She sells sea-shells by the sea-side

So I wasn’t planning or expecting to take such a long break from writing but being home turned out to be so comfortable that I couldn’t bring myself to do anything else.  And don’t get me wrong, I’m still enjoying the break, I just thought I’d pop up with a fun fact and some updates.

Two days from now we’ll be celebrating the International Work Day, which I thought all my life it’s just a Romanian thing, but according to the all-mighty Wiki, it’s not. Sometime in the 1880’s, after brutal manifestations (I suppose) it was decided that the work day was to be reduced to eight hour and oh, look, people celebrate the same thing in the States – Labor Day, only, well, in September. Communists also come in the picture somewhere along the lines, but just google it, it’s already too much history for me and what I wrote so far probably didn’t make much sense anyway.

But yes, that was funny for me, because it opens a whole new horizon:  it seems highly likely to me now  that it’s not just Romanians that take a day off work to celebrate work (because that makes total sense. Totally.) Do I have any Eastern European readers here? Can you spare some info about that?

The point is that I’m going with the crowd this time by which I mean, I am going to spend this day like most normal do – either making a barbecue on someone else’s lawn, or getting in the car and driving some place. This time the crowd I’m going with is thirsty for salt water and heading towards the seaside. And I am oh my gosh so excited! The lists were made, the bags are (over)packed and I’m now anxiously counting the seconds because in just a few hours – well, more that a few actually, six is not a small number – I will be on my way to fun-land. Or so I hope. Hope that it will be fun-land and not just a beach full of drunk people and litter. Which I know there will be too, but still, I expect more. And I’ll be bringing my camera, so brace yourselves, photos will be coming!

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Out of the system

I finished the thing. I tweaked until until I started to hate but that’s my usual work method, so I guess it’s okay. In the end it had very little to do with what I originally had in my head, but ideas are meant to change and adjust. You can tell I got lazy because it doesn’t look very different from the draft I posted yesterday…actually, come to think about it, it wasn’t exactly laziness – it was more my tendency to get lost in insignificant details and forget the larger picture. Here, literally.

Do you get it it? It’s supposed to be deep. I’m thinking about doing a series.

PS: I updated my About page.

 

WIP it!

I hate it when I’ve got an idea stuck in my head. Don’t get me wrong, ideas are good, but sometimes I get so consumed by one, I have to put everything on hold until I make it happen. That being said, for the first time I’m sharing a work in progress. I don’t usually do that, I like to wait until things are appropriate for public exposure, but since I don’t really know how things are going to evolve from here on, one picture won’t do any harm. Maybe I’ll get some tips…?

It’s also the first time I’m using Photoshop to create something from scratch. Of course, I did a pencil sketch first and used a reference photo, but the digital shading is completely new to me and I’m pretty proud of what came out. The problem is that I worked at a very small resolution and everything looks sort of weird and low quality-ish. Can it be fixed?

There is a lot more to be done, and maybe I will stick with the original idea, maybe I won’t, but hopefully the whole thing will be done before Friday, when I leave.

Oh wait, that’s two days. Well shit, now I have to choose between playing Assassin’s Creed or finishing this. Or perhaps doing something productive…?

A quiet town and a cool museum. Today we’re visiting…

I visited Ladenburg in November, last year, as part of a German course I was taking and even though the weather was shitty, I thought it was a charming little place. The city is located in Germany, in the Baden-Württemberg region, on the shore of the Neckar River. It’s also close to the two more important cities in the area – Heidelberg (which is beautiful!) and Mannheim (where I once got lost).

As I said, we had horrible weather when I was there – it was awfully cold, overcast, it even rained if I remember well. It was winter and Christmas was right around the corner, but the atmosphere felt nothing like it when we got off the train. Still, as we got closer to the town center, things started to warm up a bit. Figuratively speaking, of course.

Ladenburg is really nice,  but most importantly, has an impressive history, starting as a Celtic settlement, later to be turned into a Roman military unit and finally developing into a town about twice as its original size. The St. Gallus Kirche is now sitting on where a Roman basilica used to be, a basilica that was apparently three times bigger than the already huge church.

I’m sorry to say that I don’t know what is here to be seen. In winter, around Christmas, there’s a Weihnachtsmarkt – a market with everything from hats and hand crafted jewelry to different kinds of food. And Glühwein(…mulled wine?), too! Other than that, the internet also recommends the Lobdengau Museum, the Bishop’s Palace and the Chapel of St. Sebastian.

There is one thing I read and thought it was interesting. Apparently, in several German cities they have started to place some so called “stumble stones” – Stolpersteine. They are metal bricks put down on the pavement and they are supposed to commemorate individuals that were in one way or another victims of the Nazis. There are two such stones in Ladenburg, too (which I haven’t seen), placed in the memory of  a man and a woman that were deported and eventually killed.

My personal recommendation is however a museum. More precisely, das Automuseum Dr. Carl Benzwhich can be found as of 2005 in the old factory where the C. Benz Söhne vehicles were manufactured. Also, you could visit the house of the  inventor of the gasoline-powered automobile, if you’re interested.

In 1904, Carl Benz moved to Ladenburg with his wife and child and two years later they founded a company with their own money, called C. Benz Sons. The cars gained popularity by constantly being present at races and probably by kicking everyone’s asses. Since they tried really hard to come up with efficient race cars, they eventually started to sell them too.

