Isn’t sky the most beautiful abstract painting ever? Whenever I can I like to go for a walk after work to look at the sunset and admire the beauty of it. As an abstract art lover I find it incredibly inspiring and kinda wish I could soak in all the colors and take them home with me. But instead I do the next best thing, I take pictures of the sky (often intentionally out of focus: to abstract the scene even more, to try and capture dominant colors in the scene etc) and then use to images as an inspiration for my paintings.
Technically, for me, making art is a roughly a two step process. First step is making of an under-painting: staining high quality watercolor paper with with ink and water. This is purely expressive, no-brainier step that I like to envision as a metaphor of the flow of pure emotion, of raw emotional energy. I let ink drip on wet paper, either directly from a bottle or from a tip of a large brush and let it freely mix with water allowing the two mediums to combine and merge as they please creating interesting effects. This mixing of ink and water is only loosely guided by my hand and brush gestures (the nature of these gestures is usually dictated by my emotional state) but basically I allow ink and water to and move and dance on their own, so to speak. I like to work in layers, as ink and water have done their dance I let the stain dry then repeat the process building an interesting texture which becomes a foundation for my artwork.
Step two is drawing (using either brush or gel ink pens) intricate patterns on top of my texture. I see this step as expression of mental energy since I see my patterns, dots and clusters of tiny circles, lines etc as thought forms, thought patterns. Unlike the first step that I just sort of, allow to happen, this is a very deliberate, conscious process of picking and choosing which parts of the underlying texture to accentuate and embellish and which simple shapes to use, what kind of patterns to create. The ultimate goal is to make a harmonious blend of the two, of the expressive, raw, free flowing emotional energy and conscious, deliberate, somewhat calculated thought process. This process of harmonizing the two can sometimes feel like a challenging balancing act but once it's achieved I consider the artwork finished. Of course, another important goal of all this harmonizing and balancing is to create something beautiful, beautiful art is always the goal.
When I was very little, maybe four or five years of age I strongly believed that when I close my eyes and gaze into the dark space in front of me I can see the universe. Often I could also see many, many tiny golden specks in that dark space which resembled twinkling stars and that helped solidify my belief that I was looking at the universe. Not only I believed I could see the universe every time I close my eyes I was sure I became the universe, I could feel it, here I am just a kid with eyes wide open observing the world around me but if I close my eyes and look towards the infinite I become the universe itself, it was just so easy. It was almost like a game I played, becoming the universe whenever I felt like it.
I'm not sure how I got to think about infinity and universe at such young age but it was probably due to growing up around my architect grandpa who was really into higher math, geometry and sacred geometry and very often gave me long talks about his favorite subjects. He especially enjoyed talking about human (in)ability to understand the infinite and he loved the idea of designing a time machine (according to him, it would be in a shape of a hypercube). As a kid I had no clue what he was talking about but I liked listening to him and watching him sketch. As an art student I did study sacred geometry but sadly I was never good at math so I could probably not understand what my grandfather was talking about even today, as an adult. But I am still fond of my childhood game of closing my eyes and becoming the universe, except these days I call it meditation :)
I started regularly meditation about 12 years ago when someone told me that doing breathing exercises and meditation can make one quit smoking. Since I wanted to quit that seemed like an excellent idea so I went to a local bookstore and got some book by an old Japanese author describing various mediation techniques. They all sounded rather complicated but I can recall the author saying I should "breathe from the stomach and not use nose as a pump" so I just went with that. My meditation attempts turned out to be a very effective placebo and I manged to quit smoking no problem never to smoke anything since then.
These days I just like to sit on my couch cross legged, close my eyes, tune in and chill for as long as I can, no special techniques, no rules, just relaxation. I'm not sure I'd even call that practice a mediation but it works for me. Sometimes, not very often, but from time to time, when I'm super chilled I can see an image in my mind, an illustration or a painting (it's not my intention to imagine or "see" anything it just happens spontaneously). Usually those mental images are very complex and I wouldn't know how to paint them even if I tried but sometimes they are more simple and memorable like the line drawings (see above and look below) I've been making during last few weeks. The images of colorful, vibrating lines appeared way more complex and colorful in my mind but it was still super fun to try and draw them anyway. It was so pleasing to make them at one point it felt like I could just keep drawing colorful wavy lines for the rest of my life, infinitely... until at one moment I felt full and satiated and done with line art :) But still, it was a wonderful experience that resulted in much joy and few nice pictures.
I thought I was done with my art project but it turns out the project wasn't done with me.
As I mentioned many times before I started a personal art project Ink Flower Garden in January 2014. with an intention of creating 1000 ink drawings and paintings, finding my own style as an artist and just learning about myself as a person in general. The project turned out to be a very intense journey that officially ended in December 2017. It was a very rewarding experience but nevertheless super intense one and that's probably why I can recall the exact moment I scanned the last 1000th image and saved it. It was December 13th, mid-afternoon and as I was saving the image I loudly declared "It is over, I am done."
Except it wasn't over and I wasn't done. I still felt inspired to keep on drawing and painting in same vein and kept on adding new images to my portfolio site, slowly finishing up several ongoing series I've been working on for years. This Spring, when I made a final image for Enter the Underworld series I was filled with so much relief and joy that it felt like the project must have been finished, like, this time for real. But, it wasn't.
There is (at least) one more series that needs to be worked on, At the Edge of a Galaxy. I started (officially) working on it in June 2016. and as the series begun to take shape I believed it was about planets and outer space being a metaphor for my relationships with men. You see, I use my paintings sort of like Rorschach inkblots, I allow myself to paint whatever I want, intuitively and then after a while come back to images wondering what do they mean. It's a bit like self-proscribed art therapy, I guess. But, yes, I thought I had At the Edge of a Galaxy series all figured out when, honestly I forced finished it last Autumn by "importing" a bunch of images from another series and calling it done. Why did I do that? Well, I wanted it to be done, I felt that my "edgy, galactic" series was getting kind of dark and I didn't really want to explore it further, I didn't want to feel uncomfortable or face emotional pain. But, the fear of emotional pain is much worse than experiencing acute emotional pain itself. As soon as you face emotional pain and realize what is causing it, it subsides and dissolves. So, few days ago I cleared out the galactic series by deporting some images back where they belong (Deep Sea/Deep Space series) and now I'm ready to see what's hiding in deep, dark depths of my psyche and paint it out to wrap up At the Edge of a Galaxy series as well as the entire project.
Before I even started the Ink Flower Garden project years ago I knew that I wanted it to function as a whole so I can either make it into an art book or something else that would suit the project and that's why it's important to me to have all the series be properly finished, to feel finished. They don't feel finished yet, but very, very soon they might. Let's hope so :)
Today I’d like to share something different than usual, a writing exercise I've been practicing over past few weeks that helped me get much clearer on what I want to do next in life, not just art wise but in general. Although I’m not a writer it was an incredibly fun exercise and it helped me to figure out what I’d really like to experience in life (as opposed to what I believe I should do next).
Ok, so I have a secret tumblr that I use for reblogging inspiring images, it’s mostly beautiful nature photos, lovely landscapes, pretty looking interiors, flowers, art I enjoy and such. Few weeks ago, as I was scrolling through it I got an idea to start writing little stories based around the images I found the most appealing. I picked out a photo of a lake and stared describing exactly what I was noticing on it: shore, flowers growing on the shore, clam, blue water, sun setting on a horizon etc. Then I imagined I was actually standing by that lake and begun to wonder why am I there by asking myself bunch of questions like: “Am I here on vacation? Who am I with? Or am I traveling alone? Am I here to take photos? Or am I visiting a friend in town nearby?” I continued to build a story around the answer that felt best, that turned me on the most and I kept writing about it in great detail describing how being by that lake made me feel, getting into my plans what to do next... I didn’t write much at first, only three pages and I didn’t care about the quality of my writing either but it was so fun I decided to keep doing the exercise every day.
Every day I’d pick out at least three different photos from my the archives of my secret blog to write short fictional stories about while focusing on writing about what turns me the most, what makes me feel the best, what genuinely interests me and letting my imagination soar without any restrictions. Soon it became one of my favorite things to do and after a few weeks of indulging in it I noticed a pattern appearing. No matter what kind of photograph I was describing, no matter which image I used as spring board for my imagination (a landscape, a houseplant, peach orchard, nicely designed living room...) I would always come up with a similar story involving same activities, same type of people, and me experiencing same emotions. I was bit surprised with what I kept writing about but it lead me to a logical conclusion that if this thing makes me so happy to fantasize about and I keep writing about it then I should just go ahead and make it happen in real life. The more I thought about it, the more sense it made so now I’m taking baby steps to make my fantasies come true:)
But, why did I need to write a bunch of fictional stories to figure out what I really want to do and experience? Probably because every time I’d try to journal about what I’d like to achieve I’d end up writing about stuff I believe I should do next, things that felt rational, next logical steps to take, things other people advised me to try, goals and plans that are in line with where I’m already at (even though none of them felt just right). Writing fiction helped me unlock imagination, override mental blocks, limiting beliefs and and get in touch with my true desires. I’m very grateful to figure out what I actually want to do (as opposed of what I believed I should be doing) and now I’m on my way to make my dream happen ♥
On my work desk I keep a small jar of honey somebody gave me as a birthday present last year. I find it very aesthetically pleasing and inspiring to look at especially during the afternoon hours as the sunlight fills out the room. I look at my little jar of honey, a pot of liquid gold illuminated by sunshine, sparkling and think of all the ways I wish I could capture the essence of this gorgeous yellow in my paintings. I let my imagination take the lead and think of various, random things this pretty rich yellow color reminds of: thick, sticky amber syrup, warmth of a hot August evening, golden hour etc... The process usually puts me into a really good mood and also inspires me to create something.
