The Auto-Didact Way Of Learning How-To Illustrate

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Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery

Lacon, Or, Many Things in a Few Words: Addressed to Those who Think

A simple and true term. These are the most famous words of English writer and cleric Charles Caleb Colton.

Imitation is what I’m doing mostly when I try out my painting skills. I am still a beginner and my techniques are lacking. So how to fix that? Easy, I do it like many before me and replicate. If it looks like the original painting then I obviously mastered the technique. If I imitate long and often enough I finally will be able to create strong images myself. For right now I venture only to simple territory when I create original paintings but in the future I want to make elaborate stuff without first figuring out how-to.

Sometimes I will duplicate a whole picture and sometimes I’m just interested in special aspects which will result in something more or less similar to the original.

I scanned some of my stuff. The colors come off lighter than in IRL, I’m not sure why. Still haven’t figured out the settings. For comparison I included the originals.

mon general copy from nancy z

Nancy Zhang - The General

Nancy Zhang – The General

Nancy Zhang has a series of super sweet and colorful illustrations on her blog. This one is my favorite.

The next three are copies from Laura Laine. She is the queen of gothic fashion illustration with her dark female images always being big-headed and decadently long-haired while the bodies get super slim but elongated limbs.

Laura Laine copy Artemis watercolor

Laura Laine illustration - Artemis in Alexander Mcqueen

Laura Laine illustration – Artemis in Alexander Mcqueen

watercolor Laura Laine copy- Flora in iconic Balenciaga

Laura Laine illustration - Flora in iconic Balenciaga

Laura Laine illustration – Flora in iconic Balenciaga

My very first one:

watercolor copy of Laura Laine Athena

Laura Laine illustration - Athena

Laura Laine illustration – Athena

I mostly use watercolors and make a sketch beforehand with a pencil. As I am crazy about using as many different colors as possible I usually end up with less dark illustrations.

Copying is easy. As you can see the progress is really fast. But now I haven’t drawn humans since a few months, I’m afraid that I have to start at the Athena level again.

 

A Sip At Mischpoke // Series: Charming Places In Cologne

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Mischpoke serrano truffle avocado sandwich and perfect cappuccinosMischpoke serrano truffle avocado sandwich and perfect cappuccinos

Right in the middle of the Belgian quarter there is a cute tiny café without seats.

Well, it once had seating in the back room but for the moment a record store is being housed in and takes up the space.

The name of this café is Mischpoke, a Yiddish expression. Not that the owner has a Jewish family connection but it is a fun sounding word and frequently used in German. Do I need to explain its meaning? Ah, just go and look it up yourself (in German) here.

Once Köln had a big Jewish population dating way back until ancient Roman times. Of course with what happened under the nazi regime the Jews and their culture got extinct here. But there is no reason that is stays abscond and that we can not remind here and there of the Jewish heritage. So I think the Yiddish name is perfectly appropriate and offering jewish dishes even more so.

This is why I stopped there the other day. Not for a quick refreshment in-between shopping which Mischpoke is excellently located for, no I pilgered with purpose to have a taste of pastrami sandwich which I had seen on the menu and I wanted to try since a long time but no place had offered it yet.

Irony has it that I was too late!!! as it’s already cut off the menu again due to lack of demand. Obviously my Cologne fellas don’t know what pastrami is and don’t feel adventurous enough to try. Hello! People are you crazy?

Fortunately the owner was there to keep my disappointment and hungry stomach at bay by offering me an alternative which sounded equally lekker and it really made up.

Mischpoke Köln Belgisches Viertel

Mischpoke, Maastrichter Str. 47. The storefront is painted in a nice dark cyan with simple logo design.

I ordered a cappuccino alongside and settled onto the tree hugging wood bench in front where I happily digged into that wonderful crunchy and warm bread you see above. It had a layering of delicate truffle butter, Serrano ham, avocado and some other salady greens. It was delicious! As was the cappuccino made of coffee beans provided by Heilandt, a local roastery.

If you stop by you can have the coffee to go but then you’ll miss on the cool urban neighborly feel which the people from surrounding shops hanging around the bench all day provide. I liked that very much.

And from time to time waves of funky music from inside will reach your plug tortured ears and remind you how great sound coming from those old school black discs can be.

