PAINTING & ILLUSTRATION
Autumn is breathtaking in Paris. It was one of my dreams to travel there and see the Parisian trees losing their colorful trees with the romantic Eiffel tower in the background. My dream came true and last week I was in Paris. The city of love, the city of lights, the city of art...
When in Paris, I decided to take up drawing lessons and wholly indulge in the process of creating art. Even when you're already an artist - there is always space to learn something new. I searched some art classes and I found a great atelier! I signed up for 'life drawing', which means drawing a person sitting on a chair (or changing positions). During the class, it was a French woman. Naked.
I must say, I have never drawn a modeling naked woman before. It was my first time. As I detail-oriented person, it was quite a challenge to sketch just the basic shapes of a feminine figure, without focusing on too much details, like eyes or face. The lesson was amazing and there were many local French artists participating.
The atelier is called "La Villa Bastille" and is led by an artist and teacher - Patrick Fouilhoux. A man of great personality, a good teacher and wonderful artist. He welcomed me very warmly in his studio, which looked French and professional. It is conveniently located by metro stations Bastlle and Gare de Lyon.
The class lasted two hours, which passed by so quickly. All the participants were so focused and engaged in sketching that we forgot about the existing world :) Art is like meditation. You focus on the process and nothing else matters. Patrick gave me some guidance and instruction. You could tell that he is a talented artist and with one line he could correct my drawing. He taught us how to perceive human body and how to convey this perception onto paper. Life drawing is all about perception and the way of seeing things. If you learn to see a human body in geometrical shapes - then you know how to draw it on paper.
Here are a couple of my drawings from the class.
The drawing class was an amazing experience for me. It made me realize (again!) that art is something I truly love and believe in. It was also an excellent opportunity to exchange some thoughts with local artists and breath in the French art atmosphere.
I think my smile tells it all :) If you have a chance to be in Paris and you'd like to take up a drawing lesson - don't hesitate to contact Patrick.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Comments are always welcome.
See you next time,
The Kunsthaus in Zurich is the largest art museum in Switzerland. Believe it or not, it even overtook Basel. It's definitely worth to check it out. Doesn't matter if you're a museum geek or not. Kunsthaus is so versatile, that for sure you can find something for yourself there.
Kunsthaus houses not only the collection of well-known artists such as Claude Monet, Picasso, Chagall, Giacometti but also local Swiss contemporary artists. You have the rooms for sculptures, prints and drawings, photography and video collection. If you prefer classical painting genre then you can head stright to level 2 of the building.
I simply love this place and lately have paid it yet another visit. This time I wanted to spend some time admiring Monet's "The water lily pond with irises" paintings and the motivation, which stood behind it. An enormous effort, which only few could understand or go through.
Did you know that Monet while painting the waterlillies was in his old age and that he was suffering from a serious eye disease, which prevened him from seeing well?
That's the reason why his water lily pond got more foggy and abstract in the last years of his life. The waterlillies in Kunsthaus are from Monet's last years of life. Can you imagine to pursue painting when you cannot see well anymore? Even only for this reason Monet is a genius for me. He didn't give up and he was doing what he loved to do until the last days of his life. A remarkable man.
"The water lily pond with irises" is, in fact, a huge painting. It has 2m x 6m and Monet sacrificed a couple of years to paint it (1914/1922). Apart from the painting, he was a keen gardener and found a great pleasure in working in his garden in Giverny. He planted many flowers and loved to make his hands dirty in the soil. As to the water lilies painting in Kunsthaus, I think we can suppose that Monet got an idea for this painting some time in May. The irises flower only for a relatively short period in May. He must have been charmed by the blooming irises and then the idea for the painting was born...
Claude Monet once said:
"Water Lilies is an extension of my life. Without the water, the lilies cannot live, as I am without art".
To see Monet you don't have to head to Paris. If Zurich is closer to the place where you live go to the Kunsthaus. Simply hop on a tram or take a pleasant walk through Zurich Old Town to get there and have a small tet-a-tet with Claude Monet's water lillies.
A tip: every Wednesday the admission is free of charge :)
Check out my art commentary about Monet, straight from Kunsthaus:
Thanks for stopping by!
September is a special month. Leaves slowly turning yellow and brown, wind blowing stronger with every puff. It's the time when summer is gone, but winter has not yet come. It's the time to harvest the summer crops, literally as well as spiritually.
Autumn has an incredible influence on me. It's my favourite part of the year, where I create most of my art.
