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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

From The Art of Travel

    humpback whale, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

    I've been thinking about the connection between my love of travel, photography, and painting.  Dick and I have always put an emphasis on traveling.  We've been all over the United States, in Mexico and the Caribbean, the UK, Greece and Italy.  One crucial difference between us is how important photography has been for me.  I always considered my pictures to be a sort of visual diary, while he claims I miss things while I'm peering through a viewfinder.  These days I just say my photos are reference for future paintings, and sometimes that actually happens.  But I think there's more going on here, and that my need to travel, photograph, and paint are all connected and mutually reinforcing.

    Crater Lake, from our hotel room

    A few years ago I read a slender book called The Art of Travel, by Alain De Botton, and I copied out a few quotes into my sketchbook.  I've been thinking about the book, and may need to reread, since it has been tickling my memory so much lately.

    p. 183  And perhaps the most effective means of enriching our sense of what to look for in a scene is by studying visual art.  We could conceive of many works of art as being immensely subtle instruments for telling us what amounts... to "Look at the sky of Provence, redraw your notion of wheat, do justice to olive trees."

    Punta Cana beach, the Dominican Republic

    p. 188  Every realistic picture represents a choice as  to which features of reality should be given prominence; no painting ever captures the whole, as Nietzsche mockingly pointed out... in The Realistic Painter:  Completely true to nature!  What a lie.  How could nature ever be constrained into a picture?  The smallest bit of nature is infinite, and so he paints what he likes about it.  And what does he like?  He likes what he can paint!

    Macchu Picchu, Peru

    p.205  It struck me as awkwardly true that I had not much admired Provence before I began to study its depiction in Van Gogh's work.  But in its desire to mock art lovers, Pascal's maxim (How vain painting is, exciting admiration by its resemblance to things which we do not admire the originals) was in danger of skirting two important points.  Admiring a painting that depicts a place we know but do not like seems absurd and pretentious if we imagine that painters do nothing but reproduce exactly what lies before them... But as Nietzsche knew, painters do not merely reproduce, they select and highlight, and the are accorded genuine admiration insofar as their version of reality seems to bring out valuable features of it.

    Detail of San Marco, Venice, Italy

    So I suppose that travel does more than satisfy curiosity about the world and its scenery and people.  For me, travel satisfies an urge to collect experiences and scenes of beauty, and then to cement them into my memory and share them with other people.  The challenge in painting these scenes is to bring to the picture the feelings inspired by the original place.  Can I impart the sparkle and color of water?  the proportions and beauty of a building? the sweep of a green landscape? the mystery of a deep shadow?  Even if I fail, studying a photo I have taken and reliving the experience in my memory often brings some of the joy of the original experience back.

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From The Art of Travel


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Monday, March 29, 2010

Quick and Silly for Illustration Friday


    This week's Illustration Friday idea is "rescue."  My first idea was the old standard of the life saver tossed to the drowning person.  Then I played around with ideas of how to play with that a little.  I first considered a collage with a well manicured female hand being tossed an over-sized diamond ring, then rejected it.  My husband's suggestion pleased me better.  What would Homer want to save his life?

    I'm thinking Dunkin' Donuts. Sprinkles, please.

    Just a quick note about some art activities that took longer.  I participated in a local "Art Loop and Painters' Frolic"" on Sunday at a convention center here in town.  This was new for me.  I had all sorts of concerns, including the fact that I don't own any display boards.  But the organizer did have some to loan, and I found myself at a table next to one of my former high school students, a lovely girl who paints large oil and acrylic canvases with bright colors and abstracted human forms.  We were supposed to also be painting as well as selling, so I brought along my water mixable oils and did my best to paint a local scene.  A nice man at a local pizza parlor gave me a clean box that served as a carrying case for the wet painting.  It was a long day, with lots of packing, hauling, arranging, chatting, and some painting.  I managed to sell some some items that covered my entrance fee, and I have a couple strong possibilities for sales of larger pieces.  But most of all, I saw lots and lots of friends and neighbors, and I met some artists I didn't know before.  I came home tired, but happy.

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Quick and Silly for Illustration Friday


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NCECA! Be there or be Square!




    Hear Ye! Hear Ye!


