Weather and clouds

I finished reading a small book about weather prediction by observation of clouds: “Wolkenbilder Wettervorhersage” . It was an easy-to-read guide through the complex field of weather prediction and the more intuitive interpretation of clouds as indicators for humidity, wind, temperature and pressure. The scientific approach was enriched by clear pictures, that had for me a significant artistic interest naturally embedded in them. How can one not think of the many paintings and drawings, where the artists tried to convey the lightness and vibrancy of clouds and skies, as well as the difficulty of capturing the textures and contrasts with a camera?

I liked the first chapters, that described the main weather states and sequences for Germany. I guess that the latitude and the simple orography of the country makes the weather dependent on medium to large-scale weather phenomena, and the weather prediction seems pretty straightforward. Now I feel more knowledgeable about what I see in the sky, and I’m reassured by my new ability of deciphering the messages hidden in the clouds literally in plain sight.

Drawing goats: the horns

This morning I went outside before it could get too hot. I went straight to the goats’ enclosure and found many children greeting and petting them. I walked to the other side of the enclosure, on the bridge above it, and started sketching.

At first the goats were really far away and I could only draw the outlines. These are two small goats in the first page. Then I focused on an older goat laying down in the shade, and what I could see best were its horns. I went on sketching horns in all possible orientations. Their shape is not easy to understand, especially as I don’t have depth perception: so the sketches become flat just like pictures. They are the clearest way to show two important facts: first, that the horns are not cylindrical, and second, that they follow a wide spiral. When the spiral of one horn is seen from the side (with the axis coming out of the page, so to speak), it makes a very round arc, but then the other horn has the funniest shape, as the axis of the spiral is almost parallel to the page and the horn section (which is sort of tear-shaped) makes all sort of sharp angles and almost rectangular shapes. The 90-degree angle midway is the oddest form that comes out of this combination of shapes, and I find it the most recognisable goat horn marker. I will definitely come back and try to observe the horns better. In the meanwhile, enjoy these three relaxed goats πŸ™‚

Drawing goats

In the park near my house there is an enclosure with a dozen goats. They can stay in a little wooden house and roam in a space with plenty of rocks and some shade under the trees. There are some older goats that walk slowly, a few youngsters and a few who will give birth soon. They seem content and with enough to do to have a pleasant life. Here is one that looked quite satisfied:

A black goat was resting in a convenient spot to be drawn so I took my sketchbook and gave it a try:

Resting goat

I would like to visit them more often but there is always quite a crowd around, and there are not many sitting spots (just one bench). I get tired quickly of the distractions from the flow of people, just the same as in the zoo, but there even more because there are no other animals to visit. I almost wish I were a goat and had the chance to stay in the enclosure, maybe in a quiet corner, and take all my time to contemplate, eat, jump and sleep πŸ™‚

Nature journaling – first page

A very short post about today’s observations in nature:

I tried to focus on something simple at the park (where a lot was going on, and I don’t start about what is going on around the world…) – something down to earth. The ground just in front of me became my observation area and I picked a pinecone as main subject. Not pictured are ants, tiny spiders, aphids, various grasses, and a green caterpillar that fell from the birch tree above me. It was likely an orange underwing. I took it back on the birch and looked at it climbing the trunk in its characteristic looping gait. Just as I arrived there, a small treecreeper was hopping up the birch tree and chirping very quietly.

Weekly update in pictures

Not easy to find a short title for the post, so let me jump straight to the pictures:

This watercolor sketch is from the sunny morning at the park near my house. I found it difficult to choose what to paint, because many views were pleasing but also challenging, so I went for my usual shaded spot and turned around until I found a view with enough depth but not too much to paint. The combination of grass, trees and dark background was just right for my taste and so I started painting. I’m sort of happy on how it turned out, I was able to mix paint so that it came close to the actual scene and sort of controlled the dilution of colors, but I guess there is much to improve about the trees in the background and in general about the technique. Practice makes perfect πŸ™‚

Knitting also progresses nicely. I finished the first of the blue-stripey socks and almost finished the body of the linen sweater:

And finally, bread #116 and #117. I had to bake the second one after less than a week from baking the first, because it sort of vanished (innocent looks…):

The weather is not going to be luring me outside next week, so I forecast more knitting updates… stay tuned, and stay safe πŸ™‚

Crafting updates

This week was pretty busy, here is a mix of pictures of the progress in my hobbies:

These are in order: the baby blanket (finished before the baby’s birth!), two pages of sketches alongside John Muir Law’s video on how to draw water with a ballpoint pen, and my bread #115 which came out with a tiny heart on the crust πŸ™‚

I was in BΓΌrgerpark for Easter and there were a lot of people, the weather was very nice and sunny:

Unfortunately for the nest on my windowsill there are sad news… One morning I found the nest empty, and two crows flying close by, followed by the pigeon pair. I ran downstairs and on the ground just below the nest there were the rests of the eggs. I feel sad for the parents who were so dedicated, and as the breeding season is still at the beginning, I hope they find another safe spot for the nest.

