Sketchnoting is fun

And just to prove it, I tried to “translate” a conference preparation list into images (+ some words, all right). However, it’s not just a random exercise. I went to THATCamp Lausanne in November 2011 and have been a huge fan of this format of organizing conferences ever since. To this day I’m pretty sure that I was the only participant whose work was not connected to digital humanities at all – at that time I was still working as alumni coordinator at my university.

However, it did not matter. It was fun – as the “outsider” I didn’t need to impress anyone, so I could ask all the potentially stupid questions about things I was interested in. Another extremely fine memory from THATCamp Lausanne was the evening reception – I do not remember having had better food in my life. It was a huge selection of appetizers, most of which I had no idea what they were, besides being absolutely divine-tasting.

Ahem… pardon my digression into salivating…

thatcamp checklists_web

I have tried in my way to be free…

Yes, I know… the title is shamelessly borrowed from Leonard Cohen, but as his music is my faithful companion these days, there’s no way around it. I have been stuck with the idea of painting for some time now. Nothing seems important enough to justify using one of my few remaining canvases. There is nothing eternal I  seem to be able to express on a single square of canvas. There have been ideas, indeed, yet on a second glance they always reveal themselves to be cliche, boring, trivial, already done by someone else. And so the painting materials  have just sat there … until yesterday.

I checked Illustration Friday for their this week’s topic. It was “Tape”. Tape. Unusual, considering that usually they have something more in the lines of “Aquatic”, “Exploration”, “Summer”, etc etc. But the oddity of the topic moved something in the mind, some of my own old works surfaced, some works by some others… I had tape. Different kinds, in fact. A quick rough sketch of an old couple – an old man sitting, bent over, with an old woman next to him, with her hand on his shoulder. Perhaps my grandparents, perhaps some others. A piece of cardboard, black tape, paper tape, ripping, pasting, occasional swearing… the old couple was there no more, two old women had taken their place. My grandmothers, of course, they always are when I draw old women.

And it was good, as it came from the heart. Neither forced, nor  called for, it had simply been waiting for the right medium. This must be a form of freedom – simply letting go.


Here is another, older one about my grandmothers.


On writing

One of the last thoughts that I remember before falling asleep yesterday (or technically today, as it was almost 6 a.m.) was, that I’m going to write today. It was a happy thought. Writing relaxes me, helps to unwind tangled thoughts, cleanses the mind.

Six years ago I tried to follow a system called ‘morning pages’ from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”. The idea – as much as I recall – was that every day, right after waking up, one would sit down and write 3 A4 pages of text. Doesn’t matter what exactly, structure is irrelevant, even correct spelling somewhat optional. I hardly remember anything else from that book, so evidently it didn’t make that much of an impression. However, this particular idea of un-self-censored writing has some merits. It is definitely not applicable in the idealized fashion depicted in the book, as not all of us are a) morning people who enjoy getting up at 5 a.m. in order to have an hour for peaceful writing and b) have windows sufficiently high and well-placed in order to see the sunrise and feel “creative energy”.

Nevertheless, I wrote the morning pages for about a month and this notebook is one of the few that made it here to Greece with me. One of the most striking sentences I found in there was “I’ve kept 28 notebooks and diaries”. Precious few (plus a number of torn-out pages) still exist – as the cost of transport from Denmark to Greece necessitated draconian choices in terms of books and personal papers. Of course, perhaps the greatest loss (in retrospect) were the teenage diaries that I destroyed almost as soon as I had filled the notebooks. Small apartment, no lockable drawers – the only way to safeguard the thoughts and secrets was to send them back to nothingness.