(Instagram courtesy of Omid Shahedali and from Mischpoke’s Facebook)

Shoe Fair in Düsseldorf – Dance School Party

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Shoe Display Replay GDS Dance School Party

Beside fashion weeks there are still regular fairs for the garment industry. While it seems to be allowed one fashion week twice a year only for each country fairs happen more often.

In Germany since the Wende a lot of brands exhibit in Berlin and enjoy the accompanied publicity circus and easier circumstances for entrepreneurs. Yet the big players of retail stayed preferably back in posh and a little old-fashioned Düsseldorf at their well established showrooms. Here it’s more about the seller and buyer. Still after done work and deals signed brands like to have some press over and offer a little entertainment.

At this years GDS shoe fair Replay organized a fun event in it’s Düsseldorf flag ship store near prestigious Kö.

The difference between Cologne and Düsseldorf hits me each time. As here everybody was so good looking and with no exception dressed nicely. The theme of the night was dance school party and for this sweet ballerina Annika Seibel made several performances at the barre in a warm up style while wearing the brands denim.

Look at her! I have a little mobile phone cam clip. It’s blurry but I think her gorgeousness still shines through.

 

The great Hans Nieswandt was responsible for the music but I muted the clip and chose one of Youtube’s audio offers so as not to bother you with the talk of my bystanders.

If you’re more a friend of HD, you can have another look at the beautiful dancer here:

Thankfully refreshment for us hungry and thirsty crowd came via cute bartenders which managed to create cocktails resembling more like boozy fruit salads. Yum so tasty!

Replay GDS Collage Bartenders and Cocktails

Replay GDS Dance School Party

Short Review – & Other Stories Beauty

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Other Stories Lipstick Fusible Peach Eye Pencil White Linen Body Lotion Sugar CrushA while ago I promised telling you about my & Other Stories beauty purchases. Some time has passed and I got to use all of them more than a few times so I can clearly give a final impression.

My resumé is a little mixed as I only liked two out of the three products. I bought lipstick for 15 €, white eye liner 8 € and travel size of Body Lotion for the ridiculous amount of only 1 €. & Other Stories also offers some cool, sometimes organic brands in their shelves but I concentrated on their in-house line. Their beauty products locate in the middle price range and all come in an incredible amount of different shades and gorgeous packaging.

Review Other Stories Beauty Lipstick Fusible PeachI mean look at it! That clean and sleek surface. Doesn’t it look like a bullet?

Review Other Stories Beauty Lipstick Fusible PeachThis beauty weapon’s only adornment is the signature handwritten style brand name.

Review Other Stories Beauty Lipstick Fusible PeachHere you can see the color. It’s Fusible Peach in matte.

Review Other Stories Beauty Lipstick Fusible PeachSwatch Review Other Stories Beauty Lipstick Fusible PeachAs you can see applied it is much brighter than in the tube. On my lips even more so. Sadly it performs really streaky. Which is a shame considering the price. One buck more and I could have had a MAC one! Seriously girls even my cheapest drugstore brand lipsticks behave better. They may not have as much pigment and not be matte but at least there is no weird streakiness going on. I really tried to make it work (with lip balm underneath, powder above, blotting and more) because the color is actually perfect. I have been looking for the perfect peachy nude shade quite a while and thought I found it.

What does that teach me: Never again lipstick shopping while your lips are already painted with long lasting red color. The tubes looked so cute and I really wanted to have this. Usually I would have tested but who wants to wipe off mentioned long lasting lipstick right in the middle of the store and then in front of everybody swipe some of them well tested tubes on? I only swatched at the back of my hand which came out well and hoped for the price they wouldn’t sell trash…

So to the next product. This is the white eye liner. Actually it is not white white, it’s more white with a hint of rose. The name states linen white for it.

Review Other Stories Linen White

On the back of my hand you can see the rose shade coming through.
Swatch Eye Liner Linen Whit

This time I even have some pics wearing the product.

Review Other Stories Linen White

On the lid it comes off as white but I think it is still more flattering and everyday wearable than a titanium white. Especially considering my skin tone. Most people use white liner in the inner eye rim to give a more open impression. Been there, too… don’t like that very much on me.

Review Other Stories Linen White

Click for bigger size of images.

I used it on my upper lid instead of black liner aiming to channel those runway model looks from the last seasons. Some of them were quite daring. I kept it low key.

Overall I liked the liner. It’s high pigmented, doesn’t smudge and was easy to use. Sometimes bright eye liners can get caught up in your lashes which looks really weird. Like if you just woke up, if you know what I mean… thankfully that doesn’t happen with this one.

