The Electric Pencil

I have to share this with you – in case you didn´t spot this on facebook, where I found it – and hope you find it as beautiful as I do. It is the most charming art journal, and it has a moving story to go with it.

I am quite taken with it all and thought it would be a good offering for this T Tuesday, which I have failed to turn up for for so long. What can I say? Life is sometimes overwhelming and there are not enough hours in a day for it all.

Hope you all had glorious Easter weekends and that I´ll see you at Bleubeard & Elisabeth´s. I´ll be having a great big mug of organically grown coffee! Happy T-Day! 🙂

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Walk in the sun

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A memorial copse – for all those who had their ashes scattered but no grave.

This week has been a bit bleak weather-wise, but last weekend was smashing, and I took myself out of doors for a longer walk than usual. It was -7 degrees, but my Windsor&Newton marker worked pretty well, and I added some watercolour when I was back in the warmth of home.

We have a very nice forest cemetery not far from our house, Örnäskyrkogården, and it gives very pretty, and not too complicated views to draw. For some reason we rarely go there, and yet I think cemeteries are such nice places to walk in; they inspire kontemplation. Of course, we always come here on All Saint´s Day to light candles for our dear departed.

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The Chapel of Hope; a funeral chapel.
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A streamlet runs through the cemetery.

The every day matters

Time flies and it´s been, what, two weeks since I posted? More, actually, as that last one was scheduled. It is just such an uninspiring time of year.

Foto0006My inner feminist was triggered by the following advert at the bus shelter on my street, it´s for a highschool that specializes in technology and IT. Two serious-looking boys, clearly focused on what they are doing, probably programming a virus that will end all wars. Two smiling girls, one whole-heartedly focused on the boys, and the other having that odd smile that women have in adverts while eating salad alone, you know what I mean.

Another thing that has upset my feminist sensibilities is the kind of positive yet weird and creepy feedback women get on facebook when they change their profile photos. Many of these photos/selfies look absolutely nothing like the person and are changed very often. I have facebook friends I am not entirely sure who they are (or is it the same girl having many facebook accounts?). I have decided never to “like” a new profile photo. I can´t think of a more devious – and naiv, considering it is meant to do the opposite – way to undermine someone´s self-esteem than to applaud this kind of self-objectification. (I am here on facebook, if you like to hook up there.)

It was deadly cold outside for weeks, now it´s all melting away and the ice roads closed the day after they opened, which makes winter boring. I have bound myself a new sketchbook, a larger one, and am determined to faithfully art journal in it every day even if I have nothing more exciting to draw than fika; I am very inspired by Danny Gregory right now. Below is my first sketch, a Saturday sketch across the fika table, where the husband is nursing his broken leg with his favourite boiled sausages and blue candy while watching movies about Stasi on youtube. I guess we all have our weird little interests.

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Assortment of digital sketches

I found these as I was taking a study break. Don´t remember posting them, so I thought I might now.

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This is just a doodle, toying with the tools.

 

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This is from the lobby of the Culture House, where I was studying one day. I can´t sit in the library any more because of the asthma, but there are a few tables in the lobby, which is nice.

 

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Another doodle I did when I was fatigued from studying anatomy.

 

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This is the nephew, from the Christmas holidays.

 

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This is from the fall, my way to school.

I suppose it can get worse…

20160109_171534… but for sure, this first week of the year has had enough trials. I spent the New Year with a stomach flu of some sort, miserably watching the husband making a little luxurious New Year supé for himself. Not that I was ill for long, after a few days I was pretty much myself again, but I did loose some good study days.

20160109_171459The mum-in-law has been in and out of hospital. It is very confusing for her, and at times she is not sure where she is or what is happening to her, which is stressful for everyone. As the husband was going to see her, he slipped on an icy spot, just a few steps from our front door, and broke his ankle! He now has a plaster boot, which he will have for six weeks. Luckily, he can work from home, except for classroom teaching, but there are cab drivers that need the work, so that´s solvable.

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My sister-in-law – angel-like – has come to look after the mum-in-law. That is a huge help, and I have more or less been able to devote myself to the intricacies of bacterial infections and resistance mechanisms to antibiotics. And feeding the husband, of course.

20151015_191225Oh, and I did actually manage to read a crime novel around New Year´s; it was “The Lifer´s Club: An ancient site, a modern murder” by Francis Pryor, who is one of my favourite Time Team archeologists. I guess I had expected a not so very modern murder, and a not so very long book. This one falls into the category of Blaise Pascal´s “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” I think Pryor may have been very pressed for time as well. He should have gone with archeology or trafficking and immigration, in my opinion.

We are keeping our spirits up by having bought tickets for a concert in March with the Luleå band Movits, which is a huge favourite of mine. One thing to look forward to! Enjoy “Apple-stealing-jazz”.

