Thursday, April 30, 2009

the gentle meanderings of frits thaulow

today i came across the work of norwegian artist frits thaulow. i was instantly captivated by his rendering of water, especially slow-moving water. digging around the many sites with references to thaulow, i found out that in 1883, during his stay beside the simoa river at modum, he perfected his talent at painting scenes with slow-moving rivers. in the curlicue lines and sweeping eddies are the brush strokes of a master who knew the flow and thoughts of water.

la dordogne.

river view.

water mill.

winter landscape.


cottages by a river.

i could look at these forever.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

the bridges of hiroshige

posthumous memorial portrait of hiroshige by kunisada (toyokuni the third

utagawa hiroshige was a japanese woodcut artist who depicted what is termed ukiyo-e. ukiyo-e translates beautifully as "pictures of the floating world".

"the "floating world" refers to the urban culture that bloomed and was a world unto itself during the second half of the 17th century. although the traditional classes of japanese society were bound by numerous strictures and prohibitions, the rising merchant class was relatively unregulated, therefore "floating."

many of hiroshige's woodcuts featured bridges. i've gathered together those which i think are most beautiful.

the bridge at awate.

the fifty three stations of the tokaido.

man on horseback crossing a bridge.

snow at the field of kameido.

bamboo yards, kayobashi bridge.

a bridge in a snowy landscape.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

hans van koolwijk's musical art

music that passes through something beautiful to look at. not a new idea, but the variation on that theme that dutch artist/musician hans van koolwijk has come up with really stretches the concept. playing with the generally accepted convention that a bamboo flute is a fragile thing of beauty, van koolwijk has created a veritable monster collection of bamboo flutes driven by all manner of confangled contraptions and doodads.

visitors to van koolwijk's site are treated to an image of what he calls "the bambuso" - essentially a collection of massive conjoined bamboo flutes. van koolwik says, "the bambuso is an unpolished sound sculpture that is sometimes used as a musical instrument, whereby the visual is closely related to the aural."

here's the bambuso in brussels.

here's a fragment of "wervelingen" a composition of hans van eck, performed by van koolwijk and gamelan-percussion ensemble gending in the marienkirche in torgau, and recorded in june of 2008.

as you'll have noticed in this except, the sound of the bambuso sonoro is loud and dramatic. "although it looks like he's improvising, his playing is carefully organised and aimed at exploiting the instrument's full potential. 'i have to organise it well and keep my head clear', he says. 'if i put too much emotion into my playing, it doesn't come across that well.'"

it may not be driven by emotion but it is certainly evocative music!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

gerhard richter's cologne cathedral glass

i don't remember when i first came across the work of gerhard richter. an artist whose work spans more than fifty years, during which time he has crossed through a range of means of expression ranging from blurred figurative paintings, both with and without colour followed by abstract paintings, with a colour palette that was either painfully brilliant or mournfully subdued, to his more recent work in handblown glass for the koln cathedral.

according to richter, his work "forms from structures and ideas that surround him, nothing more profound than that."

the koln cathedral project is intriguing if only because it moves away from the allegorical and sometimes unrealistic and idealized images depicted in church windows and replaces them with pure colour. here's what wired mag. had to say. richter's observation that "all we can represent is an analogy, which stands for the invisible but is not it." certainly allows for more conceptual free-reign than the usual expectation associated with religious stained glass.

here's what you see.

i think the effect in person is probably more profound than the images might suggest. the transformative nature of stained glass in sensitizing a spiritual structure is not a function of its content but of its presence and of its adjustment of light. in that sense these pieces are almost certainly successful.

to view more of richter's work, and to learn more about the artist you can visit gerhard's website.

here's a wonderful richter quote: "talk about painting: there's no point. by conveying a thing through the medium of language, you change it. you construct qualities that can be said, and you leave out the ones that can't be said but are always the most important."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

the wilkinson house

i love architecture that challenges conventions. as a high school student i was inspired by the designs of le corbusier, frank lloyd wright, and paolo soleri for their unwavering conviction that their divergent perspectives somehow articulated a melding of the spiritual essence of people with their functional need for comfort and shelter.

architecture is such a dynamic melding of art and science that it is able to embrace technical possibilities offered by newly developed or refined materials while at the same time integrating the perceptual and conceptual changes of the time.

