Springtime!

May 4th, 2015

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At the end of April, I went sketching with some friends in Bergianska trädgården (Bergius Botanic garden) in Stockholm. It´s still spring, in that nothing is lush and green, but so many flowers had begun peeking out, and it was great fun to draw them!

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Funny story during the day: I met a little guy, about three years old, on a tricycle. He stopped right beside me where I was standing, drawing some cherry blossoms, and said:
“Excuse me, what´s that?”, and pointed at my tiny folding stool beside my bag.
“It´s a tiny stool that I sometimes sit on when I´m drawing”, I said. The kid was quiet for a moment and really scrutinized me, as if he thought I was lying.
“But your butt is so big?!”
Hehe. True.
“That´s right, but that little stool actually works very well anyway. In spite of my butt.”
The kid scrutinized me again.
“Show me!”.
So I did. I sat down on the stool, and ended up at about his eye level. Then he watched me sitting for about five seconds, said “Hm.”, and pedaled away. :)

21 x 15 cm, Duke calligraphy fountain pen with Platinum carbon ink, and watercolours, on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook page.

More daily drawings

April 13th, 2015

(If you can´t see the video above, here is a link to it. And please excuse the square video, but it is so instagrammable.)

I am still at it with my daily drawings from imagination, and I have to say this is a really interesting and fun thing to do, in many ways. The technique is not complicated – pencil and ink – so that´s really not much to write home about. But the ideas, characters and stories that are beginning to evolve are interesting to follow. Because that is what I feel I´m doing, I´m curiously following and wondering what will happen next.

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Some characters have developed over these first three and a half months, and some of them keep coming back, showing up in new situations, meddling in the “lives” of other characters. Some drawings that started as single drawings, develop into little stories of two or more images, which is kind of surprising to me. I didn´t mean to make up stories, they have kind of made themselves up as I draw.

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Coming up with ideas for these drawings is a strange process indeed. Some days I really don´t know what to draw until I sit down, pens and paper in front of me, close my eyes and think hard for a while. Other days, the ideas just pop into my head without any effort, all finished with details and all. Poof! Just like that. These are usually better visual ideas than in the first scenario, and they are usually easier to draw, for some reason.

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And then, sometimes, I´ve noticed that I tend to collect little things here and there during the day (I usually draw these in the evening) and weave it all together, via some weird association path, into an image. Which usually, in the end, has nothing to do with the impressions I collected during the day.

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Drawing-wise, I´m getting a good challenge in trying to draw the things I see before my “inner eye”. People, animals, buildings, environments, and all these strange perspectives are really giving me a good workout.

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I will keep at it, my aim is to fill the whole calendar during 2015. I hope you will follow along! I´m posting all the images on http://bogglemymind.tumblr.com, and some of them end up on my instagram too, sometimes along with a short timelapse video, https://instagram.com/nina_sketching.

All drawings: approx. 8 x 13 cm, ink fineliners in Moleskine calendar.

Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet

March 30th, 2015

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I have spent two days drawing at the Natural History Museum in Stockholm lately. Yesterday I was there with a group of fabulous Stockholm sketchers, we spent a good few hours drawing and having lunch and coffee together. And last week, I was there with a colleague and a few students, drawing reptiles.

Scrollable images below, for more details.

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When I was at the museum with the students, we had the luxury of being invited “backstage”, to see some rare specimens of reptiles from the museum collections. We got a whole room to ourselves where we could spread out our art equipment and bring coffee and chocolate to enhance the experience. Lovely. :)

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Drawing for a few hours at a natural history museum mainly lets you discover how much stuff there is to draw there. I will have to return on my own one of these days, there were so many bugs, bears and birds that didn´t end up in my sketchbook.

Both drawings: 44 x 15 cm, Namiki Falcon with Platinum Carbon ink and various fineliners, and watercolours, on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook spreads.

How to slowly win a bet

March 1st, 2015

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Someone, I won´t mention the full name, but it begins with an M, made a bet with me some time back. “If this orchid ever blooms again, I will take you to a Very Fancy Restaurant to celebrate. My treat. But it´s dead, I tell you.”

It´s been a slow process, the poor thing has been down to only one leaf for a period, but dead? Nope. It just needed eight years to come back.

Guess I´ll be enjoying a Very Fine Meal pretty soon. :)

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Top drawing: Copic Multiliner SP and watercolours on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook paper. Bottom drawing: some ink fineliner and watercolours on unknown paper in handbound sketchbook.

Drawing at Spårvägsmuséet

February 22nd, 2015

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It´s the last Sunday of the month today, which usually means that the little group of sketch enthusiasts in Stockholm meet up for some drawing together. This time we were not so few – 15! We went to the Stockholm public transport museum, Spårvägsmuséet, and spent a few hours sketching interesting stuff in the exhibition.

The good people at the museum also let us into the room behind the exhibition space, full of interesting stuff, leftovers from exhibitions, possible items for future shows, all in a fantastic interesting mess. Super fun! And too little time to capture it all!

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It was nice to be indoors for once, although today was not the coldest day of February. :)

Both drawings: 21 x 15 cm, Copic Multiliner SP and watercolours on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook paper.

Waking up a sleeping imagination

February 15th, 2015

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On the 1st of January, I started a new year-long project – to sketch from imagination every day. I feel like I haven´t used my imagination for years and years, and find it difficult to think up things to draw that aren´t made from observation.

