Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Sights Around Albi, France

During Dayle’s workshop, one of the field trips we take is to Albi. Albi is in southern France in the Tarn department. Its history can be traced all the way back to Bronze Age (3000-600 BC.) I didn’t see any remnants from that time period. We typically visit Albi to see the Toulouse Lautrec Museum and the St. Cecile Cathedral.

This was my second visit to Albi. Instead of taking many pictures of the Cathedral, as I did last time, I tried to focus my attention on the textures and colors. I hope you enjoy these images of Albi.

Can you believe the color of the blue sky?

And a few images from St. Cecile Cathedral

To learn more about St. Cecilia, click here

To learn more about the St. Cecile Cathedral in Albi, click here

Until my next post,

A bientot


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My Blog’s 4 Year Anniversary Celebration & Giveaway

I can’t believe that it has been four years since I started my blog. That’s a lot of bloggy goodness!

To celebrate my blog’s 4th anniversary, I’ve decided to hold a weekly giveaway during the month of August.

What will be included in the giveaways?

Books, jewelry, and possibly some other artwork.

How will it work?

I’ll post the weekly giveaway on each Friday in August. That’s four Fridays, 8/5, 8/12, 8/19, and 8/26.

You’ll have until Tuesday of the following week to post a comment on the giveaway blog post. That’s four Tuesdays, 8/9, 8/16, 8/23, and 8/30. Comments must be posted by midnight eastern standard time.

One winner will be chosen each week.

Shipping

Giveaway items will be shipped via USPS and limited to residents of the United States. I apologize for the restriction on shipping.

I hope you’ll join me in celebrating my blog’s 4th anniversary in August!


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Skeleton Key Artist Trading Card

I am working on a new series of artwork, Snapshots and Memories from Languedoc-Rousillion. This series of small artworks is inspired by my recent trip to France. You can read about the first two prototype ATCs I created in this earlier blog post.

This last prototype is inspired by skeleton keys.

This piece started out with a different key in the center of the ATC. I chose a print I made during Dayle’s workshop. However, when I added the oil paint to color the encaustic wax, the original image was essentially lost under the paint. The print wasn’t bold enough to compete with the additional color.

So I tried another idea. I sketched over the print of another key with a 1.0 micron pen and applied that image over the original skeleton key.

Skeleton Key ATC

This improved version features encaustic wax colored with phthalo blue oil paint, verdigris and tapestry embossing powders, incising, a polymer clay keyhole, and polymer clay embellishments.

Now I’m ready to dive into the heart of this new series of artwork.

Snapshots and Memories from Languedoc-Rousillion

This new series of artwork will be made available first to those who receive my monthly e-newsletter. The ATCs will be presented in single, double, and triple format, mounted on wood and ready to hang.

If you are interested in learning more about this series, please subscribe to my newsletter via this form my website Amy A. Crawley Fine Art

Until my next post,

A bientot


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Sketches from France

Before I left for France, I bought a small sketchbook. My intent was to draw in the sketchbook each day during my trip. I covered the sketchbook with a photo of a modern look French woman, packed my micron pens, and packed the sketchbook in my back pack.

We arrived in France, I move my sketchbook from the backpack to my purse, and there it remained, untouched, for 3 days. (I recall an art teacher telling me that she didn’t encourage students to take a bunch of drawing supplies on vacation because you put pressure on yourself to draw, which usually doesn’t happen, and then you feel guilty.)

As the end of our field trip to Albi drew to a close, we met Dayle at the appointed location. Dayle was sketching in her sketchbook. I promptly announced that I had also brought my sketchbook. Dayle asked, “Have you sketched anything?”

“Um, no. I haven’t used it.” I said.

Half jokingly, Dayle tasked me with sketching the facade of the St. Cecile Cathedral that stood a short distance from us.

Settling into my chair while we waited for the rest of our group to gather, I deferred Dayle’s challenge and opted instead for a set of shutters on a building directly across from us.

Shutters in Albi

And thus began my journey to sketch on an almost daily basis. Doing the first sketch reminded me, once again, that I do like to draw. In my senior year of high school, I was told during a critique with my art teacher that I couldn’t draw. Once I graduated high school, I avoided doing anything artistic.

