Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thirty years

My husband and I took a quick trip to Italy and Holland early this month, but so much "housekeeping" stuff has come up since our return that I have barely had time to look at my photos, let alone post any.  These are my favorites, taken in Zaanse Schans, a wonderful re-created historical village outside of Amsterdam, and textured with Kim Klassen's "oh my":

linking with Texture Tuesday

We enjoyed visiting friends in Amsterdam, but our heart is in Italy.  My husband and I lived in Milan for the first four years we were married, so Italian habits and preferences have been part of our lives ever since.  We have an academic connection to the city of Bologna, though, and return most every year for meetings, but we also take the time to slow down and absorb just being in Italy.  Bologna is a very special place - known as a major center of intellectual thought, it is home to the first European university (predating Oxford).  Like other Italian cities, it is full of gorgeous art and architecture, exquisite museums, unbelievably wonderful food... but relatively few tourists.  
textured with Kim Klassen's "grunged up"

textured with Kim Klassen's "oh my"

textured with Kim Klassen's "charmed"

Bologna is particularly known for the porticos covering most sidewalks in the city.  It makes getting around in the rain or the summer's heat pretty easy! 
Thirty years ago this week, I met my husband.  I was a first-year graduate student and he was a few weeks away from graduation.  He had spent a transformative academic year in Bologna, and over the years since, this expanded into so many Italian-focused experiences that it really shaped us as a family.  
The only thing is, it just seems like yesterday.  How can time go by so fast?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ah, Providence!

I am gearing up for the vicarious thrill of my artistic life.... my youngest daughter will be a freshman next year at the Rhode Island School of Design. We drove to Providence on Friday to attend an open house for accepted students, and I am smitten.
textured with two layers of Kim Klassen's "grunged up" (multiply @ 47% and color burn @ 71%)
As a current student wrote recently on the class of 2016 facebook page, RISD is the Hogwarts of art schools. This school is more than just an art school; it is a dynamic community of creative thinkers who happen to express their ideas visually.

Now I know that if you really want to become better at taking pictures, you must bring your camera everywhere. But this weekend was for my daughter -- and while she is usually fairly tolerant of my photographic vanities, she was horrified that I would embarrass her in this setting.... so I left the DSLR at home and used my iphone instead. In the end, though, I couldn't capture any of it because they asked that we not take photos of the students at work. It was OK to photograph inside the nature lab:
textured with Kim Klassen's "Little things" (overlay @56%)
Imagine a huge hall, filled with cabinet after cabinet of natural curiosities, from stuffed animals to specimens of all kinds of plants. It felt like a magnificent Victorian museum glorifying the great explorers of that era.
textured with three layers of Kim Klassen's "Happy heart" (soft light @100%, multiply @100%, and color burn @100% 
Providence has so many historic buildings and architectural gems, and I am looking forward to getting better acquainted with the city over the next four years. One such treasure was the Providence Athenaeum, the fourth oldest public library in America. Established in 1753, the present building dates back to 1838. I loved the fact that visitors are welcome to come in and browse, and I especially loved the mixture of old and new books on the shelves, which makes it a living neighborhood resource with the stately feel of another era. I can see myself heading there next time I'm in town, just to read the newspaper in the armchairs next to the portrait of George Washington.
textured with Kim Klassen's "little things" (overlay @56%)
textured with Kim Klassen's "little things" (soft light @50%)
And of course, no visit is ever complete without good food. I love the internet -- I found Nick's on Broadway by trolling the foodie forums for Providence. We had a spectacular brunch there, all based on  the best locally-sourced ingredients. I had feathery-light poached eggs on a polenta base that was more a lemony-herbal souffle than any polenta I've ever eaten before.... delicious!
no textures here.... pure food, served to you in a straightforward manner!
And here is the neighborhood cat -- I had to take this picture because it reminds me of long ago (way before kids). Back then, I had three cats who knew exactly when to jump up into the window and wait for me to come home from work: 
textured with Kim Klassen's "little things" (multiply @100%)
Linking with Texture Tuesday

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Saori weaving

All flowers are beautiful,
even though each individual flower is different in form and color.
Because of this difference, “all are good”.
Because everything has the same life, 
life cannot be measured by a yardstick.
It is this individuality that makes everything meaningful 
and the uniqueness of each thread
that creates the tapestry of life.
Misao Jo
(from Loop of the Loom website)

I've been busy, busy, busy.  I just got back from a week in Europe, and on my first day home took my mother into New York for a birthday surprise.  She loves weaving, so her gift was an all-day pass at Loop of the Loom, an amazing fiber studio on the upper east side that follows the Japanese tradition of saori weaving.  Saori is a free-style form of weaving that embodies the concept of "wabi sabi," or the beauty that exists in imperfection and simplicity.  

Once you learn the basic techniques, you can really just play with color:

The program we followed was called a "zen weaving" session, and I can see why:  we lost all sense of time, and became completely absorbed in the quiet sounds of the loom as we worked it, and the patterns developing before us almost without any thought.

It's funny -- I love color and use it intuitively in my quilting and mixed media work, but not as much in clothing.  I went in with the idea of making a scarf, and my final piece reflected that:

My mother, on the other hand, is not hesitant to wear bright colors, and so she made this:
I think next time I go to Loop of the Loom, I will go without any preconceived notions of what I'm going to make, so I can truly just play with colors.  I do that so easily with my quilts -- I wonder why weaving felt like it had to be "practical?" 

In any case, we had a wonderful day, and I can't wait to return!