Children go back to school, but what about their parents and other grown-ups? We also go back from the paradise island of summer retreats and holidays back to normal life again.
Today in Zurich it was quite cold and windy. Summer weather has left us abruptly and left space for autumnal proximity. I sat down over a cup of coffee, turned on nocturnes of Chopin and started to draw.
I often think that our existence is a school of life. But this time what we learn is not maths or biology, but love, hatred, happiness, ups and downs... With no teacher but other people and ourselves. A school where not everybody manages to graduate from. Sometimes we are faced with the same 'lessons' over and over again until we finally understand something and are able to move on.
School of life provides us with many changes. A new job, a new partner, a new place of living. Autumn is the season of change. We can observe it by the changes happening in nature. Are the changes we face in our lives like leaves falling off the trees? We are so much afraid that they are gonna fall off and that we will be left with nothing, with bare branches sticking out of a tree trunk. Yet, we all realize that after autumn comes winter, and then spring and summer again...And the trees blossom again with green of their leaves and sweet smell of their pink flowers.
Marcus Aurelius in his "Meditations" wrote:
"The work of universal nature is to translate this reality to another; to change things, to take them from here and carry them there. All things are mutations, but there is equality too in their distribution. All is familiar: no cause then for fear of anything new".
Let's not be afraid of changes. They are nothing new, just leaves changing their color and form.
My new illustration "Autumnal proximity"
A flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and a man cannot live without love. This love I'm talking about here can be diverse... It can also be a love for painting!
Today we're gonna go through a short tutorial on how to paint these colorful beauties of nature, which flowers are.
You will need:
1) a canvas - any size you feel comfortable with
2) acrylic colors: white, yellow, white, blue, green, red/pink, any you like
3) two-three brushes and water in a plastic cup
1) PAINT THE BACKGROUND OF THE PANTING
You can choose a color you like, but make sure it will not be attracting attention too much. Best is to use pastel colors or delicate warm and cold shades. I chose a cold bluish-gray, which emerged after I mixed gray, white, blue and turquoise. If you want to achieve a similar color, add a lot of white when you mix the colors.
There are two ways how to put the color to the background:
a) either you paint the whole background
b) or you leave some blank space for the vase with flowers.
As soon as you covered the canvas with your preferred color, waut 10-15 minutes until it dries completely.
2) START TO PAINT THE FLOWERS
The precision at this step is not so important. First, just grasp the shape of the flowers. Do the first colors and first layers of the petals. Later on we will work on details such as petals, the inside of the flowers and leaves.
As you see, the painting at this stage has still very general shapes and is not too much detailed. I call this the impressionistic method of painting.
Make small spots, lines and strokes, which you will later shape into flowers.
3) DETAILS AND GEOMETRY
Flowers are based on geometrical figures, like a circle or a star. I decided to make the pink flowers more like star-shaped. This is the stage where you can decide on the shape of your flowers in a bouquet. Take a look at the red ones - they are simply dots, based on a circle. With the pink ones - you can differentiate the petals and the flower's inside.
A tip: use your hands to spread the paint. try to give shape to the flowers with your fingers. I find it much easier than with a brush.
Generally, the flowers are round-shapes, whereas the leaves are painted with simple, vertical strokes of the brush. Don't forget to give your flowers painting an impressionistic touch - tap the canvas with your fingers dipped in many colors. That's how Monet used to do it. You can feel like him now ;-)
Hope you enjoyed this short tutorial. Stay tuned and sign up to my newsletter where I keep you updated on coming workshops in Zurich and my art inspirations.
See you next time!
Do you have an empty wall in your apartment which you'd like to fill in with pictures or paintings? If yes, I have good news for you!
I tried it myself how to do it best and I have some hints for you.
A wall with arranged paintings looks super cool and very artistic. At first, however, you can have some doubts regarding a proper arrangement of your art pieces in such a composition. In fact, there are endless ways how you can arrange the paintings on your wall. This depends on how big are the paintings, their size, subject and color of the frames.
So, let's get down to it, shall we?
1) CHOOSE ONE THEME
If you have 20 paintings around you, then it's not easy to pick 6 or 7 for the wall art composition. What you can do here is to choose one theme - women, human portraits or landscapes for example. Then, such a composition would be within one theme, but still varied between the particular paintings. For my wall composition I chose my paintings of women.
