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Well. Look, it’s November!

My laptop just broke so I’ll cruise along with the ‘net at work and my first ever smartphone I just got delivered. Naturally, “just when I was going to get started with blogging regularly again”, as if anyone still following this blog would believe that.

This means that I will not be updating (at least not with any quality pictures) until March 2016, when my budget will allow a new laptop (no money trouble, just strict budgeting). Lots of scanned images are lost, unfortunately. I did have everything safely backed up, except pictures.

I do plan on making a post or three from my iPad, if I manage to get the new smartphone to work as a router (ugh). I know it is not difficult, but the day job and life in general have been keeping me insanely busy and tired this year (still loving the work, though).

I do have some blogging plans. I have made an order from Goulet pens and one from Cultpens.co.uk with many exciting pens to review (Namiki Falcon, among others). I have finally gotten orchid seed to germinate asymbiotically on agar gel nutritious media in my small home laboratory (an aquarium, a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide solution, gloves, canning jars and lots of clear garbagebags). I recently started sowing and growing (in a more standard, low-tech way) tropical hibiscus hybrids. In October I participated in a LARP based on Gaimans American Gods. I bought and borrowed some fantastic books (currently reading China Miévilles Three Moments of an Explosion). I played boardgames and music. I even did some drawing, mostly calligraphy stuff. In a professional capacity I have had to learn a lot about image processing, so I hope I will get the opportunity to apply this knowledge to illustrations and drawing in 2016.

In May I visited Faroe Islands with a friend and a smaller friend (pictured). I had a lovely time and I will definitely return in the future.

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Slingertak

Below is the ceiling of my room in the 19th century apartment.

Slingertak

I am very satisfied. My next ceiling, however, I’ll paint myself.

Art-wise, I have only this thumbbird to add, since I haven’t really had time to do anything else than get acquainted with my new place of work, new city and new place of living. In all, I am very content with everything, albeit a bit overwhelmed. I have gone swimming in the Baltic sea twice this weekend, played several boardgames and managed to both study for work and get some drawing done. This move is exactly what I needed and I have a very good feeling about this.

Thumbirds5

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BowlofDragonFirst

A couple of weeks ago I was trying hard to make something practical and usable. This is what I got for my troubles. The clay is red clay, the same as in the Little Dragon posted earlier. This is fired and glazed two times, though. Once with a dark red glaze and once with a blue one. This makes for interesting effects. I have no idea what I will use this little bowl for, but it is quite endearing. It is approximately 15 cm long. Just click on the images if you want to enlarge them!
BowlofDragonAngles

In other news: I have recently returned from Austria (visiting a good friend in Wien) and Germany (Amphi Festival in Köln). I had a great time travelling! No (very little) drawing, though. Got to watch several bands I have longed to se live, among them Fields of the Nephilim, Die Form and Santa Hates You. Sort of annoyed at missing Alien Sex Fiend, but that is the nature of festivals. It was freakishly hot. In Austria I finished Jasper Ffordes Shades of Grey (more on that book later) and saw Hitchcocks The Birds in an open air theatre.
Upcoming: I am planning to make propolis and honey soap when I return to my soapmaking equipment in the middle of August. I bought the Propolis in a small honey-and-related-items-shop in Wien.
Upcoming artsy stuff: still working on an RPG illustration of a dwarf. Also got an idea of something I might draw to sell on RPGnow.com that will take a little work to get done, but right now feels very exciting.

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Back from spending the better part of three weeks at my childhood home. I had a great time, reading a lot. Among others by Jo Walton and Zoo City by Lauren Beukes were two of the books I looked forward to reading the most and I am not regretting it, having read them (gah! Wonky grammar! Good thing this is not a blog on writing). The links lead to the Little Red Reviewer, one of my favourite book bloggers.

I love all sorts of herbs and have a special spot in my heart for Lavender. I am not sure which cultivar this is. One of the purchases I made at Kew Gardens this year was a book on Lavender. I cannot seem to remember the exact title and the book is in a box somewhere by now. Sigh. I’ll get back on you about that. This cultivar is originally from a 50s suburb in Stockholm. It is on the greyer side of the scale compared to many other varieties. It is amazing how much they differ if you bother to look. The thread is linen, from ropemakers at Beck & Rep at Fardhem, Gotland. I cannot recommend them warmly enough.

Lavender and linen thread

Back at my other home, the vivarium I started in May have, well, exploded. The image below is after some severe pruning of the Ficus pumila (a species which really isn’t suitable for a vivarium this small). The Java moss have been especially vivacious, but there has also been some growth of the smaller mosses I found in the forest. The small sinningias which were nonexistant in May are now ready to flower. Pics upcoming.

