Valerie’s Kids

Right in time for Christmas 2011 I drew Valérie’s kids.

The material used was pastell on dark paper.

Work in progress: Before:

and after:

The difficulty lay in the details, because the format was relatively small and smearing pastel pigments can be a rough and dirty job.

But it turned out nicely and people loved it.

Thanks for the challenge, Valérie!

Veröffentlicht unter portrait | Verschlagwortet mit , , , , , | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

Ruby Tom (Tess Gerritsen’s Mom)

Understanding the cycle of life.

Ruby Tom, the mother of famous writer Tess Gerritsen, passed away recently. After I read about her life and saw her picture, I drew her immediately. She seemed to be such an interesting woman. (The drawing is not finished, but I had to stop, late night, no time left…)

Looking at her photo, showing her full of life, the contrast between life and death hit me right into the face. Sometimes death seems unbearable.

Are you afraid of death? Do you think about it? Often?

Did you know that we all die at the same time?

If living means being restricted through time and place, then death means being out of time and place. Millions of years shrink into one second right at the edge of time. And then this last second becomes none.

Looking from the other side everybody enters at the same „moment“.

And then (before? after?) the out-of-time changes into time again…

Some call it eternal soul, some call it karma, you name it…

We value life most when we are facing death. Scarce things are always valued most.

And when it is too late, we want to remember. We keep things that help us to recall what once was. Maybe a photo. Sometimes a picture.

What do you think of the drawing? Do you like the colors? Why? Why not? Did you ever buy a painting of a deceased? Tell me!

If you don’t know Tess Gerritsen yet – I recommend reading her books!

Veröffentlicht unter portrait | Verschlagwortet mit , , , , , | 2 Kommentare

Franz Kafka – How to behave in a metamorphosis

Embed on your site/blog

I read Franz Kafka’s metamorphosis last week.

I was a little boy when I read it the first time. And I was fascinated by the story, as many people are when they read Kafka. His writing is described by a word that is derived from his name, Kafkaesque. I don’t go into this further, anybody who knows his work knows what it means.
I want to write about something else, something that I missed when I was a boy and what seems very obvious to me now.

Let me first say a few words about Kafka, the person. According to his biography and all social standards he was quite successful. After school he studied law. Then he worked for 14 years in the insurance industry. He was a dedicated worker, travelled a lot and got promoted, not once, but several times.

In spite of his success he was unhappy with himself, his work, with his relationships (witch never worked out) and with his family, especially his father. He was so troubled, that he destroyed some of his writings. And at the end he wrote a testament, demanding that his work should never be published. But his stories were published eventually, against his will.

In other words, his ego was ok, but his self was troubled.

Kafka, although a deeply sensitive person with a great intellect, lacked empathy for himself.

And this is what you feel when you read his stories.

Let’s have a look at one of his most famous stories, the metamorphosis. The plot is quite simple: One morning a man wakes up to find himself transformed into a huge cockroach. His family, next door, finds out what happened to him, they let him stay in his room and nothing much happens. One day his father throws an apple at him, which causes a wound that leads to his death. End of the story.

What makes the story fascinating is not the plot, but the way he looks at what happens to him. And each page is an illustration of the same problem that he fails to mention. The problem is too much guilt and too little empathy for himself.

Don’t get me wrong. Kafka had plenty of empathy. But always for other people, never for himself.

The protagonist, Samsa (sounds similar to Kafka?) is thinking a lot about his boss, his family members, goes into great detail about what each one of them might think and how uncomfortable his metamorphosis might be for them, but he never does the obvious.
He never asks for help. He never demands that anybody might look at what had happened to him. He never tries to get back to a being a normal human being. He never tries to live his live as a cockroach either. He is hiding under a couch all day long.

His family does not give a shit about him. Instead, they close the door, do not talk to him or to anybody else about him, they hide him away, avoid talking to him, avoid any other personal or physical contact. None of them is doing the least for him. All they do is giving him some food, which they shove through the door, once a day. They treat him exactly like a prisoner, although he never committed any crime.

And instead of getting angry at them at least once, Samsa is busy feeling guilty that he causes so much discomfort to his family. He is hiding, because they might become a little uncomfortable seeing him as a cockroach.

What the fuck!

He should shout and fight and be angry at them, which would be a natural, healthy reaction.
But Kafka simply does not know how to be angry. He simply does not know what a healthy reaction is.
He does not know.
Because he never cared for himself.
Because they never let him.

The great, great, g r e a t Alice Miller described such highly talented and sensitive people in her best-seller „The Drama of the Gifted child.
She explains how people might loose their self when they are forced to adapt to their parents too much too early on. Which makes them think the thoughts of their parents and feel the feelings of their parents so much, that they never experience their own thoughts and their own feelings. Instead, they live lifes of others, trapped in their own body which seems foreign to them. Later in life they become successful, they act like machines, always the best, always the first, probably with a big ego, but always with a deep lack of understanding of their own inner self, their own feelings, their own identity. Until they can’t go on any more.

If you want to know how this feels, read Kafka!

You will be able to see first hand the experience of a non-self, a victim of society. You will experience first hand the disaster of a destroyed ability to feel.
Feeling (as in the German word „Empfinden“) is not just a nice emotion, or maybe a bad one. It is a land mark that will guide you through life. It is a source of wisdom.

If this source is blocked, orientation is lost. Like with the guy in Kafka’s story „The Trial“.

And reading it, it makes me sad, really really sad. And angry.

Think of all that was lost! Think, for a moment, what kind of stories Kafka would have written, if he had experienced a living, lively self! Imagine Kafka as a forceful, encouraging, inspiring individual. He was a sensitive, intelligent person anyway, according to his biography. So imagine him not as a victim, but a healer. Not as the broken, guilt stricken poor soul that he became, but an emotional, strong individual, living his full talent to it’s best!
What a joy would it have been to read his books!

I would have loved to read his books. I would love to read the unwritten Kafka novels now. The ones that inspire, make you happy, make you believe in yourself and show you how to stand up for yourself, fight for yourself, do justice in an unjust world.

But instead I feel sick when I read his novels. Because it reminds me of a time when I was Samsa. And I have had enough of it.

I know that I am not alone. There are millions of Samsa’s out there. Now. Today. At your work place. On the street. In your family. Maybe you are one of them.
They are there. They look like you and me, but they are bugs, and they feel that way.
So what are you going to do about it?

Are you throwing the apple, close the door, switch off the light, feel uncomfortable, wait until the bug dies so that you can „be happy that it is over“ as Samsa’s family members say to each other at the end of the story?
If so, then you are an asshole. Fuck you!

But if you are the bug, try empathy! Empathy for your-self. For the way you are, however troubled.

And remember that you are not alone.

Veröffentlicht unter caricature | Verschlagwortet mit , , | 4 Kommentare



Veröffentlicht unter drawing | Verschlagwortet mit | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

Currency Bubble


Veröffentlicht unter drawing | Verschlagwortet mit | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

Bailout Party


Veröffentlicht unter drawing | Verschlagwortet mit , , , | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

Neil Armstrong

Google uses the following picture on the front page today:


Because Juri Gagarin was the first man in space. Exactly 50 years ago.

A few years later Armstrong went to the moon.

Or so the story goes.

IF he went to the moon.

If not, as this article suggests, then what? (cached version here, because account has surpassed bandwidth at the moment)

It would be one of the biggest lies of our times. Big in the sense of popularity.

I, personally, don’t care if he was there or not.

But imagine, just for a moment, if he never went to the moon – what would it mean?

  • That all the official media of the whole world are lying. That they never cared and do not care about doing their homework.
  • That millions and millions of people believe that something as unreal as Santa Claus is real.

But the moon landing must have been real, mustn’t it?

The problem is not the question if Armstrong was there or not. The problem is that most people are afraid of the consequences if it were all made up.

And that is the moment when individual thinking is switched off. Usually. It’s the point of no return.

If you step over this point … it might be a small step for you, but…


Veröffentlicht unter caricature | Verschlagwortet mit | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar


Bon Anniversaire!

Veröffentlicht unter caricature | Verschlagwortet mit , | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar


This caricature made some people smile 🙂

I did it as a surprise present for one of my colleagues who retired after 32 years in the same company (yes, thirty-two).

First, I sketched it at one evening and then painted it digitally in two night sessions until 4:00 in the morning to be ready (for work and) for the farewell party on the next day.

I am quite pleased with the colors and the painterly look, because when I started out I did not really know where to go, I lost the way immediately and then trying to fix it, inspiration took over (or whatever you want to call this erratic beast that comes out of the dark and takes control of you whenever you are too tired to think straight). And somehow we (the beast and I) got it to the way it looks now.

I would have loved to paint the face a bit smoother, with less contrast especially on the fronthead, but time was running out. So there it is.

Happy retirement, Turhan!

Veröffentlicht unter caricature | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

Daniel Ellsberg

Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of US government desicion-making about the Vietnam War.

Because he held an extremely high-level security clearance, Ellsberg was one of very few individuals who had access to the complete set of documents. They revealed that the government had knowledge, early on, that the war would not likely be won, and that continuing the war would lead to many times more casualties than was ever admitted publicly. Further, the papers showed that high-ranking officials had a deep cynicism toward the public, as well as disregard for the loss of life and injury suffered by soldiers and civilians. The papers also showed that the president started war against Vietnam based on his lie about the Gulf of Tonkin events.

Senators refused to publish the 7000 pages, so did several other newspapers. Finally the Times published it and Ellsberg went underground for sixteen days before he turned himself in.

The Nixon administration began a campaign against further leaks and against Ellsberg personally. CIA committed burglary of his psychiatrists office to find compromitting information against him. They also illegally wiretapped him.

Ellsberg was taken into custody, believing he would spend the rest of his life in prison. He faced charges under the Espionage Act of 1917 and other charges including theft and conspiracy, carrying a total maximum sentence of 115 years. The judge presiding over the trial was consequently offered directorship of the FBI.

Here you can here him talk:

The 7000 pages showed that the president was lying. We don’t need to read 7000 secret pages to know that the same is happening today with the current president. What is amazing, however, is that this man was willing to go to prison for telling the truth.

Veröffentlicht unter caricature | Verschlagwortet mit , , , , | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar