Illustration Friday: Shoes

Do you ever feel like you would go off the beaten path, you really would, if only everywhere didn't seems trodden on already, soggy and worn down, packed into a hard glossy surface perfect for skating pretty patterns across. Those days when you're absolutely bored with everything and just want new ideas, new flavours, new worlds to excite you, and the best you get is a faintly different version of the old one. 
But then you pause, and you remember that everything new, however mindbogglingly weird, is based off of something that came before. And just like that the dull skies are a thousand hues of grey, humans look almost redeemable, kittens play and you think to yourself what a thrilling, old, brimming with potential, wonderful world, after all. ;)

(Still don't know how to get off the beaten path, but I'll leave that for another day. :p)
(This image was actually a collaborative piece with my sister.)


Illustration Friday: Hair

My hair is still fairly short, but soon, soon it'll be long enough to catch the wind.


Illustration Friday: Sailor.

HMS Tjurkö (M53) was a minesweeper: my dad really really REALLY wanted to be a sailor, so he talked the recruiting office into stationing him in the navy.
I joined the 100 day project this year as well, and took it upon myself to try digital. I still haven't explored all the possibilities of this media, but my little sketches have been useful in that I at least feel comfortable using a tablet now. I'd really like to try out more styles though, so I'll hopefully make the effort to look into that in the coming weeks.


Illustration Friday: Sprout

Hmm, it's been a while, hasn't it! Let's see if I can keep this challenge going. :)
Here are a few of the things sprouting in my garden right now. In actual real life, I don't call it 'my garden', mostly because I'm not the gardening type, so whatever grows, grows, and that's it. Also, it always reminds me of that old Swedish eurovision song where she's very innocently inviting a friend to pick cherries in her garden.


To all humans, and to those living in the EU in particular. (Because I meant to share a short vid on FB and ended up with a whole rant.)

People actually speaking of nationalism - as it is used in politics - like it's a good thing. 
Trump's kind of false patriotism is at worst (or best?) an absurd wake-up call, a (hopefully) temporary privileged bragging survival of the fittest bully policy where the market rules all. Our European versions (Le Pen, UKIP, Wilders, Sweden Democrats etc) are (and only because we're economically too small individually to be anything else) nothing but racist, classist and fascist. 
This is not an issue we can afford to throw away protest-votes on - if you vote for Le Pen because you're sick of the established elite of corrupted politicians, you are supporting not only what is the official party manifest but also the entire ugly underbelly of a society we all live in and have spent a century trying to make better. And since, unlike the US, most European countries do have more than two viable political parties, surely you can find something better than that. Don't settle for the options given you - look for something else.

Despite ALL the flaws of the European Union, its member states, the human species in general, giving in to the dark side should not be an option. 
The world wasn't better in the old days - we had as many wars as we do now, we had as much crime as we do now, children were as likely to bully other kids as they are now. The only difference is that we're more aware, that people's rights are more protected, that we have developed a mindset that protests and doesn't just accept what the upstairs tell us. 
In so many ways, the world is a better place now - and a lot of it has to do with cooperation, with actively working together for something that's not just in your immediate interest or mine, but can possibly benefit the world beyond our scope. 
The EU, the market, society as a whole - we are all not only part of these, but they literally wouldn't exist without us and there are civilised, democratic ways of changing something for the better without destroying it. (Which is kind of not so funny considering how these people are so against leftist revolutions, or anti-system parties when Trump literally went to war with slogans like that. And Spanish Partido Popular calling Podemos populist and anti-system, as if it is by default an insult. Because obviously Podemos are populist and anti-system, in the sense that they are a party consisting of ordinary people turned politicians, because the current system is doing a better job at protecting the banks and big businesses than the people they're always claiming to work for - and paying themselves handsomely for it too. If anything, the ugly populists - the ones that feed negative popular sentiment to gain votes - are PP themselves.) 
If you - with or without all your best intentions - vote to bring down the European Union; if you as a European or as a human, support Trump's business model, you are doing nothing but aiding an unbridled economic speculation market and its rulers. Even if you do nothing at all, you're supporting the same system that covered the Spanish coastline with hotels and adjacent parks that consist of raked gravel paths and a line of palm trees that give no shade, and bungalows with empty terraces and paved gardens "because the tourists come here for the sun and cheap wine"; you are supporting a view of the world where it's every man for himself - and I do mean every man, because there is no way to excuse or explain away such misogynistic attitudes and views. This is no longer the usual budget discussions and compromises, where you can accept some losses in one area for the sake of something more important right now, in another. Trump and the far right are so ugly that you cannot pick out the rotten raisins and not swallow the big fat flies with them.