Vivarium expansion

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Thumbirds3

Packing and unpacking, you get to appreciate your belongings. Or, get annoyed at the amount of belongings you somehow managed to accumulate. Since I have some months off, I have taken the opportunity to really go through all my stuff. Now, the movers were of the decided opinion that I didn’t have that much stuff (17 standard boxes, ten smaller boxes, a desk, a bookshelf, a table and chairs and a mattress plus some odds and ends). Yes, I asked. I, on the other hand, felt drowned in stuff and I still do. I am way too fond of slowly collecting things to become a true minimalist, but in my own way I am looking to simplify. So, enter the idea of going through everything one more time and sort stuff out. I am currently five big boxes and three book-boxes ahead in this adventure.

Packing and unpacking, you also stumble upon of serendipitous combinations of stuff. In this case, some appreciated books that just matched SO well. Serendipity is, by the way, one of my favourite words and I am happy I got an opportunity to use it.

Prettycovers

I have mentioned it on the blog before, I know. I have an idea of illustrating a book while I read it. Among the first fantastic books I read were Jules Verne (which I have also mentioned before). The copperstick illustrations always got my imagination going. I like the style as well, and I hope to incorporate it in my own style of drawing (that is: continue with focus on ink but add some planning and more elaborate backgrounds). The book I’d definitely choose for the first book is Kraken by China Mièville. Keep your eyes out for some drawings of bug familiars on strike, scary tattoos and such. The matching bookmark is from Black Gull Books .

I have my friend at Pimpinett to thank for getting me into Chesterton. Thank you again, K! I implore everyone to go read The Man Who Was Thursday, it is a perfect introduction to his work.

Louis-Ferdinand Céline… I can’t remember how I stumbled onto his work years ago. Probably looking for subversive literature as a teenager. I enjoy the (extremely) black and dry humour and, yes, the misanthropic bent. My translation of Voyage au bout de la nuit, is a later one, evidently challenged since it was considered too modern by some. The defenders insist it is more true to the sentiments of the original novel and in some ways more correct in the harshness of the language. I still wish I could read it in French, though. Never been good at French. My grandfathers brothers wife was French and recently passed away. I sort of regret I never discussed Céline with her. I have a feeling she wasn’t a fan, but it would still have been interesting. The fact that I never broached the subject is a combination of me not daring to and us being not close at all, I met her two or three times the past five years. But still.

Upcoming: today I made soap again. I used smoked tea, clary sage, green mint, lavender, propolis and spirulina algae. If all goes well, this soap will have an earthy, green, smoky and minty type of fragrance and a pretty three-colour swirl in dark brown, grey and dark green. If it goes not-so-well I will have a vague minty smelling disaster in three shades of muggy brown. I will know tomorrow. It is very exciting and fun still, this soapmaking thing.

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This sketchy sockbird will keep an eye on the blog while I am away.

PreSockbird

I hope to visit Cass Art again, this time to buy some Windsor & Newton Series 7 brushes. I’ve been planning to buy some for several years and I now feel that I have earned it since I have practiced and perfected my technique with the one series 7 brush I own. I am also going to Cornelissen, hopefully to get ahold of a proper lumpe sanguine and perhaps also silverpoint equipment. I plan to draw at both the British Museum and Natural History Musem. We’re also visiting Pollock’s Toy Museum, another place where I hope to make a lot of drawings and drolleries. A visit to Kew is planned as well, as always. A small cactus I bought at Kew a couple of years ago perished in the move, so I hope to find something to add to my plant collection.

Speaking of plant collections, I bought a nano terrarium yesterday. I plan to grow small orchids, mosses, ferns and gesneriads there. Pics upcoming. Also, I made cold process soap. Yep, I do have a lot of time on my hands at the moment!

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Quick drolldragons made on the plane home. I love making quick sketches (ugh, there is that ugly word again) that has movement. Fibertipped pens, since it is definitely not advisable using fountain pens on airplanes…
Today I am introducing a new category, Recently Read. I read a lot, so I will not be able to blog about everything I read (that is for book review-blogs, like Little Red Reviewer my favourite and one of the few review blogs I have the time and inclination to read regularly). I hope to make some illustrations in the future when I feel extra inspired by certain books, like I did with the New Crobuzon Nightmare Cityscape illustration after having read Perdido Street Station by China Miéville.