    As many of you know, this week brings to us the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts on Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This is a time to meet, greet and soak up some educational content.

    In the spirit of education we encourage each and everyone one of you to attend our talk in Ballroom B at 11am on Thursday the 1st of April. My partner Dave and I will be presenting a lecture entitled Sexy Bodies-Making Excellent Clay. We are going to talk about the science behind clays and how to make the better. It is going to be a wicked awesome talk and we hope to see you there. We would love to meet all of you so stop by after and introduce yourself.


    We also encourage you to stop by Ballroom B on Friday April 2nd, from 10-11:30 for the Panel: Ceramic Technology- Material Issues. Moderated by Jonathan Kaplan, with John Britt, Angela Fina, and Jeff Zameck. We think there will be some interesting discussions about the importance of processing and technology in clays and materials.


    We hope to see you all in Philly and please stop us and say hello!


    See you there 

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NCECA! Be there or be Square!


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NCECA! Be there or be Square!




    Hear Ye! Hear Ye!


    As many of you know, this week brings to us the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts on Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This is a time to meet, greet and soak up some educational content.

    In the spirit of education we encourage each and everyone one of you to attend our talk in Ballroom B at 11am on Thursday the 1st of April. My partner Dave and I will be presenting a lecture entitled Sexy Bodies-Making Excellent Clay. We are going to talk about the science behind clays and how to make the better. It is going to be a wicked awesome talk and we hope to see you there. We would love to meet all of you so stop by after and introduce yourself.


    We also encourage you to stop by Ballroom B on Friday April 2nd, from 10-11:30 for the Panel: Ceramic Technology- Material Issues. Moderated by Jonathan Kaplan, with John Britt, Angela Fina, and Jeff Zameck. We think there will be some interesting discussions about the importance of processing and technology in clays and materials.


    We hope to see you all in Philly and please stop us and say hello!


    See you there 

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NCECA! Be there or be Square!


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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cutting and Pasting Again

    paper collage on mat board

    So this is what I do when I have other more important things to do.  I have lots of envelopes of things clipped from old magazines, books, calendars and so on.  Eve here was from a 1968 Life Magazine article about the women's movement.  I think the title of the article was Eve Was Framed.  Anyway, I wanted to give her life in a new context.  The big old lizard just called out to me.

    What I should be doing is getting ready for tomorrow's Art Loop and Painters' Frolic, to be held at the Pontiac Convention Center. I've never participated in anything like this before, and I am not sure how I am going to haul everything there and keep myself occupied for the entire day.  It occurred to me yesterday that if I do sell paintings, I need to make some decisions about which paintings might appeal to buyers, price them, find something in which to wrap them, and something on which to write receipts. That's looking on the hopeful side.  I still need to wire a couple paintings, and then decide on what to take to work on, since we are supposed to be demonstrating as well. What to do? Watercolor? Acrylic? Oils? Collage?

    The event has been well-publicized, and some of the funds raised will go to a local food bank, so this may be a lovely way to spend the day.  I just always worry.  Maybe that's why I chose a scary turquoise lizard over Eve's shoulder!

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Cutting and Pasting Again


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Friday, March 26, 2010

That's Swell



    Scott Amron has invented these coffee cup selves that swell to insulate when the cup is filled with hot liquids. They have the neat feature of being reflexive to things like the temperature differential of logos. So you get a vague bloated version of your logo to show off to your customers.

    These are pretty cool, but it does seem that these are for one time use and is something that has to be "pre installed" on cups. Amron declares that they are recyclable, so it has that going for it.

    Thanks Mrs. Rose


    link

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That's Swell


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That's Swell



    Scott Amron has invented these coffee cup selves that swell to insulate when the cup is filled with hot liquids. They have the neat feature of being reflexive to things like the temperature differential of logos. So you get a vague bloated version of your logo to show off to your customers.

    These are pretty cool, but it does seem that these are for one time use and is something that has to be "pre installed" on cups. Amron declares that they are recyclable, so it has that going for it.