New Year´s resolutions

20151229_204031I have to say, looking back at the year that was, it is quite overwhelming how much has changed for me. It was only late November 2014 when the idea appeared in my head that I would try for the university again and attempt to get myself a whole new profession; and the one I´d least expected myself to go for. But it´s nice to be able to surprise oneself once and again. It was certainly a surprise how well I did on the Scholastic Aptitude test. I asked the husband how long it would last. “You can use it for five years, I think,” he said. “No,” I said, “I mean the glory.” He assured me it will last forever. 😉

20151229_203932The first semester has been a bit of a shock to the system. I had to relearn everything, I had no routines how to do breakfast, even, as I went from nightwork to day studies, from working alone and seeing just a few close friends, to being in lecture halls daily with 80+ classmates. Sleep and digestion has been a problem, but I think I am adjusting now. Slowly. Studying takes a lot more time than I thought it would, due to talking books, and due to – I guess – ambition. And though I will deny vehemently that my brain is slower now than when I was in my twenties, I guess it might be working a little differently… not that I´m letting it slow me down.

An old friend I met for fika during the holidays (she didn´t know I had started over) enthusiastically said: “But it´s perfect to study now, three years go by so fast! Three years were a lot longer when we were twenties…” I hadn´t thought about it that way, but it kinda makes sense, I think.

20151229_203945I will have to let some things go – a bit. The blog is starting to feel like a chore, and I don´t like that. So this year, I will do only one blogpost a week. One sketch a day, certainly, but I´ll post more seldom. Hopefully, the quality of what you are presented with will improve, but I can´t guarantee it.

Other things I need to do is strength training, or my back will break. I have been spoiled with being physically strong, and sitting at a desk has me wasting away. I need to eat less, or I´ll have to buy new clothes, and the student allowance I give myself doesn´t permit such spending! Eating less will save money, too… What else? Some good literature, every day before bed. One free day a week, to just do anything I like.

20151229_204041I think that might be enough. I need to find my groove, in a nutshell. Routines and habits that make me strong and relaxed. Perhaps I could throw in some mindfulness exercises? Nah! I´ll draw more! 😀

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Happy New Year!

20151215_162736, I say, from sick bay (actually, my bedroom) as I have come down with a virus of some sort on the last day of the year. So far, it´s only been a fever, and I hope that´s all there will be. A good reminder to work less hard and go to bed when the eyelids start to fall down. The mum-in-law is no better, she is in hospital again. And again, it is looking bleak. But who knows, she has pulled through before; she will be 96 in four weeks and I don´t think she wants to miss the party. Outside, it is raining, which seems fitting somehow.

A ballpoint sketch from the movie theatre lobby.
A ballpoint sketch from the movie theatre lobby.

We had extended family coming and going for ten days around the holiday and it has been great fun to see them all. I have been to see the new Star Wars film twice – I had to make sure it was as brilliant as it first seemed, and yes, it is! We laughed at the woman sitting behind the husband in the theatre, gasping at the end: “OMG, it´s Luke Skywalker! He is so OLD!” She probably slept through the whole thing, or thought about some other important stuff. One guy behind me was loudly commenting the film until I turned around and gave him the Evil van Vaderhofen Eye, and he said to his girlfriend, “I´ll explain later”. I feel sorry for the un-enlightened ones who can´t appreciate this piece of film genious; one comes out of the theatre knowing Abrams is a fellow fan. Even the husband was saying this is a really good film.

I hope you all have a very good New Year´s Eve with partying and reflection in equal measure. Let´s hope 2016 will bring goodness and sensibility and a sense of unity in which everyone is included.

I just felt like ending this year with a drawing of Churchill painting; it cheers me up!
I just felt like ending this year with a drawing of Churchill painting; it cheers me up!

Lucia

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Last Sunday, I went for fika downtown, on Lucia day. My friend and I were pleasantly surprised to be entertained by a very good good a cappella group doing a folksy Lucia performance. The candles were all real and slightly dangerous looking, both in Lucia’s hair and in her hands. I had no camera and no choice but to make a quick sketch. Wish I could have sketched how it sounded, too!

Tilbury Fort

“I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know already, for your forwardness you have deserved rewards and crowns; and We do assure you on a word of a prince, they shall be duly paid.”

Linked from English Heritage.

That was perhaps the most famous words uttered by the first Queen Elisabeth, in front of her troops while expecting the Spanish armada in 1588, wearing a plumed helmet and a steel cuirass over a white velvet gown. What a scene that would have been to see!

IMGP0957 (2)We went to Tilbury by train on a very nice and sunny day. We have never been out that way before; Tilbury was the fort that defended the mouth of the river Thames, and London. It was built in the 14th and 15th Centuries, and the Tudors shaped it the most. It wasn´t demobilized until 1950, and now it is a museum in the care of English Heritage. It´s quite a way out from London, and I was surprised to see so many visitors there, particularly young girls and young families. It´s a real gem, though. Lots of space to run around and nothing terribly precious.

IMGP0878I tried to relax with the pen in hand, defying the impulse to try and see it all. I´d like to learn to just sit down and work the scene onto paper without thinking about time or anything else. Looking at my drawings now – from the entire vacation, really – I find much fault, and either I was still in too much of a hurry, or I have become a better sketcher since. Possibly it´s a little bit of each. I think most, if not all these photos were taken by the husband.

