Illustrations for a poetry book

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For the past few months I’ve been very busy working on illustrations for a poetry book, written by author Elin Sveen.

She has published three books; “Fra barnsdommens rike” in 2008, “Minnebok fra krigen” in 2009, and “Å spinne seg en gylden tråd” in 2010.

Hålasdaar Mæ Sokker På” was released last week on the 1st of May 2015.

The poems are written in the “Toten” dialect, a norwegian local language from the Toten region, about 100 km above Oslo.

In Norway there are many different sounding dialects that even sometimes a native Norwegian speaker may have difficulty understanding.
Speaking the local dialect is encouraged and people are proud to do so.

This is the opposite in the Netherlands where I grew up. There I learned to hide my original dialect -in my case “Twents“- from a young age. Fortunately this is changing a bit now and dialects are more appreciated.

I made the drawings in this book with the common theme of the poems of nature and traditions in mind.

This was a great project to do and I’m pleased to be part of the making of this wonderful book.

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Portrait Sketch in oil paint

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Portrait sketch
15 x 17 cm

In this sketch I tried to pay attention to the structure of the head, while keeping the brushwork as loose as possible. I drew with the brush straight on the canvas, without a detailed underdrawing. I like this spontaneous way of working.

I feel that all the hours of figure drawing and studying anatomy are finally starting to pay off.

I’m now able to make these kind of sketches fairly quick, in about 45 minutes I think, since I always loose my sense of time when I’m painting…

 

 

One year of Art: Money

Thinking-smallThink small, enjoy the way to your destination!” – Volkswagen beetle

 

When my wife and I told our families and friends about our plans to take a creative year, the first questions we always would get were about money. How would we be able to finance a whole year? Would we lose our jobs? What if the car breaks down? (our car did break down, by the way…)

We wouldn’t entirely be without income though. I was selling some of my art and earning money as a musician. The plan was to grow that income.

But it’s not the same as receiving a monthly pay check. So we decided to save money for backup. I calculated the money we needed with this simple formula:

Average spending in one month x 12

That’s it. No complicated budget calculations. Living simply and living a life of  less quantity but more quality has been on our to do list for years, so we didn’t need that much savings at all.

Asking for year off
It was both exciting and a little frightening to knock on the door of my bosses office and ask for a year off. I didn’t know if I had to quit my job, or if I could return after one year.

To my surprise my application was approved. It was a relief to have a job to go back to. If I had to quit, I would have  to apply for a new job if things didn’t work out. Luckily, my wife’s application was approved as well!

A Sabbatical?
Some employers, like universities or big IT companies offer a paid sabbatical as an employee benefit. A paid year out of the rat race to recharge the batteries. This was not the case at my job.

That’s why I prefer to call my year off a creative year, because I wouldn’t be playing golf, lying on the beach, or take a luxury cruise around the world. I wanted to work on my own projects.

I always felt I wouldn’t be playing golf all day when I retire either. I’m most happy  creating and working and hope to be able to do that as long as I can.

Some people did wonder what I was going to do all day, with all that time. They said they would go crazy after a few days without a job to go to or without a boss telling them what to do.

But I had, and still have, so many projects and ideas  that it would take me years to finish them all.

Overall, the responses we got were very positive. Concerns raised were only about the finances.

Looking back now, my answer to the money question is that it’s a matter of choice. If you want to drive a new car every 2 years and have a maximum mortgage on the house, it will be harder to take a year off.  But it’s still possible. You only have to save more for a backup plan.

In the next post I will write about: Time

Read part I of the One Year of art posts here.

How to bind your own sketchbooks

Binding-your-own-sketchbook-1-Willem-art

Buying ready made sketchbooks can get expensive. Making your own is cheaper and you can use different kinds of your preferred paper.

Here’s an easy way to bind your own sketchbooks.

What you’ll need:
– a hole punch
– paper
– cardboard (optional) for front and back
– a large needle and thread

Binding-your-own-sketchbook-Willem-art
>Click on the picture to enlarge>

1) Start with a stack of your favourite paper sandwiched between a cardboard back and front.

2) Punch 4 holes with a hole punch. Two about 1,5 cm from the back and side, and two evenly spaced in between. Use more holes for larges sized sketchbooks.

3) Cut a piece of thread about 4 times the length of the book. Tip: Pass a double thread through the eye of the needle for increased strength, as shown on the picture above. Weave tightly as shown in the illustration. A dotted line means the thread is on the underside of the book.

Coming back at the point where you started, weave the thread one last time through the hole, in a loop around the first thread and tie off with a double knot.

One Year of Art

Sketching in Denmark 1

“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.  ” – Bob Dylan


If you ask artists and creatives what it is they want more of, the answer you’d expect would be: fame and fortune.

It turns out that the one thing most artists really want is: Time. Time  to create.

Most artists I know work harder than anybody else; early in the morning, before their daytime job, late at night or in their lunchbreak.

I followed that work ethic for a long time. In the weekends I would play guitar, in the evenings I was always drawing, writing, studying or teaching. I was doing well financially, was successful in my job and started to have  creative successes as well.