    Thanks Mrs. Rose


    link

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That's Swell


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Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Study of Salome

    study of a detail from Benozzo Gozzoli's 1461 painting, The Dance of Salome

    Another online challenge site I recently discovered is one called Following the Masters.  Every month the blog's owner chooses a theme.  Last month it was the Ashcan School painters, and this month it is the Italian Renaissance.  She suggests books to help her people learn about the topic, and then followers can draw or paint something related to the topic.   Last month I read Robert Henri's wonderful collection of lectures, letters and essays about art called The Art Spirit.  This  month I re-read Irving Stone's fictional biographical novel about Michelangelo's life, The Agony and the Ecstasy.  I also decided this month to study another Renaissance painter, this time one I didn't know.  I chose Florentine painter Benozzo Gozzoli, whose figures attracted me.

    Here is part of original painting:


    I Salome's graceful figure and flowing dress, and the way he uses orange/reds, along with grayed greens and some blue in the shadows.  His painting is much more attractive than my study, but I feel I learned something in doing the work.

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A Study of Salome


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Big Nothing


    The Tata Kaapi Coffee Company in Bangalore, India has created the worlds Largest Coffee Cup. The diner style mug is 20 Feet tall, 14 feet Wide and has a Five Foot Handle and is made out of....fiberglass...


    /sad trombone

    via

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Big Nothing


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Big Nothing


    The Tata Kaapi Coffee Company in Bangalore, India has created the worlds Largest Coffee Cup. The diner style mug is 20 Feet tall, 14 feet Wide and has a Five Foot Handle and is made out of....fiberglass...


    /sad trombone

    via

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Big Nothing


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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Springtime Fall / Sketch

    5x7 inches, pen and ink, watercolor wash, for Monthly Sketch Project

    I'm still evaluating which online challenge sites appeal to me most.  I'm asking myself how appealing and easy to use the reference photos are (if that is the format of that particular challenge) how long I have to complete the project, how easy it is to post, and how much feedback I get from other people who choose to participate there.

    Even though the trees in my yard are just budding out, this reference photo was of an autumn scene.  I considered making my response into a painting, but in the end decided if the site says "sketch project," then I would try a sketch.  I probably spent an hour and a half on it, and liked it better before I added color.  The original reference photo was pretty, and offered some possibilities for learning to simplify shapes and deal with shadows, both good things.  Unfortunately, the resolution of the photo was low, so there was more inventing going on in this sketch than I really wanted.  At least that's the excuse I'm going with for my slap-dash approach to the drawing.  Still, it's good practice to be forced into invention, and I don't always have to slave over everything I produce.  I still may go back and add darker values to the tree trunks.

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A Springtime Fall / Sketch


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Oh Deer



    This adorable flask and cup set come to us from designer Fenke Schwan. Titled "Schnaps with Bambi", The inlayed image combined with the glazed and unglazed surfaces, makes for a charming little item.



    via



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Oh Deer


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Oh Deer



    This adorable flask and cup set come to us from designer Fenke Schwan. Titled "Schnaps with Bambi", The inlayed image combined with the glazed and unglazed surfaces, makes for a charming little item.



    via



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Oh Deer


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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Two More Online Challenges

    5x7 inches, for Illustration Friday: Expired, pen and ink, watercolor

    I thought I'd post a couple of small illustrations I created in my watercolor notebook this week for online art challenges.  I've been interested in Illustration Friday for ages, since it is so well organized and so many people post their work on the site.  While some challenges are very specific (draw your shoes), the ideas at Illustration Friday are all open-ended.  They can be interpreted lots of ways, and they are!  This week the topic  is "Expired."  I thought about lots of things that expire: dairy products, coupons and sales, parking meters, people.  In the end a broken doll I had been saving for some sort of mixed media assemblage (yet to be created) called out to me.  I drew her amongst the twigs, dead leaves, and green shoots in my garden, a sort of plastic armless Venus.  Her life as a play toy has expired, but she lives on here.  The most challenging part of participating on this site for me was creating a 50x50 pixel thumbnail.  It took longer for me to figure that out than it did to draw all the teeny circles on the illustration.

    5x7 inches, pen and ink, watercolor acrylic ink, created for Inspiration All Around Us

    Another online challenge to try is a fairly new one entitled Inspiration All Around Us.  An Oregon artist named Dana Marie has begun posting reference photos every other Tuesday for people to interpret in any way they want.  In order to participate in this site you need to send her an email and ask to join the group, then you can post your drawing or paintings.  I did this little piece fairly quickly in my Moleskine watercolor notebook, first a pen and ink sketch, then watercolor for the waterlily blossom and leaves.  I did a dark blue background at first, but decided that I needed a darker value to set off the white blossom, so added a wash of black acrylic ink, letting some blue layer peek through.