With Other Stories Body Lotions I am deeply in love. I already have the rose scented hand and the body lotion. And I think it is the best rose scent ever. Not too sweet or flowery with a hind of cedar. Scented creams usually keep failing me as they’re very often high in alcohol. So instead of giving moisture they dry out the skin. Also the scent is very often too sticky and off-putting. I was really curious if that would be the case here, too. But obviously investing in a perfume designer who has a name and doesn’t want to loose it seems to pay off. Behind all of & Other Stories Lotion and cream scents stands perfume designer Ben Gorham of famous show-stopper brand Byredo.

Other Stories Body Lotion Sugar CrushThe sugar crush lotion also has a really delicious scent. A warm caramel scent similar of freshly made candy. You want to bite right into it! Surprisingly the lotions and creams perform insanely good. Something I can’t say to a big amount of lotions of all kinds of brands, high and low, sitting useless in my drawer. My skin, actually the outer epidermis can get really dry and hard and the wrong product will result in strawberry bumps or worse but the & Other Stories kept everything smooth.

I say go for this one, too.

 

Get Into Poached Egg Heaven With Your Shakshuka

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Poached Egg Shakshuka rice greek yoghurt

I am not a professional food photographer but hopefully you still can see the poached egg goodness going on in my lunch there. Hmmm.

Shakshuka or Melemen, it’s what they call it in Turkey, is one of my favorite meals. Besides from being absolutely delicious it can be prepped in about no time. And just like pizza this dish is open for variation, meaning add whatever your fridge offers on left overs, it’ll only get better.

Just at the end of the cooking crack an egg over the pan, cover with a lid and poach it while turning the heat off. The remaining heat will be sufficient.

I also sprinkled some Jalapeños on top which I had pickled myself just the day before.

As for the rice you see underneath usually Shakshuka is accompanied by bread but I am trying to cut down on gluten in my diet for a better skin condition.

Head over to the New York Times dining section on Youtube where the great red headed Melissa Clark will give you a mouth watering two minute video on how to make Shakshuka properly. As I said my recipe is slightly variated if anyone is interested in my take just leave a comment.

My Stealthy Freedom – Women Without Veil

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My own stealthy freedom moment at takht e solemn in west-azarbaijan, Iran 2010

My own little Stealthy Freedom moment in Iran. (…Admitted it happened rather unaware)

Have you heard of the My Stealthy Freedom movement?

London based journalist Masih Alinejad has started it from her Facebook page where you can see pics of Iranian women lifting their scarfs more or less in public. This opposes law in Iran but nonetheless women keep sending pictures in. Some being quite risky like posing in city parks.

The stories behind the pictures are quite touching, too. And as someone who has spent a little time in Iran and in other middle eastern countries I can feel them.

As I always had the hardest time when we would be spontaneous at the sea or a great pool without segregated areas. The men would get almost naked and spring into the refreshing water while we women would have had to do the same in full clothing which we didn’t. Most times only our toes touched the blue of the sea.

My last visit to Iran was in 2010 where we did a round trip through all big historic sites. One really hot day in West Azarbaijan we visited the zoroastrian fire temple Takht-e Soleymān. Such an amazing complex of ancient buildings! Right after we went over to the nearby crate which is called Zendan-e Soleyman and to reach its top you have to do a little hike. In that heat it seemed like climbing a big mountain and as I was occupied moving upwards in my full black clothing and Converse chucks I just didn’t notice how my scarf fell off my head unto my shoulders. As I came aware, you know what… I simply didn’t care, my German co-travellers, too. There was no one else except for us as nobody comes there the heights of summer. It felt so freeing, in that moment Iran was a place like anywhere else in the world. Just us and a normal summer day in nature looking at old ruins.

Oh, how I miss that country…

Sunday Post: Thoughts On Olivia Palermo’s Wedding Past Weekend

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It’s a lazy sunday partly spent just looking through pics of the last bygone days and as I am a really huge sucker for weddings I still drool over US socialite Olivia Palermo’s and our German export Johannes Hübl’s wedding moment past weekend.

The uber-stylish couple tied the knot officially in a civil wedding and played news agency afterwards spreading words themselves via Instagram and Olivia’s own website.

Since their big time short-clip announcement in December I anticipated eagerly huge features at Vogue, Martha Stewart and so on from their celebrations. In case you don’t know the couple, both are known for their great sense of style and impeccable clothing. Living a very public life and using social media for their fame it seemed like they would make a huge deal out of the nuptials.

