Some new drawings

It’s really relaxing to me to make these drawings from time to time and just observe small scenes from our house. Also, I get to use my big collection of all sorts of colored pencils (I’m slightly obsessed with color pencils, I should make a post with all my sets, some found at the flea market and some bought new). The last set I bought have multiple colored leads, actually they have a few nuances of the same color in each pencil. I really like them and I use them a lot combined with other pencils I have. IMG_0007IMG_0008IMG_0009IMG_0004IMG_0005IMG_0006

First pinholes of this summer

Like every summer, I set up a small lab in a spare bathroom for pinhole processing. I really enjoy doing this and I’m looking forward to it as soon as the days get longer. This year, I’m using the Agfa paper from this photo.

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I finished the Ilford papers last year. Both these packs were a lucky flea market find several years ago, but even if they expired a long time ago, they are still very ok to use. The Agfa paper is maybe fresher because these exposures are only 4-5 hours long (while I exposed the Ilford paper for at least 9 hours, also managing to have 2 -3 days long exposures without over-exposing). We will try some portraits with this more reactive paper, as hopefully a few minutes of staying completely still will get results.

These are some images from our house this summer. Some outside images maybe and some portraits for sure will follow soon.

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I think/not think/think about time a lot lately. It’s not the fact that I’ll have an important birthday this year, it’s not the time shrinking more and more, the days feeling like mere hours, the summer coming to an end soon. It’s neither of these. I actually love fall…

Psychology and the Cosmos

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I found this book on my grandparents’ bookshelf. I never read it as a child and I don’ t remember its cover, probably it used to be in the back rows of the shelves. It was written by Iuri Gagarin and Vladimir Lebedev (a medical doctor and a specialist in space psychology, as it is written on the back cover). A note from the translator tells us that Gagarin finished this book on the 25th of March 1968, a day before his death.

I read this book hoping it will contain all the wonder and hope that was associated with space travel in my childhood. The chapters go through all the things that used to make me daydream: the immensity and silence of the Cosmos, imponderability, time perception, the friendship and trust among the crew that goes out in space, the shining stars that  seem closer from up there.

But also the book is a long stream of anecdotes, some historical, about explorers of other unknown and lonely territories like Antarctica, some contemporary about their friends and colleagues, other cosmonauts, these stories being by far more interesting. A long stream of these stories, scientific facts explained very simply, quotes from Kant and Lenin, speculations about the future of time travel, description of the soviet man written in empty propaganda language. A lot of talk about “manliness” that is necessary for conquering the outer space, for winning the ” duel with nature”. A lot of really disheartening and so so sad references to experiments on animals, but I didn’t’ read those passages and pages. One wildly rude mention of some unnamed tribes in Africa and one “Indian” ( was it someone from India? from America?) who irrationally believe in the reality of dreams.

Among all these, the smiling faces of the first cosmonauts, photos of the crafts they made in the isolated rooms where they were practicing the silence and loneliness of Cosmos, pages about imponderability that I used to obsess about as a child, being sure that I will experience it myself someday. And by far the  most interesting thing in the book, accounts of cosmonauts who have first seen the blue and violet haze at the curb of the Earth, who have seen the sun in Cosmos with its blinding light, who traveled inside a burning knot while their space craft was entering the atmosphere. The reports the cosmonauts wrote in a clear and simple language shinning with an eerie beauty.

I searched for Tereshkova in the book. She is mentioned a few times. There is a story about her wedding. There is mentioned that, while male cosmonauts were chosen from among pilots, women who didn’t have any former flight experience had to train more. She appears once more towards the end of the book as a kind and motherly colleague, comforting the worried Lebedev before he jumps with a parachute for the first time. He calls her Valia. There is also a photo of her in space.

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I read this book together with my child double, trying to imagine what she would have felt or thought reading it. She would have shivered the same way as me at the pages about animals and she would have rushed trough them. She wouldn’t have noticed that all the attributes necessary to be a cosmonaut are written in male form. She would have thought that in the distant future of her adult years space travel will be available to anyone (as a poem in the book titled “We will live to see it” promises). She would have nodded approvingly to the description of the beauty of life in communism.

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I tried to read this book with her and remember her hopes now when the world is so bleak. Reading about space travel now is reading about the same issues: going to Mars, sending out long term manned missions to distant places of our star system and beyond, creating the ecosystems inside these ships, dealing with the psychological aspects of such travels, etc. But the hope and the wonder is completely gone now, when people compete to receive a one-way ticket to Mars in order to be in a reality show, when space exploration missions are private ventures based on the commons of knowledge acquired in the sixties and seventies and often funded by public money, when the colonization of space is in direct connection to the necessity of leaving behind our dying planet in order to go somewhere where even the air you breath would be a commodity.

I used to love looking at these kind of photos, at his smiling face while the water from his cup is floating in front of him. IMG_8733a

Shrink plastic

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My friend made for me these portraits of our dogs out of shrink plastic. She used a disposable food container made out of plastic marked #6. These containers are kind of rare, but we discovered that they have them at a vegan restaurant when we took some takeaway cake. We look up for them and save them when we find the #6 mark.

Probably the “real” shrink plastic works better, but it is nice to make these cute things out of recycled plastic. I took some photos of the process. My friend draw our dogs with sharpies.

Here it is the real size of the initial drawing, before going into the oven.

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In the oven (in a non-stick pan) it curled up a lot at first, but the plastic is flexible enough while warm and it can be flattened down with a spoon.

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And this is the first portrait of our dog Souris. I will glue a brooch fastener on it.

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Here they are the three of them. Lulu, the black one in the middle is drawn using as a reference a favorite photo of mine in which she looks so funny and silly, but maybe it wasn’t the best reference photo for this drawing :).

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She also made me these even smaller versions with holes that I transformed in a necklace that I wear a lot. Although they seems delicate, they are quite sturdy. And Lulu looks closer to her real self in this one :).

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