    I'm having a good time participating in these challenges, though I doubt I will participate in every one, every time.  For one thing, in order to get comments from other people, it's just courtesy to leave comments for other posters. That takes time.  But giving and receiving feedback is half the fun of joining these groups in the first place.  The other half is having a practically unlimited stock of ideas for creating art.

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Two More Online Challenges


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Oh Snap!



    This Salt and Pepper set comes to us via Israel. (Check out their website for some great pictures of designers in the studio).


    Made and designed by Mey and Boaz Kahn, this sweet little set bust be snapped in half to function. They won the 1st price winner among 4843 participants of the Macef and Designboom international competition "Dinning in 2015" that took part in Milan, in February 2008. 

    A nice little object and fun to boot. 



    via

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Oh Snap!


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Oh Snap!



    This Salt and Pepper set comes to us via Israel. (Check out their website for some great pictures of designers in the studio).


    Made and designed by Mey and Boaz Kahn, this sweet little set bust be snapped in half to function. They won the 1st price winner among 4843 participants of the Macef and Designboom international competition "Dinning in 2015" that took part in Milan, in February 2008. 

    A nice little object and fun to boot. 



    via

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Oh Snap!


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Monday, March 22, 2010

Egg Roll

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Egg Roll


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Egg Roll

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Egg Roll


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Monthly Painting Challenge: Creek Reflections

    Creek Reflections, 12x16 inches, oil on canvas board,

    I have been thinking about writing an article for a regional arts magazine about using internet art challenges as a way to develop skills, stay motivated, and meet other artists. Before I write about any of the groups I want to try each of them out for ease of participation and quality of response. The list of art challenges I have tried is on the side bar of this blog. If know know of others that are good I'd love to  hear about them.

    I have taken local face to face workshops and studio classes, and I enjoy the opportunity they provide to learn new techniques, practice existing skills, and generally connect with other people.  Participating in these groups has gotten me out of the house, and provided some very good times indeed.

    But I also have enjoyed participating in online groups.  Besides the good things mentioned already, these virtual groups provide some special advantages.  They tend to be free, which is no small thing these days.  Not only are there no fees attached, but I save gasoline costs, and wear and tear on my automobile.   By joining an online challenge I don't have to go out in bad weather or pack up any of my materials.  I can participate, or not, as my schedule and interest dictates.  And I can compare my response to the source photo or topic with lots of other artists.  Participating in these challenges has led me to the work of other artists whom I admire, and has created friendships I value.

    This month I tried out a relatively new group, the Monthly Painting Challenge.  This blog provides a resource photo and encourages artists to adapt it in any way they see fit, to paint it in whatever medium they choose.  My response is at the top of the page.  I did an acrylic under painting of napthol red, then painted directly in pretty much one session using water mixable oil paints.  I like the way the red peeks through and enlivens the other colors.  Painting water and reflections is a challenge for me, and I found myself torn between wanting to observe carefully and committing to put down the paint, and wanting to play around with it.  This time I did OK at not going back to "muddy the water" and overwork, I think.  I also rather like the shapes of the trees, especially the one on the left. 

    I'd love to hear from people about the online challenges they like best, and what advantages they see in participating these groups.  Oh, and don't be shy about sharing your critique of my painting response.

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Monthly Painting Challenge: Creek Reflections


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Jiah Khan caught with hotel cutleries

    jiah khan pics
























    What one feels when a waiter in a restaurent in the hotel of your bag with cutlery picks?


    Well, what actually happened''Nishabd girl Jiah Khan, who along with her co Housefull Resort Deepika Padukone between dinig was one in Italy, Lara Dutta, Akshay Kumar, Ritesh Deshmukh, deirector Sajid Khan and producer Sajid Nadiawala -- stars.