I've been also very much inspired by beautiful flowers, their colors and shapes and fragrance in lately (hey, it's spring after all!). Last week I got a bouquet of pretty pink roses (my all time favorites) and I just couldn't stop looking at them, enjoying their perfect, delicate coral shade, their soft petals as if I wanted to soak in all of their beauty so I can somehow transfer it to my art. I must have starred at the flowers for a very long time since at one point I caught myself writing down these words into one of my notebooks: "Does a rose flower know it's being watched and does it care about being seen? How would it describe itself, if it could name itself what would that name be?"
I don't know answer to those questions but I do know inspiration can be found in simple, mundane objects and lovely flowers and in last few weeks I keep on noticing more and more everyday things and sights and sounds and scents that make me inspired and energized and eager to create.
I really wanted to make something for vernal equinox this year to greet the spring after seemingly never ending stream of grey, chilly days and I ended up making this bright yellow image. It was partly inspired by music I was listening at the time and partly by craving sunlight. As the time went by I realized this painting would be perfect final image in Enter the Underworld series. I really thought I was done with that series and didn't want to return to it since working on it (especially finishing it) was quite challenging. The series starts with an image of an eclipsed sun (done for spring equinox in 2015.) so maybe ending it with an image of bright sun (also done for spring equinox) is the right way to end it. After exactly 3 years in making filled with a lot of emotions, illness, stress but also joy and ectasy it deserves to be finally finished :)
After I made Spring equinox image I just wanted to keep on painting sun: small sun, happy sun, sweet sun, lemon-yellow round ball sun, vibrant orb sun, joyful sun radiating tiny colorful particles, whatever sun, sun-shine, sun-light...and I started with a simple and fun illustration of a sunrise.
After that I wanted to paint an even bigger sun and pulled out the biggest paper I had at my place at the time (50x70cm) and quickly made this simple image of sun. I didn't do much work on it, after the ink dried I filled the yellow center with hand-draw circles and that was it. I hung the paper on the wall planning to finish it when I feel like it but few weeks have passed since then and my sun image still hangs there intact and I quite like it that way.
When it comes to art I'm a bit of a maximalist, I'm inclined to keep on adding more and more, more layers of ink, more patterns and details to my images until I'm sure I have exhausted every idea and until all of my energy is exhausted by working on the picture. Sometimes my approach works great and sometimes I simply suffocate the paper with too much detail. Generally it's hard for me to stop working on my art :) But this sun, there is something different about it, I love looking at it, I enjoy the fact that it isn't finished, it just isn't done, it's still in the early stage of becoming, it's simple and fresh and feels light and open and full of possibility and just makes me happy hanging there on the wall looking at me :) I'm not sure if I'll ever finish it, it feels so amazing just to let it be as it is.
Speaking of unfinished art I managed to finish the painting above in one frenzied afternoon. I wanted to do something with bunch of old acrylics I had stacked in the back of my closet (since I almost exclusively use ink these days I have had a box of decade old acrylic paints that has been just taking up space). I even decided to record the process and it all started like great fun but in one moment and, I can't tell why, it turned into torture. I wasn't happy how the painting was turning out but couldn't just let it go and stop working on it, my camera would stop working recording only 30 seconds at the time and 2 light bulbs exploded. Oh, well. Eventually I did set the mess of a painting aside and forgotten I even recorded most of the "making of" process. Few weeks went by and I decided to take photos of the messy painting because, why not, not everything turns out great and making bad art is still ok. I even uploaded the video on my youtube, it's just practice anyway.
I found a new pleasure in simplicity, in letting things be simple and easy so I've been just doodling a lot, being playful with colorful shapes and lines not forcing myself to add too many details and not exhausting all of my energy drawing. It's been fun.
Actually, everything I've been doing in lately has been fun, so much fun. I don't know why but I've been feeling ridiculously happy for no special reason whatsoever and been enjoying all of my activities. last week I was at my mom's place alone and just felt do happy and awesome I wanted to capture the moment so I started taking selfies jsut for the fun of it.
I've also been enjoying taking long walks and looking at all of the beautiful blossoms and of course soaking in all the warm sunshine I can. It's been a wonderful moth so far and I have a feeling it will only get bettr and better!
Few weeks ago, on a lazy Sunday morning, still curled up in my bed I wrote in my journal: "As I wake up I peel away my night skin made of enigmatic dreams, unfulfilled desires and longings..."
