As I'm living beside a two square mile park full of trees, it's a great subject matter to paint or draw. Yesterday and this morning I worked on a new pastel drawing of the trees.
Another acrylic and pastel painting: "Undergrowth". I feel like I'm on a roll now, painting every day.
"Misaligned" - Another painting started yesterday and finished today - acrylic paint and pastel pencils on paper.
I was at the Berlinische Galerie on Thursday, one of the best contemporary art museums in Berlin. They have a permanent collection of art from about 1870 onwards and currently there are 4 exhibitions, two of which I focused on today: Cornelia Schleime and Christine Streuli.
Cornelia Schleime was born in East Berlin and at a certain stage in her practice her work was banned by the GDR and she eventually was able to move to West Berlin in 1984 but she lost all her work as part of the move. Since then she's won many awards and her paintings tend to be large stylised portraits.
Christine Streuli's was born in Switzerland and has spend some time as a guest professor at Berlin’s University of the Arts. Her work has a Pop Art feel to it.
I also included some works from the permanent collection below.
I find visiting galleries and looking at art very inspirational and I always leave with a feeling that I want to pick up my brushes and start painting (and I tend to do that when I get back to my apartment).
I was at another writing Meet-up on Wednesday and I'm finding it very beneficial to be able to share thoughts and ideas on writing with other writers.
A new mixed media painting for today: Riverbank.
Inspired by Patrick O'Hearn's music track - "A lovely place to be".
So much art, architecture, street art and sculpture here in Berlin, there is something to enjoy every day:
- Charlottenburg Palace, the largest palace in Berlin, was built as the summer residence of Sophie Charlotte, the first queen of Prussia in 1699.
- A Botticelli painting from the Gemaldegalerie
- The beautiful staircase in the Berggruen museum opposite Charlottenburg Palace
- A church off Augustrasse
- Street Art
- Alberto Giacometti sculpture
- Early Picasso
I’ve just finished Mark Dawson’s “The Cleaner”, the first book in the John Milton thriller series, and it was a was a pacey, enjoyable novel. I need to read or listen to lots of novels in this crime/spy genre to help me write in that area. In the last few weeks I’ve read or listened to novels by Val McDermid, Robert Bryndza and Mark Dawson. I’ve found that listening to audio books supplements my reading and as an added bonus, I can listen and paint at the same time.
Listening is also very useful for determining the flow of the language, however the actor reading has a huge impact on the overall experience. Some novels I’ve listened to have been poorly read and I’ve abandoned listening to them after 50 or 60 pages, and returned to reading them instead.
I had never really considered before how important the skill of a good reader is. Now if I’m going to buy and listen to a novel for perhaps 8 or 10 hours over a week, I make sure I’ve heard samples read by that reader, before committing to it.
There is also something very satisfying about sitting back and closing your eyes and just listening, taking in the words, the different accents, the cadence, the descriptions and imagery and the flow of the story. Part of the pleasure for me, I think, is because it brings back childhood memories when I occasionally listened to serialised books read on BBC Radio 4, with my mother, after I’d come home from school.
But audio books are not cheap, often the price is €10 to €20, sometimes more than the price of the paperback, and I’ve been spoilt by Amazon Kindle pricing where so many books are priced at €1.99. I guess the price is higher because it’s for a reading actor’s performance and a writer’s creation. Audible.com offer a €9.50 one audio book per month option but that’s no comparison to Spotify’s €9.99 per month for millions of music tracks (and some audiobooks too), all month long. It’s not about the quantity, you can only read or listen to so much, but I would definitely subscribe to a service which offered audio or reading of any book at any time.
Amazon.com and Audible.com are getting there, but currently with a very restricted book catalogue.
My new mixed media painting, Swirling was painted using acrylic paint, pastels and coloured pencils.
While I was at the Berggruen Museum today looking at their fantastic collection of Picasso paintings, I spent an hour making a drawing of one of them "Woman with a hat". First there's the original Picasso and then there's my drawing of it.
Saturday morning and it was a blustery rainy day in Berlin as I took an early S-Bahn over to Hackescher Markt station and walked up the nearly empty streets to Kaschk cafe on Linienstrasse where I was going to a writers Meetup called "Shut Up and Write". About thirty writers had gathered - novel writers, academics writing PhD theses, short story writers, and bloggers. We sat down on long benches, drank strong coffee and talked first, then wrote for two hours with a small break in between and more conversation at the end. There were no critiques - it was just a means to an end - get some writing done and get inspiration from taking to others from all around the globe. I had been writing on my own in the apartment all week and this was a great change. Ricardo from Mexico sat opposite me and after our writing we sat and discussed the novel he's working on. It's on every Saturday morning and sometimes on Wednesday and I've signed up to go along.
Later I took the M45 bus from Zoologischer Garten to Charlottenburg to visit the Berggruen Museum, one of my favourite modern art museums with an impressive collection of paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Klee, Cezanne and many others and a room of Alberto Giacometti sculptures all shown over three circular floors of galleries with a wonderful staircase and atrium. At the top floor of mostly Picasso paintings I sat a while and made a drawing of "Woman with a hat" (see my next post). It was raining when I left the museum but I didn't care, I'd had a fantastic day.