Just that the exact opposite happened… still I am not disappointed. The two publicized images bear a lot more beauty and to analyze than some other wedding with hundreds and hundreds of pics and hour long videos.

He wore a perfectly fitted white!!! suit by his Hamburg based tailor Marc Anthony. Props to this tailor. White suits are never easy especially when they’re going to be worn by the groom. He not only managed not to look like an idiot but perfectly dapper. And I am even more impressed by his unconventional tie choice: a knitted blue Charvet tie. Very chic.

OP’s attire came from Carolina Herrera. The look was low key but nothing simple. In fact I think both looked very refined. Olivia wore shorts beneath her puffy layers of see-through tulle which seems a very edgy look for this upper-class bride and so appropriate looking at the sunny weather in the photos. Her hair and make up were not made up heavily instead she sported calculated messiness in a ponytail and a fresh face close to her usual appearance. And yet she looks so ethereal and even more bridal than anything perfectly powdered and polished could ever achieve. Somehow I think Olivia Palermo resembles a lot Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Don’t you think, too?

Remember the blue Manolo Blahnik shoes from the first Sex and The City Movie? Blue Satin with crystal embellishment and mid high heel? Since the movie they became iconic for a lot of brides to be.They’re so common it becomes unexpected again when a style icon like Olivia Palermo wears them to her wedding.

The-Final-Solo-Shot Olivia Palermo by Johannes Hübl

Back shot of Olivia Palermo at Bedford Park, New York. Cashmere sweater, tulle skirt and shorts by Carolina Herrera – shoes by Manolo Blahnik © by Johannes Huebl

To explain for my international readers. There is this tradition in the States where the bride needs to have something blue to wear with her. Be it a accessory, clothing or a token. A lot of women choose a garter for this, a whole lot of others choose blue shoes and them very often being this exact model of Manolo Blahniks. Proof? See here.

Johannes stated a hint that this was only ‘part one’… We shall see if there is more to come and feed us wedding inspiration hungry. Not that there is one to plan but one can still collect, no?

 

Summer Day Soundtrack

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It is a lovely summer day up here in Cologne and I have been listening to this song over and over again:

Oh my! Those smooth summer vibes…

What a sweet girl Rita is! Her make up is always flawless and the styling totally spot on. A big 90’s flashback hipstery going on here with lots of playful skin flashing accompanied by Chanel and Moschino bling. Click here for a behind the scenes video where your eyes can linger a little longer on the outfits in between cuts. In private she sometimes goes a little wacky like down below. But that’s in Glastonbury, a time to get yourself as dirty as your Hunter boots.

Rita Ora, Hunter Chelsea Boots, Replay jacket, Turban; Glastonbury Festival Day 2, Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset - 28 June 2014

Rita Ora perfectly BoHo in Hunter boots, black Replay fringed jacket and of course the obligatory festival shorts.

Responsible for the uplifting dance-pop vibe of her last single is her now ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris. If the general style seems familiar to you, that’s because the clip was directed by Francesco Carrozzini who in the past has also worked with Beyoncé. I am not sure who to credit as stylist as I couldn’t find any names in my quick research but looking at the outcome it seems that Ritas stylists Kyle Devolle and Jason Rembert had their hands on.

Replays Comeback On The Eco-Friendly Jeans With New L.I.F.E Laserblast Technology

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Campaign Replay Laserblast L.I.F.E EcoWarrior Aleksandra Orbeck-Nilssen

 

Since last week Replay has launched its new eco warrior campaign to promote their newest take in eco-friendly jeans. As you can see in the above image they take the campaign name really serious and show off a beautiful girl FEMEN style wearing the new Replay Laserblast L.I.F.E in the boyfriend cut being arrested by some pretty highly harnessed policemen. This is clever as it also transports the sexual vibe which alway comes in very handy in advertising denim.

Of course there is also a male counterpart, fortunately for us styled the same way:

Enok Groven Campaign Replay Laserblast L.I.F.E EcoWarrior

Ain’t this some piercing eyes? Reading through the press material it turns out those two are more than just pretty faces, they’re actual environment activists. Nice! And Replay supports their causes.

The cutie here is Enok Groven, founder of Fashion Against Climate Change, and the female protagonist Aleksandra Orbeck-Nilssen who is also an actress developed the Nanofasa Conservation Trust.

