Karin Elizabeth | January
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Self 2016, after loss

One way of allowing myself to find inspiration is to open up, take in everything, and think about it all. During week 02, I heard about and felt very moved by David Bowie’s passing (quickly followed by Alan Rickman’s), and it is this event which ultimately lead to the images I’m about to share.

I’ve always respected David Bowie. I liked his music, and “Let’s Dance” is absolutely one of my favorite songs, but I will admit that I didn’t listen to Bowie much. If he was on the radio, I’d always appreciate it and admire his beautiful voice. But I never made time to explore his music more, even though I do believe I would have liked it very much. I know, often people aren’t truly admired until they are gone, which isn’t fair. Another important example of that phenomenon is Van Gogh. I think for me one of the factors was that I thought there would be enough time to really immerse myself in Bowie’s work organically. No one expected Bowie to NOT be around for years to come, which is why his death was so shocking. But music is forever.

The respect I feel for him has always been there due to who he was as a person, and how he was utterly true to himself right until the end. In a world where people are often forced to conform, he did the opposite with a smile and a bolt of lightning on his face. I also loved how he was fascinated by unusual themes and subjects and incorporated them into his work, like many visual artists have done and still do. He was more than music: he was an inspiring, groundbreaking  person and artist. Also, Labyrinth. #NuffSaid

One of the first things I did when I heard of Bowie’s death was to play his last album, Blackstar, and watch the videos for the title track and Lazarus. The 10 minute long video for Blackstar is truly stunning and it forced me to think about death and grief. It is full of symbolism to interpret and, simultaneously, it is also very direct. I was also in awe when I saw photos of Bowie taken on his last birthday, two days before his death. That laugh, that confidence, that joy – when he must have known it wouldn’t be much longer. How admirable.

And that’s where it all came together: my week 02 image would finally represent the feeling of stacked on loss I’ve had in 2014 and early 2015 (with 4 loved ones lost, 3 of which in a span of four months), and overcame. It was an overwhelming hurricane of grief, but it has been incredibly strengthening. I made it through it all, still standing, and forever grown up.

KE_theme02The skull is inspired by David Bowie’s video, as is the idea of double exposure to signify movement.

I wanted to express direct grief-related emotions but to not make them too overwhelming, as it was important for me to express coming out on the other side of it. Blending the multiple exposures together (an out-of-comfort-zone decision, as was the incorporation of the skull watercolor I did) was a choice I made to express movement, because grief is a constant ebb and flow, and it stays with you forever even though you’ve healed. Most of the time, the grief hovers in the background and you feel fine, happy, able to go on. But sometimes, it sneaks up on you and makes you ache all over, all over again. And that’s what I wanted to express and I think I did it successfully.

Overall, it was a good week. I loved doing the noir theme during week 01, as it’s something that suits who I am, but it still expanded on a more superficial side of me. This week’s work is what I’ve been longing to do for a while. Something genuine and to me of immense value. And I’m not afraid to share it.

Norway 2015, part 1

A while ago I already shared my Instagram favorites from our trip to Norway. I really enjoyed using Instagram to share some of our day to day activities and impressions. But I also of course brought several DSLR cameras to capture Norway’s beautiful nature and landscapes. I started working on those images in the meantime, but of course I took hundreds and it’s been quite a bit of work. If I wait to finish them all before posting them on this site, it may well be 2020. Instead, I’m just sharing what I have so far, and I’ll just blog again when I have a second collection to show you.

KE_Norway_01Lindesnes Fyr & a lovely detail seen in Brygge, Bergen.

KE_Norway_02I really fell in love with all of the wood and the whites and reds that are prevalent here.

KE_Norway_03The drive (left) to the Kjeragbolten hike (right) was a sight to be seen in itself.

KE_Norway_04We basically saw landscapes like this all the time while driving around Norway.

KE_Norway_04bReally pretty. Kind of reminded me of Scotland, too.

KE_Norway_05Geirangerfjord is one of the prettiest. We really loved this region.

KE_Norway_06A few more from Geirangerfjord

KE_Norway_07This was our evening view from our cabin, where we spent 3 nights. While it did get dark, it sure took a while. This photo was taken at around 11:30PM.

KE_Norway_08I found a stunning hike in Hardangervidda national park: the Four Waterfalls. We were in luck with the weather, too.

KE_Norway_09More waterfall details.

KE_Norway_10It was quite a hike, not as intense as Kjeragbolten, but still. But oh, what a pay off.

Alright, so that’s it for now! More to come soon, but first I’m going to get back to work on my self-portraits for Self 2016 Week 02, because I really really really want to keep that going.

Self, this year

I usually make a list of resolutions, or things to improve, in any new year. And then I maybe last a few weeks before I fall back into my old patterns. It seemed more honest not to make any resolutions anymore, but to instead take it one little bit at a time, and to strive to just be a better Me.

For my work, however, I do have bigger plans this year. I used to take photos almost every day, and I’d sit at my computer enthusiastically editing my photos and sharing them on sites such as flickr, and deviantART. I really loved having this, being able to do this – having the tools and the time. I miss it. I miss self-portraiture the most because it was both an escape (I could be someone else and tell their story) as it was a way to document, well, myself. Taking landscape photos calms me; taking self-portraits challenges me unlike anything else.

