JENS MALMGREN I create, that is my hobby.

Portrait of Helen Jackson from Glasgow

On Thursday, 16 January, I finished this portrait of Helen Jackson from Glasgow. She is part of my series of climate activists.

I started on the portrait a week earlier. For this portrait, I had decided to use a beamer for the first time ever. I beamed a picture of Helen on to the paper, made a sketch like that, and then I started painting. This was a quick way of sketching. What I did not realize until much later was that during the sketching, I am actually planning how I am going to paint. What layers I am going to make and in what order etc. This time that planning was not so thorough. This gave me a feeling of a false start, so to speak.

This week I had very much to do, so I decided to wait for this painting. On Thursday, I had not decided what to do with the painting when I arrived at the aquarelle club. I showed the painting to the others at the club, and they appreciated the painting already as it were in the state when I decided it was a failure. This made me think that I should give the painting a second chance and do touch-ups etc. to nudge it into something I could appreciate.

Normally I am not a painter that sits and corrects a painting. I make a new one. This time it felt right to honor this painting more time and give her the attention she required. I spent the entire evening at the club, correcting things.

When I displayed the result to my wife, and she had some good suggestions too, and I tried to incorporate these as well.

Often you cannot fix an aquarelle painting at a late stage. The painting becomes muddy. I was very precautions when I worked on the resurrection.

How about the result? There is one benchmark I noticed that this painting passed. When people ask me who the person is, then the painting has reached a certain quality mark. Several people asked me who this girl was. This is a special person, it is a climate activist, and she is part of my series of climate activists.

There was an article in Glasgow Times about Helen:

Helen is campaigning for the #SAVECONGORAINFOREST. She draws and paints her own signs, so if you read my earlier blog-posts, you know that I appreciate homemade signs before printed signs. This is because a homemade sign indicates that the person holding the sign has herself the opinion she is expressing on the sign. A printed sign is, in a way, anonymous. It can be made by someone else.

Helen's signs are little works of art. I think Helen is a passionate person.

When reading the article about Helen, I noticed there are comments below the article. There was especially a long post from someone who apparently had much knowledge about Africa and perhaps Congo. That person also had a bit of cropped up anger, with a ten-point list of things one should concentrate on before holding up a sign with #SAVECONGORAINFOREST. Of course, there can be other people that perhaps know more about things in Congo than Helen does. But look, Helen got her own article in the Glasgow Times for promoting a better awareness of the climate change catastrophe in Africa, so she is doing a great job!

If you live in Europe or North America, try to recall when you last had some informative news from Africa. What is actually going on in Africa? I have been reading a book by Hans Rosling, and he has some interesting facts about that in his book Factfullness. Hans recently died, but his book is still informative. He made statistics on how badly informed people in Europe and elsewhere are about what is going on in Africa. The book is about this, and much more.

In Europe, we don't have any classical censorship of our media, but if you want to shut off the interests of a media person, you just say the word 'Africa.' The result is de-facto censorship. For me, it feels like we in the west simply don't know how life is in Africa.

In this media landscape, Helen stands up for Vanessa Nakate and other African activists and asks us to pay attention to Africa and the rain forest in the Congo-basin. I do not agree with the person who wrote the ten points. Helen just gives us one thing, a hashtag #SAVECONGORAINFOREST, and that is hard enough.

Social media like Twitter and Instagram is changing the future. Young climate activists like Helen are changing our future and the media. They connect us directly to the source-information where it comes from, free from censorship of journalists that needs to figure out if "should I report about a traffic jam on M74" or "Is an article about catastrophic destruction of the Congo rainforest interesting for people stuck in traffic jams on M74 in Glasgow". They go for the first obviously because Africa is a shutoff signal to journalists. I hope I am wrong, but I am not wrong. I am right.

So with that said, I would like to encourage Helen to continue with her campaign. Her campaign is important. She is important. This time that we are living in is hard, it is not going to get any easier.

Good luck, Helen!

I was born 1967 in Stockholm, Sweden. I grew up in the small village Vågdalen in north Sweden. 1989 I moved to Umeå to study Computer Science at University of Umeå. 1995 I moved to the Netherlands where I live in Almere not far from Amsterdam.

Here on this site I let you see my creations.

I create, that is my hobby.