Hamburg

Marble Painting for Beginners

Thanks to a friend I happened on Studio 42 in Hamburg and took their class on marble painting. Result: it’s addictive! While doing it does require some space and covering up to avoid a mess, the whole process is exciting and even a little addictive. Obviously there are various levels to the technique and the creations that full-time marble painting artists come up with are mind-blowing. But those of us just starting out or looking for some artsy, creative enjoyment can proceed with full assurance of producing a unique, (mostly) abstract print full of colours playing off each other.

Read below to see one example of how you can do your own bit of marble painting.

What you need:

Rectangular shallow basin or tray – size depends on the paper size you’ll be using for your painting

Bigger basin

Glass sheet

Drying rack

Drawing paper

Old newspapers

Acrylic paints

Paintbrushes

Toothpics

Water

Bowl

Thin sponge

Thin rubber gloves from a pharmacy

Aluminium sulfate

Ox gall

Step by step:

  1. Fill your tray or basin with water, but not all the way to the brim, leaving an inch or two.
  2. Add the ox gall to the water (if you Google this, you might find that opinions differ on how much to add and whether to add any to the tray at all – take your pick!)
  3. Put on the rubber gloves.
  4. Mix your colours in small jars or containers using the acrylic paints and add bottled water so that it will be possible to shake/ spray the paint on the surface of the water later on.
  5. Mark one side of your sheet of paper with an X.
  6. Dissolve the aluminium sulfate in a bowl of water (ditto on the amounts in terms of different opinions), soak the sponge in it and wet both sides of the paper with wide, even strokes.
  7. Set paper aside to dry.
  8. Dip the brush in the prepared colour you want to start with. Hold the brush in one hand, positioned above the surface of the water, and gently, but firmly tap it against the index and middle finger of your other hand. Ideally, paint splotches will fly off the brush and settle on the water’s surface. Repeat this with several colours. Use a toothpic to create patterns.
  9. Turn the sheet of paper with the side marked X facing up towards you, take the bottom corner on one side and the upper corner on the other, and lower the sheet, placing it on the surface of the water.
  10. After a few seconds, pick up the sheet by both upper corners, and transer it to the board or sheet of glass in the larger basin. Douse with water to get rid of excess paint, then carefully transfer to drying rack. Use wide strips of old newspaper to skim the surface of the water in the tray before the next session.

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All photos by @juniperlu

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My Travel

Oslo Reloaded, Day 2, Ekebergparken Sculpture Park

I add the various smoked salmon to the eggs and bacon (mais oui) on my plate, and then my eyes fall on the waffle iron standing on the counter opposite. You can make your own waffles here? And put Nutella on them? Or raspberry jam? Oh, wait, you’re supposed to spray the inside of the waffle iron with this can, which as it turns out, is not whipped cream? Act casual, just act casual.

The breakfast buffet at the Scandic Grensen hotel has won me over. Or maybe that already happened when I saw the salmon. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Good food is not to be taken for granted, and neither is good breakfast! I’m feeling ridiculously happy that we will get to come here one more time before leaving, and I know without a doubt that I will stuff my face.

“There are two types of people: those who want to know when is breakfast in the hotel, and those who want to know until when is breakfast in the hotel.”

We board a tram at Oslo S and venture out a little outside of the city, but not too much, and get out to a view of the slightly hilly Ekebergparken sculpture park. The air is fresh and invigorating and I’m itching for a panoramic view of Oslo, which I get soon enough. It’s exciting to recognize familiar areas from above.

A few minutes later I get a shot of the Oslo Fjord, then I just stare for a while. It’s very peaceful up here and I like the understated beauty of bare trees waiting for spring. Nature will take its course and everything will soon wake up.

Ekebergparken is also a national heritage site, and scattered throughout the park are indeed sculptures, each arresting and thought-provoking in its own way. Ever so often a work of art will catch your eye and pull you out of your reverie brought on by trees, moss-covered stones and thoughts of Norwegian trolls. It’s an interesting state of perpetual contrast. Another sculpture by Sean Henry, Woman (Being Looked At), stands in the passageway of the Folketeatret, where we saw Ylvis last year. The exhibit in Ekebergparken, Walking Woman, inspires our purposeful stride. Concave Face by Hilde Maehlum captivates me with its unusual beauty.

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Anatomy of an Angel by Damien Hirst leads to a monologue from me on the representation of angels in Supernatural (“Cas!”). Then I quickly forget my thread as a troop of children on ponies locked by adults in the front, middle and back passes us, with the kid in the middle astride a particularly fat pony. Its belly is almost level with its hooves and I’m delighted. A sign nearby points in the direction of a riding school on the territory, and sure enough, in a few minutes we discover it. The place is filled with happy family activity, sheep are bleating and there’s a small cabin labeled Kaniners, which attracts my attention because bunnies are Kaninchen auf Deutsch.

Art comes in all shapes and forms. After identifying that the disembodied voice half-hissing in a British accent, “Shed the body…shed the body…redemption” (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets vibes, anyone?) was actually coming from the base of a lamppost, we decided it was time to head down to the Barcode district. Getting there on foot from Ekebergparken is entirely possible, just follow the tram tracks and then keep walking towards those fascinating buildings (mind the construction site on the way). We make sure not to look towards the opera house so as to keep the element of surprise alive for the evening’s activities.

