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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NaNoWriMo Day 10: Environmentalism 2.0


The first snow of the autumn has reached Cottbus and we are freezing, sitting in Uni and trying not to think about what happened yesterday. We are a bunch of hopeful people. At least we try to be.

We discussed the events a lot today and one particular thought haunted us. What will happen to our environment? All that we try to fight for?

In International Environmental Law, our lecturer suggested that we took a good look at the Paris Agreement, Article 28:

At any time after three years from the date on which this Agreement has entered into force for a Party, that Party may withdraw from this Agreement by giving written notification to the Depositary. (…)

Even if Trump wanted to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, it would take 3 years for him to hand in that note and another year until he really would get out of it. So well done, Obama, for signing it just in time. That’s what we read in the law. The problem is – there is also the possibility to simply not do what’s in the law. In this very case, the Paris Agreement is not as harsh as the Kyoto Protocol. The US hasn’t signed that one, by the way. And Canada withdrew to not face the fines they had to pay because they didn’t fulfil the regulations. Germany isn’t much better either…

For many people, the Paris Agreement is a groundbreaking accomplishment. It may be, for all that I know. I’ll go a bit into detail once we have discussed it in uni. There are a lot of things I don’t really understand yet. Law is so confusing! The difficulty with treaties is this: It will not change single people. There is a lot of talking without saying anything. There are a lot of action plans never implemented. There are a lot of recommendations never considered.

My dad believes that the real change has to be made economically. I can see his point. We live in a world where money is playing a vital part in our lives. Who am I kidding, The part in our lives. Which ever way we might argue, we are not going to change that. Therefore, we have to work on that basis. There are lots of economical solutions we were taught in our Economics classes. Standards, Taxes, Tradable Permits. Very simplified they mean the following: Standards set the pollution to a certain level. Taxes often provide the incentive to emit even less because you still have to pay taxes on even little emissions. Tradable Permits are based on the idea that there is a polluter with more emissions and one with less. Both own emission permits. The one with higher emissions can buy those from the one with smaller emissions. Thereby the one who emits less, makes a profit. We could even implement that on a private level: If you want to drive long distance with your car, there has to be someone who creates energy by a solar plant, for example. Trade the permissions and everyone is happy.

The idea is this: If you pollute, you have to pay. This is a lovely principle which can be found written down in the Rio Declaration of 1992. It has a legal basis in International Law. However, it isn’t really implemented on a global scale. In the end, the consumer has to pay. It’s as simple as that.

I also really like the idea of a carbon tax for people. Every action that increases the greenhouse gas emissions has to be paid for. Make meat and fish so expensive that no one is able to buy them anymore and no one will do so.

This strategy seems nice but I doubt it would work like that. Furthermore, the implementation is just not possible. We have such a strong lobby especially behind the biggest emitters – the food, transport and energy industry. This is where people need to make changes.

Emily Hunter (http://emilyhunter.ca/), the daughter of two of the founders of greenpeace, speaks in a Ted Talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsB2qtDaiRw&list=WL&index=36) about modern activism. She has been everywhere, fighting and campaigning for environmentalism. Until she found that this kind of activism might not be for her. Going with boats into every corner of our oceans to stop whale hunting. That’s so seventies! Instead, she started to make films and write books, make documentaries about activists and share their stories. She is a journalist and calls herself storyteller. Her activism is storytelling.

She points out that our generation is the biggest to ever have existed on this planet. And we are the ones to bring the change. Maybe not by old-fashioned campaigning anymore but by media. We are able to write and film and make this earth a better place. Our voices are completely different from those of the 1970s. Now, the environment should concern all of us and it does. Therefore, we should all be environmentalists in our own ways. You don’t have to buy yourself a boat and fight against whaling in the Antarctic. You might not be a part of huge protests or demonstrations. You might simply share the message that this planet needs our help and we therefore have to stand up to make it happen. If you can, though, try to make your message heard to as many people as possible.

She also mentions that the movement has to become much more radical. At the moment there are many actions which are on a local level. Or which go viral for a few weeks and disappear again. We need to change that. Our planet has to be on the agenda permanently. Not on a negative note, though. It has to fill our news with hopeful messages and not ones of despair.

I believe our future lies in technology. My father is an engineer, that should explain a lot. Renewable energies and technology to help us with all the problems we face. In many rural areas solar panels and mobile phones have transformed the business life. The education system. People are empowered and find new ways to use their potential. There is another wonderful TedTalk I would like to suggest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDo2mx5aBts. The Future of Environmentalism.

We face many environmental challenges in this world but they can be solved by investing in human brain power and technology. This sustainable innovation can be our way to save this world and make our lives better. I just found out, that there is some research done to make solar panels out of carbon and not silicon.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/carbon-emerges-as-new-solar-power-material/

There are projects to make artificial photosynthesis work, much more effective than the real ones of plants. Still, it is a very good idea to plant trees. We should never underestimate the power of our vegetation. I love trees, I also hug them sometimes.

The past environmentalism has been based on two things. Fear and Guilt. Fear doesn’t work. Guilt doesn’t work. In industrialised countries, we have caused the problem of climate change. Maybe guilt works for us. But not for those who suffer from the consequences of our irresponsible behaviour!

We love doing stuff. So instead of telling people what not to do, we should encourage them to make stuff! To come up with new technologies and innovations! Humans are so good at that!

“The new environmentalism is got to be about doing more, not doing less. About inspiring people to tackle climate change but also giving people a better life in the here and now.” Martin Wright

Today, I want to motivate you to change things by doing some little things that may have a widespread impact.

