Category Archives: Art

Living Alone

By the time you read this I will have travelled back to Sweden to the apartment in Gävle, where I will live alone. Graham has started back working at his Vancouver job and I am still working at the CBF in Sweden.  Yesterday was Thanksgiving in Canada, so I can spend some time thinking what I have to be thankful for and not just complain about coming back to the apartment alone.   And as fellow Canadian points out, there are some good things about being alone.

Now for the ladies! (on horses)

Complete with side-saddle, here is a capital-L lady on a horse in Amsterdam

Graham has noticed a large number of dudes on horses in Europe, it seems every war hero and dignitary was also an equestrian fan.   After keeping our eyes out for them, we noticed a valuable minority of women on horseback.  Naturally, this deserved a post of its own.

Some cops (on horses) in front of the horse statue. Amsterdam police are the most tolerant and good-natured, given the drunk and stoned crap they endure in the red light district with such good humour.
At city hall in Oslo
Joan of Arc in Caen
Joan of arc in Paris. I love me some girl warriors, and the French do too. Are all Joans in gold?
An outdoor woman on a horse statue in the Champs Elysees.

Highlights from the Louvre

The start of the long line to get into the Louvre

Quite a long time ago someone told me that the first Sunday of every month has free entry at the Louvre.  This information stayed filed away, and when we found we would be in France the first week of September, we had our first Sunday activity all taken care of.  When I told Swedish colleague Martin of our plan, he said that everyone in France would also be lined up to get in free.

Near the entrance

As it turns out, tourists go whether it is free or not, and the line ups aren’t really that different.  A lot of tourists don’t even know it is free until they get to the door.  The French don’t bother going to the Louvre until the first Sunday in November when all the snap-happy tourists are gone and they can tour the museum with appropriate cool and ennui.   I have to say, if I were to go back to Paris with the express purpose of touring museums, it would be in the off season when the lines are short and the museums not so busy.

'Winged Victory' an excavated sculpture of the goddess Nike. Originally they think she had a war helmet and a trumpet, but I actually prefer her this way.
Joan of Arc listening to God
Commemorating the great pastime of deer wrestling
The oldest piece of art in the Louvre: 9000 year-old sculpture made of gypsum and bitumen
Michelangelo's Dying Slave. I find it a bit amusing that everyone assumed Big M liked the ladies, but such were the times I guess.
Mary Magdelene carved from wood. I think think this is one of the loveliest sculptures in the Louvre
THINK SAFETY! Someone please get this guys some safety goggles
There were slugs in Egypt? Wouldn't they get all dried up in the dry heat? Perhaps this is a slug deity, bringing thoughts of damper climes...
Venus de Milo. What do you think she held in her hands before they broke off?
Ancient Egyptian war canoe!


Norse mythology is really neat, and feels somehow familiar. The stories might be new, but the words are subtly embedded in our language; our days of the week are named after Norse gods. We have been able to see some neat viking burial grounds in Sweden and and museum displays in Denmark, and Norway also does their part of displaying the culture through public art.

These wood carvings are part of a series of 12 or so that hang on the outside of the Oslo city hall. They depict all sorts of myths, about the tree of life, the gods, and how Atkins diet is good for you (just kidding, that last myth doesn’t have any art associated with it.)

A wood carving of Odin on his 8-legged horse with his two ravens, Hugin and Mugin flying overhead.
This is Thor (see his hammer?) riding across the sky. I thought all the Einarsons might like the goats pulling the cart. Good goats!

We also saw some bronze castings in Bergen. We also noticed in both cities that lots of the building facades have little curlicues or figureheads or carvings over the doors depicting various scenes… although we couldn’t distinguish all of them.

This bronze casting stands by a fountain along a pedestrian street in Bergen
Another bronze statue in Bergen. Better helmet, but somehow less imposing in posture.

This post is especially for our friend Leif who is just now completing his thesis on Viking poetry and stories (especially the ones about smiths and iron workers) .  Way to go Leif, we love hearing about your work!

God Anoints a Hawai’ian Pizza

The flash glare lined up well here.

I don’t often (ever?) have divine inspiration, but this image and title came to me in a dream. Elizabeth thought it was Jesus decorating a pizza, but this is clearly delivery. No destination for this yet, it is hanging in our living room. Graham isn’t sure most recipients ‘would understand’.

Bike art

Our Canadian buddy Richard has his birthday today. We were lucky to get some awesome cake at a get-together on Sunday, but it took me this long to make the painting… but not late since today is the day!

Richard and Jennie are serious cyclists (mountain and touring)  and have done lots of multi-day, 100s -of-kilometre trips. Richard also builds bikes, so fair to say that ‘bikes’ seemed like a reasonable theme for some birthday art.  This picture shows Richard and Jennie riding down a mountain over some giant gears with a map of Sweden (complete with what I imagine to be the bike trips around Stockholm, Gävle, and Umeå in red).  Jennie was saying that their walls are bare since moving in, so hopefully this will fill some space.