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My Travel

Oslo, Day 3. Munchmuseet

Post-Ylvis and after staying up until 2 AM, we were ready for some more culture and observations. A quick look at the map proved that fitting two activities in the first half of the day would (probably) work out, so off we went to the Munchmuseet (free with the Oslo Pass). Sunny weather continued to accompany us as we followed signs that conveniently popped up every few meters (I LOVE that, it’s like someone is reading my mind and encouraging me at all the right moments. Thou shalt NOT get lost!).

The fact is, everyone knows Edvard Munch’s work, even if they don’t know him. Certain images have made their way around the world and it’s another educational stop on the way to discovering Oslo, as well as Norway’s modern art history. Part of the museum is under reconstruction and closed. The building is white, rectangular, streamlined and filled with light inside, like many others in Oslo. The security check before entering the exhibition surprises me at first, before I remember that the Munchmuseet’s version of Scream (1910) was stolen in 2004 and later recovered.

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Scream was not displayed this time, but I immediately recognized Madonna, looked for a while longer at The Kiss, shivered by Murderess and found Despair unexpectedly arresting. The way the figure in the painting stood was recognizable and provoked sympathy, in addition to the special satisfaction I get from just a on point depiction of human feelings. The exhibition combined both the works of Edvard Munch and Robert Mapplethorpe. The (nude) human body was a focal point of the work presented, which is fine, as it has been thus for centuries in art. However, I was still grateful for spotting a sign with “Warning: sexually explicit content” on it, and rounded the corner with caution. With good reason!

A stop at the museum café is a satisfying conclusion to the Munch experience. True, one cake slice cost double what I would pay in Hamburg, but it was delicious and hey, an absolute scream.

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Seen/Heard/Read

Swan Lake

The swan is dying. I know she is, and so does everyone else! Carefully, daintily she skitters across the stage en pointe. I don’t know where the ballerina ends and the swan begins. Her arms rise and fall, and I almost see white wings fluttering, perhaps in a futile attempt to fly again. Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s music, both tragic and releasing at the same time, glides around her movements, then folds, just as gently as she finally does on the ground.
This past holiday season has breathed new life in to a long-standing interest of mine: classical Russian ballet. Childhood memories have sustained me all these years, memories of fairytale images, breath-taking performances, bordering on the impossible in their light-limbed, dashing perfection. Memories of sweeping, encompassing tragedy, romance, joy, and oh so much drama. Sometimes over the years I saw parts of well-known classics integrated in to other modern ballets. Other times I would listen to that Tchaikovsky score from The Nutcracker on repeat. And then, by chance, I went to see a performance of Swan Lake by the St. Petersburg Festival Ballet, on tour in Hamburg.
There seems to be only one school of such almost mythical ballet excellence, and it was established in the 19th century with a Russian-French fusion that included the enduring choreography of Marius Petipa. His work extended to Swan Lake, among other ballets. It’s amazing to think how long this foundation has lasted, even if individual companies bring their own touch and spin on the story, performance length and costumes. Paired with Tchaikovsky’s soaring score, in each scene the music makes you think that this soundtrack could not have sounded differently, but only like the notes that are seeping in to your mind as you are drawn to the shore of the swan lake.
Some of the most magical parts of Swan Lake are when Odette makes a solo entrance. To me this character has always conveyed strength and a certain resolve within the confines of the swan curse. The expected physical endurance of the dancer for this role has to be carefully combined with so many other characteristics – poise, grace, fragility that doesn’t seem breakable. She has to be able to express fear, curiousity, hope, despair. As in the performances I remember from long ago, that night in Hamburg a true prima ballerina carried Odette along the water. An example of a dance (from a different version):
 
 The music, of course, has accompanied my cultural experience in different ways, considering its enormous influence all over the world, from what I heard on the radio to an animated version based on the story, with a lot of quotable quotes. Anybody remember? (Don’t watch the sequel, it will tarnish the blissful experience if you enjoyed the first one as a kid.)
 
 Back from the brief humorous reminiscence. It is nice to begin experiencing Russian ballet again as an adult. It’s also interesting – you notice things you may not have noticed before. For instance, I remember the story going along until it finished, even if the audience couldn’t keep from clapping explosively after practically every dance. The ensemble from St. Petersburg, on the other hand, paused after every famous scene and seemed to almost expect applause. Which they fully deserved, but it did break up the experience somewhat. The magical feeling I remember is still attached to the ensemble I have seen as a child. Maybe it’s because they had that one absolutely amazing dancer, and so far she has been the only one I’ve seen who got close to reenacting legendary Russian ballerina Galina Ulanova’s wavy, rippling arm movements as Odette dances her swan song before death claims her:
 
 There is only one Ulanova, true, but there are also, luckily, others who take on the role of Odette and bring their own uniqueness to it, within the traditional dance framework that keeps attracting audiences decade after decade.
I hold my breath. Every eye is glued to the stage. The swan lies motionless. And then…well. Let’s leave it at that.
The curtain drops on the swan lake.
Until next time.

 

 

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