Wednesday, December 31, 2008
One last drawing before the year ends. Our kitchen view again, this time in a cold winter light. The snow disappeared before Christmas, but the winter weather is smashingly beautiful anyway, with bright sunlight and a few degrees below zero.
I want to thank all of you who followed this blog during 2008, your comments and emails have meant a lot to me, you all make blogging well worth the time it takes. You are all a great source of inspiration to me.
Happy new year to all, and may your 2009 be a year filled with sugar and just enough salt to make life interesting!
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 18:43
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I decided to try different themes on my weekly drawings, just to get some variation. Last week I went for Jan Vermeer van Delft. I like the light in his paintings, usually coming from a window on one side of the scene. He captures it so beautifully, and trying to translate it into ink hatchings was not really doable, but a fun challenge.
Week 48 didn´t get a weekly drawing, I have had so many other things to do. I don´t want these weeklies to become a chore, so I just skipped it this week.
26 x 17,5 cm, Lamy Safari with Noodler´s Polar Black ink and watercolours on unknown sketchbook paper.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 19:20
Monday, November 24, 2008
The whole eastern part of Sweden had a snow storm last night, and it kept snowing most of the day today. Everything sounds muffled outside, the gray gloom of autumn suddenly turned bright white and everything is so beautiful. And of course, since this is Stockholm, the traffic is total chaos.
The first drawing is the view from my office at work, suddenly a very aesthetic and clean image. The second is the view from our kitchen window a little later in the afternoon. You´ve got to love winter when it shows itself from it´s best like this. After the storm, that is.
15 x 10,5 cm, Lamy Safari with Noodler´s Polar black ink and Faber Castell coloured pencils on some crappy brown paper.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 21:35
Thursday, November 20, 2008
This week´s drawing took me a week and a half to finish. I´ve realized my weeks contain pretty much the same things, same habits, so I´m finding it hard to find new stuff to draw that interests me. I´ll be trying some themes for my weekly drawings for a while, to get some variation in them. We´ll see where that leads...
26 x 17 cm, Deleter Neopiko fineliner and Lamy Safari with Noodler´s Lexington gray ink on some paper I don´t know the name of.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 21:55
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Another week gone by, and a sepia pen gave up on me already on the first half of this spread.
With this, the sketchbook is full. Oh joy, now I can go choose a new one! I have a few waiting... :)
26 x 12,5 cm, Deleter Neopiko fineliners on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 22:31
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Saturday, November 01, 2008
I´m a bit behind on posting my weekly drawings, don´t know where that came from... Last week I was working with brightly coloured Staedtler triplus fineliners the whole week, trying to avoid the darkest darks as much as possible.
26 x 15,5 cm, Staedtler Triplus fineliners on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 23:46
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I did my second sketchcrawl yesterday, and this time I had the pleasure of having company on my crawl. I met up with a gal named Tine in Gustavsberg just outside Stockholm, and we did a cold but fun sketchcrawl. Gustavsberg, where I haven´t been much before, turned out to be full of interesting environments to draw, and if our fingers had not turned stiff with cold after the second drawing, we would probably still have been sitting there trying to capture it all.
18 x 20 cm, Lamy Safari with Noodler´s Polar Black ink, Deleter Neopiko fineliner, and watercolours on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 12:56
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I took a long walk last Saturday, enjoying not so much the autumn weather outside as the warmth and the perfect coffee at this place, Kaffe och Drömmar (Coffee and dreams), at Södermalm in Stockholm.
I don´t know about this drawing... the composition is non existing, and there´s not really a subject to capture (I was hoping someone would sit down in that window, but no). I´m pretty happy with the back of that gray car out there, though - it actually looks like the Volvo it was. Unfortunately the red one does not look like a Saab, but hey, you can´t get it right every time.
12.5 x 15 cm, Neopico fineliner and watercolours on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 19:25
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
We all know drawing can´t be on the bottom of the priority list, right? That will just make you a grumpy and dull person. This is the reason I have come up with a new cunning plan to get some drawing done even when I have too much work to do and there seems to be no time for drawing. I am going to make a weekly spread in my sketchbook from now on. I start Mondays, mark a spread with week number and year, and then I just draw on the same spread throughout the week.
