Sunday, August 16, 2009

Art & Europe

I'm back from my European adventure and I am excited to blog once again! My entire trip was filled with moments of art and inspiration, so I thought I'd share some of that with you. It cultivated in a final day of actually making art with Amb in Italy, so be sure to check out the next post about that as well.

First of all, you know already that before I left, I aspired to make quilts for five of the new babies I was to see. Lucky for me, my meeting with Tara from Tinkerfrog was particularly helpful in finishing that bear of a project. She suggested omitting the batting and just sewing them front-to-front with cute flannels, and voila! they'd be done in a snap. And so, here they are, all wrapped up like bon bons and ready to pack. If you'd like to see photos of them with their recipients, just email me: artbyhlm (at) gmail (dot) com.

After delivering the second of the quilts, I had the chance to learn about napkin art. This is something I'd read about previously in Craft, Paper, Scissors, but never really realized its potential and simplicity. My friend Andrea made these two pieces for the guest room in her home, and sadly, the photos don't do them justice. But you get the idea. And they were made from canvases, a napkin each, decoupage glue, and a little paint around the edges. I was so inspired I promptly bought a bunch of napkins in the art store in Hameln, Hobby Haus (one of my old haunts).

Later in the week, I had breakfast with my dear friend Barbara, who is a quilter. She made that purple and brown piece on her living room wall a number of years ago. It is entirely hand-quilted. In the foreground, you can see a multi-media quilt she recently purchased. Now that is my kind of quilt! Small, and incorporating various items to give it texture.

On a day trip down the Weser valley with an old colleague, I stopped for a bathroom break in a cafe where the staircase was something else! First, it was wallpapered in this black and white striped paper, and then there were these fine silverware prints and a wall full of pepper mills.

Next stop, Lucerne, Switzerland, where one of its most famous attractions, the Lion Memorial, is an incredible work of art. It commemorates the fallen Swiss soldiers of the French Revolution in the 1700s, and was designed and carved by Bertel Thorvaldsen and Lukas Ahorn in 1820-1821. I had been here before, exactly 20 years ago, and it was wonderful to see it again as an adult. I could better appreciate its meaning this time, and its artistry. To carve something like this from a slab of rock takes a special talent. I admire the way a sculptor's mind must work to conceive of such a project.

That same day, I visited the Bourbaki Panorama, a true marvel! You view the 360-degree painting from the center of a large round room. It wraps around you and you feel like you're in the scene, which depicts the end of the Franco-Prussian war and the French soldiers finding refuge in Neu Chatel, Switzerland. There is even a soundtrack to go along with it, which, mixed with the air conditioning, makes it easy to imagine being there in it. It was created in the 1880s by Edouard Castres, and it took a large team of painters to complete it. The other cool thing about it is that other artists made a faux-terrain in the year 2000 to give the painting depth and make it more realistic. I highly recommend a visit to this museum if anyone ever goes to Lucerne. It was a definite highlight of my trip. Visit their website here if you'd like to learn more about it. I'm afraid it wasn't the easiest thing to photograph, so sorry for that.

On a walk about Lucerne one evening, I came across a window in which there were many expensive items. However, the window design included these lovely sewn-paper butterflies, hanging by threads. So lovely.

The next week, I found myself in Nice, France! Amb and I walked by this church, which was nice (haha) in its own right, but I was particularly enamored by the young woman outside who was drawing/painting the church. You could tell that she was taking the time to be painstakingly detailed, and in my opinion, her half-finished piece was far more beautiful than the church itself. She was lovely, too, in the afternoon sun.

We also visited the Henri Matisse museum. Everything about it was wonderful. It was a small museum in a beautiful building, near a park full of olive trees, and the admission was free! I was only familiar with a couple of Matisse's things, and it was great to get to know his work better, and understand that art doesn't have to be complicated to be good. This piece, called Nu Bleu IV is actually not painted but collaged! The blue paper is cut-up pieces arranged in the shape of the woman. Much of his work involved simple contrasting colors and shapes. We were incredibly inspired.

Finally, while shopping in town, Amb discovered a card shop that sold 6x6" cards with the art work of Gaelle Boissonard, a French woman who seems to be "one of us." We tried looking her up online, and her work has been commissioned for a French card company called Correspondences. But she has nothing more than a blog, which you can view here. It's all in French, but her work is fantastic, and Amb and I have become instant fans. This is one of the many cards I purchased that day.

That's it for my European art experience. As I begin my four-day work week in September, which means I can devote an entire day every week--guaranteed--to making art, I am inspired and refreshed. I can't wait to show you what will come!
So glad to be back. Check in with me every couple of weeks to see what happens!


Anonymous said...

so many wonderful bits! thanks for the effort in sharing it all! i am loving those butterflies and that multi media piece.

Ashley said...

Thanks for sharing all your art experiences. I like how you divided up your experience of your trip... oftentimes, trips like these are overwhelming with so many interesting, new, and beautiful things. It helps me think about dividing up my experiences, too.

Sedna-is-my-own-last-name said...

and the way the universe works, i saw the exact same painting of this woman's that amb has on her blog two days after i saw it on her blog (at a fair trade store in marin). i was like, "universe, you rock."

Anonymous said...

Hi ! I am a french fan of Gaelle Boissonnard (we share the same first name) and I have met her and I have to say that she is sweet, interesting, kind and so on. I want to thank you because through your blog, which i like also, i discovered the one by Kelly Rae and i can't stop having a look at it and all the links, and reading her posts at random... I love that life that allows to meet so charming people like you and Kelly Rae and the others i have just "met" even if we are thousands miles away. So thank you very much for leaving this comment on Gaelle's blog. I hope all your blogs will help me develop my own creativity and wish your creativity will never stop and will make you even happier. Excuse my hesitating english. Thanks