Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tis the Season

I haven't been doing much in the way of art but I did want to share something I did - I'm pretty proud of it because it was pretty darn difficult, in a fun way. There's a magical little store in Berkeley California called Castle in the Air and they managed to get hold of a huge collection of old French Pellerin paper models, theaters and "Grand Constructions" as they call them.  They sell beautiful reprints for only $15 that you can cut up and construct in good conscience - my Mom bought me an original for Christmas last year and it's safely framed - no scissors are coming near it. I bought the reprint of this one below (they're all 16"x 20"):

And after hours of pondering, and thinking and pondering some more and wishing I could read 1800's French (or that Google could translate it) it now looks like this (please ignore the magnets, it's on my fridge):

There's a long central piece of paper that goes down the back that his head is attached to, and every little moving piece is interconnected and had to be attached together with brads in exactly the right order so that when you move that center piece back and forth, all the other little pieces move as well - I should have taken a little movie of me moving it.  I just love it, and it was so fun to put together.  I started looking through their website at the others they have to do another one and got overwhelmed there are so many and they're all so wonderful,  The link is here if you're interested.

Since what little creative effort I've made recently has primarily been in the decorating department, I thought I'd share a few pictures.  These are chosen basically due to their being the least embarrassing quality photos - I clearly need a better camera if I want to take good indoor photos.

My village:

The center of my dining table

 My little silver tree with vintage ornaments

My mantel

This will be my last post before Christmas as I'm leaving town Friday - I hope you all have a wonderful, safe and magical holiday season.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Avila Beach and SF

This is going to be another picture-heavy and art-light post!  

A few weekends ago I went with a group of 8 women for a girls weekend to Avila Beach, which is on the Central California coast.  This was a much needed escape for my friend who has had a very rough couple of years, and I was so happy that her sisters, a cousin and friends (one of whom flew over from New York) were able to all get together for this long weekend. Someone had a really nice camera and took most of the pictures, but I haven't seen those yet so here are just a few I took with my phone.

We were staying about a block away from this pier.

The coast is beautiful here. I know I said that in my last post about the Northern California coast, but the California Coast overall really is pretty hard to beat. 

Some of us frolicking on the beach and in the tide pools.

This little town famously has a population of 18 and is a tiny hippie artist colony where they make pottery and blown glass.  

There is also a wonderful tiny cafe owned by an Italian man who looked utterly shocked when someone tried to order a decaf. There is the cutest tiny little room across from it to sit and eat and drink that looks to me like a tiny little artists room/studio in 18th century France, crumbling plaster and all ( I know, I have a colorful imagination).  It had a tiny wood stove in the corner and old records were playing on an old turntable.

This is the dining room of the famous Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, not known for it's restraint in any way!  I texted this picture to my husband and said this is why I never drag him there when we're in the area and his response was "Oh My Gaudy!".   It's fun though, and something everyone should experience once if they're in the area.

The condo we rented had a big blackboard where we wrote our list of things we wanted to do, - Cal Poly which is nearby is where 5 of us went to college, so there was lots of going down memory lane on our to-do list.

Last weekend I took my Mom to San Francisco to see a stage production of "A Christmas Carol" which was wonderful.  I took just a few pictures:

This is the front of the ACT - American Conservatory Theater where we saw the production. It's just beautiful,

I took this picture of the boxes inside before they told us no pictures inside.

Macy's on Union Square with a huge wreath in every window.

The Christmas tree and famous statue in Union Square next to the ice rink.

From the ground floor looking up the 3 story high Christmas Tree and glass ceiling at Neiman Marcus.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Catching Up

Due to some planned events, and a very sad unplanned one, I have only been home one weekend in the last 5.  To say that this has affected my progress in the art area is an understatement, as I don't tend to be very productive in the evenings after work.  So I thought I'd share some pics from a couple of the happy reasons I was out of town, as I love it when other bloggers take me on little vicarious trips with them through pictures.

The one weekend I did spend at home, the weekend before this last one, I decorated for Christmas as it was my only chance until mid-December, when it's just too late to bother since we're out of town the week of Christmas. I haven't taken any pictures of it but my husband took this picture because he was proud of the fire he built. (The house we moved to recently has a fireplace, which we sorely missed in our last house, so we're still in our fireplace honeymoon phase)

I do have one picture of a page I did in a journal a few weeks ago, an abstract piece from a Gillian Lee Smith online class that I've been neglecting.

My husband and I went to Mendocino for our 2nd anniversary - I can't believe it's been 2 years already.  The Mendocino coastline is so beautiful....

This is where we stayed, it's called Fensalden Inn, we were in our own bungalow way off to the left, very rustic, apparently it was part of an old hippie commune, but we loved it and we were allowed to have our dogs.

We took the dogs for a walk on the trails they keep maintained on the property, our bungalow is in the background.  The dogs had a blast.

The owner was so proud of this perfect souffle he served me for breakfast that I had to take a picture of it.

I loved this old weathered fence that was all over the property.

