Archive for February, 2010

Little plans for March

Snowy

Archive: Snow in February 2009

It has been ages since my last post. Normal life has picked up again, and my ever demanding job is beckoning once more. My first attempt was to write a post on how I struggle to find my creative spot in times like these (the so called ‘grown up’ life), having taken notepads and sketch books with my on my commute to and from work in the hopes of at least coming up with basics that I can later on expand into workable posts or pieces of art. I noticed that those methods do not work for me as it feels to me I’m forcing creativity, which is working against me.

So I’ve decided against writing a whiny post on ‘Why I can’t write’, or something similar, as I’ve found other ways of entertaining myself. One of them is my re-found passion for literature. I say ‘re-found’ because I haven’t had the opportunity to read properly in ages. The Metro every morning doesn’t count obviously.

Currently I’m reading The Winter House by Nicci Gerrard , which is about a terminally ill cancer patient named Ralph and his childhood crush Marnie, who meet up in a secluded cottage in Scotland after a mutual friend has informed Marnie that Ralph is dying and wants to see her. I’m 139 pages into the book and I’m surprised at the style of writing that has been chosen. Both characters tell you their side of the story, however Ralph seems to be telling his from his own thoughts.

I’ve also purchased a set of Terry Pratchett books, as they’re quite entertaining and humorous, something that is more than welcome before and after a hard day’s work. Especially these books are helpful as inspiration, as the man’s got a very lively, and may I add, consistent imagination.

And, as it is (almost) March again, I’ve got other events on the list. My little sister will turn 19 on the 2nd, and I haven’t bought her a present yet (shame!). Also my gorgeous boyfriend will celebrate his 20th birthday on the 15th, for whom I’ve decided to bake a big chocolate brownie birthday cake (sans the pink icing this year). Exactly one week later, our good and always amusingly sarcastic friend Nigel will blow out a few candles as well.

Actually, come to think of it, I could just take some pictures of the birthday cakes and foods, if I’m unable to find anything else to write about or to take pictures of. At the same time I could re-bake my revised recipe for Dutch Apple Pie and you can feast your eyes upon that beauty. Nigella – move over!

xx Chrisje

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Last day of holiday

I hoped it would never come, but unfortunately, there she is: the last day of my annual leave. I was so sure this holiday would keep going forever, these magical 2 weeks, or in work terms ’70 hours’, my long awaited rest, my treasure chest. I think you understand by now that I really needed this holiday.

The self pitying part in me says I haven’t had two weeks off. I’ve been ill since last Saturday, so in a way this could be regarded as partially true, although it’s better to be ill in my own time to avoid any hassle. So today is the last day before I have to return to work, to long hours, little sleep and lots of stress. I’ve tried to make this final day ‘the’ day of all holidays. Obviously I failed.

As I’m a list person, see here the list of my plans for today:

  • Plan 1: go to London, to Mayfair, to get myself a nice box of macarons, to stroll over the South Bank, to take some pictures and really enjoy myself.
  • Plan 2: go to Chelmsford, to go out shopping for clothes and Lush things and sweets.
  • Plan 3: be all home-y and make tonight’s dinner in advance, make bread, bake a cake and enjoy the smells of the house.
  • Plan 4: go out to town to get ingredients for a smashing ‘final’ lunch with the boyfriend.

At this point I’m not too fond of my lists any more because none of these plans were actioned. On the bright side, I planned a trip to Paris with my little sister Carmen, whom I’ve finally managed to convince to come with me and rent out an apartment for a week. This might bright up my sombre days until the summer’s arrived!

A picture of the apartment we've picked

It’s only a simple studio flat, but it’s not too expensive in off-peak season and it provides us with endless possibilities of what to do and where to go in the week we’re there. It’s also one Eurostar train away from London, so it’s a fast holiday option with maximum impact 🙂 I’m already so excited, and that’s only because of the apartment! Who knows what might overcome me when we start thinking about the shopping and the macarons! I can’t wait!

xx Chrisje

How sea lions turned me into a little girl

Yesterday I turned into a squealing little girl for a couple of hours again; we went to Colchester Zoo. I very rarely get to go to the Zoo, so when it’s finally on the agenda, I’ll go all out. Obviously unintentionally, because I feel quite embarrassed for running ahead of the group and taking pictures of everything and staring at animals with my mouth half open.

The party consisted of myself and my boyfriend George, his mum and step dad, his little brother and little sister, and our good friend Dave. I took quite a few pictures but I shall not be boring you with those (a small selection should do fine), and unfortunately I can’t show you any of the short videos either. After I’d uploaded them I came to the conclusion I will need to download a programme to convert the videos into something more suitable. Alas.

We had to walk through a tunnel to see the sea lions swim next to and over the tunnel; they were playing and fighting and jumping out of the water and back in. Just standing there in that tunnel made my little girl dreams come true. I wouldn’t have minded standing there for the rest of the day, just watching them do their thing.

I also very much enjoyed seeing the wolves (weirdly enough these were brown/ginger-y, and one was black. I expected them all to be black), the giraffes (I will have to try and dig up the photos from our trip to the London Zoo), the penguins (I cant explain this) and the fish (I’m terrified of them, but amazed at the same time).

At one point, I can’t remember if this was in the sea lion’s tunnel, or when we were watching the exotic fish, but Dave proposed us to go to an Aquarium, which I’m very much looking forward going to, even though we haven’t made any plans yet.

