Watercolour: negative painting

Yesterday I came across this post from Sunnyfae about negative painting, a (watercolour) technique that requires to paint all around a given shape, therefore leaving the lightest areas of the canvas free. Here is one of her drawings:

I absolutely love the technique, so I looked up for Linda Kemp, the artist she mentions in her post. I found several videos on YouTube, and this one sounded great for my beginning with this new technique. Linda explains how to approach the painting in a mid-way between completely free and completely planned – by deciding the subject, colours and overall shapes before starting. The painting process will then be focused, while remaining free on local decisions (brush strokes and colour density). I like that approach and it suits me in this moment. You can browse other videos and find the one that speaks to you and invites you to try painting!

Thank you Sunnyfae for your inspiration, and do keep us posted with your progress and discoveries 🙂

Sharing inspiration #3

  1. Podcast: an episode of “Wort der Woche” (word of the week) – das Pipapo. Very short and accompanied by the transcription, it teaches you a new word in a light and funny way. Ideal for beginners!
  2. Text: the Curated list of falsehoods programmers believe in is actually for everyone, when you consider that the essential job of a software programmer is to replicate reality through a model. This list is a collection of errors and over-simplifications of these models. See for example the W3C page about handling names.
  3. Image: a motivational poster from The Latest Kate (whom I discovered in this imgur dump)

Sharing inspiration #2

Second post of the series! This one features:

  1. Podcast: Sticky Notes Episode 2: Conductor FAQ – a great behind-the-scenes of a conductor’s job, training, and rehearsal work with the orchestra. It is too easy to assume that the conductor only waves a stick when the orchestra does the job of actually producing the music; Joshua Weilerstein explains how minimalist conduction at the concert is the result of great preparation work – so that the orchestra doesn’t need constant inputs anymore.
  2. Post: Zumwalt‘s Thoughtful Thursday: Personal Growth – interesting answers to  the question “Is forcing yourself to do things that are uncomfortable the only way to achieve personal growth?”. I always got the answer “of course!” but could not put that into practice, because the joy of success was nothing in comparison to the panic of being out of my comfort zone. This post reassured and motivated me a great deal.
  3. Image: the Calabash clash (ESA’s Picture of the Week, 30th of January, 2017)

Sharing inspiration #1: a podcast, a post and an image

I’d like to organise the inspiring links I rake from the Internet every day, in a new series of posts named “Sharing inspiration”. To keep them short, I will post one podcast, one text post and one image. The topics are varied, but all content I link has made me think twice about something, or inspired me in many ways.

Here are the first three:

  1. Podcast: BBC 4 Arts and Ideas – “Happiness” (21mins): discussion about how unhappiness seems more decisive in one’s life, how it looks the necessary fuel a novel, and how to focus more on positive moments.
  2. Text post: emotions are valid, behaviours related to emotions are not always justified – a prompt.
  3. Picture:
Source: gayufo

“Robby Müller – Master of Light”: exhibition at Museum für Film und Fernsehen, Berlin


Yesterday I visited Robby Müller’s exhibition and decide to take all the time I needed to savour it. As the exhibition is about cinematography, the movies were aired in short excerpts, and this helped me ask: “How did Müller convey the impression of a small room? Which angles did he choose? How did he work with light?” instead of the usual “What is happening in this scene? What’s the story?”. I loved the uncommon focus on what is usually considered backstage work, whose goal is to support the narrative. It made me feel at ease, and made me appreciate those film excerpts enormously. It felt like being more than a spectator, there was a connection with the cinematographer and the director rather than with the film characters. This is the role I feel closer to myself: the informed spectator. I don’t see myself as participating in the action, nor as the naive receiver of cinema tricks and devices. I am audience, who aims to feel close to who realised the film.

One film I want to watch in its entirety is Paris, Texas, with its silences, filled up with the landscapes and the human society that lives and walks around the protagonist like a storm of busy insects. Colors and lights are incredibly dense, like in an oil painting.

Image from film-grab.com

The exhibition also included a small selection of Polaroid photos taken by Müller on his travels. They were stunning. No surprise – but it urged me to learn more about picture composition and lights, because they are more important than the technology of your camera. I am struggling with photography books, which go either too little or too much in detail, and with my inability to see my mistakes in the pictures I take. Luckily I can ask advice to a few friends who are both great photographers and good teachers!

Landscapeito: first attempt

Today I watched John Muir Law’s lesson about drawing 5-minute landscapes and got inspired to draw one myself. I went to the park near my house and picked a corner with a couple of trees. The sun started to shine nicely right as I started drawing, so that it made better shadows. I took longer than five minutes, but not more than fifteen. Here is the result:

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I am quite happy with the result! The subject in itself is not so exciting, the drawing is far from pretty, but I am proud of having been able to watch the video, grab my sketchbook and pencil, go outside, find a subject to draw, and actually draw it. I could have stopped anywhere in the process – I could have thought: yeah it’s late for today, there is not much light, there are no nice landscapes around my house, this sketch is not looking that good, I’m not going to finish it… instead, here it is!

I hope this inspires you to do the same, find a small art task like these 5-minutes landscapes, complete it and feel proud of your achievement. Any journey starts with a small step!