Week 7 – step by step and creature by creature

Week 7 has brought the first new listing on Etsy since forever. I managed to finish the first paper mache sculpture – the Heart Keeper, a member of my Winter paper mache tribe – and the first photo shoot with the new set-up went well.

The Heart Keeper #1 - Paper mache sculpture
The Heart Keeper #1 – Paper mache sculpture

I sieved what must be tons of earth, and the garden is now officially a construction place. The builder called today to tell me that they now won’t start before the end of October. … Well, it’s not that there aren’t a million other things to do.

I am still fiddling with how to focus my time and efforts best… concentrating on one goal per week seems to work well, and this blog series keeps me on track. With all the work on the garden and the exterior going on, the weather has a say in my daily routine as well.

Good news arrived from Germany – my application to take on dual citizenship was granted, and I now can apply for the New Zealand citizenship without losing my German citizenship. The process took over 16 months, and I had almost given up.

So … step by step and creature by creature ^_^ …

Week 6 – do good fences make good neighbours?

In week 6, I untangled the structural issues in Chapters 6 to 9 – at least I hope I did – and my latest editing cycle can move forwards. I am not even looking at the last chapter for the time being; there are dozens of chapters to comb through before I need to make a final decision anyways.

The paper mache tribe, on the other hand, is at the stage where progress might seem slow – there is not much to show – but is made. Working with homemade paper mache clay without drying agents takes time. Each layer needs to be completely dry before you move to the next. Otherwise, you risk soaking through the structural layers, and your little creature will ‘meltdown’.

Work in progress - paper mache production line
Work in progress – paper mache production line

The renovations on house and garden are still taking up too much time, energy and mind space. It just seems impossible for me to slow down and leave things be and concentrate on my artwork.  

The last light well is done – all three skylights are brilliant and definitely worth all the trouble. The kitchen and the bathroom are now flooded with light and almost unrecognisable. They are also the only two habitable spaces in a world of chaos.

 I needed to move on to the front garden, and to moving and sifting tons of earth to prepare over forty metres (!) of section boundary before the builder can start work on the retaining wall and fence. I don’t get on with my neighbours on that side at all, which makes the process fraud with conflict and tensions and the costs have skyrocketed. Let’s hope that good fences make good neighbours, eh?

Week 5 – day by day

Week 5 finally brought some progress on the paper mache tribe strategy. I selected my favourite shapes – and the most feasible ones – from the prototypes and started on a line of creatures for my online shops.

Work in progress - paper mache production line
Work in progress – papermache production line

I also adjusted my paper mache clay recipes to work better for the now taller creatures (which I will add to the blog shortly).

Work in progress – papermache clay preparation

Taking and editing pictures with the iPad works quite well and saves a lot of time that would otherwise be taken up by struggling with memory chips – my SLR doesn’t have Wifi or Bluetooth – and Photoshop. How To Take Product Photography At Home With A Smartphone by shopify.co.nz is a useful tutorial – it prevented me ordering a new fancy lightbox and camera. 

The last light well for the skylight in the kitchen is almost done. For a time, the renovation work will focus on the garden (even so the interiors still match a construction place more than a home). The new retaining wall is about two times the budgeted costs mainly because the neighbour insisted on a fence along the whole length … ah well, the joy of compromise. 

The first three chapters of my book are through the latest review cycle – I am sure it wont be the last one – but I am pretty much stuck on the  draft for the last part. There is no way to force these thing top happen, so I’ll take it day by day.

Week 4 – why oh why oh why

Week 4 highlighted the strange habit of mine where balancing on a ladder with a badly hurt knee seems to be easier than to sit – and keep sitting – at my desk and create and write. 

It’s not that I don’t love to create and write and make, and once I manage to sit still for about 30 minutes, I forget everything around me and surface hours later wondering why it’s dark outside; the issue is the first 30 minutes sitting still and letting the magic happen. 

Papermache tribe – I’ll keep your secrets, work in progress
  • Two out of the three skylights are plastered and painted. 
  • The first of the giant tree ferns has been relocated. (If you ever consider to fell a 6-meter tall tree fern stuck between two houses with the only option for it to fall is through a 90cm wide gate with the gable of your house sticking out 30 cm into the before-mentioned 90cm … reconsider. I was gobsmacked when everything went to plan, and the tree fell precisely at the calculated angle, but I call this stupidly lucky any day)
  • Ah and the papermache tribe has two new members, and the last but one chapter of the book is now in a rough draft. 
Papermache tribe – nighttree guardian, work in progress

Ah … and I wrote this poem 

up the ladder, down the ladder
up the ladder, down the ladder
up the ladder, down the ladder 

knee ouch ouch
knee ouch ouch
knee ouch ouch 

why oh why oh why
why oh why oh why
why oh why oh why 

It’s very autobiographical …


Week 3 – Onwards and upwards

In Week 3, renovation work pretty much dominated the scene.