In nearby Fort Bragg, this store has very specific and seemingly unrelated specialties - my husband finds it hilarious and has been trying to remember the name of it ever since we were here several years ago - he was so excited to finally find out what it was and see that it was still there.

From the ridiculously charming village of Mendocino, looking back at the coastline.

A last shot of coastline, I think I'll save the girl's weekend at Avila Beach for my next post, before I lose your attention!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Stage Play

  I had some fun last week trying my hand at doing a couple of the old French puppets from my last post in pastels. I realized that the paper I used fits perfectly behind the opening of the little stage that came with them, so for now that's where it's going (I've since toned down the green background some).  We actually found a somewhat inconspicuous spot in our little house to hang the stage - it required a little art re-arranging but worked out fine and we'll be able to enjoy it. My husband is quite amused at how entertained I'm keeping myself with these puppets, but even he has admitted he's succumbed to their charms. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Puppet Love

Quick sketch of one of my new puppets - haven't quite figured out what his character is!
I have a thing about puppets, not new stuffed animal ones that you mess with your dog's head with, but ones with history, or that are works of art.  Puppets, marionettes, anything in that realm.  So when I saw these old French hand puppets at an antique fair recently, I fell in love.  Especially since they came with a little theater. Apparently Guignol in France was similar to Punch and Judy in England (and probably scarred as many children - when my Father saw these I discovered that he was one of them, having grown up in England).  I don't know the exact history of these or if they originally came with the stage, but I just love them.  I sense more puppet-based art forthcoming!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mystery Man

 I was doing some more pastel practice, creating a portrait.  After quite a lot of lost time in which I got completely absorbed in it ( I love when that happens), I stopped, stepped back and looked and thought "Who are you?"  He started out very differently, and I almost feel like I just exposed a face that was already there rather than creating him from my imagination.  Anyway, he's a total mystery to me, and I like wondering about his story. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Back to the Basics

I signed up for an online class from Gillian Lee Cox a lifetime ago it felt like, and it was starting in April just as my life went crazy.  I've now finally started it, and am really enjoying it. It feels like a condensed college art course, and is the closest I'll ever get to that, but from Gillian's wonderful perspective.  I don't take too many online art classes, I'm notoriously bad about doing all the exercises, and tend to just watch the teacher do the exercises and skip to doing the fun stuff myself, even though I know better.  So I'm trying to be better this time, and am being semi-successful.  I can't claim to be doing all the exercises, but I'm doing better than my average I'd say.

Below are some of them, so far it's just been some drawing and some work with soft pastels and color theory. I hesitated to post these as they're nothing special, but since this blog is supposed to be a record of my art journey, and I have nothing else to show for my time, I'm inflicting them on unsuspecting passersby anyway. 

I'm starting with my favorite - this is when I finally figured out that, OH, that's what Gillian was going on about - doing pastels on a textured surface really does make all the difference!  This is done on a piece of very fine sandpaper.  It's inspired by part of a painting I tore out of a magazine years ago- unfortunately none of the artist info was on it.

These two are pre- AHA moment


Some drawing exercises

Thursday, August 14, 2014

What a relief...

To have finally created ANYTHING. I can't explain how hard it was for me to finally sit down to try, it's like I was away too long and lost my confidence, and I had absolutely no idea what I even wanted to work on. I kept procrastinating, finding new little projects around the house that needed my attention first, not to mention reading the newest Diana Gabaldon book (over 1200 pages). Last weekend I finally forced myself to sit down at my art desk. I grabbed a journal, glued down a few random pieces of paper and created a loose face out of pastels. And miraculously, I started enjoying it, losing myself in playing with the pastels, and it was such a relief.  The page is nothing special but it feels like a huge accomplishment for me.

Later I worked on drawing this face, from a magazine, detailed drawing is also something that I can lose myself in. But what cracks me up, and this has happened to me before, is that it wasn't until I downloaded this picture that I saw how crooked her eyes are, and don't even look at her ears.  It's just amazing how I could have stared at the page so long and not seen it til now - I find it to be an interesting phenomenon. I'll fix it tonight, but I thought what the heck, you can see the unadulterated version and chuckle.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

At last....

I've beaten back the chaos, unpacked all the boxes, found a place for everything (which was frequently the donation box) and have a studio at last. I tried to make it so that I'd feel inspired when I'm in it, surrounded by things I love, but we'll see how functional it is - pretty doesn't do much good if what you need most isn't at hand, so there may well be some rearranging.  I threw together a temporary work table with a door and couple of cupboards to hold it up - I'll replace it hopefully soon since it turned out to be much too high, I just don't know with what yet. In the meantime I'll be sitting on the fattest cushion I can find!  The little secretary desk below used to be my only work surface, so having some room to spread out will be amazing, propped up on a pillow or not.

The little monkey above, sitting on the old mail sorter or whatever it is, is a recent birthday gift from my Grandmother and is precious to me.  It was my great-grandfather's, and the head lifts off and there's a bottle inside that he used to keep his whiskey in.  If he was trying to hide his whiskey habit, I wouldn't think drinking out of a monkey would be the way to do it, but I love it!

Maybe my next post will have some actual art, if I still remember how!