Freitag, 19. April 2013


Raimar Heber, head of the dpa-infografik graphic design department organises a monthly get together of Graphic Designers, Illustrators and other visually communicating folks in Berlin, choosing from a broad range of topics that mainly focus on different approaches of visual communication.

Yesterday we were introduced to Tatjana Thierbach, who is one of the few professional practitioners of the Benesh Movement Notation system in Germany.

Coming from the classical ballett movement notation is used in many diferent instances where the communication of complex movements with others or to pass choreographies on to later generations is used.
Younger than other notation systems the first known attempts to write down movements date back to the court of Louis XIV, le Roi Soleil.
 It is mainly used to help the choreographer in classical ballet. Other fields are as well in filmmaking and also as a helpful tool for physiotherapists, where the langauge developped it's very own complex forms.

 Tatjana studied at John Cranko's Ballet school in Stuttgart where she met Uwe Scholz, who was very much influenced by John Cranko.
Cranko relied very much on the Benesh Notation System, which inflamed Scholz to use it for his choreographies as well. Tatjana decided to study the system and became a close assistant to Scholz and after his untimely passing away an important preserver of his cultural heritage.

The Notation system itself equals the classical notation system with five staves and barlines.
You can find free introductory videos to the system online on

We gathered at the lovely Café Blume, close to Volkspark Hasenheide in Neukölln.
The Café is run by Tatjana and her partner, who is touring with Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats, based on the idea to fill a gap they faced with their kids and to develop a family friendly Café with a playing area for kids close to the park.

Lovely place, wonderful people and a great evening.

Thanks a lot, Tatjana and Raimar for arranging this truly enchanting event!

Dienstag, 9. April 2013

An interview with Rien Poortvliet

A couple of days ago my friend Christoph Heuer  sent me a link to this video featuring an interview with the famous dutch animal and landscape painter
Rien Poortvliet.

Most known for his scientific take on "Gnomes" his work encompasses as well books on the dutch history, hunt, horses and wildlife.

Most of his books have the characteristics of an explorers diary, with a sketchy loose approach.

There is an elaborate post on Poortvliet and his work featuring the video on Armand Carbrera's blog "Art and influence"

Montag, 8. April 2013

Warriors and Warlords

Today I received my copy of Angus McBride's "Warriors and Warlords"

Which completely blew me away.
It does not only feature McBride's outstanding illustrations for Osprey publishing but the foreword comes also with excerpts from elaborate interviews that Martin Windrow conducted with him.

There are a couple of great insights to his painting technique and his process (the main body of his work is done in gouache) as well as on the business side of the life of an illustrator.

I can warmly recommend to go for that book!

The interview closes with some words of wisdom for the aspiring artist, which I found very helpful for me:

"let's just say: there is no substitute for lifedrawing classes. They may be 'detrimental to the free flow of inspiration...' - but unless students are actually taught how to draw, God knows how the poor little devils ever expect to make a living. (...)
You have to learn thoroughly the basic mechanics of reproduction and publishing. You have to learn how to meet a deadline. And perhaps, most of all, you have to be a kind of frustrated teacher, always itching to pass things on, to share them and make them plainer - because in the long run, that's what illustration is for.
In the end I can't say much more than, find a subject that genuinely excites you, illustrate it as well as you can, and show your work to every agent and publisher you can track down. And, of course, you have to accept that the learning process is going to last for the rest of your life."

Angus McBride

Sonntag, 7. April 2013

cheapest way to get a glass palette

If you're working in oils you will want to have a decent palette.

I was thinking of how to build a glass palette (which is easy to clean, plus you can put a neutral gray background behind it; which is helpful to see the true colours without them being altered by the wooden colour or white of a handheld palette) for my taboret until I found this extremely helpfull website about the selfmade classical atelier at home by illustrator Björn Gschwendtner .

The solution is facepalmingly simple, logical and ingenious:
buy a simple frame for pictures, put a gray cardboard or whatever colour you work with to tone your panels or canvasses as a background and there you go:


Samstag, 6. April 2013


The first kickstarter campaign I ever supported was Paula Cole's album project "Raven".

Yesterday I downloaded the album and I love it through and through.
It was as well Paula Cole's birthday.
(Happy belated birthday!!)
The sound and the songs of the album are brilliant, she's weaving her songs and themes with wonderfully earthy colours.

Here's a watercolour that I did last year, wondering what a cover for the album could look like:

You can listen to some excerpts of the album on Paula Cole's Webside.

Donnerstag, 4. April 2013

Collecting colours

If you're riding on a train or don't have enough time to do an elaborate study of a scene, there's still a fun thing one can do: fetching the colours of your view in small patches.
Over the time you can thus gather a whole library of colour mixtures that you can later use in final works.

This collection of patches came from my view out of the train, while driving back to Berlin.

The scenery was pretty clear with a bit of dusk above the horizon, open fields were changing with small patches of forests.

I found that hint in Felix Scheinberger's "Wasserfarben für Gestalter" ("water colours for designers")

Mittwoch, 3. April 2013

sketchbook pages from Cologne

Back from my visit in Cologne, where I met with long not seen friends and family.
We had a great time.

Here are some of the sketchbookpages from our visit: