Tuesday, June 29, 2010

[on coloring]

40 giant toads to be painted and put around Hull to celebrate the poetry of philip larkin...

i'm not particularly familiar with any of larkin's works, but this photograph popped up on the bbc website, and there's something fascinating about the toads.  they remind me a bit of the painted elephants in london.

it's funny how much personality identical animal shapes gain when they are painted.  it's like those picture frames we all colored in kindergarten to give to our mothers for mothers day, albeit with a bit more refinement.  i don't know if i can say the same about the toads, since i haven't seen them in real life, but the elephants were the kind that you would just want to hug when you pose in front of the camera.  who can resist?

Sunday, June 27, 2010


john singer sargent pencil-y portraits, some of my faves.

olimpio fusco, c. 1900-1910

ethel smith, 1901

and of course,

study of madame pierre gauteau (for the painting madame x)

william butler yeats

Thursday, June 24, 2010

ordinary day

this is the beginning of your day
life is more intricate than it seems
always be yourself along the way
living through the spirit of your dreams.

dolores o'riordan.

i love that song.
i also love john singer sargent!

portrait of miss elsie palmer, or young lady in white

so this portrait reminds me of another, a flemish one perhaps?
i can't remember which one it is....it's driving me crazy!

Sunday, June 20, 2010


i don't know why i have always been so fascinated with mermaids.

maybe it's because i wish i was more aquatically inclined...

anyway, i've been recently thinking some more about Ondine, and its clever juxtaposition of fairy tale and very real life issues.  it's one of those movies, i feel, that you keep going back to and thinking about.  or maybe it's just me.

And of course on the purely fantastical side, there is always that lovely mermaid painting by John William Waterhouse.

maybe i'll put a mermaid in my sketchbook...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

the art of driving.

me. dad. empty church parking lot at 6 am. right turns. brakes. accelerator. reverse.

i've already finished my first year in university, but this is only my second time behind the wheel (unless you count that disastrous go with the legoland cars in windsor, when i was really little...).

and although i'm not particularly fond of that behind-the-wheel feeling (it stresses me out...i wish driving wasn't so necessary around here...), i'm beginning to understand it.

it's  like an art form, painting perhaps: sharp turn here, use some of that blue paint straight out of the bottle; straighten out the wheels, soften the edge with some white; oops, going a little too much to the left there, better add some orange; get closer to the curb, fine tune it with a smaller paintbrush...

"'Music -' said Lucy, as if attempting some generality.  She could not complete it, and looked out absently upon Italy in the wet.  The whole life of the South was disorganized, and the most graceful nation in Europe had turned into formless lumps of clothes.  The street and the river were dirty yellow, the bridge was dirty grey, and the hills were dirty purple. Somewhere in their folds were concealed Miss Lavish and Miss Bartlett, who had chosen this afternoon to visit the Torre del Gallo."- A Room With A View

Friday, June 18, 2010

below the surface thoughts #2, on corsetry and below-the-surface-ness

Gregor Reisch, (c. 1467-1525), Margarita

the harmful effects of the corset, from la vie normale et la sante

Elisabeth (Sisi) of Bavaria, 1837-1898, Empress of Austria, etc after she married Francis Joseph I in 1854 (this 1865 painting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter).  another one of those tragic stories of women who should not have had to deal with becoming royalty...i.e. the stiff and oppressive viennese court, personal issues...

a note on that - The Reluctant Empress: Elisabeth of Austria is a very good book. a very good book...did i mention that it is a very good book?

I never saw a purple cow;
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you anyhow;
I'd rather see than be one!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

below the surface thoughts #1

armor. and helmets.

and, well, the concept of figurative armor and helmets?

and now for my creepy quote of the day:

"war is peace.
"freedom is slavery.
"ignorance is strength."