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So, to try and do something about this, I bought myself a 1-day-per-page calendar, and decided to draw something from imagination every day during 2015. (I did miss five days already, but I´m not going to get anal about it.) To keep the pressure and my own expectations at a decent level, the calendar is very small, and has lined and flimsy paper.

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The first few weeks I had a hard time coming up with ideas for these drawings, so I decided to take some help from the Rory´s Story Cubes – a bunch of dice with different symbols on, to help make up stories. These dice are available in physical form, but it would be a hazzle to carry them around, so I went for the digital app. (And that´s all I´m going to say about Rory´s dice, I have no association to them whatsoever, they´re just a good help in this little project.)

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As the days have passed, I´m finding it easier to come up with ideas, I´m beginning to find inspiration almost everywhere, so I´m using the dice less and less.

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I do occasionally look at reference photos for some subjects, simply because I don´t know how many wings a wasp actually has, or how the horns are positioned on a rhinoscerous. But I have given myself a rule about this, since I hate using photos to draw from – especially other people´s photos, it makes me feel like cheating: If I need them, I look at at least 20 photos and then try to draw the subject from a different angle than any of them. And quite frankly, I am happy that  I have drawn so much from observation, because it has really expanded my understanding of how to render 3D-objects on a 2D-surface. The thought “I wonder how this would look from underneath?” isn´t so madly difficult to try out, even if it still looks a bit stiff sometimes.

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If you feel like following this project during 2015, all the images are posted here: http://bogglemymind.tumblr.com.

All drawings: 9  14 cm, ink fineliners on Moleskine calendar lined pages.

Digging at Södermalmstorg

February 2nd, 2015

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The Stockholm sketching group met last Sunday to sketch the view from a cozy rooftop bar at Södermalm. Only the bar was closed, so we ended up outdoors on the roof of restaurant Gondolen instead, cold, but with a view over my fav spot to draw, Slussen.

The New Slussen project is already visible everywhere around this place, although the city hasn´t officially started the actual destruction of the old Slussen. There are big roadworks preparing for the destruction, huge holes, fences and central heating pipes just about everywhere. It´s getting harder to walk or bicycle past Slussen, there is always a new concrete barrier somewhere forcing you out of your normal ways.

The archeologists at the City Museum (white building to the left) are making the most of the roadworks, though. In the big shaft visible in this sketch, they have found a piece of a 17th century street and an old kitchen with a baking oven from 1601. In other shafts they have found traces of buildings and workshops from the 15th and 14th centuries. Digging here is like opening a temporary window to the past, and although I hate roadworks as much as the next bicyclist, it´s amazing to think what might be lying beneath the surface of the rest of the city…

Cold fingers in London

January 24th, 2015

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Had the opportunity to go sketching for about two hours in London yesterday, wrapping up a work trip to this fabulous city. London, January and a cold wind makes for fingers cold as ice, not much different from drawing outdoors in Stockholm at the moment.

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Went into a café to warm up and fill in some colour, when a gentleman struck up a conversation with me. He wanted to discuss my technique, since he wanted to do something similar himself. He was suffering from stress, and had been ordered by the doctor to go out drawing. I´m just sayin´. This doctor got it right. :)

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I managed to squeeze in an early morning sketch too, of the not too inspiring view from my hotel room.

Top and bottom drawings: 21 x 14 cm, middle: 18 x 14 cm, UniPin fineliners and watercolours in Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook.

Nice, France

January 11th, 2015

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We went to Nice over the New Year, a short trip to get some light and see some new sights. I have never been to Nice before, it was a very positive first encounter! Love the size of the city, the sea, the sun, the food, and just about everything else. My dear M can also report that Nice is an ok place to have a cold in. Next time I will have to find more time for drawing.

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Having a hard time getting used to 2015 in my signature…

All drawings approx. 20 x 14,5 cm, UniPin fineliners and watercolours in Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook.

Freezing watercolours

December 29th, 2014

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The Christmas celebrations are over, had a great time with relatives in Värmland in the Western part of Sweden. I managed to get myself out of the sofa (you know the drill around Christmas – lit candles, long-johns, and film watching is an important part of the general plan) and out drawing twice near where my in-laws live. I wanted to try out my watercolours in these really low temperatures (in this case -6 and -13°C), along with the vodka/water mix in my waterbrush. It did work really well to paint with watercolours this way, though the paint behaves a bit differently than usual.

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It freezes a bit on the palette, just about to the texture of slush ice. Squeezing out more water/alcohol into it, turns it into floating paint again for a little while. It dries pretty quickly on the page as long as I don´t add too many layers of paint in a short time. In the second image, the cloudy sky actually behaved like it dried, but when I got inside it turned wet again, so obviously it had frozen.

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Also, drawing and painting with double wool mittens is a bit tricky, but I found it quite liberating. I have to leave out a lot of detail, stop worrying about wiggly lines, and hurry up like crazy, because after about 20 minutes both drawing and paint has to be finished in these temperatures, otherwise I don´t have any sense left in my fingers.

So yeah, definitely no need to stop sketching outdoors because it´s cold. You just have to adjust time and tools a bit.

Top drawing: 20 x 13 cm, bottom drawing: 20 x 10 cm, UniPin fineliner and watercolours with vodka/water mix in Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook.


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