Did I tell you that I am crazy for pigeons? Ah well – probably a thousand times. But honestly – they make such wonderful painting models and with thousands of photos it is not so difficult to find a couple of wonderful painting motifs – if I only could decide where to start first…

This time I decided to give Pete (who went over the rainbow on the 19th of February this year) another memorial in his role he loved most: being a father. More than any other pigeon I “met” so far was so in love with his kids and not even only his very own – he also took loving care for his grandchildren Pina and Peppi. It really hurt to watch him how he cared for them with so much love. Incredible.

I miss you so much Pete. I will never forget you. I feel blessed that you decided to share a part of your life with us, on the balcony. It sure had a huge impact on my own life… It will never be the same without you, Pete…

Btw – the little chap with the funny hair-do is Willy, Pete’s first son and our first pigeon baby we had the luck to get to know and watch how he grew up. An experience that I can only recommend to any person who has a heart for animals. It will change your life! And for those, who do not like pigeons at all, you will definitely change your mind – forever!!

 

All feral pigeon babies have a hair-do like this – isn’t it extremely funny????

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This is so much fun at the moment for me. I can paint and do stuff without the need to get into research and delving knee-deep in documentary and meaning and stuff like that. Just pure fun. I can let something out – my passion for intricate ornaments and patterns.

What could be more seductive than the textiles and fabrics from southeast Asia, India, Thailand etc. Their intricate and filigree patterns are pure paradise and it is a challenge for me to imitate this as a painting. Surely I could cut out a piece of a beautiful silk sari, put it on a frame and hang it on the wall – but this wouldn’t be the same – right? And who on earth would cut a beautiful silk sari into pieces? Arrrrgh…

I love to imitate things in different materials than the original in order to make them look like the original from afar but the point is they aren’t. It is a play with colours and textures and patterns and I hope you’ll like it:

“Sari I”
20″ x 15″, acrylic on paper
©Petra Voegtle

 

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Btw – this also has been painted on heavy watercolour paper first in various hues of red and then block printed with one of my ancient Indian hand carved wooden block prints which I collected over the time. The intricate patterns are just too beautiful not to be used again.

So be sure that you will see more of these pieces…

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A few days ago I saw a great documentary on TV about the ancient city of Machu Picchu. It was fascinating but at the same time shocking to hear that this spiritual place has become an object of mass tourism.

While I fully understand that a poor country such as Peru needs the income from tourism badly it is again frustrating to hear how this is achieved. It is the same problem as everywhere in the world where survival of people clashes with the requirements for protecting the assets of a country as its natural environment and cultural heritage.

Machu Picchu was inscribed to the status of Worlds Heritage by the UNESCO in 1983. Being in danger to be trampelled down by tourists the UNESCO org now requires now that the daily visitors should be constraint to 500 people. The ministry of tourism in Peru though plans to admit a number of 10.000 people per day which would be even a higher risk to the sacred place than currently, where the culmination is 4.000 visitors per day – as you can imagine. A huge dilemma.

From the website of the World Heritage Center:

“To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. These criteria are explained in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention which, besides the text of the Convention, is the main working tool on World Heritage.”

One of these criteria currently says and which may apply to Machu Picchu:

“to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared” (read more)

The tragedy is that the income from tourism probably will not make any difference on the poverty of the people in general, only a few will have jobs and benefit from this income. And additionally there is a huge cultural discrimination between the visitors and the native people: it was mentioned in an interview with the locals that the indigenous people may visit their sacred places only once a month for free – paying the entry fees would be unattainable for them.

It will probably not be likely for myself to see Machu Picchu in reality for various reasons although I wished I could. So for me the only alternative is to look at pictures and videos about this magical place. And I have something other people might not have – the urge to paint this place as I see it in my dreams and talk about it. This at least will not add to the damage of this ancient site. The first result was a silk painting – Machu Picchu as part of the Magical Symbols series.

I painted this in warm colours – just the right thing to warm up your room when the temperatures start to go down again at this time of the year.
Machu Picchu is truly a magical place, an archeological site which still holds many secrets. Although the trip may not be as exhausting as 20 years ago it is still not easy to reach this place as it is hidden high in the mountains of the Andes which is good for the place. The plans of the Peruvian government though may change this dramatically. As I already said above the site is in danger to be simply trampelled down by thousands of tourists.

“Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often referred to as “The Lost City of the Incas”, it is perhaps the most familiar icon of the Inca World.
The Incas started building the estate around AD 1400 but it was abandoned as an official site for the Inca rulers a century later at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. Although known locally, it was unknown to the outside world before being brought to international attention in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. Since then, Machu Picchu has become an important tourist attraction.
Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Since it was not plundered by the Spanish when they conquered the Incas, it is especially important as a cultural site and is considered a sacred place.” (from wikipedia)”

Whatever might turn out to be the real purpose of Machu Picchu – there is no doubt that this is a place full of magic and an incredible aura. Until today artefacts are found at this site and may lead to new discoveries.

“Machu Picchu”
(from the Magic Symbols Series)
40″ x 13″, silk
©Petra Voegtle

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The golden ornaments that I included in this painting/Collage certainly add a special touch to the historical city and the dreams about the lost treasures of the Inca people. And although much has been written about Machu Picchu the spell and mystic aura of this place is not lost yet and the cultural objects and symbols, the textile art and ceramics that have been found are a huge treasure and inspiration for our dreams and fantasies.
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Only some Pigeon Love

October 20, 2010

Just thought I am sharing some photos about our formerly sick pigeons when they are in love so that you can see why I am so crazy about them. Well – it has nothing to do with painting directly but you might understand why I love them so much becoming my models. This is pure cuteness overload:

Pina and Willy (before they had completely recovered):

Winnie being held after feeding (when she was still very sick):

Jimi and Alice just before their release into freedom:

Jimi and Alice when they came back each day for getting breakfast:

Willy and Pina before he left her (Pina was still not releasable):

Pina and me – she is my absolute treasure, an absolutely unusual bird:

My favourite bird on my favourite sculpture:

And finally Pina and her great love Rudi (a bird with a severe string injury that nearly lost his feet):

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Oh – and if you would like to know more about the adventures of our pigeon family read my diary the Pigeon Tales.

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An Experiment

October 19, 2010

I know it has been a long time since I posted on this blog and I am really sorry if I have caused any frustration for my readers. But daily life does not always allow us to only do what we love to do – there are tasks which have to be fulfilled, more important things which call for attention.

As you know I love pigeons. They have been a joy to watch for me and so it happened that they became models for my painting. But when you love something you also have to take care because you cannot just take and give nothing for it. And so it came that we had suddenly several very sick feral pigeons to care for – all of them with PMV infection and normally doomed to death if you go the regular way. But there is always hope if you invest a lot of time and intensive care for a potential recovery. As I love these birds which have given me more pleasure and deep joy than humans do in general besides very few persons I can say now that all 5 birds which we had hospitalized have fully recovered and are flying free again, enjoying their lives as pigeons do.

This is an amazing result and I know without my partner’s continuous and loving help and with optimism and a helping hand from all good spirits I would not have been able to accomplish this task. I am grateful beyond any words and have my joy each day to see these birds fly free and become more motifs for my painting series. But this has to stay aside for a little while longer.

As my energies for complicated and demanding paintings is quite low at the moment I thought about some possibilities how I could foster my creative juices and re-mount the work flow of an active artist with projects which are quicker to complete i.e. demand not as much attention as others. So why not paint for more decorative intentions?

Aaaarrrgh – the word has been spoken – DECORATIVE. What a come-down! I already see people wrinkle their noses… But honestly – what’s sooooo bad about this? Isn’t art often a mere decorative object that people buy to match the colours of their interior?  What does it help if you paint the heart out of your body with demanding themes and starve yourself to death? Nonsense. People who have the luxury to spend their time at their leisure often do not even appreciate what they have. Or even worse, they have all the financial resources which could buy them heaven but they are sick. So what would they do with all those things they have gathered? Money cannot buy you true happiness. But watching a bird fly free after 9 months of near death is something that can make you happy especially when it was your care that helped to accomplish this. That’s what life and true happiness is about.

You remember my love for textiles? Well, I have created quite a few painted and hand stitched art quilts, I have done silk paintings where stitching was added to achieve additional textures and shadows. Now theses textures lead me to patterns, regular and irregular patterns as you can find on handprinted cloth. So here we are – painting and printing. No – not what you might think now – I am not going to create prints at the moment because I don’t have the space for a good press nor the experience with various techniques. I want to access something that I have right now: a wonderful collection of old Indian wooden stamps for block printing which contain  intriguing and very delicate handcarved patterns. These have been partially collected by my mother and by myself. Using these in any way would be a wonderful contribution to my dear mother’s remembrance who died last year. Isn’t this reason enough?

