Cool gear

Yesterday I got myself some new toys.

It’s weird, though, because all my life I have been content with fingers, small bamboo sticks (the sort you use for sateh) and odds and ends like pins or needles. And now I’ve spent some money on these, admittedly, very nice tools.

The first thing I’m going to do is fix the details on the face of this young lady who is about to become a mother in the next, say, twenty minutes.

Although, not today, since tomorrow is Krita bug day, and I am standing by on #krita, ready to help anyone who wants to get the latest Krita running on their hardware. (You can’t really test Krita in a vm, I’m afraid, since much of the issues are with graphics cards or with the use of tablets.)

Kubuntiac and I have, independently, tried to make the OpenSUSE build service build Krita packages from trunk, but Krita is a bit more complex than the average application, so we haven’t succeeded in taming OBS yet. It’s more complex than getting Krita to compile on your system, so don’t be discouraged.



Even before Roop took me for a visit to the temple at Somnathpur I was already interested in Indian sculpture. When I came home, I wanted to try my hand at the style. It’s turned out reasonably well, as you can see. I had a lot of fun figuring out the most important elements of the style, but it’s still recognizably my work. I’m sure I’ll give it another try later on.

From Temple Dancer

The full set of pictures is on Picasaweb, but be warned of nudity, she isn’t wearing much except for some jewelry. I really need to learn to take better pictures: stretching the color with digikam is easy enough, that isn’t the problem. But the distortion when making a picture of a statuette 25cm high is pretty fierce. this one came out quite well, but others have a very¬† distorted head. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong…

And I really need to start making good pictures because I’m just too productive: not only can I not affort casting all pieces I make in bronze, even if I could afford it, it would take too much room. There are two statuettes at the foundry now, three in the icebox and two are in the making.
So I guess I’ll have to start trying to sell them — after figuring out things
like prices, making a website and learning how to make good pictures.

Third bit of sculpture

When I was done with the She Tripped over the Cat, I started on something new. I was dithering between two designs, which I actually made sketches in wax for:

20100413 001

Here you can see the copper wire frame for the actual sculpture, and if you look carefully, two wax models. One is for a woman who is bent over backwards, like the Egyptian goddess Nut, but belly-up. And a couple of cats playing on her belly. The other was a young man sitting on the ground with his pregnant wife sitting in his lap. Since I’d already done cats last time, I was going for the second option.

And then it started getting interesting, at least for me. When working on it, I started feeling that the whole sitting-in-the-lap idea was a bit static, and also a bit the end of the movement. So my next step was to try having her stand between his legs, and him keeping his cheek to her belly, perhaps listening to their child. Very sweet and something Annelies and my daughters favoured very much, but I still wasn’t happy. It was a beautiful pose, but still quite static.

So then I decided to make her walk to him, and have him stretch out his arms to her. I think the pose works very well, it’s not static. I can’t show it here, where various planets would pick it up. The full set is on Flickr. Do not click if you don’t want to see quite explictly male nudity or even more explictly female pregnant nudity. I think they look innocent, others may disagree.

Technically, I feel I have made progress again. The heads are still in comic-book proportions instead of fully realistic (though not as big as some of the pictures show it: I need to learn compensate for the macro effect), but that’s either something that fits the way I work now, or it’s something it fits the work, or it’s just something I’ll improve on next time. I’m not done: I still need to work on hands and feet, and maybe tweek some positions. And there’s some work to be done on her mouth.

More sculpture

Since my last post I have had three more sculpture lessons. I felt I couldn’t really improve the previous attempt, so I started something new.

It began with a little sketch in wax which has long since been incorporated into the main project — I was very unsure about the exact position of all the limbs, wanting to make something with a delicate balance and a bit of action in it. The lion’s tail sort of followed from the whole attitude.

I think I did make some progress, and I call this toute ensemble “she tripped over the cat”. The weird foot is an accident of using the macro function of my camera: in reality it’s very dainty and well-formed.


(Complete set on flickr — as with all sculpture, there’s nudity. Clothes are boring to do.)

Oh, and yes, it is in balance like this: no strings attached.

Sculpture classes

Not having two mortgages, not coming home from work at 20:30 — circumstances conspired together to make it finally possible, after a hiatus of more than twenty years, to do sculpture again. I can’t do anything 3D with a computer, but I’m quite decent with my fingers. And I love working with wax above all other stuff: I’m a lumper, not a splitter or a cutter.

We had three sessions working with clay from a live model (Irina, actually, who models a lot for different art courses), and by now three sessions working on my own idea, with wax. Many people prefer clay, but I like wax because you can make thinner, more detailed things with it and because it’s not as soft and pliant. Even so, I regularly hold my work under the cold tap to make the wax harder.

This kind of sculpture starts with soldering together a frame of copper wire, bending it into a position and then piling on the flesh^Wwax. Small errors have big consequences: I put the bend for the shoulders too high, which meant that from the start it looked like the subject was lifting something fairly heavy.