Eventually, I came back to the arts and I’ve since forgiven that teacher for her cruel, nonconstructive words. I’ve tried the daily sketch task in the past, but it never stuck. After all, how many sketches can one make of their teacup, their breakfast, or the cats that never hold a pose.

But in France, it worked. And I’ve continued this practice now that I’m home. Though now that I’m home, I told myself that I’d like to do a sketch at least three times a week. That keeps my intention from feeling like a burden. I also received a little bit of advice from Dayle (paraphrased) that makes sketching a bit more fun: “Don’t worry about your sketch looking like reality.”

Below are more sketches that I did during our time in France. I’ll also share some of my sketches from home in future posts.

La Cascade Dinner Bell

Dining Room Chair

This sketch taught me that I’d completely forgotten how to draw perspective. An a-ha moment. Be a better observer.

Wicker Basket on Stool

This one is my favorite. Maybe I should sketch at night instead of first thing in the morning?

La Cascade Door Knocker

Hotel Night Table Lamp

Buddha Head

Until my next post,

A bientot


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The Magic of Soreze, France

Over the next few weeks, I plan to share with you some of my favorite pictures taken during our trip to France. Today, we start with images of Soreze.

Soreze

Soreze is a magical village located in the Midi-Pyrenees region of France, in the Tarn department. The village forms part of a triangle that extends from Albi to Toulouse to Carcassone. Soreze can trace its origins and development all the way back to 754 when Pepin of Aquitaine founded the Benedictine Abby Notre-Dame of Sagne in the fortified town of Verdinius.

Today, Soreze remains a source of history and culture. It has a long history of being home to artists and craftsmen.

The Images

On this trip I was focused on capturing images that would inspire my new series of artwork, Snapshots and Memories from Languedoc-Rousillion. Soreze is an excellent source of inspiration for this new series. Lots of colors, textures, doors, shutters, and statuary.

Festival Greeters

Soreze Side Street

Flower Pots

French Tabbys

Textures

Doors, Windows & Door Knockers

Statuary

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of Soreze and its magical surroundings.

Until my next post,

A bientot


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Monday Reflection: Loving Kindness

The following is one of my favorite mantras. It is calming, brings you to your center, and simply feels good when said aloud or silently.

May I be filled with loving kindess.
May I be well.
May I be peaceful and at ease.
May I be happy.

Begin by saying the phrases directed to yourself. Begin with yourself because without loving yourself, it is almost impossible to love others.

Then, expand the mantra as follows by directing it to others:

May you be filled with loving kindess.
May you be well.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
May you be happy.

May we be filled with loving kindess.
May we be well.
May we be peaceful and at ease.
May we be happy.


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Darwin Receives An Honorable Mention

It was quiet a surprise and an honor to return home from France and learn that my Spirit Messenger “Darwin Explores” had received an honorable mention. The honorable mention was awarded by the jury for the Fitchburg Art Museum’s 76th Regional Exhibition of Art and Craft. Darwin Explores and The Green Man Spirit Messenger are both on display in this exhibit.

Darwin Explores

Thank you to the jury and staff at the Fitchburg Art Museum. The 76th Regional Exhibit runs through September 4, 2011


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Return to France: Architecture

I am heading to France this summer to take my second workshop with Dayle Doroshow at La Cascade. While I’m away, I’m re-posting some of the original blog entries from my visit to La Cascade in 2009.

I’ll be back soon with new pictures and stories to share.

So, not only did you think I fell off the blogosphere, you may have also wondered what happened to the rest of those pictures I took in Southern France.

Or, perhaps not.

When I last posted pictures from France, I said I would share some pictures of the architecture we saw. Below you’ll find an assortment of pictures featuring the architecture in ancient ruins, more modern structures, and cathedrals.

Ruins

You’ll find ruins of chateaus in various locations throughout Southern France.  Some are standing nearly intact and others are in various states of decomposition. Here are two pictures of one chateau that Eric hiked to in the lower Pyrenees.

Ruins

Ruins2

Gargoyles

What would a trip to France be without a couple pictures of gargoyles?!  These two fellas were on a cathedral in Carcassonne.

Gargoyle

Gargoyle2

Carcassonne

Carcassonne is in the Aude department of France. It is divided into the fortified Cite de Carcassonne and an expansive lower city.  The Cite de Carcassonne is surrounded by a double wall. Carcassonne has a long and interesting history dating back to about 3500 BC. (Our historical structures are in their infancy compared to Europe and Asia.)  You can read more about Carcassonne here and here.

