Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


3 Comments

Sketching: Making It A Practice

Well, it didn’t take too long before I faced potential boredom with my sketching. In the days after returning from France, I looked around my house and thought “what is so interesting here that I’d want to sketch it?”

There-in lies the rub. It isn’t so much a matter of what looks interesting to sketch, it is a matter of making it a practice no matter what the subject matter. If the only reason I sketch is because the subject is interesting, I would’ve quit long ago. (And, in fact, I did quit sketching, several times in the past.)

This is when I had the bright idea to use themes or topics as my basis for sketching. Deciding on a theme or topic is a challenge in itself, however, it seems to be working for now.

The “What Do I Want To Sketch?” Phase

Glass Vases

Pear

Remote

Meals

Sunday breakfast

Salad

Breakfast bowl

Place setting

Cloth Napkin

Flowers

Sunflower

Globe Thistle

Did you know that Globe Thistle are made up of multiple tiny five petal flowers, like tiny stars? One of my favorite flowers and I never looked so closely at them until I tried to draw one.

Bee Balm

Another favorite flower whose petals sparked an idea in my head for an art doll.

Until my next post,

A bientot.


3 Comments

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


Leave a comment

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


4 Comments

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


4 Comments

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


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

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


6 Comments

Snapshots and Memories: An Adventure in Artist Trading Cards

After I return from France, I am embarking on a new art project: Snapshots and Memories from Langeudoc – Rousillon. This art project will focus on the creation of artist trading cards (ATCs) using encaustic medium and polymer clay. The theme for this art project is capturing the essence of the Langeudoc – Rousillon region in France.

ATCs are the size of trading cards and can be created from just about any medium, including felt, polymer clay, paper, fiber, or some combination of mixed mediums. You can read about the history of ATCs here.

This past week I delved into this project by creating two prototype ATCs. This was my time to practice my approach to creating the ATCs, practicing with the encaustic medium, and generating ideas of what types of images I’ll be looking for in France.

Below are pictures of the prototypes.

Le Tournesol "Sunflower" ATC

Le Tournesol ATC Detail

Le Tournesol was created on Ampersand ATC Encaustic board. Materials: Napkin, encaustic medium, polymer clay, oil paint, alcohol inks, mica powder, metal stamp letters.

Le Chat Noir ATC

Le Chat Noir ATC Detail

Le Chat Noir was created on Ampersand ATC Encaustic board. Materials: French dictionary page, found images, encaustic medium, polymer clay, alcohol inks, oil paint, metallic rub-on, texture plate.

The ATCs will be mounted on wood in single, double, and triple layout.


2 Comments

Oh The Tangled Webs We Weave

It is another rainy day here in Central Massachusetts. In between downpours, I spied this spider web while meandering in our front yard this morning. Looks like Charlotte spun her web between my the stems the hot red bee balm, of one of my favorite perennials.

Dewy Spider Web

In this next edited image, I decreased the vibrancy and increased the saturation.

And in this final picture, a completely desaturated version.

I love when the serendipity of nature presents itself as it did this morning.


9 Comments

From Inspiration to Creation: Taking an Idea & Making It My Own with a Little Help from My Friends

I’m always on the lookout for sources of inspiration as I work on my new line of work with polymer clay focal disks. A recent source of inspiration came from Ford and Forlano’s O’Keefe pin.

O'Keeffe Pin: Steven Ford and David Forlano: Silver & Clay Pin - The...

O’Keeffe Pin: Steven Ford and David Forlano: Silver & Clay Pin – The… (clipped to polyvore.com)

I love the shape and construction of their pin. I thought to myself “Self, that would make a very cool focal disk.” And then I thought “How the heck did they do that?”

My intent was not to replicate Ford & Forlano’s O’Keefe pin. There is no way I could do that anyways. Rather, I wanted to figure out how to create a similar shape with my own style.

The shape and design reminded me of a ribbon. So using that as my starting point I rolled a thin strip of clay and wrapped it into a rose-like shape resulting in experiment #1.

Experiment #1 "Toothy"

Ribbon Disk Experiment #2

Uhm, well, those are interesting but not exactly what I had in mind.

Scratch head, look at picture of pin again, and give it another go.

Rose Disk #1

Rose Disk with Striped Tentacles

Okay, this is a slight improvement but the walls are still too high and I think the clay strips still too thin.

Time to call in the posse, er, my friends. Another set of eyes (or two or three) can be helpful. Maybe they’ll see something I’m not. I ping the folks on Polymer Clay Central. I talk to Dayle and Paula, Karen, and Judy. Everyone has different interpretations but also some similarities in the construction. This is good because I’m getting insight from folks who work in polymer clay, pottery, fiber and mixed media.

Out comes the clay again to experiment. We experiment together with the clay, commenting and making suggestions on how to manipulate the clay. Ah ha, I think we’re on to something here.

Purple Focal Disks

Oh yes, this is much closer to what I had in mind. Thank you dear friends for your input and suggestions.

Since those little purple disks were created, I’ve been experimenting even more, adding my own spin on things, letting the clay lead me and including texture, protuberances, and, of course, faces.

Untitled Striped Disk

Amoeba

Birth

Solitude

I can’t wait to pair some of these disks with encaustic backgrounds. It will give them a completely different look. Stay tuned!