Given that the idea of sculpture, at least for me, is piling on flesh, the subject turned into a woman fairly quickly, which made it easy to decide on what she would lift: either a tiger cub, or a child. And then I suddenly had a chunk of wax in my fingers that made a very good baby belly, so I went with the trite and the cliché: mother and child.

The other people in the class liked it a lot, but were divided on what I had made: someone suggested a mother laying down her child during a famine, another thought it was a grandmother with her grandchild (no doubt because I have been having fun with the drooping plum-like breasts), another thought of Moses and the Egyptian princess, yet another of baptism. Poly-interpretability rules!

For me the weird thing is that this work is a clear and straight continuation of what I was doing twenty years ago: the touch is the same, the way I distorted the woman’s anatomy is the same. The size is a bit bigger. And strangely enough, without any practice, I still think I’ve become a bit surer in my touch and I am also more conscious of the sculpture in the round, as it were, so I’ve put a set of pictures from all sides on flickr (Deviant art has trouble uploading a dozen pictures in one go).

Our teacher is Annelies van der Drift. If you can read Dutch: more information about the classes can be found here. There is a great set of students in this group: some of them are very advanced, extremely good, others are just beginning — and one is picking up old threads.

I am still not convinced

That centralization is the way for the internet to go. Even though I work for Hyves, where we’ve got a silly number of messages, photos and chats stored on our servers, I still think the internet was intended to be distributed. Like email. Like the web. Like usenet.

But, well, I’ve got a hyves account now. I’m on linkedin. I’m on (which forwards to twitter, which used to forward to Hyves, but I disabled that again). And now I’m on deviant art.

Our Krita Season of KDE student, Vera Lukman sort of prodded me — we got talking about drawing and things. And I realized that I haven’t touched my paints since we came to live in this house, in 2007. Probably more like not since 2006, even. I’ve done some sketching… Last year.

The question now is, of course, will this stimulate me to draw more? Will it finally make me use a computer for drawing? Will I get rich from selling prints?

What will happen to all my passwords if kwallet ever mangles my wallet?
(Not that it has ever done so, touch wood…)

And suddenly

My eldest daughter Naomi started getting interested in drawing and sketching, nicking my paper, buying her own pencils, and becoming quite definitely better than I have ever been, in about six months:

I’m pretty proud of her work!

Rijksmuseum Twente

Rijksmuseum Twente

It’s weird, but even though I work together every day with people who live in Enschede, and though I’ve been told six or seven years ago that the Rijksmuseum Twente is well-worth a visit, I had never been to Enschede before. We had intended today to go to Rotterdam, to the Boijmans van Beuningen museum for the Dutch Primitives exhibition, but went the other way instead, to the Rijksmuseum Twente. At last.

It was well worth a visit: the neoclassicist exhibition with paintings from the Bruges school was rather nice and we bought the catalog. The collection of early Dutch painting is a bit uneven: it contains rather a lot of second or third rate work, but also a few absolute must-have-seen pieces. None of us has ever managed to get interested in modern, abstract art. Too often, a particular piece of modern art only looks good because all the other things surrounding it are even worse junk. The Pjotr Mueller statues were somewhat interesting, though.

The Rijks Twente is a nice place, rather quiet, too: we were three out of maybe ten visitors. Still I don’t think museums should forbid visitors to photograph the pieces (if done without flash), that’s a bit old-fashioned. And to share one pin card reader among the main desk, museum shop and restaurant is a bit quaint, to say the least. But well worth a repeat visit: they have a history of out-of-the-way exhibitions, especially about unpopular periods in the history of art. And that’s something I’m very much interested in.

A sketch for the season

First, the sketch I made for this year’s seasonal greetings. It’s actually our house and our church: the church is downstairs, we live upstairs. I tried to keep to the style of the Dutch painter Anton Pieck. Our part of town looks, especially if there is a little snow, just like his calendar illustrations anyway.

It’s a pity the previous owner had the facade plastered, now there’s very little structure to render.

The other sketch is a few years old. We visited Arnstadt in 2004. A really nice little town in the process of being restored. There were still plenty of the old, dilapidated buildings that are so much fun to render or paint.

I don’t sketch enough

For the past few years, since I started hacking on Krita in 2003, I have spent nearly all my spare time on Krita and KOffice. In the beginning, I did remember to spare a little time for actually drawing and painting, but quite soon I stopped doing event that. And whenever I picked up my pen, pencil or brush I noticed that what little skill I may have had had detoriated quite a lot.

That sketch, after Caravaggio, is fairly recent. I have been capable of things like:

These sketches are done with plain pencil, eraser, thumb and index finger. I still cannot sketch with Krita as I can with a pencil: Krita and Gimp can keep up with the rapidity of my strokes quite well now (neither Photoshop nor Corel Painter can — I sketch really fast), but there’s still a difference in resolution, in ease of stumping and building up of tone. Still, we’re working on that!