an architect who has taken full advantage of both those features is robert harvey oshatz. oshatz states on his site that "an architect is an artist, creator, logician of evolving aesthetic structures; a designer of not only the visual, but the internal space. i see architecure as a synthesis of logic and emotion, exploring and fulfilling dreams, fantasies and realities."

his work is organic, aesthetically pleasing and intriguing in the way that a nautilus shell captures both your inner and outer eye.

here is an example of robert's residential work. this incredible and beautiful home was designed for the wilkinson family and is located in portland, oregon. because the property is on a steep sloping grade there was the opportunity to bring the main level of the house into the tree canopy to evoke the feeling of being in a tree house. and evoke that feeling it does! despite its very modern aesthetic, some of the feeling of swiss family robinson enters into the visual equation.

take a look!

to see more images of this home and others then you might like to wander through robert's gallery of residential homes. interestingly, robert also provides a link to what he terms "creative projects". an interesting distinction from his "ordinary" work!!!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

farewell to tarwathie

judy collins' rendering of "farewell to tarwathie" still takes me back to the autumn of 1976 when her simple clear voice, backed by the voices of a pod of whales cut through the haze of music and whatever else in my first year at university. the song has an interesting history but it is her voice that somewhow raises this mournful song above that history and you will find yourself pleasantly revisited by it for some time to come. as have i.

farewell to tarwathie
adieu mormond hill
and the dear land of crimmond
i bid you farewell
i'm bound off for greenland
and ready to sail
in hopes to find riches
in hunting the whale

farewell to my comrades
for a while we must part
and likewise the dear lass
who first won my heart
the cold coast of greenland
my love will not chill
and the longer my absence
more loving she'll feel

our ship is well rigged
and she's ready to sail
the crew they are anxious
to follow the whale
where the icebergs do float
and the stormy winds blow
where the land and the ocean
is covered with snow

the cold coast of greenland
is barren and bare
no see time nor harvest
is ever known there
and the birds here sing sweetly
in mountain and dale
but there's no bird in greenland
to sing to the whale

there is no habitation
for a man to live there
and the king of that country
is the fierce greenland bear
and there'll be no temptation
to tarry long there
with our ship under full
we will homeward repair

farewell to tarwathie
adieu mormond hill
and the dear land of crimmond
i bid you farewell
i'm bound off for greenland
and ready to sail
in hopes to find riches
in hunting the whale.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

st. george's day

having been born in england i still carry allegiance to some of the customs and traditions that accrue to that privilege. one of those is my acknowledgement of st. george's day. in england, st. george's day also marks its national day. it is celebrated on april 23rd, as that is the traditionally accepted date of saint george's death back in 303 a.d.

now why is george so famous. well it's to do with him slaying the dragon. i checked into this and the wikipedia entry suggests that this extraordinary event took place in libya.

here's a jolly george giving a bit of stick to a diminutive dragon . . .

this is more like it . . . notice the remains of previous victims, the mightily chuffed female onlooker . . .

time was, st. george's day in england was celebrated to almost the same degree as christmas with feasting and jolly frolicking and whatever else fit the day. unfortunately, it has now faded into the mists of simple recognition. there has been a fair bit of rumbling and grumbling around george's fade into obscurity with some people clamouring for the return of the day on a grand scale and others asking the (to me) more reasonable question, why would england celebrate the death of a guy who had very little connection with the country. others such as edmund, cuthbert, and alban really have much more merit as a national saint in my own view.

anyhow, to all my english visitors. happy st. george's day!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

as above, so below

in a galaxy far, far away . . .
this is what nasa has to say about this amazing scene: "over the past 19 years hubble has taken dozens of exotic pictures of galaxies going "bump in the night" as they collide with each other and have a variety of close encounters of the galactic kind. just when you thought these interactions couldn't look any stranger, this image of a trio of galaxies, called arp 194, looks like one of the galaxies has sprung a leak. the bright blue streamer is really a stretched spiral arm full of newborn blue stars. this typically happens when two galaxies interact and gravitationally tug at each other."

meanwhile in a small planet light years from this scene . . .

my home. the lake to the left. on the side closest to you. about one-quarter of the way from right to left.

the skies have provided an abundance of liquid nourishment for the local members of the plant kingdom over the last few days.

so my forsythia bushes are starting to wave little yellow flower-flags.

the watery sunset sends pale salmon cloudbanks across the evening sky as reflected in the turquoise waters of the pool.

i'm grateful for all of this.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

willow's hummingbird cake

i made a cake this past weekend! i'm almost fifty two years old and you know how susan boyle has never been kissed? well, i'd never made a cake from scratch until i got all inspired and found out how amazingly easy it really is!!

i found the recipe at fellow blogger willow's manor, one of the loveliest and most interesting blogs out there. willow posted this a little while back and explained that the "hummingbird" part of its name comes from the happy hum people make when they eat a slice of this incredible cake. she's right! you do hum because it truly is so good!