Almost every morning I fill pages of my notebook with whatever comes to mind, stream of consciousnesses style so no surprise much of my writing sounds nonsensical and I don't ever analyze or rarely even go back to it but this sentence stuck with me and in days to come I couldn't stop thinking about my "night skin" and meaning of it.
As I was going through my archives I stumbled upon an old painting called Nocturnal bloom, a dark blue and purple texture I was always very fond of. Even though it's from 2015 I can still recall exactly how it was made: I woke up feeling super restless and still in my PJs I started working on it without having a clear idea of what I was doing, in an almost trance like state. I don't usually finish my paintings in one day but I just couldn't stop working on this one. At one point I spilled a bottle of purple ink all over myself but that didn't prevent me from continuing to work on the painting. I made it in about 6 hours time which is super fast for me but somehow it worked, it made sense to me in all of its abstract, dark glory.
Looking at this old painting now and with its "nocturnal" title in mind I thought to myself I must have made it while still having my "night skin" on since I could feel an echo of "enigmatic dreams and unfulfilled longings" coming through it.
It made me realize that I made most of my best or favorite work from the same point of view, or better said while being in the same mode of operating, from the same, particular space: dark (but not in a sense of negative or destructive), enigmatic, mysterious, untamed, filled with desire and nocturnal in nature. In other words I make my best work while having my "night skin" on.
While pondering that I took some long exposure self portraits and other photos as well.
One of the most recent paintings I did that remind me of Nocturnal bloom is Metaphors of love and it's the last painting I also recorded myself making. I really want to shoot more work-in-progress videos but can't bring myself to do it, it's very hard for me to both paint and record the process, multitasking just ruins my flow unless I somehow manage to convince myself that recording is just as part of creative process as painting itself. In that case I approach painting as an act of performance captured on camera but since I'm not fond of performing I don't succeed in puling it off very often.
Currently I've been slowly but surely working on expanding The house of indefinable pleasures series and this little piece called Beloved is the latest addition to it. After years of predominately creating images in portrait orientation I decided to rotate my images which might not seem like an important thing to do but even such small change made me more inspired. I've been also doodling a lot just for practice and fun, drawing eyes or little stars.
Speaking of stars, I was very happy when I finally painted "a star of my own". Few months ago while finishing my mega project I was also struggling with finishing the series Enter the underworld. The series begins with an image of an eclipse and I knew the final image should somehow relate to it but I just had no idea what would it be. Eclipse was made on 21.03 2015. (during an actual eclipse) and it took me almost 3 years working on the series to come up with A star of your own painting that made me finally feel like the whole series is done.
I also felt I needed to make another painting that somehow relates to another image from 2015, White flame so when I made A vein of gold I knew the series was complete and it brought me a sense of relif and joy :)
I've been still making paintings inspired by music on the blog I actually update regularly (unlike this one oooops) and you can go there if you like to see those images or just scroll down to see some of my personal favorites inspired by song recommendations.
A couple of weeks ago I’ve finished the art project I’ve been working on for the past 4 years, project started in January 2014 with a goal of making 1000 ink paintings and drawings. Working on this project I always thought that when I finally create those 1000 images I’d feel exhausted, empty or even bored with with the repetitiveness of my own work but instead, to my surprise, I’ve felt very satisfied, energized and still very inspired to keep on making art.
The main reason why I even produced this big body of work over past few years is inspiration, I’ve simply felt inspired to do it, to do it for the love of making art, working with color and pattern, out of the need to develop my own style, to get to know myself as a person, to let my vision unravel...
Although pretty challenging at times this process was incredibly rewarding and it made me absolutely fall in love with working with colored ink creating small pieces on paper. It is generally believed that artists create small pieces on paper out of convenience (if, for example, they don't have a big studio space to work in or can't afford to buy many large canvases) but I genuinely adore working on paper and would, no matter the resources available, always rather make smaller works of art, they feel more intimate and satisfying to create.
Even though I've just finished a huuuuge project I'm feeling very full, almost overflowing with inspiration so I'll just continue this beautiful relationship with ink and paper and color and pattern and see where it takes me next. I would also love, as I've mentioned in previous post, to find time in near future to write down some things I've learned while working on this project and I would love to slightly redesign this website as well. It should all be challenging but fun to work on!
Who is your favorite painter?
Mark Rothko was always one of my favorite artists and considering today is 114th anniversary of his birth (he was born Markus Yakovlevich Rothkowitz on September 25, 1903) and also my birthday I wanted to share a personal, Rothko related story.
A couple of years ago I was talking to someone near and dear to me and mentioned how much I loved Rothko’s art.
