Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cornelia Dümling -- a Sketchbook Conversation

Today I'm excited to launch this year's Sketchbook Conversations series with Cornelia Dümling's sketchbook story. 

I'll let Cornelia take it from here and share an inspiring look at her sketchbooks and her creative journey:

Hello, my name is Cornelia Dümling and I am honored to talk about my sketchbook practice on Anne’s blog. Such a pleasure, thank you for inviting me!

I am a self-taught artist working on a career as a professional illustrator. I live in a little house with my sweetheart husband and my two rambunctious boys on the outskirts of Hamburg in northern Germany.

Although I always loved to draw and paint I was only keeping diaries for a long time. Then I didn’t even do that anymore, because I got frustrated that I filled them with thousands of words without ever looking at them again. As a teenager I didn’t have the confidence and courage to turn my love of drawing into a profession and trained for something else. The years went by and I missed being creative more and more. About two years ago I reached a point, where I realized how much I desperately wanted art and creativity back in my life. After reading Danny Gregory’s „Creative Licence“ I started my first „official“ sketchbook. And I tell you, I was scared to the hair tips at the thought! I wasn’t sure if I’d ever make it to the finish.

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My first sketchbook was a jumble of practice drawings, written notes, and other things tumbling through my mind. Because I wasn’t so very confident about my drawing skills I read Betty Edwards’ „Drawing on the right side of the brain“ which flipped a major switch and changed my approach profoundly. From then on I focussed deliberately on NOT thinking what I was drawing. I try to see things as lines only, and to work from one line to the next. That works marvelously for me. I can slip in this meditative state quite easy now.

The realization that it is basically all about lines, shapes, and colors, made the search for motives a lot easier: All of a sudden everything seemed game. I like to draw a wide variety of things. But as a mother and working from home I am not much out and about and tend to draw things in and around the house, the kids, our stuff, and so on. I like to indulge in urban sketching when I happen to go to the city center or on travels.

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And food. Oh my! A very fascinating subject for me. There are such wonderful, intriguing patterns, textures, and colors in fruits and vegetables; it fascinates me no end.

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When stuff happens, this is life after all, I document what has happened, relaxing and debriefing at the same time. This ranges from the very deep, to the mundane and even the ridiculous.

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But even after the boost by Betty Edward’s book I was struggling to sketch regularly. You might have noticed by now that I am a voracious reader. And again a book solved the problem of regularity for me. I tumbled over Carol Marine’s „Daily Painting: Paint Small and Often To Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Artist“. This one made me realize that drawing every day was not an option but a basic requirement if I wanted to grow truly. From then on I had a new goal: Drawing something daily without excuses or harsh evaluations. Having drawn something, even if I wasn’t happy about the result, was the goal. Before, I tended to be very perfectionist - and critical as a result, but that changed now. The goal was achieved by having drawn something, not how it looked or how long it took me. The sketchbook turned into a fun place, where I could experiment, get to know tools, materials, and myself. Soon after I stepped the game up a notch by opening an Instagram account and posting the sketches five to six days a week minus holidays and vacations. I don’t make it every day, but often enough. So I am quite happy with it. Instagram turned out to be a good source for inspiration and community, I would not have had access otherwise. It is interesting and encouraging to see the reactions of other people to the things I make.

I adore themed sketchbooks by other artists and tried to do that too, but then it happens I don’t have that special sketchbook with me but my urge to draw is so big that I decide to draw in the sketchbook I have at hand and bam! I have my big, funny, wild jumble again. Thanks to digital programs I could sort my sketches if I wanted to do so. If being the operational word here.


illustration, sketchbooks, Cornelia Dümling, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

I have sketchbooks in all varieties and sizes. I needed to find out what papers I like and how they react with my preferred mediums. Well, actually still do. I seem to like formats between A5 and A4, no matter if square or landscape. I like watercolor and fountainpens. Not all papers stand up well to that. My Leuchtturm 1917 sketchbook does well with limited amounts of water, but I flooded it regularly anyway. I pasted stuff in, stamped, and did how I pleased and now the thing has about double the volume as it had before. But I love it! This is the beauty of sketchbooks: They are a mixture of playground and research lab and you are the one who calls the shots. I don’t fear messing up expensive paper, it’s no disaster if the composition is off, it is a place without fear. Something everybody should have. And to me it has turned into the backbone of my artistic existence. It helps me grow, try out new techniques, or even to realize that there is something new I need to learn. That is the moment I look it up, or take a class. There are so many sources available! It is awesome. My sketchbooks are not sacred. I allow even my kids to scribble in them if I need to entertain them in a waiting area.

If you are starting out with a sketchbook make it your own. You are the one who is making the art in it and you are the one who makes the rules. Don’t compare yourself too much with others. Be inspired and don’t look down on yourself but take satisfaction in every page - even the ones you don’t like. Most often the failed ones are those that teach you loads. Sometimes it is very helpful to watch what you are doing and ask why. This is how I realized how attracted to food and patterns I really am. And knowing this helps me to determine which direction I want to pursue. You are starting and every page is a step towards more experience and skill. And this is so nice about sketchbooks: You document your way so you can look back from time to time and enjoy the pleasant realization of how much you grew.

I hope my sketchbook journey was helpful to you. I bless your own sketchbook journey with all my heart!



Thank you, Cornelia, for sharing your story with us here today!

Dear readers, you can find Cornelia on:

Instagram (to see the sketchbook pages)
www.theydrawandcook.com (search for Cornelia Duemling to see her recipes)
www.corneliaduemling.com
or per email: cornelia@corneliaduemling.com


Missed the other Sketchbook Conversations posts? You can catch up here. And for more inspiration, don't miss out on my Artist Interviews.



*Photos in this post © Cornelia Dümling. Used with permission.

7 comments:

  1. the food and the fountain pens!!!
    i am in love with these images.
    thanks for sharing, cornelia and anne!
    xo

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    1. I'm so glad, Karen!! :)

      Thanks for being here reading and encouraging.

      xo

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  2. Anne, you know how much I love these! Thank you so much Cornelia (great name!) for sharing your sketchbook story. Your work is so fresh and exciting to me!

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    1. I know, Simone! So glad to have started them up, again. I hope that you will find inspiration each week!!

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  3. I loved this and was inspired by Cornelia's observations, such as the fact that her sketchbook isn't sacred, that I should pay attention to what I am drawing and learn from it and that I can make my own rules about it! I'll be checking out her pages on Instagram. Beautiful work shown here - so interesting! Love this series. Thank you, Anne!!

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    1. The fact that our sketchbooks are not sacred is probably the hardest lesson to learn. At least for me it was. It's so freeing once I totally let go of worrying what's happening on the page.

      I'm so glad to know that you find inspiration from this series. Thank you, Judy!!

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  4. this is an awesome sketchbook story! you have no idea how much i love things like these and it makes me happy to go through your blog. thanks for being so amazing.

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