2) MAKE A COMPOSITION PLAN
Here, think about a composition of your paintings. This means how your paintings are going to hang on the wall. Will you put them in a row one after the other? Will you arrange them in sets of three? The best way how to figure it out is to draw it on paper before you hit the nails in the wall.
The paintings will be of different dimensions, so try out each composition and you'll find the one that works best for you.
3. HIT THE NAILS TO THE WALL
Time for some fun with the neighbours! :) Before you hit the hammer with the nails to the wall, first measure the middle of each painting to find a good balance spot for the nail to uplift your painting.
Start from the middle point of the composition and then go to the sides. Remember that each of your paintings need to have a hanger at the back, on which you can hang it. Regarding nails, simle and small type of nails will be sufficient.
I must say I haven't played with a hammer for a long time and my first nail that I hit got crooked and looked funny on the wall. But still, it worked well to have a painting hanging on it.
4) DO THE CHECK-UP
If you already installed all the pieces to the wall make 2-3 steps backwords and check on the paintings.
Are they hanging straight? Do you like the composition? Would you change the place of some paintings?
5) ENJOY AND INVITE YOUR FRIENDS TO ADMIRE
Now comes the most enjoyable part - showing your art wall composition to your friends. Of course, you can skip that and admire it yourself. That's equally good :-)
As soon as the job is done you can sit back, drink a cup of coffee and appreciate your wall art.
I hope the above hints were helpful to you. If you'd like to share your feedback I'd be happy to receive your comments!
See you next time,
If you're creating art, then I'm sure you wonder what are the ways to attract the attention of the public to your paintings. Let's face it: every artist dreams about thousands of people seeing and admiring his or her art.
In this post I'm going to share with you some of the ways, other than social media exposure, how you can get your artwork noticed.
ENTER ONLINE ART CONTESTS
You may not be the competitive type, but entering online art contests can be a great way to gain some exposure. There are plenty of art contests webiste, where all you need to do is to submit your portoflio or chosen artworks for the contest.
I recommend you "Artavita" - they have good online contests, where you can even win exhibiting for free at airt shows like Spectrum Miami or Art Expo New York. More info you'll find here:
GET YOUR ART PUBLISHED
This is a fabulous way to show yourself, you paintings and your talent. Usually such art books are later on distributed to many galleries in the world.
How to get your art published?
There are art associations that also organize art contests, where you can win a publication of your work in an art album. There exist also art publishing houses. If you decide to go through an art publishing house, then you need to officially apply to be included in your chosen art book.
It all comes down to sending your portfolio and a short biography with your art successes. Then, you wait for the answer from the publishing house. They might like your art or not. So be prepared to hear some 'no' before you can hear 'yes' :)
Lately my illustrations were published in "The Art Collectors Book" curated by the Middle East Art Collectors Association. I am so happy to be included in this beautiful coffee table book. It was distributed to museums, art galleries and art shows in the Middle East, thus bringing me an apportunity for my art to be noticed in the Middle East art market.
You can check it under these links:
You can do it as well! Connect with some art publishing houses and try yourself. If you won't try you won't know if you'd be accepted.
How much it costs to be included in an art book?
Usually you need to pay a processing fee, only after they choose you to be included in the book. The fee depends on each publishing house. It's their own policy. As a standard, you pay 100 - 500 USD/EUR for the publication. In this price you have a free copy of the book for yourself, shipped to your home address.
Is such a publication worth the money? Of course it is. Treat this like an investment that you make into your art. What do you gain?
- your name included in serious art book publications
- the book is distributed to many museums and art galleries - you gain interest and attention
- someome from an art gallery, seeing your art in the book, can contact you with an invitation to make an exhibition. And this is all that we artists, are looking for ;)
I hope you enjoyed this short post and please don't hesitate to post some questions.
Have a wonderful and sunny day!
When you're preparing for a long-awaited holidays, the last thing on your mind is your flight. Usually, you don't wonder what you're going to do on a 6-10 hour flight. You just grab a book or two, watch some movies or sleep.
But what about those of us who either cannot sleep on the plane or are bored of reading a book or watching a movie? Can you spend the time on the plane in a creative way? Yes!
How to entertain yourself and your kids when you're flying long-haul?
Prepare for your flight. Yes, not many of us do prepare for the flight itself. We pack our bags, make plans about out trip itinerary and what we're going to do and see on the spot where we're heading to. We tend to rely on in-flight entertainment like movies, games and music.
What if you are bored with watching the movies or reading books? What if you cannot sit still? What if you are afraid of flying or you simply don't like it?