But using these stamps on a plain piece of paper wasn’t just enough. I wanted to include some more patterns and structures such as those which you can find on polished marble. I have always been fascinated by all kinds of minerals, stones and fossils. To re-create these patterns on paper or cloth is so inspiring because you can do everything with it, in all colours you like whether you want it to look real or not.  Some time ago I started a series about “Minerals and Fossils“.

This is the first piece now (virtually framed): Green Marble

“Green Marble”
20″ x 15″, acrylic on paper
©Petra Voegtle

 

Here are some details:

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The material I used here was heavy watercolour paper with grain torchon that added a great texture. I started with painting a first background layer for the faux marble pattern with acrylic paint. Then I added the prints, afterwards layering the various marble patterns – between the various layers I heavily glazed the surface with a glossy acrylic lacquer. Finally I added some highlights with metallic pigment.

A good idea is – I think – to show how a painting can look like framed and virtually hung on a wall such as this example – I love to play with these ideas…

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Nautili are living fossils. And they are beautiful. A creature, that will hardly be ever seen alive  by someone, unless the one is diving in the area of Palau in the pacific ocean and is extremely lucky. Another chance to see such a wonderful creature alive is the Waikiki aquarium on Oahu on the Hawaiian archipelago.

„Nautilus“
40″ x 13″, silk

The habitat of the pearlboat – which is another name for the Nautilus – are the steeps of the pacific coral reefs in greater depths, at about 300-400 m during the day. During the night he ascends into shallow waters for feeding. You can find him in the sea of the Andamans in the western hemisphere to the Fiji islands in the East, from the south of Japan to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and the archipelago of Palau.

Pearlboats belong to the head-feet (cephalopoda) and therefore are part of the family of the octopus, squid and cuttlefish. Different from the octopus the nautilus has a wonderful shell, which protects his body, but is his curse at the same time. Collectors on the entire world are crazy for his polished mother-of-pearl shells which unfortunately can be used as a single decoration or are worked into jewellery or other decorative and precious objects.

Researchers of the University of Hawaii have found out that the nautili mate and lay eggs in slightly warmer waters. Assumption is made that nautili enter shallower depths to lay their eggs on hard surfaces like rocks or coral. In 1990 the Waikiki Aquarium successfully hatched its first young nautilus in captivity. For the above reasons it is extremely difficult to observe the nautlius in its natural environment so that hardly anything is known about its habits. Therefore it is important to protect this beautiful animal before we lose the opportunity to get to know it.Therefore it is also imperative that their shells are not marketed and sold.

To my dismay I have found that these shells are even offered on the Internet which is an abomination. PLEASE DO NOT BUY THE SHELLS OF A NAUTILUS!

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The shell of the Nautilus is not only the protection for his body but also his means for navigation. While most cephalopods float i.e. are neutrally buoyant the Nautilus allows gas to diffuse into the gap between the mantle and the shell. This way he can descend or ascend but he is not a very good swimmer.

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Nautili reproduce by laying eggs. The females attach the fertilized eggs to rocks in shallow waters, whereupon the eggs take eight to twelve months to develop until the 30 millimetres (1.2 in) juveniles hatch. Females spawn only once per year and regenerate their gonads (after Wikipedia). The reproduction cycle is therefore quite long – another reason for the Nautilus being an endangered species.

What is extremely astonishing is that the lifespan of nautili is long and may exceed 20 years! A very long lifespan for a member of the cephalopoda.

Altogether we still know not enough about this creature and how it can be protected other than through a general ban on catching and the use of the shells.
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This silk painting – the third of the Magic Creatures series –  tries to show the beauty and the magic of this creature. For this reason I chose a more realistic and detailed presentation. My greatest wish is that everyone who sees one of these wonderful shells relinquishes to buy one. Only a boykott of the offered pieces will destroy the market for them and might give the Nautilus a chance to survive…
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My little series of Magial Creatures will certainly not save the world nor initiate any change but nonetheless I am not going to stop talking about the crimes mankind is doing to its environment and ALL living beings in it.