So why change? Everything was growing. More of everything. Except I didn’t want more, I wanted less. I wanted to work on my own creative projects.

After almost 20 years of rushing home from work and doing these “creative things” on the side, I felt it was time for a change.

So, last year in 2014, the year I turned forty, I asked my boss if I could take a whole year off,  from January to December, without pay. If I didn’t try living as a full time artist  now, I knew it would bug me for the rest of my life.

In the coming months I will write about my experiences and what I’ve learned in my one year of art.

(If you are an artist contemplating a creative year, or if your definiton of succes is “living full time as an artist”, you can subscribe for updates of this blog by entering your email in the sidebar on the right. You can unsubscribe at any time!)

 

Totenvika galleri og kulturkafe

Totenvikagalleriogkafe

Ten of my paintings will be on display & for sale at Totenvika galleri og kulturkafe during the spring and summer.

The gallery and cafe opens next week on Sunday the 8. of march at 12.00.

Participating artists are: “Rob Tijink (maleri) Anne Ka Munkejord (glass), Brigitte Stolpmann (foto) Dag Trygve Hansen (trekunst) Børge Thinn (treleker) May Britt Finstad (keramikk) Brita Gruehagen (smykker) Inger Fladby Thinn (tekstil) Trude Elstad (maleri) Anina Schanche (maleri) og Erik-Ottar Hansen (maleri)”

More information about the spring and summer program can be found here:

Vår og sommerprogrammet 2015

Sketchbook pages

Last year I started studying an online figure drawing class by Glenn Vilppu.

He explains there are basically two ways of drawing: the academic approach, using long poses of many hours where the model is exactly copied, and drawing from imagination, inventing and constructing the figure out of basic forms.

He teaches how to analyse and construct the figure starting with a gesture drawing.

Here are a few pages from my sketchbook of 1 to 5 minute poses.

The poses are from the New Masters Academy online art school.

Sketchbook-page-3 Sketchbook-page-5

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Sketchbook-page-6 Sketchbook-page-7 Sketchbook-page-8

Head sketches in wash technique

Pen-and-wash-head-illustrations

I made these drawings as studies for a mural painting in a pub I’ve been asked to do.

The pen & wash technique used here I found on the internet in a lesson from the “Famous Artist Course.”

First I draw lightly in pencil and then I add washes with a small nr. 3 brush using Ivory black gouache paint and black ink.

How to make a light box with LED strip lights

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Here’s a cheap and easy alternative to expensive light boxes found in art stores. I made it from an old picture frame and LED strip lights, that you can buy in hardware stores.

LED light has many advantages; they operate on low voltages, are lightweight, small, and don’t heat up.

You can make this light box as large as you need. Just increase the amount of LED strips and use a larger frame. The measurements are not critical. I used an A3 sized picture frame.

Tracing-table-illustration

 

 

What you’ll need:

1. A picture frame with glass and mdf backplate.

2. Scrap wood to make the 4 sides of the box. I used 3 x 1.5 cm stretcher bars from an old canvas.

3. LED strip light “starter kit”.  In hardware stores you can buy a complete starter kit with transformer, on/off switch and angled connection pieces.

If you know how to use a soldering iron, you can wire the strips  yourself, like I did, and save some money for the connection pieces.

4. Wood glue.

5. Tinfoil, tape and a saw.

How to built it:

1. Remove the backplate from the picture frame.

2. Cut 4 pieces of wood to size, and glue on the backplate.

3. Cover the inside of the box with tinfoil.

4. Attach the self-adhesive led strips evenly spaced on the backplate.

5. Connect the electronics. Solder wires to the LED strips, or  use  corner pieces to connect the strips (be careful not to short circuit anything with the tin foil when soldering).

6. Glue the picture frame upside down on the box so you can remove the glass later.

7. To diffuse the light I just lay a sheet of A3 paper on the glass . You can adjust the amount of light by adding more sheets of paper.

Let me know if you would like to make one and have any questions!

Lights ‘off’. (Notice the blue pieces of tape as extra safety to prevent a short circuit with the tin foil)
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Lights ‘on’!DSC_0093

 

With glass and paper diffusorDSC_0092

 

 

 

Portrait Sketch on Canson paper

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Sketch after a Andrew Loomis drawing on Canson paper.

When I visited Holland, I bought a Canson drawing pad called “C a grain”. This is a grainy paper that I couldn’t find in stores in Norway.

I like to use the side of the pencil for shading and this paper is great for that. Because of the grain, you can get dark tones with just a HB or 2B pencil. Instead of switching pencils for darker tones I like to start and finish a drawing with the same pencil, and with this paper I can do that.

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A summer at Fredholm Hageopplevelser

Sunday the 31st was the last day of the summer exhibition at Fredholm Hageopplevelser.

I had a great time being in the gallery during the weekends, and it was very nice to meet so many people and talk about art. I sold one painting and I was commissioned to paint a log cabin in the forest and to draw a logo for a local farm.

Many thanks to Helen and Erlend Fredholm for this wonderful opportunity to show my art to everyone that visited the garden this summer!

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Art & illustration