Replay also produced a cinematographic clip full of half naked, good looking people. It is advertisement but feels more like a Woodkid video clip located in a wonderfully green forest. With showing the aggressive movement I like that the viewer gets a good impression of the jeans look and fit. The male ones look en vogue, a little tight but not too much with a low waist. Interesting that Replay decided to not go mainstream in the female department. Right now where everybody is calling for the high rise Replay stays ‘conservative’ and only releases low waist. And the video proofs they’re not kidding marking the cut low waist. Watching it I was surprised not to see any butt cracks!!!

So what is it about this new technology that makes the new styles so eco-friendly? A few years ago Replay sold organic cotton jeans which are sadly nowhere to be found anymore. Using organic cotton fabric meant less pesticides in the growing process. But there are more ways to get jeans eco-friendly. As we all know creating distressed denim wastes and pollutes a lot of water in the process. First a lot of hazardous chemicals need to be used for coloring, bleaching, washing and printing. Then comes the sandblasting which is highly harmful for the factory workers.

Replay states that its Laserblast technology relies on a coloring technique using natural pigments of mineral origin giving the fabric a used look right from the beginning. For distressing they use laserblasting instead of sandblasting which is then followed by stone washing to soften the look.

I hopped over to the website and compared the looks. I have to say that I like the end results of the new technique much more than the regular distressed style. It seems more refined and smooth.

The price point is still very high but I think this brand makes a good step in the right direction and I appreciate that. If the end results harm the environment less and are beautiful, why not?

Now let’s hope that they’ll also make a comeback of the organic fabric then I will be completely sold.

 

The Artist Behind The Artist – Henrik Vibskov

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Henrik Vibskov opening night exhibition of Vibskovski;72 at Ruttkowski;68

Mobile cam pic…

This is a mobile camera photo of Henrik Vibskov and me from his exhibition opening event.

It took me two glasses of bubbly to actually approach him and ask questions about his art. I think I mostly managed well. He was really nice and answered everything as you can see he even allowed me a photo.

I told him that his wall knit-art reminded me of Iranian nomad rugs and wanted to know if he knot them himself. That would really have knocked me out because it takes a whole lot of time and skills to get to this size and number.

It is very common especially under busy artists that have already made it to get their work done by their assistants, like for example Jeff Koons does. There is no shame in it, still the helpers usually never get mentioned.

And as a clothing designer Henrik Vibskov is surely already used to delegate the creational process of his ideas to others. This was also the case with the knits. He pointed me to a group of good-looking and fashionable people at the door and told me that they were his team.

Team Henrik Vibskov opening night exhibition of Vibskovski;72 at Ruttkowski;68 Cologne

Team Henrik Vibskov drinking local beer. Oh and that great colorful jumpsuit there in the middle… I could die for it.

I immediately took a photograph of them, too. To show you and acknowledge the people who stand behind the artist and help him to get big.

How nice of Henrik to take his team with him and share the success. Also how great is his clothing line! Found this shirt pic on Henriks Instagram:

I think it’s for male but would wear it immediately.

BTW really worth to follow him, look at that piece!!!

Gift Wrapping – The Eco-Friendly Way

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Watercolor Birthday Card and Ecofriendly Gift wrapping

Let me show you my take on eco-friendly gift wrapping.

  1. Create a greeting card yourself. This might scare you but it is not difficult or time consuming. Just take some piece of paper or card board and write something nice. Even scraps would do as we live in the fortunate times of hipstery where unperfection is considered as artsy. If your just a little bit talented paint something on one side. Watercolor will always look beautiful. Then you will have invested your time in being creative and have more for actual gift shopping. Believe me, this will be appreciated.
  2. Now to the wrapping. Use brown kraft paper from a roll or news-paper if the present is bigger. A simple all-time classic I remember well from my childhood when Müsli-loving parents of classmates were already on the clean environment bandwagon. If the present is nice and tiny you can also just rip out a page of some glossy magazine like Vogue. Once packed it will look like regular wrapping paper.

    ecofriendly wrapping - rip out magazine page

    This is a nice print… Rip out a page and cut to liking.

  3. In the end just tie everything together with some hemp twine. There you have it then: a perfectly wrapped present with a bow and no bad conscience because as everything is biodegradable.

May the lavish decadence of gifting each other take on but from now on more in zen with nature and our wallets.

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