He proceeded to tell me: “Oh, Rothko, that abstract expressionist? Did I ever tell you my great uncle was his student and adored Rothko? He always praised him and said Rothko was his favorite teacher, kind and encouraging to his students. In fact, my great uncle loved Rothko so much and spoke so highly of him it sometimes even annoyed me listening to it while I was a kid.”
I was, of course, delighted to hear Rothko was a wonderful, devoted teacher and felt happy to hear there is someone else who also adores his work as much as I do. Even though I haven’t met the old man in question I always felt we share a connection in our mutual admiration for Mark Rothko.
Last January I had an exceptionally vivid dream that felt strangely realistic. I’ve found myself in Rothko’s studio surrounded by his canvases. Do you know how sometimes places in dreams get a bit distorted, for example you dream you’re staying at your friend’s house that doesn’t look like their place at all but you still experience it as their's, or you dream you’re standing on Times Square that doesn’t even slightly resemble the actual place? Well, in my dream Rothko’s studio wasn’t a made up or distorted place, it looked just like his real studio that I’ve seen on photos, it also felt real. Sometimes dreams can feel fluid, light and fleeting and and as soon as we become aware of people, events and spaces in our dreams they start changing, distorting and are sometimes hard to grasp. This dream didn’t feel fluid or light, the place I found myself at felt real and there was a feeling of solidity and heaviness under my feet just as if I was standing firmly with both feet on solid ground.
I was fully aware I was dreaming as I usually am, but again something was different about this particular lucid dream. Not long into it I met (middle aged) Rothko who said I was going to be his apprentice. I felt very insecure (I mean who am I to be Rothko’s apprentice?!) but Rothko was very kind and encouraged me to help him to finish one of his paintings, he kept telling me that I was doing amazing job and wouldn’t let me criticize myself. After that he asked me about my art and offered to help me out with it. I showed him my drawings and called them “pathetic” but once again Rothko wouldn’t allowed me to underestimate my own work and praised me while helping me to finish one of my illustrations. I felt honored and grateful and also moved by his genuine kindness and interest. Later in the dream, some art critics and journalist visited his studio and he introduced me as his apprentice saying I was doing great work. At that point I was so moved that I started to cry.
After waking up I was still under the impression of this unusual dream and Rothko’s kindness and support I’ve experienced so intensely in it. My heart was overflowing with gratitude for such a dream and I felt very happy.
Naturally I wanted to share my dream with the person with whom I’ve previously talked about my (and his uncle’s) admiration for Rothko so I skyped him and enthusiastically begun talking about my dream when he stopped me by saying: “Asja… I’ve got to tell you something. My great uncle passed away last night as you were having your dream.” Of course I felt sad and confused by the timing of the dream, I didn’t know what to make of it.
Later that day I tried processing my emotions by painting and as I was working on a red under-painting I suddenly and inexplicably felt I knew how to blend color tones in a more sophisticated way. As if my knowledge of working with color has somehow deepened or expanded and I could feel it in movements of my hand, my wrist, my bones and my blood. I just knew how to make red feel more red, how to make it more powerful, how to imbue it with life force. As irrational as it sounds as if Rothko has generously shared some of his knowledge with me. I continued to work on my painting with deep feeling of reverence for the artist and in honor of his student who has passed away the same night as I met Rothko in my dream.
Still, to this day I remember that experience of a lucid dream with gratitude and fondness and I strongly believe that Rothko was not only a brilliant artist but also an extraordinary, compassionate and encouraging teacher.
Happy birthday Mark Rothko, thank you for the art and your legacy!
End of summer often leaves me feeling tired and slightly apathetic so I wanted to write down a list of things that make me feel better and help me pick myself up from any bad mood/rut I’ve been stuck in and help me become more productive and creative.
I decided to share it here because, you never know, maybe someone will read it and find it helpful as well :)
First of all, I’m no yoga evangelist and I’m not that person who, when you tell them you’re feeling down will yell at you to start doing yoga! I know that type and, no, I’m not one of them, but since yoga has been keeping me sane for the last few years I can tell where they’re coming from. So, yes, let’s talk about it.
I’ve always been pretty active person that enjoyed working out (although I haven’t done any sports since I was like 14 and that didn’t go very well because I’m not competitive by nature, I mean who the fuck cares which team wins in a handball game, right?) but I do need regular intense physical activity (and no, not just that particular intense physical activity, you with the dirty mind, you).
