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Yellow almost done

Yellow   almost done

On one of my walks I stayed in a B&B which was a rebuilt farm. It was beautifully done, preserving the farm’s former character. Some of the walls were more than a foot thick – I shot this sunlit china collection in a recessed (ex-) stall window during breakfast. Next is the underpainting and a first tentative sketch. What I wanted to capture was the yellowness of everything, the walls, the teapots, the sunlight streaming in. (The title refers to a song by my current favourite band, Coldplay.)

Early stage

Early stage

Below is the final, I actually like the lightness of the former stage at the top of this post because it comes closer to what I wanted to do. But I like the juiciness of this last version as well.

Yellow done, oil on canvas board

Yellow done, oil on canvas board

For the next painting I revisited some photos of still lifes. I wanted to paint the white cloth and capture all the colours in white in different lights. I struggled with various versions of this one. They say that a painting is never finished, it just stops somewhere interesting.

Acrylic underpainting

Acrylic underpainting

Sketching in first oil layer

Sketching in first oil layer

Apple and lemon, oil on canvas board, many versions later

Apple and lemon, oil on canvas board, many versions later

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One nice thing I did when I was in England last month was to meet up with a fellow blogger I had previously only met virtually. Sonia found my blog through our common work of painting harpsichords. I paint sound boards and she decorates the cases- two entirely different specialities. Sonia’s skills involve hard physical work sanding and finishing large areas, as well as gold-leafing and faux finishes. Mine entails designing and painting flowers.

Anyway, we became online friends and have followed each other’s projects for awhile. I was really impressed when Sonia conceived of, wrote, and self-published her travel, photo, and cookbook, ‘Androula’s Kitchen, Cyprus on a plate’.   And when we met in Brighton, she told me of the doors this has opened for her to new opportunities such as lecturing and cooking demonstrations.
Neither of us are out for the fast bucks, and subsequently are discovering the hidden treasures that come from doing something well because you love it. Then gifts come pouring in-  experiences that lead to making new friends, developing new abilities, and building community. It is inspiring to share stories.

Below are a few more general shots from the London part of the trip.

nose

nose

Above a detail from one of my most heart-lifting sights in London, the meters high horse head sculpture at Marble Arch. The first time I saw him while passing by on a bus, he took my breath away. And this time I made a point of getting up close.

Horse head

Horse head

One of the snazzy new double deckers:

new double decker

Another horse’s head sculpture I stumbled across near Oxford St.

Bronze head

Bronze head

One of the other things that made me smile every time I saw it was the placing of public pianos in various locations inside St Pancras International railway station. They were there for anyone to play, and there was always someone noodling away- sometimes shyly, sometimes performing, sometimes good , often haltingly searching out the notes. I loved the idea. There is always live music now when you walk along the busy indoor shopping boulevard, it makes it warm and homey instead of impersonal like an airport lounge.

playing piano at St Pancras

playing piano at St Pancras

And finally, here is the outside of St Pancras on my last day in the UK, the sun finally came out! I adore this building, it is the old Euston station, and part is now a posh hotel. I always like looking out on the warm red bricks from the hostel, which is the  building on the right hand side of the photo. Across the street, not shown is the British Library.  Despite the heavy traffic on Euston Road, I love this area, it is busy and vibrant and a great mix of architecture and things to see.

St Pancras station and Hotel

St Pancras station and Hotel
on the walk to Lewes

on the walk to Lewes

During my recent trip to England, this was the usual weather. And these muted greens and earth colours were the palette in the South Downs area.

There was some relief from that the day I went to Brighton to meet Sonia. I’ll write about our pleasurable meeting later, you can see Sonia’s account of it here.

I’d thought Brighton was a charming, small white-housed seaside resort- so I was kind of surprised at my first glimpse of it through the train window!

Brighton from train

And after Sonia and I had a light snack at the museum, and I headed out to the ocean, I got away as fast as possible from this scene.

brighton boardwalk
So I guess it isn’t surprising, considering the dull pre-spring greens I’d been seeing up until then,  that when I finally got to the beach, my eye was pulled to stronger colours. I had a brilliant time scavenging for bits of washed up plastic. Though it was devastating to see evidence of how plastics end up in the ocean food chain, I decided to see them also as colours and forms. Below is the first collection.

Collected within a circle about 2 meters from where I was sitting.

Collected within a circle about 2 meters from where I was sitting.

After that I set about collecting (via photos) plastic objects, one for each colour of the rainbow.

I’ve recently returned from 2 weeks in the UK. The first part was a city visit to London galleries. And the second part was meant to be a restful walking holiday in the South Downs national reserve area.

I stay in youth hostels and was looking forward to trying the new one at Southease, not far from Brighton. It is advertised as being rural, in the middle of the South Downs coastal walking area, and after 5 hectic days in an overfull 12 bed dorm in London, I was looking forward to some peace and quiet.

Getting off a the tiny Southease train station and walking the 200 meters to the hostel, it appears to be just what is says on the tin. It is a rebuilt farm with rustic elements, and looks great.

approaching from the station

approaching from the station

Here is the view looking back to the railway line.

Looking toward Southease

Looking toward Southease

Once in the hostel, I was shown to my dorm and regardless of my budget, immediately upgraded to a private room.  It was so narrow and tiny, and had no storage space for my  things, that I couldn’t face 5 nights there. Luckily there was a room available, and I began to unpack. But for a moment I couldn’t believe my ears- whoosh, whoosh, …..cars, trucks, horns! What is this?