I was a bit disappointed after trying my hand on this zoo photography. The glass in the inside enclosures, and then the bright lights, seemed to get in the way a lot. Also the reflections in the glass and the fact that the animals move didn’t make it an easy task. I am not yet defeated though, hopefully we can go back in the summer, when the animals are mostly outside, and I’ll give it another go then!

As for the photo’s, I’ve deliberately kept the photo’s as I took them, no editing has been involved, and no cropping or resizing or cutting parts off.
Can I ask if anyone has got any tips for me, or good examples of animal or zoo photography?

xx Chrisje

Inspiration: Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall has been a huge inspiration to me when I was younger. This all started after we discussed his painting ‘Self Portrait with Seven Fingers’ in art class, after which I decided to do my final art project about him.

He has been said to be a pioneer in Modernism and has had a lot of influence on the artists of his day, even inspiring people today. As well as the ‘traditional’ paintings, Chagall has created glass-in-lead windows and large scale paintings for cathedrals and other well visited places.

xx Chrisje

Inspiration: Rene Magritte

I’ve been feeling really uninspired the last few days, so to get my creative processes flowing I’ve decided to compile a list of my favourite Magritte works. I am absolutely in love with the work he’s produced, and he’s been amazingly influential to Surrealism as a stream of art.

xx Chrisje

A response

This morning I read George Francis’ Society, Morality and The Death of Genius? as part of his Society, Morality and.. series. In this article he gives his views on the lack of genius, referencing to clear examples of genius and virtuosos, and also outlining the way forward to break this cycle.

I really enjoyed reading this article. It feels like it might be going towards a manifesto, but it can’t be denied that the article is well written and clear about it’s intentions. In the last paragraph George urges the reader to make a difference, to give any sort of artist the feeling he can still succeed.

In my opinion, though, it seems that in modern time, there is no actual ‘need’ for genius any more. With the technology most people (at least within the Western world) have access to, anyone singing songs on YouTube can be picked up by celebrities to make an album and feel like a star; anyone can make, or try and make, art and upload their pictures onto the Internet to establish a following, anyone can attempt and possibly even succeed at getting their 15 minutes of fame.

With such a large number of apparent ‘talent’, and so many people waiting for a breakthrough of some sort, a way to fame and (temporary) immortality, it seems that people seem to regard true genius as something of the past.

The majority of people, also the people with no semblance of any sort of talent, seem to think money is the currency, the magic word to get into the history books, a ‘Get out of jail free’-card, and to be quite honest, if we look at the examples, for instance in current press, you can see that money can buy almost anything.

Now don’t get me wrong, I agree with the general message of the article for the full 100%, but I can see here why there is a large part of society that don’t give a damn about genius, not even real talent, for the reasons I’ve just given you.

We have to address this issue, true, but it would be a waste of time and efforts to preach to the deaf, to give a book to the blind, and to try and get some common sense in the plain thick and purposely ignorant.

When speaking of propagating this idea,  in my opinion the best way forward is to put the initial effort into the top layer of society. With this I do not mean the aristocracy and the stinking rich, but I mean the intelligent, the willing, the ones with potential. It would then be their public duty to educate and inform the unknowing.

If you take a close look at history, with reference to literacy, white bread (particularly in France), voting, you name the lot, you see that they were first only seen in the top layer of societies at that time. The aristocracy throughout time, and from Medieval times on also the Christian priests and monks, later on even the shop owners – they were the owners of power, knowledge, money, influence. That is, until the lower parts of society, not only the workers, realised they wanted a pinch of the winnings.

Now, I’m not trying to keep the traditional segregation in place here, even though it seems that the general crowd only ‘want’ things when other people have them and can’t easily get to. Wars have been fought over them.
Would  it not be a better approach to make a demand for actual genius first, then to stow it upon people who won’t give it a second glance?

Anyway, in this modern day, segregation in its traditional way is rarely possible. The internet provides answers for those with questions, it provides a soapbox for speakers who struggle to be heard. If we want to make a difference, if we want to make changes and educate the people of the potential to be genius, then the internet should be utilised fully.

We should count ourselves lucky to be living in a time with all these different sorts of media, next to the traditional means of passing on information. If we fully utilise the means at hand, then this certainly has potential, if planned out, if done well!

On the other hand, I do understand, in order to make a difference, we have to tear down any existing barriers that might slow down the process of bringing knowledge back to the public, but right now I am at a loss to find a realistic, fool-proof way to bring back Genius.

If anyone has any ideas or comment, please let me know.

xx Chrisje

5 steps to beautiful landscape photography

Picture by Lee Massingham

1. Observe

When you’re outside, take any opportunity to observe your surroundings. Look for places that you think might make a good or interesting picture. Also, don’t shy away from the obvious. You might not want to go for the cliché, however this can provide a good practise for later projects.

2. Plan ahead

Now that you have your ideal location, plan out your picture. Not only should you plan for the objects that you wish to include, but on a more technical side, think about perspective, lighting, timing and the weather.
It might also be wise to plan out what you don’t want to include in the picture.

3. Be prepared

This goes without saying. I personally always have either a camera or my phone with me, in case I come across something beautiful. If you specifically go out to take pictures, do not forget to include an extra set of batteries, and possibly a notepad to make useful notes for future reference.

4. Be patient

Especially with outdoor photography, you’re pretty much dependent of the weather. In this case you might want to consider other locations or projects on the side.

5. Be realistic

You might not get the perfect picture with your first shot. This is why I always take multiple pictures, from different angles, with different perspectives and lightings, to save myself the disappointment if I see my pictures haven’t turned out the way I wanted. You might even end up with a better picture, or at least some inspiration for the next set.