Few years ago I got into weight lifting after not having much experience with it and shortly afterwards I injured my lower back doing dead lifts. I needed to rest to let my back heal but I don’t seem to know how to rest so I kept training and re-igniting the back injury. Finally I gave up and decided to just do something really easy. For some reason I thought doing yoga was really easy. I took my first class and spent 45 minutes in agony realizing how incredibly stiff and blocked I was. I almost broke down in tears. I mean I was not out of shape or inflexible or anything, something else was hard about it but I didn’t know how to articulate what exactly, it made me feel a lot of resistance and I made up my mind that I hate yoga and I’ll never do it again. But I kept doing it, who knows why. My low back healed, but not really, every now and then it would flare up for no apparent reason and it would hurt like hell. It had no medical reason to ache at all.
In November 2016. I had one of those oh, no my back is killing me and for no reason at all again episodes and I decided to do some yoga to help ease the pain. I begun by warming up my spine, doing some cat to cow variations and after my practice something truly amazing, almost magical happened. I have physically experienced pain leaving my body, as if there was a bullet or a tip of a broken arrow stuck in my low back causing chronic pain and suddenly it was gone, in an instant, gone, never to return. I felt amazing and healed, born-again and 15 kilos lighter and then absolutely blissed out. It was first time I truly became aware that sometimes what seems a physically injury can be an energy block and that sometimes mindful combination of breath and gentle movement can bring instant healing. In that moment I also had an epiphany of sorts and learned a lesson of necessity of finding balance in my life and not constantly pushing myself forward (a lesson I need to remind myself of right now as well, tbh).
But, yes, in that moment I fully understood why so many people love yoga and why it’s such a huge trend, and no, I didn’t have any low back problems ever since that miraculous moment in November 2016 which I’m very grateful for. I still do yoga on the regular, I don’t do any fancy stuff, just aim to keep my spine and mind healthy. Every time I need something extra to pick me up I turn to my yoga practice knowing it will make a positive difference.
Aimlessly wandering around (going for long walks/photo walks)
Sometimes, if I’m forced to stay indoors for too long I feel like an animal trapped in a cage and I even start behaving as one, pacing nervously up and down the room (driving everyone around me crazy hehe) so, regardless of weather conditions I need to spend sometime outside every day, even for a little bit. Going for a long walk, when possible is one of my favorite activities and I don’t like setting any goals I prefer wandering around aimlessly, it’s way more fun to explore!
About a decade ago, when I was suffering from depression, going for long, aimless, exploitative walks helped me bring myself back to life. When I got depressed I decided not to take any meds or see a traditional therapist (even tho there’s nothing wrong with that, if you are depressed or otherwise mentally ill please do get a professional help, no shame in that, I just had my personal reasons not to) but to try and find alternative ways to help myself.
Symptoms of my depression were more physical than mental or emotional, I wasn’t so much anxious or sad as much as I’ve experienced complete physical exhaustion (while being perfectly healthy otherwise). I couldn’t function or get out of bed or move at all as I felt inexplicable heaviness pressing my body and my muscles, keeping me paralyzed. Intuitively I knew I needed to move, like get up and start moving. I wasn’t able to work out, after just 5 minutes of light cardio I would burst into tears and had to stop, not because I was sad but because I could feel heavy pain and stress filling every cell of my body, paralyzing my muscles.
But, I needed to move so I forced myself to go out and walk, walk it out. I thought if there is nothing else I can do, at least I can walk around. When possible I would just walk for hours until I’d get tired, but not tired from depression, actually tired from genuine physical exhaustion, hunger and thirst. With time I got better so I started to bring my camera with me and take pictures of everything and anything that caught my eye. My photos sucked but taking pics gave me additional motivation to keep moving and going for walks and also planted a seed that would later grow into passion for photography and one of my favorite hobbies.
Still, I love going for long walks with or without the camera. Sometimes, if I’m feeling playful I do something silly like taking a voice record with me and recording ambient sounds: traffic, wind, rain etc. I don’t do anything with those recordings, it’s just something kinda creative I like to do. Going for a walk always helps clear out my mind and makes me happier especially if I can wander around local parks or forest.
Creating morning routine to start the day right
Nope, I’m not a morning person, never was, but the older I get the more aware I’m becoming of benefits of starting your day early and having healthy morning routines. After I’ve been stuck in a bad mood or an unsatisfying routine for a long time, an easiest way for me to start picking myself up is to start getting up early, exercising, having something healthy for breakfast and then doing something important or productive before I continue with my day. If I feel I’m headed into a wrong direction establishing a healthy and productive morning routine usually helps me get back on track.
I first became aware of that few years ago when I got into running (oh, no, why did I ever wanted to run?! That sucks :)) so I begun getting up earlier than usual to go for a run. At first, I hated it but wanted to keep up so I motivated myself by going for a jog along the path that led to a field where I could see a bunch of horses grazing. So, every morning I’d get up early and go jogging so I could see horses and say hello to them. It made my whole day better. Sadly, after some time I noticed horses were no longer there and I asked a friend about it. To my shock and horror she explained that those horses belonged to a farm and were slaughtered for food and turned into sausages! It got me very sad so I stopped jogging.