Not everybody can nor wants to stand on the barricades, but people before us did just that to give us the right to make our voices heard. So, if you really do have fascistic, racist or in general non-inclusive tendencies, or are willing to support such a world view, fine, go ahead, you're obviously in your right to do so, but for the rest of us, put aside one hour to cast your vote, and do it consciously, do not take it lightly. Make a decision as educated as you can, and really really think about what you're doing. 
Don't be selfish.
Try to not be too short-sighted.
In short, just try.


Making my own vegan ink.

I find such beauty in Chinese calligraphy and Japanese sumi-e, and not just aesthetically but in its meditative qualities. But ink practises require ink, and although I know that traditional inks are made with animal glues, there's very seldom any information on whether the product right now is in fact using the original recipe or modern synthetics. Even art supply sites are a little vague when it comes to ingredients and when they do specify, somehow I always manage to find information elsewhere that plants doubt. So, after much too much time searching for something I would want to use, I decided I might as well just make my own. And this is what I do:
I take some leftover charcoal from the grill (because I'm too frugal to buy the ready made pigments) and grind it down in a mortar (if I had a coffee grinder, I'd use that). Because my mortar is a wooden one, I switch to a flat stone version (actually the kind used for inksticks) once the pieces are a more managable size, to get the charcoal pigments as fine as possible. 

I then add some gum arabica, which is the plant based version of the traditional animal glue used to bind the pigment, and some distilled water.
Don't use too much binder, as it might make the ink brittle; you only need enough to keep the whole thing together. 
Also, it's easier to add a little water at a time, assessing the consistency as you go. 

Another interesting thing about making your own inks is that you can change the texture to your own tastes. What I like to do is to either add pigment to the finished ink and let it float there, or mix the charcoal powder in a bowl together with the binder and water - not using the mortar for the final mixing. What I get then is a lovely, clear wash with a dusting of very dark pigments running through it. Now, some of these experiments won't last very long but, for me, who don't sell my original pieces, it works great for adding interesting textures.


One preachy vegan coming up! :)

So, alongside the corruption scandals and the attempt to ban the Catalán flag at Sunday's game, the decision by tho local government of Castilla y León to prohibit the killing of the bull at the Toro de la Vega festival must surely be the biggest news right now. But even though I was expecting anger, ignorance and even hate from those wishing to keep the festival as is, it still bowls me over when I hear arguments like "but we've always done this" or "if you don't like it, look away". Yeah, well, we've always had wars; women have always been paid less; up until very recently, children always worked. And dessert always comes after dinner. But none of these things are laws of nature that cannot be broken. And actually, even they can be sidestepped a little if you try.Argh, I know we're only at the start and most of the time nowadays I marvel at the positive steps the world is taking towards a kinder and more fair society. But then you hear people like this, who are not only ignorant (we were all horribly ignorant at one point; I wasn't born a vegan and still make so many mistakes, and there is still so much I don't know or don't know how to change) but actually seem to be proud of it. They spend a year planning a murder by torture and not once stop to even think about what they're doing. Or maybe they did stop and think and decided to go ahead anyway, which would make them some kind of psychos. Are they even thinking people at all or are they a bundle of nerves acting upon instinct? One wonders. But every time I see a commercial that's not gender specific, that shows a dog playing freely on a beach, a boy with long hair, a man who calls himself a feminist, a cat that's not just part of the furniture, an idea that makes you pause and maybe go ooh, those are tiny moments that give hope and makes you smile at the wonder of humanity. Positive thinking rules. Smiley face. ;)