Prepare your flight. Here are 3 fun things to do on a plane.
If you like drawing take some drawing materials on board. A simple pencil, pen, rubber and white paper should suffice. What to draw?
Look out the plane window and sketch the wing of a plane. The variety of topics is wide: you can sketch people around you, good-looking flight attendants or simply take a magazine and get some inspirations from there. You can also sketch the sky and the clouds. Their lines, fluffiness and shapes.
Drawing helps you to center your attention on the act of drawing and observing the nearby things. It's perfect if you have a fear of flying or you feel uncomfortable on a plane. Well, I must say it works really good for me.
I fly quite a lot but my flights are usually not longer than 2-3 hours. Doing a quick sketch can help you to get more energised. Remember that in planes the folded tables are pretty small. Still, you can put a piece of paper there or fold it in two. Buy a drawing pad with a hard cover and the cover can serve as your 'table'.
If you don't have drawing materials with you you can always use a napkin and a pen (or even a red lipstick) :-)
2. READ A BOOK AND MAKE A COMIC FOR IT
When you read make some accompanying drawing to the book, like a comic story. Actually, you don't need to read a book to do it.
Just observe the people around or your travel companions and try to come up with a story. You can also imagine something and write it down, make a small funny drawing. This is very enjoyable and will make you laugh and full of creative powers.
3. TRY CREATIVE WRITING
Sit back, relax, drink your coffee and write a story. Whatever story you please. Imagine you are Steven King and you're writing a new thriller novel. You can write fiction, poetry or simply express your emotions and write about your feelings. The good thing is that on the plane you have no distractions like facebook or sms notifications. These are the perfect conditions to write. Who knows, maybe one day your plane stories will be published in a book?
Really. Take my example. I will try not to boast myself, but I'm simply so happy to share with you the news, that my book is finally out! I wrote one of the stories from my book "Snowdrops" while being on a plane. And it also tells about a plane ride. Sometimes certain flights can be your rebirth, your way to start things fresh. Like a graceful swan starting from the waters of the Zurich lake you can take the speed and fly. Fly high and go for your dreams, whether it's drawing, writing a book or making a significant speech at a conference.
You can buy my book here (in Polish). The English version is coming out soon.
Fly high and don't forget to enjoy it on the way!
Are you considering making a trip to visit the city on Bosphorus? A long weekend is perfect to see the highlights of Istanbul and feel the ancient charm of this special city.
What to see and do? Where to eat? Here is all you need to know.
FLYING TO ISTANBUL
Flight from Zurich to Istanbul takes 3 hours. If you have the chance choose Turkish airlines. They serve amazing food! Meat balls with rice, vegetables and a chocolate mousse for dessert. Everything was well-seasoned and fresh. I must say it was the best plane food I have ever eaten. A 3-hours flight is a relatively short one, but if you're nervous or tired of reading - watch a movie. I watched some sci-fi and time passed by quickly (in combination with delicious food!).
Istanbul is the city of contrasts, where rich history connects with creative innovation. The sultans may have long since departed, but their palaces and mosques remain unaltered from five centuries of Ottoman rule. The city displays its Byzantine, Roman and Greek origin whenever you look.
If you're a lazy tourist (yes, I am! how about you?) and you don't like exploring 100 things in the area, make a short plan of the things you want to see.
Istanbul is a huge city and you cannot see everthing in one visit. Focus on one or two areas and find something you would like to see. Do a research.
Take some time to see magnificent mosques, they are everywhere. Go to Sultanahmet district.
The mosques I recommend to visit are: Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and Sultan Suleiman Mosque. Remember to dress in an appropriate way. Long sleeves and dresses below the knee will be fine.
There's a great viewpoint with panorama over the city and the Bosphorus at Sultan Suleiman Mosque. Where old meets new and the east meets the west.
To learn more about the magnificent architecture of the Sultan Suleiman Mosque Watch my new video:
b) Sultan's Harem in Topkapi Palace
Sultan's heaven on earth ;-) This was one of the highlights of my trip. This palace used to be a residence of Ottoman sultand from the 15th till 19th century. The palace complex is huge and consists of the palace, the harem, a beautiful rose garden, mosques, hospital and many pavillons. If you want to visit Topkapi Palace I recommend to go there straight after your breakfast, as during the day there are many people and queues. 2-3 hours is sufficient to be enchanted with its beauty. Then, sit back and relax in the rose garden!
c) City impressions
If you're tired of sightseeing just walk through your neighbourhood and for sure you will discover something interesting. When we were tired, we decided to stay within our area and explore the local neighbourhood. We were staying in Balat district. it allowed us to feel the natural flow of the city and taste local, vibrant atmosphere and delicious food.
The view from our balcony was breathtaking. We rented airbnb instead of a hotel to plunge into the local life of Turkish capital.
Colorful houses - usually, the apartments are not in a good condition. Not renovates, old, crumbling... It was such a nice surprise to see these colorful houses while walking down to our breakfast place.
At a local market - a shop where a local Christian Grey buys his supplies :-) Ropes, hacks, chains - a wide selection of everything for tools lover.
Did you know that taxis in Istanbul are yellow just like in NYC? Maybe Istanbul could be regarded as New York of the East.
And last but definitely not least...
I usually don't write about food on my blog but here I make an exception. Food in Istanbul is heaven for my palate. Tasty, rich in flavour, great spices that you won't find in Europe and great chefs.
So, starting from breakfast. I strongly recommend these two places:
1) Cooklife Balat
2) A breakfast place on Kiremit cd street, Fatih, Balat - unfortunely the name of the place evaporated from my memory and I cannot find it on google..
For dinner we went to Nusr-Et steak house restaurant near the Grand Bazaar. Amazing experience for all meat lovers! If you know "Salt bae", Nusret himself, then you'll enjoy it even more when the waiter makes the salt gesture in front of you or slaps the meat with his hand :-)
Turkish coffee is an essential part of the stay:
Nusret himself - the master of meat art ;)
Istanbul is a lively city with great flavours to discover. This is the place where the east meets the west and where the new meets the old. I would even dare to say that yes, it can be a New York of the East.
I enjoyed my stay there very, very much and I hope my tips can be useful to you if you're planning to visit this amazing city!
Don't forget to share your thoughts in comments or ask question.
See you soon!
Johannes Vermeer and one of his well-known paintings entitled "The lacemaker" has always been a subject of deeper analysis of XVII-century life in the Netherlands.
Did you know that he was actually one of the first painters to focus on painting ordinary genre scenes depicting women by their daily activities? Cooking, cleaning, washing the dishes and sewing were no mystery for Vermeer.
He used to capture these moments and elevate them to sacred, repetitive moments that we experience every day. Who of you does not cook or clean the dishes every day? Even if it's just washining your coffee cup :-)
We tend not to give too much of importance to these small daily activities that we do. Making coffee, washing the dishes, cleaning the table, sewing or taking a shower.
How many of these you do automatically?
"The lacemaker" opens our eyes to notice these small ordinary things which we do every day. We do not necessarily make account of that.
A refreshing lesson arising out of Vermeer's painting may be sumed up as follows:
1. There are some activities that we need to do every day repetitively.
2. Why don't we focus on them as much as we focus on our big projects and work? Why small actions should be less important than the big ones?
3. The clock measures the time regardless of what type of activity you do. Whether it's preparing a meal or being on the conference call at work.
4. Why don't we put focus and attention to those simple, and unimportant at a first glance, activities?
Focus and attention create energy. We need energy to prepare a wonderful meal, brew a good coffee or clean the bathroom.
I have noticed that as a typical 'multi-tasker' I was focusing on too many things at the same time. Then, I couldn't really focus and put my attention to one matter and my thoughts were simply drifiting away from one subject to another. As a result, I often cut myself in the finger while preparing the food, talking on the phone and listening to a podcast - all at the same time (!).
My last visit to the Louvre, where I have seen Vermeer's "Lacemaker" for the first time, made me wonder for a while.
All the things we do and which take time are equally important. The small things that we do - they are our daily rituals that make up a part of our existence.
Eckart Tolle in his book "The power of now" touches upon this subject. He said: "Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life".
From the moment I've seen "The lacemaker", I no longer want to make the cleaning and cooking 'done', but I fully engage in the process. When I cook, I think about the cooking and the wonderful dish that I am going to make. When I take a shower, I focus on how good it feels to have water cleansing my body.
When I was at the Louvre I was quite surprised to discover that this painting is pretty small. Just like the small things we do every day. But the meaning of it impacts your mind. It creates focus, attention, beauty of a simple moment of lace making, sewing. The miracle of life, hidden in your coffee cup or in the zucchini that you use for cooking.
I talk about Vermeer and his "Lacemaker" in detail in one of my videos on my YouTube channel. Please check it out here and let me know if you liked i!
Wishing you an inspiring Monday!