You can take a bus almost to the gates, but we walked; it´s not that far.
You can take a bus almost to the gates, but we walked; it´s not that far.
I love the windturbines, and yes, you have probably seen all these drawings before.
I love the windturbines, and yes, you have probably seen all these drawings before.
The entrance of the fort.
The entrance of the fort. More 19th Century than Tudor, is my guess.

 

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I think I drew this gun just because it was hard.
I think I drew this gun just because it was hard.

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The husband started exploring.
The husband started exploring.

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A ravelin.
A ravelin.

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This interesting rooftop in Gravesend, across the river, belongs to Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, a Sikh temple.
This interesting rooftop in Gravesend, across the river, belongs to Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, a Sikh temple.

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We had dinner at the local pub, which was a real, non-touristy place where working class people go after work.
We had dinner at the local pub, which was a real, non-touristy place where working class people go after work. I just read that a couple of weeks before we visited, a man was stabbed there!

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Apparently,Pepys mentions this place in his diary! It has all kinds of interesting paraphernalia on the walls.
A bit blurry, but a nice, no-nonsense dinner: a curry for the husband and a shepherd´s pie for me. Yum!
A bit blurry, but a nice, no-nonsense dinner: a curry for the husband and a shepherd´s pie for me. Yum!

Avebury Stone Circle

A lot of people have told us that there is one stone circle in England that is much more interesting to visit than Stonehenge, and that is Avebury. Of course, as we were in Wiltshire and in Stone Age mode, we had to go. Ironically, going by public transport from Salisbury to Avebury was not possible, if we wanted any time at all at the stones – 3½ hours one way! Instead, I discovered that with the London train (which is fast) and a bus from Swindon, going from Bristol was much quicker, so that´s what we did.

So, why is Avebury so special? Direct access to the stones is not restricted like at Stonehenge (which is open to the public only at the solstices), one is free to walk around in the circle, and considering the stones enclose the village of Avebury, or parts of it, anything else would be silly. There is a museum there (which we both missed to snap), lots of activities for school children, and a great pub at which we had a lovely dinner after a long walk around the Avebury landscape.

I will not say this was better than Stonehenge, or not as good. It was different and I wouldn´t want to have missed out on any of those sites. What a great day!

From the bus we saw a white horse again, this one is called the Marlborough horse.
From the bus we saw a white horse again, this one is called the Marlborough horse.

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The big trees along the circle were full of carvings and little notes and ribbons, well wishes and prayers.
The big trees along the circle were full of carvings and little notes and ribbons, well wishes and prayers.

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It was pretty windy so I combined the hat with a scarf. Not as elegant as it would have looked on Jackie Onassis or someone as glamourous as that!
It was pretty windy so I combined the hat with a scarf. Not as elegant as it would have looked on Jackie Onassis or someone as glamourous as that!
After walking the circle, we ventured out in the countryside beyond the circle.
After walking the circle, we ventured out in the countryside beyond the circle. This is another so called “avenue”.

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First stop was the henge.
First stop was a henge called the Sanctuary.
This is what they think it looked like in the day. Now all that is left is the postholes.
This is what they think it looked like in the day. Now all that is left is the postholes.
We then went looking for the West Kennet Long Barrow, and got kinda lost.
We then went looking for the West Kennet Long Barrow, and got kinda lost. Our own fault for not bringing a proper map (which is completely unlike me).
In the end, after having given up on ever finding it, there it was!
In the end, after having given up on ever finding it, there it was!
A birdsnest orchid.
A birdsnest orchid.
Inside the barrow, we found small offerings in every little space; mostly flowers and candles.
Inside the barrow, we found small offerings in every little space; mostly flowers and candles.
I sat on top of the barrow and drew the view of Silbury hill, which is the largest man-made mound in Europe.
I sat on top of the barrow and drew the view of Silbury hill, which is the largest man-made mound in Europe.
This is not the drawing I made at the time, I posted that earlier.
This is not the drawing I made at the time, I posted that earlier. It´s an intriguing view, I like to work with it.
More tree offerings on the road to the long barrow.
More tree offerings on the road to the long barrow.
So, one is not supposed to go up Silbury hill, but obviously, believers (and I understand England is full of pagans) does not let that stop them.
So, one is not supposed to go up Silbury hill, but obviously, believers (and I understand England is full of pagans) does not let that stop them.

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We ended up, after several hours walking through this wonderful landscape, at the Red Lion, which is probably the coolest pub I ever had a meal at.
We ended up, after several hours walking through this wonderful landscape, at the Red Lion, which is probably the coolest pub I ever had a meal at.
And it is beautiful, too.
And it is beautiful, too.
They have their own ale.
They have their own ale. (It is ale, in spite of the name.)
I had to try it, naturally, and it tasted very, very well.
I had to try it, naturally, and it tasted very, very well. (Well, get it? 😉 )
I had a steak & ale pie, which is probably my favourite meal.
I had a steak & ale pie, which is probably my favourite meal.
I did some drawing, but didn´t come home with anything to show for it.
I did some drawing, but didn´t come home with anything to show for it.
And followed up with a sticky toffee pudding.
And followed up with a sticky toffee pudding.