Be comfortable in being uncomfortable


When evening comes II, Gouache, 10×10cm, Astrid Volquardsen, 2020

A nice reader told me the other day how much she struggles with some of her pictures. That’s where »the key« to the whole, if not to life itself, lies.

In English we say, »Be comfortable in being uncomfortable.«

Feeling comfortable in the creative process while at the same time uncomfortable in discovering unknown territory. It is important to endure this discomfort, and (if possible) to feel joy in discovering new techniques, new ways of expressing oneself.




Cloud studies, Guoache on AquaBord, Astrid Volquardsen, 2020

I have now finally arrived at a phase of experimentation. Everything is allowed. I particularly like AquaBord. It has the property that it allows very robust work and that I can wipe the result away with a cloth and start again. This is very much in line with my way of working.

Almost like my »brush« in pastel painting. I wonder how many students flinched when they heard this sentence:

»How attached are you to your painting?«

In the semi-dark


In the semi-dark, 21×18cm, Gouache on AquaBoard, 2020 Astrid Volquardsen

I love this atmosphere in the semi-darkness, when the lights go on everywhere. In North Frisian that is called Hualewjonken.

The moon accompanied by stars


I have received a poem from a dear reader that I am unfortunately not allowed to publish for copyright reasons. (Mascha Kaléko).

It is about the night in which one is haunted by fears, but which is also home to the moon and the stars.

The poem immediately triggered a thousand feelings in me. The nights when I woke up in a sweat and (literally) full of fear of death. Now I only look at the stars and the moon and they are promising. Say I am really well and it is hard to believe that almost two years have passed since my brain surgery.

Astrid Volquardsen - Der Mond in Begleitung von Sternen
Astrid Volquardsen – The moon accompanied by stars


It should also be a glimmer of hope in Corona times. In the next days there should be clear nights again and just look up into the night sky and consciously perceive this infinite beauty.





In my simplified tonal value scale I mix the grey values and place them from top to bottom. Black is the starting point and I mix in more and more white. Now I compare which of the mixed colours correspond to the respective tonal value. The trick is that when I pinch my eyes together, everything blurs to one tonal value. (Note: I do not use black to darken the colors)

Detail: The Reader

Detail: Pastel picture

The whole principle also works with pastel, without having to use black for darkening. That depends on the manufacturer. Very dark colours are offered by Sennlier, Unison and Terry Ludwig, for example.

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