.

When you have to sit down afterwards and write about it.

When you are in the middle of a project of writing 50 000 words in a month. About the environment.

When you can use your lecture slides to help you do that.

When your notes are written on recycled paper. With an FSC logo on it.

When you re-use paper that your printer spit out the wrong way.

When you are angry when professors tell you that you can only print your essays on one side of the paper.

When you are relieved to find out that you can upload them and do not have to print them.

When you have done excessive research on where your paper comes from.

When you get extremely excited about additional materials concerning water scarcity and climate change.

When you were in deep awe when you first entered the “environmental subjects” floor of your library.

When you just pick out random books and are surprised what a variety of environmental books there are.

When you actually read them.

When you feel weird going to any other floor.

When you can’t stay inside anymore and skip lectures to go for a walk or run.

When you simply love being outside.

When you have a photo challenge on your blog for autumn leaves. (festivalofleaves.wordpress.com)

When you go for a run and speak with a friend about the environment the whole time.

When you are on the country side and it smells awful and you just say: Waste Water Treatment Plant.

When you save little bugs that crawled onto you way and put them back into the forest again.

When you pet them softly and say that it’s going to be alright.

When you have more empathy towards animals than certain humans.

When you are a member of you uni garden. And dead serious about it.

When you have excursions to the forest.

When you dig holes in the ground for several hours.

When you simply love doing that.

When you post pictures of the pit showing other people how beautiful your soil profile was.

When you are sad that you had to close this hole again.

When you know a little something about plants.

When you refer to leaves in a river as “Leaf litter input”.

When you say “Floating Leaved Macrophytes” to water lilies.

When you draw the catchment area of your local river onto a map. Just for practise and fun.

When you give every animal and every plant around you a name. Because you love them so much.

When you collect your organic waste for the compost.

When you urge other people to do so.

When you urge other people to build a compost themselves.

When you are annoyed of people who leave their garbage everywhere.

When you pick up their garbage and throw it in the right bin.

When you are basically an expert in waste separation.

When you spent several weeks in a waste lab measuring awfully smelling gas production.

When you lecture other people how to separate their waste.

When you try to change the waste separation at your work place.

When you are angry when people buy fully automated coffee machines with those little plastic cups that get thrown away.

When you do not buy certain things when they are wrapped too much.

When you want to run around the supermarket and cry in anger about all the plastics.

When you are ashamed that you haven’t reduced your waste to zero yet.

When you discuss about using edible plates for your next party.

When you try to re-use packaging material for various purposes.

When you make art out of it.

When you start a new drawing series with animals and immediately, without thinking, pick endangered animals.

When you are able to ask people to throw names of animals at you and you know exactly where on the red list they are.

When you are jealous of Sweden and Denmark and Iceland for having made such progress in renewables.

When you switch every light off in the very moment you are leaving the room.

When you think intensively about where to cut your electricity usage.

When you stop ironing your clothes because a) you are a student and b) it costs too much energy.

When you ask people if they changed their lightbulbs to energy-saving ones.

When you take your bike everywhere. Even in the snow and minus 30 degrees.

When you want to change people’s attitude towards cars.

When you stated years ago that you do not want to have a car.

When you await in impatience the moment when electrical cars get less expensive.

When you daydream about a world without fossil fuel based cars.

When you daydream about where to put solar panels in your future home.

When your parents ask you how to change their energy consumption.

When you feel guilty about going on holidays.

When you shake your fists towards planes in the sky.

When you daydream about being part of a huge climate conference and actually making change happen.

When you just love the people around you and couldn’t imagine a more perfect place to be at this very moment in your life.

I would like to thank my lovely friends for helping me create this list. The idea was born during a run and we had to stop so often because we simply couldn’t stop laughing. Those points are sometimes just so true. You are awesome and I’m so happy to be part of this crazy environmental community! xxx

Current Wort Count: 29188

Urban Sketching


People on benches in the city, on the ground, standing somewhere painting, sketching, scribbling. That’s Urban Sketching. It’s a huge community from all over the world with people who love art and who hate to sit in front of photos. They want to capture the world the way it is. Me too. So I bought a tiny little sketchbook and startet.

The first sketch I made in the lunch break of my internship. I was sitting near the river (It’s the ‘Spree’ in Berlin) and painted. The people were looking very… puzzled 😀

urban sketching
The next few pictures here are from a little vacation with my mother in a city called Waren. It was really nice to just sit somewhere, enjoy the view and put it on the paper…

waren2 waren1

The tools I use for sketching are a – (now!!) waterproof – fineliner and some watercolour pencils. The water for these sketches you get from the lakes or fountains you draw 😀

Hope you get a read in the world of Urban Sketching…

(Oh, and I planned to make some commission painting, if you want me to draw something for you, have a look on my commission page. http://wp.me/P397E8-4nr)