Anyway, I digressed I just wanted to say that getting up early and doing something good for your body (working out, eating right) makes a difference in your whole day and just makes you more creative and productive overall.
After writing this short list I realized that it's easiest for me to feel better by engaging in some physical activity :) There are other stuff that also help, like journaling or sketching or listening to music as well as spending time with people I love, of course while avoiding toxic assholes as much as possible :)
This summer was really hard for me.
It was really hard and it was really, really hot. Like, insanely hot. As I’m writing this counting down the last days of August it’s still scorching hot outside. We’re having official heatwave No7 this season, here, in continental Croatia. While Heatwave No7 sounds pretty suiting for a name of a cheap perfume, enduring so much heat (and humidity!) this season without any breaks has been hellish (no wonder last heatwave was named Lucifer). Horrible blazing hot weather has started way back in late May and since then I’ve been basically just waiting for heat to subside, for summer to end so I can be myself again (if you can’t tell by now I don’t do so well on 40+ Celsius weather).
Continuing with my painting practice this summer was really hard. I didn’t have that extra energy I need for making art and I didn’t have much free time either, not as much as I hoped I would, at least. So I would get up very early (4 30 in the morning early), try to make myself at least semi-functional and paint. But most of the days I just didn’t feel like making art so earlyso I would rather go out for a walk. I’d usually go to the nearest bakery that opens at 5 and get something to eat, like a soft pretzel (yum, all the delicious glutens), then walk into the fields to watch sunrise and do yoga. But even those activities (all the stuff I adore doing the summertime) felt forced and uninspiring. And even at 5 in the morning, it was still hot and humid and it felt as if there was no fresh air, no oxygen to breathe. Nonetheless I kept up with my morning routine throughout the July, pushing through, forcing myself to create and work out and stay as active and as productive as I could until in early August, during yet another awful heatwave I finally gave up and decided to take a break from everything. I was totally exhausted and needed to rest. I didn't take any vacation this summer but I did take things easy for most of the August.
As time went by I started to sketch more and more and think about all the future artworks I wanted to create. It made me super excited and motivated so I decided to finish my personal project (Ink Flower Garden) by the end of this year. I begun working on it in January 2014 with the goal of making 1000 paintings and drawings to basically find my own, unique artistic style. It begun as an art project only but over the years it turned into something much more, a therapy, a process of deep introspection and self discovery and I feel I'm ready to finish it soon. I'd also like to share more about the process (either in written or video form) so I'm already compiling notes for that too. By now I have finished 877 (!!!) paintings+drawings and I'm pretty confident I could make 123 more during this fall (who doesn't love a good challenge :)). I have already stocked up on paper and ink in preparation for this grand finale of my beloved art project and only need to clean up my work space as well as survive this last heatwave of the season and then the adventure continues :)
When I wrote my last post, almost a a month ago I was feeling a bit (or a lot) burnt out and needed a break from everything. Three weeks later, after taking some necessary rest I'm feeling much better. I'm still going through some sort of "information detox" trying to focus on creating rather than reading and researching and just plain absorbing as much information I can. I continued to paint and got back into my "comfort zone", using a lot of blue and purple:
Also I started to work on an experimental animation video. At first I thought I'd just compose a video using scans of paintings I already have (to get something similar to the little animation test below) but then I decided to start something new and see how things go.
So far I made hundred small blue/purple ink paintings, I'm about to scan them and try to set them in motion, I'm hoping it should be a good starting point and a warm up of sorts for doing something more complex. My goal is to make something watchable by the end of the Summer or at least by the end of the year, it should be a fun and messy, experimental journey :)
Recently I've updated my portfolio with new series of paintings called The House of Indefinable Pleasures. I've started working on this series back in January and the title is a reference to Goethe's Theory of Colors:
People experience a delight in color, generally. The eye requires it as much as it requires light. We have only to remember the refreshing sensation we experience, if on a cloudy day the sun illumines a single portion of a scene before us and displays its colors. That healing powers were ascribed to colored gems, may have arisen from the experience of this indefinable pleasure.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Theory of Colors
However, this series was originally inspired by Prince (wait what?! what do Goethe and Prince have in common?!). At the beginning of 2017. as I was listening to Prince I I couldn't help but think how his music was so incredibly positive, uplifting, sensual and sexy. Even if we put aside erotic lyrics his music by itself still sounds sooooo sexy and it made me wonder if it would be possible for me to make "sexy" abstract art, or is an idea of erotic abstract art an oxymoron? I mean, is it possible to express something very sensual and sexy by just using color and abstract patterns? At the same time I was reading some of Wilhelm Reich's work and also started to wonder if I could "paint an orgasm" or somehow express an energy of orgasm through abstract painting. Parallel to all that I got back into reading a lot about color theory, cultural significance of color and I even developed an interest in material history of color (seriously, even if you're not a color nerd like me, material history of blue is super interesting, I mean, how can blue be one of our primary colors when it's so rare to find blue pigments in nature etc etc) and in the process of that I re-read Goethe's Theory of Colors. It made me think of pure (and yes, somehow indefinable) pleasure we get from observing colors and the whole story of expressing pleasure through colorful abstract art came together. Slowly the foundations of The House of Indefinable Pleasures were built and I plan to continue to work on the series.