  1. All around the globe, small businesses try to bring changes in their communities. On https://www.kiva.org/ you can find them and help them with giving micro-credits. They pay you the money back and you can invest in the next project. This way innovative people are supported, especially women who normally do not have the chance to do so in many developing countries.
  2. Invest in crowd-funding. There are incredible minds out there working on the environmental technology of the future. You can find them on crowd-funding websites – help support their projects or spread the word!
  3. Watch the videos I suggested and share them with other people. Inspire them to take action and tell them that it is important to you. Talk to them about how you can make a difference.
  4. Most importantly, though, is to inform yourself. Read an article about renewable energies, about new technologies, about trees if you like, everything that excites you! If you are an engineer, maybe you can find ways to work on environmental projects or share your knowledge with others.
  5. For my fellow WordPress bloggers: If you are interested in photography, I challenge you to make a photo report about environmental problems in your region or hometown. It can be water pollution, waste, air pollution, mining … anything that you recognise as a problem. Whatever difficulties you find in your neighbourhood. Go out and take a photo. Write about it. Share it with other people. This is a small contribution but in our modern age, it is not that hard to get your voice heard. The WordPress community is an absolutely lovely one and I enjoy so much being part of it.
    In the end I will dedicate a post to your topic and I will do a lot of research to back it with some facts. Thereby, we will have stories from everywhere shared on different platforms to underline their importance.

In Cottbus, for example, we have a big problem with open cast and lignite mining. The pollution and environmental damage it has caused is unbelievable. Habitats are destroyed, people have to move, whole ecosystems are ruined. For long periods of time. The lakes build after the mining will never have the same biodiversity as before.

Those are the stories I’m looking for. Share them, make them important. Let them be your contribution, your activism 2.0, your new environmentalism.

Current Word Count: 17677

Urban Sketching in Lübeck


Urban Sketching is a movement to capture cities without a camera, to interpret them in art immediately, to feel the spirit of cities in a different way than behind a lens. I was in Lübeck last week on holidays and drew a lot. Sitting on park benches, standing with my back against a wall, sitting on the pavement, painting. First, it was only painting what I saw.

The view out of our flat…

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Those tiny little paths that are far away from the many tourists also visiting the city… They were so calm and it felt like time was stopping for a while as I put their colours into my sketchbook.

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While having lunch…

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And simply standing on the side of a street, sketching.

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It was a wonderful experience and I began to notice spots where I could draw and paint. A good friend and fellow artist also visited because he does not live far away so we spent the day painting together. People came up to us to ask if we were art students. When our next exhibition was. It was great to feel we could be studying art, at least for a while…

My style changed a bit. It went from simply depicting what I saw to interpreting. We had done that a lot in art class in the final two years of school. Talked about expressionism. One day, we visited an art museum in Lübeck where a Feininger painting was exhibited and I just love his work so much. I could have spent hours looking at this painting. Inspired by his work, I tried something different.

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Those are little studies that I will probably put on a larger canvas some day. I really want to get back into painting – I have missed it a lot!

urban sketching

This is my equipment:  A square sketchbook, a faber-castell ink pen, a pentel waterbrush and my lovely little winsor and newton watercolours.

First, I sketch the lines with pencil and so that I can erase what I don’t really like or am unsure about. Then I’ll redraw them with black ink and fill the drawing with colour. Finally, I thicken the black lines to improve the composition a bit. My paintings are not really accurate and detailed so they don’t take so much time. Normally about half an hour.

This was my little urban sketching trip to Lübeck and I enjoyed it so much. Trying new things, looking at a city not from a camera but from an art perspective. It makes you calmer, really. A special form of meditation in a city that is often buzzing with tourists. The need to escape sends you to thoses little paths and streets that show the real face of Lübeck: A Hanseatic city breathing history, trying to balance ancient and modern.

A Little Blog Transformation


In this first year of studying Environmental and Resource Management I have learned a lot. I have realised a lot. People from all over the world helped me to broaden my perspective, think critically. Books changed me, so did films, so did conversations. I love art and I will keep creating. However, you might have seen that I didn’t write any texts for my pictures anymore. I didn’t have anything to say, to add.

I love writing, though. I love telling stories and illustrating them. I love how pictures and sentences can change and inspire people and give them hope. I will not delete my older posts because they are a part of me, a part of my story. What I want is to enhance the blog. Give it some context, some stories, some discussions. I want to write and share thoughts with you, I would like you to engage with the content.

Here is how it will work: I will make a post every week on Friday. This will be a text combined with photographs or sketches or illustrations. If you have any wishes on what you would like me to write about, please tell me! 🙂 I would love to read and learn from you! Furthermore, I will have a little portfolio which you can have a look at in the menu. If you like to see works in progress or little doodles along the way, you can visit my instagram, where I will be sharing all of those. The Festival of Leaves will also continue this autumn and I am so excited for it!!

See you next week

xx

verena

Sweet Little Dodie


I drew another portrait of Dodie Clark!! She’s so adorable and talented and cute ❤
You should really check her out on YouTube: Doddleoddle!

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The photographer who shot this beautiful portrait of her loved my work, isn’t that wonderful? 😇

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Monochrome: Adele


I just love this woman so so much.

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Look at that, it’s my 500th post! Isn’t that just incredible? It seems only a while ago I started this blog! In a process of over 300 drawings I have improved so much that I actually sometimes quite like what I am doing now. Artists are never satisfied, of course.

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Monochrome: Emilia Clarke.


A drawing using only one colour! This will be a little series because I loved it so much!

As I’m becoming more and more familiar with instagram and try to take nice pictures of my drawings, many plants can be harmed. Not at all acceptable for a nature loving person. This time I sat in a little flower field in our garden and took this photograph. It’s windy so that was a bit difficult…

Please tell me what you think!

xxx

emilia clarke