I think it´s a super plan; a spread isn´t that hard to fill in a week (depending on your sketchbook size...), I have no pressure to finish every sketch I start, no need to stick to a certain technique, and no need to rush anything. I will still have the feeling of accomplishment when the week is done and I sit there with a spread of fresh new drawings, plus I will have the benefit of NOT becoming that grumpy person due to lack of drawing. :)
I tried it this week, and it works like a charm. Of course, this will not be the only drawing I do from now on, but this will be the minimum in a week. Even busy weeks.
So... are there any followers out there? Huh? Weekly drawings, anyone? Aw, come on, you know you want to do it!
26 x 15 cm, PITT brush pens, Neopico fineliners and watercolours on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 20:21
Monday, October 06, 2008
An unfinished sketch from another classical concert this weekend. The conductor, Kurt Masur, was amazing to watch. He had such a subtle way of communicating with the orchestra. He had none of the vivid gestures I´ve seen with other conductors, but he was oh so clear with his soft gestures and facial expressions. He had the complete scores of the two symphonies in his head (I´m sure there were many more in there too), no need for papers. I got the feeling he was playing the whole orchestra as an instrument. Pure magic.
12.5 x 14 cm, mechanical pencil on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 21:27
Sunday, September 21, 2008
I went to a classical concert yesterday, at Berwaldhallen in Stockholm, and made a couple of sketches both before and during the concert. I sat slightly above, to the left of, the orchestra, and saw the solo pianist from behind. He played very vividly, and it was interesting to try to capture his posture while he was moving. The second drawing is of some of the faces in the orchestra. Stage lighting gives an interesting play with shadows on people´s faces, with sometimes extreme contrasts. Hard to draw but very intriguing.
I like how musicians in a big orchestra look at each other and at the conductor all the time, the interaction between all those people up on the stage is fantastic. It seems like they all have total control, they all know where they fit in, they just need to check with the others to make sure that they get it perfectly right... Amazing. Watching symphony orchestras is one of the few things that can actually make me wish I was a musician instead of good at drawing. The experience of playing music together with others - especially with so many others - must be pure happiness.
Both images: 12,5 x 15,5 cm, Staedtler Triplus Fineliners on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 22:33
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I went hiking with some colleagues and students for two days, and tried to make a quick watercolour sketch on site. We had a lot of rain during these two days, and of course in the middle of my sketch it came pouring down. The paper took forever to dry, and the background got rained on, so the contrasts disappeared. The "quickness" of it all got lost in waiting for my washes to dry. It´s a funny thing that water can be such a disaster for watercolours.
19,5 x 14,5 cm, pencil and watercolours on Canson Montval watercolour paper.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 22:40
Monday, September 08, 2008
Used unusual tools for me here - mechanical pencil and eraser. I don´t often make serious drawings with pencils, don´t know why. I love pencil, really. I´ve just abandoned it, somehow.
I worked rather roughly here, I like it when you can see the hatching and alternative lines here and there, I don´t usually go for pencil work smudged into hazy smooth gray surfaces...
12,5 x 15,5 cm, pencil on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 22:50
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Oops, another self portrait! I sat very close to the mirror here, drawing myself slightly from underneath, and only afterwards did I see that the left eye ended up in the wrong place. I like the drawing anyway, mainly because of the technique. I discovered that Staedtler triplus fineliners are very fun to dissolve with water. The colours turn into crazily intense hues and once dried you can keep drawing on the washes.
12.5 x 15.5 cm, Staedtler triplus fineliners and water on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 21:16
Monday, September 01, 2008
Time for an update. I fell in love with my Staedtler triplus fineliners again, took them out for a spin on paper this evening. Self portraits are always disasters, aren´t they... I can´t ever seem to get the mouth right. Among other things. Anyhow, here I am. Or some sort of version of me.
12.5 x 15.5 cm, Staedtler triplus fineliners on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 22:03
Saturday, August 23, 2008
I´ve been drawing these working men now for a week, as I set out to do, so this is the last one. At least for now.
The gray in this image is mixed from Permanent Carmine and Winsor Green (blue shade). I like this mix, both of the colours will come out here and there as themselves, refusing to be gray together - a great little effect, impossible to control.
10 x 15 cm, pencil and watercolours on Canson Montval watercolour paper, rough grain.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Today´s worker. Feels good to work in a series like this, I seldom do. I discover little things every day; other ways of doing the folds in the clothes, how to work with the shadows in the faces... I should probably do this more often, with other subjects.
10 x 15 cm, pencil and watercolours on Canson Montval watercolour paper, rough grain.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 21:25
Thursday, August 21, 2008
For once I thought of taking some photos while I was painting, so here it is - a little step by step of how I paint these guys. Click the images to see them in a larger size.