  • Two out of the three skylights are installed, the two light wells still need to be plastered. Which we plan to do ourselves. … (Light wells are maybe the stupidest place to test your plastering skills … .)
  • The garden migrates deeper into the it-get-worse-before-it-gets-better stage. We felled two small trees have to make space for the planned fern tree (tree fern?) relocation. 
  • The paper mache tribe is making progress four figurines are ready for the photoshoot, including one newly painted one.
Paper mache tribe ready for the photoshoot … not this really bad one but a halfway professional one.
New tribe member
  • The external painting creeps forward in more mini-steps.
  • And I might have a candidate sketch to be turned into a painting.  

As before, time for studying, writing and editing took up the rest, plus the occasional walk on the beach.

Onwards and upwards, I guess ^_^ …

Week 2 – Stop and go

Week 2 felt pretty much like falling over myself in too many ways to count. My mind is adapting to the new regime, but progress feels slow. Very slow. Like standing still slow. Still, I feel that stupid smile on my face every single time I remember I don’t have to go to my old day job. There are never enough hours in a day to do all the things I want to do, but at least I work on things I either love doing or to improve my studio and my home.

  • The builders are in the house installing the new skylights. … I might have underestimated the impact on daily routines … seeing that the guys are working in three out of four rooms in the house  … and in the bathroom :).
  • I needed to find ways to make the paper mache creatures heavier – the prototypes fall over too quickly for my taste. I had to saw a few of them into parts … very unsettling. Poor critters! However, it highlights one of my favourite advantages in working with paper mache – it’s easy to change your mind and rework designs!
  • The external painting creeps forward in mini-steps.

The rest of my time is split between studying, finding out how to do things – for example, more efficient ways to take and edit product pictures, or how to build three-meter high sliding doors on a budget (How exactly did we cope without youtube?) – as well as writing and editing, and the occasional sketch.

Pencil sketch - A game of cups
Pencil sketch – A game of cups

Ah well … and a second blog post has been written ^_^ …

Week 1 – Beginnings

Taking stock after one week without a day job. I don’t feel different really. Some of the anger and noise is gone, but my mind is sluggish to reset.

I get up, go through my morning rituals, get ready for the day. At 9:00 am latest—working my way towards an 8:00 am start—I sit in my studio and plan the day. Most days are split between study time, writing, renovations, and making time. The weather decides which task takes priority. Sunny days are reserved for external renovations, rainy days are focused on studio time.

Work in progress – the keeper of your heart
  • The new studio is a work in progress but feels comfortable. It is painted, the printing press has moved in, the bookshelves are built, and materials are decluttered and stored in new places.
  • I won an auction for a beautiful old glass door in a rimu frame and managed to get it home in one piece.
  • I rekindled my writing exercises  – If you haven’t read or listened to Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, I’d highly recommend doing so.
  • I started the work on the external renovations in an unexpected break from the wet winter weather.
  • Plans have been made, including one to finish the first paper mache tribe.
Stand-up meeting with the tribe

The progress on the external painting might be as pitiful as the progress on writing and making—and the house is in chaos with so many tasks incomplete—but beginnings have been made.

Work in progress – the new studio

Ah well … and one blog post has been written ^_^ …

Bear #3 – Photoshoot

The bear showed real patience today. Pinned with needles and standing in a light-tent is not his favourite pastime. We both made it through, and shared a pot of honey afterwards : ).


Midweek Inspiration – Domingos Totora

The Brazilian artist Domingos Totora creates designs that are beautiful  in their simplicity … and made out of recycled cardboard.

The beauty of Domingos Tótora’s work not only manifests itself in the final product that one might acquire, but in the process itself. From the designer’s philosophy and respect of the environment, the location of the studio and the way the work is produced, all the way to the final product.
– Source

Sketchbook – Winter tree, first sketches

I am slowly – very slowly – re-kindling my art endeavours. This little guy is part , or better will be part, of a new mini series called Winter Trees. 

I started to use my iPad to sketch up colour studies … really like the process … less decisions to make with the brush in hand … maybe, potentially, possibly?