I wish you all to stay safe and healthy, and to strive to feed on the positivity you can find inside and around you.

Life update

I have been quiet recently and I am now staying home, as many of the people I know, and I must say I am lucky and privileged to be able to stay safe and have all I need.

Apart from home office, I am knitting quite a lot, and making good progress on the Bairn blanket and the Audierne linen pullover:

I even started drawing again… not much, but I feel that I need to keep in touch with the combination of nature, observation and scribbling. John Muir Law‘s videos are for me a source of inspiration, insight and cheerfulness. Even when I don’t draw along, I feel revived in my interest for nature.

And last but not least, a pair of wood pigeons chose my windowsill as the place to make their nest. I had a heather plant that didn’t manage to thrive, and they apparently found it a great start for a nest, to the point that they first laid an egg and then brought twigs. Then yesterday I was nearby when they switched nesting duty, and I saw a second egg! I am very curious on what will happen next, and will keep you updated too πŸ™‚

That’s all for now, I wish you all to stay safe and healthy, and to be able to deal with these challenging times as best as you can.

Fall is coming

My favourite season has finally arrived! With uncommonly warm days, and golden leaves all around.

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I went for a walk with a group of friends on the hill between Wannsee and Sacrow lakes, it was such a wonderful, warm day, we even considered swimming! But we only dipped our feet in water.

I also resumed baking after a break of almost four months. I chose the Weizenvollkornbrot recipe (wholegrain wheat bread) from my dear Brotbackbuch:

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In a few days it was gone! I’m already preparing bread #70, stay tuned for more details πŸ™‚

That’s all for now, more updates to come in future posts!

At the natural history museum: the fine line between nature and art

I was this morning at the Naturkundemuseum in Berlin, and I admired once again the skull of the T-rex Tristan Otto. It was displayed under a set of lights that made a fascinating play of light and shadows on the dark fossilised bones.

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While I was drawing, many people of all ages ran to the display and stood in awe, observed it from different angles, took pictures, then moved forward for the visit. It is definitely a magnificient finding from a scientific viewpoint, as well as a visually appealing object. My mind first identified as a dinosaur skull, therefore as the remain of an animal who lived millions of years ago, when the Earth looked much different, there was no man, but the oceans and trees and reptiles and insects and all life, and the moon and sun above; but with time, while drawing, I started to see it as a sculpture, as a piece of art, as a monument to the exquisite art of chiseling, glorified by light – up to the extreme of flattening it onto paper, as an interesting set of shapes, lines, angles, proportions – abstract, essential, distilled.

These two viewpoints are valid for any other specimen in the exhibition, and for me, for everything I can see.Β  I sometimes stop and marvel over an accidental composition on my way home, or a ray of light. I went to the museum to see Tristan Otto, and I enjoyed the whole visit, but did I enjoy it only because it was carefully organised, cleverly connected, and artfully displayed, or because it had value in itself? Did I admire the most colourful animals because they are artistically pleasant? They did not come to life with the purpose to be ambassadors of the beauty of wildlife, but they can still be considered as such: through their beauty, they can awaken our admiration and make us want to protect them from threats and extinction. I feel a bit uneasy with this thought, however, because I’m afraid that what is not beautiful, or not attractively presented, does not get that much attention. I understand that attractive presentation is an essential feature of many human creations and activities, but I feel uneasy applying it to everything, especially to what has no power in improving its appearance.

Raining, finally

It finally rains again, after a very dry summer. It seems that autumn has arrived suddenly, yesterday in the space a few hours: sudden rain, wind, clouds, temperature drop of nearly 15 degrees Celsius. It made a refreshing changement and a few evenings with wonderful skies.

I have impatiently waited for autumn, as I do almost every year. Now that the weather changed, I feel a new energy, the one I remember from my childhood, when autumn meant going back to school: new books, new topics, new pens and pencils, warm clothes, quietness indoors. I am ready to celebrate autumn and new beginnings, with the joy that others associate with spring and the rebirth of nature. I celebrate the red and gold of falling leaves, the arrival of autumn groceries (I love pumpkins!), the coziness of staying indoors and taking care of the house, the joy of getting ready for winter, when nature stays dormant for many months. Autumn is for me the bountiful harvest at the end of vegetative season, the fireworks of nature, a season of bright light.