The ‘bikes’ picture with its purple matting and (reflective) glass frame

Happy Birthday Richard!

April Present

When I started making ‘painting presents’ for the CBF folks, I thought it would be nice for people to have something related to their work that they could hang in their office.  Lots of researchers don’t have art in their office.  It is pretty nerdy to have research-art, but also kind of personalized and that should make up for the non-professional artiness.

Gears and extruded steel bars at Ovaku.

This picture is for Hasse.  He is doing his PhD thesis at the Ovako steel company at the nearby hofors bruk.  There they make different kinds of steel machinery. His work will centre on the organizational climate in terms of health and safety, communication between workers and employers, and the health promotion aspect of work injuries.  It is a really cool project, but a pretty hard one to depict with art.  If his work is about ‘changing people’s mind, how do you show that?

Instead I went for a literal (if stylized) depiction of the work done at a steel mill: brand new red hot steel parts.  I would have liked for the background to be darker, but the pencils don’t work quite like the acrylic I am used to.  Happy Birthday Hasse!

Birthday presents

Remember when I wrote about buying those watercolour pencils? I have been using them! Instead of regular birthday cards, I have done some art projects for my buddies with birthdays this month. Here is the roundup:

Optic Chiasm

Camilla has a big birthday this week. She studies the interaction of visual demands with neck pain, so I made this watercolour schematic of the visual system for her office. Nerdy! Happy Birthday Camilla!

Curious Georgina and the prototype sketches. Sorry, I guess you have to tilt your head.

Georgina’s birthday is the same as mine. She is a curious scientist-engineer, and also very crafty. Her painting shows ‘curious Georgina’ the monkey sewing Olympic Opening Ceremony costumes (which Georgina actually volunteered to do over several weeks this winter). Happy Birthday Georgina!

East side Quatchi.

This one might seem a little incongruous with the last one, but they happily coexist in my head. OIVer Christmas Graham and Nathan and Dave and I joked talked about the underside of the Olympics. We thought the best face of the city would be presented to the world, but not necessarily the complete story. We imagined what a more complete story might look like, and came up with the idea of a mascot who had fallen on hard times and was dumpster diving to make ends meet. What would it be like for a mascot to live in an SRO off Hastings so kids to have to navigate broken bottles and used needles to get a dirty-fur, half-hearted hug. I give you: EAST SIDE QUATCHI. Happy birthday Dave!

Many arms of CBF

I found out when we went to Per’s birthday that Svend Erik’s birthday came and went in January.   This painting shows an octopus doing different kinds of musculoskeletal research with each arm (left to right, roughly): one arm holds and EMG device that is testing the second arm;  arm 3 has a screwdriver for assessing field work;  arm 4 has a lever which is used in lab studies to approximate repetitive fatiguing arm work; next there is an arm holding an optometrists eye tester thing up to the octopuss’ head (this ended up looking more like phantom of the opera, but trust me, its the optometrist thing); the sixth arm has a goniometer, which is used for measuring range of motion in rehabilitation;  arm 7 has an Erlenmeyer flask for biochemical testing of muscle metabolites, and can you guess what kind of statistical procedures are performed by the eighth arm?  10 points if you said BOOTSTRAPPING.  Happy birthday Svend Erik!

Art Projects

It has been a while since I did anything art-related. Last summer was very full with work, paddling, and getting ready to move so my crafty bin was mostly untouched. I packed a few half-done and a few empty canvases to store; I’ll have to pick them up again when I go back to Canada. However, I don’t want to wait that long to use the right side of my brain, so this weekend I went to Clas Ohlson. I thought I’d get some acrylic paint, which is what I mostly use at home. However, I had forgotten about the start-up costs for painting, with brushes, canvas, paints, medium, etc. etc.

Instead I got some water-soluble pencil crayons, which I haven’t used for a long time. I also got a little sable brush, so I will still get the feel of painting. I haven’t used them yet though, tonight I set about a collage project. I saw the newest death cab for cutie album cover and I liked all the geometric shapes, so I decided to collage something along those lines for out living room. I bought a 5 kroner (80 cents Canadian) corkboard at a thrift shop. I didn’t have wall paper samples or construction paper or whatever the original used, but Hasse gave me his 2009 calendar with pictures of Sweden in it, which I thought would give more texture anyway.

The makings of a collage

I am happy with the final collage, and I am looking forward to doing some water-colour pencil stuff. Maybe there will be some home-made valentines!

The completed collage hanging over our couch. It was meant to hang horizontally, but Graham held it up like this and I liked it. Also, the frame hangers immediately supported vertical hanging and I was too impatient to change it.