I've been also working on art inspired by songs recommended by others on tumblr. Recently I've uploaded all the music inspired paintings into a special album on flickr under Creative Commons license so they can be freely downloaded (and you can print or use them in your art projects etc).
Some of the paintings inspired by songs made during last month or so (you can see more on my tumblr):
It's a recurring thing now: as an old year changes into new one I make a resolution not to make any new year resolutions. Then after January 4th something changes and I first start reevaluating my whole life (for better or worse) which sets me into goal setting/planning frenzy and I set a bunch of yearly (or at least quarterly) goals. Same thing happened this year and I spent last 10 days basically just making plans and setting small goals I wish to complete by late March. When it comes to art I have only one big goal for this year that is making me feel very excited and challenged and it also makes me want to withdraw into my own private world, get off the grid for next few months and just work behind the scenes.
I don't know is it because I'm getting older but I seem to have less and less desire to share stuff online. Also my love/hate relationship with technology seems to be leaning toward hate or at least strong dislike now, I've recently opened IG account yet I'm still reluctant to buy a smartphone (I'm using instagram form my laptop), it's 2017. and I have yet to attempt using a graphic tablet for drawing and painting, instead of typing my notes on a computer I'm writing down everything by hand (filled 2 big notebooks with ideas just last week). I'm afraid I might be turning into grumpy old technophobe :) Well, not a grumpy one, a happy one to be honest :)
To motivate myself to keep on blogging and posting stuff online I recently started a fun, personal side project of "painting songs". Basically I ask someone to recommend me a song and then I make an abstract painting in my style inspired by it. You can check out my tumblr if you're interested in how that goes.
I've been also experimenting with mixed media (see below) and I'm curious how will that develop. So far it has been fun and it makes me wanna get crafty after years of being devoted to painting and drawing only. I guess it's time to experiemnt more :)
Here is a video compilation of (almost) all of the paintings I made in this year (as well as some photos). It's been a challenging year but I'm still feeling grateful to be able to work on my art :)
I wish you all happy holiday season and see you next year ♥♥♥
Let's all have a wonderful, creative week :)
In memory of Vukovar.
Today marks 25 years since Battle of Vukovar, my hometown.
I wish I could find words to write something meaningful about it, about war and horrendous consequences of it, about futility of it, about the tragedy but even after 25 years I feel the right words escape me so I'll just leave this photo up here, as a symbolical gesture, a reminder perhaps because I feel that's the only thing I can do right now as an acknowledgement of the pain and suffering and despair that still haunts everyone who experienced the tragedy of Vukovar and keeps so many still frozen in time, still stuck in 1991. reliving the same experience over and over again. I hope that peace and healing find them all one day.
If you woke up this morning with a strange desire to watch someone (and that someone being me) painting small white dots and rambling on about art, rejoice because today is your lucky day! I made a vlog in which I do just that-paint tiny dots and talk about art in almost coherent way! Yay! And all you have to do to experience that is click that seductive play button. (Go ahead, you know you want to :))
Oh, and btw the painting I'm working on is called Mr Fantasizer, it's pretty big (for my humble, small format loving standards): 70x100cm and I've been working on it for last week or so and it might take me forever to finish (or maybe just another week or so).
When I manage to finish it, I will put together an actual work-in-progress, speed-painting, let-me-show-you-how-I-made-this video but for now here is just yours truly doting and chatting.
So, I've started this new thing of incorporating texts into my paintings and basically using them as an art journal, writing down my thoughts, ideas and such. I'm allowing the words to mix and merge with other patterns and elements of painting so they are not really legible. But in case you're curious what it says on the image here is the text:
He wore black on black.
Black on black never as a fashion statement. Black on black but never a minimalist. Black on black but not emo.
Black on black but not as a shield, not for protection. Black on black as a source of personal power, as owning his messy, complex, raw self. Black on black as raw power focused and channeled into something constructive.
Black on black as there are no other options. Black on black as Lilith, dark side of the Moon and owning his rage. Black on black as self-mastery.
Black as black ink, incaustum nigrum. Black on black as being fiercely independent. Black on black as being to Hell and back several times and surviving. Black on black as being his own savior.