So here is what they don’t tell you on the site or anywhere else about South Downs yha- namely, that it is located literally on the side of a major artery, A26 . And that there is heavy traffic there from 5AM to 11PM, and that the rooms are not well insulated. Underneath is a picture of one of my windows (pink arrow) , the other one is on the corner where the blue arrow is, the blue arrow is pointing to the road.

my window

my window

Below you see how close it is to the road, the blue arrow shows where my other window was. And there is are other bedrooms right on the road side as well.

approaching hostel

approaching hostel

In the photo below, the blue arrow shows the hostel.

Back side of hostel approaching from the otherdirection.

Back side of hostel approaching from the other direction.

I’ve already written to yha (see update below)  that I feel this is a gross misrepresentation. I didn’t sleep well at all, even with earplugs, and a quick nap during the day was impossible.

Still, I was there, and the surroundings were nice, so I did make the best of it. But I want to add that this hostel is designed badly, there is more emphasis on externals than actual needs of the visitors. There are many glitches besides not enough storage space in the dorms, which are more than just teething problems. Looks like it was done by a committee, with an eye to profits as the bottom line rather than creating a caring, comfortable place for hostellers to relax. I wouldn’t recommend this hostel to anyone.

Update March 20, 2014:
One good thing about YHA is their dedication to improving the quality of their product and services. After every stay you get an elaborate survey to fill in covering all aspects of your stay, from cleanliness to staff friendliness. I wrote a rather damning evaluation plus a separate detailed report to the customer care manager of all the things that were wrong, and requested a full refund. I received the most sympathetic and kind mail from Alice Brooksbank from customer care, going into every one of my complaints and either letting me know that things would be changed, or explaining why they might not be changed on the short term. Most important, the building will be better insulated for sound, this is already a funded project (YHA is a charity).

She promised me a 50% refund which I won’t complain about. So I’m satisfied.  Here is the last part of her letter:

I am really so pleased that you wrote in to express your frustration we love to hear from our guests and I encourage you to always give us feedback in the future. I have been made aware that the Hostel Manager did try his very best to resolve as many issues as possible at the time of your stay and we are extremely sorry that you found YHA South Downs so dissatisfactory and as a gesture of good will would like to offer a 50% refund…

 I would like to take this opportunity to express how valuable you are to the YHA as without your support we would never be able to meet our charitable objectives.

Image copied from here

I’m just back from 2 weeks in the UK and will post on that later. For now I want to let people know that my dear friend, Kathy Carr has completed her DVD, Whale Journey, connecting with Humpback whales.

Kathy and I go way back, from Findhorn days. We’ve worked together on several Findhorn publicatoins, one, Faces of Findhorn, published by Harper and Row.

She is a consummate photographer, and impassioned artist and activist. Kathy lives in Hawaii and swims regularly with dolphins. The Whale Journey film was made during several trips to Tonga where she swam with and connected deeply with humpback whales,  and photographed these encounters.

I have always been fascinated by dolphins and whales, and one of my dreams is to eventually be in the water with them. In the meantime, I live with the above image in my studio (available to buy from Kathy’s site), and feel daily the vast, benign presence of these intelligent creatures.

New photo books!

November 1, 2013

photo  Rende zoutewelle

photo Rende Zoutewelle

Rende, my husband has designed 3 books of his photography and has had them reproduced. They are one-offs and they are gorgeous in themselves as well as being beautifully reproduced.

And here you can see LEAVES.

Here you can look through BOATS .

 

photo Rende Zoutewelle

photo Rende Zoutewelle

And here is the one on DOORS and WINDOWS  from his recent trip to France.

photo Rende Zoutewelle

photo Rende Zoutewelle

https://i2.wp.com/slamxhype.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/doug-aitken-regen-projects.jpg

Still image from Doug Aitken’s project, Migration

I had some days to spend in Liverpool last November! It was cold and grey and wet, but that all changed when I walked into The Source, an installation at the Liverpool Tate. I entered a dark, round, thickly insulated space with about 10 huge video screens going around the outside wall.  Each one contained a different interview with an artist (architect, musician, painter, conceptual artist etc.). The installation was by Doug Aitken, and like all his work I’ve seen since, it widened my perspectives on just what art is about right now and what it can do.

1

The Source, installation by Doug Aitken at the Liverpool Tate, 2012

His latest work is called Station to Station and is exciting. Starting in a few days, Americans, if they are lucky enough to live along the train tracks, can enjoy performances and exhibitions live, in cities strung across the country like so many beads along the train’s route.

Not the actual train, but an just to give the idea     Source

From the site:

Organized by artist Doug Aitken, Station to Station will connect leading figures and underground creators from the worlds of art, music, food, literature, and film for a series of cultural interventions and site-specific happenings. The train, designed as a moving, kinetic light sculpture, will broadcast unique content and experiences to a global audience.

I love artists who blast apart my preconceptions about anything. This is such an ambitious and multifaceted project which is so much about what art is and can be about today. Doug Aitken is someone who is deeply passionate about creating and the creative process. His work is beautifully conceived, crafted, and carried out; he is generous about turning the spotlight on other artists; and he has an alive sense of wonder that is communicated through all he does.

Here is a little sample from one of the videos on the Station to Station site, the speaker (couldn’t find her name) tells us what art means to her city (the twin cities of Minneapolis/St Paul ), and I think captures the essence of the new directions the arts are taking everywhere:

It is a strong moment here…people believe things are possible, and that is a fertile place for art to flourish. But also there is a great love of doing things collectively. There’s this strong sense of communal pride and of wanting to gather together and make things happen, and obviously music and art are central to what makes people come together and appreciate culture, but also culture and nature, those two things come together I think.

She concludes by saying that the rich cultural base that now exists in Minneapolis/St Paul is a result of decades of culture being a central community value there.

Do go to the Station to Station site and have fun, like I did, clicking on all the different videos; they, like the one above are cameos of people and places individually inspiring- but awesome when seen together.

And check out Aitken’s  site.