Review of the year 2019

The exhibition, the website and many projects

My review of 2019: the first own watercolour exhibition, building a desk, tying brooms and clearing the ancestral home of the family.

I admit it straight out: I've never written a year in review before. And I am infinitely late. On Sunday, the second week of January is already over, almost four percent of the year almost gone. No matter. I'm writing the annual review for interested people and for myself, since two weeks' delay doesn't really matter that much.


Time and stream

Is it not interesting that rivers are such a popular and powerful metaphor for time? The current of time, events whirl around, days drift past us, we are often washed away from everyday life from day to day. It is time to enter a port and pause. For me I have the feeling that there is no other way to stop the endless and equally fast stream of time, which threatens to constantly sweep me away, washing me away and washing me out, than to pause at as many points in time as possible, to stop and just watch the steady rotation of the clock hand once, while my mind turns inwards and backwards.

This view strengthens me. And the closer I look and observe the individual incoherent events, the richer they seem, the more grateful I am for the many opportunities that the year 2019 has given me.

Thereby 2018 ended difficult and so it continued at the beginning of 2019. In the office, some processes dragged on indefinitely, a close relative had moved into an old people's home in autumn but needed a new permanent place, and my family's head office in the Sauerland had to be vacated. Farewell. January is not my favourite month and it dragged on endlessly with its permanent Pantone Cool Grey 5. The sun never shined.

Second home, the Sauerland near Finnentrop.
Second home, the Sauerland near Finnentrop.
An End

Second home: Sauerland

In the spring we had to break up our family home in Sauerland. If I understand the family records correctly, my family on my mother's side had lived in this small house near Finnentrop in the Sauerland for over 100 years. Throughout my difficult school days in Wuppertal, staying there with my friends during the holidays and every possible weekend was an important compensation.

The house has now been sold with the leaving of the last relative still living there and had to be cleared out. My family had accumulated things there over generations, piled them up, spent them in the attic, stored them in the cellar. Everything had to be removed now. And I wanted to free myself from this second home without any problems, nothing should get stuck emotionally, it should not be a loss for me, but a valuable souvenir.

Whenever we want to glide from one time to another, then it is time to perform a ritual. That is how I see it and that is how many cultures and religions have always handled it. Just as a ferry across the English Channel transports us to another place, the ritual helps us to cross a gap in our lives, helps us to cross a threshold. So I decided to live in the house one last time, to take a week and really say goodbye to everything. Of all the memories of many many Christmases with real candles and my wonderful grandma there, of my beloved uncle, the bricklayer, of the pear tree that literally stood at the back of the garden, of the many beautiful evenings with my grandma and my aunt, goodbye to: how I worked the forest with my uncle and made firewood and remember the slaughtering of pigs in the garage and our own sausage making with smoking in the smokehouse in the yearning attic, the smell of the potatoes stored in the cellar, the shed where my uncle blew up ammunition with a hammer that he had found after the war and where we played a lot as children. That could perhaps be a topic in another article: My innocent youth and childhood memories of the Sauerland.

So this week was also time to visit friends and sort out a few things day by day, give things away to neighbours, and document and record everything photographically one last time. To hold on to a place where memory does not rob me of my strength through longing but is stored in order to bring it out when there is time and distance.

A ten cubic metre container was ordered, all sorts of ebay classifieds were made for Saturday and on Thursday evening my wife and children came, Saturday my brother with his wife and we emptied the whole house until Sunday inclusive. What did we keep? Pictures, a few old and very old documents, a few household items that are no longer available to buy, all my grandmother's knives, all my aunt's scissors and sewing supplies, many photos. Some of the furniture was given to the village boys from the Easter fire, a few things were given away, the rest was scrapped and disposed of. Hurts, but there is no other way. In the attic there were FIVE broken Christmas tree stands, three old chests and several doors had to be dragged down two floors. An old motorcycle helmet and matching gloves were bought by a lovable motorcycle freak from Berlin.

Afterwards I took the time to get a rough overview of the family documents. My aunt has been busy doing genealogical research, I would like to continue that, but this story of a family full of poor farmers and factory workers has to be told another time.