Drolldragons

Title: Drolldragons
Size: Very small.
Equipment: Fiber-tipped pens, Artline Drawing System 0.1 and 0.05.
Paper: Clairefontaine
Computer modifications: all sorts of them. The camera on the MacBook in the dark isn’t the best, but everything I own is in boxes, so…
Inspiration: Fear of flying and dust mites.
Notes: I try to make them move. Not perfectly satisfied with these, but they are OK.
Recently Read: Half-Blood Trilogy by Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey. Have to check out more by Norton. Perfectly entertaining high fantasy with an absolutely enjoyable “screw you, elves!”-trope and dragons. On the downside, sort of shallow world- and magic-building (promising, could go deeper but doesn’t), a bit too much telling instead of showing and some instances of god-in-the-machineish interruptions on my sacred suspension of disbelief. I’d happily give the engaging story, some original takes on ideas and general enjoyable classic fantasy-ness of these books 3 stars of 5 (equals enjoyable, but would probably not read again). I am definitely picking up more Andre Norton.
In Other News: job offer #1 making me happy. The place and position I was hoping for, I wrote about it in the previous post. No written contract yet, but everything should be signed and sealed in a couple of weeks. Next week I am going skiing again. An adequate and enjoyable way to wrap this Arctic Circle-thing up!

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Travelling to Venice off-season had several advantages. Even though I still found the amount of tourists to be slightly overwhelming, I appreciated that it was very possible to sneak away somewhere quiet with ease. Also, ice-cream in november! Thankfully the fiancé is fluent in “waving-arms-around-and-sounding-very-insistent” (a very uncommon skill among Swedes) which helped us just as much as his very basic Italian. I promised feverently to work on my french to make up for him doing most of the communication during this trip. We also practised a simplified version of Swedish sign language and I am now fluent in the alphabet and some basic signs.

I went from this (3rd of November)

To this (Murano, 6th of November)

I got inspired to droll this in the margins of a nontebook. It is unfortunately made with fiber-tipped pens (Artline 0.05) since the tip of my beloved Parker 51 got bent and unfortunately broke during repair. It now has a much broader nib that I don’t draw with (yet). I am waiting for a new EF Parker 51 from Ebay though. I hope it is as good as the old “Birger” (the pen that broke had a personalized barrel…).

Steampunky masked ladies

We were lucky staying at Hotel Mignon. Tiny and cosy room, very clean and nice bathroom and a small terrace. Very nice personnel. If I go to Venice again, I book a room there.

Although many of the more touristy souvenirs clearly were shipped directly from countries where labor is cheap, we managed to get to look at several craftsmen (and women) at work. Below is a very life-like spider by an artisan who made insects from a scientific book. I would have liked to get one of the Stag Beetles (“Ekoxe” in Swedish, family Lucanidae) but an albino frog caught my eye, and there you go…

I loved the canals and alleys, ubiquitous (I also love having an excuse for using that word) in Venice. I liked not having to bother with cars or bikes. Relaxing. The air was good as well, scent of the sea and nothing else (except a stray whiff of seafood). Living smack dab in the middle of fell-and-bog-country, I miss the sea of my childhood home.

I believe marbling paper, binding books and making masks were the biggest inspirations I got from this trip. Also, lots of nice mental images from lurking around in a place which with a little fantastic application was very reminiscent to the faboulous Gentleman bastard sequence by Scott Lynch, famously started with “The Lies of Locke Lamora”. I might write more about that book when I start my planned category “Recently Read”, which have been brewing in my mind for some time now.

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Title: Old Myller and a trip to Venice
Thesaurus: mentioned in my second post ever on the blog, “myller” is an onomatopoetic word in Swedish that I like a lot. There is not a good translation in english (“swarm” does not cut it. Perhaps “something packed with writhing, moving things that does not have to be disgusting”. Eh. It is not used a lot in Swedish either, but I tend to use many forgotten or underprivilieged words).
Notes: My first try at a coloured myller. Not very successful, this is only a small part of it. I don’t remember many details regarding the equipment. I made it three years ago, when I had just discovered drawing with fountain pens. Probably there is a Rotring Art Pen involved, and black Parker QuiINK (sic).
In Other News: Going to Venice for a week. According to blog statistics 60 views of the blog since 25th of February 2012 is from Italy! Keep in touch if you are in the area or if you have tips on what to do in Venice. I am not going to bring my computer, but will hopefully be able to check my E-mail at times anyway.
In other news: I love looking at the statistics on who have visited the blog. I have had visitors from SEVENTY countries since February this year. That is nothing short of amazing!

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Traveling to Tromsø over the weekend is one of the nice things one can allow oneself to do, living on the threshold of the mountains of northern Sweden and Norway. Traveling northward but also toward warmth because of the Gulf Stream. Mountains, clouds and autumn colours made for a rich trip and I will definitely return. Probably not likely for good, since it is a bit too far from friends and family, but who knows? I love the thought of working there for a while, having gotten a great impression of both the university and the hospital.

Me, enjoying the view:

Living at the lovely Tromsö Bed and Books which I can warmly recommend. There is books, comfy beds and you get to draw on the walls! What’s not to love? I am most definitely returning. Here is an image of the wall, I am responsible for the flowers. The rest is made by other guests.

(I did not make the shrimp, but chose to connect it to my plant)

I might make another Tromsö-post soon before we go back to the regularly scheduled sockbird-o-rama.

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