Monday, October 29, 2012

:A great Sunday afternoon doing collage

 Jamie's collage
18" x 18" paper on canvas
Bob's daughter Jamie loved my collage pieces done in Derek Gores class. She asked if we could create a collage together so she could learn the process. We spent yesterday afternoon in our garage suited up in old clothes, tearing magazines and applying pieces to our gallery wrapped canvases. Jamie decided to do palm trees on a 18" x 18" canvas. She turned out to be a real natural at doing the process and was so creative in her selection and placement of magazine pieces. She went home with some art ready to hang. She will bring it back when mine is ready for the final stage, varnishing with a UV protective coating.
I began a piece of granddaughter Kelly riding her white horse Spirit in a gymkana. I cropped it to show the horse's head and Kelly's upper body. It is a huge piece, 30" x 40",  and I have much to do before I am done. I will tackle it again tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Monday Morning Drawing Class

"Silver and Persimmons"
14" x 12" Pastel
Susan brought some beautiful Persimmons and Bob brought the silver pitcher.  There could be lots more hours spent on this piece. We all agreed to work on silver next time to refresh ourselves on how to approach it in pastel. We are all reluctant to push our darks enough. I did after Bob gave us guidance.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Plein Air Adventures Feed the Spirit

"Autumn's Bounty"
 14" x 12" Watercolor
Triton Museum, Santa Clara, CA
"Pau-Hoa Buddist Temple"
San Jose, CA
Temporarily interrupting regularly scheduled programming...I bring you some plein air  pieces. Yesterday I joined my Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society in a plein air competition at the Museum in Santa Clara. This event was part of the month-long Member's Annual Show at the Rose Shenson Gallery. We painted on the grounds for a little over two hours. I loved this little Radio Flyer wagon with autumn goodies on the porch of one of the houses on the property. The artists got to vote for the three top places and visitors got to vote for the Honorable Mention. You can see show winners here and soon the winners of the plein air competition. We have some awesome artists.
It seems that since returning from Europe, art has taken a back seat, so doing some plein air painting makes time for art. This past Thursday we were welcomed at the Pau-Hoa Buddist Temple on McKee Road. The temple is very active and as we painted among the beautiful buildings, monks, volunteers, and worshipers came and went.
I have no in-depth knowledge of Buddhism, in spite of having friends who are Buddhists, so I hope I do not offend with my terminology or explanation.
The main temple building
Backlighting made it challenging to photograph and paint
A worshipper at the main alter
The alter contains many types of food

 A smaller place of worship where incense sticks burned in the urn;
People frequently prayed at the alter while holding burning incense sticks
Artists take a lunch break and admire the paintings
Show time

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Room with a View: Belfast, Ireland

"Room with a View: Townhome Living"
Belfast, Ireland

Murals from "The Troubles"
Our next stop was Belfast, via, trains to Dublin and Belfast, where we learned a surprising fact -- they are rated the second safest city in the world after Tokyo. We stayed in the Crescent Townhouse, turned small hotel, with a good B&B rate with one dinner. The room and bath was lavishly large in a country where small rooms are the norm. It was in the Queens University district. Across the street were well-kept brick townhomes seen above in my sketch.
The Botanical Gardens are lovely and a short walk from our hotel

The Chicago cow sculptures has caught on there
and we enjoyed a fall festival with locals

In the neighborhood
We had a lot of rain and chill, true of our entire trip. Our tour of town by Hop On Hop Off bus took us to Shankill and Falls Roads where something akin to the Berlin Wall and many political murals remind us of the troubled times when Catholic and Protestant neighbors fought for their ideals, and the region remained in the UK and separate from the Republic of Ireland. We were told that many people in the Republic have never visited "Ulster" as it is know in the UK, a mere 2.5 hours by train from Dublin.
Of interest is the Titanic Museum because the ship was built in these mighty shipyards. Compromises were made that caused despair among the designers. Unfortunately, our attempt to tour it without a reservation was unsuccessful, the museum is that popular. A bonus was seeing a road race from the bus.

Titanic Museum

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Room with a View: Galway and Connamara

"Grey Skies Over Connamara"

The real deal
"Room with a View: The Greyhound Stadium"
"...and watch the sun go down o'er Galway Bay"
A bus and trains took us to Galway where were the lovely Irish tune about Galway Bay ran through my head as we walked along the port and Bay. We took a one-day mini-van tour of Connamara, the wild and rugged mountains where many Catholics were forced into exile when Cromwell took his vengeance on Ireland. Today, most people have moved to the cities, leaving the spectacular scenery to a few farmers and some nuns who run the Kylemore Abby. Read the history of this intriguing structure. One of the more  famous graduates during the days as a boarding school is Angelica Houston, whom I cannot imagine living in such isolation.
Our Galway room was on College Road in the Ardawn B&B amidst an entire row of large homes turned into B&Bs. Great location for walking to transportation, the pedestrian area, and the port. The wonderful owners sent our laundry out and gave us beautiful breakfasts. Their tea service at breakfast instituted a new tradition for us -- brewed with loose tea and poured into the cup through a beautiful strainer. Mike is a Antartic explorer, having gone on an Irish re-creation of Shackleton's expedition with greater success, and a terrific cook as well.
We were right next to the greyhound stadium and that was our view from our room. The stadium is a very big deal in Ireland. My photo of my painting is a tad crooked and I will attempt to replace it soon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Room with a View: Dingle, Ireland