As I've been walking around the local area in Berlin I've noticed a number of interesting buildings.
I've been walking through Tiergarten park every day since I've arrived here and enjoyed the light through the trees in the mornings and the evenings. It is a large park (2 sq. miles, as you'll see from the photos below) and was designed in the 1830s by landscape architect Peter Lenne. The Victory Column (celebrating Prussian war victories) is in the centre of the park and you can walk up to the top (285 steps) for panoramic views across the park and the city beyond.
The Gemaldegalerie Museum at the Kulturforum near Potsdamer Platz holds a huge collection of art from the 14th century to the 18th century. It's an Aladdin's Cave of art and my visit there today for two hours just scratched the surface (excuse the pun :), allowing me to view some of the most famous paintings, pictured below and spend an hour making a drawing of one of them.
I was in the Gemaldegalerie this afternoon and I made a drawing of a Hans Holbein painting while I was there.
Another mixed media painting started yesterday and finished this morning (acrylic, pastel and pencils). I was listening to an audiobook as I painted: "The Distant Echo" by Val McDermid.
I was at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum on Sunday, viewing some of their paintings from the pop art movement including Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. There was also an exhibition of Rudolph Belling's sculpture. Belling's work was banned by the Nazis so he emigrated to Istanbul.
The Hamburger Bahnhof building itself is a work of art and it is a former neoclassical railway station build in the 1840s and converted to an art museum in 1996.
When I arrived in Berlin last Thursday, one of the first things I did was to buy an annual ticket for the Berlin state museums. This is a cluster of 17 museums and galleries in Berlin and the annual ticket cost just €50 to allow me visit any of the museums at any time. Absolutely brilliant value and I've already used it several times in the first four days.
I've been experimenting with mixed media on this sunny Sunday morning in Berlin. "Isobars" is acrylic paint on paper with pastel and colour sticks, inspired by the "Music for Concentration" playlist from Spotify.
I was at Modulor art store just beside Moritzplatz U-Bahn on Prinzenstrasse this morning to pickup some drawing paper, paint and colour sticks. It's a fantastic art store, an artist's heaven with floors of art materials and equipment. I thought I'd just be in there for a few minutes to pick up the stuff I wanted, but it drew me in and I spent an hour there and still had only seen a fraction of the art stuff they have. No doubt I'll find an excuse to go back there in a few weeks.
Link to Timeout Berlin Review of Modulor
Later I perused the quirky art and print galleries on Auguststrasse and took some photos of interesting buildings and murals before heading to the English Bookshop at Dussmann on Friedrichstrasse for a browse of the books. I'm looking for very modern (21st century) world history books as part of my research. I'm reading "Prisoners of Geography" but it doesn't have enough depth in each of the areas of the world. "The World in Conflict" looked interesting and also Noam Chomsky's "Who Rules the World". I'm guessing the most recent I'll get is up to about 2015 and then use the Internet for political history in 2016 and 2017 (so much has happened in the last two years).
Back home now and I'm going to do a little painting after dinner with a musical backdrop of Cinematic Themes from Spotify (it's great to have a million records at my fingertips no matter where I travel)
I brought pastels, pencils, some brushes and paper with me to Berlin. I'll buy some paint tomorrow but for now I'll just work in pastels. These are the trees from my window looking over Tiergarten.
I arrived yesterday at noon in Berlin for 4-month stay. It was sunny and about 15 centigrade - quite a pleasant welcome. Ben, the apartment owner was here to greet me and show me around the 4th floor apartment, not that that took very long as it's a 50 sq m studio apartment in a 1950s block on the edge of Tiergarten park, and I'd stayed there several times before. I spent the afternoon getting set up - network, writing setup, chromecast, shopping, clothes. It didn't take long. This morning I've started the planning for writing - The New Frontier - some mind maps, review of the story and characters in the last book. a review of the 20,000 words I've written so far in this book and some research plans.
I've been down to the Zoologischer Garten / Kurfurstendamm area several times since I arrived (just one stop and two minutes on the S-Bahn) as it's the closest shopping area to my apartment. Today the weather has reverted back to a cold, windy, 9 centigrade with overcast skies - just like Ireland. I went to the Helmut Newton photographic museum. Newton was a prolific photographer who specialised in fashion and nude photography from the 1960s to the 1990s. The museum also holds a collection of portraits by his wife, June, known as Alice Springs.
The Zoo Garten area is a hodge-podge of old and new buildings shops, apartment buildings, and offices juxtaposed with a street market, a central bus station , the zoo (which I have no desire to see: animals in captivity) and blighted by seemingly never-ending construction work. (reminds me of the Luas works in Dublin)
The Kaiser Wilheim Memorial Church - the remains of a World War 2 bombed out church, serving as a reminder of war, sits beside a 1960s brutalist concrete church which I think looks hideous on the outside, but the interior is surprisingly serene with it's walls lined with tiny blue windows forming a backdrop to a large, seemingly floating, golden statue of Christ (see photo). When I visited there were operatic singers, practising for a later performance which added to the athmosphere.