I started taking self-portraits maybe in 2004, so when I was only 21 years old and had a lot to figure out still about who I was and what all of these emotions meant. There were definitely a lot of emotions (and humor, too) in the self-portraits taken by my younger self. While I do feel some of them were a reflection of the real me, I am now just very aware of how young I still was. At some point I felt like I expressed everything that I could. And then when life took a few turns for better and worse I needed clarity and direction more than I needed vague imagery and metaphors. During what was hands down the hardest time in my life, I chose direct words and I chose privacy. It helped me tremendously, but it put a stop to my creativity.

I’m a little more grounded now at almost-33, and now that I have either more life experiences that I’ve learned from and put behind me, or more life experiences that I carry with me every single day but forge through, I finally feel like I’m ready to tap into my creative side again. There is room for it again in my life now that I found my way back and found direction. I can afford this luxury.

So I’m going to work with a year long self-imposed assignment I first attempted to do in 2014: to work on a self-portrait (singular or series) weekly based on themes that both interest me, and challenge me. I want to make sure I work with subjects that I like, while also trying to do things very differently from how I used to do them. Different lighting, different editing, mixed media, at some point maybe different locations. I’m also trying to keep my current enthusiasm going by taking cellphone pictures regularly during the process, so that I’ll at least have proof (for myself mostly) that I’m actually working on something. (It motivates me to see my own progress and to add to it.)

KE_blogpost_theme01cTheme 01 cellphone snaps – Freshly made up, and testing lighting!

My first theme, which I worked on last week, is inspired by film noir. Anything from the 20’s to the 70’s basically interests me. I also love anything emotional and theatrical. It also allowed me to practice makeup and styling. Plenty to like! This theme is perfect for me.

The biggest challenge for me was to actually do it and get started, but there was an added challenge to work with lighting as my primary prop. The lighting would make or break the shot.

KE_blogpost_theme01Theme 01 results – image on the left is what I was aiming for. The right one is a bonus image.

It took some tinkering here and there, for instance I didn’t think to keep daylight out more in order to have that darker atmosphere. In the end I figured it out and got just what I wanted.

And the best part is that I felt like taking another shot in the same theme… but then week 02 rolled around and I really had to start working on that, first. But that other shot, it’s in my idea book now. I was inspired to do more. And that’s what this project is supposed to achieve: new photographs, but also continued inspiration and ideas to work with.

I can only hope that I can keep it going. I’m really trying my hardest this time around. I think it helps that I feel like I may actually have something to lose if I give up this time.

My first and latest creative loves

Growing up, I always used to draw… mostly animals (as a kid, I started off drawing horses) and later on portraits of mostly celebrities. While I’m not going to sit here and say I was the bomb diggity at drawing, and I sure missed a lot of nuance in the sense of technique and shading, I really didn’t suck. I learned quickly that I had a knack for getting someone’s likeness right and it’s what got me appreciating the realistic style the most.

So that’s where my interest in visual arts started: not photography, but drawing. While I did dabble in acrylic painting for a while, photography basically replaced drawing and it was enough to make me feel sated up until 2014, which is when my passion and inspiration started to deflate. Life altering events caused a major existential crisis and I was left wondering about and doubting everything that was ever truly important to me. But I found my way back, and it’s mostly through perseverance and a shitload of trying to understand my new self that I’m still a photographer and artist today, even though it may be in a lesser capacity for the time being. I’m still finding my way back, or forward – it depends on how you look at it.


What also helped me to keep at it was the decision I rather spontaneously made one day to purchase some new art supplies. Nothing fancy, as I just planned on dabbling. And it still took me about five months before I ever tried anything. But you know, a health situation forced me to stay mostly sedentary for a few weeks. I was bored out of my skull after a few days, and pretty desperate to do anything challenging and stimulating, so I grabbed that watercolor palet and a sketchpad, and started to try some stuff. While I love the thickness and the texture of acrylic paint, I quickly saw there is something truly magical about watercolor. I was just mixing colors and trying out brushes at first, but the flow of colors, the blending – it was love at first stroke.

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I then decided to draw again as well, both with pencil and ink, and to work on coloring and shading using watercolor, thus combining respectively my first creative love with my latest one. It would also help me to finally practice shading techniques. The attic in our house has always been my workplace, and I’ve designated one of my desks as my drawing area. The natural light there is amazing, and it’s a perfectly calm place to be due to the view I have: trees, trees, trees.


I’m happy I started this. It’s a nostalgic activity for me, because it brings me back to a time where I felt open to trying things, open to learning and open to creating something with my bare hands – and in that way the nostalgia opens up doors for me in the future, as it inspires me to see myself, my work and my world differently. It helps to fulfill me as well as inspires me to work visually in general, a great benefit to my photography. It’s also deeply relaxing to me, much like coloring books for adults, which I’m a fan of.

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So on this site, from here on out, I also plan to share some of my watercolor works, which is mostly practice and a lot of work in progress, but I think it will be fun and stimulating to see my watercoloring develop further. I’m also making it a point to try to Instagram more in 2016: apart from finding daily life images, you’ll also find some watercolor snaps there as well as behind the scenes shots of my Self 2016 project (about which I will blog soon, as well).

Then, a final note – the creative world has lost two legendary and utterly inspiring men this week. David Bowie and Alan Rickman. While I’m always saddened to hear about any death, I try not to let myself feel affected by celebrity deaths, because after all, I did not know them personally. But in the case of these two amazing men, I can’t help it. I appreciated them, I appreciated their talent and their skill. David Bowie was always himself: it was OK to be different (and I loved his voice). Alan Rickman was an amazing actor: I truly respected him (and I really loved his voice). I am shaken up a little, and very moved by their passing.
May they both rest in peace.