1. I start with the first light washes, very diluted, making sure to leave white areas white. Everything that´s not supposed to be white in the end gets this first wash.
2. After the first wash dries, I go on with slightly darker washes. In cases like this, when I´m working at home, I help the washes to dry with a hair dryer. I´m too impatient to wait for them to dry...
3. I keep adding darker washes, trying to keep in mind that the light in the image comes from above, so the man´s shoulders and the top of his hat should be slightly lighter than the rest. I found some of the darker marks got a bit too dark here, so I softened them with a brush with clean water after I took this photo. The spattering happens sometimes when I lift a very wet brush a little too hastily so the tip kind of throws some colour off. It´s easy to avoid by taking it a bit slower, but I kind of like those little accidents.
4. In the end I add some more darks and details, trying to find some kind of balance in the picture. This is pretty much the finished state.
5. I don´t like working with tiny brushes, it´s so easy to get caught up in details if you do. Here are the two brushes I use for these working men series, the smaller one is a Winsor & Newton Sceptre Gold II no.9, the larger one is an all time favourite, an old Kolinsky sable brush. I´ve had it for at least ten years and all the writing on it is gone, so I don´t know what size it is. I only use the smaller one towards the end, for tweaking details, I try to do as much as I can with the bigger brush.
The image is 10 x 15 cm (3.9 x 5.9 inch) wide, for comparison.
10 x 15 cm, pencil and watercolours on Canson Montval watercolour paper, rough grain.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I avoided drawing in ink today, thought I´d try to get a softer feel in the painting. I think I was too harsh with the values, though, so it´s still a bit too much contrast in the face.
Oh, well, I´ll try again tomorrow...
10 x 15 cm, pencil and watercolours on Canson Montval watercolour paper.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 22:24
Monday, August 18, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
There used to be a saw mill on the island where we have our summer house. It started around 1900 and closed in 1952. There are a lot of old photos from that era, and I love looking at them, seeing how the island looked in those days, what people were wearing, the interiors of their homes and how life was organized around the saw mill.
There are, among others, some group photos of the workers. I can´t help but noticing how proud they all look, from the thirteen year-old boys to the oldest men. Their lives must have been quite tough, the work was hard, but they were still considered lucky to be working in a place with good housing for the workers and a lot of advantages that workers in those days usually didn´t have, such as free fire wood and electricity.
These drawings are from one of those group photos. They aren´t portraits, the faces in the photo are too small to see each one clearly, but I tried to capture those proud expressions on their faces and their clothes. I´ll be doing some more of these in the next few days, since I think they´re so interesting. Plus, it gets me drawing again. I´ve been kind of lazy lately.
20 x 15 cm, Lamy Safari with Noodler´s Polar Black ink on Canson Montval watercolour paper.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 16:56
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I am not a motor boat person, I´m a sailor. But as it is, I don´t have a sailing boat, I have part of a motor boat. It can´t beat sailing, but I have to confess that it´s still quite lovely to be able to go wherever you want on the water.
This boat of ours comes with a new feature compared to our old one - you can actually maneuver it to exactly where you want to go. That sounds stupid, I know - how hard can it be to steer a motor boat with a propeller in the back?! - but I assure you that with the wrong boat and narrow circumstances it is perfectly possible to make a complete ass of yourself EVERY TIME you´re trying to fit your boat into your assigned spot by the dock. Ask me, I know...
It may not be a beauty in the boat world, but it´s safe and I don´t feel worried driving it by myself, so I love it.
12.5 x 15 cm, Lamy Safaris with Lexington grey and Noodler´s Black ink on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 21:45
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
On the island where we have our summer house, everyone introduces themselves to new people with the house number: "Hi, my name is this´n´that, house 42". That´s funny, it´s as if that number is part of one´s identity there. I´d never introduce myself that way at home, with my name and address. The house number is almost like a membership id, and if someone else too introduces himself with a house number, you know that oh, he´s one of us. No further explanations needed. Sort of like a secret hand shake.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 23:03
Friday, July 18, 2008
Spent a few hours by the sea, and brought my pen and watercolours with me. Don´t you just love lying on the cliffs by the sea on a sunny day? It must be one of the best things you can do on a day like this...