"ignorance is strength" - hm, that seems to have a lot more to do with imaginary armor than it actually does.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

sketchbook time! (almost)

so i got my sketchbook in the mail today!

i love the "kraft brown" cover that is just inviting me to draw, or paint, or marker on it.
and the smooth (but kind of thin...) pages.
and the little pocket thing in the back.
and the barcode WITH MY NAME ON IT.
and my little library card with (get this!) MY NAME AND A BARCODE.

i shall call it my sketchbooky.
or my sketchybookywook.
or my sketchybookwooky.
or my sketchbooky-wooky.
well i should stop with that now.
i am clearly distracted beyond saving from distraction.

point being, i think i know what i'm going to be doing this weekend.

("I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine and he will be my Squishy").

hint, it will have nothing to do with finding nemo.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

...and i bring you - imelda!

as i have named her.

the keys, from below. how fascinating! they're like...mushrooms or something!
"darcy smiled and said, 'you are perfectly right.  you have employed your time much better.  no one admitted to the privilege of hearing you can think anything wanting.  we neither of us perform to strangers.'"

note to self: get a good camera. this gets more frustrating by the day.

Monday, June 7, 2010

as of yesterday

i am the proud new owner of a gorgeous olivetti lettera 22 (and only a £1 dent in my pocketbook...).

pictures to come later :)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

elizabethan stays part two!

so in the time that i should have been, i don't know, cleaning my room or writing a review of the v&a's exhibition on grace kelly, i made two more elizabethan bodices (well, halfway at least).

the first, longer than the very first one that i made (it was too short before); the second, the same but with tabs (because tabs just look so much cooler).

the thing is, now i actually have to put boning in the tabbed one, as is meant to be, or else the tabs stick out at odd angles.

and that's not going to happen anytime soon.

oh, well, a project for next summer then?

hm, the back even mostly comes together when i lace it up!  better sizing indeed :)

i'm also beginning to think that this material looks not too different from the curtains that maria used to make the children's playsuits in the sound of music.  oh well, i didn't buy it anyway.  i'll have to thank my aunt's closet for that one.

my elizabethan corset, number one (because there will be more).

yesterday, after a visit to winston churchill's house in kent, and a week of satisfying but comfortably boring sewing projects of clothes i would actually wear in real life , i went back to my costuming (see, the problem with making normal clothes is, I'm not a particularly adventurous dresser; i don't like to stick out as this flamboyant fashionista, so my "normal" sewing projects invariably involve the same old lines and patterns).

yes, a one-hour elizabethan corset is adventurous for me.  i drew out a pattern as instructed by the amazing online custom corset pattern generator, and here we are, my first attempt at anything remotely resembling elizabethan-style clothing.  granted, i put neither a busk nor boning in the thing.  the material was thick enough, i inserted some very heavy interfacing, and, well, good enough.  this was just a test of the pattern anyway.  (plus, i couldn't imagine wearing anything with a large panel of wood down the center - sitting, i'm sure, would be uncomfortable, if even possible).

it turned out better than i though (and very tight...).  i ended up achieving a reasonable degree of elizabethan profile.  even without the boning and such, it really smoothed out my torso and made me look teeny!  but you know, it was actually pretty comfortable (after i finished struggling to lace up the back by myself).  good for the posture as well, i should think.

(amazing how something that small could actually fit all the way around me...)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

below the surface

my new theme.

for the next seven months of my life.

i wonder if i can stick to it.

hm, interesting.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

sketchbooky time

the sketchbook project.  the lovely idea that you order a moleskine sketchbook for $25, sketch in it, and send it back in january. and after that the book will be catalogued (with a barcode and all!), go on tour throughout the united states, and rest at last in the brooklyn art library system.  forever.

how cool is that?

i gotta order mine soon, but first i need to figure out what theme i want to pick for my sketchbook.  here are my top ones:

facing forward
(your name here)
below the surface
happy thoughts
face in the crowd

i am ridiculously tempted to do (your name here).  although that would make it too easy, wouldn't it?