    Akshay and Ritesh Deshmukh, a very well known for their co who are with Jiah Khan playinghabits mischief on stars engineer. While busy with her food Jiah, Akshay got along with some forks and spoons to the table and was walking Jiah. Seeing her bag Jiah not much atention, Akki quickly open her big bag that was cutleries slipped.


    After a minute or two, Ritesh same exercise was repeated, but with a spoon. eewwe! Soon after the gang's entire renewable passed all spoons and forks and Ritesh who has finished his ignorance than a bag of them into Jiah.

    Later when the waiter, who was part of the bill came with a gang, they all got spoons and forks disappearance shocked and said, "was God where spoons and forks if you do not mind?, I have my bag have to check. "


    Total left to wonder when all Jiah missing spoons and forks out of her bag tumbled down around laughing there was a mischievous leading to burst.

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Jiah Khan caught with hotel cutleries


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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wrapping Up - Murano and Burano

    Master glassblower at a Murano glass factory and showroom

    I could have spent a week exploring Venice, but there are many other islands that have much to see as well.  Our group took a water bus to two famous island communities, Murano and Burano.

    I remember when my grandparents went to Italy, back when I was in college.  They brought back a pretty pair of cameo earrings that I still treasure, and some art glass that didn't appeal to me as much.  The glass came from Murano, an island in the Venetian lagoon, where all the glassblowers were sent to prevent fires, and to preserve their technology secrets.  Murano is home to several glass factories and museums, where they make everything from paperweights, to chandeliers, to large art glass sculptures.  We visited one factory and were treated to a demonstration of glassblowing.


    It was a cold and blustery Sunday, but the friendly patter of these artisans and the roaring kilns, warmed both body and soul.  I think they imagined we would be shipping home large purchases of art glass or hand-blown glassware, but the group headed for the souvenir shop after a serious case of sticker shock.  I bought a millefiori paper weight, and was well satisfied.

    After Murano we re-boarded the water bus and headed to the fishing village of Burano, on another island in the lagoon.  Burano is famous for two things, picturesque houses painted in bright colors, and an ancient tradition of lace making.  The group had an hour or so to wander around, perhaps do some shopping or get something hot to drink.  One shop in particular had a lace showroom with beautiful clothing and lace table linens.  We were told that the fine hand work here was very famous, and that two or three woman could work more than a year to produce one large table cloth.


    Upstairs in the shop was a little museum with old photographs and examples of lace work, including the restored wedding dress seen here.


    After visiting Burano, we headed back to Venice.  Dick and I spent the afternoon finding some lunch, and wandering the winding streets of the city.  In the evening we had a farewell dinner for the whole group at the hotel, and then we all returned to pack for home.  We had to leave the hotels at 5:00 am in order to get to the airport, fly to Rome, transfer to our Alitalia flight, and return to Chicago.  I don't remember much about that morning except the water taxi ride on the chilly and moonlit Grand Canal; it was like a dream.


    It was a wonderful trip, exhausting, exhilarating, as travel is.  The people were congenial, the guides well informed and kind, the food and scenery outstanding, and I have enough photos from which to sketch and paint to keep me busy for ages.

    The question here in Janesville is, now that we have had time to get over our jet lag and look at the photos better, where to next?

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Wrapping Up - Murano and Burano


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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Venice, Part One

    View from the water taxi stand outside the hotel.  A moment later a kayak sped into the shot.

    The last city on our Italian tour was Venice.  I had visited Venice in 1972 with my friend Rosemary, but on a hot and crowded summer day, and only for four hours.  This time our group stayed in two sister hotels just steps from the Bascilica de San Marco, and we had a couple days.  While the Florence hotel room was spartan and noisy, this room, at the Dona Palace Hotel, was large, comfortable and quiet. Best of all it was easy to find in a city that is a maze of winding streets, bridges, and dead ends.

    Side view of San Marco

    I think it would be very hard to be bored in Venice, with all the churches, shops, restaurants, and museums in a small area.  It would not be hard to go broke, however.  Hotels, food, souvenirs, are all expensive in Venice, so it's probably good we didn't stay longer.  I had been warned that the popular tourist areas are filled with beggars and pickpockets, but nobody in our group had no difficulties with that; perhaps it was a little early in the tourist season.

    Entry stairway to the Doge's Palace.  Photographs are not permitted inside.