21 x 16 cm, Lamy Safari with Noodler´s Lexington gray ink and watercolours on Canson Montval paper in a handbound sketchbook.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
After the marbling class (see previous post) I got a few hours in a nearby city called Lund before catching a train. It´s a beautiful old town, with lots to see. I took a break from walking in a little café called Ariman, where this was part of the view outside the window.
12.5 x 15 cm, Lamy Safari with Noodler´s Lexington gray and watercolours on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 11:54
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Last weekend I and my two friends Anne and Christina took a paper technique class with this wonderful couple, Per and Kerstin Nilsson, just outside of Lund in southern Sweden. This post is (although it´s long) a short summary of the incredibly inspiring class we took. If you are interested in marbling, or in the classes Per and Kerstin give, check towards the end of this post for more info.
I don´t remember the last time I learned so much in just two days - Per and Kerstin are fantastic teachers. The class included a lot - three different marbling techniques, building paper folders and portfolios, the history behind marbled papers, printing titles on books, and some more.
Kerstin took care of the marbling techniques. We tried our hand at suminagashi (a Japanese technique with ink on water), oil colours on water and oil colours on Tylose ground. She taught us how to mix colours to the right consistency to make them work well on the ground, and how to make marbled patterns with different combs and sticks.
We marbled everything from papers to textiles to shoes, we were so into it that when the evening came, our dear teachers had to tear us away from the marbling trays. Once you get started on marbling, you just can´t stop...
There is an endless amount of knowledge to pick up around marbling. The Tylose ground was a new acquaintance to me, and the four different trays we used behaved a little differently depending on temperature, colours used, the consistency of the colours... The reactions of the colours change depending on in what order you drip them into the tray. Every little change you make in the process gives a new result on the paper (or textile). Once you´ve tried one thing, you discover something new that you want to try next, which is why this is so addictive. There is a lot of experimenting involved in these techniques, and the possibilities are never ending.
Per taught us how to make a big portfolio to hold our large sheets of marbled papers, and A4 size folders dressed with marbled paper.
He showed us a lot of useful tips and tricks about paper folding, gluing and how to make your work flow more effective, a lot of which I will use next time I bind a new sketchbook. I finally learned how to make those professional-looking beautiful corners on books - my next sketchbook will be sooo purty! ;)
Per also showed us how to print letters and patterns on book cloth (for example on book spines), so we all tried our hand at printing our names in gold on the A4 folders. I never knew how that was done, it was a bit tricky to learn how to do it right, but it turned out well in the end.
During the whole weekend, Per and Kerstin shared their vast knowledge about the history of paper and marbling with us, along with anecdotes from all their journeys and exhibitions. We got to see samples of papers from all over the world. An incredibly inspiring weekend for a paper freak like me.
If you want to know more about Per and Kerstin´s classes, don´t hesitate to call them: 046-24 93 10. (If you don´t speak Swedish, I think French or English would do just fine.)
For those of you who read Swedish, Per and Kerstin Nilsson are the authors of Sweden´s best book about marbling, "Marmorera och dekorera med papper och färg" (ISBN 91-7136-460-9). If you have any interest whatsoever in marbling, get the book!
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 13:49
Friday, June 27, 2008
Posting a slightly older painting today. I was browsing back through my sketchbook and found this one, and discovered how much the sun has changed it´s course since the beginning of May. I can see these windows from my home, and this particular wall doesn´t have any tree shadows on it anymore, it´s in the shade almost all day now. Funny how the light changes slowly slowly over the year.
12.5 x 15 cm, watercolours on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 10:18
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Today was the 19th International Sketchcrawl (if you haven´t heard of it, check it out here). I didn´t have company for the day, so I went on a solo sketchcrawl. We had showers of rain all day today, so I sketched in the car (which is surprisingly inconvenient if you´re in the driver´s seat, I only sketched as a passenger before).
I drove to an industrial area not too far away from where we live, and since today is a holiday in Sweden (Midsummer´s day) the area was deserted, almost eerie in places.
I find lots of inspiration for drawing in areas like this, odd buildings and vehicles, strange formations of pipes and machinery - if you just move slowly through a place like this, you find things to draw every fifty meters!
I had a great few hours of drawing, in spite of the rain and the lack of company. I´ll definitely try to do next sketchcrawl too. Check out the forums over at www.sketchcrawl.com to see the results of other crawls all over the world!
The drawings are of different sizes, drawn with a Lamy Safari with Noodler´s Lexington Gray ink and watercolours on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.
Upplagd av Nina Johansson kl. 23:14