It is Saturday morning – I am sitting with my coffee and iPad on the sofa, scrolling through my Instagram feed. As every weekend, I come across Instagram’s Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPmindtheclouds. And then everything happens really quickly inside my head. I can see the little monster with scissors in its hand, cutting out pictures of clouds from cotton wool pads and sending them off into the sky. After all, those fantastic cloud formations have to originate somewhere. In one way the picture is already finished, but, unfortunately, it’s still in my head. Coffee, iPad and sofa are suddenly of no interest. I go to the bathroom and take the last 8 cotton wool pads from off the shelf (I breathe a sigh of relief, because I had been worried that they had all been used up) and look through my craft cupboard in my work room to find the box with my children’s old cookie cutters. In order to find out whether the idea in my head can be implemented at all, I start with a very rough sketch of the monster with the scissors and add a cut-out cotton wool heart. OK, so white cotton wool on white paper does work and I think I’ll also manage the monster with the scissors. Next is another test picture with two more cotton wool clouds and the chosen small shapes in the sky. It works.
Using the little cookie cutters, I cut out heart, star, pig, butterfly, bird, flower, rabbit, fish, and duck. I would love to have an elephant as well, but unfortunately, there isn’t one in my collection and my freehand drawing of one is really not good enough. The cutting out process is going amazingly well, only the clouds seem too flat to me. I tease apart the individual cotton wool pads and fluff them up a little. And, as often happens when I work, I quickly check with my family: “Can you tell that they are supposed to be clouds?”
Next I tackle the monster. It is always important to me to keep the drawings as simple and reduced as possible. The scissors must clearly be scissors, but must not be too elaborate. I experiment a little, realize that the scissors must not be too close to the body of the monster and, happily, this times I am quickly satisfied with the result. I trace the monster in its final version by holding the template with the finished sketch and the new paper up to a window pane. A small trick I learned as a child.
The final step before the finished photo: arranging the cotton wool clouds on the paper with the drawing. I am happy that I can work with natural light on this Saturday morning, because, although I especially have a softbox with a daylight lamp, lighting still always presents the most difficulties for me. I push the clouds to and fro, rotate them, and take photo after photo with my iPhone. This time I have fourteen tries – I counted them – before I am satisfied. That is not that many, because sometimes it takes a lot longer. Alignment, lighting, focus, picture composition, there are always so many aspects to pay attention to at the same time, I do need a few trial runs.
And then the picture is finished, I add my watermark, a title and a few hashtags. whimsical cloud shaper.