I am also playing with Instagram filters … bear with me … I am still undecided if this is a good idea ^_^.

More coming soon!

minu on Instagram

Finally, you can follow minu on instagram! Get a peak on what is going on in my studio, find out about shop updates, tutorials and what inspirers me on my daily walks.  ( And find random images of experimental hot drink making).

Minu on Instagram screenshot
Minu on Instagram


New minu website

Long time in the making and finally live – the new minu website.

Have a browse around and let me know what you think!

Weekend Inspiration – Harry Clark

Weekend inspiration (even though it is technical Monday morning). In trying to counter a burst of insomnia – nothing new there : ) – I came across Harry Clark’s work and fell immediately in love with it.

Detail from one of Clarke’s illustrations for Faust by Goethe (1925), his own likeness used for the face of Faust (Source 50watts.com)
Mephisto (1914), Clarke’s self-portrait as an absinthe drinking Mephistopheles (Source christies.com)

His works can be found searching for Harry Clark in Google and the essay Harry Clarke’s Looking Glass can be found on the Public Domain review.

Creatures, ROAR! Gallery, Wellington


I am thrilled to join Rieko Woodford Robinson, Annie Collins, Vaune Mason and other Wellington artists at  ROAR! gallery in a group show called Creatures in May 2016!
“There will be drawings, etchings, fabricated animals in wire and fabric, from a wide selection of talented artists including large wooden carvings by the artist Michael Angelo whose inspiration “comes from the spiritual aspects of Nature. “

The exhibition is open from May 5th – 31th.
Opening is on  Thursday May 5th – 5:30pm to 7:00pm

ROAR! gallery is at 189 Vivian Street, (near the corner of Vivian & Victoria St) Wellington City.

Event on Facebook.

Looking forward to seeing you there!


InsideOUT Fundraiser, Matchbox Gallery – Wellington


InsideOUT works to make New Zealand Aotearoa a safer place for young people of diverse genders and sexualities, so when I was asked to donate an artwork to a fundraiser art auction I was happy to do so : ).

The exhibition runs from the 17th-23rd August at Matchbox Studios, 166 Cuba Street -Wellington. The auction is on Friday 21st from 6pm. Entertainment and refreshments provided.

… > Event page on Facebook

Here is a sneak peak of my painting.

identities-01, painting by minu

Identities #1

Acrylic painting on recycled wood.
60 x 40 cm



Tiny Travelling Gallery, Depot Artspace – Devonport, Auckland


I am very pleased to be part of the Tiny Travelling Gallery’s visit at the Depot Artspace in Devonport, Auckland with three new – tiny – pieces from the Night Forest series – Where strange creatures wander through the endless Night Forest landscape sending and receiving cryptic messages.

The exhibition is open from July 18 @ 2:00 pmAugust 5 @ 3:00 pm

More info can be found on  Depot Artspace’s website or the Tiny Travelling Gallery’s website.



Flock Together Group Show, Soul Gallery Hamilton

Flock Together Group Show in Hamilton

I am very pleased to be part of Flock together at Soul Gallery in Hamilton. You will find some new work – Drypoint prints and acrylic paintings on recycled wood – from the Night Forest series – Where strange creatures wander through the endless Night Forest landscape sending and receiving cryptic messages. –  as well as some favourites form 2011 to 2014.

More info on Soul Gallery’s Facebook Event page.



Drypoint print by minu Painting by minu

Acrylics on wood panel, Part 2

Night forest No.1, Session 2

This is the second part. For part one please see Acrylics on wood panel, Part 1.

Using glazing techniques on wood panels, there is no way to overpaint or fix outlines later, so it’s a good idea let the panel rest at least overnight or better a couple of days.

I started the second session by following the outlines with Fluid Acrylics in black and white.

7) Following outlines with Fluid Acrylics (black and white) thinned with Acrylics Flow Release. (Use with care!)

8) Setting lights and shadows in black and white glazing layers. Repeat in layers.

9) Slowly adding more glazing layers in colours. Repeat in layers and sand in between. “Fix” with thin glazing layers using Polymer Medium (Gloss)

10) Once happy with the overall colour and shape it’s time to add the final outlines using Fluid Acrylics in black and white. I add these in layers as well until the final highlights stand out.  

11) Again, let it rest for a week or so.

12) Decide on final glazing or varnish.

Tada! Done.

Painting by minu

Acrylics on wood panel, Part 1

Night forest No.1, Session 1

This is the first part. For part two please see Acrylics on wood panel, Part 2.

It’s not really session 1. There was much sketching and revising on paper beforehand. But this is not what this post is about ^_^.* I am not even sure what this post is about (to be honest) … other than this strange thing that happens when you re-start.

There were many things getting in my (creative) way since “The Fox and the Wolf“—the House, the new studio, winter, work… stuff…

And then one late afternoon there is all of a sudden an empty canvas – well, in my case a recycled plywood panel, but that sounds less … not “poetic”, this is not a poem, … less “something” – in front of you, your tools are arranged around you (and yes, that really important glazing medium has dried out, but on this afternoon it’s not the end of the world), and the image hovers just around the edges of your consciousness, and you know it’s that time.

Time to enter the Night Forest and see what the guys are up to…

1) Recycled plywood board, sanded and cleaned, leaving ‘uneven patches’ (layers of old stains).

2) Base layers using Fluid Acrylics thinned with GAC-500 Extends Fluid Acrylics (Golden – there is not much else available in New Zealand… ). Let each layer dry completely, before applying the next one**.

2a) Adding glazing layers using Polymer Medium (gloss)

3) Turn panel from time to time to paint back with Gesso to avoid bending

4) More layers until the starlit night just shines through…

5) Transfer outline onto panel.

6) Knowing when it is time to step back and go to bed…

… to be continued soon …

*) There is never a session 1 in (my) creative process anyways. There are just loose ends floating around, and if I am lucky I can catch one … but this is not what this post is about either.

**) Writing useless blogpost between the layers dry is optional…

More (slow) progress with renovations

minu studio renovations

More super slow progress in the new studio – my first open shelf unit starts to look … okayish (if I am allowed to say so myself ^_^). I am striving for the perfect balance between creative chaos and easy access to things. I am also not allowed to spend any money unless I ‘absolutely’ have to ; )_, so the only things I bought are the shelf rail system ($150NZ) and the castors for my old trunk ($15NZ).

I have a slight obsession with plastic boxes (and bags)… took me ages to find the right boxes with just the right translucency… luckily I already had these in the old studio, so they just got cleaned-up and resorted.

minu studio renovations

Most of the wooden and cart-board boxes are second hand collected over the last 7 years, others I brought from Europe or bought in stationary shops in Wellington…

minu studio renovations

A couple of friends moved in right away (they are still slightly piqued about the fact that I kept them in storage boxes for the last 6 month… )

minu studio renovations

The shelves are refurbished from bits and pieces in the house, I only gave them to very quick sand …

and one thing at least is done


In the (new) minu Print Studio #3

Forest Dreams No.1 minu drypoint

I started work on a new edition, but for now I still have to catch up with my old editions, which is why I have six new fox girls dreaming of the forrest while drying on my floor ^_^.

Forest Dreams No.1 minu drypoint

P.S. It had been a while again… If I could extend the days to have – let’s say 32 hours I’d manage better ^_^…

In the (new) minu Print Studio #2

mono print photo walk through

My first experiments with mono print (…it was high time to try something new). Once you get a handle on the inks this is fun, and no press needed!

mono print photo walk through

Printing shadow rabbit – mono print, 1 colour

There are quite a few different mono print techniques. The term mono print defines that only one print is taken from the plate; it does not define the way you get the ink on the plate (or the paper). I chose to ‘paint’ onto a perspex sheet and to transfer the print onto the paper using a roller.

1) Choosing the ink

It took me a while to make it work*. You have to work on the plate for some time and the thin layer of ink draws quickly. I tried a couple of different inks and paints, in the end I used screen printing ink (water based) and thinned it with screen printing medium (the medium extends the time you can work on the plate). The screen printing ink can be rolled, painted and wiped away easily.

You can also use open acrylics and an open thinner, in a way that’s the same thing…

Continue reading “In the (new) minu Print Studio #2”

In the (new) minu Print Studio #1

If you didn’t print for a while it is very likely that your first attempt might not work out the way you planned. Especially if you start in a new printing environment. So I successfully procrastinated my first print session in the studio until today. (Plus I only found the spokes for  my printing press yesterday… in a box labelled ‘bits and bobs’… *sigh.)

Anyway! Today was the day and what better than to print some Wolfs.

Printing Wolfs – 3 colour drypoint in one go.

1) Set-up workspace and review notes (precondition: you actually took notes during the proofs or first part of the edition ^_^…)

2) Set-up press (based on said notes…)

Continue reading “In the (new) minu Print Studio #1”