Now nine months have passed and with this distance I look back on the time of this house and this place as relaxed as I had hoped. I have some very nice souvenirs, which in paper form now take up maybe 2 boxes. That's all it is. I am satisfied.


Desk top still in the workshop.
Desk top still in the workshop.
Gift for high school graduate

A polygonal desk

What does one give to the eldest son when he graduates from high school? A car is out of the question, travelling is great, but maybe not alone? So we decided to give him a desk. Since the gift is mostly from me, I built it myself in my workshop from a garden tabletop from Bauhaus and bought oak wood. It is a polygon, shortened several times at the corners and on the underside the frame is strongly bevelled. I have reinforced it on the underside like a guitar bottom. The upper side is white resopal. It is not very big, but fits perfectly into the room. I like to think back to the beautiful moment when he came home with his high school diploma and we were able to give him this gift elaborately wrapped. A real heart moment.

What lasts so long

The Cronhill website

I've been putting it off for so long. Ever since the forced change of my domain from Domainbox to Host Europe 2017 I wanted to take care of it. As it is, as a self-employed person with a house from 1880, there is always something supposedly more important coming up. At Christmas 2018, I started all over again from scratch, with questions like: What do I want to do with the website What should the topics be? What do I not want to write anymore?

No more politics, no more local politics. The focus is now on my art. That will remain so. By far not all pictures are online yet, but an impressive start has been made. I am finally showing my watercolours, on which I have been working for over 20 years, to the public. Many thanks to Kollektiv3 and the many friendly people there in December 2018, who, along with my family and friends, have often and lastingly encouraged me to do so.

Little by little I would like to expand the site, I have many ideas for this, but it remains to be seen in 2020 whether I will have the time but especially the strength to make it all happen. Unfortunately, my spirit is like Terry Gilliams, who in "Lost in la Mancha" is called out by the costume designer: "Terry, please stop your creativity". I am interested in too many things and although I am very grateful not to lose my incessant curiosity, sometimes I miss the focus. I'm not only interested in designing, not only artists, not only focused on literature, not only autodidact and dilettante, not only gardener and traveller, like many are at the moment, I'm baroque, I'm everything and too much. Only in what I am really used in, I am not good at that, because it bores me. It is no longer interesting enough for me. So I let my interests drive me on.

As if painted, maples and hostas merge into a closed leaf painting.
As if painted, maples and hostas merge into a closed leaf painting.
Time island

The park of Arcen Castle near Venlo

The time we can spend with our parents is finite. When they're gone, we're no longer children. I keep that in mind whenever possible. I was particularly pleased that we had the opportunity to visit the gardens of Arcen Castle near Venlo with my mother for the rose blossom. It turned out that it was the maple-rich Japanese part of the garden that fascinated me most during this visit. The garden is huge, consists of many different themes and is not far from Venlo. There was still time for a nice lunch in one of the many restaurants in Arcen, altogether a very nice late spring day which we concluded with a rose purchase for my mother in Lottum.

On the right a finished broom, the handle was once a hazelnut walking stick.
On the right a finished broom, the handle was once a hazelnut walking stick.

Camera handle and broom making

In the course of this year I have taught myself many new things. It seems like this: as the water in the river and flowing, I never stand still, try not to become cloudy, but to stay clear and fresh. In February, when it was snowing a little, I took our garden broom out of the shed, gave it a controlling look and saw that the red bristles were almost half used up. Soon we'll have to get a new broom, I thought. Only, a moment later, the realization came over me. As banal as it may sound in retrospect, it was at that very moment that I realized that it was I myself, who was - while sweeping leaves, dirt or snow from our garden - polluting the soil around our house with microplastics every time I used the red broom, which was partly made of plastic bristles.

Since 2019 I now am able to make brooms for myself and I would like to teach it to others in 2020. I have been getting birch veins and everyone I have given one of these beautiful handmade brooms to so far says: best broom ever. Best broom for plaster, best broom for outside. And with its hazel handle, birch rods and the little steel wire it is one hundred percent sustainable, ecological, easy to dispose of and completely compostable except for the wire.