This morning I found another email from Greenpeace in my mailbox and I will not stop to distribute the messages accordingly. People need to know and people need to be made aware what’s going to happen if we continue like that. Even if I risk that you won’t read my posts any more because what I am saying is already oozing out of your ears but it is necessary for my own peace of mind. And maybe for yours as well. Maybe it will somehow reach those who make the decisions, maybe it will make one man’s belief turn around to push the right buttons so that a tragedy such as this in Lousiana NEVER EVER happens again. We must believe that it can be done because otherwise…

Imagine a world without living beings, without birds, without the pets we love, without all those fascinating and beautiful creatures we may never see in reality but in documentations and pictures. Do we really want them to become just that? Documentations? Memories? What a sad world that would be!

Many wonderful adventures have become retrospections for me at the moment but they are an inexhaustable well of inspiration. So are the creatures of the sea. Most people will not be able to see what I have seen – therefore I think it is the most important to show what might escape our conscience. Therefore sealife centers and aquaria are important although I do not like to see animals in captivity but sometimes there is no other possibility to educate people and specifically children because they are the only hope for changes before they are brainwashed to become part of a senseless society.

Therefore I am painting momentos from memory and imagination. These images are close enough to reality and thus hopefully leading to further interest and observation of the “real” living being and finally to an increased awareness towards the environment.

„Sepia“
40″ x 13″, silk

To the fascinating sea creatures belongs the family of the cephalopods which are octopus, squid, cuttlefish (sepia) and nautili.

Here are some astonishing facts about cephalopods (from Wikipedia):

“Cephalopods are widely regarded as the most intelligent of the invertebrates and have well developed senses and large brains.”

“Cephalopods are social creatures; when isolated from their own kind, they will take to shoaling with fish”.

“Some cephalopods are able to fly distances up to 50 m. While the organisms are not particularly aerodynamic, they achieve these rather impressive ranges by use of jet-propulsion; water continues to be expelled from the funnel while the organism is in flight.”

Their camouflage abilities are breathtaking. Not only can they change the colours of their body within less than a second but also the outline of their bodies, creating warts and excrescences which let them merge completely with their environment. Especially their colour changes fascinated me most about them – so this silk painting came into existence.

Cuttlefish specifically are reminiscent of dancers of a ballet in their tutus for me but also their breathtaking colour patterns remind me of the costumes of an opera.
In the following detail photos you can see what I tried to achieve. But as many colours you have on your palette it is nonetheless impossible to copy nature…
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But for how long will these beauties still exist when the oceans are polluted, the surface of the water covered with spilled oil as it currently happens in Lousiana? Is this really the future of this planet? We probably won’t know in our lifetime. But what about the following generations? What do you want for your children?
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Millions of gallons of oil pouring into the Gulf.
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OIL AND WATER DON’T MIX
BP Deepwater disaster site
The real cost of oil.
Please donate

Petra —

Nothing can stop the human and environmental tragedy that we’re witnessing in the Gulf and on the coast of Louisiana. But we CAN stop the next disaster – we’re taking action right now and we urgently need your help.

Dolphins, turtles, pelicans and the residents of Louisiana are just some of the victims paying a horrible price as millions of gallons of oil pour into the ocean and onto the beaches of the Gulf. We were on-the-ground with our boat days after the spill providing scientists, oil spill experts and the media first-hand access to ensure that the full truth is known about this tragedy.

Please donate today to end offshore drilling and save the Arctic Ocean from a similar fate.

As BP fails to contain the damage they’ve caused in the Gulf, oil giant Shell are seeking a decision from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to allow them to drill off the Arctic coast this summer. Any disaster in this harsh and remote region would be catastrophic for the region’s polar bear, walrus, and bowhead whale populations.

Yesterday our activists took action using actual oil from the spill to paint “Arctic Next?” on the bridge of a drill supply ship contracted by Shell and due to head to Alaska for their Arctic drilling. Seven activists were arrested and are now being charged with felonies, for standing up to protect our oceans. Meanwhile, BP has to be criminally charged with anything!

Please make a generous donation today so we can hold companies like BP accountable and stop their plans for new offshore drilling.

I look forward to your support as we expose the truth and defend those who don’t have a voice to express their outrage.

Thank you,
Lisa Finaldi
Campaigns Director

P.S. We must ban offshore drilling. Please help Greenpeace today with your most generous contribution so we can continue our work in the Gulf and in Washington, D.C., making sure that the ban on offshore drilling is instated and that we pass legislation to promote clean and sustainable energy solutions.

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