    After we settled into our hotels, the group had tours of Saint Mark's Cathedral and the Doge's Palace.  San Marco is free, though tourists are confined to a specific pathway, and hustled along quickly.  I had not seen the Doge's Palace before, since in 1972 my friend and I only did things that were free.  This time we had a good guide, and each of us had little ear-speakers that broadcast her explanations as we went along.  It made hearing easy, and kept the overall noise level inside the rooms, the Bridge of Sighs, and prison, down to a civilized level.

    Fresh seafood in a restaurant window 

    It was too cold for gelato, but I couldn't resist photographing the shop window.

    We were free in the evening to find a restaurant on our own.  There are many, and close to San Marco and the Grand Canal there are plenty of set price "tourist menu" options.  We had a good, if not outstanding meal at one the first night.  The next day at lunch we ventured out farther from the main tourist areas for lunch, and had one of the best, and priciest, meals I can ever remember eating.  It was spaghetti studding with fresh calamari, mussels, clams, and giant prawns, and I feel happy and satisfied just thinking about it.   It was small, warm, and filled with big groups of people speaking Italian - we didn't hear any English at all.  There was a farewell dinner the same night that I cannot even recall, out-shown as it was by that delicious lunch.


    Carnival masks in a shop window.

    Masks and a marionette

    I didn't do a lot of souvenir shopping, no shirts, or masks, though I window-shopped all the time.  I also went into a small art supply shop that had a nice supply of brushes, papers, and all the familiar watercolor paints, including Maimeri, an Italian brand.  I did buy a small package of beautiful hand- marbled papers.  We'll see if I have the heart to cut them up for collages.

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Venice, Part One


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Friday, March 19, 2010

More Tuscany - Wine, Siena


    Cecchi family estate, Villa Cerna, surrounded by olive trees, grape vines, umbrella pines and cypress trees.

    Besides visiting Pisa, our group visited a Tuscan vineyard.  The Cecchi family produces Chianti Classico, about eight million bottles a year.  This part of Italy reminds me a little of California, with its rolling hills and vineyards around every bend.  This early in the season things are quiet in the vineyard, and  our warm and well-informed guide told us the history of the place, and showed us how the wine is produced.


    After we saw how the wine is made we were treated to a tasting session, which included some very fine wine, bread, and salami.  Later in the day some of our group bought wine to bring home, though we did not.  I wasn't sure the bottles would travel well in luggage, and would certainly add extra weight.  Villa Cerna Chianti Classico is available in the United States, at any rate.



    Our final stop of the day was in the ancient walled city of Siena.  Like Florence and Pisa, Siena is a World Heritage Site.  As before, our bus parked quite far from the old walled part of the city, and we were shuttled in.  We had to take a series of escalators to the upper city level, which I appreciated, since was getting tired.  The weather got colder and damper, and the wind was fierce.  Our guide, recognizing our discomfort, sent us out to find some lunch (we had lovely bread soup), and then we regrouped in a sheltered area near the Piazza del Campo, where popular and historic horse races are held twice a year.


    While I was interested enough in stories of the horse races, and explanations about the architecture of the cathedral, what interested me as much was the color of the soil, a pale yellow.  The earth pigments used to make artist colors raw sienna and burnt sienna were originally mined in this area, and now I will always associate them with this pretty city.

Post Title

More Tuscany - Wine, Siena


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Splish-Splash of Color.



    This one's going out to Mrs. Rose. 

    These sinks are by the Spanish group Disegno Ceramica. The come in sink and shower pan designs, and by my mind are pretty awesome. 




    I sort of love were sinks have gone. One can argue that bathroom/kitchen materials have gone crazy. That may very well be true. I don't care for granite counters and I'm not the biggest of the new kind of sinks with the "bowl on the counter" appearance; But for the most part I really like when fixtures get playful.

    I also love color. I was talking with a coworker yesterday about painting. His son is trying to pick a color for his bedroom and my co-worker said "as long as it isn't purple" I grunted vaguely and thought of our new purple stair well.


    Adding color and playfulness to bathroom fixtures is a great addition to bathrooms.


    via





Post Title

Splish-Splash of Color.


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http://www.photossexybodypainting.ml/2010/03/splish-splash-of-color_19.html


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