In addition, I dedicated myself to cream production with a good friend from Cronenberg and together we made some glasses of skin ointment with oil, spruce and pine resin and beeswax according to a recipe by Erwin Thoma. Also helps very well in healing small wounds and in areas with dry skin. (no guarantee)

Leather camera handle.
Leather camera handle.

For my new Nikon I hand-sewed a beautiful leather handle, my first leather work.

I'm happy to explain. ;-) The wonderful photo is from @gallenkamp.
I'm happy to explain. ;-) The wonderful photo is from @gallenkamp.
Time island

Watercolour exhibition

But the very special highlight of the last year was certainly my first exhibition of my watercolours here on our ground.

Many thanks for the many visitors and the overwhelmingly great feedback to my paintings. For the first time I was part of this great event Woga in Wuppertal and I took seriously what was coming up in December 2018. I showed my paintings to the public for the first time and got a lot of energy and strength to continue with my painting and to find new and beautiful motives for what I want to show. I had great fun explaining to the visitors what I want to convey with my paintings and why I paint them. There are basically two important reasons for this: I paint the subjects because I find them interesting and I paint because it reassures me incredibly. More than hiking in the Stevensonian sense, in any case.

The greatest success of the exhibition was already the fact that it took place. It was crowned by a real painting commission, which I will now realize in 2020. It is a triptych of three paintings that will hang together in one room. What is special and challenging about it is the realisation in oil on canvas, a painting technique that I have not yet discovered and which is now waiting to be realised. I am very much looking forward to it and will of course show the result here, if the customer allows me to do so.

Modified Ikea lamp
Modified Ikea lamp
Islands and dream beaches

Resolutions 2020

I always take on too much. To reduce this pressure, which is of course only subjective and only takes place in my head, I started last year to write down every new task, every new project, whether private or business, in a book. Tasklist is the best way to name it. Last year there were 190 tasks, I managed 97 of them, I really think that's a lot. Among other things I was able to realize many great projects for my customers, tie brooms, build the desk for my son, rebuild an Ikea lamp for outside, sew a handle for my Nikon, clear out my grandparents' house, renovate the room for the exhibition, organize and carry out the exhibition and much more.

Here is a small list (Grmpf) of what I have planned for this year. I don't think I can take them quite seriously myself. Anyway, it seems to be for three people. ;-)

  • make more acquisitions
  • paint three new watercolours every year
  • paint a portrait in oil in the classical way
  • if it works out Giclée / digital prints of my watercolours on my website
  • realize the area Blueprints in
  • add the alchemy section to
  • write an article on the Stevenson-Way
  • get acquainted with text mining in R
  • write a series of articles about Mark Rothko
  • write a short essay about Mark Rothko and publish it as a small series (3 pieces) and bind and print it yourself
  • write one blog article per month
  • familiarize myself with the Affinity product line
  • arrange my workshop
  • finish my band saw
  • build a new double-wing entrance door for my workshop
  • clean out the future living-dining kitchen
  • Friends visit in Husum, in Paris and in Berlin
  • be more self-conscious
  • exercise regularly
  • walk the Stevenson way with my wife again
  • finish the last flowerbed in the garden, then the garden is ready after 16 years
  • create a photo book with all renovation photos
  • document the construction of my most beautiful photo box
  • Post paper instructions on Youtube
  • Post alchemy instructions on Youtube
  • build new furniture for the terrace (like every 3 years)
  • be there for the family
  • be friend
  • and much more besides

Even though the year started out difficult for me, professionally it was not easy, in the end it matured like a good cheese and was pure pleasure. It was a lot of work to create the conditions for the exhibition, but there is no greater motivation than a fixed goal and a fixed time for implementation. This wave has taken me out of the year with courage and determination, and if I can I will ride it a little further. I am curious to see which banks it will take me to, in keeping with the motto of my favourite novel character:

As my whimsy takes me.

I wish you success, happiness, health and friends and family who can rely on you and on whom you can trust.

tl, dr;

A year like good cheese: you can't enjoy it too young, it has to mature and in the end it is true and delicious pleasure with aromas of Sauerland, birch twigs and Schmincke watercolour.

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