(here's a picture of hummingbird cake that i found on the net. it's got nuts in - mine didn't! but it's a good pic.)

i made the cake in three sections - because i discovered that we actually own one 9 inch round pan, oh and it's not a pan but a pie plate so it makes the cake flare out at the sides. a cool effect when you place three layers one-on-top-of-the-other!!! icing such a structure is challenging but not impossible.

the end result? well i found that with my cold i could really taste the banana but not so much the pineapple. however there's enough of it that i'll likely see this cold good and gone before i run out of cake!

one other detail i forgot to check is who in my family actually likes pineapple in a cake. well it turns out that i'm pretty much on my own in that department! so i win the big prize today! three or four pounds of hummingbird cake all to myself!!

here's a closeup of willow's cake (i hope you don't mind i borrowed the pic willow?! it looks way better than mine!)

here's the recipe.

willow's hummingbird cake

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup oil
1 3/4 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 4)
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup chopped walnuts (i skipped these)
2 tsp vanilla extract (i put in three)

1 1/2 cups coconut
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese softened
2 sticks butter softened
1 tsp vanilla extract (i put in 2)
1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar

heat oven to 350. butter and flour three round 9 inch cake pans if you've got 'em!).
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and
salt. add eggs and oil, stirring until moist; do not beat. stir in
pineapple with juice, bananas, walnuts (i skipped the walnuts) and vanilla.

divide batter evenly among cake pans. or pour what you think is one third into your only "cake pan" bake 20 minutes. cool
10 minutes in pan, then invert on wire racks to cool. then do that all over again. and again!!

frost between all layers, as well as sides and top of cake.
top with coconut. you can make this cake a day or two ahead, as it
ages well, and actually moistens with age.

Monday, April 20, 2009

the colour that has no name

marc chagall wrote, “in our life there is a single colour, as on an artist's palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. it is the colour of love.” marc also said that "all colours are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites.”

this opens some intriguing metaphors, some rich and lovely discussions - inside my head and out.

what are love's neighbours?

is hate in fact the opposite of love? some people love to hate. others hate to love.

love is without condition. it knows no whim, no caprice, no twist of fate that places you squarely in the eyes or arms of another person. it is the colour that contains all colours. it is the colour that has no name. it is the colour of silence.

it is wrapped inside the earthly metaphor of romantic love but deliquesced into something much grander, much simpler, and without condition.

it is the love that connects all and everything.

have you visited my other blog?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

charles théophile angrand

i love the impressionist painters' work. especially the pointillists who brought us that much closer to the final fracturing of colour into its essence.
charles théophile angrand, was born in criquetot-sur-ouville in normandy, france on april 19th 1854. angrand practiced pointillism early on, but his friends georges seurat and paul signac influenced him with their own take on impressionism - neo-impressionism - and the strong contrasts and pure hues of that style appeared in much of his later work.

this painting is so rich with the feeling, smell and sounds of rain. i could almost walk into it and feel right at home.

le pont de pierre

man and woman on the street (1887)

the incident (1886-1887)

details . . .

look at the luscious detail . . . .

Saturday, April 18, 2009

insecta concept car

i love design that draws from nature. not necessarily a direct transfer but takes the millions of years of design decisions that have resulted in the many well-designed and well-functioning forms we share this planet with, and applies them to something functional like a vehicle.

here's a design that has used the grasshopper as its aesthetic if not functional design-frame.

23 year-old designer shao yung yeh explains, "taking inspirations from nature, the exterior expresses the characteristics of friendly insects, such as grasshoppers - agile, lightweight and green."

the concept features leg-like suspension systems, which actively adjust the height of the car in different traffic situations.

at the back is an independent battery pack with the ability to control the center of gravity of the car.

here's a short animation of the concept.

i'll tell you what, there are many rainy days when i'd leave my bike in the garage if this was on the driveway!