"Charming Dingle"
5" x 3" Watercolor Sketch

"Rainy Day Over Conant Pass"
5" x 3" Watercolor Sketch
Dingle Peninsula is the Western-most point of Europe, so the folks who live in this traditional Gaelic area like to say "The next parish over is Boston." Fortunately, though all signs are in Gaelic, the people speak English for other mere mortals in "An Daengaen." The town of Dingle with about 2000 souls living there is the largest and very charming.
We like to stay in modest places with a down-home feel, so we use Rick Steve's books extensively. We selected small inns and B&Bs for the majority of our accommodations, run by owners who live in the home. We meet lots of interesting independent travelers and seem much less exposed to theft. The owners can give lots of good advice. In Dingle, I made arrangements by e-mail to stay in Eileen Conant's B&B. We took several trains to Tralee and then an hour's bus ride to Dingle, a trip of about 7 hours. The train transfers were all timely -- walk from one to another and go.
Above you see the view from our cozy room with traditional homes and the mountains. The second painting shows a view of Conant Pass from a photo I took through the rain from the bus window. You see the fields that rise up the hillsides. They were every shade of green imaginable and support herds of sheep.

We took an archeological tour in a mini-van given by Tim Conant, Eileen's retired Police Chief husband. We also took a boat ride and enjoyed the friendly dolphin Fungi who adopted the people of Dingle years ago. Bob bought a Irish low whistle and got to jam with local musicians. We visited two traditional music venues, one a church, and the other The Small Bridge Pub.

 Bob plays the Irish Low Whistle with Mike Herlihy on accordian and friend on piano
Mike is written up in the travel books and generously bought us drinks at the pub where he played.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Room with a View - Dublin, Ireland

"A Room with a View: Yellow Doors"
Dublin, Ireland
3" x 5" Watercolor
Dublin has many lovely townhomes and we stayed in small Kilronan Guest House, not far from St. Stephens Green, made up of two townhouses. The view was of the Georgian townhouses across the street. One saw the individuality in the colors of the doors and the front yard uses -- a bicycle, a motor scooter, children's play equipment... I found myself imagining daily life among the townhome families.
We serendipitously landed amidst the best weather they've had all summer - cool and sunny for a couple days. Then we had some rain, a constant feature of this trip to the isles in September. We Californians find few places to visit with weather as good as ours. 
Visiting St. Stephens Green
We adjusted to an 8-hour time difference on the Hop On, Hop Off bus. Bob was on a mission to taste the whiskeys (Irish) and whiskys (Scottish) and the local beers. Jamieson and Guinness made the cut. Another day we enjoyed traditional music in a pub in the Temple Bar section, and we did a lot of walking around the Green, their beautiful pedestrian shopping street, Grafton, where we watched very talented street performers on Saturday night, and attended Even Song at St. Patrick's Cathedral (Episcopalian; there is no Catholic cathedral in Dublin in this most Catholic of Republics). If you enjoy attending church services, Even Song is a great way to go. The churches that often charge tourists, are open to attendees only during the services for no fee, though we make a contribution, and the music is beautiful. We were treated to children's choir.
We made our exit plans, booking train tickets to Tralee where we would board the bus for Dingle.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"Room with a View" travels to Europe

"Room with a View: Andrews Seat"
Edinburgh, Scotland
5" x 3"
Bob and I returned several days ago from a three-week trip to Ireland, Scotland, England, and Paris, all done via public transportation -- trains, buses, mini-vans, occasional taxies, and one ferry across the Irish Sea. I painted at least one tiny painting of each location in my Moleskine watercolor journal using my Koi paint sets with water brush.
I start you in the middle of the trip with one of my more colorful pieces. During our five days in Edinburgh, we stayed in a modest B&B off Dalkeith Road, a main thoroughfare to uptown Edinburgh, about a mile and half away by local bus. The view from the room was of the famous landmark, Andrews Seat. I woke up to a gorgeous sunny morning, a rarity during this trip, and quickly sketched with my micron pen and dropped in some color.
While in town, we took a tour of the Castle, visited Holyrood, danced at a local milonga (Argentine tango venue), did some shopping for accessories for Bob's kilt, enjoyed the pubs and restaurants, and toured the National Museum.