Eric took numerous pictures when he toured the city. This is one of my favorites:

Carcassone

Cathedrals

I mentioned the Cathedral of St. Cecilia in my last post on France. This cathedral is interesting because it is the oldest brick cathedral in Europe. It is also interesting because some of the interior sculptural work is done in limestone which gives it a lacy appearance.

This is an exterior shot of the sculpture above the main entrance.

StCecileEntry

And a shot of the interior sculptural work. (Flash photography was not allowed but you get an idea of the intricacy of the work.)

StCecileLimestone

Toulouse

The capital building in Toulouse reminded me of Versailles. Stunning and big on the outside and decorated with ornate frescos on the inside.

ToulouseCapitalBldg

These last two pictures are from the Salle des Illustres on the top floor of the capital building. The Salle des Illustres is used for official receptions and wedding ceremonies.

ToulouseCapitalInterior1

ToulouseCapitalInt2

Beats the heck out of an “office” in cubicle-land on any day.


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The Artistry of France

I am heading back to France this summer to take part in my second workshop with Dayle Doroshow at La Cascade in Durfort, France. While I’m away, please enjoy this re-post about the artistry in France that I encountered during my visit in 2009.

One of the many aspects that I love about France (and most of Europe for that matter) is the artistry that permeates the environment. From the doors and windows to the gardens and the food, nearly everything exudes an artistic quality that, in my opinion, is sorely lacking in the United States. The arts are held in high esteem in France and it shows. What struck me on this trip was noting that many business titles include the word “artisan” in the description; from the patisseries to the boulangeries to painters and plumbers, everyone is an artisan.

Artisan (n): A person manually skilled in making a particular product; craftsman.

I wonder what our society would be like if we all considered ourselves artisans.

Cemeteries

I love old cemeteries. I love to walk through them, gaze at the ornate headstones, and imagine the people who have passed. What were their lives like? What did they look like? Would they be annoyed that I’m standing here staring at them?  As a kid, I trembled at the thought of walking across people’s graves. I always made sure to walk AROUND the grave, never across it. This probably stems from watching too many black and white horror movies on the Sir Graves Ghastly show (warning: audio starts when you click this link.) However, this behavior is still with me today and if I have to walk across someone’s grave, I always say “excuse me” first.

The cemeteries in southern France are all above ground. Families have small crypts to inter loved ones. Many crypts have several markers indicating which family member is buried in the crypt. The markers might be attached to the exterior of the crypt or they may be placed on the ground surrounding the crypt.

The local cemetery in Durfort was no exception. A couple of us even went back during the week to make molds of the designs on some of the headstones. Here are a couple of iron crosses from the cemetery in Durfort.

IronCrossMary

IronCrossJesus

Windows, Doors, and Knockers

I mentioned earlier being drawn to the beautiful doors and windows in France. Many doors also feature wonderful door knockers that really are welcoming. Door knockers have been around for ages and were most evident in the Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance periods. Door knockers typically fall into one of three classes: the ring, the hammer, and the human figure or animal heads. Door knockers from the Medieval period were the most carefully designed and those from the Renaissance period were the most ornate.  To read more about the history of door knockers, visit here.

Here are a couple versions of the popular hand door knocker which we saw on many doors in southern France.

Handdoorknocker1

Handdoorknocker2

And the doors; oh my. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many beautiful doors.  This gentleman’s head was on a wrought iron door in Soreze. I wonder who he is and what he is thinking.

FaceDoorRevel

The doors below were along one street in Toulouse.

ToulouseDoor

Full shot of the door above, including the stunning arch over the double doors.

DblBlueDoor

DblHeadDoor

And of course there are the windows. Here is another pair of windows in Soreze that drew my attention.

SorezeWindows

And a side street also in Soreze.

SorezeStreet

Architecture

There is also wonderful artistry in the architecture of the old churches, castles, chateaus and yes, even the gardens:

AlbiGarden

The garden above was in Albi behind the Musee Toulouse-Lautrec. It reminds me of the gardens at Chateau de Versailles.

I’ll leave you with this picture of the arched entryway at Cathedrale Sainte-Cecile in Albi.  We’ll continue our architectural tour in the next post.

StCecile

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