Also, his wife, Bertha Benz, seemed to have been a pretty awesome woman. After investing in her husband’s company and also giving him five kids, she decided that she was going to have more to say regarding the guy’s business. So after trying – and failing – to talk him into a more sensible plan of action, she just took matters into her own hands.

One sunny morning she got her two sons (I’m guessing Carl’s two most prized possessions), hopped in the car – remember,  that wasn’t something people typically did at that time – and off she went. To see her mother, she said. In reality she had just put every dude to shame by becoming the first person to drive an automobile over a long distance.

After driving for a little over 100 kilometers and marketing the car by scaring the shit of the people she met (which was her plan all along),  Bertha won herself the right to scream into her husband’s face “I told you so!”. After this funny event, not only had the vehicle gained a huge amount of publicity, but it was also considerably improved, growing to be a real financial and technical success.

As for the actual museum, all I can say is that you definitely won’t get bored, even if you aren’t a car enthusiast. There is plenty of information to read, early models of cars and bikes, race cars, old documents, all things car-related and a souvenir shop with things that one would in fact want to buy.

Wow, I really went overboard with the photos, huh? So anyway, that concludes our short visit. I’m not sure if you will find this useful, should you ever visit Ladenburg but I surely hope you enjoyed it!

A challenge

As I’ve mentioned yesterday, I am taking part in a challenge on Daisy Yellow blog. I know, I know, I said I won’t be doing these things anymore, but this one sounded sort of interesting. It’s called The creativity queue challenge, but I like to think of it as the Stop Procrastination Dare. The whole idea is that you have to do something that you’ve wanted to do and put off for a long time. And I kind of related, so I thought, why not?

A long, long time ago I heard a song on Youtube that I really liked. It inspired me. It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then, I come in contact with something that speaks to me – in images, mostly. I had it in my mind and I wanted to put on paper, but there’s a huge step between thinking it and creating it.

 

My first attempt was a major failure. It was pathetic and I hated it, so I dropped the whole thing. Except the idea – I still kept onto that.And then I read about this thing and once I signed up for it, social pressure played its part. I mean, ahem, I…felt very motivated. Yes.

So I tried again. I sat down with the sketchbook in lap (my new, beautiful sketchbook) and tried to sketch. It was looking acceptable so I kept going, adapting things while I went. The image in my head doesn’t always stay the same, neither does the one on the paper.

The cat was pretty supportive too. I mean, that’s what I like to think, since cats aren’t exactly the cheerleader type, but maybe this time she really wanted me to feel encouraged.

The pencil drawing took longer than I would have wanted but since I usually rush and ink the sketches before I make sure they look good enough, I consider this a progress. Obviously, I still fucked a bit up, but since I was going to edit it later, I didn’t panic as much as usual.

Then came the fun part – actually it was only fun for the first 2 hours or so. After that I kept coming back to it, obsessing over every aspect and constantly modifying the whole thing and the fact that I still didn’t like it was driving me nuts.

I edited it in Photoshop, adding textures and what not. I tried  so many different things, I saved four versions to show it to you, but there were a lot more than that. It just wouldn’t come out the way I wanted which was probably expected since I didn’t know exactly what the fuck I wanted.

As you can see, I took out the outline rather early in the process and focused on the shapes. I like it so much better this way because it looks simpler. The only thing left from the original sketch is the face and the contour.

And the final version. Final, final. I mean I am not going to alter anything. I’m done. It could have been better, but I’m happy with it. Happy-ish…However, I accepted the challenge and completed it – I got it out of my system and cleared it from the queue. So you may call a success.

Distractions

Sometimes writing comes natural, but sometimes the blank page just stares you mockingly in the face and there’s nothing you can do. However, having a blog means you can’t always be waiting for inspiration to strike, you have to “constantly supply new content”, as they say. So here I am, supplying.

I’ll have to admit though, it’s not just the blog who’s being neglected – there are over 400 unread articles in my feed reader and I am making making no progress with the books I’m reading. Or was reading…yes, I’ve been slacking this week.

 

The thing is, I am super duper excited that one week  from now I’ll be on my way to Romania, to spend a chaotic Easter home. I can barely wait and it’s really hard for me to concentrate on the present, when the very near future gets me so stirred up. I guess that’s why I haven’t been doing anything productive this week, unless you count finishing the first season of My Little Pony…but anyway.

Today I decided to start packing my bags- I have never been this late, considering the departure is so soon and the only thing I have so far is a list – so unlike me! Panic arose.I hastily gathered all my clothes and laid them neatly on the bed, ready to sort them into three piles  – yes, no and maybe. Yes, that is the right way to pack.

I took one long look at them, wondering how am I ever going to pack all of them… and the procrastination reflex kicked in. I decided to do something else instead. Something so ridiculous that it will take my mind off stuff. Something like…a stop motion film. Don’t laugh just yet, wait until you see it.

So basically I spent about two hours playing dress-up and it was so fun I absolutely cannot understand why I’m not doing this more often. I enjoyed myself and what came out is a somewhat sketchy video that I recommend you to watch because it’s not everyday that I embarrass myself on the internet. Or perhaps it is.

The moral of the story? Maybe, just  maybe, I  have too many clothes…

 

On a different note, stay tuned, I may be starting to post more often these coming weeks because (hopefully) there are lot of things going to happen. Things worth mentioning. And tomorrow I’m writing about a challenge I’m doing. I know, I know, I said I’m done with such things but this actually sounded interesting.